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"Lou is not talking about mechanics when he goes out to the mound,"
~Chicago Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild

Friday, September 30, 2005

Big Night In Baseball

The MLB playoff race is red-hot. Tonight, the White Sox took on the Indians, the Red Sox hosted the Yankees, the Astros had the Cubs in town and the Phillies tried to take one from Washington. The White Sox needed the win to maintain the best record in the American League for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs (including the World Series, since the AL won the All-Star Game). The Indians needed the win to stay tied for the Wild Card lead. The Red Sox were a game back of the Yankees in the AL East when the day started. The Astros were two up with three to go over the Phillies.

Well, the White Sox won 3-2 on a 13th inning two run double by first baseman Ross Gload (playing in his 26th game this year) after an intentional walk to pitch hitter Paul Konerko. Konerko and Scott Podsednik scored on the center field double. Ronnie Belliard crushed a 1-2 pitch into the centerfield bleachers in the bottom half to make it close. But, the Indians are now on the outside looking in, a game out of the playoffs with two games to go

Ozzie Guillen started only two starters (Podsednik and Joe Crede) but still came away with the win. He got the last laugh, because a lot of sportswriters were bashing him for saying yesterday he owed it to the Yankees and Red Sox to play these last three games the right way, and then tonight starting all the bench players. It helped to have Orlando Hernandez come out of the bullpen to pitch a 1-2-3 seventh, including two strikeouts. Probably means he's not in the playoff rotation. He's been shaky as a starter (9-9, 5.24 ERA, 1.46 WHIP), but looked good tonight. Mark Buehrle pitched 5.2 shutout innings, allowing only three hits with six K's and three walks. His ERA is back down to 3.12 with a 1.19 WHIP. Ace material.

The Yankees were in Boston to try and take control of the race, but the Red Sox had other ideas. David Wells uncharacteristically walked two in the first and allowed a RBI single by Hideki Matsui, but settled down after that (holding A-Rod hitless) until he gave up a seventh inning two run homer to Derek Jeter. But, lucky for him, that only made the game 5-3 since Boston had a first inning RBI by (MVP?) David Ortiz, a second inning homerun by Jason Varitek (crushed to CF), and a big three run bottom of the sixth. In that inning, Johnny Damon started it off with a single to right and a steal of second base (his second SB of the game). Then, after a K by Edgar Renteria, Chien-Ming Wang intentionally walked Ortiz. Three pitches later, Manny Ramirez singled to left and loaded the bases. Wang should feel lucky because on the second pitch Ramirez almost took out a camera guy on the roof just left of the LF fairpole.

What happens then? Trot Nixon walks on five pitches and Damon trots on home. Then, Varitek slapped a little 0-2 dribbler to Jason Giambi, who threw a one-hopper to Jorge Posada at home to attempt to get out Big Papi, but Posada couldn't handle the throw, and the second run of the inning scores. Finally, John Olerud hit the second pitch he saw to Bernie Williams in centerfield, and you know he can't throw out anyone at home, and Manny sprinted on in.

The Yankees and Red Sox are now tied atop the AL East and the Wild Card race. A little breathing room for both of them, but the Indians aren't done yet. Like I said, it was a great night for baseball, and that was just in the American League.

In the NL, the Astros hosted the Cubs and tried to clinch the NL Wild Card race with a win. Andy Pettitte had won his last seven starts coming in, and had a great outing, lasting 7.0 innings, allowing only one run on five hits, six K's and not one single free pass. However, Carlos Zambrano also came out smokin' and went seven innings and also giving up only one run. He had eight K's of his own with three walks and four hits, smacking a single of his own, raising the switch-hitting Zambrano's batting average up to .300. Unreal.

So, it came down the ballclub's pens, and we all know who's back there in the 'stros pen. Brad Lidge. He had converted his last 24 save opportunities. If you're Houston, you're supposed to get the lead, get to the ninth, hand Brad the ball and the game's over. The Cubs had other ideas tonight, getting three consecutive singles off of Lidge by LF Matt Murton (single), RF Jeromy Burnitz (single) and C Michael Barrett (RBI double, JB to 3rd).

Then, after a FC dinker by Corey Patterson, Lance Berkman throwing out Burnitz at home, Dusty Baker actually made a good move.

I know, I know, I should have warned you to sit down before I said that. Sorry if you hurt yourself.

