Subscribe in a reader

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mike Bradley: The Week That Was - NFL Week 1

It's an event that needs no introduction. The first week of the NFL schedule came and passed, with the usual fanfare that comes with the beginning of the sacred season. With old faces in new places, injured superstars making triumphant returns, healthy superstars making early exits, and 30 teams (not counting the Rams or Lions, for obvious reasons) beginning their quest for the Lombardi Trophy, Standing Room Only reflects on all the action from Week One.

Quarterback Debuts
Of the quarterbacks making debuts with their new teams, the best performance belonged to rookie Mark Sanchez of the Jets. The confidence of the young man was evident as he threw for 272 yards and a touchdown, leading a balanced effort in an easy win
on the road in Houston. Fellow rookie Matthew Stafford wasn't as fortunate, having to endure a blowout loss at the hands of Drew Brees and the Saints. What's even more troubling might be the 3 INTs Stafford threw against what is widely considered an underwhelming secondary in New Orleans. There is clearly potential in his big arm. The Lions just might have to wait a little while for the potential to be realized. Stafford wasn't alone in the INT department however, as Jay Cutler did nothing to excite Bears fans eager to see their new "stud" lead their team to the promised land. After a 4 INT performance against the hated Packers, Cutler has a lot of work to do to win over the good graces of the rugged Bears faithful. Meanwhile, back in Denver, Josh McDaniels obviously has more work to do than he originally thought. If you erase the miracle 87-yard game-winning TD, Kyle Orton threw for an unimpressive 156 yards against a pitiful Bengals squad, reminding fans of a poor man's Brian Griese. Enough said. And finally, some Brett Favre guy made his debut for the Vikings. In a lame duck effort that was upstaged by an Adrian Peterson explosion, Favre threw for slightly over 100 yards and a dramatically over-celebrated TD pass to rookie Percy Harvin. But at this point, who cares about Favre outside of Minnesota?

Early Injury Bug
One of the dominant topics of week one was the plethora of injuries across the league. In the league's opening game, the Steelers lost s
tar ballhawk Troy Polamalu for a few weeks due to a knee injury (Watch out, Fitz. The Madden Curse is coming for you!). If the injury lasts longer than 3-4 weeks, the Steelers may be in some trouble. However, the Steelers aren't in as much trouble as the Bears, who lost beast MLB Brian Urlacher for the entire season. It's one thing to lose your star for a few weeks, but the Bears now have to move forward without the quarterback of their defense. The Patriots also lost the centerpiece of their defense when Jerod Mayo went down with a Grade 3 MCL sprain, which is of the severe variety. Standout linebacker Paul Posluszny was lost to a broken arm, leaving the Bills a man down as well. Injuries were almost too popular, so in a quick roundup, Donovan McNabb broke a rib, LaDainian Tomlinson rolled an ankle, Anthony Gonzalez suffered a knee injury, and Shawn Andrews reaffirmed himself as the softest lineman in the NFL by being placed on the IR yet again. I wonder who's next this week?

B-East Defenses
Defense was everywhere in Week One, from an 8-turnover effort from the Eagles to a dominant Giants defensively line reaffirming themselves as the class of the league at rushing the passer. Sheldon Brown, Asante Samuel, and company knocked Panthers QB Jake Delhomme out of the game with 5 INTs, the front 7 forced fumbles, they scored a touchdown, and the return game looked fabulous in executing an 85-yard punt return by DeSean Jackson. Osi Umenyiora was back and Justin Tuck looked ready to wreak havoc all year long in an impressive showing against the Redskins. Once again, the NFC East is shaping up to be another great battle.

Best of the Rest
The Raiders looked good in losing a heartbreaker to San Diego. Russell is on his way, Louis Murphy might outplay Darrius Heyward-Bey, and Michael Bush will overtake Darren McFadden as lead ballcarrier at some point in the season in Reggie Bush-Deuce McAllister type move....You can't write off LT until he plays healthy, although Darren Sproles looks to be the present, as well as the future, feature back of the Chargers....Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco both avoided the sophomore slump in Week One, looking incredibly comfortable in their respective offenses entering their second seasons....Drew Brees may finish the season as the best QB in the league....Kurt Warner looks OLD. Matt Leinart, anyone?....Aaron Rodgers and Greg Jennings are scary good....The Rams may not win a game this year.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Evan Heffron: The Good, The Bad, and The Really Ugly- Opening Week in College Football

Its back. The tailgates, the band, the triple option, the atmosphere, the upsets, the powerhouses the excitement, the...... errrr...... right hooks? Nevertheless, whatever it is I love it. College football is here again and for the next 4 months this nation will be completely enthralled with the every movement of these 18-22 year old amateurs, and oh boy did these kids deliver the past few days. Now, for the first time in a few months, Standing Room Only is going to round up the weekend that was in college football.


-For Big East proponents, you have to love Cinci's drubbing of Rutgers on the road. This team seems to be even stronger than last year's BCS representative. Now, hopefully for the Big East, the Bearcats led by Tony Pike can run the table and give the ACC champ a run for their money.
- Notre Dame and Michigan both convincingly won their week one match up, setting the stage for a huge game for both teams in week two. Gotta think that Rich Rod and Charlie both need this win to keep their backsides' off the hot seat for another week. This will make for a great physical game, and even more so a can't-miss coaching match up.

- BYU's comeback was bolstered by a devastating pile-driver to Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford in the first half, but that doesn't down play quarterback Max Hall's heroics in the fourth quarter. This guy led his team down the field to barely take the lead on the third ranked team in all the land. It should be exciting how this team handles the rest of their not so easy Mountain West schedule.


