Saturday, March 27, 2010

MLB: Should We Be As Outraged About Amphetamines As Steroids?

Listed below, are the points and counterpoints about if we should be as outraged about amphetamines as steroids:

Point: Yes, amphetamines are cheating just like steroids.

Counterpoint: No, steroids enhance performance while amphetamines enable performance. One makes you better while the other gets you on the field to play baseball.

P: Amphetamines do more than just get you on the field.

CP: If the players had never taken greenies, there would be no difference in performance. With steroids, the difference would be huge just like their muscles.

P: Amphetamines help you focus and concentrate. This would allow you to see the pitch better and make better contact. Seeing the ball better would help you drive the ball with authority.

CP: Steroids offer a big advantage over amphetamines. Just look at the record books. Between 1965 and 1990 season, 50 homers were topped only once, by George Foster in 1977. Between 1995 and 2002, 50 homers were topped 17 times, with a few 60 and 70 homer seasons thrown in for good measure.

P: You are just looking at one stat - home runs. You ignore many other factors that may have influenced this one variable. Every era has seen fluctuations in performance. You just take a few broken records and attribute them to steroids.

CP: Amphetamines clearly didn't have the same affect.

P: Well, between 1965 and 1990, Frank Robinson, Harmon Killebrew, Andre Dawson and Mark McGwire all hit 49 home runs. Willie Stargell, Mike Schmidt and Dave Kingman hit 48 home runs. You seem to think 50 is a magic number. Amphetamines have been helping players for years.

CP: Well, we don't have to use 50. Homers were way up across the board. We can use 48-49 homers to see this same thing. Between 1996 and 2002, players hit 48 or 49 homers 10 times. That would be good for more than had been hit between 1965 and 1990. That does not even include include the 17 times players hit 50+ homers over that span. You can't dispute that during those years, power numbers exploded throughout the majors.

P: Pitchers took steroids too. That balanced everything out.

CP: They sure did. that was actually one of the factors for the power surge. The harder the pitchers were able to throw, the further a batted ball will travel.

P: There were many factors for the home run explosion. The pitching was watered down, balls had more bounce, strike zones were increasingly smaller, ballparks were smaller, weight training had more emphasis, they had better bats, and they had better nutrition.

CP: None of those things helped players suddenly morph into muscle-bound mashers able to hit home runs that traveled 500 feet.

P: I admit that steroids helped many fly balls carry into the seats. It does not change the fact that amphetamine users are cheaters, too.

CP: A greenie back then isn't much different than Red Bull or 5 Hour Energy. All pro athletes take those nowadays.

P: There is a huge difference between Red Bull and amphetamines. Red Bull will give you a rush of energy. Greenies cause chemical changes in your brain. Regular use of amphetamines can cause you to get addicted.

CP: You should be careful like with any other drug.

P: If anything, amphetamines users should be looked at more harshly. They do not require any additional work for them to help you out. You pop a greenie and you are ready to go. With steroids, you have to work out to benefit. Taking steroids is the greatest evil ever but taking amphetamines isn’t really that big of a deal.

CP: People just don't care about amphetamines. The players look the same and there is no evidence that greenies improved performance.

P: They help them play more games and possibly steal more bases with the extra energy. If they didn't help with performance, the players would never use them.

CP: Players always will try to get an edge.

P: Let’s not forget that amphetamines are still around today. Barry Bonds failed an amphetamine test and there was very little coverage. Amphetamine users got a pass 40 years ago, and they’re getting a pass today.

CP: They aren't breaking any rules so it is all good.

Top Men's Tennis Player of the Open Era

The intention of this is to look at the top men's tennis players of all-time. One can make a great case for more than one player as the greatest of all-time.

The oldest player here is Jimmy Connors. It’s awfully hard to compare tennis players going back to the time of Laver and Emerson and Budge and all those guys.

Grand Slams are important. However, back in the 70s and 80s, the French and Australian Opens were not as important as Wimbledon and the US Open.

Winning is very important but there is a lot to be said for coming in second, too.