He called upon Todd Walker to pitch hit. Walker can barely run (with an obvious limp), but he somehow roped a 3-0 single in between first and second, scoring Barrett from third and putting the Cubs up 4-3. It turned out the be the game winner, because Ryan Dempster came in and got his 33rd save on the year, his 19th in a row. And yes, Joe, he walked someone again (raising his WHIP up to 1.45 on the year).

And, last but not least, the Phillies were in DC trying to hold on to their hopes of NL playoff dreams. Two games back to start the day, they desperately needed a win. Another good pitching matchup with 13-11 Cory Lidle going up against 15-10, Nat's Ace, Livan Hernandez. It was Lidle's night tonight. He allowed just one earned run over 6.2 IP, with 8 K's and 1 BB. Hernandez allowed four ER's, including a two run, second inning shot by Rookie of the Year candidate Ryan Howard (his 21st HR), who's hitting .284/.352/.558. Jimmy Rollins extended his hitting streak to 34 games with two singles on the night. Kenny Lofton, Chase Utley and Mike Lieberthal all had two hits as well, Utley and Lofton both getting two-baggers.

With the Phills up 4-2, they too turned to their lights-out closer. Fireballer Billy Wagner. But the Nats weren't ready to quit just yet. Marlon Bird hit a one out, pinch-hit double to center and then leftfielder Brad Wilkerson was hit by the second pitch he saw.

Crazy, eh? They still weren't done, because Byrd stole third with Wilkerson taking second as well. Jamey Carroll then came to the plate and fought off a 2-2 pitch and knocked a little grounder to Rollins at short. Byrd scored on the throw to first and Wilkerson went to third.

Well, that's when Wagner figured he had enough and he reached back and fired in a 99 MPH heater inside to Nick Johnson, who broke his bat trying to hit it and popped out to Wagner. Nick was left standing there holding on to splinters. Game Over. Philadelphia creeps back to one game back and makes the last two games of the season really interesting.

Can you believe all the excitement? Me either. It's time for a cold one. I'm ready for tomorrow's matchups.

Oh, and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays bought out the last year of Lou Pinella's contract. It's his last days in Tampa, and I'm sure he's happy about it. Wonder who'll pick him up? I'd be nervous if I were Joe Torre and they don't make the playoffs. Too bad the Cubs won't get him.


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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Another Weekend at the Office

It was another interesting weekend in the NFL. Right now it looks like the only teams that are all that good are Philly, Tampa, New England, Pittsburgh, Indy, and (gasp!) Cincinatti. That’s right folks. The Cincinatti Bengals are undefeated. Before the season started I predicted them to make the playoffs and for Marvin Lewis to be coach of the year. Let’s hope they can continue to make me look smart. Let’s also hope Chad Johnson continues to entertain. He’s quickly becoming one of my favorite players in the league. That chart he has with the names of the corners covering him each week is a riot. Who covered 85 in 2005 is what he’s calling it. So far the answer is nobody. That little jig he did in the endzone was classic. For some reason he’s the only WR Diva I can tolerate. Maybe it’s because I believe he’s truly only interested in his success because it helps the team win. He wasn’t happy with the way he played last year because he dropped 11 passes. By the way, nobody had to tell him that. He keeps count.

Will the real Carolina Panthers please stand up? After beating the Patriots a week ago, they came out and lost to the Dolphins on Sunday. Maybe the Dolphins aren’t that bad though. They are 2-1 and Scott Linehan may be the reason why. That offense has been pretty productive and Gus Ferotte is looking like Peyton Manning. Meanwhile, Linehan’s former team, the Vikes, couldn’t get their offense going until Week 3. We’ll see if that lasts though. After all they were playing the Saints.

You’ve got to feel bad for Chad Pennington. He’s out for the year with a torn rotator cuff. I don’t know if he’ll ever be the same. I remember a few years back the Packers played the Jets in the final game of the season. Had the Packers won, they would have clinched a first round bye. But Pennington, in what I believe was his 1st year as a starter went drive for drive with Brett Favre in the second half. He made big play after big play and lead the Jets to victory. He impressed the hell out of me that day. I thought this kid was going to be a star for sure. Then the injuries and Paul Hackett’s offense slowed his growth. It’s a shame he never got a full opportunity to blossom. He just seemed to have that drive or that “it” thing you can’t measure in a great quarterback. I guess we’ll never know though. In the mean time, the Jets have to rely on Brooks Bollinger, Vinny Testeverde (signed today), and a banged up Curtis Martin. It’ll be a long season for Jets fans.

