Dec 18, 2010

The Many Tragedies of Cleveland Professional Sports

A look back on the recent trouble of the Cavaliers, Indians and Browns. The many franchises of Cleveland, which have had their share of difficulties in recent years.

When LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers last offseason to go to Miami Heat, any hopes of a Cleveland franchise winning a championship in the near future, went with it. His return to Cleveland last month got me to thinking of what cities have experienced the most heartbreak over the years. This will be a two-part series, which will first highlight Cleveland. The second installment will feature the loveable losers of the midway; Chicago. With a population of over 430,000 people, Cleveland, Ohio is home to some of the most emotional fans in the United States.

Indians have produced quality talent (C.C. Sabathia, Grady Sizemore, and Manny Ramirez) but haven’t brought Championship to team since 1948

Their last appearance in the fall classic was in 1995 when they lost to the Atlanta Braves in six games. The ’95 team was full of talented young powerful bats (Ramirez, Jim Thome & Albert Belle) as well as quality arms (Dennis Martinez & Orel Hershiser). More recently, the team has produced quality athletes through the farm system, but they haven’t been able to put the talent together on a consistent basis.

The story seems to be the same for the Indians. They draft well, trade well, and have a good minor league system that helps develop top stars, but when it’ time to pay them, they can’t. It happened with Sabathia in 2008. In the last year of his contract, he was dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers. It happened with Victor Martinez in 2009. Martinez wound up in Boston during the last year of his contract – excluding option years, and more recently signed with the AL Central division rival, Detroit Tigers.

Sizemore was acquired in 2002 from the Montreal Expos in a six-player deal involving Bartolo Colon. He has put up decent numbers since his rookie year in 2005, but injuries have been a big issue over the past two seasons. Even when healthy, the Indians front office hasn’t put enough talent around him to succeed. With a combined record of 215 – 271 since their last playoff appearance in 2007, the Indians need to revamp the whole team to end the draught.

Since the last time the Indians won a World Series, there have been 12 Presidents and six different Popes.

Cavaliers only hope of winning NBA Title bolts to Miami

When James left his home state of Cleveland for the sunny Miami, Florida, the Cavs fans only hopes of winning a title left. The Cavs built the team around James, the #1 overall draft pick in the 2003 draft. Coming straight to the NBA from high school didn’t bother James as he won the Rookie of the Year averaging 20.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game.

Cleveland fans will never forget how they felt James gave up on them during the playoffs last year against the Boston Celtics. His “Decision” show on ESPN, where he announced to the world where he intended to play, angered Cleveland fans, and made him a villain in the eyes of many, including the legends of the game. Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan are among the many veterans who have been open about their feelings about the show and decision. James has brushed off all criticism in his Nike ad.
Pre-James, there wasn’t much to cheer about in Cleveland going back to the days of Craig Ehlo, Danny Ferry & Mark Price. The post-James Cavs are in the same position as Anderson Varejao & Moe Williams aren’t going to bring any titles home. The top free agents will not want to play in Cleveland after seeing how owner Dan Gilbert reacted following James decision to leave. The team will have to hope for a lottery pick in the draft, where they might be able to acquire a top player to replace James.

Cavaliers fans have seen ten Summer Olympics since the team’s inception in 1970 with zero titles.

Peyton Hillis and Colt McCoy are future stars in the Dawg Pound

The stars may be aligning for the Browns. Sending draft bust Brady Quinn to the Denver Broncos for running back Hillis might be the best move this franchise has made in years. Along with rookie McCoy, the two young stars are attempting to turn around a franchise that has had to winning seasons over the last ten years (59 – 98 combined record). The Browns haven’t seen postseason play since 2002 when Tim Couch was starting quarterback and Butch Davis was the Head Coach.

The Browns have been up and down in 2010, and Coach Eric Mangini has found a way to make his guys play for a change. He still lacks decision making skills, as evident by the 4th and goal in the 1st quarter vs. the Buffalo Bills in Week 14 (kicked field goal instead of going for touchdown).

