On Friday, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho called Arsene Wenger “a specialist in failure.”
Those were some harsh words directed at the Arsenal boss, but Jose does have a point.
Since their FA Cup win in 2005, Arsenal has not won a single piece of silverware. Considering that fact, Arsene Wenger remains the longest tenured manager in the Premier League. Why?
From 1996-2004, Wenger took his club to three Premier League Titles, four FA Cup trophies, as well as four Community Shields. Plus, Wenger was the man behind the team’s invincible run in 2003-2004. Since then, it’s been a whole lot of nothing.
Fans, like me, have questioned whether or not Wenger should still be the guy leading the North London club. He’s been criticized for almost everything and rightly so. Perhaps, it’s time for a some new blood…then again, maybe not…
When this season started back in August, nobody expected the Gunners to be this good.
This will be the year that Arsene Wenger and Arsenal will win something.
The Gunners are in position to win one of three titles: The English FA Cup, The Barclays Premier League, and/or the most coveted title of them all – The UEFA Champions League.
While it may be a long shot, Arsenal could win all three…but I highly doubt that.
Despite a rash of injuries to players like Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere, and Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal has prevailed in so many ways this season. After playing horrendously last year, goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny is one of the best in England. Assisting Szczesny, Arsenal’s back four of Gibbs, Mertesacker, Koscielny, and Sagna have, for the most part, slammed the door on some of the Premiership’s most prominent strikers (However, they’re worst performance came against Liverpool in a 5-1 bloodbath at Anfield last week).
Meanwhile, on the attacking side of things, Olivier Giroud has been a headache for opposing defenses. However, the recent news about Giroud’s infidelity could cause a major distraction for the club. It’s imperative that he doesn’t bring his personal life onto the pitch.
And then there’s Mesut Ozil, perhaps Arsenal’s biggest acquisition at the beginning of the season. He has given the North London club more chances to score than ever. Ozil’s play as of late has been lackluster. I’ve come to the conclusion that Ozil is simply worn out. After the clash with Bayern Munich this Wednesday, I hope Wenger rests Ozil for at least a couple of matches. The guy needs to recharge his batteries.
Would I be surprised if Arsenal faltered now? Absolutely. Keep this in mind, though.
For everything the Gunners have gone through this season, they’re still hanging around. Like the Green Bay Packers, Arsenal seems to have the “next man up” philosophy. Players like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Santi Cazorla, and Lukas Podolski (all of which were injured earlier this season) have developed pivotal roles in Arsenal’s latest success. As long as these guys stay healthy, they will be tough to beat.
Exhibit A: Arsenal defeated Liverpool 2-1 in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Sunday. When I saw Wenger’s starting 11, though, I said there was no chance of victory. Arsenal was simply unmatched against a Liverpool squad who was on a hot streak.
Remember, Wenger had to rest several of his starters, so they could be set for Wednesday’s clash against Bayern Munich in the CL Round of 16. Liverpool should have beaten them. Courtesy of the sturdy Arsenal defense, the dynamic duo of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge simply didn’t do enough.
Once again, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Podolski came through with the goals. They really are the next men up. Keep it up, lads.
There’s still a lot that can happen between now and early May.
For Arsenal, it’s theirs to lose.
There’s been a lot of adversity to overcome. So far, Arsenal is getting through it. Up to this point, they’ve beaten most of the teams they were suppose to beat. It's going to be difficult in the Premiership...Arsenal needs to play better against Chelsea and Man City. Bottom line.
In the Champions League, I don't like Arsenal's chances against Bayern Munich. Frankly, they don't stand a chance. Bayern is the best team in the world.
Arsenal's best chance of winning silverware is in the FA Cup. Arsenal plays Everton in the sixth round, another tough draw. However, Everton and Man City are the only two powerhouses left in the Cup. With currently nine clubs remaining, Arsenal is in the driver's seat. I feel very good about this. The match against Liverpool was very telling.
Like I said, the Gunners will win something. THEY MUST WIN SOMETHING.
To close, consider this about Arsene Wenger – He’s a cat with nine lives…It’s been almost nine years since Arsenal have been champions of anything. Depending on how this season ends, this could be Wenger’s last. Most believe his contract will be extended. For fans, we want to go back to the glory days of Arsene Wenger, but we’re also impatient. I’m ready for change, if Wenger can’t get the job done.
Sorry to break it to you guys…Fantasy Football is pure luck. For me, I’ve been the most unlucky GM this season, and we’re only five weeks in.
When Steve ‘Sparky’ Fifer made an ultimatum on the air at the end of the August, I knew I was destined to fail. Sparky made two things clear:
1. You, Joe Zenzola, need to have a better record and higher point total than Leigh McNabb from KISS FM in the Tony Kamps league, or you will be kicked out of the WSSP League next season.
2. Whoever finishes dead last in the WSSP League this season, they will be relegated to the Kamps League for next year.
So far…I’m failing in both.
In the WSSP League, I’m 1-4. I notched my first victory on Monday by defeating Leroy Butler and Ryan Road’s team (special thanks to 18 points from Justin Tucker and 22 points from the Niners D). Outside of that, most of my players have been an utter disappointment.
In the Tony Kamps Minor League, which I regret joining to this very day, I’m 1-4 as well. My team is stacked in that league, and yet, there’s not enough production. I continue to get lackluster performances from Doug Martin and Darren Sproles. I consider both to be overrated now.
Before I get to the worse possible news, let me document how awful this season has been starting from Week 1. I will also share you my current rosters for both teams.
Kamps League: vs. Leigh McNabb
· Peyton Manning has the game of his career. He gets Leigh 64.3 points.
· Jared Cook blows up for 31.1 points against me (hasn’t done anything since).
· Also, solid games from DeMarco Murray, Vernon Davis, and Julio Jones. They all play well against my squad.
· I put up 175 points against Leigh, and I still lose to her.
· Final Score:Me 175.5, Leigh 208.6
· Leigh McNabb is 5-0 in the Kamps League.
WSSP League: vs. Josh Vernier
· Yes, he had Peyton Manning, too.
· He also had Adrian Peterson. AP pulled in 29.1 points in Week 1
· Those two alone were more than enough to beat me Week 1.
