Sports Rippers influence

After saying he was planning to play despite suffering a concussion last weekend, Big Ben will in fact sit this weekend against the Ravens. I posted previously that the Steelers should not let him play, and obviously they read the blog and reconsidered.

Some may ask if it's a bad thing for sports that our blog has such influence over these franchises and the decisions they make. I can't answer that, all I can do is try to give them the best advice possible and let them do with it what they will.

Although it may scare some people to see a blog with such pull, I can promise you will do our best never to abuse this power.


Time to call it quits

Shaq has been one of my favorite athletes since he burst on the scene with Orlando years ago. As much as it pains me to say this, it's time for the big man to retire.

The Cavs lost to the lowly Bobcats tonight, dropping their record to 6-4 with O'Neal in the lineup. Cleveland is 5-1 without Shaq. The Big Aristotle is a solid 50 lbs. overweight, slow and a shell of his former self as a player.

Bringing Shaq in was probably Cleveland's attempt to show LeBron it's committed to providing him with a supporting cast good enough to win a title. Unfortunately, Shaq isn't really any better than the big men the Cavs had last year.

So, Big Luggage, I'm pleading with you - don't hang on for years after your prime and force us to watch you bumble around clumsily under the basket. We've seen too many elite athletes play until they're so ineffective they have to retire because nobody wants them.

Please, Wilt Chamberneezy, don't let this be you.

Ugly Ending In Sight

All those times the NCAA has avoided potential problems with its archaic way of setting a national champion in football have apparently added up to one colossal debacle. Enter 2009: The Year Of The Disaster.

At this very moment there are six (six!!!) teams that are still undefeated as we approach the final stretch of the regular season. Last time I checked, in a bowl game only two can play each other at one time.

Look, we've heard the argument for a playoff for years, but it's not an argument anymore. It's simply a statement of logic.

Virtually every other sport has some kind of season-ending tournament to crown a champion and why college football, one of this country's top draws for more than a century, still doesn't is absolutely ridiculous.

We've heard the laughable excuses of the wear and tear of a longer season and the claim the students would miss too much class time if they had to play a few extra games (I guess they haven't heard of shortening the regular season to compensate). Yet somehow, March Madness for college basketball is so long that it lasts into April.

Obviously, the reason for the way things are all revolves around the big bucks that the bowl games pull in, but it's not like a playoff system wouldn't generate any money (See the aforementioned college basketball). I don't have any projected numbers, but something tells me there would be just a little interest generated by a tournament on top of the endless wave of mainly meaningless bowl games.

Alabama and Florida will get their shot to earn their way into the title game when they square off in the SEC Championship, but for the rest of these teams, their fates rely on a bunch of computer nerds. The BCS is a much better system than what was in place before when undefeated teams didn't necessarily play each other due to conference obligations, but it's true acronym should be "Belies Common Sense."

Boise State's epic win over Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl proved teams from non BCS conferences can play with the big boys. Utah's thrashing of Alabama in last year's Sugar Bowl proved they can contend for a national championship.

Utah didn't get its chance to play for a title despite finishing the season as the country's only undefeated team. How many teams will suffer the same injustice this year?


Season over

R.I.P. Giants. Unless we see a miracle, the 2009-2010 is dead and gone. First the defense fell apart, now the offense is emitting a stench.

Brandon Jacobs looks completely shot. The offensive line looks old and slow, and the entire defense just can't make a big stop. After a 5-0 start during which the Giants looked like a legitimate juggernaut, they appear to be nothing more than a mediocre team.

After a disastrous season for the Mets, this is crushing for me and anyone else who roots for the Mets-Giants combo. I may have to give up sports and start a blog called The Opera Rippers.

Use your head

Despite sustaining his 4th concussion in as many years last weekend, Ben Roethlisberger is planning to play in the Steelers' game against Baltimore Sunday night. He's back at practice just days after his latest head injury.

I admire Big Ben. He's a tough guy and an excellent player. He plays QB in an unorthodox way, holding onto the ball forever and shirking tacklers before letting go of the ball. Can't argue with his results.

But the Steelers should not let him play this week - plain and simple.

I understand Roethlisberger wants to do the courageous thing, but head injuries are not to be fooled around with. The NFL is making changes to its concussion panel and increasing research into the long-term effects of concussions, but as of right now, the onus falls on the Steelers.

I'm sure Big Ben, whose career survived a bad motorcycle accident already, feels indestructible, as any 6-5, 240 lb. QB would. We can't expect a 27-year-old elite athlete to think about what could happen 25 years down the line. He needs someone to look out for him.

