Sunday, May 07, 2017

FAREWELL TO "THE SPORTS REPORTERS"

After 28 years, The Sports Reporters ended today. This has always been my favorite sports talk show, four writers combining knowledge, humor and plain old opinion, crunched into 30 minutes,
The first moderator was Dick Schaap, an on-air reporter, writer and analyst, at home in any sport, from boxing to the big four and pretty much any Olympic event. His style was laid back, setting the topics and keeping the other three panelists involved, seldom offering any opinion or offering an argument to another person's point. When he passed away after 12 years, I didn't think the show would even continue, much less be as entertaining.
I was wrong. John Saunders followed in the classy tradition that Schaap had started. Saunders offered his own opinion a little more often and kept the humor that Dick Schapp was noted for. John led the panel for 16 years until his untimely death. Mike Lupica took over and I expected a continuation of the quality that Schaap and Saunders had instituted.
I was wrong again. Lupica is very opinionated and I often referred to him as a "conversational bully." He injected his opinion on every subject and made sure he occupied as much of the air time as he could. When he was just a panelist, I appreciated the passion he brought to the show but I didn't realize how much both Schaap and Saunders had controlled him. Without that control, it became "The Mike Lupica Show," to the detriment of the quality of the program.
I read an article that claimed that Lupica insisted on taking over the program after Saunders and irritated both the producer and other guest panelists to the point that a number of them refused to do the show and the decision was made to cancel the show, with Lupica's attitude having a lot to do with this decision. As I say, it was one article and one writers opinion but I did see signs of that being the case. At any rate, I will miss the show.
For those of you who don't watch it, I will try to find a video of Mitch Album's final "Parting Shot," a poem he wrote saying goodbye to the show.

Who are those guys?
I refer to the 2017 edition of the NY Yankees. They are out-performing their pre-season predictions by so much that no one can understand it. The heroes are everywhere. 5 players of the regular lineup are hitting over .300, with Starlin Castro leading the league at .381. Aaron Judge has hit a league leading 13 home runs. The Yanks three outfielders, Gardner, Ellsbury and Judge are playing so well that it's impossible for anyone to break into that trio. But wait, with Ellsbury slightly injured, here comes Aaron Hicks hitting over .340 with 6 home runs. How do you put him on the bench? It's a very nice problem to have.
NY will complete a three game series against the Cubs tonight. Luis Severino, a pitcher with possibly the best skills on the pitching staff will be on the mound tonight. With the high level of confidence that the team has and Severino on the mound, the Cubs will have their work cut out for themselves. Make no mistake, they are capable.

I guess I'm just tired 
It seems that getting deep into the playoffs isn't all flowers and candy. Teams that make it to the World Series have a lot of problems the following year, mostly with the pitching staff. If they don't get hurt, they don't seem to pitch well. The cubs are having a lot of problems with their starting pitchers and the vaunted Mets staff has fallen on hard times. Noah Syndergaard is on the DL and may be done for the year, Matt Harvey, who has a poor conditioning record, has been suspended for 4 games for breaking some unnamed club rule. The team has a staff era of just under 5.00.
The Cub pitchers aren't performing all that well, either. John Lackey has an ERA of 5.14 and the staff ERA is over 4.00. I don't think this will stop anyone for trying to get to the World Series.

Just my luck
For the last three years, my sister-in-law and I have had a friendly bet on our respective teams; me for the Yanks, Pauline goes with the Dodgers. It's not much - $10 gift certificate to McDonald s. This year, she took pity on me and we didn't bet and the Yanks are going great. Where's Jimmy The Greek when you need him?

They let my favorite reporter go 
ESPN fired 100 employees to curb costs over losing some 2 million subscribers. Wait till the remaining subscribers find out one of those let go was Jamee Sire. 

***THEY SAID IT***
"Mets ace Noah Syndergaard is out with a torn lat muscle after refusing an MRI days earlier for a hurt bicep. Figures a guy named Noah waits for his injuries to come in twos."  -- RJ Currie
"Wouldn’t you like to be a fly on the cabin wall when United Airlines discovers that its flight full of MMA fighters is overbooked?  -- Dwight Perry
"It took the NFL 52,129 tries to come up with its next NFL schedule. Apparently everyone wanted to play Cleveland twice."  -- Cam Hutchinson
 "The Kentucky Derby -  fastest 2 minutes in sports. Entire race takes about as long as it takes  The Dodgers Pedro Baez to throw a pitch."  -- Janice Hough
" Si.com profiled the world’s oldest competitive gymnast, Johanna Quaas, who is 92. And I thought Derek Jeter stuck around too long."  -- Brad Dickson
"Bengals cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones got into an altercation with a reporter at a news conference in Cincinnati:. Been a rough week for Adam. Earlier this week he beat-up his anger-management therapist."  -- Alex Kaseberg
"Serial tripper Grayson Allen finally announced his decision: He’ll return for his senior season at Duke rather than leave early for the NBA. Apparently he’d been kicking it around for weeks."  -- Dwight Perry

