Monday, February 11, 2013

Moving over to www.thegreatmambino.com!

Hey kids,

After several years on blogger, we've moved on to bigger and better things.

Starting today, February 11th, 2013, we'll no longer be posting new material at this web address. All of our previous posts have been uploaded to our big boy website, www.thegreatmambino.com

Reset your bookmarks and head on over! We promise you'll enjoy.

-MAMBINO

Thursday, February 7, 2013

State of the Bronx: What To Do With A-Rod

(Once the story broke regarding yet another story regarding Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez and PEDs, I sent out the MAMBINO-signal to our two resident New York Yankees fans, El Miz and Bockerknocker. To my surprise, Mizzy sent me in the direction of his friend Vin and a thousand word rant on A-Rod, his contract and ensuing worthlessness. Too good to be left off of MAMBINO, this is Vin's maiden post. Let's make him feel welcome.)

KOBEsh: Vin--let's establish some baseline qualifications before you go on a fullblown rant. Having watched most games of A-Rod's Yankees career, especially the last two seasons-worth, how much do you feel he has left in the thank? A large portion of this answer has to predicated on a pretty invasive hip surgery, but regardless, what do you see as the best case scenario?

Vin: Regarding issue #1 i.e. how much does A-Rod have left in the tank, I think the answer is not much.

The number one problem for him, and this has been the case since 2008, the first year of his 10 year extension, is that he is consistently tripped up by injury. Some of these injuries have been of the nagging variety and probably have become more prevalent simply because he is getting older (2008 and 2011 are good examples). Some are much more serious and could very well be related to what now appears to be years of PED use (the hip surgeries before 2009 and 2013). Some are of the freak variety (getting hit in the hand by a King Felix fastball in 2012). But no matter how you slice it, since signing the worst contract in sports history at 10 years and $275 million, A-Rod has averaged 124 games played a season, and only 108 as a third baseman. Seemingly every spring training begins with Rodriguez talking about how he is in the best shape he's been in in years and how this offseason was the first time in years he was able to dedicated himself fully to training for some unique reason. He was even saying that at the end of this grisly October that "this is the first time in years I will be able to train without worrying about rehabbing". Coming into 2011 in particular, the buzz in the media was all about how he looked better than he had in years, how the spark in his bat was there again, and he did start out the season very strong... and ended up playing 99 games.

My point: I accepted several seasons ago that Alex Rodriguez is a 120 game a season player... or by definition not a full time player. It's hard to have a very high ceiling when that is the reality.
As for his actual production while playing, even last year he was an above average starting third baseman (.783 OPS, 18 homers in 122 games). But a quick look at his stats indicates that he is already well on the gradual decline any major leaguer eventually gravitates towards. The last season that his performance was truly elite was 2007, the last time it was great was 2009.

So, best case scenario going forward, even before these new revelations? Well, he's out at least half of this season best case, so you would pencil him in for maybe 65 games after he came back at the All-Star Break. I'd then give him 2 more seasons where you're hoping he can give you 120 games played/100 at third. But to pretend he would somehow begin to improve his performance, rather than continue to decline, after another major injury and more aging would be stupid. Add in the factor that he apparently will be off the "juice," a term I'll use to cover all the different PEDs he's apparently been helped by. I'd say the best case scenario is he is a part time third baseman/DH who provides slightly above average numbers when actually on the field for another 2-3 years before his body completely breaks down and/or he declines into a truly subpar player. But that is truly relying on the descriptor "best case."

So to summarize, we're looking at a 120-game a year player (maximum) whose production is likely to be either slightly above major league-level or merely average major league-level when playing. That's not good enough for any MLB club, let alone a perennial contender like the Yankees, and that's not even factoring in the money. A-Rod has stated that he has zero intention to retire willingly, while the team is making behind the scenes preparations to attempt a premature severing of ties with him.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Seeing is believing, as the Lakers take an unreal victory in Brooklyn

(A MAMBINO live report from Brooklyn for the Nets-Lakers game last night)

"Unreal. Just...unreal."

I slumped back in my seat time after time, stunned at the game that was taking place in front of me. Quarter after quarter, the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers continued to shake convention in a contest that couldn't be any less believable. Still, I whispered in amazement for 48 minutes, sometimes with a smile on my face and others with a bewildered scowl, hands atop my head.
The Los Angeles Lakers beat the Brooklyn Nets in their first visit to the Barclays Center last night, 92-83, in a game the Lakers had to have, Brooklyn couldn't have tried harder to give away and ultimately, Pau Gasol would love to have back.

The Barclays Center is merely a 30-minute train ride away from my apartment. This gigantic iron behemoth is brilliantly located in the middle of New York's second most heralded borough, crossing almost a dozen subway lines and the Long Island Railroad. It stands out from the surrounding environ of a typical urban center, as if Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum lost the war on July 4th and a spaceship landed in the middle of the BK. The Barclays Center is convenient, marvelous, and most importantly, thanks to its NBA tenants, cheap.

