Friday, April 29, 2011

A Chance for Cam Newton to Prove Critics Wrong Is Now

He heard his name called by commissioner Roger Goodell, he heard the annoying draftniks chant boos inside the Radio City Music Hall in New York, and he grinned as he walked on stage dressed sharply for the occasion. No one knows exactly if Cam Newton will be a bust or franchise player in the near future, but the Carolina Panthers certainly believe so, picking the unproven quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.

There's no telling whether or not he'll be an immediate impact or an absolute waste, knowingly downplaying the unpleasant reactions from the rowdy spectators sitting in the balconies when the Panthers gambled on an ambiguous product in the draft. It's the same story heard every spring, a common trait on the status of an unproven player, especially if the quarterback is selected before anybody else in the draft.

At this time, we can only hope that Newton, battered by a grisly scandal after his father allegedly auctioned his son and violated NCAA rules, isn't another Ryan Leaf, Joey Harrington, David Carr, Alex Smith, Tim Couch, and lastly, the saddest bust in our generation JaMarcus Russell. So when Goodell was booed notoriously before he walked onto the stage and announced Newton as the Panthers' No. 1 pick Thursday, the boorish crowd gathered as the people booed and jeered.

There'd be a reason for Newton to dazzle and surprise the world that would vividly silence the doubters, an ill-advised prospect disrespected by the vast majority, discrediting seemingly the best quarterback in the draft like he's not worthy of elevating his throwing motion, unbalanced mechanics and accuracy. If he does adjust his weaknesses, delivering crafty passes and standing as an asset in the franchise to profoundly be a remedy and dismiss the futility, Carolina can end the painful deficiencies to slowly cultivate the fallen team.

Because he rose steadily throughout his collegiate career at Auburn, where he won the stiff-armed statue and guided Auburn to a national title, he cemented a flattering stature with his athleticism and brawny arm strength, including his versatility to boldly rush for yardage by utilizing his agility and explosiveness on turf when he is normally lethal. Through it all, he fought off adversity and stayed composed as a matured athlete with immense talent to endure fear and endless derision from critics who deeply revealed a sense of dislike towards Newton ever since a malevolent pay-for-play scandal surfaced during his greatest college season that bolstered his draft status.

As he avoided much of the torture from fans on an unexpected night at the raucous Radio City Music Hall where the crowd serenaded unpleasantly and jeered at Goodell, the fans madly pleaded for football next season. "We want football!" The night for the commish was painful, but not so much for Newton, although he walked on stage and had his photo taken as mixed reactions echoed throughout the building. And most importantly, after all, he is the Panthers franchise player for now. As for the folks in Charlotte, everybody wishes for the best possible scenario, confident that he won't ever be a bust and instead the godlike savior in a town that desperately needed a franchise star, someone the citizens can idolize.

When it comes to the mental capacity and the fiery nature he brings that inspires his teammates to fight with fortitude and readiness, proving his critics wrong as virtually a prime leader, Newton solidifies the humility and sacrifices his ego at the helm. It was fittingly a night for Newton, quite honestly, to silence the critics and perfectly prove the doubters wrong when the nation believes he's not intelligent enough to adapt to an NFL playbook, when the nation feel he's cancer with a series of off-the-field troubles and when the nation thinks he'll never develop to the pro-style offense. This was an unforeseen moment, a perfect timing to hush the disbelievers. This was for the haters who've said he'd never shine in the NFL. This was for the doubters who've said all week that he'll be forgotten come the draft.


In theory of his status, he was proven to be the best quarterback on the boards in what was the craziest draft, filled with so much unpredictability and suspenseful ramifications. The No. 2 pick, as we know by now, was Von Miller, an explosive rusher after developing into one of the top sack specialist. When his name was announced -- strangely enough -- it was simple to reflect back on his anti-trust lawsuit against the NFL, labeled as a plaintiff more than a monstrous linebacker.

With very strong emotions, he burst into tears of joy, speechless once he stepped onto the stage where he greeted and hugged Goodell proudly. The stunner came at the No. 8 pick when the Tennessee Titans foolishly picked Jake Locker, a quarterback who is injury-prone and even widely considered as a potential bust. With the 19th pick in the draft, the New York Giants were clever enough not to wastefully obtain a useless prospect that benefits the Giants in the future and selected cornerback Prince Amukamara, the son of a Nigerian chief.

So, he would have fitted nicely with the Kansas City Chiefs, too.

For weeks, whether the heavy talk has created a debate that Newton isn't built to play in the NFL, he was targeted by the Panthers and intriguing to first-year head coach Ron Rivera and the new coaching staff which doesn't have faith in the uninspired Jimmy Clausen. Many critics brushed aside Newton, presumably because the perception of the nonsense was that he never had the potential or intangibles to be a premier quarterback.

This, in the meantime, inspired Newton to play harder and thrive as a pioneer in the sport. Every time he was doubted, particularly in a program that represented the SEC, he responded such is when he emerged from the tunnel at Bryant-Denny Stadium for the Iron Bowl against Alabama last November and carried the Tigers in the largest comeback in school history to defeat their archrivals with a substantial 28-27 win.

"I'm ready to get this show on the road right now," Newton said earnestly on Thursday, moments after he was selected by the worst NFL franchise last season. "I've learned a lot from this process. I've learned that you guys in the media have a job to do in critiquing each athlete to his core, but at the same time, I have embraced this process and understand that everything is under the watchful eye right now. Nothing's going to change. I'm going to progress to be great."

And in this draft, with less talent in a diminutive quarterback core, standing out as the favorable prospect in the entire draft, he publicly earned the national spotlight. However, even if he is the No. 1 pick overall, Newton, a 6-foot-6, 250 pound athlete with stamina and agility, is facing much uncertainty in 2011. What is nice is that, beyond the idea of Newton being a probable bust, is that he has the opportunity, a wonderful chance to stun the world and ripen as a useful product in the Panthers organization.

What isn't clear, when all the speculations are unknown, is whether or not he's a bust. If there are believers, it's because Rivera and GM Marty Hurney speak highly of Newton and grasp a sense that he can excel with stiff expectations.

We can only hope that he proves America wrong.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

With His Buffoonish Antics, Goodell Is Described as NFL Clown

Not much in life makes me cringe, unless a wacko in the parking-lot screams "AHHHHHH!" and almost damages my eardrums or a psychotic jerk gestures the middle finger while I'm driving my car and finally Donald Trump questioning the validity of President Obama's birth certificate.

But when the most insane week in the NFL looms because of a heinous lockout, a fatal stoppage wearing down the minds of fans and disgruntled players, it's another reason to cringe. So now, upon hearing the latest fuss on the outrageous episode that can undermine the image of the wealthiest enterprise in pro sports, we're engulfed by all the madness in the craziest and most preposterous corruption in NFL history. When a judge recently confirmed and ruled that the NFL lockout was lifted, a reaction to please the American population in which the vast majority worships football, it seems proper to finally express optimism.

Despite it all, even if a judge in Minnesota halted the 45-day lockout, temporarily allowing NFL players to return to the training facilities, nonetheless it's uncertain whether the 16-game regular season will resume by next fall. For all the weirdness heard by the anonymous buzz from meetings where two parties aren't unanimously resolving the issues, all the endless talk is delaying workouts and the possibility of football next season in the midst of labor battles.

For all the uncanny debates with the league's status in the upcoming weeks, such is the perceptibility of the league remaining in skepticism until the NFLPA and NFL ends the wishy-washy, back and forth jawing and announce that there will definitely be a manageable season as early as September, Goodell is facing atrocious circumstances.

What, did commissioner Roger Goodell perish?

Where he stands on this issue is a great question, when he hasn't even stepped forward to address the latest news, humiliating himself more as the person in command. Not sure why, but he's not the NFL Sheriff, not the sternest, meanest and intolerant commissioner we were once familiar with for installing his rigid personal conduct code generally for discipline, cracking down to significantly reduce senseless arrest of players being charged with crime.

Remember, he was the man who dressed professional and manipulated the NFL with a powerful voice. Remember, he was perfect, not imperfect and excelled in the hardest, stressful position. Under his wings, ever since he emerged onto the NFL setting, Goodell created harsh barriers all while the league's popularity ballooned based on viewers and the respectability for the one sport every tends to become attach with by all the action-packed and dramatic thrills.

So there is Goodell, who looks like the bigger fool for all his buffoonish decisions of late, crippled by his reaction in a major newspaper in regards to Nelson's ruling. In all, no doubt, he is in denial and embarrassed with the way things played out in the ugliest political war, an unprecedented lockout that ruined his legacy, if he ever validated his reputation as a commissioner. The point is, for the time being, is that he is failing in his regime and lost all credibility in the flux currently as the league is in disarray.

Though few believe this is the end to relatively a widespread disaster, as the NFL is clearly dumbfounded and relieved by federal district judge Susan Nelson's ruling Monday that temporarily lifted the lockout after ruling on an action filed by the plaintiffs in the Tom Brady antitrust lawsuit, it's not easy to downplay the current situation when Goodell childishly and foolishly was irresponsible. So we are supposed to feel sorry for a man, if we can, after he ripped and insulted the arbiter.

If you are looking for a reason to strongly dislike Goodell, the most villainous commissioner among all sports leagues excluding Vince McMahon, it's probably for the standoffs that he allowed to nearly rupture the NFL, it's probably because of his pompous behavior turning off the vast majority, people who are distraught with the likelihood of which there still may not be football played next season. For six weeks, a work stoppage in the National Football League generated heavy talk in attempt to seek negotiations for a new Collective-Bargaining Agreement with the players, but the two parties couldn't compromise and sadly wrangled over dollars adding horror within innocuous labor disputes.