- Really, Ohio State? Conceding an 85 yard touchdown pass to Navy? Yeah, It's true. Navy went into Columbus and gave the Buckeyes a real run for their money. Jim Tressel can't be too thrilled with the 31-27 squeaker mostly because the Trojans will be in town next Saturday night. There's no time to regroup against an FCS team this year, they will host USC and I just don't believe Ohio State has the fire power to fend off a much superior USC squad. Look for the Trojans to roll through Colombus by a large margin.

- Greg Paulus was managing the game, running the offense crisply, and not making any glaring mistakes until..... the game was actually in his hands. An errant pick in overtime sealed the fate for the Orange against Minnesota. It looked as if Paulus was trying to pull his best 2004 Mike Vick impression untill he forced the ball into a cluster of defenders in the end zone to end the offensive possesion, and ultimately the game. As of now, Paulus is the key for Syracuse football this season. He is going to have to do more than just manage the game to propel this group of players into bowl contention.

- West Virginia Giving up 20 points to Liberty. Enough said. Time for the big boys of the Big East to start stepping up before the Moutain West takes your BCS bid.


- Oh my did LaGarrette Blount earn this spot. The right hook that the Oregon running back landed on Boise State defender Bryan Hout was probably one of the most immature things I have ever seen, but hey, at least he had nice form on the hay maker. Would have made Joe Frazier proud. On a more serious note, The actions of Blount post-game may have just cost the Ducks their season. This team was destined to give USC a run for their money out west in the PAC-10, but all hopes of that seem to be grounded for the time being. It will be interesting to see how QB Jeremiah Masoli rounds up the troops and responds to this awful mess in Eugene.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Mike Bradley: NBA Mock Draft Version 1.0

1. Los Angeles Clippers - Blake  Griffin, F, Oklahoma
Already a foregone conclusion, Griffin's outstanding skill set will be on display in glamorous Los Angeles. Now all he needs is Mike Dunleavy fired, competent ownership to take over for Donald Sterling, and a little help from the man upstairs. 

2. Memphis Grizzlies - Hasheem Thabeet, C, Connecticut
Already equipped with capable scorers O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay, along with rising star point guard Mike Conley, all the Grizzlies are missing is a big man and some depth. Enter Thabeet, the skyscraping 7'3" shot blocking machine from Tanzania. While Marc Gasol played admirably in his rookie season, a proven rebounder and defender like Thabeet would do wonders for this young team.

*TRADE* OKC trades #3 pick to Golden State for #7 pick and future compensation
3. Golden State Warriors - Ricky Rubio, PG, Spain
This Spanish sensation has garnered comparisons to anyone from Pistol Pete Maravich to Jason Kidd, and the buzz is surely warranted. After a stellar campaign in the Olympics, this 18 year old prodigy can step right in and guide a Golden State team oozing with athletic potential.

4. Sacramento Kings - Tyreke Evans, PG/SG, Memphis
With Rubio gone, and a clear need at the point, the Kings make a slight reach and grab the combo guard out of Memphis. Evans started slow for the Tigers, but really gained steam after his move to playing the point full time. With a roster featuring Kevin Martin and not much else, Evans can come in and be the spotlight player that he loves to be.

5. Washington Wizards - James Harden, SG, Arizona State
A playoff-caliber roster that fell on some tough luck and injuries (see: Arenas, Gilbert), this draft position is a gift from the gods. Pairing a scoring stud like Harden with the likes of Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, and a healthy Gilbert Arenas could be a lethal recipe for lots of 100-point nights for the Wizards in '09-'10.

6. Minnesota Timberwolves - Brandon Jennings, PG, Lottomatica Roma
While the experiment with one ex-prep superstar has seemingly failed (Sebastian Telfair), the T-Wolves still have a glaring need at the point and the best available point is prep-to-international pro Brandon Jennings. While much of his hype came from his decision to skip college and play a year in Europe, the skills are there. A gifted shooter, crisp passer, and commanding floor presence should give Minnesota the man they need to feed star players Al Jefferson and Randy Foye.

7. Oklahoma City Thunder - Stephen Curry, PG/SG, Davidson
By trading down, the Thunder get the 2-guard they want in the sweet-shooting Curry. By taking the combo guard, the Thunder have the luxury of playing both Curry and 2nd year man Russell Westbrook at the same time and splitting the point guard duties evenly. With this pick, the Thunder are one big man away from a legitimate playoff run. 

8. New York Knicks - Demar DeRozan, SG/SF, USC
With the selection of Curry by Oklahoma City, the Knicks are forced to go to the next guy on their board. A physical clone of Kobe Bryant, DeRozan should bring the toughness and physicality that the Knicks need. Even following a less-than-stellar freshman campaign at USC, DeRozan's pure ability and NBA-ready body will be enough to tantalize the New York front office.

9. Toronto Raptors - Jordan Hill, PF, Arizona
While it's not a need for the Raptors, Hill is too much of a talent to pass up this late in the draft. With the ability to slide 7-footer Andrea Bargnani to the 3 and Chris Bosh to the center position, Toronto should have no trouble finding playing time for this rebounding machine.

10. Milwaukee Bucks - Jrue Holiday, PG/SG, UCLA
With Ramon Sessions' future up in the air, the Bucks need to select one of the point guards in this draft in preparation for the return of Michael Redd. With the pick of Holiday, the Bucks solve the issue at the point while also gaining a player skilled enough to play shooting guard while Redd is on the bench. Versatility is the theme of this year's draft, and Holiday has just that. 

