August Mailbag: My D-Backs ‘hate’, the Territorial Cup rivalry, multiple favorite teams, my dating life, and more!

We haven’t done one of these in a year – so might as well address some things I’ve received via email and Twitter before football season kicks into high gear. If you have questions for future editions, don’t hesitate to email me at ecohen@1580thefanatic.com.

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You come off as such a hater of the local major sports teams, especially the Diamondbacks…what gives?

As of the time of this writing, the Diamondbacks are in first place in the National League West and I’m happy for their fans. But I’m a Cubs fan through and through…so I’ll never be loyal to Arizona’s MLB team.

To me, Arizona sports fans as a whole are fair-weather…that even includes my fellow UofA fans, who simply boycott football games even if they’re winning! Some D-Backs fans annoy me though because I don’t find them realistic…sure I can be a homer just like anyone…but when my Twitter feed is littered with continuous praise of the acquisitions of two relievers with ERA’s of 3.69 (Jake Diekman) and 3.98 (Brad Ziegler), it just adds fuel to my fire!

To those of you who are loyal and REALISTIC fans, I sincerely apologize for the diatribe above. But to those fans who root for the team when they’re good and turn their backs when they aren’t, you’re exactly why I feel the way I do.

Relating to the other teams in town:

Cardinals: I don’t have anything against them and in fact, I’d like to see a surprise season from what Vegas predicts is one of the worst teams in the NFC. Don’t expect a ton of ‘hate’ from me here throughout the season. I’ll objectively praise and critique on-air and online what I see from the team on the field.

Suns: I used to be a big Suns fan when I was younger but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve soured on the NBA as a whole. I’m intrigued by the offseason additions of DeAndre Ayton, Mikal Bridges, Elie Okobo, Trevor Ariza and more so if I was to choose a favorite team in the NBA, it would for sure be this one.

Coyotes: I used to love going to games in the late-90s, early-2000s when I actually recognized players on the team…Keith Tkachuk, Jeremy Roenick, Teppo Numminen, etc… Since the move to Glendale, attending weeknight games are next to impossible and considering I can’t name more than 5 players on the roster, I just don’t care about them for now. Wake me up when they become relevant in the Western Conference again.

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Speaking of hating things, do you really dislike anything and everything Arizona State as much as you say and write?

YES! If ASU football went 0-12 every season and/or turned into the Pac-12 equivalent of Kansas football, I wouldn’t complain one bit. While basketball coach Bobby Hurley was one of my favorite players as a kid, his constant gyrations on the sidelines annoy me and make me dislike the basketball team that much more.

As I’ve said before (to much criticism), I believe that UofA-ASU is one of the most HATED rivalries in college athletics, especially football. There’s a natural dislike between Tucson and Phoenix and to be perfectly honest, it’s very uncomfortable for either side’s fans to go in their opponent’s stadium. Though I’ve been to every Territorial Cup football game since 2001, I absolutely detest stepping foot in Sun Devil Stadium wearing anything UofA because some jackass usually starts running their mouth unprovoked.

My favorite example of this was from the 2005 contest. Arizona led 20-5 in Sun Devil Stadium midway through the 3rd quarter. There was a moronic kid talking smack to my friends and I almost resulting in fisticuffs between one of them and him in the first quarter. As soon as the Wildcats took command, he disappeared…for hours. Yet as Terry Richardson returned a punt and ASU successfully executed a 2-point conversion in the fourth quarter to tie the game, guess who returned? The Sun Devils went on to win by a field goal with 6 seconds left and I wanted to literally punch the bandwagoner kid in the face (good thing I’m not a fighter in the least).

I’ve heard stories from my ASU buddies of hostile times in Arizona Stadium and that also disgusts me. Boo people all you want for rooting for the opposite team in your stadium…but don’t unnecessarily antagonize them.

Former ASU and Dallas Cowboys QB Danny White (and notorious UofA hater) once told me that he’d root for the ‘University of Iraq’ over UofA. Well I wouldn’t go that far on the opposite side…but the strong dislike is certainly there in my blood.

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Some people like to choose multiple teams to root for in every sport – if you were to rank your top-3 favorites in each of the major sports, who would they be?

Good question. I’ve been outspoken as to fans ranking their favorite teams and truly the answer is this – if I bet on a team, I’ll root for them on a given day. Outside of that, I don’t have a top-3 in any sport. Call it the ‘fantasy football mentality’ of sorts. My parents are University of Miami graduates so that was my college team as a kid…so they’re clearly my #2 in football behind UofA. Outside of that, can’t answer this one.

