Monday, December 14, 2009

Ten Things JJ Thinks He Thinks

 Below you will find the Ten Things for another week. For many of you this is your last full week at work for 2009 mine including and for that I am happy for you and me. Big week for me last week as I went to New York City and saw this Christmas tree. Let's get this thing started.

1. Georgia Thoughts

This week I flew up to the Big Apple to see my Georgia Bulldogs play basketball for the first time this season. It was also my first opportunity to see the Dawgs under first year head coach Mark Fox. Despite the loss to a pretty good St. John's team, I did see some things I liked from Fox's Dawgs. We obviously have improved on offense and it is nice to see that we have a plan now. In the passed we lacked player movement, ball movement and purposeful passing. Players were not put into a position to be successful offensively. That's not what I saw Wednesday night. I'm not saying our ills are cured. They aren't. The team still has too many shooters and not enough makers. The opposition will zone us to death, and I'm not sure we have the shooters to punish them for it. We are playing smarter ball, and we were in a position to win the game. They just have to make more plays. It's not the eye gouging display of offensive ineptitude that we showed under Felton. It's a more watchable product. It's just going to be a work in progress for a while, and we'll have to roll with it for a while.

This is a team that you have to watch while remembering this is a process. It's a team you grade on issues bigger than wins and losses. Do they look like they are improving over the course of the season?

2. Colts Thoughts
A record setting afternoon in Indianapolis that saw Peyton Manning throw four touchdowns as the Colts won their 22nd consecutive regular season win. The 22nd consecutive win is the longest in NFL history as the Colts broke a tie with New England, which set the mark last year, and became the seventh team in league history to start 13-0, including this year's New Orleans Saints. Indy also was 13-0 in 2005 before losing three of the last four, including a divis1onal-round playoff game to Pittsburgh. Indy's 114th victory of the decade broke a tie with the 1990s San Francisco 49ers and set a franchise record with its 13th consecutive home win. I think the 114 wins this decade may be more impressive than the 22 consecutive wins. To extend their dominance over the whole decade is so impressive considering that many of the pundits considered this a parity driven league.

I know I normally talk about how great the Indy offense is, but I think it is time to give some love to the Indy defense.Consider what it accomplished in the first half alone Sunday. The Colts D stopped the Broncos on third-and-4 and 4-and-1 on back-to-back plays. Later, it held on third-and-6, forcing a punt. Then, after Denver scored a late first-half touchdown, cutting the Indianapolis lead to 21-7, the Colts stopped the Broncos on fourth-and-5 at the Indianapolis 45. The one thing about the Colts defense is that their are always different players stepping up and making plays. Among the players who came up with big defensive plays were cornerback Jacob Lacey, linebacker Gary Brackett, safety Antoine Bethea, and cornerback Jerraud Powers. Also, former UGA standout Tim Jennings intercepted a pass near the goal line on a big third down play that kept the Broncos from getting a touchdown.

3. Heisman Thoughts
I can not disagree to much with Mark Ingram winning the Heisman Trophy Saturday night in New York City. I could probably make a better argument for Toby Gerhart, you can not take the trophy from Ingram and what he and Alabama have done this season. Almost quietly, Ingram put together one of the best seasons by a running back in SEC history, setting an Alabama single-season record with 1,542 yards and 15 touchdowns. He ran for 113 yards with three touchdowns in last week's 32-13 victory over No. 1 Florida. While I had discounted him last week it was before I heard this stat; Ingram has 1000 yards after contact this season. That is an amazing number. Another amazing number with this years Heisman Trophy is 1. That is the number of Alabama players to win the trophy now that Ingram has won. This number is unbelievable win you consider the 12 National Championships and the hundreds of All-Americans to play on the Capstone.

A lot has been mentioned about Mark Ingram Sr. who watched the Heisman Trophy ceremony from across the East River at the Queens Private Correctional Facility as he is being held on charges of failure to surrender, which will be added to the 92-month prison sentence he already faced for money laundering and bank fraud. Two weeks ago Selena Roberts wrote a Sports Illustrated cover story on the Ingram family and it is worth taking the time to read.

If you missed his speech Saturday night, this is a must watch.

