B is for the Brooklyn Nets. Thought to be a legitimate challenger to the Miami Heat in the NBA's Eastern Conference with a core of Kevin Garnett (15 All-Star Games, 1 MVP), Joe Johnson (6 All-Star Games), Paul Pierce (10 All-Star Games), Deron Williams (3 All-Star Games), and Brook Lopez (1 All-Star Game), the Nets dealt the Heat their first loss of the season back on November 1st, 101-100. Since that time though? Just 5 wins in 18 games and with a record of 6-14, they sit tied for 12th place in the Eastern Conference. Of their projected starting five, only Johnson has appeared in every game with Williams missing 11, Lopez 7, Pierce 5 and Garnett 2. On top of that Garnett's averaged a career low 6.5 points per game while shooting just 36% from the field. Their only saving grace? The East is so weak this season that the 8th place Bulls are just 8-10, a mere 3 games up on the Nets.
|Photo Credit: http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports|
C is for Cano. Robinson Cano and the Seattle Mariners have agreed to a 10 year, $240M contract as the AL West just keeps loading up on star power. The 31 year old second baseman has enjoyed 4 straight all-star seasons, and in the past five years has never hit less than .302 while adding at least 25 homers, 85 runs batted in, and 41 doubles. Seattle used 5 different second basemen in 2013 (Nick Franklin, Dustin Ackley, Robert Andino, Carlos Triunfel and Brad Miller), but none of them can compete with Cano in terms of numbers. In fact, the five of them combined to hit fewer homers (24) than Cano did last season (27). Still, 10 year contracts are a dangerous thing as evidenced to those previously given to Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols. That said, it's a definite upgrade for the Mariners right now.
|Photo Credit: http://espn.go.com/new-york/mlb|
D is for Duke Football. That's right, the basketball powerhouse has a football team, and they came one win away from a BCS bowl game this year. Unfortunately, their opponent in the ACC Championship game was Florida State, and they were unwilling to play along in the Blue Devils' cinderella story. After a scoreless first quarter, the Seminoles and freshman sensation Jameis Winston poured it on en route to a 45-7 victory denying Duke their first outright ACC title in football since 1962. Duke was actually the co-champion as recently as 1989. You might have heard of their coach, some guy named Steve Spurrier.
|Photo Credit: http://www.secrant.com/rant|
E is for Everton. Pretty good week for American goalkeeper Timmy Howard and Everton as the Toffees won on the road against Manchester United mid-week and then played league leaders Arsenal to a 1-1 draw on the road as well. Everton has just one loss in 15 league matches this season, and currently sits in 5th place in the English Premier League.
|Photo Credit: http://www.smh.com.au/sport/soccer|
F is for Fielder. Like Robinson Cano, Prince Fielder is now a member of the AL West having been traded from the Detroit Tigers to the Texas Rangers for Ian Kinsler. Fielder gives the Rangers the left-handed power bat they've coveted since the departure of Josh Hamilton while Kinsler will add some punch at the top of the Tiger lineup.
|Photo Credit: http://www.sikids.com/blogs/2013/11/22|
G is for Group of Death. Not a great World Cup draw if you're a U.S. Soccer fan. The U.S. sits in a group with Germany, Portugal and Ghana, all tough opponents, so making it to the Round of 16 will be no easy task. Germany and Ghana have actually contributed to the U.S.'s elimination from the last 4 World Cups. In 1998, Jürgen Klinsmann and Germany started the U.S. off with a 2-0 loss from which they'd never recover. In 2002, Michael Ballack's first half goal stood up in a 1-0 win over the U.S. in the Round of 8. In 2006, the U.S. needed to beat Ghana to get out of Group E, but Clint Dempsey's goal wasn't enough in a 2-1 loss that again sent the U.S. home early. Finally in 2010, it was Ghana again when Asamoah Gyan's extra time winner knocked the U.S. out of the Round of 16. So in summary, the U.S. gets to take on the #2 team in the world in Germany, the #5 team in the world that boasts one of the world's greatest players, Cristiano Ronaldo, in Portugal, and the team that knocked them out of the last two World Cups in Ghana. But hey, if you want to be the best, you gotta beat the best.
