SPORTS: Podcast: BYU-Air Force Preview, Mid-week Update

Written by Jake Welch on . Posted in Sports

Jake and Preston check in for a mid-week look at all the latest sports news, including a look back at last week’s BYU victory over Washington and a look forward at Saturday’s contest with Air Force in Colorado Springs. Enjoy!

You can stream the podcast by simply clicking on the link below, or you can download it to your computer by right-clicking the link and selecting “Save Link As” from the menu.

Listen to: Rhombus Podcast 023 — The PB&J Report (2010.09.10)

SPORTS: Podcast: BYU-Washington Preview

Written by Jake Welch on . Posted in Sports

After many long months, the beginning of the college football season is finally upon us, which means the PB&J Report boys are back in business with their favorite topic — BYU football. The crew breaks down this year’s team and looks ahead to this weekend’s season opener against the Washington Huskies in what is sure to be the first of many football-centric podcasts this fall. Enjoy!

You can stream the podcast by simply clicking on the link below, or you can download it to your computer by right-clicking the link and selecting “Save Link As” from the menu.

Listen to: Rhombus Podcast 022 — The PB&J Report (2010.09.04)

SPORTS: Podcast: BYU Football's Independence Day

Written by Ben Wagner on . Posted in Sports

When trouble strikes, The PB&J Report is there. The crew gets together to discuss the day’s big news — BYU’s possible move to independent status in football — and whatever else happens to trickle in along the way. Enjoy!

You can stream the podcast by simply clicking on the link below, or you can download it to your computer by right-clicking the link and selecting “Save Link As” from the menu.

Listen to: Rhombus Podcast 021 — The PB&J Report (2010.08.19)

SPORTS: Podcast: MLB All-Star Game, Miami Thrice and More

Written by Ben Wagner on . Posted in Sports

The PB&J Report crew (again minus the titular “J”) raps about Major League Baseball’s midsummer classic, the future of the Miami Heat’s newly formed power trio and much more in their newest podcast, available below. Enjoy!

You can stream the podcast by simply clicking on the link below, or you can download it to your computer by right-clicking the link and selecting “Save Link As” from the menu.

Listen to: Rhombus Podcast 020 — The PB&J Report (2010.07.27)

Chris Paul

SPORTS: The Future of the NBA: A Family Affair

Written by Jake Welch on . Posted in Sports

Let’s talk LeBron James for a minute.

I know that at this juncture in the conversation the horse has been beaten, shot, skinned, dissected and had its hide made into a fine pair of shoes. Those shoes are now on my feet, so I now feel somehow justified to resurrect this topic and shed some light on the matter.

Let’s state the facts. LeBron James signed with the Miami Heat, joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Everyone and their grandmother have an opinion on the matter. Should he have stayed in Cleveland? Should he have gone to Chicago? Is he taking the easy route teaming up with his buddies? It’s all debatable at this point and really depends on your personal perspective.

The better question that we need to be asking ourselves is, what does LeBron’s decision mean for the rest of the league? Things that have been surfacing in the news this week will tell you a lot.

According to sources on ESPN.com, Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets is requesting a trade, specifically to the New York Knicks, Orlando Magic or Los Angeles Lakers. Paul said back on June 23rd that he would prefer to stay in New Orleans, but now he wants to go play with another superstar.

What swayed Paul’s decision? It probably had a lot to do with the fact that New Orleans did next to nothing in the free agent signing period to bring more talent to the team. However, LeBron’s decision to leave the team built around him most certainly also had an effect on Paul.

After seeing one of the game’s best players join forces with two other All-Star caliber players, I’m sure these two things crossed the mind of Chris Paul: 1) There is no way I am going to win a ring with this team, and 2) if LeBron doesn’t have to be the man on his team, why should I stick it out here?

If I were Paul, I would get discouraged if one of the elite players in the league gives up on a team that tried to build around him. If it didn’t work for LeBron, why would it work for me? Other players in the league are going to start asking themselves the same question — and soon enough things will start to change.

Something unique in the NBA is how their superstar equity is spread across the board. On any given night in any given NBA city you could see a star light up the scoreboard. Even the smaller market teams like Sacramento have a player like Tyreke Evans that can put people in the seats.

After the formation of this super Miami squad, look for NBA to lose this spread of quality players as they all try and join forces to make a bigger and stronger team. Don’t believe me? Just look at the future landscape of the NBA.

