Thursday, June 30, 2005

Blog Poll Questions #1 and #2

I've recently signed up to be a part of a "blog poll" for college football started by mgoblog. Basically, it's like any other top 25 poll you read in the media. Except that instead of fudging our votes to boost paper sales(AP) or help our recruiting or hurt the recruiting of others(coach's poll), we fudge our votes strictly because we're homers for our favorite teams.

Anyway, All the poll voters have periodic discussions on college football. Since I'm a little behind, I'm going to post my answers to the last 2 discussions.

Question #1

Based on this compilation of the top 25 as Internet pundits and preseason rags see it, who looks flagrantly overrated? Why?

Gotta go with Texas, #2 on that compilation. The #2 rating is strictly based on last year's Rose Bowl, and resultant hype around Vince Young. VY is not the next Michael Vick. VY does not have the arm strength or pocket presence to go with the running ability. VY is also not surrounded by good talent at the other skill positions. Plus, the Longhorns are installing their second new defensive scheme in as many years.

Oklahoma and Texas Tech are also overrated, but not on Texas's level of overratedness.

Who looks underrated?
Texas A&M, with much disgust. A better overall team, the defense is almost back to Wrecking Crew form, and Reggie McNeal really looks impressive, according to those who follow the program closely. With Oklahoma in a rebuilding year and Texas's ranking standing on a house of cards, A&M could surprise everyone and take the South.

It makes me retch to say that as a Red Raider fan, but that's the case.

What team in the high teens or lower could end up in the Rose Bowl?
Gotta go with Purdue. Due to scheduling quirks, Purdue does not face Ohio State or Michigan. All of their losses last year were by less than a touchdown. If they ever figure out how to get an extra score, they could run the table.

Question #2

What's THE critical game of the season on the national scene?
I would say Boise State-Georgia.
This is the biggest chance the little guys have to break up the college football power structure ever.

This isn't Marshall beating middling K-State. This isn't A&M wilting in the Salt Lake City altitude.This isn't an overrated Missouri team losing at Troy. This isn't Southern Miss giving Cal a a game and knocking them out of a BCS berth in the process.

This is Boise State, an undefeated team from last year, going "between the hedges" to face one of the best programs in the SEC.

A win by the Broncos, and the repercussions will be felt in college football for years to come. A win by Georgia, and the Force grip of the Sith Lords who run the BCS conferences tightens around the necks of the lesser programs.

What's the most critical matchup for your team?
For Texas Tech, the Texas and A&M games will always be big, but the Tech-OU matchup is bigger because the Red Raiders have never beaten OU under Mike Leach. With OU in a rebuilding year, if Leach doesn't beat the Sooners this year, he ain't never gonna.

What's your wingnut upset prediction of year?
My biggest insane upset prediction of the year: Texas Tech over Texas A&M at Jones Stadium on Saturday, November 5th. The best Texas A&M team since the old Wrecking Crew days travels to Lubbock. However, for whatever reason, maybe it's because Tech is more excited about the game than A&M, maybe it's the dust blowing in the West Texas wind, maybe it's the constant chants from the student section about an A&M male student's preference of animal companionship (allegedly), the Aggies lose to the Red Raiders at Jones Stadium.

It's insane to pick Tech this year because A&M is a lot better this year than in past years and they are my pick to win the South, but I'm picking the Raiders anyway. But only after 3 Shiners, 3 shots of Jack, and a Johnnie Walker on the rocks.

Tomorrow: Rotisserie Chicken

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Big XII at the NBA draft

First Round

Antoine Wright - Texas A&M (15th Overall to New Jersey)
I guess it's a good move for the Nets. Does he play as a 6th man, though? Last I checked, Richard Jefferson is locked in at his position. Still, for A&M, who hasn't had a draft pick in a long time, it's a big step forward. Now Billy Gillespie can tell recruits he got a player to the Association.

Joey Graham - Oklahoma State (16th Overall to Toronto)
I like Joey Graham, and I think it's a good pick, I just wish he wasn't going to Toronto because that franchise doesn't know what it's doing.

Gerald Green - Oklahoma State signee (18th Overall to Boston)
I'm really not surprised he fell this far. Once Portland decided on Martell Webster, he was falling. I don't know much about the kid, except that he went to high school in Houston.

Linas Kleiza - Missouri (27th Overall, drafted by Portland, traded to Denver)
I'm surprised that Portland and Denver both thought that highly enough of him to give him guaranteed money. He really didn't live up to his potential at Missouri.

Wayne Simien - Kansas (29th Overall to Miami)
The Heat are lucky to get him. San Antonio should have taken him one pick earlier. This guy's got lots of heart, and he produces. With Udonis Haslem possibly going into free agency, Simien has a chance to compete for a starting position.

Second Round

C. J. Miles - Texas signee (34th Overall to Utah)
Here's where it gets interesting. C. J. Miles doesn't have an agent, so he can still go to Texas. The problem is, C. J.'s rights are owned by the Jazz for the next 5 years or so. So really, there's no point in going to Texas, because he's not going to improve his draft position. Nice system, NBA and PA.

