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Roethlisberger’s Suspension Hurts More than Himself

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By: Nelson DePasquale

Veteran Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be suspended 4-6 weeks into the 2010 season for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy, reported ESPN yesterday afternoon.

Last month, a 20-year old college student accused “Big Ben” of sexually assaulting her in a nightclub in Georgia, although prosecutors did not charge Roethlisberger.

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Holmes Makes Jets Super Bowl Favorites

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By: Kris Hunte

Congratulations, Jets fans. Barring any major injuries, your team has already won Superbowl XLV. Every hole the Jets might have had last season has already been filled through trades, and the draft is still one week away. The best rushing attack last season will most likely continue to flourish even after the loss of 2009’s third-leading rusher Thomas Jones to Kansas City. Shonn Greene’s dominance in the playoffs as a rookie can only get better as he receives more touches as the Jet’s new starter. Let’s not forget that New York also has five elephants in the shape of their offensive line blocking for him.  Jets’ running game: check.

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Out with the Young, in with the Aging McNabb to St. Louis?

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By: Kris Hunte

Forget the foolish Raiders, drafting possibly the biggest number one overall bust since Courtney Brown. Forget the Lions, doing what was thought the unthinkable by not winning a single game during the regular season. The St. Louis Rams have undoubtedly been the worst NFL football team in the past three or four years. Their offense has been as effective as using a vacuum cleaner to mop the kitchen floor. Their defense looks like they’re playing in slow motion … in slow motion. I bet the average NFL watcher could not name a single person after Stephen Jackson on that team. They have been long overdue of the top draft pick in April’s 2010 Collegiate Draft. Now, the talk of the town is who they will grab from the classroom and drag  onto the pig sty that is Edward Jones Dome.  The nearly unanimous top draft pick across everyone’s board is the fearsome Nebraska mammoth that is defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.  Others have the highly successful, yet often injured, Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford strapping on the blue and gold. However, I shall tell you all what Rams should do with the top pick in the draft: trade it for Donovan McNabb. Yes … I just said that.

The Eagles have made it clear that they no longer require the services of the one player that once lead them to four consecutive NFC Championship games as well one Superbowl. The Rams have decided to scrap their most efficient quarterback since Kurt Warner in Marc Bulger. Now I’m no math major, but this seems like a no brainer to me. The Rams have no time to waste grooming a Sam Bradford or a Jimmy Clausen to run their offense, and if Suh turns out to be the next Adam Carriker (also drafted by the Rams), they will be right back to where they are now: bad. There is no player this year that the Rams should take with the top pick that screams, “Our troubles are over.” At 33, McNabb still has plenty of gas left in the tank, especially since he was benched a few times to give Kevin Kolb (who?) reps under center. His ability to throw the ball downfield would give St. Louis’ receivers a chance to make a name for themselves, especially since I cannot name a single Ram receiver off the top of my head. His running ability would open up options for one of the top running backs in the league in Stephen Jackson (although he deserves better). In addition to McNabb, trading the first overall pick allows for the ability to move down in the first round and possibly take, in my opinion, the best defensive player in the draft in safety Eric Berry. With the first overall pick in the draft, the Philadelphia Eagles can do … whatever the hell they want to do with it. I’m a Giants fan, so I could care less.

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Paper or Plastic For Nets Fans

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By: Kristie Cattafi

Nets’ CEO Brett Yormark made an effort to stand up for his team Monday night, but ended up embarrassing them instead.

A fan (no seriously, someone actually came to watch the worst team in the NBA) sitting in the second row wearing a paper bag over his head set Yormark off.

Photographers captured pictures of Yormark confronting the fan, who had an “are you serious?” look on his face.

The Nets, who have an outstanding 7-63 record, should be thankful they have any fans willing to pay for tickets, let alone come to a game. The childish behavior by Yormark was the epitome of the Nets’ franchise in recent years.