|Photo Credit: http://www.fcdallas.com/news/2013|
H is for Howard. Dwight Howard went for 20 points and 22 rebounds in his first game against the Orlando Magic since joining the Houston Rockets. The Rockets won 98-88 as Howard eclipsed 20 rebounds for the third time this year.
|Photo Credit: http://www.pba-online.net/basketball/|
I is for Interception. Nick Foles had been absolutely flawless this season tossing a ridiculous 19 touchdowns without an interception for the Philadelphia Eagles heading into today's tilt with the Detroit Lions. All good things must come to an end though, and Foles' streak was no exception as Lions cornerback Chris Houston picked him off in the second quarter. Foles falls one short of Peyton Manning's record, set earlier this year, of 20 touchdowns without a pick to open a season. But hey, the Eagles won in the snow 34-20 behind 28 4th quarter points.
|Photo Credit: http://nfl.si.com/2013/12/08|
J is for Jets. Somehow the Jets, despite terrible quarterback play, and a point differential of -111 are 6-7 and just one game out of the final playoff spot in the AFC. If not for Baltimore's multiple 4th quarter comebacks against the Vikings today, they'd be TIED for 6th place with San Diego and the Ravens. The Jets are at Carolina next week, then host the Browns before wrapping their season up with Miami. Baltimore, who defeated the Jets 19-3 back in Week 12, plays in Detroit next Monday, then hosts New England before finishing the season at Cincinnati.
|Photo Credit: http://sportspyder.com/teams/new-york-jets|
K is for Kobe. Kobe Bryant made his return to basketball tonight starting for the Lakers against the Toronto Raptors. At the half, Bryant has 5 points on 2 of 5 shooting with 4 rebounds and a team high 3 assists. The Lakers (10-9) trail by four, 51-47.
|Photo Credit: http://sneakernews.com/category/kobe/|
L is for Luck. So several weeks ago, I made a bold fantasy football move trading Andrew Luck away for Colin Kaepernick. Little did I know I'd face the team I traded him to today in the first round of the fantasy football playoffs. End result? Not good. Luck threw for over 300 yards with 4 touchdowns and outscored Kaepernick 34-8. Doesn't look like there will be a Three-peat in the Drydock League this year.
|Photo Credit: http://www.sportsgrid.com/fantasy|
M is for MLS Cup Champions. Congratulations to Peter Vermes and Sporting Kansas City on their 2nd MLS Cup Championship as they outlasted Real Salt Lake in a marathon 10-round penalty kick shootout last night. French defender Aurélien Collin headed home a Graham Zusi corner kick in the 76th minute for his 3rd goal of the postseason to tie the game at 1, and then delivered the go-ahead penalty kick in the 10th round before Jamaican Lovel Palmer slammed his effort off the crossbar to clinch the match for the hosts.
|Photo Credit: http://www.kansascity.com/2013/12/07|
N is for NHL. I'll be honest, I haven't been following a ton of hockey lately, but it's good to see that the "kids", Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, are still doing their thing. Crosby leads the league with 42 points while Ovechkin is the top goal scorer with 22 goals in 27 games.
|Photo Credit: http://www.washingtonpost.com/express|
O is for Ömer Aşık. After a career year with the Rockets last season, the 7 footer from Turkey doesn't appear that he'll be wearing a Rockets jersey much longer. Aşık started all 82 games for the Rockets last year averaging 10.1 points and 11.7 rebounds, but the addition of Dwight Howard had cut into his playing time and the emergence of Terrence Jones has all but completely removed him from the Rockets game plan as anything more than a backup center. Houston has set an unofficial deadline of December 19th to make a move.
|Photo Credit: http://streetsofthenba.com/2013/11/16|
P is for Paul George. The 23 year old small forward from Fresno State has broken out this year and is a huge reason the Indiana Pacers have started the season 18-3, with all three losses coming on the road (at Chicago, Portland and Oklahoma City). George scored 32 points tonight in a blowout loss to the Thunder and sits 4th in the league in scoring behind only Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James.
