Happy trails DD

The greatest Green Bay Packers wide receiver in team history, Donald Driver, formally announced his retirement today.

I know it’s just a game and has little meaning for most of us, but watching DD as a Green Bay Packer for the past 14 years has been a pleasure as a football fan.

This video was shown at the Lambeau Field Atrium today in honor of Driver.

Driver showed nothing but class during his time in the NFL.

It’s not often one player stays with one team for his entire career.

Thanks for the memories DD.

Opinion Corner / Answer to last post

The following Opinion Corner ran in Tuesday’s edition of The Jamestown Sun.

Latrell Sprewell is in the news again and obviously it’s not good.

The former member of the Minnesota Timberwolves was recently arrested in Milwaukee, his hometown, for disorderly conduct after police received multiple calls complaining about loud music.

Things clearly escalated, and probably quickly, and Sprewell found himself in jail.

The most talented and decorated player to ever to come from Wisconsin isn’t remembered for his four all-star appearances, helping the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Western Conference Finals, or being a great defender.

Its incidents like this that have marred his image. Sprewell also had his share of bonehead moves as a player as well.

Let’s recap:

First and foremost who doesn’t remember Sprewell turning down Minnesota’s three-year deal in 2004 for $21 million?

If there’s one thing Sprewell would take back it probably be this quote he told the media after he turned down the contact extension.

“I have a family to feed … If Glen Taylor wants to see my family fed, he better cough up some money. Otherwise, you’re going to see these kids in one of those Sally Struthers commercials soon.”

Next year he had the worst season of his career and then failed to land with a team afterwards. Consider it forced retirement.

If you ever run into Sprewell the last thing you want to tell him is to “put a little mustard on it,” as then head coach P.J. Carlesimo did in 1997.

Sprewell, who wasn’t in the mood for criticism, choked the coach and threatened to kill him.

In 1995 the troubled star fought with a teammate, left practice and returned with a two-by-four. Then he threatened to bring a gun to his lumber fight.

It reminds me of Ron Artest, who saw a person get killed with a chair leg on the court when he was growing up in Queens.

Sprewell’s streak of getting into trouble continued as he eased into life after basketball.

In 2006, the year he “retired,” Sprewell was accused of … you guessed it, strangling someone.

The scary part is it allegedly happened aboard his 70-foot yacht he dubbed, Milwaukee’s Best. Charges were eventually dropped, but it’s hard to blame the police for investigating the claim.

Two years later Milwaukee’s Best was auctioned off after he defaulted on his mortgage. It’s the same yacht that ran ashore in 2007. Sprewell, of course, refused to contract with a professional salvage company, instead enlisting a local fishing ship to help out.

He also struggled to pay his taxes. In 2007 and 2011 Sprewell was among Wisconsin’s top tax deadbeats owing the state $3.5 million in unpaid income taxes.

So, I can see why the guy would want to play his music loud, it’s probably all he has left.

But with legal troubles again on the horizon I’m worried about Sprewell’s children. If it was bad before, he really must be having a tough time now putting food on the table.

Ben Rodgers is a frequent contributor to the Opinion Corner

Also the answer to the last post, a place in the picture where people go to find warmth that is well known in the newsroom, John M. Steiner’s wood pile.

Find the landmark

I found this picture on Travel North Dakota’s Facebook page of a time-lapse photo of Jamestown.

It was taken by Dan Schill Photography here in Jamestown.

Here at The Sun there’s a pretty famous landmark in this photo.

Anyone who can guess the landmark I’m thinking of will win either a collection of items with The Jamestown Sun logo, or else respect points and street cred from me.

Personally I’d take the respect points and street cred.

Good luck! First correct answer wins.

 

I get by with a little help from my friends

For this latest Opinion Corner I had to enlist the help of a good friend of mine, as he simply knows more about the NBA than I do. Take a read and leave comments if you see fit.

It’s roughly the halfway point in the NBA season and I figured I’d call in a great NBA mind to help me out here as we chat about the league so far.

NBA guru and my fantasy basketball commissioner Derek Warrington from Madison, Wis., is chatting live with me as I write this. The first question is who is the NBA’s most surprising team at this point in the season?

This writer is going to go with this year’s fountain of youth, The New York Knicks. The Knicks are boasting a 23-11 record and atop the Atlantic division in the Eastern Conference. Veterans like Rasheed Wallace and Jason Kidd are giving life to a team that will only be burdened with Amare Stoudemire’s return. Never thought I’d type that.

As for Derek: “Hands down, Mark Jackson’s Golden State Warriors. For a team long considered to be jockeying for lottery ball position rather than playoff position, Jackson has found a unit of solid, unselfish players to mold into his defense-first coaching scheme.”

The Los Angeles Clippers are another surprise, much to the dismay of the worst owner in professional sports, Donald Sterling. The Clippers are ahead of the Warriors and Kobe Bryant’s Lakers. Can this team prevail, or will the Clips crash and burn?

“If by prevail you mean make it to the conference finals, then yes. I think you need a marked improvement from Blake Griffin on the defensive end before the Clippers can expect to take Oklahoma City down. His plus/minus numbers simply aren’t conducive to NBA titles, they’re Amar’e-esque.”

Speaking of the Thunder, Kevin Durant is one of the top three players in the league and nothing seems to be slowing them down, even with James “Beardzilla” Harden lighting it up in Houston. OKC seems to be a lock to make it to the conference finals, are the Clips the only squad that can beat them?

