Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Use of the N-Word

Image

By Stefan Anderson

The National Football League is considering implementing a 15-yard penalty for the use of a discriminatory racial slur during a game. The league plans to institute a rule by which players would be penalized 15 yards for using discriminatory words on the field, especially the N-word, a second violation could result in an ejection. I believe is a great way to tarnish this harmful word, this rule will cause more controversy than change.

Following incidents like Riley Cooper or even Jonathon Martin vs. Richie Incognito, the word has been prevalent in the NFL, which is not the right message to sell to the billion dollar industry. No matter how the word is used in context, whether it is nigger or nigga, the term is used for two different reasons.  In the past the word nigger was used to insult and caused a lot of harm to African Americans. Insult to injury as considered by many, the word nigga is used as a term of endearment and way many youth greet and communicate with each other.

The new rule could be one that could inspire professionalism and inspire a new generation to abolish with the N-Word, with the lasting impact that the NFL has. This rule will terrible for the game as well promote racism as well. When you watch NFL games in today’s age, how many games are turned by little penalties like Pass Interferences, Roughing the Passer and Defenseless Receiver. Adding a penalty for the N- Word could not only change the gameplay of the game but also change the outcome of the game. How will referees be able to manage the call while paying attention to the game play and make the proper calls? It will be beyond hard to make a judgment on that call and when to call it and not to call it.

Imagine your favorite player, who is of African American decent gets a big first down to clinch a game for his team and then celebrates for his efforts and yells “ Yeah, Nigga” out of excitement and momentum he gets penalized for 15 yards and/or gets ejected for showing emotion. That would be outrageous, wouldn’t it be? In a league, where the majority of the players are African-Americans, who will be called for the penalty? Exactly. Imagine how much uproar will start if a Caucasian or other ethnicity uses the racial slur and is called for that penalty. The rule will be geared towards African-Americans, and prove the segregation and racism that still exists today.

As an African American male, I have used the term “nigga” before and use it with some of my associates but I do not use it to disrespect any of my ancestors, but as way to acknowledge each other as we do in our respective communities. I do not believe it that harmful to use it with one another but when it used to degrade one another, you have to find a way to clean up the issue and ultimately get rid of it.

Ultimately, I do agree with the implantation of the rule but I think it should be implanted in the locker rooms instead of the field. I agree with the NFL way of trying to get rid of the racial slur in order to create a healthier locker room and league, while promoting professionalism. The rule will be not good for the game of football, which the fans and players enjoy and this rule will do more bad for the league than good for it.

