All posts by alexthescoop

Football is Football

dallas elite logoThis past weekend, I ventured out to the old confines of the Alfred J Loos Stadium in Addison, Texas. The event was to decide which gridiron team would go on to Los Angeles for the annual championship of their respective 2015 season. It pitted the visiting Surge of San Diego against the hosting Elite of Dallas. One quick side note: if a team name is meant to represent something on which that city is based, is there any doubt what “Elite” means for this Dallas squad? Yes, that was a silent nod to “America’s Team.” My apologies to the REST of the football nation.

As is customary, at least for ME, I arrived to the game early. If there is a distinctive term for being earlier than early, then this would be the time and place to use it. As it happens, a friend and former classmate of mine (from American Broadcasting School) would be gearing up for this match, as a piece of the defensive front for Dallas. She had already properly warned me on Facebook that “I wasn’t ready for this kind of action!” It was merely a friendly taunt, yes, but would a player on just any ordinary football team say such a thing? I hasten to wonder, but can only achieve an unclear, ambiguous response. Clarity and ambiguity aside, it did not take long for me to realize that when the pads and helmets are thrown on, all I see is a football player.

(That’s right, read back a few lines. I said “she.”) 

At the onset of the warm-ups, the two teams defined themselves for what the outcome of the big game would ultimately be: one team was quiet and uninspiring to watch, and the other was loose and enthusiastic. If you ever get to see any pregame warm-ups, do not neglect what your instincts would tell you about each and every player on their respective teams. As I once heard Robert Parish say in his prime with the Boston Celtics of the 1980s, they often could sense whether a team was ready to win or lose just based on how they looked when they were warming up on the court right before the game. If you know anything about the Celtics of that era, then you can imagine what the results were about 90% of the time.

DallasEliteFootball.com
DallasEliteFootball.com

The fans, in decent numbers for the Dallas faithful, were exuberant and undaunted. Even when the San Diego Surge took a 14-8 lead into the 2nd quarter and marched down the field for a potential double-digit lead, they never seemed to lose their confidence, nor did the Elite players on the field. What looked like an overmatched defense in the early goings for Dallas quickly tightened like a vice grip midway through the game. By halftime, it was 22 all and in the 3rd quarter, Dallas gained a 28-22 advantage. Some questionable penalties attributed to the Elite offense, often times negating a large gain or even a touchdown to widen the lead, kept San Diego just within striking distance.

As the 4th quarter was set to begin, I overheard the rowdy bench of the Dallas Elite echoing what I can only assume is a routine chant in such situations: “We all we got! We all we need! We all we got! We all we need!” Did they know they were in trouble, only ahead by a mere six points? Did they know they were going to have the kind of 4th quarter that only championship-caliber teams are capable of having in such a big game? Did the fans share the same emotional sentiment as they chanted along with the team from the hard, aluminum bleachers?

Phoenix Lovell
Phoenix Lovell

By the 11-minute mark on the countdown clock, the lead had expanded to 34-22. The players embraced the audience, ushering in a seemingly premature celebration for the win. Perhaps it was I who was out of touch as a spectator and fan. Three consecutive turnovers for the Surge led to three quick touchdowns for the Elite, and suddenly, the game was out of reach with just under half a quarter still to play. I was mesmerized by the fierce, combative energy the Dallas Elite displayed once they had the game in hand. Their tenacity, in the midst of team struggles for much of the first three quarters, was inspiring. I was NOT just watching “football chicks” aspiring to be something they could never be. They WERE what they sought to be. They ARE what they say they are, and it is SO much more than a casual moniker.

When you attend a game in the Women’s Football Alliance, you can forget about the “no frills” experience of the presentation. I, myself, enjoyed a homemade brisket sandwich straight from a grill on the footsteps of the stadium. I sang the Star-Spangled Banner along with the crowd, hat off, facing the national flag, led by a team captain of the Dallas Elite. I smiled with a wide grin, consistently, when the un-uniformed mascot/cheerleader for the Elite urged the team and fans on with anticipation for “DE-FENSE!” dallas elite champs

I rushed the field after the game, with the rest of the fans, to feel the elation and spirits of sweat, Gatorade and water, as the team excitedly celebrated their bid to fight for the 2015 League Championship. The Dallas Elite will head to Los Angeles to play the D.C. Divas for the National Title on August 8, 2015, at Los Angeles Southwest College.

I forgot about all those fancy, typical football frills because the product I saw in Alfred J Loos Stadium that night was all that mattered. Football is football! Period.


Alex Moore is a Sports Contributor at The Scoop.

