Saturday, March 31, 2012

Patrick Roy is a candidate for the Canadians GM vacancy

An unusual and disappointing season for the Montreal Canadians has almost come to an end. But before it could, another head had to hit the chopping block. In a season when an assistant coach was fired minutes before a game started, one of their players was traded during a game, and the head coach was fired mere hours before a game it was only a matter of time before the last domino fell. That is exactly what happened early Thursday as GM (former) Pierre Gauthier was in effect told, “thanks, but your services are no longer needed here”.  

When someone is let go, the attention immediately turns to who will replace that person. An interesting name has popped up on lists for potential candidates. Patrick Roy, arguably the greatest goalie in NHL history, is apparently on the team’s list of candidates.   

Roy is a living legend as far as the folks in Montreal are concerned as he delivered two Stanley Cups to the city. But it does remain to be seen if 1. he gets the job and 2. if would actually be able to return Montreal to their glory days. One thing is for sure though, with the fact that the Canadians have set a franchise record for losses in a season this year, Roy couldn’t possibly do worse.

Monday, March 26, 2012

LeBron James Takes A Step Above The G.O.A.T

One lost his title not by being knocked down in the ring, but by taking a stand out of it. He said, 

“I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong… they never called me nigger.”

Two of them won Olympic medals, but would forever go down in history for a simple yet effective gesture. 

One decided to take a stand even when no one truly expected him to, and nobody would’ve blamed him if he had not. 

One was asked why he wouldn’t make an endorsement in a political race and famously or, infamously depending on your point of view quipped, 

“Republicans buy shoes too.”

In order, those athletes were Muhammad Ali, John Carlos and Tommie Smith, LeBron James, and of course Michael Jordan. Before we get too deep into this edition of Tha Weatha Report, allow me to first say that there is absolutely no requirement for an athlete to make his/her social opinions known. They get paid to run fast, jump high, hit harder than their opponent, and put a ball in a hoop/goal/net. There has never been an owner or promoter that cuts a check to an athlete because they agreed with their political stance. But on the other side, there has never been a high profile athlete that has been denied a check based on their opposing political or social views. There is a reason why they are athletes and not social commentators. 

However, there comes a time when you have to continue the work that was put in by pioneers before you. I am one of the biggest Michael Jordan fans that you would probably ever see. I buy his shoes, clothes, and still tout him as the greatest basketball player that ever donned a jersey. But I also can call a spade a spade and Michael Jordan did absolutely nothing to further any agenda outside of his own. This is not just a commentary on MJ’s lack of a political stance. That would be shortsighted. Just like it would be shortsighted to say that those athletes named above were the only ones to ever take a stand. Jim Brown, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell are just a few other names. Remember, Michael Jordan had the premium opportunity to take a stand against unfair child labor in Indonesia. His response? 

“I think that’s Nike’s decision to do what they can to make sure everything is correctly done. I don’t know the complete situation. Why should I? I’m trying to do my job.”

Great job there by “His Airness”. You are the athlete with the highest profile to ever lace up a pair of Nikes. Your profile is so considerably large that your products are no longer Nike, they are Jordan Brand. Michael Jordan had the chance to put his name out there in regards to a plague that has gripped the world, and in the clutch Jordan did something that we were not used to him doing during his playing days. He failed. He missed the shot at the buzzer. Those young children that were making his shoes did not care about Jordan “doing his job” because at the ages of 10, 11, and 12 they were illegally doing their own jobs. Simply put, Michael Jordan shot an air ball whenever he had the chance to take a stand. 

This brings us to one of the closest athletes we have to Michael Jordan, a man that evokes considerable emotions in certain parts of the country. A man that has a global imprint. That man is LeBron James. Now say what you will about “King James”. Dislike him for his playoff failures. Dislike him for leaving Cleveland and, wait for it……”taking his talents to South Beach”. But the one thing that we all have to admit is that LeBron James has Michael Jordan beat in one major area. Mr. James took a stand when he didn’t have to. 

