Reaction: Michigan State’s woes continue as the Spartans fall 58-57 at Michigan

Sunday’s afternoon showdown between Michigan and Michigan State was everything you would expect from a rivalry game featuring two top-10 teams.

No matter who you were rooting for, there was frustration. At times, the quality of play was below average. More often than not, the officiating was horrendous – on both sides.

Yet, at the end, both teams had a chance to win, but Trey Burke proved to be the difference in Michigan’s 58-57 victory.

With 4:36 remaining in the second half, Michigan led 52-42, and Michigan State’s offense was nowhere to be found. Behind Adreian Payne’s freakish athletic ability, Gary Harris’ clutch 3-point shooting, and some incomprehensible calls against Michigan, the Spartans went on a 14-4 run and tied the game at 56 with 54 seconds remaining.

Trey Burke was the difference for Michigan in Sunday's showdown. (Photo: Rick Osentoski, USA TODAY Sports)

Trey Burke was the difference for Michigan in Sunday’s showdown. (Photo: Rick Osentoski, USA TODAY Sports)

Still tied at 56 with under 30 seconds remaining, Appling brought the ball across half court, and seemed to be looking for Izzo to call a timeout when Burke poked the ball away and raced down the court to give Michigan a 58-56 lead.

After Nix split a pair of free throws, MSU fouled Mitch McGary with eight seconds left. McGary missed the front end of a 1-and-1, Payne grabbed the rebound and Izzo called a timeout with 4.9 seconds left.

Coming out of the timeout, Harris received the inbound pass from Appling and was doubled. Harris tried to pass to Appling in the corner, but it was stolen by Burke, sealing the Spartans’ fate.

Burke’s play at the end, and really the whole game, was the reason Michigan was able to revenge it’s blowout loss in East Lansing a few weeks ago. Burke finished with 21 points, eight assists, five steals, and four rebounds vaulting his name back into the National Player of the Year race.

Here’s what to take away:

Negatives:

-       The most glaring negative was MSU’s numerous turnovers. In total, the Spartans committed 18 turnovers compared to Michigan’s seven. The worst turnover of them all was probably Appling’s with 26 seconds left, but there numerous others. Multiple times in the first half, MSU threw the ball away inexcusably. MSU’s starters committed 17 turnovers, led by Nix with six. Even when MSU wasn’t turning the ball over, its offense could be described as chaotic at best, especially when Harris wasn’t on the floor.

-       Appling’s woes continued again, as he went 3-for-9 from the field and 0-for-3 from behind the arc. In his last five games, the point guard has connected on only 12 of his 48 shots, including two treys in 22 attempts. In that same amount of time, Appling has also committed 14 turnovers compared to 13 assists. There were times this afternoon against Michigan when he looked out of control and a fraction of what he could be. The talent is there, but it seems like something is going on inside Appling’s head.

If MSU wants to make a deep tournament run, it starts and ends with Keith Appling. (Photo:  Melanie Maxwell I AnnArbor.com)

If MSU wants to make a deep tournament run, it starts and ends with Keith Appling. (Photo: Melanie Maxwell I AnnArbor.com)

-       Because of Appling’s struggles over the past few weeks, Branden Dawson’s lackluster performances will go overlooked by many. Dawson scored two points and committed three turnovers in 24 minutes of playing time. Since scoring in double figures in 5-of-6 games starting with the Wisconsin game, Dawson has scored four, eight, eight, and two points respectively in his next four games. His aggressive nature seems to have disappeared for some reason, and it should be a big concern for the Spartans.

Positives:

-       Gary Harris and Adreian Payne continued to show why some NBA scouts have raved about their potential. Harris is MSU’s most consistent scorer and he continues to show up big when MSU needs a bucket most. In Payne’s last four games, he is averaging 15 points and 12 rebounds. Also, he’s demonstrated the ability to stretch the defense with his outside shooting, which should only help create space for others down the stretch. The duo were the only Spartans in double figures against Michigan, with Payne scoring 17 and Harris 16.

-       Despite the fact that MSU played awful, they were still in a position to win the game. The Spartans looked to be clearly the better team in the first half, and led 31-28 at halftime, but they struggled offensively in the second half. MSU ultimately came up one point short, but the Spartans battled back from down 10 in a hostile environment. If the Spartans can play that bad and almost win, it has to mean something, right?

