Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ category

The Best Time Of The Year In Sports

April 15, 2010

April is arguably the greatest month of the sports calendar.  Starting things off we had a near “David over Goliath” experience in the NCAA Men’s basketball championship as Butler nearly pulled off the upset against the mighty Duke.  A finish for the ages was not to be as a Hail Mary heave attempt from half court was not to be answered.  Although the majority of the event takes place in the month of March, the culmination of sports greatest event kicks off April, the best month in the sports year.

How could you not love a month in which not one but two postseason’s begin with the NBA and NHL playoffs getting underway this week?  Once again I’ll be on the edge of my seat rooting for the Lakers to win their 16th championship.  With the recent injuries and poor play down the stretch along with the improvement of the entire western conference and Cleveland and Orlando in the east, the Lakers will certainly have their work cut out for them.

While I’m excited for another post season run by the Lakers, I am beyond happy to see my beloved Los Angeles Kings return to the playoffs for the first time since 2002.  During this time I, like many other Kings fans, have suffered through some lean years, but tonight when they hit the ice in Vancouver to begin postseason play, all those rough times will be forgotten.

The Kings are proof that if you have competent management that has  a plan and is committed to seeing that plan to fruition you will find success sooner rather than later.  I’m realistic in my expectations.  I don’t believe this is the year the Kings will end a 43 year drought and hoist the Stanley Cup, but I do believe that a second round appearance is a realistic possibility.

Nothing is better than playoff drama with teams going all out to win the championship in their respective sports.  I love the playoffs in all the major sports.  I enjoy a major league baseball playoff game from first pitch to final out.  The NFL playoffs are three hours of pure joy.  As a confessed sports junkie, I’ll take two playoffs going on simultaneously over just one any time.

In addition to the great playoff action, April is a time of new beginnings and a renewed sense of hope for baseball and football fans.  For fans of America’s past time, a new season has just begun.  Fans of all the teams come out of spring training with a hope and an optimism that this could be the year their team is celebrating October glory.  For some that hope is realistically attainable, for other that’s all it is…hope.  But the beauty of sports is you don’t know how things will play out which is why you have to watch and see it all unfold day by day, month by month.

For NFL fans, April marks the annual entry draft which is the beginning of a new era.  Fans of teams that finished amongst the worst the year before have a renewed sense of excitement with a highly touted draft pick set to come their way.  For the fans of the good teams, you hope your general manager will be unable to uncover a hidden gem and keep your team riding the wave of success.

The sports calendar has something for every fan throughout the year, whether Indy 500 in May, the baseball all-star game in July or the Super Bowl in January, but for my money, I’ll take April any time of the year.

2010 Hits The Ground Running In The World Of Sports

January 16, 2010

The new year is barely two weeks old and 2010 is already packing quite a punch.  Since the start of the year, we have had two major college programs change head coaches with Lane Kiffin becoming the new head coach at USC and Tennessee naming former Louisiana Tech head coach Derek Dooley replacing Kiffin.  Both of these coaching hires smell of desperation like a bad perfume at a strip club.  If not for the fact that national signing day is right around the corner, I doubt if either of these coaches would have been hired as quickly as they were.

Trojan fans, I know Kiffin is a sexy name.  He was a member of the USC coaching staff during its decade of domination in the 2000’s, but as a head coach what has the guy done?  He was not successful as coach of the Raiders (but then again under Al “The Dictator” Davis how can anyone be?) and in his only season at Tennessee he was  7-6 with nearly as many secondary NCAA violations to boot.

After talking to a couple of Trojan fans I have come to the conclusion that Kiffin was hired not based on his merits, but on who he had the ability to bring with him.  Ed Orgeron and Monte Kiffin are two of the top assistants in the game, no question about it, but if you are using the head coach as simply window dressing then I would take a wait and see approach before getting more giddy than a fat kid in a candy shop over Kiffin’s hiring.

As for Dooley, I must admit that I haven’t followed the Louisiana Tech program very closely but I do know that the Bulldogs always gave a strong effort game in and game out.  I’m sure the fact that Dooley has Athletic Director experience didn’t hurt his cause.  But at the end of the day his record at LA Tech was 17-20 including 4-8 last season.  As far as I’m concerned shouldn’t you have more wins than losses at a little boy conference before getting the opportunity to show what you can do with the big boys?  Go figure.

