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Saturday, January 9, 2010

Wild Card Weekend

It is Wild Card weekend in the NFL today, and like most sports, the first round is usually the most interesting in terms of upsets and wild games. Up at 4:30, the New York Jets are 2.5 point underdogs at Cincinnati. It would be easy to take the Jets on the strength of their 37-0 whitewash over the Bengals last week but that assumes the Bengals were 100% invested in that game, which they weren't. That said, the Jets will ride their fantastic defence today and pounding run game over a one dimensional Bengals offence that can't pass, and an up and down defence that struggles against the run. Jets win 21-10. The 8pm game is an NFC East battle that sees the Philadelphia Eagles visit the Dallas Cowboys. The 'Boys won both games against Philly this year, both unders if you care, including a 24-0 shutout last week. The Eagles are likely to throw the kitchen sink at Tony Romo this week unlike last week, but Romo seems to know when they're blitzing and is calling the right plays out of it. With a great rushing game going and a defence that hasn't given up a point in 8 quarters, hard not to love Dallas at -3.5, which I do in a 31-17 Cowboys win. Romo gets his first playoff win and goes on an A-Rod playoff cleansing this year. Downside? Likely means another year of Wade Phillips as coach.

Speaking of Wade Phillips and the Buffalo Bills, never heard about the Curse of Doug Flutie until yesterday. Seems neither Phillips nor the Bills have won a playoff game since then Bills coach Phillips yanked Flutie in favor of Rob Johnson with the playoffs at hand, and that ended up being the wrong end of The Music City Miracle for the Bills. For his part, Flutie wishes Phillips all the best, so hopefully that does it for the Cowboys. sums up the latest on Cuban defect Aroldis Chapman, now believed to be heading to the Toronto Blue Jays on the strength of a $23 million offer. If there is silence coming from the big boys in the division, they're either not interested for a material reason that doesn't include money, or they're waiting to quietly pounce.

Make that eight of nine for the surging Toronto Raptors after coming back from a double digit deficit in Philadelphia last night for a 108-106 Raptors win. Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani had big nights to lead the way. Next up: the Boston Celtics tomorrow at The Hanger.

Five snowed out EPL fixtures this week, including Hull City v Chelsea, Burnley v Stoke City, Sunderland v Bolton, Fulham v Portsmouth, and most disappointingly, Liverpool v Tottenham. That leaves only a couple games today, with Arsenal and Everton the more appealing.

Manny Pacquiao has agreed to fight someone named Josh Clottey. Boxing does it again.

Pete Carroll is suddenly out as USC coach, which has to mean that there is serious trouble around the corner coming from the NCAA for some bevy of violations, and has already agreed to become next coach of the Seattle Seahawks. He must really have wanted to stay on the left coast to move that quick, as he'd surely be a hot candidate for any vacancy despite a less than stellar NFL head coaching resume from his time in New England. Yes, there was a time when Bill Belichick wasn't in charge.

This one comes from GBVH, and features the 12 strangest soccer stadiums. The last is an absolute gem.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Roll Tide!

When Texas QB Colt McCoy went out before most found their seats in the National Championship game, you'd have thought it would be an Arkansas blowout, and while it ended up that 37-21 in the end thanks to a few late turnovers, it was a lot closer than you'd have initially thought. How funny was it seeing Texas QB Gilbert picked off by Arkansas' Arenas?

Senator Chuck Schumer from New York went to Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson looking for assurances that the Bills would remain in Western New York and got what he was after. Of course, Schumer would've preferred a healthy donation to his campaign funding but in the abscence thereof, appeals to the common man by talking to the uncommonly rich old man will do.

Atlanta Falcons fullback Ovie Mughelli is allegedly gay. And the world continues to spin on its axis.

More details of how the Gilbert Arenas gun incident went down are emerging and as stupid as he and Javaris Crittenton both are, it seems that Agent Zero is taking the hit for the latter. While Arenas left four guns out for Arenas with a letter for him to pick one, it was Crittenton that responded to Arenas' action by busting out his own firearm, loading the gun and chambering a round. Smart.

