Yesterday I wrote about Cricket, Today it’s European Soccer.

Before you think the Sports Guru has completely gone off the deep end, I do realize that we are in the middle of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Sweet 16 and Opening Day for the 2011 Baseball season is only a week away. But today I’m fired up about the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship. You need to remember football in Europe is the same thing as soccer in America. The Finals of the Tournament will be held from June 8th until July 1st in 2012. Poland and Ukraine will be the host countries. Fifty one other nations are battling it out for fourteen other slots to join the host countries in the finals. The qualifying round began last August and it runs through November of 2011. The fifty one countries were divided into nine groups. Six groups contain six teams and three groups have five teams. They are lettered Groups A – I. How the groups were assembled is again one of those things American sports fans just don’t care about. I can tell you pots and ping pong balls (see What Happened to the Ping Pong Balls – May 21, 2008 sportsnerds.wordpress.com/2008/05/21/what-happened-with-the-ping-pong-balls/) were involved.

By now you must be asking why write about something that really won’t happen until next summer, and most American sports fans don’t care about? I have a real simple answer – it’s the National flags. In Group A two of the teams are Germany and Belgium. As you can see, not very creative. Yes the Belgium flag has vertical stripes and the Germany flag has horizontal ones. And yes, the red and yellow have been flipped. But basically it’s the same flag. I have no doubt that citizens of those countries that have eaten too much chocolate and had a few too many beers can’t tell them apart.

In Group C we have Italy and in Group E Hungary. I am not a world history buff, but I’m going with a bunch of Hungarians had a little too much goulosh and decided the Italian flag was really nice and instead of wasting time and money, lets just flip it around and call it a day. The same could be said for France and the Netherlands.

Look how fancy the Czech Republic, Russian and Luxembourg (I dare you to point it out on a map of Europe without looking first) flags are.

For some reason I thought Europeans were creative. They gave us Versace, Heidi Klum and gelato. What would a day be like without bratwurst, warm beer or Abba? OK, you got me on that one. To be honest with you, I am very disappointed with the “Old World Countries”. Another country you can’t find on a map (it wasn’t a country when we went to school) Macedonia has a really cool flag. They are currently in 5th place in Group B having only beaten Andorra. Everybody beats Andorra. The country only has 84,000 residents. One great fact you can impress your friends with at the water cooler later today – The people of Andorra have the 2nd highest human life expectancy in the world — 82 years at birth. You can research who is number one and get back to me.. Just in case you were interested, the Romanian flag looks like this. Those Andorran’s are so creative…

Two more flags of note. Kyrgyzstan and Kiribati. Neither one is in Europe, but I liked the flags.

A few quick sports notes. We are one step closer to Nuclear war as Pakistan will play India in the World Cup Cricket semifinal on March 30th. This morning New Zealand upset South Africa and they will play the winner of tomorrows match between Sri Lanka (my pick to win the whole tournament) and England. Here is a little video of Pakistan playing India in Cricket from a few years ago.

In the NFL, that hit will get you fined $250,000 and suspended for a game.

Four teams qualified for the Elite Eight in the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship (Florida, Connecticut, Butler and Arizona) yesterday. Four more teams will qualify tonight.

Opening Day in Baseball is only 6 days away. And yes the NFL owners and players still can’t figure out how to split nine billion dollars.

Have a great weekend.

Your Friend in Sports,

Sports Guru Dave

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Where did Nate Washington play college football?

I already know what you are thinking, who is Nate Washington? was587797I promise I will get back to Nate a little bit further down the page. This weekend the NFL (National Football League) will have their two conference championship games. The AFC (American Football Conference) game will be between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh on Sunday evening at 6:30 pm EST and the NFC (National Football Conference) game will be in Arizona at 3 pm EST where the Philadelphia Eagles will face the Arizona Cardinals. The two winners will face each other in Super Bowl XLIII (43 for those who can’t read Roman numerals) on February 1st in Tampa Florida.