Lawrence Roberts - formerly of Baylor (55th overall, drafted by Seattle, traded to Memphis)
Roberts, who transferred to Mississippi State after the whole Dave Bliss mess, managed to win SEC Player of the Year his junior year, then improved his numbers his senior year. So how is he 55th overall? Explain this to me again. Good deal for Memphis.

How the Texas Teams fared

Dallas Mavericks - They didn't have a pick in this draft. But considering this was a good draft to get supporting players, they would have done well to try and get into this draft. They have the cornerstone pieces already, but the front line is still lacking depth, and they could use a few role players.

Houston Rockets - The only draft pick they had was the 24th overall, and they got Luther Head out of Illinois. He's a little small to be playing the 2, which is what he played in college, but apparently he can shoot well. He passed fairly well in Bruce Weber's offense from what I recall, so maybe he can learn to play the point. Considering it's the 24th pick, it's a pretty good one.

San Antonio Spurs - If they didn't have a reputation for picking Euro players and letting them develop, and they hadn't just won a championship, people would be calling for the heads of Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford. That's how bad that pick is.

Tomorrow: TBA

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Tech moves a home game while Baylor loses games

Word out of Lubbock is that Texas Tech and Texas A&M officials are talking about playing the Tech-A&M game in Dallas (like UT-OU) rather than alternating home dates every year.

Why? Well, as you might have guessed, it's a money thing. Tech thinks it can make more money by playing the game in the Metroplex, which has the largest Texas Tech alumni base outside West Texas. A&M thinks the game can get more TV revenue with the game being in Dallas.

However, this has raised holy hell in Lubbock, as local merchants dread the prospect of a lost home date, especially one that brings in a lot of out-of-town revenue. Plus, some in the athletic department don't want to lose one of the marquee games that draw people to a renovated Jones Stadium

I think both Tech and A&M officials are dreaming if they think moving this to a neutral site is good for either school.

First off, It's not going to draw the same amount of national attention because it's not as important as the other games that are played offsite. Texas-OU and Florida-Georgia are huge rivalries with a long history. Army-Navy is what it is because it's our two oldest military academies, the folks in the game are going off to serve our country when it's over, and it's a focal point for people who still hang on to the ideal that college football should be about something other than an NFL minor league. Tech-A&M is in the class of none of these matchups. Shoot, Tech and A&M barely acknowledged each other prior to Tech joining the Southwest Conference.

Second, you are talking about moving the game away from 2 of the best home fields in the Big XII, Kyle Field and Jones Stadium (yes, in that order). Part of college football is atmosphere. You can't replicate either home field in Dallas because the students that make up a large part of that atmosphere at both stadiums wouldn't be able to get tickets. They have more important things to spend their money on like books, food, and alcohol. It especially gets dicey for Tech because while they gain the Dallas alumni, who show up at "road" dates at TCU and SMU but aren't that passionate, they lose the more rabid fans who live in West Texas and may not be able to travel all the way to Dallas.

Third, the game is really only a compelling matchup nationally, and therefore TV-worthy, if both teams are doing well. Sure, right now, Tech and A&M are programs considered "on the rise," and it may be a game people want to watch this year, but what if one or both programs hit a rebuilding cycle? Who is going to watch outside the fan bases?

This is a big mistake for both programs and neither should sign on for this deal.

Concurring opinion: Don Williams in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal
Dissenting opinion: Jeff Walker, also in the A-J

Baylor hit with major sanctions

Well, despite Baylor's best efforts to clean up the program, the Bears' men's basketball program lost all of it's non-conference games next season as part of the penalty the NCAA handed down over infractions incurred under former head coach Dave Bliss.

The committee did not spare Bliss or assistant Doug Ash either, placing each on the NCAA's "show-cause" list, meaning any school wishing to hire either must convince the NCAA first to allow the hiring or face penalties.

While the committee referred to the allegations as "the worst since SMU football" (which got the death penalty) and the individuals involved have, in effect, been barred, I think the reduction in games is a bit extreme. Scott Drew, who's done an admirable job on and off the court since his arrival, should not be punished for someone else's violations. The players who were there under Bliss have mostly moved on. Plus, the extreme nature of the punishment takes away from the excellent spring Baylor has had, from winning the Women's Final Four, to making the Men's Tennis final, to making the College World Series. Also, it's hurting the healing process as many in the Baylor community are still getting over Patrick Dennehy's brutal murder, and they are having to relive it because media outlets are reporting that the case factored into the committee's decision to eliminate the games.

Will this change college athletics? Don't hold your breath. Jerry Tarkanian put the NCAA's enforcement strategy best when he said, "They get so mad at Kentucky that they put Cleveland State on probation." And Baylor, at least in the revenue sports, is a Cleveland State that happens to play in a major conference.

Tomorrow: TBA

Monday, June 27, 2005

Texas Wins CWS

(Matt Rourke/Austin American-Statesman)

Congratulations to the Texas Longhorns, who won their sixth College World Series with a 2-0 sweep of Florida

Friday, June 24, 2005

Steve Bartman strikes again in Omaha...

(Ow, my head. OK, Now that I'm completely sober from last night's NBA finals Game 7...)

