Category Archives: Sports

Getting Away From Your Bread and Butter

Bread and ButterIf you watched the Cowboys-Packers game last night, you saw a textbook example of a a very successful group losing sight of what has made them successful.

And it wasn’t the Cowboys.

As the Sturminator details on this post, the Packers have made their way to the top of the NFC this year not by drilling long pass after long pass, but by nailing the short routes and letting their receivers take over with their league-leading yards after catch. But that’s not what you saw in the first half last night. Instead, you saw them throwing rainmakers one after another, going for the jugular in a situation that didn’t call for it and from a team that has no business doing it. The only thing I think is that they were trying to exploit Roy Williams in the secondary, and I can’t blame them there. But it didn’t work.

Since this is blog mostly dedicated to marketing, I hope you see where this is going. When it comes down to it, the Packers had a momentary lapse in branding last night. Most companies experience this on a regular basis. You forget what makes you good, what makes you stand out, what got you where you are, what’s getting you where you’re going and what people think of when they think of you. It’s easy to do. It’s tempting to do. But it’s always a mistake.

The good groups recognize it fairly early and get back on track. The Packers looked like the Packers last night in the second half – it was just too late. The bad groups take one step away from their brand position, only to take another to try to correct it, only to continue until they’re as confused as to who they are, and so are their customers. (To continue the football analogies, I would say see the Arizona Cardinals right now – they aren’t total failures, but I don’t know how I would categorize them).

Moral of the story: know your bread and butter. Make sure everyone you work with knows it. Build your messages around it. Most of all, get everyone involved committed to it.

When I was in 6th grade, I made the local baseball all-star team. We went to the state level, where we didn’t fair too well. I had used my own bat the entire year, but once we got to state, I was mesmerized by a bat that a fellow player was using. So I started using it. Long story short, I didn’t hit too well during the tournament, and we came home early.

Afterward, I remember my Dad asking why I switched bats. I can’t remember how I answered, but I can remember his response: “But your bat is the one that made you an all-star to begin with.”

At 12 years old, that made all the sense in the world to me. At 30 years old, it still does.

The 100 Most Influential Folks in Sports

Thanks to Magnosticism for finding this little pearl.

Seems as though BusinessWeek and ESPN Magazine got together and put together a list of the “Sports Power 100 List,” a grouping of the most influential people in sports. Some notables:

#11 = Michael Jordan: Amazing that’s he’s still this influential, ranking right behind mostly commissioners.

#12 = Scott Boars: The “Baseball AntiChrist,” representing everything that’s gone wrong with the game.

#17 = David Beckham: Imagine how influential he’d be if he actually played soccer. Regardless, he’s definitely bigger than the Spice Girls.

#50 = Mark Cuban: I personally think he should be higher. I guess they’re waiting to see how well he dances this year. Or maybe buy the Cubs.

#53 = Jerry Jones: Another Dallas owner that should be higher. I don’t really like him, but you can’t deny he’s changed business in the NFL, and continues to do so (just watch this scary Papa John’s commercial).

Football Predictions 2007: AFC

Update – the blue font shows you my comments on just how badly I did with my predictions this year, as of Dec. 31, 2007.

Here’s my guesses at the AFC, the dominant conference of the NFL.

AFC North: Completely had no idea what I was talking about with this division, clearly.

  1. Cincinnati (12-4): As far as offenses go, it’s between the Bengals and the Colts for the best in the NFL. I’m not quite as high on Cincy as a lot of people are, but they’ll take the division. Ended 7-9. What a big disappointment they were. This team is a wreck.
  2. Baltimore (10-6): A great team, but I think their offense depends on McGahee this year, not McNair. Last year was a fluke – they’ve got a tough schedule this year. Ended 5-11! Billick has to go.
  3. Pittsburgh (6-10): Pittsburgh has me baffled. They have a pretty easy first 4 games, so that might help them get some momentum. Overall, though, it won’t be a good year. Ended 10-6. OK, I was wrong overall on these guys – they’re pretty good. But, I was right about their first half being stronger, and now they’ve lost Parker.
  4. Cleveland (5-11): Romeo needs to go, and Brady will be the QB by the end of the year. I think they’re getting better, but their still a cellar dweller for now. Ended 10-6. What a great surprise this has been! Jamal Lewis rises from the ashes, and Danny Anderson tells Brady to take his rookie year off. And Romeo ain’t going nowhere. What was I thinking? Kinda sucks they won’t be in the playoffs – I’d much rather watch them than the Titans.