I thought Kansas City’s defense was supposed to be vastly improved this year. I didn’t see it last night. The Broncos made the Chiefs defense look like, well, the Chiefs defense.

I know it won’t last, but 3 weeks into the season it looks like everybody took the wrong Manning in their fantasy draft. Other QB’s with better fantasy numbers than Peyton include: Gus Frerotte, Trent Dilfer, Drew Bledsoe, Brian Greise, Tim Rattay, and just about every other starting QB in the league. It just doesn’t seem fair does it.

Between Adam Vinitierei and David Akers, we got enough kicker coverage from the media to last the rest of the year. Akers was impressive, but the notion that the Eagles season is in jeopardy if he misses a significant amount of time is ridiculous. I know he’s good, but he’s still a kicker. Don’t we still ignore kickers? Did I miss the memo?
I’m sure next week will be just as crazy as this past one. The Packers play the Panthers on Monday night. I might watch Wife Swap instead. My doctor thinks it will be better on my health.

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Monday, September 26, 2005

Ineptitude in Sports

As I look through sports, I see so much underqualification and ignorance amongst the people in charge. This is one of the underlying themes of Michael Lewis' book Moneyball and it's apparent everywhere you look. How do some of these decision makers (coaches, GMs, VPs) continue to make poor decisions time after time and still hold their jobs. In no other business would this ever occur. Do you think an invetment banker that loses money for his clients last very long at his firm? Even fast food employees that continually screw up orders eventually get fired. So in an industry as profitable as professional sports, how do these guys keep getting a free pass?

Maybe I'm just your typical blogger who thinks he can run his favorite team better than whoever is currently doing. That's partly true. I have no misconceptions about the fact that Terry Ryan is more qualified to run the Twins than I am. On the other hand, I feel that given the scouting time I could possibly draft better than Mike Sherman. At the very least, I know there is somebody else in the NFL coaching ranks that could do it better than him.

It's pretty clear that Mike Sherman, Mike Tice, Mike Martz, and a few other coaches are simply in over their heads. We shouldn't blame them, it's not their fault. They just shouldn't have been trusted with the job in the first place. That's where you have to point the finger at management and ask why they were hired in the first place. Again, how does somebody go from a positional coach to head coach in one step? Andy Reid is the only person to make that transition successfully. I truly believe that being a positional coach doesn't provide enough responsibility or experience to merit a direct promotion to running the entire team. Why weren't these guys tested as offensive coordinators first? That seems to be the standard that has worked fairly well for years. And it's not used just in sports. When is the last time a politician has made the jump from representative to president? I doubt it's ever happened. There's a certain chain of command one must move upward in in order to gain the necessary qualifications. Somehow this is over looked in sports, and it's nothing less than bad business practice. If any corporation were to run its operation the way many pro teams do, they'd be bankrupt in a couple years.

Remember when there was a big debate in the NFL over who was going to be better, Peyton Manning or Ryan Leaf? It's pretty clear what the answer is now. How were these teams unable to see the difference between the two. It seems to me that if I were making that large of an investment in a player I'd be damned sure I was making the right decision. I know you can't test for everything, but there must be someway to gauge a person's mental makeup. I refuse to believe that Mr. Leaf's immaturity and poor mental makeup couldn't be evaluated. I just think the teams' don't put enough effort into the process. And that has made the draft almost a crapshoot. There has to be more of a science to the whole process. But teams continue to look at their typical scouting measures like height and arm strength. Who really cares if a guy(Kyle Boller) can throw a football 60 yards from his knees? If he can't read a defense or throw it accurately, none of that matters. But even with all the 1st round busts, they refuse to alter their strategy. Aren't these physical tools that are evaluated the reason why Cadillac Williams was drafted after his backup Ronnie Brown. I know it's too early in their careers to judge them, but so far it looks as though there was a reason Brown played behind Cadillac.

Maybe Michael Lewis was right. Maybe pro sports is just some big rich guy club that values loyalty to the club over competance. That would explain how managers with losing records find jobs year after year. It would also explain why I have to listen to Steve Phillips' player analysis every night on ESPN. This guy proved to be a poor judge of talent while he was running the Mets. He constantly overpaid for mediocre players and now he's going to tell us(the "unknowledgable" sports fan) why Scott Podsednik is so great. Or why Adam Dunn is overrated because of his low BA and high strikeout total. It just doesn't amke any sense to me. Can we not find a former successful GM to give us our baseball analysis? That would seem to make more sense.

