Book Review: Colin Cowherd, You Herd Me

DVR may be the best addition to the television viewing experience since the remote. You don’t have to be in front of the TV at precisely 9:00 to catch the new episode of Homeland. Missed that play? Rewind live TV. Usually I start watching an hour-long program at 20 past the hour so I can skip commercials.

That’s a big reason why I like the ESPN Radio app. You to scrub up to an hour behind the live schedule. I don’t have to tune in at exactly 10:00am to hear Colin Cowherd’s opening rant.

There’s something about the way this guy argues. With an arrogant yet appropriate confidence, he spends the first 10-12 minutes of his show going off on something. Usually sports, but not always.

And for me, it seems every rant evokes a protruding bottom lip, a head nod, and a, “hmm…yeah.”

This rant from April 2012 summarizes what Cowherd is about – he talks about what the listeners want, “and (the listeners) love porn, fast food, and reality television.”

Cowherd book

Cowherd’s new book You Herd Me, I’ll Say it if Nobody Else Will is a collection of rants that mimic his opening ones on radio.

I believe Cowherd’s high popularity stems from his lack of bias toward anything. It’s the reason I make an effort to tune in to his show. He doesn’t persuade you. He lays out both sides of an argument, tells you how he feels, then lets you decide for yourself.

Through Cowherd’s direct, informal voice, I sensed passion in every chapter. Even if you disagree with his stance, he makes it easy to dissect.

And similar to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, Cowherd tells you know when he’s wrong. The final chapter of his book lists some of his major mistakes and miscalculations. In my opinion it boosts his credibility.

The chapters range from 4-10 pages so it’s a great jigsaw puzzle read: some now, some later. I was entertained, but also learned a lot about the sports world from a professional with the access to back up his unique standpoints, ones that include:

– Tiger Woods isn’t really a sex addict, he just has great PR
– Peyton Manning is too talented for the NFL
– Andrew Luck should have been the clear-cut favorite to win Rookie of the Year

For fun he’ll throw in his take on why Tampa is the worst place in the country to live or why parents with babies have no right to board planes first.

Other chapters that caught my ear include:

– Major League Baseball and the Republican Party face eerily similar problems
– Without a strong father, you cannot be a successful quarterback or point guard
– Nike is responsible for Michael Jordan’s impenetrable image

Cowherd’s strong demeanor may be confused with a sense of invincibility and a superego. It has gotten him in trouble before, like in 2005 when WWE wrestler Eddie Guerrero died suddenly of hardened and constricted arteries, Cowherd said “he passed away doing steroids.”

Once I got past Cowherd’s matter-of-fact tone, I came to find the humor in it.  

Overall, I highly recommend this book to any sports fan. Cowherd’s knowledge touches all sports (not hockey), but also ranges into his passion for politics. The MLB/GOP comparison from earlier is a good example. The chapters are put together in no particular order, so if you strongly disagree with a topic it’s easy to skip to the next one. If you’re familiar with Cowherd’s style, you’ll get a few laughs.

I’m finishing my Christmas shopping Saturday. Any other procrastinators out there? This might be a good bail out with Christmas around the corner.

A Blizzard in Super Bowl XLVIII Would Be a Big Win for Football

What were you doing when you were seven years old? Video games? Cartoons? Playing outside with your neighborhood contemporaries?

I loved video games, probably a little too much. But every year, New Jersey treated us to its seemingly annual blizzard. Homework got pushed back a day or two, and everyone knew how they would substitute their school day.

Football.

Football was a run-of-the-mill option on regular days. Throw it in the rotation with basketball, tennis racket baseball, skateboarding, man hunt.

But when it snowed, everyone reported to the Common Ground.

It’s like playing football on a Tempurpedic Mattress. Every catch was a diving attempt, the trusty double-reverse hail mary was out of the arsenal because no one could hold onto the ball, and you actually considered punting.

Snow adds that extra dimension – to any sport. It has given us some of the best games of all time:

Snowplow game, Dolphins/Patriots, December 12, 1982 (wiki)

Conditions were so poor for this game, work release inmates were asked to plow the 10, 20, etc. yard markers for officials. Inmate and Patriots fan Mark Henderson decides to clear the spot from where the Patriots kicked the eventual game-winning field goal. The fourth-quarter score accounted for the only points of the sloppy contest.