"I finally have something in common with Johnny Manziel, Colin Kaepernick and Tim Tebow. If you see us at a football game, it’s because we got in with a ticket."  -- TC Chong
"Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes drew a four-game suspension for throwing at the Orioles’ Manny Machado. If that was the rule in the old days,  Don Drysdale and Bob Gibson wouldn’t have had more than three starts in a season."  -- Jim Barach
"LaVar Ball’s Big Baller Brand has just released their Lonzo Ball signature first shoe – “ZO2: Prime.” for $495, about 3 times the price of many NBA stars’ shoes from Nike, Adidas etc. So does the shoe come with a shirt for your significant other saying “I’m with stupid?"  -- Janice Hough
"The NY Knicks are floundering and Phil Jackson is starting to look more and more like former Knicks president Isiah Thomas without the sexual-harassment charges."  -- Mike Bianchi
"Los Angeles has bid to host the 2024 Olympics. So if you want to attend one of the events in L.A., you should get on the freeway now."  -- Conan O'Brien
"Many WTA players protested Maria Sharapova going directly from a doping suspension into Stuttgart's main draw after a wild card was granted. Or should I say grunted?"  -- RJ Currie
" A minor leaguer with Class A South Bend tried and failed 10 times to toss a beach ball back over the outfield fence. I think I know why he’s in Class A."  -- Brad Dickson
 My wife was watching the World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship. “Because a woman usually gets in the last shot?” I asked. “No,” she said. “To see a man do his share of sweeping."  -- RJ Currie

CP-




Thursday, April 13, 2017

NOT ENOUGH BASEBALL FOR YOU, WELL...

That's the thing about professional sports: they can always find something else to start a controversy. Now it's the flu bug. Even though clubhouses have trainers, assistant trainers, personal trainers and even doctors all looking out for the health and well-being of these coddled athletes, illnesses still creep in to decimate a ball club.
The flu bug has hit the Boston Red Sox the hardest - at least it's the most publicized. Buck Showwalter of the Baltimore Orioles is not impressed. His team has players with the bug but he and his players refuse to talk about it. He also said every team has a problem with the flu. Buck has often denigrated other teams just to motivate his own team. He especially likes to pick on the Red Sox and the Yankees, citing their extremely high payrolls in comparison to the Orioles modest one. This may be just one more building block for Buck.
The Twins have jumped on the bandwagon, too, Having the visiting clubhouse in their stadium fumigated after a visit from the Red Sox. Was that real or just another jab at Boston? Not to be outdone, the Sox had their own clubhouse fumigated after they left on a road trip. Was that to prove that the flu bug was an actual problem or just a response to the Twins.
So far, the only Yankee to be affected severely has been first baseman Greg Bird, who has missed a few games for that and a sore toe from a foul ball. I wonder if foul ball injuries will become epidemic.

Statistics gone wild.
David Cone, a self-proclaimed sabermetrics nut, has gone over the edge now. When listening to a David Cone analysis of a Yankee game, I noticed two things: the repeated use of the phrase "Without a doubt," (Annie-O and I actually count them), and his penchant for explaining every activity with some kind of statistical percentage. A typical Cone comment: "Montgomery has a miss rate on pitches of 19%. The major league average is 10%." Rickie Weeks of the Rays, didn't miss one pitch, blasting a two-run shot in the first inning off of Montgomery, which is a statistic that actually meant something. 
Later in the game, Aaron Judge, the Yankee linebacker, er...Right Fielder, smashed a homer into the netting over Monument Park in center field, over 400 feet away. After a couple of minutes to compile his numbers, Coney announced that the ball traveled 436 feet. Thank you, David. Oh, but wait, he wasn't done. The exit velocity was 107 mph and the ball reached a height of 110 feet. Thank you David, you've earned your paycheck today. If you really want to impress us with numbers, tell how much that paycheck is for.

Speaking of line backers...
Yankee outfielder and Rays first baseman  Richie Weeks had a horrific collision at first base yesterday when Weeks stepped into the baseline to retrieve a dropped throw right in the path of Gardner. You don't often see that vicious hit in football where they're actually trying to do that. Minor injuries for both combatants which is good news. Just think if that had been Aaron Judge involved; they probably would have had to peel Weeks off of Judges chest. And they might have to tell Judge that he was involved in a collision. 

Anything you can do... 
We're all familiar by now with all the shenanigans that college athletes get involved in, drinking sexual assault, abuse of women, stealing, etc. Let's not forget the ladies, who obviously can hold their own when it comes to scandals. Coastal Carolina University cheerleaders have been suspended amid allegations of running a prostitution ring and working as strippers. Gives new meaning to the phrase, a 'good head on their shoulders.' Move over Baylor, you have competition. So far, we've have scandals involving players, coaches, assistant coaches, Athletic Directors and even University Presidents. Now the cheerleaders have gotten involved. What's left? Mascots? I can hardly wait.