I guess it doesn't matter what I think though. I've got friends in low places. So as the baseball offseason approaches, we will see just as many ridiculously over priced contracts being signed as we have in the past. I just pray that eventually these organizations realize they are wasting money.

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Friday, September 23, 2005

Whew! That Was Close.

As I said yesterday, the much anticipated Texas A&M/Texas Sate game scheduled for Saturday was played last night due to Hurricane Rita. Let me clarify the “much anticipated” adjective. That term only describes the feelings of the 70 or so people on the Texas State football team/staff and myself, a lifelong Aggie supporter who currently goes to Texas State. Again I need to clarify the term “go”. By that I mean “enrolled in”, as sadly I devote more time to looking up baseball stats than I do towards attending class.

All babbling aside, the game was a complete embarrassment. Here is what I thought to be an up and coming Big XII team playing a game against a D-II program. I hear all the other Aggie fans arguing that TX State is a good D-II team, but I don’t care. D-II is still D-II, and they should not be in the game with 7 minutes of play left. Sure, the Aggies superior athleticism eventually prevailed over the Bobcats, but they made a game of it.

At one point in the 4th quarter, I found myself almost rooting for the upset. How good does look to squeak past a D-II school anyways? I think I would have continued to cheer for the Bobcats had I not realized a few things.

One, nobody in San Marcos would really care if they pulled off an amazing upset. This town couldn’t care less about football. Students get into the games free and we still don’t go. The only reason I know the school’s mascot is because beer companies use it relentlessly as a marketing tool. “Bobcats drink Bud”, or “Bobcat drink Miller.” Bobcats drink whatever is cheapest. We don’t care. We’re poor college students trying to drunk off ten bucks.

Two, I still vividly remember the hell UT and Tech fans put me through after last years loss to Baylor. Say what you want about Baylor, at least they’re Division I. I honestly don’t think I would have been able to handle the abuse.

Three, I most surely would have to hear about the loss for at least 45 straight minutes on the Jim Rome Show. Granted, Jim would likely get only about 7 or 8 sentences in with the rest of the time taken up by eerily long pauses that make you check to see if you’re radio is still on, but I still wasn’t looking forward to it.

In the end I had nothing to worry about. A&M won by double digits and in 6 weeks no one will remember how close it really was. But I did have to sit through Coach Fran’s postgame comments about the team’s performance. In a win the coach has to find a way to praise his team, but it was difficult to listen to last night. It’s kind of like when an actor, let’s say Nick Cannon, promotes a crappy movie, like Roll Bounce, on a daytime talk show, more specifically this afternoon’s episode of Tyra. Just explaining the plot of the movie can become quite uncomfortable.

A couple weeks ago I called A&M underrated and UT overrated. I even predicted an Aggie win over the Longhorns this year. I still stick by that, mostly out of stubborn pride. However, I certainly hope all the people I made drunken bets with about that game will soon forget.

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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Preparing for Rita

As Hurricane Rita approaches, things are getting pretty hectic down here in the Lone Star State. I'm sure all of you have seen the evacuations on the news by now. Nobody wants a reoccurance of what happened in New Orleans last month. Before Katrina, most people underestimated the power of a hurricane and did not take them seriously enough. Now, we might have moved to the opposite end of the spectrum. The government issued a pre-hurricane state of emergency, also known as a "cover your ass" state of emergency. I guess they figure it's better to be safe than sorry. Meanwhile, my college town of San Marcos is being flooded with students family members cramping into small aprtments. The drive from Houston which typically takes about two and a half hours, is up to 12 hours.

How does this relate to sports? I'm getting to that. After all, this is a sports website right. If you wanted to know about the hurricane, you'd flip on the news and listen to the sensationalism they are bombarding the public with.

The Astros are on a road trip right now and the Texans have a bye week, so there were no planned sporting events in Houston for this weekend. Although, my D-II school Texas State was scheduled to play against Texas A&M this Saturday. Everyone was excited until the game got pushed to tonight. Now most people can't attend. The Texans next game is on the road, Cincinatti I believe. But the Astros end the season with a 4 game set against the Cubs. Just to be on the cautious side, the organization is already planning alternate places to play the series should Minute Maid Park recieve any damage. Although they'd like to play in a major league stadium, that may not be possible since the Rangers will be at home as well. That means unless they choose to play at Wrigley, and in a wild card race I doubt they will, the next closest MLB park is Kansas City.

