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25 questions I’ve asked myself

Man there is a lot of things going on in sports. That’s why I love it so much, it’s constant action, constant intrigue, and constant drama. And it makes me think; a lot and when I think about these things sometimes I develop the question enough in my head that I can write a full blown article about them. But other times the answers are simple and don’t necessarily warrant a 700-word piece about them, which made me think more about how I can give my opinions and commentary on certain issues that don’t need a full article for them but need to be said. So I’ve come up with sort of a quick hits each month…or whenever I feel like doing it…to get the point out about these questions I’ve asked myself and thought about.

Let’s lead off with some football…

Tim Tebow1. Should Tim Tebow play in the CFL?

First of all, I hate myself for bringing up Tim Tebow since he is a bad quarterback not truly worthy of media attention but since he was cut by the New York Jets and no NFL team seems at all interested right now there is the surrounding circus with some saying he deserves a shot in the NFL and the rest saying he doesn’t belong in the NFL and should resort to playing in Canada or even the Arena League. Now I don’t think there is a place for Tebow in the NFL, not even at a different position where players have dedicated their life to the craft but I also think that you have to look at what he is very good at and what makes him so interesting, his ability to run in short yardage. Tebow has elite ability in that area and some team will eventually sign him for that role but going to the CFL or AFL in the meantime would be a horrible decision because what if he’s bad there?

There are a few things Tebow has in his favor, 1) he was a first round pick whether he deserved to be or not and 2) he took the Broncos to the playoffs after an 0-4 start and won a playoff game. That still doesn’t mean he’s a good quarterback but on the face of it you have a first round pick who won a playoff game and that sounds good so one day maybe a team will take a gamble on him if they are desperate but if he is bad in Canada or the Arena League he can kiss that dream good bye.

2. Do the Jets seriously just not get it?

Absolutely not. The formula for winning football game anymore is pretty clear: get a quarterback and build around him. The Ravens, known for their defense, just won a Super Bowl with Joe Flacco after finally moving their focus off their defense and on their offense. The Colts and Redskins both made the playoffs last year after getting their quarterbacks in the draft and using the rest of their picks to get talent around them. The Seahawks found a gem in Russell Wilson and went out and traded for Percy Harvin. The Bengals got Andy Dalton and A.J. Green and are now coming off back-to-back playoff appearances. Get your quarterback and get players around him it’s not that hard of a concept.

Except for the Jets, who in the draft got a very good cornerback and very good defensive tackle but filled zero needs and are likely in line to be the worst team in the NFL come 2013. Those were the only two positions on the field that the Jets did not need help at but they took guys for those spots and will help their team win in no way at all because whether they go with Mark Sanchez, David Garrard, Greg McElroy or Geno Smith the offense around them will still be bad.

3. Who is the one guy I think can be the real gem of the 2013 NFL Draft?

Let me define what I consider a gem here: a player taken in the fourth round or later who I believe will become one of the best players in the league during his era. I’m not saying I guarantee my guy is going to be a Hall of Famer, though I’m sure there will be a handful of Hall of Famer’s from this draft class, but I really like A.J. Klein, who was taken in the fourth round by the Carolina Panthers. You can say you don’t like his foot work or his speed but this guy is a very instinctual linebacker who was constantly in the right place at the right time in college and with that sort of intuition Klein could be a big-time playmaker in the NFL.

4. Should I believe in Bill Belichick’s plan for the Patriots?

Bill Belichick

I really think the Patriots are going to be on a quick down slide even with the great Tom Brady running the show. I never said they won’t make the playoffs but usually in the offseason I have no hesitation saying i think the Patriots will win the next Super Bowl but now I can’t say that because they aren’t helping Tom Brady. One could say that they are making the Patriots more like the team that won three championships in four years with no true No. 1 receiver but I have what they are going at that position. You can’t keep taking Tom Brady’s weapons away and expect him to be able to win. Welker was older and wouldn’t be worth the contract he’s getting in a few years from now but he’s a great not and the Patriots need weapons for Brady to win now. You don’t have a dynamic WR in your hands at the draft when you desperately need one, trade down and then take a worse wide receiver.