 

Leaving a Legacy: Why the 2015 Finals are a Defining Moment

SportsUnbiased.com
SportsUnbiased.com

The annual skirmish for the Larry O’Brien Trophy is here. Mister O’Brien was not only the NBA Commissioner for roughly a decade, but also a former Postmaster General, just ahead of future President, Lyndon Johnson, in the 1960s. For those of you keeping track, the trophy was first given this name for the 1984 NBA Finals: a classic duel between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers. That series further solidified the reign of one team over another for yet another season, as the fans poured out onto a familiar hardwood court, filled with a rather familiar cloud of cigar smoke.

Believe it or not, a mere eight franchises out of a possible 30 have taken home this trophy during these 30 some-odd years. For the first time since 2006, we will see a brand new team added to that illustrious list, regardless of who happens to win. As for myself, at the end of it all, I really just want the same thing that most professional basketball fans want: a competitive, 7-game series, complete with controversial whistle-blowing and as many down-to-the-wire finishes as humanly possible.

By the way, the number of Game 7s for the NBA Finals SINCE that magical 1984 season is staggeringly low. There have been six occurrences: three on the back end of the 20th century, and three more, here, in THIS century. That’s an average of about once every five seasons. However, there is a good chance that we will see a six-game series, as this is a much more common result. Some would say that the NBA has little to no parity when it comes to competition. I would hesitate to disagree with that claim, except when it comes to the NBA Finals. You see, in order for there to be a Game 6, both teams have to have lost at least twice. Does anyone complain when a baseball game is tied in the 8th inning, but is decided before the bottom half of the 9th has begun? Do football fans want EVERY single game to go into overtime? The point is, Game 7s should NOT be an every-year trend in the NBA. If it happens too little, there might be no one interested enough to see it happen, but if it happens too often, the effects of diminishing returns might make the exciting moments a lot less exciting.

USATSI
USATSI

The focus of the 2015 NBA Finals, no doubt, is on the current MVP Stephen Curry and the game’s current, most dominant player, LeBron James. Is anyone else reminded of when Magic Johnson led the Lakers to the Finals in 1988? He was from Michigan, returning to Michigan, to try and defeat the Detroit Pistons. Stephen Curry, from Ohio, will return to Ohio to attempt to defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Let us not forget about LeBron‘s deep roots from the area, too. How quickly things have shifted just in the past five years: the betrayal of his hometown team, the “underachieving” four consecutive Finals appearances in South Florida, the current chance at redemption for a city that hasn’t won a championship in ANY of the four major sports since the pre-Super Bowl era of the NFL. Does anyone else remember the last time a player participated in five straight NBA Finals?

NESN
NESN

Well, the two previous players to do so, overlapped each other to appear in 10 straight NBA Finals, during arguably the best era of the league. Yes, this would be Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Obviously, it is a very narrow list for LeBron James to be a part of, AND Michael Jordan is not ON the list with him, THIS time.

If there is any discussion about which city/area is hungrier for this championship, let me try and set the record straight: it is not even close! The Bay Area might have been a hungry sports town before the 1970s arrived, but since then, they have won eight Super Bowls, seven World Series Titles, and one NBA Championship. Yes, that is correct. The Golden State Warriors have won an NBA Championship.

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

It was in the year of 1975, led by Hall of Fame great Rick Barry. They were, in fact, a long shot to win it that year, but they overcame the odds, particularly in the post-season. For a more modern comparison, try and remember the story of the 1994-’95 Houston Rockets. It is eerily similar. As for this season, on paper, the Warriors have to be the favorites, but there is something strange going on over there in Cleveland. No matter how bleak things have looked for the Cavs, LeBron and company have managed to will their way all the way back to the Finals.

The Michael Jordan/LeBron James comparisons do not always add up: Jordan was a skinny Shooting Guard, while LeBron is a massive Guard-Forward hybrid. One guy played out three full seasons in college, while the other jumped into the league right out of high school. The dissimilarities, for me, are in much greater numbers than the actual similarities. However, if there is one similarity, it is definitely on the line right now. It is the legacy of domination. No, LeBron cannot be 6-0 in the Finals, but he CAN be 3-3. Jordan was the most dominant player for his time, AND he backed it up with both personal and team accolades.

NBA
NBA

When watching LeBron James in this series, think back to Michael Jordan in 1993, versus the Phoenix Suns, and 1998, versus the Utah Jazz. Those were the only two occasions in which Jordan‘s Bulls were the visiting team going in. Furthermore, 1993 was one of only two occurrences in which Jordan was facing the current MVP on the other side of the court. The other occurrence was in 1997, against the same team as in 1998. What did Jordan do in 1993? What did he do in 1997 and 1998? The answer is the exact same for ALL three of those sample questions, and THIS is why Lebron‘s legacy matters in 2015!