2008 Winter Classic, Penguins/Sabres, January 1st, 2008 (wiki)

During blizzard-like conditions, the puck wouldn’t slide and players looked like they were first learning how to skate. The Penguins won in a shootout.

Yankees 1996 Home Opener, Royals/Yankees, April 9, 1996 (box score)
A mundane 7-3 Yankees win became a Yankees Classic when snow fell for much of the mid-April day. The Royals committed four errors in Derek Jeter’s first Home Opener.

Snow adds an extra dimension. The playing field becomes level. That’s why I enjoy watching the pro-bowl. I don’t care it’s not “real football.” It’s entertaining. It’s different.

The main premise of this post is the excitement of the potentially unexpected and never seen is desirable enough to push aside the potential damage of the weather’s byproduct implications.

The opposition argument is certainly sound – how can you let an unpredictable force play a crucial role in perhaps sports’ biggest annual game? If you’re a fan of an elite team, I understand. But for the other 93% of fans who won’t be represented, I think a blizzard would be fun to see.

As a 2013 Giants fan, I won’t have to worry about that 7%.

NBA, Change the Jump Ball Rule

I’m not talking about the opening tip – just in-game jumps.

A few months ago I argued shots beyond half court should not count as field goals attempted as a way to straighten curbed statistics. My only other qualm with NBA rules is the situation asked of players in mid-game jump ball situations.

As current rules dictate, if Player A gets tied up with Player B (both have “possession”), the whistle is blown and both players tip off at the circle nearest where the whistle blew. The ref throws the ball up and both try to tip it to their team.

But if I’m 5’10 and induce a jump ball with 7’1″ Dikembe Mutombo, I get to try and out jump this guy:

Might as well not have even played defense. Mutombo wouldn’t have to even jump against most players under ~6’3″~.

Us vertically challenged people want fair rights! This is an outrage!

If you’re not going to use college basketball’s possession arrow, let teams choose their tallest player on the court for mid-game jump balls. If I get tied up with Shaquille O’Neal, let my buddy Yao Ming try to win the tip – this way most accurately rewards a good defensive play.

One more issue: When a jump ball is called with less than five seconds on the shot clock, the clock resets to five seconds. If I’m playing great defense and induce a jump ball with one second on the shot clock – when if I didn’t play defense it would most likely result in a bad shot or shot clock violation – the offensive team has now a 50:50 chance (on the jump ball) to get off a clean shot, as I feel five seconds is enough time to do so.

This rare, but possible situation puts defenders in the awkward position of “Should I play my best defense right now,” a thought that, morally, should never to enter a player’s head in any sport.

Instead of resetting the shot clock to five seconds, add two seconds to whatever the shot clock read at the whistle. Give the ball those seconds to find its possesser and go from there.

In summary:
Let teams choose which player jumps for possession
Abandon the five-second rule and replace it with a +2 second rule

A month ago I voiced my displeasure on how many players refuse to throw up prayers in the final seconds of quarters as a way to strengthen statistics. Commissioner Stern, don’t be so stern. Adjust for changes that positively affect the game. Tweak the jump ball rule and don’t count shots beyond half court as field goals attempted.

Real Snow – Watch These Snowboarders Tear Up Their Neighborhood

My skateboarding phase took me from around fourth grade through seventh, but I never lost the excitement for watching extreme sports. While I won’t watch ESPN’s X Games religiously, I certainly make an effort to check out some of the action.

But personally, my most captivating winter “event” is the Real Snow competition. For snowboarders not fortunate enough to live near mountains, these guys videotape themselves making do with whatever street-style is available: spins down library stairs, back flips over swimming pools, plus more.

Real SnowThe reason it’s tough to consider this an X Games event is because of the variation in venue. As is the purpose of the competition, street snowboarders around the world use only what’s in their reach to showcase their skills. In turn, the only way to “apply” for a gold medal is to videotape your show, make the cut, then get voted in by the fans.

Right now it’s down to two. Using only a wound up cord to generate speed, watch Eero Ettala and Frank April tear up the neighborhood with their superior concoction of guts and creativity. To vote, click here.

