Monthly Archives: February 2013

Quick Slant: Sports are Most Definitely a Business

By Kevin York

Slant: Jermichael Finley won’t take pay cut & Tom Brady takes a pay cut


Remember when professional athletes played their game because they loved it? When money wasn’t at the forefront of their decisions, trumping everything else, including winning? You’re not alone in having a foggy memory about this; I’m having a tough time remembering those days too.

Most athletes these days care about their pay day, just making as much money as they can. It doesn’t matter who they play for. It doesn’t even matter if they win. They just want to be shown the money. Jermichael Finley isn’t a culprit as much as he is the norm, just the latest in a long line of athletes that are in it for themselves.

But who are we to criticize that? Isn’t that how we all approach our careers on a smaller, much less lucrative scale? To a certain degree, yes, although there are exceptions. I’m not in a day job where I’m making as much as I possibly can. To me, there are other things more important than money. I think many others fall into this category as well. Us normal people have a number of other things that we weigh with jobs, including insurance, benefits, work environment and co-workers. The comparison of us as normal people to a Jermichael Finley won’t work because too many normal people really are doing what they can to scrape by for their families. When a pro athlete makes a comment about needing to support his family it makes me want to gag. When you’re making millions you’re able to support your family. Unless you have no idea how to manage money (granted, some definitely do not…) those few extra million don’t make that much of a difference in the life you give your wife/girlfriend/baby mama and kids.

Tom Brady is a throwback. He took less money so that New England can continue to build a winning team around him. I applaud that. We need more professional athletes like him. However, I’m smart enough to see we won’t see many Brady’s in sports anymore. Sports have most definitely become a business. Athletes play to make money, not necessarily to win. Is there anything wrong wit that? Not entirely, it’s just the reality of sports today.

As a Packer fan, don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Jermichael. You’re far too expensive for the production you’ve given us the last few years.

By Kevin York
Follow Kevin on Twitter at @kevin_york
You can contact Kevin at

Quick Slant: Big 12 Men’s Basketball Officiating

By Ryan Lack

Slant: Big 12 acknowledges ‘errors’ by refs


Referees make mistakes? WHAT!? Even … don’t say it … mistakes that cost good teams great wins? No. Way. I never would have thought!

Remarkably, the broken record is still spinning on NCAA Men’s Basketball courts and football fields nationwide. We see it often. A great game plays out in front of us, often on national television, some controversial calls are made – some right, some wrong – and sometimes they’re flat out stupid.

This happened to Iowa State’s men’s basketball team recently when they took on #6 Kansas, a perennial favorite when they play most teams, especially Big 12 teams, but most certainly a favorite on this night. Iowa State competeted – hard – against a team they had no business keeping up with. And when it came down to the wire, the game’s momentum or whatever you want to call it was affected by the blatant ineptitude of the referees.

(Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports)

(Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports)

The officials did not call either a block or a charge when Jayhawks guard Elijah Johnson collided with Iowa State’s Georges Niang, who appeared to have his feet set, with five seconds remaining in regulation.

Instead, Niang was whistled for a holding foul after Johnson’s shot missed and the ball came loose on the floor. Johnson went to the free-throw line and made the two free throws, forcing overtime and helping Kansas rally for a 108-96 victory in Ames.

There’s no excuse for it really, but the Big 12 wants to make it up to Iowa State. No really, they do. How, you might be asking, will they make it up to them? No, not by overturning a win that for all intents and purposes was Iowa State’s to take home, but by “acknowledging errors were made.”

“The Big 12 Conference acknowledges that officiating errors were made at the end of regulation during last night’s Kansas at Iowa State men’s basketball game,” the conference said in a statement released Tuesday. “The plays have been reviewed and appropriate measures will be taken by the Coordinator of Men’s Basketball Officials to adjust the number of future assignments for the two officials involved in conjunction with Conference policies.”

Thanks, guys.

If I’m Iowa State I’m PISSED. That’s a marquee win and potential last four in or out deal-breaker for them as they are most definitely a bubble team with a 19-9 season record and a 9-6 conference record.