4. The Coach Went On A Trip
This week I had the privilege of flying up to NYC to watch the Big East/SEC challenge. The main draw for me was the early match-up of Georgia-St. John's as I have always wanted to watch the Dawgs play at The Garden. In addition, I knew the second game would be something to stick around for with Kentucky and UCONN matching up.

I will give a trip update later in the week as any trip to the big apple is a great time. However, there are a few things that have to be discussed. Madison Square Garden is indeed the Mecca of College Basketball just as it claims. The UCONN-Kentucky game that I attended might have been the best college basketball game that I have ever attended. The crowd pretty much sold the Garden out and the crowd was split pretty close to 50-50. The 50-50 split of the crowd created an atmosphere I have yet to see in college basketball and in fact the split reminded me a lot of the Georgia-Florida game. The atmosphere was even that intense.  In addition my buddy Todd was blown away at how many people Kentucky brought to town. Furthermore, he was shocked to hear how southern some of the Kentucky and Georgia fans were. 

I learned that John Wall is the best player I have seen play in college. I think the honor before Wall went to another UK great in Tayshaun Prince. Two minutes into the game Wall had three steals, I do not think I had ever seen this before. Plus when Wall might be the fastest player I have watched play basketball. I have never seen anyone go up and down the court like he does. He turns the ball over a little to much for my liking (what freshmen doesn't?) but with his talent the turnover numbers should decrease throughout the season. Cue the accolades. “How can a guy so young keep being so clutch?” John Clay writes in the Lexington Herald-Leader. “He did it in his debut, making the final shot to beat Miami of Ohio. He did it Saturday against North Carolina, putting together a phenomenal first half that had the visitors back on their Heels. He did it again Wednesday night. Bright lights. Big city. Big deal.” ESPN’s Dana O’Neil writes, “it is almost impossible not to get swept up into the euphoria, after two years of mediocrity, Kentucky is good again. No scratch that. Kentucky is really good again.”

Nobody does events like MSG and at halftime of the Georgia game they countdown the Top 10 College Basketball moments in Madison Square Garden history. A good share of the top ten came from the Big East tournament and legendary coaches John Thompson and Lou Carnesecca. However, the highlight of the tribute was when they recognized Oscar Robertson. "The Big O" is one of my favorite historical figures in sports and to get an opportunity to see him in person was outstanding.

Other big name sittings besides The Coach from was Chris Mullin who sat about 6 rows and one section over from me. Hall of Fame coach and former UGA coach Jim Donnan literally sat right in front of me. Also spotted walking through the Garden was Howie Schwab from "Stump The Schwab" fame. Howie ended up working stats and spotting for Dick Vitale in the Kentucky-UCONN game. For the television guys who read this blog, is this the right term? SEC commissioner Mike Slive and slew of members from the SEC office sat about 5 rows directly in front of me. I could not think of a good start to conversation or I would have at least spoken to him as he is probably one of the ten most powerful people in sports. (Sounds like a list for me to work on for next week) What did Adam Sandler teach us in Big Daddy? Initiating the conversation is half the battle.Also spotted at the Garden was WFAN radio host Mike Francesca. It has to be mentioned that the Chris "Mad Dog" Russo was NOT spotted. It could have been a great reunion.

5. JJ's Top 5 MSG Moments
As I sat in Chicago's O'Hare airport during my two hour layover Thursday afternoon I could not help but notice some great looking American Airlines flight attendants and I could not help but think of all the awesome times I have spent at Madison Square Garden. While I have not attended any playoff games or big time concerts in The World's Famous Arena, I still have seen some pretty awesome sports. These are my top 5 MSG moments.

1. Kentucky-UCONN (SEC/Big East Challenge) Wednesday December 9th 2009 was the date for this classic matchup. John Wall scored a season-high 25 points, including 12 of his team's last 15. It was the second meeting between the two programs, and Kentucky evened the series at 1-1 and moved to three wins shy of 2,000 all-time.

2. A dramatic comeback by the Knickerbockers - Wednesday January 11, 2006 was the night the Knickerbockers blew a 18 point to the Mavericks and then rallied to beat Dallas in overtime. I was a guest of my good buddy Dan who had Knicks season tickets at the time. What made this win even crazier is that the Knicks only had a .280 winning percentage while the Mavericks lost in the NBA finals to the Heat. From the game notes, The Knicks and Mavs have the league's two highest payrolls, and there was plenty of money on the sidelines, too: Dallas owner Mark Cuban and Donald Trump were both at the game.  