· Final Score: Me 98.86, Vernier 134.08
· Josh Vernier is 5-0 in the WSSP League – he’s unstoppable.
Kamps League: vs. Brian Sorgi
· Arian Foster, Tavon Austin, and Jordan Cameron all blow up late in the game to give Sorgi’s team a big advantage.
· I have solid performances from RG3 and Jordy Nelson.
· Martellus Bennett blows up, but I fail to start him.
· Going into Monday night, I was still leading. Sorgi needs 10.1 points to beat me.
· A.J. Green for Sorgi puts up 10.1.
· Final Score: Me 122.5, Sorgi 122.6.
WSSP League: vs. Chuck, Wickett, and Zach
· Michael Vick blows up, throws for over 400 yards. Are you kidding me?! He practically carried their team that week.
· Matt Ryan and Julio Jones continue to be my top playmakers. Roddy White, however, has been a bust.
· Again, I have a slight lead over the morning show going into Monday Night Football.
· They have the Bengals D – Big Ben throws an INT late in the game. That gives the morning show the lead.
· I lose again. Final Score: Me 85.66, CWZ 87.22
I could easily be 1-1 in both leagues; instead, I’m 0-2, and I’m getting paranoid.
I make a trade with Sparky in the WSSP League.
I get Trent Richardson and Vincent Jackson, in exchange for Matt Ryan and Roddy White. Hopefully, that will help, right? Nope.
Kamps League: vs. Tony Kamps
· Adrian Peterson and Matt Stafford combine for 47 point for T-Kamps’ team.
· I get a lot of consistency this week from my guys, except for these people.
o Phil Dawson – 1 point
o Texans D – 4 points
o Tony Gonzalez – 6.4 points
o Martellus Bennett (who had such an great game last week) – 3 points
· Final Score: Me 99.5, Kamps 126.7
WSSP League: vs. Howie Magner
· Howie gets blow up performances from DeMarco Murray (26.3 points) and Antonio Freaking Brown (31.6 points).
· Trent Richardson plays decent for me – 9.5 points.
· V-Jax sucks Week 3 – 3.4 points
· Eli Manning takes Matt Ryan’s place at QB. Eli, despite throwing a lot of INTs the first two weeks, was still averaging 23 points per game.
o Eli gets me 5.16 points vs. Howie…Thanks, Eli.
· Final Score: Me 64.26, Howie 123.70
Kamps League: vs. Zach Klupchak
· Finally, I have some players that blow up for me.
o Tony Gonzalez – 38.9 points
o Darren Sproles – 31.2 points
o Demaryius Thomas – 29.6 points
· It was a neck and neck finish, but I got even with Zach, after he beat me in the WSSP League back in Week 2.
· Final Score: Me 167.8, Zach 165.6
· I’m 1-3 Yay!
WSSP League: vs. Matt Regashus
· Colin Kaepernick, who I cannot stand, puts up 13.78 points. Before that, he struggled the previous two weeks.
· Ragu also had Vernon Davis (7.8 points) and Anquan Boldin (15 points), and Phil Dawson (5 points).
· All of this production came on Thursday Night Football, so going into Sunday, I still had a great chance of beating Matt.
· Greg Jennings, who hasn’t done a damn thing all season, picks Week 4 to blow up against me. He rakes in 21.2 points. Demaryius Thomas also picks up 20 points for Matt.
· On the flipside, I had a bunch of busts.
o V-Jax – 2.7 points
o Eli Manning – 8.88 points
o Owen Daniels (who was suppose to be this big TD machine) – 7.2 points
o And Ray Freaking Rice…My first round selection has flat out sucked this year. He gets me 1.7 points in Week 4.
· I lose hands down. Final Score: Me 76.68, Ragu 112.78
Now, I’m 0-4 in the WSSP League, 1-3 in the Kamps League. It was time to make more trades…
With Terrelle Pryor on my bench, it was time to remove Eli Manning. I wanted to compliment Pryor with his number one WR – Denarius Moore.
I traded the struggling and unhealthy Vincent Jackson to Matt Barlow’s team for Denarius Moore.
Then, with all of my anger set on Ray Rice, I ship him to Matt Regashus for Anquan Boldin.
That second trade would prove to be a big mistake.
Furthermore, I had two offers on the table from Howie Magner. He wanted Julio Jones from me.
He offered DeMarco Murray and Marlon Brown, or Knowshon Moreno and Steve Smith.
I turned down both deals. I would soon regret that decision as well…
Kamps League: vs. Samantha Winkler and Andy Borgealt
· They have the Seahawks D and Justin Tucker. Those two alone combine for 29 points.
· Great production from Vincent Brown (19.7 points) and Antonio Gates (14.4 points). Those two killed me as well.
· On my side of things, RG3, Alfred Morris, and Doug Martin all had byes.
· I benched the Texans D last week – They pulled in 13 points. This week I start them, and they get me 3 points.
· I also started Alex Smith at QB…He got me 8.8 points.
· Peyton Manning has another freakish game against Dallas, and Demaryius Thomas sees no piece of the action. He gets me only 10.7 points.
· I fall to 1-4. Final Score: Me 114.5 Team WB 136.8
WSSP League: vs. Leroy and Ryan
· As I mentioned earlier, the Niners D and Justin Tucker were crucial to my first victory.
· However, Ray Rice, who I dealt to Regashus, blows up. He rushes for 74 yards, along with 2 TDs. I’M FURIOUS! Anquan Boldin, on the other hand, rakes in 2.1 points….I CANNOT BELIEVE THIS!
· Final Score: Me 94.64 Leroy and Ryan 87.18
And now for the biggest news…
TE OWEN DANILES OUT 4-6 WEEKS. BIG LOSS FOR ME IN THE WSSP LEAGUE.
AND THEN, THIS NEWS…
JULIO JONES, MY BEST WR IN THE WSSP LEAGUE, IS OUT FOR THE SEASON.
I’m ready to lose my mind. This is the type of season that I’ve been dealing with. At times, I just want to pull my hair out. For everything that’s transpired the last five weeks, how can it get any worse? I’m due for some good luck, right?
Perhaps I’m snake-bitten.
Yes, I should blame my fantasy football season on the Brewers…or not.
