Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The All-Time Dumbest Athlete Injuries

Fernando Tatis missed the Mets first spring training game Wednesday after reportedly waking up at 3 a.m. with a sore right palm [insert your own jokes here]. This got me thinking of some of the funnier injuries and ailments that have befallen athletes. Here are the best ones I could remember or find online (with a special thank you to Al Gore for the internet):

Richie Sexson (MLB) once missed a spring training game because he injured his neck trying to squeeze on a hat that was too small at photo day.

Jeff Kent (MLB) injured his wrist when he slipped and fell while washing his truck...allegedly. The story goes that this was a cover-story to protect him from violating his contract because he actually got hurt doing tricks on a motorcycle in a parking lot.

Adam Eaton (MLB) once stabbed himself in the stomach with a knife while trying to open a DVD.

Marty Cordova (MLB) was forced to sit out day games after his doctor told him to avoid sunlight because he was so badly burned after falling asleep in a tanning bed.

Ken Griffey Jr.'s (MLB) cup once slipped and pinched one of Junior's juniors.

Plaxico Burress (NFL) shot himself in the leg when his gun slipped from the waistband of his sweatpants.

Shortly after the NBA draft, Derrick Rose needed 10 stitches in his arm after he jumped into bed and onto a knife he'd been using to cut an apple.

Sammy Sosa (MLB) once sneezed so hard that he got back spasms and missed several games.

Joel Zumaya (MLB) missed the World Series because he hurt his arm playing Guitar Hero.

John Smoltz (MLB) burned himself while ironing a shirt he was wearing.

Clint Barmes (MLB) tripped and broke his collarbone climbing the stairs of his apartment, ending his season. Barmes lost his balance because he was apparently carrying a heavy load of deer-meat given to him by teammate Todd Helton.

Glenallen Hill (MLB) missed a game after injuring himself fleeing from spiders that were attacking him...in a dream. He apparently fell out of bed, crashed through a glass table and fell down a flight of stairs. I've also read that he crawled through the broken glass but there were no stairs involved and also that he only cut his foot on the table but did fall down the stairs.

Moises Alou (MLB) tore his ACL when he fell off of a treadmill. Then just when he was set to return to action six months later, he re-injured his knee while running over his son on a bike.

Bill Gramatica (NFL) tore his ACL when landed badly after jumping up in the air to celebrate a first quarter field goal.

Gus Frerotte (NFL) sprained his neck when he headbutted a wall to celebrate a touchdown run.

Jimmie Johnson (NASCAR) broke his wrist when he fell out of a golf cart (I know, I said this is a list of athletes, but I included a race car driver anyway).

Erik Johnson (NHL) apparently tore his ACL and MCL when his foot got caught between the pedals on a golf cart.

Matt Anderson (MLB) tore a muscle in his shoulder while in an octopus-throwing contest.

Steve Sparks (MLB) dislocated his shoulder trying to tear a phone book in half (in related news, they did this on Mythbusters and it isn't that hard - there's a trick).

Vince Coleman (MLB) missed the World Series after getting run over by an automatic tarp-machine.

Terry Harper (MLB) went on the DL after injuring his shoulder waving a runner home.

Kevin Brown (MLB) missed the remainder of a season after punching a wall in the clubhouse tunnel.

Lionel Simmons (NBA) apparently got tendinitis playing Gameboy too much.

Kerry Wood (MLB) was injured getting out of a hot tub.

Jose Cardenal (MLB) couldn't play because his eyelids were stuck.

Mike Remlinger (MLB) injured a finger when his hand got stuck between two recliners.

Wade Boggs (MLB) hurt his back pulling on a pair of cowboy boots.

Brian Griese (NFL) tripped over his dog and hurt his knee...or did he fall over in Terrel Davis' driveway in a drunken stupor?

Rickey Henderson (MLB) fell asleep with ice on his ankle and got frostbite.

Carlos Quentin (MLB) broke his wrist when he punched a baseball bat.