AFC East: Really didn’t know what I was talking about here, either.

  1. New England (11-5): Does Randy Moss really make that big a difference? Everyone is acting like he does, but I can’t buy it. They’ll still top off the division, but they aren’t the best in the AFC. Ended 16-0. Yes, Moss does make that big a difference. Enough said. Chalk one up for me on picking the winner of the division, at least.
  2. New York (9-7): I think they’ll benefit more from getting to play the Bills and the Dolphins 4 times this year. I think Thomas Jones will be have a pretty big year. Ended 4-12. Jones rushed for 1,100 yards, but it didn’t matter. Only 1 TD. It actually hurt to watch the Jets this year.
  3. Miami (7-9): Great schedule to start the year off. They actually have a pretty potent offense if it’s clicking. Miami is just one of those teams that can never pull it together. Ended 1-15. Did I say potent offense?
  4. Buffalo (4-12): Man, this team sucks. On top of that, they have a horrendous schedule, taking on the AFC North and NFC East teams this year. Jim Kelly comeback? Ended 7-9. The Bills were a nice surprise this year, showing moments of being OK. Lynch could turn into something in the long-run.

AFC South: Other than the Titans, I was fairly close on this division. Three of the 6 AFC playoff teams are coming from the AFC South.

  1. Indianapolis (12-4): They are the best in the NFL. Nothing more to say. They will repeat this year. Ended 13-3. Hey, I almost got this one right, at least. Will see if they can take the AFC away from the Pats.
  2. Jacksonville (9-7): The stars aligned for them last year to get the record they did. Still a good team, and we’ll see the coming of age for Jones-Drew. Ended 11-5. Man, I can’t wait to watch these guys in the playoffs. They could beat anyone.
  3. Houston (7-9): Definitely going to be a fun team to watch this year. They will be better, but there are just too many unknowns, like Schaub, Green and their offensive line. Ended 8-8. Which is a vast improvement for them. Would’ve been nice to see what they could’ve done if they were healthy all year (Schaub, Johnson, Green, etc.). Plus, Mario Williams isn’t looking like such a bad pick after all.
  4. Tennessee (6-10): The Titans take a step back this year. Who am I supposed to know on this team other than Vince? Plus, no Pac-Man means no big plays on D. He won at least two big games for them last year. Ended 10-6. I don’t know how they do it, but they do. I still think they took a step back this year, but Vince, Jeff and the boys managed to make things happen.

AFC West:

  1. San Diego (12-4): They just have too many weapons. We’ll see more from Rivers this year. Ended 11-5. Almost nailed this one. They’re sneaking into the playoffs after a horrible start. I’m anxious to see what happens now. I’m not that impressed with Rivers, though.
  2. Denver (10-6): Great team that almost has everything together. I don’t like Travis Henry as their RB, but they always seem to make it work. Ended 7-9. Pretty disappointing for them. I thought Cutler would do more. They’re missing a running game, which is rare for Denver.
  3. Kansas City (8-8): This is my team, but they have too many question marks in the preseason to give them much respect. They should’ve drafted a real QB a few years ago. It’s going to hurt them for another 3 years. Ended 4-12. This hurt. How do you lose 9 games in a row? KC is going to be rebuilding for a while.
  4. Oakland (5-11): They suck, they can’t sign their draft picks, and they suck (did I say that?). Ended 4-12. They really do suck. However, they somehow managed to suck just a little less that the Chiefs.

Playoff picture: Cincinnati, New England, Indy, San Diego, Denver (wild card), Baltimore (wild card). Got 3 of the 6 teams, which were pretty much no-brainers to start the year, so I take no pride in that. My AFC predictions were absolutely horrible. 

Super Bowl winner = Indianapolis for the repeat.

Football Predictions 2007 – NFC

Brett-Painted Face

Update: The blue font shows you just how poorly I predicted, as of Dec. 31, 2007. 

TGINFL!

Just in case you’re wondering who my team is, this picture should help clarify. I’m not sure how my Chiefs are going to be this year – they seem a little shaky to me.