Whatever, it’s just a game, I guess.
Nonetheless, I deserve a second chance to stay in the WSSP League. I expect to get some sympathy from my opponents. Seriously, are there are people like me out there with the same bad luck?
Here are my two rosters as of today:
Kamps League, 10-team PPR: This is a great team, right? How can I be 1-4?
RB: Doug Martin
RB: Alfred Morris
WR: Demaryius Thomas
WR: Jordy Nelson
WR: Danny Amendola
TE: Tony Gonzalez
Flex: RB Darren Sproles
Kicker: Nick Novak
· RB Fred Jackson
· RB Ben Tate
· WR Mike Williams
· WR Donnie Avery
· TE Jared Cook
· TE Martellus Bennett
· QB Alex Smith
WSSP League: 14-team Standard:
QB: Terrelle Pryor
RB: DeAngelo Williams
RB: Trent Richardson
WR: Anquan Boldin
WR: Denarius Moore
Flex: WR Mike Williams
Kicker: Justin Tucker
· WR Julian Edelman
· QB Eli Manning
· RB Kendall Hunter
· RB Roy Helu Jr.
· TE Jermaine Gresham
Injured: WR Julio Jones, TE Owen Daniels…
In both leagues, I'm 1-4. That's 2-8 overall. I still believe I can get on hot streak in the Kamps League. Am I running out of time, though?
I expect to go 1-12 in the WSSP League…not good. At least I won a game!
For all the hype and anticipation going into this offseason, I was expecting a whole lot more from the Milwaukee Bucks. Remember, this offseason was supposed to represent one of the biggest moments for the franchise going forward. Were the Bucks going to blow it up and rebuild, or were they going to add some top tier (not superstar) quality free agents to the roster and push for perhaps the fourth seed? I would have been fine with either direction, quite frankly.
But no, neither one was the case. Herb Kohl and his cronies have one goal in mind – being the mediocre eighth seed. So far, that goal for this offseason has been well accomplished.
This is ludicrous.
Granted, the offseason is not over, and we don’t know what will happen to Brandon Jennings. Before I go any more into the Jennings hoopla, let’s recap this offseason starting with the ever-important NBA Draft. There will be a letter grade for each acquisition.
First round pick: Giannis Adetokunbo My grade: D+
I hope I’m wrong about this kid. Unless John Hammond and Larry Drew were full of crap in the draft presser, they both seem very high about the Greek Freak. He has tremendous size for an 18 year old (6 foot 9, 196 pounds), and hopefully he’ll grow a little more once he hits his 20s. I’m big fan of his wingspan (7 foot 3), but outside of that, what makes the Greek Freak so special, and why did other teams in front of the Bucks pass on him? I had never heard of this kid long before the NBA Draft got underway!
In Greece’s second tier basketball league, Giannis averaged 9.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 0.7 steels, and 1.0 blocks per game; these numbers came over the course of 26 games. BIG DEAL. For the Greek Freak, I don’t find anything freakish in his stats. That’s not a “Poor-man’s Kevin Durnat” as everybody has been comparing him to. While Hammond and others say he’s a great passer and can play solid defense, that’s all fine and dandy. The competition he’s playing against in Greece is nowhere close to what the NBA or even the NBA Summer League has to offer! Oh and by the way, Giannis isn’t even playing in the Summer League this year!
I hope Hammond and Co. drafted a superstar. They make is sound like he's something very special. Hammond has done a very good job when it comes to the draft. If this kid is not a superstar, then the pick is a total bust.
Second round pick: Nate Wolters My grade: B+
You needed a shooter. You got one. While he doesn’t play any defense, Wolters had solid shooting numbers for South Dakota State. Last season, he averaged 22.3 points per game. Although his impressive shooting numbers weren’t against some of the best teams in the country, he’s seen better competition than the Greek Freak. Wolters should fill the void at some point to be a great go-to guy from off the bench.
Now, let’s look at the rest of the Bucks’ moves…
Bucks trade J.J. Redick, acquire two second round picks. My grade: D
Don’t tell me that it’s something rather nothing at all. The Bucks could have acquired Eric Bledsoe from the Clippers, and instead the Suns took him. Acquiring two second round picks is an insult. You mean tell me Tobias Harris, Doron Lamb, and Beno Udrih are worth two second rounders? Why couldn’t the Bucks acquire a first rounder from either team? This trade sucks. If you know anything about the NBA, second round picks mean almost nothing. Here's something positive...You still have Gustavo Ayon and Ish Smith...yeah, about that...
Bucks trade Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, acquire two second round picks. My grade: F
This is a bone-headed, idiotic move. Despite his lackluster scoring around the rim, he’s one of your best defenders. Prince Luc has done an outstanding job holding his own against some of the NBA’s elite. Once again, the trade is an insult. Two second round picks are unacceptable. You basically gave him away to Sacramento for free. If you’re going to trade him, package him with Ersan Ilaysova and acquire a couple of first round picks or a top-tier shooting guard!
Also, who is going to be the starter at small forward next season? Literally, the Bucks have nobody to take the reins at the position. Carlos Delfino? Oh Boy, do I miss Tobias Harris…
Bucks sign O.J. Mayo. My grade: B-
It’s an OK move. I think he’s an upgrade at shooting guard over Monta Ellis. However, Ellis was better off at point guard anyway. Mayo is coming off one of his best seasons of his career. My question is can he take his game to the next level. If Brandon Jennings does not return, Mayo will be your number one scorer; that’s rather disconcerting. Last season, Mayo had a nice 45% field goal percentage, along with 40% from three point land. He averaged around 15 points per game for the Mavs, but don’t expect much from his defense. He’s a talented player, but nowhere close to superstar caliber. Like I said, it’s an upgrade at the position.
Bucks acquire Luke Ridnour for practically nothing. My grade: B
It’s nice to acquire a decent off-the-bench shooter. While I’ve always had an issue with bringing back former players, this individual move is fine. That’s all I have to say about it.
Bucks sign Zaza Puchilia My grade: B-
Another former player? Puchilia is an upgrade. He’s better than Samuel Dalembert. I expect him to be the back-up behind Larry Sanders. That’s the only reason why the Bucks signed him, correct? There’s no way in hell he’s going to be your everyday starter. Puchilia isn’t Al Jefferson. Puchilia does, however, bring you some veteran leadership into the lockerroom.
