Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Football Wrap Week 3: Hot N More HOT!

Pardon me as I'm still trying to get comfortable in this heat. It's close to 2 AM and I'm still dreading how I'm gonna sleep after the hottest day in LA history leads into a hot night. Let's recap the football weekend shall we?

Friday Night, I covered a HS game here that most people will probably never know about. Two schools (Lawndale and St. Bernard's - the latter you'll remember from "The Wood") who played one of the best games I've seen.

79 combined points. 27 in a wild 4th quarter of back and forth action. A sack to end the game. One St. Bernard WR had 341 yards and 3 TD's (on 9 receptions) while two Lawndale players had 115+ rushing yards. The St. Bernard QB had 412 yards and 5 TD's

It was a battle of Lawndale's power running offense and St. Bernard's pass happy, spread offense. And the MVP of the game might have been a St. Bernard's defender who not only made the game-ending sack but also had a 63-yd TD on a fumble recovery in the 2nd quarter.

You can read my recap here but it's the classic nobody saw.

Saturday, I expected to see my UCLA Bruins put up a good fight in Austin. I never expected them to run all over Texas and keep them out of the end zone until the game was well in hand.

To put it simply, we owned Texas like it was 1997 all over again. The classic 66-3 butt whuppin that sparked the last glimmer of hope the UCLA program had. What a game by Jet Ski Franklin, Derrick Coleman, Akeem Ayers, Patrick Larrimore and Sean Westgate!

Almost makes me glad me and my godbro left Chili's in the first half because the Texas fan at the bar would've left mighty sad and angry. But remember this, UCLA owns TX and suddenly our season got optimistic.

Of course, there's that small matter of Kevin Prince only throwing 8 passes. No faith. No confidence and best of all, you're just Mark Sanchez without his gifts. Manage the game, don't screw up and pray you give the defense some rest. But at least we have some hope

Other college notes

- Alabama may not be as good as last year but they're still the best team in the country. Arkansas just got sent back to the woodshed after blowing that game.

- That said, Boise State keeps on proving why they need to play in the title game. Locked up the Rogers Bros. of Oregon State in their victory and they're doing what they have to.

-  Don't know what's more impressive. Terrelle Pryor's 6 total TD's for Ohio State or that cupcake teams still want to play the Buckeyes (minus 1 big game of course). No respect for them or SEC teams not playing tougher non-conference games.

- USC's the worst 4-0 team in the country. Wish I could say Washington gets them Saturday but they're an even bigger mess.

- My alma mater University of San Diego. finally won a game! 1st shutout since I graduated. Bravo to the Toreros! (Butler may be good in basketball but they're always good in football for an easy win)

- Florida-Bama is gonna be close this weekend but I still like Bama because one speedy dude in Jeff Demps isn't gonna outscore Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, Julio Jones. Florida's defense is gonna get exposed something fierce.

- Every time Stanford beats Notre Dame, a part of me jumps for joy. More karma for shortchanging Ty Willingham five years ago.

Sunday, my phone died and couldn't charge so I missed tweeting my glee for the Cowboys finally getting a win and shutting up my fam on Twitter talking bout their Houston Texans.

1-2 teams don't flex though. We got work to do to get back to .500. And Roy Williams? Thanks for showing up big!

Speaking of freaking 1-2, somebody needs to light a fire under the Chargers special teams. Dexter McCluster scoring in Week 1 in KC was bad enough, but Leon Washington twice Sunday? IN THE SECOND HALF!

The ST coaches oughta pay Phil Rivers their salary cause our QB threw his arm off to try to win that game. 455 passing yards and he needed a few more. Another slow September and like it or not, Vincent Jackson's dumb, moronic behind will be missed.

Malcom Floyd is still feeling his way as a #1 WR. Legadu Naanee is showing promise but he's still getting game experience. I like Antonio Gates but lining him up as a wideout only shows not just how athletically gifted, it shows how much the Chargers lack a proven WR right now.

Other NFL notes

- Michael Vick. MVP? Not yet but man, is he looking good each week.

- Raise your hands if you thought the Bears, Chiefs and Steelers would be 3-0 right now.

(looks like Rashied Davis is the only one)

- Speaking of the Bears, was that another Devin Hester sighting Monday? Returning a kick for a TD? Yeah he had a big TD against Dallas last week but the old Hester came back last night.

- Oakland's scaring me. And not in a good way - could they finally be getting it together?

- Did I say NO kicker Garrett Hartley had ice water in his vein last week? Turns out that was just frozen vomit cause he choked THAT badly Sunday and his job is in jeopardy (kicks off fantasy team)

- Repeat after me. Mark Sanchez is NOT a Top-10 QB. He wins games by his management not his skills. That last drive was all about LT running like it was 2006 and penalties. I like Sanchez but don't slobber him up just yet. He's just Trent Dilfer.

- Braylon Edwards. You're one lucky dude. Learn from this latest mistake. Hittin the dougie after that nice TD was cool but it's time to grow up and be a man.

No fantasy talk this time. I need to regroup and get my teams back on track. Toodles and Oodles of O's while I wrestle with the Devil's fumes in this house.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Electric Relaxation: Red Hot Chili Peppers "Under the Bridge"

For my money, I'll argue that the Red Hot Chili Peppers (along with Guns N Roses) are the greatest band California's produced in my lifetime. And this is arguably the greatest song they've written, a love letter to our city. I listened to it again this weekend and figured it was time to share.

"I felt an unspoken bond between me and my city. I'd spent so much time wandering through the streets of L.A. and hiking through the Hollywood Hills that I sensed there was a nonhuman entity, maybe the spirit of the hills and the city, who had me in her sights and was looking after me." (from Anthony Kiedis' autobiography)

Anthony also said he wrote this in the depths of despair and loneliness. The story's been well-documented on how the music came together so I'll tell you why I love it.

It's beautifully written. It's sung with an emotional honesty that doesn't appear much on Blood Sugar Sex Magik underneath the punk-funk, sex talk and blistering energy. That opening line grabs you like he knows what he means "Sometimes I feel like, I don't have a partner."

If you're from LA, there's something in that which just gives you pride in being from here and also expresses how easy it is to feel lost in a city so big. In a sea of faces, it's easy to drown even when you have great friends. This is what I felt at some point this weekend and the song just reminds me that I'm not the only one while speaking to my mood.

But the chorus is so uplifting. When Anthony puts more force into those words, it's self encouragement. "I don't ever wanna feel like I did that day. Take me to the place I love. Take me all the way.". And suddenly I don't feel bad anymore, I want to do more to uplift myself and rediscover my good mood. Then there's that that heavenly ending - the hope that I can escape this bad vibe and find my place.

Granted AK ended it talking about escaping with some drugs under the bridge. But we all long for that escape. It's such a sad song but there's optimism in it. Maybe that's why I love it so much. A beautifully written ballad that not only is an anthem for my city but a message to anybody who's felt lonely and wants to rediscover that mojo.