The NFL, and its fan base, distrust in Goodell and has been reluctant to forgive him of his bungles, concerned with his ego and popularity rather than reforming the league by reaching a unanimous understanding on the new collective bargaining agreement. There is much to dislike about Goodell even more so now, particularly when he's lamented and needed to express sorrow by writing his inane letter in the Wall Street Journal. This was mildly disturbing and oppressive, whining like he is a jilted lover or saddened over an awful blind date.

Here's what he wrote: "Is this really what you want, baby? Don't you see, this is killing both of us! Come back to me, or I'll stick my head in the oven, and life will be ruined forever for everyone!"

The real story here is that the NFL is resuming business, finally. That incredibly widens fans' smiles as America can breathe relief. By now, in everything from players arriving at team facilities to preparing for workouts, if so, the NFL protects itself from mass destruction. If this is the beginning to another restoration, given the immediate decision that now allows the players to respond in a hearing on Wednesday, hopefully it's the end to the nightmarish lockout and erases the dreaded mistake, a propaganda stunt of drivel and nonsense.

His op-ed piece was unnecessary, hearing something like this: "For the love of God, help us! The big, mean U.S. district court judge and the even bigger, meaner players' union lawyers are going to ruin the NFL! We'll have -- Gasp! -- a free-market system!"

So he doesn't realize that he is partially the scapegoat marred by doomsday??

I guess that is a "no!"

It just so turns out, as the NFL Draft looms ever so closer in New York at the Radio City Hall, that Goodell and the owners are incensed with the judge's ruling for the players and ending the NFL-imposed lockout Monday, forcing the owners to instantly move the case to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Maybe he should quit his day job and send his resume to a newspaper for a journalism job as he wrote:

"For six weeks, there has been a work stoppage in the National Football League as the league has sought to negotiate a new collective-bargaining agreement with the players. But Judge Nelson ordered the end of the stoppage and recognized the players' right to dissolve their union. By blessing this negotiating tactic, the decision may endanger one of the most popular and successful sports leagues in history."

For weeks now, the fans, including the owners and players with tension inflaming badly, had been witnessing a work stoppage, albeit the NFL announced its calendar for the 2011 season. If so, gathering at the team headquarters is feasible, free-agent signings can resume, trades can be improvised, players can be released, and lastly, players can report to minicamps and training camps during the offseason.

Let us hope the NFL isn't stupid to cost themselves financially. Let us hope the owners are selfless in allowing a lingering work stoppage to endanger revenue and the league's reputation. Let us hope the players can put aside the greed, dismissing the discontent personalities that can revoke the labor issues over a new CBA in the upcoming weeks, hopefully.

We can only hope both sides reach a settlement eventually and unleash a new collective bargaining agreement. The best option for Goodell, marked for nearly ruining the NFL with his boneheaded and reckless choices, would be to resign with all the hypocrisy because of his stupidity and nonsense.

For now, the players' union is outplaying Goodell.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

If Panthers Are Smart, Then Marcell Dareus Is a Perfect Fit

This is where I have the chance to pretend that I am a player's scout for the Carolina Panthers. This is now a moment where I can admittedly offer unsolicited advice for a franchise lacking a defensive star, a versatile defender, a monstrous pass rusher -- someone who can personify a menace -- a rare specimen in the NFL.

This is where I can call Marcell Dareus, a prospect respectfully expected to be atop Thursday's draft board among other relentless names coming out of an unpredictable class, such as LSU defensive back Patrick Peterson, Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller and North Carolina linebacker Robert Quinn, a rightful product in solidifying the designed scheme in Charlotte with his versatility to presumably improve upon and quickly adapt to maybe the 3-4 or the 4-3 game plans exploited by the Panthers' playbook.

If there are executives necessarily seeking a standout pass rusher who was roughly impressive and forceful during his convincing period of time in school where he become accustomed to the campus lifestyle but wasn't the basic college student in study halls or the cafeterias in Alabama, it's the Panthers cleverly aiming to select Dareus. If there's unequivocally a draftee, by any means, built with beastlike, natural strength and, in retrospect, is armed with stylish footwork to bull rush opposing linemen and then harass the quarterback, it's Dareus who is worthy of fitting within the Panthers' system to address flaws. It seems that some of us are actually familiar with his extraordinary performance in the BCS National Championship Game against Texas.

Remember when he emerged onto the national setting with a solid performance in Pasadena? We can't ever forget that he dictated the significance of the title game by producing the two important plays of his collegiate football career. So, it is well established that Dareus, from the speculations floating around the league, has an incremental draft stock since he is a paramount target with the Panthers, also beholding the availability of Auburn's Cam Newton and Missouri's Blaine Gabbert, a pair of noticeable quarterbacks in such an erratic class.

There's no telling whether or not Newton develops into an impact star or even an all-time bust, but as it is for now, at least, he's a risk and could be a wasteful choice. Why must the Panthers foolishly select another quarterback?? Why must Panthers' general manager Marty Hurney suggest that Carolina takes a quarterback with the No. 1 pick overall on Thursday?? Huh??

"This is a quarterback league," Hurney said. "Look at the draft order of the draft. The ones who have them are picking low, and the ones who don't are pick high."

The exploration of likely selecting another quarterback remains uncertain, but if so, it is an ill-advised move to land a potential franchise quarterback with the top choice. The idea of it is, should the Panthers orchestrate a boneheaded decision by merely choosing Newton, is that the new coaching staff isn't fascinated with the second-year quarterback Jimmy Clausen in which bringing aboard a franchise passer is a glaring possibility.

And while all indicators point towards Newton, envisioned by most draftniks and analyst, the Panthers are impulsive and pressured to snatch a franchise player in the first round when honestly the team has immeasurable pieces to fill in order to lift into prime contention and translate the personality within an organization that incorporates a brand of youth and talent.

The fan base, and the entire town, vividly believes the Panthers will gamble on Newton when Carolina spent an abundance of the offseason evaluating the Heisman Trophy winner, intrigued with his work ethic, prodigy and heart to amazingly ignore the adversity and perform at the highest level. This in all is the path the Panthers will take, apparently without addressing the abundance of necessities particularly in the defensive department where arguably Carolina is flawed the most, helpless, weakened and very defenseless. An array of players in the draft makes it complex for any team with the No. 1 overall selection, but it's considerably sensible to deepen the roster by grabbing Dareus.

To believe in Dareus now, though, is smart when in truth the Panthers cannot do anything wrong with the first selection overall if the team is ailing in every department. Quite simply, if the Panthers are rebuilding to escape the inevitable and woes in an era of flaws and painful losses to fall into the loser column, then it would be a no-brainer to select Dareus. And now, after a miserable season with a 2-14 season, Carolina is trying desperately to overhaul and dismiss all the failures that dismantled the team in a depressed town where the folks stopped believing in the Panthers and were glued to televisions each April.

The resulting madness, not to mention the indignities in a town where the masses were accustomed to the bleakness, elicited a lifeless texture in Carolina. The welfare of the Panthers having the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft is a blessing to hopefully heal the wretched and agonized scars that respectively blemished the franchise and caused Carolina to stumble and plunge into oblivion. Just because he threw 31 touchdowns and rushed for 20 in one of his greatest seasons of his accomplished career that roughly enhanced his status in the NFL Draft, with a colossal shot to pocket bundles of cash, it's not telling that he is certainly the best player in the draft.

Not much is needed from Newton, though, if Dareus is available on the board, presumably the defensive star forgotten thus far when many are brainwashed precisely over Newton among others. The last thing the Panthers want is to be victimized and labeled the resemblance of Oakland with Newton turning into an enormous bust by next season. Newton, for one, is a large risk factor, unproven and scrutinized not expected to ascend on the NFL level. Then, for the Panthers, they shouldn't be investing potentially 80 million in an unidentified player with no body of work. But of course, there are other plenty of top prospects in this draft.

Among those prospects, since the Panthers have the luxury to select first, Carolina is facing a difficult circumstance with a numerous of players, fittingly a fixture for first-year head coach Ron Rivera and his system as they seek to place an identity on the franchise. The availability of Clemson Defensive end Da'Quan Bowers, Auburn DT Nick Fairley and Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara are useful selections, but it would be wiser to bring in Dareus, who can pass rush and work effectively in the run stoppage. There is even, as we know it, Patrick Peterson, a shutdown corner with the potential to lock down the NFL's top receivers, but nobody is like Dareus.

Speaking of which, many believe that the Panthers can hold off on grabbing a quarterback, regardless to whether or not the pocket throwers are the centerpiece of the league. They have been predicted to maybe be the No. 1 overall pick next year, a pick Carolina can certainly obtain gifted prospects in Andrew Luck or Matt Barkley, comparable throwers with accuracy and powerful arms to scan the field and run a pro-style system. As far as it goes, Rivera has openly discussed much interest in Newton all this week.

"As far as skill set goes, the young man has tremendous physical talents," Rivera told reporters before Newton's Pro Day workout. "He's got natural size, the ability to run, a tremendous arm, and a pretty good pocket presence already.”

Everybody should be skeptical about Newton, and certain about Dareus.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Selig Protects Dodgertown from Mass Destruction, McCorrupted

My great concern for one of the prestigious ballclubs in the majors, marred in ultimate chaos with a financial collapse, if only briefly, is that the beloved Dodgers will descend in the Chavez Ravine, a location in the hillsides of Los Angeles where the well-known ballpark overlooks the landscape.