Bucks sign Carlos Delfino My grade: F
Wait a minute, is Herb Kohl and John Hammond seriously bringing the band back together? This is the third former Buck signed this offseason. Delfino has always been a streaky shooter. If he’s going to start at small forward, I’m going to lose my mind. He’s a downgrade from Mike Dunleavy. I’m not sure what the Bucks were thinking here. This signing is an epic fail.
Bucks amnesty Drew Gooden My grade: A+
YAAAAYYYYY!!!!! Bring out the champagne bottles! Drew Gooden is gone! This is the best move Kohl and Hammond have made this offseason.
Guess what’s even better? You didn’t have to trade Gooden for another player with a bad contract! This release is really “Good”en. In his tenure as GM for the Milwaukee Bucks, this was Hammond’s worse possible free agent signing. Cheerleaders, like Gooden, are nice on the bench, but they don’t get you NBA Titles (or playoff victories for that matter).
Well, well, well. Now all eyes are focused on Brandon Jennings. After reading numerous reports, Jennings does not want to be here, the Bucks may find themselves in a dreadful situation.
Hammond has said that the Bucks will match any offer sheet. That’s been a lie. The Bucks made a play for Jeff Teague and the Hawks surprisingly matched the offer. Now what? Well, you’re stuck with Brandon.
No NBA team has thrown an offer his way. If you're Jennings, take the $4.3 million tender, play 20 times better this coming season, and then look for the big $$$ next season. Jennings’ ego, however, is telling him something completely different. I don’t think Jennings is worth $8 million. His play is average at best. At this point, I hope he stays in Milwaukee where Nick Van Exel can groom his game. Van Exel claims he can relate to Brandon Jennings – that could be the type of influence Brandon needs going forward. At the age of 23, his potential to be a great scorer is still there, but he needs to act fast.
Like I said, if Jennings says ‘screw it’ and leaves Milwaukee, the Bucks are screwed as well. Then again, maybe not...
Here are three potential starting lineups come October.
C Larry Sanders
PF Ersan Ilaysova
SF Carlos Delfino
SG O.J. Mayo
PG Brandon Jennings
C Larry Sanders
PF Ersan Ilyasova
SF Carlos Delfino
SG O.J. Mayo
PG Luke Ridnour
C Zaza Puchilia
PF Larry Sanders
SF Ersan Ilysova
SG O.J. Mayo
PG Luke Ridnour/Brandon Jennings
(There’s no way John Henson will be able to start this season. Had the Bucks traded Ersan like I was calling for, Henson would be your everyday power forward.)
None of these three potential lineups look promising. Maybe it is a sign that Bucks are in fact tanking. If Luke Ridnour is the starting point guard, you know you’re going to be crappy. Otherwise, if Brandon leaves, you can choose between Nate Robinson, Beno Udrih, or Mo Williams to fill the void. They'll probably sign a fourth former Buck, Mo Williams, to be their starting point guard. Would it surprise any of you?
While the Bucks could be tanking with this roster, it’s also a sign that they’ll either just make or just miss the playoffs. No matter how you look at it, this offseason has been one giant disappointment. Herb Kohl may do everything in his power to keep this franchise in Milwaukee, but he’s clueless when it comes to putting a legitimate product on the floor. Individually, some of these moves are fine, but it doesn’t mark a clear-cut direction of where this team wants to go.
Unless some blockbuster move happens between now and October, this was not the offseason I was hoping for.
Overall offseason grade: D
Follow me on Twitter: @RadioJoeZenzola
Until next time, Milwaukee…
By the way, here's who remains from last season's team. Until a player signs elsewhere or we know for certain they're not coming back (like Drew Gooden), they will not have a black X over their face.
· Random dark hairs on your body
· Slow drivers, drunk drivers, and texting while driving
· Slow cars or semi-trucks in the left lane
· Little League World Series
· People my age getting married and already having children
· People with no respect for soccer/golf
· People who talk WAY too much
· People who try to over-impress
· People who cannot communicate
· People with too many tattoos
· People with bad breath
· People with poor priorities
· People with zero common sense
· People who graduate from college with POOR writing skills
· People with mean spirits
· People with colds
· People who don’t cover their mouth when sick
· People who order well-done meat
· People who tip poorly
· People who need to force their opinions down your throat no matter what
· Moldy bread
· Expiration dates on foods/drinks
· Girls no longer appreciating ‘nice guys’ or chivalry
· The Brewers starting rotation
· The St. Louis Cardinals
· When things like computers, phones, cameras decide to freeze up or randomly stop working, especially at times when you need them the most...
· Over-thinking things
· Random people deleting you from Facebook
· Fitness Freaks
· Being rejected
· Over-played music
· The Bucks making stupid signings and bonehead trades
· Parents that have no control of their kids
· Parents who set bad examples
· Parking tickets
· Missing a short putt on the golf course
· Duffing shots
· Stuttering or stumbling in the middle of a sentence (especially if it’s on the air)
· Serial Killers, terrorists, child molesters, scammers, and thieves (am I missing anybody else?)
· Women who want ‘bad boys’
· Stressing out about stupid stuff
· The NBA Playoffs
· Being ignored
· Over-priced beer
· High Gas prices
· Liars and cheaters
· Rocky V (yes, the movie)
· Cold weather in June
· Bruno Mars and Justin Bieber…Yeah, their music sucks
· The degenerate Kardashian Family.
· The Twilight movies
· Girls who constantly need to take pictures of themselves every five minutes
· Illinois drivers
· Bandwagon fans
· Advertisements on Youtube
Throughout the NBA offseason, I will be keeping tabs on the arrivals and departures of the Milwaukee Bucks. Obviously, there is much to be anticipated for the organization. The questions is - who will be with this team come the Fall? While most Bucks fans want to blow it up and rebuild, it appears the organization will blow it up, but instead, add better talent with the extra money they'll have. My gut feeling is more than 50% of the players and coaching staff will be ousted. Once moves are made, I will put black 'X's over the departing team members. Quite honestly, anybody could be removed (and in a perfect world, maybe Herb Kohl will oust himself!) From Center Larry Sanders to Equipment Manager Jay Namoc, nobody is safe.