NFL owners love to talk about how the franchises are big families, and about how much they love their players. If the Steelers feel this way about their QB, they should force him to take a seat this week.


Good riddance

Allen Iverson has released a statement announcing his retirement from the NBA.

I know we've done a lot of A.I. bashing on this site, and if you're tired of it....too freakin bad. Here's part of Iver-lost's statement:

"I always thought that when I left the game, it would be because I couldn't help my team the way that I was accustomed to. However, that is not the case."

Does Iverson really think he's the best guy to determine his worth as a player? At what point would he actually admit he can't help a team win or play at a high level? Here's a hint - never.

A.I. was always a selfish ball-hog, now with diminished skills he doesn't have much value. He just refuses to see it.

What really bothers me is the way the media portrays Iverson. ESPN analysts call him an all-time great, and many others follow suit. I don't get it. Teams he's played for have consistently gotten better when he leaves. Did the Celtics get better when Bird left? The Bulls with Jordan? The Rockets with Hakeem?

He's shot a miserable percentage from the floor and was never a good defender. His postseason shooting percentage is even worse than the regular season, at a meaty 40 percent. Maybe he could have used a little more PRACTICE. PRACTICE? PRACTICE.

I understand he had some great highlight moments, but he wasn't a great player, I don't care how many guys wearing expensive suits on TV say he was. I would argue he's one of the most overrated players in all of sports.

This is one of the huge problems with sports media today, particularly ESPN. These analysts want to be buddy-buddy with the athletes, so they endlessly pump them up, regardless of how valuable they really are. So the ESPN guys might make a few new friends, but with me, they've lost all credibility.

Just like Iverson.

Thanks For Nothing

Thanksgiving is here again and for some reason the holiday turns everyone into a bunch of softies. In the world of journalism, this takes shape as a smorgasbord of lists and columns in which writers comment on what they're grateful for.

Look, I'm as appreciative of the things in my life as the next guy, but I'm drawing the line on all this mushy stuff. Instead, I present a list of 10 things, in no particular order, that I'm not thankful for as a sports fan:

1. The New York Knicks: My favorite team has been a complete disgrace for the past decade despite always having a bloated payroll. At least, noted saboteur Isiah Thomas is no longer in the mix.

2. Prevent defenses: For always seeming to cost teams games they have in hand, while costing me bets that I've made.

3. Brett Favre: The guy is a legend, but his tireless back-and-forth with retirement has wasted so much of my time.

4. Bad officiating: Why bother playing the games if some disgruntled ex-athlete is going to take matters into his own hands?

5. Backdoor covers: The biggest dagger in gambling since it never seems to go your way.

6. NASCAR: Get out.

7. Plaxico Burress: The talented wide receiver giveth and then he taketh away.

8. Early-morning tailgating: Yawn. The most overrated activity in sports. Wake me when the game starts.

9. Rained out games/rounds of golf: How's that "global warming is a myth" theory working out?

10. The majority of baseball announcers: The biggest collection of dinosaurs since the Jurassic Period.

Get a grip

Apparently Notre Dame QB Jimmy Clausen got nailed with a punch he never saw coming after the Irish fell to UCONN in overtime on Saturday.

I love sports, I'm passionate about them, maybe sometimes even to a fault. But hitting a player because you feel he let "your team" down is downright creepy. Are you really so wrapped up in the fortunes of the team you root for that you need to cause physical harm to a player whose performance you don't approve of?

Get a life.

This rip isn't directed solely at ND fans, although my guess would be that they have a slightly higher lunatic rate than the average fan base. This is directed at fans everywhere who can't draw the line between super-fan and super-psycho.

If you're that upset after a loss, go get a hug from your mom or something.

Clueless as usual

What a shock. Floyd Mayweather Sr. got it wrong. Manny Pacquiao isn't using steroids.

Here's what I've learned about Floyd Mayweather Sr.: Pretty much everything he does or says is idiotic.

This is a guy who said he would train Oscar de la Hoya in a fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. It didn't end up happening, but the mere idea was sick. He even said, "L'il Floyd can't just run backward. He thinks he'll run but he's got to throw. And Oscar will throw and he'll do it with bad intentions." Nice thoughts.

And don't forget his predictions about what Ricky Hatton would do against Manny Pacquiao.

Has there ever been a bigger demolition?

Mayweather Sr. consistently refers to himself as the greatest trainer of all-time. The problem is, that claim is substantiated by no one.

