Sports Lounge

Bradley defeats Marquez

by Omar Barakat. 0 Comments

Timothy Bradley (31-0-0, 12 KOs) successfully defended his WBO Welterweight title by scoring a split decision win over Juan Manuel Marquez (55-7-1, 40 KOs) on Saturday Night at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. The victory was the second successful defense of the WBO title for Bradley. Marquez was unsuccessful in his bid to win a title in a fifth different division. Judge Glen Feldman scored the bout 115-113 for Marquez. He was overruled by Judges Patricia Morse Jarman and Robert ... read more

Bradley-Marquez Prediction

by Omar Barakat. 0 Comments

Tonight, Timothy Bradley (30-0-0, 12 KOs) defends his WBO Welterweight title against Juan Manuel Marquez (55-6-1, 40 KOs) at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. This will be Bradley’s second defense of the WBO title. Marquez is looking to win a title in a fifth division. The biggest wins of both fighters’ careers came against Manny Pacquiao. However, both were under totally different circumstances. On June 9, 2012, Bradley scored a very controversial split decision win over ... read more

Perfection: Mayweather dominates Alvarez

by Omar Barakat. 2 Comments

Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr. was supposed to be challenged his younger, bigger, stronger opponent Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. Instead, Mayweather dethroned the WBC and WBA Junior Middleweight champion by shutout. Yes, I said shutout. Don’t believe the terrible scorecards handed in by the three judges. Mayweather did not lose a round in this bout. Mayweather (45-0-0, 26 KOs) was extremely sharp. He peppered Alvarez (42-1-1, 30 KOs) with jabs and combinations all night. Mayweather’s defense ... read more

Back to the Keys

by Omar Barakat. 0 Comments

On Saturday, I attended my first Frederick Keys game in 16 years. It was a walk down memory lane and a new experience all at the same time. For the most part, Harry Grove Stadium is just as I remembered it. The big outfield walls, the picnic hill on the right field side, shaking the keys during the seventh inning stretch, and a family friendly atmosphere. Some of the new to me included the scoreboard and videoboard. The game was great. Runs were flooring in the first couple of innings. ... read more

Ghostbusters! Mayweather Defeats Guerrero

by Omar Barakat. 0 Comments

Floyd “Money” Mayweather successfully defended his WBC Welterweight title by scoring a lopsided decision victory over challenged Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero on Saturday Night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. Judges Jerry Roth, Julie Lederman, and Duane Ford all scored the bout 117-111. I scored the bout 118-110. With the win, Mayweather is now a perfect 44-0 with 26 KOs. Guerrero fell to 31-2-1 with 18 KOs.

For Mayweather, it was another masterful performance by the best boxer in the world today. Guerrero was supposed to bring a stern challenge to Mayweather. After years of asking and positioning himself for the fight, Guerrero entered the bout with extreme confidence. Fresh off his victory over Andre Berto, Guerrero looked primed to bring an aggressive, high punch output, rough house style that would test the 36 year old champion. Guerrero sported advantages in age and size and fights out of the southpaw stance which figured to give Mayweather some trouble. Instead, Mayweather made this fight look like a walk in the park.

For the first two rounds, Mayweather fought flat footed as he and Guerrero adjusted to what one another was bringing to the ring. In the third round, Mayweather began to move laterally and started to find a home for his lead right hand. Guerrero continued to try to find a home for any number of different attacks, but Mayweather’s defense was superb. As the bout continued, Mayweather landed more and more. Guerrero was game, but clearly outmatched. In the eighth round, Mayweather opened up a cut over the left eye of Guerrero adding blood to the beating that was already taking place. In the end, it was pure domination by Mayweather. The only rounds I scored for Guerrero were because Mayweather essentially took a break and did not throw as much.

Aside from some of the above mentioned advantages, many who thought Guerrero could pull the upset pointed to the rate at which Mayweather was hit in his last bout against Miguel Cotto. Mayweather’s defense was much improved compared to that May 2012 unanimous decision win over Miguel Cotto. Some of that is thanks to the return of Floyd Mayweather Sr. to his son’s corner. Mayweather’s defense was on point.