EERO ETTALA

FRANK APRIL

It’s difficult to excel at extreme sports because of the “been there, done that” factor. It’s like the NBA dunk contest – show me something I haven’t seen. But where’s the glass ceiling? How many spins can Shaun White throw down in big air?

I side in favor of the Real Snow competition because it’s untapped and fresh. Infinite courses in addition to the category’s creativity factor are healthy complements to the unquestioned skill these maniacs possess. Who doesn’t want to launch off the roof of their high school cafeteria?

Here’s me in Vermont last year. I think I’m on the cusp on greatness.


(This whole post I tried to come up with an “ice water in their veins, but they already perform on snow” joke, but nothing seemed unforced. I’ll chalk it down as a fail and try better next time)

Kobe Bryant’s Class Gives Kevin Durant Scoring Title

In 1941, Boston Red Sox’ Ted Williams went into the final day of baseball’s regular season batting exactly .400. While he could’ve sat out – Boston was 17 games back of the first place Yankees, Williams understood batting .400 wouldn’t mean as much if put himself before the team. Williams went a combined 6-8 in the doubleheader (Game 1 Game 2) – on his way to the .406 batting average we haven’t seen since.

According to this story on ESPN.com, Bryant will sit out in the final game of the season against the Sacramento Kings tonight, forfeiting a chance to take home his third career scoring title. He needed 38 points to beat out Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, who played their final game of the regular season last night.

Kobe had the chance to smack ESPN in the face tonight. By scoring 38, he makes an argument he’s the best player in the NBA, not the seventh best according to a preseason rank on NBA on ESPN. Remember, this comes in the same season he had to adjust to a coach not named Phil Jackson and a Scottie Pippen not named Derek Fisher. He has not let his basketball stardom fog his vision of another NBA title – basketball’s ultimate measuring stick.

In today’s story with ESPNLosAngeles, Kobe said, “It’s not a challenge for me to score 38 points, you know? … We know I can go out and score 38 points. The most important thing is sending the right message to the group which is putting a championship above all else. That means rest. That means letting other guys play. That means us getting ready for Sunday (for the playoff opener).”

Yeah…Kobe is exactly right. We do know he can go out and score 38 at whim. He’s the only player in the league that can say that without a backlash of pseudo-news and debate on Twitter. Let me know in the comments if you disagree. LeBron could say it and be truthful, but we love hating LeBron too much to let a comment like that slide.

While Kobe could use father time to school the younger Durant, he didn’t. He showed class. He conveyed he’s not bigger than the game. It was refreshing, and I think it reminded basketball fans how special Kobe is.

When we look back on Kobe’s career, there will be an unofficial asterisk next to Kobe’s amount of scoring titles. In a sports era where asterisks are associated with negativity, this asterisk will reiterate how special Kobe was.

“Yes son, Kobe only won three scoring titles way back when, but he could have had a fourth if he decided to play in the final game of that 2012 season.”

Remember when Jose Reyes voluntarily sat out of last season’s finale to ensure his batting title? Yes he won, but sports fans partner his batting title with, “Yes, but he sat out the last day of the season to ensure he would win,” communicating he put himself before the team.

Rest up Kobe. A third scoring title doesn’t look as impressive as a sixth championship.

The Yankees Should Go Completely Unconventional

Welcome back Andy. New York loves you, and I would love to see you win with us…but you put us in a tough spot. We already have enough quality starters to fill a five-man rotation. Simply put, your presence makes things very difficult.

However, your signing opens the door to an unconventional strategy no American baseball team has used before:

Use a six-man rotation.

Here is a list of the Yankees’ potential starters listed by, in my opinion, likeliness to make the rotation. Let me know if you disagree:

CC Sabathia
Ivan Nova
Michael Pineda
Hiroki Kuroda
Andy Pettitte
Phil Hughes
Freddy Garcia

Traditionally, Major League clubs use five starting pitchers, meaning two of the aforementioned will be relegated to long-reliever (most team’s first pitcher cut) or the minor leagues.