This has been a troubled city for many years. The best hope for success for all Cleveland fans would go like this.

1. Browns – Although they play in the very tough AFC North with Pittsburgh and Baltimore, the NFL is a league of parity. Any team can have a bad season, and any team can come out of nowhere and succeed.
2. Indians – A Re-occurring trend as the Indians play in the tough AL Central with Minnesota and Detroit. In baseball, you either succeed by paying for talent (NYY, BOS) or by building within (MIN, TB). The Indians best chance is by building within.
3. The Cavaliers have no chance in the near future, unless they and the top pick in one of the next two drafts, and convince top tier free agents to come to Cleveland.

Nov 27, 2010

Starbucks Eggnog Latte? Why Mess with a Good thing?

When I walked into Starbucks the other day, I had my mind set on my usual fall drink, the pumpkin spice latte. A classic, yet delicious drink. Now what caught my eye and steered me in a different direction was the eggnog latte. What could go wrong with combining two delicious things together? Apparently, everything.

I made the mistake of ordering the Venti (large for all you non-Starbucks drinkers). I think I got too excited about the potential and there was only one direction for it to go.

It seemed as though the eggnog was significantly hotter than regular milk after being frothed. Due to the heat, the traditional eggnog flavor lessened and became unappealing.

The more I drank, the more I wish I got something else. Lattes should be left plain or with pumpkin spice. The same could be said of the eggnog. Give me that plain any day or mix it with some whiskey, and I'll be a happy man.

To those who have had this drink, and like it, please let me know what was appealing to you. To those who have had the same experience as me, let me know. What are your favorite coffee combos or least favorite? Let's see how many responses we can get and maybe start a poll on the matter.

Oct 17, 2010

Who deserves the National League Rookie of the Year?

Coming into the 2010 baseball season, many felt that if Jason Heyward made the Atlanta Braves major league team as spring training ended, he would win the National League Rookie of the Year award (Myself included) On opening day, when he hit a homerun with his first swing, many felt he clinched the award that day. Little did anyone expect, by the end of the 2010 season, there would be eight other legitimate contenders for the award.
When you look at the candidates, you have the big names in Heyward, Buster Posey and Stephen Strasburg. You also have the names you wouldn’t expect in Gaby Sanchez and Jonny Venters. So while I have my choice, let’s look at the numbers and see what you think.
Name-Games played-Batting Avg.-Homeruns-RBI
Starlin Castro-125-.300-3-41
Tyler Colvin-135-.254-20-56
Mike Stanton-100-.259-22-59
Ike Davis-147-.264-19-71
Name-Games played-E.R.A.-W/L Record-WHIP-K
It’s safe to say that Strasburg made the biggest impact on the sport in a short period. If Strasburg had not gotten injured, we might not even be having this discussion today. As a baseball fan, I hope that he can recover from Tommy John surgery and come back to the sport as the same pitcher.
When looking at these nine candidates, the injury to Strasburg eliminates him from contention. Venters had great numbers, but the ROY award isn’t given to middle relievers. Castro and Colvin put up great numbers for the Chicago Cubs. Stanton and Davis did the same for the Florida Marlins and New York Mets, but those four don’t match up well to Posey, Heyward or Sanchez. Coming into writing this, I had picked Heyward to win the award due to the fact that he was in big leagues from day 1and Posey wasn’t. But looking at the stats, and the effect that Posey had on his Giants in their push to the NL West division crown, it’s hard to go against him. If Posey had been with the Giants from day 1, he very well could have outdone the numbers Heyward and Sanchez put up.
My top 5 for the NL ROY
Buster Posey
Jason Heyward
Gaby Sanchez
Stephen Strasburg
Ike Davis

Oct 12, 2010

The State of the Braves

With the Braves recent elimination from the 2010 MLB playoffs at the hands of
the San Francisco Giants, the Bravos have now been left in search of answers.
Who will manage the team? Will Chipper Jones rebound from a torn ACL and return as the old Chipper Jones who won the MVP in 1999. Will Billy Wagner change his mind and return? Will the Braves acquire a power hitter which their lineup desperately needs? Will Brooks Conrad go down in history with the likes of Mark Wohlers and Lonnie Smith for their postseason difficulties?