11. New Jersey Nets - DeJuan Blair, PF, Pittsburgh
With the Yi experiment looking like a bust, the Nets need to provided rookie sensation Brook Lopez with some help in the post. Blair's big body and soft hands should provide a perfect compliment to the long Lopez. With both of them on the court at the same time, look for the Nets to dominate the boards on both ends of the court.

12. Charlotte Bobcats - Gerald Henderson, SG, Duke
One of the most improved players in all of college is reward for his play by getting to suit up for MJ's team. With a nucleus in place with Okafor, Gerald Wallace, and the combo of Ray Felton and D.J. Augustin, the slashing style of Gerald Henderson would fit perfectly into the hole the Bobcats have at the shooting guard position.

13. Indiana Pacers - Jonny Flynn, PG, Syracuse
One of the highest risers on draft boards since his 6OT performance against UConn in the Big East Tournament, the Energizer bunny that is Jonny Flynn is exactly the kind of player Larry Legend loves. A proven leader with outstanding speed, control, and ability, Flynn is the prototypical point guard in all aspects of the position. He is a consistent outside jump shot away from being an all around threat, but the Pacers will take him just as he is right now. Danny Granger should send a thank you note to each GM in front of the Pacers for allowing this godsend fall into his lap.

14. Phoenix Suns - Austin Daye, F, Gonzaga
In a draft with little superstar power, the Suns steal one of the most skilled players in the draft with the 14th pick. Daye showed flashes of brilliance during his days at Gonzaga, and he projects to be a do-it-all forward at the next level (a la Shawn Marion, ironically enough). After many years of selling first rounders, the Suns can be happy with keeping this pick.

15. Detroit Pistons - James Johnson, PF, Wake Forest
In a strange position, the Pistons find themselves selecting in the middle of the first round. With an aging nucleus, look for the Pistons to start building a foundation for the future. The pick of Johnson gives the Pistons a versatile forward with a lottery-worthy skill set to pair up with point guard Rodney Stuckey and fellow forward Jason Maxiell for the future.

16. Chicago Bulls - Earl Clark, F, Louisville
A team littered with young talent, fresh off an impressive playoff series, finds themselves with two first round picks to build upon an already outstanding foundation. While Clark has always had character flaws, his talent would be too much to pass up at this point in the draft. His size (6'9") and his versatility will allow him to find playing time at some position with the Baby Bulls. Look for a lot of Rose-to-Clark alley oops in the coming season.

17. Philadelphia 76ers - Eric Maynor, PG, VCU
With the departure of Andre Miller seemingly inevitable, the Sixers will be looking to add a young point guard to their stable of youthful wings. A proven leader and winner, Maynor is a perfect fit for these Sixers. His ability to control a team and lead them to victory should mesh perfectly with the athletic Thaddeus Young and the budding superstar Andre Iguodala. His size, scoring, and defense are all perfect to replace a steady vet like Miller.

18. Minnesota Timberwolves - Terrence Williams, SG/SF, Louisville
After solving the PG problem with Jennings earlier in the first round, the Timberwolves snag the multitalented Williams to share time at the 3 with Ryan Gomes (who is better suited as a 6th man). His length and talent should fit in nicely with the young nucleus of Jefferson, Foye, Jennings, and Kevin Love.

19. Atlanta Hawks - Ty Lawson, PG, North Carolina
Mike Bibby isn't getting any younger, and Lawson is the perfect heir to his starting spot. Bibby can take Lawson under his wing and teach him how to run a team, while Lawson still gets his ears wet pushing the tempo with the likes of Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, and Marvin Williams. This team should be fun to watch when Lawson is at the helm.

20. Utah Jazz - B.J. Mullens, C, Ohio State
A much better prospect than fellow Buckeye Kosta Koufos, Mullens is a lottery-type talent that needed to leave school early for financial reasons. With Carlos Boozer on his way out, Mullens fills the need for size with that departure while also providing Jerry Sloan with a solid young center to groom into the starting spot.

21. New Orleans Hornets - Jeff Teague, PG/SG, Wake Forest
At face value, this looks like a wasted pick. Chris Paul is still the best point guard in basketball, but he isn't superman. A few minutes of rest here and there would be good for him, and Teague is more than capable of filling in. His scoring ability would also allow the Hornets to use him as a shooting guard from time to time in a small, speedy lineup. This tandem out of Wake Forest should be keeping defenses on their toes for years to come.

22. Dallas Mavericks - Tyler Hansbrough, PF, North Carolina
The knock on the Mavericks has always been the fact that they're a soft team. Any time your best player is a 7-foot finesse player from Europe, you are surely going to hear these types of statements being made. While a guard is more in the realm of what the Mavs need, it would be hard to pass up the hard-nosed Hansbrough at this point in the draft. While his athleticism leaves much to be desired, his effort, toughness, and tenacity can never be questioned. This late in the first round, a consistent double-double threat off the bench is more than justifiable. 

23. Sacramento Kings - Sam Young, F, Pittsburgh
The worst team in the league inevitably has a lot of holes to fill. While Francisco Garcia did in admirable job as a starter, he was slightly in over his had. Enter Young, an ultra-athletic do-it-all forward that can play either the 3 or the 4. With Sacramento also shopping one of their bigs (Jason Thompson or Spencer Hawes), the versatility of Young also factors into this choice.

24. Portland Trailblazers - Chase Budinger, SG/SF, Arizona
One of the best fits in the draft, the young talent in Portland will get a little bit deeper. While Budinger never truly tapped his true potential with Arizona, he is a super athletic wing with shooting ability. Matching him with Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Rudy Fernandez would create matchup problems all over the floor. These aren't your daddy's JailBlazers.

