Past Their Prime – Episode 10

Sorry – it’s been a while since I’ve updated everyone on the podcast. We’re still going strong and are 10 episodes in. From Wednesday:

We’re back and true to our Northeast roots, we spend 15 minutes dissecting the collapse of the Lakers (and taking some glee in it). We also try not to get too distracted by the collapse of the Celtics occuring in real time. SPOILER ALERT: They lose in overtime.

Sticking with our NBA theme, Phil from Los Angeles emails us and asks about the future of the NBA playoffs.

Also, Jesse goes all 1930’s on us with his analysis of the Kentucky Derby, boxing, and Constitutional law as it applies to Twitter and Rashard Mendenhall. Welcome to the Atlantic 10, new GW head coach Mark Lonergan. You have your work cut out for you.

Be a part of the show – please. Email your question to PastTheirPrime@gmail.com and have it read on the air.

You can follow us on Twitter at @_PastTheirPrime. We promise, we won’t go all political on you.

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Past Their Prime – Episode 6

A little late in posting this week – mostly because we’re still in shock that Manny retired and that he called to clue us in on what’s important in life. Check out the first segment – Manny must have learned that by reading The Secret.

In addition to the Manny drama, Lee and Jesse butcher the NHL playoffs and talk about the best athletes-turned-politicians ever. Thrilling analysis – we promise.

Welcome to all our new listeners from the Temple University School of Law. We apologize in advance.

Who doesn’t like a $25 gift certificate to an establishment more than 300 miles from your home? Send your sports-related question to us at PastTheirPrime@gmail.com and following us on Twitter at @_PastTheirPrime. All prizes are in the mail – we promise.

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Time Zone Sports Wars: 75% of America Gets The Shaft

Sorry West Coast but I’m about to launch into an arrogant East Coast tirade.  Monday night, college basketball’s National Championship game tipped off at 8:23pm local time in Houston.  That’s 9:23pm ET and 6:23pm PT.  Naturally, everyone living in Eastern Daylight Time was generally annoyed by this.  The game ended about 10 minutes before midnight Eastern time while those along the Pacific had a few hours before bed.  Forget the partying students of Storrs, Connecticut, where no one slept.  It was the millions of college basketball fans, and sports fans in general, on the east side of the United States for whom I’m concerned.

Yesterday I tweeted that it was completely unacceptable for anyone watching this Tournament’s penultimate game to be tortured with crappy basketball, especially after 11:30pm.  It is an utter travesty that certain sporting events begin after certain times on the East Coast.  And not to pile on those in the Rockies and west but that half of America isn’t exactly a college basketball mecca.  It most certainly doesn’t have a significant fan base compared to those of us nearer the Atlantic.  I know for sure what the west side doesn’t have and that’s a population that warrants such a favorable start time.  Mix that all together, sports leagues and media outlets are pandering to the West.  Why?  California?

According to the 2010 Census (as of April 1, 2010), the U.S. population (50 states + DC) was 308,748,481.  How many of us live in the Eastern Time Zone?  Over 147 million!  That’s 47.7% of the entire population.  And if you include the Central Time Zone, the eastern half of the U.S. accounts for 76.7% of all Americans.  So someone will have to explain to me why we here on the eastern side have to stay up ridiculous hours for championship events on a weekday while the west side, which has less than three times the population, gets to watch it well before bed?  This is a grave injustice.

For starters, where is the hotbed of college basketball activity?  Perennially, it’s along the East Coast.  Where do your national champions come from?  Since the Tournament expanded to 64 in 1985, 21 of the 27 champions were from the Eastern Time Zone.  Another three came from the Central.  Sarcastically, the powerful Pacific Time Zone gave us two, UNLV in 1990 and UCLA in 1995 (it’s three if you count Arizona in ’97 because they are essentially in PDT during the summer).

OK, West Coast, have at it.  ‘What about John Wooden’s ten titles?  We love college basketball too.’  Sure you do?  As much as the Big East has good football teams.  This is mostly a media argument.  Where are the most eyeballs?  College basketball still has clout, in large part because of and thanks to, people in the East.  Also, it’s largely where, if the NBA institutes a two or three-year eligibility rule, the best NCAA talent will be drawn from.  The Wooden argument, stemming from titles won over 40 years ago, doesn’t make a compelling case.

Millions of us on the East Coast would love football to begin at 10am like in California.  I’d like the NFL to move early games to noon from 1pm, giving us just one extra hour for dinner before the night game.  You have the advantage there.  But then there’s the Super Bowl, where it’s the only thing happening that Sunday.  For you, a nice 3:30pm start.  For us, 6:30pm and the game ends about 10pm.  Totally unjustified, using the same argument as I did with college basketball.  The World Series, it’s the same thing.  I understand if the game is out on the West Coast.  But often times, when not one but two East Coast clubs are playing in the Fall Classic, we must suffer with an 8:30pm first pitch.  The game, especially if it’s the Yankees or Red Sox, drags into the next day.