Mayweather’s punching was extremely accurate. I don’t always buy into CompuBox punch stats because they are not always correct and usually don’t always tell the full story of the fight. However, I will mention that CompuBox had Mayweather landing 60% of his power shots. Correct or not, it was obvious to the naked eye that Mayweather was landing at will on Guerrero in dominating fashion. Mayweather could not miss with his straight right hand. He landed it over and over again. As the bout progressed, Mayweather mixed in left and right hooks that also continually found the target.

It was another dominating performance for boxing’s pound for pound king. Fighters with Mayweather’s mix of skills, speed, technique, and boxing IQ don’t come around often. I appreciate every chance I get to see boxing at it’s finest.

The amazing Kobe Bryant

by Omar Barakat. 0 Comments

I am a few days late, but I could not pass up the opportunity to write about the Los Angeles Lakers 118-116 overtime victory over the Toronto Raptors last Friday night. It is not often an early March NBA game stands out unless something amazing happened. In this case, the amazing was no other than 17 year veteran Kobe Bryant putting on a show for the ages.

Bryant has had a history of tormenting the Raptors. You need look no further than his 81 point game against the Raptors in 2006. While this performance was not as earth shattering as the 81 point game, it may have been just as impressive. The Lakers are a team battling for a playoff spot. They could not and cannot afford to lose a home game to a well below.500 club like the Raptors. Unfortunately for the Lakers, that is exactly what they were doing. They trailed by as many as 15, but closed the gap to 105-100 with 1:40 remaining in the game.

Enter Kobe Bryant.

Well, he was there the whole time leading the Lakers comeback, but this is where his true heroics began. A difficult three pointer brought the Lakers within two. Alan Anderson scored to put the Raptors up 107-103. After a few possessions, Bryant struck with a huge corner three to narrow the Raptors lead to one. After two Kyle Lowry free throws, the Lakers had eight second to hit a three to tie the game. Bryant received the ball and drilled his third three in a row. The game went to overtime after Rudy Gay missed at the buzzer. In overtime, Steve Nash hit a big three to tie the game at 115. Bryant channeled vintage Kobe with a two handed dunk to put the Lakers up for good.

It was a remarkable win for the Lakers. Two nights earlier they had rallied from a 25 point deficit against the New Orleans Hornets. In that game, Bryant had 42 points and 12 assists. Against the Raptors, Bryant had 41 points and 12 assists making him the second oldest player to score 40 plus points and dish out 10 plus assists in a game. For those keeping track, the oldest is Larry Bird.

This game was just amazing to watch live. The Lakers looked finished. It did not seem to be getting better because every time Bryant hit a three, the Raptors responded save the game tying bucket. That being said, every shot Bryant hit was a difficult three that just left you shaking your head in amazement. He was not going to let the Lakers lose the game. It was a remarkable show.

The Lakers are now in the thick of the playoff hunt. It still remains to be seen if they can make the playoffs. If the Lakers do make the playoffs, none of the other teams will want to see them in the first round. I'm not saying the Lakers would win a series, but they will be a very difficult out and could alter future matchups based on what they take out of their first round opponents. The West is shaking up to be all the more interesting.

Dr. Jerry Buss 1933-2013

by Omar Barakat. 0 Comments

On Monday, the NBA lost one of its most influential members when Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss died from kidney failure as a result of a long battle with cancer.  He was 80.  It was a loss that will reach far further than Laker Nation.  Buss was a visionary who helped the league surge into the power we see today.  Buss did everything he could to put his team in a position to win, but did not act in a manner that alienated himself from anyone.  He was highly respected by his peers as not only a basketball genius who always spoke fairly and intelligently, but also as a good person willing to listen and advise.  Whether you love or hate the Lakers, you couldn't say anything bad about Buss.

 

Buss earned his M.S. and Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of Southern California in 1957.  He worked in aerospace and real estate development before taking all of his real estate earnings to purchase the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Kings, and the Forum from Jack Kent Cook for $67.5 million in 1979.  It may be hard to believe, but this was seen as a bad investment at the time as all the ventures were losing money.  Buss, however, had a vision and the rest is history.

 

Among the innovations attributed to Buss are his role in bringing live coverage of NBA games as opposed to the tape delayed versions customary at the time, selling the naming rights of the Forum to Great Western Bank, establishing a television contract to bring Lakers coverage to basic cable, the Laker girls, the building of the state of the art Staples Center, and much more. Who can forget Showtime.  It was much more than the entertaining fast paced play of the Lakers.  It was almost a lifestyle.  Buss’s role in introducing the world to Showtime was instrumental in the rise of the NBA as well.  The Lakers are now one of the most expensive sports franchises in the world worth well over a billion dollars.  They are synonymous with class, prestige, and winning. 