Despite a move out of the swamp in New Jersey to a brilliant, shining, $1 billion dollar arena, the now Brooklyn Nets are struggling to find their place in NYC. Attendance is up to 16th this season, a solid upward trend from finishing no better than 25th in crowd support since 2009. However, like with any expansion or relocation franchise, it's been difficult to find a fervent, dedicated fan base when a team has little tradition, few marketable stars, and generations of followers tied to another organization. New Yorkers are still very dedicated to their beloved Knicks, and the ticket price to see the now contending Bockers is sky high. For the playoff-bound Nets? There's a far smaller mortgage to be paid for attending a game in Brooklyn. Knowing all of this before showing up to Barclays tonight, I shouldn't have been so surprised by the swath of Lakers fans in front of me.

Still, even high fives from strangers clad in Lakers hats and headbands couldn't distract me from the task at hand--defeating the then 28-19 Brooklyn Nets. LA came into the game short-staffed, with Dwight Howard missing his second consecutive game due to a re-aggravated shoulder injury and Metta World Peace due to a bogus suspension for "punching" Brandon Knight during Sunday's Pistons game. Chief amongst my concerns were how anyone would be able to check the 6'7" Joe Johnson, if Reggie Evans would now gobble up 25 boards instead of 16 now that Dwight was ruled out and if Steves Nash and Blake would just spot Deron Williams the 20 he would eventually score.

Amazingly--unreal-ly--this never came to pass.

(Read the rest at Silver Screen and Roll after the jump)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Make or Break Month: What Are the Lakers Up Against in February?

(My newest from Silver Screen & Roll)

Thirty-six games is all that stands between the Los Angeles Lakers and either a merely disappointing season or one of the worst seasons in franchise history.

As our own Drew Garrison wrote yesterday, this Lakers team simply can't be trusted with your emotions; like a mercurial adolescent, there's little indication of which squad will show its face night to night, quarter to quarter, minute to minute. It's been a season of teases for the Lakers and their fans, vacillating wildly between the gutty, persistent crew that defeated the best team in the West, the one that, just days later, lost to the worst team in the West in a ridiculous 540 second meltdown.
Regardless of which way you sway with this Lakers team--having written them off or blindly hoping for a miracle stretch run--there's little doubt that by the middle of February we should all know there this team is headed in April.

The next 28 days are pivotal for not just the Lakers, but of course for their main competitors for the bottom two spots on the Western Conference playoffs bracket. The Houston Rockets, Utah Jazz, Portland Trailblazers, Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks remain in a five-team scrum for the "honor" of facing destruction via superhuman Oklahoma City Avengers Thunder squad or a methodical, Batman-esque deconstruction by the San Antonio Spurs.

Just to be clear about what exactly the Lakers are facing this month, let's break down team-by-team the four weeks of February:

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Instant Trade Analysis: Rudy Gay to the Toronto Raptors

Toronto Raptors get: F Rudy Gay, C Hamed Hadaddi

Detroit Pistons get: PG Jose Calderon

Memphis Grizzlies get: PF Ed Davis, SF Tayshaun Prince, F Austin Daye, Toronto's 2nd Round pick

The Grizz finally jettisoned Rudy Gay out their hallway this afternoon, shunting off the extremely talented but often disappointing forward off to Toronto in a three-way deal that also involved the Detroit Pistons.

Today's trade was the culmination of years of speculation. Gay had been on the block for years, ever since he was notoriously absent for the Grizzlies' greatest run of success in their Western Conference semifinals loss two seasons ago with a shoulder injury. The summer before, Gay had signed a near-max contract extension with Memphis, paying him $82 million. Usually, money like that isn't an issue with a team--after all, do you think Houston is blinking at the $80 million dollar price tag attached to James Harden's beard?

The biggest problem with Gay's contract wasn't how well the team played without him, but that Gay simply hasn't improved and shown himself worthy of his massive payday. Since his second season, Gay has remained nearly the same player--an athletic specimen who could use his size, strength and speed to get anywhere he wanted on the court, but simply lacked the outside shooting touch or post game to dominate on all angles. His statistics are extremely telling--season after season, he essentially looks like the same guy. Defensively, he remains an above average player, but offensively there hasn't been much progress to his game. Just watching against other small forwards like Andre Iguodala and Luol Deng, it's clear that Gay has more physical gifts than either--and yet, both have the All-Star credits to there name that Gay does not. There's something to be said about fulfilling potential in this league, even if that player is still providing better than average production. Deng and Iguodala play extremely hard every night, and seem to hit whatever ceiling is in front of them. Gay as still left us wanting year after year.

The Post-Rondo Celtics - Where Do They Go From Here?