Advertisements

2014 Preview: AL Central

Image
By Greg Hudson
Chicago White Sox (63-99, 5th in 2013)
The White Sox endured a terrible 2013 season when they lost 99 games and finished at the basement of their division for the first time since 1989. The reason for their failure wasn’t do to a particular shortcoming but rather a mediocrity in all departments, from run production (598 runs, 29th in the league) and on-base percentage (.302, 27th) to team WHIP (1.33, 24th) and bullpen ERA (4.00, 23rd).
The Sox dipped into the free agent market to land highly-touted Cuban defector Jose Abreu, who is expected to take over duties at first base from aging Paul Konerko. It was certainly a risk to offer a six-year, $70 million contract to a rookie, but his potential is so high, especially in the power department, that the Sox seem to believe he’ll follow in the footsteps of Yasiel Puig and become an overnight All-Star. They also brought in outfielder Adam Eaton from Arizona in a three-way trade involving the L.A. Angels.
But the weaknesses in the pitching staff and underwhelming lineup, especially the catcher position, remain, and will likely plague the Sox this season. Chris Sale will have to turn in a killer season to lead a poor rotation that still includes John Danks, whose 4-14 record in 2013 was one of the worst among starting pitchers in the league. Don’t expect a revelation this year, but perhaps an improved hitting performance will help Robin Ventura’s men win more of the close games they always seemed to lose last season.
Cleveland Indians (92-70, 2nd in 2013)
The Indians were a solid all-around ream last season, wrapping up a wildcard spot. Their offensive production was stellar, with Indians hitters ranking 5th in runs scored with 745 and 7th in on-base percentage at .327. A pitching rotation led by veterans Scott Kasmir and Ubaldo Jimenez ranked second in strikeouts.
But the offseason departure of both Kazmir and Jimenez leaves a big void to fill, most likely by youngster Danny Salazar and newly-appointed ace Justin Masterson. The Tribe will need to continue to rely on their hitting, which they improved with the acquisition of outfielder David Murphy, a standout in his time with the Texas Rangers. Should the hitting do the job, they’ll hope to rely on new closer John Axford, who had a decent season with Milwaukee and St. Louis last season, but hasn’t featured as a regular closer since 2012.
The roster strength in Cleveland is so high that it’s unlikely that they won’t be a part of the playoff picture, but with the likes of Tampa Bay and Baltimore in the East, the Tribe will have to have another consistent season in order to compete in September, let alone challenge for the division with Detroit.
Detroit Tigers (93-69, 1st in 2013)
The 2013 ALCS losers had a dominating season last year, ranking in the top five in the league in all major hitting categories, and topping the column in batting average. The power of infield duo Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder was matched by the lights-out pitching from Justin Verlander and Cy Young Winner Max Scherzer.
The offseason has been productive for the Tigers, who dealt Fielder to the Rangers for second baseman Ian Kinsler, and acquiring relievers Joba Chamberlain and Joe Nathan. Rookie third baseman Nick Castellanos will be looking to prove his worth in the big leagues after making a few appearances in 2013.
It looks like another open-and-shut case for the Tigers in the Central in 2014 – if they can stay healthy.
Kansas City Royals (86-76, 3rd in 2013)
They came up short of the playoffs, but the Kansas City Royals finally delivered on a decade of promises that the team would have quality young players that would give them a chance at the playoffs let alone a long-sought .500 record. Young phenoms Salvador Perez and Eric Hosmer led a lineup that won 86 games to give them a winning record for the first time since 2003.
The Royals added veteran second baseman Omar Infante and outfielder Norichika Aoki to their lineup, which will add further quality, but made a risky move for inconsistent hurler Jason Vargas, who struggled mightily for the Angels last season.
It isn’t likely that they have a playoff team this season. But the qualifying word in the sentence is this season. If they continue to develop their younger players into stars like Perez and Hosmer, they’ll be playing in October on a regular basis in the next five years.
Minnesota Twins (66-96, 4th in 2013)
The Twins had another disappointing season last year, and the early signs didn’t look good for this season either. The team ranked in the bottom third of the majors in all hitting categories last season, and a simply shambolic pitching rotation ranked dead last in quality starts and opponent batting average.
But the Twins added pitchers Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes, and while both have had struggles living up to their potential, the potential remains very high, and it’s almost impossible not to improve on last season’s 4.55 team ERA. DH Jason Kubel and defensive-minded catcher Kurt Suzuki will both contribute to an improved lineup, even though Suzuki isn’t renowned for his bat.
While it’s a step in the right direction, the Twins remain the team of Joe Mauer and little else, and the pressure of leading an underwhelming team has clearly affected his performances in recent seasons.
Prediction:
1st: Tigers
2nd: Indians
3rd: Royals
4th: White Sox
5th: Twins

2014 Season Preview : AL East

Image

 

By Greg Hudson
 
With the start of a new baseball season just a month away, Major League Baseball is ramping up with spring training and invites for young prospects to get a shot at a big-league roster spot. But the off-season has been full of big moves, big contracts, and big news about major teams and players that will have a big impact this season.
 
To preview the 2014 season, Starting Point Sports is taking a look at each division in the coming days, starting with the American League East.
 
Baltimore Orioles (85-77, 3rd in 2013)
 
The Orioles will be frustrated after failing to make the playoffs in 2013 despite securing a winning record for a second year running, as young players continued to develop into a fearsome lineup that featured Chris “Crush” Davis and Manny Machado at the corner infield positions and Adam Jones and Nick Markakis in the outfield. An underwhelming pitching rotation led by Chris Tillman struggled at times, but a sensational bullpen kept them in the hunt for a wildcard spot until a late surge from the Texas Rangers knocked them out of contention in the final weeks of the season.
 
The off-season acquisition of Ubaldo Jimenez should provide more stability to an otherwise unaltered pitching staff. The Birds have also signed veteran outfielder Delmon Young, who may prove valuable as the season progresses and they look to get back in the hunt for October baseball.
 