For Frank McCourt, an embattled, inept owner who lacks the funds within the organization, he is ridiculed and ripped profoundly for allowing his franchise to suffer in a major market financially, for allowing soulless thugs to invade Dodger Stadium and initiate brawls in a brutal attack of an innocent fan for wearing a Giants jersey. Once upon a time, here in the origin of a fallen baseball town, it was a birthright to accept the Dodgers as the most respected franchise other than the Lakers.

There's a reason baseball is slowly relinquishing life in a diverse town. If you haven't noticed, unwilling to accept the truth on why the Dodgers plummeted, it's because you haven't observed McCourt running a horrific business that gradually declined over the years. By now, this unbelievably dreadful story is a stunning development, and fans all over the Los Angeles basin are breathing in relief, graceful that commissioner Bud Selig has protected the Dodgers and its fans from an abhorrent nightmare.

By now, the nausea of the Dodgers not surviving mass destruction is scaring the worrywarts to death, with the gloomy era crippling the essence of baseball. By now, the killjoy chairman publicly embarrassed himself with financial difficulties, a ballclub which almost threatened to file bankruptcy, and have no business running an insolvent franchise. It is, however, the most unprecedented move in Major League history -- greater than the moment when the league seized control of the formerly known Montreal Expos, or the moment the NHL stepped in to claim rights of the Phoenix Coyotes, or the moment the NBA took over the New Orleans Hornets.

From Selig's viewpoint, for a team embroiled in divorce proceedings between McCourt and his wife Jamie, a personal burden affects not only the players, but the fans as well. It's the way the majors plan on forcing the McCourts to sell the franchise. It sounds like the proper time, if ever, to place a FOR SALE SIGN outside of Dodger Stadium, a volatile environment where senseless acts have manifested near-fatal crime scenes for the lack of police officers and security to make it a safe, family-friendly ballpark.

It used to be a place where a family of four could come out and enjoy a nice afternoon in the beaming sunshine, not having to worry about safety and surviving after the game in one piece. So now that Major League Baseball announced its intentions to take over all operations for the Dodgers due to the financial debacles within the organization, Selig has finally reacted to the wreckage in baseball, aware of the blunders having an effect on the game, and has lately been immersed in rescuing the misplaced sport.

He is suddenly a progressive overseer in his dysfunctional league, but once was a softy when he allowed umpires to blow calls, when he allowed and never responded to the outrageous violence on the field during benches-clearing melees, or when he never had interest to declare periodic drug testing on performance-enhancers. Tired of the shame, after he never reacted to dire situations in the past, he promptly broadcasted that the MLB will take over all financial operations, likely delaying any future plans the Dodgers had as far as increasingly adding payroll.

The McCourt divorce situation, which has been the ugliest personal issue involving a sports franchise, has created hapless events when the lingering publicity had undoubtedly ravaged and trashed the Dodgers. Most notably, with him at the helm, it could've turned incredibly worse, had he still been in charge of running the damaged business. It shouldn't come as any surprise that he suffered a financial disaster, but no one could have seen the madness hitting this point.

This is a time when political news inflamed, and when a lifeless, helpless venue waited patiently for McCourt to be removed as owner, a position where he failed so miserably ever since he refused to sell his share of the franchise. After a flurry of corruptions, the marketability for a franchise devalued continuously with the McCourts living an extravagant lifestyle, a preposterous lifestyle that wouldn't even had last on reality TV.

The analogy for the McCourts' battle is that it is the equivalent of an ugly episode from Divorce Court or the People's Court for a complex standpoint. Not even Perry Mason could've helped resolve this personal rift. The entire town couldn't be more ecstatic that McCourt is not running the Dodgers, since the league took over. The fans are certainly smiling widely, ready to put the horrendous drama behind their minds and wish for a better outcome in the future.

The uncertainty is still a factor as far as the team's future arrangements, but the Dodgers have a greater chance of renovating a winning mentality. The McCourts, formally known as the helpless owners of a dying ballclub, at one point took out a $140 million loan that catered for future ticket sales, but $20 million was invested exactly for an ailing lifestyle. After all of this, fortunately, the McCourts paid no federal income taxes for $108 million in earnings with the organization. It's very telling, suppressed by an infighting divorce since Jamie filed divorce papers during a hideous recession with inflated gas prices and unemployment rates lingering in double digits, that he's limited in spending and doesn't have enough money to operate one of the precious franchises.

All of which, Selig plans to appoint a trustee in the next week to oversee "all business and day-to-day operations" within the ballclub. It was a smart choice by Selig for the sake of Dodgers' faithful, supporting Dodgers' Blue at a ballpark where there is a billboard that reads "Think Blue" when it really should read "Think Red," following a near-fatal beaten in the parking-lot at Dodger Stadium on opening day that left a Giants fan in a medically-induced coma.

With countless issues involving the Dodgers, including McCourt's current receipt of him taking out a $30 million personal loan to meet payroll, not to mention previous problems with finances that escalated to the lack of security at Dodger Stadium, that disregarded aspirations of a potential World Series really soon and that resulted in a holocaust to break down a professional franchise as a whole.

Incredible. Crestfallen. Ridiculous.

This announcement, many say, couldn't have come at a better time to put a boundless soap opera to rest that unmasked in the public view. The only good news is that the league will now have approval rights over the franchise itself. The worst-case scenario is that the ballclub is unable to balance its own salary and acquire big-name free-agents on the market next winter. The best-case scenario is that somebody hurries and purchases the franchise by investing their profit in a troubled organization to redirect the Dodgers down the right path.

In relations, in reference to all the troubles this season, the population at Dodger Stadium has declined, and McCourt watched attendance shrink. Nobody was even showing up for the Dodger Dogs, the ice cream, the All-You-Can-Eat Pavilion, or the beer. According to sources, McCourt has recently been preparing to sue Major League Baseball, for whatever reason furious with the league because of alleged falsification.

"I have taken this action because of my deep concerns regarding the finances and operations of the Dodgers and to protect the best interests of the club," Selig said in a released statement.

It wasn't long after McCourt issued a statement baffled with the sudden news.

"Major League Baseball sets strict financial guidelines, which all 30 teams must follow," McCourt said. "The Dodgers are in compliance with these guidelines. On this basis, it is hard to understand the commissioner's action today."

The anonymity of the latest move in baseball remains stunning to McCourt, even though he felt he had enough money to run the franchise, even though he felt he never had to address the issue following the terrible incident on opening day in the parking-lot, and even though he mishandled his personal business in an irresponsible fashion.

Rename McCourt to McCorrupted.

Even his general manager, Ned Colletti, touched on the shocking news.

"I consider it a sad day for baseball and a sad day for the Dodgers," he said.

There was Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, who has taken over the managerial role as Joe Torre's successor, I guess you can say, and celebrated his 50th birthday Wednesday. Torre knew exactly what he was doing when he departed emotionally last season and forged his signature on his retirement documents, after migrating from the urban lifestyle in New York and landing in Southern California to soak in the new scenery of residing near the beach and warmer climate.

"It's hard to imagine it would happen somewhere like the Dodgers, but there's crazy stuff going on everywhere. You're seeing monster major banks going down, so obviously it can happen," Mattingly said before the game against Atlanta at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday.

Rumor has it that Mark Cuban is bidding to purchase the Dodgers. There's no doubt in our minds that he'll build a championship ballclub, but the only problem with Cuban is that he brings aboard too much baggage with his infantile moaning or complaining to create unnecessary headlines publicly. We can't, by any means, recall the time in the modern era when the commissioner claimed control of a franchise from its owner.

"This is one of the great franchises. It's hard to imagine a mess like this ever having happened," former commissioner Fay Vincent said. "It's a very sad situation. I feel very bad for baseball and for Bud."

It's been painful to watch the Dodgers weaken and unimaginably be portrayed as the laughingstock of baseball. It's nice to know that he is gone for good, and that he no longer controls the leverage in Dodgertown.

Good riddance, Hallelujah!!! Good bye. LA doesn't miss you.

"It's unfortunate what the organization and the team is going under the last couple of years," Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier said Wednesday. "There's a lot of people in the city and the fans who want to see a good Dodgers organization, a good Dodgers team and be proud of it. I know there's a lot of players in this locker room that want to make this come true for the fans in this city, the die-hards that want to be here every day for us. There's nothing we want to do more than win and make them proud of us."

Selig was triggered to make this surprising move because McCourt had ordered a $30 million loan from Fox, a television partner for the Dodgers, but he had never approved a $200 million loan from Fox. This historically court drama compelled the commissioner to take a powerful swing at the bat and act in the "best interest of baseball."

This is also for the best interest of the Dodgers and their fans.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Camelo Anthony Scorches in Brilliant Masterpiece, but It Wasn't Enough

He walked off the floor with a feeling of displeasure, mourning over the resemblance of an absolute collapse in Game 1 of the best-of-seven series the other night, bothered with the sudden tottering in the postseason by falling short in the final minutes.

He slowly proceeded into the tunnel, gazed in disgust and tiredness, shock his head in disbelief, then screamed in frustration that suddenly hinders the New York Knicks of occupying improbability for an association with the slogan, "Where Amazing Happens!!!" Although Carmelo Anthony is satisfied to be a resident of New York, where he declared his citizenship and resides these days growing up in a place that culturally is attached to street hoops, he's not too upbeat with the fatality shown against Boston.