The most important thing about the 2011 Atlanta Braves is the manager. With
Bobby Cox's retirement, the former 4 time manager of the year and holder of a
.557 winning percentage in Atlanta, leaves a large hole in the structure of the
organization. Having managed the team since 1990 the Braves have experienced stability at the position in an otherwise unstable role. With talks of Cox’s replacement being either former backup catcher Eddie Perez, or former Braves third base coach and Florida Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez, could either of them lead this team in the same way as Bobby, or will they search for their own identity as manager?

Whoever takes over this team will need to address the Braves struggles in
October. In the last 20 years, the Braves have compiled a 64-65 record in postseason play under Cox. Winning their division every year for 14 seasons didn't mean success for Atlanta in October, having won the World Series only once.

In review of the 2010 team, many bright spots arose for this young ballclub.
Rookie phenom Jason Heyward broke into the baseball scene by hitting a homerun out of Turner Field in Atlanta on his first swing. Fellow rookies Jonny Venters, Craig Kimbrel and Conrad helped revitalize the club. Before October, Conrad’s rookie season would be remembered for hitting 2 pinch hit grand slams, but his defensive struggles in the NLDS committing 3 errors in game 3, including the go ahead run scoring error in the ninth. Brian McCann proved all season why he is one the best catchers in baseball for his offense, and his anything goes style of being the backstop.

Things may have been different for Atlanta had it not been for Kris Medlen going down mid season with an elbow injury, and if Jair Jurrjens had played even remotely close to the level he played in 2009. Injuries are a part of the game, but losing All Stars Jones, and Martin Prado put a deep strain on the already poor defense of the Braves.

General manager Frank Wrenn has a lot of work to do this offseason. Derrek Lee, Troy Glaus, and Eric Hinkse will all be free agents. Takashi Saito, Melky Cabrera, Peter Moylan, Prado, Eric O'Flaherty, and Jurrjens are arbitration eligible. Throw in Wagner's impending retirement and the Braves could have a situation. Tommy Hanson and Medlen are also due to cash in on their success in the near future. The bullpen should be fine even with the loss of All Star Wagner. Kimbrel or Venters could both step into that role next season with their incredible stuff. Minor Leaguers Arodys Vizcaino or Julio Tehran may be ready to take over the middle relief role that one of these potential closers leaves behind. Derek Lowe will be in his third year of a four year contract after a season in which he had hot and cold streaks. There was not a better pitcher in September than Lowe, and that's just when the Braves needed him. 2010 NL Comeback player of the Year Tim Hudson was back in rare form 2 years removed from Tommy John Surgery.

2010 was a great year for baseball. The steroid era is over, and it's all about
pitching and defense. The Braves pitching should be great again in 2011, but their defense is something that needs some looking at. Alex Gonzalez will help lock down the infield, but healthy Prado and Jones are key parts of the equation. Rookie first baseman Freddie Freeman should be ready to make the jump to the big leagues to help the D.

With the rest of October still ahead of us, I am eager to see the season end, and the new era in Atlanta start.