(Sidenote: I'm actually not a big fan of Blood Sugar Sex Magik outside of a few songs. Something about its sound didn't grab me like the last 3 albums did and I actually like Mother's Milk as a whole.)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

An Open Letter From a Christian (Re: Eddie Long)

To whom it may concern,

This recent situation involving Bishop Eddie Long saddens me. I'm not going to speak on whether or not he's guilty cause if I knew that, I'd be in law school with my sister right now. But it's inevitably going to cause a stain on how people view the church and its members.

No matter what happens, when a notable Christian, Catholic, person of faith stumbles (whether notable on a large scale or in a circle of friends), everyone judges them like they're supposed to be perfect people who never mess up. People put them on such a high pedestal that if they fall, the fall's so much greater than it should be.

It's so funny how people are quick to judge Christians yet accuse us of doing the same all the time. While I cannot condone many of us who judge people for what they do as opposed to judging actions (and we all do it at some point), it's even more hypocritical to do the same thing you point out in others.

Let me tell ya what we're not. We're not perfect - we strive to be as close as we can knowing that we fall short. We mess up, struggle, do good things and try to live good lives just like you. The only difference is our motivation for it.

Being a person of faith is a daily struggle. Maybe it's our fault for not showing that struggle enough. Maybe you see too much of us judging the faults in society and not us being humble and acknowledging our own in the process. We cannot just speak out against the world without correcting ourselves in the process.

The lofty standards you've given Christians should be flattering. We should be honored that people expect certain things of us and it's our duty to represent the faith properly. But it also can be an unreal burden that somehow removes personal accountability from yourself to live to that same basic standard of decency.

Before you try to judge any of us based on 1 person's stumbles, you should remember something. Are you perfect? Are you above being criticized for your mistakes? Hath not a Christian blood in their veins like you? If we both get pricked, do we not bleed? If we both lie, are we not both guilty of sin?

Bishop Eddie Long's accusations sadden me. True or not, it saddens me that here is another bigtime preacher who has done plenty of good works but has been caught up in being a CEO (his words) than just simply a shepherd. Charges or not, the way he's being reported as conducting himself is sad.

Power is a corrupting force. Many good folks as well as shady ones have been sucked in its vortex and lost sight of their mission or used it to promote one that is troubling.

At the same time, I know a lot of folks will rush to protect him and defend him. I pray for the truth to be revealed and for healing to all parties involved. Let's not rush to protect our own so much that we villainize the accusers. 

Whether Bishop Long did those things or not, it shouldn't change your view of Christians, Christianity or religion in general. As CNN's Roland Martin tweeted, 4% of Christian churches are megachurches by definition. There are preachers out there who abuse their title just like CEO's, politicians and others in power. There are Christians who are bold hypocrites but we see plenty of people who are the same in other situations.

Does this excuse them? No. They are hurting the body of Christ as well as its perception. Like it or not, the things we do as Christians will ultimately help or hurt the body based on how we are seen. We are the only Bibles most folks will read and our conduct goes a lot further than a sermon.

Nevertheless, don't judge the whole bunch by a few bad apples. Focus on those who are doing their best to set an example. If you judge all of us based on a few preachers doing wrong, then stay home from work the next time you see your boss say one thing and do another. In the meantime, I'll be watching this situation with a close eye.


Virgo Kent

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

20 for CC Sabathia - A Black Ace

When CC Sabathia lost on Monday, I was hoping he'd redeem himself this past weekend and add some more birthday mojo to a great weekend. Sitting in the karoake lounge Saturday, I was happy to see he did - finally winning his 20th game for the first time in his career.

In the past four seasons, Sabathia's become something we haven't seen in baseball since Dave Stewart in the late 80's/early 90's - a Black pitcher who's the proven ace of a staff. It's a tradition that started with Don Newcombe and continued with the likes Bob Gibson, Vida Blue, Fergie Jenkins and briefly Dwight Gooden.

With the number of Black players dwindling in baseball, the Black pitchers dropped severely. If you look at all the great pitchers from the mid-90's to 2007, there's nary a Black face in the bunch. Sabathia's changed that.

Over the past 3 years, he's won a Cy Young, nearly took Cleveland to their first WS since 1997, singlehandedly led the Milwaukee Brewers to the first playoff appearance since 1982, helped the Yankees win their first World Series since 2000 (shaking off his own postseason demons) and became the youngest pitcher to win 150 games.

Now he's finally a member of the Black Aces with the other 13 Black pitchers who have won 20 games. He may be with the Yankees but I always root for him because of what he represents.

He's a power pitcher with great control. He's a workhorse who can be counted on to go 7 innings or more - pitch counts be darned. He's also the only pitcher in my opinion who has a chance to win 300 games if he keeps it up for another decade.

(FYI. All-time winningest Black pitchers. Fergie Jenkis (284), Gibson (251), Blue (209), Doc Gooden (194), Dave Stewart (168). CC's gonna be top-5 next year at 156,)

Personal note, I worked with a cousin of his at my last job and when he started heating up in 07, we used to always talk about him and his family. In 2008, he pitched at Dodger Stadium and showed his brilliance on the mound (7 innings, 5 hits) and the plate (hitting a 440-foot shot to right field that nearly made me jump in the press box).

I wrote about that game as a potential showcase for the Dodgers acquiring him. CC was intimidating at 6-7, 290 lbs but he was also friendly to the press. It was a homecoming for him almost with 30 of his family from up North in Vallejo and down South in Louisiana.

Watching him pitch for the Yankees makes me a bit bitter because I wish the Dodgers acquired him in the winter of '08. He wanted to pitch on the West Coast, he wanted to pitch for the Dodgers, he told GM Ned Colletti he wanted to meet with them. But the team never even met with him or followed up.

Needless to say, I was disappointed. It prompted to me to write this furious response to the team (probably my best impression of LA Times columnist Bill Plaschke).

That aside, he's still my favorite pitcher and I root for him every time he takes the mound. I was privately happy when I watched him win Game 4 of the ALCS last year and I'll be rooting for him to have another great postseason this year, along with hopefully winning his second Cy Young award.

In the same way, I root for David Price - another upstanding young pitcher who throws hard with great control and has a great story.

He's a model of class (taking out a full page ad to thank Cleveland and Milwaukee), professionalism and service (constantly giving back to Oakland and other communities). Congrats but as he'll be the first to say, the job ain't done til he gets another ring.

(Apologies for the grammatical errors in those stories - the drawback of being your own proofreader and not having another pair of eyes see it)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Football Wrap Week 2: UCLA aint dead yet

As I said in my last post, I was hoping for some bday mojo after last week's disappointment. Boy did I get it from UCLA, who destroyed Houston in Westwood while ending the season of Houston QB Case Keenum.

Even better, sophomore tailback Johnathan Franklin, above, had a career day (158 yards, 3 TD's), junior DB Rahim Moore had an INT and the defense was flying all over the field. Franklin's taken a lot of heat for his fumbleitis but along with Moore, you won't find too many kids finer than him. I found this out when I interviewed him 3 years ago when he was a senior at Dorsey HS here.