So what about our friend Nate? Nate Washington is a wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He wears number 85 and during the regular season he caught 40 passes for 631 yards and three touchdowns. Last week in the Divisional playoffs against the San Diego Chargers he caught three passes for 30 yards. For those of you who are not impressed by those numbers or for those who are still struggling with XLIII, Nate had a very nice season for Pittsburgh. Nothing really special, but a very solid season.

So why did the Sports Guru use Nate as the subject to this article? Back to Nate in a little while. I went to www.nfl.com and downloaded the rosters for the four teams that play this weekend. Each team in the NFL can have 53 players on their active roster. 45 can dress on game day. The other eight are on the practice squad. So with some quick math, 212 players are eligible to suit up this weekend. 190 will get that chance. Also on each roster are those players that are hurt and have been placed on the injured reserve list. They can not play the rest of the season. Between the four teams there are 34 such players. Again with some quick math, 212 plus 34 equals 246 players who are listed on the four rosters.

Now here’s the fun part. Those 246 players played their college football at 112 different colleges and universities. The real number is 245 players because the Eagles punter Sav Rocca (#7) came to play in the NFL after playing fourteen seasons in the Australian Football League (AFL). 200px-saverio_roccaFor those of you who have never seen an Australian rules football game you are missing out on a lot of great stuff.

Lot’s of these colleges are well known football schools. Ten players from the University of Michigan, nine from Florida State and at least five from Alabama, Auburn, Arizona St., Georgia, Illinois, Miami (Florida), Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oregon and USC. Also on the list are two players who played football at Ivy League schools – Jon Dekker who played at Princeton, is on the injured list for Pittsburgh and Sean Morey (#87) from Brown who is a wide receiver for Arizona.

Some of the other schools on the list include lots of programs who no one would consider football powerhouses. Reggie Wells (#74) of the Cardianls went to Clarion University in Pennslyvania, Todd Herremans from the Eagles (#79) attended Saginaw Valley State in Michigan and Antwan Barnes of the Ravens (#50) attended Florida International in Miami. FIU is currently offering online courses in The History of the Beatles and the History of Rock Music http://wordpress.fiu.edu/news/2009/01/05/you-can-rock-it-out/.

And our friend Nate Washington – he was a Tiffin Dragon. Playing football for Division II Tiffin University in Tiffin Ohio. For those of you who are not trivia buffs who know about the history of the State of Ohio, Tiffin University is named after the first governor of Ohio Edward Tiffin. stag-out-odu

So what’s the point Sports Guru? Even the little guy from the small college has a chance to be a millionaire playing on Sunday’s. For the record, Eagles and Ravens in the Super Bowl in Tampa.

Enjoy a little Aussie Rules Football from You Tube and have a great weekend.

Your friend in Sports,

Dave the Sports Guru

When is $10 Million Not Enough?

It’s not enough, according to New York Giant wide receiver Plexico Burress.  It seems that Burress is not thrilled with his six year contract that he signed three seasons ago – the one that paid him $15 million over the first three seasons and then only $10 million over the final three years of the deal.  The funny part about this is that I can’t blame the guy.  OK Guru, how are you going to justify this?

Burress caught the winning touchdown from Eli Manning in Super Bowl XLII (42 if you never learned Roman numerals) this past February.  He has played eight seasons in the NFL and led the Giants last year with a career best 12 touchdown receptions and 70 catches.  During the past three seasons, Manning and Burress have hooked up for 29 touchdown passes.  No other quarterback/receiver combo has more.

OK Guru, the guy has stats that sound good, but “where’s the beef” (80’s reference for older readers)?  The beef is that while Burress signed his deal in 2005, today’s top receivers in the NFL are getting paid more money.  Lot’s more.  Dallas Cowboy wide receiver Terrell Owens and New England Patriot Randy Moss recently signed 3 year contracts worth $27 million.  Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals inked a 4 year, $40 million deal with $30 million of it guaranteed.

Guaranteed.  Guaranteed.  Guaranteed.  That’s the key here.  Football, unlike the other pro sports we all love and know, does not do guaranteed contracts.  Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees ($28 million this season for those who are counting) signed a 10 year for $275 million this winter to stay a NY Yankee (that’s a story for another time).  If A-Rod gets hurt and has to retire or the Yankees decide his services are no longer needed (you’re old and now you suck), they are on the hook for what is left on the contract.  Yes there is insurance to cover these things, but the point is that A-Rod will continue to get a big check each month.