Apr 11, 2010

Anderson Silva: The Man, the Myth, the Arrogant

By Hobson Lopes

If you’re a fan of mixed martial arts, then you’ve obviously heard of Anderson Silva. The current Middleweight champion, who has won eleven straight fights in the UFC, including six title fights is considered one of the best pound for pound fighters in the sport. That debate in recent years has included UFC Welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, and Fedor Emelianenko. If you’re a fan of Silva’s as I am, you are probably extremely frustrated about the lack of excitement in his recent fights.
Minus his fight against Forrest Griffin at UFC 101 in August, his last three Middleweight title defenses have gone a combined thirteen lackluster rounds. Those fights, against Patrick Cote, Thales Leites, and Demian Maia, are fights that Silva knew going in, he was the better fighter. In each fight, it only took one round for Silva to realize that he could win those fights at any moment.
What happened in the Leites fight had a lot to do with Leites being afraid to make a mistake and get knocked out. But in the Maia fight, Silva was toying with him and showboating most of the time. He was obviously the better fighter, but instead of finishing Maia off, like UFC President Dana White would have wanted, he wanted to dance.
It is almost as though Silva has grown tired of beating his opponents quickly. In his first seven fights in the UFC, Silva won five by knockout, and two by submission, in only ten rounds. His last four fights have gone fourteen total rounds, with one knockout, two decisions, and one win by injury.
White believes Vitor Belfort, the original opponent in the Maia fight, is the only legitimate contender for the Middleweight title. However, Belfort hasn’t done anything in recent years to even deserve the title shot. What White needs to do before the fans start to walk away from ordering UFC pay per view cards with Silva on them, is set up a mega fight with St-Pierre. St-Pierre has gone through his weight class in much the same way Silva has. Matching these two legends will make for an exciting fight. They would be facing the toughest opponents of their careers. Silva will get an opponent who won’t be scared of him, and will attack, and all MMA fans will finally be able to see who the best in the world is.

Mar 30, 2010

Heavy Rain: In a Class of its Own

By Hobson Lopes
Heavy Rain, created by Quantic Dream for the Playstation 3 video game console, is an incredible drama that puts you in the driver’s seat of the entire story. The developers went beyond the normal methods in creating this game.
The game starts off with what is essentially a tutorial that shows all the controller actions needed during game play. They used different movements and motions with the controller that set this game apart from any other. The first couple of levels start off the story line while allowing you to learn the controls. The controls are easy to get used to, but at times can be difficult to perform.
Heavy Rain puts you on the search for The Origami Killer. The game puts you in control of four unconnected characters that are all after the same thing. You may play as FBI agent Norman Jayden, private investigator Scott Shelby, journalist Madison Paige, and architect Ethan Mars. Every level, you take control of a different character in their hunt. Mars’ son is the latest victim of the Origami Killer. He has been kidnapped and they only have until six inches of rain has fallen in the city before he turns up dead.
Every move and decision you make during the game leads you in one of four possible endings. You really never know where you’ll wind up. With each level, the opportunity to unlock trophies is available, and you can unlock extra material.
The fight sequences seen in this game are not your typical video game sequences. Precise timing of performing the action called for on the screen during the fight is the only way to win. Hand eye coordination is a big factor in game play. As you move through the game, there is a fight sequence involving Madison Paige which was intense to say the least. It was possibly the most entertaining fight scene I have seen in a video game in a long time. The dualshock 3 controller is vital to fulfilling the optimum playing feel. The SIXAXIS motion sensor in the controller really adds to the game play.
If you’re a fan of shoot-em-up games, this game may not be for you. For most of the game guns aren’t used. The way the game was written and designed, I don’t think the lack of gun use makes a difference here.
This release is the most unique Playstation 3 game on the market today. It is for gamers who love action games, and for gamers who wouldn’t be able to play Call of Duty. Overall, between the unique controls, incredible dialogue and drama, and the ability to put the ending in the hands of the gamer, this is a must play for everyone. 5 out of 5 Tammy’s!

Mar 23, 2010

Through Thick and Thin

For as long as I have watched baseball, I have been a fan of the Braves. It was 1990, and I was in morning kindergarten. That allowed me the chance to be home in the afternoon and catch the occasional one pm game on TBS. The reasoning behind sticking with the Braves in an area dominated by Yankee and Met fans isn’t known to me, but I am certainly glad I did. The fans of the New York teams may have memories with Derek Jeter, Don Mattingly, David Wright, and Darryl Strawberry, but I have the memories of the greats that nobody besides Braves fans know. I have memories of Sid Bream, Ron Gant, Jeff Blauser and Mark Lemke. These guys played their hearts out for all us fans.

Little did I know that I was just finding the Braves right before they were about to start the most incredible streak in the history of sports; 14 straight division titles. Little did I ever know that it would be my love for the Braves that would get to me to where I am today.

