Thursday Nov 23
Written by Ben Pogany Wednesday, 10 November 2010 16:36

As we enter the crossroads of college sports in which the football regular season winds down while the hoops season kicks off, the vast majority of fans from the six major conferences are either pinning all their hopes on a respectable bowl victory or looking far ahead to the madness of March. Success is more often than not an either/or proposition when it comes to the distinct worlds of these two wildly popular pastimes. In fact, only seven schools have ever won a title in both sports (Michigan St, Florida, Ohio St, Michigan, UCLA, Maryland, and Syracuse) and only one (Florida during that magical ’06-’08 run) has even captured both in the last generation. Historically, you’re either a football school or a basketball school. You have your Dukes and Kentuckys or your Nebraskas and Penn States. With all that being said, it seems like more and more colleges are diversifying. For instance, there’s a very solid chance that Michigan St, Ohio St, Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, Florida and Missouri will all finish with a top 25 ranking in both sports. Furthermore, one could make a list encompassing Tennessee, Boston College, Notre Dame, Pitt, USC, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St, LSU, Texas, West Virginia, Georgia Tech, Texas A&M and BYU that have enjoyed a moderate level of dual success in recent years.

However, does this success translate to the hearts and wallets of the fans?
Looking at school revenues over the past year across the board, it was clear that football is king. Despite football’s shorter season and with it, far less home games to sell tickets for, only Duke, Villanova, Georgetown, and Louisville raked in more money with their hoops programs among big six schools (Though Gtown and Nova play their football at the subdivision level). Even basketball powerhouses like Syracuse ($16.8 million in revenue in hoops to $17.1 in football), Kansas ($15.7 to $17.7) and Kentucky ($16.8 to $31.9) have their relative revenues in football’s favor. Among historically football-fueled schools that had made great strides in their basketball programs as of late it wasn’t even close (Ohio St enjoyed revenues of $16 million in hoops to a whopping $63.7 million in football while Florida, with all their recent success in basketball, brought in only $10 million to a ridiculous $68 million in football.) And, to nobody’s surprise, Nebraska’s ratio was $6.3/$55 while USC’s was $3.8/$35.

Luckily, as a fan without a true horse in the race or a bottom line to worry about, I don't have to chose.  Most everyone else can take comfort in that there's always next year, or that March is just around the corner, or maybe, if you're lucky, both.

Written by Ben Pogany
  1. Alfred Hitchcock: Psycho, Vertigo, Rear Window, North By Northwest, Strangers on a Train.
  2. Billy Wilder: Double Indemnity, Some Like It Hot, Sunset Blvd, The Apartment, The Lost Weekend.
  3. John Ford: The Searchers, The Grapes of Wrath, Stagecoach, How Green Was My Valley, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.
  4. Charlie Chaplin: City Lights, The Gold Rush, The Great Dictator, Modern Times, The Immigrant.
  5. John Huston: The Maltese Falcon, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Asphalt Jungle, The African Queen, Key Largo.
  6. Orson Welles: Citizen Kane, Touch of Evil, Othello, The Magnificent Ambersons, The Stranger.
  7. Frank Capra: Mr Smith Goes to Washington, It's a Wonderful Life, It Happened One Night, Mr Deeds Goes to Town, You Can't Take It With You.
  8. Elia Kazan: On the Waterfront, A Streetcar Named Desire, East of Eden, Gentleman's Agreement, America America.
  9. David Lean: Lawrence of Arabia, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Doctor Zhivago, A Passage to India, Great Expectations.
  10. Howard Hawks: Scarface, Bringing Up Baby, The Big Sleep, His Girl Friday, Red River.
  11. Victor Fleming: The Wizard of Oz, Gone With the Wind, Joan of Arc, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Reckless.
  12. Michael Curtiz: Casablanca, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Four Daughters, Angels With Dirty Faces, White Christmas.
  13. William Wyler: Ben-Hur, The Best Years of Our Lives, Mrs. Miniver, Roman Holiday, Funny Girl.
  14. Fred Zinnemann: High Noon, From Here to Eternity, A Man for All Seasons, Julia, Oklahoma!.
  15. D.W. Griffith: Birth Of A Nation, Intolerance.
  16. Joseph L. Mankiewicz: All About Eve, The Barefoot Contessa, A Letter to Three Wives, 5 Fingers, Sleuth.
  17. Robert Wise: The Sound of Music, West Side Story, The Day the Earth Stood Still, I Want to Live!, The Sand Pebbles.
  18. George Stevens: Shane, Giant, Diary of Anne Frank, A Place in the Sun, Swing Time.
  19. Sam Wood: The Pride of the Yankees, A Night at the Opera, Goodbye Mr Chips, For Whom the Bell Tolls, A Day at the Races.
  20. Stanley Kramer: Judgement at Nuremberg, Inherit the Wind, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, The Defiant Ones, Ship of Fools.