(Along with our man Thunderstolt, we sent out an APB for The King after it was announced Sunday that Rajon Rondo was done for the season with a torn ACL. To dispute some rumblings in the New England, our man sent us a couple bullet points regarding his beloved Celtics)

The Celtics are not a better team without Rondo

The King: Incredibly, some Celtics fans have suggested that the Celtics may be better off without Rondo, citing statistics such as his +/- this year. There are a million ways to prove such thinking is ludicrous, but I’ll do it simply by providing one link:


KOBEsh: I have nothing further to add. People are stupid.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

What To Do About "Bad" Russ Westbrook? Questioning an OKC Fan

(The Oklahoma City Thunder fell in LA last Sunday 105-96 to a resurgent Lakers squad. The loss was in part because Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol took control of the game late, but also was pinned on the Thunder's two young stars. Russ Westbrook and Kevin Durant shot 16 for 48, just one part of a relatively lifeless Thunder team tired from the last bout of a 6-game road trip. The loss immediately spurred several questions at MAMBINO HQ to our resident OKC fan, Thunderstolt)

KOBEsh: On Sunday we watched Russ shoot 6-22, igniting anew any controversy regarding Westbrook's actual effectiveness in games and questioning how he's best used. After talking to Bockerknocker following the slugfest against the Lakers, I have several questions, but let's start with the first:

Do you feel like Russ has reached an "Eli Manning"-esque place in performance? As in, you know you're always going to get a few clunkers along with 40-plus point Finals games? Do you just accept him for what he is at this point, or do you feel like his game is going to change?

Monday, January 28, 2013

MAMBINO'S Western Conference NBA All-Stars

Saturday, we laid out our picks for the Eastern Conference All-Stars stamped with the iron-clad MAMBINO seal of approval. Once you've peeped that, feast your eyes on our Western Conference selections:

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Starting Guards: Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder (Unanimous) & Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers 

Westbrook is one of four (!) unanimous selections from this glorious forum, and really, is there any doubt? After a somewhat reckless start, Russ has gone back to his world destroying ways, shooting just 41% (very close to his career mark), but getting to the line nearly 8 times a game, a number identically matched to the number of dimes he doles out every night. Statistically, Westbrook's 2012-2013 isn't as impressive as last year, but all expectations have to be deviated when taking into account the massive team-wide upheaval in the wake of the James Harden deal. Chris Paul surprisingly wasn't a unanimous selection, as one of our panel gave the starting nod to James Harden...somehow. CP3 is in the midst of a MVP-caliber year, in which he should finish no worse than third in the voting by the time April rolls around. His availability for the actual All-Star game is in doubt with a bone bruise in his knee, a horrifying proposition for any Clips fan. Wherever you are.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

MAMBINO's Eastern Conference 2013 NBA All-Star Selections

Every year, the NBA grants voting power to the people and allows the fan base to vote for the starters in it's annual All-Star game. It seems that this year, like all other years, we here at MAMBINO have looked at the selections and determined that the people don't know shit.

The NBA All-Star game amounts to a gigantic popularity contest, in which fans vote for both conference's starters, which in turn affects the seven reserves selected by the 30 head coaches. After a quick poll between some of MAMBINO's finest, we've combed our collective roundball consciousness and determined which players were most deserving of this prestigious honor. Unlike the bogus MLB All-Star game, the NBA holds no premises like mandatory representatives from every team or a 34-man roster which is 9 players larger than the standard 25-man. It's extremely difficult to be selected to an All-Star team in basketball, as great players on poor teams are routinely--and perhaps righty--penalized for playing on a terrible squad. Until Thursday night, the Golden State Warriors haven't had an All-Star since 1997, when Latrell Sprewell laughed at $21 million dollar contracts and played at a high level. The reason? The Warriors have made the postseason just once in that span.

We've put together our rosters according to NBA standards, which means two guards and three "bigs" (there is no "Center" position on the ballot this year, a telling sign of the direction the league is going. The Lakers are even getting beaten down subliminally on nomination sheets), as well as seven reserve players. We tried our best to reward players who are not just playing great, but doing the most to elevate their teams into playoff, or close to playoff contention. Here are the MAMBINO Eastern Conference All-Stars, with select commentary. Western Conference coming tomorrow!

Friday, January 25, 2013

WWE Royal Rumble 2013 MAMBINO Preview


We have officially entered Wrestlemania season, the best time to be a wrestling fan. From late January to early April, Vince McMahon develops a new found sense of urgency. Booking on the fly, feces jokes and blatant misogyny towards woman (otherwise known as a John Cena promo) are thrown out in favor of coherent story lines with a clearly identified goal.

This Sunday, the first step to Mania, the Royal Rumble, emanates live from the US Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona. The Rumble is unique in the sense that it builds in allotted space for nostalgia. You never know who is going to come through the curtain after the clock counts down--think Mr. Perfect and Goldust in 2002. The Rumble has been used as a platform for superstars returning from injury like John Cena in 2008 and Edge in 2010, but more recently has been used as a catapult for new stars to make their mark, as Alberto del Rio and Sheamus won the last two matches. However, I still hold out hope for a Royal Rumble return from the one and only Peter Edward Rose. Without further delay, let's break this down MAMBINO style. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Instant Trade Analysis: Justin Upton to the Braves

Atlanta Braves get: OF Justin Upton, 3B Chris Johnson

Arizona Diamondbacks get: 3B/OF Martin Prado, SP Randall Delgado and minor leaguers SS Nick Ahmed, 1B Brandon Drury and SP Zeke Spruill

Since Ted Turner sold the Braves several seasons ago, Atlanta management has subtly turned a team with a nine figure payroll into shrewd, budget conscious operation with an eye always towards the future. Instead of spending multi-millions to sign or retain high-salaried veterans, the Braves have kept a healthy mix of older players with young, emerging prospects, which seem to sprout from their minor league system as steadily as Milton Bradley felony charges.

