Tag Archive | "Chris Lardieri"

Rise of the Quarterbacks


Remember the good old days when a team needed a bruising defense to win an NFL championship? And how those same teams didn’t necessarily need a superstar quarterback? Think of the 1970s Steelers, 1985 Bears, 1986 Giants, 2000 Ravens and 2002 Buccaneers.

Those days are long gone.

In 2011, having a quarterback who can light it up is now a must.

Case in point: a quick look at the passing yardage leaders this season shows that the top three quarterbacks – Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Matthew Stafford – all threw for over 5,000 yards. And Eli Manning was just behind them in fourth place, with 4,933 yards. While Brees and Brady both broke Dan Marino’s single-season record of 5,084 yards, which stood since 1984, all of the top five (Aaron Rodgers was #5) quarterbacked teams that made it to the playoffs. And it’s no coincidence that the two teams in Super Bowl XLVI, the Giants and Patriots, have QBs that were 4th and 2nd on this list, respectively.

Why is this?

A number of factors come into play, but rules changes is a primary factor. Since the NFL made it a point to crack down on late hits, and hits to the head and knees against quarterbacks, the passing game has become wide open. Combine with that the increase in pass interference calls against defensive backs in recent years, and the game has become a passer’s dream. “Air Coryell,” anyone?

In addition, there has been an increased focus by teams to draft and develop quarterbacks. Of the ten quarterbacks who threw for the most yards in 2011, seven were first-round picks. If a team is going to devote that much salary cap space to one player, you can rest assured that they won’t be utilizing a run-first offense. And that also requires more cap space to pay for quality receivers to throw to and behemoth offensive lineman to protect a team’s most valuable asset.

As a result of these factors, running backs and the defensive side of the ball have suffered. It’s rare to see a top college tailback selected at or near the top of the draft nowadays. Gone are the days of low scores and trying to eat up the clock.

Yet again, the Super Bowl is a prime example of this. Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs and BenJarvus Green-Ellis are all solid running backs, but they’re not superstars. The Giants’ defense gave up 400 points, 6 more than they scored in the regular season. The much-maligned Patriots defense ranked 31st (next-to-last) in terms of yards allowed this season. The Giants were only a few notches higher at 29. Somewhere, Buddy Ryan is cringing.

Finally, don’t think for a minute that the increased popularity in the game and the new importance of passing aren’t correlated. And it’s only going to continue, with the likes of Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and other stand-out college QBs expected to be drafted high in April.

So sit back and continue to enjoy the air shows that are sure to continue into the 2012-13 season. Unless your name is Rex Ryan, of course.

Used with permission of the author.

Chris Lardieri runs the “West Coast View” column for Sports Climax. A veteran to the keyboard, Chris also covers the Los Angeles Dodgers for Examiner.com and has written about Major League Baseball for Inside Edge, a scouting company that provides content to ESPN Insider and Yahoo Sports. Follow Chris on Twitter for more sports observations.

Copyright ©2012 Sports Climax, LLC

Posted in NFL, Recent Buzz, West Coast ViewComments (0)

Declare your independence sports fans


As we head into the long Independence Day weekend, thoughts of backyard BBQs, the beach and fireworks certainly come to mind.  We sports fans usually look forward to the half-way point of the MLB season, the opening of NFL training camps around the corner and the beginning of NBA free agency.

Ah, but 2011 is a different year in professional sports.  My at the day job might even deem this a “Black Swan” event of sorts.  Consider the following:

  • The NFL is still in the midst of a lockout that is now nearly four months long, with no immediate end in sight.  True, “pen pals” Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith have been apparently having productive talks as of late, but the “Millionaires vs. Billionaires” dispute rages on.
  • The NBA is on the verge of having their own lockout, as the owners and players are nowhere near an agreement as their CBA is set to expire on Thursday night.  And this one could be even more contentious and long than the NFL’s.
  • The Los Angeles Dodgers, one of the most storied franchises in the history of professional sports, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and is on the verge of being taken over by MLB – thanks in large part to the impending divorce of owners Frank and Jamie McCourt.

And who loses in all this?  You, the fans.