GM Tim Purpura has mentioned the possibility of playing at Dell Diamond, the AAA Round Rock team. However, the stadium only holds about 15,000 people. Regardless, that may be more than they could draw in KC or another major league city. And Graham would be thrilled to have the Cubs playing just 20 miles north. Somehow I don't see that factoring into the team's decision.

This could be all for nothing. I think we'll have a nasty storm and some trees and pipelines will fall over. Maybe a little flooding, but nothing that will keep the team from playing here. Let's hope I'm right and finicky citizens fleeing my hometown of Houston are wrong. I wish them the best, but its taking almost 24 hours to get to Dallas right now. You've got to have some serious Ghandi-like patience to sit in that traffic. Not me! Not my parents either. They're staying at home, riding out Rita. Just like they've done in every other hurricane.

In related news, the NBA announced that the New Orleans Hornets will play 35 of their home games in Oklahoma City. OKC has a newly built arena that seats almost 20,000. the remaining 6 home games will be played in Baton Rouge.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Cowboys Fold; White Sox Fade

What a MNF game, eh? I mean, the part I saw. Pretty much, I worked all night, got my shiite done, and saw "the game" was still going on. I don't get to catch many minutes of the Monday Night Football game, since I work during it, so, feeling lucky, I sit down and watch it. Three minutes or so to go. Cool. Looks like the Redskins just scored on a sweet 39 yd. pass to Santana Moss. Game's interesting (13-7, Cowboys). Let's watch it (I tell myself). So, me and myself sit down to watch the rest of the good ol' Monday Night Football game.

Wow, the Redskins stopped the Cowboys (with the help of a OT Flozell Adams holding call that nullified a 17 yd first down pass to Keyshawn Johnson on third down and eight) with about three minutes to go. The catch would have put the Cowboys on the Washington 37. Nearly in game-winning field goal range. Oops.

Punt goes in the end zone. Redskins line up from their own 20. Pass a little shot over to Clinton Portis for 10 yards. He gets knocked out of bounds on the left sideline. Then, the Redskins made a great playcall. I don't know if it was Joe Gibbs that made the call, but whoever did called a post sprint by Santana Moss straight down the field. Moss ran right past two defenders, Roy Williams and Terrence Newman, and caught the Mark Brunell pass for his second touchdown in 1:01 clocktime, this time a 70 yarder. Nice minute. Sweet play. I'd say the Dallas D doesn't have anyone that can keep up with Santana. At least not at the end of the game.

Then the Cowboys come up one yard short on fourth and four with a three yard pass from Drew Bledsoe to Terry Glenn. Get past the line, Glenn! Don't run a three yard pattern when you need four yards. Simple enough, isn't it?

Anyway, Redskins win 14-13. I think Parcells is going to chew himself an ass or two over this one. After you wipe the "wha' happened?" look off of their faces.

Speaking of blowing a lead, the White Sox lost the first game of a three game series to the Indians 7-5. And they're playing in Comiskey. Now their lead is down to 2.5 games. Unreal. Was 15.5 games on August 2nd. Mark Buhrle is on the mound for the Sox to try and stop the bleeding Tuesday night. The ChiSox have lost eight of their last eleven.

It would be the largest collapse in the history of Major League Baseball, I believe, if it were to happen. That's all I'll say unless it actually does.

I bet the sales of headache medicine tripled on the South Side in the last few weeks.

Hey! San Diego beat the Rockies in Colorado to (drum roll, please) actually get up over .500!!! (the crowd cheers)!! Nice to see the first place in the NL West can win more than they lose. For now.

If only the Cubs could do the same.

Finally, the A's held on (the Twins scored five runs in the top of the ninth, but fell short 7-6) and beat the Twins to stay in the AL West hunt (1.5 games back). Zito pitched six shutout innings, but the Oakland bullpen had issues. The A's are in their division race, but I think they're out of the Wild Card chase (5.0 games out, 12 to go). That's for the Indians, Yankees and White Sox to figure out.


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Saturday, September 17, 2005

Another CY for Santana?

Johan Santana has quietly had another Cy Young worthy year in the American League. I don't think he'll get. It seems to me that the award has already been given to Bartolo Colon, but if you look at the numbers, none of the guys being considered have pitched better than Santana. The only reason Santana won't get it and Colon will is because of wins, which are heavily dependant on the run support a pitcher gets. All the other numbers point to the Twins ace as the best pitcher in the American League.