Wearing a white towel around his waist, he laid flat on his back on a table in the somber locker room attended to by two physical trainers. After a painful loss, tired by the anxiety of aloneness without forming a bona fide trio alongside an inactive Amar'e Stoudemire and the veteran Chauncey Billups, he was treated as the trainers soothed his muscles

The virulent twist, coming in the aftermath of the Knicks hurtful 96-93 loss trailing the series 2-0 in the playoff series against the Boston Celtics, is dictated after New York plunged in a less competitive and off balanced series of stunning events Tuesday night. For one of the richest franchises on the planet that resides in the Big Apple, as Knicks owner James Dolan invests in his enormous payroll, New York has been in for a rude awakening when it became apparent that the Bockers were no match for the well-experienced and tenacious Celtics.

Business is earnest, especially for the talented forward, a fixture for the Knicks' future as he evolves into a superstar and the beloved celebrity in New York, welcomed home with open arms for uplifting an unstable franchise out of clutters. Yet he carries a group of castoffs single-handedly in a lopsided heavyweight match against a much stronger and talented opponent, putting on a spectacular shooting display, burying shots from every angle and pounding the glass skillfully entangled in a flurry of anguish, the Knicks stood aghast on the floor in the deafening TD Garden worried in a panic mode.

As the shaky Knicks are fading in the Celtics' shadows, defenseless and disarmed from ripening with Stoudemire limited with a sore back and Billups sidelined because of a knee injury, Anthony delivered in one of the breathless postseason performances even after New York had fallen short by the lack of effort from an inefficient supporting cast. That in turn assures an early exit for the Knicks -- although the development of Anthony reinserted a factual psyche within a franchise familiar with playoff deeds and the posture of cultivating excellence in essence of producing an agenda for putting together a mental state.

When he transformed instantly into a megastar who built stardom in one of his theatrical nights, presenting an unreal scenario and unleashing another side of his transcendent performance, he earned regards. Before tip off, no one ever imagined Anthony putting on a shooting clinic in the decisive game of the series, no one ever imagined 'Melo shining as the franchise star that nearly demolished the Celtics. The monstrous shooting, from everywhere on the floor after dropping in difficult and abnormal attempts, was almost the turning point in the Knicks rebuilding process.

But when the subtle night revolves around one player to lead the Knicks in the brightest series of these playoffs, brightening much of the odds in pulling off the grander upset with a workable plot done by Anthony, then it seems anything is bound to happen on Broadway this season. And really, who knows if the Knicks have enough to match the Celtics' energy and swagger, bullying 'Melo and company by their experience and veteran know-how? It is well established, by his all-time statistical results, that Anthony is the primary star and ripened into a team leader, one who can implement the collectivity of gusto, soul and chemistry.

By scoring a mere 42 points, accompany with 17 rebounds and six assists, Anthony madly played a brand of productive basketball but his teammates were absent and lacked existence on the parquet floor and inside a building with countless championship banners. So clearly in the aftermath of another outrageous collapse, a mesmerizing breakthrough for 'Melo, wasn't enough to garner a must-needed victory. In the midst of the Knicks magical apex, yearning for a chance at a slew of fineness in the postseason by pulling off an upset in the first round to defeat the defending Eastern Conference champs, a creative and prolific style of subtlety was ousted ever since Mike D'Antoni became the head coach in New York.

So openly, for a head coach who is a former Italian basketball star, known for his expertise in instituting an up-tempo offense, D'Antoni was responsible for the mental lapse the other night when he designed a play that wasn't executed properly and went to Anthony's hands after shooting merely 1-for-11 in the second half of the first game of the series. This time, his heroic deeds were needed thrust in the position to play like a superstar, including a charismatic leader that reduces the vein of disenchantment among supporters of a passionate sports community, suddenly panicking as the Knicks fight for survival.

In the town of his birthplace, he is regarded as one of the epic superstars for a town where the folks witnessed Bernard King and Patrick Ewing, not only Spike Lee sitting courtside either petrified or emotionally excited over the Knicks. There is strong evidence that he's having lots of fun in this series, a vintage player for the Knicks as Anthony has carried the weight on his shoulders. This is what he wanted all along, an opportunity to migrate in New York, where basketball is played religiously at Rucker Park for street basketball events.

This is where he calls home, and ever since he made the transition to New York, he took accountability for the leadership role and grown mightily into a superstar. This is where he wanted to play, for a highly marketed franchise and claim the spotlight in a Bockers uniform. But what comes with joining a professional franchise in the Big Apple are the ramifications of getting lambasted in local tabloids for such a paltry shooting performance or dropping down 2-0 in the series.

His plans were to arrive in New York and compile championships in the near future, uttering that he desires to be a winner but also wants to play for a well-known franchise in the NBA and reside at home. While it's ultimately evident that he is trying to reach a global pinnacle in basketball, similar to LeBron James or Kobe Bryant, he is insisting that he is craving to resuscitate life for a community awed in witnessing his impact on the Knicks' recent prosperity.

As it turns out, no star earned more praise than Anthony for playing so splendidly with a lethargic supporting cast. The series is far from over, but if the Knicks wish to survive, they'll need contributions from Jared Jeffries, Roger Mason and Landry Fields particularly. It's too bad that Toney Douglas is inexperience, not really groomed to provide inspirational messages or act like a floor general. It's too bad that Anthony Carter isn't a great point guard.

There's no way the Knicks can continue to depend on Anthony by himself, who is handling the heavy task alone without reinforcements from his role players or fellow megastars. So here was Anthony channeling his Bernard King, a resemblance of Kings epic Game 5 against the Pistons in 1984, but it is vital that he nails the game-winner at the end of the game and take matters into his own hands if he wants to be the superstar fond of playing on the biggest stage. The chorus of criticism is now being heard after Anthony mistakenly threw a pass to his teammate Jeffries, without attempting the final shot in hopes it would have fallen in for the game-winning shot.

But in a way, this was the Celtics' defensive toughness that Doc Rivers emphasizes so cleverly, hindering Anthony from launching a jump shot in the final minutes when Celtics head coach sent Glen Davis over to work with a pesky Paul Pierce and double-teamed Anthony for which he was unstoppable in a one-on-one battle. With the usual execution defensively, the Celtics pestered Anthony and forced him to pass the ball and, out of all people, he found Jeffries for the shot. And with only 19.3 seconds remaining, he drove and rose in traffic to lay it in and gave the Knicks a one-point advantage. But the Celtics wasted no time in answering back, when Kevin Garnett capitalized on a jump hook in the paint six seconds later, a momentum boost that suddenly shifted the complexion for the Knicks.

It was all Anthony, until he decided to pass the ball, in the finest moment of his career when he should have actually shot it. This time, he was unwilling to fire the biggest shot by playing selflessly in the highly critical game of the series as the stakes were higher than ever. Perhaps, he was too selfless in a game he displayed a masterful performance. This was his to take over, for what was another missed opportunity. It could have been one of the greatest nights, a point in time when 'Melo capped one of those brilliant showpieces of the ages. In other news, his incredible masterpiece reminded us of Clyde Frazier, Willis Reed and, um, King.

"I kind of had it going tonight," Anthony said.

He had it going, but it's too bad he couldn't win it.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Ray Allen Delivers to Lift Ageless Celtics into Usual Form

It was precisely the way to silence the critics after deriding and ridiculing the Boston Three Party, put aside all the whispers that the Boston Celtics are too old and undermined and vindicate to the world that they are still superior in the Eastern Conference, even if the Miami Heat are stronger, the Orlando Magic are mightier and the Bulls are defensive-driven.

He couldn't miss in desperation, not to mention that he claims to be the best shooter in existence. Long after the Celtics calmed down and reduced nerves in the most dazzling ending for a sentimental night on Causeway Street, a night when they cheered outside of the TD Garden in Boston, Ray Allen capped an 87-85 win in Game 1 of the first round in the playoffs by hitting a game-winning three-point shot with 12 seconds left.

If he's still considered the sharpest shooter in the NBA, he surely advertised it when the stakes were greater than ever before and while the raucous crowd in the stands witnessed a miraculous comeback that capped a thrilling outcome. Whether the Celtics are doomed because of the stiff competitiveness and difficult task ahead, by now, Kevin Garnett believes "ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!!!" This was for all the people who've underestimated and ignored Allen, the NBA's career three-point leader all-time, every time he attempts a lengthy shot from beyond the arc to bury a three.

Without him, the Celtics wouldn't have survived what was almost a near-casualty by nearly dropping the decisive game of the series against the Knicks. If so, the Celtics would've been derided as the oldest and exhausted franchise in the NBA --described as a sluggish, weak-minded franchise with nothing left in the tank. Seems there is plenty left in the tank, without the team physicians needing to beckon for a wheelchair to escort an injured player to the locker room because of wobbly or ailing knees.

However, with enough evidence in so many ways, Allen never panicked and signaled for the ball as time dwindled, pleading for the ball to transcend in a striking portent. The amazing spectacle happened all so inexplicably when the Celtics rallied back by Allen's clutch performance that sealed the deal. This was Allen telling the critics to hush, on a night he schooled the Knicks, alarmed and sent the crowd into an intense celebration as if the Celtics had raised another banner into the rafters. When the buzzer sounded in favor of the Celtics, jubilating and dancing on the floor together thrilled, Allen spiked the ball and received prolonged hugs from his harmonized teammates.

Take that world.