What, you didn’t realize that fans don’t matter in 21st century professional sports?  Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.  When stories about teams and leagues are featured in the likes of CNBC and Bloomberg, it’s all but clear that pro sports is nothing more than big business in this country.

Don’t get me wrong, I love sports and always will.  But this is a different era now and we should view ourselves as consumers, not just fans.  If you get bad service at a retail store or a restaurant, aren’t you more apt to not spend your hard-earned dollars at said establishments?  Think of sports that way – is it worth wasting precious time and money watching a game in which the players and owners would rather not play?  Or buying merchandise of a team that would rather spend more money on lawyers than players or ballpark security?

So what’s a fan to do?  Don’t watch the games.  Don’t buy overpriced tickets or merchandise.  Play fantasy sports (yes, that one especially drives them nuts).  Declare your fan independence!

No, I’m not trying to start a “tea party” movement here.  I’m just showing you a proven truth in a capitalist system: that the consumer can speak volumes by controlling the one thing that everyone covets, your almighty dollar.

But don’t give up on sports altogether.  Try actually playing sports with your friends and family.  (And no, the Wii doesn’t count.)  Go watch a high school, college or minor league sporting event.  The prices are lower, the competition is fiercer and the athletes actually play for the love of the game.  What a concept!

Or do like I have and watch your kids play organized sports.  I’ve gotten more enjoyment out of watching my daughter’s all-star softball tournaments than I have watching any pro event.  And some of her games have been even more compelling and nerve-wracking than any World Series or Super Bowl game I’ve watched.

You’ve been forewarned.  Have a happy and safe 4th.

R.I.P. Jonathan Moncrief

As the great Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast.  If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”  I had a reminder of this earlier this week when I read about the passing of Jonathan Moncrief at age 43 last month.  I was first introduced to Jon when we both covered the Los Angeles Dodgers for Examiner.com last season.  He also covered the Los Angeles Kings for Examiner and co-hosted the great Inside Sports internet and radio show with Charles Smith.  Jon was kind enough to have me on the show twice last year, and I will always be eternally grateful for the opportunity and exposure.  He was also a fellow Jersey native/Springsteen fan and a great guy, and he will be missed.  My condolences go out to his family and Charles.

Used with permission of the author.

Chris Lardieri runs the “West Coast View” column for Sports Climax. A veteran to the keyboard, Chris covered the Los Angeles Dodgers for Examiner.com and has written about Major League Baseball for Inside Edge, a scouting company that provides content to ESPN Insider and Yahoo Sports. Follow Chris on Twitter for more sports observations.

Copyright ©2011 Sports Climax, LLC

Posted in West Coast ViewComments (0)

Chargers driving fans to brink of insanity?


Ron Burgundy would not be pleased. The fans of the San Diego Chargers are officially starting to lose it. (See YouTube video below).

The Chargers suffered a crushing 35-27 loss to their Raiders in Oakland on Sunday, a game that snapped their 13-game winning streak against their AFC West archrivals. To add insult to injury, the Raiders scored two touchdowns and a safety off Chargers miscues (two blocked punts and a fumble).  San Diego actually had a chance to kick a potential game-winning field goal late in the game, until tight end Antonio Gates was flagged for holding followed by quarterback Phillip Rivers’ fumble, which was returned to the house in the opposite direction by Tyon Branch. Game over.

Later that evening on NBC’s “Football Night in America,” Rodney Harrison, a former Chargers safety, and fellow analyst former Colts head coach Tony Dungy discussed the loss. Dungy indicated that San Diego head coach Norv Turner is partially to blame.  On Monday, the normally mellow Turner fired back at Dungy, and even cited a 2007 game his team won against Dungy’s Colts in 2007.

Norv Turner trash-talking!? A child flowing tears, screaming, “I hate the Raiders!” at the television? Almost forgot, here’s that video and BTW, kid, ‘You need to chill.’

Here’s another youngster “cheering” his Chargers on after their loss.

Who’s to blame for this mess in “San Diego?”  How about Chargers general manager A.J. Smith?

Smith, who is routinely criticized by the media and callers to San Diego sports-talk radio station XX 1090 for being arrogant, has recently drawn the ire of fans who question his recent moves.  During the off-season, he released the team’s all-time leading rusher, LaDainian Tomlinson and traded controversial cornerback Antonio Cromartie.  Both players are now enjoying success with the New York Jets.