I think ESPN's David Albright put last night's game-changing play in the Arizona State-Florida game best:
It was the bottom of the fourth inning with Arizona State leading 3-0 over Florida in the Bracket 1 championship game of the 2005 College World Series.

With Brian Jeroloman on first after a leadoff walk, Gators third baseman Brandon McArthur hit what looked like an innocent popup behind home plate.

Sun Devils catcher Tuffy Gosewisch appeared ready to make a sliding catch just before the padded wall near the ASU dugout when the outstretched hands of Brad Jordan got there first.

Only Jordan wasn't wearing a gray baseball jersey with "Devils" script across the front. Instead, he was wearing a gold T-shirt and he wasn't supposed to be in the field of play.
Basically Mr. Jordan, rooting interest unknown, went Steve Bartman on Gosewisch.

The ump called the Florida batter out on fan interference. Florida manager Pat McMahon went out and protested the play. While the call stood, the interruption was enough to cool off ASU starter Jason Urquidez, who promptly got behind 3-1 to Florida's Brian LeClerc.

LeClerc put the 3-1 pitch in the right-field seats.

ASU unraveled from there, giving up 5 more runs.

Florida ended up winning the game 6-3, and will now face the Texas Longhorns in the Championship Series.

Championship Series Schedule
Florida vs Texas
Game 1: Saturday, June 25, 7:00 PM ESPN
Game 2: Sunday, June 26, 3:00 PM ESPN
Game 3: (if necessary) Monday, June 27, 7:00 PM ESPN

Monday: Lone Star Series



(Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images)

I'm off to celebrate. Expect Friday's post very late.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Texas in CWS final; await opponent

Taylor Teagarten knocks one out (Matt Rourke/Austin American-Statesman)

The Texas Longhorns made the final of the College World Series, beating the Baylor Bears 4-3 on a walk-off homer by Chance Wheeless to win Bracket 2.

Their opponent... Well, that's going to have to wait a day. Arizona State beat Florida behind the pitching of Erik Averill, 600th draft pick overall to the Detroit Tigers, who pitched a complete game on 2 days rest.

The rematch has been moved to primetime (6 PM on ESPN) and should be an all out battle.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

What happened to Nebraska?

Yesterday, Nebraska inexplicably lost to Arizona State, eliminating them from the College World Series. Had it not been for Retief Goosen's collapse at the U.S. Open and the Spurs collapse last night, It would have been the biggest collapse this week.

What happened? This program is consistently one of the best in the Big XII, which is no small feat given that they play in a cold-weather climate in February and March, and yet they are 1-6 in their last 3 College World Series appearances, which incidentally is not held that far from the main campus in Lincoln. And the one win was this year.

The best lineup in the Big XII, the second best staff ERA in the nation, tons of major league draftees, including the second overall pick, and you can only improve ONE WIN on you previous two trips to Omaha, where you're basically the home team for every game you play?

Don't get me wrong, Nebraska baseball has a fan base most colleges would kill for. They used to show up en masse at Dan Law Field whenever the Huskers would play the Raiders. Texas A&M, Baylor, and UT won't even do that.

But the team collapsed big time when they go to Omaha, and it boggles the mind as to why.

Although I'm sure Husker fan will find a way to blame this one on Bill Callahan.

Baylor sets up rematch with Horns

Nebraska's fellow co-champ Baylor, however continues the school's impressive spring by knocking off top seeded Tulane and their many major league draft picks 8-7. This sets up a rematch with Texas, whom the Bears were previously unbeaten against until the Horns knocked off the Bears to send them into the losers bracket.

I'm glad it's in primetime, because this is going to be the game of the day.

Bracket Finals Schedule

Bracket 1 Final: Florida-Arizona State, 1:00 PM ESPN (Probably in progress by the time this gets through Blogger's publisher)
Bracket 2 Final: Texas-Baylor, 7:00 PM ESPN2

If Arizona State wins: Florida-Arizona State 1:00 PM ESPN
If Baylor wins: Texas-Baylor, 7:00 PM ESPN

Nothing to do with baseball

Lindsay Lohan needs to eat something. Seriously.

I saw an interview with her the other day and she looks like she's wasting away.

This is her from the Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen premiere.(in 2004)

( Posted by Hello

This is her from the Herbie premiere

(Rio Leyva/Fashion Wire Daily)

If Dick Durbin ever saw her, he'd compare Hollywood to a gulag, a concentration camp and a collection of Pol Pot's murder victims.

Maybe we need to start the drumbeat for testing for performance-enhancing diet drugs among actors. After all, we have as much visual evidence for mass weight loss among celebs as we do weight gain in baseball players.

(Good gravy, I did a celebrity rant. Am I becoming the Thigh Master?)

Tomorrow: If that's moving up, then I'm moving out.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Caught in a Rundown at the CWS

I realize my numbers have dipped slightly since I've focused on college baseball. Well, If you need a reason to watch, read the open to ESPN's Monday notebook feature:

The College World Series is a unique baseball experience.

There's the ping of aluminum bats. And the attitude of the players, who approach the game with an all-out enthusiasm and a series of high-fives and back slaps for their teammates.

Every home run hitter is greeted en masse at home plate.