3. Gerry McNamara - Friday March 2006 was the date as Syracuse faced old nemesis Georgetown in the semi-finals. The Hoyas led by fifteen at the half, McNamara sat for ten minutes because of his nagging groin injury, and Terrence Roberts was benched because of poor play. In the second half, that turned around as McNamara hit five three point shots to erase the deficit. With 45 seconds to play the Orange were down by four, when McNamara drained his fifth three point shot to make it a one point game. On the next possession, Nichols knocked away an inlet pass, that McNamara picked up and raced down the court. He passed to an open teammate who laid it in for the game winning shot with 1.5 seconds to play, beating Georgetown 58-57 and sending Syracuse to the Big East finals and the Garden into pandemonium.

4. My first ever Hockey game - Sunday November 20th 2005 was the date as the New York Rangers beat the Boston Bruins 3-2. Jaromir Jagr had two assistants and a goal for the Rangers. From the game notes, The Knicks beat the Trail Blazers 103-92 in the afternoon portion of the NBA-NHL doubleheader at Madison Square Garden. That is right, two games in one day at the Garden. I went with a friend that I had met at the UGA bar in NYC a day earlier. We were friends at UGA and I had no idea that she had moved up to the Big Apple. Nothing like Georgia football to bring people together even if it was in New York City.

5. My Brother and I spend an evening at the Garden - Thursday November 17th was the date and my brother was in town and we decided to take in two games of the Coaches versus Cancer classic at Madison Square Garden. The first game of the evening saw Florida who would go on to win a National Championship the next spring beat the Demon Deacans of Wake Forest as Taurean Green scored 23 points to lead the Gators. In the second game it was a matchup of coaching legends as Bobby Knight's Texas Tech Raiders took on Syracuse and Jim Boeheim. The Orangemen would go on to blowout the Red Raiders by 35 points 81-46. Another thing I remember about this evening is my brother striking up a conversation with some random guy while I was in line to purchase the tickets and the guy ended up giving us two pretty good seats, but not as good as the seats I had this past Wednesday night.

For all my New York City friends who read this blog and for any one else that has ever been to MSG, can you share with us some of your top moments at the Garden for next week?

6. MLB Thoughts for the week
a. I realized this week that not everyone knows about the website It is must visit multiple times thughout the day. I know it has changed the lives of my good friends The Admiral and Bobagaloosh.
b. Just as I said last week we would get a lot of rumors but not a lot of action in Indianapolis.
c. It should be noted that I think the # way trade between the Yankees, Tigers, and D'backs was an old fashion baseball trade. I love a deal where it looks like all 3 teams win.
d. The MLB Network continues to be AWESOME. Great work setting up the Hot Stove show right inside the Hotel lobby. Also, this past week Costas interviewed Bob Feller. I learned more about the history of baseball in that one hour than I have in a long, long, time.
e. Nick Cafardo's note section in the Boston Globe continues to be a must read.
f. Is Jayson Bay a lineup changing player? I do know he will get paid like one.
g. Andy and Grandy and the Yankees are looking tough for another season. What else is new? I do like how they are trying to stay young with Granderson.
h. I know Scott Boras is an awesome agent but can he get Johnny Damon four years?
i. Baseball thought to ponder...Mike Cameron had 25 homers and 70 RBIs in 2008 and 24 homers and 70 RBIs in 2009. The only trouble is that it took Cammy exactly 100 more at-bats to produce similar results.

7. What I read this week
I got to read a couple of good articles this week and the first article comes from my Dad who found this outstanding read in last week's Miami Herald.The article takes a look at Jeff Greene who made an $800 million bet against sub-prime mortgages. Fascinating read on Greene who comes off as a normal guy with a lot of money. Good for him.

The second read comes from the CNNSI vault and takes a look at former Cubs second basemen and probably future manager Ryne Sandburg. Very intriguing look at someone who was once one of my favorite players. I think he will make a great manager in the big leagues one day.

