Thursday, March 31, 2011
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
***FROM BRAD DICKSON***
"One hundred pounds of marijuana was found inside the car of a motorist after a routine stop near the Lincoln, Nebraska, water treatment plant. A hundred pounds of marijuana near the water treatment plant? I think I figured out why Lincoln was voted the second happiest city in the country."
"HBO has green lit a new mini series based on the life of Dick Cheney. The network is currently casting the 65 actors who will play Cheney's cardiologists.
The Cheney film is considered a buddy movie until about halfway through when Cheney shoots his buddy on a hunting trip."
***FROM DWIGHT PERRY'S COLUMN***
"Barry Bonds' perjury trial started today," noted Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert on Monday, "or as Barry Bonds puts it, 'No, it didn't.' "
"Tiger Woods' new 22-year-old flame got pulled over for DUI last year, the New York Post reported, scoring .21 on a Breathalyzer test. If you're scoring at home, that's .13 over par."
...and finally, this from my "friend," Vod Kanockers:
"Lunch with the Picasners. I told our favorites that a close friend, who is unfortunately taking several strong meds, called to tell me he was experiencing hallucinations, a reaction to his meds being out of balance, a reaction that has happened once before. I offered to take him to his neurologist to resolve the problem. He said there was no rush because he had made love to three virtual women during this latest episode and was in no hurry to change anything. Chad, in good humor, asked if he could get some of those. Said Annie, “Well that would sure take the pressure off me”, proving once again that you simply can’t win when you mess with the master."
Bartolo Colon has out pitched Freddie Garcia by a wide margin, but the Yanks are concerned that Colon has not pitched since 2009 and Garcia has a reputation for durability. You can only keep one, so who do you go to? Colon seems very motivated now, but hasn't always been. Garcia is the ultimate professional and seems to find a way to win. I'd go with Garcia.
One of the main points of focus this spring has been the defensive abilities of super-prospect, Jesus Montero. I can now report that all the time spent with Jorge Posada this spring has paid off: Montero has regressed and is now catching like him. This has created some concerns, and it now seems likely that Jesus will be sent down. He's not hitting either, and that's supposed to be his ticket to the bigs.
Curtis Granderson isn't recovering as well as hoped and may start the season on the DL. This means we get to see Andruw Jones a lot. This can't be good. Jones has looked like his best days are behind him...way behind him. Swisher is hurt, too. He fouled a ball off his instep. No word on the severity of his injury.
***...AND THE REST OF STORY***
Forbes Magazine has put the value of the Boston Red Sox at $920 Million, good for 2nd place in MLB. Who's first? Guess! Yeah, it's the Yanks at $1.7 Billion. In all sports, it's the Dallas Cowboys at $1.8 Billion. By comparison, the Batavia Muckdogs price out at $49.95 (Just kidding).
Which team is the worst in the majors this year? Not the Pirates, apparently. One talent evaluator says it's the Arizona Diamonbacks. "There just isn't a lot of talent there," he said. What would you expect when your #1 starter is Ian Kennedy?
What's the word at the Barry Bonds trial? Here's a description from Mark Purdy of Mercury News. "Each time you leave the courtroom, you feel like taking a shower." Pretty much sums it up.
One of Joe Torre's duties, besides being a poster boy for No-Doz, is determining the punishments for on-the-field mis-behavior of the players. Torre has claimed that umpires go too far trying to prevent bean-ball wars and they should be more inclined to let the players themselves police these situation. Anything that reduce the elitist attitude of the umps is okay in my book, but I'm not sure how that will fly.
My poor showing in the NCAAs continues. Yesterday, I mentioned BYU and Duke in the post -just mentioned them - and today they're both on the way home. Annie-O, in the meantime, is upset that she got one of the four games wrong. Picasner got only one right. Go away, Annie.
Many laughs at lunch with Vod & his lovely bride yesterday, and we out-lasted another waitress.
Newt Gingrich, a likely GOP presidential candidate has served up another huge pile of GOP GOOP. On March 7, criticizing the President's concern about the dangers of using American forces to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya. The "GOOPster" said on Fox News, President Obama should establish a no-fly zone over Libya "this evening. All we have to do is suppress his air force, which we could do in minutes."