Let’s be real. Change needs to happen. They’ve instituted some replay options, which is great and all, but what I’d like to see is either:

1. Coaches get one challenge and one only. You lose it, the other team shoots two free throws.
2. A referee up in the booth that reviews and can overrule bad calls in the waning minutes of a game.

Sure this adds more process to an already complicated process that we don’t want to slow down further, but getting it right is more important, especially when it’s David vs. Goliath.

By Ryan Lack
Follow Ryan on Twitter at @ryanlack
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Quick Slant: Golf’s Rule Problem

By Kevin York

Photo Credit: (Getty Images)

Photo Credit: (Getty Images)

Slant: The U.S. Golf Association (USGA) and Royal & Ancient Club (R&A) both want to ban the belly putter. The PGA Tour does not.


This is really an interesting predicament. For years, the USGA and R&A have been golf’s governing bodies. Everyone in America followed the rules set by the USGA, and in Europe, everyone followed the R&A’s rules. No questions were asked, the rules were just followed.

Think about that for a minute before I move on. The USGA and R&A hold exactly two professional golf tournaments – The US Open and The British Open. That’s it. Every other tournament in the world is associated with a different governing entity. In America we’re most familiar with the PGA Tour. They run all the other big money professional tournaments. The PGA Tour is like the NFL, NBA, MLB or NHL. The difference is that all those other leagues set and enforce their own rules. They aren’t listening to someone else’s rules and guidelines. They want something changed, they change it. In my view, it’s a very odd situation for the PGA. They have to follow the USGA’s rules.

The USGA and R&A want to outlaw the belly putter, arguing it gives those using it an unfair advantage because it gives them an anchor and takes some skill out of the game. For the record, I agree with them. Use a real putter! The PGA, on the other hand, doesn’t think there’s any evidence to support that the belly putter provides an advantage to those using it. Interestingly enough, as this article mentions, three of the past five major winners have used a belly putter.

Instead of just taking the USGA and R&A rulings laying down, the PGA is being vocal about their opposition to this rule change. The question now is, how much influence does the PGA have over rule changes? Neither the USGA nor R&A has officially passed the belly putter rule change through – yet. Will the PGA and commissioner Tim Finchem’s public comments in opposition to it change things?

I’m typically all about preserving history, but on this topic, even though I hate belly putters, I side with the PGA. A professional league should be able to set its own rules, the same way the NFL or NBA can.

By Kevin York
Follow Kevin on Twitter at @kevin_york
You can contact Kevin at

Improvements and a Milestone

By Kevin York

Dear readers,

You may have noticed over the past couple days that The Couchletes site is looking a little different. Over the weekend we migrated from a free community server to a privately hosted one. This move will allow us to make some aesthetic changes to the site to improve your reading experience. You may have already noticed a few of these changes, like a wider post column. Now our posts, which sometimes get lengthy, are more spread out and don’t stretch as long vertically, which previously forced you to scroll and scroll and scroll. We also are able to add a ‘Continue Reading’ link to those long posts from the homepage so that you’re able to view more of our recent posts on the homepage.

Unfortunately, we experienced an unintended downside to the move – our subscription feeds were changed. If you were previously subscribing to The Couchletes, either by email or by a feed, you’ll need to re-subscribe. That can be done on the right side of the homepage. We know that’s not ideal and we apologize for any inconveniences.

A recent content change we’ve made is the addition of Quick Slants, daily short-form posts that touch on current popular topics. Like I mentioned earlier, we know that some of our posts, while thorough, can get pretty long. Quick Slants offset our regular posts by giving you shorter, more quickly digestible posts. Yes, we’re now publishing multiple posts per day. We’re like a “real” site. Well, almost.

In the coming weeks you’ll notice additional changes to the site, all designed to improve things on your end. Please bear with us as we make these improvements. We really appreciate all of you who keep coming back to the site.

