By Michael Waterloo
Of The Spirit
By now, you probably know how much I look up to and respect one Matthew Berry from ESPN.
Yes, he's a fantasy sports columnist, but Berry could write about daffodil flower bombs, and I'd still read it.
Early fans of Berry will recall when he used to write his TRUM articles.
Berry still pulls them out about once a year, and they are some of my favorite pieces of his.
TRUM stands for "Thoughts, Ramblings, Useless Information and Musings."
With so much happening within the sports world nowadays and with so little time to express my feelings, I figured now is a good time to pay homage to Berry with a little TRUM of my own.
Franklin is the Guy
It's not official yet (as of print, anyway), but all signs point to Penn State hiring James Franklin from Vanderbilt.
To me, Penn State needed another Bill O'Brien to take over the vacant coaching position.
Franklin can be that guy.
He's interviewed for NFL jobs, and completely turned around a horrible Vanderbilt program.
The best-case scenario for Penn State is that Franklin will stay through a recruiting class, but then bolt to the NFL.
Do alumni really think that's a bad thing?
What part of saying the past two coaches that you've had have turned around a program that NFL teams came calling for their services?
The years of one man staying at any university â€” let alone Penn State â€” are gone.
Franklin will have it tough, though, as he'll enter with expectations that O'Brien didn't â€” he's expected to win and win now.
Hall of Fame
Another year and another debate over the Hall of Fame voting process.
I'm very happy that Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine get to enter the Hall of
Fame with their manager Bobby Cox, and Frank Thomas deserved it more
than any other position player on the ballot.
Now that that's out of the way, what's the right way to vote?
Los Angeles Dodgers beat writer Ken Gurnick made a statement â€” and a slap in the face to the hard-working voters â€” by voting for Jack Morris and Jack Morris only in his final year of eligibility.
Each voter is allowed to vote up to 10 people per ballot, but Gurnick wanted to make a point by not voting for any members of the "Steroid
Era" of baseball.
So where does this leave baseball going forward?
Will players like Ken Griffey Jr., Derek Jeter, Jeff Kent, Albert Pujols, etc. never be unanimously voted into Cooperstown, N.Y.?
Say what you want about voting for players who were connected with performance enhancers and whether or not they should be in the Hall â€” I see both sides of that argument.
However, to totally ignore some of the greatest baseball players who are deserving of enshrinement is showing plain ignorance.
Now, if only there were a way to see who did performance enhancers and who didn't.....
Peyton Manning often gets criticized for not delivering in the big games, hence his one Super Bowl win during his otherwise illustrious career.
Manning and the Broncos look Super Bowl bound, don't they?
Well, it looked that way last year, too, until Jacoby Jones and Joe Flacco hooked up for a ridiculous catch down the sideline.
Look, I'm not saying that you bet on games, but if you are involved in some type of pool (which we have at The Spirit â€” view our picks tomorrow on Page 7), then realize that Manning is 1-4 in the playoffs after a first-round bye.
It's the worst such record since 1978.
I still expect the Broncos to win, but won't be shocked to see the San Diego Chargers walk into Denver and win.
After all, the past four Super Bowl winners (Ravens, Giants, Packers, Saints) all faced Philadelphia in the Eagles' home opener.
Who was the team this year?
You guessed it, the Chargers.
Home field (dis)advantage
I went into last week's games with the idea of suggesting a way to switch up the playoff system, after the Saints and 49ers both had to travel to Philadelphia and Green Bay, respectively, to begin the playoffs.
Well, it looks like home field wasn't quite the advantage that we thought it was.
Three out of the four teams (Chargers, Saints, 49ers) won on the road to open up the playoffs.
Had the Chiefs not lost Jamaal Charles, Donnie Avery, Brandon Flowers, Dwayne Bowe, Justin Houston and Knile Davis in the Colts' tremendous 45-44 comeback win, I think we'd be sitting at a perfect sweep by the road teams in the opening round.
But now, with Denver, Seattle, Carolina and New England hosting games as the superior teams â€“ or so we think â€” we'll see how much it really matters playing at home.
I've had enough of J.R. Smith.
He's quickly passed Ron Artest (I won't call him the other name) as my
least-respected NBA player.
If the Twitter beefs, driving an armored car in New York City and other immature acts off the court weren't enough, his new "shoe fetish" is.
First, he unties the shoes of Shawn Marion at the foul line and receives a warning.
After being told not to do it again, he does it to Greg Monroe during the Knicks' 89-85 win over the Pistons on Tuesday.
Smith was fined $50,000, and New York is exploring trade offers.
Good luck with that one, New York.
The Penguins will be well-represented in Sochi when the Winter Olympics come around.
Evgeni Malkin, Paul Martin, Jussi Jokinen, Olli Maatta and Brooks Orpik were named to their respective teams to compete for gold.
When Team Canada announced its roster, the Penguins found themselves with two more representatives in Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz.
Instead of appreciating the fact that the Pens had two deserving candidates, the talk was about the "snubs" of Marc-Andre Fleury and
Fleury made the team four years ago, and a case could've been made for him to make the roster over Mike Smith, who has never played well in a
big game in his life.
Two or three years ago, sure, but not this year.
But Fleury isn't the real snub here.
If you base it off of this year and want the better goalie on the team, you need to look no further than the Minnesota Wild's Josh Harding.
Harding leads the league with a 1.66 goals against average, while he may have just been put on IR three days ago with an unspecified illness,
he's the real goalie snub here, not Fleury.
As for Neal, sure, you could make the case that he deserved to be there representing his country.
No Canadian winger has had more goals than Neal in the past three years.
But, again, what about Martin St. Louis and especially Claude Giroux?
After a slow start this season, Giroux has worked his way back up to being one of the world's best players.
If Steven Stamkos is a no-go, expect Giroux to be the call, not Neal.