Check out this list of the Top 20 Most Despicable Coaches. Really, the word "despicable" doesn't get enough play, don't you think? Some surprises on here, but really hard to argue with the top two, who I'm sure you've heard of. Hint: they're not professional coaches.

The anonymous "Player X" continues his behind the scenes articles for ESPN The Magazine with a look at 10 playoff lessons heading into the NFL playoffs. Interesting stuff for sure.

If the talk is true, we could see the MLB World Series Champion play the JapaneseWorld Champion. champion to determine the true Doesn't this strike you as a bad idea if you're MLB? There's no doubt that they should win, but do you really think teams would take that much pride in it and treat it as more than an exhibition?

NFL cheerleaders aren't wearing nearly as little as they did earlier in the season when it was a lot warmer, or here when these 25 top cheerleaders were photographed.

Tony LaRussa is musing about adding Mark McGwire to the St. Louis Cardinals roster late in the 2010 season if they're in contention. Clearly, LaRussa is about to fail a field sobriety test again.

Back in the morning. Have a great Friday.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Crimson Tide

Today's RandoMango is brought to you in 3D. Strap on your goggles and get ready to go.

Had to go with two pictures today because I'm torn as to which is better. Gilbert Arenas "finger guns" which surely forced NBA Commissioner David Stern's hand into suspending him indefinitely without pay for his locker-room gun play, costing him $150k per game, or the screen cap from Boise State's Fiesta Bowl win earlier in the week featuring Jeron Johnson - and what else could it be but Johnson? - who apparently majors in porn judging by the picture below.

Alabama and Texas are playing the mythical National Championship bowl game tonight. Sorry, Longhorn, this one is Crimson Tide in a blowout, covering the four. Kickoff is 8pm Eastern. Yes, GS, I lifted your team name shtick. Love it.

Pardon The Interruption's Tony Kornheiser calls the New York Jets "the luckiest people since Ringo Starr." If you're not aware, that is pretty freaking lucky.

There's never, ever a dull moment when you're in Buffalo to see the Bills, but judging by this article sent my way from GBVH, this past Sunday's game was something special. As an added bonus, some Canadian content too.

More Bills news. Seems Brian Billick contacted Mike Tice, one of his former co-ordinators about joining him in Buffalo should he land the job. Tice in Buffalo? You know what this can buy tickets to sit among the player's families come playoff time!

Tony Dungy figures the talk of how the Indianapolis Colts tanked a shot at perfection only to play some key players - Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Peyton Manning - the week after in a blizzard in Buffalo so they could set some individual records will motivate them the way SpyGate motivated the New England Patriots in 2007. If you say so, TG.

Chad Ochocinco says that his knee feels fine after testing it out during a bout of sex earlier in the week. Whatever you say, 85.

The bidding on Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman is expected to go to $20 million. ESPN's Buster Olney notes that there is concern in some quarters that he is better suited for relief than as a starter. That's a boatload for a guy to get out of the gate as a reliever. Olney also says the New York Yankees are out, and the Toronto Blue Jays or Anaheim Angels are the likely landing spot.

The Hall of Fame votes are in for baseball and they got it both right in finally admitting Andre Dawson, who is the sole entrant this time around, and wrong in leaving Roberto Alomar, only three votes shy of the required 75%, out. The good news for Alomar is that since 1968, 13 players have polled 50% of the vote but failed to make it on their first try, and all 13 got in eventually. The NY Post's Joel Sherman offers his take on the voting process and results here. I'm not a fan of how political some voters get and think nobody should get in first year unanimously or sending in blank ballots, but the baseball Hall of Fame is the most legit of them all. It is strictly the best of the best. Dawson is said to be unsure which hat he'll be enshrined with. Hawk, it starts with "Montreal" and ends in "Expos".