 

Buss is the most successful owner in NBA history and just may carry the title as best owner in all of sports.  During his 33 year tenure as owner, the Lakers made the playoffs in 31 seasons.  That in its self is remarkable.  The Lakers won the Western Conference Championship 16 times.  That's right, the Lakers made the finals almost 50% of the time.  The Lakers added in ten championships during that span as well.  It is hard to imagine those numbers ever being duplicated by anyone again.

 

I grew up as a Lakers fan.  As a child, I watched the Lakers raise a few Championship banners with teams coached by Pat Riley and led by Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar along with James Worthy, Byron Scott, A.C. Green, Michael Cooper, Kurt Rambis and others.  As I got older, I was able to watch a new guard led by Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher, Robert Horry, Rick Fox and others directed by Phil Jackson.  Most recently Jackson, Bryant, and Fisher were back again, this time with Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Metta World Peace, Andrew Bynum and others.  To say it was and is an honor to be a Lakers fan is a severe understatement.

 

All of Laker Nation had Dr. Buss to thank for these great times.  It was not only his willingness to spend the money, but the trust he had in the people he hired to do their jobs.  He cared and loved the team, but never got in the way.  He made the franchise the most attractive destination for players in the NBA.  He was a down to earth person who was as great to his friends as he was to the fans of his franchise.  He will be sorely missed.

 

Thanks for everything Dr. Buss.  You were one of a kind and we would have it no other way.  You were the greatest owner is sports.  You accomplished your goal.  When we think of L.A., we will think of the Lakers.

There is only one person to blame for the Lakers problems…

by Omar Barakat. 0 Comments

...Head coach Mike D'Antoni. Some will point to chemistry, age, injuries, personnel, and/or Kobe Bryant clashing with Dwight Howard and vice versa.  I don't buy any of that as the real problem.  The Lakers problems lie solely on the shoulders of D'Antoni.  Yes, you can lump Jim Buss in there for hiring D'Antoni, but I imagine not even Buss saw things going this badly.

 

So with everything going on in La La land, how can I pin it all on D'Antoni?  I will tell you how.  Let's start with the offense.  The Lakers may have a highly ranked offense, but don't be fooled by the numbers alone.  D'Antoni has botched the offense up every step of the way.  He is trying to run with an old team that simply cannot keep up.  They are trying and scoring decently but are giving up a ton of points due partly to the quick pace and partly due to being tired.  At this point, I am not even sure the Lakers are still running D’Antoni’s system.  They have ditched the system and are 7-3 in their last ten games.  Go figure.

 

The Lakers simply do not have the personnel to run D'Antoni's offense.  It happens. Unlike great coaches, the so called offensive genius has either been unable to or refused to alter the offense to fit the personnel.  He is trying to jam a round peg into a square hole and wondering why it is not working.  The players appear to have finally had enough and reduced the number of D’Antoni sets they are running. 

 

Speaking of personnel, how many coaches in the league would love to have both Howard and Pau Gasol on the same team?  I would guess probably all but D'Antoni.  He cannot or will not figure out how to use both effectively on the court at the same time.  What should be a huge advantage for the Lakers is instead a sideshow and problem affecting not only on court production, but also team chemistry.

 

Speaking of team chemistry, this team does not have much.  Bryant and Howard do not seem to be getting along.  This team talks more to the media than is good for any team.  Nothing stays in house.  That is a reflection on the lack of control D'Antoni has over this squad.  Add in the fact that he himself is an active member in this mess, be it taking shots at Gasol or questioning Howard's desire, and you wonder why he is adding fuel to the fire.

 

You may be wondering how age and injuries can be blamed on D'Antoni.  Well they cannot be directly, but his adjustments or lack thereof has spoken volumes about his ability as coach.  It does not take a rocket scientist to know an old team will have trouble running a fast paced offense.  This should have been clear to D'Antoni even after waiting a few weeks for his players to adjust.  As for injuries, they hurt and can be devastating.  However, I did not see any adjustments from D'Antoni as players were hurt.  The most he did was try different lineup combinations in sets that were never going to work given the personnel.