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Last year you put together a list of Sports Watchability Rankings. After seemingly enjoying the World Cup in June/July, does soccer move up your updated list.

Surprisingly, no…in fact soccer slipped behind tennis.
Here are the updated rankings (with rankings from last year in parentheses):

20. MMA (Last year: 20)
19. Boxing (19)
18. WNBA (17)
17. LPGA (16)
16. Women’s College Basketball (18)
15. IndyCar (14)
14. College Hockey (15)
13. College Softball (12)
12. College Baseball (13)
11. Men’s and Women’s Soccer (10)
10. Men’s and Women’s Tennis (11)
9.  NHL (8)
8.  NASCAR (9)
7.  NBA (6)
6.  Horse Racing (7)
5.  PGA Tour (5)
4.  MLB (4)
3.  College Basketball (3)
2.  NFL (2)
1.  College Football (1)

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You’ve run your own fantasy football league for 22 years without winning it. Why should I listen to your season-long and weekly advice?

Simple: Do as I say, not as I do.

Is your dating life really as bad as you portray it every weekday on The Daily Blender?

Over the course of time, it’s had its moments. But remember, we’re a comedy radio show so some things are a schtick. That’s all I’ll say for now.

Friday, June 15th Quick Hitters: Arizona Sports Teams Edition

I haven’t written a Quick Hitters column in month so time to bring it back this time with an Arizona sports-only theme!

-First, let me commend the Diamondbacks for turning things around quickly after it seemed like their season was going in the absolute dumpster. It also helped that Paul Goldschmidt hit .620 last week. Assuming A.J. Pollock comes back and produces at a solid level by the All Star Break, it might be an exciting 2nd half for this squad.

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-But if you think I’m picking them to win the division, as of now, well…yes I am. I have a feeling they’ll make a move in July for starting pitching help and potentially another bat. The Dodgers are playing well but I’m still not bullish on their hitting minus Corey Seager, who’s out for the season.

-I’ve said it many times but just to refresh…if the Suns don’t select UofA center DeAndre Ayton in next Thursday’s NBA Draft, I’ll relinquish whatever fandom I have left! To pass on a potential franchise player, a 7-footer with a polished inside and outside game would be a borderline travesty. I’ll literally jump on the bandwagon of any other team in that case. Fortunately I don’t think I’ll have to worry about that.

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-I’ll do a full mock lottery next week but for now my top 5 would be:

1. Phoenix: DeAndre Ayton (C, Arizona)
2. Sacramento: Marvin Bagley, III (F, Duke)
3. Atlanta: Luke Doncic (F, Slovenia)
4. Memphis: Mohamed Bamba (C, Texas)
5. Dallas: Jaren Jackson, Jr. (C, Michigan State)

Let me also say how NOT confident I am in ANY of those picks as of now.

-I also plan on predicting that the Suns will trade pick #16 and the Heat’s #1 pick in 2021 to move up into the late lottery to select a PG. Find out whom in this column next week…

-4 years, $32 million for David Johnson, $20 million guaranteed. Who says no, his agent or the Cardinals? One way or another, this contract will get done within 30 days.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Arizona Cardinals

-If you’re one of those people who thinks Josh Rosen will start Week 1 over Sam Bradford, I have a private island to sell you in the Caribbean! How do you bench a guy, right away, that is making $20 million if he’s healthy? The answer: you don’t!

-What do I want to see from the Arizona Coyotes this offseason? Maybe just bring in a scorer or two whose name I might recognize. Seriously this team is full of so many young, unknown players that it’s hard for me, the casual hockey fan, to get excited about them.

I wrote a column last month predicting the UofA football season. But I failed to mention how I thought ASU would fare. So game-by-game, here goes nothing:
(Home teams underlined)

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9/1: ASU 33, UTSA 17
9/8: Michigan State 27, ASU 17
9/15: ASU 26, San Diego State 23
9/22: Washington 34, ASU 16
9/29: ASU 41, Oregon State 21
10/6: ASU 38, Colorado 34
10/18: Stanford 30, ASU 17
10/27: USC 30, ASU 20
11/3: ASU 27, Utah 20
11/10: ASU 38, UCLA 27
11/17: Oregon 41, ASU 28
11/24: Arizona 35, ASU 31

There you have it…6-6 with a trip to the Cactus Bowl at Chase Field. Would you be happy with that Sun Devils fans?

-Let me also go on record and predict and NCAA Basketball Tournament appearance for Sean Miller and the Wildcats. Bobby Hurley and his improved ASU team…well, throw them in the First Four again this year.