A new trend? 
This is a good thing - until something goes wrong. In a rare effort to connect with the fans, some players have taken to actually playing catch with a fan while warming up before the game. This has got to be very exciting for some kid in the stands. Aaron Judge is one player who has been doing it. I hope no fan misses a throw and gets hit, followed by the inevitable lawsuit and a strongly worded dictum from Commissioner Manfred prohibiting this event. That would be typical behavior for baseball: Let's not be having any fun out there.

***THEY SAID IT***
"Colin Kaepernick is still unsigned. He’s rumored to have turned down an offer from Regina to backup QB Vince Young; but said he may be interested in coming here just to kneel for the singing of O Canada."  -- TC Chong
"So many meaningless games at the end of the NBA season.   Differing at least in intensity from the meaningless games during most of the NBA season."  -- Janice Hough
"The man who holds the world’s consecutive free throw record (Tom Amberry) has died at age 94. His top mark was 2,750 in a row. That beat Shaquille O’Neal’s NBA best by only 2,748."  -- Jim Barach
"According to several sources, the 2017 N.Y. Yankees lack left-handed power. This continues a tradition of Bronx Bombers reviews dating back to 1935. Ruthless."  -- RJ Currie
"So we revisit the new catchphrase that explains it: “The game of baseball has changed,” a half-thought that, if completed, would conclude, “but not for the better.”  -- Phil Mushnick
"Tim Tebow has now homered twice in the minors. He is not so happy with his fielding though, complaining that his throws from the outfield to home plate keep getting intercepted by the shortstop or second baseman."  -- TC Chong

CP-







 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

GET OUT THE CRYSTAL BALL

ESPN actually had a feature on this morning listing their Power Rankings, anchored by Mark Teixeira and Tim Kurkjian. They compared the rankings by ESPN's panel of experts with Teixeira's choices. The only one who had it right was Kurkjian, who said, "If this were football, we'd be making these selections in the middle of the second quarter of the first game. I don't think I can do this." Of course not. there are better than 150 games to go. Players often say they need about 100 at-bats before being comfortable to judge how they're doing. That's about 25-30 games, they've played about 8. Show a little patience will you?

Expert prognosticators are silly, anyway. No matter what the sport, pre-season predictions all end up being the same: they are basically recaps of last season's finishes. The Cubs beat the Indians in the World Series? Okay, I pick Cleveland and Chicago to win their leagues. Wow! Way to go out on a limb there, fella. If an underdog team starts to lead the pack, the experts have the excuses ready. "Well, their young guys put it together faster than anyone expected." Not "anyone," just the experts. They actually begin hedging their bets in pre-season. "If they're gonna do anything, their 36-year old pitcher will have to pitch like he's 25."  Or one of their outfielders will have to hit like he did when he was the League MVP. "When was that Bob? 2010, when he was 29? Well it could happen. His broken tibia has had two years to heal, it could happen. He's only 36." There you go. Now if that team happens to do something, this expert is covered.


How to suffer along with your players.
It was announced that Yankee phenom, Gary Sanchez, will miss about 4 weeks with a muscle strain on his throwing arm. General Manager Brian Cashman, on the other hand went into intensive care when he saw Sanchez grimacing in pain after taking a practice swing. He should be back making deals by the end of the month, depending on how Sanchez responds to treatment. Hang in there, Brian.

ESPN question: Is baseball boring?
If you like the game, the answer is no. If you don't like it, you won't even watch, so how can you answer? Anything can be improved and baseball is no exception. The question is, what part of it needs improvement the most?
When this debate gets going, one answer that always comes up has to do with rule changes. The rules are what makes the game, why would you mess with that? Annie-O and I watch all the Yankee games and I think there are only two changes that would make our viewing pleasure immensely better.
1)  Shorten the game and this is easier than you think. Unless a pitch is struck, the batter stays in the box. And by staying in the box, a pitch is legal at any time. If he steps out, it's an automatic strike. Plus, a pitcher must pitch within 20 seconds or an automatic ball is called. There! Problem solved.
2)  All the announcers and/or color men in the booth: Shut the heck up. They act like a gas - they expand to fill the available space. All your statistics are not that interesting, especially early in the year when a batter can raise his average by 150 points by going 2 for 2.
Remember, it's not a radio broadcast. You don't have to say things like,"...and here's the pitch."  We can see that. Tell us the count and be quiet. Oh occasional stories or rule explanations are okay, but don't come to the game armed with 50 of them. In short - SSSSHHH!