With a Big Ten regular season title seemingly out of reach (Indiana clinched a share of the title and will clinch it outright with one more win), MSU must now focus on playing its best basketball come tournament time. The Spartans have two home games remaining (Wisconsin 3/7, Northwestern 3/10) and then the Big Ten tournament.

MSU has all the pieces to make a national championship run, but the Spartans need Appling and Dawson to return to form. While Payne and Harris are providing consistent offense, missing Dawson’s aggressive play has been hurtful. Dawson’s overall offensive skill set is raw, but his athletic ability is off the charts. Even without Dawson’s normal play, Appling could still lead this team to a national championship. Appling doesn’t need to score in double figures, he just has to run the offense without committing turnovers and make enough shots to force defenses to respect him. While this is MSU’s first three-game losing streak since late January 2011, it isn’t time to panic. There’s no shame in losing to Indiana, Ohio State, or Michigan, but those are all games MSU should’ve won.

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2012 World Series Preview

The Tigers are back in the World Series for the first time since 2006, and I am back writing on my blog for the first time in what seems like almost six years.

Over the past couple of weeks if there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s to always expect the unexpected.

When the Tigers’ closer Jose Valverde decided he didn’t feel like closing out games anymore, manager Jim Leyland turned to the maniacal but lovable, Phil Coke. Surprisingly, Coke was lights out and played a huge role in the Tigers’ sweep of the New York Yankees en route to the World Series.

For two weeks, I planned on writing a return post on my blog this past Monday. I even marked it down on my calendar to go along with all my exams, quizzes and projects.

At about 4:30 p.m. last Wednesday, I was home free after finishing a midterm and turning in my nine-page paper. By 5:30 p.m. I was getting ready for an intramural soccer game to forget about the stress of the past two weeks.

(Insert the unexpected suddenly happening)

At 6:15 p.m. I was frantically calling my parents trying to get in touch with someone to take me to urgent care.

Long story short, I messed up my leg (torn LCL, ACL and a tibial plateau fracture) and it set a few things back in my schedule. Between school and my internship at MLive.com covering high school football, I have been busy, but determined to find more time to write.

Justin Verlander is doused with sparkling wine after knocking off the Oakland Athletics in Game 5 of the American League divisional series. (AP/ Ben Margot)

Now that I’m restricted to crutches for at least six weeks, I believe I should have plenty of time to share my thoughts – albeit sometimes delusional – with whoever may wander across my blog.

Tonight, the 2012 World Series begins between the Detroit Tigers and the San Francisco Giants. Undoubtedly you already knew that, but here are five keys to the World Series, as well as my prediction at the end.

(Spoiler Alert: I’m from Michigan…)

 

  1. Starting Pitching

    Without a doubt, it would be hard for any of the teams to make the postseason to rival the Tigers’ quartet of Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister and Annibal Sanchez, but the Giants’ starters aren’t too shabby themselves. Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Ryan Vogelsong and Barry Zito all have the ability to turn in quality, if not outstanding performances. Evident by San Francisco’s comeback against St. Louis in which they held the Cardinals to one run in the final three games of the series, the Giants can pitch. Despite everything I just said, the Tigers’ rotation is set and the Giants’ are coming off a grueling and emotional series against the Cardinals. Also, the Tigers have Justin Verlander, and the Giants don’t. It’s as simple as that.

    Advantage: Tigers

  2. Bullpen

    On one hand, you have the Giants, who can bring in numerous arms to match up with anyone, at any point, in any game. On the other hand, you have the Tigers, who don’t have a defined closer and have relief pitchers as consistent as Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson. Phil Coke has stepped up in Valverde’s absence, but how much longer until the Tigers’ bullpen blows a lead and their bats aren’t able to respond?

    Advantage: Giants

  3. Defense

    In the regular season, the Tigers were atrocious on defense, failing to field routine ground balls and turn ordinary double plays. In the postseason, shortstop Jhonny Peralta has stepped up huge, and the beasts at the corners – Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder – haven’t been tested. On the contrary, the Giants seem to do the little things on defense right, even replacing their divots in the outfield grass when they make a sliding catch. Expect the Giants to try to manufacture runs with small ball, and how the Tigers’ defense responds will play a huge part in the outcome of the World Series.