I’m also happy to report that yesterday we reached a milestone. Why the 49ers Should Let Dashon Goldson Walk was our 100th post. Yes, we’re just surprised as you are that we’ve made it this far. We couldn’t have done it without all of you actually reading what we publish. Apparently there really are people interested in what we have to say.

Lastly, we’ve added two new authors to the site. Josh and Jeff each published their first posts recently. Josh questioning if the NFL has reached the peak of its popularity and Jeff assessing the current state of his Dallas Cowboys. Exciting things are happening here at The Couchletes and we hope you continue this ride with us.

By Kevin York
Follow Kevin on Twitter at @kevin_york
You can contact Kevin at

Why the 49ers Should Let Dashon Goldson Walk

By Kevin York

Photo Credit: (Brant Ward/The San Francisco Chronicle)

Photo Credit: (Brant Ward/The San Francisco Chronicle)

Yesterday Ryan wrote about the situation involving Alex Smith and his future with the 49ers. Today I want to touch on a decision San Francisco needs to make that’s even more important than the Smith one – the decision on Dashon Goldson’s future. He’s a free agent and they need to decide his status with the team.

I know a lot of San Francisco fans look at Goldson and say, you’ve gotta resign that guy. He’s coming off two straight Pro Bowl seasons, after all. I urge those fans to take a closer look at the situation though.

Continue reading

Quick Slant: NHL Realignment

By Matt Ginn

A little over a year ago the NHL owners proposed and approved of a significant shift in the conferences. Rather than 5 team divisions they were going to have 4 conferences each consisting of 7-8 teams. Each conference would have 4 teams qualify for the playoffs, which was great for the teams in the smaller conferences, and inherently unfair to the teams in the larger conferences. After the NHL fan base got excited about the possibilities of seeing every team on their home ice every year (something that doesn’t happen now, particularly in a strike shortened season in which no out-of-conference games are being played), the NHLPA (players association) voted the move down and the plan was scrapped. Some thought it was premature posturing on their part in advance of the upcoming CBA work stoppage, but the players had legitimate concerns regarding imbalanced travel schedules and the confusing playoff setup. Today, reports have started circulating that the plan is gaining momentum again.

Ultimately, this has been a long time coming. When a team moves from Atlanta to Winnipeg but stays in the “Southeast” division there are going to be travel issues. When teams from Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee are playing in the Western Conference and having to make multiple road trips to California each season they will inevitably log more miles than a team in New York or New England. But the main reason that it has regained such momentum despite the NHLPA rejection last season is the home & home series between every team. As a Sharks fan it really sucks not getting to see Sidney Crosby in person even ONCE per year. Or missing out on an Original Six team or two. The main goal of conference realignment is to make sure every city gets visited by the biggest stars, whether they be franchises or players. The other most exciting part of the realignment process will inevitably be the myriad ways the NHL fucks up, slows down or otherwise mangles the process of implementing the changes. Because if there’s one thing hockey fans have learned to count on from Gary Bettman, it’s his ability to make things worse.

By Matt Ginn
Follow Matt on Twitter at @mattginn
You can contact Matt at

Quick Slant: The Future of Alex Smith

By Ryan Lack

Slant: Trade of 49ers QB Alex Smith ‘effectively complete,’ report says


Word on the street is a deal is all but done for Alex Smith to be traded from the San Francisco 49ers to an as of now unnamed team. The two leading candidates appear to be the Kansas City Chiefs and the Jacksonville Jaguars, but the Browns and Cardinals could be in the mix, as well, though we expect the latter two to be rumor.

As a lifelong 49er fan and, up until recently, a full-time supporter of Alex Smith, my emotions around this news are a bit conflicted. On the one hand, I’m really happy for the guy because, let’s be honest, he really did get screwed over by Harbaugh. It doesn’t matter if you agreed with the decision to replace Smith with Kaepernick or not; the way Harbaugh went about it was 100% wrong. Was his talent assessment right? It sure as hell appears like it was, as we watched Kaepernick take-over a good 49ers team, make them great, and lead them to their first NFC Championship win and Super Bowl appearance since 1994. The latter may not have worked out the way all of us Niner fans wanted, but it was clear Harbaugh made the right move.