-And finally, a bit off topic…but here are my projected championship game / matchup predictions in all major sports:

MLB: Houston vs. Chicago Cubs
NFL (2019): Pittsburgh vs. New Orleans
College Football (2019): Alabama vs. Michigan
College Basketball (2019): Duke vs. Gonzaga
NHL (2019): Pittsburgh vs. Nashville
NBA (2019): Golden State vs. Boston

To read previous entries of my blog, click here. Also make sure to follow me on Twitter @eacohen83.

Friday, 2/16 Quick Hitters: On UofA-ASU, Ayton’s dominance, Fitz returns, and picking the Daytona 500!

I’ve never been more happy to be wrong. I predicted a 10 point ASU victory over Arizona in Thursday’s college basketball matchup from Tempe. UofA’s 77-70 win was just the opposite and hallelujah!

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-First of all, Thursday night’s crowd at Wells Fargo Arena was arguably the loudest in the stadium’s history. Props to ASU fans for filling the joint. And bringing notable announcer Michael Buffer to announce ASU’s starting lineup before his signature “LET’S GET READY TO RUMMMMBLLLLEEEE” line was pretty darn cool.

Continue reading “Friday, 2/16 Quick Hitters: On UofA-ASU, Ayton’s dominance, Fitz returns, and picking the Daytona 500!”

Friday, 2/9 Quick Hitters: UofA / ASU Recruiting, Ranking the Pac-12 HCs, Trades Galore, and more!

-Let’s start with the elephant in the room from college football’s National Signing Day…according to 247Sports’ team rankings…ASU is 36th and UofA sits at #58. Am I worried? Not in the least. Last I checked Herm Edwards was hired in early-December which gave him and his staff nearly two months to improve upon Todd Graham’s class. For Kevin Sumlin, it was closer to 2.5 weeks. And in three days, Sumlin signed Arizona’s highest rated recruit, QB Kevin Doyle from Washington D.C.

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-Props to Herm for finishing with a solid class…but if you’d like to bet me that next year Sumlin’s Arizona class will rank significantly above Edwards’ ASU signees, message me on Twitter @eacohen83. In fact I’ll take it a step further, if Sumlin’s 2019 class isn’t in the top-30, I’ll be prepared to eat some MAJOR crow.

-Georgia is going to be really, really, really good these next few years. What Kirby Smart has done in only 2+ short years…almost a National Championship + elite recruiting classes = brilliance. The Bulldogs will be the new Alabama in terms of success for years to come.

-I don’t want to say a lot about Arizona basketball after their garbage performance at home against UCLA on Thursday night. I’m still REALLY upset about it. But the fact is, if you think this team is a Final Four contender (as I previously had), you’re in for some major disappointment. As it stands right now, I’d be more surprised if they made the Final Four than if they lost in the first round…

-For those who have asked, here are my personal rankings of the Pac-12 coaches from worst to first:
12. Jonathan Smith (Oregon State)
11. Mario Cristobal (Oregon)
10. Herm Edwards (ASU)
9. Mike McIntyre (Colorado)
8. Justin Wilcox (Cal)
7. Clay Helton (USC)
6. Mike Leach (Washington State)
5. Kevin Sumlin (Arizona)
4. Kyle Whittingham (Utah)
3. Chris Peterson (Washington)
2. Chip Kelly (UCLA)
1. David Shaw (Stanford)

Wondering where I would’ve ranked Rich Rodriguez? Likely 8th on this list…

-At first I absolutely hated what the Cavaliers did on Thursday before the NBA’s Trade Deadline. By dealing Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, and a 2018 first round pick to the Lakers for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance, it didn’t at first glance appears that the Cavs made their team better. But a subsequent 3-way trade netting them PG George Hill (from Sacramento) and SG Rodney Hood (from Utah) gave Cleveland the firepower and defensive ability they recently have been lacking. Mind you that LeBron’s club is far from a lock to represent the East in the NBA Finals for the fourth straight year (and his eighth straight year dating back to his days with the Heat) but these moves definitely help. Many props to Cleveland GM Koby Altman who wasn’t afraid to press the reset button right before the All-Star Break. Thomas was a disaster next to LBJ and he needed to go. For the Lakers, they were also the biggest winners on deadline day as they’ve freed up enough money to sign two max contract free agents in the coming offseason(s).

-Don’t underestimate the Suns late trade on Thursday afternoon…having acquired Orlando PG and former 10th overall pick Elfrid Payton. While he’s known more for his crazy hair than his game on the court, Phoenix desperately needed a competent ball distributor and Payton brings them just that. While I still strive to see the Suns lose games in bunches to achieve a higher draft pick, the Payton experiment is certainly worth watching as the team plays out the string in 2018.