    Advantage: Giants

  4. Hot Hitters

    Who would’ve thought that Marco Scutaro and Delmon Young would play huge roles in taking their respective team to the World Series? When Buster Posey went into a slump, the Giants were in desperate need for someone to step up and Scutaro came through earning him MVP honors of the NLCS. In the entire ALCS, Young returned to last year’s postseason form, driving in as many runs as the entire Yankees team (6). The Tigers are at their best when the hitters after Cabrera and Fielder are contributing and knocking in runs.

    Advantage: Push

  5. Big Bats

    While in San Francisco, the Tigers will be without a DH, forcing Delmon Young to play in the outfield. While that is a scary thought, the scarier thought for Giants fans is who will be their DH when they head to Detroit. During the regular season, the Giants finished last in the league in home runs. The idea that Aubrey Huff – yes, that Aubrey Huff – may be the Giants DH is a big advantage for the Tigers.  Add in Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Austin Jackson, and the Tigers’ big bats are definitely the more frightening of the two.

    Advantage: Tigers

 

The winner of the 2012 World Series is…

the Detroit Tigers. Maybe I’m a homer, but there’s something special about the way this team has played to close out the regular season and in the postseason.

Darrel Evans, Willie Hernandez and Alan Trammell celebrate after the Tigers clinched the ALCS in 1984, the last time the Tigers won the World Series. (MLive.com/AP File Photo)

I’ll admit, just before the All Star break I predicted the Tigers would miss the playoffs. The everyday lineups were puzzling. The offense, especially on the road, was abysmal. The starting pitching was erratic. The bullpen was gut wrenching and nothing seemed to be clicking at the same time.

Then, someone flipped a switch and the team started playing to the ability that everyone thought they would when they were a preseason World Series favorite. In 2006, the Tigers were outplayed by the Cardinals in the World Series, but I think a lot was learned from that experience.  The way this team has come together gives you a special feeling that this is their year…

Oh, and the Tigers have the best pitcher in baseball pitching arguably the best he has at any point in his career. And they have the best overall hitter in baseball coming off a Triple Crown season. And, let’s not forget about the Prince Fielder, the big teddy bear who was brought in specifically to get the Tigers over the hump.

The Tigers trip to the World Series in 2006 may have felt right, but 2012 feels perfect. I’ll take the Tigers in five games, with Verlander closing it out with another must-see performance on his way to earning MVP honors.

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Success Without Honor: Everyone Loses

“Success with Honor is a daily, active goal, not an end result, and achieving that goal is defined not solely by how much you win, but moreover how you win.”

Before the recent events that unfolded over the past few weeks, the above statement in the Pennsylvania State University Strategic Plan for Intercollegiate Athletics was something the Nittany Lions built their reputation on. Now, those words are meaningless, and rather disgusting.

There is no honor in what Athletic Director Tim Curley did. Nor is there honor in what Vice President for Business and Finance Gary Schultz did. And there is nothing honorable about the actions legendary head coach Joe Paterno took when informed of the situation.

Joe Paterno at practice on Wednesday before being fired later that night. (Image via Matt Rourke/AP Photo)

I’m not here to argue about whether or not Paterno should’ve been allowed to stay. In my opinion, he needed to be fired. Even if Paterno did everything that he was “legally” required to do, Penn State couldn’t allow Paterno to be the face of their university after he turned a blind eye and allowed the things that happened to occur.

In fact, it only seems fitting that the man who could’ve stopped all of these atrocities from happening with a simple phone call, was fired over the phone late Wednesday night.

Obviously, Paterno is not the person most at fault, that would be Jerry Sandusky. However, Paterno had the power to stop and prevent Sandusky from doing any more harm, yet he failed to do so. Paterno isn’t the only person to blame – Mike McQueary, Tim Curley and plenty others deserve blame – but because of who Paterno is and who he represented in the public eye – right or wrong -he will receive the most scrutiny.

Before I go any further, I want to note that I have read the Grand Jury Report. Everything in this blog post is based on the findings of the grand jury. My eyes have traveled up and down all 23 pages of the report with each and every sentence adding to the nauseous feeling in my stomach. If you haven’t read the report, and you want to be as informed as possible, I suggest you do. Just a warning, the material is graphic.

In wake of everything that has happened, I found one tweet from Joe Posnanski (@JPosnanski) that stood out from the rest of the collective incoherent shouting of some of the Penn State student body.