Also in college football, the Boise State Broncos continue to show why they should be considered a threat to both BCS teams and non-BCS teams alike by defeating TCU in the Fiesta Bowl to finish another season unbeaten.  I know many people will say the Broncos are only good because they play in a weak conference (which they do) and if they played Florida, Alabama, USC, Texas or any top school they would get pounded but to that I ask, why not let them have their chance?  Why not let the Boise’s, BYU’s, Utah’s and TCU’s of the world have the opportunity to prove themselves between the lines?  It’s politics like this against the non-BCS conferences combined with the lack of a playoff system that make me dislike college football.

College football’s coach of the decade left southern California to take on new challenges at the NFL level by becoming the new head coach of the Seattle Seahawks.  I can’t blame Carroll for wanting to take the opportunity to try to once again prove himself on football’s biggest stage.  Combine that with the fact Seattle is paying him a ton of money and giving him the personnel control he has longed for made this decision a no-brainer.  After nine years on the college level in which USC had a record of 97-19 that included two national championships, seven consecutive Pac-10 titles, and three Heisman trophy winners, the man had nothing else left to prove.

Carroll is eager to prove he is a better NFL coach than his 33-31 career record indicates.  Only the passing of time will tell us if he will be successful.  But I will say this, I doubted Carroll once before and he took one of college football’s most historically proud phoenix’s and rose it from the ashes.

Mark McGwire finally admitted to the world he took steroids.  The headline should have read, “McGwire admits to the public what it has already known for at least 10 years”.  I’m glad McGwire finally got that off his chest and came clean.  It’s an obvious step in the right direction for him to try to rebuild his name and image to baseball and its fans.  I grew up a big fan of McGwire since we are both from Claremont, Calif. and attended the same elementary school.

At the end of the day, I feel McGwire is a good person with a great heart.  I believe him when he says that he wanted to come clean five years ago but was not granted immunity before testifying in front of congress back in 2005.  The big problem I have with his apology and his statements in recent interviews with Bob Costas of MLB Network and Bob Ley of ESPN is when he says steroids didn’t help him hit home runs and the only reason he used them was to recover from injury sooner and keep himself on the playing field.  If that’s the case, why did he apologize to the Maris family?  I think those statements are the equivalent of taking intelligence and kicking it square in the groin.

Although the incident took place in December, the fallout from the Gilbert Arenas gun incident in our nation’s capital continues to take place.  It’s still quite early but Arenas is undoubtedly the leader in the clubhouse for the NBA’s Idiot Of The Year Award for his ill-timed humor in a pre-game display at Philadelphia.  The man was the center of a big time investigation by law authorities for bringing a gun to an NBA arena.  The commissioner was debating on whether or not to suspend Arenas and he reacts to the adversity surrounding him by brandishing his hands like two guns during a pre-game huddle.  Not only did Arenas take a stupid pill before that night’s game but he showed he obviously overdosed on said stupid pill.  To the surprise of no one, Arenas was suspended the next day.

In the NFL, wild card weekend was capped off by the most exciting game we have seen in years as the Arizona Cardinals emerged victorious in an overtime thriller over the Green Bay Packers.  My heart feels for the  Packer fans to lose the game they way they did but I feel nothing but happiness for Kurt Warner and the Cardinals.  Warner was simply on fire that game throwing more TD passes (5) than incomplete passes (4).  Considering the odds that he overcame to make it to the NFL, win two MVP’s,  win a Super Bowl and have a rebirth of success at the twilight of his career in Arizona which had been the door mat of NFL franchises for decades, how can you not root for the guy?

On the flip side of that game, I was happy to see Green Bay finish the regular season strong and for Aaron Rodgers to prove to everyone that he has what it takes to lead one of the NFL’s most historically proud franchises for years to come.  Green Bay should be a contender for the next several years and I truly believe that Rodgers will have an MVP season on his resumé before his career is said and done.

If the remaining 50 weeks of 2010 are anything like the first two in the world of sports then I will have plenty to write about.  I want to wish everyone a healthy, happy and prosperous new year.  Thanks for hanging out in the clubhouse.

A Few Thoughts

October 6, 2009

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve been in the clubhouse so I figured it was time to step back in.  With the MLB playoffs beginning Wednesday, the new NHL season upon us, the NFL season a month old and the NBA season just on the horizon there are many things to be excited about as a sports fan.  Typically I write on one subject but with so much going on I’m going to touch on a few things.  Lets get to it.