Boston Red Sox (97-65, 1st in 2013)
 
It was a tale of two seasons in Beantown, as the Sox went from Zeros to Heroes in 2013. After a disappoiting 2012 season that saw the perennial playoff team fall to the basement of the AL East, the Sox were a revelation in 2013, winning the AL East, the American League pennant, and the World Series. They got their largely through their high-powered offense, which led the league in runs scored, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage, and put together a .277 season batting average. Pitching was no less impressive, with the starting rotation providing 95 quality starts and 67 wins. The big weakness in the Sox squad was the bullpen, especially in the closer role, earning only 33 of 57 save opportunities.
 
But the Sox didn’t focus on the bullpen in the offseason, though they did pick up starting pitcher Chris Capuano who will only add to the quality in the rotation. Grady Sizemore, an ex-Indian who hasn’t played in the majors since 2011, was an interesting acquisition. I look forward to seeing whether or not he features at all this season.
 
New York Yankees (85-77, 4th in 2013)
 
The Yankees are a team in transition, and a transition made all the more moving by the announcement that the 2014 season will be Derek Jeter’s final season. The most important player in Yankees pinstripes in the past two decades and the final tie connecting the glory days of the late 1990s to the futile string of seasons in the past decade, he will leave a hole that will be almost impossible to fill.
 
But more concerning for Yankee fans this season will be all the other holes the Yankees have to fill. Suspended third baseman Alex Rodriguez may or may not be missed, but the lack of a quality replacement leaves the Yankees short in terms of power, compounded by the departure of Robinson Cano. Injury-plagued first baseman Mark Texeira will be an unknown quantity in his return this year.
 
The signing of All-Star outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury will more than make up for the departure of Curtis Granderson, but the biggest acquisition was Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, pipped as a future Cy Young winner. But pitchers coming to the majors from Japan have historically been either great successes or great failures, as both Yu Darvish and Daisuke Matsuzaka can attest. The quality of his season could well be the deciding factor in whether or not the Yanks get back into the hunt for October in an increasingly competitive division.
 
Tampa Bay Rays (92-71, 2nd in 2013)
 
The Rays squeaked into the playoffs last season after beating the Texas Rangers in a special win-or-go-home game to decide the final playoff spot, the first time since 1999 that a team that won 90 games failed to make the playoffs. The Rays dreams fell short in the playoffs, but the Rays will be pleased with the performances of their young up-and-coming stars, namely breakout phenom Wil Myers and lights-out pitcher Chris Archer.
 
The Rays haven’t done much to their roster in the offseason, which speaks to the strength of their drafts in recent years. The team has invited several non-roster players to try out for a big-league spot this year, including 2013 draftee Ryne Stanek, a top pitching prospect, and other highly-rated minor-leaguers Taylor Guerrieri and Oscar Hernandez. The Rays clearly think the future of the team already lies in the organization, and that says a lot about a club. 
 
Toronto Blue Jays (74-88, 5th in 2013)
 
The Blue Jays have been the only AL East team not to contend for a playoff position in the past five seasons. Their 2013 season continued a recent trend of poor pitching and middle-of-the-road hitting that put them within 15 games of a .500 record, thanks to an unusually high run output, despite ranking just 15th in batting average and on-base percentage, thanks in no small part to the speed of players like Jose Reyes and Edwin Encarnacion, and the power of slugger Jose Bautista.
 
The Jays’ biggest weakness continues to be starting pitching, as the organization failed to make any notable signings during the off-season. But 2012 NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey will hope that his second season in Toronto will be a comeback year after a thoroughly disappointing season in defense of his Cy Young award. Mark Buerhle will also be hoping to return to the lights-out quality he produced during his days in Chicago. The Jays will need them to pull it off too, if they want to climb out of the basement of baseball’s most competitive division.
 
Prediction: In the end, despite some big moves in and out of the teams in the division, there won’t be that much change in the overall standings. The gulf in quality between the top three teams and the bottom two teams is just too much for either team to overcome. But look for the Orioles to be there in September fighting for the second wildcard spot.
 
1st: Red Sox
2nd: Rays *wildcard
3rd: Orioles *wildcard
4th: Yankees
5th: Blue Jays

 

This Building is About to Blow!

