Sunday, March 6, 2016

In a Word for the Week of 02-29-2016 – Peyton Manning Retiring

Welcome to another In a Word posting. In a Word is a weekly recap of the week’s major sports stories (each story recapped in one word).

The news that dominated the end of this past week in sports has to be Peyton Manning's announcement regarding his future in the NFL. NFL fans have been waiting for his decision since the Denver Broncos won Super Bowl 50.

Peyton Manning has given NFL fans lots and lots of memories. On Saturday, Peyton informed the Denver Broncos that he will be retiring. He will officially announce his retirement on Monday.

Sports fans will argue with one another where Peyton’s place is among the greatest quarterbacks. For me, he has to be in the top three but where he belongs is a tough one to call. My top three are Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Joe Montana.

Many sports fans will argue with my ranking. Ranking NFL quarterbacks is one that includes lots of bias. I wasn’t around to watch some the greats of past generations. The game was also different 40 years ago. So rankings are based on who we’ve grown up watching.

Now let’s get to the recap. Funny thing with our post Super Bowl recaps is that the NFL continues to dominate our recaps. The headlines range from players getting into trouble, being released or retiring.

(NFL) DenverBroncos – Offer

(NFL) TonyRomo – Surgery

(NFL) AtlantaFalcons – Idiotic

(NFL) – TerrellSuggs – Arrested

(MLB) JenryMeija – Ridiculous

(UFC) – NateDiaz – Shocker

(UFC) Meisha Tate – Champion

 (NCAAB) Bo Ryan – Cleared

(NCAAB) BenSimmons – Ineligible

(NFL) PeytonManning – Retiring

(NFL) TreMason - Zapped

(NFL) JosephRandle – Busted

(NFL) BuffaloBills - Released

(NCAAF) Lovie Smith
- Illinois

We look forward to another week in sports!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Minnesota Wild – Oh So Close But Rejected Again

The past two games for the Minnesota Wild have seen the team come close to winning games. Instead of victories, the Wild have come up on the short end of the stick in three consecutive games.

Now Wild fans are left to debate if the Wild team we’ve seen in the past three games is the real Wild team or is it just bad luck for the team that sees itself four points out of the eighth and final playoff spot.

Wild Lose At Home To New York Islanders

On Tuesday night, the Minnesota Wild came so close toforcing Overtime against the Philadelphia Flyers when a Charlie Coyle shot intoa nearly empty net was reviewed. It looked like a goal at first glance but after an official review it was ruled that there was no goal. The Wild came 1.6 seconds from securing at least one point.

Philadelphia netminder Michal Neuvirth made an incredible save adding to a list of steals he made all night long.

The Wild had their chances. Goals that seemed like an inevitability didn’t materialize. We shouldn’t be surprised. This is the Wild we’ve become used to in the past couple of months. The four game winning streak that ended with a victory over the Blackhawks last Sunday saw the Wild netting goal after goal.

Minnesota Wild Stymied By Washington Capitals

On Friday night against the Washington Capitals, the Wild played well for two periods and had a lead in the third period but in typical Wild fashion, a couple of breakdowns led to two Washington goals and in a blip the Wild had recorded their third consecutive loss.

The theme has been the same. Scoring goals has been a problem, even when the Wild have had numerous chances!

Once again Alex Ovechkin scored a big goal! The goal tied the score in the third period and it was Ovechkin's 40th goal of the season. With the goal,  Ovechkin 10th player in NHL history to score fourty goals in eight seasons.

Ovechkin has scored four of his forty goals in the past two meetings between the Wild and Capitals. In fact those games have come just weeks apart of each other.

Has this been the real Minnesota Wild? It might be. In the past two months, the Wild were arguably one of the better team s that out chanced their opponents. The problem is that they were near the bottom of actually scoring goals.

Has the real Wild Resurfaced?

The Real Minnesota Wild Has Resurfaced

It looks like Minnesota is reverting back to the team that got Mike Yeo fired. This team of underachievers is set to give the coaching staff fits. Some fans thought that the worst was over, especially when they went on a four game winning streak.

In the team’s winning streak, they scored 5+ goals in each game. With the exception of the Chicago Blackhawks the Wild faced inferior opponents. Those opponents were perfect for a team looking to rebound from nearly two months of losing.

Now the Wild have faced credible opponents and will continue to do so. We’re seeing the same old team that failed to score goals the past couple of months. Things don’t get easier as the Wild face the league’s best team, the Washington Capitals.

The Wild have to win and win now. They have to find a way to score goals.