Over the years, there have been many reasons for me to love being a fan. The heart and soul of the Braves telecasts and radio broadcasts was the late, great Skip Carey. To this day, the sound of Skip’s 1995 World Series winning call in game 6 still gives me the chills. In fact, it was that call that made me decide that I wanted to be just like Skip. I wanted to be a play by play guy for the Braves, and I would try to mold my style after his. Even if that means I’m going to be the biggest homer for my Braves, and not care about it. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that the likelihood of be becoming that guy probably wouldn’t happen and I’ve seen that my gift was in writing.

Another reason for me being a fan is the players. Many have come and gone, but the memories remain. From David Justice’s solo HR in game 6 of the 95 Series, to Andres Galarraga coming back from Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in 2000 and winning the comeback player of the year.

What those players have brought the legacy can never be ignored. Who could forget the countless Braves that have resurrected their careers in Atlanta when no other team wanted them. John Burkett, DeWayne Wise, and Matt Diaz come to mind in that sense. With all of those great memories those players gave us, there are still many that haunt all Braves fans. Jim Leyritz’s homerun in game 4 of the 1996 World Series off of Mark Wohlers still gives me nightmares. That fact that we’ve still only won a single World Series is another haunting moment, but one that can be overlooked considering the best team doesn’t always win. We’ve all dealt with controversy, like the John Rocker fiasco, and still find a way to come out on top.

Living in Connecticut makes it difficult to catch as many live Braves games as I would like, but whenever I get the opportunity, I’m there. I’ve made it to Braves-Mets games at Shea Stadium and Citi Field. I braved a tornado warning in 2008 to watch a Myrtle Beach Pelicans game at BB&T Coastal Field, and just recently, made the trip to join over 7,000 other Braves fans at Champion Stadium to see Jair Jurrjens start against the Florida Marlins. Jurrjens struggled in the first, but then showed all in attendance why he had the third best ERA in the National League a year ago. I also had the pleasure of watching Jason Heyward play live for the first time, and can now see why he is going to a handful for every team in the league for many years to come. Heyward showed patience at the plate letting the first seven pitches he saw go for balls before ever taking the bat off his shoulder. Heyward also showed his incredible arm making a perfect throw to third for an OF assist.

With Champion Stadium providing such an incredible atmosphere for baseball, the only true downfall of the afternoon was not being able to see Bobby Cox at the field. Roger McDowell ran the team on this day. But I can forgive Bobby for taking this day off. I can forgive him for the simple reason that I know he’ll be coaching deep into October this season. In his last year of managing, what Bobby has is a great opportunity to go out on top. With one of the best pitching rotations and top catcher in the National League, a shut down closer, and very deep bench, the Atlanta Braves are primed to succeed in 2010.

Mar 9, 2010

Law Abiding Citizen: Action packed from beginning to end

By Hobson Lopes

Anchor Bay Entertainment’s recent DVD release “Law Abiding Citizen,” starring Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler is an action packed movie about a man who had his family taken away from him during a home invasion. That man, Clyde Shelton (Butler) is on a mission to find out what is actually right about the American judicial system. Nick Rice (Foxx) was an upstart hotshot district attorney at the time of the home invasion. He makes a deal with one of the invaders, Clarence Darby (Christian Stolte) the man who actually put the knife in Shelton’s wife, and took the daughter away, to get out of jail after five years.
As the movie fast forwards ten years, we are about to witness the pain free lethal injection of Darby’s partner, Rupert Ames, when the execution goes wrong. The police find evidence at the scene leading them to Darby, but their investigation of Darby leads them back to Shelton. Shelton masterminds a plot throughout the movie to dismiss anyone who may have wronged him ten years earlier. You won’t believe where this roller coaster will take you as Nick Rice and Clyde Shelton battle to see who is truly smarter.
Since this is the DVD review, we need to talk about the special features. “The Justice of Law Abiding Citizen” is a great feature that shows how realistic the movie turned out. Former district attorney’s appeared in this feature to discuss the ins and outs of the case, and shows how much research was done during development of the movie to make sure everything is accurate. “Law in Black and White” was a great behind the scenes extra feature. This feature showed real conversations between the actors and directors on making improvements to the movie. There was also a visual effects feature that a lot could have been done with considering how much action there was in the film. Overall, I would give the movie 4 ½ out of 5 star's, and the bonus features 4 out of 5 star's.