Good to see boxing take something that would've been universally applauded - a huge fight - and turn it into a joke. After back and forth from both camps, and then mediation to try to bring them together for a March 13th fight, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao will apparently not be getting it on, according to promoter Bob Arum. Way to go, Boxing.

Have a great Thursday, back in the morning.

RM returns at 4pm today.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The U.S. wins gold

The U.S. are the World Junior Hockey championships after a thrilling 6-5 overtime win last night that saw Canada rally from two down late to force overtime. Some horrible goaltending from Canada. At the opposite end, Jordan Eberle. In a word, "man". Does anybody in the U.S. know? Care?

Strange but true: my jersey sales contact tells me that even before Canada's Olympic hockey team was announced, he saw jersey's that had Crosby with an "A" on the front. If Nike has that kind of information before the rest of the world, that is truly stunning.

One reason for the Dallas Cowboys to be nervous, despite beating the Philadelphia Eagles twice this season: they did the same in 2007 to the New York Giants before getting bounced in the playoffs by the Giants, who went on to win the Super Bowl.

The Boston Red Sox have now signed Adrian Beltre and Mike Cameron to go with David Ortiz as those with drug ties. Nice. Beltre, set to make $9 million, had all of 44 RBI this season.

Oakland Raiders QB JaMarcus Russell blew off the team's year end meeting to hang out at The Palms in Las Vegas. I'm sure Raider Fan won't hold that against him the next bad throw he makes.

Not content with his offence and thinking it is too vanilla, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier is looking at ways to make his offense more dynamic. With some colleges and pro teams running the "Wild Cat" or variations thereof, Spurrier is going with a tweaked version that, in honour of his schools team name, he's calling the "Wildcock". Amazing. South Carolina's squads are the Gamecocks, of course.

Baseball's Hall of Fame announcement will be made today and if the voters get it right, the Toronto Blue Jays will see their first entrant in Robbie Alomar.

Randy Johnson announced his retirement from baseball last night rather than mess with the Hall of Fame announcement. Uncharacteristically classy of him. The Big Unit was as dominant as they came in his prime, and in his 22 seasons chalked up 303 wins and 4875 strikeouts, and will also be remembered for blowing up this seagull in spring training one year.

More news coming out of the Edmonton Oilers rookie dinner. Seems the $8,000 portion on booze has attracted the attention of regulators. So very incredibly lame.

Bill Cowher is said to have met with the Buffalo Bills again yesterday, and the talk that he's backing out for the year is now being viewed as a bargaining ploy. Eventually, somebody will guess right.

Karl Malone writes a piece for letting the world know his thoughts on the Washington Wizards locker-room gun play. And as an avid hunter, he's none too pleased, and this is something a lot of would be gangsters in the pro-sports ranks would do well to read.

With the Jacksonville Jaguars said to be for sale, and the Buffalo Bills not far off, the company building the would-be NFL stadium for Los Angeles is said to be targeting those two to fill their stadium, along with five other possibilities.

The audio book of Sarah Palin's autobiography has some seriously harsh language from the former Vice Presidential candidate. Not for sensitive ears.

Have a great Wednesday.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Gold Medal frenzy

The Oakland Raiders are said to be contemplating firing Tom Cable. Well, at least they weren't rash in their decision making process. The Raiders have lost 11 or more games the last seven years. That is a serious Commitment to Excrement...err...Excellence.

If you forgot Chad Ochocinco's word last week ahead of the Cincinnati Bengals visit to the New York Jets, they went something like this: "Revis has put a lot of great receivers on him this season. That will not happen [this upcoming week]. Darrelle Revis couldn't cover me in a brown paper bag on a corner of a Manhattan street in a phone booth. It's impossible.'' Of course, Ochocinco went on to post exactly zero catches on Sunday, and also told Bob Costas of NBC that he'd change his name back to Chad Johnson if Revis shut him down Sunday night. When asked by a reporter after the game if he still planned to change his last name back, Ochocinco said, "Child, please.''