You don't meet 17-18 y.o. kids talking about wanting his peers to not say the N-word and writing a book to teenagers giving them advice how to live. You don't meet kids talking about the pride of having a UCLA education, not just playing football. It's still one of my favorite interviews and that's why I root for him. Great win for UCLA, but it gets a lil harder visiting Texas down in Austin. Far cry from the days when we used to run up 66 on Ricky Williams.

Even better mojo came from San Diego where the Chargers lit up Jacksonville. Home cooking does a body good and I'm proud of our defense stepping it up and regaining their form. The offense will do what it does but when the D can shut down Maurice Jones Drew, who famously took apart Shawne Merriman, that's a good sign.

Too bad my Cowboys didn't get the memo. Miles Austin and Jason Witten turning completions into interceptions. David Buehler missing the game-tying kick. And watching Devin Hester score on a pass made me sick.

(Sidenote: You notice how short a shelf life return guys have nowadays. Devin Hester's been almost MIA and anybody seen Dante Hall lately?)

We have some problems and it's time to sort them out NOW! 0-2 isn't how a playoff contender is supposed to be. Dez Bryant had a great punt return for a TD but i'm seeing some panic in Big D and it's not good. The only downside of the weekend is wondering what needs to happen.

Other NFL notes

- Randy Moss did something I've never seen. Make a one-handed catch and send your man to the DL after burning him. That's called "stylin" folks. Get well soon, Revis.

- Michael Vick still has it. A playmaker but finally a quarterback who can pass 1st, run 2nd. Best backup in the NFL? At least, the most valuable.

- Call him unclutch, call him a January Jane. Just keep calling Peyton Manning the best QB in the game.

- Saints are 2-0 but they aren't playing like champs yet. And Reggie Bush possibly being out with a knee injury doesnt help. But the 49ers showed why they have plenty of potential and why they haven't fulfilled it...yet.

- That said, Alex Smith on that last drive looked as good as I've seen him since he was running with Utah and Urban Meyer.

- Houston Texans 2-0. Repeat that sentence. I like it.

NCAA hits

- Robert Woods had a 97 yd kick off return for USC. It'll be the first of many for him.

- Mark Ingram is still an NFL caliber running back. Yes it was against Duke but he ran with the same force and energy he showed last year.

- The Pac-10's still impressive. Arizona shocked Iowa on a blocked punt. Oregon's still rolling. Save for Cal getting blasted by Navy, I think it's gonna be a deep year. Ducks still are the favorites.

Fantasy Watch (AKA, Glad this isn't reality)

ESPN: U Mad League (won my matchup thanks to Frank Gore). Record 1-1
ESPN: South Beach NWO (MoJo Drew's bad night didn't help and I got killed). Record 0-2
Yahoo: Sports Gurus League (Steve Breaston/Pierre Garcon? FAIL!). Record 1-1
Yahoo: Fantaball! (Lost 72-65 if we round up, low scoring and FAILS!). Record 0-2

Fantasy Wins: Far and Few between. Phillip Rivers and Antonio Gates besides Gore.

Fantasy FAILS: MJD got me good on a bad night. Pierre Garcon burned me another week. Why I have faith in that guy I'l never know.

I need do some serious revamping next week. My guys arent scoring and I gotta look for some trades or good finds to jump start my yahoo teams.

Virgo Bash 2010 - Success!

How do I recap all the birthday goodness from this past weekend? I'll try in a few words.

Friday started off with me waking up a gang of Facebook emails and texts. I was supposed to go to Buca Di Beppo near my house for lunch but since they were closed til 4 p.m., Mom, my godbro Ron and I called an audible and went to my favorite sushi buffet spot in Torrance. Good ole O-Nami, where I finally got a couple of hand rolls along with the usual goodness.

I didn't make plans on my actual bday night because I had to cover a game for the Daily Breeze. Plus, I knew Saturday was gonna be a blast but that didn't stop me from kinda driving around the South Bay a lil aimlessly while I figured out who to call. Ended up just going to In-N-Out and treating myself.

Oh yeah, I scored some nice loot courtesy of my sis. Radiohead's 1st classic album "The Bends" and several books I wanted. In the mix, an unpublished collection of James Baldwin's essays and Ben Mezrich's book on the story behind Facebook's founding - soon to be seen on the big screen in "The Social Network".

It was all about Saturday night though. After we celebrated my friend's daughter's 1st birthday, we got down at Joe's Crab Shack not too far from my house. I've done it twice before - No. 20 down in San Diego where I realized that 1) I didn't have any guys there, 2) I got embarrassed not by hula dancing but by getting sprayed senseless by Silly String, 3) I was the only one who ate seafood there. Go figure.

Two years later, I went to Joe's in 2006 (my first bday post college) under a stranger circumstances. I had just quit my sales job and I had assumed all my co-workers were coming to dinner like I told them. By late in the evening nobody called so I had to quickly call up a few folks. Fortunately Ron, his girlfriend, my friend Sharon and old schoolmate Heidi, who just happened to be in LA that weekend, showed up and it was a quiet #22.

Needless to say, this time was much different. I had 24 friends show up from church and schools. My homegirl Liz saved the best by coming last and immediately hooking me up with a drink. Danced around with the waiters, danced around as a reggae pirate while everyone sang to me. Did I mention TWO red velvet cakes?? TWO son? Can it get any better?

Only downside was that I got smoked bowling later on. How I could get 4 strikes and still finish last says something. But then we ended up singing karaoke in the lounge. Why I was possessed to sing "Inside Out" by Eve 6, I'll never know but I didn't care. I knew the words, song was in my range so why not?

It was cool seeing one chick sing like 3 Bob Marley songs and almost everybody singing some type of slow jam. Somebody needs to ask why all the girls I was with decided to sing "A Thousand Miles"? Maybe a throwback to me liking it back in 2001. But all in all, a great weekend and the pictures say it all.

Here y'all go via Facebook (And thanks to UCLA, CC Sabathia, the San Diego Chargers for making it extra special, more on that tomorrow in my football recap)

Friday, September 17, 2010

26! And Other Tidbits on today

So I'm finally 26 years old today. The last year of the mid-20's before it all goes downhill to the 30's. Watching Home Alone trying to remind myself of what it was like to be young again, when Kevin McCallister was the coolest kid ever and Mario/Sonic the Hedgehog were the only characters I wanted to be.

Courtesy of Wikipedia, here's some coolness on my born day

- The Battle of Thermopylae started today in 400 BC. In other words. SPARTA!!!!!!!!! 300!!!!!!

- Boston was founded today in 1630. A good reason to toast my bro Sam out there.

_ The US Constitution was signed in Philly in 1787.

- Francis Scott Key finished some simple poem called "The Star Spangled Banner." I wonder if he was as good a lawyer as he was a writer.