You'll more than likely see a little bit of everything, even an attempted steal of home with the bases loaded in the ninth inning.
Who went "2 and Barbecue"

Tennessee - Fortunately for all the Tennessee pro prospects the draft was already held, otherwise their stock would have dropped. Especially Scott Boras client Luke Hochenvar, who was blitzed by Florida in their opener. (See what happens when you deal with the Devil, Luke?)

Oregon State - Hate to see a potential nice story end so badly, especially since their last College World Series trip was over 2 years ago, but they ran into two good teams. To their credit, though, they fought hard and took Baylor to extra innings to try and extend their trip.

By the way, the expression "2 and barbecue" refers to Omaha's favorite cuisine, which CWS teams that get eliminated early spend the rest of their time eating.

Who's still undisputed and undefeated

Texas - Surprise, surprise. The Longhorns polished off the top seed Tulane with superior pitching, beating around Astros top pick and pitcher Brian Bogusevic.

Florida - Another surprise, the Gators beat Nebraska on Monday to earn a day off today.

Who's playing in today's elimination game

Nebraska vs. Arizona State (1:00 PM, ESPN) - Nebraska has very good pitching depth. Heck, if I were the Nebraska manager, I'd take the chance and run my weekday starter out there because he's better than anything Arizona State has left. But then again, if I knew enough about baseball to manage, I wouldn't be doing this blog.

(Note: the "weekday starter" in collegiate baseball is equivalent to a 4th starter in the bigs. Generally you play one game in mid-week, usually a non-conference game, and three games on the weekend.)

Tulane vs. Baylor (6:00 PM, ESPN) - If Baylor wants another shot at Texas, they must beat the fallen #1 seed today. Should be a good, tough game. I give the Green Wave the edge because Baylor's bullpen is probably worn out.

Game 6 NBA Finals Coverage today on Spur of the Moment.
Tomorrow: Baseball's "Final Four"

Monday, June 20, 2005

Omaha Steaks

A surprising first weekend of the College World Series. Who would have thought Florida would be 2-0 and able to beat Nebraska (OK, who outside of Gainesville)? Or that Arizona State would still be alive?

The biggest surprise has to be that Texas beat Baylor in the first round. Baylor went 4-0 against the Longhorns during the season, including a win in the Big 12 Tournament, so most everyone expected the Bears would beat the Horns again.

True, Texas had experience, but I tend to regard past experience, especially with college athletics, much like Curt Schilling regards "aura" and "mystique".

Maybe there is something to it.

As I'm typing this, however, Baylor just scored in the 10th inning and has Oregon State on the ropes. So Baylor may get another crack at Texas soon if Tulane beats Texas

Bad weekend for Formula 1 at Indy

F1 has an uphill climb in the United States. First off, it's considered a "European" sport like soccer, and despite soccer's growth from nothing until having a pro league that's lasted as long as it has, it will never be a major sport because of the "European" perception. Second, the popularity of NASCAR is just so dominant that despite a lot of recent missteps (abandoning Rockingham, not promoting it's other drivers that are outside the Earnhart family), it's still one of the highest rated TV sports, second only to football.

However, in the Sissphyusian effort to roll the F1 rock up the American hill, the rock may have rolled back on them last weekend at the U.S. Grand Prix

First, the CEO of the F1 circuit compared women drivers to domestic appliances. You'd think someone from Europe, which is even more politically correct than the United States, wouldn't make this kind of misstep, but they did.

Second, several drivers quit the US Grand Prix because they were upset with the quality of their tires. This was essentially the auto racing version of a labor dispute. If they knew anything about the American market, they would have known that labor disputes are non-starters with fans.

Besides, if they were having problems with tires, they could have fixed it prior to the season, not waited until Indianapolis.

Tomorrow: Traveling day

Friday, June 17, 2005

College World Series Preview Part 2

A rundown of the teams in bracket 2

Tulane - The overall #1 seed boasts a pitching staff that includes Astros #1 overall draftee Brian Bogusevic and Micah Owens. The batting order is one of the best in the nation. And they beat a recent former national champ in Rice to get here.

Texas - probably the weakest hitting team in this half of the bracket (although their numbers may be as much a product of Disch-Falk Field as anything), they are 4th in the nation in ERA. There's a lot of concern about starting pitching depth, however, and that can kill you in a double-elimination tournament. Plus, they may have to face Baylor twice to get out of the bracket, and the Longhorns have lost all 4 games against the Bears this year. They do, however have the best closer in Brent Cox and one of the best catchers in terms of handling a pitching staff in Taylor Teagarden.

Baylor - Baylor's offense is more about speed and hitting than power. What gets the job done is their pitching staff, led by Mark McCormick and Trey Taylor and features "co-closers" Ryan LaMotta and Abe Woody.

Oregon State - Another team that relies on speed rather than power. Like the other Pac-10 rep, they aren't very impressive and could be a candidate for "2 and barbecue".