5. Early predictions, who are the favorites in the AFC and NFC?

It is tough to say but it is also hard to pick against the Ravens in the AFC. The reigning Super Bowl Champions in my opinion significantly improved their defense despite losing two first ballot Hall of Famers. Getting Chris Canty and Marcus Spears to beef up their defensive line were huge moves and getting Elvis Dumervil may have required the greatest bit of luck after one of the biggest failures in NFL history but Ozzie Newsome pulled it off. Then to sign Michael Huff and Rolando McClain and re-sign Bryant McKinnie fills in other holes and helps out even more. But I also know it is incredibly hard to make it back to the Super Bowl after winning it, especially with so many new faces and a new group of leaders in the locker room so I’m going to say Denver has to be the favorite in the AFC.

As for the NFC, I don’t think the 49ers are going back. Frank Gore has a lot of wear and tear on him and is bound to start his down slide and Colin Kaepernick is not going to be as electric as he was with teams getting some tape on him. I also think the decision to let Dashon Goldson go in free agency will hurt them in some way. So I’m going with Atlanta in the NFC all because of Steven Jackson. Michael Turner was more of a liability than a help last season but Steven Jackson finds himself in the perfect place in the perfect situation at the perfect time and will compliment that high-flying passing game led by a quarterback who I think is clearly one of the best in the league.

On to the NBA Playoffs…

Carmelo Anthony6. Which of the four teams to lose game one of their second round series has to worry the most?

The first four games of the second round of the playoffs were absolutely amazing. The unbeatable Heat were upset and had home-court advantage stolen from them; the Knicks lost home court to another lower seed in the east after not only being beat but really beat down; Kevin Durant took a Oklahoma City team that looked to be in trouble after losing one of their stars in Russell Westbrook and led a tremendous comeback while the Memphis Grizzlies experienced a horrible collapse late in the game; and the Spurs needed an incredible comeback and two overtimes but they were able to get past a Warriors team that is young but truly feels like they can complete with anybody.

So out of Miami, New York, Memphis and Golden State who has the most to worry about? Clearly I think the Knicks have the most to worry about and the Knicks fan in me hate saying that. Miami is just too good to not win a best of seven series against the Bulls. I said Chicago would win one and while I didn’t think it would be the first game of the series the Heat had not played in a week and the Bulls were fighting over a seven game series. While Memphis suffered a huge collapse OKC won’t be able to win three more games if that is how they have to do it. And while it has to be a gut punch for the Warriors to drop that big of a lead both in regulation and overtime Stephen Curry is the hottest player in the playoffs and the young Warriors have absolutely no fear and will be tough the rest of the series.

The Knicks, though, were beat up in their game. The referees called game one very fair but by letting them play and not calling every chippy foul it benefited the much more physical Pacers greatly. The Knicks are not built for that type of a matchup. This is a team that needs to hit a ridiculous number of outside shots and needs Raymond Felton to drive and kick to be successful. Against a very physical team making these ridiculous three-point shots and driving and kicking like they do will not come easy and now they lost their home-court advantage.

7. Is Stephen Curry a franchise player?

Who knows. Heck, it took future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki 13 years and an NBA Championship to finally get the respect of being labeled a franchise player. But right now what I will definitely say is he is the hottest player in the NBA, coming off 44 points against the Spurs, albeit in a loss. Averaging 27.1 points and making 48.4% of his three-point attempts Curry is feeling it, carried the Warriors past a tough Denver Nuggets team and will give them hope against a veteran Spurs team.

8. Where does Tim Duncan stand all time?

There is no question, he is the best power forward of all time. While Duncan was limited in the opening game against the Warriors due to an illness it never fails to impress me how ever single postseason the 16-year veteran finds the fountain of youth and plays as good as ever. With four NBA Championships, 3 Finals MVPs, 2 NBA MVPs and 11 All-NBA selections you have to put the most fundamental basketball player ever right up there with the best players of all time. He’s not flash and sometimes he’s boring but enjoy this year’s playoffs while you can because it very well may be the last time we see Duncan on the court.

9. Is it a travesty that Lebron James was not the first unanimous MVP ever?

Absolutely not. Sorry, I for one thought Carmelo Anthony deserved it more than Lebron James. But here lies the problem and leads me to a related question: Should leagues stop referring to their top award as the “Most Valuable Player” and call it the “Player of the Year Award”? James is undoubtedly the best player in the world and it is not even close and really that is what they look for when they ask who the MVP should be but call the award what you mean! If you want the best player call it the Player of the Year but if you want the player who was the most valuable to his team then you have to give it to Melo because James has Wade, Bosh and a decent supporting cast and without James the Heat are still a playoff team but the Knicks without Melo this year are a definitely lottery team and likely in the bottom five of the NBA.