“You can’t forget about the ageless San Antonio Spurs and the quintessential dark horse Memphis Grizzlies. I think the only four contenders in the West will all finish in the top four and square off for the ultimate prize — taking down LeBron.”

Back to the East, are the Knicks for real? Standings-wise the Bulls seem like the only other contender and Derrick Rose hasn’t even returned yet. Brooklyn and Boston have the goods, but I don’t think they can make it to Miami without squeaking by in a seven-game series before the conference finals.

“It looks like it’s Miami’s conference to lose. The biggest question mark in the East this year is how long will it take Derrick Rose to return to his MVP form? There may not be enough time this season.”

Let’s make a prediction for the finals. We both agree Miami will be playing for back-to-back championships. But the West is clearly up for grabs. I’m taking the Thunder to prevail in six this time. Dare I bet against King James?

“I’m with you. (Serge) Ibaka’s improvements will prove to be the difference.”

However, not all teams are contenders. Some like the Milwaukee Bucks and Minnesota Timberwolves just hope to make it to the playoffs. Milwaukee skipper Scott Skiles, left in a mutual agreement with the team on Tuesday. Can the Bucks still grab a low seed?

“Yes, but they’ll never contend.”

Minnesota is also playing .500 ball, but the team has been ravaged by injuries. Can we stick a fork in the Wolves? Or will they still surprise the talking heads and grab a 7- or 8-seed?

‘They need Kevin Love healthy. His upcoming MRI will reveal the team’s destiny. If he’s out, they’re out.”

Finally Damian Lillard is turning heads on a youthful Portland team. He was my pick for NBA Rookie of the Year. Can we lock that up for the young man if he stays healthy?

“I wouldn’t count Anthony Davis out yet, but if Lillard can drag his team into the playoffs, count on it.”

Ben Rodgers is a frequent contributor to the Opinion Corner

Kid Chocolate

In case you aren’t aware Grantland is home to some of the best sports writing on the Internet (North Dakota native Chuck Klosterman also has a hand in it).

Grantland recently branched out and started doing videos last year.

This has to be on the best ones I’ve run across.

It chronicles the journey of boxer Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin and his quest for a WBO middle weight title.

Pretty inspiring stuff.

(Warning: There is some foul language)

‘Christmas Song’

While perusing the internets I came across the set list from the latest Dave Matthews Band concert in Charlottesville.

Of course at DMB shows in December he will play “The Christmas Song,” close to the end of the set or for the first tune in the encore.

I’m not much into reading the meaning into music, but it’s a great acoustic ditty, and I’m pretty sure I heard it live in Chicago probably eight years ago.

Anyways here is “The Christmas Song” played by Matthews and Tim Reynolds.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbdylEE-0e4

Opinion Corner: Royals going all in

The following Opinion Corner ran in Tuesday’s issue of The Jamestown Sun. It was written in an explosion of sports writing that lasted about 25 minutes.

If you’ve been paying any attention to offseason baseball in the AL Central, you’ve probably noticed one team going all in on a gamble that hopefully ends with the trip to the postseason.

Earlier this week the Kansas City Royals shipped Wil Myers, the top hitting prospect in all of baseball, along with three other solid pieces to Tampa Bay for two years of No. 1 pitcher James Shields and Wade Davis, who is coming off a solid season as a reliever for the Rays, but is likely to start for the Royals.

Similarly, I’ve seen this play out over in the NL Central when the Milwaukee Brewers dumped farm system studs for a shot at the playoffs — first acquiring CC Sabathia and making a playoff run in 2008, and then Zack Greinke and making the NLCS in 2011.

Kanas City hasn’t made the postseason since 1985 — the longest such draught in professional sports — so a shakeup move like this certainly seems justified.

The scouts are split on Myers and he has the potential to be great. In exchange they receive Shields who is as close to a dominant pitcher as can be without getting the ace moniker.

Shields posted a 3.52 ERA pitching in the AL East against the Red Sox, Yankees and Blue Jays.

If Shields, who has two years left on his contract, hit the open market this offseason, he would undoubtedly command upwards of $20 million a season. KC will pay him $10.5 million next season with another team-friendly option for $12.5 million in 2014.

It’s a small market strategy that has played out for other teams in the past and could spell big things for the Royals.

Big pitching names don’t come cheap, and the best way to land those names are from weak teams looking for prospects to build back up.

Greinke, who won the Cy Young in Kansas City in 2009, will be earning close to $25 million a year as a Los Angeles Dodger, and he was just the best on the market.

Hurlers like Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez and Clayton Kershaw would probably have a market value right now closer to $30 million a season, or roughly $1 million per start.

It’s insane to fathom, but it’s the evolving reality in a sport that isn’t hampered by a salary cap.

So raiding the farm system here was a good calculated risk for Kanas City. Shields, or a pitcher of his caliber, really couldn’t have been reeled in any other way.

Still, lots of things have to happen right for Kansas City. First baseman Eric Hosmer needs to develop that power scouts saw not too long ago. Catcher Salvador Perez will need to stay healthy, and Mike Moustakas, the team’s third baseman, will have to take another step in the right direction. A miracle out of right field couldn’t hurt either.

But don’t forget this is Major League Baseball and there will be 162 games played this season. Myriad things, amazing or horrific, can happen in that time span.

But for the first time in a long time, fans of the Kansas City Royals can go into a season with something they have not felt in a very long time — hope.

Ben Rodgers is a frequent contributor to the Opinion Corner