I'm a big fan of the reality TV Show "Survivor". Instead of calling this 'The tribe has spoken', this reality game will be "The Bucks have spoken."
Who makes the cut? That's your choice...
Here are my predictions...I don't care how many years are left on some of the contracts. John Hammond has a history of dumping bad contracts...and also adding bad contracts...
Ekpe Udoh surprise: Ersan Ilyasova via trade
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute sleeper: Gustavo Ayon
Jim Boylan WILL NOT return. For the rest of the coaching staff, I don't know where to begin...
It's going to be one hell of a ride, Bucks fans!
Stay tuned throughout the offseason to see whose imaginary torch will be snuffed!
Wow, it’s about time a prominent writer addresses an issue I’ve been stressing for the last year!
Ladies and Gentlemen, let’s be honest. The NBA system sucks. How can anybody, especially in this city, believe that the Milwaukee Bucks are treated fairly by David Stern and company? A simple luxury tax is a slap in the face to the big shot organizations in the biggest cities. There needs to be a level playing field, and while David Stern can run his mouth all day that the NBA is fair, the fact of the matter is…it isn’t.
Author Howard Bryant wrote a recent column in ESPN The Magazine about the flaws of the NBA system, and why the two-month long NBA playoffs are the biggest joke in sports. He believes that Stern needs to take a page out of the English Premier League. I wrote a blog several months ago about college football revamping its system through the European soccer format.
Bryant writes that the 30-team NBA could be split into a Championship League (the lower league) and a Premier League (the top league). While he doesn’t say how many teams would go into each league, personally, I wouldn’t split it in half. I’d say at least 12-14 teams would qualify in the Premier League, that is, the best of the best – Heat, Spurs, Clippers, Lakers, etc. While the other 16-18 teams play in the Championship League – Bucks, Wizards, Pistons, Cavs, etc. Based on how the English soccer system works, no team in the Premier League is scheduled to play a team from the Championship league during the regular season. However, in England, teams from the two leagues may clash in other national tournaments, or cups, during that season: The Capital One Cup and The English FA Cup.
Before going further, just so I don’t confuse people, let’s change the lower-league “Championship League” name to the NBA Futures League. Much better.
Now, if you’re a franchise like the Milwaukee Bucks, your goal for the season, if placed in the Futures League, is to either win the league by season’s end or finish in the top three of the league. If the Bucks pull off one of those two scenarios, then next season, they will be promoted to the NBA Premier League. Let’s say during that next season the Bucks struggle and finish in the bottom three of the standings in the Premier League, then the Bucks would be relegated back to the Futures League. Theoretically, if the Heat had a horrible season in the Premier League and finished in the bottom three, LeBron and his boys would be playing with the leftovers of the NBA next season. SportsCenter would be all over that!
Bryant goes on to say that only the teams in the Premier League would have the opportunity to compete for an NBA Championship. Bryant writes, “The length of the season could remain the same, but only the upper-division teams would be eligible to compete for an NBA Championship. Suddenly, every game would mean something.” It sure would, Howard. Once again, Bryant does not go into depth on how a playoff system, if any, would fit into achieving an NBA Title. Here’s what I suggest…
By the end of the season, the top eight teams in the NBA Premier League would clinch a playoff berth. The first and second rounds would be three-game series with the higher seed getting home-court advantage. The final round would become a five game series. I’m OK with a longer series for the NBA Trophy, but I’ve always loathed that anything more than five games is too excessive for any fan. (Only exception – The World Series). First team to three wins gets the NBA Trophy.
Bryant and I both agree that these seven game playoff series (particularly the first round) are unnecessary and a big waste of time. No playoff system should last two-months long. In fact, Bryant worked the numbers and said that the NBA Playoffs is 20% of the length of an NBA regular season!
Now, Bryant does say that the 82-game regular season would remain the same for both leagues. You could leave it that way, but in my opinion, I would scale that back. If there’s a maximum of 14 teams in the NBA Premier League, every team should play each other four times. That’s 13 opponents multiple by four meetings, which equals 52 regular season games. That number would be slightly greater in the NBA Futures league, though, since the other 16 teams would play down there. (If my math serves me correctly, that’s 60 regular season games). Now, if you split the leagues in half 15-15, both leagues would total 56 regular season games. I understand the NBA could lose significant revenue if you reduce the number of regular season games, so yes, there is one disadvantage there. However, if it’s a popular season, attendance would surely rise.
This is also assuming that the NBA eliminates eastern and western conferences and regional divisions within those conferences. Bryant encourages this idea of eliminating both in order to make it more exciting. I agree as well.
However, there’s one area that Howard Bryant does not mention - How would the NBA work?
This is what I propose – only the teams playing in the NBA Futures League are eligible for the draft. That’s right! Teams like the Heat, Clippers, Spurs, etc, are not allowed to participate in the NBA Draft because they are settled in the Premier League. This gives teams in the lower-level league an advantage to improve their team and level the playing field, so their chances of getting to the Premier League increase for next season. There would be a lottery style draft like before, with the worse records getting better odds of landing the number one pick. Instead of two rounds, there would be three. Teams in the lower-level can restock with younger talent, since it’s nearly impossible to land a superstar free agent during the offseason.
And since we know the majority of the teams in the Premier League will go over the salary cap anyway, they can improve their team through free agent signings or trades during the offseason. If a team from the Premier League wants to venture into the draft, they can do it via trade. A team from the Premier League can trade a player for a draft pick with a team from the Futures League. In addition, during the regular season, with a mandated trade deadline, teams from both leagues can make trades with anybody. The Heat in the Premier League, for example, could make a trade with the Bucks of the Futures League.
Once the draft has closed, undrafted free agents can now sign with any team, including those franchises apart of the Premier League (sorry, guys, you get the crumbs).
One question you might be asking yourself, though, is what about the relegated and promoted teams? Who gets in the draft and who doesn’t? Simple. Teams promoted from the NBA Futures League to the NBA Premier League going into next season miss out on the upcoming draft. However, teams relegated from the Premier League down to the Futures League get thrown into the lottery. Although you’ve been kicked out, your franchise has the luxury to rebuild your team through the draft.