Although we had a couple initial thoughts here at MAMBINO HQ regarding this trade, we turned to resident Braves fan and writer The King for his thoughts. Let's get to it:

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Looking Up In the Standings: How the Lakers Can Make the Postseason

My latest from Silver Screen and Roll. Dig it? Dig it. 

Will the Lakers win the championship? Will the Lakers win the Western Conference? Will the Lakers have home court advantage in the postseason? Will the Lakers be able to win four series in a row on the road?

Will the Lakers make the playoffs? 

There's been a sad, slow degenerating line of questions toppling from August of last year to late January. The once title-tilted Lakers now find themselves in a nightly quest to beat anyone, let alone the class of the NBA.

LA finds itself in an unfamiliar spot: looking up in the standings and finding 11 teams ahead of them. The Western Conference has thus far shaken itself into several different categories: at the top is the foursome of the Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers. Each of these teams have established themselves as mid-season title contenders, some with more weaknesses than others. In the second tier lies the Golden State Warriors experiencing a rare surge of on-court success, as well as the Denver Nuggets rebounding after a slow start.

After those six? It's a six-team scrum for the last two spots. There's little doubt that barring a cataclysmic injury (or set of injuries), five of the top six teams will make the playoffs (the only pause comes in the form of the Warriors, who are playing--and more specifically, defending--way beyond expectations, and have seen only a healthy Stephen Curry thus far). This leaves the Utah Jazz, Houston Rockets (both currently in the top 8), Portland Trailblazers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks all separated by just 5 games in the standings.

Last season, prorated for a full, 82 game schedule, the eighth seeded Jazz won 45 games at a .545 winning percentage. To get to that shockingly lofty plateau, the Lakers would have to go 28-13 in their last 41 contests, a .683 winning percentage. Putting that in perspective, the Lakers be on track for a 56-26 if they were winning at that clip. At this point, that record is nearly mathematically impossible.

LA has 19 home games compared to just 23 road games left, including 23 against teams .500 or better. It's not a particularly favorable schedule from here on out, but they've also played the league's 10th toughest schedule thus far according to ESPN.com. Moreover, out of all the teams they're fighting for the bottom two seeds with, they have the worst home to road game ratio.

In a sentence? This won't be easy. In another? They'll need some help. Let's take a look at what the other Western Conference third-class citizens are facing going forward into the second half of the season, and what, if anything, behooves our guys in the purple & gold:

Check the rest out after the jump at SS&R

We're Back!

MAMBINITES,

Profound apologies for being out of commission the past week or so. There was a bug in Google that marked MAMBINO as spam, and thus took us down automatically. Though we don't mind being associated with such a delicious processed meat, our loyal readers (and those of you who just googled "Steve Blake's Wife" and found us) were cheated out of some sweet, MAMBINO-approved content. Well, we're back with a vengeance. Stay tuned for some pretty big changes to the blog very shortly, it's going to be exciting.

Thanks for reading.

-MAMBINO

Friday, January 18, 2013

We're back everyone! A hastily-written 2012-13 NHL season preview

So, not so surprisingly, I've been somewhat quiet around these parts and though I'd rather not go into it, there was a really good reason why. That said, on Saturday at long last the puck will be dropping on the 2012-13 NHL season and there is just a ton of stuff to get excited about, to say nothing of the premier matchups (Chicago-Los Angeles, Pittsburgh-Philadelphia, New York-Boston) that we get on opening day alone.

However, given the consequences of the NHL's work stoppage, rather than the full 82-course serving of a standard NHL season, we'll be seeing a slap-dash truncated 48-game menu this time around. What's even more wild is that the 48 games each team plays will be played entirely within a span of 99 days, which means less of a developed and cohesive performance all around and more of a frenetic breakneck scramble to make the postseason, which will be played out in full.

If anyone remembers last season's 66-game NBA slate in which it seemed like the Knicks were playing about five times per week, this will be something like that. No one is entirely sure how different teams will respond to it, and as a result of the condensed schedule certain teams one might have expected to be title contenders (the Rangers, Detroit) might fall victim to exhaustion due to age or an aggressive style of play while teams not quite ready to make the jump (Edmonton, Florida) could take advantage because of their relative youth in the shortened schedule.

The important thing to understand, however, is that with only one other example of this situation to fall back on, no one is really sure how this will shake out, though if it ends the same way, I won't really be complaining. Either way, it's going to be kind of hard to predict who to bet on in the horse race, but because we need to fill these column inches, here is who might be Secretariat, and who might be Zippy Chippy.

Live Report from London...YOUR New York Knicks!

(A live report from MAMBINO correspondent Sip Rogers, an expatriate New York Knicks fan who lives and works in London. He attended the Knicks-Pistons game on Thursday night at the O2 arena on the Eastside of town. Here's his firsthand recap)

Just got back from the NBA's first regular season game in London and to sum it up, it was amazing. 

First a little actual basketball talk. The Knicks played well in a 102-87 win, outclassing the Pistons most of the game, including a 15 point lead at halftime. As they game wore on, they were able to stifle any runs the Pistons had in them, mostly from Will Bynum (and man, can that guy can drive). 