***THEY SAID IT***
" Wintry weather tonight in Chicago. Blame whoever said hell would freeze over before they raised a championship banner at Wrigley."  -- Janice Hough
" Ichiro says he wants to play in the major leagues until he's 50. Who does he think he is? Tom Brady?"  -- RJ Currie
"Oregon came within a point of making it to the finals. This proves wearing uniforms bright enough to blind the opponent works."  -- Brad Dickson

CP-



Sunday, April 09, 2017

MICRO-MANAGING AT IT'S FINEST

Can't you see how smart I am?
Joe Girardi is known as a metrics guy. He has his notebook and computer and stats and uses them. Sometimes, he over-uses them.
Last night, the Yanks blew a 4-1 lead and lost 5-4 to the Orioles. They a lost a game they should have won. More specifically, Girardi lost a game they should have won. There they are with a 4-3 lead in the 7th inning with one out and the bases empty. Adam Warren, in relief of Masahiro Tanaka, had just retired the four batters that he faced, and out pops Girardi to change pitchers. WHY? Michael said, "Joe is going to mix and match the rest of the way." He wanted to have a lefty pitcher face a lefty hitter and so forth, the rest of the way. Again, why? Warren has no particular problem against righties or lefties, but there's Girardi, over-thinking the problem. He brings in a lefty. the result a double. Girardi brings in righty to face a right-handed hitter. Then, a single (run scores), an out, a stolen base - because it's easy to steal off of Bettances - another single and the go-ahead run scores. That's the ball game, folks. Maybe I'm old school - and I am - but the hell with the book, Joe, when you get a hot hand, ride it. I won't listen to the post-game press conference because I already know what I'll hear from Girardi.
"I played the odds but the players didn't perform." Or words to that effect.
Baseball people say that Girardi is masterful at handling the bullpen. I don't buy it.

Everybody's doing it, so it must be okay. 
A baseball stuck to the chest protector of Yadier Molina on Thursday. Stuck good and for a long time. How could that happen? Obviously, there was some kind of foreign substance either on the chest protector or on the ball. Obviously. So, according to the rules, someone - the catcher or the pitcher - has to be ejected. What happened? Nothing. Pretty much every pitcher in baseball uses some kind of substance to "improve their grip."  I emphasize the grip thing, but it has to have other effects, too. Everybody know that it goes on, you can often see it on TV because it's that obvious, but umpires and opposing managers turn a blind eye to it. Ask players about it and they just lie, lie, lie. It's a rule everybody breaks and baseball looks silly because they let it happen. Buster Olney thinks he has the answer:
"The fix seems relatively simple: Just alter the wording of the rule so that specific substances are permissible so long as the volume is not excessive -- and just have the players check with the umpires on that before they go to work, just as pitchers do when they ask for the OK to blow on their hands on cold days."
I have an easier answer: Announce to everyone that it's illegal and enforce it completely. The same situation occurred in the 90's about steroids. Baseball tried to ignore it until it became ridiculous and finally just began to enforce it. There are still those who try to circumvent the rules but it's no longer widespread. I think we need the same logic here.

There's more to worry about than injuries.
Yes, all teams suffer through injuries, but there is a new problem. Flu-like sicknesses. At least two teams, Boston and Tampa Bay, are being devastated by the flu or similar sickness. The Yankees say their players aren't feeling that good, but it hasn't kept them out of the lineup yet. It's probably going to spread, so watch out for your favorite team to have problems in the future.

Another issue of mine.
CBS dumps Phil Simms in favor of Tony Romo. Why did they get rid of one of the best analysts on the air? Here's what Phil Mushnick says.
"It wasn’t supposed to end this way. The way I figured it, CBS eventually would dump Phil Simms because he was too candid for comfort, not because he had been deemed stale. Simms would be a superb selection to sit beside during a football game.  As for Tony Romo, one must understand the mentalities of TV shot-callers’ eagerness to hire any suddenly available big name based on nothing stronger than a wish. Would I have hired Romo? Yes. He is engaging, self-deprecating, often funny. Would I have made him my No. 1 guy from Day 1? Not a chance."

***THEY SAID IT***
"An employee of the National Firearms Museum in Virginia, which is run by the NRA, was injured on the job Friday. He was taking part in firearms training and accidentally shot himself. Mean bitch karma and her friend irony for the win."  -- Janice Hough

"After their team’s tournament loss to North Carolina, Kentucky students burned a box, a TV, a T-shirt, couches, chairs and more clothes. Then they left for spring break to get rowdy."  -- Brad Dickson
"RJ’s Groaner of the Week  Hear about the Wisconsin farmer who took 12 female pigs and 10 male deer to the Green Bay Packers’ ticket office? He'd heard a game-day suite would cost 22 sows and bucks."  -- RJ Currie
"Wednesday, in case you missed it, was National Walking Day. Which might explain why Royals pitchers promptly went out and walked nine Minnesota Twins."  -- Dwight Perry
"Cubs admit feeling pressure to win a World Series every 108 years now."  -- SportsPickle.com

" The NCAA final between North Carolina and Gonzaga was a snooze fest that featured 47 fouls. One Zag fouled out early, and during that timeout, the refs had their whistles re-gripped."  -- TC Chong
"There’s online footage of a snowboard competitor being chased by a bear. If this happened regularly, snowboarding would be the No. 1 spectator sport in the world."  -- Brad Dickson
"Friday night after  a Tiger-free tournament in Augusta. Anyone know who’s leading the Masters?  Yeah, me neither. -- Janice Hough
"Why has the Masters coverage on TV  increased from 2½ hours in 1956 to 18 hours today: Jim Nantz’s descriptions of the azaleas in bloom.”  -- Brad Rock
 "Egypt now has “rage rooms” where people go to take out their frustrations and anger. Americans sometimes call places like this “golf courses.”  -- Brad Dickson
"A town of 60 people in Pennsylvania is up for sale for $US 1.5 million. If you pay cash, they'll throw in the 76ers"  -- RJ Currie
"The Oakland A’s hired Jose Canseco as a TV analyst. I’m not sure which was the bigger blow to the city of Oakland: losing the Raiders or gaining Canseco."  -- Brad Dickson

CP-






 

Sunday, April 02, 2017

NOW THE REAL SEASON BEGINS

Starting today at 1:00 pm, baseball starts for real. Every body's hopes are high and everybody has a chance to make the World Series. Unfortunately, 28 teams are going to be disappointed. Interestingly, after all the hullabaloo over the Baby Bombers and how the consensus is that the Yanks arguably have the strongest farm system in baseball, most polls have them finishing out of the playoffs. In fact, one poll has them finishing last in the AL East. They will hit and hit with power and their fielding is fine, so if their starting pitching performs well, they could go all the way. There is always that 'if.' I probably should have emphasized that a little more - IF.

Connecticut ladies bite the dust
The Yukon ladies streak had reached 111 before Mississippi State defeated them 66-64 in overtime.  As dominate as they had been, anything can happen in this sport, for no other reason than there are only five players at a time allowed on the court. The last UConn had been pushed this hard was back on November of 2014. Not having been in that position, they probably weren't used to reacting to that and that may have been a factor, too. During their last game, a lady analyst said that it wouldn't surprise her if UConn's streak reached 200 wins in a row. Next October, they can start all over again.

Sorry Sal.
Rochester D & C sports writer, Sal Maiorana,  listed 9 rule changes that would speed up a baseball game. Some suggestions were good, some thought provoking and a couple that were just...ridiculous.
1) A 20-second pitch clock.  If you watch carefully, a lot of the pitching delays are caused by batters not being in the box. This really won't help
2) Speaking of which - Keeping the batters in the box.  I've always loved this idea. Now if we can just get umpires to enforce it completely.
3) Raise the strike zone. This is in the works. The one fear is that pitchers will be even more careful which will result in more full counts and more walks - and longer innings.
4) Limit on foul balls. Here is  ridiculous suggestion #1. This isn't a beer-game softball game.
5) Limit catcher's trips to the mound. Interesting thought, but if the pitcher and catcher get confused on the signals, people could get hurt. I don't see how you could limit this and have this danger lurking.
6) Pick-off throws. This needs some explanations. He proposes that a pitcher can only try to pick-off the lead runner. So how do you prevent the other runners from straying way off the base? Why, you limit the length of a lead to 15 feet. Now umpires would have to carry a tape measure. This is ridiculous suggestion #2
7) Limit warm-up pitches for relievers to two. This is ridiculous suggestion #3. A lot of that warm-up for relievers is to allow the reliever to get used to the mound. His arm is fine, but analysts will tell you that the bullpen mound is often very different from the one on the field.
8) Relievers must face at least two batters. This is very interesting and could change the game a lot more than just the reduction of time. This will affect some managerial strategies, which isn't a bad thing. 
9) Eliminate the 40-man September roster. Again, an interesting idea but Sal adds that he would limit in to 30-man rosters. Most teams don't call up more than 6 or 7 players anyway and I don't see how this limit could change the length of a game significantly anyway. Besides, if you do this, you'll have to answer to the MLB Players Association and the players agents (Two words - Scott Boras).

You've got to be kidding me.
 31 Baylor “student-athletes” have been accused of a total of 51 assaults against women, including gang rapes, including two football players who were arrested last week. This has been going on for some time. AD Ian McCaw has resigned after 13 years at the helm. Where did he end up? He was hired as the AD of Liberty, a Christian fundamentalist college founded by Jerry Falwell. "Liberty’s president, Jerry Falwell Jr., welcomed McCaw, saying: “Ian’s success speaks for itself. You look at what Baylor was able to do during his tenure; it fits perfectly with where we see our sports programs going.” Yeah, look at what he accomplished at Baylor. I can't believe this.