Honorable Mentions: George Cukor, John Frankenheimer, Cecil B. Demille, Erich Von Stroheim, Otto Preminger.

(List refers to directors who spent the majority of their careers working in America, which would otherwise include Igmar Bergman, Akira Kirosawa, Sergio Leone, and F.W. Murnau.)

*Best Director Academy Award winners are in italics.

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Written by Ben Pogany

People tend to look at rock stars as larger than life and cooler than cool.  Truth is, a lot of em are just as dorky as you or me. (Well not me of course, but you get the idea.)  Sometimes you just gotta fake it if you wanna make it in this world, and for this crew, that was probably the right decision.  They say its all in the name. While a great name alone won't make you a star, an awful one could be the dealbreaker. Would we have been able to tolerate a fire-breathing, blood-spitting madman named Chaim?  Could we possibly have put up with Xzibit's gangsta swagger if we knew he was really Alvin Joiner IV?  Would we think Vanilla Ice was as cool as we do if he went by his real name, Robert Van Winkle?  Um, nevermind.  Anyways, its time to pull away the curtain and reveal some of the most shocking, embarressing, and downright absurd birth names in the world of music.

Gene Simmons- Chaim Klein Witz....Jewish much?
George Michael-Yorgos Panayiotou....Yorgos? Really?
Elton John- Reginald Kenneth Dwight
Ginuwine- Elgin Lumpkin....sounds like a black hobbit
Elvis Costello- Declan Patrick McManus
Xzibit- Alvin Nathaniel Joiner IV....Alvin IV? How ungangster is that?
Akon- Aliaune Damala Bouga Time Puru Nacka Lu Lu Lu Badara Akon joke
Yanni- Yiannis Chrysomallis
Michael Bolton- Michael Bolotin.....Probably for the best.  Bolotin kinda sounds like a daily laxative.
Manfred Mann- Manfred Lubowitz
Iggy Pop- James Newell Osterberg, Jr.
John Denver- Henry John Deutschendorf.  We've all heard "With a name like Smuckers, its gotta be good."  Well, with a name like Duetschendorf, its gotta be, well, have you ever actually listened to John Denver?
Bob Dylan- Robert Alan Zimmerman
Trey Anastasio- Ernest Guiseppe Anastasio III
Stevie Wonder- Steveland Hardaway Judkins
Yngwie Malmsteen- Lars Johann Yngwie Lannerback....what an improvement.
Flea- Michael Peter Balzary
Freddie Mercury- Farrokh Bulsara
T-Pain- Faheem Najm...something tells me this name wouldn't have gone over to well with mainstream America.  At least not like the ingenious T-Pain
Snoop Dogg- Cordazer Calvin Broadus Jr.
Lil' Bow Wow- Shad Anthony Moss
Alice Cooper- Vincent Damon Furnier
Vanilla Ice- Robert Van Winkle.....I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried
Lou Reed
- Louis Firbank
David Bowie- David Robert Hayward Stenton Jones
Eddie Vedder- Edward Louis Severson III
Kenny G.- Kenneth Gorelick
Peter Tosh- Winston Hubert Macintosh.....How many potheads do you know named Winston Macintosh?
M.I.A.- Mathangi Arulpragasam
Cher- Cherilyn Sarkisian
Redman- Reginald Noble
Master P- Percy Miller
Shaggy- Orville Richard Burrell....Always thought he looked like an Orville
Silkk the Shocker- Vyshonn King Miller
Bono- Paul David Hewson
The Edge- David Howell Evans
Sting- Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner
Les Paul- Lester Polfus
M.C. Hammer- Stanley Kirk Burrel
Alice Cooper- Vincent Damon Furnier
Bon Scott (AC/DC)- Ronald Belford Scott
Marilyn Manson- Brian Hugh Warner
Axl Rose- William Bruce Bailey
Slash- Saul Hudson
Robbie Robertson (The Band)- Jaime Royal Klegerman
Perry Farrell (Jane's Addiction)- Perry Bernstein
Mama Cass- Ellen Naomi Cohen
Ozzy Osbourne- John Michael Osbourne...What a nice Christian name.  How'd that work out for ya?
Joey Ramone- Jeffrey Ross Hyman
Q-Tip- Kamaal Ibn John Fareed
Nas- Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones
Common- Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr.
Ice Cube- O'Shea Jackson
Big Daddy Kane- Antonio Mortimer Hardy
Kool Moe Dee- Mohandas Dewese
Lupe Fiasco- Wasalu Muhammad Jaco
Coolio- Artis Leon Ivey, Jr.
The Game- Jayceon Terrell Taylor...Dude, there is no y or c or e in Jason.
Nelly- Carnell Haynes, Jr.
Sly Stone- Sylvester Stewart
BB King- Riley B. King
Billie Holliday- Eleanora Fagan Gough
Tina Turner- Anna Mae Bullock
Meat Loaf- Marvin Lee Aday
Bo Diddley- Ellas Otha Bates
Fats Domino- Antoine Dominique Domino
Sonny Rollins- Theodore Walter Rollins
Sid Vicious- John Simon Ritchie
Johnny Rotten- John Joseph Lydon
Joe Strummer (The Clash)- John Graham Mellor
Afrika Bambaataa- Kevin Donovan
Pat Benatar- Patricia Andrejewski
Dean Martin- Dino Paul Crocetti
Bjork- Bjork Gudmundsdottir
Jon Bon Jovi- John Francis Bongiovi Jr.
Mos Def- Dante Terrell Smith
Grandmaster Flash- Joseph Saddler
Barry Manilow- Barry Alan Pincus
Hannah Montana- Destiny Hope Cyrus...People who name their kids Destiny Hope suck at life.  I'm lookin at you Billie Ray...
Gram Parsons (Byrds)- Cecil Ingram Connor, III
Cat Stevens- Steven Demetre Georgiou (Now Yusuf Islam)