It’s time the media and our beloved leagues find common ground between the east and west.  These events are starting way too late, especially for kids in the eastern part of the U.S.  In a country where chronic sleeplessness is pervasive, these late starts are indicative of a larger problem.  Midnight finishes are complete lunacy in this age.  Most advertisers aren’t even getting the bang for their buck because millions switch off, optioning to find the end-of-game highlights on SportsCenter.  It’s a lose-lose for all, except the lesser-populated West Coast.  The most populated area in the country, the I-95 corridor, has spoken.  We want our sports earlier.

Lastly, in the meantime, it’s the job of two college teams not to torture us with horrible basketball while we’re staying up.

Defending K State’s Frank Martin for Snapping Back at the Media

After Wisconsin beat Kansas State on Saturday, there was the usual post-game press conference.  Kansas State guard Jacob Pullen was obviously upset having failed to reach the Final Four in his senior season.  Pullen is K State’s star player and help lead the Wildcats to the Elite 8 last season.  Unfortunately, when you lose a big game, especially when it will be your last as a college player, you have to face the media.  Lucky for Pullen, his head coach Frank Martin was there to have his back.

Wichita Eagle beat writer Kellis Robinett was reporting at the presser when he asked this question of Pullen:

Jacob, you, I mean, obviously, do some good things, set the school scoring record and matched your career high in points but you still can’t get the win.  How do you sum up the emotions that come after that?

Pullen barely responded, putting head in his hands and started crying.  His coach, clearly unhappy with the question to his hard-working star, responded saying, “That is what you wanted to see?  That what you were trying to get out of him?  Make him cry here in front of people?  Good question.”  Pullen then said, “I just wanted to win the game. I don’t care about a scoring record or anything else, man. I wanted to get to the Final Four and I didn’t get a chance to do that.”

Frank Martin’s reaction, even knowing his fiery nature, is completely reasonable and Pullen’s final response is indicative of how he and his coach felt about the meaning of Robinett’s question.  Today’s media, more often than not, is not necessarily reporting on a story.  They are looking for a quote, a headline or a soundbite to add some pizazz and spice to that story.  Wichita reporter Robinett was doing his job and got what he wanted the way he asked the question.  He mentioned Pullen’s accomplishments and then juxtaposed that against the loss.  How would you respond?

After Frank Martin spoke, Pullen did.  “I don’t care about a scoring record or anything else, man” speaks volumes of how he interpreted Robinett’s question.  “Do some good things” is what stood out most for me.  Sounds a tad condescending to me.  The media plays this game often.  It’s that juxtaposition of success with failure that catches my ire.  It’s a technique reporters use often to reach to the core of an athlete.  By that I mean, to sometimes question his or her character.  How many times can you remember reporters asking questions asserting that an athlete was focused more on scoring titles than on winning championships?  Kellis Robinett asked that question in his own way, a very subtle way, without emotion.  But make no mistake, it’s the same type of question.  That’s how Jacob Pullen saw it, that’s how Frank Martin saw it and that’s how I see it now.

What makes me even more annoyed about questions like these is when they are asked to college kids.  As far as I’m concerned, these kids should not be involved in press conferences.  It’s like Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said during his legendary tirade, “I’m 40.  I’m a man.”  To paraphrase his tirade, he told reporters to leave his player alone and focus on him.  These kids are not professionals and shouldn’t be prepared to answer questions like professionals.  In that same vein, reporters should understand that these are just college-age kids.  They get paid for what they do in scholarships, not money.  When you are a pro, you need to handle yourself in that regard.  But if you’re a college kid, that’s exactly why your coach is there.

Jacob Pullen was a member of Frank Martin’s team for his college career.  Coach Martin is a father-figure to these kids and he, like any father, will stand up for his kids if their determination, heart or character is questioned.  Kellis Robinett’s question may have not reached the severity that we are accustomed to when watching these post-game press conferences, but it was indicative of the trendy questions reporters use to get more out of their stories.  If my son were on Kansas State’s basketball team, I would’ve called Coach Martin thanking him for an off-the-court coaching job well done.

Super Bowl XLV: Battle for the Midwest

Still reeling from my Jets losing to the Steelers two weeks ago, it still hurts picking a Super Bowl winner that won’t be J! E! T! S!  However, I was semi-satisfied as a football fan.  You can always feel great when you get one of your pre-season Super Bowl picks correct.  That for me was the Green Bay Packers.  I had a feeling Aaron Rodgers was due for a spectacular season.  Little did I know, it wouldn’t be until the final weeks when Rodgers winning ways began to exorcise those Brett Favre demons.