It certainly was an uninspired loss for the Knicks, particularly once Carmelo Anthony bricked a shot on the last chance to win it for New York. Along with all the scintillating plays in the first half, such as a perfectly executed alley-ooped that Garnett threw down on a hurling inbounds pass from Rajon Rondo or relief on a timely offensive foul on Anthony, the Celtics finally prevailed in the second half.

The calendar reads April, a month when Boston dismiss frailties to find its swagger and plays with an earnest body language, dripping sweat from their moist foreheads, breathing rapidly with signs of fatigue. And with greater weaknesses for the Knicks, aside from having two bona fide superstars to form one of the prolific tandems in the NBA, is their inexperience, youth and lack of size advantage. The Celtics, the defending Eastern Conference champions, are a team that never vanish in the final seconds and never disappear until it is over.

By his own explanation, he rescued the Celtics and looked very explosive, ready to attack the rim and deliver threes. It's too often, such as on this night when he salvaged a victory for the Celtics, that he hits his proverbial three-pointer and delights Boston fans. It's too often, nailing compelling jump shots from downtown and coming out on top as a hero in critical situations, that he's been stifled in fulfilling his role as an impacted megastar but also a marksman in the art of shooting.

The much-publicized shot came on a Sunday night, after the Celtics were muffled in deepening their style of play and having a foundation to produce on an incremental level -- bolstered the Celtics and once again rejuvenated the franchise that embodies precedence and prestige. The unexpected lift came from the more potent, talented sharpshooter Allen, fueled by a wave of momentum and, sometimes, manages to greatly cultivate certainty and faith that revokes the tension and turbulence.

Throughout his superb career, known as a three-point specialist, he has expanded the Celtics' domino effect with his mental capacity and emotions without the risk of early playoff collapses, crazed anxiety or mental deficiencies in hitting shots that could create countless meltdowns for Boston. As it seems, he has been a part of limitless playoff moments -- many of those highlighted moments coming from behind the arc -- Allen puts aside obstacles the Celtics once endured and leads Boston past the Knicks, which they quickly returned to normalcy and became a dynamic force in the postseason.

In a hurried reversal, he has built a reputation, heightening his proficiency in stepping behind the arc, quickly releasing and hitting the three, a trend he has culturally followed honestly for years in the NBA. This trend is, in principle, a classic point in time for Allen, another highlight reel in the near future and it ended in an astronomical fashion. Much like Allen in general, he'll be recognized as the star player in the aftermath of dropping in the biggest shot of the game.

And indeed he was inside the Celtics family room, where Allen stood and waited outside, greeted by many families and friends and gladly expressed gratitude for the kindhearted acknowledgement. And of all his efforts on behalf of the Celtics, he led Boston with 24 points and his veteran teammate Paul Pierce poured in 18 and aggressively hindered, bullied and pestered Anthony, particularly on his missed three-pointer as time expired to end regulation.

He rarely misses out on a brilliant opportunity in the final seconds and routinely knocks in a bucket to shift the dynamics of the game, a clutch performer with no conscience mainly because Allen is combative, experienced and poised down the stretch after being a hero in crucial moments plenty of times before. The longer the Knicks continue to play in this series, the longer the masses will talk and ponder about New York missing a great opportunity when the Bockers led for most of the second half and maintained an 85-82 advantage in the final minute.

But now, the Knicks are engulfed in a minor controversy for dropping near-convincing steal in Game 1 of the first round, for stumbling mightily in the second half and for giving the game to the Celtics in a late comeback, overwhelmed with corybantic circumstances and seen as a team that deteriorated and never had an answer for Boston's experience, tenaciousness and toughness.

There is, nonetheless, life in Beantown even without Shaquille O'Neal in the lineup or without the defensive force Kendrick Perkins, a muscular and potent center with strength and size for successively grabbing rebounds and clogging the middle courtesy of his physique and fierce presence in the paint. Suddenly, the Celtics awakened with much firepower and urgency. The events in Boston suddenly, with a basketball franchise surrounded traditionally by plenty of mystique and noteworthy history by owning 17 championships more than any organization in the NBA -- rehabilitating from a downfall when apparently the shamrocks were stolen and the leprechaun was kidnapped -- was Allen slamming the ball onto the hardwood and Garnett viciously grabbing the microphone and screaming, "BEANTOWN!!"

He didn't hesitate to launch a prayer that eventually turned into the game-winner, even vividly after Game 1 almost was an absolute downer for the Celtics, sleeping on the emergence of a genuine tandem in the NBA which has produced a ripple-effect in New York and reinstalled ascendancy and life for the Knicks. For the Knicks, considering that New York is back in playoff contention but still aren't championship-caliber, everything went extremely wrong in the second half and Anthony looked erratic in his Knicks postseason debut, finishing an awful 5 for 18 in shooting and 1 for 11 after halftime to settle for 15 points.

The night for Anthony, irritated over his lack of consistency from the look on his disconcerted face, was a testament to disadvantages, undesirable and reckless diagrams for plays late with the lack of thoughtful minds in prudent coaching. Mike D'Antoni, a mentor for many of his players as the Knicks head coach, was definitely out coached by Doc Rivers, Celtics head coach who is solid in making adjustments and designing a practical layout that instilled certitude and created stupendous plays.

Even if Amar'e Stoudemire delivered efficiently and proved to be the primary star of the Knicks, scoring 28 points and collecting 11 rebounds, the Celtics are a heavy task. This was a postseason game in the series where the Knicks unraveled defensively, softened rapidly in the end and weakened when Garnett tripped Toney Douglas, allowing Allen to find space and nail the game-winning three-point shot. This season, for the Celtics, it was unpredictable and questionable, and now, it's presumably feasible that Boston can advance out of the East if the big three play with tenacity and dominates physically.

Their rivals, the Knicks, whined afterwards disgusted with the undone calls by officials. With Allen carrying the Celtics and Garnett ratifying his inspirational leadership with an emphatic dunk in a descent performance to arouse curiosity -- from a dramatic dunk to an amusing three-pointer -- the Celtics were robust and can persist in a grueling, tiring series against a franchise of youth and raw talent.

Although the Celtics are aging, in stiffer playoffs where the competitiveness has risen to the highest level while Boston can still play effectively and out duel the opposing teams based on their experience and finesse, they still lulled the doubters of depreciating the Celtics strength, vigor and readiness to contend. The Celtics, which prepares mentally and physically to fight in the playoffs surviving in the end because of its prowess and fitness, are rightly so competitors.

It is fair to postulate, of all teams, that Boston is the team to beat in the East, although Miami assembled the superteam, an NBA all-time trio with Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh, although the Orlando Magic are delivering touches to Dwight Howard frequently and although the Bulls are the league-leading team in defense with an MVP candidate in arguably the most well-rounded point guard Derrick Rose.

The Celtics, along with Allen as their game-changing performer, knows this won't be an easy series and somehow handled skepticism that creeped in the players' minds following the transformation within the roster this season. This after losing Perkins in one of the dumbest trades by the Celtics, who were sluggish and outplayed against Chicago and Miami, inadequate in competing with the growth by a pair of franchises in the equalized Eastern Conference. In all, it was an ideal ending for the Celtics as the Knicks blew a monumental opportunity.

In all, the Celtics are ageless.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Bonds Did the Crime, Now Do the Time

Had he not been defiant in uncovering the truth to alleviate burdens and mitigate the guilt of crimes that tarnished his reputation, Barry Bonds wouldn't have wasted time in the court of law amidst a reckless trial of ignorance.

It was arrogance that impaired Bonds, deceit ruining his dishonorable milestone for which he unbearably bamboozled America's Pastime by breaking the rules in the middle of the contaminated stretch where plenty of players lived lies and ventured into the Steroid Era deeply. He can amazingly break the law and merely waste a whole lot of time, making a mockery of legislation without having to serve harsh time for a reckless crime. He can be portrayed as a callous narcissism, he can tell a lie in front of federal investigators, he can sabotage the wonderful game by juicing his body without coming clean with honesty, and he can destroy the game's description.

If there ever was a moment when you really believed that Bonds, arguably one of the greatest power hitters ever -- belted a bundle of home runs the distance and into the stands with an artistic knack and purity, it's because you are in denial or just truly feel sorry for the jackass filled with arrogance and egotism. The truth to this drama is that Bonds deserves to be sentenced to jail time, and while he is getting off so freely with impunity, his desire in refusing to acknowledge wrongdoing is unforgetfulness and negligence.

The explanations he has presented are dubious, and even when he was accused of juicing his body with performance-enhancers, he resumed his pillaged baseball career with the San Francisco Giants, the lone baseball town that accepted and expressed much idolatry for a man who had been desperate enough to keep a hidden agenda as a grisly fraud. He was never an angelic hero in neither baseball nor a marquee slugger, but was normally described as a pariah -- a miserable and temperamental criminal with an abundance of doubtful arguments in his defense where he insured his innocence despite when everybody and their mothers knew he was clearly a steroid liar.

These days, furthermore, he is unapologetic and denies the truth. In numerous circumstances, Bonds, the most recognizable black athlete in the nation, contradicted himself and promoted the race card when admittedly he said the media and critics ridiculed him because he was black. In truth, it was never about the commonality of racism, but the reason people were critical of Bonds was because he cheated and juiced his way to the 700 club jealous of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa for saving baseball by drilling 136 homers combined in 1998.

Even if he broke Hank Aaron's record that allowed him to become the home run king, considering that his incredible record is an asterisk in the beautiful game which is now corroded, he'll never be dignified like Aaron or even be acknowledged as the faithful home run king. The point here, no doubt, is he never employed his natural abilities and respectfully Aaron played long before the Steroid Era came about.