ERA: This is the most important stat when judging a starting pitcher. (Remember what Graham taught us the other week kids!) Now, Santana doesn't own the league's best ERA, but his 3.05 is only three points behind the leader, Kevin Millwood. The White Sox Buerhle and Garland boast ERA's of 3.21 and 3.41, respectively. The current favorite to take home the Cy, Bartolo Colon, is at 3.46. Not bad, but only 8th in the AL and higher than all three of the other candidates.

WHIP: Santana is the only starter in the AL with a WHIP under 1.00. In fact, it's not even that close. Colon comes in at #2, but is only at 1.15. Garland is trailing narrowly at 1.16 and Buerhle sits at 1.21.

All the other stats (other than wins) favor Santana as well:

Johan Santana-220 (leads MLB)
Bartolo Colon-145
Mark Buerhle-132
Jon Garland-100

On Base Avg:
Johan Santana-.252 (leads AL)
Bartolo Colon-.288
Jon Garland-.296
Mark Buerhle-.300

Opp. Slugging %:
Johan Santana-.348 (leads AL)
Mark Buerhle-.383
Bartolo Colon-.390
Jon Garland-.393

Other important stats such as: Innings pitched, Walks, and Complete games, have very little difference between the four pitchers.

Kevin Millwood who leads the AL in ERA comes in last or second to last in all of these other categories. For that reason, I didn't include him in the comparisons. His 8-11 record, even though it's not his fault, automatically eliminates him from Cy Young candidacy in the voters eyes.

Because the voters tend to give the Cy Young to the guy with the most wins, it almost certaintly will be Colon. Even though, Santana has better numbers in all other measurable categories. Until voters stop putting so much emphasis on misleading won/loss records, the Cy Young award won't always go to the best pitcher in the league.

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Poor Robert Andino; Hampton out until 2007; Farnsworth Closes

Hey kid! Welcome to the Bigs! The Good News is, you're getting your first MLB start at shortstop today, in an important game against the Philadelphia Phillies, who currently lead you in the Wild Card standings by one game. The Bad News is, you're batting ninth behind the pitcher.

OK, that pitcher is Dontrelle Willis, who's hitting .259/.282/.346 this season. But I guess the confidence level on the kid, Robert Andino, would be, say, low at best? Anyway.

Dontrelle sharply lined to first base his first at-bat, ending up with a pinball-like 3-4-3 ground out to end the second inning. Robert Andino was the 2nd round draft pick of the Florida Marlins in 2002. His first AB to leadoff the third was a good one. Hung in there for eight pitches to earn the walk, fouling a couple off, after starting out the at-bat 0-2. Luis Castillo SAC'd Andino to second (his league-leading 18th sac bunt). After a seven pitch walk to Juan Pierre, a throwing error by second baseman Chase Utley allowed Miguel Cabrera to load the bases for Carlos Delgado. An eight pitch at-bat to Delgado led to Vicente Padilla walking in Andino.

So, the kid got to score his first Major League run. He got his first Major League hit in the fourth, hitting a ground rule double to left-center. He has his team up 1-0 in an important playoff-implication game. Not a bad day.

Update: Andino finished the game 1-3 with one run scored, but the Marlins lost to the Phillies 10-2. The Phillies scored 10 runs in the top of the ninth. TEN. I'd say the word "meltdown" comes to mind. Dontrelle finished 0-3 at the plate and picked up the loss.

Hampton Career Over? Mike Hampton of the Atlanta Braves in going to have Tommy John surgery on his left (pitching) elbow. He's out for the remainder of this year and the team says the entire 2006 season as well. That remains to be seen, but if he is out until 2007, will the 33 year old pitcher call it quits or make a comeback late in his career? We'll have to wait to find out.

What does it mean for the Atlanta Braves? It means that after John Smoltz and Tim Hudson, it's the trio of Jorge Sosa (who's having a career year at 12-3, with a 2.58 ERA and 1.29 WHIP), John Thompson (3-4, 4.76 ERA, 1.44 WHIP), and Horacio Ramirez (11-9, 4.65 ERA, 1.38 WHIP). With issues in the bullpen, another arm down is not what the Braves wanted.

Ex-Cub Alert: Kyle Farnsworth has found a home in Atlanta. Leo Mazzone has seemingly done what Larry Rothschild couldn't, and that's settle Farnsworth down and get him into the closer role. He's seven for his last seven save opportunities. In September, when it matters most, when many Cub fans thought the Farns would have a meltdown (he did, under Rothschild's tutelage), he is 5 for 5 in saves with a 1.17 ERA, 0.52 WHIP, and 1 BB/10 K. In August, he went 2-2 in saves (since converting to the closer role for the Braves on August 24th). He had a 1.54 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 1 BB/13 K for the month. I'd say Leo has figured the boy out.