In the lead-up to the quarterback switch, Smith had never looked better. He was leading the league in completion percentage and had convincingly moved himself out of that “game manager” bucket into “game-changer.” He was accurate, smart, good on the run, and simply didn’t make the same mistakes we were all used to watching him make earlier in his career when he went through three head coaches and seven offense coordinators in as many years. He finally had stability.

It is these attributes he will carry with him wherever he goes next and I wish him well, though I’ll add – don’t let the door hit ya on the way out, bro.

While Smith played the good soldier role very, very well throughout the season and for most of the 49ers run through the NFC playoffs, it was during the two-week lead-up to the Super Bowl where he lost me. It didn’t really shock anyone that Smith would want out after what happened to him, especially after having to sit idly by while his team took its season a step further than it did the year prior when he was under center, but the timing made him look immature and selfish, two things he definitely did not appear to be before. It was a great disappointment that he would allow something like that to leak, even if it wasn’t him that said it, the week of the Super Bowl. Talk about distraction.

So, with that, I bid Alex Smith adieu. Frankly, I don’t give a damn where he lands because he’s going to have another new head coach, another new offense to learn, and a whole set of skill position players to gel with before he can start climbing the mountain he nearly reached the top of two seasons ago. A lot of people have said the 49ers aren’t likely to send him to the Arizona Cardinals, a team in dire need of stability at the quarterback position, given the in-division rivalry. I say, why not? Bring on Alex Smith. I’d love to watch the Smith brothers rip him a new one twice a year. It would bring some closure to this Niner fan’s conflicted heart about a once beloved 49er figure.

By Ryan Lack
Follow Ryan on Twitter at @ryanlack
You can contact Ryan at

NFL Offseason Analysis: Dallas Cowboys

By Jeff Seiler

Webster’s Dictionary – Mediocre: of moderate or low quality, value, ability, or performance; ordinary, so-so

I’m a suffering Cowboys fan. It’s been an entirely too long era of mediocrity. They are the very definition of average. Two straight 8-8 seasons, 128-128 in their last 16 seasons. In that time, the Boys have gone 1-6 in the playoffs, and also had 6 losing seasons.

It’s obvious that this team needs help. It’s in continual disarray and gets far too much pub for its performance on the field. Let’s look at a position by position outlook of this team.


Love him or Loathe him, Jerry Jones is the Owner and General Manager. He’s paid enough money to earn that right, like it or not. He will always be in that position and he’s not firing himself. That’s just the reality of it. He’s a redneck Al Davis. Let’s move on from this subject because it really doesn’t warrant debating.

Salary Cap:

The Cowboys are roughly $20 million over the salary cap as it stands. They have to get down to an estimated $121 million by March 12th. Cut candidates include WR Miles Austin, OT Doug Free, FB Lawrence Vickers, DT Jay Ratliff, LB Dan Conner, and S Gerald Sensabaugh. Players whose contracts need to get restructured are QB Tony Romo, TE Jason Witten, and CB Brandon Carr.


There is a long list of needs the Cowboys have for both 2013 and beyond. On offense they include: backup quarterback, backup running back, possible fullback, slot receiver (for some reason these all seem to be white), backup tight end, and 2-3 offensive linemen. On defense the Cowboys are switching from the 3-4 defense back to a 4-3 under Monte Kiffin and employing the Tampa 2 defense. You can look at defensive line, linebacker, and safety as areas of need. Luckily, like the offense, it could be mostly backups and depth, something the Cowboys severing lacked in 2012.


This could be a blog post on its own, the saga of Tony Romo and the future of the QB position of the Dallas Cowboys. Tony Romo will be back next year at a friendlier cap hit. I’m not a Romo-sexual but there’s not a better option right now. I do believe that this is the year, with Romo 32 years old, that you have to draft a QB in hopes of developing him. If I am Jerry Jones I take a mid round flyer on EJ Manuel or Zac Dysert in the draft.