Now, of course, that the US had joined other nations in imposing a no-fly zone, Newt The GOOP has changed his tune and is attacking the President. On the Wednesday morning "Today" show, the GOOPster said, "I would not have intervened. I think there are a lot of other ways to affect Qaddafi. I would not have used American and European forces."
"What does this have to do with sports?", you may ask. Newt the GOOP always reminds me that the GOP is the only organization with more two-way players than a high school football team. OK, that might be a bit of a stretch but every once in a while we need to consider issues deeper than how well JeterBoy's jersey is selling. What's that you say? Newt serving GOOP is less surprising and newsworthy than JeterBoy's record shirt sales? You might be right but check out these doozies.
"There is no major war we can win with the Soviets, period. Let me repeat that. There is no major war we can win with the Soviets, period."-- Gingrich, House floor, 11 September 1981
"I have an enormous personal ambition. I want to shift the entire planet. And I'm doing it."-- Gingrich, Wash post, 3 Jan 1985
Way to go Newt. Thirty years of shoveling it higher and deeper, two repudiate marriages - first we thought we were married and then we found out that we were not - two religions, and still flip-flopping your way to the top. When is your jersey going on sale?
Thursday, March 24, 2011
** Barry Bonds' trial continues. With all the evidence that seems to be mounting up against him, you have to wonder why Bonds keeps fighting. What's even more puzzling, if he loses, you know Roger Clemens won't give up either. Boy, those are two massive egos.
** A tongue-in-cheek report last week had the Phillies practicing throwing their hats in the air and congregating at the mound while jumping up and down. It was called the "World Series Victory Celebration" workout. They seem to have forgotten the great equalizer: injuries. There is still no word on when, if ever, Chase Utley will play, which puts a big hole in their lineup. Yesterday, Roy Oswalt got hit behind the ear with a line drive while pitching. He's okay, but it's a warning that one play can change your whole season.
** Buck Showalter, manager of the Orioles, has been yelling at Jeter for ducking away from inside pitches, in an effort to influence the umpire. According to Showalter, it works far too often and, "...it (ticks) me off." Yelling at America's Child is dangerous, Buck.
** Buck Showalter,manager of the Orioles, is grousing about Theo Epstein, GM of the Red Sox, for "buying" players. "You got Carl Crawford 'cause you paid more than anyone else, and that's what makes you smarter? I'd like to see how smart Theo Epstein is with the Tampa Bay [Rays] payroll." Seems to me your front office has money, Buck. Are you upset because Theo spends his money on good players? Oh, you're going to be popular when you come north. Let's see if I'm still writing "Buck Showalter, manager of the Orioles," at the end of the season.
IS THERE A MESSAGE HERE? A giant clock in London counting down to the 2012 Olympics stopped shortly after it started.
***FROM DWIGHT PERRY'S SIDELINE CHATTER***
Let's just say that Bill Raftery stays out on the town a bit longer than Verne Lundquist. Which
led to this on-air exchange between the CBS broadcast partners during a college basketball game:
Raftery: "You know, it's amazing how much you can learn when you stay out late at night."
Lundquist: "If that's the case, I must be working with Socrates."
"MMA fighter Jon Jones and his two trainers chased down a car prowler and used their martial arts techniques to restrain him until police arrived.
Making him the first perp in crime history to surrender by tapping out."
***CRIME AND PUNISHMENT***
Bruce Pearl is fired from his job as basketball coach at Tennessee, for recruiting violations. Jim Tassel is suspended for two games by Ohio State for violating NCAA rules and then "voluntarily" ups his own suspension to five games. And the NCAA isn't even involved. ...Yet.
None of this matters, because Tassel WILL be coaching the balance of the season at Ohio State, and Bruce Pearl WILL be hired at another Div. I school before the next season. The schools don't care, they just want to win.
***FROM SCOTT OSTLER***
"Former boxing champ Christy Martin suffered knife and bullet wounds in a fight started by her husband, who was upset because Christy told him she was leaving him for a woman. Now there's a country song that will pretty much write itself."
Monday, March 21, 2011
They started with 11 teams and are now down to 2, UCONN and Marquette. Notre Dame lost to Florida State, due to the big equalizer: the 3-point shot. FSU canned 9 of 19 and stifled ND with a swarming defense. Syracuse suffered a lose because of a different kind of equalizer: inexperience. Too many underclassmen and only one senior. Marquette shut down Jackson underneath and Boeheim failed, as he often does in big games, to adjust his offense.
There are still three #1 seeds left: Kansas, Ohio State and Duke, and three #2 seeds: Florida, San Diego St. and North Carolina. Throw out the season records now. All of the eight remaining games in the next round should be interesting. The lower-seeded teams that are still in, will probably have a tough time maintaining their momentum because of the 4 or 5 off days. Still, the games will be worth watching...if the announcers will just shut up.
Pittsburgh coach, Jamie Dixon, seems to have escaped unscathed after making what I call the biggest coaching gaff of the tournament.
From Gregg Drinnan, Kamloops, BC, Daily News: “Being a proud Canadian, I once again am rooting for Yukon to go all the way.”
***BASEBALL IS 10 DAYS OFF***
The Mets finally woke up and dumped Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo, eating a total or $18 million in salaries. To show you how desperate the Phillies are with the health problems of Chase Utley, they went and signed Castillo. They would have been better off trying to talk 66-year old Davy Lopes into a comeback.
Alex Rodriguez hit his 5th homer of the spring yesterday. Looks like the power is back. We'll see if this carries over during the regular season.
Last year, people made fun of Yankee catcher, Franciso Cervelli, for wearing the over-sized batting helmet after suffering a concussion. The laughing may stop now; Minnesota Twins first baseman, Justin Morneau, is wearing the same style helmet after his concussion. He's very vocal about getting MLB to make them mandatory. I wish him luck.
Annie-O is burying me in the NCAA Tournament bracket, and I don't want to talk about it. When is the National Cheerleading Competition?
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Usually the players are responsible for losing games they should have won, understandable since they are normally just teenagers, after all. We've also seen three referees cost a team the chance, at least, to win a game. Last night we saw a coach completely blow a game, and not some bespeckled, fresh-faced youngster like BYU's Dave Rose. No, this was Pittsburgh's intense, scowling Jamie Dixon.
First, Butler's Shelvin Mack fouls Pittsburgh's Gilbert Brown near mid-court with only 1.4 seconds left and Butler ahead by 1 point. Dumb play, sure, but this is just a kid remember. Before you put this in the "Player's Fault" column, let's finish the game. Brown made the first free throw, tying the game. Even an amateur like me knew what was coming next. "Now watch," I said to Annie-O, "Pittsburgh will take everyone off the line. Either he makes the free throw and Pitt wins, or he misses and it goes to overtime. No point in trying for a rebound. Only bad things can happen." See how wrong I can be. Back to the game, and there's Pitt with guys on the line. Predictably, a Butler player is fouled getting the rebound, makes a free throw, and Butler continues it's dream. Thank you, Jamie Dixon.
***PHIL MUSHNICK'S COLUMN**
Mushnick (He needs a name change, seriously) wrote an interesting article on student-athletes who don't graduate. According to him, better than half the athletes don't graduate and many never even return to classes after their season is overwith if their eligibility has expired or they plan on turning pro. Teams in the NCAA Tournament like San Diego, Kansas St., Syracuse and Purdue all have graduation rates at less than 50%. We know why this is: better teams mean bigger crowds and more money. The Knight Commission on collegiate academics (no connection with former coach Bobby Knight), who investigate such things, has proposed an interesting solution. Tie the payouts in the NCAA Tournament to the graduation rate and teams with an overall rate of less than 50% be excluded from the tournament. Athletic Directors from all over the country are currently clutching their hearts. Don't worry guys, the university Board of directors will never let this happen. Nobody fools with their money.
The athletes that do graduate, or pass enough courses to continue in school, do so by taking the many bogus courses that are offered in their behalf. A standing joke in central New York in the '50's was that Jimmy Brown majored in basket weaving @ Syracuse Univ. Don't laugh; word is that even today, he can fabricate a basket for you in 30 minutes. With a handle.
Phil also told another interesting story. "Jerry Tarkanian, while coaching the, ahem, student-athlete basketball team at UNLV, was asked by another school’s AD why, given Tarkanian’s and UNLV’s rotten reputation, he votes for all the most stringent academic reform rules. Because, Tarkanian explained, other fools from other schools might actually follow them."
It's hard to argue with success.
AJ Burnett was named the #2 starter in the Yankee rotation this week. While this may have made AJ feel good, it probably didn't thrill catcher Russell Martin, who learned how difficult it was to catch a well-thrown Burnett curveball. All three Yankee catchers (plus Posada, if I may use the term "catcher" loosely) have had trouble corralling that pitch. Better learn fast, guys, the season is only 11 days away.
Andruw Jones has not impressed this spring, which may be why we saw Eduardo Nunez and Ramiro Pena in the outfield yesterday. Eric Chavez continues playing well as does Bartolo Colon and Mark Pryor. I think we have seen the last of Freddie Garcia, who has had a typically slow spring. He has said he will refuse to go back the minors to work into form, so he'll probably be joining Kevin Millwood in Scott Boras' dreamworld. Boras had Millwood work out for clubs and only the Yankees showed up. Reportedly, Millwood looked out of shape and couldn't top 86 on the radar gun. At least he'll probably have a gin rummy partner in Garcia.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Syracuse came away with a win last night (or should I say this morning?) against a game, but over-matched, Indiana State team. No matter how much the announcers hyped their play, it never really felt like the Orange were in trouble. They also talked up ISU guard Jake Odums, until you thought he was 1st team All-American - until you checked the box score and saw his fairly mediocre stats: 7 points, 6 assists. Okay, but not what you expected when you listened to what seemed like his personal publicity agents.
One of the keys to the game was how ISU seemed absolutely terrified to shoot when they got the ball close to the basket, which they did quite often. In their defense, they were all a bit smaller that the SU big men. A bigger test upcoming for SU Sunday night against Marquette.
I'm sorry to have to admit that Annie-O is beating the pants off me in our little "Bracket Championship." I guess the prettiest team colors theory is more reliable than the sexiest cheerleaders outfits, as far as picking winners. There is a side benefit to my method: the research needed.
I mentioned yesterday that Buster Olney would be unhappy over the loss suffered by his beloved Vanderbilt. Here's Buster's comment in his blog yesterday.
"Allegedly there was some organized basketball event and the university that I attended decades ago was involved. Beyond that, I can't speak of any of it... ever."
***A LITTLE BIT OF YANKEE NEWS***
There is still a lot of discussion over the defensive abilities of Jesus Montero. There are scouts who say that, based on what they have seen this spring, he'll never be an effective catcher. The few times I've seen him, he looked okay, but then I'm used to Jorge Posada behind the plate and, let's face it, he never set the bar too high. In fact, last year, he might have left the bar in the dugout.
***THE QUIP CORNER***
From Jim Caple of ESPN, on the Phillies and their all-star rotation:
"The Phillies put single-game tickets for the regular season on sale Wednesday," he wrote. "World Series tickets go on sale Thursday."
Dwight Perry, Seattle Times:
"Stetson University, which abolished its football team after the 1956 season, will bring back the sport in 2013, the school announced. Instead of scripting the first 25 plays, Stetson's will be drawn out of a hat."
Brad Dickson, Omaha World-Herald:
"President Obama appeared on ESPN to make his NCAA tournament picks. Let's just hope this wasn't some weird exchange program and Dick Vitale is in the oval office deciding what to do about Gadhafy."
(Let's do it , baby!)
Friday, March 18, 2011
Most surprising upset:
Morehead St over Louisville. You don't usually see Rick Pitino-coached teams lose their composure.
Least surprising upset:
Richmond over Vanderbilt. Richmond, as a #12 seed, has a history of taking down #5 seeds. Buster Olney, who seems to live & die with his alma mater, Vanderbilt, will be very unhappy today.
Most exciting game:
Gee, take your pick: KY-Princeton, Morehead St- Louisville, UCLA-Mich. St., Temple-Penn St, N Colorado-San Diego St and Butler-ODU. All six games within 2 points.
Least exciting game:
I don't know. Is the NIT still going on?
Who looked strong:
Two Big East teams - Connecticut and Pittsburgh, but the stronger teams are ahead of them.
***TWO THINGS I NOTICED***
Jimmer Fredette can shoot! Jimmer Fredette can pass! Jimmer Fredette does NOT play defense. He appears to be a master of the Ole' defense.
All the broadcast teams have the property of gas: they expand to fill the available space. Talk, talk, talk, talk. Each team has three members which is two too many. If there was just one guy, he'd at least have to stop to draw a breath and my ears wouldn't hurt. After a play, the former-player announcer would tell what it was like to do that and how he did it, followed by the former-coach, who would tell you how he would coach his team on that play. In the meantime the two teams would have exchanged baskets. It's not radio, guys, we can see the play. Let us enjoy the game. Annie-O doesn't care that 70% of their points come in the paint or that a player missed 2 free throws in a game twice this season. Nobody does!
One baseball note: Joe Torre has accepted an invitation to the Yankee Old-Timer's game. That's where former players show off their former skills. Joe will be napping in the Yankee dugout.
***A NON-SPORTS NOTE***
A high school in Asbury Park, NJ, that was renamed after President Obama, was closed, citing declining enrollment. Is there a message here?
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Short posting today because I'm missing three games right now.
***A NEW LINEUP TONIGHT***
Girardi is trying the Gardner-Jeter lead-off tonight. If the pitching staff continues to perform like they did last night, Girardi could bat Chad-Annie-O and still win. We still have two weeks to go before the start of the season.
***IT'S STARTED ALREADY***
The Mariners Milton Bradley was tossed in the 3rd inning yesterday for arguing balls and strikes. Apparently this is Seattle's version of 'Strike 'em out, throw 'em out,' double play.
Monday, March 14, 2011
We all know them: EAST, WEST, SOUTHWEST AND SOUTHEAST. Apparently, basketball is not played in the middle of the country.
In the EAST, games will be played in Cleveland, which is okay. Then there are games in Tampa, Florida. Wouldn't that be the SOUTHEAST? And finally, in Charlotte, NC. Seems like it should also be SOUTHEAST.
The SOUTHEAST bracket has games in Washington DC, which is north of Charlotte, plus Denver, Colorado (?), and Tucson, Arizona. Oh yeah, and Tampa, which I thought was in the EAST bracket.
The WEST bracket has games in Charlotte and Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The SOUTHWEST bracket, in the meantime, will be in southwestern cities like Denver and Chicago.
So you end up with situations like Connecticut assigned to the WEST bracket playing in Washington, DC. Georgetown is in the SOUTHWEST but will play in Chicago. Wisconsin will play it's SOUTHEAST game in Tuscon. I'm confused.
One final comment: there are always arguments about teams that miss the bubble, teams with decent records and signature wins, but sometimes it's difficult to justify the inclusion of some teams. This year, someone will have to explain to me Alabama State with a record of 17-17. I know, I know, it's a conference tournament winner. Heck of a conference.
One reader has some strong feelings about BYU:
About Jimmer Fredette, he is an amazing player! As long as he stays hot, I still think BYU has a legitimate shot of advancing to at least the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament despite the fact Brandon Davies is suspended. It will be up to Fredette and Jackson Emery to lead the team to success!
The only problem with a One-Star team, is that if he should cool off or get shut down, they often have no Plan B. BYU has a good team, but I still think the strong reliance on one superstar is very dangerous. BYU could make it to the Final 8, but probably no further.
Saturday, March 12, 2011
##I just saw an article on how the Tsunami in Japan has affected the Japanese players in the U.S. I didn't realize how many Japanese players there were in Majors. And all pretty good, too. Well, there is Kei Igawa, who is trying to get back to Japan. We wish them all luck.
##Yogi is back in camp after falling on his way to get a bowl of soup. Always the quipster, Yogi said later, "It's okay. I didn't like the soup anyway."
##Nick Johnson has signed a contract to go on the DL with the Cleveland Indians this year.
##Chuck Greenberg, CEO of the Texas Rangers, ran around for the last six months claiming credit for the success of the Rangers. He did make one mistake: he clashed with team President Nolan Ryan. He is now the former CEO.
***NCAA BASKETBALL NEWS***
Why do I love college basketball?
##Syracuse and Notre Dame, who should have been playing for the championship of the Big East today, will, instead, be in the stands watching Louisville and Kemba Walk...er...Connecticut.
##Jimmer Fredette decided he didn't need any help to keep BYU on the winning track, scoring 52 points in an 87-76 victory over New Mexico. Watch out in the NCAA's, Jimmer. They play defense in the Big East & the ACC.
##Kansas, N. Carolina, San Diego St. and Ohio St. all received scares before pulling out victories yesterday. I don't think there's a clear cut favorite going into the NCAA Tournament this year.
***PRO FOOTBALL NEWS***
The 2011 season is in doubt. Howard Fendrich of the Associated Press, has the answer. This is kind of obscure and complicated, so pay attention. According to Howard, "As was clear all along, the dispute came down to money." Wow! Who knew? The players and the owners are trying to split up $9 billion. That's Billion, with a B. The Union has de-certified and the players are suing the owners, and I'm eating noodles with ketchup. Excuse me if I have very little sympathy for either side.
Serena Williams is sick and can't play, and...well, no one else matters.
Notice to all: turn your clocks ahead one hour tonight. You can make up the sleep at work on Monday. (Not me, of course)
Friday, March 11, 2011
Yeah, right. The three refs from the SJU-Rutgers game have "decided to voluntarily withdraw from the rest of the Big East Tournament." In the business world, this is called - Quit Before You're Fired. Then they have the gall to show up and sit in the stands for the next day's games, and apparently are eligible to officiate in the NCAA Tournament. I respect the fact that judgement calls can go either way, but for all three to lose complete control of the game clock is inexcusable. If they lets the refs sit in the stands, then they should let them have a press conference to explain their actions. Which, of course, they wouldn't be able to.
***OHIO ST. RELENTS***
Poor coach Jim Tressel has suffered enough, I guess. Ohio St. apparently considered banning him from spring practice and summer camps as further punishment for his violations, but decided not to because...well, they didn't want to. After all, it's not like he punched an opposing player in the face or anything. That would be ridiculous. Okay, NCAA, the ball's in your court. And you have all the time in the world because the Time-Challenged Three aren't involved in this.
No one is really surprised at the way Jackson, Triche, Jardine, etc., played yesterday, but Fab Melo? Here's a guy that has been pulled from games after a minute and a half, never to be seen again, who appeared to have to be introduced to the basketball, let alone his teammates, showing the domination that Syracuse fans had been promised. If he continues that quality of play, the Orange have an outstanding chance at the Final Four.
A side note: Yogi is okay. He tripped on the carpet and fell on his butt in the clubhouse, was taken to the hospital as a precaution and released the same day. Hank Steinbrenner immediately fired the carpet.
Wednesday, March 09, 2011
OSU Athletic Director, Gene Smith, has suspended coach Jim Tressel for violating his contract. There, that ought to show you that Ohio State takes their rules seriously.
I'll wait until you all stop laughing.
Tressel never reported that he received word that two of his star players were selling jerseys, trophies and other sports memorabilia, in direct violation of school (and NCAA) rules. They were also involved in a federal drug-trafficking case. Why didn't he? Well, Tressel said he "...didn't want to interfere with the Federal case..." and didn't sit the players because he "...didn't want to raise a new set of questions." ...and he didn't want to lose any games.
The A.D. said he never seriously considered firing Tressel for violating a term of his contract, which specifies that he must immediately report ANY (and the word is underlined in the contract) information regarding violations of school or NCAA violations.
Said Tressel, "I take my responsibility...tremendously seriously...". Well, he had eight months to report it and didn't. That's pretty serious. AD Smith is no better: "He is our coach and we trust him implicitly." Naturally.
The President of the school had this to say about firing the coach: "No, are you kidding?" he said with a laugh. "Let me be very clear. I'm just hoping the coach doesn't dismiss me." Do you believe this? I ask you, who the hell is in charge here?
Ohio States first two games next year (these are the suspended ones) are against Akron and Toledo. That's if they can come up with teams by then.
The NCAA has yet to investigate and issue any sanctions of their own, but because this is a major power school, I don't expect anything too harsh.
BYU has an honor code that is very strict...and enforced. A star basketball player was dismissed from the team for "...engaging in extramarital sex." Tough code that. Apparently Ohio State's honor code is, "Hope we don't get caught."
***CHAMPIONSHIP WEEK IN COLLEGE BASKETBALL***
This is where teams without the top records in their conference go all out in hopes of winning the tournament and get an automatic bid to the NCAAs. This is followed by SELECTION SUNDAY, where all the pairings are announced, followed by the tournament itself. Using three networks, the NCAA will have every single game televised.