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Last Updated (Friday, 21 December 2012 11:30) Written by Ben Pogany

While the game doesn’t lend itself to individual stardom that say the NBA does, there are certain players from every generation that just exude all-star through and through.  The list of players who have been named to fifteen or more All-Star games is one of the most exclusive in all of sports, more so than the 3000 hit club, the 500 home run club, or the perfect game club.  While the election process is by no means an exact science, to be an All-Star year in and year out for that long takes more than just raw talent, more than just being the best player at your position in your league.  It’s a blend of consistency and durability combined with popularity and iconicism.  Playing in a big market like New York or Boston doesn’t hurt your chances either.  These players are institutions of the game.  The question is, is it getting harder to be that larger than life superstar in the currently constituted major leagues?  For one, the league has gotten progressively larger, making one’s ability to stick out and lock down All-Star spots far more difficult.  It's been eleven years since a player with fifteen or more All-Star games to his credit played in the big leagues (Ripken and Gwynn).  However, closing in are three long serving Yankees.  Will they be next to join this exclusive club?  A look at the 15+ club, and at which current players have hopes of one day joining those ranks.

MLB Players with 15+ All-Star Games To Their Credit
Hank Aaron 1954-1976   (25)
Willie Mays 1951-1973   (24)
Stan Musial 1941-1963   (24)
Mickey Mantle 1951-1968   (20) 
Cal Ripken 1981-2001   (19)
Ted Williams 1939-1960   (19) 
Rod Carew 1967-1985   (18)
Carl Yastrzemski 1961-1983   (18)  
Yogi Berra 1946-1965   (18) 
Al Kaline 1953-1974   (18)
Brooks Robinson 1955-1977   (18)
Pete Rose 1963-1986   (17)
Warren Spahn 1942-1965  (17)
Tony Gwynn 1982-2001   (15)
Ozzie Smith 1978-1996   (15)
Roberto Clemente 1955-1972 (15)
Nellie Fox 1947-1965 (15)

Next in Line?:
Alex Rodriguez 1994-2012  (14)
Derek Jeter 1995-2012   (13)
Mariano Rivera  1995-2012 (12)
Ichiro Suzuki 2001-2012  (10)
Albert Pujols 2001-2012   (9)   

Note: The first All-Star game was not played until 1933, which is why you won't see the likes of Babe Ruth or Cy Young in this club.

Written by Ben Pogany
Call me crazy, but the first thing I thought of upon hearing the news of Peyton’s dismissal was that scene at the end of The Godfather, when Abe Vigoda’s character is pleading for his life after selling Michael out to the rival Barzini Family.  “Tell Mike it was only business.  I always liked him.”  But hey, maybe I’m being too harsh in comparing the NFL to the criminal underground.  At least in the Mafia, this breach of loyalty is the exception instead of the rule, a virtue instead of an outdated vestige from a bygone era.  (And when a bounty is taken out on someone, I’ll bet the compensation’s better.) 