Do I make myself clear?
If you can find a loophole in this proposed system from either myself or from Howard Bryant, I’d like to hear it. Bryant has a serious point. And so do I. The question is, do you? Is the NBA fair? Do you like the system David Stern has in place? Do you like the two-month long playoffs, especially when you know the Milwaukee Bucks don’t stand a snowball’s chance?
Thursday night, Sparky asked me who was going to win between the Bucks and Lakers. Despite a four-game losing streak, I said the Bucks would win. Why? Well, why do you think?
If you’ve followed the Bucks to some extent this season, you’ll be aware that the Bucks like to play guessing games with the fans of Milwaukee and SE Wisconsin. They can come out and play their best against the best of the best, and then struggle to defeat the worst of the worst. Every time you want to hop onto the Bucks bandwagon, you’re forced off of it. Then, when you’re not paying attention to the team, the Bucks get on a roll. And when a nice stretch of wins grabs the fans’ attention, what happens? The Bucks turn the winning streak into a losing streak…
I’m sick of it…I feel like I’m in The Twilight Zone…
Rod Serling:This is Joe Zenzola. He works in sports radio. For years, Joe has been a die-hard Bucks fan. However, in this last season, he’s been on a roller coaster of emotions with his favorite basketball team. Every time the team is winning consistently, Joe begins to express how the Bucks could be a force in the NBA. But as soon as he does that, his team starts a trend of losing streaks. And once he wants to blow up the team and rebuild, the Bucks start to win again. Joe is just as disoriented as other Bucks’ fans. The Bucks’ successes and failures will drive Joe to madness. What Joe doesn’t know is…he’s really in… ‘The Twilight Zone’.
The latest example of this came on the day of the NBA Trade Deadline. Furious beyond belief, I did not like the J.J. Redick trade. The Bucks gave up too much to get him; I guess I would have felt a little better if the Bucks also landed Josh Smith, but that turned out to be a failed deal because Atlanta wanted Larry Sanders (Thank God, Bucks management didn’t deal the SWAT Man!).
The Redick deal, however, was puzzling. Yes, when the Bucks were playing great basketball earlier in the season, I felt they could use an extra shooter. But after seeing the inconsistency of maintaining a winning record and a chance to move up in the Eastern Conference playoff race, acquiring an extra shooter was meaningless. This season, like so many in the last several years, has been more repetitive than brushing my teeth. Ready to throw in the towel for the season, I believed it was time for a drastic change…
Instead of trying to make the eighth seed quota that Herb Kohl seems to be infatuated with, I felt it was time to blow up the team, rebuild it around Sanders and Henson, and move forward. Many fans would agree, I’ll do ANYTHING to see the Bucks win just ONE NBA Title in my lifetime! Once the Redick deal was made, though, the Bucks got on a role…
While filling in for several of the Robert Haack Diamonds Basketball Post Game Shows, there was one night where the Bucks were just three games behind the Nets for the fourth seed in the East. The fourth! At that point, I actually pondered kissing Herb Kohl and John Hammond’s feet. Could this be a sign of another FEAR THE DEER run? J.J. Redick was doing a great job off the bench, Monta Ellis was stepping up his game to another level, and Brandon Jennings, knowing he needs to do something to raise his value, decided to pass the ball around more. Nonetheless, this formula was working and the Bucks were winning…I cannot believe I almost wanted to apologize to Bucks management.
And then…another losing streak started…
Since winning six of eight after the Redick deal (including a 2-1 west coast road trip), the Bucks are 3-7. Bucks fans, I’m tired of the roller coaster ride. I hope you are, too.
Whenever I’m negative and pessimistic, they win. Whenever I’m excited and optimistic, they lose. I can’t take it anymore. Here are three things worth noting; one of those is a special message directed towards the Senator.
First, observe all the big wins and bad defeats for the Bucks this season…
(Oh, and by the way, the Bucks still need to face the Bobcats twice, and the T-Wolves, Magic, and Raptors all once. Don’t expect 5-0, folks)
Secondly, over on Facebook, I posted a poll question. “Yes or no, would you blow up and rebuild the Bucks’ organization?” Of 200 responses, only 25 people on the 1250 Facebook page said ‘No.’ Well, Mr. Senator?
Now a message for Senator Kohl…
Mr. Senator, you are a man of the people, correct?
You were one of two senators to represent the people of the State of Wisconsin for a long time, right?
Now, you run a business, correct?
Yes, we’re talking about the business of the Milwaukee Bucks. In order to be successful in a business, you need to put out a product that consumers want to buy into. Consumers will make it clear what they want. So, Mr. Senator, give the consumers what they want. You represented people while in political office, so why can’t you represent the fans of this city? Why can’t you give them what they want?
Look at these names…Corey Maggette…and Stephen Jackson…and John Salmons…and Drew Gooden…and Richard Jefferson…among others…ARE NOT THE ANSWERS. You can't expect to put a winning team on the court with names like these. Well aware of the finiancial situation, I understand getting a superstar to Milwaukee is impossible. However, you can find other avenues…And if you can’t, then do what the people say.
If seven of every eight fans want to blow this thing up, what is so difficult about that? I’ll blame myself if that leads to 20 straight seasons of failure; I’m cool with that! It's time to start taking some risks. Most buisness take risks...You have nothing to lose, Mr. Senator.
You’re attendance is crap anyway. A .500 basketball team with an eighth seeded playoff appearance is unacceptable for any fan base. That doesn’t win you a championship. Why should that mentality fly?! REBUILD this franchise. Otherwise, sell the team, make your millions, and retire. This franchise can only be successful if the owner knows what he or she is doing. With all due respect, Senator Kohl, as an owner of an NBA franchise, you don’t know what you’re doing. I’m convinced this team is doomed with you at the helm…I’m sorry.
Disappointed, flustered, and irritated, I don’t know what else to say. I’m sick of the constant guessing games and roller coaster rides. This isn’t some emotional theme park. I want the Bucks to be the best team in the league; I want them to win an NBA title. And so do you Bucks fans…We deserve better.