In the final 11 games of the season, the New York Giants went 3-8 and allowed 48, 40, 45, 41 and 44 points in five of those losses. This from a team that does much talking of how great its defence is. Best characterization I've heard of the Giants came on yesterday's Jim Rome Show, when one emailer likened the Giants to France.

All four bye teams from last year -- Carolina, the New York Giants, Pittsburgh and Tennessee - failed to make the playoffs this year. Not sure that kind of parity is a good thing, it doesn't hurt to have good and dominant teams here and there methinks.

Congratulations, Denver Broncos! You're the first team in NFL history to blow a 3.5 game lead in your division.

After a 24-0 beatdown and getting swept in the season series, Philadelphia Eagles mental heavyweight DeSean Jackson says "we gonna sting they ass". Very clever.

With the Buffalo Bills punting their entire coaching staff - good move, for starters - the talk of who the next head coach will be is heating up. Some names: Marty Schottenheimer, Brian Schottenheimer, Ron Rivera, Brian Billick, and more. Sounds like Bill Cowher will be sitting this one out, which with a lockout a possibility in 2011, would have him on the sidelines for a good five years if he doesn't land another gig.

Was that enough NFL talk for you?

Starting with the opening game at this summer's World Cup, ESPN is launching a 3D network. No, really. The future is coming real fast.

Canada faces the U.S. today in the gold medal game at the World Junior Hockey Championships tonight in Saskatoon. That one starts at 8pm and ought to be a great one, given the entertaining game they played on New Year's Eve. If Canada comes out in those green jersey's, I may be forced to cheer for the U.S. I'm not entirely kidding there either.

Check out these two St. Louis Rams fans falling from the stands trying to grab some players equipment being lobbed into the stands. Of course, when your team goes 1-15, a suicide attempt is also a possibility:

Monday, January 4, 2010

To the playoffs we go...

I don't know what the odds on this are, but three of the four Wild Card games this coming weekend are Week 17 rematches. If familiarity breeds contempt, then it should be extra interesting.

Safe to say Tony Romo has shut up some of the can't-do-it-after-November talk with his current run, even in the two losses they had to open the frame. The Cowboys are perhaps the hottest team entering the playoffs in the NFC, posting three wins and back to back shutouts including back to back shutouts after yesterday's 24-0 no-doubter over Philadelphia. They'll renew hostilities on Saturday night in Dallas, and anything other than a Dallas win will stun me. What was Wade Phillips doing leaving his starters in with the game well in hand? Romo took a nasty shot and was working through a back injury to close.

The Cincinnati Bengals laid down like a porn star in Chatsworth last night, handing the New York Jets an easy 37-0 win. Those two will get it on again in Cincinnati in Wild Card round. I suspect the result will be a little tighter the next time around.

Green Bay and Arizona will play again on Sunday after yesterday's 33-7 beatdown win for the Packers. Don't figure it'll be by that margin again next weekend, but the Packers are rolling of late.

The other Wild Card game will be a great one with Baltimore slated to visit New England. Patriots QB Tom Brady has been playing the last month or so with a broken finger and three broken ribs. The Pats lost wideout Wes Welker yesterday when his ACL and MCL blew up early in their loss to Houston.

Tennessee Titan Chris Johnson became the sixth player in NFL history to have a 2,000+ yard rushing season, finishing six yards over the mark. He also was the second youngest to achieve the number.

Only one team in NFL history - the Green Bay Packers decades ago - lost its last two games and went on to win the Super Bowl. That means you're in trouble, Indianapolis and New Orleans.

Another year, another fired Washington Redskins coach in the form of Jim Zorn. Are the Oakland Raiders really that much more of a joke? Hard to say.

Canada was never threatened in a comfortable 6-1 win over Switzerland in their half of the World Junior Hockey semi-finals. They'll face the U.S. in the finals tomorrow night after they beat Sweden 5-2. If the final approaches their New Year's Eve tilt, won by Canada 5-4 in a shootout, we're in for a treat. That one goes at 8pm tomorrow on TSN.