However, what’s to follow in this Manning saga is more likely going to resemble the third Godfather than the first.  Peyton wasn’t just a great player, he was an Indianapolis institution.  Seeing him in a different uniform, like with Montana, Favre, and Rice before him, seems almost unthinkable.  Call it the Godfather III effect.  Same guy we've known all along, but it just feels wrong.  It’s that final chapter most fans wish they could pretend never happened.

In today's cutthroat NFL, the franchise lifer is becoming more and more of an endangered species. All along, it seemed like Peyton could be that guy, a throwback to the age before athletes were little more than mercenaries.  Sadly, even he couldn't overcome business as usual.  Here are the few remaining relics for whom it always felt exactly as it should.

The 25 Greatest NFL Players to Spend Entire Career With One Team Since The Dawn of Free Agency (Roughly 1990-Present)
  1. Tom Brady* (New England Patriots)
  2. Barry Sanders (Detroit Tigers)
  3. John Elway** (Denver Broncos)
  4. Dan Marino** (Miami Dolphins)
  5. Bruce Matthews (Oilers/Titans)
  6. Ray Lewis (Baltimore Ravens)
  7. Troy Aikman (Dallas Cowboys)
  8. Michael Irvin (Dallas Cowboys)
  9. Jonathan Ogden (Baltimore Ravens)
  10. Jim Kelly** (Buffalo Bills)
  11. Marvin Harrison (Indianapolis Colts)
  12. Michael Strahan (New York Giants)
  13. Troy Polamalu* (Pittsburgh Steelers)
  14. Brian Urlacher (Chicago Bears)
  15. Derrick Thomas (Kansas City Chiefs)
  16. Darrell Green (Washington Redskins)
  17. Derrick Brooks (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
  18. Eli Manning* (New York Giants)
  19. Walter Jones (Seattle Seahawks)
  20. Ben Roethlisberger* (Pittsburgh Steelers)
  21. Reggie Wayne* (Indianapolis Colts)
  22. Terrell Davis (Denver Broncos)
  23. Hines Ward (Pittsburgh Steelers)
  24. Aaron Rodgers* (Green Bay Packers)
  25. Adrian Peterson* (Minnesota Vikings)
* Active
**Career began pre-1990
Written by Ben Pogany

Whether you’re a soccer fan or not, it's been hard not to get swept up in the hoopla of World Cup fervor.  There’s just something undeniably profound about taking part in something that directly connects you with the vast majority of the rest of the world.  In this respect, watching a World Cup soccer match is an experience unparalleled in the sports world; it's almost like you’re watching not just a game but world history right before your eyes.  You can’t help but feel just a little bit more worldly upon hearing those vuvuzelas buzz.  With that in mind, and of course conceding that soccer inhabits a plane all to itself, I decided to take a look at the “worldliness” of our other big sports.

Some notes before we get started: For the record, we're not going to even go into Olympic-style sports.  These are only the big ones.  No one wants to read an article about biathlon.  There's something to be said for rugby and cricket, but because no one in America knows squat about these realms, I won't bother trying to teach myself about them in the next ten minutes. It's also not lost on me that for the Big Four, these are American-based leagues.  Inherent ethnocentricity aside, it shouldn't be lost on you that everyone knows that these are where the best of the world come to play, so save the comments.

Soccer: 208 nations boast a FIFA-recognized soccer team and 76 have participated in a World Cup. Still, this is not to say that all nations were created equal (at least on soccer terms). 11 countries have reached a World Cup finals, and seven have taken home the ultimate prize.  Going into South Africa, there were really about eight to ten teams that one could have reasonably predicted with any degree of sanity winning the cup. But because one only needs a ball and some flat earth to take part in "the beautiful game," soccer's reach is unlike anything else.

Baseball: Baseball, the so-called American Pastime, is of course filled with Central American superstars but the list really doesn't get much far beyond the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Panama and Cuba. Then you've got Japan, a handful of mediocre Chinese and Korean athletes, and of course, Canada.

Football: Football is even less worldly.  Outside of Somoa, which can barely be classified as "international,"  and Canada (dido), the only countries that can claim 4+ current NFL'ers are Germany, Nigeria, England and Jamaica.  And believe me when I say that the stars are few and far between here.  Of the 253 men in the Hall of Fame, only seven originated in a country not called the United States.  Still, Commish Goodell sees dollar signs abroad, and is intent on expanding the NFL's sphere of influence into as many new markets as possible.

