June 2011

Baseball

The subtle return of the Arizona Diamondbacks

It’s hard to focus on a team coming off their worst season in team history, but the 2011 Arizona Diamondbacks have already shocked the baseball world by posting a 41-34 record so far. The easily forgotten franchise is tied with the defending World Series Champion San Francisco Giants for first place in the NL West. How they’ve gotten here since last season is as windy a road as snake slithering through the grass. Although the…

Football

Parity, turnarounds and the case of the Detroit Lions

One of the frequently-cited merits of the NFL is its supposed parity. There’s often substantial change in how teams do from year to year, and with a hard salary cap and a short season that can further emphasize the role of randomness (although even long seasons don’t remove the role of randomness entirely), fans of most NFL teams tend to have substantial hope going into the season. There is some reason for that, as we…

Basketball

Roy Hibbert: The past, present and future

Entering the 2008 NBA Draft, Roy Hibbert was every general manager’s dream: a defensive-minded big, a hard-nosed rebounder who could score when called upon, a high-character player with good mentality and a Georgetown pedigree to boot. While nobody expected Hibbert to be the next Patrick Ewing or Alonzo Mourning, the comparisons were there. But for the first time in his life, Roy Hibbert fell short. In his rookie season, the 7’2″, 280-pound former Hoya put…

Hockey

The most successful steals in NHL Draft history

One of the most interesting aspects of the NHL Entry Draft is filtering through the hundreds of prospects to find potential steals or sleeper picks. Year after year, diamonds in the rough slip through the fingers of general managers and head scouts. There are a myriad of factors that contribute to a player’s sleeper status, whether it’s lack of playing time (see: Steve Mason), physical immaturity, injuries, lack of exposure from playing in Europe or…

Baseball

Ghazelah Sailors: Breaking the gender barrier in North American baseball

Fresh out of high school, 18-year-old Ghazelah Sailors (pronounced oz-a-lay) is not thinking about her cap, gown and graduation party. Instead, focusing on helping the Yorkton Cardinals of Canada’s Western Major Baseball League win games from the mound. A native of Santa Barbara, California, Sailors was a senior at San Marcos High School where she played on the boys’ baseball team last winter. Life after high school, though, left Sailors looking for an opportunity to…

Basketball

What Ricky Rubio’s arrival means to Minnesota

It’s been two seasons now since the Minnesota Timberwolves drafted Ricky Rubio, three since he burst onto the NBA stage in the 2008 Olympic Gold Medal game where his Spanish club was the first to really challenge the fabled U.S. Redeem Team. It’s been a few weeks since the Timberwolves’ 2010-11 season ended, where they finished in the NBA’s cellar with 15 wins and where, at the shank end of the season, they were giving…

Hockey

Gabriel Landeskog: Getting drafted, making history

Before Gabriel Landeskog was old enough to obtain a driver’s license in Sweden, he was on the road to a career in the National Hockey League. In the land of beautiful blondes and IKEA, you have to be 18 years old to get your licence, but at the age of 15, Landeskog had already suited up in the J20 SuperElit in Sweden. A season later, it was the Swedish Elite League and then the Ontario…

Basketball

The biography of unheralded Glen Rice

Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh will be title contenders for years. Before that, it was Wade and Shaquille O’Neal who gave Miami its first championship. A decade earlier, Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway were the duo that put the Heat on the map. In their short span of existence, the Miami Heat organization has certainly seen its share of stars. These are the Heat you remember; these are the players that have turned…

Football

Asian population critically underrepresented in NFL

While the NFL received its first “A” grade this past year for racial hiring practices by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, there is always still room for improvement. According to the University of Central Florida-based group in their 2010 Racial and Gender Report Card, white and African-American players combined to make up 97 percent of the league. That left only three percent for any other races. It seems the demographic of Asians…

Basketball

The King and the turkey

LeBron James and I were born 89 days apart. It’s fair to say we started playing basketball at the same time, too, and despite the fact that I peaked in high school as the captain of my junior team and LeBron was the most highly-praised high school talent in the history of the game, like all 16-year-old basketball players we had idols. During my peak years, I wore numbers 21 and 42. My favorite players…