Sports Talk with Johnny

Just a dash of sports

His Greatness Cannot be Questioned

Whose greatness? I can see the wheels turning in your head. Tom Brady’s, of course.

Tom Brady is returning to Houston in two weeks to play in his 49th Super Bowl. That’s right, his 49th! Okay, I’m exaggerating but it doesn’t really seem that far off. Look, I understand that some people love to hate Brady and the Patriots. I mean, whatever you want to do. But any person who names any name but Tom Brady as the greatest quarterback of all-time is not only foolish, but also has no idea what the hell they’re talking about.

People say the Patriots cheat. People say he’s always had a team around him. People say he’s always played under the greatest coach of all-time. But people fail to realize the excuses they keep making. Tom Brady has NOT always had a team around him. Remember those years in which the Patriots had no idea what they would be getting on defense? Did you forget that Gronk is OUT? The Patriots have easily won their two playoff games without that monster of a tight end. Oh, and did you forget that guys like Chris Hogan and Dion Lewis have come out of nowhere to be major factors on the Patriots?

Let me guess what some might say now. He also has the best front office in the league, right? THAT actually wouldn’t be a crazy statement to make. This is coming from a die hard Texans fan who can’t trust my front office to do ANYTHING right, besides JJ. Look, Tom Brady has been nothing but dominant since the day he took over the starting job. And he’s done it all during a more difficult era of football than ever before. I mean, just as a result of realignment in 2002 the newly created fourth divisions in each conference eliminated one playoff spot. All of his seasons have consisted of 16 games, whereas a few of the other all-time great QBs only had to play 14. And of course the most obvious is that there are now thirty-two teams in the league, and 6 make the playoffs in each conference.

His numbers are ridiculous. But more ridiculous than his numbers is that he wins. Like the song, all he does is win. And that is why he’s the greatest of all-time. He’s won more than any other QB, and it’s not going to be close once he’s finished.

I dare you to tell me someone else is the greatest QB of all-time.

My 2017 MLB Hall of Fame Ballot

Whoa! Almost two years since I last wrote here! I’m returning because today the BBWAA will announce its newest members. And I’m making the case for one of Houston’s own.

I’ll admit I cried when Biggio got in. Sport brings out all kinds of emotions in me. I’d work for the Astros for free, which I guess is called volunteering. Of course, I don’t have a money tree to pay for anything.

Anyway, this is my ballot:

Jeff Bagwell

Tim Raines

Trevor Hoffman

Vladimir Guerrero

That’s it. No one else. The problem I’m seeing is that so many writers are voting for Bonds and Clemens and Pudge. I wouldn’t. And I wouldn’t vote for any of them in subsequent years. To say there is any doubt as to whether or not Bonds took anything illegal is to close one’s eyes and say you don’t see anything. Clemens and Pudge are not so cut-and-dry, but personally they don’t have my vote.

The steroid era ushered baseball into the new millennium under a terrible cloud. A cloud that potentially could have ruined the game for good. No one likes cheats. And no one likes cheats who are also making millions of dollars. Right or not, professional athletes are looked upon as role models. And sure, perhaps it’s unfair. But so what? It shouldn’t take several simultaneous investigations to get the league and its players to find an ounce of integrity. But that’s how things happened.

The writers are the gatekeepers of Cooperstown. And it appeared pretty obvious that anyone with ties to PEDs would never come close to getting in. Sosa. Palmeiro. McGwire. They didn’t come close. But only a few short years later after some rule changes regarding who votes and who doesn’t, it appears increasingly likely that Bonds AND Clemens get in.

I hate it. Baseball is full of hypocrites, and I guess it’s too much to expect any different from the writers.

Who would you vote for the Hall of Fame class of 2017?

2015-2016 Bold NBA Predictions

Last night the matchup was set for this year’s NBA Finals, which means the only logical thing to do is to start looking toward next year, right? So here are some of my bold predictions for next season.

  • The Houston Rockets finish as the second seed in the Western Conference for the second year in a row by winning a franchise record 60+ games.
  • James Harden and Dwight Howard are both All-NBA First Team.
  • Three teams in the Eastern Conference will make the playoffs with .500 records or worse.
  • LeBron James reaches his sixth consecutive NBA Finals.
  • The San Antonio Spurs fail to win 50 games in a full 82-game season for the first time since the 1996-1997 season.
  • The NBA begins serious discussions about reformatting the playoffs.

That’s all I have! Some are more bold than others. Perhaps you can disclose some of your bold predictions for the NBA next season?

The Rockets do the Improbable

They win game 7 against the Los Angeles Clippers. And do so easily.