He then refused to sign the tenders of two key free agent holdouts: wide receiver Vincent Jackson and left tackle Marcus McNeil, who actually signed a new contract this week.  Neither player has suited up for the Chargers in 2010.  After Smith nixed a potential trade to the Minnesota Vikings last month, Jackson’s agent, Jonathan Feinsod, stated, “They call [Smith] the Lord of No Rings for a reason.

Smith followed that up yesterday by making linebacker Shawn Merriman the latest scapegoat, placing the oft-injured player on injured reserve with a minor-injury designation.  This means that Merriman must be released once he’s healthy.  While the team could choose to re-sign Merriman, it’s highly unlikely given the strained relationship between the two.

See a pattern developing?

Before fans go even crazier, there is some hope for the Chargers.  Turner’s teams are notoriously slow starters, yet play well down the stretch – in the past three seasons, his teams are 13-0 in December.  Plus, the team plays in the weak AFC West, so it’s not like a 12-4 record will be required to win the division.  And the icing on the cake could be the return of McNeil and the rumored return of Jackson in a few weeks.

But things better turn around quickly, as fans in “America’s Finest City” are growing impatient.  At this rate, they may become more fired up than Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown.  A scary thought, indeed…

Used with permission of the author.

Chris Lardieri also covers the NFL for Sports Climax and the Los Angeles Dodgers for Examiner.com.  He has written about Major League Baseball for Inside Edge, a scouting company that provides content to ESPN Insider and Yahoo Sports. He previously wrote for 1766, the Rutgers Alumni Magazine, and popular blog, ‘The Outer Loop’.  Be sure to follow Chris on Twitter for more MLB and sports observations

Copyright ©2010 Sports Climax, LLC

Posted in NFL, The Mosh Pit, WTF!Comments (0)

2010 MLB Playoffs, possible upsets & no Chip Caray


 

The calendar has finally turned to October, which evokes thoughts of cool weather, pumpkins, homecoming and – most importantly – the MLB playoffs.  Say what you will about the seemingly ponderous regular season, but the postseason has featured some riveting games the past few years, and this season should be no exception.  On top of it all, viewers won’t have to be subjected to Chip Caray’s horrible play-by-play on TBS anymore.

With that being said, we would like to point out some things that the mainstream media won’t tell you about the playoffs.  Here are three fearless predictions/ things to watch for:

1. Everyone wants and expects a Phillies-Yankees rematch, but don’t count on it.

Yes, the Northeast-centric media and Fox executives would drool over this potential World Series.  But the fact of the matter is this – before last year, the last time both favorites headed into the playoffs was 1999, when the Yankees faced the Braves.  (2001 does not count, because the 116-win Seattle Mariners were the favorites in the AL).  So the odds are against a 2009 rematch; don’t be shocked if an underdog wins the pennant.

2. Don’t underestimate the Giants and Rays.

Everyone is fawning over the Phillies top three starting pitchers (Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels), but have you forgotten about the trio in San Francisco?  Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez aren’t too shabby, and don’t count out the suddenly resurrected Barry Zito.  As for the Rays, they had the most wins in the AL, and only one less than the Phillies.  They have a solid trio of starting pitchers (David Price, Matt Garza and James Shields), and Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria are dangerous at the plate.

3. A Rays-Giants World Series would cause Fox “suits” to cringe.

While it would likely be a good match-up, would anyone watch outside of the two respective Bay areas?  Thanks to the New York and Philadelphia markets, the 2009 Series was the most-watched in five years, and had a 39% increase in viewership over the 2008 Phillies-Rays Series – the largest year-over-year increase ever.  Bottom line: the most Phillies and Yankees fans outside of their home cities will be in the Fox headquarters in Los Angeles.

While this space is not usually a forum for predictions or “homer-ism,” it would be amusing if the Rays and Giants faced off in the Fall Classic.  Look on the bright side – at least we wouldn’t have to endure Joe Buck and Tim McCarver.

But then who would watch November baseball?

More MLB:

National League Playoff Schedule – NLDS

American League Playoff Schedule – ALDS

Braves Clinch on Final Day – Sports Climax

Used with permission of the author.