Anyway, thought I might as well list my NFC predictions for the season. I welcome plenty of banter in the comments.

NFC North:

  1. Chicago (10-6): They’re lucky they’re in a weak division, cuz that’s where most of their wins will come from. I’m calling a Detroit win on Sept. 30. Ended 7-9, and in last place. Did I say weak division? For what it’s worth, Detroit did win on Sept. 30.
  2. Detroit: (8-8): Kitna will be alright, and I’m anxious to see how their running game is this year. Ended 7-9. Almost got this one right on the record. However, they nose-dived into the end of the year. Kitna had a big year, but something just wasn’t clicking.
  3. Green Bay (6-10): Tough schedule at the beginning of the year, but maybe they’ll make up for it later. I think it will rely on their defense. Ended 13-3. Hey, weren’t we all surprised?
  4. Minnesota (5-11): Too many questions and new guys. We’ll see what Peterson adds to it. Ended 8-8. Peterson is the real deal. I think Jackson might turn out OK, too. Again, did anyone see this coming?

NFC East: 3 of the 6 NFC playoff teams come from this division.

  1. Dallas (10-6): They got some real injury issues, but I still think they’re the team to beat in the East. Their first 6 games are tough, and if they can come out 3-3, then I think they can roll. Ended 13-3. Clearly, the injuries weren’t an issue, Romo is the real deal, T.O. showed why he’s so special, and the new game plan simply works. Until December, at least. I don’t like how they’re stumbling into the playoffs, but at least they one the division, and the NFC.
  2. Philadelphia (9-7): Philly always figures something out, although I’m never impressed with what they put on the field. It will be interesting to see if McNabb makes it through the season, cuz Feeley can’t do what Garcia did last year. Ended 8-8. McNabb got hurt as predicted, and Feeley didn’t do what Garcia did last year, as predicted. Where will Donovan be next year? Where would the Eagles be without Westbrook?
  3. New York (8-8): To me, they’re the real wild card in the East (or NFC, for that matter). Will Eli finally make his triumphant entry this year? Will Shockey and Buress last a whole season? Will Strahan be worth anything? Ended 10-6. They made the playoffs, but none of the guys mentioned had breakout years. If anything, thank Brandon Jacobs for getting them through. But they ended strong with the Pats.
  4. Washington (6-10): These guys are gonna be terrible. I don’t know if Gibbs has it anymore, and their roster sucks. Ended 9-7. I guess they aren’t terrible. They had an awful year, but Gibbs pulled them through. I’m actually very scared of them if they face the Cowboys in the playoffs.

NFC South:

  1. New Orleans (10-6): Yes, I have an unfair advantage having seen them play Thursday against the Colts. I think the Saints have issues, and I feel like I’m stretching too optimistic to have them at 10-6. I love me some Brees; can he lead the way? Ended 7-9. I was too optimistic, they had too many injuries, and starting 0-4 never helps. Brees is still great, though. Is Bush?
  2. Tampa Bay (9-7): The Bucs need a winning season, and they’ve at least got some play-making experience at QB in Garcia. Cadillac Williams needs to return to his rookie year’s form, as well. Ended 9-7. Hey, I got one right. Surprisingly, that was enough to win the division. Earnest Graham was a nice addition after Williams went down.
  3. Carolina (7-9): I’d love to see Delhomme get injured and Carr just go off now that he might not get sacked every other down. Nothing special here. Ended 7-9. Got another one right. And I partially got my wish with Delhomme getting hurt. Unfortunately, it didn’t stop there. I can’t believe they managed to win 7 games.
  4. Atlanta (6-10): I think Vick leaving is going to be good for them – he’s the most overrated player in the game. But it’s going to take its toll, and Pitrino is going to have to be patient as they learn his offense. Fun to watch, but not many wins. Ended 4-12. As if losing your star QB isn’t enough, they had to deal with their coach leaving, too. If you’re a Falcons fan, try to just erase this season from your memory, and enjoy the rebuilding process.