The Picks
Bracket 1: Nebraska, probably the best overall team in the tournament
Bracket 2: Tulane, can't deny with the talent they have, even if they haven't been to Omaha before.
National Champ: Nebraska over Tulane 2-1

Thursday, June 16, 2005

College World Series Preview Part 1

Complete CWS Schedule
(All Times Central)
Friday, June 17
Bracket 1
Game 1 -- Tennessee vs. Florida, 1:00 p.m. (ESPN2)
Game 2 -- Nebraska vs. Arizona State, 6:00 p.m. (ESPN2)
Saturday, June 18
Bracket 2
Game 3 -- Tulane vs. Oregon State, 1:00 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 4 -- Baylor vs. Texas, 6:00 p.m. (ESPN)
Sunday, June 19
Bracket 1
Game 5 -- Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 1:00 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 6 -- Winner Game 1. vs Winner Game 2, 6:00 p.m. (ESPN2)
Monday, June 20
Bracket 2
Game 7 -- Loser Game 3, vs. Loser Game 4, 1:00 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 8 -- Winner Game 3, vs. Winner Game 4, 6:00 p.m. (ESPN)
Tuesday, June 21
Bracket 1
Game 9 -- Loser Game 6 vs. Winner Game 5, 1:00 p.m. (ESPN)
Bracket 2
Game 10 -- Loser Games 8 vs. Winner Game 7, 6:00 p.m. (ESPN)
Wednesday, June 22
Bracket 1
Game 11 -- Winner Game 6 vs. Winner Game 9, 1:00 p.m. (ESPN)
Bracket 2
Game 12 -- Winner Game 8, vs. Winner Game 10, 6:00 p.m. (ESPN2)
Thursday, June 23
Game 13 -- if necessary, noon (ESPN)
Game 14 -- if necessary, 6:00 p.m. (ESPN)
Saturday, June 25
Championship Game 1 (bracket winners), 6:00 p.m. (ESPN)
Sunday, June 26
Championship Game 2, 2:00 p.m. (ESPN)
Monday, June 27
Championship Game 3, if necessary, 6:00 p.m. (ESPN)

A rundown of the teams in bracket 1

Arizona State - Their pitching staff really isn't that strong, but they make up for it with big bats and scrappiness. That's usually not a formula for playoff success at any level, but the Sun Devils did knock of defending champ Cal State-Fullerton.

Florida - 3 good, but not great, starters, a very good bullpen (which is saying something for the college game), and one of the best collections of sluggers in the nation with 4 players hitting double-digit homers.

Tennesse - A great lineup that leads all CWS teams in team batting average (.333) and is second among the 8 teams here in runs per game (8.1). The problem with this team is that aside from Dodgers draftee Luke Hochenvar, there's not much pitching depth.

Nebraska - What else can I say about this team that hasn't already been said. 6 major league draftees, the second-best ERA in the nation, the Big 12 Player of the Year Alex Gordon anchoring a great lineup that improved during the conference schedule, and probably the best fielding defense in collegiate baseball. If the other teams in bracket 1 have championship aspirations, they are going to have to find a way to beat Nebraska twice.

Tomorrow: Part 2
Later Today on
Spur of the Moment: Game 4 Preview

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Blogger on the Air

This just in: Jim Rome had his first blogger on today.

"Eklund", who is a well-connected hockey blogger was a guest on the show, and as you might imagine, he talked about a number of hockey-related topics.

Episode III: Revenge of the Jackson

In case you haven't heard, "Big Chief Triangle" is back.

Never mind that Phil Jackson broke "the sanctity of the locker room" prinicple that he holds so dearly by writing a tell-all book. He's back in the very locker room he violated the sanctity of.

Never mind that there's an NBA finals game going on and Detroit just made the series intriguing last night by winning. They had to have the press conference yesterday and steal their thunder. (I would not begrudge Detroit fans for being angry at this.)

Never mind that Kobe had problems with Phil and Phil demanded a trade. The two are back together.

I really don't think the Lakers had much of a choice. Sure, they tried to make a run at Larry Brown, but he may not be in the health to coach Kobe (and you'd be in another Rudy T. situation), and they considered Flip Saunders, but his superstar experience is with Kevin Garnett, who has a totally different mental makeup than Kobe.

Still, this isn't the same Lakers that Phil left. "The Most Dominant Force in the NBA" went East. The team is capped out for the next 2 years and really can't make moves. Lamar Odom may not be the Scottie Pippen to Kobe's Jordan. And they don't have a true point guard. (Good luck finding one of those)

And there's too many unknowns. We don't really know how Phil can handle a middling team. He had a team on the cusp of greatness when he took over the Bulls and had an instant contender in his first tenure with the Lakers. This team isn't close to being a contender and won't be until they can get out from under cap hell. Can they beat Phoenix or San Antonio with what they have right now? Nope. They still don't have the personnel to defend Amare Stoudamire or Tim Duncan.

Then there's the issue of Phil's rather unusual methods. More than half the roster wasn't around the Lakers when Kobe and Shaq were winning titles, so this is new to a lot of the team. NBA players will give new things a try but they will only buy into an unusual method so long as it works. Also, the key guy that was around the last time Phil was there, Kobe, doesn't completely buy into the system.

Still, this helps the Lakers in 2 areas: First, it at least gives them a name that Southern California fans respect. In a place where image is the major determining factor, it improves the overall image of the team.