As I write this, I’m watching the AL Central Tiebreaker playoff game between the Detroit Tigers and the Minnesota Twins.  The Tigers come into this contest having choked away a seven game lead with 26 to play while the Twins have arrived to this point with all the momentum.  I would take the time to break this down and give you my “in depth” analysis that all of you have come to know and love but I’ll save you the trouble.  Regardless of who wins this game, the Yankess are going to promptly dispatch them right out of the playoffs with what is sure to be a downright thorough butt kicking. 

The American League’s other playoff matchup between the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim should be a much more compelling way to spend your playoff viewing time.  It seems as though every year these two teams are battling it out in October.  Every year the result has always been the same with the Red Sox emerging victorious.  I know the recent play of both teams should point to a halo victory this year but an argument could have been made for that to happen last year or the year before that or the year before that, etc.  While I’m rooting for a different result I am having a hard time envisioning how that will happen and once again I see Boston advancing to LCS play.  I need to see something happen for me to believe it can happen again and until the Angels defeat the Red Sox in October I have no reason to pick them.  That being said, go Angels!  Please prove me wrong. 

As for the National League matchups, I am picking the Cardinals to defeat the Dodgers and the Phillies to get passed the Rockies.  St. Louis clearly has an advantage over the Dodgers in the pitching department with the two headed monster of Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright.  Combine that with the fact, St. Louis owns the Dodgers in recent years even when they don’t have two pitchers with at least 17 wins and its hard to envision the Dodgers getting past the first round.  Just like with the Angels, I am begging the Dodgers to prove me wrong.

As for the Rockies, I just don’t think they have enough to get by the defending champions.  The Phillies have the pitching and a line up that is as dangerous as any in the game.  As for the Rockies, they showed a lot of heart to get to this point.  They took the Dodgers down to the wire in the NL West race and had to stay sharp to hold off a surging Atlanta Braves team in the wild card race.  I think the Rockies are out of gas and simply don’t have enough to defeat the Phillies. 

As a Raiders fan, I have seen many ups and downs (mostly downs in the past 20 years) but this next sentence should sum up just how down things are for the silver and black.  Since going to the Super Bowl at the end of the 2002 season the Raiders are 25-75 in their last 100 regular season games.  That’s not a typo.  The Raiders have won only 25 percent of their games in recent years.  Not even the lousy Lions who were 0-16 last season can lay claim to that   How Raider fans can not be outraged by winning only 25 of their last 100 regular season games is beyond me.  I don’t want to get into it too much with my feelings about the Raiders.  Lets just say I’m very frustrated and near the end of my rope with this laughing stock of a franchise.  If you want to know more about my feeling’s click here.

The NHL season kicked off last Thursday night and I couldn’t be happier.  Growing up in southern California in the 80’s and 90’s I was able to see the greatest player of all-time on a regular basis in Wayne Gretzky.  My parents had season tickets and took us to many games.  Because of those wonderful experiences I became fan for life.  It’s been real tough to be a Kings fan over the past several years but I’m very optimistic about their plan of going young, developing talent and combining that talent with some key free agent veterans.  I like the veteran additions of Ryan Smyth and Rob Scuderi and I think this is the year the King’s return to the postseason.  If Los Angeles can get any kind of steady goaltending from Jon Quick or Erik Ersberg then they should be in good shape.  As always, the Kings will live and die with their goaltending.  I know Quick looked less than stellar on opening night allowing six goals on 30 shots to the lowly Phoenix Coyotes but I keep telling myself it’s just one game. 

Of all my teams I root for in each sport, my favorite, the Los Angeles Lakers begin defense of their title at the end of this month.  I am extremely anxious to see how Ron Artest will replace Trevor Ariza in the mix.  Regardless, I know it will be a fun year in the city of angels. 

Last nights football game between Minnesota and Green Bay lived up to the hype.  Favre without a doubt proved that he is still a very capable quarterback in the league.  Despite what some people are saying, I still believe Green Bay did the right thing by going with Aaron Rodgers.  Favre retired and they moved on.  Kudos to them for sticking with their decision.  Rodgers is only going to get better and will be one of the top quarterbacks in the game for several years after Favre eventually calls it quits for good.  Minnesota may be getting the best of things in the short term but I think the long term battle will be won by Green Bay. 

As for my personal affairs, the Jim and Joe MMA Show has been up and rolling for almost two months.  I have really enjoyed being part of the show and believe in it with all my conviction.  I have had more fun building this program over the past two months then I did working in radio full-time the past couple of years.  If you haven’t listened to it, please check it out by clicking on “Listen Now” at www.jjmmashow.com.  If you know someone who likes MMA please pass the word on to them.  Right now we’re just trying to get the word out and grow our audience.  If you have any feedback on the show please let me know. 