By now, people are genuinely distraught with Bonds and feel he should be punished for his sins when he told a grand jury in 2003 that he never knowingly took steroids and never used human growth hormone or obtained injections by his trainer. Turns out, later as years progressed, he lied. By doing so, he made himself look like a fool and has been treated like one, unwilling to address the issue and confess to his disastrous nonsense. Just so you know, he's not only a cheater.

The all-time home run king, dealing with a mid-life crisis because of his damn stupidity, is overwhelmingly an arrogant douche bag, a womanizer and a tax evader. Ask his ex-mistress, Kimberly Bell. One can argue that Bonds must pay the consequences and stay behind bars for lying to a federal grand jury, that he is a criminal and the focal point of the ugliest issue in baseball. The trial was an insult for lawmakers and particularly a slap in the face to those who are currently serving time for lying under oath or fabricating any subject in front of the federal grand jury.

It's utterly fascinating that he can ride freely without doing time for the crime, especially when Marion Jones denied cheating for years and spent six months incarcerated. Needless to say, Bonds was a steroid user, betrayed baseball and its fans -- but worse -- avoided the possibility of seeing countless months in jail. So welcome to the Juicer Club, Bonds, the ex-wannabe slugger blackballed from the game by all major league ballclubs and evolved into a greater risk and a cancerous hazard for any big league club to take a bold gamble on.

The steroid revelations killed the wondrous highlights of sluggers smashing home runs out of the ballpark, and while Bonds is the current holder with 762 home runs in his career, seven more than Aaron, for the most homers in major league history, he is merely the pseudo accountable for the collateral damage that sent baseball into oblivion.

As for the tainted record, a hostile record-setting feat for a polluted power hitter, Bonds really should be within the 500 mark in homers and characterized fittingly in the company of the fraternal cheaters in baseball. The jury of eight women and four men managed to consummate its judgment on a contradictory verdict and only convicted Bonds of obstruction for lying to federal grand jury, but failed to garner a valid decision on three counts of perjury.

Huh?? Yes, you heard correctly.

We should no longer have trust in the faulty and unreliable court systems, no longer a system that can tell the difference between justice or injustice. The credibility of the most hallowed record in the sport, despite whether or not the landmark is tainted or unlawfully inappropriate to write in the record books, is marred by asterisks and legions of people disdain Bonds as a person and athlete given his troubles and moodiness in the past.

Whatever smudged him in his playing days, whether it was his self-indulgence or apathy, he cost himself a shot of making the Hall linked to steroids use and pitifully lying under oath. If he actually believes that he has a place in Cooperstown, it's mainly because he's naive and delusional, unwilling to accept the truth. Among other things, he truly looks like the biggest idiot, convinced that he's not guilty of deceitfulness. What a fool.

A blind person even knows that Bonds is a dishonest moron. After all this, he could now deliver his confession to clear his disgraced name. You don't have to like him as a person, but credit Alex Rodriguez for coming clean on national television to confess that he used steroids and then resumed in his career as a member of the Yankees. Surely, his credibility is in jeopardy and he is perceived like an enemy from the Yankees Empire. Just a little over a year ago, McGwire tried to confirm that he had broken sins of morality and attempted to reshape his persona with puzzling explanations.

After all that, in the meantime, he saved his job as batting coach for St. Louis. As for Bonds, he doesn't have the audacity to confess or admit to his fallacies and prefers living a lie for the rest of his life, unwilling to put the putrid rebellion to rest. They spent exactly three years and five months in bedlam with an indictment and conviction, suddenly ending a lingering trial that nearly turned uglier and less presentable. It's plausible had Bonds' longtime personal trainer, Greg Anderson, testified to bring down a good comrade that it would have diverged into a complex trial.

The fight he was caught in the middle of, unwilling to rat out his best friend and someone who was like a father-figure, Anderson was courageous and spent months in jail after refusing to testify against his friend. Meanwhile, he could have feared for his life and easily testified when Bonds injected himself with steroids during his regimen and the numbers don't lie.

Bonds hit 73 home runs at age 36, purely?? Come on. Stop it.

It's an absolute shame to believe in preferential treatment for a man who deserves to be hauled away in cuffs.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Since MJ, Derrick Rose is the Most Valuable Player in Chi-Town

While he's projected to be named the Most Valuable Player, projected as virtually the top point guard in the NBA and projected to claim that he's by far the best one-guard of this generation, he is the broadest talent in a guard-driven league.

As Derrick Rose reminded us this season, when he clearly blossomed into a premier and franchise player in not only the streets of Chicago but for the Chicago Bulls as well, he proved to the doubters that he's the face of the future. This was for the prejudice and bias cynics who never believed that he'd morph into a catalyst on the NBA level. This was for disbelievers who never paid attention in what he brought to the Bulls, honestly becoming the brightest name since MJ retired in 1998.

The statue of Michael Jordan, unveiled before a television audience in '94, has us speculating the possibility of Rose earning his own bronze statue outside of the United Center someday, maybe when he wins multiple titles and his first MVP award. The assumption ahead for the Bulls, formerly justified as the Baby Bulls in the post-Paxson era, a period of time in which Chicago was dismantled by the poor choices orchestrated by ex-general manager John Paxson, is far more promising as long as Rose is the pioneer of the recent framework in Chicago.

Working at the toughest position, standing as the floor general and putting damn near 48 minutes into a game regularly, five days a week for an 82-game season, Rose has played brilliantly and, above all, his work ethic is incredibly beneficial and worthy of individual accolades. Rose, as you probably know, is an honorable resident in Chicago, an iconic figure in his hometown where he bloomed as a high school phenom and devoted his life to basketball in the streets of Chicago, growing up admiring Jordan in the murky south side of Chicago where murders and gang violence were heavy.

At an early age, prematurely accustomed to dribbling a ball by developing a singular style with his art for the game, but more than anything his love for the game, he became proficient and sagacious. With the gossip surrounding his alleged sweet fetish, it is ideally true that he enjoys devouring candies and junk food and has no conscience to cut back on the unhealthy food. By now, however, maybe the junk food enhances his performance level and keeps him energized on many nights, the kind of explosiveness required in order to foster as a perennial ballplayer.

In the span of a few weeks, Rose specifically will be honored with the award no doubt. He's a true icon, a priceless magnet who continues to claim his righteousness with the mountains of evidence that proves his value. What we've learned is, according to the public's eye in what has been a season of prosperity and growth, that he is the popular superstar in the league among viewers, outdistancing megastars such as Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James to name a few. Even Jordan himself knows, after acknowledging that he deserves the MVP honors, that he is worthy of the greatest individual prize.

And while the prediction remains dubious in spots until the announcement is official, he is publicly still the frontrunner in voting for the MVP. There is, believe it or not, a Rose in Chicago, one flowering before our very eyes and one that has cemented a legacy in his own town. All this season, judging by his professionalism and sharpness, it has been telling that Rose -- whose candidacy musters a lot of reinforcements from many of whom admire him – is apparently having his greatest season and has clearly been the best offensive player for the Bulls.

This year, partly because of Rose, the Bulls are the team with the league's second-best record. What's a prime factor, which seems to be solidifying his MVP status in a season when the Bulls can easily be rated as favorites to encounter a dramatic match-up against the two-time defending championship, is that Chicago has been flawless defensively with Rose on the floor. If we're truly aiming to find the valuable player, we'd find it in Rose.

Also, with Joakim Noah injured throughout much of the season and lacking a true shooting guard, Rose was able to carry the Bulls on his back along with the defensively challenged Carlos Boozer who had worn out his welcome in Utah.

The story of this talented guard, an unselfish and poised player, is that he made a scene nationally ever since his emergence into the NBA and won Rookie of the Year in 2009 and was an All-Star in 2010, noticed on highlight reels after having a stellar season. The best part coming with his full potential in the past, a shred of hype that turned into a rational perception in the NBA, is that he developed and mellowed quality and applied his ability to manipulate the dynamics of the game with his quickness and agility. Despite the uncertainty from the last time Rose played Boston, he walked off forlorn and numb after losing.

This time, he walked off the floor a winner. He walked off with a smile on his face elated over the decisive win and refreshed our minds with memories of Game 7 of an epic classic in the 2009 first-round series. As a fixture, he finally didn't derail and matured. No longer a kid, no longer an inexperience rookie or second-year player with very little playoff success but a player with athleticism to beat Boston by playing at the highest level. He is, to put it simply, the MVP when he has clearly performed like an MVP, considering his consistency and transcendent play against the Celtics and Rajon Rondo.

This is exactly one of the reasons he qualifies for the award, mentioned in the category which comprises of Bryant, Dwight Howard and LeBron James. The Bulls don't fear Boston any longer, elites in the Eastern conference these days, ready for the postseason and the exertion. The common sentiment from a 22-year-old with his firepower, explosiveness and intelligence around the NBA lately is Rose is evidently at the top of the list.

All of this, by far, is a measure of progress for the modest superstar, a favorite to win the MVP and, in all likelihood, a top-notch among players for Most Improved when his three-point percentage has ascended to seven points this season. Inspired by Tom Thibodeau, the first-year head coach who served as an assistant on Boston's 2008 championship team, Rose is leading the Bulls. For all his lashing and prolific coaching that has transformed the personality, the fear of the Celtics is no longer a burden and won't raise any fear, not as long as Rose plays relentlessly and Thibodeau has an influence on the way his players evaluates and competes in the game.