If his son wasn't Floyd Mayweather, he would be entirely ignored.


Warning: Don't watch HBO Dec. 8

Call the cable company. Tell them you need maintenance at 10 p.m. on Dec. 8. Trust me, you need the diversion.

I just watched the end of Manny Pacquiao's beat down of Miguel Cotto on HBO. Saw a commercial for Joe Buck Live, a.k.a. Vomit Fest Live. The ad included snapshots of Buck's guest list, which has included, among others, such honest, modest and likable figures as Curt Schilling, Jerry Jones, Michael Irvin, Joe Namath and Brett Favre.

Seriously, HBO? That's who we want to hear from?

A question: Were A-Rod, Terrell Owens and Isiah Thomas unavailable?

I'm not sure a more unpopular guy could host a show with a group of more unpopular athletes/blowhards (Jones). Probably, but only if Skip Carey had moderated the panel. Yuck.


Just say anything

Chris Berman just called yesterday's Browns-Lions game the game of the year. Boom, how can we take you seriously?

How can arguably the two worst teams in the NFL play the game of the year? Makes no sense. I don't care if Barack Obama replaced Matthew Stafford and threw the game-winning TD, the teams stink.

Once again, an ESPN analyst throws out a moronic comment and just moves along. Clearly no one holds these guys accountable for what they say, so why would they ever think before they speak?

Rip City, USA

The mission statement for Rip City, USA has been written, and you can find it here.

I know this site is dedicated to the failings of sports and the people who love them, but the 273 rips and counting contained in the above link are too good to ignore.

Thanks to SI's Hot Clicks for the heads-up.

EDITED, 7:07 P.M. — The link is for a laptop desk for your car steering wheel. Sorry if there was any confusion as to why the comments are "rips," as I said above. Anyway, please read them. You will not be disappointed.


The Cutler Face

We all know how Bill Simmons has endlessly pimped his "Manning Face" over the years. It was funny once, but now Peyton Manning rewrites the definition of "legend" on a weekly basis. Although he tries to drag it out on occasion, even Simmons knows the "Manning Face" is deader than Charlie Weis' future as a HC.

In its place, let's honor Simmons and say welcome to the "Cutler Face." Unlike Manning's dour look when a big game has turned bad, Cutler's "face" comes in two looks: 1. the "I'm shipping blame onto my teammates" look, and 2. the "I'm totally ignoring the input of others despite my obvious failures" beauty.

Of course, the double-chinned signal caller channeled both versions of his face in tonight's 24-20 home loss to Philly. He repeatedly made poor throws but bitched openly when receivers couldn't catch them. Take Earl Bennett's "drop" on third down in the fourth quarter. Cutler chucked a wobbler behind Bennett then literally threw his hands up after Bennett failed to haul it in. All it cost the Bears — who led at the time and badly needed to chew some clock — was a first down. Instead, Cutler just threw one away but paraded around like he didn't.

Eh, no biggie, Jay.

Cutler then unveiled face No. 2 after he threw an interception to seal Chi-town's fate as the Bears tried to drive for a winning score. If you missed it, Donovan McNabb — the Steve Jobs of dealing with haters — stopped Cutler postgame and pulled a LeBron, bringing him in close for a few words of advice. Looked like they were a few too many for Cutler, who did everything but roll his eyes while McNabb jabbered in his ear. Luckily for us, NBC was there to capture it.

With 10 games down, I think it's safe to say this guy has proven himself a fraud. He has a completely skewed view of his abilities and both Cutler Faces prove it.

He just can't lose enough for me.


Anyone watching Eagles-Bears right now knows this already, but Jay Cutler is looking worse every week. Mr. Woo addressed this in an earlier post, and tonight is another confirmation of Cutler's regression.

The Bears have four field goals in this game, but they should have several TDs. Cutler has thrown some hideous passes and missed wide open receivers. I mean WIDE open.

He also continues to gesture wildly after many of these throws, and while I'm not standing on the field, it sure seems like he's showing up his teammates.

Rips from around the league

Sunday evening means we go ripping around the NFL.

Dallas 7, Washington 6:: The Redskins are worthless. They had a chance to do something great for humanity by beating Dallas today, and they blew it by letting the Cowboys get a late score.

Detroit 38, Cleveland 37: Only an Eric Mangini-led team could commit pass interference on a Hail Mary in the end zone with no time left, then give up a touchdown to lose on the next play. Wow.

Green Bay 30, San Francisco 24: That's five losses out of six games for the Niners. How long will Mike Singletary's pants stay on?

