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Little Donkey at AvondaleBricksGallery
Enjoy tapas from Little Donkey, Wine Tasting by Athens Imports, Art Exhibition Opening. $15. Friday, November 30, 5-9 p.m.
Visit us during the Avondale/Forest Park Holiday Crafts Bazaar at Avondale Bricks Gallery, 130 41st Street South in Avondale. Must be 21 for wine tasting.
Write email@example.com for more information or questions. Thank you for joining the Revolution in Avondale.
This is the 25th Anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr Day. For some, it just means a day out of school or off work. But for many (and I hope for most) it is a day to reflect on the progress we've made as a country in respect to our race relations and attitude as a country towards each other (in all respects) and a recognition of how far we have to go. Martin Luther King, Jr stood for something bigger than himself. His dream is well documented and something we should all be dreaming. Equality, fairness, acceptance, generosity. These are all things we want for ourselves and things that should be wished upon our fellow human beings.
We're not perfect. But that doesn't mean we can't try. Black or white is ultimately a superficial difference that we have to power to overcome. Sports is an arena where the differences are often expounded upon and highlighted and documented. But it's also an arena where we can watch persons of all backgrounds working for a common goal, even if that goal can sometimes seem trivial, as was the case with the first Yankees game after 9/11. Or even recently with the national championship being played just days after the shootings in Tucson. But sports also has the cathartic ability to heal and bring us together.
Most stories about a player overcoming odds stacked against them and breaking down race barriers have been about black athletes, and rightly so. Jackie Robinson will always be a hero and a catalyst for change in American history. Even athletes such as today's black quarterbacks continue to struggle against the grain and change the game.
I was checking ESPN.com today, as I'm wont to do, and I came across a really interesting story of adversity, redemption, struggle, and ultimately acceptance that I wanted to share.
It's a great story of the best about sports. A white quarterback gets a second chance at an Historically Black College, Jackson State.
The article is by Pat Forde. Here's the link: http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/columns/story?columnist=forde_pat&id=6021619
Sports a place where we can showcase our heroes and villians, the good and the bad, comebacks and second chances. I love the way a game can transcend and become so much more than that. A game can become an avenue of change, or a platform for progress, or just something to take our minds off the world that seems to press down on us at times. Ultimately, it can be a place of hope. And hope is a powerful thing.
Well, it’s not quite 1.000 bowls. But hey, it’s not a week either. I do love me some Capital One Bowl Week, though. One of the best “weeks” in the year began December 18th this year and ends January 9th of next year. 3 weeks and 28 bowls—that’s a heck of a week. And that doesn’t even include the BCS bowls.
A lot of folks these days are complaining about how there are too many bowls. Others like to complain about some of the ridiculous names of said bowls, such as the Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman (in which zero of the academies are playing), the GoDaddy.com bowl, or the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. My personal favorite is the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s St. Petersburg Bowl. Mmmm, football.
Some complain that the excessive number of bowls cheapens the meaning and tradition of each bowl as well as college football as a whole. These naysayers argue that with each addition, it cheapens the pride and pageantry of earning a spot at a bowl game. Well, not to the teams involved. And you can’t tell me the good folks at Temple (8-4) aren’t wishing for another bowl.
Going to a bowl game can do wonders for a program like Temple. It does wonders for teams like Mississippi State. It does wonders for teams like Alabama and Auburn. Ask USC if they’d like to be in a bowl game right now. When not being able to go to a bowl game is one of the strongest punishments a team can receive, it’s a pretty big deal. Recruiting, exposure, and overall prestige can all be boosted drastically by a bowl appearance.
And you know what else? They’re fun. It’s a great way to finish a season. People all across the country have printed out bowl sheets, joined online groups, and created office pools (without money of course…that would be illegal). Who cares if every team that is eligible goes to a bowl? It’s great for college football. It’s great for the teams. It’s great for you and me. Quit your complaining and let them play. So I say bring on the bowls and, to borrow a phrase from Brent Musberger, “Let the good times roll!”