|Photo Credit: http://isportsweb.com/2013/07/22|
Q is for Quarterbacks. Several standout performances today: Peyton Manning threw for 397 yards and 4 touchdowns in a 51-28 win over the Titans. Tom Brady threw for 418 yards and 2 scores in the final minute to stun the Browns 27-26. Jason Campbell threw for 391 yards and 3 touchdowns, but was on the short end of Brady's heroics. And finally Ben Roethlisberger threw for 349 yards and 3 scores, but narrowly missed a 4th when Antonio Brown was ruled to have stepped out of bounds at 12 yard line overturning what could have been a game winning score as time expired.
|Photo Credit: http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football|
R is for Rossi. Giuseppe Rossi is the leading scorer in Italy's Serie A. If you're a true soccer diehard, you may recall that he was born in New Jersey. Unfortunately for American soccer fans, the Fiorentina striker is a staple on the Italian National team having first appeared for their youth teams way back in 2003. Think we wouldn't like to have that guy playing up top for us in the Group of Death next summer?
|Photo Credit: http://www.foxsportsasia.com/football|
S is for Sixty Four Yards. There's a new NFL record for the longest field goal as Matt Prater drilled a 64 yarder against the Titans right before halftime in Denver today. The previous record of 63 yards was held by Tom Dempsey (1970), Jason Elam (1998), Sebastian Janikowski (2011), and most recently David Akers (2012). Of the 5 kicks of 63 yards or more, 3 of them have now been kicked in Denver with the two exceptions being Dempsey (New Orleans) and Akers (Green Bay).
|Photo Credit: http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football|
T is for Trail Blazers. Don't look now, but the Portland Trail Blazers at 17-4 have the best record in the NBA's Western Conference. Led by Lamarcus Aldridge and second year point guard Damian Lillard, Portland already has more than half of the wins they achieved last season (33).
|Photo Credit: http://forwardcenter.net|
U is for UCLA Women's Soccer. Sophomore Kodi Lavrusky helped the UCLA Bruins to their first ever women's soccer championship when her overtime strike snuck past Florida State keeper Kelsey Wys and gave them a 1-0 win. The Bruins finished the season 22-1-3 and posted 5 shutouts in 6 games en route to the title.
|Photo Credit: http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/college|
V is for Vasquez. Greivis Vasquez, Patrick Patterson, Chuck Hayes and John Salmons were traded from Sacramento to Toronto today to bring Rudy Gay, Aaron Gray and Quincy Acy to the Kings. It marked the second time in 2013 that Gay has been traded after having been shipped from Memphis to Toronto back in January. Gay was shooting just 38.8% from the floor this season, but was still averaging just a shade under 20 points a game.
|Photo Credit: http://tracking.si.com/2013/12/06|
W is for War Eagle. The Auburn Tigers are back in the National Championship Game for the first time since Cam Newton was their quarterback after literally running their way to a 59-42 win over Missouri in the SEC title game. Auburn ran for 545 yards and 7 touchdowns in the game, 304 of those yards and 4 of those scores by Junior running back Tre Mason. It marked the first time that Mason had even managed to break 200 yards in a single game. The 4 touchdowns tied a career high.
|Photo Credit: http://www.survivingcollege.com|
X is for X-Rays. Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots tight end who just can't catch a break in terms of injuries, is suspected of having torn his right ACL in New England's narrow win over the Cleveland Browns today. Gronk had only appeared in six games for New England this season, but now may be out for the entire postseason.
|Photo Credit: http://duelingcouches.blogspot.com/2013/12|
Y is for the Yankees. Lose Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson? No problem! Enter Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran as replacements. Cost? A cool $283M. Must be nice to have money.
|Photo Credit: http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/eye-on-baseball|
Z is for Zlatan Ibrahimović. The Swedish striker has been on fire again this year, leading Ligue 1 with 13 goals and helping PSG to a 12-1-4 start and the top spot in the table. Ibrahimović scored two more goals late in the match in a 5-0 over Sochaux yesterday.
|Photo Credit: http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague|