NFL: Plenty to Watch In First Preseason Game for Chargers/Cardinals, Including a Small Chance at Redemption for Mike McCoy

Pre Seas CoachesFootball season is finally upon us. For the Chargers and Cardinals it starts this Saturday in Glendale Stadium. The stadium is going to be electric, not because of the game, because football season is finally back. Now the hard part, getting through these games with no injuries to either team. Coaches have to be smart in the play calling, substitutions, and how much playing time they give the first team. With that being said, Philip Rivers and Sam Bradford don’t need to  see any game action. Rivers because he’s got a consecutive games streak of over 200 straight games. Sam Bradford on the other hand is the exact opposite of Rivers. Loaded with talent, just can’t stay healthy. We’re going to look at the key players to focus on in week 1 of the preseason. The Cardinals also signed former Chargers Head Coach, Mike McCoy, who should be looking forward to this game, preseason or not.

Cardinals Storylines and Players to Watch

Rookie head coach Steve Wilks has a challenge with Bradford because he should be getting reps with the first team to learn a new offense. But how much do you play him in the preseason with his injury history? Word is that Wilkes plans to give Bradford some snaps this week. Steve Wilkes brought in the perfect offensive coordinator in Mike McCoy. McCoy’s biggest contribution is his ability to get the most out of every QB. He really focuses on the players strengths and calls plays accordingly. With Bradford he has him working on quicker drop backs to get the ball out quick. We’ll see if that holds true on Saturday. Wilkes is a defensive-minded coach, so bringing in former head coach McCoy was crucial. Most Cardinals fans want to see 1st round pick Josh Rosen, former 1st round pick Robert Nkemdiche, 2nd round pick and local boy Christian Kirk, rookie center Mason Cole and free agent Tre Boston.

Pre Seas RosenJosh Rosen has impressed so far in camp, earning the respect of the huddle and the veterans on the team. The lineman and veterans on offense are very impressed with how he controls the huddle. As the QB, that is one of the most important aspects of your game. You need the other 10 to know you got this. He’s got the confidence to handle it so far in practice. Once the whistle blows on Saturday, we’ll get our first chance to see how the young signal caller handles the lights and speed of NFL defenses, even though he’ll be playing against mostly backups.

Pre Seas KirkSecond round pick Christian Kirk is coming home, what better feeling can a rookie have then being drafted by your home town team? Kirk was a standout at Saguaro High School then went on to be a standout at Texas A&M. In three years at A&M, Kirk had 2,856 yards, 26 Touchdowns, and mixed in 10 scrimmage touchdowns too as a returner. This was an outstanding pickup for the Cardinals, who lack wide receiver depth outside of Larry Fitzgerald, who will be in Canton soon. Kirk has blazing speed and has been getting first team reps. Kirk is slotted to take the punt returns this weekend as well. Kirk will be on full display this Saturday.

Pre Seas- NkemThe former 1st round pick Robert Nkemdiche is a physical freak, but has been far from ‘freaky’ on the field in his first two seasons. Nkemdiche has 12 tackles and zero sacks. Going into his 3rd season, he is starting to look confident in his unique mix of strength and quickness up the middle. He has the ability to be a ‘star’ in the NFL, but we’ve yet to see any sort of consistency. Nkemdiche has all the potential in the world. Back in 2013, he was the number 1 overall recruit out of high school. Then went to Ole Miss and was a two-time second team All-American and 29th overall pick by the Cardinals. Now it’s in his court, we need to see how he comes out against two-time pro-bowler Mike Pouncey, if he plays. Year three is going to be a major year for Nkemdiche.

Pre Seas Mason ColeOne of the biggest blows to any team is losing a starting center. The loss of A.Q Shipley is very significant, but rookie Mason Cole has been given a vote of confidence from coaches and teammates. He will be given the task of going up against run stuffer and former Super Bowl champ, Brandon Mebane. Although it is highly likely that Mebane plays many snaps in the preseason. Gus Bradley’s defenses have a lot of pre-snap movements and different blitz schemes. The Chargers get to the QB with the top pass rushing duo in the NFL a year ago — Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. Cole will see plenty of snaps Saturday and will gain a lot of valuable information going up against a Gus Bradley defense.