Unless you have been living underneath a rock for the last week or two, all of you have heard the tragic tale of the situation surrounding the death of Trayvon Martin (if you need to read up on this story as well as how it relates to our world, I recommend my good friend Pluto Strange's article here). It is a story that has galvanized communities as well as caused a good portion of this country to re-examine the way that they look at members of different races. The one portion of society that no one expected to hear from on this matter was the world of sports. In recent years this generation has not had its own version of Muhammad Ali or Bill Russell. With one single gesture, one tweet, and one photograph LeBron James finally stepped up in the clutch and delivered. A few days ago James took to Twitter to put his face on an issue that has swept through the nation. With phrases such as #WeAreTrayvonMartin, #Hoodies, and #WeWantJustice, LeBron James made his opinion clearly known to the world. Also tweeted along with those words was a picture of the entire Miami Heat team, each player draped in hoodies. There is a saying that a picture is worth a thousand words, but that picture was worth ten times that amount. With that single show of solidarity the Miami Heat and most importantly LeBron James showed the world that there are athletes who are socially conscious when before it was thought that those types of people had become extinct. 

Has LeBron taken himself to Ali’s level? Of course not. It would be foolish to say such. The situation, era, and circumstances were totally different. Has LeBron taken himself above Michael Jordan’s level? Yes, without a shadow of a doubt. There are moments in life when sports take an extreme back seat. This happened to be one of those times. This also happened to be one of those times when one of the most visible athletes of our time decided to step out of the shadows and shed light where it needed to shine. 

Michael Jordan has three more MVP awards than LeBron James. Six more titles and is universally loved where LeBron is….well, let’s just say that he would have to pay for his own drinks in Cleveland. But with one camera flash, LeBron James overtook Michael Jordan in one big area. To ignore that….well, wouldn't that just be shortsighted?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

What To Make of Tiger Woods

While you were busy focusing on March Madness, some guy that goes by the name Tiger decided to let loose with a roar. Taking the lead into a final round is not usually much to hang your hat on, but with Tiger it is a jumping off point. The downfall of Mr. Woods has been well documented, so there is no need to rehash it. However, does it truly matter that he has put three good rounds together? Not really. 

Tiger, like most great athletes, measure themselves on wins and those alone. Tiger has teased us before. The 2011 Australian Open where he finished third comes to mind. Tiger used to resemble a lion, king over the PGA jungle. Since 2009 his lion’s mane diminished to a mere buzz cut. No longer winning tournaments just by showing up. The fact that a third round lead for him is a big story tells us all we need to know about just how far Eldrick has fallen. Are we to get excited now for a lead with a player who was a fire hydrant away from already passing Jack Nicklaus' major championship record? I think not. 

Instead, the world is waiting on the Tiger that dominates majors. The man that turned Augusta into his own coming out party. The athlete that won a major on one leg. Winning a tournament that lies in his former backyard and that he has won six previous times is nice and a start. The game of golf does not need a Tiger that is the same as Ernie Els, Bubba Watson, and Charlie Wi. The game of golf needs the Tiger Woods that showed up and captivated a nation. The Woods that was big enough to have EA make a game with his likeness. 

Does that Woods still exist? Remains to be seen. One things for sure though, winning at Bay Hill will not give us that answer. Winning April 5th – April 8th in Augusta, GA would be the only answer we need.   

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Tha WeathaMan's Open Letter to Peyton Manning

Dear Peyton,

I hope you don't mind me calling you by your first name. I hope all is well with you. You seem to be healthy these days, and judging by your frequent flyer miles it seems that you are a hot commodity. I can't say that I blame those teams, you are quite the quarterback. As a person that met you a while ago when I was in high school, I was hoping to give you my unsolicited opinion on which team you should join. You don't have to worry about thanking me for this, as I'm just looking out for what is best for you.