Super Bowl XLV: 6 Green Bay Packers (13-6) vs. 2 Pittsburgh Steelers (14-4) [+2.5]

One day, Ben Roethlisberger will see defeat in a Super Bowl.  And because I picked the Pack to reach Dallas, Big Ben’s first Super loss will be Sunday.  Aaron Rodgers will lead his team passed the Steelers.  Green Bay’s defense will play slightly better than Pittsburgh’s, which will make all the difference.  Not to drag this out, Rodgers TD pass puts the Packers up by seven in the fourth.  In a play similar to Super Bowl XXXIV, the Steelers will come up a few yards short of forcing overtime.  Packers win their fourth Super Bowl and 13th NFL title.

Packers 27 – Steelers 20

West Side: Los Angeles (Insert Nickname Here)

The NFL is headed toward a work stoppage of some kind.  March 4 is the first date when a lockout could begin.  Many insiders anticipate that an agreement will be made before the draft in order to prevent a baseball-type incident.  Whew.  Let’s hope because none of us can survive any work stoppage.  Daily lockout coverage, like it was during the ’94 baseball strike, would leave an incredibly bitter taste in our mouths.  I can only imagine Summer 2011; SportsCenter is exclusively baseball highlights and CBA updates for both the NFL and NBA.  Torture!

I believe a new CBA will be implemented before summer.  When it does come into effect, the NFL should have relative labor peace for the better part of a decade.  The brave new NFL world will consist of 18 regular season games and more injuries.  It will also create an NFL where draft picks make what they deserve.  On top of that, the players will be sharing a greater portion of the profits.  The new CBA’s fairness aside, the National Football League will thrive and TV ratings will rise.  The NFL has some other situations with which to contend going forward.  The second half of this decade will see some interesting changes for America’s favorite sport, particularly when it comes to where its teams are located and what stadiums they play in.

NFL’s Musical Chairs Los Angeles Relocation Game

Big cities without sports franchises are jealous egomaniacs.  They scream from the hilltops saying, “Come to our city!”  They argue that all your team’s ills can be solved by relocating.  They say a new stadium, new marketing scheme and new nickname will remake your destiny.  What everyone needs to realize is Los Angeles 1995 is not LA 2015.  The NFL is fully committed to moving an existing franchise to LA.  It, like the 18-game schedule, is going to happen.

Los Angeles loves its Lakers and Dodgers, both teams ironically stolen from elsewhere.  It will love whatever football team it steals too.  The NFL sees Los Angeles as an essential part of its plans for the next ten years.  Expanding their fan base, particularly with Latinos, is one of the NFL’s largest goals.  Using LA to trumpet that is a no-brainer.  Southern California is fertile ground for future NFL players as well.  Not having a presence in Los Angeles is, in their opinion, just stupid.  Though I would agree that not having a presence in America’s second-largest TV market is indeed stupid, Angelenos still gets their NFL fix on Sunday, like the rest of us.  USC’s recent dominance had somewhat killed the NFL buzz.  The latest Trojan swoon, however, may have caused Los Angeles’s NFL hopes to gain some steam.

There are two proposals being knocked around.  The City of Industry plan and the LA Live plan.  From all indications, it seems that both plans have plenty of clout behind it.  By that I mean the deep pockets of LA entrepreneur Phil Anschutz and real estate mogul Ed Roski.  AEG President Tim Leiweke is leading the LA Live charge and has bundled the convention center, retractable roof NFL stadium, Staples Center and LA Live into a win-win for Downtown LA and Los Angeles as a whole.  The City of Industry plan will put a stadium farther east, putting more of the Inland Empire and Orange County in play, and is farther along in the planning stages.  Despite both plans being well thought out in the abstract, this is not even close to a done deal for either party.  The AEG people want an immediate commitment from a team but what NFL team would make such a deal unless the stadium deal was a fait d’accompli?  First agree to build the thing and then find the team.

The Worst Day in Baltimore history: Mayflower trucks move the Colts to Indianapolis, sneaking out in the middle of the night (March 29, 1984).

Most NFL fans are wondering: Which team or teams will relocate to Los Angeles?  Here’s my Mayflower list:

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars
  2. San Diego Chargers
  3. Buffalo Bills
  4. St. Louis Rams
  5. Minnesota Vikings
  6. Dark Horse: Oakland Raiders

With a new stadium agreement in place, Los Angeles will get a team.  Ideally, the NFL would be best served with two teams moving to LA.  First off, the Chargers and the city of San Diego have been playing a game of chicken with one another for years about a new stadium.  Given that neither LA stadium plan has been agreed to, the Chargers are unlikely to “bolt.”  The Chargers don’t want to relocate if they don’t have to but if they can’t get a new stadium from Los Angeles, expect them to leave.  The question remains whether the Chargers and Los Angeles can come to an accommodation before a stadium deal is reached?  If so, the LA Chargers it will be.  No realignment would be necessary – Whew.