Bret Barberie (MLB) accidentally rubbed chili juice in his eyes and missed a game.

Glenn Healy (NHL) cut his hand changing the bag on his bagpipes.

Chris Hanson (NFL) hit his own leg with an axe in the clubhouse.

While I have long believed that baseball players are the most juvenile of athletes, I have always felt either basketball or football players were the dumbest. Considering the staggering majority of "dumbest injuries" sites are for baseball, perhaps they have the market cornered on stupidity too!

Friday, February 20, 2009

So Many Stories, So Little Time To Write

A week's worth of headlines rolled into one brilliant compilation:

Alex Rodriguez Is A Liar, And Not A Very Creative One!
So pretty much everyone has said that the "I didn't know what I was taking" line is a load of crap despite that every athlete caught doping seems to use it. But not only that, apparently the drug that Aroid claims to have taken without his own knowledge would not have tested positive for the two drugs that he tested positive for. And it is also not for sale in the Dominican Republic - he claimed his cousin bought it for him there. But at least his Valentine's Day-week fall-guy was his cousin and not his wife like Roger Clemens. Next excuse?

Mets Dominate Fantasy Drafts
The Mets have two players (Jose Reyes and David Wright) ranked 4th and 5th in Yahoo!'s fantasy pre-rankings and another two (Johan Santana and Carlos Beltran) ranked 17th and 19th. So with four of the most productive or valuable players in the game, and Daniel Murphy being everyone's late-round sleeper (I hope no one in my league is reading this), how have they not won a playoff game in three years?

Dodgers Fans Actually Listen To Tommy Lasorda
Last week before heading to Spring Training in Arizona, thus officially and finally driving a stake into the hearts of old-time Dodger fans everywhere, Tommy Lasorda actually said that he is not worried about the team signing Manny Ramirez and that they'd be fine without him. Apparently he did not watch the first 100 games last season. Staggeringly, 15% of Dodger fans are exactly as dumb as Lasorda takes them for and apparently agree with the fat bastard, based on a poll I posted on CBS2.com and KCAL9.com last week.

Tour Of California Races Down The Coast
Americans are dominating the nations largest cycling race, with Levi Leipheimer, David Zabriskie, Lance Armstrong and Chris Horner in 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 5th respectively. Thus far most riders have been content to stay in the peloton (aka pack) and just wind up with the same time as the leader, but Friday is the individual time trial where each rider takes off on the 15 mile sprint course on his own and races only the clock. There could potentially be a massive change in the standings, which have been basically unchanged since the first day of the Tour last weekend. Thus far, Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton have been inconsequential in the overall standings, but neither has nearly the support that those other four Americans have, and Landis was a phenomenal time trialist before his fall from grace and hip replacement. The Tour comes to L.A. Saturday, and should pass my parents' house between 1-2 p.m. on its way to the Rose Bowl. How pissed are the French going to be if Americans get 2 or more podium places in the Tour de France?

David Beckham May Return To Save American Soccer After All
Beckham was going to make soccer relevant in American when he signed with the Galaxy two years ago. After one injury plagued season and one season with the worst record in the league, the sport had vaulted up into the top 10 sports in the U.S. trailing only football, baseball, basketball, car racing*, hockey, Guitar Hero, Mariokart, basket weaving* and soap carving*. Last week it looked like an Italian team and Beckham had arrogantly decided that his contract here was irrelevant and he should just leave. To their credit, the Galaxy told the Italian team to screw themselves and wouldn't let their star go. Supposedly the Italians are planning to sweeten the deal to get Beckham out, but for now he is still back to save soccer once more.

*-not a sport

The Clippers Are Bad, I Mean Really Bad
On paper, this is clearly a playoff team: Baron Davis, Zach Randolph, Eric Gordon, Al Thornton, Marcus Camby, Chris Kaman and Ricky Davis are a solid first seven and they have some decent backups well. Injuries and the fact that their jerseys say "Clippers" on them have cursed them however. How bad are they? Over their last 15 games, they have allowed 113 points per game. and only kept opponents under 100 seven times in the last two months. And Mike Dunleavy has two jobs and I don't.

