As we all know by now, the Dallas Cowboys released DeMarcus Ware yesterday, a salary cap casualty.
Initially, I was incensed. I really did not think Jerry would follow through and cut one of my favorite players (There is a figurine of him on my desk at work and an autographed photo hanging in my bedroom) and when he did, I was shocked, but only briefly.
Then the reality of it set in, as has been discussed by many a pundit. Eliminating any sentimentality, the Cowboys cut a 31 year old Defensive end who has a history of injury and produced the worst season of his career by far after transitioning back to End in Monte Kiffin’s 4-3 defense who would have been $16 million against the cap. As a team that needs to free up cap space and provide some flexibility, this move HAD to be made. I am not happy to see DeMarcus go, and if he ends up in Denver and is used properly, I foresee him being an animal for a few more years.
Regardless of how it progresses from here: Jerry got this one right. And I don’t say that often.
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Late last week, the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) ruled to eliminate the therapeutic use exemption (TUE) for Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT), and I am definitely in the camp of people who support this change.
The fighter most commonly talked about as related to the issues with TRT is Vitor Belfort, who has seen a resurgence in his mid 30s, including three consecutive vicious KOs in his home country of Brazil over three top 10 middleweights: the seeming gatekeeper to the MW elite in Michael Bisping, former Strikeforce Champ Luke Rockhold, and Dan Henderson. (Sidenote: Brazil followed the NSAC’s lead, and will be no haven for Belfort.) The fact that he was pulled from a championship fight at UFC 173 almost immediately after the decision was made did not inspire any kind of confidence, right alongside the now secret random drug test results that NSAC will not be able to release due to Belfort’s withdrawal.
All that being said, I have to point this out: TRT in MMA has proven to be a lot like steroids in baseball. For every Barry Bonds allegedly on steroids and lighting up the world, there are the Jordany Valdespins, guys who are taking it to make it, not simply to improve their already world class skills.
- While Vitor has been on a tear lately, his record while on TRT is 5-2. (Granted, those losses came to Jon Jones and Anderson Silva, both considered the top pound for pound fighter at the time.
- Frank Mir, a former heavyweight Champ, is 0-4 while fighting with an exemption. Seems to be really working out for him.
- Dan Henderson is 8-5 in 13 fights, including multiple championship bout losses.
So, using these 3 fighters as the example, as they are 3 of the most well known TRT users (Chael Sonnen could easily have been included and served the same purpose. 8-5 record, multiple championship bout losses). None of them have yet risen to championship levels, being steamrolled by the champ on most occasions (Sonnen vs Silva I a notable counterexample, but Sonnen tested positive for elevated T levels beyond exemption limits). And these are the top guys. Most of that list is guys trying to keep their job by any means possible, and in the UFC the way to do that is winning.
While I am a fan of the ban, I do think TRT’s impact on the MMA game has been kind of overblown.
I truly cannot think of a single thing relating to MMA that I could care less about, and unfortunately, it speaks to the fact that there is simply not much to talk about in Women’s MMA beyond Ronda Rousey.
Have any of us seriously gone into a match featuring Ronda with any real doubt about the outcome? The biggest shock thus far was the fact that she TKO’d McMann rather than finishing her with yet another armbar. (which Joe Rogan repeatedly informed viewers might be the best in MMA, just like her Judo.) Before the fight, my brother asked me if I could see anything besides the armbar ending the fight, and my answer was simply no.
So at this point, Dana White’s original concern that Women’s MMA would not be able to sustain itself seems to be truly valid. Ronda is truly the only topic worth talking about. With Cat Zingano out, Alexis Davis seems to be Ronda’s likely next opponent following her victory over Jessica Eye. Is that outcome in doubt for any of you? I didn’t think so.
Until another fighter comes along (Be it Cyborg or someone else. Dana has expressed skepticism about Cyborg being able to make 135.) that can truly give Rousey a real fight, Ronda’s bad attitude and feud with a ring girl have to be the stories driving the sport. And that is not a good thing.
