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Off The Bench with Devin Higgins

Why You Shouldn't Feel Sorry for the NBA Players OR Owners

 I have to say, I was a loyal NBA fan for a very long time. Growing up in Boston during the 80's watching the Celtics battle Magic's Lakers, Hakeem's Rockets, Michael's Bulls and Isiah's Pistons, it was easily the best basketball I ever saw.

Those days seem further away now than they ever have, with the entire NBA season now on the chopping block because the owners and players can't reach a new collective bargaining agreement.

There's been mudslinging in the press from both sides, trying to position themselves to the fan base as the victim in this farce. Truth is, I don't feel sorry for the players, as they're the highest-paid athletes in all of American sport, and I feel even less sorry for the owners.

Not because of the whole "millionaires vs. billionaires" debate. Oh no. It's because the owners, as a group, approved the last CBA and signed off on the economic situation they now find themselves in.

I repeat. The owners signed off on this back in July, 2005, with the expectation of still making the same amount of money, if not more, than they made before.

Sorry, but I've got no sympathy for anyone who agrees to any business deal which all but guarantees you'll be worse off than where you started from. Now you can tell me all you want about how the players leveraged more money out of the owners, but my response to this is, are you REALLY that surprised?

Modern athletes are just as greedy as modern owners are. Welcome to capitalism and sports economics in the 21st Century! If the players couldn't get multi-millions in endorsement deals and salaries, then they being the labor force, wanted a bigger cut of the revenue they help generate.

Remember the mantra, folks: "Greed...is good. Greed is right. Greed works."

Well, greed looks to cost the NBA at least one full season, because neither side will accept the need to change their entire economic model, and as usual, the fans will be the ones who get stiffed.

The NBA had a chance to take the path of the NFL and get a deal done. Instead, they've chosen to go the route of the NHL, right into the obscurity of the American sports landscape. 

Have fun trying to work your way back up past Baseball, College Football, NASCAR, MMA, and the WWE, guys. Hope it's worth it.
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It's Not the End of the World for the Red Sox

Okay...let's get this out of the way right now.

Yes, Baseball fans everywhere who ever held a grudge against the Boston Red Sox are rejoicing after what happened last night. Yankee fans, especially, who've never shied away from a chance to bash their longtime rivals, couldn't be happier that their team's in and the Sox are out.

But I was about 18 months old when we legally changed the name of Bucky Dent to Bucky $%#&'n Dent in 1978. I was nine when the ball went through Buckner's wickets in Game 6 and Ray Knight bounded home like a Little Leaguer to tear our hearts out again.

I was 26 when Aaron Boone killed us by hitting a Tim Wakefield casaba melon knuckleball in 2003, and I was 27 when the Red Sox completed the single greatst comeback in postseason history, "The Backdoor Sweep" of the hated Yankees, on their way to their first World Series title in 86 years.

They gave me one more for my 30.5th birthday back in 2007, and because of that, I've reached the following conclusion, so pay attention as I'll only say it once.

Yes, the 2011 season is a major disappointment, but it's not the end of the damn world.

And before you go off on how saying such things doesn't make me a "true" Red Sox fan because I'm supposed to be full of angst, bitterness, and East Coast rage, spare me. It's just not that big of a deal anymore.

Tampa Bay has a young team that's shown they can win. They reached a World Series themselves in 2008 and almost did again last year. They're not a fluke team, and considering their window may be closing faster than Boston's is due to the economics of the sport, it's not surprising they capitalized on their opportunities more than the older and more brittle Sox did.

Now is Terry Francona out of a job because of this? In my view, he shouldn't be. He didn't sign Carl Crawford to an inflated contract in the offseason, nor did he overuse his pitching staff like Dusty Baker did with the '03 Cubs. Had Boston made the playoffs anyway, there was no guarantee they'd get past the Tigers.

Seriously, you think they'd have had any easier time against Justin Verlander than the Rays will? I don't think so.

The question for the Boston fans to ponder all winter is how will the team rebuild in the Hot Stove League? Will they address the concerns of the pitching staff and the bullpen? Are Tito and Big Papi still there next season? Ortiz will be 36 and he's not what he was 7-8 years ago. He'll always be a Boston legend like Teddy Ballgame, Yaz, and "Pudge" Fisk, but maybe it's time for him to go.

Regardless of what happens, I'm not going to be spending my winter waiting to stick it to Yankee fans who will waste their time trying to stick me with their juvenile vitriol about Boston's collapse this season.