Pre Seas TreFinally, the last person I want to talk about is former Charger, Tre Boston. Boston led the Chargers top pass defense in interceptions a year ago. He is a top 10 safety in the NFL, a ball hawk, not afraid of contact, and secures interceptions. Once free agency started, Tre Boston laughed at the Cardinals offer. Unfortunately, the offseason wasn’t very friendly to safeties. The market for safeties wasn’t very great having a few great safeties looking for work towards the beginning of camp. The Cardinals hit an absolute home run with the Boston signing.

Chargers Storylines and Players to Watch

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville JaguarsLet’s take a look at Super Bowl favorites in the AFC, the LA Chargers. Ok, maybe that is a stretch. Chargers fans remember finishing last season 9-3 and missing out on the playoffs in the final week of the season. It left a very bitter taste in the mouth of Chargers fans. Still saddens me to say LA and not San Diego. Philip Rivers will probably only get one series tops. The backup QB battle is actually pretty exciting in LA. Cardale Jones and Geno Smith are battling it out to be River’s backup. The competition between Jones/Smith, the growth from year one to two for Mike Williams, 1st round pick Derwin James, and the Tight End Virgil Green are the players we’re going to focus on for the Chargers. Last year, special teams kept the Chargers from getting into the Playoffs without a reliable kicker. Caleb Sturgis and former first round pick Aguayo look to battle it out for the job in Preseason.

Pre Season QBThe most sure thing for the Chargers is that number 17 is the starter Week 1. After that, it’s a two-man competition between former top 10 pick Geno Smith and former National Champion at Ohio State, Cardale Jones. Right now Jones has the edge over Smith in knowing the play book. Jones was with Lynn in Buffalo and was here last year learning the plays. Geno Smith has more experience in the NFL though. This is a competition that is going to be won in the preseason. No real front-runner right now, Anthony Lynn has them both listed as number 2 on the depth chart.

Pre Seas KickingAs mentioned earlier, the Chargers took a risk last year on Younghoe Koo. Long story short, it didn’t work. The Chargers started out last season 0-4. Started off having a field goal blocked Week 1 on MNF against the rival Broncos to tie the game with 5 seconds left. Week 2, Chargers Dolphins, the Cutler-led Dolphins I might add, Koo missed a 44 yard field goal to win the game. Finally, Week 4 against the Super Bowl Champion Eagles, the Chargers lost by two points to the Eagles. In 2018, the Chargers bring in two new kickers. Former Eagles kicker Caleb Sturgis and former first round pick Roberto Aguayo. Maybe a change of scene is just what Aguayo needs, he was a former All-American. Sturgis is in his 6th season in the NFL, so he brings a lot of experience to the table, something the Chargers need late in the season.

Pre Seas Mike WillyIn 2017, the Chargers had very high hopes for the WR out of Clemson, coming of a National Championship performance in which he dominated the ‘nasty’ Alabama defense. He is big, strong, and fast. The issue in 2017 was that Williams started camp battling injury and attempted to play catch-up for most of the first half of the season. In 2018, he enters camp in great shape with no injuries to report. Together, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams look to be a very scary duo, toss in Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin, and Rivers has options all over the place. Williams looked unsure of himself at times last year, and that is mainly due to falling behind early in camp. With a full season under his belt and now that he has seen NFL action, look for Mike Williams to establish himself early in the Preseason.

Pre Seas- DerwinMoving on to the Gem of 2018 for the Chargers. Safety from Florida State, Derwin James. A top 10 pick that fell down the board to the Chargers at 17. Mind blowing. The comparison I see with James is the late Sean Taylor, RIP. Taylor was an absolute beast. He looked like a DE playing safety. Derwin James has similar size, 6’2, 212 lbs, with the quickness to stay with receivers and the power to play with tight ends. He has a very unique skill set that will make him a starter from day 1 in Southern California. Saturday will be his first test against the receiving corps of Fitz and Kirk.

Plenty of solid storylines in this first preseason game against these squads. Highly talented draft picks, two newer head coaches, and plenty of veteran firepower makes this game one to keep an eye on in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, 4th quarter being uneventful.

 

 

 

 

 

NFL: Warner Leinart 2.0?