Cliff Lee spurned the aggressive advances of the Yankees and the sweet seduction of the Rangers for a little brotherly love. While the Rangers and the Yankees appeared to be the top 2, in fact the only 2, contenders to land Lees services for the 2011 season and beyond. According to many sources, whoever sweetened the deal with a 7th year would have the inside track to land Lee.
Then, out of nowhere, at the proverbial eleventh hour, the Phillies swooped in and sunk their battleships. The Phillies offered Lee a 5 year/$120 million contract with an option of a 6th year. A sizeable sum, in fact it would be the 5th highest contract for a free agent pitcher ever, but smaller than the Rangers 6 year/$138 million with a vesting option for a 7th year at $23 million, and much smaller than the Yankees 7 year/$154 million offer.
According to ESPN.coms Jerry Crasnick, Lee's deal includes $107.5 million in salary, a $12.5 million buyout and a $27.5 million vesting option that kicks in if he pitches 200 innings in 2015 or a combined 400 innings during the 2014-2015 seasons.
That means Lee is leaving about $30 million on the table. That's incredible at all, much less considering the pay-for-play (to borrow the term) culture of professional sports today. The past few years its been all about the individual and the money the individual can make. This is clearly about more than money. This is about winning. This is about going back to a place where both he and his family felt comfortable.
Lee said that he never truly wanted to leave in the first place. The Phillies traded Lee in the offseason for fear that they couldn't resign him. Instead, they waited and pulled off an enormous coup in landing Lee a second time.
Lee joins a Phillies staff with Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels that has collected Cy Youngs and World Series MVPs like they are baseball cards, giving the Phillies rotation a chance to be one of the greatest of all time, challenging to join the ranks of the great Braves rotation of the 90s, the Orioles of the early 70s, and the Tigers of the 40s.
Will they do it? We'll soon find out. But that much firepower on offense and depth in the rotation, plus National League competition, seems to put the odds in the Phillies favor. Bad news for the Braves and the rest of the league.
It was a big week for the Auburn Tigers. Last Saturday, the No. 1 ranked Tigers handled the No. 19 South Carolina Gamecocks in the SEC Championship game in Atlanta, held annually at the Georgia Dome. Auburn won the game decisively, 56-17.
Cameron Newton and Nick Fairley grabbed some hardware for the trophy case. Fairley won the Rotary Lombardi Award, given to the nation’s top lineman. Fairley was able to join his line coach Tracy Rocker, who took home the award in 1988, as the only Tigers to win. The Associated Press named Fairley as the SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Fairley was also a finalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award, given to the nation’s top defensive player.
Nick Fairley and teammate Lee Ziemba were named to the Football Writers Association of America’s All-American team. Notoriously absent from the FWAA’s list was Cam Newton. I think he’ll manage.
Newton has had a clean sweep during the award season taking home the Davey O’Brien Award for the nation’s top QB and the Maxwell and Walter Camp Awards for the nation’s most outstanding player.
But the crown jewel of all is the Heisman Trophy. Newton received this most coveted hardware on Saturday in New York. Cam joined Pat Sullivan (1971) and Bo Jackson (1985) in the school’s Heisman club. Newton won the award in a landslide. He received the 6th most first place votes and the 3rd highest percentage in the history of the award, despite being completely left off of 105 ballots.
All was not perfect in New York, however. Newton’s father, Cecil, did not make the journey to the award ceremony amidst the cloud of scrutiny swirling around him after the NCAA’s ruling that he was involved in shopping around his son’s services. This did not prevent Cam from standing up and speaking firmly about his father. In an interview with ESPN’s Chris Fowler Newton expressed adamant pride and love for his father, stating that at the end of the day, he knows his father has his best interest at heart.
Now Newton and the Tigers prepare for their greatest challenge, the Oregon Ducks and the national championship game.
Auburn got some good news heading towards the game, offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn turned down an opportunity to become the head coach of Vanderbilt. Malzahn also added to the Tigers’ trophy case, winning the Browles award as the nation’s top assistant coach.
The Tigers look to finish off their dream season with a win in the National Championship game, January 10th against the Oregon Ducks.
Cam Newton is cleared to play. The NCAA ruled Wednesday that his eligibility is no longer in question. Auburn is in no danger of forfeiting wins. And both are cleared to proceed without impunity or condition for the rest of the season.