“I saw a girl crying tonight. When I asked why she said: “Because everybody lost.”

First of all, and most importantly, the innocent victims of Jerry Sandusky’s heinous acts lost. I cannot express the sadness and sympathy I feel for them. I cannot express how infuriated I become when the focus drifts away from what these young, helpless boys had to endure. The victims of Sandusky’s crimes are the story, not whether or not the idiotic rioters in Happy Valley knew what they were rioting for.

Joe Paterno arriving home Wednesday after what would be his last practice as Penn State's head coach. (Image via Matt Rourke/ AP Photo)

Second, what Joe Paterno did was 100% legally correct, and 100% morally incorrect. He failed as a human being. Paterno was too busy drawing Xs and Os to dial 9-1-1 and he lost sight of the simple fact that there are bigger things than football. He put his football legacy before the lives of innocent children and that is inhuman.

Finally, we, as a collective whole lost. We lost everything that Penn State University stood for. Sadly, we lost the person that Joe Paterno was built up to be. The reputation of Penn State and the legacy of Joe Paterno will be tarnished for much longer than it would have been for any recruiting or improper benefits scandal. This is much, much worse.

Penn State was a university that people – myself included – admired because of its squeaky clean history and the success it was achieving with honor and integrity. Joe Paterno was a role model for all people to look up to. Paterno was a person that parents told their children to model their lives after. Paterno’s large effect on people’s lives should not go un-noted. He positively impacted so many people’s lives that they could probably stretch from East Lansing to Happy Valley. But in this instance, he failed to live up to the standards he established throughout his life’s history of simply being “JoePa.” On and off the field, the perception was that Paterno did it the right way, and that was something we should all strive towards.

We believed in them. We were lied to. And we were wrong.

“We are…”

No, you were Penn State. Now, you’re a program in limbo. You’re a program in crisis control that has a major rebuilding project ahead – not as a football powerhouse – as an academic institution, all because you lost sight of what is more important in life.

You have both lost your identity. And we have lost you.

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Welcome back, Paul Bunyan!

Hello again!

It has been quite a while since my last blog post and I apologize for the long absence. I planned on continuing to write during the school year, but have found that  Michigan State has been kicking my butt over and over again.

Also, I started my internship covering high school football for MichiganPreps, which has somewhat replaced my blogging ability. With so much going on in the world of sports, my professors couldn’t have picked a better time to lessen the work load.

I had already written a blog post for the Michigan vs Michigan State game to be posted that morning, but I forgot to post it in the hectic scramble to get to Spartan Stadium by 6:30 AM so my two roommates and I could get awesome seats.

In the blog post, I explained how I am not your typical Spartan. I grew up wanting to attend the University of Michigan, but when it came time for me to choose my career field, Michigan State was the better option. Once I was admitted into Michigan State, I decided that I would support my school.

Some may call me a traitor or a bandwagon fan, but I like to refer to myself as a Spartan.

After Michigan State trounced all over Michigan 28-14, I thoroughly enjoyed some of the Facebook and Twitter posts by Michigan fans.

The Spartans run onto the field showing off their new Nike Pro Combat jerseys. (Image via Cory Morse/Grand Rapids Press)

 

One of the most intriguing responses was a re-tweet by one of my best friends. My best friend also grew up a Michigan fan and unlike me, she continues to bleed maize and blue even while attending Michigan State University. The tweet she re-tweeted said, “I don’t understand why MSU has so much more bad blood toward Michigan than Michigan has toward MSU.”

The simple answer is, that Michigan is Michigan State’s biggest rival as it usually is when “Team X” plays against “Team X State”.

I have no problem admitting that Michigan has been the better program and that because of their prestigious history, they have more than one rival and a rival in Ohio State, that is bigger than Michigan State.

Although Michigan has a bigger rival, that doesn’t dispute the fact that Michigan is Michigan State’s biggest rival, which is one of the reasons for the unbalanced amount of “bad blood”.

Also, it is the attitude and demeanor that many Michigan fans, alumni or current students carry themselves with. Once again, I will admit that Michigan has been a better school academically and the overall prestige of Michigan is greater than Michigan State’s.

However, Michigan fans don’t need to look any farther than themselves to wonder why there is so much hatred towards them and their school. Some of the hatred is caused by jealousy –and it goes without saying that Michigan State isn’t the only school jealous of Michigan — but the some of the hatred is a result of the way Michigan fans conduct themselves in victory, or defeat.