Suns Didn't Trade Stoudamire But Lost Him Anyway
Amare Stoudamire, rumored to be traded to every team in the NBA, 11 NFL teams, 5 MLB teams, and bridge club, didn't get traded as the NBA trade deadline passed. In fact Rafer Alston was the biggest name to move. Now one day later, the Sun found out they have lost Stoudamire for 8 weeks due to a detached retina. As bad as I feel for the Suns and for Stoudamire himself of course, I cannot help but think about Kenny from Out of Sight and how he had to retire from boxing because he had his retina detached two times. Then I think of Kenny tussling with Toughy and Moselle telling Karen Cisco that if she sees Snoopy Miller to tell him that she needs grocery money and the dog got run over. I love that movie.

NFL Combine Starts
All of the NFL Mock-Drafts that have been published to this point are hereby rendered irrelevant, begging the question of why those writers ever put their names to those admittedly inaccurate rankings in the first place. So who will go #1? Not Andre Smith who decided not to come to the combine apparently because he has not been working out and didn't want to show off all of his new rolls (he's 330+ when in shape). He admitted that he hasn't worked out in three or four weeks and wants to get his "numbers down" before running his 6.8 40. Mark Sanchez improved his stock by signing up to do all the throwing drills, which most quarterbacks apparently don't do. Why do they have this combine if no one goes to it? Anyway, Sanchez's decision to go through all the drills shows he is willing to put out effort and be coached. The trouble is, the drills will likely show he is not a very good quarterback. Pick your poison - spoiled reputation but a top 10 pick, or nice guy reputation and a 2nd round pick.

NBA Dunk Contest Won On A Dunk You've Seen 100 Times
Nate Robinson won the NBA Dunk Contest by jumping over a guy and dunking. In other news, the set set in the west that evening. But I suppose it is better than Dwight Howard winning last year's dunk contest by successfully completing a layup, but not a dunk.

Aikman Award: Color Commentary Of The Week
"Every time UCLA gets up by 7, or 8, or 9, Washington makes a big basket to get it back to a one possession game."--UCLA Basketball announcer Don MacLean, who has to be checked every 3-4 minutes for a pulse. Apparently University of Washington players have figured out how to make a six-point basket, which could really catch on.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Rivalry Week Hasn't Exactly Been What You'd Call Riveting

When ESPN calls it “Rivalry Week” I definitely feel that that means there will be a few larger-than-normal matchups and that I will be spending a lot more time than normal watching sports. So what happened this week?

Sure Duke hosted North Carolina on ESPN and USA hosted Mexico in soccer Wednesday night (two of the Best Rivalries In Sports that I named last February on CBS2.com – I will update that list here soon). But other than that, what big rivalries are there?

Louisville vs. Notre Dame and UCLA vs. ASU are supposed to excite me? Besides being league opponents and being pretty good, are either of these games actual rivalries? Is this the best they could do? Michigan State vs. Michigan was a decent one on Tuesday, but did anyone outside of Michigan care?

And even UNC-Duke and USA-Mexico were both a little lackluster.

Watching basketball at Cameron Indoor is often worthwhile and watching UNC play there is nearly always worthwhile. But this one never really grabbed your attention and refused to let go. It was a game of spectacular streaks (UNC’s red-hot start and then Duke’s I-wonder-if-they’re-cheating-somehow answer from behind the arc). But in the end, Carolina just out-ran Duke and slowly wore them down. No big shot, no real drama down the stretch. Great basketball, but nothing for the history books.

USA vs. Mexico was similar. The U.S. team was just better. They controlled the time of possession and wore down the Mexicans methodically. Mexico had a few decent chances to get a dumb-luck goal and steal a tie (exactly why soccer blows), but ultimately there was very little drama. There wasn’t even any of the normal US-Mexico unbridled hatred. Sure, the Mexican captain made one half-assed dirty play to kick our goalie and got red carded, but that was it. It was very hard to hate Mexico and normally that is really easy. They didn’t go for cheap shots and they didn’t take dives on every other play. In fact an American (Dempsey) was the most obnoxious player on the field. There weren’t even any really good soccer hairdos. Boring.