Think Kyle likes being on the league-leading, playoff perennial Atlanta Braves, closing games for one of the best pitching coaches in the game? Or getting booed in Wrigley? You decide.

Update: Farnsworth came in for the 1-2-3 save today with two K's and a fly out. Nine pitches. His eighth concecutive save for the Braves.

White Sox Fade Continues: The White Sox ran into Johan Santana, who threw eight shutout innings and got the win over the South Siders. Joe Nathan came in to close it out for the Twins and struck out the side in the top of the ninth. That AL Central lead is now at 4.0 games, with Cleveland playing game two of a three gamer with the Royals at Jacobs Field. They won game one 3-1 last night. Tonight it's Cliff Lee (16-4, 3.69 ERA, 1.23 WHIP) for the red-hot Indians up against Runelvys Hernandez (8-11, 5.03 ERA, 1.46 WHIP), and yes that's his real name.

Well, that's all I've got for now. Time to catch up on College Football action for the day.


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Friday, September 16, 2005

Will The White Sox Hold On?

Sorry Bro, but I've got to say something about this. The once insurmountable AL Central lead the Chicago White Sox held is now down to a mere 4.5 games. I had to rub my eyes when I saw it too. Four and a half games over the surging Cleveland Indians, who have also taken the lead in the AL Wild Card race (albeit by a scant half a game over the Yankees). So, in the last ten days, the White Sox have lost five games in the race. Five in Ten. Ouch.

So, will Ozzie rally the troops and get this team back on track? Entering the playoffs during a slump is not healthy. Will they get stomped in the playoffs? Freddy Garcia is going to miss his next start due to injury. He was 3-4 over his last 10 starts. Mark Buhrle is 4-5 over his last 10 starts, including two losses at the hands of the Kansas City Royals. Jon Garland is 3-5 over his last 10 starts. What gives? All those IP wearing at the starters? Did Ozzie run the steam out of his team?

We'll have to wait and find out, but there are still SEVEN games between the White Sox and Indians, including the last three of the season in Cleveland. Talk about Must See TV. I'm rooting for the White Sox over the Indians, believe it or not (see K&S?), but they're making it really interesting. However, I have a feeling that they may have run out of gas before the end of the race.

They have three in Minnesota that are going to be far from easy. Matt will be watching those, I'm sure. Garland vs. Scott Baker and his seventh MLB start. Edge Garland?

I'm ready to find out.

Oh, and The Cheat over at South Side Sox thinks the White Sox are in for sure. Just thought I'd throw that in the mix.


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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Shaq Gets Offseason Job

It's time for Shaq to add a new nickname to his repertoire. The Big Vigilante.

Last night Shaq was driving through Miami at about 3AM when he witnessed a teenager yell obsceneties at a gay couple ont he sidewalk. The teenager, 18 year old Michael Gonzales, then stopped his car and threw a beer bottle at the couple, striking one man in the head. When Gonzales drove off, The Big Aristotle followed in his vehicle and flagged down an officer who made the arrest. Maybe he's onto something with his infatuation with the Superman logo.

For quite some time, Shaq has had the desire to be a member of the police force. He is already in the process of making that happen. In fact, Shaq said he doesn't want to be credited for this event as an individual doing police work. He wants to be credited as a Miami Beach police officer.

Here's a couple of my favorite Shaq quotes:

"It's not about the money. I just want to play ball, drink Pepsi, and wear Reebok."

"The free throw bone is not connected to the thigh bone."

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Monday, September 12, 2005

What a Weekend

So, was that a great football weekend, or what? Yeah, the Bears found a way to lose a game they could have won, but man, I watched a lot of great football Saturday and Sunday.

For instance, Texas v. Ohio State. Unreal game I watched at my friend, Jarek's, house with a group of great Texas fans (thanks Jarek!). Even though I live in Austin, TX, anyone who knows me knows I am far from the biggest UT fan. I just feel they're often overrated. However, in this case, they played one helluva game. Everything the Longhorns needed to do at the end of the game they did. Amazing. This could be the 'Horns year.