Iman Shumpert finally is back for the Knicks, giant flat top in tow. He started the game, which was surprising for his return. He ended up scoring 8 points in 15 minutes.  Amar'e had 17 in 20 minutes, but the quietest 17 I've seen in awhile. There wasn't too much to the actual game itself; it was a blowout against the Pistons, whose best player is Greg Monroe and the most explosive guard is Will Bynum.  

As for the event in London, the NBA, Knicks and Pistons did a great great job.  As hard as it is to believe, it actually felt like a real NBA game.  They fixed the courtside seats problem from the Olympics, as in, now there were floor seats (whereas during the summer, spectators were so far away from the court that the camera angle made it appear as if no one was watching live). The O2 arena was sold out and rocking. The crowd remained into the game the whole time and was, to my delight,  very pro-Knicks.  There were a decent chunk of expats (but less than I expected) and plenty of Euros in attendance. However, what surprised me most was a really good amount of Brits were wearing Knicks gear, cheering the Knicks and talking basketball.  Stunning, really. This is a city as big as New York, so I'm not surprised that there are NBA fans hiding but...I don't know where they have been as long as I've lived here. After all, there are a ton of English Premiere League fans in the Mecca, but I'm not sure where they hide out. People aren't talking about Robin Van Persie on the corner of 51st and Lexington, right? 

Certainly a great sign for the NBA that so many Brits were actual fans.  The NFL classically has the issue with their game in London, no matter who is playing. They have a hard time hocking 80,000 seats even with 80,000 expats living in Europe. The NBA seems to have dodged that already.

A couple of nice touches: the Knicks brought along their organ player from MSG, which made the O2 sound even more like a game at the Garden.  The Pistons brought along their announcer, because after all, it was a Detroit home game. Was nice to hear the sounds of "Deeeeetttrrooooooiiiitttt Baaaaassssskeeeetttbaaaallll" echoing through the arena.  Spike Lee made the trip across the pond, sitting courtside next to Baron Davis.  Plenty of Premier League soccer players in the crowd; Ashley Cole, Thierry Henry, Joe Cole and our favorite American Clint Dempsey...who of course sat next to the Knicks bench with a dime piece.

The whole event was really well done and a way more authentic experience than I originally thought it would be.  Kudos to the NBA. 

BTW, no sign of Dolan, I scoured the crowd for him. I guess JD and the Straight Shot doesn't travel across international waters.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Is Chip Kelly a Good Fit For the Philadelphia Eagles?

(In a shocker, Oregon Ducks football coach Chip Kelly became ex-Oregon Ducks football coach this afternoon, as he signed a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. Kelly had been courted by several NFL teams, but seemed to be going back to Eugene after some sources reported he had signed with the Cleveland Browns just two weeks ago. Our man and foolish Eagles faithful El Mariachi had no choice but to comment on his potentially history-making day)


It is common knowledge that the Philadelphia fan base is a notoriously tough crowd when it comes to sports. But when you look past all the bad press that they get you can see deep down in the cavities of their chests that there is a tiny, Kelly-green Grinch- heart three sizes too small. They are arguably the most passionate fan base in all of sports and they are usually the most critical. Which made the 2012 season all the more painful.

To say the least, it was a sad year. Beginning with the tragic death of Andy Reid’s son, the culmination of a 4-12 season, and the inevitable firing of Reid, ending a twelve year long witch hunt. Add everything up, and this made the Eagles one of the unprecedented seven teams that needed a head coach entering the 2012 postseason.

After a grueling process of interviewing over 11 candidates, it was reported today that Oregon head coach Chip Kelly will be the new boss of the Philadelphia Eagles. Ask any fan and they’ll tell you that any change is for the better...but is it really?

Chip Kelly is best known for his high octane offensive style. His no huddle offense is reminiscent of the Patriots, Redskins, and the Colts during the Manning era. Almost always starting in shotgun, Kelly uses the spread offense with 3, 4 or even 5 receiver sets. In theory this spreads the defense dangerously thin which opens up not only the run game, but the read-option for the quarterbacks. This is best run by someone mobile like Cam Newton, RGIII, Colin Kaepernick, or interestingly, a young Michael Vick. The Eagles might have Nick Foles running the show next year, which is a problem in itself. It's not that Foles isn't capable--it's that he's unproven with such a small sample size of games. Regardless of who's throwing the ball, this offensive is devastating when implemented correctly with the right personnel and it led Chip Kelly to an astounding 46-7 record in only a four year span at Oregon.

The problem with this style offense is that it’s not much different from Andy Reid’s pass first, chew bubble gum and take names second, West Coast offense. And with the current wide receiver core consisting of an over paid and underweight DeSean Jackson, solid but not great Jeremy Maclin, Jason “I-like-to-take-chunks-of-the-season-off” Avant, and cascadingly-haired Riley Cooper, the Eagles don’t have the big pass catching threat that would draw double coverage to help spread the defense. With the way this group plays, there is no reason to not run the bump and run defense with opposing team’s corners. And on top of that, they don’t have a competent quarterback in Michael Vick who finished 24th in quarterbacks with a dismal 78.1 passer rating. A young Michael Vick would work well in this offense, but that time has clearly come and gone.