Once upon a time in Arizona the franchise that had little success in the desert drafted another Star quarterback out of Southern California with the number 10 pick, his name was Matt Leinart. Although I think rookie Josh Rosen is much better than Matt Leinart, there are some similarities. For instance, Josh Rosen was also taken number 10. At the time, Kurt Warner was an after thought, all the hype surrounded former Heisman trophy winner and national champion Matt Leinart from USC. Leinart went down due to a crushing hit from the Rams Will Witherspoon, Warner stepped up having his best season since his MVP days. The only person that can validate this theory is Larry Fitzgerald, who played with Warner and Leinart. Fitz seems to be pretty high on Sam Bradford telling everyone to bet the “Over” of 5.5 wins for the Cardinals next year. To make the situation even more ironic, Bradford is joining the Cardinals in his 8th NFL season, Warner also joined the Cardinals in his 8th NFL season.

Warner Leinart

Like Matt Leinart, the Cardinals drafted Josh Rosen knowing that he was one of the most NFL ready QB’s in the draft. A proven college leader and winner. Rosen has a chance to learn from Sam Bradford, who’s been in this league for a while. With Bradford starting there is always the chance at an injury, even if it’s a gust of wind, there is still a chance Bradford gets hurt. With that being said, Rosen needs to be ready to call a game. Bradford has a ton of football knowledge and is one of the best practice players you’d ever see. Watch him in 7 on 7 drills, he’ll pick you apart. He gets the ball out quick, has good size, high football IQ, and a good teammate.

Leinart and the new look Cardinals had so much hype going into the first year of the new $450 million stadium. A big knock on Leinart was if his heart was truly in it. He was seen countless times out enjoying the night life of Scottsdale and Phoenix. Leinart last played with the Raiders in 2012 and now is a broadcaster for College football. This wasn’t bad for Cardinals fans, because Kurt Warner took them on the greatest ride in team history and he cemented himself in the same conversation with the great QB’s that have ever played. Now let’s shift focus to Kurt Warner 2.0, Sam Bradford.

KURT

It’s hard to truly feel bad for Bradford and his injury-laden career because he continues to cash paychecks. He earned $50 million guaranteed as the number 1 overall pick by the St. Louis Rams. The most recent team to overpay Sam Bradford is Arizona, signing him to a 1 year, $20 million deal. If for some reason Bradford finds the fountain of Youth like Warner did, the ceiling is very high. He’ll have a top 5 RB in David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald, the second best Wide Receiver in NFL history. If the Offensive line can keep Bradford on his feet there is no question he has the quick release and IQ, which can translate into wins. Vegas has the Over/Under of Cards wins at 5.5. Something Fitz laughs about, urging fans to go to Vegas to lay it down on the Over. Bradford looks to avoid being the target of countless funny memes about his injuries.

bradford

So all joking aside. If Bradford stays healthy, he can lead the Cardinals in 2018, earning him another big contract in 2019. Steve Keim is no stranger to the “One-Year Deal” that pays off. Look at Jermaine Gresham and Chris Johnson before he got injured he was leading the NFL in rushing a few years ago. Bradford would love to show teams that the former number 1 pick still has some juice left. Having Rosen sit back and observe can only benefit the young signal caller. I know Cardinals fans want to see Rosen earlier than later. Patience is key with young quarterbacks. Dak Prescott and Russel Wilson are anomalies in football. The NFL is a grown mans league if Rosen can avoid the early career hits that ended David Carr’s career before it began, that would be great. Especially since the supporting cast surrounding Rosen aren’t as strong as Prescott or Wilson. Not saying Bradford is going to be like Kurt Warner, but he certainly has the skills and knowledge to compete and push Rosen every day in practice. Bradford can also control a huddle which is invaluable for a quarterback. Cardinals fans should be pulling for Bradford because the rest of the Cardinals like their chances with Bradford. Especially when you add in former Chargers HC and Broncos OC who won a playoff game with Tim Tebow, Mike McCoy. McCoy is outstanding with quarterbacks.

Bradford CardsSo here you have it, no quarterback controversy in the Desert in 2018. Fans want to see the young UCLA standout but the former Heisman is better suited to lead this team. Especially with a rookie head coach like Steve Wilkes, a veteran like Bradford can really elevate his confidence as well as feed the ball to the future Hall of Famer, number 11. Mike McCoy is poised to reestablish himself as an elite offensive coordinator after an unsuccessful tenure in San Diego. He’s capable of calling a great game based off the quarterbacks strengths. How else do you think he can get a playoff win out of Tim Tebow against the Steelers? McCoy plans to use a quicker drop back with Bradford to avoid hits and so far in camp he’s on point. Now, if only the dude can stay healthy and confident. Then we’ll see the next Kurt Warner in AZ and Rosen’s time will have to wait. If Bradford does go down, then we’ll have to see what the young QB can do on the fly. Although the Rams are the team to beat, the Cardinals should out perform their projection of 5.5 wins in ’18.

MLB: AJ Hinch, Then and Now… Ousted By The D’Backs Becoming A Gem In Houston

A tale of two Cities. Arizona and Houston. Former Diamondbacks GM, Josh Byrnes decided that he wanted to change the current trend of a major league manager. When the D’Backs canned Bob Melvin, Byrnes went straight to AJ Hinch, who had zero managerial experience at the time. At the time he was hired by Byrnes, he was Director of Player Personnel in the farm system. AJ didn’t get much of a chance to succeed being that he was replacing Bob Melvin, who was loved in the clubhouse, and he has never been a skipper before. He went from T-Ball to the Major’s overnight and he wasn’t ready to lead a team at the time. however, he did get invaluable experience that prepared him to be a World Series Manager. He was hired at 35, fired at 36, with a record of 89-123. After he was axed from the D’Backs, he had no idea if he’d ever be given an opportunity like this again.

AJ Trophy

People questioned Josh Byrnes over and over again for the Hire of Hinch in 2009, but in reality, Byrnes was ahead of his time. GM’s are looking for the next AJ Hinch. At the time, the move was a disaster, Hinch and Byrnes were fired 14 months later. Being a Head Coach is one of the most insecure jobs, it is very cutthroat. If you don’t produce early, you’ll be on your way out real quick, and that is what happened for Hinch and Byrnes. Hinch didn’t even get to make it through a full season from start to finish before he was shown the door. At the time, D’Backs fans weren’t upset about it because Hinch was such a no name. Also, D’Backs fans were eager to have Kirk Gibson take over the team. Having Gibson the bench coach for Hinch didn’t seem right, given Gibson’s MLB resume.

He brings unique leadership and perspective to the job… We’re not here to reinvent the wheel, but to change the nature of the job a little bit? OK, we’ll do that. A.J.’s a leader. He connects with people. He gets things done.- Josh Byrnes after Hiring AJ Hinch.

The Astros GM, Jeff Luhnow, couldn’t stop thinking of AJ Hinch when he was doing his managerial search back in 2015. Hinch had a background unlike anyone else on the Astros short list. Hinch was only 40 years old which helps relate to the players in a clubhouse being younger, he also has 20 years of experience in the game. He’s ambitious, relates well to the players and has a psychology degree from Stanford. He’s worked as a catcher for 7 years, he’s worked as a farm director, an instructor, and Front-office executive.

AJ

This was a very bold move for Luhnow, the Astros were averaging 104 losses for the past 4 years prior to the Hinch hire. Astros Fans at the time wanted a big name. They were tired of losing and Hinch wasn’t a huge name, but he was the right name. The Astros were infused with young talent, Jose Altuve was a star, but he was producing all by himself. Carlos Correa was dominating the minors as a teenager and George Springer was a young talent that was a few years away. Luhnow wasn’t phased by Hinch’s win-loss record at the time. When those younger players hit rough patches or slumps, who better than to talk them up than AJ Hinch, “Been there done that,” he says. Hinch’s rough AZ stint only makes him a better manager today.

He’s a great human being… He loves the game. He loves the competition. When things haven’t gone well, he evaluates and tries to get better. I hate to be corny, but it’s his character… People who know him well trust his judgement, character, intentions. Those are important things in a job like that.- Josh Byrnes after Hinch was Hired by the Astros

Since taking over the Houston Astros, Hinch is 338-254 and took them to a 86-76 record his first season, including a post season appearance. The previous 4 seasons before Hinch they were 56-106, 55-107, 51-111, and 70-92 the year before Hinch. Hinch’s ability to connect with young players is what separates him from anyone else. He wanted to change the culture in Houston, and to let the young guys know that it is OK to fail. It’s how you respond to failure that separates a player. 

Why isn’t anyone around here talking about Winning? We’re not doing this just to get better. We’re doing this to win. The talent in this room is good enough to win right now, and it’s not OK to be mediocre anymore. – AJ Hinch addressing the Locker Room after being hired.