Is the Daytona 500 supposed to fire me up for the rest of the week? It isn’t even a sport and the only story I have even heard coming out of this is that Jimmie Johnson is going to drive without a brace on his injured finger. Really? Unless you have a broken leg, a broken arm, or a bladder problem, there really is no physical problem that a racecar driver should complain about.

The rivalry between Elgin Baylor and reality is a decent one. Right now, the two are set very far apart from one another. Seriously Elgin, we all appreciate what you did as a player (on and off the court). We all think that your firing was a little unceremonious. But ageism? Racism? You were underpaid during your tenure? How many winning season did the Clippers have in your 22 years? How many sub 30-win seasons? They had more sub-20 win seasons play playoff appearances. You should have been fired years before you were and thus were overpaid in that you even had the job!

Brett Favre vs. Retirement has been quite a rivalry over the past four years. It appears that while Brett was 2-0-1 going into this year, but retirement finally got a win. Last year he retired and unretired, so that counted as the tie.

Manny Ramirez vs. the Dodgers is a good rivalry playing out this week (though that will likely not go final by week’s end). For a while now it had begun to look like Manny had waited himself into a shorter, smaller contract but after Bobby Abreu and Adam Dunn have now both signed elsewhere and the Dodgers are left with just one slugger on the market, it looks like Manny may get closer to what he wanted all along. Was this Scott “Satan” Boras’ plan all along?

Speaking of Manny, Tommy Lasorda said yesterday that the Dodgers will be fine with or without him. I would like to follow this up with a snappy, funny comment, but it is pretty funny in and of itself, so I will leave it alone.

The L.A. Galaxy vs. Some Team In Europe. I don't really know what team David Beckham wants to play for because it is soccer and I can't believe I am bringing up two soccer stories in one post. Anyway, apparently he can't handle playing in the U.S. and wants to go back to play in Europe. What will American sports do without him?

Adam Morrison vs. Vladimir Radmanovic. A showdown for the ages. I think you have to say that Morrison wins this matchup because he was traded from basketball purgatory to the best team in the league on the virtue of being a terrible defender and an average shooter.

Perhaps the rivalry coming this week that will affect the most people for the longest period of time is Fantasy Baseball vs. Free Time. With pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training, many fantasy sites have opened for business and I for one have already opened my league. I opened up the league within hours of Yahoo!’s page going active and my league is #46065. I don’t know if that started at #0 or not, but either way, this amount of man-hours spent researching can’t be good for the economy.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Take Your Pick: A-Roid Or A-Fraud

So let me get this straight. In 2007, Alex Rodriguez unequivocally said that he had never used performance enhancing drugs and confidently (or arrogantly) said he had never needed them at any level or was even tempted, because he had always had enough talent to carry him. So then a story breaks that he tested positive for them in 2003 and then he comes out and admits it but says he stopped five years ago, and we’re supposed to believe him?

This story is a greatest hits of performance enhancing drug-stories. Let’s examine some of my personal favorite clich├ęs from this story:

Arod admits that he used substances but doesn’t know what they were exactly.
-There is virtually no way to prove this is a lie, but does anyone believe that an athlete of his stature, and a man with his image-obsession didn’t ask what he was being given?

He says he thought he was taking something from GNC.
-As it turns out, one of the designer drugs he was taking is not even available in the United States, and none of the drugs he tested positive for would be found in any over-the-counter form. This combination of drugs is used in a meticulously crafted routine that is difficult to detect chemically, and is specifically designed to increase strength and shorten recorvery time while not causing the person to bulk up like a typical steroid user.

He says he is sorry and it was a childish mistake.
-He is sorry now that he has been caught. For the last five years, he apparently was not sorry though.