The Eagles are a young and talented group, but they lack the super star wide out such as Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Dez Bryant, or Andre Johnson that could implement Kelly’s offense correctly. This is the NFL we are talking about, consisting of the best players in the world at every position. A team would need one of these star wide outs to demand attention and drastically change defensive play calling unlike how it is in college footbal. But what the Eagles do have is a super star running back in LeSean McCoy, who is the best player on the team and arguably one of the top running backs in the league the past several years. However, is he still an elite player? In 2012, he averaged only 23 touches per game, when backs like Arian Foster, Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch averaged around 25-30 touches. In 2011, McCoy scored a mind blowing 20 touchdowns but this year he only scored 5--needless to say, something is clearly amiss here. Kelly’s system could work if he could modify it to exploit his stellar pass catching backs in the throwing game. Both McCoy and Bryce Brown, if used correctly, could be a devastating weapon for Kelly.

Instead, theories are that Chip Kelly would essentially be running the same offense as Andy Reid, which doesn’t fix the problem and instead puts a fresh band-aid on it. The only way it could work for Kelly would be to upgrade at wide out and get that big target that would open the run game. Then he could use the inside outside scheming that worked so well in Oregon to keep defenses on their heels, not sure whether to defend the pass or the rush. The Eagles run into another problem there too, since they are in desperate need of a solid offensive and defensive line which will undoubtedly be built through the draft which leaves upgrading at wide receiver depending on trades or free agency. 

Chip Kelly has a tough road ahead of him. In college football, his offense is run by young players who don’t play against the best players in the world for 16 weeks straight. NFL players may not physically be able to handle the hurry up offense that he demands week in and week out. The Patriots and Redskins use it sparingly and when they do it is for drives, not entire games. Kelly will undoubtedly have issues with the personnel for his schemes; a mind-blowing sentiment because the Eagles are one of the most young and athletic teams in the league. Unless the Eagles front office can work out some sort of personnel change, especially at quarterback, by the close of the 2013 season they could be finding themselves in the same hole that they were in this year. 

But like I said, the Eagles are a young and very talented team. For all we know, the speedy but small receiving core could be used to devastating effect with Kelly’s style. This in turn could blow the run game wide open and see Shady McCoy return to NFL dominance. Who knows, Michael Vick could even shows signs of his former self in terms of explosive play making and maneuverability. We can only speculate as to what will happen. The problem is that the Eagles fans are more than anything, impatient. 

Hire Rating: B-

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Instant Trade Analysis: Rafael Soriano to the Washington Nationals

Washington Nationals get: RP Rafael Soriano

Rafael Soriano gets: 2 years, $28 million (with a third year vesting option for $14 million)

What difference a month can make--just a month ago, the hot stove was chugging hot enough to warm even the coldest Steinbrenner brother heart. The week of December 13th, Josh Hamilton, Zack Greinke, Kevin Youkilis, Anibal Sanchez and Ryan Dempster were signed, and R.A. Dickey, Shin Soo Choo and James Shields were traded. 

Fast forward to the week of January 13th--the transaction front couldn't be more stagnant. Still, three prominent free agents were orbiting the periphery: starting pitcher Kyle Lohse, center fielder Michael Bourn and reliever Rafael Soriano. Today, the Washington Nationals made sure that Lohse and Bourn would be the lone two at the top.

Soriano signed a massive two year pact, with a third year option that will vest with 120 games pitched over the first two seasons (he's averaged 67 over his career and 63 over his last five seasons), bringing together a potential three year, $42 million dollar deal. Any way you cut it, this is a solid contract for any pitcher, let alone a reliever.

Monday, January 14, 2013

THE GREAT PODBINO, Episode #5

The latest PODBINO, courtesy of El Miz, Bockerknockers and myself talking....Lakers. Get ready for a full 45 minutes of defeatist talk and heavy drinking.

Friday, January 11, 2013

THE GREAT PODBINO, Episode #4: Checking in on the Knicks

We're back! With the first episode of 2013, THE GREAT PODBINO checks in with KOBEsh, El Miz and BockerKnocker on the New York Knicks. Check it out!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Wrestlemania XXIX Prospective Main Events - Who Will It Be? Part 2

(Yesterday, The Raw Librarian and I covered several different prospective main events that could headline Wrestlemania XXIX, emanating live from MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on April 7th, 2013. We're both so fired up that new pants are entirely in order. Check out Part 1 right here)

THE ROCK

Most Likely Match and Best Match For Business

KOBEsh: We covered this largely in our John Cena section yesterday, but it's clear that Rock-Cena II is going to be in the cards. The only factor that's somewhat murky is what the stipulations are going to be for the match itself. Will it be for the title? Will it be fought under the pretenses of No Holds Barred? Will there be a Special Guest Referee? Does any of that matter? 


IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT THE CIRCUMSTANCES ARE. This match is going to blow the figurative roof off of MetLife Stadium.