Bill Cowher is said to be making calls to round out a coaching staff. Sounds to me like a guy who is real close to making a comeback to the coaching ranks. With the season now over for the majority of teams, might just be a day or two before a vacancy is created and filled by Cowher. In related news - perhaps - Cowher is said to have had a secret second meeting with the Buffalo Bills last week.

To anyone looking to quit their job this year, just tell your boss you're going New York Giant. They'll know what you mean. The Giants gave up 44 and 41 the last two games in coach killing performances. The good folks at ProFootballTalk figure a change is in the offing.

Are the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox not really spending this off-season to earmark their money for Joe Mauer, Albert Pujols, Adrian Gonzalez or Prince Fielder in the next couple years? More than a few MLB execs seem to think so, as this article notes, and hints that a run at Mauer is why the Yankees have not dealt killer catcher prospect Jesus Montero to date. Interesting theory, to be sure.

Sounds like the NHL is eyeing New York City for the next Winter Classic, with Citi Field the likely spot with Yankee Stadium tied up for a college football bowl game most likely. How can they not look at Central Park? That'd be incredible.

Seems we'll get the Rashad Evans/Rampage Jackson fight after all, next summer after Rampage's obligations to the A-Team movie - he's playing B.A. Barracus - are wrapped up. If you caught the last season of The Ultimate Fighter, these two had a serious hate on.

Can you feel the excitement, Uganda? Evander Holyfield will be fighting Francois Botha on January 16th. How boxing allows this is beyond me.

The Edmonton Oilers had their rookie dinner in Calgary on New Year's Eve and after initially asking for a 50% discount - who does that, anyways? - they then decided that paying $12,381.45 of a bill of $16,796.39 - before tip - was good enough. Stay classy, Oil. If an NBA/NFL/MLB team tried that, they'd be crucified by the media.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Rashad Evans survived a late onslaught from Thiago Silva to win a decision in a wild Light Heavyweight fight at UFC 108. More here.

Add Brian Billick to the list of people interviewing for the Buffalo Bills job. That's quite a few high profile names, it'll be interesting to see if the notoriously frugal Ralph Wilson pays up for a name.

Kristian Jack at The Footy Blog put together his list of the Top 100 players in the English Premier League. Impressive, and prolific. A couple things I'd object to. One, how is Niko Krajncar at #63 behind guys like Anderson (Man Utd) and Louis Saha (Everton)? And as great as I think Michael Essien is, and he is Chelsea's best for my money, I don't rank him ahead of Wayne Rooney. My top three today: Cesc Fabregas, Wayne Rooney, Fernando Torres. I'd put Torres behind Rooney simply because the former is out with injuries too often this season.

Seems hard to figure out how a 6'6" guy dates a 5'1" girl, but that's the case with the IBF, WBO, IBO Heavyweight Champion Wladimir Klitschko dating actress Hayden Panettiere.

And this right here is why Dallas Cowboys coach Wade Phillips isn't a championship coach. Phillips plants his nose firmly in owner/GM Jerry Jones' posterior in praising his dual role as being efficient, despite Jones lack of football experience in terms of scouting and coaching.

What is old is new again for the Denver Broncos. Brandon Marshall has been benched for an "accountability" issue. With their other two wideouts also out, the Broncos are in tough today, even if it is only Kansas City.

Barely into 2010 and already we've got 15 WAGs for you to watch for this year.

Are you sitting down? Switzerland beat Russia in the quarterfinals at the World Junior Hockey Championships, 3-2 in overtime. The Swiss will now move on to face Canada, who could not have seen this coming, in a semi-final game this afternoon, 4:30pm (Eastern) on TSN. Sweden takes on the U.S. in the other semi-final at 9pm.

Going to be a wild day in the NFL with playoff positions to be sorted out. Only thing for certain is the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts, and San Diego are locked into their spots and will have byes when the playoffs starts. The rest is wide open.

Have a great Sunday.