From NCAA V.P. for Academic and Membership Affairs Kevin Lennon: "Based on the information available to the reinstatement staff at this time, we do not have sufficient evidence that Cam Newton or anyone from Auburn was aware of this activity, which led to his reinstatement. From a student-athlete reinstatement perspective, Auburn University met its obligation . . . Under this threshold, the student-athlete has not participated while ineligible."
Auburn AD Jay Jacobs released a statement Wednesday acknowledging the NCAA for its thoroughness and fairness, and of course ruling in their favor. “We are pleased that the NCAA has agreed with our position that Cam Newton has been and continues to be eligible to play football at Auburn University. We appreciate the diligence and professionalism of the NCAA and its handling of this matter," said Jacobs.
While Cam is cleared, Cecil maybe not so much. It was decided that Cecil did act improperly but did so without Cam’s or Auburn’s knowledge.
Cam and the Tigers prepare to face the South Carolina Gamecocks this Saturday in Atlanta for the SEC Championship. The title game is a rematch of September 25th meeting in which Auburn won 35-27. But Auburn was playing at home, and South Carolna did have the Tigers down 20-7. So the rematch should be interesting. It’s never easy to beat a team twice in one season.
Well, not exactly…
While this year’s Iron Bowl was eerily similar to last year’s version, it was more a mirror image rather than a replica. The stakes were much the same. One team was ranked No. 2 in the BCS, undefeated, and had aspirations for an SEC championship and beyond, including a potential Heisman winner. One team’s season was a bit of a disappointment (though the expectations were drastically different, so disappointment is quite relative) and looking to play spoiler. The home team was ranked lower, but came out full of passion and energy to take an early lead. The Heisman candidate was contained for much of the first half. But ultimately, the away team mad adjustments, rallied together, and took the lead on a fourth quarter touchdown that won the game.
Last year it was the Crimson Tide of Alabama that avoided the stumble against rival Auburn. This year it was the Tigers’ turn.
Much like Mark Ingram last year, Heisman hopeful Cam Newton was held in check on the ground, just 39 yards on 22 caries though he did get a touchdown. But unlike Ingram, Newton made up for his lack of running game by passing the ball; he is still a quarterback after all. Newton finished the day 13 of 20 for 216 yards and 3 TDs; but most importantly, he didn’t throw any picks.
Auburn’s much-praised offense was pitiful for most of the first half. In fact, they were down 21-0 before it ever picked up a first down. Really, Auburn only mustered positive yards on one series. Luckily for the Tigers, it ended in a 36-yard pass from Newton to Emory Blake for a touchdown and the Tigers’ only points of the first half.
If the offense was pitiful, Auburn’s much-maligned defense was simply abysmal. The secondary was torched for 300+ yards through the air – most of which was QB Greg McElroy connecting with WR Julio Jones in some miraculous way that transcended mere football. It looked like Jones just willed himself to be open and it was so. Too easy for a QB of McElroy’s ability to miss.
Bryant-Denny was rocking. The Tide players were elated and dominant. The Tigers looked to be finished. In one game, they could see their SEC and national title hopes slipping away, as well as Newton’s hope to be the first junior college transfer to win the Heisman. A terrible day in T-town as mighty Cameron looked to be striking out.
Not so fast, my friend.
Though I have been hard on Auburn defensive coordinator Ted Roof (and I do think there is much to be desired), he has responded in two straight games with nearly flawless adjustments. Georgia and Alabama scored a combined 13 points in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th quarters of their games against Roof’s defense. But they also scored 42 points in the 1st quarters. But with an offense as explosive as Auburn’s, it doesn’t seem like they are ever out of it.
The Tigers dominated the second half, outscoring the hometown Tide 21-3 capping the biggest comeback for the Tigers in school history. Newton got things back on track, utilizing his often overlooked and frequently undervalued ability as a passer. With Alabama crowding the line, the Tigers took to the air.
But I believe the Tigers won the game good old-fashioned stick-to-it-tiveness. Hustle plays, taking care of the ball, and never giving up were critical to Auburn’s success in their biggest test of the season – biggest crowd, toughest environment, best team, and biggest deficit all wrapped into one. But the Tigers showed heart as they have done all season, coming from behind in 8 of their 12 games. Much like their in-state foes did a year ago, the Tigers refuse to quit and refuse to lose.