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NCAA Bracket Expansion: Not a Perfect Science

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By: Robert Aitken

At the end of February, much of the sports world was mum: the Olympics that nobody cared about were wrapping up, basketball was uneventful, baseball’s spring training was still a few days away and football free agency had not started yet. Suddenly, as the calendar switched into March, the sports world was lit on fire.

The sparkplug: a pretend science created by ESPN. The name: Bracketology.

College basketball’s profound effect to spice up the rest of the sports world was on full display yet again this year. Projections of the field, who is on the cusp, or “bubble”, as it is typically called, and projections of who will win it all begin two weeks before the bracket is even officially announced. And with every year, as this process goes on, one thing is always brought up about the bracket: expansion.

The tournament originally included just eight schools in the 1939 tournament. In 1951, it doubled to sixteen. Two years later, it was between 22 and 25 schools. The number grew to 32 in 1975 before adding eight more slots in 1979. The most change occurred in the 1980s: the decade began with 48, became 53 in 1983, added another spot the next season, and then became the common 64-team format in 1985. In 2001, a 65th spot was added and some critics want to see even more.

Some wish to do a massive overhaul and expand the tournament to 96 teams, which would be the largest single jump in bids ever. That would be 31 more spots than there currently are. That would essentially be like if the NIT tournament (32 teams) played themselves into the NCAA tournament. The argument is that small schools and the “Cinderella stories” that the tournament is known for are mostly gone by the third round. Expanding the field would also ensure that teams who felt robbed of a bid would be allowed to participate.

This season’s bubble team watch is showing the poorest résumés of any tournament in nearly thirty years. Teams that were left out last season would easily be in this year, according to experts. So why expand to get more teams when it is almost impossible to find teams worthy of the spots?

CBS Sports expert Brian De Los Santos believes, as of  11 p..m. Wednesday, there are 57 teams that are sure things in the tournament, between strong résumés and automatic conference bids. That leaves eight at-large spots and, according to De Los Santos, only 20 teams that have the right to fill those spots. With the expansion, the 12 teams that are left out would be in … but what about the other 19 spots? What scrub teams are going to be given a fighting chance then?

There has to be a line at some point. The 65-team field is fine, but I personally wish to see it stop at 68. There could be four play-in games, just like there were in 1983, and eight lower-market teams could all be featured on national television. It also means to not point out two teams specifically as the two worst in the tournament, while also taking the top of the cutting room floor and giving them an opportunity.

Expanding it to more teams, especially with this season, would be disastrous. No matter what the number is set at, there will always be a team that won’t make it. That is how it’s supposed to be.

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Don’t Bet the House on Vasquez

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By: Nelson DePasquale

With the Yankees new offseason acquisition in Javier Vasquez, most fantasy sites and owners are ranking Vasquez quite high on draft cheat-sheets. With a 15-10 record and a 2.87 era last season with Atlanta, he should be a good fantasy option this year with the heavy-hitting Yankee lineup as his supporting cast, right? Not exactly. Expect Vasquez’s success at Yankee Stadium to be limited.

Take into consideration that he was in the NL last year, and his 2.87 era isn’t as impressive as it sounds. In his four years playing in the AL, he has a 52-46 record, but has a 4.54 era. Last year, 14 of the 20 homeruns he gave up were against left-handed batters.

Leftys slugged .430 against Vasquez over his career, but when they pull the ball, that stat shoots up to .890. On all balls hit to the outfield, batters slugged .928. That doesn’t go too well with his .88 ground ball-to fly ball ratio with the Yankees in 2004. With Posada catching, his slugging against is .457. Also, Yankee’s stadium’s homerun park factor is 1.262, the highest of all major league ballparks. Compare this to Turner Field’s .861, one of the league’s lowest marks.

These factors, in combination with Yankee Stadium’s short and windy right field porch, his homeruns allowed, era, and slugging will increase.