And with the regular-season winding down, the Bulls can even clinch first place out of the East, which seems farfetched. But the truth is that if Rose is qualified for the MVP, it would be fair to call Thibodeau the Coach of the Year. The basketball world is gushing over Rose, the soft-spoken Chicago native and one of the most remarkable players in the league. It is there, and not unreal, that he has been his conference's player of the week four times.

He is essentially the vital ingredient needed to blend in with Joakim Noah and Luol Deng, suddenly famous and has the top five of NBA's top-selling jerseys on the market. It's clear Rose is having a monstrous season, endorsed by Magic Johnson, Jordan, Doc Rivers and Chris Bosh, a few of the names he might have to face in the playoffs. Every viewer tuning in for basketball is awed and amazed by Rose.

Most definitely, he's the MVP!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Tiger Won't Capture a Miracle in Augusta

What, you expected him to suddenly emerge into the world's greatest golfer, dominate on the green and win another green jacket again? The roars overwhelmed Tiger Woods, once the game's most premiere athlete, as the folks in the galleries are confident that he has returned to normalcy, but instead he's shrunk quickly, wilting and plunging into the twilight stages of his graceful career. Turns out, he's not back after all.

So what if he was surrounded by thousands of supporters, cheering and giving standing ovations. The proud spectators sensed a miraculous comeback, ultimately waiting for an epic rebound by Woods in order to soar into contention by dusk on Sunday evening in Augusta. To those fans he should be atop the leaderboard already if he ever wanted in chance to be fitted for a green jacket, but as we all know, it felt like Woods flunked the test on the day he needed to regain ground to ascend the leaderboard.

It really depends on how badly Woods' desires to rekindle dominance in the very prestigious tournament. His swagger, apparently, is not enough to pull it off and eliminate the youngsters from contention, an event Woods has stumbled and faltered in lately, an event where he never seizes control, an event he hasn't won since 2005.

More than ever, he's a prima donna in the sport, although he cajoles viewers and balloons television ratings by wearing his stylish, colorful Nike brand shirts and standing as the world's most glamorous golfer, the talented player everybody desires to watch. One still can find the sport eventful as long as Woods is present, as long as he is showcasing his consciousness and excellence in the Masters, nearly impeccable in the eyes of spectators intrigued and awed by Woods. He is, with no apologies, the best golfer on the planet, well, he used to be the greatest until he fell from grace.

He was also linked to a Canadian doctor who was investigated by the FBI for allegedly providing Woods with human growth hormone. It's one of the saddest stories, just how fast the world's most beloved athlete can fall from grace and be marked for life, no longer the flawless idol the world became accustomed to for being a spotless family man with values and an iconic figure running an educational center for children who adored him. It is, however, one of the woebegone appearances in the Masters for Woods, too, stumbling and toppling in the event.

It would be inconceivable to believe that he could win! Somehow, he needs to win. It's imperative to Woods' legacy that he wins another major title soon and garners the finest rebound in the sport for restoring credibility and erasing the tattered memories of disgrace, in which his popularity and likeability plummeted. There's no better atmosphere than Augusta National to recapture triumph, perhaps refresh our minds with memorable wins on the renowned surface where he earned the greatest victories and celebrated in triumph and amassed five green jackets.

He was in trouble of gaining the lead and never had the intense stare, fussing slightly a bit without tossing his golf club into the creek or going on one of his hilarious anger outbursts. He still hasn't reclaimed his rightful position in the sport and has been incapable of topping the throne in the Masters. This time, on this day, he birdied the third and took a walk towards No. 4, where his body language revealed frustration and disappointment, taking a slow walk on the course.

Even though, he was having an awful outing, he glanced into the crowd at a pair of blondes and smiled. In truth, he's a lady's man. But in reality, the youngster from Northern Ireland, Rory McIlroy is on his way to getting honored in the green jacket ceremony by Sunday evening, currently holding a four-shot lead. So much for Woods. So long to Woods. All eyes are turned, for now anyway, directly to McIlory, if not Woods. It's almost understandable to root against Woods, who was incensed when he botched shots.

The gallery held collective breaths and Woods gazed in despair. While he tried to take back the game he once rightfully owned, McIlroy was sinking a 30-foot birdie putt to finish in a breathtaking pursuit. By the end of the day, Woods was incapable of putting on a spectacular display and shot a two-over 74 and currently stands at five-under for the Masters. Although he can strike again, with the hottest swings and much momentum to storm in position, Woods has never come back from behind on the final day of any major.

In this event, McIlroy has backed up his trash talk and pompous demeanor. So with that, he's entitled to be cocky and really believe that he can win the entire tournament, when after all he is currently atop the leaderboard. The only way he can drop rapidly is by shuffling and wobbling, something hard to envision when McIlory is extremely composed and confident. The Masters, in its 75th year, is engaging because of the 21-year old kid. He is, certainly, the next biggest magnet of golf, aiming to be the most dominant name in this lustful era, terrifying the old-timers with his craft and superb swings, concentration and mindfulness.

We can by now admit that McIlroy has great potential to be the attraction of golf in the future, particularly after settling for three birdies on the hardest final six holes, carding a two-under-par 70 to mark a three-day total to under 12 and leads by four strokes. There's much doubt, judging by the way McIlroy has played and the way Jason Day has been noticed on the leaderboard and the way Angel Cabrera has earned spotlight by jumping onto the leaderboard, that Woods won't pull off the miracle.

The heavy talk this weekend has been on McIlroy and Day, a pair of youngster delivering not only in shots for the Masters but handing over inspiration to children. The point of the matter is that Woods won't win at the 75th Masters, delayed by the expeditious growth of two kids, leaving him in the darkness in Augusta, where he used to always be appreciated and admired. He needs a miracle, and not even Miracle-Gro can induce ambition, not if he is having trouble putting. And as of now, he is seven shots behind McIlroy and, by now, he can drop the F-Bomb and utter the word "Damnit!"

Seems Woods is mortal.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Woods Strikes Back with Swagger: No Need to Sugarcoat It

Suddenly, he was pumping his fist. Gazing with the most intimidating facial expression in sports, stares and emotions Tiger Woods exposes when he's full of swagger poised to return to prominence.

He walked and dominated the green at Augusta, roaring back into the invincible name we were once familiar with on the graceful course as the crowd roared after he posted a convincing round -- after he was more intriguing than the azaleas and the large population that gathered in portable seats in Amen Corner to witness the exquisite scenery of a placid cabin with a stone chimney secluded behind a cluster of trees, dogwoods and azaleas -- but more than ever, to seemingly watch Woods strike back into contention.

This was for the doubters and disbelievers who've berated Woods. The state of Woods' odds in winning the 2011 Masters has created a discussion, particularly when he has climbed back near the top of the leaderboard, impressing his critics and supporters with his emotions and dominance. If he ever expects to move forward, thus in the guise of his tattered reputation that ruined respectability amidst the sex scandal and infidelity against his ex-wife, alleged text messages exchanged with bimbos and mistresses and planes flying overhead with insulting banners, Woods needs to return to usual form by seeking another green jacket before the weekend is over.

The crowd followed Woods and pulled for a romantic comeback and dramatic afternoon at Augusta. His swagger is back, but in reality, he is nonetheless labeled a serial cheater and a womanizer who was addicted to sexual activities with nearly every bimbo. And even if he falls short of winning his 15th major title this season, another green jacket in which he would instantly inch closer towards the legendary Jack Nicklaus' record-setting 18 major titles, he is refocused for a colossal challenge, an opportunity to discard the nightmares that surfaced from his horrific and formidable scandal.

It stunned the world heavily, with all the uncharacteristic allegations that suddenly were publicly divulged truthful. And ever since, Woods, once the world's most premier golfer and one of the best athletes on the planet, he has lost tremendous respect with a status that remained in uncertainty. Now more than ever, excelling in one of the enjoyable competitions in a tradition unlike any other, Woods is looking brilliant, combative and confident. What's on his to-do list might be to stand as the superior one in the Masters, and reclaim the greatest prize in one of the resplendent traditions in sports during the spring.

He is finally back in contention, almost charmingly, within striking distance to finish atop the leaderboard by dinner time on Saturday evening in the friendly confines where a famous golfer with much experience and assurance can card a perfect round. The demise of one spectacular player is delayed and balloons plenty of optimism for Woods. For instance, he believes he'll surpass Nicklaus' record of 18 majors, a historic mark that could define him as the greatest to ever take a swing on the course throughout an acclaimed career.

Within such a recognized span, which includes 14 Major golf championships and 95 titles in his awesome career and 71 on the PGA tour, he is back to his usual self and seems unbeatable only if he claims the lead in the next couple days. It sure looks as if Woods, on the warmest day for the Masters, played splendidly and proved doubters wrong by staying unflappable and focus on the fairways in the hardest round of the tournament, an unpredictable game that makes it easier for some, and I say some, to cheer on the embattled iconic figure.

It was about the growth of the youngest cast. That is what the Masters came down to, until Woods hatched from a cocoon of struggles and renovated hope, two years removed from his grisly scandal. The world stopped when the scandal revealed, stunned with the revelations by the world's most likable sports figure. But now, the masses pause for a four-day honeymoon to glorify Woods as if he's done no wrong, as if he's still the spotless athlete we adored and as if he's well in his prime.