- 1862: The Battle of Antietam in Maryland during the Civil War. The worst single day battle in American History (23,000 dead). A reminder that with joy, there's pain.

- Some organization called the NFL was founded in 1920. There's living proof somewhere that Al Davis was present at that meeting.

- The Camp David Peace Treaty was signed. 30 years, President Carter's still living off this golden moment.

- Vanessa Williams becomes the first Black Ms. America. 26 years later, that show is irrelevant and Vanessa is still doing high profile work. Who won?

There's a reason I love sports and history. It all came together on my birthday. Let's toast all the cool folks who share my born day.

- Rube Foster (The genius behind the Negro Leagues and an intimidating pitcher in his day)

- William Carlos Williams, a Modernist poet and genius of simplicity.

- Anne Bancroft. A reason why I'm drawn to older women? Forever Mrs. Robinson in "The Graduate" and made Mel Brooks happy til her passing.

- Orlando Cepeda: Even though he's mainly a Giant, he's a Rookie of the Year, All-Star, Hall of Famer, 1967 MVP in leading the Cardinals to the World Series and a pioneer for Latino Ballplayers. The 1st Puerto-Rican to start an AS Game and the only man to be a unanimous winner of ROY and MVP.

- Phil Jackson: Most successful coach in NBA history. From hated winner to the reason the Lakers are the Team of the 2000's

- John Ritter (RIP - I remember him as the dad from Problem Child growing up before i knew what 3's Company was)

- Bryan Singer: His legacy will always be directing the genius "Usual Suspects" whether or not you like X-Men 1 or 2.

- Doug E. Fresh: The Human Beat-Box. A legend. That's why you can't teach me how to Dougie, I'm naturally fresh!

- Jimmie Johnson: 5 years from now, he'll be one of the greatest race car drivers of all time. Right now? Just simply the best behind a wheel and one of the best things El Cajon ever produced besides killer heat.

- Alex Ovechkin: The face of the NHL besides Sidney Crosby. Sid the Kid's better by far but today's my bday, let the guy get some positive love.

Greatness all around. This is the highlight of Virgo Season for me - enjoying the coolness of 9/17. :) Let's have a toast shall we!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

On Reggie Bush and the NCAA's Hypocrisy

Wall Street's Gordon Gekko said it best: "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good." There's also the great caveat that it also comes at the expense of someone else. In Wall Street, that would be all the companies Gekko bought out and Bud Fowler (Charlie Sheen) losing his soul and freedom chasing the cash.

Reggie Bush lost his records, his reputation, his career at USC (stripped by NCAA sanctions) and now his Heisman that he gave back. He's the new Bud Fowler - the golden child who (along with his family) trying to get some money on the side and was punished and "humiliated."

Meanwhile the NCAA (Gekko) allowed several conferences to expand last summer with the Pac-10 and others getting new teams. Colorado is joining the Pac-10, Nebraska goes to the Big 10. Why would teams break up traditional rivalries and years of history to go somewhere else. Location? Competition? It's all for the cash so that teams could increase the power of their conference and dip into more money.

The NCAA has also in the past few years increased the number of bowl games in December and started playing games during the middle of the week. But remember they won't have a college football playoff that could easily bring in more money because they care about student athletes playing too many games late in the semester/quarter.

Uh, okay? A playoff is bad but scheduling more bowl games to water down the bowl system, take kids away from studying in Finals season (December) is good? Hey, greed is good remember! I digress.

Reggie has given back his pound of flesh. It won't take away the fact that he was the most electrifying player I've seen in my 15 years watching college football and helped make USC relevant once again (believe it or not, UCLA dominated the SoCal football landscape in the late 90's/early 2000's).

But here's some questions I have for the NCAA if they care about fixing the problem.

- Why does USC keep the money they made off him even if they have to erase him from their history?
- Why doesn’t the NCAA call for agents to lose their license or be punished for targeting THEIR athletes.
- Why does the NCAA wag its collective fingers at players getting money but in the same breath promote conference expansion, bowl game expansion during Finals season and games played during the week?

It's all dandy when athletes bring in all kinds of money for a program but if they try to get a slice, it's a threat to all that is "pure and good" with amateur sports. I'm not in favor of them getting money illegally and I'm not saying that athletes ruin their good name by being greedy. The NCAA does a decent job in telling their kids not to get the quick buck but that's not enough anymore.

Meanwhile coaches can switch jobs in the middle of contracts, lie to programs about being loyal and get nothing except incredible backlash from fans and media (Nick Saban, Lane Kiffin and many more). They chase the cash or a better job and it's all good. They can be recruited by other programs and it's all good.

Players? Just raw material they bring in that they can replace every year. Be workers, be proud of your free room and board, be proud of being stars on your campus. Just don't be mad we make all this money off you and you better not rock the boat, embarrass our name or dare look for ways to get illegal money.

Oh yeah, if you do, we'll try to look the other way because you're helping us win.

I'm telling the NCAA to stop cutting off the branches and attack the root. Athletes have been ripe for corruption since the 1950 point shaving scandal with City College of New York. Instead of fighting gamblers, corrupt agents, forcing schools to suspend boosters and tackling the bigger problem, they smash small potatoes like Bush and Georgia running back AJ Green, who was suspended for trying to sell an autographed jersey. Nevermind Georgia has several jerseys for sale with his number.

I'm a fan of integrity. I always believed players should never take money because if they have a shot at the pros, wait a few years. You waited 18-19 before college? Do it a few more years and then you're set for life. But I know how times have changed and college programs and the NCAA have gone out of their way to expand the game while making oodles of cash.

Like Jay-Z said, "I'm only trying to eat what you're snacking on."

Reggie Bush is one of many who've taken the wrong way out (and far from the only one at USC). But watch USC wash their hands of him despite still recruiting off the fumes of his era. Watch the NCAA announce the latest partnership that fattens their pockets. Then tell me Reggie Bush is still the only villain in this game.

Like Gekko said, greed is good. I'll add that it's only good for those control it. Those who threaten to undermine it, their greed or noble pursuit of cash is a threat to the natural order. It's hypocrisy. It's capitalism at its worst and sports is just another partner in this game. You can cut off the branches but the root still lives.

(The title of the sequel next week says it all)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Football Wrap Week 1 - Fails Fails and Fantasy

Double Facepalm Pictures, Images and Photos

(I'll be doing this every Monday night, Tuesday morning - reporting on my squads, the big moments and my fantasy wrapup)

One word describes this football weekend. Gut-wrenching. Bad enough I had to hear about UCLA play one of the worst games in recent memory (thank goodness I didn't see it) but to watch the Chargers and Cowboys come down to the final play of the game only to let it go away was brutal. Just Brutal!

I came home to watch the end of the Cowboys game after hearing it on radio. We couldn't make any moves in the 1st half except that bungled final play that led to a TD (Jason Garrett still a genius? In whose mind?). The 2nd half was better offensively but it shouldn't have taken that long to warm up. And Alex Barron. Oh, that poor excuse of a lineman Alex Barron!

How can I put this. If he isn't out of a job by the time you read this, he's one lucky man. You don't end the game on a holding penalty! Peter King flat said he was a joke starting. Michael Smith lit into him something fierce on Around the Horn. A lineman getting that much attention ain't good.

All in all, offense looked good in the 2nd half. Dez Bryant showed potential, Miles Austin is ready to be consistent and once again, Tony Romo didn't make any mistakes. But a L's an L and we need that offense to make something happen next week against the Bears.

As for the Chargers on Monday, great reminder of why September is the cruelest month to be a Chargers fan (5-7 in the Norv Turner era). It all started so well with Rivers to Gates then it turned into the coming out party for the Chiefs young guns. Jamaal Charles - long TD run that ended with juking that DB twice. Rookie Dexter McCluster - 94 yard punt return for 6.

That rain shorted our fuses cause we couldn't do anything right. Tackling, making simple plays, hiking the ball. It was like watching our JV team against an improving Chiefs team trying to make a name. When we finally did get going, it was back to basics. Short passes and then watch things open up. Made sense to me, made sense when we scored to make 21-14.

Here's a question. If you have four chances to score inside the 5-yard line, how do you NOT do it? It's plays like that which show why Cowboys fans hate Norv Turner and his playcalling. New crop of WR's aside, that was ineptitude.

Likes: Ryan Matthews' debut, Legadu Naanee ready to step up, Antonio Gates making plays, Phil Rivers' fire and decision making (minus the Trent Dilfer lovefest). Week 2 brings Jacksonville and Maurice Jones Drew - I'm cringing in my pants.

Who said Ray Lewis was over the hill? Ask Dustin Keller if he is. That hurt me all the way over here. DANG!

Pete Carroll - new team, same old enthusiasm. Let's what happens when Seattle loses a game. But it looks like I was watching USC all over when they played a patsy in Week 1.

Michael Vick still has it. He shouldn't be starting just yet but Sunday was a great reminder why he can be a great quarterback. It makes no sense that he lost nearly 2 years but can still make people miss and make plays. That said, if Kevin Kolb's healthy, he starts.

Who predicted Arian Foster would have the best Opening Day since OJ? And Sam Bradford throwing 55 times in his debut? Ridiculous.

The NFL needs to change their rulebook. Common sense, replay and watching it live say that Calvin Johnson caught that ball under control.

Quick college note: Trent Richardson from Alabama proved in the first two games he can play in the NFL. He and Mark Ingram, when he gets healthy, are the best backfield I've seen since Felix Jones and Darren McFadden.

Denard Robinson - Beast! 502 yards and the game-winning score against Notre Dame. The biggest buzz Michigan has had in years.

USC is 2-0 and shaky as anybody in the Top 25. They'll be the worst 4-0 team in the nation at month's end.

Virginia Tech's loss to James Madison is the worst of the season because it's repercussions will be felt 3 months from now when Boise State gets left out of the BCS.

Oh yeah, Miami lost bad too. Adding to my bad weekend was Jacory Harris throwing 4 picks to the Buckeyes and their mascot. If I was on the field, dude would've thrown it to me too.


Went 2-2 in my first week, ironically winning my matchups in my new leagues but losing in my returning ones.

ESPN: U Mad League 0-1
ESPN: South Beach NWO 1-0
Yahoo: Fantaball 0-1
Yahoo: Sports Gurus 1-0

Fantasy WIN: Hakeem Nicks (3 TD's). Not even close. Helped me win both matchups and was the difference in me losing on Yahoo.

Fantasy FAIL: Not starting Steve Breaston in my ESPN league but praying for Lee Evans to fill in for Beanie Wells. Yeeeeah, I could've known that was tragedy waiting to happen. And shout out to Ryan Longwell missing some easy kicks.

So a bad week personally, let's hope my birthday weekend goes better for my teams.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

What Inspires Me? (Athletic Figures)

So I just realized I forgot to finish this list. Inspiration strikes and you end up forgetting the plan you're on. Here's Part 6 of the Inspiration Series coming live from San Diego

The athletes who inspire me don't do it because of on-the-court accomplishments. It's because they transcend the playing field with their causes, character and how they lived their lives. Anybody can throw, run with, pass or hit a ball and there's plenty of folks who do it well enough. But to be an athlete bigger than your sport is what matters to me.

As I've said before - heroes aren't made on the field, they live off it.

Jackie Robinson - What can you say about him that hasn't been said. He inspires me to live with conviction and walk with dignity. He forced America to see skill but after his career, he became a tireless advocate for minorities as coaches, general managers and movers in baseball besides the Civil Rights Movement.

Curt Flood - I've said it all here. A man of principle who sacrificed his career so his fellow athletes have the right to play wherever they want. He continue Jackie's legacy by fighting for the right to play where he wanted.

Arthur Ashe - The first Black male tennis star. But his legacy will be for his fight for civil rights, ending apartheid in South Africa and being a face of AIDS in his final days. How many men would be arrested so close to death to spark interest for Haitian refugees. A man of passion, integrity, quiet strength I wrote about last year.

John Carlos/Tommie Smith - Stand up for your rights. Don't give up the fight. They were demonized for their Black Power salute but that picture symbolizes how oppressed people were not afraid to show the whole world their struggle. They took a chance and silver medalist Peter Norman deserves to be recognized for his solidarity.

John Wooden - Coach was a teacher. A philosopher. A leader of men. It's more than a game.

AC Green - Not many athletes can admit being virgins. Not many will openly promote and help kids remain pure before marriage. Growing up, AC was one of the few athletes I looked up to because of his Christianity and he's a reminder that you can be a famous athlete with integrity.

Satchel Paige - He was a character and the ultimate showman years before Chad Ochocinco, Muhammad Ali and others followed his blueprint. He was a pioneer for Black players getting into baseball by proving his worth against any and all competition. Ever since I was a kid, he always fascinated me with his quotes and incredible skill. After reading his bio, he knew how to be accepted by the mainstream without compromising who he was. Not just one of the greatest pitchers of all time, one of the most fascinating characters of all time

Friday, September 10, 2010

Miami-Ohio State: 7 Years Ago

With Miami and Ohio State meeting this weekend in one of the biggest games of the early seas.on, it's bringing back memories of the 2003 Fiesta Bowl for the national title.

Little known fact about me. I was briefly a Miami Hurricanes fan from 10th grade til senior year as I considered going to Miami. Of course, a lil thing called hurricane season and West Coast love kept that just a dream. But while I was in my phase, I watched the Hurricanes return to prominence which ironically came at the expense of my UCLA Bruins.

(1998. 1st year of the BCS. 20-game winning streak. All we had to do was beat Miami in a postponed game and we're playing Tennessee for the national title. I had to listen to the game on the radio since we were out. Cade McNown's doing his best to air it out (515 yards and 5 TD's) but the defense couldn't stop Edgerrin James who ran for 299 yards and 3 TD's, including the game winner. To this day, that game is the reason he has a pro career. UCLA hasn't been relevant as a national power since. That's another tear for another day.)

Memories must have died hard because I briefly became a fan of the Hurricanes as I courted them for school. The 2001-02 national championship squad was one of the greatest I've ever seen and it was loaded with All-Americans and future All-American backups who destroyed every team they faced.

Winning the title in Pasadena didn't hurt my fandom either. Destroying Heisman winner Eric Crouch and overmatched Nebraska in front of a national audience? Priceless (Sidenote: Every Tim Tebow fan needs to watch video of Crouch and try telling me he wasn't just as dominant)

They walked in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl with 34 straight wins and should've left with 35 along with another national title. Ohio State with super freshman Maurice Clarett played well the entire game and clutched up in the 2nd OT but a phantom pass interference call in the first OT took that way.

Interesting footnotes
- The ref who made the call (Terry Porter) currently has two kids who have full scholarship rides to Ohio State.
- It was also Clarett's last football game until he suits up for the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League this year. He had a litany of troubles trying to go pro and getting jailed.
- The game was a changing of the guard. After the 2004 Orange Bowl, Miami has since not played in a BCS bowl game. Ohio State has only missed one BCS game since 2003 but has choked in every BCS game not named the Fiesta til last year's Rose Bowl

I'm not bitter anymore but it's still one of the worst calls in recent memory. That said, it should be a great game this weekend. My sleeper Heisman Trophy candidate Jacory Harris (Miami) will get a chance to show his mettle against everyone's Heisman candidate Terrelle Pryor (OSU). Two good teams going at it. And you can bet everyone will see some highlight of the 2003 game among others.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

RIP Rich Cronin - Always a Boy of Summer

I hated the boy band era of the late 90's-early 2000's. It dominated my high school years and I had to deal with my sis blasting their music on our rides to school. But like any teen watching Total Request Live back in the day, I watched bands come up by the dozens with the same crazy formula.

LFO was one of those bands but even then, I loved "Summer Girls" back in 1999. It was a good summer jam and even then you knew it'd be timeless. Just one of those songs you'd always remember or play a few years later and enjoy the vibes. Rich Cronin did most of the singing/rapping and writing on it - even though now you can laugh at his awkward rapping at homages to the 80's/early 90's.

The main thing I remember from that song is hearing about Abercrombie + Fitch for the first time. Then it blew it into one of the biggest brands nationwide. For all I knew, A+F was some new startup company and now it's in nearly every mall for pretty boys and preppy girls.

But it was a feel good song, just something you knew you'd play every time June came around and I kept it in rotation every year. I even briefly jammed LFO's single from their 2nd album "Every Other Time."

The news that Rich passed away yesterday from battling leukemia was sad in that another figure from my youth was gone. We'll always have the memories of 1999 and every summer, you'll hear his words and recall those good summer days. If its worth anything, A+F oughta release a statement thanking him and LFO for giving them nationwide attention that's lasted for a decade.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Burning on 9/11? What Have We Become

As a Christian, nothing incenses me more than people who share my faith but act in ignorance. Case in point, Pastor Terry Jones and his church in Florida wanting to burn Qu'rans on September 11.

Is this what remembering a national tragedy has come to? A revenge plot against a book that is near and dear to the hearts of many Muslims. All in the name of showing the terrorists that we won't back down to fear?

My faith tells me to disagree with someone but not respond with violence or hatred. Standing up for God doesn't mean kicking somebody else down in the process. God's name has been invoked for too many misguided practices and this is one of them.

This is where people go too far. I hear far too many people who call themselves Christians but act so radical that it transcends what the Word actually says. God requires us to stand for his values, live lives that are pleasing to Him and his standard of holiness as well as be His servants in noble causes such as fighting social justice and being examples of His love.

Notice I said love not tolerance. In saying that, we don't have to agree with other faiths but we respect their decision to worship as they see fit and proceed in genuine love to find common things worth fighting for.


Here's a hypothetical question. What if there was a radical group that wanted to have a Bible burning day on Ramadan or Yom Kippur? What if someone wanted to burn the Torah on Easter to show that Judaism has no relevance? There'd be just as much outcry over that as there is over this.

There's a scene in "The Book of Eli" that is worth noting. Eli is responsible for carrying the Bible on a mission and he reads it nightly. At one point, he and his companion are attacked and the Bible is stolen from him. But as they walk on their mission, Eli realizes that for all his study of the Word, he had overlooked the main principle - apply it to his life in front of him as well.

Instead of holding a book burning, why not hold a memorial service where all could come and reflect on the tragedy. Why not discuss what we as Christians can do to not forget what happened but remind ourselves that the enemy is not Islam, it's the Devil who wants to use this tragedy to encourage hatred, division and false pride. There are so many more productive things to be done that show the Body of Christ at its best.

People like Jones are so passionate about being God's servants in actions like these but they forget that His word says love those who hate you. Turn the other cheek and be examples of love. Pray for those who persecute you. Vengeance is mine, I will repay. This goes against everything the Bible speaks of and I'm embarrassed he's using Christianity as his umbrella for it.

I pray he comes to his senses and realizes the foolishness of burning these books isn't just going to agitate Muslims around the world (a large portion of whom are peaceful), it's a disservice to many Christians around the country and world by painting us as fanatics. Our job is to preach God with our actions not slander it with hate.

This says it all. 15 years old and this song is still so relevant.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Vincent Vega - How not to be a Hitman

(If you haven't seen Pulp Fiction, SPOILER ALERT!!!!!)

Meet Vincent Vega. The co-star of Pulp Fiction with his partner in crime Jules Winfield. The reason John Travolta's career exists to my generation. A hitman so cool, he gets asked to escort the wife of the baddest boss alive without fear of retaliation. But upon further review as I rewatched Pulp Fiction tonight, Vince has gotta be the dumbest hitman in film history. In order of storyline, not appearance.

1) He shoots a kid in broad daylight in a car. This is bad on two levels. First, how are you that dumb to carelessly shoot somebody in the middle of the day. Second, you're a HITMAN. Supposedly you're trained to use a weapon and be smart about it otherwise you'd be out of a job and in a cell. Can't properly secure a piece? STUPID!

2) After said accident, you get help from Mr. Wolf. But instead of listening and thanking him for help, you start questioning it like you think there's another way. Wasn't it your fault you got in this role? Now you think you got answers? Man, please. That's why you're a foot soldier, not a boss. STUPID!

3) Later, Vince leaves his loaded heroine in his coat pocket. No reasonable drug user would leave his dope on him cause if you get caught, drug possession is a major crime. Not to mention arousing super curious wives of criminal bosses and bothering people in the middle of the night. STUPID!

Now at this point, he's already affected most of the major characters with his questionable decision making. But somehow, he's avoided any windfall to himself. Only delayed the inevitable. Here's the grand finale.