LeBron James and Chris Bosh both left small market teams (Cleveland and Toronto) that have nothing but a supporting cast similar to that of The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift. If this Chris Paul trade goes through, the Hornets will also be without a star. That makes three teams that went from contenders to future lottery pick teams very quickly — and that’s just the beginning.

Next summer Carmello Anthony will hit the market and the rumor is he could team up with Amare Stoudemire in New York. Deron Williams has been very vocal in expressing his thoughts on staying with the Jazz — if they don’t make a big splash or a litany of spectacular small moves, then he could request a trade next summer. Some other big names that could leave for greener pastures are Tony Parker and Yao Ming.

Before we know it, the big time sports cities with be able to lure two or three big names and compete for titles while everyone else with their one big name will get thrashed. By setting the standard with this triple threat, Miami basically challenged other teams to match what they have because it seems so absurd that any other team could do it. Trust me, the big power franchises will rise and do all they can to top the Heat.

Most of this is pure speculation. It could turn out that Chris Paul decides to stick it out with the Hornets and so will the rest of the league’s superstars with their respective small market franchises. However, as of now, there is ample reason to believe there will be a lot more tag-teaming in the NBA’s future — and a lot less flying solo.

Miami Heat

SPORTS: The Miami Heat: A Train Wreck Waiting to Happen

Written by Ben Wagner on . Posted in Sports

Last Saturday I woke up and had to ask myself, “Did the last 48 hours really happen?” The previous two days had been unlike any others in the history of American sport. We’d witnessed a free agent feeding frenzy, the fall from public grace of a superstar, and the formation of the greatest video game team of all time.

Let’s start off with LeBron James’ ridiculous hour-long ESPN special, “The Decision,” in which he announced his intention to leave his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers in favor of the Miami Heat. I have been for the last few months a fierce LeBron James apologist and defendant, even publishing a several thousand word article defending him after his playoff collapse against the Boston Celtics — but this was indefensible.

Having a one-hour TV special just to announce where you are going to play basketball only served to damage an already hurting public image. My biggest question is, who exactly is advising the self-titled King James? Ever since the end of the playoffs LeBron has done one thing after another (culminating in last night’s special) to hurt his public image.

The situation reminds me in a bizarre way of the Tiger Woods scandal. After the news about the accident and the infidelities broke, we watched as Tiger Woods completely mishandled the situation, forever damaging his image and brand. One had to ask who was advising him. The situation with LeBron seems to be eerily similar. LeBron may have forever damaged his image with the way he handled not only the hour-long TV special, but the manner in which he treated the Cleveland Cavaliers organization.

Then there’s the question of whether this was the best basketball decision LeBron could have made for himself. James could have potentially stayed in Cleveland, tried to convince other free agents to join him, hoped and fought to win a championship, and become the most famous and beloved person ever from the state of Ohio. Or he could have gone to the Knicks and taken on the challenge of saving professional basketball in New York City. Or he could have gone to the Chicago Bulls, a roster with already great players like Derrick Rose, Joaquim Noah, Carlos Boozer and recent addition Kyle Korver. James would have been the alpha dog and undisputed leader of a team full of young talent that could have been a potential dynasty. Not to mention he would have been literally trying to fill the shoes of the greatest player of all time, and prove himself worthy to be called the king.

But no, he took the seemingly easy way out, signing in Miami where we won’t have to be the alpha dog, employing the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” philosophy and essentially throwing in the towel when it comes to trying to be the greatest player of all time.

However, in Miami all kinds of questions arise. Is Chris Bosh really all that? Who’s team will it be — Dwyane Wade’s or LeBron James’? With so little cap space, who are the other eight players on the roster going to be? What happens if one of the big three get injured? Can the country handle the amount of Dan Lebatard we will have to endure over the next year? When you think about it, Miami seems to make the least sense. In the short term perhaps it makes sense, but in the long term, from a viewpoint of LeBron’s legacy, it makes very little sense. Which is why I think, he doesn’t actually want to play in Miami.

Let me explain. For months, rumors and speculation have been flying around that, during the Bejing Olympics, LeBron, Wade, Bosh, and possibly Chris Paul made some sort of agreement/blood pact/satanic oath that they would play together once they all became free agents. I present the thesis that this actually did occur. However, LeBron figured that economic reality would render this impossible and that it would never actually happen. Yet, when free agency rolled around, suddenly the Miami Heat had the cap space to pull it off and Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were suddenly reminding him of his deal with the devil.