It’s the arrogant demeanor and the we-never-do-anything-wrong attitude that many Michigan fans carry themselves with that provides Michigan State so much pleasure in beating them.

I’m not saying that all Michigan fans conduct themselves this way. In fact, I would say it is the minority of Michigan fans that do. I encountered multiple Michigan fans that were graceful in defeat, including my best friend and just general Michigan fans that had enough common knowledge to accept defeat and hope for a better result next year.

However, I encountered multiple posts from Michigan fans that were as arrogant as can be. I could go on a rant long enough to make your eyes go cross-eyed, but I will keep it simple: They are ignorant and hypocrites.

“You keep your win, I’ll keep my class” or “this is why I will be forever proud to be a Michigan Wolverine,” after ripping Michigan State’s lack of class and integrity are just a few of the idiotic statements I ran into.

The previous quotes were good, but “clearly, class is too big a concept for them(Michigan State) to comprehend,” definitely wins the most idiotic statement of the week. Excuse me, but where were you when every media member from every large media network was praising Kirk Cousins for his incredible speech at the 2011 Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon?

There is no doubt that there are classless Spartans and I encountered many of them in the student section on Saturday, but just as I said about Michigan fans, they are the minority.

Most of the statements regarding Michigan State’s class refer to WIlliam Gholston’s multiple dirty plays. I don’t disagree that Gholston’s plays were dirty and I don’t encourage dirty plays, but were they really that surprising? It’s college football, a heated rivalry and plays like that are made in every game, by every team, not just the “classless” Spartans.

In fact, one of Gholston’s dirty plays was a retaliation to a Michigan offensive lineman grabbing Gholston’s face-mask and slamming his head into the ground. Also, it sure is classy to walk off the field without shaking hands with the other team, but you’re right, Michigan fans. Please continue to watch the games with your blinders on and I’m your school can do no wrong.

Michigan State OL Jared McGaha hoists the Paul Bunyan trophy after Michigan State beat Michigan 28-14. (Image via Marissa McClain/MichiganDaily)

Also, seeing as most Michigan fans would be Detroit Lions fans, what is their opinion on Ndamukong Suh?

Suh hits the quarterback late, grabs him by the face-mask or helmet and throws him down, sometimes even removing his entire helmet. Despite Suh’s dirty plays, he is praised and loved by the city of Detroit.

To reprimand a player for his dirty player only to turn around and love one of the dirtiest players in the NFL is hypocrisy in its finest form.

Every team — in college or the NFL — has dirty players that make dirty plays. Just because everyone does it doesn’t make it right, but it should make the occurrence of these plays less surprising and mind blowing.

The physical and borderline dirty style of play that the Spartans play with is why they have been so successful, and why Michigan had been successful in the past. Until Michigan and Brady Hoke are able to instill that type of play in their players, they should expect to get be pushed around hit in the mouth.

At the end of the day, a sign that I saw at 6:30 in the morning sums everything up pretty well: “That awkward moment when Little Brother kicks your a** again.” Paul Bunyan will live in East Lansing for at least another year. Better luck next year, Wolverines.

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The eye of the storm

Move over Major League Baseball, college football is now the most corrupt sport in the world of athletics.

It wasn’t long ago when Major League Baseball topped the list because of the steroid era. The league was losing interest, Bud Selig needed a spark and turning a blind eye as players got jacked up on steroids and hit moon shots out of the stadium provided just that.

Now that the league has cracked down on its testing and suspensions, Major League Baseball is finally recovering from the damage caused by steroids.

College football was already number two on the list because of its absurd postseason format and was steadily gaining on the MLB each year as mid-major after mid-major was robbed at a chance at a national championship.

The Miami mascot may be no more. With some speculating that the Hurricanes could face the death penalty, it could be a while before we hear from the Hurricanes again. (Image via bleacherreport.com)

There is a great saying that “If you ain’t cheating, then you ain’t trying.”

College football has taken that saying to a whole new level: “If you aint cheating, you can’t win.”

In the past year, Auburn, Oregon, Ohio State, and now Miami, have all felt — or will feel — the heat of the NCAA.

Auburn and Oregon faced off in the national championship game last year. Ohio State is coming off one of the best ten year stretches it has ever accomplished, including three trips — and one title — to the national championship game.

The allegations brought forth by Nevin Shapiro in the Yahoo! Sports report date back to 2002, the golden days of the Hurricanes when they assembled more talent than your average NFL team.

In a way, college football is the new “steroids era.” So many teams — including high profile teams — are cheating, that it is becoming hard to distinguish between the teams doing it the right way, and teams cheating their way to victory. In the past year, I have lost so much faith in college football that I don’t know who or what to believe anymore.

I plan on watching college football just as I sat through Major League Baseball’s steroid era. On the other hand, some people may stop watching college football altogether. Unfortunately for the NCAA, this is just one of the problems it will face with its fans.

Some fans, including myself, will start second guessing every player and every team that achieves success. It was bad enough guessing who should play in the NCAA Championship game, now we get to guess whether the teams playing are clean or not.

Until the NCAA cleans up college football and restores its integrity, there will be a cloud of doubt over the current era.

I feel bad for Al Golden and the Hurricanes’ fans. Golden, who left Temple to become the Hurricanes new coach is now in a program where it could be impossible to win. The Hurricanes’ fans have faced the storm with courage, but with Shapiro stating that more allegations will be brought forth, it seems as if they are just sitting in the eye of the storm waiting for second wave to come through.

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Know your place

In grade school, whenever anyone upset you or hurt your feelings, the ultimate comeback was, “Well, you’re not invited to my birthday party anymore!”

According to Steve Williams’ comments after caddying Adam Scott to a win at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Tiger Woods will not be invited to Williams’ birthday party.

I truly am happy for Scott and Williams and because it was his first tournament after being fired by Woods, I recognize that it’s not your typical tour win, but Williams’ sneaky shots at Tiger are as immature as it gets. It’s time to put your big boy pants on and move on.

“It’s been the greatest week of my life caddying, and I sincerely mean that,” Williams said of this past week. “I mean, this is the most satisfying win I’ve ever had, there’s no two ways about it.”

Adam Scott won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational shooting a 65 on Sunday, not Steve Williams. (Image via pga.com)

Really? I find it hard to believe that  Scott’s four-shot victory at the WGC-Bridgestone invitational is the most satisfying win for Williams, who has been a caddy for 33 years and had a 12-year stint with one of the best golfers in history. In his 12 years with Tiger Woods, Williams caddied a total 72 total victories, including 13 major championships.

That’s right, Tiger Woods won the tournaments, and Williams was just the caddy. Take Tiger away from Williams’ side for the past twelve years and Tiger would still be considered one of the greatest golfers ever. Take Williams away from Tiger’s side for the past twelve years and Williams would be a nobody. A caddy needs a golfer, a golfer doesn’t necessarily need a caddy.

The fact that the crowd chanted Williams’ name as Scott and Williams approached the 18th green is pathetic and embarrassing. In a classless act, Williams stole the spotlight from Scott, who should’ve been talking about how sweet the victory tasted. Instead, Williams hogged the microphone and attracted all the attention.

I know, I know, it wasn’t Williams who had the microphones or asked the questions. Correct, but Williams could’ve been mature and put out the fire instead of fueling it with gasoline. Williams could have deflected questions about himself and directed them towards Adam Scott. A simple “the past is behind me and this is a great win for Adam Scott” would have been subtle and polite.

Williams claims the past two years of his life were a complete waste. What about the ten years previous when he got to reap the benefits of being the caddy for the best golfer in the world? How much money did Tiger make him? Obviously it wasn’t enough because Williams plans to write a tell-all book and spill all of his secrets. Too bad Williams lost all of his credibility when he claimed to not know anything.

Whether it’s Tiger Woods, Adam Scott, or whoever else Williams caddies for, in the end, it’s the golfer who makes the shots and hoists the trophies.

It was obvious that Tiger needed a fresh start, and based on Williams’ behavior since his firing, it’s obvious why he’s no longer with Tiger. When both their careers end, we will remember the Tiger fist pumps and forget the man holding his clubs.

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No guts, no glory

As I stepped into the tee box of the seventh hole, only positive thoughts were running through my brain.

“Keep your head down, stay relaxed and hit it right down the center of the fairway” I repeatedly told myself. Once the group ahead of us cleared the fairway I approached my ball with driver in hand. About 10 seconds later — after successfully keeping my head down and remaining calm — I watched as my ball sailed off to the right into the only section of trees on that particular hole.