4) Vince is on assignment to kill Butch (Bruce Willis). Waiting around for a target can be boring. So what does Vinny do? Head to the bathroom. WITHOUT YOUR GUN! He left it lying on the table where of course nobody will think to grab it - oh, hey Butch! What cha got there?

(BTW, Butch used a silencer via toaster. Dude was a smarter killer than you were)

The world's worst hitman deserved to die for being terrible at his job. This dude couldn't handle a weapon properly, can't hide his drugs better, can't take advice cause he's blind to his screwups and finally, bites the dust because he left his weapon out in broad daylight.

Too cool for school Vinny? Maybe you should've stuck around and learned the basics. Be subtle, know your weapon and take orders. And for goodness sakes, don't let your weapon out of your sight. To paraphrase Bobby Knight, death was inevitable so I guess that's why you sat back and enjoyed it.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Electric Relaxation: Audioslave "Cochise"

Haven't done one of these in a while and this song popped into my head when I uploaded the 1st Audioslave album to my I-pod this week. I remember the weird buzz this group had like will they or won't work.

Take one of the greatest voices in music history (Chris Cornell) and the music behind one of the greatest bands of the 90's (Rage Against the Machine). It was an epic pairing and I remember being excited to hear the first single "Cochise" - a politically titled song after an Indian figure but the song wasn't political. They made it clear that it'd be Cornell's words set to their music and not recreate either band.

"Cochise" felt like an audio assault to say "Forget what we were, this is what we are." I remember the video showing Tom, Brad and Timmy C riding up the elevator to go jam with Cornell at the top of the building, like two forces coming together. Even the fireworks display was a perfect atmosphere for what the song sounded like. Blistering, powerful and just inspired, straight-ahead rock and roll.

And the lyrics were typically cryptic. I still don't know what Chris is talking about but the lines sounded like an epic-kiss off filled with blame/regret. Just good writing, good music and a great delivery. One of my favorite rock records of the 2000's.

For the record, I'm not sad they aren't together anymore only because Soundgarden has reunited (esp. after Cornell's terrible solo album) and so has Rage even if its temporary at shows.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Four Seasons of Fantasy

That draft I feel might not be the weather getting cooler (although I woke up to 5 straight days of a thick blanket of fog). It might be from the 4 fantasy football drafts I've had the last two weeks, including TWO today.

I said to myself a few months ago that it's crazy that I bought a fantasy football magazine before I bought an NFL season preview. Even crazier considering I never did fantasy until the 2008 season and now i have FOUR teams. True to my life, any time I get involved in something, I dive full on into it like a fiend.

Two of my leagues are repeats and two are new with some peeps from Twitter. Here's the rosters.

ESPN League 1 (8-5 last year, just missed the playoffs)
QB - Aaron Rodgers
RB - Frank Gore, Joseph Addai, Beanie Wells
WR - Jeremy Maclin, Hakeem Nicks
TE - Vernon Davis
Defense - Ravens
K - Dan Carpenter (MIA)
Bench - Steve Breaston (AZ), Lee Evans (Buffalo), Toby Gerhart (Minnesota), Josh Cribbs, Heath Miller, Legedu Naanee (SD), Anthony Dixon (SF)

QB - Tom Brady
RB - Maurice Jones Drew, Ryan Matthews
WR - Nicks, Mike Sims-Walker, Maclin
TE - Antonio Gates
Defense - Cowboys
K - Ryan Longwell (Minnesota)
Bench - Derrick Mason (Baltimore), Chester Taylor (Chi), Mike Williams (Sea), Kareem Huggins (Tampa), Jermaine Gresham (Cincy), Dixon, Toby G.

YAHOO LEAGUE 1 (Terrible Season that doesn't need to be repeated)
QB - Tony Romo
RB - Maurice Jones Drew, DeAngelo Williams
WR - Both Steve Smiths and Maclin and Donald Driver
TE - Brent Celek
Defense - Philadelphia
K - Rob Bironas (Tennessee)
Bench - Jerome Harrison (CLE), Dez Bryant, John Carlson (Sea), Breaston, Alex Smith, Toby G.

QB - Philip Rivers
RB - Ray Rice, J. Harrison
WR - Miles Austin, Pierre Garcon, Dez, Breaston
TE - V. Davis
Defense - NY Jets
K - Longwell
Bench - Willis McGahee, Dexter McCluster (Kansas City), Mike Williams, Fred Davis, Matt Moore (Car) , A. Gonzalez (Indy)

Some of my trends are obvious. I really like Jeremy Maclin of the hated Eagles and the Giants receivers. I took a big steal in Toby Gerhart, who I think will be a solid #2 to Adrian Peterson after watching him tear up the Pac-10 last year.

Weakest draft is obviously my last one. I stupidly drafted Miles Austin and Dez Bryant. I know Tony Romo's gonna have 4,000 yards passing this year for my Boys but I hate drafting two guys on the same team at that position. And my main ESPN one doesn't have a backup QB for now.

I'll try to keep everyone posted every Tuesday on how I do.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Why I still Root for Kanye (Love-Hate)

Kanye West poured out a stream of consciousness on Twitter today regarding what happened a year ago with him running on stage at the Video Music Awards. It was a overload of thought but it showed Ye at his best - honest, open and introspective. He ended with an apology to Taylor Swift.

It also reminded why I've said that he's one of the few rappers I can relate to. To understand why, you have to go back to 2004 with me. Back when I was a sophomore in college and hip-hop was in a weird state.

I had just discovered Tribe Called Quest's "Low End Theory" and finally heard some rap I could relate to. 50 Cent, Jay, Eminem, Ja Rule, DMX, Juvenile - all were hot at the time but I didn't see myself in them. Mos Def and Talib Kweli dropped so-so albums so I couldn't feel them. But when I heard this kid from Chicago, something was different.

Kanye wasn't your average rapper. He didn't look like your average rapper. He was smart, dressed preppy, strong faith, reminded me of a bookworm who had a knack for producing. His parents were well-educated. He was me.

College Dropout was an album that spoke to me in a way no album did. It had a light sound but had an honesty that few rappers showed. Who rapped about Jesus and made it a hit? Instead of bragging, he kept it real on "All Falls Down." He was hilarious about gold diggers before Jaime and Ray. He had quotables for days as I felt like I was being spoken to as a smart college kid who loved rap but didn't fit in with the music.

At the same time, the other side of Kanye came out. The ego. The ego that blasted XXL for not giving him a "XXL rating" in their feature on him, blaming an early leak of the album. He did the same thing in the Source. He fumed at award shows when he didn't win - famously blasting Gretchen Wilson winning Best New Artist at the AMA's and after he lost Album of the Year at the Grammys.

