Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas and More Baseball Guessing

The article which will analyze the status of every MLB team entering 2008 is coming along nicely. Last time I posted a preview of a certain National League franchise. Here's a preview for an American League ballclub.

The class of the _____ remains in the driver's seat. GM _____ stepped down after the end of the season and new general manager _____ has yet to prove he can run a big market ballclub. Overpaying for OF _____ wasn't as egregious a mistake as overpaying for _____ (who was mentioned in the Mitchell Report) last year but still was a bad signing. Trading _____ netted the _____ a quality starter in _____ but leaves a gaping hole at SS. Despite these lateral moves _____ still possesses superior talent and coaching compared to its division rivals. The farm system has thinned since the promotions of RHP _____, 2B _____ and OF _____. Top prospects 3B _____ and RHP _____ are promising but have performance and injury questions.

Hmm, this franchise seems to have its act together. Will it earn an "A" because of its divisional dominance or will the team lose points for making questionable transactions and entering 2008 with an untested front office? Actually I should figure out the answer myself...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Trivia and What's On Deck

Did you know...

...the last Caucasian American to be selected with the #1 pick in the NBA Draft was Kent Benson? The big man from Indiana was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks, who coincidentally would draft another white center with the first selection (Australian Andrew Bogut) years later.

...Randy Johnson has won five Cy Young awards? The Big Unit received his first honor in 1995 when he led the Seattle Mariners to a memorable and historic playoff run. As a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks Johnson won the Cy Young four straight times from 1999 - 2002.

...three college football programs are tied for the most Heisman Trophies. Notre Dame, Ohio State and Southern California have each had seven recipients for the award.

I love trivia, especially sports trivia. I'm going to make an effort in 2008 to include more interesting sports tidbits on this blog. Speaking of 2008, my next big article will examine every MLB team and analyze how each ballclub is shaping up entering the new year. Here's a sample. Can you guess which team this is? Better yet, can you fill in the blanks?

The ownership issue looms over the _____ as _____ prepares to cede its share of the team. Still, that hasn't stopped _____ from spending and, more importantly, contending. The reigning _____ Division winner snagged free agent OF _____ to bolster an already formidable lineup. RHP _____, who resigned during the 20007 campaign, leads one of the stronger rotations in the _____ League. _____ in his first season as _____ skipper once again proved there's a method to his madness by leading his team to a second-half surge. CF _____ is the best young player in the organization. Other prospects, most notably 3B _____, are years away from producing in the big leagues.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Where Amazing and Abysmal Happen

Tonight's game between Golden State and Los Angeles Lakers epitomized what's right and wrong with the NBA.

First of all, the positive. It was an amazing game. Constant back and forth, ebb and flow. Two well-oiled offenses constantly driving to the hoop. Slash attacks, spin moves, vicious dunks; poetry in motion. The best part was during the final stretch in the 4th quarter when neither team called a timeout. This was ballin' unfiltered and uninterrupted. The Warriors escaped with a 108-106 victory, defeating the Lakers for the first time in ten tries. Golden State players were pumped; they clearly wanted the monkey off their backs and to beat their SoCal rivals. Baron Davis, saddled with foul trouble, nailed two amazing three's to help put the Warriors ahead. And they needed all the help they could get as mental mistakes and high emotions nearly derailed them. For the Lakers Andrew Bynum continued his maturation process with 17 points, 16 rebounds and one thunderous dunk. The big story for LA was Kobe Bryant, who suffered a left groin injury late in the contest and tried valiantly to continue playing. Talk about drama.

The Bay Area packed the Oracle Arena to the tune of 20,705, a state record for a basketball game. The place was rocking. At one point announcer Marc Jackson blurted "I love this game!" It felt like a playoff game... in December!

Now what mired this game is what almost always derails NBA games... the officiating. It was abysmal. Foul calls at times seemed arbitrary, based upon which players could flail their limbs or scream in (false) agony the best. And the judgment calls were wildly inconsistent. During one play Bynum and a Warriors defender jump for a high pass. Bynum tips the ball to a Lakers player and takes down the defender in the process. The refs allow the play to continue and the Laker scores uncontested. Later in the game Stephen Jackson brushes Kobe's elbow (and that's been generous) during a shot attempt and gets called for the foul. In that same quarter Bryant barrels into the lane on multiple occasions. With defenders swarming and bumping Kobe throws up shots hoping to draw calls. The refs hold their whistles, Kobe argues and the maddening inconsistency continues.

The worst incident happened when Matt Barnes shoved Ronny Turiaf in the face to prevent an easy layup. What clearly should have resulted in an flagrant foul type 2 (and automatic ejection) resulted in only a type 1. Although it was bang-bang type of play the refs are trained and paid to make the right calls. It was such an obvious, important and easy decision (blow to the head = ejection) that its omission was baffling and disheartening. Maybe one call (or non-call) doesn't make or break a game, but a handful decides a close contest.

During the offseason the NBA quickly acted to neutralize Tim Donaghy's impact. The league did its best to assure fans that refs were not influencing contests to influence games. I sincerely doubt officiating crews are intentionally trying to sabotage contests, but they oftentimes have an adverse effect on them.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Calm Before the Storm

This post represents life before the Mitchell report. Before the findings of a 20-month investigation that examined steroid use in baseball were publicly released. Before the names of up to 80 current and former players were implicated in the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Before the media jumped to conclusions, before the players rattled off excuses, before the fans became further disillusioned and disgusted. Before everyone tried to understand a situation offering no real solutions and too many questions.

Basically this is a simpler time. A happier although perhaps more ignorant time. This is life before the Mitchell report, and a part of me can't help but wish it could stay this way.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Even Fellini Thinks These Basketball Players Are Getting Too Artsy

What happens when you mash together a Got Milk? commercial, an NBA Cares ad and the Chinese art film In the Mood for Love? Milwaukee Bucks rookie Yi Jianlan tries to answer that very question.



And that's not even the strangest drink commercial from a foreign basketball player this year. Your winner, Mehmet Okur.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

WGA and AMPTP Can Learn from Kidd and Nets


Jason Kidd will not have to cross a picket line because there isn't one according to the All-Star guard.

Kidd denies sitting out last night's game was a protest against his current team. Reports from the NY Post, among others, allege Kidd isn't happy in the Garden State and wishes to be traded from New Jersey to Cleveland to play alongside LeBron James. They were teammates this summer on Team USA.

Kidd called his team on Wednesday afternoon and informed them he wouldn't be playing that night against the New York Knicks. Jason blamed the late scratch on migraines. It appears Kidd is telling the truth and the Knicks are still giving people headaches.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

College Football's Top Teams and Heisman Hopefuls: End of Regular Season

It was only appropriate that at the conclusion of this wild regular season in college football that both #1 and #2 were toppled. Missouri once again fell to Oklahoma, this time in the Big 12 Championship, ending the BCS title hopes of the Tigers. West Virginia, meanwhile, suffered a devastating upset at home against rival Pittsburgh.

Ohio State is now the consensus #1 in the country. But now the question remains: who will play the Buckeyes for the championship? Many pundits favor the LSU Tigers, which beat Tennessee on Saturday to secure the SEC championship. Other candidates include Pac-10 co-champion USC, Kansas, Georgia, Virginia Tech and even unbeaten Hawaii.

Personally I'm going with the Sooners. Oklahoma handed Missouri its only two losses of the season. The second contest was on the national stage and killed Mizzou's dream season. Furthermore, it was thorough blowout of the top team in the land. Contrast that with LSU. The Bayou Bengals needed two late turnovers the SEC to take care of the Volunteers. Admittedly though the Tigers were banged up. Still it was a "show me" game and LSU failed to impress like Oklahoma.

Regardless, the postseason picture will be made crystal clear this afternoon. Then the arguments will really start to begin.

Top Ten Teams
College Last Week
1) Ohio State
3
2) Oklahoma
8
3) Louisiana State
6
4) Georgia
4
5) Southern California
7
6) Missouri
1
7) Virginia Tech
10
8) Florida
9
9) West Virginia
2
10) Kansas
5

Dropped out: none


Sam Bradford had arguably the best season ever for a freshman QB. Tim Tebow racked up numbers beyond comprehension. Darren McFadden proved what many thought last year: he's the best player in college football. While many favor the dual-threat from Florida, Tebow failed to lead his team to a marquee win. The biggest victory for Florida was against Kentucky. Meanwhile Run-DMc had a performance for the ages in an instant classic 3-OT thriller against LSU. Darren accumulated over 2,000 yards and 20 TD for the season despite being the focal point for a one-sided Arkansas offense. He could've had 3,000 yards if former head Houston Nutt would have let McFadden run wild. However, the coach was shrewd enough to compliment Darren with Felix Jones. Conversely, Florida coach Urban Meyer had no problem with keeping Tebow late in blowout games, which inflated some of Tim's gaudy numbers.

Heisman Hopefuls

Name Position Year College
Darren McFadden
RB
Jr.
Arkansas
Tim Tebow
QBSo.Florida
Sam Bradford
QBFr.Oklahoma
Chris Wells
RB
So.Ohio State
Pat White
QB
Jr. West Virginia

Dropped out: Chase Daniel

Friday, November 30, 2007

Russian Literature and American Football: Together At Last

Just came across this post and enjoyed it immensely. Big Cat Country has done an exceptional write-up which compares teams in AFC South to characters in Fyodor Dostoevsky's existential classic The Brothers Karamazov

Saturday, November 24, 2007

College Football's Top Teams and Heisman Hopefuls: Week #13

"McFadden has a chance to throw a wrench into both BCS and Heisman races with a huge game at #1 LSU next week."

Run-DMc did not disappoint, leading the Arkansas Razorbacks to a thrilling 3-OT victory over #1 Louisiana State. Running the Wild Hog formation for most of the game McFadden's team gashed the Tigers defense for 385 yards on the ground. With LSU now out of the national championship picture West Virginia emerges at the #2 team in the country. They hosted a very good Connecticut team on Saturday and blew it out of the water. As good as the Mountaineers have been all season they won't be #1 when the polls are released tomorrow.

Missouri jumped to an early lead against Kansas in the annual Border War and held on for the win in a titanic battle between top five teams.

Should either the Tigers or Mountaineers slip next week look for Ohio State, already in the gate with a 11-1 and Big Ten title, to play in its second straight championship game. If both Missouri and West Virginia should both fall it would only be fitting for a such a ridiculous year. In that case Georgia, despite not being eligible for the SEC championship, would likely play in New Orleans.

Looking ahead to the final week of the regular season... West Virginia needs to defeat Pittsburgh. A win and the Mountaineers advance to the BCS title game. Oklahoma and Missouri meet up in San Antonio to determine the Big 12 crown. The Sooners handed the Tigers their own lone loss this season. If Missouri wins it's in the title game. LSU and Tennessee hook up in Atlanta to determine the SEC championship. On the other end of the country Hawaii hosts Washington. The Rainbow Warriors seek to finish the year undefeated and earn a BCS bowl berth. Staying in the west USC looks to avenge last year's loss against crosstown rival UCLA. Also in the Pac-10 California and Stanford will play The Big Game.

Top Ten Teams
College Last Week
1) Missouri
4
2) West Virginia
3
3) Ohio State
5
4) Georgia
6
5) Kansas
2
6) Louisiana State
1
7) Southern California
-
8) Oklahoma
9
9) Florida
10
10) Virginia Tech
-

Dropped out: #7 Oregon, #8 Arizona State


Darren McFadden's stats from Friday: 32 carries, 206 yards, 3 TD and a touchdown pass. Simply put it was a game for the ages, on the road, against the best team in the country, in front of a national audience. Tim Tebow, Chase Daniel and Pat White also had excellent individual efforts in leading their teams to victory. Tebow, despite his gaudy numbers, failed to register a marquee win this season. Daniels has a chance to be remembered with a great performance and a win in the Big 12 championship against powerhouse Oklahoma. White plays a decent Pittsburgh team. No matter how well he performs the game will likely lack the magnitude to thrust him into the Heisman lead.

Heisman Hopefuls

Name Position Year College
Darren McFadden
RB
Jr.
Arkansas
Chase Daniel
QBJr.Missouri
Tim Tebow
QBSo.Florida
Pat White
QB
Jr.West Virginia
Chris Wells
RB
So. Ohio State

Dropped out: none

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Treat

I notice a lot of people come here looking for the clip of Carl Lewis singing the national anthem followed by Charley Steiner laughing hysterically. I posted a video of it over a year ago but it's no longer available.

Luckily someone has posted another video of the infamous incident. It isn't the whole clip, but hell, I'll take it!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

College Football's Top Teams and Heisman Hopefuls: Week #12

One buckling knee collapses Oregon's entire season. Dennis Dixon's ACL injury dooms the Ducks at Arizona. Before Thursday night Oregon was on course to play in the BCS title game. Now it might not even win its own conference.

Another title contender, Oklahoma, falls tonight in Lubbock to Mike Leach's high-powered Texas Tech offense. Sooner QB Sam Bradford was knocked out early in the game and OU never recovered.

LSU and Kansas control their own destiny but the journey to New Orleans won't be easy (as college football fans have witnessed all season long). Missouri, West Virginia, Ohio State and Arizona State still cling to BCS championship hopes. Out of those teams Missouri has the best shot of leapfrogging either the Tigers or Jayhawks. Mizzou finishes the regular season against Kansas. If they win that contest and the Big 12 title game Missouri's resume will likely be impressive enough to rank either #1 or #2.

Looking ahead to Week 13... a Thanksgiving meeting between USC and Arizona State in the desert will go a long way toward clearing the Pac-10 picture. On Black Friday Arkansas hopes to leave the LSU Tigers black and blue and pull off the huge upset. The marquee matchup of the week is between Big 12 teams, as Kansas and Missouri hope to earn a berth to the conference championship -- and perhaps the BCS title game. Meanwhile Virginia vs. Virginia Tech is a battle between top-15 teams. Also Tennessee vs. Kentucky will determine the winner of the SEC East. Staying in the south, first-year Alabama coach Nick Saban hopes to lead the Crimson Tide to a victory over Auburn in the Iron Bowl.

Top Ten Teams
College Last Week
1) Louisiana State
1
2) Kansas
5
3) Missouri
4
4) West Virginia
6
5) Ohio State
7
6) Georgia
8
7) Oregon
2
8) Arizona State
9
9) Oklahoma
3
10) Florida
10

Dropped out: none


Dennis Dixon's unfortunate season-ending knee injury dashes his hopes of winning the Heisman. Tim Tebow, the first QB in Division I history to throw and run for 20 TD in the same year, has solidified his position atop player of the year rankings. Chase Daniel had another excellent afternoon tossing the pigskin. He threw for 284 yards and four touchdowns, leading Missouri to a comfortable win and setting up a huge showdown against Kansas next week. Chris Wells has quietly had an excellent season for Ohio State. In today's contest against arch-rival Michigan, the one nicknamed "Beanie" rumbled for 222 yards and two scores. For the season Wells has 1463 rushing yards and 14 scores. This week Darren McFadden was shut down on the ground by a stout Mississippi State defense (28 carries, 88 yards). He did, however, make a 57-yard TD catch. McFadden has a chance to throw a wrench into both BCS and Heisman races with a huge game at #1 LSU next week.

Heisman Hopefuls

Name Position Year College
Tim Tebow
QB
So.
Florida
Chase Daniel
QBJr.Missouri
Darren McFadden
RBJr.Arkansas
Chris Wells
RB
So.Ohio State
Pat White
QB
Jr. West Virginia

Dropped out: Dennis Dixon, Matt Ryan

Saturday, November 10, 2007

College Football's Top Teams and Heisman Hopefuls: Week #11

I take a few weeks off from writing about college football and the sport goes insane. Illinois -- of all teams -- sends the BCS Championship into disarray by upsetting top-ranked Ohio State in Columbus.

What a wacky year it's been. The Big 12, considered a lowly conference coming into 2007, is home to three of the five-best teams in the nation. One of them, Kansas, remains the only program in a major conference to remain undefeated.

LSU and Oregon, if they run the table, are expected to play for the championship. However, if a Big 12 team earns a big win in the conference championship game it's possible that extenuating circumstances will push the Ducks down to #3. Remember in 2001 the Ducks were ranked 2nd in both polls but 4th in the BCS. The computers (and human voters) could make it happen again.

Looking ahead to Week 12... Oregon visits Arizona in a collision of two high-powered offenses. Also Ohio State and Michigan engage in their annual showdown. Finally, Georgia looks to keep pace in the SEC East against Kentucky.

Top Ten Teams
College Last Month
1) Louisiana State
4
2) Oregon
5
3) Oklahoma
2
4) Missouri
-
5) Kansas
-
6) West Virginia
6
7) Ohio State
1
8) Georgia
-
9) Arizona State
-
10) Florida
-

Dropped out: #3 South Florida, #7 Boston College, #8 South Carolina, #9 Kentucky, #10 California

This is clearly a three-man race and with each passing week it appears Tebow and Dixon further separate themselves from the pack. That has as much to do with their excellent play as it does with the other contenders playing for losing teams. Dixon had a bye this week. All Tebowo did was account for seven TD in a blowout against South Carolina. McFadden had a decent game but Arkansas got blown out by Tennessee. Matt Ryan threw for three TD and 400+ yards but Boston College's defense couldn't stop Maryland. Daniel had himself a huge outing against Texas A&M. Two weeks from now his Missouri squad plays at Kansas. That could be the game that determines the Heisman.

Heisman Hopefuls

Name Position Year College
Tim Tebow
QB
So.
Florida
Dennis Dixon
QBSr.Oregon
Darren McFadden
RBJr.Arkansas
Chase Daniel
QB
Jr.Missouri
Matt Ryan
QB
Sr. Boston College

Dropped out: Andre' Woodson, Graham Harrell, Michael Hart

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

La-La Land Remix

Who knew the Lakers could become even more dysfunctional on the eve of this season than they were at the end of last season?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Red Sox Slay Rockies

Congrats Boston.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

This Is Probably the Greatest Thing to Ever Appear on the Internet and that Includes Naked Chicks

A true classic in sports blogging. Bask in the wonderment of the infamous, glorious and outrageous Wiggle From The Lavender Grave.

UPDATE 10/27/07: freedarko.com is coming out with a book with more hilarious sketches next year!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Sick Day

Feeling ill lately, so no posts for the foreseeable future. Anyway via Sports Media Watch: a commercial for the upcoming 07-08 NBA season.

Nice.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

College Football's Top Teams and Heisman Hopefuls: Week #7

Kentucky upsets the #1 team in the land. The Wildcats outlast the LSU Tigers in triple overtime at Lexington. A couple hours later and 3000 miles away, the clock ticks to zero as Cal's field goal unit futilely attempts to line up for the game-timing kick. Instead Oregon State escapes Strawberry Canyon with a huge 31-28 upset. When was the last time the top two teams in the AP Poll lost the same night? 1996.

In other developments, Oklahoma asserts itself as the best team in the Big 12 by pulling away late against Missouri. Also the Buckeyes steamroll Kent State in a mismatch of Ohio football programs. Finally, South Florida pummels Central Florida 62-14. The Bulls are here to stay.

Week 8 offers a good slew of SEC games. Florida at Kentucky is the marquee contest. Tennessee at Alabama and Auburn at LSU should provide plenty of excitement. Elsewhere, USC heads to South Bend for its annual showdown against Notre Dame. Michigan must go into Illinois and win if the Wolverines want to remain perfect in Big Ten play.

Top Ten Teams
College Last Week
1) Ohio State
2
2) Oklahoma
4
3) South Florida
6
4) Louisiana State
1
5) Oregon
5
6) West Virginia
9
7) Boston College
8
8) South Carolina
9
9) Kentucky
-
10) California
3

Dropped out: #10 Missouri


Statistically Andre' Woodson did not have the best of nights. However he threw for 250 yards and three TD, including what would be the game-winning score in the third overtime. Andre' also ran for a touchdown. His composure, skill and leadership were on display on a nationally-televised game. Woodson was instrumental in Kentucky's toppling of top-ranked LSU and as a result he is the leader of Heisman Hopefuls. Illinois RB Rashard Mendenhall has a poor performance (15 carries, 67 yards) in a losing effort at Iowa. He's out of the top five, as is Arkansas RB Darren McFadden. The Razorbacks suffered a third loss thanks to their putrid offense floundering against Auburn's tenacious defense. Mendenhall and McFadden are replaced by RB Michael Hart of the surging Michigan Wolverines and QB Matt Ryan of the undefeated Boston College Eagles.

Heisman Hopefuls

Name Position Year College
Andre' Woodson
QB
Sr.
Kentucky
Graham Harrell
QBJr.Texas Tech
Tim Tebow
QBSo.Florida
Michael Hart
RB
Sr.Michigan
Matt Ryan
QB
Sr. Boston College

Dropped out: Darren McFadden, Rashard Mendenhall

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Conan O'Brien Old Tyme Baseball



UPDATE:

Monday, October 08, 2007

Evaluating the NBA Preview 2006-2007

Prior to each NBA season for the past few years I've ran a snapshot preview of each team, the playoffs and regular season awards. Here's my predictions for 2006-2007. Not so hot.

Awards
Most Valuable Player: LeBron James (original prediction), Dirk Nowitzki (actual winner)
Most pundits believed James would win his first MVP last season. He certainly had the personal numbers (27.3/6.7/6.0), but the Cavs failed to establish the type of winning voters now view as mandatory in order to receive this honor. That being said, Nowitzki (24.6/8.9/3.4) was the best player on the best team (in the regular season) and certainly a worth recipient.

Rookie of the Year: Brandon Roy, Brandon Roy
Despite missing over 20 games due to injury, the rookie from Washington ran away with the award. Averaging 16.8/4.4/4.0 per game, Roy has established himself as a rising star. Toronto's Andrea Bargnani also had a very productive first campaign.

Defensive Player of the Year: Ron Artest, Marcus Camby
Camby, healthy for the first time in a long time, dominated the paint for Denver. Marcus averaged nine defensive rebounds, three blocks and a steal per contest.

Sixth Man of the Year: Shaun Livingston, Leandro Barbosa
Livingston suffered a horrific knee injury midway through the year, but even a healthy Shaun wouldn't have challenged Barbosa. It was a two-man battle between Barbosa and San Antonio's Manu Ginobli. In the end voters sided with Leandro's instant offense off the bench, which did little to diminish the attack established by incumbent PG Steve Nash.

Most Improved Player: Darko Milicic, Monta Ellis
Monta matured from a decent bench player to potential scoring superstar in one season. His scoring average for 06-07 increased by ten points to 16.5. Ellis also managed to snag 1.7 steals and dish out 4.1 assists per game.

Executive of the Year: Carroll Dawson, Bryan Colangelo
Colangelo, a former Suns exec, brought the same type of Phoenix high-powered offense up north. Acquiring Bargnani, TJ Ford, Anthony Parker and Jorge Garbajosa gave the Raptors pieces to contend for many years to come.

Regular Season
In the Eastern Conference Miami and Milwaukee. Injuries ravaged both organizations, but the Heat still managed to make the playoffs. Once it became apparent the Oden-Durant sweepstakes was the real offseason prize, non-playoff teams started vigorously tanking. Detroit should've ran away with the best-record in the conference but mediocre coaching kept them within the pack.

In the Western Conference it was business as usual. Dallas, Phoenix and San Antonio exerted themselves as the cream of the NBA crop. As expected, Houston and Utah rebounded to make the playoffs while the LA Clippers returned to reality - and the draft lottery. Golden State, led by its first-year coach Don Nelson, was the surprise story of the season.

Playoffs
Somehow I always manage to forget about Division implications in the playoffs - such as how each Division winner is guaranteed a top-3 seed in the first round. My brackets were screwy to say the least. Regardless, I did not expect Miami and Dallas to be both eliminated in the first round. I actually predicted the Heat defeating the Spurs in the NBA Finals.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Two Baseball Links

Added a couple of sites to Links that deal with baseball talent.

Minor League Ball is written by John Sickels. He has been featured on ESPN.com and is the author of the Baseball Prospect Book series. Minor League Ball analyzes, remembers and predicts the skills and productions of baseball prospects past, present and future. Definitely recommended for those who are interested either in the stars of tomorrow or who wish to know more about his or her favorite team's farm system.

Prospect Insider is written by Jason Churchill, who has written articles for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. PI is primarily a blog that deals with minor leaguers with an emphasis on those within the Mariners organization. Occasionally there will be commentary on the current MLB club. Jason has many sources through baseball and sometimes posts about the rumblings and grumblings throughout the sport. His latest entry offers insight into which teams Alex Rodriguez will look to sign with this offseason.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

College Football's Top Teams and Heisman Hopefuls: Week #6

LSU reigns supreme, both teams in the City of Angels fall and Oklahoma returns to the BCS title hunt Sooner than later.

In other developments, Wisconsin loses at Illnois. The Badgers haven't played well all year and finally have a "L" in the standings to prove it. Virginia Tech crushes Clemson at Death Valley and South Carolina beats previously-undefeated Kentucky on Thursday night.

This is the year of parody. The only teams with legitimate chances to be undefeated are LSU, California, Ohio State and Hawaii. But each team has shown moments of vulnerability.

Week 7 offers a mediocre slew of matchups. Top-ranked LSU visits Lexington. Can the Wildcats rebound from Thursday night's loss? Undefeated Missouri's trip to Oklahoma will tell which team is top dog in the Big 12. Boston College at Notre Dame could be intriguing.

Top Ten Teams
College Last Week
1) Louisiana State
1
2) Ohio State
4
3) California
3
4) Oklahoma
7
5) Oregon
6
6) South Florida
9
7) West Virginia
10
8) Boston College
-
9) South Carolina
-
10) Missouri
-

Dropped out: #2 Southern California, #5 Wisconsin, #8 Florida


Andre' Woodson had a miserable Thursday. Not only did his Kentucky team lose for the first time this season but he contributed heavily to the defeat. Woodson threw a pick and had two fumbled returned by South Carolina for touchdowns. He needs a big game (and a win) against #1 LSU to have any shot at the Heisman. Graham Harrell replaces another gunslinger, Hawaii QB Colt Brennan, in the third spot. P.J. Hill of Wisconsin gets replaced by his Big 10 counterpart on Saturday, Illinois RB Rashard Mendenhall.

Heisman Hopefuls

Name Position Year College
Darren McFadden RB
Jr.
Arkansas
Graham Harrell
QBJr.Texas Tech
Tim Tebow
QBSo.Florida
Rashard MendenhallRB
Jr.Illinois
Andre' Woodson
QB
Sr. Kentucky

Dropped out: Colt Brennan, P.J. Hill

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Separated at Birth

On the left is North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. On the right Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis.

What are the odds of having a brother from another mother also grow up to be a ruthless dictator?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Korean Fans are Crazy Choreographed

Saw this posted at Lookout Landing.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

College Football's Top Teams and Heisman Hopefuls: Week #5

The only Top Ten team that won easily on a historic weekend was Ohio State. LSU eventually pulled away from in-state rival Tulane, USC needed to recover on onside kick to survive at Washington, Wisconsin withstood a late charge from Michigan State and California required an Oregon fumble inside the endzone to escape with a victory from Autzen Stadium.

And they were the lucky ones.

In other developments, Oklahoma lost on a last-second FG at Colorado. Florida also was defeated on last-second FG. The defending champs were thwarted by Auburn for the second consecutive year, this time in Gainesville. West Virginia came up just short in its comeback bid at South Florida on Friday night. Texas, playing with fire for the past month, finally got torched as Kansas State trounced the Longhorns in Austin.

All these crazy games result in some wacky reasoning in the Top Ten. Oregon loses this week and enters the ranking while Boston College remains undefeated and drops out. I think it's reasonable to say there is no dominant team in college football this year. It's all about which team(s) will play smart and execute down the stretch.

Week 6 brings a boatload of huge matchups. Thursday night has undefeated Kentucky visiting South Carolina. Saturday afternoon brings Big 12 rivals Texas and Oklahoma together for the Red River Shootout. One team will start conference play 0-2. The game with the biggest BCS implications will be Florida at LSU. Other great contests should be Virginia Tech at Clemson, Cincinnati at Rutgers and Nebraska at Missouri. Upset alert: Wisconsin at Illnois.

Top Ten Teams
College Last Week
1) Louisiana State
1
2) Southern California 2
3) California
9
4) Ohio State
7
5) Wisconsin
8
6) Oregon
-
7) Oklahoma
3
8) Florida
4
9) South Florida
-
10) West Virginia
5

Dropped out: #6 Texas, #10 Boston College


Andre' Woodson's record-setting streak of most consecutive pass attempts without an interception finally ended this week. Still, the gunslinger from Kentucky rises to the top of the Heisman Hopefuls. Darren McFadden quickly returns to the discussion after a good performance. P.J. Hill, the sturdy Wisconsin RB, debuts in the top five. Run-DMC's and Hill's ascension come at the expense of a couple Mountaineers. Not only did West Virginia lose but star QB Pat White and RB Steve Slaton had subpar performances on the national stage. White, it should be noted, was hampered by a leg injury during the second half. Colt Brennan threw three TD but also a career-high five picks.


Heisman Hopefuls

Name Position Year College
Andre' Woodson
QB
Sr.
Kentucky
Darren McFadden
RB Jr. Arkansas
Colt Brennan
QB Sr. Hawaii
Tim Tebow
QB So. Florida
P.J. Hill
RB
So. Wisconsin

Dropped out: Pat White, Steve Slaton

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Seattle Superbad Remix

That giant sucking sound emitting from the Pacific Northwest? The Mariners not only tolerating terrible baseball but actively encouraging it:
General manager Bill Bavasi and manager John McLaren will return for the 2008 Mariners season.
$113 million payroll, no playoff appearances in six seasons and two knuckleheads leading this team for one more year.

Willie Williams in Trouble Again

The long and sad story of linebacker Willie Williams has taken another twist for the worst.

"ESPN College Football Live" reports this afternoon that the troubled star has been dismissed from Louisville. Allegedly a police officer pulled over Willie's vehicle and found marijuana. Earlier this year Williams transferred from West Los Angeles Community College to Louisville after athletic director Tom Jurich personally approved the decision. Undoubtedly Jurich informed Williams that due to his criminal past he would be held to a higher standard.

In 2004 Williams was among the most heavily-recruited high school football players in the country. But his on-the-field talent came with some heavy baggage. From 2000-2004 he was arrested 11 times, including felony burglary for which Williams was sentenced to 18 months probation.

During a well-documented visit to the University of Florida Willie inappropriately hugged a woman, fought in a bar and set off fire extinguishers inside a hotel. Eventually Williams signed with Miami. After redshirting his first season Williams played in a handful of games in 2005 before requesting a release from his scholarship.

Now it seems Willie will never play college football again.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Gap Between Sports and Entertainment Narrows... and We All Suffer as a Result

ESPN College Football
50 Cent, Kelly Rowland and Perry Farrell
[If someone finds a link to this please contact me]

MLB Playoffs
Dane Cook


NBC Sunday Night Football
Faith Hill



College Football's Top Teams and Heisman Hopefuls: Week #4

Louisiana State easily defeats South Carolina, Southern California cruises against Washington State and Oklahoma mauls Tulsa. Business as usual for the nation's elite.

In other developments, Penn State's offense lays an egg in Ann Arbor. The Nittany Lions lose to Michigan 9-14 and drop out of the Top Ten. Boston College supplants PSU in the Top Ten. Florida escapes Mississippi with a close win. Wisconsin emerges victorious but for the second straight week make things difficult for itself. The Badgers drop down a notch.

Week 5 is a good week for football games. The marquee matchup involves two high-octane Pac-10 offenses as Cal heads to a hostile Autzen Stadium to play Oregon. On Thursday night South Florida hosts West Virginia. Other noteworthy contests include Alabama at Florida State and Michigan State at Wisconsin.

Top Ten Teams
College Last Week
1) Louisiana State
1
2) Southern California 2
3) Oklahoma
3
4) Florida
4
5) West Virginia
5
6) Texas
6
7) Ohio State
8
8) Wisconsin
7
9) California
10
10) Boston College
-

Dropped out: #9 Penn State


Another remarkable effort by Darren McFadden goes for naught as Arkansas suffers a second consecutive loss. Run-DMC is knocked out of the Heisman Hopefuls, though no fault of his own. If the Razorbacks get back on track, expect Darren to return to the discussion. Colt Brennan did not play due to injury. He flip-flops with Pat White for the top spot. Tim Tebow enters the top five but it's still a wide open race. Oregon QB Dennis Dixon has a chance for national recognition if he plays well and leads the Ducks to victory over Cal.


Heisman Hopefuls

Name Position Year College
Pat White
QB
Jr.
West Virginia
Colt Brennan
QB Sr. Hawaii
Andre' Woodson QB Sr. Kentucky
Steve Slaton
RB Jr. West Virginia
Tim Tebow
QB So. Florida

Dropped out: Darren McFadden

Saturday, September 15, 2007

College Football's Top Teams and Heisman Hopefuls: Week #3

Southern Cal pounds Nebraska on the road while LSU and Oklahoma remain dominant at their respective homes. Louisville loses an in-state shootout with Kentucky, sending the Cardinal out of the Top Ten.

In other developments, Ohio State pulled away in the second half to win comfortably at Seattle. The Buckeyes victory over Washington thrusts OSU into the rankings. Defending champs Florida destroy Tennessee at The Swamp and Texas eeks out another win.

Week 4 is a bit of a downer. The best game on paper is South Carolina at LSU. Other noteworthy contests include Arizona at Cal, Kentucky at Arkansas and Penn State at Michigan.

Top Ten Teams
College Last Week
1) Louisiana State
1
2) Southern California 2
3) Oklahoma
3
4) Florida
6
5) West Virginia
4
6) Texas
7
7) Wisconsin
8
8) Ohio State
-
9) Penn State
10
10) California
9

Dropped out: #5 Louisville


Despite Darren McFadden's gutsy 200 rushing yard, 2 TD performance his Arkansas squad lost a heartbreaker at Alabama. Still, the most dynamic player in the country remains on top, although the margin of error for the Razorbacks is zero. Andre' Woodson proclaimed himself the best collegiate QB in Kentucky -- and perhaps the nation -- by leading the Wildcats to a historic win. Steve Slaton scored three TD on Thursday at Maryland, but two of them were short yard scampers -- courtesy of a couple of explosive runs by true freshman RB Noel Devine.


Heisman Hopefuls

Name Position Year College
Darren McFadden RB Jr. Arkansas
Colt Brennan QB Sr. Hawaii
Pat White
QB Jr. West Virginia
Steve Slaton
RB Jr. West Virginia
Andre' Woodson
QB Sr. Kentucky

Dropped out: John David Booty, Brian Brohm

Sunday, September 09, 2007

College Football's Top Teams and Heisman Hopefuls: Week #2

LSU's thumping over Virginia Tech has the Tigers taking the top spot from the idle Trojans of USC.

In other developments, Oklahoma's thrashing of Miami catapults the Sooners six spots up to #3. Georgia falls from the Top Ten after being upset at home by South Carolina. The Bulldogs are replaced at #10 by the dominant defense of Penn State.

Week 3 brings a marquee matchup of two historic programs. #2 Southern California heads to Nebraska to play the Cornhuskers, a game which will have huge implications on the Top Ten. Another interesting contest pits SEC rivals #6 Florida and Tennessee. Finally, Kentucky hosts in-state opponent #5 Louisville. This showdown may showcase the two best QB's in the country.

Top Ten Teams
College Last Week
1) Louisiana State
2
2) Southern California 1
3) Oklahoma
9
4) West Virginia
3
5) Louisville
4
6) Florida
5
7) Texas
6
8) Wisconsin
7
9) California
8
10) Penn State
-

Dropped out: #10 Georgia


McFadden and Booty had a bye week, which gave an opportunity for other players to demonstrate their talents. Still, it's hard to punish great players who didn't get chances to play. Brennan and Louisville QB Brian Brohm continued their respective aerial assaults, the latter earning a spot on Heisman Hopefuls. White continued to rack up numbers as a dual-threat QB, overshadowing his running mate Steve Slaton.


Heisman Hopefuls

Name Position Year College
Darren McFadden RB Jr. Arkansas
Colt Brennan QB Sr. Hawaii
John David Booty QB Sr. Southern California
Brian Brohm
QB Sr. Louisville
Pat White
QB Jr. West Virginia

Dropped out:

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Slight Delay

The latest edition of College Football's Top Teams and Heisman Hopefuls will be posted later in the week. Until then, here's a hilarious clip from my favorite show:

Saturday, September 01, 2007

College Football's Top Teams and Heisman Hopefuls: Week #1

Appalachian State throws a giant wrench into the top ten, as well as derailing Michigan's national titles hopes on the first day of September. The Mountaineers pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the history of college football when a blocked Wolverine field goal attempt at the end of the game sealed App. State's 34-32 win.

California and Georgia receive boosts in this week's rankings. The Bears of Berkeley avenged last year's blowout in Tennessee, defeating the Vols in a 45-31 slugfest. Meanwhile Bulldogs pulled away from Oklahoma State to win comfortably in Athens.

Next week introduces some highly-anticipated matchups. Labor Day brings the pigskin to Monday night, as the Bowden Bowl pits Florida State versus Clemson. Saturday's showdown between LSU and Virginia Tech will go long way toward defining each teams' BCS aspirations. Also the contest between Oklahoma and Miami will answer some big questions. Can Randy Shannon lead the Hurricanes out of Big 12 country with a win? Was the Sooners' dominance tonight a fluke or a sign of things to come?

Top Ten Teams
College Last Week
1) Southern California 1
2) Louisiana State
2
3) West Virginia
3
4) Louisville
5
5) Florida
6
6) Texas
7
7) Wisconsin
8
8) California
10
9) Oklahoma
9
10) Georgia
-

Dropped out: #4 Michigan


Even as I type Colt Brennan has already thrown for over 400 yards and 6 touchdowns... in the first half! Michael Hart, despite his gutsy performance on Saturday, drops out of the Heisman discussion following Michigan's historic loss. The second part of West Virginia's two-headed monster, dual-threat QB Pat White, enters the top five. Louisville's Brian Brohm, Cal's DeSean Jackson, Missouri's Chase Daniel, Florida's Tim Tebow and Oklahoma's DeMarco Murray all made huge statements to start the season.


Heisman Hopefuls

Name Position Year College
Darren McFadden RB Jr. Arkansas
Colt Brennan QB Sr. Hawaii
John David Booty QB Sr. Southern California
Steve Slaton RB Jr. West Virginia
Pat White
QB Jr. West Virginia

Dropped out: Michael Hart

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Seattle Superbad

Idiocy Revisited

Looks like someone didn't learn a lesson...

Situation:
Tonight your team plays a make-up away game against the Cleveland Indians. Earlier the New York Yankees finished off a three-game sweep of the Boston Red Soxs. The Yanks now lead the Wild Card by .5 a game. Your team has just suffered a crippling three-straight losses against division rivals Los Angeles Angels. Another defeat tonight extends the overall losing streak to six.

...

Cleveland takes the early lead, but your team scratches its way back on top. Momentum swings back and forth.

...

You're tied. Bottom of the ninth. One out. Your reliever has just hit a batter on an 0-2 pitch, leaving runners on first and second. He's only gotten one out and is having issues with control.

You've used three relievers in 2.2 innings, leaving two options remaining in the bullpen. The first is closer J.J. Putz, already established as the best arm on the roster. He hasn't pitched in nearly a week. The other choice is Rick White, who imploded two days ago in a pressure-packed outing.

Once again, the situation. A chance to stay tied for the Wild Card and gain half a game on the idle Angels.

So you can stick with the usually reliable (but currently struggling) Eric O'Flaherty... or choose between the super-dominant Putz or the craptastic White.

What do you do again, John McLaren?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

An IQ Comparison

Situation:
You're the manager of a professional baseball team. It's late in the season and your team is in the thick of a pennant race. Up two games in the Wild Card standings, the team behind you -- the New York Yankees -- has already beaten its bitter rivals (also the best team in baseball), the Boston Red Soxs. Tonight your team must win to maintain a two-game lead over the Yanks.

Meanwhile, your team hosts the second game of a three-game set against the Los Angels Angels. LA dismantled you 6-0 last night, increasing its lead in the division to three games.

...

A back and forth contest. Your offense manages to wallop the Angels starter in the first inning for five runs. Slowly but surely LA crawls its way back and makes it a competitive match.

...

You're down 6-7. Top of the seventh. Bases loaded. Two outs. Vladimir Guerrero, the most imposing batter in baseball, steps to the plate. Your hotshot rookie reliever still has the stuff to keep pitching, but does he have the nerves?

In the bullpen you have three options. First off is George Sherrill. Right-handed batters are hitting .212 against him all year. He's been an elite reliever this season. As luck would have it your second option is even better than your first. J.J. Putz is hands down the best bullpen arm in baseball. Right-handed batters have hit an anemic .149 against the All-Star closer, striking out in more than a third of their at-bats. In fact, the last time Vlad was here Putz dominated him with three consecutive heaters. Your third option is Rick White. Recently acquired from the Houston Astros, White has been successfully hit 32% of the time against righties. Rick was so terrible a last-place team deemed him expendable.

Once again, the situation. A chance to gain a game against the division leader. An opportunity to keep the charging Yankees at bay. One of the game's greatest hitters at the plate with the sacks full. Make no mistake, this is the most important at-bat of the season up to this point.

So you can stick with the explosive yet untested Morrow... or choose between the dominant Sherrill, the super-dominant Putz or the craptastic White.