Walking up to hit my second shot, I was presented with multiple options. Should I take my seven-iron and go for the green through the trees? Should I take my seven-iron and try to punch it out into the center of the fairway? What about using my nine-iron and trying to go over the trees? What should I do? Suddenly, I felt like LeBron James, just without the cameras, money, poor postseason performances, ignorance and arrogance James has displayed throughout his career.

Needless to say, I chose none of the above, and shanked the ball into a tree about 10 feet in front of me. Luckily, the ball bounced off the cart path twice, and rolled into the rough just outside the green on the other side of the fairway.

After playing 18 holes on Sunday, I came to the conclusion that trees and I are best friends. No matter how hard I tried not to, I still found the trees. It was meant to be. (Image via allposterimages.com)

Indecisiveness, in life, as well as on the golf course, can cost you. If you are a general manager of a baseball team in the last weekend of July, you know it’s time to push all your chips forward or lay ‘em down and wait for the next hand.

On a side note, could you imagine LeBron as a general manager – everyone would be “taking their talents to south beach!”

Here are five teams who need to make a move if they seriously want to be considered as World Series contenders.  I repeat…WORLD SERIES contenders.

Detroit Tigers: The Tigers can’t depend on Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander the rest of the way. Their offense is picking it up and giving Cabrera protection. If the Tigers want to win the division, and ultimately compete for a World Series title, they need to add a top-of-the-rotation type pitcher.

Chicago White Sox: The Cleveland Indians may be ahead of Chicago but the White Sox have more of a shot of doing damage than the no-name Indians. If Adam Dunn can return to form and if the Sox are able to add a solid set-up man along with a big bat, they may run away with the American League Central.

Texas Rangers: The Rangers have an offense that can score with the best of them but they need to bolster their pitching staff. They have solid starters in Wilson and Ogando but lack the stud to compete with the rest of the American League.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: The Angels have one of the best one-two combos in baseball but still remain four games behind the Texas Rangers. The Angels need to add a quality bat and possibly a consistent fourth starter to get into the playoffs. With Weaver and Haren taking the mound, anything can happen in the playoffs.

Any N.L. Central team: The National League Central is the most jam-packed division in baseball with four out of the six teams within four games of first place and three out of the four are within one game of one another. Whichever team makes a deal to separate themselves from the rest of the pack could do damage in the postseason but the Cardinals and Brewers have the best chance to go the farthest.

Carlos Beltran of the New York Mets is sure to be in a new uniform after the trade deadline passes. (Photo via zimbio.com)

Here are five teams that can afford to stay put and compete for a World Series:

Philadelphia Phillies: The Phillies have the best pitching staff in the big leagues and have lived up to the hype. With the best record in baseball, the Phillies lead the National League East by 6.5 games over the Braves.

Boston Red Sox: With the best offense in baseball and the second best run differential in baseball, the Red Sox have recovered from their pathetic start to grab a two game lead on the Yankees in the American League East. The Red Sox have the second best record in baseball and two pitchers that can compete with the best.

New York Yankees: The Yankees have the best run differential in baseball and have a commanding lead in the Wild Card race. C.C. Sabathia has been fantastic of late and it looks like the Yankees are headed for another deep postseason run.

Atlanta Braves: Although the Braves are almost seven games behind the Phillies, they have a 3.5 game lead in the Wild Card race over Arizona. The Braves have struggled to stay healthy and if Dan Uggla can be as good as advertised, then the Braves could be around for a while.

San Francisco Giants: The World Series Champions are without their best offensive player in Buster Posey but they still sit atop the National League West. Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong lead a shutdown pitching staff that has the ability to repeat the magic on display last postseason. If the Giants make the postseason, don’t expect them to bow out easily.

In the end, all these teams, and even some not mentioned, will be looking to add players to improve their team in any way possible.

In the end, prospects are prospects, championships are championships and as the saying goes, “no guts, no glory.

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In case you missed it, football is back! Yes, that means Rex Ryan will begin to run his mouth, Bill Belichick will start giving us the silent treatment and I will frantically prepare for the upcoming fantasy football season. Find the nearest immovable object and hold on for dear life because the world of sports is about to be thrown into uncharted territory. Between the MLB trade deadline and the entire NFL offseason being squeezed into two weeks before the first preseason game things could get a little hectic.

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