As for Stephen Curry, well, he need only think about what happened to those virtually unblemished MVPs inside of those aforementioned examples: Charles Barkley and Karl Malone.

Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated

The only thing either of them failed to accomplish was winning a championship, and they both failed versus the same dominant player. Curry is still young, but allow me to ask this quick question about the NFL great, Dan Marino: how many times did he go back to the Super Bowl after he reached that stage in only his second season as a pro?


Alex Moore is a Contributor at The Scoop.

 

Ballpark Memories of Palmer & Murphy, and One Giant Hot Dog

MLB
MLB

What started out as a seemingly normal family outing to the ballpark to take in some Major League Baseball this past weekend turned out to be a great moment of reflection for me. Not only was it one year to the day since I sat in that very same stadium and, sadly, saw my team lose, but I was also reminded of a couple of former players who made an impact on me. This particular game between the Texas Rangers and Cleveland Indians would turn out to be quite memorable, and no, not just for the rather large hot dog bun, filled to the edges with chili and cheese and corn chips. (I believe the dog itself was buried underneath, somewhere.)

WKYC.com
WKYC.com

As the Cleveland Indians lined up to bat in the top half of the 1st inning, I soon directed my attention to a familiar face, outfielder David Murphy. While I would say he was a significant fan favorite to the Rangers faithful, there was nothing about his stats in the seven seasons he played here which really stood out. He was a consistently inconsistent hitter and fielder, with moderately unimpressive numbers overall, but stats alone are not what makes every professional athlete popular with the fans.

ESPN
ESPN

Think for an moment about your personal relationships. What are the aspects that make one stand out? We tend to forget the good times when one bad moment occurs, and visa-versa. Either way, the relationship made an impact on your life, and the reason(s) why do not always matter. For me, Murphy was oddly similar to a former Rangers favorite from a generation ago: Dean Palmer. Now, I realize that one is a lefty while the other was a righty. They do not play the same position on the field, either, but when I think about what made me like Palmer versus what makes me like Murphy, that’s where I draw the comparison, and what ultimately makes Murphy memorable, regardless of his overall production.

CBS Sports
CBS Sports

I can point to specific moments, for both of these men, when the game was on the line and everyone in the world watching was thinking, “Oh, no. I’m not sure he can get it done.” Neither Murphy nor Palmer is the type of player who gives you total confidence that you can depend on, but that quality is actually what made those moments of pressure so much greater. You see, when a great hitter steps up, you expect greatness, no matter what. When a poor hitter steps up to the plate, you don’t expect anything. However, when a spotty hitter, such as Palmer or Murphy walks up, you really don’t know what to expect, even when their history has shown you exactly what you should expect. These guys are relatable because we as human beings are known to be unpredictable. We often say we don’t like drama, yet that is most often what we are drawn to.

As I continued digesting my chili cheese monstrosity, I soon discovered another reason why Murphy reminded not just me, but at least one other fan, of why he is reminiscent of Palmer. It came late in the game, the top half of the 7th, to be precise. The score was close, and Murphy was the batter for Cleveland. A fan to my right shouted something to the effect of, “I miss you, Murphy!” Someone behind him asked if he was serious, and the former rescinded his statement, explaining it away as a joke, proceeding to say that Murphy couldn’t hit. Whether I was just caught up in the moment and felt the urge to go on the defense, I posited with the quip, “He’s clutch.”

Much like Palmer, who, also, was not a consistently good hitter, he often delivers the goods when it really counts. Could it be that this is the crux of why fans miss a guy like Murphy? I don’t know, but we all enjoy feeling we are in the right when someone nods along  and echoes your sentiment just seconds after you have made a claim and are proven correct.

Dallas Morning News
Dallas Morning News

As for the rest of the game, the big inning for the visiting Tribe came in the top half of the 9th. The bottom of the order was on deck, and it seemed that the Rangers should have the game in the bag, but closer Neftali Feliz gave up a crucial walk to an unimpressive batter, and a throwing error on a near game-ending double play kept the Indians alive long enough to send red-hot second baseman Jason Kipnis to the plate, who launched a two-run blast beyond right field, granting Cleveland a 10-8 lead. Texas had come from behind several times throughout the game, but came up short when they needed it the most.

By the end of the night, I had enjoyed a competitive game of Major League Baseball, and taken myself on an unexpected trip down memory lane with David Murphy and Dean Palmer. My parents were quick to retreat back home, and I merrily made my way with a flashback to where I was exactly one year ago to the day: At a double-digit Rangers drubbing at the hands of the Chicago White Sox. This May’s game was much more exciting, but in the end, a loss is still a loss. At least I have my memories… And the chili stains on my shirt.


Alex Moore is a Contributor at The Scoop.