Dream Match


TRL: The Rock vs HBK Shawn Michaels
These two had real life animosity going back to the Kliq days. HBK was aware of how over the Rock was getting and knew it meant bad things for his real life best friend HHH. He gave a shoot promo or two where he talked about "the Rock always trying to steal the spotlight from Hunter." IF this match were to happen, it'd have a solid backstory beyond two of the greatest ever going toe-to-toe. 

But.

This match will never happen. Neither men are interested (especially the retired HBK) and the WWE wouldn't want to blow all this money getting the Rock to wrestle again knowing that there are bigger bouts out there (i.e. Cena-Rock).

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The NBA Finally Admits It Was Wrong, Wrongs Another City

Back in February of last year I wrote that the NBA NEEDS Seattle and today, almost a year later, David Stern has approved a deal that brings professional ball back to the Emerald City. The deal allows the Sacramento Kings to finish up the season in "cow-town" before moving to Key Arena in Seattle for the 2013-14 season.

Before I go into the specifics and the celebration that has already commenced across the Twitter/sports universe in Washington state, I want to point out first and foremost that this is not exactly how Seattle sports fans wanted to get a team back. Having gone through the evil leadership of the Clay ownership group, Sonics fans have an acute awareness of how shitty it feels to have your hometown team stripped out from underneath you. So a deep apology out to those in Sacramento who are hearing this news and are heartbroken to lose their only pro franchise. At least in Seattle there were the Seahawks, Mariners, and eventually the Sounders left in the wake of the ex-Thunder's departure. This case is certainly a different story of a town leaving town.

Two big reasons why:

Wrestlemania XXIX Prospective Main Events - Who Will It Be? Part 1

I love the NBA Finals. No matter who's playing or how lopsided the matchup, I watch with full attention as a new titlist etches their name into an exclusive fraternity. It's the sport I pay most attention to and the title history most meaningful to me as a lifelong fan of YOUR...16-time champion Los Angeles Lakers. 

I love the Stanley Cup Finals. As a novice to hockey, I'm consistently amazed at how enveloping the NHL playoffs can be for any sports fan, regardless of whether they understand off-sides or that "power play" isn't just a business term. Arguably, it's the most exciting postseason in all of the major professional sports.

I love the NFL playoffs. One loss and you're out? In a professional league? My God. Not growing up with a local football franchise, I've come to appreciate the fanaticism tied into these four weeks in January after living in New York for two years. I've completely bought in, watching every game, even though I have no rooting interest, except the ever-present burning desire I have for Tom Brady to fatally collide with a well-placed flying cleat to the throat. 

I love the World Series. I grew up playing baseball, understanding the incredible difficulties of the sport even as men who could be my father still dominate the game. I find the unpredictability of the playoffs completely fascinating, with matchups and momentum being more integral to baseball than to any other postseason.

But today....we're talking about the Road to Wrestlemania. This my friends--not the NFL Playoffs, not the Stanley Cup round, not the Fall Classic--represents the best time of the year. The three month build to professional wrestling's crown jewel event is some of the best drama anyone could possibly manufacture.

The question, as it is every time in early January, is who will own the right to main event Wrestlemania? Unlike the other sports, the matchups in sports entertainment are predetermined by World Wrestling Entertainment grandmaster Vincent Kennedy McMahon. Simply owning a headlining spot, regardless if the wrestler is slated to win or lose that night, is tantamount to winning the Superbowl or hoisting the Larry O'Brien trophy. 

As of today, we've got several revolving pieces hurtling towards Wrestlemania 29. The Rock. John Cena. CM Punk. Brock Lesnar. The Undertaker. Triple H. Ryback. Sheamus. Even, perhaps...Stone Cold Steve Austin

With all these names tumbling around in Vince McMahon's menagerie of gladiators, there's a million possibilities heading into Metlife Stadium on April 7th. The Raw Librarian and I have been tossing around e-mails for weeks, trying to speculate who will make it through the rocky Road to Wrestlemania and emerge as the top dogs. As MAMBINO often does, we're going to break down the possibilities piece by piece, one wrestler at a time. Here....we....go!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sportscenter featuring Baldwin the Boston College Eagle

I was legitimately afraid for Baldwin the Eagle's safety here.

Hilarious new Sportscenter commercial, featuring Boston College's favorite son.


Dwight and Pau Out "Indefinitely": What Do the Lakers Do Now?

(My latest from Silver Screen & Roll. Check it!)

In a season that's becoming progressively bleaker by the day, could today be the death blow to a prospective championship season on life support?

All within the last 24 hours, three Lakers big men toppled towards the hardwood, as if they were gigantic dominoes being flicked by the oversized pincer of the injury bug. Following yesterday's game against the Denver Nuggets, reserve forward-center Jordan Hill added to his already thick medical folder with a torn hip muscle that will cause him to miss at least a week of action.

That wasn't all: more apparent in Sunday's contest was the bloody injury to Pau Gasol. At the time, announcers Bill McDonald and Stu Lantz postulated he had suffered a broken nose from a flailing JaVale McGee elbow (is there any other kind?). Today, news came down that Gasol's nose was merely lacerated, but the real damage came from within--the Spaniard had been concussed, and would miss at least the next two games.