Second, It shifts the balance of real power in the Laker organization away from Kobe Bryant. It makes Phil Jackson the de facto GM because of his connections to the Buss family, and puts him in a better position to dictate the terms under which Kobe plays. Next time there is a blowup, don't be surprised if you hear Kobe trade rumors.

If he were really God, would he really be playing for Florida State?

More Troubled times at Florida State. Starting quarterback Wyatt Sexton was recently put in a hospital after causing a disturbance and claiming to be God.

Wyatt better be careful. The last nut that claimed to be God in this country got his compound burned to the ground.

More Opinion:
Corey at Sporting Fools

Tomorrow: TBA

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Cheap Seats: 100% Mike Tyson Free

That's right, Cheap Seats no longer cares if Balrog ever enters the ring ever again or not.

Anyway, on to more important matters.

Payne at Pinehurst

The U.S. Open returns to Pinehurst #this week. Last time the Open was at Pinehurst was 1999 when the late Payne Stewart, him of the tam 0'shanter and way old school knickers, won his last major.

I remember when, in the mid-90s when Payne had a contract with NFL Properties, and Payne would wear a sweater vest with the nearest NFL team's logo and the tam and knickers would be in team colors. I just thought it was the coolest thing in the world,

OK, so it's not as good as some the other tributes some have of Stewart (an SMU alumnus), but it's what I remember.

Stewart, of course, died along when the rest of his crew when his plane lost cabin pressure, asphyxiating all aboard and causing the plane to crash in Aberdeen, South Dakota.

Who the hell is Rory Sabbatini?

Ticked at the slow play of his partner Ben Crane, pro golfer Rory Sabbatini chipped, putted, and teed off at the 18th green while his partner was finishing up the 17th. All this in the final round of the tournament formerly known as the Kemper Open.

Sabbatini's behavior is a big deal in golf circles, and it smacks of poor sportsmanship. And frankly I feel no sympathy for a middling tour player who's having a temper tantrum.

If you want to speed up Crane, make him play a round with Tiger. If he complains, then maybe he'll speed up.

College World Series field set

Baylor and Texas both won their Super Regional final games yesterday and will be facing each other in the first game of the College World Series. Which means Texas is probably going home sooner than expected. Texas is 0-4 against the Bears and will probably have to face them twice in order to get out of the bracket.

Rice, unfortunately, was knocked out by top-seeded Tulane. Oregon State topped Southern Cal to round out the CWS field.

Tomorrow: The Last Season?

Monday, June 13, 2005

Challenge of the Super Regionals

I had hoped to have a full super regional post here, but unfortunately because of Tropical Storm Arlene and wacky scheduling, that didn't happen.

What we do know is that Tennesee and Florida were among the first teams to punch their tickets to Omaha, having dispatched Georgia Tech and Florida State respectively on Saturday.

Big XII co-champs Nebraska had little trouble with Miami in their Super Regional. They beat the Hurricanes in 2 straight.

Sadly, Defending champion Cal State-Fullerton will not be making a return trip to Omaha, as they lost 2 of 3 to Arizona State.

That leaves these four games today:

Texas at Mississippi (6:00 PM ESPN2): The Longhorns were forced to play 1 1/2 games yesterday because of Tropical Storm Arlene, and the Longhorns split the "doubleheader". Texas closer Brent Cox nearly cost them both games, however.

Clemson at Baylor (noon ESPN): After a strange let up in game 1, the Baylor Bears stormed back in Game 2 behind the brilliant pitching of Matt McCormack to set up today's deciding game

Rice at Tulane (noon ESPN2): Each team has laid the wood to the other in consecutive games. It will be interesting to see if this one will be any closer.

USC at Oregon State (3:00 PM ESPN2): It will be interesting to see which team recovers the fastest after last night's 10 inning affair. There was a lot of controversy over whether or not Oregon State should have gotten a Super Regional in the first place. This is the Beavers' chance to prove their critics wrong.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Kittle: Bonds doesn't sign jerseys for white people

Ron Kittle, who played for the White Sox for many years, recently wrote in a book about his experiences with the Sox. You know, one of those player biographies that's usually filled with anectodes about clubhouse life and not much else. (Most of these books are usually pretty good reads on their own. One of my favorite books from when I was a kid was Winfield: A Players' Life by Dave Winfield)

Well, apparently one of the anecdotes from Kittle's book goes like this: Kittle (apparently on an off day) took a trip to Wrigley Field to ask Bonds for some autographed jerseys to auction off for a cancer charity. According to Kittle, Bonds said, "I don't sign jerseys for white people."

No surprise right? After all, Bonds has played the race card to defend himself against steroid allegations.

Well, the other day Bonds did what Bonds usually does when confronted with anything by the media: He went off.

First, he used his kids as human shields, something he did in a press conference earlier this year when discussing his knee injury.

Do you guys know my life history a little bit? ... One, you insult my children, who are half-white
Then he 'roid raged on Kittle.

Somebody said he wanted a piece of me. Tell him I'm at 24 Willie Mays Plaza and he can come get me anytime he wants to -- with pleasure.