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Rafael Nadal
Points for:
-Has six grand slam titles and two runner-ups
-Nadal is one of only two male tennis players to own three grand slam titles on three different surfaces at the same time

Points against:
-His resume needs work as he only has the six titles
-Has yet to win a reach the finals at the US Open
-Nadal has injury struggles that may prevent him from more wins

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Boris Becker
Points for:
-Becker has six Grand Slam titles and four runner-ups
-Played in a record seven Wimbledon finals
-Incredible on grass and hard courts
-In 1985, he became the first unseeded player to win a Wimbledon title at 17 years old
-One of the first players to win points with a powerful service game

Points against:
-He never won a single clay court tournament but did make the semis at the French Open three times

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Stefan Edberg
Points for:
-Edberg has six Grand Slam titles and five runner-ups
-Played in a record 5 Australian Open finals
-Spectacular grass and hard court player

Points against:
-He lost in his only French Open Final to Michael Chang
-Did not dominate the game consistently

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John McEnroe
Points for:
-McEnroe has seven Grand Slam titles and four runner-ups
-Head to head, he had the edge on Jimmy Connors (31-20) and was even with Bjorn Borg (7-7)
-May go down as the greatest doubles player ever

Points against:
-He had a very short but brilliant peak but doesn't have the stats to match some of the others
-He never won a Grand Slam on clay but did reach the finals where he blew a two set and a break lead against Lendl
-Might have more titles but he rarely played in the Australian Open

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Mats Wilander
Points for:
-Wilander has seven Grand Slam titles and four runner-ups
-Has won at least two Grand Slams on grass, clay, and hard courts
-The most versatile of clay court players
-He won three Grand Slams in 1988

Points against:
-He never won at Wimbledon
-Banned for three months after testing positive for cocaine at the 1995 French Open

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Andre Agassi
Points for:
-Agassi has eight Grand Slam titles and seven runner-ups
-The only player ever to win the Career Golden Slam (Wimbledon, US Open,
Australian Open, French Open, and Olympics)

Points against:
-Only won the French and Wimbeldon once each
-Agassi seemed to disappear for times in the late '90s

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Ivan Lendl
Points for:
-Lendl has eight Grand Slam titles and 11 runner-ups
-He has the second most Grand Slam singles finals (19) in tennis history
-Lendl has eight consecutive US Open singles finals
-In another era, Lendl may have racked up more titles

Points against:
-Lendl never won at Wimbledon and lost in straight sets as runner-up twice
-Played in an era of great players at the top of their game like John McEnroe, Boris Becker, and Stefan Edberg

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Jimmy Connors
Points for:
-Connors has eight Grand Slam titles and seven runner-ups
-He won the U.S. Open a record five times on three different surfaces
-Jimmy Connors won more tournaments than any player in mens tennis history
-He has 1,241 singles victories which is the most all-time
-Except for one week, he was the No. 1-ranked player from July 1974 to July 1979

Points against:
-He never reached a French Open final
-He won on clay at the U.S Open in 1976 but it was a different clay surface than Paris

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Pete Sampras
Points for:
-Sampras has a second best 14 Grand Slam titles and four runner-ups
-Dominated at Wimbledon with a record seven wins and a 63-7 record for his career at Wimbledon
-Holds a record eight consecutive wins in Grand Slam finals
-Sampras was ranked No. 1 by the ATP for a record 286 weeks
-Regarded as the greatest grass court player of all-time

Points against:
-He never won a French Open and never reached the final of a French Open
-Besides Andre Agassi, Sampras didn't play against any of the greats, at least not while they were anywhere near their primes
-The least versatile of the tennis greats

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Bjorn Borg
Points for:
-Borg has 11 Grand Slam titles and five runner-ups
-He was great on all three surfaces—he did not ever win a U.S. Open but he reached four finals
-Won the Wimbledon Open era record of five straight titles
-He is the only player of the Open Era to have won Wimbledon and the French Open in the same season more than once and he did it three straight times
-His all-time leading win percentage in Grand Slams is 41 percent

Points against:
-He never won the U.S. Open
-Borg retired at 25
-Coulda Woulda Shoulda...if Borg had chosen to play in the Australian Open more often and not retired so young, he might have as many titles as Federer

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Roger Federer
Points for:
-Has 16 grand slam titles and six runner-ups
-One of only two players in tennis’ Open Era who have won the career grand slam
-Consistency-He has an even spread of wins across the 4 Grand Slam tournaments (4-1-5-6)
-Averaged more than one grand slam title per year
-One of only three men with at least five titles at two Grand Slams

Points against:
-He’s been consistently dominated on clay by one of his contemporaries (Nadal)
-The competition is not as good as what other greats faced...men's tennis in America has been practically non-existent during his entire run

WWE: Is the PG-Era Better Than the Attitude Era?

Point: Yes, the wrestling product in the WWE has improved significantly since the attitude era.

Counterpoint: No, the attitude era was better.

P: So, you agree that the wrestling has improved significantly?

CP: The attitude era was not known for its wrestling matches. That era was full of over-the-top characters talking and doing skits. They didn't wrestle much at all.

P: Exactly. I like to watch wrestling, and there is more pure wrestling now.