J.R. Smith is a very good shooter but without Anthony there he can’t be the force he is. Raymond Felton is a better point guard than people want to give him credit for but without Melo on the outside to kick out to he would not be nearly as good going to the basket. After those guys you’re looking at a Knicks roster featuring Amar’e Stoudemire, who only played 29 games during the season because of injury, and Kenyon Martin, Rasheed Wallace, Jason Kidd, Kurt Thomas and Marcus Camby, all of whom should have retired before now. But Melo put the team on his back and carried them all the way to the No. 2 seed in the East.

10. Can any team other than the Miami Heat win the title?

Lebron JamesI’ve been fairly clear about my view that the Miami Heat are so far ahead of the field that it should be one of the greatest shocks in NBA history to see any other team cutting down the nets at the end of all of this but hey I can’t count anything out because this is sports and these are professional basketball players who won’t just lay down for James and let him earn his second ring while on his quest to become the greatest player in NBA history.

If the Pacers get past the Knicks and play the same physical game that nearly gave them a victory over the Heat last year they could win. If Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith go on this insane hot streak and hit every bad shot they take from here on out they could win. If Nate Robinson and Marco Bellineli go out and dominant the Heat like they did in game one for the rest of the series and Noah completely shuts down the lane and limits everything inside they could win.

If Kevin Martin figures out a way to get to the foul line ten times a game and gives Kevin Durant some help while Serge Ibaka uses his athleticism to dominant inside they could win. If Memphis uses their physicality and Mike Conley continues to blossom into a star they could win. If Stephen Curry continues to ride his hot streak and scored 40 points a night for the rest of the playoffs they could win. If San Antonio’s big three dominate and those role players all step up in key situations they could win.

Boy that was a lot of “ifs”.

11. Who is to blame for the Los Angeles Lakers’ failure?

This is a two part answer. The first part is the basketball Gods for making them suffer through an uncanny number of injuries. This season every single on of the Lakers’ key players missed time due to injury, except Dwight Howard, who was battling through a back problem all season.

But on a more objective level I’ll say the Buss family, most of all Jim Buss. Things were not working out right away for Mike Brown but that did not mean they should have fired him after a 1-4 start because Steve Nash and Dwight Howard were new additions and Brown put in a new offense and they needed some time to get used to things in a very long season.

So when the Buss family fired Browm that was mistake No. 1…actually mistake No. 3 because choosing to go with Steve Nash and not a younger, quicker point guard was a terrible idea and getting Dwight Howard was the flashy move but did not fit what the Lakers needed to do. But while I love Mike D’Antoni you can’t go from Mike Brown and the Princeton offense to D’Antoni and his run n’ gun at the snap of a finger, especially not when nobody on the team fits that style of play.

They should have sucked up the pride and gotten Jackson or been more patient with Brown because the coaching change was one of the biggest causes of all their problems and was completely the Buss families’ fault.

12. What should Dwight Howard do?

Dwight Howard

Dwight Howard should do what ever he wants because he’s a grown man but obviously choosing to stay in Los Angeles will give him $30 million more than anywhere else can so that’s a big reason to stay. However, he clearly wasn’t happy with the Lakers and if this is going to be the Dwight Howard we get again for the next few years his career will be pretty much over. Honestly, I think Howard should leave if D’Antoni is the coach and that is not an indictment on D’Antoni but the two cannot co-exist. D’Antoni loves to run n’ gun but Howard is a a great defender and a very strong powerful big man who pounds away inside and in that style of offense both of those talents fail to be utilized. I’d like to see Howard either in Atlanta with Josh Smith or in Dallas, which would clearly build their entire franchise around him starting the day he signs with them.

13. What should the Lakers do?

Keep Mike D’Antoni (unless Jackson wants to come back and the Buss family is willing to bring him back) and get younger. Steve Nash, Metta World Peace, Paul Gasol and Kobe Bryant are all fantastic players but you can’t have that many guys nearing the end of their careers on a fast offense and they should not get rid of a good coach D’Antoni for the sake of extending that group just one more year only to prolong the inevitable rebuild. They should go get some nice young players either in free agency or through trade. Pau Gasol doesn’t work in that offense so while he still has some value go get somebody and this is not the high of him dominating the Heat like he just did but bring in Nate Robinson, he’d be perfect in LA.