NFC West:

  1. St Louis (11-5): Strong team with all the pieces in place. I think they’re the team to beat in the NFC. Ended 3-13. Can injuries really hurt you this much? Out of all my crazy predictions, this one sucks the most. Shouldn’t Bulger + Jackson + good receivers = success?
  2. Arizona (9-7): Arizona starts putting it together this year, and Leinart has a breakout season. Ended 8-8. Who’s Leinart?
  3. Seattle (8-8): Their dominance comes to an end this year. Ended 10-6. Dominance is still rolling, as they quietly dominated to end the season. Can the Skins beat them in the first round?
  4. San Francisco (7-9): San Fran is going to be good this year, but they play in what’s probably going to be the most competitive division in the NFC for the next 3-4 years. Ended 5-11. Wrong on them being good. Alex Smith is a bust, and Gore might be, too.

As as for the playoffs, here are your teams, with my prediction for the Super Bowl representative:

Dallas, New Orleans, Chicago, St. Louis, Arizona (wild card), Philly (wild card). I only got one of these teams right. Horrible.

St. Louis in the Super Bowl. Do I really need to address this?

The Most Important Stat in Baseball

Probably more than any other sport, baseball reveres stats in the highest regard. Maybe it’s because there are so many games. Or maybe it’s because there are so many things you can measure. Or maybe it’s because there are so many variables, like the starting pitcher, and the outdoor conditions, and all that.

But it’s all secondary.

The point of any game is to win. Winning in baseball is determined by who has the most runs. Therefore . . . .

The most important stat for a batter in baseball are the runs scored.

The second most important stat for a batter are runs batted in.

Everything else – batting average, home runs, slugging, on-base – EVERYTHING – should just be a means to that end. A tactic. A cause and not the effect.

But you rarely hear the league leader in runs scored praised, at least for their ability to score runs. RBIs are a little more popular, but they are definitely the Holy Spirit equal in baseball’s trinity (batting avg. and home runs being much more popular). And I’ve never heard of many contracts that have bonuses based on runs scored.

But that’s really all that matters. More runs = more wins.

p.s. – We’ve got something special happening this year, as the leader for Runs Scored and Runs Batted In is the same person – Alex Rodriguez. That’s the ultimate production; how could anyone else be the MVP this year?

Has Michael Vick Really Found Jesus?

Michael Vick StatementVick mentioned in his press conference today that he has gone to Jesus for forgiveness, that it seems to be the right thing to do as of right now.

So how do you react to that?

Most of us Christians probably don’t believe him. In fact, I assume everybody, Christian or non, doesn’t believe him. It seems a little too convenient. A little too contrived. A little too well-timed.

But here’s the question: why should be shocked that someone turns to God when they’ve hit rock-bottom?

  • The Apostle Paul did it heading down Damascus road.
  • Jacob did it and ended up wrestling with the angel (or some thing Jesus himself).
  • Moses was a murderer and living an almost pointless life out in the desert.
  • Peter had been exposed to Christ more than anyone and ended up selling him out and completely denying that he ever knew him.

Time and time again, people find God when they have nothing else. Is it convenient? Is it well-timed? Well, yeah. But that’s not always the motivation. When it’s real, it’s usually more motivated by realizing we are at the end of what we’re capable of, and we need someone else to get us out of the mess we’re in.

The thing that will really rack your brain is to consider that God actually ordains situations to get us to this point, knowing that, otherwise, it will never happen. He loves us so much that he’ll guide us through temporary pains so we can come out looking to Him rather than to ourselves.

And the fringe benefits of being in the midst of His love are nothing less than abundant life now and eternal life with Him.

I don’t know if Vick is the real deal or not. Unfortunately, we’ve seen too many athletes “play the Jesus card” and it’s jaded us. What I do know is that it’s not out of the question to find Jesus in the valley. In fact, it’s much more like the norm than the exception.

Blazers, please take Oden

Greg OdenWith the NBA draft in the extremely near future, I wanted to dedicate a post to state some “blazingly” obvious advice:

Portland, please pick Greg Oden with your #1 pick.

I know Durant is going to be great. I know he’s had a great workout. I know he’s quick, and a great shooter, and played in a strong conference. I know all of that.

But I also know that more NBA teams complain about not having a quality big man than don’t. Both Oden and Durant are going to be great, but you can’t have them both. Pick the big man and get what so many teams struggle to get for years and years. Either he serves as the foundation for your team, or you trade him down the road for some solid players.

Just don’t be tempted by Durant. As good as he is, you’ll find other players to play his position that are almost as good, if not better. Odens are rare.