World Series Astros Dodgers Baseball

AJ Hinch’s path to the World Series was not easy and was filled with adversity, from his time as a catcher that only hit .200, or his very short time as skipper for the D’Backs. All of those struggles have made him a great leader. The Astros wouldn’t trade AJ Hinch for anybody. They’re a young team hungry to repeat as World Champions. Altuve, Correa, and Springer would run through a brick wall for Hinch, he’s a players coach and gets the most out of whatever lineup he throws out there. Currently, the Astros hold a 5 game cushion over the Mariners for 1st place of the AL West. AJ’s first words to the team have really resonated and sunk in. He said,  “Why doesn’t anybody talk about Winning?” Well, now that is the only thing the Astros talk about.

Sports: Top Sports Movies of All-Time

There is no such thing as a Top Sports Movie list that doesn’t include The Sandlot, The GOAT of Sports movies. Sports movies are a huge part of youth sports, without movies about sports demonstrating teamwork and hard work kids would be playing the game with less passion. If you want something bad enough, you have to work for it. Sports instill a lot of core values that help you in everyday life and movies are a great way to connect young kids to sports. A group of kids playing baseball in an open lot during the summer and going to the pool when it got too hot is a perfect picture of middle school kids. Sports Movies also show the power of equality and inequality such as Remember the Titans. Movies about sports also appeal to the non-sports fans. Going over the top 10 of all-time, followed by a few that fell just short, making our honorable mention list.

  • Blue ChipsBlue Chips
    • Before John Calipari, Sean Miller, Bill Self, and the other recruiting monsters in College Basketball, there was Pete Bell. Bell was desperate to compete with the big boys of college hoops and stops at nothing to make West University in Los Angeles relevant. College basketball programs are paying recruits to stay competitive. A 5-star prospect or “Blue Chip” prospect as are referred to. This movie has some of the biggest college names in history like Dick Vitale, Bobby Knight, Bob Cousy, Larry Bird, Jim Boehoem, Rick Pitino, Shaq, Penny Hardaway, and many more. This movie is so great and was ahead of its time. This has been an issue for a long time and is only recently being brought to light. The recent FBI probe that is naming schools like Arizona, Kansas, Louisville and many more as paying players. This movie came out in 1994, way before it’s time.

If You’re Going To Win At Any Cost, Be Prepared To Pay The Price.- Movie Tagline

  • Cool RunningsMovies- Cool Runnings
    • The story of the Jamaican bobsled team is amazing. Led by one time cheater and outcast of the Olympics Irving Blitzer who was played by John Candy. Blitzer has put weights in the front of the sled to make it go faster. Since then, a healthy diet of coffee and donuts took over his life and was lying low in Jamaica. A push car driver and 3 sprinters were so desperate to get out of Jamaica they embraced it. But team spirit and a healthy self-confidence leads to a few surprises in Calgary during the winter Olympics.

One Dream. 4 Jamaicans. 20 Below Zero.- Movie Tagline

  • Movies- Remember the TitansRemember the Titans
    • We are the Titans, the mighty mighty Titans! One of the most classic football movies about race and teamwork. Denzel is asked to come into an all-white school and take over the head coaching duties. An awkward situation to say the least. This is a powerful story of a top-tier white high school football program that’s forced to segregate with the black school. The movie turns when you hear Julius and Gary Bertere come together saying “Left side, Strong side,” and hitting each other than all of a sudden they’re a “team”. Same common goals. The character development that takes place is great watching everyone come together, the white kids singing country music while the black kids teaching the white kids the temptations and four tops. This movie was based on actual events in 1971, this team becomes the unifying symbol for the community as the boys and adults learn to depend and trust one another.

History is Written by the Winners.- Movie Tagline

  • Major LeagueMovies- Major League
    • The Cleveland Indians were destined for the Cellar in the division, the very bottom. Due to the owner with evil intentions, as she puts together the worst team possible. If the Indians lose very badly she is able to move the team to Miami. Starting with an aging catcher with bad knees, Jack Taylor. A very shrewd pitcher that is well past his prime, but doesn’t want to admit it. An ultra wealthy, pre-madonna 3rd baseman afraid to dive or put his body in jeopardy, Roger Dorn. A young felon, fresh out of the pen that hits triple digits on the radar gun, just can’t throw a strike to save his life. Ricky Vaughn A.K.A The Wild Thing. A voodoo loving slugger that can’t hit a curve ball. Finally, a base-stealing lead-off hitter that can’t put the ball on the ground to use his speed. Together this group starts winning in spite of the owner’s plans to move the team to Florida.