25. Oklahoma City Thunder - Gani Lawal, PF/C, Georgia Tech
While his 6'8" frame doesn't scream "prototypical NBA center," his 7'0" wingspan and freakish athleticism should be enough to dethrone the immortal tandem of Nenad Krstic and Nick Collison. While he projects as more of a 4 throughout his career, Lawal would be an absolute steal for the suddenly potent Thunder. 

26. Chicago Bulls - Marcus Thornton, SG, LSU
While their chief priority this offseason is to lock up Ben Gordon to a long-term deal, the Bulls still snatch up some insurance at the 2 by taking pure scorer Marcus Thornton. His ability to carry a fring-average team like the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament speaks volumes about his leadership and winning mentality. Matching him with Derrick Rose for the next 10 years would be mighty appealing for the Baby Bulls.

27. Memphis Grizzlies - Patrick Mills, PG, St. Mary's
Despite the emergence of Mike Conley as a solid starting point guard, depth never hurt anyone. Mills contributions to a previously-irrelevant St. Mary's club cannot be dismissed. Add to that an impressive showing on an equally-forgettable Australian national team, and it's easy to see the talent oozing from this guard from down under.

28. Minnesota Timberwolves - DaJuan Summers, F, Georgetown
With their third pick of the first round, the Timberwolves should look to add even more size to their front court. Summers fits that bill. An all-around talent for the Hoyas for his whole career, Summers can take his time learning the ropes in the NBA while providing a breather for the likes of Jefferson and Love.

29. Los Angeles Lakers - Darren Collison, PG, UCLA
Derek Fisher is on his last legs and pairing Jordan Farmar with another solid UCLA point could be a recipe for success. Collison's defensive ability and winning mentality would fit in perfectly in a tandem with the offensively adept Farmar. Keeping the Rancho Cucamonga-native in California should only keep him happier.

30. Cleveland Cavaliers - Omri Casspi, F, Israel
The best team in the league still needs to build around the best player in the league. Casspi might be a bit of a project, but Casspi has made steady progress in each of his years in the Iraeli league. Fitting the 6'8" forward with LeBron shouldn't be too much of a problem, and there isn't much left at this point in the draft as far as first round talent.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Mike Bradley: Devendorf Syndrome: Players We Love To Hate

We are all guilty of it. No matter the sport, everyone has a player they simply love to hate. The trend can probably be traced back to its roots when Ty Cobb was the polarizing, racist, cheap, standoffish star that drew the ire of the country. Since Cobb's villain routine in the early 1990s, many other American athletes have taken his path (whether they wanted to or not). The player who draws boos wherever he plays; The guy who knows how to push the buttons of the average fan; The prima donna who simply has no time for the media or his devoted fans; Even the star that time and again sticks the dagger through the hearts of your favorite teams. They come in all shapes and sizes, but the amount of hatred felt towards them remains constant. With Laettner, Redick, Noah, and Hansbrough on the short list of the crowded college basketball hate wagon, the other sports don't get their due. So without further ado, Standing Room Only presents to you some of the most loathed active athletes in the other major sports. I look forward to the hate mail and the additions to the list I'm sure you will all provide me.


1. Alex Rodriguez - The biggest forgone conclusion on this list, A-Fraud has siphoned absurd amounts of money from his team while returning the favor with stellar regular seasons and more-than-forgettable postseason debacles. But thank God for his brand-new 10-year, $275 million contract. God only knows how he'd pay for his divorce, child support, and his next secret rendevouz with Madonna on his old, $252 million deal. 

2. Derek Jeter - No, this isn't a Yankee bias. Yes, many people do love Jeter. No, you can't find any of those people outside of New York City. In his younger days, Jeter probably deserved the praise he was given. However, its 2009, not 1999. "Mr. November" hasn't been playing in November (or late October, for that matter) since 2003. He's slower, his masterful glove work is no more, and he's not as reliable as the New York faithful would like to believe. He's the heartbeat of the most hated team in the sport, and you can bet it pleases more than a few people that this heart is starting to have a few clogged arteries.

3. Francisco Rodriguez - In my defense, K-Rod would have made this list even if he was still an Angel. If you put any other top closer in a position to save 70 games, chances are they would be able to save 60+ of them. The only difference is they would do so with much more class. If you're a major league pitcher, you should be able to strike out a batter from time to time. A slight fist pump or an acknowledgment to the man upstairs is justified, but what Rodriguez seems to do after each "big" strikeout is just unnecessary. Jumping off the mound, exaggerated fist pumps, battle cries, and general showmanship are all staples in K-Rod's classless routine. Add to that his brand new contract and his new residence in New York City, and you have a recipe for a big, boiling pot of hatred.

Dishonorable Mention: A.J. Pierzynski, Manny Ramirez, Pedro Martinez, Ken Griffey, Jr. (Just kidding.)

1. Terrell Owens - Coming in 2nd in a photo finish with A-Rod for the overall Hated Championship is Mr. Terrell Owens. He insinuated his quarterback was gay while in San Francisco. He called his quarterback a choke artist in Philadelphia. He manufactured a sob session about his quarterback in Dallas. And he now has his third and possibly final "fresh start" with Trent Edwards and Buffalo. His reputation really precedes him, making anything I say either unnecessary or redundant (or both). So I'll just wait and see what the next chapter holds in the tragic comedy that is Terrell Owens' career.

2. Tom Brady - Three Super Bowls. GQ covers. Supermodel wife. How could anyone NOT hate this man? Bernard Pollard did what millions of people across the country wish they could have done when he tore up Brady's knee in the first game of the season. But, sure enough, even a year away from the game couldn't get Brady out of the limelight. From hour-by-hour rehab updates to wedding plans to the Cassel Controversy, the country got more news on Tom Terrific than they probably would have had he played the whole year. No one loves a sore loser, but a sore winner is even worse. Here's to hoping Brady's knee is never the same again.