I think LeBron James is and has always been very aware of the concept of legacy. I think he would have loved the opportunity to play in Chicago and try to fill the vacant shoes of Michael Jordan. However, if LeBron is one thing, he is loyal to his friends. Here’s a man who has essentially kept the same core group of friends his entire life, proving to be extremely dependent and loyal to them. When he saw his friends in Miami, he realized he had to go through on the promise he had made — so he signed there.

Go back and watch the announcement from this past Thursday. There is little emotion — LeBron looks nervous, scared, and about as excited to go to Miami as Ali was to go on that date with the guy who sounded like a muppet on The Bachelorette. He doesn’t want to be there, yet he feels obligated to do so. As paradoxical as it seems (considering he betrayed his hometown on national television), I think his decision was actually based on loyalty.

Whether or not this is the case, on Friday we saw him put on a Miami Heat uniform for the first time and be introduced alongside Wade and Bosh at a rally. Interestingly enough, Wade was always in the middle of his two new teammates. Whether this was intentional or not, it still begs the question: Who is this team’s leader? Down two with five seconds left, who is taking the last shot?

Also, the question must be asked, is Chris Bosh really a superstar player. The stats would seem to indicate yes, but his record and time in the league would indicate no. Bosh has yet to play a big game in his career, and how he will handle the pressure is something that must be considered. Furthermore, Bosh is (at best) an average defensive player, and at some point he will have to guard the likes of Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol. Will he be up to the challenge?

Then there’s the question of who is really running the team. Coach Eric Spoelstra has received public support from both Wade and James — but everyone knows master manipulator Pat Riley is actually the man behind the curtain and he could replace Spoelstra with himself at any time. Riley may be the only person with the force of personality capable of keeping these three egos in check and it’s generally assumed that he will take over at some point.

While the Heat may have three great players, the big three have now taken up so much cap space that they will be forced to play with essentially unproven, minimum salary players filling up the bench and the rest of the roster. Does this make them better than, say, the Los Angeles Lakers? Are they even the favorites?

In a seven-game series, we can say that Dwayne Wade and Kobe Bryant almost cancel each other out. Pau Gasol and Chris Bosh will put on a spectacle by guarding each other equally poorly. And while we can give the Heat the edge in a Ron Artest-LeBron James match-up, the question remains: Are the rest of the Heat players going to be as good as Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom, Derek Fisher, or (dare I even say) “Big Game” Sasha Vujacic? I would think not. Does that then make the Heat even the favorites to win the NBA title?

When it comes down to it, we have a team in Miami who is faced with plenty of issues coming into the season, including:

a)    A star player who doesn’t necessarily want to be there;

b)   A coach who is overshadowed by his GM and who could, at any moment, be replaced by him;

c)    No defensive stopping ability, especially in the paint;

d)   No role players;

e)    No 3-point shooting;

f)     A big man who is unproven in big games;

g)    Real questions as to who is and will be the leader of the team, and who will take the final shot;

h)   Potential match-up problems with the teams at the top of the league.

Does anyone see this turning out well? Sure, I suppose I could be wrong about LeBron’s desire to be in Miami and maybe Eric Spoelstra will turn out to be the next Phil Jackson. Perhaps Mario Chalmers is the next Rajon Rondo. Everything could fall into place — sometimes the perfect storm does happen.

I just don’t forecast one for South Beach this coming season.

LeBron Heat

SPORTS: Podcast: LeBron to the Heat, World Cup Finals

Written by Steve Pierce on . Posted in Sports

The PB&J Report crew reunite at long last via the palatial Rhombus Mobile Studio to discuss the biggest sports stories of the day, including LeBron James’ exodus to the Miami Heat, Sunday’s  World Cup final, Ubaldo Jimenez’s 15th win (for some reason), and more. Enjoy!

You can stream the podcast by simply clicking on the link below, or you can download it to your computer by right-clicking the link and selecting “Save Link As” from the menu.