In Vasquez’s 2004 season with the Yankees he had a decent 14-10 record with an era of 4.91 and gave up 33 homeruns, the second most he ever gave up in a single season. And all of this was in the old Yankee Stadium, not newer, more hitter-friendly one.

The postseason hasn’t brought him much success either. In only three games (two of which he pitched for the Yankees), he has a 1-2 record with a 10.34 era.

Most sites are over-estimating his draft value. CBS Sports has Vasquez ranked 49th overall, right under Jon Lester (47) and Josh Beckett (48). Cliff Lee is ranked 51st, and Jake Peavy is 56th. All of these pitchers are better fantasy options than Vasquez.

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New York Yankees: Best at Baseball, But Worst at Math

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By: Kristie Cattafi

The New York Yankees payroll for 2009 was $201 million, enough to win a long awaited World Series, but if the World Series was in basic math, the corporation would have came in last place.

When the Yankees clinched their 27th World Series Championship last October, they were guaranteed huge bonus. However, someone made a little math error that’s costing the players $10,000 each. The Yankees organization had to simply divide $21.2 million between a total of 46 players, coaches and staff.

Maybe George Steinbrenner should have spent some of that money on a decent accountant.

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Should They Stay or Should They Go: NHL Players in the Olympics

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By: Mike Monostra

This past Sunday night, Americans from coast to coast erupted with cheers from their living room. It wasn’t because of Lindsay Vonn, or Apolo Anton-Ohno, but rather from athletes who get paid millions, the USA Men’s Hockey team.

The United States men’s victory over Canada in pool play was the first over their neighbors in the Olympics since 1960.  This huge upset also came almost 30 years to the day when the U.S. defeated the vaunted Soviet Union in the 1980 Olympics at Lake Placid. However, there was one big difference with the 1980 team, they were all amateurs.

The NHL began sending players to the Olympics in 1998 at Nagano, but is beginning to reconsider the policy for the next Winter Olympics, set for 2014 in Sochi, Russia. There are obvious issues with sending players to the Olympics, including the risk of injury, as well as the two week break in the NHL schedule that makes for a crammed late-season slate of games for teams. Ultimately, the decision is going to come down to money, as NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman will look to see if sending players to the Olympics works economically for the league.

If NHL players are pulled from the Olympics, it will be a serious detriment to the men’s hockey tournament. Unlike Olympic basketball, which is dominated by the United States every tournament, hockey is a more global sport and six of the 12 teams in this year’s tournament had a realistic chance to win the gold medal.

In addition, the talent level of the players in the tournament is so deep. This is clearly the most talented pool of players to date. It also brings marketable players to the table. Recognizable names such as Sidney Crosby for Canada, Alex Ovechkin for Russia, Henrik Lundqvist for Sweden and Zach Parise for Team USA draw viewers to the television. While it was nice to see a team of amateur players from the U.S. beat a team of Soviet pro players, how many players from that team can be named?

With the next Winter Olympics to be held in hockey hotbed Russia, the NHL should do everyone a favor and keep allowing their players to take part in the Olympics Games. The players want to be there, the fans love to watch them and it helps market star players just in time for the NHL season’s home stretch for after the Olympics. So to Gary Bettman and all the NHL executives across North America, don’t mess with something that is working. Keep the Olympic policy as is.

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40 Days and 40 Nights: Give it Up!

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By: Robert Aitken

Last week was Ash Wednesday, which marked the beginning of Lent in the Catholic religion. Many Catholics annually attempt to give up or sacrifice something for the forty days that lead up to Easter. While many seem to fail and other non-Catholics use the time to test themselves, here are some suggestions to some sports personalities for what they should give up, even if it is for just forty days.

The media: While there are so many bad things that seem to get done, one thing that has been done collectively by all is a total invasion of Tiger Woods’ private life. After his open statement for his future on Friday, leave him alone. It is true that he is an adult and a person in the spotlight, but anyone that is going through life-shattering problems like Woods should be given some time without paparazzi and the constant questioning of his personal life.