You know, Barry, when people think you're juicing, it's not a good idea to 'roid rage on people. Especially, since this isn't the first time you've 'roid raged at a press conference.

Monday: "Omaha, somewhere in middle America"

Thursday, June 9, 2005

MLB Draft Coverage Stinks

I give up on trying to figure out MLB's DraftCaster. I especially can't figure out why the thing won't let you sort by school or home state. I'm not going to sort through tons of picks just to see who got drafted from Austin, or who got drafted from Texas Tech. I don't have the time.

At least the NFL's draft site has a prospects by school list.

I did manage to find that Koby Clemens, Roger's kid, was drafted by the Astros (that is, if he doesn't go to the University of Texas instead).

Anyway, The Rangers had a pretty good draft, and picked up a lot of names that could help them, especially Texas catcher Taylor Teagarten, who can handle a pitching staff and has swung a mean stick in wooden-bat leagues.

The Astros took Tulane ace Brian Bogusevic, one of the top pitchers in the country, with it's first pick, a catcher, Ralph Henriquez, from baseball factory Key West High School with it's 3rd pick, and a decent SS/2B in Tulane's Thomas Manzanella with it's 4th. A lot of the rest of the guys, I have never heard of, though.

Disrespecting the alleged disrespected

I get so sick of Detroit fans and players talking about how they are getting dissed.

The disrespect card is one of the worst canards in sports history, and in this case it's not really applicable.

I looked at ESPN's rundown of experts. Half of them picked Detroit. That's hardly disrespect.

I'd like to know what these people consider "proper respect". Do we all have to pick Detroit to sweep (and defy every bit of basketball logic and sense) before we satisfy you people?

Tomorrow: TBA

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

Repost: George Mikan

(Note: there will be a regular column tomorrow on the baseball draft. I'm still researching it. In the meantime, I present this recent essay from Spur of the Moment)

(Originally posted June 3, 2005)
What the league and the PA owe Mikan’s colleagues

Its nice to hear Kevin Garnett talk about the late George Mikan as “The Original Big Man”

Its nice to hear Shaquille O’Neal say that “Without 99, there is no me” and offer to pay the cost of Mikan’s funeral.

It’s nice to hear Jerry Buss, the owner of the current Laker franchise, talk about how the Lakers would be nothing without Mikan.

After all, without George Mikan there is no Russell, Wilt, Kareem or Shaq. Without Mikan, there is no Reggie Miller, who benefitted from Mikan’s 3-point line concept.

In a way, the Spurs also owe a debt of gratitude to Mikan, and not just for Tim Duncan’s post moves. As the first ABA commissioner, he had the foresight to put a basketball team in the state of Texas in 1967, back when the only 2 sports seasons were football and spring football practice. That franchise eventually moved from Dallas to San Antonio and became the Spurs.

More importantly, without Mikan and the generation of NBA players who played with him, there are no shoe endorsements, no filled 20,000 seat arenas with luxury boxes, no million dollar television deals for basketball, and no place in the public eye for NBA stars.

Which makes what the NBA and the Players Association have done to Mikan and other league pioneers over the years rather sad. Mikan’s pension was $1,700 a month ($20,400 over the course of a year). He had to sell off his trophies to pay for his diabetes care, which makes you wonder what those of Mikan’s generation, most of whom don’t have MVP trophies to sell, have done to survive.

Mikan may be gone now, but there’s no excuse for the League and it’s players to shortchange the others of his time, on whom the league’s billion dollar empire was built, and on whom the players of today are corporations unto themselves.

Don’t tell me the money isn’t there. If the owners can find the money to buy new arenas, and the players can afford to buy new Escalades, surely both sides can raise the pension for players who retired before 1966.

Tomorrow: Baseball Draft

Tuesday, June 7, 2005

NHL looks at changes, needs to implement them

They have been talking about rule changes in the NHL for years. Yesterday, the NHL got to see what potential rule changes might look like.

The NHL opened it's "Research and Development Camp" yesterday, to mostly rave reviews. Among the things that were tested in scrimmages: wider nets, smaller pads, and the so-called "Sinden system" which was basically hockey without offsides rules.

The smaller pads and wider nets got the best reviews. More importantly, the one of the test goalies, Brad Topping, had the quote of the day:

"You have to play like you did in your minor-hockey days when you were smaller," he said. "You have to come out and challenge the shooters and play your angles well and use your reflexes."

In other words, goalies will have to actually play goalie rather than stand in front of the net.

Granted, first they have to solve their little CBA problem, and these changes haven't been approved yet, but hopefully enough minds were changed about

Baseball Regional Wrap-up

Who's in:

winners of the Austin Regional after going through the losers bracket
who breezed through the Lincoln regional
Baylor, whose regional started a day late due to rain showers
Rice, who are playing with a chip on their shoulder after not getting a top regional seed

Who's out:

eliminated by Mississippi in the regional final
eliminated by defending champ Cal State-Fullerton in the losers' bracket

Complete Bracket

Tomorrow: TBA

Monday, June 6, 2005

Win or go home

A great season comes to an end

Cat Osterman's Longhorns, the only Big XII team to make it to the Women's College World Series,
lost it's second elimination game yesterday, a 3-0 loss to to UCLA. Osterman was on the bench after she pitched all 11 innings of an earlier elimination game in which Texas beat Arizona. Sadly, the loss to UCLA exposed the Longhorns' deficiencies at the plate, as Texas only managed 2 hits in support of freshman pitcher Meagan Denny.