When These Three Oddballs Try to Play Hardball, The Result is Totally Screwball. -Movie Tagline

  • Field of DreamsMovies- Field of Dreams
    • An Iowa corn farmer (Kevin Costner) takes a major risk, from the voice of a ghost. If you build it they will come. Nobody heard the voices except for Ray, who then concluded the “It” is a baseball diamond, and the “they” is Shoeless Joe Jackson and the other members of the 1919 Chicago White Sox. Ray grew up listening to stories told by his dad about that team.  Ray goes on the road because he believes two people are apart of this. One being famed writer Terrence Mann. The other is Archie “Moonlight” Graham, who only played half of an inning in 1922 and died in 1972. Ray must dig through these puzzles to find out the meaning of why they wanted him to rip up his cornfield, and his livelihood, to build a baseball diamond.

All His Life, Ray Kinsella Was Searching For His Dreams. Then, One Day, His Dreams Came Looking For Him.- Movie Tagline

  • Space JamMovies- Space Jam
    • In a desperate attempt to save their freedom, the Looney Tunes Crew recruit the greatest, Michael Jordan. Space Jam is a classic that is truly one of a kind. An owner of an amusement park, Moron Mountain, is struggling to fill his park. His name is Swackhammer and he wants to steal the Looney tunes characters to bring to his park. He thinks it would boost the parks revenue stream. They choose to play basketball and the team led by Swackhammer steal the talents of NBA players and call themselves the Monsters. The tunes counter by grabbing the GOAT, Michael Jordan. MJ, Bill Murray and the Looney Tunes go to battle against the Monsters who have taken the talents from Shawn Bradley, Mugsy Bogues, Larry Johnson, Patrick Ewing, and Charles Barkley. MJ and the Looney Tunes take them down, Making MJ 7-0 in Championship games. Barkley and Ewing still don’t have a ring.

Get Ready To Jam.- Movie Tagline

  • Varsity BluesMovies- Varsity Blues
    • In the small town of Texas, winning is the only thing that matters and football is a religion. Jon Voight is the legendary Coach Kilmer who didn’t care one bit about anything except for the final score. Winning on Friday nights is the only thing that mattered. Paul Walker was the star QB who had a serious injury, was also forced into taking cortisone shots to play from Coach Kilmer. The team had to lean on backup James Van Der Beek, Mox in the movie. Coach Kilmer coached for 35 years, winning the district championship in 23 of those 35 years. Nothing else mattered. Varsity Blues digs into our obsession with sports and how teenage athletes respond to the extraordinary pressure to win at all costs.

Make Your Own Rules- Movie Tagline

  • He Got GameMovies- He Got Game
    • The story of Jesus Shuttlesworth and Jake Shuttlesworth, a father-son story. Jesus is the top high school basketball prospect in the country while his father Jake was the top inmate in prison. Jesus has a giant decision coming up, does he go straight to the NBA draft, or does he go to College. Jake Shuttlesworth is given an opportunity to shorten his sentence. The governor asks that Jake talks to his son Jesus about attending his Alma Mater University. Spike Lee does a great job depicting what it is like for an upcoming star like Jesus. A lot of people come hanging around wanting money or fame. His father, although wanting to get out of prison and help sway his decision, legitimately loves his son. The idea that a boy cannot live without his father plays a major role in this movie. This movie proves that in life you can benefit more by forgiving than forgetting.

The Father, the Son, and the Holy Game- Movie Tagline

  • Bad News BearsMovies- Bad News Bears
    • In 1976, Walter Matthau changed the coaching game when he made a few lineup changes and kicked back a few extra beers and boom, he had a winning team. Making two huge midseason pickups by grabbing pitching ace, Amanda Whurlizer and Kelly Leak, a motorcycle rider that is the best baseball player in the area. Morris Buttermaker sat back and drank his suds watching this team of misfits keep winning all the way to the championship against rival Yankees. Buttermaker was a lazy former minor league player that was just collecting checks, until he decides to start a winning culture.

The Coach is Waiting for his Next Beer. The Pitcher is Waiting for her First Bra. The Team is Waiting for a Miracle. Consider the possibilities. – Movie Tagline

  • The SandlotMovies Sandlot
    • Now, we look at the GOAT of all sports movies. The story of Benny “the jet” Rodriguez taking in Scottie Smalls under his wing. Smalls is the new pip squeak in town that has little to no respect let alone any friends in his new neighborhood. These kids showed what its like in the summer when school is out. Adventures in the treehouse, spending quality time at the local pool with Wendy Peppercorn, beating the snooty rival ball team, and testing chewing tobacco at the local fair. The last adventure they would have is when they lose another home run ball over the fence, to the Beast. Except it wasn’t just “another” home run ball. It was signed by Baby Ruth. They spent days trying to recover this ball from the biggest dog in the neighborhood, owned by James Earl Jones, a former baseball  player. Great story about friendship and the power of sports in relationships.