The NBA and NFL: Everyone can understand that you are two of the biggest professional sport leagues in the world, but just take a break from talking about your difficulties with players’ unions and potential work stoppages. We as fans have not forgotten about the strike-shortened 1998-99 NBA season, the 1994 MLB strike and cancelled World Series, the shortened 1987 NFL season and the seldom-mentioned NFL referee strike early last decade. People love your sports and pay too much money to see them. Someone take a pay cut; you can afford it. Take one on the chin for the fans, because the fans are not going anywhere.

Manny Pacquiao: Put your pride of whatever you feel is right about what leads to your (hopefully) inevitable fight with Floyd “Money” Mayweather. Why is that? Just look at Floyd’s nickname: money. Your sport doesn’t have a lot of it. Also lacking: popularity, credibility and excitement. Boxing is a far cry from what it used to mean in society. A fight between arguably two of the best pound-for-pound boxers ever would be the only thing that could save the sport. Without it, the thriving mixed martial arts surge will consume boxing and kill it. For the simple fact of saving your sport, take a blood test before your fight. You should have nothing to hide, and if you do, then boxing is already dead.

Major League Baseball: Ironically, your season begins on Easter Sunday (April 4), so this advice is for your time during spring training. Mark McGwire, perhaps the most popular admitted steroid user from the 1990s, is back in baseball as a hitting coach. Let’s not even touch on all of the bad publicity that Albert Pujols is subject to just for being affiliated with an admitted steroid user. Do whatever you can to get the most accurate stories of these players “coming clean”, pun intended. Set the bar for the other leagues by giving every athlete frequent drug tests. If they refuse, then suspend them. Continuous refusal means they must leave the league. Fifteen years ago, nobody was afraid of bringing in replacement players. Don’t show fear now.

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Give Tiger a Break

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By: Nelson DePasquale

Tiger Woods is “coming out” tomorrow at 11 a.m.

Woods is scheduled to speak to the media for the first time since his sexual scandal hit the press. Once the press conference is over, it is certain that hundreds of articles and blogs will be written on his choice of words. Tearing up Tiger is fair game after the fact. But why are people ripping on Tiger’s PR strategy already?

In an article published in The Star Ledger today, Steve Politi wrote about how Tiger’s strategy is “clearly deficient.” How can someone make this assumption without hearing what Tiger has to say?

Politi pointed out that Tiger will not be taking questions and that the conference will be only five to seven minutes long; he referred to it as “handling this in the typical Tiger way.”

Who wouldn’t handle this very personal matter in their own way?

Politi further compared Tiger Woods to Alex Rodriguez and the way he handled his steroid scandal by saying Woods should follow the lead of Rodriguez.

These two situations aren’t comparable.

Alex Rodriguez offended baseball with his steroid use. Tiger Woods offended his wife and family. Yes, Woods is one of the biggest public figures of today, but he didn’t cheat golf. A-Rod had to do what he did because he offended every single baseball fan in the world. Golf fans know Tiger’s stroke is pure, no matter what his private life has got him into.

Richard Sandomir agrees. In an article published by The New York Times earlier today, he went on to say that Tiger is “blazing a new trail” with his press conference tomorrow. Sandomir stated that his situation isn’t like A-Rod’s, or McGwire’s, or even Eliot Spitzer’s.

Frankly, Tiger Woods doesn’t even need to apologize tomorrow. He can get away with saying simply: “I’m healthy and I’m ready to compete in the Masters in April.” Of course, sports reporters will have a field day by tearing Tiger’s supposed “apology” to shreds. But in reality, his return to golf is all that matters.

Tiger didn’t cheat the game of golf. As long as that statement rings true, his return to the game should and will be longed for.

Come tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. don’t be surprised if Tiger’s words are all over the tabloids. Just member that his only responsibility is to make amends with himself and his family.

He owes nothing to us.

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