This started my love-hate relationship with him. He was skilled with the pen and on the production boards but his antics made me cringe. It only got tougher in 2005-06 when he dropped "Late Registration" and produced Common's "Be"

I still remember me and my friend Irma going to Best Buy to get Late Registration then later going to see his tour at UCSD. It's still one of the coolest shows I've ever seen and when I saw him in 06 at the San Diego Street Scene on a smaller scale, he still killed it. But Soon after came the infamous Rolling Stone cover with him posing like Christ. Crown of thorns, robe and all. You went from rapping about Jesus to having a God-complex?

At the same time, he showed his balls by saying those famous 7 words all of us wanted to say after Hurricane Katrina. Most people forget that he made an impassioned speech before then talking about the news coverage showing Blacks as looters, Whites as survivors. That set up his great moment: George Bush doesnt care about Black people.

It made me admire him more. He could've easily just asked for money but he was brilliant in his anger. He spoke for a region and a people. Even Jay-Z said he could've done more.

He was a complicated figure. The biggest rapper in the world with an even bigger ego who found a way to draw you into his struggles. Was Kanye the guy who rapped about his mom and blood diamonds? Or was he the guy chasing pop stardom whose mouth was reckless on a minor Tupac level.

I left college in 2006 and the "Graduation" album summed my mood the next year. He nearly sold a million that first week as he began chasing stadium status but with songs like "Can't Tell Me Nothin", "Everything I Am", "The Glory", he was still inspiring me.

When his mom passed away, I knew he'd touch her soul with something great and the Grammy version of "Hey Mama" nearly had me in tears. But after that moment, Kanye finally looked like he stopped relating to everyday joes and began going international in his style and out of this world production wise.

I cringed when he started rapping in Auto-Tune (considering that he can hold a note). I cringed more when I anticipated 808 and Heartbreaks and for the first time, his first single didn't move more than his second (Love Lockdown and Heartless were both bland even though the words of Heartless were still great). I thought he'd lost it - too caught up in his grief and ambition to make something soulless

The album dropped not so soon after I broke up with my last girlfriend. When I heard "Say You Will" on the plane, it was so stark and haunting I felt like she was talking to me. As bad as the auto-tune was, Kanye's words were speaking to me and I felt like I heard her in there. I still say it's his worst album but he used auto-tune to create something close to Marvin Gaye's "Here My Dear"

Six years in, it's his words, creativity, emotion that both inspire me, speak to me and make me wonder what the heck he was thinking. The Taylor Swift incident was overblown, unfortunate and the upset ramblings of a fool who hates award show screwjobs but maybe it's the start of Kanye getting back to himself.

Today's long diatribe is a great start.I still consider him one of my favorite figures in rap. No matter his flaws, he still reminds me of that personal, introspective guy I see in myself who's unafraid to show his emotions. And musically, he may be miles away from College Dropout but every so often, he'll remind me why he's one of the best writers in hip-hop and an inspiration to guys like me who love hip hop but aren't street dudes.

He's still gonna say and do some weird stuff (Nicki Minaj potential to be better than anyone but Eminem? Swizz Beatz the greatest producer ever? Do a track with Raekwon and Justin Bieber???) but for me, he's just a reminder that entertainers aren't perfect. Neither are we.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

College Football Predictions

Tomorrow starts off college football season and Friday kicks off another high school season in California. It's my 4th year covering HS football and it's still as excited as my first game - mainly because I'll be doing it for a new paper this season. (For my California people, I've been doing the preseason all-area teams for Cal-Hi Sports so check over there for some additional prep coverage in addition to the state's Top 25 poll)

As for college, I got a few predictions for this season. Like to hear it? Here it goes!

- USC freshman Robert Woods will make an impact as a wide receiver and return man. I've covered Woods for the last two seasons at Gardena Serra HS and you won't find a more talented, hard-working yet humble individual. The fact he's gonna be starting for the Trojans tomorrow at Hawaii is a tribute to his work ethic and I can't wait to see him shine.

- Woods Pt. 2: He will score a touchdown tomorrow in some fashion

- Sticking on USC, super freshman Dillon Baxter won't start a game this year barring injury to starter Marc Tyler but he'll be another impact freshman. The San Diego phenom was voted Mr. Football in CA last year and when I saw him in the Army All-American Game, he's definitely a Reggie Bush type. I see Lane Kiffin using him in a lot of ways to keep him on the field like they did Joe McKnight 3 years ago.

- USC will not win the Pac-10. Hardy Har - easiest prediction I'll make all year.

- UCLA defensive back Rahim Moore won't get 10 interceptions again but he'll have between 5-7 and show why he's the best DB in the country. Another hard-working, good kid from L.A. (Dorsey HS) who's a combo of role model/exceptional cover safety.

- Despite 3 freshmen getting the boot for being stupid, I really like the hype around this kid Owamagbe Odighuzuwa. Defensive end from Oregon who could get extend playing time with some injuries and his performance in fall camp. Remember that name - the last kid from Oregon with an African name and great hype turned out okay. Somebody named Ndamukong Suh.

- That said, despite our new pistol offense, the schedule is crazy tough (At Cal, Oregon, AZ State, Washington AND going to Kansas State and Texas). Hate to say it but I don't see more than 6 wins unless we come together on offense quickly and the defense recovers from losing DE Datone Jones all season with foot surgery.

- Best QB in the Pac-10? Stanford's Andrew Luck, who will get some honorable All-American love as a sophomore this year.

- Oregon State's Jacquizz Rogers will find his way to the Heisman Trophy ceremony after he rushes for 1,600 yards and 25 TD's

- Predicted Pac-10 finish. 1) Oregon, 2) Washington, 3) USC, 4) Oregon State, 5) Stanford, 6) Cal, 7) UCLA
*Even with Jeremiah Masoli gone, the Ducks still two great tailbacks in LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner and speed on defense. Still think USC will have a bounce-back year but I think Washington will be the sleeper of the conference.

- Across the country, Mark Ingram will not win the Heisman. Easy enough, but what if I also predicted Trent Richardson will have an 1,000 yard season as a backup. Kid's a beast and Ingram's knee injury all but guarantees it.

- Nebraska will reach a BCS game. Welcome to the 1990's all over again.

- Jacory Harris from Miami is the best quarterback you need to discover this year. Love this kid's arm, poise and leadership. Passed for 3,000 yards last year and if he can cut down the INT's (17), he'll get some serious All-American buzz.
*Sidenote, I briefly was a Miami fan a decade ago, strange considering their return to prominence came at UCLA's expense in 1998. 2001 Hurricanes are the best team of the last 15 years after the 95 Huskers.

- Boise State WILL play for the national championship.

- Florida will NOT play for a BCS bowl game.

- Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor will finally put it together and build on his Rose Bowl performance to have a great season. Unfortunately his full skill set will still be leashed by the Sweater Vest Jim Tressel.

It's a short list but as a fan of the game, I just enjoy watching to see who will be the surprises of the season, what players will step up and how the Pac-10 looks all around. Sadly my alma mater San Diego looks like it's back to middle-of-the-road status. Those days with Jim Harbaugh coaching and current Tampa Bay Bucs backup Josh Johnson winning big are long gone.