The Adventure of a Lifetime, The Summer of Their Dreams… The Dog of Their Nightmares.- Movie Tagline

Choosing only 10 sports movies is pretty impossible. There are so many great ones. Some of my Honorable Mentions are Rocky, Sylvester Stallone shows that with hard work and determination, you can accomplish anything. Rookie of the year shows us that even at 12 years old and a freak accident you can play for the Cubs. Any Given Sunday, Caddyshack, and the Replacements are all honorable sports movies of our generation with different meanings and messages. I’m sure everyone will have a different list but this is BigCat’s Top 10.

 

Sports: ESPY’s Hit Home Run On Real Issues!

Although Danica Patrick was far from a good host, the 2018 ESPY’s acknowledged the greatest unsung heroes and brought light to some of the biggest issues facing our current society. To see the sports community come together to make a difference in the community is special. Domestic violence, drunk driving, sexual assault, and mass shootings seem to be controlling the news these days. There are plenty of athletes doing the right thing and paying it forward but the media doesn’t show enough of that.  Not whether or not the league is going to suspend a player for failing to kneel for the national anthem or watching a man accused of sexually assaulting young women athletes all over the news. Sports fans would like to hear more about sports and the good they do for us off the field and less about suspensions and jail time. Let us begin by pointing out the notable powerful speeches.

ESPY- Foles Mithy.JPGDonovan Mitchell, the star from the Utah Jazz, who wasn’t sure if he was even going to enter the NBA draft last year. Going from a late first round pick from Louisville to winning an ESPY as the Best Breakthrough athlete in 2018. Joining Mitchell with a meaningful speech was Nick Foles, winning Best Championship Performance. Foles and Mitchell had a common theme for reaching out to young athletes. Donovan Mitchell kicked it off while talking about his mom and sister taking 14 hour car rides from NY to Louisville to make sure he was staying confident and being relaxed. Pointing to parents willing to put in the time to help kids reach their dreams.

To all the kids watching, don’t let anybody put limits on what you can do. People love to do that nowadays. Go out there and have fun, enjoy life, enjoy your passion. Don’t let anybody put a limit on yourself. Your as good as you can be. For all the kids out there, just do you and have fun. Thanks. – Donovan Mitchell during ESPY’s

Foles didn’t prepare a speech but did give special attention to his biggest supporters in life, his wife and the lord above, Jesus Christ. Nick Foles is as good a person this league has. The NFL needs more representatives like Nick Foles. Like Mitchell, Foles stressed to never put limits on yourself. Foles was a backup at Arizona, then took the starting job and never gave it up. His big play ability on the big stage is what makes Foles great. Having good character and having an outlook on life, like Foles, is what makes this story great, and it is what makes his speech so powerful. Foles has led a very unique career so far, but he wouldn’t want it any other way.

There’s a lot of kids watching this… There’s going to be people who doubt you. Don’t listen to them. What matters is what’s in here (points to heart), and the people that love you, that support you. Go out there everyday and be Bold. Thank you. Nick Foles

The next meaningful award was the award for Best Coach, given to the 3 coaches at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL that gave their life to protect the students. So far, in 2018, there have been 13 school shootings. These 3 courageous men put their life on the line. In February, a former student opened fire on campus and started a school shooting that would last for over an hour. The 3 men didn’t hesitate to try to stop the shooter and saved a lot of lives as it took the police about an hour to get to the scene. Scott Biegel, Chris Hixon, and Aaron Feis were honored for their heroism in getting the kids out and were shielding kids from random gun fire. All 3 men were represented by their families to accept the ESPY for Best Coach. It’s reassuring to know that there are good people out there like Feis, Hixon, and Biegel, who made the ultimate sacrifice to save the lives of their students.