In the NFL, it is “what have you done for me lately?”  When Burress signed his contract in 2005 for 6 years it was worth $25 million.  Only a small piece of that was guaranteed up front.  If the Giants decide to part ways with Burress tomorrow, he no longer gets a check for the remaining years of the contract.  It’s a little more complicated than that (salary caps, CBA, DGR and cap hits, don’t worry, NOBODY understands this stuff).     

Today, the New Orleans Saints signed a contract extension with their Defensive End, Will Smith (not the movie guy).  The deal is being reported to be worth $70 million over the next six years.  $26 of the $70 million is guaranteed.  The McDonalds down the street from my house is paying $9.00 an hour to start.  Smith, who is listed at 6′ 3″, 285 lbs can now buy lots of Big Macs.

So the question is, is Burress wrong to want a new contract?  What will happen next is that Burress will not report to training camp next month until he gets a new contract.  It will make for great press and radio-show call-in material.  In the end, the Giants will give in (all the teams do) and Burress will be able to join Smith at the McDonalds. 

Voice your opinion on Burress, Smith, A-Rod or any athlete who makes as much money each season as the GNP of Botswana………….

Your Friend in Sports,

 

Dave the Sports Guru

 

 

A Little Bit of Help for the Sports Nerds

As we continue down the yellow brick world of sports, the Sports Guru has a confession to make.  I don’t know everything there is to know about sports.  Yes, I know more than most.  I’ve been spending most of my 45 years on this subject.  But every now and then, the Sports Guru needs a little help.  So today, and today only, I’m going to let you into the Sports Guru’s secret world of sports.

Now, I hope that you are only a Sports Nerd and not a Computer Nerd also (oh please let this be the case).  I’m going to list the 10 most important web sites a sports fan needs to know (about sports).  Before you start to break out in hives, I’m not asking you to use these every day- just when you feel that a little more sports knowledge is needed.  Remember, it’s today only the Sports Guru is allowing you into the secret world of sports.

1.     ESPN     http://espn.go.com

2.     Sports Illustrated     http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com

3.     Fox Sports     http://msn.foxsports.com

4.     Sporting News     http://www.sportingnews.com

5.     College Sports Television     http://www.cstv.com

6.     Major League Baseball     http://www.mlb.com

7.     National Basketball Association (NBA)     http://www.nba.com

8.     National Football League (NFL)     http://www.nfl.com

9.     National Hockey League (NHL)     http://www.nhl.com

10.     USA Today Sports     http://www.usatoday.com/sports

These are not listed in any particular order.  My suggestion is that you make a folder (Sports Are Great) in your favorites portion of your internet browser (find the Computer Guru if you have any questions) and enter these 10 addresses into the folder.

Start slowly (like dipping your toe in the ocean – you can swim?) by checking out the sites.  You will find that these websites do a lot more than just give you scores and stats.  Sports Illustrated has an entire section dedicated to their annual swimsuit issue.  ESPN has articles on all sorts of subjects in their e-ticket section.  All the websites have a section to go shopping (yes, for the Sports Nerds who are women).  You will find the schedules for your local teams, the television stations they are on, the names and numbers of all the players (breathe, breathe, breathe slowly now).  You can read about the history of any of the sports on the league websites, you can even communicate with other sports fans (yes, you can do it!) on message boards.

When you finish your lunch today (no, not a turkey wrap again) and your boss is not looking over your shoulder, give it a try.  Remember to take it slowly.  Look at the pictures, read the headlines, play a video or two, and when you feel you are ready, click one of the article links. 

Please send me a comment with some of the sites and articles you find.  It will be great to share these with your fellow Sports Nerds.

If you enjoy these 10 sports sites, the Sports Guru has a list of other sites you might find interesting.  But you cannot use them at work or when your children or spouses are around.  I want to keep my blog job…….

Your Friend in Sports,

 

Dave the Sports Guru