This offseason might be the biggest offseason in the franchise’s history. There are several directions to go, and it will be interesting to see where Herb Kohl and John Hammond decide to take this organization. Just make this team better in the long haul…
After playing some of the most consistent golf this past week at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, Tiger Woods looks more like the normal Tiger we’ve known from his glory days. With that being said, Tiger is not far off from competing to win his 15th career Major. Winning a WGC-event is like winning a semi-major; Tiger has won seven times at Doral, 17 WGC-events altogether. Although the field is half the normal size in these WGC-events, you’re still playing against some of the best golfers in the world. Tournaments like these are a true measure of a pro golfer’s potential and future in the game. Tiger’s future continues to look brighter…
Since the fame scandal, Tiger has slowly, but surely, repaired his image both on and off the golf course. On the course, though, Tiger did a ton to revamp his game into something that would make him feel comfortable once again. He parted ways with swing coach Hank Haney, and hired Sean Foley. He also split with long-time caddy Steve Williams, and replaced him with Joe LaCava. He’s done a slightly better job controlling his anger and poor sportsmanship, and continues to be open to the media. Furthermore, Tiger looks more focused than ever. Jokingly, I like to call him Mr. Serious when he plays. He tunes everything out around him and hones in on how he’ll play his next shot.
Ironically, his biggest problem was the putter. As the old saying goes, ‘drive for show, putt for dough.’ Back in the day, that was Tiger’s forte; it’s what made Tiger the best in the world. Coming in the clutch no matter the situation, Tiger would find a way to sink a putt from 20 feet for par when the challenge came. When he was making putts, nobody could catch him. While rebuilding his game, Tiger has had a fair share of scattered rounds where it appears his putter is working in one round, but not in the other four. Just when you think the old Tiger has returned, he stinks it up in the next round. Inconsistency, for awhile, was becoming Tiger Woods middle name.
So after a 45-minute putting lesson from competitor and friend, Steve Stricker, earlier in the week, Tiger found himself absolutely unstoppable once tournament play at Doral got underway. I’ve never seen Tiger sink so many putts from so many distances in a long, LONG time. After reading Hank Haney’s book The Big Miss (which I recommend to anyone interested in Tiger Woods), Haney was convinced that Tiger filed away something like 5-10% of what was taught to him and ignored the other 90-95%; it would be that knowledge he would use to further his game in tournaments. I’m certain what Tiger got out of Stricker’s lesson was part of that 5-10%.
I have no idea where swing coach Sean Foley was. Isn’t that his job to help Tiger with the putting instead of a fellow competitor? It’s rare to see any competitor assist another competitor with an element of their game. I’ve drawn the conclusion that Tiger has a stronger friendship with Steve Stricker, than any other golfer on tour. Outside of his relationships with pros Mark O’Meara and Notah Begay III, Tiger doesn’t welcome too many of his current competitors into his inner circle – Stricker might be an exception to the fact.
Holding that mammoth of a trophy, Tiger’s stats at Doral speak for themselves. He had the fewest putts of his career in any pro tournament he’s played in: 100 putts. Tiger also finished with 27 birdies for the tournament, that’s just one shy of his career record of 28 set back at two different tournaments in 2006 and 2007.
From start to finish, Tiger was dialed in. Every time I sensed a hiccup in one of his rounds at the Blue Monster, Tiger would somehow correct his fault. It was rare this weekend to see Tiger hit two bad shots in a row. If he drove the ball way right, Tiger would blast it out of the trees and put himself in position for a nice up and down, or get a good look at birdie. If Tiger’s chipping or sand play was lackluster around the green, Tiger would connect on the next shot with a 10-15 footer for par. Is this the best we’ll see out of him? And for how long?
The thing is Tiger has now won twice this season on tour, and five total victories over the last year. Tiger is now second in the Fedex Cup Standings behind Brandt Snedeker, and continues to inch his way closer to number one ranked Rory McIlroy in the World Golf Rankings.
Next up on the calendar for Mr. Woods – The Arnold Palmer Invitational, a tournament he’s won seven times. I predict he’ll win that tournament as well. If he can continue to master his skills around the greens, Tiger will have no problem adding his 77th PGA hardware to his trophy case.
Now, I expect Tiger to win a major this year. If not, it’s time to start questioning whether winning more majors than Jack Nicklaus is even feasible. Tiger’s last major victory came at the 2008 U.S. Open. Tiger has now had several seasons to get back everything he lost during the time of his scandal. If there’s any major he can win, it’s The Masters. He’s won four times there, but was last victorious in 2005. Even when Augusta was ‘Tiger-proofed’, it still doesn’t play as a long course. Sure, the fairways may be tight and the greens will play exceptionally fast, but golfers can definitely put up low scores.
Tiger’s putter has failed him at Augusta for the last several years. If he can do what he did at Doral, he’s got this in the bag – guaranteed. Throughout his career, though, Tiger is still so-so with the driver. If I’m Tiger Woods, use a 3-wood or shorter club off the tee in that tournament. It got him a British Open title back in 2006 using that strategy. It surprises me why he doesn’t use that strategy more often in tournaments, especially if the course isn’t necessarily a long one.
Tiger, we’re all waiting for that next major title. You’re beginning to find your groove once again. Do us all a favor and get it done!
I don’t know if Packer fans realize this, but Ted Thompson stepped out of his bounds on April 26, 2006. We know Ted well, right? The guy doesn’t make a myriad of free agent signings, let alone top tier free agents. After one year in the books, though, as general manager, Thompson made one of the biggest free agent signings of his tenure. Inking him to a seven year, 52.7 million dollar deal, the Packers took a small gamble on a player that some believe may have already been washed up with the Oakland Raiders. His name was Charles Woodson.
The Green and Gold were the only franchise in the NFL to offer him a contract. Woodson made it clear that he did not want to play for Green Bay, but in the end, he chose not to turn the contract down. The decision was a life changer…
His accolades speak for themselves…
- 8 Pro Bowls
- 7 All-Pros
- AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year (2009)
- NFC Defense Player of the Year (2009)
- AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year (1998)
- Heisman Trophy Recipient (1997)
Just to name a few…
Woodson worked his magic game in and game out. From what I’ve seen out of #21, he was by far one of the best secondary players out there. The guy was a hawk on the football field, ready to strike for an incoming pass or to nail a quarterback to the ground.