I know Denver is an option, but have you honestly thought about what it means to go there? For starters, they play outdoors in a location where the winters are harsh and the weather is frigid. I know you've spent a considerable amount of time up in Indianapolis, but you were able to play inside of a dome. There is no dome in Denver. Also, you would seem to be at the point in your career where you want to win another Super Bowl. I don't think you can win one with Denver. Their defense was ranked 24th in the league last year. That is hardly a Super Bowl caliber defensive unit. Also, a quarterback of your pedigree deserves to throw to a more skilled receiving group than one that "boasts" Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas as the two top targets. You deserve more Peyton.

That leads me to the Titans. What a great story that would be wouldn't it Peyton? The King of Tennessee football coming back home to close out his career. It would come full circle. Unfortunately, we both know that you are not in the business of making good stories. You are in it to win! Who are we kidding here? We both know that the Titans are a few years away from being playoff contenders, never mind Super Bowl contenders. Unlike the Broncos, at least the Titans have a good defense. They do have a good running game with Chris Johnson. Sounds like a good team right? Look deeper though Peyton, because relying just on the surface picture can trick you. They have a wide receiver corp that cannot stay healthy. Doesn't do you much good to have receivers if they are on the sidelines wearing street clothes right? Also, how winnable is that division when you have the Houston Texans that look poised to dominate for the next few years? You don't want to have to deal with that young and dynamic group for your remaining few years in the league do you Peyton? I didn't think so either. Here is the last point, but it is the biggest in my opinion. You strike me as the exact opposite of Brett Favre, in that you don't like distractions and circus like atmospheres. Do you really want to play the Colts twice a year like you would have to with the Titans? Imagine the media crowding around you for two weeks a season. Imagine the questions, the distractions, and the unhealthy atmosphere that would exist for those games. Your team would have a hard time focusing, hell you might even have a hard time focusing with all of that going on. Once again Peyton, you deserve better.

That leads me to what "better" is Peyton, and that's the Bay Area. The San Francisco 49ers. Out of your reported finalists, this team has the most history and the most to offer. You would get to follow in the footsteps of some of the great NFL quarterbacks of all time. Y.A. Tittle, Joe Montana, and Steve Young are names that will go down in history as three of the best. You would make number four. You want viable passing targets? What about having the benefit of one of the top three tight ends in the game in Vernon Davis? What about a first ballot hall of fame receiver in Randy Moss running patterns on the outside for you? You want a young, up and coming receiver? They have that in Michael Crabtree. I figure you would want a receiver who has done it on the big stage and won the big games right? They have that too with the recent signing of Mario Manningham. Manning to Manningham has a great ring to it doesn't it? I thought you would like that. They even have a Pro Bowler in the backfield in Frank Gore. He's a workhorse that could definitely take the pressure off of you. That would allow you to be fresh for the stretch run and playoffs.

I haven't even discussed the fact that they had the second ranked defensive unit in the league last year, and will return all eleven of their starters. They even had a top 10 offense. Just imagine how great that offensive unit would be with you donning the number 18 jersey. Pure harmony my friend. Another factor is that they won their division last year easily, and no one else in that division has improved this off season. Seems like your path to the playoffs would be easier in San Fran than it would be anywhere else. Not to mention Jim Harbaugh is a coach of the year winner and understands the art of quarterbacking as much as you do. You deserve better Peyton, and the Niners are the epitome of better.

Now granted, I am a die hard 49ers fan. This cannot be disputed. However, I am also an unbiased sports blogger and sports analyst. I just present the facts Peyton, and that is exactly what I've done here. I know Elway might be a good salesmen, and the sentimental value of going to Tennessee would make everyone feel warm and fuzzy. But I want you to remember something Peyton: Eli has two rings and you only have one. He's not better than you. He knows it, I know it, and you know it. Time for you to get your second and even third rings. All of the greats have multiple rings. Where can you win those rings? You are a smart man Peyton. I look forward to watching your press conference where you hold up that red and white number 18 jersey.


D. Ruck aka Tha WeathaMan