3. Philip Rivers - Has anyone who has done so little ever been so cocky? A few playoff runs don't give you the right to do what Rivers does on a daily basis. His numbers are nice and the Pro Bowl nods are admirable, but running onto the field to taunt a dejected Jay Cutler epitomizes what kind of person Rivers is. It's hard to imagine all those numbers looking as good without LaDanian Tomlinson causing defenses to load the box and allowing Rivers to dump short passes over the middle to Antonio Gates. But the hatred for Rivers lies not in his numbers or his skill, but in how he carries himself as a person. Until he grows up, he will never mature into the quarterback he should be. And until that happens, there will always be a plethora of haters.

Dishonorable Mention: Ray Lewis, Shawn Merriman, Tony Romo, Chad Ocho Cinco


1. Kobe Bryant - No player draws the ire of opposing fans more than Kobe Bryant. His tenacity and his effortless ability to put the ball in the hoop are envious assets. Much of the hatred is rooted in his ability on the court. But he is equally hated for his issues off the court. Rape trials disappearing, throwing teammates and coaches under the bus, a general standoffish attitude, and the ludicrous Jordan comparisons have made Bryant one of the most polarizing figures in sports. Until he wins a title "on his own," both fans and Shaquille O'Neal will be content rooting against Black Mamba.

2. Ron Artest - Brawler, Technical Foul Extraordinaire, Rapper, Solid Basketball Player. That is most likely the order that Ron-Ron has gained his notoriety from in the eye of the public. From the Brawl at the Palace, to his uninspiring solo rap career, to his constant jawing on the court, Artest is about as likable as a case of gonorrhea. Despite his tenacious perimeter defense and steady scoring output, Artest has had a hard time avoiding the boo birds at any of his stops around the league. At least he can take in solace in the fact that he definitely got the better of that fan in Detroit.

3. Rasheed Wallace - The only man in the NBA who could out-talk Artest is Rasheed Wallace. The Walking Technical is a favorite amongst the referees of the league and the fans alike. Outside of Detroit, 'Sheed and his white spot of hair are the constant butt of jokes, jeers, and general disdain. With a South Philly background off the court to match his gritty style on the court, Wallace doesn't have much wiggle room in the court of public opinion.

Dishonorable Mention: Stephon Marbury, Gilbert Arenas, Nate Robinson


1. Sean Avery - From his fight-provoking on-ice antics to his off-ice callouts, Avery knows exactly what to do to get on a person's bad side. From the goofy looking glasses he sports to the little mohawk he occasionally sports, Avery even makes his appearance compatible to hatred. All I know is I'll be sure to avoid his "sloppy seconds." I wouldn't want a public airing-out like the one Dion Phaneuf received (Even though Elisha Cuthbert is smoking hot).

2. Sidney Crosby - While much of is haters simply hate his pure skill, his constant whining, nagging injuries, and "golden boy" aura certainly don't help things. You either love this guy or you hate him. Donned The Next Gretzky since his days in the junior leagues in Canada, Crosby has been coddled from day one. And no one likes an athlete that was fed with a golden spoon in his mouth.

3. Alexander Ovechkin - Much like Crosby, you either love Ovie, or you hate his guts. One of the best pure scorers to come along in quite a while, Ovechkin has made the Capitals relevant. The manner in which has gone about it, however, has drawn some criticism. The NHL isn't the NFL, and the league expects their plays to exemplify the "tough grinder" image that has always been associated with the sport. However, Ovechkin's "Stick on Fire" goal celebration was the closest the NHL has gotten to a Randy Moss-esque controversy. With his undeniable skill comes an equally undeniable ego. With a long future ahead of both him and Crosby, expect a lot more fireworks to come from this loathsome duo.

Dishonorable Mention: Martin Brodeur, Gary Bettman

Worst of the Rest

1. David Beckham - Supermodel good looks. Supermodel Wife. Illustrious European Career. Incomprehensibly large contract. David Beckham is an A-Rod/Brady hybrid. What makes it worse is that he plays a sport that this country couldn't care less about, making his absurd salary that much more anger-inducing. 

2. Tim Tebow - He's won two national champions. He's a Heisman Winner. He's gone on missionaries to underprivileged countries. And rumor has it he's solved world hunger, cured AIDs, and ended gang violence. Long story short, the quintessential Golden Boy is perfect enough to make any non-Gators fan sick to their stomach. I can hardly wait for his 2 year NFL stint before his inevitable concussion problems. 

3. Tony Stewart - Not that I'm well-versed in things NASCAR, but I do know Tony Stewart defines the term diva in the racing circle. Add to that his god awful Old Spice commercial, and it's enough for even a non-racing fan to hate his guts. *

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Evan Heffron: The 10 Most Intimidating Places to Play in American Sports

In American sports, the "home-field advantage" has always played some sort of a role in every meaningful game since the beginning of organized athletics. Deafening noise, personal taunts from 20,000 people, and D-batteries being packed into snowballs all have had their place in the history of sports. These venue and crowd related events that happen during the course of a game almost seem to gather more mystique than the games themselves. Being a huge sports fan myself, I like to believe I add to the legend of what is happening on the field in front of me when i attend a sporting event. Some athletes claim the crowds and venues don't phase them. Some openly admit they couldn't hear themselves think. Whatever the actuality of the situation is, the home-field advantage is something that connects fans with their players, and can set the stage for some of the most intense and passionate competition that modern sport has to offer.

Having said that, Standing Room Only will throw you the 10 most intimidating places to play from the past and the present, in all of the USA. Please leave your opinions/criticisms under the comment section!