When Woods represents the Masters by amazing the spectators in a lovely fashion, by wearing his stylish Nike wardrobe without using obscene language to release his frustration, he brings in a relentless feel, a feel of high spirits and verves. Critics were fooled by his speedy comeback. Hell, I was fooled by Woods on the day his figurative statement made cynics and skeptics forget about his extramarital affairs with porn stars, pancake house waitresses and V.I.P women. The question is, can he come out with the same type of swings for another day or will he vanish into the darkness again, and disappoint the true believers?

You never know with Tiger. You never know in this erratic sport, you just never know. But we all know by now that he had a strong and convincing surge in front of thousands sitting in the galleries -- where often inexplicably --he was bestowed adulation and boasted his chances by climbing the leaderboard unexpectedly. In his divine run, with a widened smile that we haven't seen in a long time, he birdied six of eight holes in a stint and finished with a staggering 66 to place him in contention.

The repercussions of disappointment were at large, but he alarmed the gallery and the people were enthusiastic watching him roar back into conversations for a green jacket by Sunday. Nothing was ever promised to Woods, but he really was in a groove and made the lengthy par putts. It came on the par-4 11th, when Tiger shot his birdie put short, and then rolled the par putt in the middle of the hole and performed his customary fist pump. After all of this, in which he threatens any golfer in the lead and could probably take a commanding lead, only if he doesn't stumble in the next two days, he sank a birdie putt for the 18th.

Tied for third, once he made it, the crowd erupted into the most storming ovation in the second round. It doesn't mean he'll win, but he does put fear in the hearts of the youngsters, pulling three shots of Rory McIlroy. But it was clearly his best round, and finally, he shot a 6-under 66 in the second round, stunning and catching our eyes after discarding the mediocrity and playing like the old Tiger. Fellow golfers are closely keeping an eye on Woods, particularly the leader McIlroy, who is boldly admitting that he can beat him in these Masters and isn't scare to flirt with his mind.

"I'll just be concentrating on the golf course," McIlroy, 21, said when asked about Woods. "If you start thinking about anyone else here, you can -- if you let your mind wander at all, it can cost you a couple of shots. I'll be focusing on my targets and focusing on where I want my ball to go on the greens, and that's all I can do. I don't really care what anyone else does. I don't need to know. So it will be great for the tournament if he's up there. But I'm two shots ahead and I'm in a better position."

Is he cocky or a competitor?

He is a competitor, not intimidated by the presence of the greatest golfer who is on decline, no longer as efficient. It's not telling whether Woods is back or not, but we'll know by Saturday for sure. We'll know if he's back or not. We'll know if he's for real or just having a bunch of luck.

For now, though, he is striking back.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

McIlroy Climbs Beyond Greatness, as Tiger Diminishes Into Darkness

His stylish attire, of course, emblazoned in his greenish golf shirt with blue and white stripes and the Nike logo on it, was more attractive than his game itself. The afternoon was elegant, on the day the beautiful venue was engaging as the creeks flowed nicely, as the azaleas blossomed and as the leaderboard was ever so changeable at Augusta National, a refreshing scene for the Masters annual event.

But this time, even if Tiger Woods can amazingly return to normalcy and take the smoothest path to polish as the world's most popular athlete, the afternoon was anything but lovely or kind to Woods, an unhinged golfer trying to reestablish a renewed status. So just like that, faster than he swears angrily or tosses his iron stick in frustration into the creek and engages in obscenity, Woods is on a mission towards not only repairing his tattered image, but also winning another major title in pursuit to shatter Jack Nicklaus' record-setting 18 titles.

In a forgiven country, after he notoriously opposed that he was above any wrongdoings as we truly believed he was the most spotless athlete on the planet, Woods is ready to move forward and clear his name of guilt. In the meantime, we are long past the feel-sorry-for-Tiger stage when he has clearly faded, wilted and declined. We are left guessing and debating if Woods can ever win another major title, even if he's well past his prime and has a slight chance in reemerging into a prominent name in an insipid sport. He was supposed to be a cure for an uneventful sport, but in truth, he needs a win to heal from the dreadful memories of a grisly sex scandal that forayed into his personal life and revealed his double-life.

The point is, he hasn't been spectacular ever since he suffered a hideous downfall in his lifetime, no longer perceived as the immaculate role model with modest family values running an educational center for children. It's hardly nice for the popular face of the sport to deteriorate, an event qualified not only as uninteresting but feeble without the famous Woods, despite his surprising sins that placed his marriage in tatters.

The recent trend of pursuing a title at Augusta has shrunk and, as usual, he seems forlorn in the sport he once dominated. In a complex sport, with all the applause he accepted from zealots in the galleries, he has fallen from grace and has been the only athlete who couldn't redeem or refrain from public humiliation. By any logical perceptions, it's hard to envision Woods returning to usual form when it looks as if his remarkable, dazzling reign has come to an end. With all evidence of historic feats and milestones no other golfer in this era can replicate, comes an awful ending to his precious career, a livelihood that finished so badly after diminishing as the iconic figure amid the scandal.

When he arrived to Amen Corner, a famous crossroad and locale at Augusta National where a restful cabin with a stone chimney hidden in a cluster of trees, azaleas and dogwoods and where spectators can sit in portable seats and witness shots to the 11th hole, 12th hole, tee shots and second shots on the par-5 No. 13, he was welcomed with a warm reception. And seemingly, the crowd was cheering and glorifying Woods when he walked into Amen Corner, a location on the course that should rightfully so be renamed to Tiger's Corner for the spectators powerful roars.

The demise of one of the greatest golfers all-time is gradually in existence, an evident footnote that Woods doesn't have the swagger to seize control of the leaderboard. It's the Masters in Augusta, an atmosphere where Woods has been winless since 2005, and particularly his inability to compete efficiently and intimidate opposing golfers is killing his capability and potential fearsomeness. There is no doubt in our minds that Woods is precisely more potent on a video game released featuring the embattled athlete, unsuccessful in finding his mojo to contend for another green jacket.

The theory was for Woods to rid the uncertainty of his personal scandal and relight his dominance to reclaim invincibility. It's foolish not to realize that every dynasty eventually recedes, but a legacy usually carries on. Nobody aside from Woods believes that his legacy will remain intact, a reputation in tatters after a sequence of allegations from a sex scandal. Nobody respects Woods as a person, let alone his talent. Nobody, that is, seems intimidated or fearful in competing against Woods. Nor, for that matter, has anybody backed down.

For now, at age 35, he's numbered and vulnerable to falter against anybody. Almost obviously, it's not certain that he'll past Nicklaus for title No. 19 in the near future, but if anything, will retire well shy of an honorable plateau in the sport. That alone would definitely put an end to the draining gibberish about his recent infidelity and transgressions on his ex-wife. Though he is on pace to reach a sumptuous mark, he owns 14 major titles in the twilight period of his career, aiming to return to greatness by amending his woes and doing everything he can in the upcoming competitions.

In these Masters, on the afternoon when Woods played horrible and never delivered to ease much of the tension, Rory McIlroy, the 21-year old kid, shot his best ever Thursday -- accounted for seven birdies and no bogeys in an easy 7-under par 65. He climbed the leaderboard with a 65 and stayed in the lead until Woods' sleeper at a major championship Y.E. Yang managed to gather a 7 under but then bogeyed 17 and 18. On the eve before the first round, McIlroy ventured to a shopping mall in Augusta and bought a football.

In front of his rented Augusta home, he was tossing the ball around with a few friends and then eventually a neighbor came out. For McIlroy, who has quickly emerged among many at the Masters, his chances of fitting for a green jacket is probable with victories on both the PGA and European tour. Therefore, he is composed and prepared for the challenge mentally when many inexperienced golfers in the unfriendly confines at Augusta National, a place where the winds blow intensely and where the greens for the players could be difficult to master, lacks composure and aplomb.

This year, he didn't miss the cut. And he never finished lower than 20th. That happened in 2008, during his disappointing lapse. His visit at St. Andrews in last year's British Open was greatly impressive and it represented European golf in many ways. That is when he shot a 63, an 80 the following day and 60 for two rounds, finishing third -- and now in the Masters, he is awe-inspiring. Better than Woods, he played brilliantly and as well as Rickie Fowler and Jason Day, a pair of young players with bright futures in a strategic sport.

Unbelievably, Day shot even-par 72 and Fowler, splendid on the fairways in the Masters, birdied four of the final five holes to card a 70. Stylish on the day, McIlroy wore sunglasses on the back of his cap and played proficiently like no other. As for fashion, Fowler won the contest, dressed in green completely that attracted much attention. It's rational to believe that Woods and Mickelson aren't the dynamic duo the nation adores watching as we embrace the newfound era of skilled players.

Suddenly, the elite golfers, such as Phil and Tiger are plunging -- on the course, on the fairways at Augusta, not the main attraction in April but the two high-profile faces of Augusta National in oblivion. Without even being heckled or harassed by a plane carrying a banner overhead, in what was supposed to be a year that he cure the painful thoughts of disadvantages, he shot a 71 in the first round, a customary trait lately but never climbs back into contention.

And he won't come back this year either, if he continues to miss putts. His archenemy, Mickelson, the defending champion, began with seven consecutive pars and carded 70, making a birdie from the pine straw right of the fairway. But where he gaffed was by driving it into the bushes left of Rae's Creek, a shot that almost rolled in a birdie putt before it rested for a par.

These days, Woods just isn't the same untouchable, intimidating guy. Maybe we can trust in McIlroy. This could be the moment he shines. This could be the next celebrity in golf. Bye, Tiger. Hello, McIlroy??