And while I have heard good things about Invicta FC (the all women’s organization thrust into the spotlight with the Fallon Fox issue), it has not warranted a watch from me to this point.
Hopefully the forthcoming strawweight division in the UFC will provide a bit more drama.
Once again, it will boil down to the ever present sides: The league and the owners clashing with the players.
For the league and owners: Sending the players over to Nagano in 1998 (the first games that ever included NHL players) was a business decision. Hockey needed something to bring in more fans, and exposing the NHL’s best to the world on the Olympic Stage was a great opportunity to do this.
Now, here we are 16 years later and it is a different landscape for the NHL: A $2 billion dollar TV contract with NBC through the 2020-2021 season in the US, a $5.2 billion contract with Rogers in Canada through 2025, outselling the NBA in shared arenas, and a league that once again has stars who have become household names.
Where is the benefit to the league and owners at this point? The exposure is useless, and in fact the only exposure becomes negative: players exposed to injury. Just ask Garth Snow how he is feeling about that. Before the Olympics, the Isles playoff hopes were on life support. Now? Well, Vanek should probably just start packing his bags. While the NHL and owners (and players, albeit more willingly) are the ones putting themselves at risk, it is the IOC that feasts off the revenue and profits. As someone who literally watched only the hockey at the Olympics (And I am surely not the only one), were the NHL players to have stayed home with the league operating, I would have been happily watching each and every Devils game that was played. And the Pens fans would have watch the Pens. And the Rangers fans would have watched the Rangers etc, etc. There is no symbiosis here: The IOC is a parasite in this relationship.
On the other hand, you have the players, who understandably take a great deal of pride in not only playing for their countries, but also relish the opportunity to be able to play hockey the way they first played it: as a game. At home in the NHL, they are still playing the game, but it is also their job which surely at times hinders their enjoyment of the game. For 2 weeks, yes, they are NHL players, but they are part of a greater team. Can you imagine what it felt like for Anze Kopitar, the sole NHL player on the Slovenian team, banding together with his countrymen in a truly stunning upset of Slovakia, or their early loss to Russia where they hung in there? I honestly cannot. That is an experience you simply cannot manufacture.
Business vs Sentiment. As a fan, I vote sentiment. The Olympics provided entertaining, high level hockey with some surprises and ups, downs, and disappointments (Russia and the USA both failing to medal? I am glad I am not a gambling man, because I would have told you no way that happens), but showed us just how passionate these guys are about their sport and representing their countries, and just how crushing one defeat can be. Did you see the bronze medal game?
I fear business may overtake sentiment here however. It is Gary Bettman’s responsibility to make prudent decisions regarding the league’s asset, and from a purely business perspective, I would agree that the right decision would be to keep the players home. But is the league ready to deal with the massive backlash from the fans and players if such a decision is made?
Stay tuned. The IOC is also watching intently.
Tell me what you think in the poll below or the comments section!
Now that the Olympics have officially ended for me after the US hockey team’s elimination, (Yes. I am aware there is a bronze medal game to be played. That is meaningless. It was gold or bust, and we came to the same disappointing end as 2010, a loss to our friendly neighbors up north. At least we didn’t have to watch this again. ) It is time to bring the blog back and for real this time. After the embarrassing effort to revive the blog in March of last year, I am determined to not allow this to happen again.
That being said: Hockey picks up again next week, NCAAB is in full swing as March Madness approaches, MLB players have begun to report (for my fellow Mets fans, TC was really impressed with Syndergaard in a throwing session). The NFL Draft is around the corner (look forward to me constantly bemoaning my Fantasy Football misfortune and trying to rationalize what Jerry Jones does). So, even though we currently are enduring a sporting drought (The NBA all star break contributing to this fact), there is light at the end of the tunnel and I look forward to both entertaining you, aggravating you, and arguing with you right here.
But hopefully, this will not be the only forum you communicate with me on. Definitely follow the blog on twitter (@maximumzinpact). Feel free to make requests, asks questions, call me an idiot, whatever you feel the need to do. I will respond so long as the tweet allows for a response.