CP: But the characters now pale in comparison to the characters then. Guys like Sheamus, Miz, Rey Mysterio, or Hornswoggle just don't measure up to Brett Hart, Mick Foley, Stone Cold Steve Austin, or The Rock.

P: You are cherry-picking the big names from the attitude era. Also, many attitude era characters, like The Undertaker, Kane, Edge, and Shawn Michaels, are still around.

CP: Yeah, but they have toned those guys down. They are not like they were.

P: I don't know about that.

CP: They aren't creative anymore. There is no originality. Back then, the wrestlers would come up with their own promos. They had flexibility with their story lines. Now, the WWE has Hollywood script writers handing them lines.

P: Are you saying it comes off as phony?

CP: Yes, and another thing is the way they're pushing some of the younger guys. They don't have an edge to them anymore. They seem cookie-cutter.

P: Your criticisms are valid, but people still watch to see great wrestling, and that is better now.

CP: It is consistently better, but could you imagine seeing anything like the brutal match between The Undertaker and Mick Foley in their famous Hell in a Cell match in today's WWE?

P: I suppose not. Those thumb tacks had to hurt.

CP: You know it. Those guys took risks back then. Edge talked about this recently on RAW.

P: They did, but how long could that possibly last? Foley is still feeling the pain from that one.

CP: He might be, but there are always more guys that will do it.

P: The business model of having your top guys getting hurt all the time does not work.

CP: It seemed to then.

P: The new era wasn't brought on to irritate fans like you.

CP: It is all about money right?

P: Yes. The shift back to a safer, family-oriented show was out of necessity for the WWE's survival. They had all kinds of problems with drug and alcohol abuse among the wrestlers, steroid use and abuse, government scrutiny, and the media was out to crucify pro wrestling in general and the WWE in particular. Did you forget all that?

CP: Until now I did. I recall there were serious injuries as well.

P: This led to the big-money advertisers pulling out, which leads to closing shop.

CP: I don't buy that it would have had to be shut down.

P: It certainly wouldn't have the mass audience the WWE enjoys today. They rely on these guys to do more shows than ever.

CP: Sounds like you think it was all about money.

P: Duh. Also, having more kids attend shows, buying souvenirs and merchandise doesn't hurt.

CP: Of course.

P: The 1980s wrestling was similar to today. The attitude era was a result of the WWF adapting to the Monday Night Wars with WCW.

CP: So if TNA can pick up their game, perhaps the attitude era will return to the WWE?

P: Yes, when the WWE's ratings are threatened, the product will change. Also, The WWE fans have a very strong loyalty to Vince McMahon and the WWE. It would take a lot for them to consider watching anything but the WWE.

CP: Sounds like a long shot.

P: If you want more violence and blood, you can watch TNA.

CP: Yes, they have the blood but it isn't the as good as the WWE.

P: So you are just like all the other loyal WWE fans who complain but can't turn away?

CP: Yup, pretty much.

P: Do you need blood and head bashing to make it more fun to watch?

CP: Sometimes blood makes it realistic—like when you slam someone's head through a cage or hit them with a weapon. It isn't needed, but it adds intensity.

P: There are amazing wrestling matches without blood.

CP: Nothing gets the crowd excited like some blood.

P: The blood in wrestling matches got so out-of-hand in the 1990's that it lost all meaning. It became cartoonish. Fans came to expect bloodbaths in every match. The wrestlers were getting booed if they didn't bleed enough.

CP: I guess. You know...the girls were hotter in the attitude era also.

P: They lost their credibility too. They were little more than porn extras.

CP: Yeah, that was cool. They would cat-fight for our amusement.

P: They still do. They will have a hard time getting credible ladies' wrestling back. It may never return.

CP: At least we will have that.

P: If the TV networks did not tell you the ratings, there would not be such a huge point of contention among so many fans. Many people equate PG to a family show. The Jerry Springer episode of RAW was not family-friendly at all.

CP: Yeah, that would have been great if it was not so stupid.

P: That it was.

CP: I guess there is always something to complain about.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Tim Tebow - Will he be successful quarterback in the NFL?

Point: With his leadership skills, he is sure to succeed. I compare him to Steve Young.

Counterpoint: Steve Young, the Hall Of Fame quarterback? I think his career will more closely resemble that of Rex Grossman.

P: Rex Grossman? Are you kidding me?

CP: He's a great leader. Unfortunately, his physical skill set won't get it done at the next level.

P: You know, scouts and NFL "experts" say that Tebow won't be a great quarterback because of his arm strength. I just don't buy that.

CP: Have you seen him throw?