What do you do, John McLaren?

Friday, August 24, 2007

College Football's Top Teams and Heisman Hopefuls: Preseason

Hard to believe kickoff is less than a week away. How time flies. Anyway, this is my preseason look at the best teams and players in college football.

Most pundits expect USC to dominate this year. While the Trojans are certainly loaded there remain questions at the RB, WR and PK positions. I attended the Trojan scrimmage on Wednesday, where the team emphatically answered all my concerns. But practice is practice and games are games.

Rating these teams is arbitrary at this point, based more on perception than production. Until they play a few contests it's impossible to rationally conclude Team A is better than Team B. That being said, I'm certain the teams I've list are talented, well-coached and will have success this season. But each squad has questions that need to be addressed.

Michigan, for example, despite losing key defensive players possesses an awesome offense led by QB Chad Henne and RB Michael Hart. Can the once-dominant D catch up with the offense? The same can be said about reigning champs Florida. QB Tim Tebow takes over full-time in the huddle to lead an explosive spread offense. But can the Gators replace S Reggie Nelson and DE Jarvis Moss? Can a redshirt freshman QB lead the Sooners to the BCS title game? And what about LSU? QB Matt Flynn played so well for the Tigers in the 2005 Peach Bowl. Will the road to this year's championship be paved in the state of Louisiana -- from Death Valley to New Orleans?

All the top ten teams have the potential to contend for a championship. They are also susceptible to a loss or two. Should be a fun four and a half months.


Top Ten Teams
College Last Year
1) Southern California 7
2) Louisiana State
5
3) West Virginia
8
4) Michigan
9
5) Louisville
2
6) Florida
1
7) Texas
-
8) Wisconsin
5
9) Oklahoma
10
10) California
-

Dropped out: #3 Ohio State, #6 Boise State

McFadden, following his second-place finish in last year's Heisman voting, leads the pack. A record-setting gunslinger is followed by the leader at what has recently been Quarterback U. Two dynamic running backs wrap up the top five. But with established stars like Ray Rice, Henne and DeSean Jackson and darkhorse candidates like Chase Daniel excelling across the nation, no player is guaranteed a December seat in New York.


Heisman Hopefuls

Name Position Year College
Darren McFadden RB Jr. Arkansas
Colt Brennan QB Sr. Hawaii
John David Booty QB Sr. Southern California
Steve Slaton RB Jr. West Virginia
Michael Hart
RB Sr. Michigan

Dropped out: Troy Smith, Brady Quinn

Thursday, August 23, 2007

USC Football Scrimmage Report

Wednesday night the USC Trojans held an open scrimmage in preparation for next Saturday's home opener against the Idaho Vandals. The first-unit Cardinal squad manhandled the second-unit White team 42-10.


Excitement was in the air from the get-go as Chauncey Washington opened the scrimmage with a 63-yard dash. C-Dub then bulldozed into the endzone from one yard out. In the blink of an eye the Cardinal team was up 7-0. It was a lead that was never threatened.

C-Dub looked noticeably slimmer than he did last year and without any nagging injuries Washington showed early on what Trojan fans can expect from him in 2007. Later in the second half Chauncey crumpled to the ground after a run. Many in attendance (including yours truly) screamed expletives as it appeared Washington had severely been hurt on the play. Luckily, C-Dub quickly rose to his feet and scampered off the playing field with an apparent stinger to his arm.

The running game, which was inconsistent at best in 2006, seems primed to take off this year. The offensive line was stout and for the first time in a long time there was a healthy fullback to clear the lanes.

Stafon Johnson picked up where Chauncey left off, busting through the left side for a 67-yard jaunt. He fought and clawed for the final ten yards, fending off tenacious would-be tacklers. It was the type of explosive play that clearly demonstrated why Johnson has been climbing the loaded depth chart at RB. Stafon barreled in from a yard out on the ensuing play for a touchdown. He later scored on a 14-yard scamper. Stafon also had a couple tries returning punts. The first kick he let bounce to the 5-yard line. The second kick he fumbled, enabling the kicking team to regain possession. Stafon did not return punts again.

Allen Bradford started for the White team and carried ten times for 56 yards. It was an impressive feat considering how ferocious the Cardinal defense was all night. CB Terrell Thomas did a fine job locking onto the White receivers. QB Michael McDonald and Mitch Mustain threw into narrow passing windows the entire game.

Ronald Johnson was the star of the show. After initially muffing a kickoff RoJo burned through the coverage and sliced his way across the field. Every time RoJo touched the ball there was a palpable excitement coming from the 18,000 in the Coliseum. The true freshman is poised to become a playmaker at SC and will be one to watch this fall.


John David Booty threw crisp, short passes during his first-half stint. In the second half true freshman Aaron Corp ran the Cardinal offense. He finished the scrimmage by finding a diving Vidal Hazelton in the left corner of the endzone.


Other Notes

* During the Trojan Walk (when fans greet the players arriving into the Coliseum), K David Buehler stopped to hug a woman wearing #18 jersey with “BUEHLER” emblazoned across the back – presumably his mother. That was nice to see.

* Joe McKnight, the heralded speedster from Louisiana who’s been drawing comparisons to a former USC superstar now playing in that state, did not play due to a minor leg injury.

* Redshirt freshman WR David Ausberry is a beast. He possesses a blend of size, strength and speed that can’t help but draw comparisons to Mike Williams and Dwayne Jarrett. With Ausberry, Patrick Turner, RoJo and Hazelton, the depth at WR is not a concern.

* Another talented true freshman, DE Everson Griffen, recorded a half-sack against White team QB Mike McDonald.

* Mark Sanchez, the second-string QB, tossed the football during warm-ups with his left hand. Mark suffered a broken thumb to his throwing right hand will not be available for the Idaho game. Suffice to say, he did not play in the scrimmage.

UPDATE: Chauncey is getting X-rays for a shoulder sprain. He says it's not a big deal.

UPDATE 8/24/07: Uhh, turns out the injury is significant. Chauncey may not be available for the Idaho game, which could pave the way for Stafon to start.