He says that he stopped using when he realized it was wrong (which was before the 2004 season).
-So he stopped using right after the one positive test…unless of course a new, more recent positive test is uncovered. Coincidentally, you know what else happened in 2004? Major League Baseball made using steroids illegal, so his admission that he used in 2003 cannot possibly result in any disciplinary action…again, unless a more recent positive test comes out.

He is being praised by some for his admission of guilt.
-Where was his admission of guilt before we found out he had cheated? Does it count as a confession if the criminal has already been convicted of the crime? Now he has handled this is better than how some have (Bonds, Clemens), but it shouldn’t get him off the hook.

He is being praised by some for his show of honesty and candid emotion.
-This “show of honesty” ironically proves he is a liar because of that Katie Couric interview in December 2007 when he proudly stated he had never been tempted to use PEDs. Some will say this puts him on par with Andy Pettitte who is also often praised for his honesty after being proved a cheater. But at least Pettitte said used PEDs to help recover from injuries and beat aging. Arod admitted that he only used (during his physical prime) to gain an advantage – to cheat. Incidentally, I think Pettitte is a bum for “fessing up” after being caught as well.

He says that his decision to cheat was based on his stress over living up to his new monster contract in Texas in 2001.
-So he felt less pressure than that when he left Texas to play in New York? For a bigger contract?

To be perfectly honest, I have never really been Alex Rodriguez’ fan, particularly after his slapping Bronson Arroyo in the ALCS a few years ago. I have long thought of him as disingenuous and slimy. So perhaps my criticism here is unfair. However, I have also long thought of him as the potential flag-bearer for the new, clean MLB. He was supposed to be the one to wipe Barry Bonds’ tainted records off the books. As it turns out, he only further mucks up the game and extends the period of time that this black cloud hangs over it.

Since he cannot be suspended for admitting to using drugs before they were illegal, the debate will be whether his records will stand and what this does to his Hall of Fame status. There is no way to tell when he was clean and when he was not, so these questions are tricky. The best analogy I have heard to answer these questions is this: if a golfer plays a legit front nine, but then cheats on the 15th hole, the entire round is wiped out, not just the back nine. Of course the fact that he stopped (or claims to have stopped) right before steroids became illegal means his records cannot officially be thrown out. Toss another asterisk on the record books.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Offseason Shopping List

Baseball's Opening Day and the NFL Draft are both a little more than two months away so I was thinking about my shopping list before those big days. It's a short list.

1 - "Reyes moves over to third on the single by Wright as the Mets are off to a fast start here on Opening Day. And that will bring up new leftfielder Manny Ramirez."

Clearly the Dodgers don't want to really sign Manny because they keep low-balling him to a ridiculous degree. They want to be able to tell their fans that they tried, but it didn't work. Then they'll get third in the West, win 78 games, but sell 3,000,000 tickets and be one of three teams to turn a profit.

I don't understand why more teams aren't at least going to Manny with two and three year deals worth a little less per year than he's asking. At least that would be a middle ground. He wants four years and around $25 million a year. Not gonna happen. But couldn't the Mets land him for 3 years and $65 or so? Wouldn't he make up for his salary with jersey sales, wig/hat sales, and ticket sales? Wouldn't he love playing in New York and being on the back page, and sticking it to the Dodgers 8-10 times this year? The Mets are going to platoon an average youngster and a past-his prime veteran in left field. Really? Reyes, Wright, Manny, Beltran, Delgado. Name a better top 5.

Omar Minaya likes making big splash surprise moves. He allegedly likes only going after Latino players. Jerry Manuel said last month that he'd love to have Manny. The team has a hole in left field and a Gold Glove centerfielder to cover for some of Manny's gafs. And they have an offense that is potent (second in runs last year), but still somehow not intimidating. So go get one of the best two or three hitters in the game and stick him right in the middle of all of it.

2 - "Manning drops back, steps in front of the rush, picks up a block from Jacobs as he pumps underneath to Houshmandzadeh and heaves one deep to Boldin..."