Honorable mentions- Madison Square Garden, New York Knicks/New York Rangers ; Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City Cheifs; Fenway Park, Boston Red Sox; Olypmia Arena, Detroit Red Wings

10. The Pit, University of New Mexico Basketball
- This place in my mind is one of the most underrated venues anywhere in the country. The UNM Lobos call this place home and for their sake thankfully so. The way this 18,000 seat arena is arranged is intimidating because of the way it is built. The seating cascades almost directly on top of the court creating a very claustrophobic feeling for the players, hence the name "The Pit". The Pit has recorded the highest decibel mark (118) out of any college basketball venue in the country. The decibel level of 118 is just shy of the Threshold of Pain (125), so its easy to see why this is a hard place to play.
9. Yankee Stadium, New York Yankees
- I went to a Yankee game for the first time this past fall, and was quickly introduced to "The Bleacher Creatures". These guys are absolutely nuts. Between the Creatures' Roll Call, The storied history of the park, and the alleged supernatural presence that once floated around in dead center field, I was extremely overwhelmed. At the time, the Yanks were in 3rd place. I couldn't even begin to imagine what postseason ball would be like inside the House that Ruth Built. Anyone who is around my age very vividly remembers 60,000 obnoxious, drunken New Yorkers chanting "Who's Your Daddy?" to the fireballer Pedro Martinez in the ALCS. Legend after legend seems to surface these days every since the move across the street. It's a shame this place is gone because it was one of a kind.
8. Veterans Stadium, Philadelphia Eagles, Philadelphia Phillies
- Yea this place was nasty. Hell, the bathrooms were scary. Between the batteries thrown at JD Drew, snowballs flung at Jimmie Johnson, cheers aimed towards Michael Irving's serious neck injury, this place never seemed to amaze me. The fake "AstroTurf" was the career ender and ACL tearer for many, and was actually the culprit behind the cancellation of a preseason football game after the surface was deemed "unplayable". I've seemed some nasty fights up in the 700 Level which was later dubbed, "The Nest Of Death". Just like i mentioned about the drunk New Yorkers, a crazy picture comes to mind when one adds beer, South Philly, concrete, and at the time the league's only in-stadium courthouse. You get the picture. A physically painful playing surface and a loud passionate fanbase for football and baseball provided a very intimidating environment for the away team.
7. Cameron Indoor Gymnasium, Duke University Basketball -Maybe the most recognizable student section in all of college basketball, The Cameron Crazies always seemed to gain acknowledgement from the opposing team. The intensity of chants, taunts, and cheers throughout the entire course of the game shows how crazy these people are about their basketball. Not to mention, the team isn't that bad either. This place can be a house of horrors for some teams once they start to loose their composure. With the Crazies seated directly on top of the court in the first twenty rows or so the 'in your face' nature of this student section makes it unique. Thousands of college kids jumping and chanting the entire game is something that can only be rivaled by some hardcore fan groups in Europe. If you haven't watched a Duke game in a while, watch it. Just watching the crazies for a few minutes will get anyone pumped up.
6. Neyland Stadium, University of Tennesse Football
-"Old Rocky Top, you'll always be home sweet ho0ome to meEEe.."; Arguably the most recognizable fight song in all of college football can be heard on saturdays in the fall being sung by 107,000 plus. The magic of this moment is amazing, showing the unity of the UT football family. The thunderous orange and white pomp-pomp waving Volunteer Faithful having going strong since 1921, providing for one of the loudest decibel levels in the SEC. Not to mention the National Championships and SEC titles, many former SEC opponents acknowledge that Neyland was one of the wildest places they have ever played. I'll leave you with a quote from former Cal QB Nate Longshore about his trip to Neyland; "It's static noise. You can't hear anything. You go up and down the line, your wide receivers, your running backs, your tight ends, nobody can hear. Nobody."
5. The Big House/ The Horse Shoe, Michigan/Ohio State Football
-These two stadiums are almost as incredible as the rivalry that exist between the universities. They are almost virtually inseparable because of the rich history and famous players that have stepped on both fields. The mystique of the Horseshoe and the Big House have grown over the years, mainly because of the big-time games being played during the last game of the season. Michigan- Ohio State is usually always a big game regardless of each team win totals, but in recent decades the final game of the season has decided which Big 10 team would be given the ever-prestigious Rose Bowl bid. Aside from what rides on the game, each stadium produces some of the loudest student sections in the country. Just for an idea of how loud each one of these monstrous structures can get, here are the numbers for the Shoe and the House. The Big House right now can hold 106,201 people, and by 2010 it will be able to hold 108,000. Likewise, the Horseshoe in Columbus holds 102,329. Either way you look at it, the National Championships, the rivalries, the die-hard fanbases, and the school pride make both the homes of the Wolverines and Buckeyes two of the most intimidating places to play in the country.
4. Lambeau Field, Green Bay Packers
-The Frozen Tundra. The Lambeau Leap. The Cheese Head. Maybe the smallest market in the NFL, the fan support during Green Bay Packers games go unrivaled in the NFL. The football history that has passed through Brett's House could take up its own big room in Canton. One usually doesn't see this undying passion among NFL fans, but in Green Bay, the city owns the team. The love for the Packers can be illustrated by the shirtless fans in subzero wind chills, the consecutive sell-out streak, and the 610,00 person waiting list for season tickets. The weather in Green Bay also is another deterrent for opposing teams. The epic "Ice Bowl" was played here against the Dallas Cowboys in record lows for the area. The Frozen Tundra will always be thought of as the last place a team wants to play on the road in December and January because of the crowd noise and infamous low temperatures.
3. Ben Hill Griffin Stadium "The Swamp", University of Florida Football
-The 91,000+ crowd at UF games is something incredible. With 100+ degree temperatures at kick off, dehydration, drunk southerners, and Tim Tebow running your ass over, it's hard to imagine any opposing player actually enjoying his 60 minute stay at The Swamp. The legend of Gatorade has passed through this field, along with National Titles and impressive win totals. Opposing teams simply don't win here. Since 1990, the Gators are 95-7 at home and that total is sure to be built on next season. One of my favorite traditions in college football happens here. At the end of the third quarter, the Florida faithful lock arms and sway from row to row singing "We Are the Boys from Old Florida". This shows the the unity of the blue clad student section and the unity as a whole of the entire Gator community. CHOMP!
2. The Boston Garden, Boston Celtics/ Boston Bruins
-I remember being a young kid watching the replays of the epic LA vs. Boston series's on ESPN and being scared because the camera focused in on a guy in the Garden who had a fake Magic Johnson hanging by a noose over the upper level. The ferocity and noise in the place seemed almost as legendary as the rich history that took place on the hardwood of the Garden. I mean come on now, If I saw a replica of myself dangling from a noose I would be shaken by the simulated death of me. The passion that flowed from the Boston faithful for decades seemed to be a constant in every championship run the Celtics made from the Garden's creation in 1928 until the destruction of the Garden. Yes, and let's not forget about the Bruins. The NHL flat out hated this place. The rink was 9 feet to small for regulation NHL size, talk about a funky place to play on the road. Also, since there was no air conditioning in the place, during Bruins games a misty fog would sprawl over the ice creating strange aura to the game. 95+ degree heat during the 1984 NBA finals, the nooses, the passion, the hate; All these elements made me respect this place tremendously.
1. Beaver Stadium, Penn State University Football
-WE ARE.....PENN STATE....WE ARE......PENN STATE....THANK YOU......YOUR WELCOME! The tradition that oozes out of Happy Valley on gameday in my opinion is unrivaled in American Sports. the 110,00o plus people on gameday make Beaver Stadium the largest in North America. The student section for Penn State has been noted by ESPN as being the loudest and most passionate around the country. Penn State's Annual "White Out" game is one of the most visually incredible things in all of American sports. To see the endless sea of white in the crowd must be a very dwarfing feeling to opposing players. The humongous confines of Beaver Stadium make this a house of horrors for opposing players. Most notably the first "white out" in a game in 2005 against heavily favorite Ohio State, OSU QB Troy Smith had repeated delay of game penalties and premature timeouts because the rest of the team could not hear his cadences and audibles. The miscues eventually gave PSU a historic 17-10 win. Overall, this place is incredible in every aspect. Its more than a football team out there in PA, its a way of life, and it most defiantly shows through on Saturdays.*