Image

 

Premier League Set for Explosive Finale

By Greg Hudson
 
In August the big talk of the Barclay’s Premier League was whether David Moyes would guide Manchester United to yet another league title in his first year after taking the managerial helm from Sir Alex Ferguson after 27 years in the Red Devils’ dugout.
 
As the season heads into the final 10 weeks, however, the discussion is very different. Not only are there four clubs currently contending for the title, but Manchester United are nowhere to be seen at the top of the table, where they have finished in the top three since the founding of the Premier League in 1992. 
 
Instead, the focus of debate and speculation centers on who will lift the trophy in the absence of the perennial giants. London clubs Chelsea and Arsenal lead the way thanks to their stifling defenses, while United rivals Liverpool and Manchester City trail by the slightest of margins with their high-powered attacking play. With the top four clubs separated by a total of only four points with eleven games to go, truly any club can win the title in a season where anything can – and often does – happen. Here’s a club-by-club rundown of each team’s chances of glory.
 
Arsenal (2nd, 59 points)
 
Arsenal have the joint second-best defensive record in the Premier League, having allowed just 27 goals in 27 matches. But their struggles on the road have been well documented, including away losses of 6-3 to Manchester City and 5-1 to Liverpool. They still have games against Chelsea and City yet to come in the final 10 matches and taking the points in those games will be crucial. They’ll need to get their offence firing on all cylinders to make that happen, and with their lone striker Olivier Giroud struggling to find form in recent weeks, it will be a tough ask for the team that have topped the table for most of the season to take it back again.
 
Chelsea (1st, 60 points)
 
Chelsea have conceded just 21 goals all season while finding the net 49 times. But while they have yet to lose at home, they have a crucial away game at Anfield against Liverpool, who have lost just once at home all season and have the league’s best offense. They’ll need to shut down the Reds if they want to stay at the top. They played well in a 2-1 win against Liverpool at home in December but faced a Reds side without striker Daniel Sturridge, and were the beneficiaries of several questionable decisions that may have influenced the outcome. They’ll need to play almost perfectly if they want to repeat the result this time around.
 
Liverpool (4th, 56 points)
 
Few pundits would have thought that with 10 matches to go, Liverpool would be contenders in the title race, albeit as dark horses. But the Reds have a lot to recommend them, namely their lethal striker partnership of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, who have combined for 41 goals this season, more than 15 league teams have scored in total. But defensive struggles have plagued them at the back and costly errors have left them four points out of first place. That being said, unlike their competitors, Liverpool have neither the Champions’ League or the FA Cup to distract them from their task, and will be focused entirely on finishing as close to the top as possible. While they lost away to both City and Chelsea, the Reds have a stellar home record, winning 12 of their 14 games at Anfield, losing just once. They’ll need to continue their home form and clean up their defensive performance if they want to win the title, but make no mistake about it, Liverpool are very much in the race.
 
Manchester City (3rd, 57 points, +1 game to play)
 
The upstart rivals of neighboring United, City are looking to win their second title in three seasons, and boast both the second-best attack and second-best defense., and after winning their first 11 home games this season, City looked odds-on favorites to keep the trophy in Manchester. But a recent run of poor performances including a shocking 1-0 home loss to Chelsea and a 0-0 draw away to Norwich City leave City four points behind Chelsea, albeit City have an extra game to play. The Citizens certainly have both the quality and depth of squad to win the title, and their veteran base of players who won the title in the dying seconds of the 2011/12 season won’t be fazed by the prospect of rallying to win the title. But they have away matches against Arsenal and Liverpool to come, and both those teams will be hungry to avenge defeats at the Etihad Stadium earlier this season. They have a tough challenge ahead, but in the end, they’re probably more than up to the task, even with their Champions’ League aspirations to distract them.
 
Prediction
Champions: Manchester City
2nd: Liverpool
3rd: Chelsea
4th: Arsenal

And Number 1 Overall Pick Is …

By Stefan Anderson

After selecting Mario Williams, with the first overall pick in 2006, the Houston Texans are faced with the same predicament in this year’s draft. After suffering from a terrible season that included a 14 game losing streak, coming off a season where they won their division and franchise record 12 wins. Things took a turn for the worst in Houston, which leads to the question, What to do now? The 2014 season looks to be a year of optimism for the Texans as they make steps to rebuild and get back to their promiance as on the AFC’s contenders again.