Minnesota 35, Seattle 9: This has to stop. There's no way I'm going to be able to deal with ESPN if Brett Favre gets to the Super Bowl.

Kansas City 27, Pittsburgh 24: Starting to look more and more like the Steelers just aren't that good.

New Orleans 38, Tampa Bay 7: The league should have stepped in here and made the Saints play 9 on 11. They still would have won, but it might have been competitive.

NY Giants 34, Atlanta 31: Terrible secondary defense by both teams, but after a rough start Eli plays one of the best games of his career.

Indianapolis 17, Baltimore 15: Keep pulling Ray Rice out of the game in favor of Willis McGahee on the goal line, Baltimore. Worked well today.

Jacksonville 18, Buffalo 15: Rare appearance by T.O. in this game, but not enough to get the Bills a win.

San Diego 32, Denver 3: The Broncos started the season 6-0. Since then they've lost four straight, getting outscored 117-37.

Arizona 21, St. Louis 13: The Rams blew some great chances and could have actually won this game. But they didn't, and that's why they're 1-9.

New England 31, NY Jets 14: Bill Belichick is a weird dude. The Pats threw a bomb to Randy Moss with 25 seconds left in the game in what I can only assume was an attempt to run up the score. Bill, no need to try to embarrass the Jets, Mark Sanchez is doing a fine job of that himself.

Oakland 20, Cincinnati 17: An early Christmas present for Raiders fans, courtesy of the Bengals' Andre Caldwell. Just when I started to believe in the Bengals for real, they pull a stunt like this. Same old, same old.

As bad as it gets

I'd just like to point out that we will see an historically awful game today in the NFL.

Today's Browns-Lions classic will match one of the worst defenses of all-time against an offense nearly as bad. After almost breaking the record for points-per-game surrendered last year, the Lions are once again the NFL's worst scoring defense this year. Dating back to last season, the Browns have scored five offensive touchdowns in 15 games.


Which side will prove to have the least effective unit? After watching Cleveland last week, my money is on the Browns. As bad as Detroit's defense is, I'm not sure Cleveland could have scored Monday night had they been playing without the Ravens defense on the field.

Pregame "observations"

Remember: observations = rips. Always.

Here goes...

Redskins at Cowboys: The 'Skins point-total last week (27) was their most since Week 2 last year. Jim Zorn = massive fail. Maybe Zorn will get lucky and bad Romo can keep Washington in the game. No one is more capable.

Browns at Lions: Meet Matt Stafford (6 TD, 12 INT), who has already developed a commendable lack of conscious, the one all losing QBs need to have. Congrats, Matt.

Niners at Packers: Alex Smith was picked No. 1 overall in 2005 and started immediately. Aaron Rodgers was picked 24th and sat for three years behind Benedict Favre. Example No. 283,987 that NFL people rarely choose the right college QBs.

Steelers at Chiefs: Troy Polamalu is out. How many defensive starters would the Steelers have to play without for the Chiefs to score 20? Five? Six? All 11?

Seahawks at Vikings: I'm starting to despise Jared Allen. He's become the white Michael Strahan: Too chatty, a lot of friends in the media telling us how good he is. Unfortunately, like Strahan we must deal. Allen is damn productive.

Falcons at Giants: So AP is out. What does "AP" stand for? How about Actually a Positive for the Giants? Pierce couldn't cover Don Hutson. Yes, Hutson's dead.

Saints at Bucs: I'm feeling upset here. Josh Freeman is exactly the type of big, fast, athletic, strong-armed quarterback that will inspire a lot of stereotypical comments from analysts for the next 10 years. "He won't always make the right call at the line, but he has the ability to improvise." Dan Dierdorf is licking his lips.

Bills at Jaguars: Ryan Fitzpatrick is starting for Buffalo today. He went to Harvard. He must be smart enough to know he stinks.

Colts at Ravens: Norwood Buckner practically guaranteed a Ravens win here. But doesn't Buckner know Peyton Manning has his offense, defense and special teams ready? He coached 'em hard all week. I truly believe he can save the Colts' timeouts, call a few key blitzes and overall outcoach John Harbaugh today. Manning is already 9-0 as head coach this year. Not bad for a QB. Jim Caldwell is kind enough to talk to the media.

Cardinals at Rams: Ol' Kurt Warner back to St. Louis and the friendly confines of the Ed Jones Dome. Six TDs and a six-minute postgame prayer are not out of the question.