Basketball: If there is one American export that is truly gaining traction in recent years, the NBA is it.  The '09-'10 season included 83 international players from 36 countries, up from 36 international players from 24 countries and territories in '99-'00.  However, there are maybe five certifiable stars at most if we're counting Nash from Canada and Duncan from the Virgin Islands.  Outside of the US, France can count the most NBA'ers among its ranks with ten, but can we really call this a legit basketball country when the closest thing to a star they can boast of is Tony Parker?  (And can we all just stop and marvel at what has happened to the American-born, white hoopster?  We went from Bird and McHale to ....Brad Miller?  Wow.)

Hockey: Hockey is Canada, Russia, Czech Republic, Finland, Slovakia, Sweden, and the Yanks, with over half the league of Canadian decent.

Golf: Golf remains an American-dominated sport, though its share of the top 100 has nearly been cut in half from 56 in 1999 to 32 ten years later.  There are four Americans and four British currently sitting among the top 10.

Tennis: Gone are the days of Sampras and Connors, McEnroe, Agassi and his ponytail wig.  In men's tennis today, there are the Swiss and the Spaniard, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, and then there is everybody else.  Since 2004, the two have combined to capture a dominating 23 out of a possible 27 majors.  Still, despite the dominance at the top by what amounts to 2 countries, there were a whopping 15 countries represented among the top 20 ranked tennis players entering this past Wimbledon.  (America can only boast #6, Andy Roddick, among those twenty.)  Nineteen countries in the Open era (1968-present) have reveled in a countryman winning a major.

Written by Ben Pogany

With every NFL draft comes an inevitable dose of uncertainty.  However, as Roger Goodell strode across the stage of Radio City Music Hall amid a cascade of boos and "we want football!" chants, it became abundantly clear that this year would be different. (Actually, unless you'd been living under a rock the past six months, you probably had an inkling even before then.)   Every draft selection elicits that gnawing uncertainty of never truly knowing whether that potential is genuine or merely a mirage.  This year, it was the very sport itself which seethed with uncertainty.  Were we watching the first signs of getting back to business as usual, or a cruel tease leading up to the season that never was?

How fitting then that it would be Cameron Trophy leading off the night, a figure inextricably tied to controversy, and, well, uncertainty.  How much did he know about his father’s shady dealings?  Was that championship and Heisman Trophy deserved?  And of course, what kind of player would he really turn out to be among the game’s best?   Cam is far from a sure thing, especially playing for a miserable Panthers team for which he will have to come in and essentially play leader from day one.

However, if the number one pick is anything, ‘sure thing’ is not what comes to mind.  For every so-called “lock,” there are three others that prove to be disappointments, sometimes colossally so.  What category Cameron Newton ultimately falls into is anybody’s guess.  But in the 40+ years since the 1970 merger, few have been such franchise-altering, slam dunk #1 picks as the following 10 greats.

The Top Ten #1 Picks in NFL History (post-merger)
  1. 1998 The Indianapolis Colts select Peyton Manning, quarterback out of Tennessee
  2. 1983 The Baltimore Colts select John Elway, quarterback out of Stanford (subsequently traded to Denver)
  3. 1970 The Pittsburgh Steelers select Terry Bradshaw, quarterback out of Louisiana Tech
  4. 1989 The Dallas Cowboys select Troy Aikman, quarterback out of UCLA
  5. 1985 The Buffalo Bills select Bruce Smith, defensive end out of Virginia Tech
  6. 1978 The Houston Oilers select Earl Campbell, running back out of Texas
  7. 1997 The St. Louis Rams select Orlando Pace, offensive tackle out of Ohio State
  8. 1976 The Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Lee Roy Selmon, defensive end out of Oklahoma
  9. 1993 The New England Patriots select Drew Bledsoe, quarterback out of Washington State
  10. 1984 The New England Patriots select Irving Fryar, wide receiver out of Nebraska

Honorable Mentions: Keyshawn Johnson (1996), Michael Vick (2001), Jake Long (2008), Billy Sims (1980), Ed "Too Tall" Jones (1981)

Dishonorable Mentions: Tim Couch (1999), David Carr (2002), JaMarcus Russel (2007), Alex Smith (2005), Ki-Jana Carter (2005), Steve Emtman (1992), Aundray Bruce (1988), Kenneth Sims (1982), Walt Patulski (1972)

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