After firing head Gary Kubiak and replacing him with Bill O’Brien, a coach that has dealt adversity in past becoming the first head at Penn State following the legendary Coach Joe Paterno, the team looks to be in great leadership and has the rebound and come back in a winning fashion. With the opportunity to have the number 1 overall selection in this year’s draft, the options on which way the Texans should go with their selection varies.

Many have already selected QB Johnny “Football” Manziel as the Texans first pick and to be the savior of his hometown team. The former Heisman winner has already stated his reasons why he should be selected. Daring the Houston Texans by saying “I want them to say absolutely, without a doubt, with 100 percent certainty, that I’m who they want,”. The Texas A&M also went to add, “I want everybody from the janitor at Reliant Stadium to the front office executive assistant all the way up to (owner) Bob McNair to say, ‘This kid is 100 percent, can’t miss. This is who we want being the face of our program. We want the Texas kid staying in Texas and leading the Texans.'”

Although, I am also sold on the Texas kid leading the Texans, I am going to give the Texans a better solution for the Texans to reclaim their crown of the AFC South. Draft Jadeveon Clowney . Yes, I am very aware of the Texans struggling offense from the year before. The Texans ranked 31st of 32 teams in the NFL in points scored last season, but will Manziel solve that issue? You have to take into consideration that they lost their biggest playmaker in Arian Foster last due to injury, when you have that happen you lose a guy who gave you 17 touchdowns in the previous season to go along with over 1600 all-purpose yards, not to mention rushing for 1,000 in the past 3 previous seasons. Therefore, I believe the Texans should go ahead stick with another Texas QB Case Keenum, who is from Brownwood, TX and started at the University of Houston. With the mentoring of Bill O’Brien, who is Tom Brady’s former QB coach will help Keenum develop into the QB, he is destined to be.

Unlike Manziel, Clowney is a player that comes along once a century. A defensive player that continues to dominate the field and make his impact known every time he steps onto the turf. With his ability to rush the pass and affect your run offense, will be a reason for QB’s all over the league to audible. Imagine JJ Watt and Jadeveon Clowney on each side rushing for your defense, scary site for every opponent in the league. The Texans lost 9 games last seasons with the point deferential was 7 points or less. With this explosive pass with the added Clowney, can help drive the Texans to help their team win more games and cause more turnovers ratio, where they fell from top ten to the second worst in the league. I know that offense sells tickets, but as the winner of this year’s Super Bowl has proven that “Defense Wins Championships”.

NBA Trade Deadline: Was It Worth It?

By Stefan Anderson

After the All Star Break concludes, the real test of the NBA season begins when the last 30 games are played and playoff seeds are sealed. With that, you have teams that are gearing up for the playoff push and teams going for the complete opposite, rebuilding.  And in today’s NBA Trade Deadline came to end at 3 pm, some teams helped their chances, some were hesitant and some just stayed stagnant. With a plethora of trades that occurred during today’s deadline, I will elaborate and discuss the trade deadline. Here are you for the trade deadline awards.

Passing Me By Award: The Passing Me By Award goes to the team that failed to make a trade that can put them in the right position. This award goes to Houston Rockets and The Los Angeles Lakers.

  • The Houston Rockets failed to make a trade to acquire All-Star Point Guard Rajon Rondo. With the trade rumors circulating all week, Rondo would have joined a cast of James Harden and Dwight Howard to help propel the Rockets to Western Conference dominance. Although Rondo has not been the most interpersonal person in the past few years, his defense presence, playmaking skills and championship pedigree would have helped in the guard heavy West. When you get the playoffs and have to face guards like Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and Damian Lillard, a player like Rajon Rondo would be a great guard to have on your team.
  • The Los Angeles Lakers are in the process of rebuilding and restricting their legacy and Kobe Bryant is in the waning moments of his career.  The Lakers are currently at the bottom of the Western Conference and are lottery ball bound. With a wealthy expiring contract of Pau Gasol, why not trade him for draft picks or a lesser value player. A draft to help the Lakers future to go along, with their upcoming lottery pick along with the luxury of getting Gasol contract off the books to bring in future stars(LeBron, Melo, Durant, Love)

Just The Right Fit: The Just The Right Fit award goes to the Washington Wizards and Golden State Warriors.