Jan 28, 2010

Young Adult Authors Bring Their Books to NVCC

By Hobson Lopes

In November, Courtney Sheinmel and Nina Nelson came to the Playbox theatre at Naugatuck Valley Community College to talk about the process they take when writing their novels and to answer questions from the NVCC student body. Sheinmel, the author of My So Called Family, and the recently released Positively and Nelson's Bringing the Boy Home were the main topic of the event. They were both very excited to come to NVCC to talk to our students and faculty about their books. The event was coordinated by English instructor Steve Parlato who is also an author himself. Parlato, the instructor in the first ever adolescent young adult fiction class at NVCC wanted to bring the author’s to “do ‘something special’ for my inaugural YA fiction class.” When asked about why he chose Sheinmel and Nelson to appear at the event, Parlato said that, “they’re both filled with positive energy and love what they do. I thought it’d be nice to bring a couple of authors who had a real spark for their genre.”
The event started off on a high note as Nina worked out her nervous energy by jumping around the stage, which drew plenty of laughter from the crowd in attendance. Nina talked about the process she uses to write her novels. She is even her own biggest critic as she had Courtney read off a list of critiques about Nina’s work, which turned out to be Nina’s own comments. Nina went on to say that, “you have to approve of yourself no matter how you wrote,” which was her way of saying don’t let a poor writing day bring you completely down. Courtney’s presentation showed us how she got into writing. She was a lawyer, and hated how she had to take every bit of creativeness out of her work. Once she realized writing novels is what she wanted to do, she was only able to spend, “one day a week for six months” to write her first book Sincerely Sophie, “because being a lawyer sucks.” Due to issues inside her publishing company, that first book has now turned into her third book. Courtney read a passage from Positively, before turning the podium over to a Q&A session from the audience.
Courtney said growing up, she and her sister, “used to ‘play’ at being writers.” Writing was the only career that made sense to her because, “I have all these stories in my head, and being a writer validates them.” Nina had several inklings throughout her life that led her to the career she has now. She finally decided on this career path when as she put it, “I was bored out of my mind and battling with pregnancy induced insomnia.” John Greene, Chris Crutcher and Suzanne Collins are some of the authors credited to inspiring Nina. Both authors have great advice to anyone who may want to be a writer some day. Nelson’s advice for potential writers are, “trust the process, separate yourself from the process, enter contests, join a good critique group and go to conferences.” Sheinmel recommends inspiring authors to “read a lot; write a lot about things that interest YOU, and to be persevering.”
Positively is about a girl named Emerson, Emmy for short, who loses her mother to AIDS. Emmy is HIV positive, and after the loss of her mother, has to move in with her father and step mother Meg. Emmy does not want to get close to her father because he left her mother, and she especially doesn't want to get to close to Meg in fear that her mother is watching from heaven, and would be upset because Emmy shouldn't like her. Emmy experiences difficulties in all relationships after the death. She lashes out against her friends and family. She says at one point, “I hated everyone who didn’t have AIDS.” After an episode where Emmy broke Meg’s dishes, her dad decided to send her to a HIV camp. Emmy doesn't want to go, but is forced. What happens at the camp is Emmy begins to realize that people do care about her, and she makes strong connections with her fellow campers, especially Whitney. When Whitney has to leave the camp unexpectedly, Emmy feels lost again. While at camp, Emmy grew and actually ended up missing her father and Meg.
Bringing the Boy Home is about a tribe in the Amazon called the Takunami. In this tribe, all boys must complete the soche seche tente test that requires the boys to use all of their senses to get through the jungle. In this book, we follow the very different paths that Luka and Tirio take to their respective soche seche tente tests. What makes this test so important in this tribe is if you don’t pass the test, you are exiled from the tribe. Under these circumstances, your mother and father must have another boy that will have to take the test. Only when the boys pass their test, will they meet their father. During the test, the father will communicate to his son telepathically to help him through the jungle. Expect the unexpected with this book and the surprise ending will leave you in awe.
The next book from Courtney is the first book she wrote, Sincerely, Sophie/Sincerely, Katie and will be published in June 2010 by Simon & Schuster. It is a story about two cross country pen pals who confide in each other about their personal lives. She is also working on another book to be released in 2011 called You Can’t Even Measure It. This book allows Courtney to use her knowledge she obtained while earning her law degree for this first time as an author. Nina’s next book is a contemporary, humorous young adult book called Greener Pastures. She describes this book as “Dear John meets John Deere.”
The authors visit is a first in what will hopefully be many more such events at NVCC in the future. Courtney and Nina had a great time at our campus and everyone at the Playbox was excited to have them here. The tips and advice they gave about life as an author was great knowledge for anyone who may want to become a writer. As Courtney put it, whether or not your work is published, as long as you are writing, you are an author. An event like this helps expand the culture here on campus, and hopefully help influence our students who may want to become authors themselves.