14. Who will be the hottest coaching’ candidate not names Phil Jackson?

Obviously every fan base will have some sort of hope that they can bring in the zen master but pretty much all of them have no shot. The only place Jackson will come back is in Los Angeles but that needs the cooperation of the owners, so it’s not happening. But with teams already beginning their new coaching search we’re bound to get some interesting names popping up but I’d have to say Byron Scott will be the hottest name. This guy is a very good coach but has been in the worst situations that include New Orleans and Cleveland post Lebron James…yuck

15. Will Denver ever win without a super star?

Simple answer, no. This is a star driven league and while you can win a bunch of regular season games with a solid all-around team when it comes time for the playoffs you need to have at least one guy who will step up and carry his team to victory.

16. Without Russell Westbrook do the Thunder have a chance to go back to the NBA finals?

Not really. The way they had to win game one of their series against Memphis will not happen on the regular. Kudos to them for scrapping out a remarkable win like that but expecting Durant to hit every single shot he takes and their opponent to turn the ball over that many times in the final few minutes is not realistic.

Without James Harden to provide the Thunder with another great player to help out when Westbrook is gone the Thunder are in a bad spot.

Kevin DurantWhich leads me to another point about how the Thunder’s dumbest move in history had to be trading James Harden whether he would have been headed to free agency this offseason or not. There are only so many great players in the NBA and the Thunder had three, just as the Heat and Spurs have three. Now with Westbrook down the Thunder have one and you don’t see teams winning like that. You need at the very least two guys.

Look at the past champions to prove it:

2012 – Miami Heat: Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh
2011 – Dallas Mavericks: Dirk Notwizki, Tyson Chandler
2010 – Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol
2009 – Los Angeles Lakers: see above
2008 – Boston Celtics: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen
2007 – San Antonio Spurs: Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili
2006 – Miami Heat: Shaquille O’Neal, Alonzo Mourning, Dwayne Wade

I could keep going…

The problem was the Thunder undervalued what they had and overvalued what they got. Sure, the points per game production between James Harden and Kevin Martin was quite similar but Martin got his points mostly off volume and having the ball in his hands constantly and drawing fouls. Harden created his offense, shots and points.

16. Was watching Shaq and Charles Barkley in a three-point contest during TNT’s inside the NBA the greatest thing in basketball history?

Yes!

Finally dethroning another great moment in basketball history

Now on to baseball…

17. Why are people surprised by the Red Sox doing well?

Based on last year the Red Sox should do bad but if you remember there is this thing called the offseason and free agency where teams go out and get new players and rebuild. All offseason long I said the Red Sox were building a scary team. They tried to go with all the big names but the big egos that come along with it completely destroyed their chance at winning but this offseason they went with high-character guys who were all solid ball players and when you have a team full of solid ball players like Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Shane Victorino, Jonny Gomes, Mike Napoli, Stephen Drew, John Lester, Clay Buchholz, and Ryan Dempster you’re bound to be a solid ball club.

18. Are the Nationals babying stud pitcher Stephen Strasburg too much?

StrasburgAt least the Nationals did not make him miss a start after he shook out his arm following a pitch during a game against the Braves. The Nationals cannot be scared of Strasburg’s own shadow either. Last season when the National sat him at the end of the season and made him do nothing but sit and watch as his team lost to the Cardinals in the playoffs was maybe the most pathetic thing in sports history. Their reasoning the club gave for doing that was because it would help extend Strasburg’s career but while that may be true…WIN NOW!!!

The Nationals may never have that sort of opportunity to win a World Series again and they were right on the door step last October and essentially gave it away but now if they do anything to shut Strasburg down again I’ll have to really wonder about this organization and how it is run.

I get that Strasburg is supposed to be this team’s future while also serving as their current ace but if you don’t play him he can’t be that guy. Let him pitch, let him dominate, and let him do what he does now and just be ready to deal with anything that happens in the future, don’t sacrifice the present.

19. The high-dollar Blue Jays, Angels and Dodgers are a combined 36-59, what gives?

It’s amazing how franchises don’t learn that you can’t just throw a bunch of huge names on a roster and expect it to work out perfectly.