Which means Picasner will be living on caffeinated coffee laced with Red Bull.
Monday, March 07, 2011
It seems the players wanted to talk about the complaints they had about the umpires last season, so the two unions and MLB sat down to discuss some issues. MLB was represented by Joe Torre, who would be taking his daily naps at the meeting.
The major problem seemed to be that any punishment or censure of the umps was never announced and the players felt the umps weren't being held to the same standard as the players. Granted, the multitude of HD cameras at all the games magnify any errors made by the umps, but other than balls and strikes, I think they do a decent job.
There are still the "neighborhood" plays that are allowed: if the ball gets there first, the runner is automatically out, etc., but by and large, they're okay. Balls and strikes are a completely other issue. I have no stats to corroborate me feelings, but I'll bet their calls are wrong 30-40% of the time.
The issue they should talk about but won't, is the umps control of the game. Someone has to explain to the umps that baseball is a competition between two sets of athletes, trying to perform better than their opponent. The umps act as though baseball is sport where players perform so umpires can show off their "skills" at making calls and woe betide anyone who questions their ability. I don't think umpires should have carte blanche to throw out a player. The circumstances should be well-defined and any ejection should be investigated for cause on BOTH sides. And "showing up" an ump should never be a cause.
***A LINEUP CHANGE?***
In spite of Girardi's statements, there is talk in the front office of moving Brett Gardner into the leadoff spot instead of Derek Jeter, and moving Jeter to the second spot. I think that's a big mistake. Sure, Gardner may get on base more and be able to steal more bases, but batting Jeter 2nd increases the chances of doubleplays, what with Jeter's penchant for hitting ground balls.
Jeter has also been much more aggressive at the plate the last few years, which would also curtail Gardner' chances to steal.
So what's the answer? Either bat Jeter 1st and Gardner 2nd, all but eliminating double plays, or (gulp) move Jeter to 8th or 9th.
Sunday, March 06, 2011
Sabathia and Chamberlain didn't look too good against Washington yesterday. The New York papers said no one was worried about CC, but there were questions about Joba's performance. It's still spring and records and stats mean nothing, people. Pitchers are especially prone to up and down outings.
Cervelli is out for about 6 weeks, which means Montero is currently the back up to Russell Martin. The only Yankee who is hitting with any consistency is minor leaguer Jorge Vasquez, but because the Yanks signed Eric Chavez, he's probably going to end up in Scranton.
***STARS DON'T MAKE A TEAM***
Especially in basketball. Adding Carmelo Anthony hasn't made the Knicks any scarier. Neither he nor Stoudemire play any defense. In Miami, the "Big Three" haven't shown they can beat teams with a winning record. Instead of calling them the Miami Heat, maybe they should be called the Miami Lukewarm. The pressure seems to be getting to them, LeBron isn't making the clutch shots that the team needs. Meanwhile, the Chicago Bulls are showing you that it's a true TEAM game.
***WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?***
The suits at ESPN are in an uproar because Bobby Knight was heard to utter a curse while discussing defensive sets with Digger Phelps. At one point, he called one set-up a "...chicken#&@* defense." What's the big deal? When you hire Bobby Knight, why are you surprised when you get Bobby Knight?
***IT'S ALL ABOUT THE GAME***
When they discussed the NFL-Players negotiations on the Sports Reporters today, Mike Lupica said it's actually about the money. He then repeated a very telling quote from Red Smith: "The owners have a very moral attitude about taking a dollar from the fans...unless there's a chance that a dollar and a quarter is involved." Good point.
About a year ago, I posted some team nicknames that I thought were pretty funny. I dealt with professional and college names but ESPN the Magazine has gone me one better: they dug up High School nicknames. That's where the real beauties are.
The Watersmeet (Mich.) NIMRODS - Not a compliment where I come from.
The Yuma (Ariz) CRIMINALS - Might as well get it right out in the open.
The Avon Oldfarms (Conn) WINGED BEAVERS - I have no comment (that I can print).
The Dunn (Calif) EARWIGS - Doesn't that inspire school spirit? Stick it in your ear now has a whole new meaning.
...and my personal favorite:
The Poca (WVA) DOTS - Is the team mascot a bowling ball?