In with the old and in with the new. 
First time for Gonzaga in the finals of the NCAA against North Carolina, who has been there many times. The Zags have shown that they are not intimidated by anyone or anything, so the Tarheels will have to bring more than just their clippings to this game. Naturally, Annie-O will be rooting for the underdogs as she always does. She says that's also why she married me.

We're nothing; we're just the fans.
In his last couple of years, Joe DiMaggio was often in great pain. A sports writer once asked him why he continually tried to play every game or at least ease off during the game. Joe D's response immediate and to the point: "What about all those people who came to see me play? Shouldn't I go all out for those people?"  I guess coaches like Greg Popovich and Steve Kerr don't care about those fans. When the have their playoff situation locked, they continually "rest" their players so as not to wear them out for the playoffs. And not just one player at a time, but three or four of his starters for the whole game. Those players actually come to the game in street clothes and sit on the bench, smiling, laughing and making funny comments. What about me, the poor fan who just paid $75 to sit in the nosebleed section at the AT & T Center in San Antonio, or $225 to sit in the Plaza section. Even though I could afford it, I would hate paying $750  to sit court side to watch Joel Anthony (Who??) ($350,000) play instead of Pau Gasol ($15 mil) or Manu Ginobili ($14 mil). That's the way to build fan support Coach Popvich. At least make those benched players hand out towels and Gatorade during the breaks. I  might pay money to see Kawhi Leonard ($17.6 mil) wait on Davis Bertans ($550,000). Not a lot, but some.  


***THEY SAID IT***
"Geez, the Yankees have a mental conditioning coach? Why not an air conditioning coach?"  -- Phil Mushnick
"In the office bracket, I’m behind a co-worker who wrote in “Ashley Judd” to win the tournament."  -- Brad Dickson
"Golfer Cody Gribble tapped a resting alligator’s tail, sending it scurrying into a water hazard. Pretty sure that is how Captain Hook got his start."  -- Alex Kaseberg
"Summing up Duke guard Grayson Allen's thoughts on his time with the Blue Devils: "It’s been a trip."  -- RJ Currie 
"5-time Olympic gold-medal swimmer Dana Vollmer, 6 months pregnant, plans to race in 50-meter freestyle next month. Weaker sex my ass."  -- Janice Hough
"Parents assure scared child there’s no such thing as Skip Bayless.”  -- The Onion.com  [Boy, I sure wish this wasn't a joke. - CP]
"Major League Baseball just announced its first official hot dog, and it is: A) Nathan’s  B) Oscar Mayer      C) Manny Ramirez"  -- Dwight Perry
"The Raiders’ are moving to Las Vegas. Sure, young, fit, rich, testosterone-crazed egomaniacs in a town with 24-hour gambling, drinking, hookers and strippers. What could possibly go wrong?"  -- Alex Kaseberg
"I wouldn’t say some NCAA tournament announcers seem to favor certain teams but in the closing minute of Gonzaga’s 61-58 win over West Virginia, a TBS analyst blocked two West Virginia shots."  -- Brad Dickson
"I fibbed to my wife about why I returned a stud-finder to the hardware store. I told her it kept pointing to me."  -- RJ Currie
"Interesting how the pre-seasons for MLB and NBA are ending about the same time."  -- Janice Hough
"No Shame Winner of the Week: Roger Goodell and his coterie of team owners. At a time when the NFL is suffering an epidemic of college-refined players given to committing crimes, the league’s moving a team to Las Vegas. That Nevada Hookers’ Union lobby is powerful."  -- Phil Mushnick

CP-



Tuesday, March 21, 2017

MARCH MADNESS PART II

It's now time for the Sweet Sixteen and then the Elite Eight and lastly, the Final Four. I haven't heard any alliteration for the last game - maybe the Top Two?

** The  #1 seeds left are Kansas, Gonzaga and North Carolina, so the pre-tournament seedings seem to be pretty good, in spite of some analysts belief that Wisconsin, for example was seeded too low and shouldn't have been playing the #1 seed in the second round.  Of course it's interesting to have the #1 team playing the #2 team in the finals, but who says they're the #1 and #2 teams? Isn't the whole idea of the tournament to determine who is #1 and #2? Logically, the last two teams playing ARE 1 & 2. So what if Wisconsin - a really good team - played the so-called #1 team in the nation - Villanova - in the second round. It was still a good game and proved that obviously, Villanova was NOT the nation's #1 team.
No matter how you seed them, the tournament will always be full of good games. Seedings are just someone's opinion anyway. Historically, the biggest upset pairing has been the #12 - #5 matchup.There are four #12s and four #5s, so the #12 team could be the 48th best team in the country or the 12th best, and the #5 team could be the 20th or the 5th. So why is that such a big upset? If #12 beats #20, it could be expected. Draw the match-ups out of a hat and you'd still have a great tournament.