8. Football Thoughts for the week
a. It amazes me the timing of some of Jay Cutler's interceptions. It is going to be an interesting off-season for the Monsters of the Midway. Do they turn to Mike Shanahan?
b. I have to wonder about some of the decisions by Sean Peyton yesterday afternoon. The first one was on a third and one late in the 3rd quarter when they went max protect and only had one eligible receiver who ran a a fly. This was after the Saints had picked up back to back third and shorts by running for it. The second head scratching move was the decision to go for the fake field goal instead of taking the three points and forcing the falcons to score a touchdown.
c. The Falcons fans who sit around section 313 are idiots when it comes to the game of football and life in general.
d. Dallas is 1-6 last three seasons in December, this is almost unexplainable.
e. Can anyone explain the Broncos to me? Are they a playoff-caliber team like the one that began the season with six-consecutive victories? Or are they more like the club that last four straight and five of its last seven? Denver still has a shot at a wild-card spot, and with its remaining schedule (vs. Oakland, at Philadelphia and vs. Kansas City), that goal looks attainable.The Broncos have looked sensational at times and awful at other times. If they do reach the postseason, other offensive players besides Marshall are going to have to make a contribution if they intend to make a deep run. Does anyone know Knowshon?
f. Speaking of the Broncos, Brandon Marshall has been awesome. Marshall was the best player on the field Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium. Yes he was better than Manning on Sunday. He caught 10 passes for 109 yards in the opening half, becoming the first NFL player since 1960 to have eight 10-plus catch games in his first four seasons. But he was just getting started. Marshall, who scored both of Denver’s touchdowns, is a tough hombre to defend, or bring down once he makes a reception. Marshall finished with 21 catches -- breaking the NFL record set by Terrell Owens -- for 200 yards. Of his 109 first-half yards, 72 came after the catch.
g. Last night Rodney Harrison just said the Chargers were the most dangerous team in the NFL. I know this Colts fan wants nothing to do with the Chargers. Tony Dungy agreed with me which is always nice.

h. What the hell is going on with the Steelers? The Steelers are in the midst of the longest losing streak by a defending Super Bowl champion in NFL history. Their current five-game slide ties the 1987 Giants' previous mark. How do they lose to Browns on a Thursday night? How do the Browns sack Big Ben eight times?
i. Great bounce back win by the Titans who might not be all the way out of the playoff chase yet...They will need a lot of help but on Sunday the Titans won for the sixth time in their last seven games. It was the most points scored by the Titans' offense this season and the fewest points allowed by the Titans' defense this season.
j. Welcome to the NFL Keith Null. His line on Sunday was 27 for 43 with 157 yards, a touchdown and five interceptions.Who the hell is Keith Null?
k. What a big day for the diva receiver set in the NFL. Chad Ochocinco scored for Cincinnati. Terrell Owens scored for Buffalo. Steve Smith scored for Carolina. Do not forget how awesome Brandon Marshall was on Sunday.
l. Why do the Bengals not want to remain in my NFL top 5? Bad showing for the Bengals on Sunday as this is the fewest points scored by the Bengals since the first week of the season. It was also the most points given up by the Bengals this season.
t. Great insight from the Captain on Florida State in the blog earlier last week. I will agree with this statement, most fans won't really think for themselves and I am reminded by the current situation with Georgia's offensive coordinator. A lot of Georgia fans want a change at the offensive coordinator position and I always ask this question; did you know Georgia tied with Arkansas for most points scored in SEC games? Well we did, so I think Mike Bobo did a great job considering we had to replace two top 15 picks in the NFL draft. Do I always agree with his play calling? No, but I do not always agree with the Colts and Manning's play calling either, so what do I know?

9. NFL Top 5
This week's list is done in honor of Anthony McClendon who has yet to agree with any of my NFL Top 5 lists this year...Anthony, the Bears are that is why they have not made the top 5.
1. Indianapolis Colts - Peyton Manning had his 20th career game with four or more passing TDs which is two shy of Brett Favre's NFL record.
2. New Orleans Saints - "Who dey! Who dey! Who dey think gonna beat dem Saints?" I say the Colts
3. San Diego Chargers - The opposite of the Cowboys, does any team play better in December
4. Minnesota Vikings - Can Brett Favre win in the Superdome in January?
5. Philadelphia Eagles - The question in Philly will always be; can Donavan and Andy bring home the Lombardi trophy?