Running Back:

I don’t really see this as a need for 2013 even though the Cowboys rushed for their fewest yards in a season in team history. I like what a healthy Demarco Murray, Phillip Tanner, and Lance Dunbar bring to the table. Felix Jones is more than likely gone as an unrestricted free agent.

Wide Receiver:

Dez Bryant, for all the trouble he has off the field, had a very productive 2012 football season with 92 receptions, almost 1,400 yards and 12 TDs. And thus far this off season, we haven’t heard from him. Miles Austin’s productivity really took a hit last year but still almost hit 1,000 yards and should be back with a restructured deal. I’d love for the Cowboys to follow the Wayne Crebret, Wes Welker, Danny Amendola footsteps and find a slot receiver (again, why are they all white?) to take some pressure off Bryant and Jason Witten.

Tight End:

Witten is every bit as good as he was 5 years ago and his backups fit that role perfectly, let’s move on.

Offensive Line:

This is the sore spot of the Cowboys. Injuries and poor performance have plagued this team for years now and is the reason the running game was so bad and you always see Romo running for his life. I’d devote a first round pick and two additional picks just to this position, while also signing a free agent here.

Defensive Line:

The Cowboys actually set up pretty well for a move to the 4-3 defense. Ware just takes a hand down to move to defensive end and Ratliff and Lissemore line up inside at the tackle spots. The other end spot won’t go to Spencer as he will command more money in free agency than the Cowboys could give him. Victor Butler, Tyrone Crawford, and Jason Hatcher will all battle for playing time.


Sean Lee and Bruce Carter will return from injuries to form a very solid linebacking core, where the Cowboys could use a second or third round pick on an outside linebacker for the 4-3.


Carr and Claiborne lead the corners with Scandrick coming back. Mike Jenkins is an unrestricted free agent and wants a starting job. I don’t see Sensabaugh back, so Church and McCray could be the leading candidates for starting jobs.


I see the Cowboys as a very similar team to that we’ve seen the last few years, horribly inconsistent. This team has a lot of talent at its starting positions, outside of offensive line. The main problem is depth. When a player comes out, or worse, gets injured, the backups aren’t in a position to succeed. Brian Schaffering, Alex Albright, Rob Callaway, Kyle Wilbur, Brady Poppinga, Michael Coe, Sterling Moore, Charlie Peprah and Eric Frampton. These are all names of guys who played way too much for the Cowboys last year and that’s just for the defense. Sadly, none were on the roster when the season began.

It’s going to be a tough season for the Boys. They won’t be players in free agency because they have too much money tied up in other contracts. I see them lucky to get back to 8-8 in 2013 and a playoff spot too far away.

By Jeff Seiler

The Most Disliked Teams in America

By Kevin York

Two weeks ago I started a series on the Most Disliked entities in sports. I began this little series of posts questioning Forbes original article listing the ten most disliked athletes in America. Since I didn’t agree with all the athletes on their list, I revised it and published my own. I followed that up with a post on the most disliked coaches in America, which I decided on by crowdsourcing answers from my Facebook friends and input from the other Couchletes.

I considered doing a post on the most disliked owners in America, but decided there aren’t really enough that are universally disliked right now. There’s Jerry Jones and….Jerry Jones. You could make an argument for a few others, but I realized most of the owners that we as a general public don’t like aren’t with us anymore. Guys like Al Davis and George Steinbrenner. So instead of going the owner route, I’m just going straight to the final installment, the most disliked teams in America.

In deciding the teams that belong on this list, I decided not to ask for other opinions. Not because I think I’m that smart, but because these disliked teams all really stood out. I think most would agree with the ones on this list – except maybe the fans of these teams.

In reviewing this list, I noticed that the teams on it are all popular with large, dedicated fan bases. That’s part of what makes them so disliked. You’re not going to find a team like the Kansas City Royals or the Milwaukee Bucks on this list. To be disliked as a team, there a few things you need to have:

  • Success: At some point in the team’s history, they have to have seen success. It doesn’t even have to have been recent success, just prolonged.
  • Personalities: There are very few examples of teams that become disliked for reasons other than the people on the field and sidelines. We as the audience connect with people – the players, the coaches, sometimes the owners. By the same token, we develop a dislike for people, not logos or colors or cities.
  • Good fan base: It’s not always the personalities on the field that irritate us. Sometimes it’s the obnoxious people in the stands that we grow to hate.