** Another big upset is Duke getting eliminated by South Carolina in the second round. One good lesson from this is that Duke's Grayson Allen now knows what it's like to be tripped up.

** There is always a team that gets hot at the right time, a Cinderella team if you will, and this year it's Xavier. They will play Arizona on Thursday and that should be interesting. Unfortunately, that game doesn't start until after 10:00 pm EDT and probably won't end till close to 1:00 am, but that's okay. I'm sure your boss or teacher won't mind if you drag your sleepy butt around all day Friday, after all, it is the Sweet Sixteen.

** I love that the color commentators, usually former players, like to talk about rule changes they'd like to see. Sometimes they make sense, but sometimes they overreact when they don't like the enforcement of a good rule. The Flagrant Foul rule is a good example. This is when a foul is deemed excessive and stricter penalties are assessed. The analysts will object when that call is made when they feel the intent was not there. Sorry, but you can't have a rule that relies on someone's judgement of "intent." The rule is very specific and intent is not part of it. You commit the foul, you pay the price. It's meant to protect the players, so deal with it.

** There is always a discussion of how to shorten the length of the games and one of the big causes is the last two minutes of a game. There are the endless 'intentional' fouls and timeouts galore. Here's a suggestion that will help.  A team can't call a timeout unless it is in possession of the basketball. In a close game, the team behind will score a basket and then call a timeout to set up their defense. Oh, no you don't. You don't have the ball so you're on your own. The coaches will never let this rule in. This is their time in the sun. "What do you think Coach Smith will do here, Harry? Will he press or will he foul?" "I don't know, Jim, but he always has something up his sleeve. Look, he's drawing up his plan now." They need that time with the cameras on them, after all, the players come and go but the coach, he's always there. Unless he loses and gets fired.

** Speaking of coaching changes, the big discussion in New York is the continuation of the coaching career of Syracuse's Jim Boeheim. After saying for two years that next season will be his last and assistant coach Mike Hopkins will take over, it's all changed. Hopkins has taken a job as head coach with Washington and Boeheim has signed an extension beyond next year. No other details are known except Adrian Autry, a former player and assistant coach, has been named associate coach. The one question remaining is, did Boeheim sign an extension because Hopkins left or did Hopkins leave because Boeheim signed an extension? I think Hopkins was smart to leave since it would have been awfully tough for him to step in behind Boeheim after being his assistant for 10 years. I don't think Boeheim really wanted to retire after the NCAA stripped him of 100+ wins, not that anybody is actually taking that punishment seriously.

Back to baseball.
The USA WBC team is in the semi finals, which is their best showing ever. Well, good for them. I just hope no one gets hurt.
I haven't been taking seriously the success the Yankees have been having in the Grapefruit League, since they are playing against a lot of minor leaguers, but the further along they go with the continued success, it's becoming harder and harder to ignore. Maybe they will contend strongly for the playoffs this year. Greg Bird and Matt Holliday have been particularly impressive. 
ESPN asked a pretty interesting question this week. If you were starting a team, who would you take as the first pick: Bryce Harper or Manny Machado? I guess I'd go with Machado because he's more flexible defensively and more of a team player. I think Harper's ego may get very tiresome after a while.
Tim Tebow will begin the season with the Mets Class A team in Columbia, SC. No surprise there except maybe that it's not Class C or D.

***THEY SAID IT***
"Johnny Manziel hired an NFL agent. That’s a little like me hiring a caddy to tote my bag during the championship round of the Masters."  -- Brad Dickson
"I had to tell a non basketball fan that the Zags were not named after one of the guys that invented that ‘rolling paper’. (and Duke is not named after John Wayne)"  -- TC Chong
"Contrary to rumours, a Miami attorney did not lose any fingers when his e-cigarette battery exploded. At the time, both his hands were deep in his clients’ pockets."  -- RJ Currie
"The Raiders reportedly want to coax running back Marshawn Lynch out of retirement. For some odd reason, Lynch wasn’t available for comment."  -- Dwight Perry
"How bad did the first spring training game go for Tim Tebow? He was charged with three errors and he was the DH.  -- Brad Dickson  
"SMU blew a 10 point lead with 11 minutes to play to lose to USC, who had already survived a play-in game. Normally for this much embarrassment, SMU relies on their football team."  - Janice Hough
"Sports Illustrated has released a video of 2017 swimsuit model Nina Agdal asking Houston people for tips on how to get a date. Tip one: look like  Nina Agdal."  -- RJ Currie
"British Open host Muirfield Golf Course in Scotland will finally admit females as members. This coincides with their first purchase of two “Beer Carts”.  -- TC Chong
“Just filled out my March Madness tax bracket and I’m picking the IRS to take it all.”  -- Argus Hamilton
 "The women’s NCAA tournament kicked off with UConn being presented the 2016 championship trophy — no, wait, that was the 2017 championship trophy. Why wait?"  -- Brad Dickson  [I doubt the Syracuse women would object after last night's 30-point loss to the Huskies - CP]