  • Washington has acquired veteran Andre Miller in a three way trade. Miller has always been a classy point guard until this season in Denver. His true point guard skills, unselfish ways and leadership can help the young Wizards as they make a playoff push.  The Wizards are currently sitting in 5th place in the East and with mentorship of Miller for John Wall can help lead the Wizards to the first playoff series win since 2005.
  • Golden State just traded for veteran point guard Steve Blake. Blake can provide that backup point guard role for All-Star Steph Curry, something the Warriors have been lacking since losing Jarrett Jack to free agency. Blake bring another shooter to already stacked Warriors team along with leadership off their young bench. Steve Blake could be that missing piece that can help Golden State win the West.

The Casino Award: The Casino Award goes to the Indiana Pacers.

  • Indiana has shown no sign of slowing after their game 7 loss to the Miami Heat in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals. Following an aggressive offseason where they added Luis Scola, C.J. Watson and Chris Copeland.  The blue-collared Pacers continue to put the pedal to the medal, after signing big man Andrew Bynum and now receiving young swingman Evan Turner. The Eastern Conference leading Pacers are looking to put all their chips into winning the Eastern Conference along with a NBA Championship. Trading for the younger, more productive Turner for their former star Danny Granger gives the Pacers that edge they need take the two time defending champion Miami Heat out of their throne.

The Golden Ticket Award: The biggest winner of today’s Trade Deadline goes to The Philadelphia 76ers.

  • Although they traded one of the premier players in Evan Turner, they received much more and put themselves in a great opportunity to rebuild as they look to do in the future. Trading for an expiring contract in Danny Granger worth 13 million along with acquiring 5 draft picks through their active day during the trade deadline. With the emergence of rookie Michael Carter-Williams, the return of lottery pick Nerlens Noel and a lottery pick in this year’s draft, the Sixers are in great shape to build a great future through the draft along with free agency.

 

NBA Trade Deadline Approaching: Pau Gasol to the Suns?

Image

By Maceo Lester 

Now that the extremely hyped NBA All-Star Weekend is finished, teams will now gear up for a playoff run in the second half of the season. Many teams in playoff contention may attempt to shake up their roster or make adjustments that will elevate their chances of a championship run. With big names in the upcoming free agency pool, such as, Carmelo Anthony and Pau Gasol, several general managers have huge tasks on their hands.  Shipping players at the deadline traditionally allows franchises to escape multi-million dollar resign contracts or expensive second contracts for players exiting their rookie contracts.

There are many possible deals that may occur before February 20th deadline.  One of the most intriguing rumors is Pau Gasol traded to Phoenix Suns. Gasol hasn’t had any substantial job security in the last few years since he was “traded” for Chris Paul in that blockbuster deal but remained a Laker due to David Stern’s decision, which is still puzzling until this day. It’s hard to believe that Pau can effectively concentrate on basketball and his team with his name continuously being mentioned on the trading block. This would be an ideal situation for the former All-Star, a new beginning is very much needed for a player looking for a chance to rejuvenate his career.

Phoenix has been the biggest surprise team in the 2014 season. A young group, led by former NBA player Jeff Hornacek , are clearly in the playoff picture halfway through the season.  A veteran big man may just be exactly what they need to solidify a deep playoff run. Pau Gasol isn’t one the most physical big men, but his championship experience could definitely be used in the locker room and add some leadership to a young roster.

Not only does this trade work situational, the finances add up. The Lakers are over the luxury tax and are obviously looking to create cap space after singing Kobe Bryant to an expensive extension.  Phoenix has money to spend and can ultimately save Los Angeles money by taking over Gasol contract and ship Center Emeka Okafor to LA with an expiring contract. Since the Suns WERE in rebuilding stage they have several draft picks that the Lakers may be interested in. The Lakers are currently tied with the Sacramento Kings for the worst record in the Western Conference (18-35.)  A championship hogging franchise that isn’t used to rebuilding could use a trade before the deadline that can help them for next season.