Take care everyone and thanks for stepping into the clubhouse with me.

Why I’m Not A Fan Of Drafts

June 25, 2009

Every year between January and June sports fans hear such common terms as, “he has amazing speed”, “what great foot work”, “he can jump out of the gym”, “he can hit 100 miles per hour on the radar gun” or my personal favorite, “he’s a can’t miss prospect”.  That’s right.  I’m talking about the respective drafts of the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL or any sport for that matter.

As someone who follows all of the sports listed above, these are things that I read or hear on a daily basis as the respective draft gurus began their guessing and speculation on who will be the next “big thing” and that’s exactly what it is too, guessing.  Albeit educated guessing, but guessing nonetheless. 

Every sports fan has one of those friends, including myself, who wait on pins and needles as these educated guessers give us the latest on who is moving up or down draft boards.  They go online several times a day in hopes of seeing (insert name of guru’s) latest mock draft.  There are even those who pour tons of dollars into buying the draft guides from several of their “heroes”.

I am just not one of those guys.  As a sports fan of over 25 years, I have yet to understand the appeal of a draft.  After about a week of hearing discussion on any particular draft I am ready to just throw my radio out the car.  It’s the same mind numbing discussion over and over again.  The NFL is the worst at this.  Almost four months pass between the end of the season and the time where we see Commissioner Roger Goodell at the podium announcing a team’s pick. 

Why does the NFL need so much time to hold their draft?  The NBA and NHL drafts are only a few weeks after their respective postseasons end and they invest just as much money if not more into their prospective athletes, due to the fact that those contracts are guaranteed.

Major League Baseball does things even better by holding their draft during the season so at least the discussion surrounding it is on the back burner behind what’s actually going on in the major leagues, between paid professionals who are already performing at the highest level. 

I have tried several times to sit down and watch a draft unfold.  Every time I have the same result.  I hit the eject button after about five picks.  I start asking myself, “how do people do it, how can they just sit here and watch this thing?”  All I can think about is the fact that I just wasted part of my life and those are minutes or an hour that I’ll never get back.   

What kills me the most about drafts is the discussion on what teams had a good draft as opposed to what teams had a bad one.  How can that question be answered logically?  No one knows how these guys are going to perform on the highest level.  That is a question that can only be answered accurately with the passing of several seasons, not the passing of several hours or one single day. 

Several years ago ESPN ran a series of commercials for the NFL draft in which they showed a guy who was drafted in the later rounds making plays against guys that were drafted in the earlier rounds.  Their point was to get you to watch because you never know where the stars of tomorrow will get selected.  What I took from it was that all this speculation and educated guessing is a waste of time and energy.  There is nothing that I can’t read about online later that night or in the newspaper the next day over a few minutes that’s worth me sitting through hours on the couch to find out.       

As you can figure out by looking at this blog page, I am as passionate a sports fan as anybody.  I love the fact that there are no two games that are exactly alike.  Each game gives us the chance to see something amazing or disappointing that we might never see again.  Sports are the most authentic reality show with nightly drama unfolding with every pitch or tick of the clock. 

I am passionate when discussing sports or sharing my opinions on things that have happened between the lines by actual athletes that have accomplished things on the highest level and not on what they might do based on their achievements at the amateur level.  There is no draft that is worth me dedicating more hours of my day to watch than I would to a game where things that actually matter happen.    

Enjoy yourself tonight fans of the NBA draft.  Have fun making your educated guesses and cheering and booing the good or bad picks.  If a trade happens that involves actual professional players let me know, (especially if it involves the Lakers) but if not, I’ll read all about it later and share my thoughts on the players in a season or two.

Welcome to the Clubhouse

May 11, 2009

Starting a blog is something that I have been giving some thought to doing for several months now.  Since expressing that thought, alot of people in my life have been urging me to start a web page where I blog and express my thoughts on whatever is on my mind, from sports to entertainment, to news to whatever.  So with the help of wordpress and with the support of those around me, I have decided to make that a reality.  So today May 11, 2009 I have begun putting the pen to paper (or in this case punch some keys on a keyboard) on my first blog. 