 

What is most painful about the D'Antonu tenure is that it did not need to happen.  Phil Jackson was sitting right there, waiting to return.  I am not saying the Lakers win the championship if Jackson was the coach, but things would have been different.  You can bet your bottom dollar that Jackson would have figured out how to play Howard and Gasol at the same time.  Jackson would have catered the offense to the personnel.  Team chemistry would have been higher as well.  Jackson may be the greatest manager of egos of all-time.  He had Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman in harmony on the Chicago Bulls second three peat.  He brought Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal to a point of coexistence that yielded three consecutive championships.  Jackson would have had this crew getting along.  Also, the constant chatter would have been nipped in the bud. The players would have been much more cautious of what they were saying.

 

Who knows how good the Lakers would have been with Jackson running the ship, but I do know one thing - they would not be in the sad state of affairs they are currently in.

My Favorite Super Bowl XLVII Commercials

by Omar Barakat. 0 Comments

In a shift from mostly serious blog postings, I decided to list my five favorite Super Bowl XLVII commercials.  Don’t worry, that disgusting GoDaddy make out commercial did not make the list.  Sadly, my eyes are still trying to erase the image to this day.   Anyway, what were your favorite commercials?

 

Got Milk – The Rock

 

I thought the Got Milk campaign hit it out of the ballpark with this commercial.  They got one of the biggest names in Hollywood right now, the Rock, and placed him in a commercial that appealed to both children and adults alike.  It was funny, interesting, and eye catching.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpOeHnotqDQ

 

 

Bud Light – Stevie Wonder

 

This commercial felt like the perfect culmination to the series of superstitious commercials.  Throughout the NFL season, Bug Light has had different superstitious commercials using Wonder’s hit song.  Well, they added Wonder to the commercial and it was pure gold.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mhWhUO9em0

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbGXYUKW7Os

 

 

The NFL - Leon Sandcastle

 

This was a silly commercial that worked.  In an effort to promote the NFL Draft, the NFL had a commercial featuring Deion Sanders.  After hearing about how great the NFL rookies have been, Sanders decides to make a comeback as Leon Sandcastle.  Wearing an afro and mustache, Sanders looks like he is straight of the 70’s.  Some of the funnier lines were how he looks like an ugly Deion Sanders and commissioner Roger Goodell asking Sanders if he knew him.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYJv4iPzMVo

 

 

Tide – Miracle Stain

 

I found this commercial to be funny.  In general the idea of any fans congregating to see something like a stain of Joe Montana’s face on a Montana Jersey is amusing.  However, the big punch line of this commercial was amazing… especially for Ravens fans.  Unless you were a 49ers fan, you couldn’t help but chuckle.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ba2yXypPdpY

 

 

Toyota – Wish Granted

 

The Big Bang Theory’s Kaley Cuoco as a wish granting genie?  That’s not too hard to imagine I guess.  The throwback to Skee-Lo’s I Wish was a nice touch.  I am not too embarrassed to admit I bought that CD back in the day.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iymBRSUfz9U

Baltimore Ravens – Super Bowl XLVII Champions

by Omar Barakat. 0 Comments

The Baltimore Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers 34-31 to win Super Bowl XLVII.  It was the second Super Bowl Championship for the Ravens franchise in two trips.  Their last championship came at Super Bowl XXXV in 2000.  As for the 49ers, this was their first loss in six trips to the Super Bowl.

 

Entering the game, the Ravens felt like a team of destiny and played like it.  I am not going to rehash the whole game as you’ve probably already seen it and heard a ton of analysis.  I will touch on some major points to get my thoughts of the game across.

 

The Ravens came out smoking.  It was clear to me early that they were the looser of the two teams.  They also seemed like the more battle tested team.  The Ravens played as though this was just another Sunday game.  The 49ers seemed tight to start the game.  They had some uncharacteristic miscues that cost them early. 