Although he broke his collar bone in Super Bowl XLV, Woodson prevented Steelers WR Mike Wallace from catching a deep pass that could have changed the course of the game. His halftime speech to his teammates thereafter resonated well. The Packers would go on to win a thrilling Super Bowl, after a magic carpet ride nobody saw coming. He’s the definition of an elite player…and a standup guy both on and off the field. (Not to mention, the guy always dressed nice before putting on the pads).
A couple of C-Wood’s famous quotes…
“If the President don’t want to come to see us at the Super Bowl, we’re going to see him!”
“Same old Jay”
“I’ve been blessed with talent and wanting to be great. If you have those things, the sky is the limit.”
He was a leader among men. He’s definitely in the Packer Hall of Fame, and I expect him to retire as a Green Bay Packer. I also hope he makes the NFL Hall of Fame…
He [Messi] was close, real close. I couldn't see him yet, but I could feel him, as if the subway train was being sucked towards Camp Nou and the tracks were being pulled back into the city. Whatever was going to happen, it wasn't gonna be the way they call it back in Wisconsin.
No, I’m not talking about Colonel Kurtz; I’m talking about Lionel Messi – the greatest ‘football’ player on the face of the earth.
Waiting for the last two years, I never thought I would have another opportunity to see him play live again. Tomorrow (Sunday), I will return to Camp Nou, one of the biggest stadiums in the world, as FC Barcelona takes on Osasuna, the worst team in La Liga. Expecting a massacre on the field, I hope Messi comes through with a goal. It will complete this 18 day journey…
However, Messi apparently had an injury Thursday night in the second leg of the Copa del Rey against Malaga; he was substituted in the 82nd minute. The club claims that the injury is not serious, but Messi did not practice yesterday.
Great, that’s all I need. Come all this way to see the greatest football player of my lifetime, and he’s sitting on the bench?! Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that…
Messi’s speed, passing, accuracy, and scoring are extraordinary skills that most football players cannot mirror. The man has a true gift, and unlike so many other superstars, he lives a pretty humble and quiet life (or so we think). He’s a special player with a special talent. When he gets the ball, let him go to work. When he doesn’t have the ball, he’s in position to strike when the opportunity presents itself. His team is an outstanding supporting cast of talented individuals. They, too, are superstars in their own respect. In general, Barcelona’s starting eleven is a well oiled machine, with very few flaws. It is why they are champions on a consistent basis, not only in Spain, but around the world. They are more than just the Yankees and Lakers of the world…They are ‘mes que un club’.
It’s been a week since I’ve written a blog. Obviously so much has happened between now and then, so I’ll try to recap my time in Munich and Barcelona. The game is Sunday, and I’ll fly home the following day. Still cannot believe how fast this trip has gone by, yet I feel like I’ve been here for months. Honestly, though, I’m ready to come home.
In Munich, I can say ate very well. Anticipating outstanding German cuisine, I didn’t have one bad meal when I was there. Almost every dinner consisted of schnitzel (either pork or veal), and almost every lunch consisted of a schnitzel sandwich. Although I’m not the biggest potato salad fan, I surely ate a ton of it. I also had my fair share of sausage, including bratwurst, bockwurst, and weisswurst. I even had something that look like pink bread – it was German meatloaf; you would have never have guessed it, but it was outstanding. Ironically, I didn’t drink as much beer as I thought I would. When I did, it was a lot of Hofbrau and Hachor Pschorr.
As for the sites in Munich, I experienced the Dachau Concentration Camp, an absolute fascinating, but depressing tour. It still amazes me how human beings have the power and will to exterminate millions of innocent human beings. We cannot forget these horrors…
Taking a two hour train ride south into the mountains of Bavaria, I also took a tour of the Neuschwanstein castle. It was built in the late 1800s for the king of Bavaria. The castle is absolutely amazing on the inside; everything – furniture, art, and the rooms – was in perfect condition. And yes, it kind of looks like Hogwarts.
In addition, I got a tour of the Allianz Arena, the home of Bayern Munich. Considering how big it is, it has the same capacity as Lambeau field (70,000 people). Did you know the media is allowed to drink alcohol? Yep. The pressroom there is enormous; it’s like the size of an auditorium. Behind it is a little cafeteria with a bar. Too bad we don’t have that luxury back home.
I also saw a Bayern Munich game. That was, by far, the coldest game I’ve ever been too. Plus, fans are allowed to smoke in the stadium. This resulted in a lot of second-hand smoke for yours truly. You can check out the game summary in my previous blog.
Did I mention the air was clean? Although it snowed almost every day, I have never inhaled cleaner air in my life!
As for Barcelona, I was looking forward to the change in climate. All this week, it’s been in the mid 50s to low 60s; the sun has been out every single day. While it was still way too cold to swim, I did hang out by the beach today (nothing like looking out at the Mediterranean Sea). Our hotel has a nice rooftop overlooking the city. I’ve spent my afternoons getting a lot of reading in from up there.
We’ve done a lot of walking as well, making tours to the Montjuic Castle which overlooks the Mediterranean Sea as well as Barcelona. We did a tour of the buildings and parks designed by Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi. Scattered across the city, they’re very unique in shape, size, and color. One of his famous creations, a mammoth cathedral called La Sagrada Familia, began construction in the late 1800s. IT’S STILL BEING BUILT TODAY! If you see this church in person, you will be convinced why they’re still working on it.
And of course, we got a tour FC Barcelona’s stadium Camp Nou…
All in all, it’s been an outstanding trip. It might be my last ever trip to Europe, but I’ve enjoyed every second of it. The culture, the food, the sites, and the football have been out of this world.
Besides, January is the perfect time to come, since there’s football on TV almost every day. When I haven’t been touring the sites or eating, I’m watching football in one of the local bars. Between the Premier League, English FA Cup, La Liga, Copa del Rey, and the German Bundesliga, I have been more into the sport than ever. I wonder what I’ll watch tonight…
Again, can’t wait to see Messi and company pounce on a crappy Osasuna squad.
To close my European Chronicles, I’ll use the opposite of what Kurtz said in Apocalypse Now…