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Evan Heffron: 5 Things I Hate & Love About NFL Free Agency

The NFL Playoffs are a unique thing to the world. It's do or die every week. This system provides for some of the most passionate competition any sport has to offer. One would think that because of the emotion, comradery, and unity shown through the teams and fan bases throughout the regular and post seasons, there would be more loyalty between teams, the players, and the fans. REALITY CHECK: MARCH 1st CHANGES EVERYTHING!

Now, Here are 5 things Standing Room Only hates about the NFL Free Agency Period


1. We have to hear Jerry Jones speak.

2. Reggie White, Ray Lewis, Brian Dawkins, and Brett Favre would actually consider playing for another team.

3. Someone thought it was a good idea to give Nate Clements 80 Million dollars.

4. March 1st still means we're far from the draft.

5. My favorite team's organization never, ever, does anything right.

Yes I know. I'm being a real party pooper with all this whining. But hey, I am fan. Anything that will keep my attention towards football in the offseason deserves some props! Now, here are 5 things Standing Room Only loves about the Free Agency period.


1. All the drama in the NFL distracts the public and takes us right to first pitch on opening day!

2. The illusion that my team will actually sign someone I've heard of.

3. I don't have to watch my NBA and College Basketball team lose anymore. I can sit on and wait for updates to pop up on my screen for the next 2 weeks.

4. There will be updated rosters in Madden 2010.

5. Someone is actually going to sign their name on the dotted line and receive a substantial amount of money for holding a football while someone kicks it. Hell Yeah, Koy Detmer. *

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Mike Bradley: AL West Preview

The AL West was so bad in 2008, the division was decided nearly a month before the season ended. And it wasn't even THAT close. The outright dominance of revived starter Ervin Santana and lefty Joe Saunders, coupled with new saves-record holder Francisco Rodriguez, helped the Los Angeles Angels finish 21 games in front of the second place Texas Rangers. While the division did boast the aforementioned best record in baseball, as well as a revived Rangers team, it's hard to see much more competition for the Angels this year. 

While the Angels are the only team truly worth mentioning, there are three other teams playing baseball in this division. The Rangers have a very bright future, led by prodigy-turned-druggy-turned-prodigy Josh Hamilton, 5-tool-stud Ian Kinsler, and super-slugger Chris Davis ready to bring Texas back from the dead. Meanwhile, the last two teams in the division are feeling nostalgic these days, with the Seattle Mariners' signing of Ken Griffey, Jr., and the Oakland Athletics' signing of Jason Giambi. Here are my projections for the 2009 MLB season in the AL West:

1. Los Angeles Angels 99-63

Despite the losses of Rodriguez, slugger Mark Teixeira, and 14-game winner Jon Garland, the Angels are in an enviable position. They are still the most talented team in a poor division. With a starting rotation consisting of three ace-quality starters (John Lackey, Saunders, and Santana), an established, young gun (Jered Weaver), and a stud prospect ready for the majors (Nick Adenhart), the Angels are head and shoulders above the AL West competition in the pitching department. With ex-Rockies closer Brian Fuentes prepared to take over the lucrative position of Angels' closer, as well as the set-up jobs held by flamethrower Jose Arrendondo and vet Scot Sheilds, there should be little drop off from the K-Rod days. If star Vladimir Guerrero can play like the 2007 model instead of the 2008 version, Bobby Abreu can provide stability to left field, and Chone Figgins and Howie Kendrick can stay healthy and get on base, the Angels should be able to cruise their September schedule with the division on lock. Look for X-Factors Mike Napoli and Kendry Morales to influence the early success of the team as the pitchers get back into the swing of things. The two young sluggers need to provide protection for Guerrero and Torii Hunter in order for the Angels to score their runs. Even if they don't, the Angels will still be in fine shape in 2009.

2. Texas Rangers 86-76
Everyone knows the story by now. Top Rays prospect falls into a life of drug addiction, gets suspended, resumes his career in Cincinnati, gets traded to Texas, takes the world by storm, puts on a show at the Home Run Derby, becomes a role model for anyone battling addiction, solves world hunger, brings peace to the Middle East, etc. Maybe the last two haven't happened yet, but I'm sure Rangers right fielder Josh Hamilton is working on it. His sensational first year in Texas ended in him leading the AL in RBI, but he did more than just drive in runs. His ability to overcome his adversities served as motivation for the rest of a usually-bottom-dwelling Rangers club. In turn, second baseman Ian Kinsler turned in an All-Star season, Michael Young performed at his consistent level, and the Rangers ever-so-closely to the .500 mark. With their incredibly stable of young catchers (Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Taylor Teagarden, and Max Ramirez) the anticipated debut of shortstop Elvis Andrus, and the expected progression of midseason call-up Chris Davis, the sky is the limit for the Rangers offense. And that is without mentioning up-and-coming left fielder David Murphy (a Nolan Ryan favorite) and minor league masher Nelson Cruz. Pitching is, of course, the problem in Texas. Since team president Nolan Ryan looks reluctant to come out of retirement, another year of Kevin Millwood, Vicente Padilla, and Scott Feldman headlining the rotation is less than appetizing. The bullpen is even less glamorous, with ex-chair hurler Frank Francisco leading an underwhelming group of relievers in the competition to be the Rangers closer. It's fair to see, if something drastic isn't done about this pitching corp in the near future, the Rangers may waste the best years of their offense. If only they could get someone to take one of their catchers *coughBostoncough*.

3. Oakland Athletics 84-78

Billy Beane has long been admired for his ability to stock pile young talent, develop that talent, and then trade it away for more young talent. Moneyball was the book that revolutionized the world of scouting and player development, and everyone can thank Beane for that. However, this offseason marked an incredible shift in Beane's offseason approach. In the biggest trade of the offseason, Beane packaged young pitchers Greg Smith and ex-closer Huston Street, along with top outfield prospect Carlos Gonzalez in a deal for Rockies slugger Matt Holliday. This surprising move was followed by the signing of aging slugger and former A's fan favorite Jason Giambi. While the out-of-character signings make the team better in the short term, it doesn't do enough to turn the team into contenders now. Holliday's home/road splits were disturbing as a Rockie, and moving into a pitcher's park like Oakland Coliseum is downright terrifying. With no idea as to how much ex-star Eric Chavez will give the team this year, the A's will have to rely on swing-or-miss slugger Jack Cust and right fielder Travis Snider for backup run support if Holliday and Giambi falter. Last season's emergence of n0w-ace Justin Duchscherer does little to calm to the worries of the Oakland faithful as far as the rotation goes. After Duchscherer, a combination of journeyman Dana Eveland and once-top prospects Sean Gallagher, Dallas Braden, and Gio Gonzalez look to be the next Mulder's, Hudson's, and Zito's of the organization. While ERA masters Joey Devine and Brad Ziegler look to replicate last year's performances, the team needs to have a lead in order to protect it. Unless two or more of the pitching prospects pans out, it might be a long year for the team in green and yellow.

4. Seattle Mariners 67-95

With all of the money tossed around the past few years, Seattle ownership had to be expect a little (OK, a lot) more than a 100 loss season and clubhouse turmoil. The team pulled the plug on the Richie Sexson disaster and appear on the verge of doing the same to the equally disappointing Adrian Beltre. However, the superstar causing the most trouble in the clubhouse (according to reports) is perennial 200-hit man Ichiro Suzuki. If the Mariners want to right the ship, the first step is fixing all the kinks. Whether that means trading the worldwide superstar or clearing the air and moving forward, no amount of rebuilding can fix disgruntled teammates. If nothing, Mariners fans can rejoice in the return of the golden child, Ken Griffey, Jr. The Kid is back in town, albeit slightly older and slightly rotund. With budding superstar Felix Hernandez and his blazing fastball keeping hope alive for the future, the sweet stroke of Griffey should be a nice distraction for the time being. The development of former closer Brandon Morrow into a starter will be one of the keys to this season, as well as the development of outfielders Wladimir Balentien and Franklin Gutierrez and catcher Jeff Clement. Aside from the few young players that can get some playing time, the Mariners to endure another year of highly-paid, underperforming pitchers Carlos Silva and Erik Bedard and catcher Kenji Johjima. But did I mention Junior is back?!

AL West MVP: Josh Hamilton

AL West Cy Young: Felix Hernandez

AL West Rookie of the Year: Nick Adenhart

AL West Diva of the Year: Ichiro Suzuki *
Add to Technorati Favorites