 

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco led his team to three first half touchdowns.  While Flacco deserves all the praise he is receiving, his receivers deserve a ton of credit too.  Anquan Boldin was huge.  For the game he has 6 catches for 104 yards and a touchdown, but his stats do not tell the whole story.  He made a number of tough catches.  On a third and seven in the first quarter, Flacco threw it up while running towards the sideline and Boldin came down with it for a 30 yard reception.  On a third and inches in the fourth, Boldin came down with a very difficult, huge 14 yard reception.  We also cannot forget the 56 yard touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones.  Flacco under threw the ball, but Jones adjusted, made the catch, and then had the presence of mind to get up and get into the end zone.

 

On the other side of the ball, the Ravens defense was dominating the 49ers.  Arthur Jones recovered a LaMichael James fumble to stop a potential scoring drive.  After a Ravens touchdown gave them a 14-3 lead, Ed Reed intercepted Colin Kaepernick on the following possession to set the Ravens up in 49ers territory.  The Ravens held the 49ers to series of five plays or less on four of the 49ers six first half possessions.  The 49ers would score only six points in the first half.

 

The game appeared to be over when Jacoby Jones ran the opening kickoff of the second half back 108 yards for a touchdown to put the Ravens up 28-6.  Soon following that explosive play was one of the more bizarre scenes in Super Bowl history.  Half of the lights in the Superdome went out.  The power outage lasted 34 minutes and changed the whole complexion of the ballgame. 

 

I have heard a number of theories as to why the game changed following the power outage.  In my opinion, the power outage calmed the 49ers down.  They sat back and recovered from the onslaught the Ravens were putting on them.  The 49ers went from playing tight to playing like a team with nothing to lose.  Kaepernick seemed more confident and right at home on the big stage after the power outage.  Basically, I think the 49ers said hey we are down 22, we have nothing to lose, let’s go and have some fun and see what we can do.

 

As for the Ravens, I think the power outage just drained their momentum.  They had just returned the opening kickoff of the second half for a touchdown to expand their lead to 22.  One more stop and they could have gone for the finishing blow on offense.  Instead, the power went out and so did the momentum.  No longer was everyone feeding off of one another’s great play.  Once the game started again, the Ravens were flat.  Once the 49ers scored, I think the Ravens got a little tight.  The more the 49ers found success, the more the pressure increased on the Ravens.  It was a perfect storm.  If there was no power outage, I don’t think the 49ers settle down and I think the Ravens momentum carries them to a blowout win.

 

The game essentially ended on the Ravens goal line stand late in the fourth quarter.  Up 34-29, the 49ers had the ball at the Ravens 7 with a first and goal.  It was only fitting that the Ravens defense held to secure the victory.  Ray Lewis had inspired this team to make one final run in his final season.  For a team that had been carried by its defense for so many years, it really was the perfect ending - a defensive stand to cap off a Super Bowl win.

 

I thought the officials did a good job in this game.  They let both teams play and did not influence the outcome of the game.  Some will question the 49ers fourth down play on that final series, but I think a no call was appropriate.  Michael Crabtree initiated the contact on Jimmy Smith.  The refs had let this type of play go all game and stayed true to form.  It was a good no call.  Also, the pass was out of bounds.  Crabtree would not have been able to catch it anyway.

 

I agreed with the decision of Joe Flacco winning the MVP.  He was 22-33 for 287 yards and three touchdowns.  For the playoffs, Flacco threw for 11 touchdowns with no interceptions.  He outperformed Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in consecutive weeks in the AFC playoffs and made a very good to great 49ers defense look mediocre at times.    That being said, I would not disagree with anyone who says Jones’s touchdown reception and kickoff return for a touchdown had a bigger impact on the game.  Similarly, I would not disagree with anyone who points to Boldin’s timely receptions and overall great play.  However, to me, Flacco’s body of work spoke for itself.

 

I don’t even know where to begin on who I am happy for on this Ravens team.  It was fantastic to see Ray Lewis win his second championship in his final season.  He has been the Ravens inspirational leader for the past 17 seasons.  Lewis was their heart and soul and to see the team rally around him was truly special.  It was great to see Ed Reed finally win his first championship after compiling one of the greatest careers a safety has ever had in the NFL.  How about Torrey Smith overcoming great personal tragedy to win a Super Bowl?  Then there is Joe Flacco.  He proclaimed that he was the best in the game and did everything he could to back it up.  Flacco bet on himself and won.  I could go on and o, but instead will end with the following...

 

Thank you to the Baltimore Ravens for an unforgettable season!  Congratulations!  Super Bowl XLVII Champions!