Any of the few readers of this blog should know that I’m from Houston by now, and that I’ve been here my whole life. So maybe I’m a little biased, but I also know all the sports I talk about. I’m not just a fan, I’m a knowledge base that most people (yourself included) just don’t have. It’s easy to know one sport well, or even two, but the only people who have a real knowledge of several sports are sports writers who are paid to be knowledgeable. I’m not, but I’ll take what I know and compare it to what you know every day of the week.

With all that being said, before the playoffs began I picked the Rockets to play in the NBA Finals. And I’m not changing my pick now. They still have that guy with the beard. They have a healthy (and pretty dominant) Dwight Howard. And Josh Smith has picked it up in recent games. All this leads me to believe that the series against the Warriors will not play out in the same manner as the regular season series. The Warriors are beatable. The Grizzlies proved that. And I don’t think there’s a single soul who believes that the Grizzlies were playing better basketball during those two games than the Rockets are right now.

Over the last three games the Rockets have played their brand of basketball that they played during the regular season, which led them to the third best record in the league and a division title in what may have been the best division ever. And now everyone wants to count them out against the Warriors because of what happened in four games over an 82 game season, well I’m not. And I know the guys in that locker room are ready to fight for a trip to the Finals. They showed everyone over the last week how bad they want it. Now it’s time to make it happen.

My Eastern Conference pick to reach the NBA Finals was the Cleveland Cavaliers. Let’s see what happens.

Mayweather/Pacquiao Shatters Records

We all knew that the “Fight of the Century” would break record after record leading up to fight night, but I don’t think we quite expected the final numbers. Let’s get right into them.

Earlier this week the pay-per-view numbers were finally released. The previous record for a fight was just under 2.5 million buys. That was also a Mayweather fight. This one garnered 4.4 million buys at $89.95 or $99.95. Simple math puts the total revenue over $400 million. But that’s not all. We can’t forget the $13 million ring sponsorship (new record). And we also can’t forget the $72 million generated from tickets to the fight (new record). All in all, it doesn’t look like any of the records set by this fight will ever be broken.

The final tally is as follows:

Pay-per-view revenue: $400+ million

Gate revenue: $72 million

Ring sponsorship: $13 million

Total: $485+ million (domestic)

And for all the people who say that this was all money wasted, just shut up. No one is telling you how to spend your money, who the hell are you to tell anyone else how to spend theirs? At the end of the day Floyd and Manny are doing okay.

It’s Finally Here

Some people are calling this the greatest day in North American sports history. I have no issue with that. But let’s face it, the NBA and NHL playoffs happen every year. The Kentucky Derby happens every year. The NFL Draft happens every year. What doesn’t happen annually is the fight that’s capping it all off.

I don’t care about the money involved. I don’t care about how old the two fighters are. And I also don’t care about this fight preserving the future of boxing. Nope. All I care about (and I’m sure most people are thinking the exact same thing) is that this fight is finally happening. Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao are both Hall of Fame caliber fighters, and easily the two best of their era. And that’s all that matters.

We all know Floyd Mayweather Jr. isn’t really the greatest of all-time. But who cares? I don’t. And I know Manny doesn’t. It’s all about today. This fight. That’s it. The fight will get underway around 11 hours after this post publishes. All I’m going to do is sit back and see what happens.

My pick: Manny Pacquiao. Why? Because he has absolutely nothing to lose. He can go for broke from the start.

Why ya got tonight? Floyd or Manny?

Experiencing Playoff Basketball for the First Time

I know it’s difficult for me to really put into words just how much I love sports. Sure I have this blog that update as best I can, but it just isn’t the same as having a face-to-face conversation that would allow me to demonstrate my vast knowledge of all things sports. I’m not just a fan during the postseason. I’m not just a casual fan who likes attending sporting events more than I like watching them on TV. I’m the guy you turn to when you see something on TV or read something on Twitter that has you scratching your head. So you come to me for verification, Baseball. Basketball. Football. Tennis. Golf. Just about anything, really.

With all that being said, I finally got to experience playoff basketball for the first time last night. It was game five of the Rockets-Mavericks series in the first round of the NBA playoffs. The Rockets were able to finish off their division rivals with a very solid performance. But that’s not the point of this post because I’m sure you were watching on TV. What I want to talk about is the very real thing that is home court advantage in the NBA. You hear analysts and commentators talk about it, but it’s hard to get a grip on just how much it can affect the outcome of a game. The Toyota Center last night was electric. Fans were on their feet most of the game and made it difficult to hear anything going on besides their cheers and chants.

This was my third Rockets game attended overall, but I’ve been around sporting events my entire life. I’ve attended countless Astros games and participated in many others. Nothing I’ve ever experience comes close to last night. Sure it helped that the Rockets were in control of the game essentially from the start, but those fans were not leaving the arena without their presence truly felt.