What a difference a year makes. The Tigers head to Atlanta this week to play for the SEC championship and a spot in the BCS title game. The Tide wait around to find out which bowl game fate delivers them. The Tigers look to make a clean sweep and add another Heisman trophy to the case to go along with a national title. The Tide think about how close they were to greatness.
What is the difference? The son of a preacher man.
I’ll be honest. It has been difficult to stay objective on the Cam Newton issue. I enjoy watching the kid play. It seems to me, in my limited viewing experience, that he has fun and plays the game the right way. For all appearances, he seemed to have learned from his past troubles and struggles to come out a better man; however, it seems like each day something new comes out against the man once dubbed “SuperCam,” now being called “Scam” Newton.
The newest allegations against Cam and his father are that they both admitted in separate conversations that money was used to secure his place at Auburn. ESPN’s Joe Schad broke the story Tuesday afternoon. Schad cites sources that are reportedly involved in Mississippi State’s recruiting, specifically their recruitment of Cam. These are pretty damning allegations. Right from the horse’s mouth so to speak. Right? Well…
Let’s take a closer look at the alleged allegations.
Cecil Newton, Cam’s father, is quoted as saying “it will take more than a scholarship” to get Cam. That is blatantly about money, right? Or perhaps it could be literally everything else besides a scholarship. It could mean that Cecil wants a place where Cam can go and win. It could mean he wants a good environment where his son can thrive. It could mean he wants a place where they have Mama Goldberg’s. The point is it could mean anything. Could it mean money? Absolutely. But does it indisputably, unequivocally, 100% mean money? Absolutely not.
Now, on to the stronger of the two statements, made by the QB himself. Cameron Newton is quoted as telling the unnamed Mississippi State recruiter that “the money is too much,” which seems to imply that the money Auburn was giving him was too much to turn down. This statement definitely seems to be strong evidence against the Tigers. But it is not impossible to poke a hole in this one either. Perhaps Newton was referring to the $200,000 reportedly involved in Mississippi State’s potential recruitment of Newton, simply showing his dislike of being paid to play college football. Is that the most likely scenario? Probably not. I’m very willing and able to admit that. But it is a possibility.
That also brings me to the academic allegations. This one really irked me. If for no other reason (and I’m not sure I need another one), this one is bothersome because it is illegal that it came to light at all—a felony. And even if this is ironclad fact (which is yet to be proven), Cam was a freshman. It was two years ago. We’ve all made mistakes. Cam has lived up to a less than pristine past and has tried to move past it. This is the land of second chances, and so far Newton seems to be making the most of his.
Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops said that he did not notice anything unusual or alarming during Oklahoma’s recruitment of Newton out of Junior College. That is objective, outside evidence and/or opinion in favor of Newton’s innocence.
And here is the real problem with the entire debacle. Everything is based upon loosely worded, vaguely phrased accusations and “evidence.” Many of the sources are unnamed. The ones that are named seem to be less than credible. Nothing is hard evidence. It is a lot of finger pointing and “he said/she said.” I believe this is what they call in a court of law “hearsay.” Hearsay is not legal grounds upon which to build a case. I believe it is inadmissible in court (I’m am clearly not a lawyer, however).
Unfortunately, hearsay is about all that counts in the court of public opinion. And this is definitely where Cam’s trial is taking place. Even if Cameron Newton is cleared 100% of wrongdoing, it may be too late to save his reputation. It might cost him a Heisman Trophy. But mostly, it might cost him his pride and/or honor. And that is inexcusable. No matter how this turns out, I condemn those who have handled the allegations so poorly. This seems to be little more than a smear campaign, in this kind-of-humble writer’s opinion (I mean, no writer is really that humble. We are giving you our opinion in print after all).
Now for some fun conspiracy of my own. Who is behind this? No clue. But here is something I find interesting. Mississippi State and Florida (potentially indirectly) are the two schools providing evidence that is condemning Cam. And they are both schools the Cam cut ties with in some form or fashion before exploding back onto the SEC and national scene in a big way this season.