So now that I’ve come this far, the next logical question is where do I begin?  I guess I should start by telling you about me.  I was born and raised in southern California and am an avid fan of the LA Lakers, LA Kings and Oakland Raiders.  When it comes to baseball I guess I would consider myself a LA Dodgers fan but I also will root for the California/Anaheim/LA Angels.  To those of you coming across this south of the grapevine, I know it’s pretty much blasphemy to say that now, but when I was growing up, southern Cali belonged to the Dodgers and the Angels were a complete after thought and not seen as any kind of threat to the “Azul” (some of you will get that Vic The Brick reference) and considering how little they had accomplished until the 2000’s you can see why.  My dad was taking me to my first Dodger games at the age of four or five.  I didn’t go to my first Angel game until I was 10…and it was a closer drive from where we lived to Orange County.  While I love baseball and am heavily involved in fantasy baseball with some long time friends, I don’t feel that I really root for my baseball teams with the same kind of passion that I root for my teams in the other sports. 

At the age of 22 I decided to leave the comforts of home in southern Cali and move to Las Vegas with two of my friends if for nothing else to get away from home and experience a different way of life in different surroundings.   Sin City is truly a unique place to live.  It’s too hard to explain in one blog but those of you that have lived there at one time in your life know what I am talking about.  While living there I decided to return to school and earned my Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication from UNLV.  After school, I began my career in media as a freelance writer being published in Henderson Home News, Las Vegas Sun, Smash Magazine and LV Sports Magazine.   But while I enjoyed writing I loved the spoken word even more and wanted to give radio a try so after seven years in the desert I packed up my bags and headed to the agriculture capital of central California…Fresno, to try my hand in that medium.  Since living in Fresno, I have kept writing on the side and have had the privilege to be published in His Magazine, The Valley Amateur and on ValleySportsPulse.com.  While I had fun working in radio and had wonderful experiences that will last me forever, life circumstances dictated that it was time for me to move on and do something else. 

This brings me to where I’m at now.  I decided to go back to school and get some different training  so that I can go out and get a “real job”  for steady income but since I love media I am going to keep my hand in some projects both on the writing and radio side of things.  Besides this blog, you can read some of my work at valleysportspulse.com and I’m also working on a MMA radio project called the “Jim and Joe MMA Show” that we are currently trying to bring to a viable outlet near you.  You can follow what Jim is doing over on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jimmmashow.com  One of these days I will probably get on Twitter myself and register a name.  For whatever reason I have been lazy about getting on there and registering but I realize that to get a following and be noticed you have to be made available to as many outlets as possible.  (Update: I now have a twitter page at www.twitter.com/joesclubhouse

Before I wrap up my first blog, I would like to thank the following people:

Kelli Martin for her love and support and for encouraging me to do this.

The Pacheco, Canzoneri, McCaulley and Verburgt familes for their love and support and for raising me to become the person that I am.

The Martin family for also helping me to plant the seed from which this blog will grow and for believing in me.

Chris Pacheco for giving me the opportunity to get into radio.

Jim Verros and Marcas Grant, two of my best friends, for showing me the ropes in the world of radio and for believing in me as a media person.  You can hear Marcas give you updates every 20 minutes on the Sporting News Radio Network.  Check the website http://radio.sportingnews.com for an affiliate near you.  Follow Marcas on his blog at http://tiomt.blogspot.com or at www.twitter.com/MarcasG and check out his view of the LA sports scene on www.ValleySportsPulse.com

Jason Phalen, a friend that taught me a thing or two about being in radio and also believed in my abilities as both a broadcaster and writer and made my transition to life in Fresno a lot easier than it could have been.

Joe Arrigo for being one of the best friends in my life and being as encouraging and supportive as anyone.  He gave me my first radio exposure as the sports guy on his afternoon show.  Check out his blog at http://joeslockerroom.wordpress.com

George Takata for giving me a platform to continue writing and for making my two and half years as his radio producer some of the most enjoyable times in my life.  Check him out on TV here in the Fresno area on CBS 47 and visit his website at www.valleysportspulse.com for the best coverage of the local sports scene here in the central valley.

Daryl Howerton who is one of the best people that I have ever met since moving to Fresno.  Check out his NBA stories on www.nba.com/hoop and his website www.fresnobeach.com

Mary Hausch and Cathy Scott (www.cathyscott.com).  They were two of my former teachers at UNLV that really believed in my writing abilities and helped teach me the skills to be a writer and it’s because of Mary that I was able to get my first writing assignments and get published.

To all of the other important people in my life that I call friend, family, or whatever I thank you too.  I know that  we are all over many parts of this great country and even though we don’t talk as much as we should or see each other very often, I still think about you frequently and consider you an important part of my life. 

Hope you enjoy hanging out in Joe’s Clubhouse.  Thanks again.

Joe Pacheco