I imagine that being a professional in the best basketball league prepares you for any and all crowd noise that may arise during the course of a game, But there’s something to be said about a fanbase that has fully embraced its team throughout the course of a season and is ready for liftoff come playoff time. That’s what I’ve seen over the course of this season and that’s what I saw last night at the Toyota Center. The city of Houston is ready for the Rockets to make a deep playoff run and win another title. We’ve been waiting much too long for this.

I leave you with some pictures and a question. Have you ever experienced a postseason sporting event?

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I don’t have more pictures because Snapchat was not working properly and I mostly recorded video.

The Josh Hamilton Situation

It just changes daily. I’m reading reports now that the Texas Rangers will be paying only $7M of the remaining $83M left on his current deal. Hamilton is reportedly giving up $6M to make the deal happen. Which leaves the Angels to pay $68M to a player over a three year period to play in the same division as they do!

This kind of thing happens sometimes, but I’ve never seen the number so high. And it leads me to believe that they know something we don’t, I understand that they no longer want him with their team. I understand that he hasn’t been productive in an Angels uniform. But for a team to cover almost 85 percent of a contract with those kind of annual numbers is baffling to me. It doesn’t matter that the Angels have money to spend. And I really don’t think it matters that he hasn’t been productive. I think it all comes down to his relapse. Which is almost funny because the Angels knew exactly who they were getting when they signed him to that big deal.

I have no idea how Josh Hamilton will perform in a Rangers uniform this season once the trade is complete, but I am wondering if there’s even more to this story than the public has been made aware of. Because the Angels seem to be washing their hands of Hamilton more quickly than one might expect.

What do you think? Am I on to something or just being skeptical?

Can Jose Altuve win Back-to-Back Batting Titles?

Yes.

The Houston Astros are currently leading the AL West. Yes, the Houston Astros are LEADING what many believe (myself included) to be the best division in baseball. I’m not getting ahead of myself by mentioning this because I’m well aware of the fact that the season has just begun. But I really think the Astros are going to be in the mix for the entire season.

Anyway, if you don’t watch the Astros every night like I do then you might not be aware of their offensive struggles. Going into last night’s game they’d scored the fewest runs in the league. But what you don’t see when you look at the raw numbers is that Jose Altuve has quickly recovered from his slow start in the opening series. He had a rough night last night, but prior to that he’d managed to hit successfully in nine straight games. His batting average had jumped up to .320. If you look at the league leaders at the moment you’ll see that there are something like two dozen hitters ahead of him. But no one is hitting over .400 this season and most of the guys will not be in the batting title discussion come September, but Altuve will be. And I imagine he’ll be right near the top.

Why do I think this? Because Altuve uses the whole field at the plate. And as you know, there are A LOT of players who don’t. Just think about all the shifts. Altuve doesn’t step into the box trying to go yard. He doesn’t try to do too much. He does his best to get on base however he can. That’s a mindset he shares with very few players in today’s game. So once the long MLB season comes to an end, there’s no doubt in my mind that Altuve will once again have inserted his name into the batting title discussion.

What do you think? Think he can repeat?

My Picks to Meet in the NBA Finals

The Houston Rockets will be matched up against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The second seeded teams in each conference.

Here why I think these two teams will meet.

As a result of the final regular season standings, San Antonio fell to the sixth seed in the Western Conference. Which means that if they win their first round series against the Clippers, they’ll be matched up against the Golden State Warriors in the second round rather than in the conference finals. This is a big deal.┬áBecause it means the Rockets avoid playing both teams en route to the Finals.

I think San Antonio gets by Golden State in the second round and the Rockets get by Memphis. Which leaves us with another all-Texas matchup. The Rockets lost the season series to San Antonio 3-1, but two of the games were decided by a combined five points. So the series was closer than the wins and losses would have you think. By this point in the playoff schedule the Rockets will be playing excellent basketball and the Spurs will have just come out of a dogfight with Golden State. I think the Rockets will have a nice edge.

My reason for picking the Rockets to meet the Cavs is simple: the Cavs have LeBron James. And the Eastern Conference lacks any real depth because does anyone really think any of the bottom four or even five teams have a chance at the title? I certainly don’t. I think come playoff time LeBron will be able to run wild against the teams in the conference and take his team to the title series come June, where he’ll face off against James Harden and the Rockets.

Who’s my pick to win it all? The Rockets. In a very tough six game series that likely has an overtime game or two. And the Rockets add their third championship banner to the rafters at Toyota Center.

Who do you have playing the in Finals this year?

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