P: Of course, but there is nothing wrong with his arm strength at all. He just needs to work on his release. This guy works as hard as anyone and will get that part of his game straightened out.

CP: Changing his release point doesn't fix all the issues he has. David Carr also fixed his release point prior to the draft. How did his NFL career work out?

P: Carr was drafted number one by the Texans. In any case, he will be much better than David Carr.

CP: Another number one pick he compares to is Alex Smith. I could see them having similar careers.

P: Smith, like Carr, is an example of a guy who was rushed. Tebow will need a couple years. Nobody is saying he is NFL ready now.

CP: Tebow also has issues reading defenses and tends to lock into his first option.

P: Whatever...teams will regret passing on this Heisman trophy winner.

CP: Heisman Trophy winners, for the most part, don't have exceptional NFL careers.

P: That means nothing. He is a true leader and would put a fire under his team.

CP: That kind of cheerleader stuff won't work in the NFL.

P: His personality will win over any team.

CP: I disagree. Look, it's hard not to like Tebow. The media seems to love him. He might have an average career as a backup.

P: He throws a very accurate deep ball.

CP: I have seen him connect on some long balls.

P: Tebow is also a proven winner. Most successful NFL quarterbacks have college resumes that look like Tebow's.

CP: Colt McCoy holds the record for most wins by a college QB. Does that mean he will be better than Tebow?

P: No, I like McCoy but not as much as Tebow.

CP: Florida's simplistic offense with Tebow was nothing like any NFL offense.

P: Tebow will devote himself to improving every aspect of his game. He will learn the NFL schemes quickly.

CP: So you are saying he is intelligent?

P: I think he's a very smart and athletic quarterback. One of a quarterback's greatest strengths is their ability to read the defense and execute the plays.

CP: Are you aware that Tebow recorded a 22 on his Wonderlic? That isn't good in case you wondered.

P: Other quarterbacks like Dan Marino, Bret Favre, Donavan McNabb, and Michael Vick scored poorly and went on to fine NFL careers. That test has nothing to do with his football skills, determination, and leadership.

CP: It doesn't help. He doesn't compare to any of those guys anyway.

P: Tebow will be great. He is the greatest college football player ever and he will do great in the NFL.

CP: He may be in the conversation for best college football player ever.

P: He has the Heisman Trophy and two national championships. Nobody in this generation has done that.

CP: I'll give you that. He had a spectacular college football career.

P: Face it, the rare combination of leadership and athletic ability that Tebow has will make him an stud NFL quarterback.

CP: Weren't those same things said of Vince Young?

P: Young will put it all together this season.

CP: Tebow has poor accuracy, doesn't read defenses well, has bad footwork, struggles to take the snap from under center, and has poor mechanics. Tebow is years from being NFL ready as a quarterback.

P: I agree that he will struggle if he doesn't become a pocket passer and tighten up a few other areas.

CP: There isn't a long list of guys that have come into the league with so many areas to work on that have become successful. He works hard. He is a great leader. I get all that.

P: He certainly doesn't have the classic throwing motion.

CP: NFL defensive backs will be licking their chops when he drops back.

P: His greatest asset might be that he makes the people around him better.

CP: That is hard to know. He played for one of the best teams around at Flordia.

P: A good coach will take advantage of Tebow's strengths. He's got the intangibles.

CP: Yeah, I just don't see it.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Will Shawn Michaels Lose at Wrestlemania?

Point: Yes, the Undertaker's streak will not end this year.

Counterpoint: I say no. Many consider Shawn Michaels to be the best wrestler of all time. He won't go down with a loss.

P: The Undertaker has had enough of showing up at the end of Smackdown. He is ready for his next great match.

CP: Taker has looked a little lazy lately.

P: No doubt but this is the event he has won at so many times. I just can't see him losing.

CP: They both seem ready to retire.

P: The WWE has spent a lot of time promoting the streak.

CP: Yeah, it is mentioned whenever possible.

P: Why spend all that time building up the streak just to have him lose?

CP: Streaks are made to be broken.

P: But the streak is talked about year after year.

CP: They don't need that streak. There is always the next big match.

P: I guess but why would they suddenly decide after 17 years to stop it?

CP: It has to stop at some point.

P: When it stops, it will be used to promote the next big star. It would be better used as a passing of the torch. It won't be stopped like this.

CP: I don't know about that. It just seems like this will be the pinnacle of HBK's Hall Of Fame career. If the streak ends, it will be to a guy like Michaels.

P: The thing about HBK is that he has taken time off in the past due to injuries.

CP: Most people think that retirement is not far away for HBK.

