Saturday, May 28, 2011

Book Review - Dixieland Delight

The third sports book I will be reviewing is Dixieland Delight by Clay Travis.

In 2005, Clay Travis embarked upon a tour, the Dixieland Delight Tour (DDT) as he called, that saw him attend a game at all twelve Southeastern Conference (SEC) football stadiums. He chronicles the many situations he encountered on his 8,000 mile road trip and gives his thoughts on the game day experience at each school. Included in the book is a ranking of which SEC campuses offer the best game day experience in Clay's opinion, an SEC Girls Power Ranking and 17 lessons he learned from the DDT.

This book is similar to the last book I reviewed, Can I Keep My Jersey, as it is another tough book to review. I know people that have really enjoyed this book and others who picked it up and couldn't stand the stories Clay tells and reminisces about. A couple things should be noted. Firstly, Clay is a University of Tennessee Volunteers fan so you might get a somewhat biased book but it seems that he has tried to take that out of the equation. Also, this book is heavily targeted towards SEC enthusiasts so keep that in mind.

Clay Travis
I thought this book was a nice read. With every chapter about a different SEC school, things were kept fresh and the pace of the book benefited. I thought Clay did a good job of summing up the atmosphere on campus and I enjoyed reading about what he got up to while on tour. I even learned some new things about different SEC schools and overall I enjoyed this humorous and interesting book

RATING - 8/10

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Game of Two Halves

Northampton 22-33 Leinster

Its been a while since I have written about Leinster. I have been so busy that the number of articles I'm writing has declined. However, there is nothing in my life that can get in the way of writing about last Saturday's 2011 Heineken Cup Final between Leinster and Northampton.

I have seen a lot of great games in a wide variety of sports but this game was probably the best game I have ever watched. This game epitomised everything I love about sport. Leinster were down, and seemingly out, at half time trailing 22-6. Northampton were dominating every aspect of the game. Their scrum was far superior. They didn't allow Leinster to hold onto the ball for more than a few phases thus preventing Leinster from getting into rhythm. They were playing with pace and width and were able to open big holes in a strong Leinster defence. Ben Foden had a great game as he made it clear that he will be the starting fullback for England in the upcoming World Cup. Foden, Phil Dowson and Dylan Hartley all scored tries for the Saints in the first 40 minutes.

Brian O'Driscoll
Then, the game turned on its head. Leinster came out in the second half a different team. They played at a level I have never seen before. They were amazing to say the least. I find it hard to think of any rugby side, club or international, that could have stopped Leinster in the second half. Jonny Sexton led the way scoring two tries. He also added three conversions and four penalties. All in all, he had a whooping 27 of Leinster's 33. More importantly, he was the main voice in a inspirational half-time talk. Nathan Hines capped off Leinster's remarkable comeback with a 65th minute try to give Leinster a 33-22 lead they would not relinquish.

Liverpool's historic comeback in Istanbul
It was a sensational game that reminded of the 2005 Champions League Final when Liverpool came back from a 3-0 deficit against AC Milan at half time to tie the game at 3-3 and eventually win 3-2 on penalties. Leinster's victory in the Millennium Stadium is another great step for Irish rugby. Irish teams have now won 4 of the past 6 Heineken Cup tournaments. The win has resulted in Ireland being entitled to a fourth team in next year's Heineken Cup competition which means that Connacht will be playing at the top tier of European rugby for the first time ever next season.

Leinster, with two Heineken Cup triumphs in the last three years, will look to cap off a hugely successful 2011 season as they face Munster in Thomond Park this Saturday the 28th May in the 2011 Magners League Final. The game kicks off at 5:05pm and will be covered by RTE, TG4 and BBC.
Jonny Sexton

Monday, May 16, 2011

Book Review - Can I Keep My Jersey?

In my 2nd sports book review, I will be reviewing Can I Keep My Jersey? 11 Teams, 5 Countries, and 4 Years in My Life as a Basketball Vagabond by Paul Shirley.

This book is about Paul Shirley's first four years as a professional basketball player. In those four years, he played for NBA teams such as the Atlanta Hawks, the Chicago Bulls and the Phoenix Suns. He also played in Europe with Panionios BC in Greece, Joventut Badalona in Spain and UNICS Kazan in Russia. He also spent some time in the minor leagues in the US with the Yakima Sun Kings of the Continental Basketball Association(CBA) and the Kansas City Knights of the American Basketball Association(ABA).

The book is mainly about Shirley's 2nd, 3rd and 4th year as a pro baller with a chapter summarizing year one. The book is written in diary format and is comprised of stories Paul wrote on his travels with a bit of editing.

Paul Shirley
You don't need to be a sports fan to enjoy this book but seeing as your on this site, you probably are. The reason I originally picked it up was to see what life is like for a basketball player playing in Europe and in the minor leagues in the States as he struggles to make it in the association. After reading the book, I wouldn't really say the focus is on basketball rather on Shirley himself which may be a good or bad thing depending on your taste. 

I really enjoyed this book but I know it isn't for everyone. You either love this book or you hate it. I fall into the former category. I thought Shirley was witty and sarcastic with his remarks about the many situations he found himself in. Others might regard him as a narcissistic and cynical person who is constantly complaining. For that reason, this is a tough book to review. Personally, I thought this book was a real page turner and at times I found myself rooting for Shirley to succeed. For that reason, I recommend that you check out this book

RATING - 7/10

Monday, May 2, 2011

Book Review - Tanked!

So this is a first for USA Sports Blogs, my first book review. I love reading about sports and there are so many books to choose from so I have decided to help you in your search for sports books by briefly reviewing the books that I have read and grading them on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being the one of the worst sports books ever written and 10 being one of the best sports books ever written. So I have decided to start by reviewing Tanked! by William 'Tank' Black.

Tanked! is a book about the life of former NFL super agent Tank Black. Tank was raised in a poor, parent-less family in Greeneville, Tennessee. He went on to have a brief college coaching career at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga and the University of South Carolina. Shortly after, he founded Professional Management Incorporated(PMI), a sports agency. He represented clients such as NFL players Shannon Sharpe, Sterling Sharpe and Jevon Kearse and NBA star Vince Carter. He was one of the top sports agents before his downfall. He was accused of illegally playing college athletes to entice them to sign with his company. He was also involved in a money laundering case and a ponzi investment scheme. He had spent 95 months in custody when he was finally released on the 16th May 2007.

This book was quite an enjoyable read. It gives you an inside look into the business of sports. I was amazed at some of the things that go on behind the scenes. I also enjoyed his many stories of his experiences with players. Tank's journey to success is quite inspiring.

William 'Tank' Black
However, this book is not perfect. Despite an uptempo finish to the book, I thought the events in the story generally took place at a slow pace and there were times when I contemplating putting it down in favour of a more page turning book. Also, you will find that the author can be somewhat overconfident. He is not afraid to say that he is one of the best agents ever and at times it seems like he is almost gloating. That being said, Tank does seem like a pretty nice guy though. Finally, there is sure to be some bias in this book. Tank gives his perspective on things and might not be telling the whole story.

These things hold Tanked! back from being a great sports book but with a very good story, I would recommend Tanked! to sports fans particularly those interested in knowing more about what really happens in sports.

RATING - 6/10