All ten teams that I list below have all three of these characteristics. So without further ado, here they are. The ten most disliked teams in America, at least from my perspective.

Alabama Crimson Tide

Boston Red Sox

Dallas Cowboys

Duke Blue Devils

Los Angeles Lakers

Miami Heat

New England Patriots

New York Yankees

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Ohio State Buckeyes

So what teams did I miss?

By Kevin York
Follow Kevin on Twitter at @kevin_york
You can contact Kevin at

The Most Interesting Offseason Baseball Moves

By Kevin York

Earlier this month, pitchers and catchers reported, marking the official preseason start of baseball season. It seemed like there were a lot of offseason moves, so to kick off the beginning of baseball season, let’s look at some of the most interesting. Notice I didn’t say the best offseason moves or the worst offseason moves. I just want to discuss the most interesting moves.

The Upton brothers, Atlanta – The Braves signed B.J. Upton to their largest free agent contract ever. That’s right. Ever. Think about some of the people that have put that Atlanta uniform on. Dale Murphy, Greg Maddox, John Smoltz, Chipper Jones. Upton’s contract bettered all of them. That’s significant. Nearly equally significant is that Atlanta gave up five players in a trade to acquire B.J.’s brother, Justin. They now have one of the top leadoff men (the top?) in the game and a quality bat in the middle of the order.

Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes, Toronto – The Blue Jays’ trade with the Marlins showed the league that they’re serious about winning now, tired of being overshadowed by their AL East brethren for years. Should be their first really good year since the first Cito Gaston tenure.

R.A. Dickey, Toronto – Noticing a theme here? The 1-2-3 combo of Dickey paired with Johnson and Buehrle forms possibly the strongest top of the order in the league.

James Shields and Wade Davis, Kansas City – The Royals decided to go for it. For years they labored with their strong farm system, waiting for young players to develop and hoping they’d be able to get enough production out of them before they got too good and priced themselves out of Kansas City’s price range. The trade for Shields and and Davis, in exchange for promising young talent, shows they’ve decided to go for it now in a weak division instead of waiting for potential talent to develop. Adding Ervin Santana to its rotation helps as well.

Zach Greinke, Los Angeles – The Dodgers continued to spend money, picking up Greinke in the offseason and adding him to a rotation that already includes Clayton Kershaw and Josh Beckett. To round out the rotation, LA can choose from Chad Billingsley, Chris Capuano and Aaran Harang. This has the potential to be a pretty dangerous rotation to compete with division rival San Francisco. As Eric Stephen notes in this article which lists Bill James‘ predictions for the Dodger starters, LA could have their first pair of 200 strikeout pitchers since 2000 in Kershaw and Greinke.

Joakim Soria, Texas – The Rangers already have Joe Nathan as their closer. The signing of Soria gives them possibly the game’s best setup man in front of Nathan, if Soria returns from Tommy John surgery with the same stuff he had prior to it. With its starting rotation again raided in the offseason, it’s vitally important for the Rangers’ bullpen to be strong, especially as its division rival in Anaheim continues to stockpile offensive talent. Soria could provide that added strength.

Edwin Jackson, Chicago Cubs – The addition of Jackson to Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood actually could give the Cubs a pretty decent rotation. The previous three World Series winners were all teams with good starting pitching, pitching so good that it made up for offensive flaws. Now I’m not crazy enough to put the Cubs in that kind of company (this pitching lineup isn’t close to being as strong as those three World Series teams – they’re not even making the playoffs), but I think they will play better than expected, powered by their starting pitching.

Those are my most interesting moves of the offseason. What did I miss?

By Kevin York
Follow Kevin on Twitter at @kevin_york
You can contact Kevin at