Annie-O wasn't sure what the Corfu Central High School in Corfu, NY, team nickname was. She thought it was the Dragons, or the the Drag-Ons, or maybe the Draggin's. She played on the school Honors Volleyball team, whose nickname she claimed was "Those Girls." I guess I should add those to the list.
***KIND OF DISAPPOINTING***
The Duke-North Carolina wasn't exactly a prize fight last night. Duke never seemed to be in the game and the final score was not indicative the contest. Duke lost 81-67, and didn't look at all like a well-coached team. These two teams should meet again in the conference tournament. Maybe we'll see the real Duke team.
Thursday, March 03, 2011
#The pitchers continue to do well, but they're only going one or two innings and pitchers are always ahead of the hitters in the spring.
#Which is probably why the Yankee hitters aren't scaring anybody, either.
#Cervelli expects to be the backup to Martin during the season, but he's getting beat up at the plate. He's been hit in the foot and the thigh. They say this is giving Montero a good shot at staying with the club, but I think it would be better for him to go to Scranton and play every day.
#Jeter continues to be "Mr. Groundout."
#You win some, you lose some. Scott Boras lost Mark Teixeira as a client but picked up Robinson Cano. A good deal for Scott as Tex is done paying him but Cano has some major paydays heading his way.
***AROUND THE LEAGUE***
#Doctors have cleared Josh Beckett to play but Boston is holding him out of one more start, but at least the phone has stopped ringing.
#St Louis pitcher Chris Carpenter says his bad hamstring will cause him to miss just one start. That's good news, since a lengthy loss of Carpenter would have been the death knell for the Cards.
#The Giants Pablo Sandoval has actually managed to lose some weight and his hitting has improved greatly. Instead of a hitting coach, he's being trained by Jennie Craig.
#Sad news from the Minnesota Twins camp. Justin Morneau has still not been cleared to play by the team doctors. It seems he still has residual problems from last year's concussion.
***MARCH MADNESS TIME APPROACHING***
#BYU's Brandon Davies has been dismissed from the team for a violation of the school's Honor Code. It seems he got his girl friend pregnant, which is a no-no at BYU but good training for the NBA.
#Saturday is the ACC's last regular season game. Duke and North Carolina are tied for the conference lead and play in Carolina's Dean Smith Center at 8:00 PM. Blood donors are already lining up in Chapel Hill.
***FROM JANICE HOUGH***
"Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira has ended his relationship with longtime agent Scott Boras. So Teixeira clearly feels there are more important things in life than money. No word on when Yankees management plans to schedule him for a mental health test."
***FROM BRAD DICKSON***
"On Monday Christina Aguilera was arrested for public intoxication. She was rambling incoherently and not making any sense, so right away the police knew she was either intoxicated or attempting to sing the national anthem.
To rub salt in her wounds the cop who read her her rights intentionally mixed up the words."
Tuesday, March 01, 2011
**The Yanks are interested in the Twins Liriano. He's coming off Tommy John surgery (who isn't, these days?), but he's only 27 and showed great improvement toward the end of last year. The Twins will certainly be competitive and would probably like to trade him before free agency because they won't be able to afford him afterward. Unfortunately, the Yanks prize trade bait, at least the one they are willing to part with, Jesus Montero, won't fit in Minnesota. He's a catcher and/or first baseman. The Twins road blocks: Mauer and Morneau. This probably won't happen without some major problem in Minnesota.
**The Red Sox Josh Beckett got hit in the head a couple of days ago. He says he's okay, though. In an interview after the accident, he said, "No, I'm fine. There's nothing wrong. Will someone answer the damn phone?"
**Jeter's going back to the batting cages with Kevin Long. So far this year, he's still hitting nothing but ground balls. Last year, he led the majors in number of ground balls, and ended up with a .270 average. He and Long both say he just needs practice, but this doesn't bode well.
**The Yanks pitching looks pretty good so far. The ones on the ML roster, anyway. Some of the minor leaguers who don't expect to make the club are showing why that is. I think the one pitcher the front office hopes looks good is Chamberlain. With all the excellent prospects in the minors, Joba becomes the high-profile expendable they could try to trade for another frontline starter like Liriano.
A man wanted for robbery barricaded himself inside an Omaha hotel utility closet. It was important to get the man out. Come College World Series time the hotel will be renting the utility closet for $399 a night.