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ESPY- Jake WoodThe Pat Tillman Award for Service is always a special honor. To be mentioned in the same sentence as the late great Pat Tillman, that is very special.. Jake Wood has molded his career after Tillman. He hung up his football cleats after watching the fateful events of 9-11. He was playing at Wisconsin at the time. Wood was a sergeant in the US Marine Corps. Deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq as a scout sniper and earned the Navy-Marine Commendation Medal, Wood gave his all to this country and looks to live the rest of his life doing so in a disaster relief effort group he started back in 2010. It went from 8 Volunteers to over 50,000 volunteers and growing.

ESPY TillSo far the Tillman Scholar Network has eclipsed 15 million dollars, 525 scholars, 3.6 Average GPA, 96% employment rate, and a 98% graduation rate. These are the kinds of statistics that Pat Tillman would want attached to his great name. Anyone that is in this scholar network better be ready to get to work because you know that Pat Tillman would have done it. Jake Wood is living out the Tillman Legacy with dedication and honor. The members of Team Rubicon live by a common theme. Wood said, “Hard work in the pursuit of a common goal forces collaboration and appreciation. I have to believe if we all served in an infantry platoon, or played on a championship team, that we’d care more about what we have in common than what makes us different.” These words are very strong and very attainable if society worked together the way Team Rubicon does on a daily basis. The sacrifices these men and women are making are invaluable and will be the driving force that moves us in the right direction.

 If Americans treated each other every day like they do after disasters, we’d live in a truly special place. – Jake Wood, saying at Team Rubicon

The Fight that Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly continues to fight is remarkable. As well as watching his son defy the odds of a fatal disease by exceeding the average life span of any child with the disease. There is no one more tough than Jim Kelly, he continues to get back up after life knocks him down. Something he has done his whole life. Reaching the Super Bowl FOUR straight seasons is a special accomplishment. To come back so mentally ready to repeat the path to the Super Bowl is something you rarely see, unless you are Tom Brady and Bill Belichick with the Patriots. Jim Kelly was in the illustrious 1983 NFL Draft which included Dan Marino and John Elway. Fittingly, Elway and Marino presented Kelly with the Jimmy V award. There is nobody that has dealt with suffering more than Kelly. Kelly, who retired shortly after the news he was having a son. Unfortunately for Kelly, he was never able to witness his son Hunter’s first words. Kelly’s son was diagnosed with a fatal disease of the nervous system called Krabbe disease. The average age of a child with Krabbe disease is about 2 years maybe less. Like Kelly, Hunter was a fighter, he was Jim Kelly’s hero and soldier. Hunter lived for an incredible 8 years. Kelly has taken Hunter’s strength and is currently using it to battle is hardest battle of his life. Jim is a fighter and has a fighter’s mentality.

Make a difference today for someone who is fighting for their tomorrow. – Jim Kelly

ESPY- AlyNow let’s dig into the most courageous award of the night, the Arthur Ashe award for courage. Awarded to the 141 women who spoke up about the creepiness of Larry Nassar, not even going to give him the doctor title, I guess its inmate Nassar now. Aly Raisman is the most recognized athlete up there, but she would be the first to tell you, that she is only a very small piece in the big picture. This group of young women liked to be known as ‘the survivor sisters’, and nobody is arguing on that. This is a story the world needs to hear, we can’t have another Larry Nassar loose, to abuse more women physically and emotionally. Aly gave this group of women a powerful voice that had to be heard. The first complaint made against Nassar came in 1997 but the committee said, “It’s ok., He’s a Doctor.He knows what he’s doing. Don’t worry.” Well, turns out he knew exactly what he was doing and it is incredibly sad it took 21 years from the first complaint to finally do something about it. All the victims that could have been free of this man’s horrible acts had the NCAA or Olympic committee done something in the late 90’s instead of the late teens. They were more concerned with reputation and those medals. It was very special to watch a group of women stand together on the big stage and receive such a prestigious award. The real award for these women’s athletes is seeing Nassar spend the rest of his pathetic, meaningless life in prison, unless some other inmates get to him first, the only thing guaranteed is that Nassar will never see the light of day again.

The 140 ladies on this stage represent hundreds more who are not with us tonight. Make no mistake, we are here on this stage to present an image for the world to see: a portrait of survival, a new vision of courage. – Sarah Klein, the first victim of Nassar

The past 2 years have been some of the hardest times this society has seen in a very long time, if ever. To see that there are good people out there like Jake Wood and the 3 coaches that gave their lives that day in FL, in a time when we need it most. A story of courage that the ‘survivor sisters’ showed against the NCAA and Olympic committee. Can’t wait to see what the rest of 2018 has in store for us.