Plaxico Burress is toast and no one else on the team (Amani Toomer included) can be a #1 receiver right now. Boldin wants out of Arizona and Housh is a free agent. Signing either one makes the Giants instant favorites in the NFC considering that arguably the conference's best defense played without its best player last season, and the one thing missing at the end was a serious threat at wideout. Signing both makes the Giants Super Bowl favorites. Who gets the double-team with Housh on one side, Boldin on the other, Steve Smith in the slot, Boss at tight end, and Brandon Jacobs behind Manning, who is behind the best offensive line in the league? These guys are both blue-collar star receivers (which is almost a contradiction in terms). They don't cause clubhouse problems. They don't make waves in the media. They don't even celebrate scores really. They block, they are good route runners and they stretch the field.

Is that really so much to ask?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Draft Worth Mocking

It is NFL Mock Draft season. If you go to any of the major sports sites (Yahoo! and ESPN are the two top visited sites), you will find NFL Mock drafts crafted by experts in their fields that attempt to say who would draft whom if the draft happened that day.

In June, I wrote about the NBA Mock Drafts: "I saw a headline online for Chad Ford's NBA Mock Draft Version 6.0. Seriously? 6? How many times can you openly admit that you were totally wrong and still be considered publishable, let alone an expert?"

So what fields are these people experts in that make them qualified to discuss the draft? Are they former coaches? General managers? Scouts? Players? From what I can tell, ESPN's Todd McShay and Mel Kiper (pictured) are "draft experts" because they like college football and watch the draft every year.

So all of these folks come up with their definitive lists of which teams will draft which players and then the next time someone sneezes, they blow the whole thing up and start over. McShay even said as much in his latest column explaining that the college all-star games drastically changed the outlook for a lot of people, and that the upcoming individual workouts will probably make his current picks irrelevent again. So why do these people have jobs?

If they are experts at evaluating talent, they would be hired by a team to do so and make a lot more money, for one thing. And for another, wouldn't 2-4 years of games be good enough evidence for who has the talent that a diving catch in an all-star game or a good 40 time in a workout wouldn't really sway anyone too much?

The best part is that Kiper, McShay and others always include a paragraph on why that team will pick that player, so you get to see their reasoning. It often makes great sense, but it is funny to have them completely jump tracks and have completely new reasoning for different picks every week or so. Doesn't anyone see that if you constantly have to correct your errors, you are probably making too many errors for your word to be taken seriously?

For argument's sake, here are the top 10 Mock Draft picks as of today, February 4, for some of the big names in Professional Guessing:
1 Lions - Matt Stafford (Kiper, McShay), Andre Smith (Yahoo!), Mark Sanchez (Scout.com)
2 Rams - Andre Smith (Kiper), Jason Smith (McShay), Eugene Monroe (Yahoo!), Michael Oher (Scout.com)
3 Chiefs - Mark Sanchez (Kiper), Aaron Curry (McShay, Scout.com), Matt Stafford (Yahoo!)
4 Seahawks - Michael Crabtree (Kiper, Yahoo!, Scout.com), B.J. Raji (McShay)
5 Browns - Aaron Curry (Kiper), Everette Brown (McShay), Malcolm Jenkins (Yahoo!, Scout.com)
6 Bengals - Jason Smith (Kiper), Andre Smith (McShay), Michael Oher (Yahoo!), Everette Brown (Scout.com)
7 Raiders - Jeremy Maclin (Kiper, Yahoo!), Michael Crabtree (McShay), Andre Smith (Scout.com)
8 Jaguars - Eugene Monroe (Kiper, McShay, Scout.com), B.J. Raji (Yahoo!)
9 Packers - Malcolm Jenkins (Kiper, McShay), Brian Orakpo (Yahoo!, Scout.com)
10 49ers - Aaron Maybin (Kiper), Jeremy Maclin (McShay), Mark Sanchez (Yahoo!), Matt Stafford (Scout.com)

So that settles that. I guess we don't need to go through the whole mess of holding the draft since it is so clear cut among the experts as to who will choose whom.