Surprisingly, the most devastating news of the day was yet to come. Dwight Howard, who sprained his shoulder on Friday in a loss against the Clippers, had re-aggravated the injury against the Nuggs and was noticeably wincing during the game. An examination afterwards revealed that Howard was playing with a torn labrum in his right shoulder, which led the team to list the center out "indefinitely". Later in the day, Dwight was adamant that he wouldn't need surgery to correct the injury, but rather just rehabilitation. Either way, the Lakers' starting center would be out at least one week, if not more if surgery is deemed necessary. It seems impossible, but Howard's cartoonishly gigantic shoulders weren't even exempt from a storm of health problems for the Lakers' frontline.

It's not that all of these injuries are that devastating in the short-term--all of them call for the Lakers' bigs to miss no more than two to five games. However, it's the nature of the injuries that could prolong the players' absences for a serious stretch of time. Hill's latest boo-boo is the nineteenth of the season, seemingly. So far, the former Wildcat has been sidelined with a herniated disc and a sprained ankle. Though a hip injury is another short-term problem, it's obvious at this point that Hill is just an injury-prone player. Gasol's concussion calls for just a two-game leave, but concussions can range from temporary setbacks to lifelong disabilities. It's improbable that Pau could be done for the season or anything close to that, but there's no telling how he'll respond in the coming days. Howard's shoulder is another wild card--though he's insisted that surgery isn't an option, labrum tears can be assuaged by anything ranging from rehabilitation to invasive surgery, depending on how large the tear. For now, he's saying that this is just a rest and strengthening process, but again, the pervasive cloud of uncertainty rolls over the Lakers.

(Read on after the jump)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Criticizing the 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers is Easy...But Maybe Not Right

"Pitching and defense. Defense and pitching. Either way, with both going this well simultaneously, 3-0 is exactly where the Giants are supposed to be."--Mike Bauman, MLB.com

"And, especially, one win from popularizing a way to win baseball games that most people thought had gone out of style in, like, 1992: Throw the ball. … Catch the ball. Pitching. … And defense."--Jayson Stark, ESPN.com

"The best defense in all of baseball made all of these very good, very young pitchers look even better...Given everything they just accomplished, and the path they took to get there, we should rank the 2012 Giants right there among the four greatest playoff stories of the past 40 years."--Jonah Keri, Grantland.com

The pundits couldn't be any more correct. This past October, the San Francisco Giants won their second title in three years with the best pitching staff top to bottom in the Majors and a spectacular fielding defense. In a time when the Dodgers, Yankees, Angels and Red Sox spend $100 million on a hitting lineup alone, the Gigantes surrounded their all-world hitter and 2012 NL MVP in Buster Posey with understated trade bait and shrewd scrap-heap pick-ups. GM Brian Sabean built a team similar to the Dodgers squads dominated the 70s and 80s, with each of their athletic solar systems built around the gravitational pull of a titanic pitching staff and defense.

In October, the Dodgers watched helplessly as the Giants won their fourth pennant and second title in a span of time where neither of those accolades were accomplished in Chavez Ravine. To add insult to injury, San Francisco did all of this by playing Dodgers baseball

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Feeling Big Blue

This season Sports Illustrated revamped it's NFL predictions from September with the foresight and knowledge of eight weeks of football already past and came up with new picks for the Super Bowl that were different, rational and not far off from what I would have pegged it at myself. The choice by SI's Jim Trotter, with the argument of "Whom do you trust late with the game on the line? Two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning or Matt Schaub, who has never started in the postseason?" was the New York Giants to win a second consecutive championship with a 24-20 victory over the Houston Texans in Super Bowl XLVII. At the time that I saw this after I got my issue in the mail I had one thought run through my head.

"Oh, I don't like this one bit."

I hesitate to say that I'm superstitious. After all, the idea that a few words printed on a page in a soon to be forgotten article in a weekly periodical don't actually have the power to unseat or upset anyone or anything. They're just words, meaningless as every game in college football's postseason with the notable exception of one. And yet fear still ran down my spine as I saw it, hypothetically jinxing everything I had known to be a true, reasonable interpretation of the season's first half. After all, the Giants had overcome an early season hiccup against Dallas and were 6-2 with a comfortable division lead at the season's mid-way point, their lone other loss being a frustrating, but forgiveable road defeat at Philadelphia which had not yet revealed itself to be utterly horrendous.

Otherwise, the Giants were off and running with an offense looking every bit as potent as one would have expected, a solid defense, championship experience in their back pockets and an absolute thrashing of a San Francisco team many expected to (and still expect to) compete for a Super Bowl title this February. All of this makes the fact that New York is already home for the summer more than a little baffling, and if you happen to call yourself a Giants fan (spoiler alert: I do), it's more than a little frustrating. I sat in my father's living room in New Jersey Sunday watching my team display in just about every facet why it has the potential to make a Super Bowl run any time it gets into the postseason and the entire time I kept watching Chicago stave off Detroit on my laptop and realized what the Giants did wouldn't mean a thing. This is maddening to some extent considering had the Giants done what was required of them in just one of any number of previous games this all would have been moot, but in the end, a rational man takes his gifts and hesitates to get greedy.

This offseason, I am going to pretend that that is me.