Super Bowl Preview

By Hobson Lopes

This coming Sunday, live from Miami, Florida, we will all witness two great quarterbacks, who led their teams to the number one seeds in their conferences, face off. It will be this Sunday, when the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints face off in Super Bowl 44 at Sun Life Stadium. This Super Bowl marks the first time in history that the Saints make the trip. Even the great Archie Manning-father of Colts QB Peyton- couldn’t lead the Saints to the big dance. This marks the second time in four seasons that the Colts make the trip. At Super Bowl 41, Manning led the Colts to the victory over the Chicago Bears in Miami at Dolphin Stadium.
While many people hoped to see the Colts battle the Brett Favre lead Minnesota Vikings team, the Saints ruined those plans with a thrilling victory in overtime in what was one of the sloppiest playoff football games this reporter has ever seen. The way the Saints were able to take the ball away from the Vikings at will is a sign of how good their defense may be. The way the Vikings moved the ball at ease aside from those turnovers is a sign that the Saints may be in for a long flight home after the game. Manning is the smartest player in the NFL. He doesn’t give defenses too much time to sack him, and doesn’t make the same mistakes that the great Favre does. If the Saints want to win this game, they need to look at film from last season to find out how to beat the Colts.
The Colts were 14-0 going into week 16 against the New York Jets. In the second half of that game, Colts coach Jim Caldwell benched his starters to rest them for the playoffs. In week 17, Caldwell left his starters in the game only enough to get some milestones, and then benched them again. While Caldwell received criticism from everyone in the media, and from everyone in attendance at those games, his decision has paid off. The Colts lost both games, and by doing so, didn’t even help the Saints. The Saints can’t go back and look at the film of what the Jets or Bills did that week. It won’t be the same guys on the field that day.
The Saints do have a shot in this game. The Saints have one of the highest powered offensive attacks in the NFL. QB Drew Brees is one of the top three QB’s in the game and his ability to spread the ball around make it difficult for any defense to lock on to just one receiver. Running Back Reggie Bush has come out of nowhere in recent weeks and finally looks like he did in college at USC. Throw in back up Pierre Thomas, who led the team in rushing this year, and the Saints have one of the top 1-2 RB duos in the league. If they can do anything major against the Colts great defense is still to be seen. If the Saints truly want to have a chance to win this game, they need tight end Jeremy Shockey to get back to playing like he did in the first half of the season. Shockey, one of the few Saints with Super Bowl experience, needs to play a big part in the receiving game, as well as blocking up front against the Colts highly talented linebackers.
My prediction for this game is the Colts winning 34-28. Peyton Manning will win his second Super Bowl MVP award, and look for former UCONN Huskies star Donald Brown to have a big game. Manning will throw for over 300 yards, with 3 TD, and 1 int. Brees will match Manning’s numbers, but it will be the Colts running attack that makes the difference in Miami.