The frustrating thing about all this is that in the end, Kiper (and likely others) will nail something like 28-29 of the 32 first round picks and likely a good amount of second round picks as well. But who wouldn't be able to do that if it was their only job? If the week before the draft, I spent 8-10 hours a day studying who needs what and what players were available, I could get 28 picks right too. And I am a moron.

So if they all admit that their current rankings are crap, why does anyone care about them? And if the picks aren't accurate until the day before the draft, who cares if they picked right? And when did this become something we care about anyway? Can you bet on it? Did finding out yesterday that the Giants will draft Knowshon Moreno (thanks Yahoo!) make me feel better about losing to the God-forsaken Eagles? And when it winds up not being Moreno, won't I just end up being pissed because I had read what a perfect pick it is?

In related recruiting news, UCLA's incoming class is being ranked ahead of USC's after yesterday's signing day by some folks. This means nothing really since UCLA is a few recruiting classes away from playing in USC's neighborhood (and by a few, I mean around 10). But it is funny to think what Pete Carroll must be thinking this morning. It took Rick Neuheisal one crappy season to have the recruiting pull to out-recruit Carroll (the undisputing recruiting master) or at least to make it a debate.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Cardinals Lose Super Bowl To Steelers, Referees

After another Super Bowl to remember, it will be hard to forget how terrible the officiating was. I try to never blame officials for outcomes of games because they can only be expected to be so perfect. However, at a championship game, they should be a little more perfect than normal, and this crew was far below par. It would be hard to prove that there was actually favoritism taking place, but four plays clearly stick out in my mind as instances where the Steelers benefited from clearly blown calls or no-calls.

1: There was clearly a clip at about the 32-yard line on James Harrison's touchdown return at the end of the first half. This no-call directly cost the Cardinals seven points. (Mute this video so you don't have to hear the song and look for the clip at :23, again at :40.)

2: Harrison was called for a personal foul on a Cardinals punt for punching Aaron Francisco. The ruling was that the penalty occurred after the change in possession, so the result of the play (punt, Steelers ball) stood and then 15 yards got tacked on. Before punching Francisco and knocking him down with utterly no provocation and receiving a penalty for it, he also punched him in the back while Francisco down down. This was before the ball was downed and before the possession officially changed. See it in this video starting at about the 1:08 mark. The Cardinals lost a first down and a continued possession, and Harrison obviously should have been ejected.

3: After catching what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown, Santonio Holmes performed a pretty funny little touchdown celebration in which he copied LeBron James' now-trademarked pregame chalk-toss up. See it in this video. The problem with this is that it is also clearly the type of celebration that the NFL deems illegal but it wasn't called. This cost the Cardinals 15-yards on the ensuing kickoff and would have made their final drive much more handle-able.

4: The NFL contends that the ruled fumble by Kurt Warner on the Cardinals' last drive was reviewed in the booth and the ruling on the field was upheld. However, it was never announced on the broadcast that the play was under review, and the next play was run nearly immediately. This play could not have been a quick review because of the importance of it and the average review in the NFL takes over two minutes. So how did this one, on the most important play of the season take 20-30 seconds? His arm was clearly moving forward as you can see in this video and the play was clearly not really reviewed. This cost the Cardinals a chance at a final play.

There is no way of knowing what would have happened if any one of these calls went the proper way, but all four were obvious mistakes and all four seem to have been crucial to the outcome of the game. You have to allow for a mistake here and there, but these were four huge, obvious mistakes and all going the same way. Perhaps the refs were not biased, but if they were not, they were totally incompetent.

Side note: The Best Interview Quote of Super Bowl XLIII goes to MVP Holmes for this gem after the game. He was asked if he believed that the Steelers still had a chance after the Cardinals scored with 2:37 to go in the fourth quarter. Holmes responded, "No, we knew we were gonna win. We knew our defense was gonna get us the ball back and we had time to go down and get a score."

Yep, they got you the ball back. They made the other team kickoff after scoring a really easy touchdown.