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-Let’s put it this way about the Suns, it’s hard to be much worse than they were on Wednesday night…3 of 32 from three point range has to be among the most pathetic statistics by any team this season.

-Five years, $137 million for Jimmy Garoppolo, a QB who has started what, eight games in his career? Ridiculous. I understand he’s never lost as a starting QB but it’s a SMALL sample size to say the least. Next week I’ll write a breakdown of NFL starting QBs…but there’s no way I’d have Garoppolo higher than 15th. Some players are about to get P-A-I-D!

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-Like many fans, players, agents, and observers, I’m disgusted by the pathetic lack of movement lately among baseball teams when it comes to marquee free agents. Pitchers and catchers report in a week or so and as of now, Houston is the CLEAR CUT best team in the league. Do something people! If players like Yu Darvish, J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer, and Alex Cobb are still unsigned one week from today, something is CLEARLY wrong with the system.

-I really could care less about the Winter Olympics especially considering my favorite sport in the games, hockey, is being played without NHL players. Just looking at the U.S. roster…considering I haven’t heard of 90% of the players, it’s hard to expect them to be medal contenders.

-Starting a new weekly feature here – I’ll name the teams that I think will be in the finals of the six most popular major sports (including college). Based on injuries, transactions, etc… I’ll revise weekly as necessary:
NBA: Golden State vs. Boston
College Basketball: Villanova vs. Michigan State
NHL: Boston vs. Dallas
MLB: Houston vs. Washington
NFL (2019): Pittsburgh vs. New Orleans
College Football (2019): Alabama vs. Michigan

-Finally – I failed to mention in previous blogs that nearly a month ago, one of my favorite sports broadcasters of all-time, Keith Jackson, passed away at the age of 89. To me and many others, Keith was the voice of college football during our childhoods. His smooth yet elegant style of broadcasting with a flair for the dramatic was what set him apart from the run-of-the mill announcers.

And if this video doesn’t give you chills…I don’t know what will…

Rest in peace to one of the all-time greats.

 

Monday Musings – December 11th: Are the Eagles toast without Wentz? And is ASU basketball top-5 worthy?

Well folks, the answer to both questions to lead off this column is unfortunately yes.

-If Eagles QB Carson Wentz sustained a torn-ACL as feared late-Sunday, Philadelphia’s chances at winning the NFC are all but over. Sorry Eagles fans, while I’m somewhat of a Nick Foles believer (considering he’s a fellow Arizona Wildcat), he’s not going to be able to win your team a big game in January. Sorry, just not happening. The Eagles defense, as we saw on Sunday vs. the Rams is good, but far from elite. To win the NFC, the Eagles will have to rely on running the ball 65% of the time. Good luck if and when they get behind.

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Continue reading “Monday Musings – December 11th: Are the Eagles toast without Wentz? And is ASU basketball top-5 worthy?”

Four Downs, 11/13 – November Football Questions…and Answers

For those of you who love the sport of football like I do, November is the absolute best month for entertainment. The contenders are separated from the pretenders and each week is more of a thrill ride than before. While I’m very excited about my Arizona Wildcats college basketball season, talk to me about it after the college football regular season.

This week I’m going to answer four tough football-related questions starting with a local one…

FIRST DOWN: Is ASU’s Todd Graham back on the hot seat after his team’s poor play the last few weeks?

You bet he is. The Sun Devils’ defense was as red hot as the QB play in Tucson during the middle of October…but USC derailed ASU’s high hopes on October 28th. Since then ASU struggled to beat a weak Colorado squad at home before giving up 44 points to an unimpressive UCLA squad on Saturday night.

Just think, 16 days ago ASU was playing for the lead in the Pac-12 South division. Now they’re hanging on by a thread to bowl eligibility having to beat either Oregon State in Corvallis or UofA in Tempe to achieve a .500 record.

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Continue reading “Four Downs, 11/13 – November Football Questions…and Answers”

Four Downs – October 30th: UofA crushes, ASU gets crushed, my CFB top-10, & Heisman rankings

After a giant college football weekend in which the national landscape was muddled further, I figured it would be best to dedicate this column solely to CFB talk.

If you’re looking for my thoughts on Week 8 of the NFL and that INCREDIBLE Game 5 of the World Series (never seen anything like it), tune in to Monday’s Daily Blender from 1-3pm on 1580 The Fanatic, 99.3 FM, 95.9FM in the East Valley, at 1580thefanatic.com, or on the app.

Continue reading “Four Downs – October 30th: UofA crushes, ASU gets crushed, my CFB top-10, & Heisman rankings”