Wild Have Remarkable Ability Of Making Opposing Goalies Look Great

On paper and with the naked eye, Neuvirth looked great against the Wild. On his game winning save that was ruled a no goal, he looked great. Let’s slow down a little bit. The Wild are inept. In the no goal ruling, all Coyle had to do is one-time the puck into an open net. Instead he controlled the puck and shot. That extra second gave Neuvirth enough time to make a great save.

The Wild have built up a reputation as team that out chances their opponents. Someone must tell them to score goals. Especially when a goal is almost impossible to miss.  The Wild have an uncanny ability of making opposing goalies look great.

It’s still a small sample size of games since Mike Yeo was fired. The Wild came out firing in the first four games after John Torchetti took over as interim head coach. The past three games have seen this team revert back to the team that saw Mike Yeo get fired.

It’s looking more and more like this is a player issue and not a head coaching issue. The players have difficulty putting a full 60 minutes together and they may not be as talented as we thought they were.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The NFL Can Force Change By Hitting A Player Like Vontaze Burfict In Their Pocket

Vontaze Burfict of the Cincinnati Bengals was suspended for three games for his dirty hit on Antonio Brown in the closing moments of the AFC wild-card game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Burfict’s believes that he was flagged because of his bad reputation as a dirty player.
I’m not going to argue why I think that Burfict’s hit was dirty. I’ve already writtenan article about that. I will argue that the only thing that matters is if Burfict is true to his word and changes the way he plays.

Hit A Dirty Player Where it Counts

The NFL can force players to change their dirty playing by hitting the player where it counts most, which is their wallet. It doesn’t matter if the NFL changes the player’s opinion. The only thing that matters is if the player changes the way he plays the game.

In Burfict’s case, he will have to sit out the first three games of the 2016 NFL season due to his three game suspension (for the hit on Brown). That’s sure to put a dent in Burfict’s wallet.

As for Burfict’s reputation. Sure it plays a part. If a player makes too many dirty plays, then the officials will take notice and flag a player every time his hit looks dirty. The NFL will also increase the penalties it dishes out to the dirty player based on that player’s reputation.

That’s exactly what happened in Burfict’s case. The NFL wins here. They don’t need to try and force the player to agree with them. They only have force the player to change the way they play the game.

Let’s be honest, if Burfict fails to change the way he plays the game, he will continue to be suspended and even banned form the game.

Is Vontaze Burfict Playing victim

I do believe that Burfict sounds like he’s trying to portray himself as a victim. I don’t think that he thinks that there was anything wrong with the hit on Brown. By saying that if he wasn’t #55 he wouldn’t have been flagged for the hit, he is excusing his actions and blaming the officials for flagging him, only because of his reputation. That’s bogus.

While I don’t believe that the officials targeted Burfict because of his reputation, I do think that the NFL considered his reputation when handing out his suspension. I do think that the NFL does believe that his hit was dirty. I don’t think that anyone is picking on Vontaze. They are picking on his actions and making him pay for it.

Now Vontaze might actually get it. If he doesn’t play within the rules, the NFL will continue to fine and suspend him. He has no choice if he wants to receive a paycheck. That’s the beauty of suspensions. They hit the dirty player where it counts. That’s one of the only ways to force a player to change the way they play.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

In A Word For The Week OF 02-15-16 – Retiring

It’s time for another In a Word posting. In a Word is a weekly recap of the week’s major sports stories (each major story in one word).

Even in the offseason there’s enough NFL news. Many times during the offseason we read about players’ criminal activity. There doesn’t seem to be a shortage of those stories. There was one story of player criminal behavior this past week. I’m sure there will be more going forward.

The stories that really dominated NFL news this week were the number of players that retired! It’s usually a time to reflect on the player’s career when we’ve watched that player during their career.

We’re more than just an NFL weekly recap (although the NFL sometimes dominates the recap).
Let’s hope that feel good stories dominate the news this offseason.

Now for the recap.

(NFL) Jarod Mayo – Retiring

(NFL) Roger Goodell – Rich

(Boxing) Manny Pacquiao – Disgusting

(NFL) Jared Allen – Retiring

(BPL) Manchester United Fans – Curse

(NFL) Los Angeles Rams – Cut

(NFL) Heath Miller – Retires

(NHL) Jaromir Jagr – Third

(NFL) Joeseph Randle – Criminal

(NFL) Johnny Manziel – Video

(Bundesliga) – Bayer Leverkusen vs. Borussia Dortmund – Halt

(NHL) Minnesota Wild – Hot

(NBA) Anthony Davis – Amazing

(NASCAR) Denny Hamlin – Inches

We hope that you return next week for another In a Word recap.