Toronto…look…you weren’t very good last year and neither was the Marlins so why would you think merging both teams would mean you would turn into a super team? The Blue Jays have power hitters and have a lot of home runs but they are also one of the worst teams in the league hitting for average so if you can’t get players on base, it’s pretty hard to score runs. And their team’s qualified leader in ERA is at 4.69. That’s horrible. Brandon Morrow has promise as a power pitcher but he has only ever been a high strikeout guys, he puts guys on base. Mark Buehrle is clearly on the downslide in his career and while R.A. Dickey won the Cy Young last year and was tremendous history says knuckelball pitchers can’t be that great and his second half of the season in 2012 showed he would not be that dominant again.

The Angeles have a nice duo in Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo but Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols are big names who don’t play well anymore. The rest of that lineup is full of guys who are barely starters on other teams and after C.J. Wilson and an injured Jared Weaver they have nothing in terms of pitching. If it weren’t for the Rockets being in their division now the Angeles should be in last place.

The Dodgers also might have the worst infield in the game. That outfield with Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier looks pretty and Adrian Gonzalez is nice on the corner but A.J. Ellis, Nick Punto and Juan Uribe…really? And congratulations you have Clayton Kershaw but who else do you have pitching? Josh Beckett is a name but when was the last time he was actually any good?

20. Hey didn’t the Yankees build their championship franchises by just going out and buying all the best names?

If you know anything about baseball you know this isn’t true because the foundation of the Yankees for the past 20 years was their home-grown talents in Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and Bernie Williams; four incredible baseball players playing incredibly important positions. They also developed super star second baseman Robinson Cano on their own. Going out and signing all the big name free agents like they always did gave them supplementary players but the core of the team was always guys who came up in their organization.

And they, unlike the Blue Jays, Angels and Dodgers got very good players. You can’t tell me that guys like Chuck Knoblauch, Tino Martinez, Scott Brosius and Paul O’Neill weren’t solid baseball players in the prime of their careers when the Yankees got them.

21. Mike Trout, Bryce Harper or Manny Machado?

Manny Machado

Oh boy, it’s tough to say right now but I do know that we baseball fans are in for a treat for the next decade with these three guys. I fully expect all three to win MVP awards in their careers and be the face of baseball before too long. But as a prideful Baltimorean I’ll stick with Machado.

On to hockey…

22. Corey’s it’s questions 22 of 25 and you’re just getting to hockey and it’s not really even a hockey question, what gives?

I must say that my biggest regret as a sports fan and commentator/analyst is not really knowing much about the NHL. I love watching the sport but hailing from Baltimore where hockey is such and after thought I always focused my attention on other sports like football, baseball, college basketball, lacrosse and even boxing. It’s very hard to deeply follow every single sport so getting into a conversation about the NHL playoffs probably won’t be a smart move on my part. I do fully plan on following hockey more in the future but hey…shameless plug…if anybody it interested in writing hockey for this website you’re more than welcome to contact me.

Speaking of boxing…

23. Is there any fight that could save the sport now?

People who actually watch and know boxing no longer have interest in seeing Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather fight anymore and we all know that Mayweather would win the fight against a Pac-man on the fast down slide of his career. Five years ago there is no question this fight could have saved boxing but now it might not even be worth seeing.

BUT, I still think it can save boxing because most people don’t actually know boxing and know that Macquiao is slipping fast and stands no chance against Mayweather. The two could still put on a nice show with a record-breaking draw.

24. If not Pacquiao who should Mayweather fight next?

Obviously it should be Timothy Bradley, the man who just beat Manny Pacquiao and essentially put a nail in the coffin of the dream fight. At 30-0 the 29-year old is easily the best welterweight after Mayweather and with a victory over Pacquiao is would make for great intrigue.

And it would be much more interesting that seeing him fight Miguel Cotto, Victor Ortiz or a Shane Mosley who has been done for years before they fought.

Last but not least…

25. Can Orb win the Triple Crown?

Orb

Obviously it can since it won the Kentucky Derby and no other horse could possibly win it instead. I’m sure I’ll see a Triple Crown winner in my life time, hopefully at 24-years-old I still have plenty of time left to see one. Orb was the favorite to win the Derby, showed great speed to come back after a rough start on the sloppy track, has great closing speed and…what the heck and I doing here. Horse racing is a fun event and I do consider jockey’s the athletes here because controlling a horse is hard to do but I’m not sure I consider it a sport.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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