10. Non Football Thoughts
a. I watched the 60 Minutes from last week with the Tim Donaghy interview. I basically now have more questions than answers. I also want to know why the Media has given the NBA and David Stern a hall pass for a gambling scandal that effects the integrity of almost every NBA game? I also want everyone to compare the hall pass given by the media to the NBA to the media reaction to baseball's steroid problem. For some reason they will not let the steroid issue die when Joe Q. Public has already turned the page.
b. Is their a better city around Christmas than New York City? By the way it was about the same temperature in NYC and Atlanta all week.
c. I really enjoy a good NYC walk in the fall, spring or a not so cold winter day. Nothing like 15-20 blocks in the middle of good conversation.
d. I saw Invictus earlier this week. Pretty good movie. Click here for my movie review
e. My outstanding week of sports continued Saturday in Athens, Georgia when I attended the Rock-N-Raquets event at Stegman Coliseum. I had awesome second row seats and was able to get an up close seat for Serena Williams, Melanie Oudin, Sam Querrey and UGA's own John Isner (who beat Roddick at the US Open).
f. Serena showed a sense of humor when she agreed with a lines judge call and she commented, "see I can be nice!"
g. It is unbelievable how hard the men hit the ball, Isner is known for his 140 mph serve did not serve anything that hard but did serve some in the 120 range that were tough for me to track.
h. This past week was Jimmy V week on ESPN. I rip on the "Mothership" (Dan Patrick's word for ESPN) alot for their self serving coverage of sports but this is something they get right every year. I am not sure who has seen or has not seen this Jimmy V speech from February of 1993 but everyone should take the time to watch. What makes the speech even more remarkable is that he died 8 weeks later and the strength that he showed when his body was in such a weak state is remarkable.

i. Religion, Family, and the Green Bay roomdawg lives this everyday and somewhere Lombardi is proud of him
j. You can not get a sandwhich in Atlanta that is half as good as anything you would find in the Big Apple. The Derek Jeter sandwhich from Othello's Deli in Astoria is a must for anyone in the tri-state area. In fact, Thursday morning I picked up 5 Derek Jeter's before getting on the plane. I ate one in Chicago during my layover Thursday afternoon and one Thursday night for dinner. The final three were eaten by Coach Mitchell, The Admiral and myself Friday afternoon for lunch. I mean who does not enjoy chicken cutlet, ham, bacon, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing? 
k.  Is their anything better than Dan Patrick on the 101 and Derek Jeter for lunch? I do not think their is? For those that are DirectTV subscribers Brooklyn Decker will join Dan and the Danettes in studio this Wednesday. A must record segment. 
l. For those that did not come to the rooftop Saturday night you missed a great party and a visit from Santa and his elf. Both Santa and the Elf were able to mix in a jog as well Saturday Night.

m. Great job by those who showed up, proud of you. 

n. Really good holiday episodes by The Office, Community and 30 Rock.  
o. Does anyone have a better grasp on the character than Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy?
p. Here is a list of  my top 5 shows on television right now...notice the now as the reason for no Entourage.
1. How I Met Your Mother
2. The Big Bang Theory
3. 30 Rock
4. Community
5. The Office
q. I probably laugh out loud more at The Big Bang Theory than the other four shows combined.
r. Lunch Saturday in Athens was at Add Drug and dinner was Inoko can not do much better than that unless you somehow can mix in a Weaver D's or The Last Resort.
s. I continue my tradition of linking a scene from Christmas Vacation...this time the attic scene. What an awful way to spend a day.
t. How funny was Kevin during the office on Thursday?

Quote of the Week

"I think I am going to drunk dial my dad tonight"

A random Kentucky fan who was standing behind me in the concession line between games Wednesday night at MSG. The only problem was this lady was around 40, when do you get to old to stop drunk dialing?

Quote of the week 2

"Someone tell me how we won this game"

Another random drunk Kentucky fan this time after the game. He was standing at the urinal hollering this question over and over again. His tone tended to get angrier every time he would ask this question and got no response. I wonder if me laughing at him contributed to the angrier tone.

Text of the week

"It is my personal goal to get into 10 things every week."

From my buddy Donald to me, I think being in the 10 Things is an admirable goal because that means you were awesome.

I hope everyone has a wonderful last week at work for 2009. Let's all put forth an honest effort and get things done.

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