The Minnesota Wild Loved Their First NHL Stadium Series Game

Minnesota Wild fans have waited many years to host an outdoor game. They've also waited for a home win in 2016. Wild fans saw their team's first ever stadium series game and they saw their team win a home game. 

The Wild entered the game on a three game winning streak that saw the Wild score five goals in each game. Today at TCF Bank Stadium, Wild fans saw their team torch the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. They beat their Nemesis 6-1. The Blackhawks were never in this game.

John Torchetti Has Put the Torch In The Wild

There's no question that since John Torchetti has taken over as the interim head coach of the Minnesota Wild, that the team has played with a sense of urgency and energy.

The offense has exploded as Torchetti has allowed players to play their game and awarded players that have produced with more playing time. The players have responded and seem to be rejoicing in their new found freedom to play their own brand of offense.

Eric Haula has blossomed into the offensive player that Wild fans knew he was capable of becoming. For me the player that has responded the most is Jason Pominville. He had struggled to net a goal and he's now scored multiple goals since Torchetti took over the reins of the team.

The Wild have not only won games but they've exploded as far as scoring goals is concerned. For this Wild fan, it's been amazing to see the team score five goals or more in the last four games.

The Minnesota Wild Passed Their Biggest Test Since Torchetti

Today's game against the mighty Blackhawks was the team's biggest test since Torchetti took over. This was a huge with a capital H test for the Wild and the Wild passed this test with flying colors.

The Wild destroyed the Blackhawks. The mighty team today was the Wild.

Going into today's game, I didn't feel the Wild would win. The Blackhawks always seem to have Minnesota's number in big games. I was fearful that the momentum that the Wild had gained would disappear.

I'm extremely happy that I was wrong. This was the type of game that will hopefully give the Wild even more confidence as they face tough competition going forward.

It's a Wrap

I'm not going to feel too comfortable yet. This is the Wild we're talking about but I do see major signs of improvement with this team.

The Minnesota Wild have shown their fans that they are capable of playing great hockey. This team has improved in each of their past four games.

The Wild are now back in the playoff race and if they can continue to play the way they have the past four games, there's no reason to believe that they won't make the playoffs.

Before I sign off from writing this post, Wild fans should keep Jason Zucker in their thoughts and prayers. Let's hope that Zucker is fine.

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Minnesota Wild Love Western Canada, Eh?

The Minnesota Wild finished their Western Canadian road trip by beating the Edmonton Oilers 5-2 on Thursday night. It was their third straight game scoring five goals as they beat their hapless opponents by a combined score of 15-7. They beat the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames in their two previous games.

I could go on and on about how it angers me that the Wild can turn it on and off like they did but it’s time for me to look forward to the possibility of this team making the playoffs. I’m happy that the Wild have won three straight and are now back in the playoff race.

The Wild didn’t dominate the Oilers but they definitely took advantage of their chances, something that I’ve criticized them in the past for being unable to do.

Tough Schedule Going Forward

Things only get harder for the Wild as they face the defending Stanley Cup Champions (Chicago Blackhawks) in an outdoor Stadium Series game on Sunday. Then the Minnesota Wild will face some good teams and teams fighting for their playoff lives.

If the Wild continue to play with the emotion and heart that they’ve shown in the past three games, they will have a good chance of making the playoffs. They will also have to continue scoring multiple goals per game.

The teams they will face going forward are better and more talented than the Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers. It’s important for this team to continue to improve.

Defense Has Had Some Lapses Of Good Play

During the Wild’s losing streak they had games where the defense failed to show up. Last night against the Oilers, the Minnesota Wild had lapses in defense as well. This concerns me. The Wild’s turnovers in their end of the ice led to one goal but it could have been worse.

Nate Prosser had a terrible night. He was directly responsible for two Edmonton goals. Even Ryan Suter looked a little shaky at times.

The Wild were able to overcome some of their deficiencies and less than stellar moments by scoring goals. I would like to see the Wild scoring goals and playing sound defense for a full sixty minutes.

It’s a Wrap

I know I’ve been hard on this club in recent weeks and while it might take me awhile to start respecting the team’s stars again, the team has given their fans a reason to cheer and be hopeful that the Wild have turned things around.

The true test for the Wild will be how they handle the tough games coming up in their schedule. The initial boost of a new coach will soon wear off and we’ll see if this is the real Minnesota Wild or if the team that we saw in the losing streak is the real one.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

My Interview With The Jake Bartelson Show

Below is my interview with Jake Bartelson (@JakeBartelson) of the Jake Bartelson Show which airs on WCRD91.3 (Ball State Radio).

I would like thank Jake for having me on his show!