Just remember Meagan, dear, it could have been worse. You could have been pitching for the Astros.

The waiting is the hardest part

The San Antonio Spurs, having finished off Phoenix some time ago, will find out who their opponent is tonight as the Miami Heat and Detroit Pistons square off in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Semifinals tonight.

With Dwayne Wade nursing injured ribs, it would be a miracle for Miami to win this game, even if he does play. Unless of course, the NBA is up to it's old tricks again.

OK, it's baseball, but still...

Kenny Rogers was masterful last night, allowing 1 run on 5 hits to run his record his 8th win of the year.

Francisco Cordero was just downright rude

Cordero hit Shane Costa with a 3-0 pitch, then turned towards the dugout after hearing it from Buddy Bell and
went Michael Jackson on the Royals' dugout.

Now, I know baseball players occasionally scratch "down there" during the game, but grabbing the yarbles is over the line. It compunded his first mistake, which was throwing at Costa. No cause for that.

Tomorrow: More ping.

Friday, June 3, 2005

More Aluminum Bat Coverage

(R.I.P. George Mikan. Without him, basketball is a kid's game.)

Cat's Meow.

(Sue Ogrocki/AP)

This just in, Cat Osterman and the Longhorns are good. Osterman pitched the Longhorns to a
3-0 victory over Alabama yesterday, advancing to face top-ranked Michigan in today's semifinal.

Osterman is so good, that headline writers are running out of "Cat" puns to describe her greatness.

Monday: TBA

Thursday, June 2, 2005

Know your Cuts of NFL Rosters

Well, it's cutdown time again in the NFL. June 1 is the traditional start of the NFL's second free agent period, where teams can cut expensive dead weight so that the signing bonus hit is spread out over 2 years.

Expect this year's second free agent market to be
mostly retreads and never-will-bes. New Orleans' Orlando Ruff and former Raven Chris Redman right now are the only 2 players to be officially released, but more are expected to follow, including Cowboys' defensive tackle La'Roi Glover, who doesn't fit into the Cowboys' 3-4 plans.

The only name that pops up in cut discussions that could actually help the Cowboys is safety
Lance Schulters, who is expected to be let go by the Titans.

Titans Insider)

The Cowboys have a need at free safety, and Schulters could fit the bill. He's been a solid player most of his career, having played for the Titans and the 49ers under Steve Mariucci. The problem is, he missed much of last year with a foot problem, and his cap figure for last year was 4.2 million. (He's going to want at least some part of that) But for a guy that averages around 50 tackles a year and has 15 career picks from the safety position, he might be a good fit for the Cowboys' defense. Especially if they want Roy Williams to move back to his natural strong safety position.

If the Cowboys don't pursue Schulters, the other candidates are Pete Hunter, who is refusing to move from cornerback to safety according to
Will Parchman at The Cowboy Roundup, Justin Beriault, the rookie out of Ball State, who's a backup FS at best, and Lynn Scott, who's probably going to be Williams' backup.

Speaking of cuts, Will also has an excellent post on the
other possible Cowboy cuts.

Tomorrow: More aluminum bats.

Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Who won Indy again?

Just so we're all clear on this: Dan Wheldon won the latest Indianapolis 500

The clarification is necessary because Danica Patrick is in so many places (including this blog) you would think she won the race.

That's not to take away from what she did. She led a good portion of the race, had a shot to win, and had the highest finish by a female driver ever.

But Dan Wheldon is currently leading the IRL standings and has won 3 out of the 4 races this year. He was the runner up to Tony Kannan last year in the IRL standings after winning 3 races, and won Rookie of the Year in 2003. This man should get more attention.

If the Indy folks are going to push Patrick, they are going to need to establish someone as a foil. Why not Wheldon? After all, he's a young driver who's clearly got skills, and is in position to challenge Patrick for many years to come. Plus he's as white a male as they come, even if he's English. And we all know the non-sports mainstream media, the ones who are helping push Patrick, love to hate white males.

One more thing: Robby Gordon needs to shut up about Patrick's weight. Gordon, who was once the hottest rookie in open wheel racing, is now a middling NASCAR driver who never lived up to his potential. Dude is just bitter.

"Roy Williams" Rule

Ordinarily, I'm in favor of rule changes to improve safety. While football's a violent game and people do get hurt, it's important to reduce the injuries because teams have so much money inversted in players. Besides, the league is making the rules, not OSHA.

Banning the horse-collar tackle I find a bit suspect, however, because the rule is so poorly written.

When someone's running to the end zone, the defender is going to bring them down any way possible. If the defender grabs the runner by the back of the jersey or shoulder pads to save the touchdown and the runner's knees buckle, he's going to draw a flag for a horse-collar the way it's written.

Why even take a pursuit angle on a ball carrier in the open field when you can draw a flag by making a touchdown saving play?

Stupid rule.

Tomorrow: Missing the cut.