I'm 34 and have seen my beloved team win two titles. Life goes on. Give it a rest.
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Your Friday Daily Dose of FAIL

Brings new meaning to the term "Clean and Jerk". The fact that he kisses the weight rack upon impact means he'll be looking away from the mirror walls for a while.

Have a good weekend!!

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Your Daily Dose of FAIL

To be fair, trying to keep your words in check in this business is hard work, and it was a legitimate slip of the tongue on Jaws' part. Still....it is a FAIL nonetheless.

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Uniformity Run Amok


So despite living in Portland for over 20 years, I'm far from a Nike fan, and seeing how they've changed the way sports uniforms are both designed and made in that time, after seeing what rival Under Armour did to the Maryland Terrapins' unis last night, I can't help but think we've gone a BIT too far.

Remember when the Oregon Ducks has just TWO uniforms? Home's were green and yellow, away's were white and green. Simple, classy, unnasueating. Now the Ducks have 250,000 uniform combinations at their disposal, and next year, when Nike changes them all over again, they'll have pommegranate and puce in them too!

Now I understand that college football is a big, monopolistic business which cares nothing for its fan base anymore, and I'm not a "purist" either. But I just have one simple question...

What was wrong with this look?

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Locations : Portland


Talking Boxing with Dan Rafael

 Two of the biggest fights of the year are coming up fast and ESPN Senior Boxing Writer Dan Rafael is the first to step into the ring with me to preview Mayweather/Ortiz and Pacquiao/Marquez III!

Dan Rafael's been ESPN's Senior Boxing Writer since 2008 and began his career with USA Today. You can follow him on Twitter at danrafaelespn, and join his live webcast every Friday from 9AM-Noon PST.
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People : Dan RafaelMarquez III


Talking Boxing with Dan Rafael

Somewhere right now....Wile E. Coyote already knows this will not end well.

Happy Labor Day weekend!
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People : Dan RafaelMarquez III


Your Friday Daily Dose of FAIL

When I was a kid, I liked my trusty Nintendo Entertainment System as much as the next kid on my block....

This takes the love affair a TAD too far I think....

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Topics : Entertainment_Culture
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The "Death Penalty" is dead...even for the "U"

 Growing up in the 1980's I remember the ascendency of the University of Miami from a school no one heard of, into a national powerhouse. I also remember 1985 and the "execution" of Southern Methodist University under the aptly-named "Death Penalty" for their repeated violations of NCAA rules.

In the last 4-5 hours, since Yahoosports' indictive story on Miami booster and convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro and his admission of giving improper gifts and cash to players over an 8-year span, the rumors of the Death Penalty being brought out of mothballs has grown.

Allow me to squash this right now. Neither the University of Miami or any other NCAA FBS school, will EVER be given the Death Penalty ever again. Why...?

Because the NCAA doesn't have the "onions in the bag" as Tony Kornheiser would say, to dare use it again, even on a school as despised by the old-guard "establishment" as the Hurricanes are.

Miami's always been looked at as the upstart in college football. The cocky, brash punk that loved to spit in the face of the "giants" like Ohio State, Notre Dame, Nebraska. And as SI reported back in the 90's the repuation of Miami often led critics and talking heads to condemn The U at every turn, even while a lot of their contemporary schools were guilty of the same things, they just may have been better at hiding it.

So now, here's a golden opportunity for those who've always hated Miami and how they changed college football, for good or bad, to potentially bury the program once and for all.

But they won't do it, because they thought SMU deserved it in 1985, but if you go back and watch ESPN's "Pony Express" (which was as good, if not better than "The U", btw), and you see the amount of hand-wringing and angst NCAA officials had 25 years ago in dropping the bomb then, what makes you think they'll be quick on the trigger now?

In the era of superconferences and massive TV revenue generated by all the major players in college football, university presidents and athletic directors have spent the last three decades taking the teeth out of the NCAA's mouth. If they wanted to, the NCAA could've created major reforms years ago, including a revamp of the Death Penalty to still make it strict, but not so brutal that it keeps a school down for over two decades like SMU was.

In the end, it all comes down to money. The NCAA wants to hold onto their money, the school want all the money they can get, and the players are increasingly want their cut, so the Nevin Shapiros and Willy Lyles of the world will make sure they get them.

Until that changes no school, no matter how they egregious their "crimes" are, not Miami, Ohio St....or even Oregon...will EVER get hit with the Death Penalty.
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Topics : Social Issues
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Locations : MiamiNebraskaNotre DameOregon
People : PonziTony Kornheiser


Your Daily Dose of FAIL

Uh...I'm not an expert in heavy machinery or earth-moving...but I think you're doing it wrong.

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