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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. *
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