Chris Lardieri also covers the NFL for Sports Climax and the Los Angeles Dodgers for Examiner.com.  He has written about Major League Baseball for Inside Edge, a scouting company that provides content to ESPN Insider and Yahoo Sports. He previously wrote for 1766, the Rutgers Alumni Magazine, and popular blog, ‘The Outer Loop’.  Be sure to follow Chris on Twitter for more MLB and sports observations

Copyright ©2010 Sports Climax, LLC

Posted in MLBComments (0)

MLB managers entering revolving door


The 2010 MLB season ends this weekend, with the AL East, AL Wild Card, NL West and NL Wild Card spots still up in the air.  But for many other teams, this off-season could potentially be as interesting as the playoff races. 

As many as 13 teams could change managers for the 2011 season, an unprecedented number. This is on top of the two recent hirings of Buck Showalter in Baltimore and Don Mattingly with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Here’s how the managerial landscape currently stands heading into the hot stove season: 

  • The Braves and Blue Jays are certain to have new managers due to the announced retirements of Bobby Cox and Cito Gaston, respectively.  Former Marlins manager (and Hanley Ramirez’s least favorite skipper) is the current front-runner in Atlanta.
  • The Cubs, Diamondbacks, Mariners and Marlins currently have interim managers, and are all likely to hire new ones.
  • The Brewers, Mets and Pirates are likely to make changes soon.  Don’t expect Jerry Manuel and Ken Macha to have their options picked up in New York and Milwaukee, respectively.  Two interesting names that have recently popped up – Joe Torre potentially going back to Queens (thanks to his “…I hope the phone rings” faux pas) and former Mets manager/current Brewers bench coach Willie Randolph taking over for Macha.  And would anyone really notice if John Russell was jettisoned in Pittsburgh?

This brings us to the most interesting part of the discussion, the potential changes that loom.

  • Tony La Russa’s contract us up in St. Louis.
  • Ozzie Guillen may want out of Chicago, especially given his son’s feud with White Sox GM Kenny Williams via Twitter.
  • Dusty Baker has yet to ink the Reds’ offered contract extension.
  • Joe Girardi’s contract is up with the Yankees at the end of the season.  The possibility still looms that the former Cubs catcher would return to Chicago to manage his hometown team.  However, Cubs legend Ryne Sandberg remains the fan-favorite to take over.

Oh, the possibilities are endless.  How about this scenario?  Girardi, miffed at not getting an extension after winning a World Series in 2009 and/or blamed for the Yankees’ collapse this season, bolts for Wrigley Field.  Torre, fresh off his make-up hug with GM Brian Cashman, makes like Billy Martin and triumphantly returns to the Bronx.  The Mets, spurned again and yet again reacting to the Yankees’ lead, hire ESPN’s Bobby Valentine for a second go-round.  Guillen moves to Miami to take the Marlins, where his son is also free to Tweet away at Williams.  White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, sensing the “reunion” theme, brings La Russa back to the South Side (although the hideous 1983-style uniforms should NOT return).

At the very least, this should make for excellent reality television.  Who needs “Jersey Shore” (or is it “Sewer”)?

Used with permission of the author.

Chris Lardieri covers the Los Angeles Dodgers for Examiner.com and has written about Major League Baseball for Inside Edge, a scouting company that provides content to ESPN Insider and Yahoo Sports. He previously wrote for 1766, the Rutgers Alumni Magazine, and popular blog, ‘The Outer Loop’.  Be sure to follow Chris on Twitter for more MLB and sports observations.

Copyright ©2010 Sports Climax, LLC

Posted in Features, MLB, West Coast ViewComments (0)

10 things to know, MLB All-Star Game


Tonight is the 81st MLB All-Star Game at Angel Stadium in Anaheim.  While much has been written and talked about the “Midsummer Classic,” here are ten things that we at Sports Climax think that you should know – and that the mainstream media won’t tell you.