Here’s why a six-man rotation would benefit the Yankees:

1) Extra Rest

With such emphasis on pitch count and pitcher conditioning, you give all starters an extra day off, thus decreasing the chance of injury. You can argue the extra day off leads to an increased chance of stiffness and muscle tears, but pitchers can always add an extra throw day to their workout.

2) Playoffs

You have more options when assembling a potential playoff rotation. The extra man also increases competition between hurlers, which may be what the Yankees need to put them over the hump come late in the season.

Also, Joe Girardi can certainly feel better about using a starter on three-days rest in the postseason because of the decreased innings pitched in the regular season. Again, this would conflict with pitchers’ routines, and going from six-days rest to three-days rest is a lot to ask. However, I still feel the greater positive lies in a six-man rotation. Professional pitchers can adjust.

3) Pitcher Confidence

You don’t have to relegate (most likely) Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia to long reliever roles, assuming they even make the team. A six-man rotation would avoid another hit to Phil Hughes’ dwindling confidence, who I believe would be the final starter in a six-man army.

This concept is not uncharted territory for the Bombers – the Yankees experimented with a six-man rotation toward the end of last year. A six-man rotation is the Japanese standard, so the Yankees can use those teams as a model. Potential starter Hiroki Kuroda pitched in Japan from 1997-2007. I couldn’t find validation online, but if the Hiroshima Toyo Carp used six starters during those years, it would bring Kuroda back to his roots.

Here’s where Yankees pitchers stand with two weeks left in spring training:

CC Sabathia – Ace of the staff, huge contract. He has a spot.

Ivan Nova – His 16-4 record was the best among Yankees pitchers in 2011. Is he the Yankees’ next ace? Until he shows he’s not… three left.

Michael Pineda – You can argue the Yankees can play the seniority card and have Pineda start in the minors, but that wouldn’t go over well with the fan base. Assuming he doesn’t blow up in the last weeks of spring training, he’ll have a spot in the rotation.

Hiroki Kuroda – I’m wondering if the Yankees are wishing they hadn’t signed Kuroda now that Pettitte is returning. Personally, I wasn’t crazy over the signing to begin with. He’ll be 37, he’s coming to the offensively-driven American League, and gave up 24 home runs last year – only eight to LCF or RCF according to Baseball-Reference. Important because Yankee Stadium is more concave than Dodger Stadium (Yankee Stadium vs. Dodger Stadium), and plays even smaller than its dimensions indicate. I still think he’ll make the rotation.

Andy Pettitte – He’ll make the rotation. The Yankees would not sign their good friend to embarrass him with a trip to the minors. He may start there to get his confidence and strength back, but he’ll be in the rotation by May 1st.

Phil Hughes – Hughes has been a bit of a bust since his highly anticipated debut April 2007. He’s shown flares of greatness, but has been hurt often, and has yet proven he can be more than a fourth or fifth starter. If Hughes doesn’t make the rotation, the Yankees may put him back in the bullpen, a role he thrived in 2009. Hey Diamondbacks, how about Phil Hughes for Ian Kennedy, straight up?

Freddy Garcia – Garcia seems to hold the shortest stick. He’s old, has no sentimental value to the organization, and was nothing short of ghastly down the stretch. He re-signed in December to a one-year deal, but the Yankees won’t be afraid to eat the contract if need be. I see Garcia as an long reliever/emergency starter come opening day no matter which way you form the rotation.

Dear Mr. Girardi,

I have no problem with a six-man rotation. I’m old, and along with Kuroda and Sabathia, extra rest would certainly help. I’m not crazy about something that goes against my career routine, but I’ll get over it. I know I’ll make the team, but it’ll be nice knowing I’m not destroying Phil Hughes’ confidence by doing so.

Thanks for taking me back. I’m sorry for throwing a total monkey wrench into your system.

Your former teammate and current fifth starter,
Andy Pettitte

NCAA Tournament to Expand to 4,096 Teams

The 68-team NCAA tournament structure lasted only one year. Next year the NCAA tournament will include 4,096 teams.

This video on the Onion Sports Network is one of my all time favorite sports videos.

Later today (or early tomorrow) I’ll be arguing how the Yankees would benefit taking an unconventional route this season – why not have a six-man rotation?