I still think the front-runner for the LA sweepstakes is Jacksonville.  The failed experiment is over.  Professional football in northern Florida was a noble but flawed concept in the early ’90s.  Nearly twenty years, we are left with bitter pill to swallow.  Can the NFL own up to its mistake of awarding Jacksonville a franchise and be done with it?  But as sure as I may be about the Jags moving west, there is one significant issue with such a move and that is geography.  The Jags currently play in the AFC South with Houston, Tennessee and Indianapolis.  This isn’t an optimal situation for the NFL.  However, it isn’t hopeless either.

Realignment if the Jags move to LA: Move the Jags to the NFC West with the Cardinals, Niners and Seahawks and take the Rams and stick them with the Texans, Titans and Colts in the AFC South.  Done.

Equally problematic for geographic reasons would be a Bills move to Los Angeles.  Realigning them would be even harder and I guarantee Pats owner Bob Kraft, Jets owner Woody Johnson and Fins owner Steve Ross will scream bloody murder if their teams have to make an extra road trip to the West Coast for a few years until they do.  An AFC East team moving 2,500 miles just doesn’t work unless this were the NBA. (Imagine that: Celtics, Lakers, Knicks, Heat – Wow.)

The Bills could still move to Toronto or stay put.  Sharing SkyDome (yes, I said it) with the Argonauts could be problematic at first but this is the NFL.  As long as Ralph Wilson is alive (age 92), the Bills are not leaving Buffalo.  Rumors say that his family will sell the team after his death.  Buffalo, as much as I love it (and I do), is not a viable NFL city on its own.  Moving to Toronto is an alternative that is palpable to the NFL.  Call them the Toronto-Buffalo-Hamilton-Rochester-Erie-Ontario-LaBatt Blue-Molson Bills.  Whatever it takes to keep the Bills in the area and the NFL finally gets its first international (barely) NFL team.  The Bills do have a powerful ally in Commissioner Goodell, who grew up in Western New York and who’s late mom was from Buffalo.

The formerly Los Angeles but now St. Louis Rams would make perfect sense other than the fact that the owner is from Missouri.  Stan Kroenke owns a zillion team across the planet (Go Arsenal!).  He finally has one in his backyard.  That’s not happening.  And the Vikings are not moving.  No way, no how.  Can you picture that division until a realignment structure is agreed to: Detroit, Chicago, Green Bay and Los Angeles.  I like adding the Raiders as a dark horse because Al Davis is crazy.  One minute, he could be thinking Oakland is acceptable and the next he could be saying, “Finally, LA is building a new stadium,” and bail on the Bay Area.

Here’s novel idea for the Bay Area.  Share a stadium.  After the West Side Yards project blew up in the Jets’ face, they and the Giants came to an agreement to build a stadium together.  This makes all the sense in the world to the Bay Area, especially if the new place ends up in Santa Clara.  Yes, it’s miles from the old stadiums.  But hey, the New York Jets and the New York Giants play in a completely different state!

Overall, the NFL could look different come 2015.  No Jacksonville, two teams in Los Angeles and a Canadian team are all likely possibilities.  Essentially, it will boil down to stadium deals, city leases and ultimately, money.  I would not be surprised if this little rift between Anschutz and Roski caused both stadiums to be built with little tax money spent and they each lure a franchise to the city.  Los Angeles needs a team for the NFL to continue expanding without actually expanding.  It will be a reality by 2015.

The Reality

  1. Chargers threaten moving north to LA after 2011 season (yes, there will be a 2011 season) but secures an agreement with San Diego for a new stadium.
  2. Jaguars head west to Los Angeles after 2012 season when attendance forces it.  They temporarily play in Pasadena until the new stadium is completed.  I will not guess which stadium plan will win.  It’s California politics.  This whole thing is way up in the air.
  3. Bills eventually move to Toronto when the team is sold after Ralph passes away.  Obviously, I’m not throwing a date on this one.  Mr. Wilson could live to be 110.
  4. Niners finally move to Santa Clara in 2015.
  5. Vikings secure funding to replace the Metrodome in mid-2011.  Move into their new stadium in 2015.
  6. Rams stay put.
  7. Al Davis doesn’t approach Oakland, Santa Clara, the Niners or Los Angeles.  The Raiders remain trapped in the crappy confines known as Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
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