P: He doesn't have much left. It is likely that he is broke down.

CP: He certainly has nothing left to prove.

P: This is true. He should be ready to move on. He should have plenty of bank.

CP: Yes, he could retire but one of his many nicknames is Mr. WrestleMania for a reason.

P: He has had multiple great matches but his Wrestlemania record is a mere 5-8. His only wins were over Tito Santana, Bret Hart, and Chris Jericho and Vince Mcmahon. He is no stranger to losing at Wrestlemania.

CP: That isn't a good record but they have been building Michaels up as much as they have the streak.

P: But they are have him looking stupid like he can't get past the mere sight of the dead man even in a tag-team title match.

CP: That was lame but they had Michaels drill The Undertaker with some sweet chin music to end his title run.

P: That was done so they can get Edge the match-up with Chris Jericho.

CP: You know...these guys have been around.

P: Both of them have been with the WWE/WWF for over 20 years.

CP: They have put in their time.

P: Is there any disputing that HBK is the better performer?

CP: Undertaker has his moments.

P: Yes, but the WWE does not regard The Undertaker as highly as John Cena, Triple H, or Michaels.

CP: The Undertaker is a legend. The crowd goes nuts when the bells ring.

P: His crazy faces are pretty cool.

CP: Wouldn't it be a great climax to have the streak end and HBK goes on to wrestle another day.

P: They could go that way. I wouldn't be surprised if they had a disqualification of some sort so they can have it both ways.

CP: I wouldn't be surprised either but that seems unlikely. We shall see.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Are The Beatles Overrated?

Point: Yes, their music does not stand the test of time nearly as well as most people think.

Counterpoint: Are you crazy? Their music holds up quite well.

P: Most opinions are influenced by the mythology that surrounds the Beatles. We have been conditioned to like them.

CP: It could be that. On the other hand, they have that tremendous collection of great songs, too.

P: The Beatles are a band that created some catchy tunes. Those tunes were played over and over to everyone.

CP: Isn't that a sign of greatness?

P: Familiarity does not equal greatness.

CP: So, if they had played Jonas Brothers songs over and over, we would be having the same discussion about them?

P: That is a little extreme but people have been trained to love The Beatles.

CP: Most successful bands made a name for themselves with heavy radio rotation. All bands that fit that description are not highly regarded like the Beatles.

P: True but I find that The Beatles songs are predictable and quite basic.

CP: Simplicity has always been a trademark of The Beatles. None of their riffs are especially complex. This makes their songs even more impressive. They did not need million dollar studios to make quality music.

P: I'd much rather listen to Oasis or Green Day than The Beatles. Any band that came after The Beatles would have learned from them. They improved on their work so the arrangements are more complex, the sound is denser, and the production is better.

CP: Complexity doesn't mean something is better. It seems like you are equating technology enhancements with a better musical product. Those two are basically Beatles tribute bands with better equipment.

P: The Beatles influenced them. They influenced most rock bands.

CP: So you don't deny that The Beatles were important?

P: Absolutely not. the band was important and influential. Unfortunately for them, their influence and importance does not make their music any better. Bands today have the advantage of superior technology and knowledge passed down from bands like The Beatles.

CP: There is a genius to creating a sound and melody that resonates with tons of people before and now.

P: The Beatles had many things going for them like the British Invasion, their domination of the charts, the ladies loved them, they had the hair, the Maharishi era, the Eastern influence, their early breakup, and Lennon's death. These things all worked together to create the giant thing that is The Beatles. If a person is told over and over how great something is people believe it.

CP: Those things certainly helped but before The Beatles, a typical album had a couple singles and a bunch of filler. The Beatles were huge because their albums were loaded with great tunes.

P: They're quite talented but I'll take U2's "Joshua Tree" over "Abbey Road" any day.

CP: "Joshua Tree" is fine album but The Beatles have many that were better. The Beatles created the framework of pop music more than anyone before them.

P: I understand that The Beatles are culturally significant and important in rock music's progression.

CP: But any band that came along after them is better?

P: Yeah, pretty much. I'm not from that era. They will always be a band with which I cannot identify.

CP: I suppose deciding who is the best band ever is a matter of opinion.

P: To me, they are just another old rock band like Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Guess Who, The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin.

CP: Those are great bands or they wouldn't be relevant anymore. Saying U2 or Oasis is a better band than The Beatles is crazy talk. As The Beatles career progressed, their music and lyrics evolved into some of the best pop music ever. What did U2 progress to?

P: Yeah, their last cd kind of sucked. Do you realize that The Beatles were nothing more than the first boy band?

CP: I think we are done here.