Listen to: Rhombus Podcast 018 — The PB&J Report (2010.07.10)

soccer

SPORTS: How Soccer Haters Will Convert

Written by Randal Serr on . Posted in Sports

Just a couple days into the 2010 World Cup, soccer fans around the world are now enjoying for the biggest sporting event in the world. The United States is probably somewhere in the middle as far as popularity of the sport is concerned. “The beautiful game” is subject to much criticism here, typically for a few of the same claims.

One of the most-heard complaints is that soccer is low-scoring and that there is not enough action. There are, of course, arguments to refute that since you could say the same about baseball and hockey, except baseball is much longer and (in my opinion) much slower. An argument could be made that even American football is a slow-paced game considering all the breaks, play-calling, and television timeouts. So the notion about not liking soccer because it is low-scoring and slow is pretty weak.

Since the other arguments hardly have a foot to stand on, there is one remaining argument that explains some of the distaste for the sport: Americans want to be the best. It is part of the culture and it is embedded in our DNA. Looking at the history of the sport in this country, the U.S. has had a few bright moments but it has yet to prove it is one of the elite countries at soccer.

I have heard more than a few times from fans and haters alike that soccer here is just not as good as it is in Europe, and for that reason they cannot or do not support it. Their thought is that if you are not the best at something, then what is the point? And not being as good at something as Europe leaves an especially bad taste in some people’s mouths. Europe attracts some of the best players in the world with much higher salaries than the players are paid here because of how well established the game is there and how much the game is embedded in the culture. Soccer is life for a lot of them and, until the U.S. can compete salary-wise, Europe will continue to be a very attractive alternative.

Nonetheless, soccer is growing quickly in the United States. Take a look at the Seattle Sounders and their passionate fans, which were recently named the “2010 Best Sports Team of the Year” by SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily. They are selling an amazing amount of season tickets and games are bringing enormous crowds, over 36,000 for every home game. That is nearly double the attendance that Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers draw. (Of course, venue capacity should be taken into account.)

Locally, Real Salt Lake is averaging well over 15,000 per game, which is a huge amount for their market. They pull about the same amount as teams in larger markets like New York or Columbus. Overall MLS attendance is already up 11 percent on average from last year.

The league is also following the mold of the other international leagues by implementing developmental academies under each club, allowing for the identification and development of homegrown talent for the MLS. Take, for example, that of the four MLS players that made the US Men’s National Team, one of them is from Real Salt Lake in Robbie Findley. That is quite an accomplishment. Not only that, but 13 of the 23 players on the World Cup roster have previously played in the MLS.

Another measuring stick for the popularity of soccer is the broadcasting of games. Not only is there an MLS “match of the week” on ESPN2, but for the first time in the United States, all of the 2010 World Cup matches will be broadcast on either ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC. You will also be able to watch most games live online at ESPN3.com. That type of exposure will definitely draw more attention to the games and soccer will progress.

The bottom line is that Americans do not like being second best at anything, and in order for soccer to gain real respect and attention both at home and around the world, the U.S. has to have a very successful run on the world’s biggest stage.

World Cup USA

SPORTS: Podcast: World Cup Preview

Written by Preston Johnson on . Posted in Sports

The PB&J Report crew (minus the “J”) welcome resident soccer expert Daniel Duke to the palatial Rhombus Studios for an in-depth preview of the upcoming World Cup. The guys break down every group and make their tournament predictions in an hour-long session that will get you pumped for a month full of first-class soccer action. Enjoy!

You can stream the podcast by simply clicking on the link below, or you can download it to your computer by right-clicking the link and selecting “Save Link As” from the menu.

Listen to: Rhombus Podcast 017 — The PB&J Report (2010.05.24)

SPORTS: Podcast: NBA Playoffs, BYU Basketball, MLB and Much More

Written by Jake Welch on . Posted in Sports

Long overdue, but better late than never: The crew bids farewell to one member as Jake Welch prepares for a summer full of hair products and Yankees talk in New York City. The boys go out with a bang in this hourlong discussion of the ongoing NBA playoffs (lots of NBA playoffs), Michael Loyd, Jr.’s departure from the BYU basketball program, a little Major League Baseball, Ben Wagner’s penchant for bandwagon-jumping, and much, much more. Help us (temporarily) say goodbye to an old friend by listening below. Enjoy!

You can stream the podcast by simply clicking on the link below, or you can download it to your computer by right-clicking the link and selecting “Save Link As” from the menu.

Listen to: Rhombus Podcast 016 — The PB&J Report (2010.05.03)