So, take this quick introductory post, and enjoy it as it is simply letting you know what is to come. Expect plenty of content this go around. Hoping to create a podcast and once I obtain a PSCamera, combining my love of video games and sports together to bring you a stream where we can game together (or just watch me fail at games) and banter about sports.
Looking forward to it.
I think it was Matthew Berry who posted on Facebook asking what the worst fantasy deal you have ever made was, and for me it is such an easy decision.
It was my first fantasy league with my brother and a bunch of his friends. We held our draft in a dorm on Rutgers Busch Campus. Roy Oswalt went in the 3rd round (this was early 2000s when he was a rising star and people in the league loved him, so my brother jumped early).
Later on that season, Erubiel Durazo came off the disabled list and proceeded to belt 3 tater tots and have an absolutely huge game. I had been negotiating with another guy in the league who wanted Mark Mulder from me, as he was an As fan and in contention for the league title. Unfortunately, I was very very green and this gentleman would use Durazo’s surge to sway me into making the worst fantasy deal I have made to this day:
Mark Mulder for Erubiel Durazo/Kris Benson (Non-keeper), Circa 2000.
What was yours?
As I discussed with the worlds greatest man (and a Pens fan), this deal was just classic Lou. Zubie goes down, and we go out and immediately find another strong power forward. The fact that it also happens to be a player who was excellent during the Devils run to the Stanley Cup Finals last year is just gravy (1 goal, 8 assists, really solid play).
As Harrison Mooney said on Puck Daddy, “The best news here is that Ponikarovsky is only on a one-year deal, which means the Devils could do this again next year. I, for one, would come to welcome an annual tradition where Lou Lamoirello trades a fourth round pick to a Southeast Division team in exchange for Alexei Ponikarovsky.”
I could not agree more.
Also, I apologize for the very focused coverage. Once things settle down a bit, I will be sure to provide a much wider breadth.
Just a quick post about yesterday’s US Men’s National Team World Cup Qualifier in Honduras in which the US would end up falling 2-1, dropping points they simply cannot afford to lose.
Everything looked great after Dempsey grabbed the opener, but as the NY Times put it, and I simply cannot put it any better, the team wilted in the Central American sun. Honduras was simply more fit and more organized, using a largely MLS based roster to overcome the largely European based Americans. The problem is, it simply will not get any easier. Yes, San Pedro Sula is an incredibly tough place to play. But the US still has away dates in the Hex with Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, and Jamaica. The difficulty in Mexico goes without saying, with the heat and elevation of Azteca. The US is hoping a home date with Costa Rica a few days prior in Commerce City, CO will prep them for that. Costa Rica, like some of the smaller CONCACAF nations, is well known for the hideous condition of pitches used in internationals.
As for Panama and Jamaica, each has a rousing recent victory over the US to give them confidence heading into any fixture. While the US would later avenge the defeat later in the same tournament, Panama defeated them on US Soil on June 12, 2011 in a game that still stings when I think about it. Jamaica’s win over the US in Kingston is even fresher, coming in the previous qualifying round (The US would avenge this loss in Columbus, where they should be playing far more of their home games).
This is no longer a walk in the park. The US should be thanking their lucky stars (and stripes) that Jamaica was able to hold Mexico to a draw. Klinsmann needs to realize that this is the American TEAM, and needs to recultivate that identity. When the US hired Jürgen, I was incredibly excited. That excitement has now morphed into an equal amount of worry. The search for the German American to come and star for this team needs to end and we need to settle on a solid lineup. Tinkering leads to losses. Just ask Ruxin on The League. Instead of investing all your time in ensuring that Timmy Chandler got cap tied to the US, perhaps you should have been begging Landon Donovan to come play, because if he had featured in that starting 11, the team would at the very least be on level pegging with Mexico right now. Something has to be done and quickly, or it could be an extremely depressing June of 2014 stateside, not to mention the blow that would be dealt to the growth of soccer at home. Food for thought.
Game highlights below, including the Honduras LB drilling a bicycle kick past Tim Howard. Impressive stuff.