  1. Fox is televising the game, with Joe Buck and Tim McCarver calling their record twelfth consecutive game together.  This is probably eleven games too many.  Prepare yourself for more wise-cracking, unfunny jokes and over-analysis from the pair.
  2. Your alternative is ESPN Radio, with Jon Sciambi and Dave Campbell on the call.  Might be a better option, as long as you can tolerate Campbell’s droning stories and periodic bitterness about his playing career.
  3. Since Fox is the king of shameless cross-promotion during sporting events, expect its show “Glee” to be the main beneficiary.  After all, cast member Amber Riley will be singing the National Anthem.
  4. Hopefully pregame analyst Eric Karros will sport a hairdo as astounding as the poofy one he had during the 2009 season and World Series.
  5. Good news – Jim Gray won’t be there to ask Derek Jeter softball questions about his next contract.  
  6. “This Time It Counts” – don’t buy it.  In the previous seven All-Star games (all won by the American League)  that have determined who gets home field for the World Series, the AL has won four fall classics, the NL three.  Yet another brainchild of the “used car salesman.”
  7. NL starting pitcher Ubaldo Jiménez is really, really good.  Pay attention to him – if the Rockies don’t make the playoffs, this might be your last chance to see him pitch live in 2010.
  8. But you won’t see the Nationals’ rookie phenom Stephen Strasburg on the mound tonight.  Get over it – he probably could use the rest anyway.
  9. Don’t expect the Angels’ “Rally Monkey” to show up.  Word has it that team owner Artie Moreno locked him up to a deal in which he works exclusively for the halos.
  10. In the likely event that a home run is hit during the game, expect a plethora of references and comparisons to Bo Jackson’s home run in the 1989 All-Star Game (which was the last one played in Anaheim).  Keep in mind that Bo hit it off Rick Reuschel, and there are no glorified wiffle ball-type hurlers on either side tonight.

Here’s hoping these tips enhance your viewing experience tonight, and that the game doesn’t end in a tie.  We don’t want Bud to take a page from soccer and have Home Run Derby determine the winner in the future.

Used with permission of the author.

Chris Lardieri covers the Los Angeles Dodgers for Examiner.com and has written about Major League Baseball for Inside Edge, a scouting company that provides content to ESPN Insider and Yahoo Sports. He previously wrote for 1766, the Rutgers Alumni Magazine, and popular blog, ‘The Outer Loop’.  Be sure to follow Chris on Twitter for more MLB and sports observations.

Copyright ©2010 Sports Climax, LLC

Posted in MLB, Recent BuzzComments (0)

Dodgers’ Joe Torre unsure of return


Lost in the aftermath of last night’s crushing 8-6 loss in 10 innings to the Yankees last night were comments that manager Joe Torre made before the game on Sunday.  Torre told the media that he has yet to make up his mind about his future as Dodgers manager, but that he will make a decision by the end of the 2010 season, possibly by September.

Torre, who is in the last year of a 3-year, $13 million contract, had broken off contract extension talks with GM Ned Colletti during spring training in March.  He also added that the key factor in his decision is his health.  Torre survived prostate cancer after being diagnosed during the 1999 season, when he managed the Yankees.

This news comes at a time when Torre has come under fire for the Dodgers’ recent slump, and on the heels of the season-long saga over the pending divorce of team owner Frank McCourt and his estranged wife, Jamie

One aspect of Torre’s statement should bear noting – the McCourts’ divorce trial is scheduled to begin in August, which should lead to a resolution as to who owns the team by the end of this season.

A report earlier this season also indicated that Torre might not want to return for the 2011 season, given the team’s uncertain ownership future and divorce-related payroll constraints.  Torre later denied this rumor, but the doubt still lingers.

Should Torre leave, the likely successor is another former Yankee (and current Dodgers hitting coach), Don Mattingly.  For what it’s worth, legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully gives Mattingly his seal of approval.

So the questions still linger.  But at least Torre doesn’t have to deal with Alex Rodriguez ignoring him anymore.

Chris Lardieri covers the Los Angeles Dodgers for Examiner.com and has written about Major League Baseball for Inside Edge, a scouting company that provides content to ESPN Insider and Yahoo Sports. He previously wrote for 1766, the Rutgers Alumni Magazine, and popular blog, ‘The Outer Loop’.  Be sure to follow Chris on Twitter for more MLB and sports observations.

Posted in MLBComments (0)


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