Dan Mullen is the current head coach at Mississippi State. He was Newton’s offensive coordinator at Florida and supposedly created a pretty strong bond with the young QB during their time together. It was reported that Cam really wanted to go to Miss State to be reunited with his old coach, but chose Auburn over Starkville.
Urban Meyer recruited Newton out of high school and got the 6’6” 250 lb talent to come to Gainesville. Newton left Florida. That’s fine, they had Tebow. But now, it appears that Auburn and Florida could be on a collision course to meet in the SEC championship game, if both teams win on Saturday. Hmmm, interesting timing isn’t it? Pretty strong evidence. Plus, I talked on the phone with my buddy’s sister’s cousin’s nephew’s boyfriend who talked with both Mullen and Meyer and they told me that they knew that Meyer and Mullen both may have said something about money and Cam and taking him down (or did I?). I think that sounds pretty legit.
Meyer and Mullen have both denied wrongdoing. Well good for you, so did Cam. Who wouldn’t? Maybe just like Transformers, there is more than meets the eye. Or not. The point of all of this is that in America, you are innocent until provenguilty, not until you are accusedof being guilty.
Cam will continue to play. He will probably continue to dazzle. I will certainly continue to watch and cheer for him. I hope that everyone else will do the same.
The Auburn Tigers maintained their No. 2 ranking in the BCS by defeating a completely over-matched UT-Chattanooga team on Saturday. QB Cameron Newton had his most prolific aerial game to date, completing 15 of 21 passes for 317 yards and 4 TDs, while adding another TD on the ground. That’s not a bad day’s work, but it is staggering considering all of it came in the first half. Newton had a little bit of a rough weekend with allegations coming out last Thursday that he might have received payment during his recruitment to Mississippi State, the school Auburn beat out for his services.
Newton has maintained trademark smile and his positive attitude according to his teammates. WR Darvin Adams said, “Cam is being Cam and Cam is still going to be Cam." When Newton was asked if anything was different or how he was feeling about the situation, Cam just answered simply, “I feel like we’re 10-0. That’s about it.” Those are some pretty strong words.
Despite beating … well, the crap out of then No. 5 Utah at Utah, the No. 3 TCU Horned Frogs were not able to jump in the rankings and surpass the Tigers, who hold a firm No. 1 status in the computers. Despite giving their best effort, it looks like either Auburn or Oregon will have to lose for TCU to make it to the National Championship.
All of this leads me to my real point. The bandwagoneers are out in full force now. As I drive around town, I see more Auburn car flags (which annoy me in general, but that’s a different story) and bumper stickers than since probably the 2004 season. I understand that people are more willing to show their support when their team is doing well, but that’s the point. It takes more commitment and gusto to put yourself out there when your team isn’t doing as well. If you must be obnoxious in your fandom, do it honorably and bravely. Either stick solely to gameday shenanigans or display your team pizzazz all the time. Don’t wait until your team is doing well. This is not team spirit, it’s team schmutz.
I want to see the Tigers do as well as anyone else who wants to see said Tigers do well. But please, don’t use a bunch of college kids to display your bravado or boost your ego. Now that I’ve got that off of my chest, feel free to cheer for your favorite team in the must gusto-ridden, bravado-laden, alcohol-induced way that you want. Just please, cheer responsibly.
The first BCS rankings of the year were released yesterday. And to no one’s surprise the No. 1 team was … Oklahoma? You mean the team that barely beat Utah State? The same team that barely beat Air Force – who, coincidentally, lost to the mighty Aztecs of San Diego State on Saturday? Yep, that team. I get that they beat the crap out of Florida State. And they beat Texas; well, so did a questionable UCLA team. I just don’t understand the logic. The BCS continually defies my, albeit limited, comprehension.
Here we have Oregon, the unanimous No. 1 in both polls (which comprise two-thirds of this mad scientist’s experiment) coming in at No. 2 in the BCS because some computers decided they were only the 7th best team in the country. I don’t get it. It seems like the Ducks should be statistical crack to the computers. Oregon is 1st in Scoring (points scored) and 16th and scoring defense (points allowed). That’s pretty nice. The Oregon offense has amassed 326 points on the season, never scoring less than 42 in any single game. The defense has only allowed 98 points. That’s an average margin of victory of 38 points per game. The closest game they have played all season was a 42-31 affair at Arizona State.