CP- 
 
 



 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

MARCH MADNESS - 2017

This usually means very serious college basketball. It is, in my opinion, the most exciting collegiate sporting event of the year. I know, I know, there's that football playoff and all those ridiculously named bowl games but this is better.Why? Because it includes more teams and a wide variety of school sizes. When you look at the top ten football teams, you see Ohio St, Alabama, UCLA, Michigan St and the like. All huge schools with student bodies of 100,000 or more. No Creighton or Gonzaga or St Mary's and certainly no Florida Gulf Coast. They're all in the NCAA Tournament but you won't see Alabama or Ohio St in it. They weren't good enough.

This tournament is all about match-ups and brackets. It's designed to give the best teams a chance to meet in the final game, but they still have to earn it. Villanova may be the number one team in the country but they will still have to win six games in three weeks against a few of the best teams colleges have to offer. Since they can only put five players on the court at a time, sometimes a hot team will advance a lot farther than the seedings would lead you to believe. In football, win one game in the "playoffs" and you're in the final. If you are seeded number five or higher in the country, you don't even get a chance to try for it. How can you beat a system like the NCAA's? Okay, maybe you could add a few more teams, but that really wouldn't do much good, so let's stick with the current arrangement.

I'm sure you've all heard the experts drone on and on about their picks. If you haven't, turn the TV on to any one of six channels and you will. This team can go far because the committee matched them up with so-and-so. This team is seeded sixth which makes their road a lot harder. This team has to travel out west so they'll have it rougher. And so on and so forth. But let's have some fun. Let's match the teams differently

By nickname 
This would make it easier on the announcers to remember.
How about Wildcats? You could almost fill a bracket with these. There are five of them: Arizona, Kansas State Northwestern, Kentucky and, of course, Villanova.
Tigers is usually a good bet, but there are only two this year: Princeton & Texas Southern.
There are four Eagles in this one. N.C Central, Winthrop, Florida Gulf Coast and Marquette (actually Golden Eagles)
How about  the Trojans - Troy and UCLA. Maybe not a good match up on the court but they could always share a mascot.
One of the strangest obscure nicknames is the Gaels, and yet we have two of them. St. Mary's and Iona. The only problem with this match up is that one of them has to win which means another week of research for the announcers, trying to figure out what it is.
Then there are the sea going folk: the East Tennessee St. Buccaneers and the Vanderbilt Commodores. I have yet to understand how two schools in landlocked Tennessee, some 300 miles from the ocean, could end up with sea going nicknames.

By location
The committee has done this work for us. A number of years ago, there was a big uproar because Syracuse played the first round in Buffalo, some 130 miles down the road. This year, Florida, Florida State and Florida Gulf Coast all play their first round in Orlando, Florida. Poor Miami (Fla) has to go to Tulsa, Oklahoma to play. Doesn't seem fair.

Finally, this would be the best match-up of all
Miami (Fla) Hurricanes against the Iowa State Cyclones. How could you not be blown away by this one? (Okay that ones for Dwight Perry and RJ Currie, the kings of the pun)

Here's a  thought. If they matched up teams like Notre Dame and Oregon or Michigan, all with their penchant for neon uniforms, they might not have to turn the lights on in the arenas.

Since I can't beat Annie-O anyway, I gave up using any skill or insight since I don't seem to have either and picked Butler to win it all. Annie-O has picked Arizona. 

***THEY SAID IT ***
"In women’s NCAA tournament, Connecticut, winner of 107 straight, was given overall #1 seed. In related news committee announced water was wet."  -- Janice Hough
" Happy 70th birthday to Olympic gold-medal high-jumper Dick Fosbury, who gained fame for jumping back to the bar. “Me too!” said Johnny Manziel."  -- RJ Currie
" The Nebraska Husker bowling team recently defeated Lincoln Memorial, Valparaiso, Maryville and Elmhurst. That sounds suspiciously like an SEC football team’s nonconference schedule."  -- Brad Dickson
"As Americans focus on their brackets, many sites ask for tie-breakers like guessing the score of the final game. Wouldn’t it be more a test of skill to ask entrants to name one player on each of their final four teams?"  -- Janice Hough
"Food stands at the Royals’ spring-training ballpark in Surprise, Ariz., are selling a hot dog — wrapped in bacon, which is then wrapped in a cheeseburger — called the Triple Play Dog.What, was “Triple Bypass” already taken?"  -- Dwight Perry
"The Saskatchewan Roughriders signed 33-year-old ex-NFL QB Vince Young to compete with veteran pivot Kevin Glenn, 37. Presumably this is part of their youth movement."  -- RJ Currie
" The 88th annual Midwest Spelling Bee was just held. For the first time, this year kids were allowed to use spell check. -- Brad Dickson

CP-