Denver at San Diego: Tough break for the Broncos. They lost three in a row, their season is about to collapse as the fall out of first place and injuries have forced them to start a QB (Chris Simms) who can't throw a spiral. Seriously. The question is, can Denver finish 6-10?

Bengals at Raiders: Can Bruce Gradkowski throw for 50 yards today? Yes, just not 75. Good luck to Bruce.

Jets at Pats: Dirty Sanchez can write this postgame speech before the game. Just say whatever he would after a 30-point loss. It's gonna happen.

Eagles at Bears: Stat guys love to unearth unique stats, especially ones like "this is the first time in NFL history two quarterbacks 39 and older have started against one another." So here's mine: Could this game set a record? "Never before have two starting quarterbacks been so universally despised by their fan bases." Congrats to Don McNabb and Jay Cutler.

The Absolute Worst Coaching Decision Ever

Let's just get right to it. The worst strategic coaching decision in the history of sports was made today. No exaggeration. No joke.

Harvard defeated Yale 14-10 on Saturday because Yale coach Tom Williams did the unthinkable. Yale was leading 10-7 with 2:40 left and had fourth-and-22 from its own 25-yard line. Yale decided to fake the punt, didn't get the first down, and Harvard drove 40 yards for the winning touchdown.

Read the above paragraph again. Take a moment.

Honestly, when I first heard about this, I didn't believe it. I must have misunderstood. Or something had to be amiss. This couldn't have actually happened. Maybe Yale was trailing 10-7. Maybe I was just being told some sort of joke, but it really wasn't a good one because as gullible as I am, no one would ever even believe this ridiculous a story for a second.

But it's actually true. Here is the play by play.

I'll just give one quote from Williams because it's pointless to even dissect all the moronic things he said. If a coach attempted a field goal on the last play of the game when his team was down by four points, would you really want to hear an explanation? This is just as stupid. When something is so irrational, there's no point examining every point of the utter nonsense.

From Williams, courtesy of the Hartford Courant: "We were going to play to win the football game. We weren't going to play scared. We were going to keep our foot on the pedal. So if you're looking for someone to blame, blame this guy right here."

Some quick points:

1) It seems that Herm Edwards' "You Play to Win the Game" tirade has become a common refrain for coaches when trying to justify "aggressive" decisions. Here's the problem with that:

A) That speech had nothing to do with taking a chance or trying to finish off an opponent. It was simply Edwards' response to a question regarding whether he was worried his team would lose focus and motivation after it had had been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.

B) Even if it did pertain to being aggressive, that obviously isn't always the right decision. You can't simply justify stupid risks by offering cliches like "We were playing to win the game" and "We didn't want to take our foot off the pedal" as your explanation. Of course you were. That's why everyone laughs at that press conference. He was stating the obvious. Punting on fourth-and-22 when you're leading with 2:40 left isn't playing scared.

C) Herm Edwards was an idiot.

2)People will likely compare this decision with the one Bill Belichick made against the Colts. Just stop right now. The Patriots needed two yards. Yale needed 22.

3) This happened in a Harvard-Yale game? Yikes.

Anyway, I said in my opening that this was the worst strategic decision in the history of sports. I googled those exact words and found this great article from ESPN.com. In my opinion, the only decisions that even approach this one were No. 1 (John McNamara keeping Bill Buckner in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series for sentimental reasons rather than taking him out for a defensive replacement.) and No. 4. (Giants offensive coordinator Bob Gibson calls a handoff with the Giants leading 17-12 with 20 seconds left and the Eagles are out of timeouts. Instead of kneeling on the ball, Giants quarterback Joe Pisarcik fumbled his handoff to Larry Csonka and the Eagles won when Herm Edwards - Herm!!! -- recovered the fumble and took it in for the winning score.)

Here is why the decision at Yale was even worse on the stupidity scale. (By the way, I feel like this has been reduced to a discussion of whether it's a worse idea to run as fast as you can headfirst into a brick wall or run into a beehive and see if you can avoid getting stung for 30 seconds. Sigh.)

The moment the Yale decision was made, it was extremely likely that it would cost the team the game.

Failing to take Buckner out for defense and calling a running play instead of taking a knee were absolutely moronic decisions. No argument. And in the case of Buckner, it was an epic blunder in the biggest game of the season...a mistake so bad that it ended up contributing to the Red Sox blowing the World Series. That said, both of those decisions in all likelihood didn't figure to actually have any impact. And that's why Tom Williams' decision was worse.

(I may have to change my name to Norwood Buckner Williams now.)