Now Oklahoma. They are 17th in scoring and 28th in scoring defense. They beat the aforementioned Utah State, Air Force, plus the Cincinnati Bearcats by a combined 12 points. I don’t get it. I understand that beating the crap out of Florida State who is ranked 17th in the BCS and a very, very shaky Texas team who sits at 19th in the BCS, helps the Sooners strength of schedule and eye test and whatever else you want to throw at me. But shouldn’t the sloppy, less impressive wins hurt you comparatively? I guess the computers have a Big Name recognition program. (They’ll probably just lose in a BCS game anyway).
I just can’t fathom how the computers can be so down on Oregon and so high on an Oklahoma team. Or how they can even put the Sooners ahead of high-flying Boise State Broncos. Now, no one is harder on said Broncos than me, but raw statistical has to be highly in favor of the boys from Boise. That “strength of schedule” algorithm or equation, or whatever they use, must be highly weighted in the computer rankings, and highly weighted towards Oklahoma.
Ah well, call me old fashioned, but I think the BCS should be scrapped. Give me the bowls any day over this half-guessing, half-scientific and completely ludicrous method. At least I know the bowls are built upon tradition. They’re fun. The pageantry is second to none. They’re college football. And they’re honest about the ambiguity. They don’t try to announce to the world that they have definitively given me a national champion.
The BCS only “works” when things completely outside of the BCS’ power falls into place (i.e. only 2 undefeated teams). Basically, it’s luck. It’s the worst of the bowls with none of the equality of a playoff.
Or…here’s a crazy idea. Let’s add a plus-1 or an 8-team playoff. At least give us a Final Four. Don’t get rid of the bowls. Use the BCS bowls. That’s a great set-up. Use the championship game as the plus-1. You still have the Rose, Orange, Fiesta, and Sugar Bowls in tact. Plus the myriad of other bowls. It’s great. I can’t understand the logic against it. But again, my comprehension skills are rather limited.
Well, that’s enough time spent on my soapbox. Besides, this is a mess that doesn’t look like it will be cleaned up any time soon. Thanks TV contracts.
What do I think about when I think about Bobby Cox? I think about his stoic expression, crossed arms resting on his endearing potbelly, sitting next to an emotionally challenged, chronically rocking Leo Mazzone. I think of Bobby waddling out to the field to argue a call in his uniform which makes him look like a 7 year old wearing a Halloween costume. I think of press conferences when he chuckles and laughs in a manner that is so contrary to his demeanor in the dugout. I think about how every player that he has ever managed says he was the best manager they have ever played for. I think that in such an ever-changing, uncertain landscape like sports, especially in the free agent era, the Braves were as steady as they go (other than the black-hearted Yankees, but that’s a different matter) and there was one constant during those constant years – Bobby Cox. Players came and went. Ownership changed. Even the long-time General Manager John Schuerholz finally changed. But not Bobby. Bobby was going to be there; well, unless he was thrown out. Chipper Jones has been there forever it seems. But even before Chipper, there was Bobby.
And now that’s over. It’s going to be very odd to see someone else wearing that No. 6 Atlanta Braves jersey. It’s going to be weird to see someone else get thrown out 158 times. It’s going to be weird watching someone else do all the things Bobby Cox did. But even if they finished their Braves career with exactly the same numbers, they won’t be Bobby Cox. Bobby brought stability to an unstable franchise – the worst in the league. Bobby made old, beer-gutted men wearing ill-fitting polyester outfits and waddling around under bright lights cool for the first time since disco died. Okay, that one might just be me. What can I say? He entertained me to no end. He was both a gentlemen and a fiery competitor. Always one to keep a cool head, Cox never balked at rushing out to the public and emotional defense of his players. He was able to get players – even the high profile ones – to buy into his philosophy and play as a team. Bobby personified the term “players manager.” And that is what I will remember. And that is what I will miss.