I don't think Vince Young is the best QB in the NCAA's this year, nor is he the best pro prospect (if he stays for his Senior year, and stops that sidearm delivery thing, then we'll talk), but he did what he needed to do to get the win for the 'Horns on Saturday night. Well, maybe quite a bit more, considering he went 18-29 for 270 yards and two TD passes, but he did throw two picks. OK, and he ran for 76 yards on 20 carries. That TD pass to Limas Sweed (forever known from here on out as "The Sweed") was great, and the catch The Sweed made was even better.
"Sweed came off the ball real good and I threw the ball to the outside so he could go out of bounds or make the great play and Sweed made a great play for us," said Young.
To say the least, eh? Wow. The real star of the game had to be the Longhorn Defense, however. Time after time after turnovers deep in their own territory, giving the ball to OSU right around the 20 a few times (the people I watched the game actually cheered when the Buckeyes started from their own territory, which didn't seem to happen much), the "D" stood up and stopped the Buckeye offense dead in their tracks. It was amazing to see, especially from a squad that lost the irreplaceable Derrick Johnson to the Kansas City Chiefs (DJ led the Chiefs in tackles, with eight, in Sunday's 27-7 win over the NY Jets, had a sack and forced a fumble. Not a bad first pro game, eh?). How about that safety by the Texas D to ice the game? Amazing. Simply one of the best college football games I've ever watched.

The lack of running game (besides Young) may come back to haunt the 'Horns before the season's over (Vince=76 yds, Rest of the team=37 yds.), but for now, they're on top of the world. Could this be the year Texas actually beats Oklahoma? I think so. Did I mention SMU beat TCU 21-10?

And the game was another example of the ol' standard that two QB's is simply not better than one. Choose one, play that one, and that's how the game is played. That's how National Championships are won, at least. Just ask Chris Simms and Major Applewhite what the two-headed QB is like. It doesn't work.

Speaking of Oklahoma, however, they looked pretty sad even though they beat lowly Tulsa 31-15. For most of the game, they either trailed or lead by less than three points. However, then a Man Named Adrian took over, and boy, did Peterson take the Sooners on his back and lead them to a victory. 32 carries for 220 yards and three touchdowns makes for a really nice day. And a trip to the whirlpool as well, I'd imagine. Did you see that run he made, running over a guy at the line of scrimmage, pulling the ball back from an attempted swipe and stiff arming the final attempted tackler a la the Heisman pose? Great run. And the Sooners are going to have to run a lot, considering they only managed 42 passing yards against an 0-2 team from Conference-USA.

How 'bout the Irish! Welcome to the College Game Charlie Weis. Well done. You've come into Notre Dame, perhaps the toughest coaching job in all of football, and won your first two, including a 17-10 win at #3 Michigan. That's gotta feel good. It's nice to see the Irish winning games again. They have such a tough schedule, it's difficult to get too excited yet, but I just love seeing the Wolverines get beat. Darius Walker gets the gameball, getting 106 yards on 26 carries and catching five passes for 22 yards. He didn't score a TD, but he had a great game. Irish QB Brady Quinn was "efficient" going 19-30 for 140 yards and 2 TD. Notre Dame has their first home game of the year against the Michigan State Spartans next weekend. MSU is 2-0, but that's against Kent State and Hawaii, so I'm thinking 2-1 after the trip to see Touchdown Jesus. The Irish could be 4-0 when the stop in to see Purdue on the first of October. Then, it's two weeks off to prepare for The Game. USC vs. UND. Oh my. But, I'm getting ahead of myself now. Something the Irish better not do.

The Iowa State Cyclones defeat of the Iowa Hawkeyes made it a tough weekend for the Big 11. #4 OSU, #3 Michigan and #8 Iowa all go down. Well, at least the Buckeyes and Wolverines lost to ranked teams. The 23-3 loss at the hands of the Cyclones has to make the Hawkeyes feel, let's just say, less than confident. They should freefall down to the late teens, at least. Actually, the AP has them down to 22. Ouch. Well, the five turnovers sure didn't help anything. But, I'd hate to be Northern Iowa next weekend.

My brother would want me to point out that the thirteenth-ranked Purdue Boilermakers took out Akron in West Lafatette (what kind of name is Ross-Ade stadium anyway?), but it was only Akron, so I'm not sure how excited anyone supposed to be over it. But Purdue's QB Brandon Kirsch gets my gameball for a 22-34 game with 252 yards, 2 TD and no INT. And Senior Boilermaker runningback Jerod Void ran for 101 yards on only 10 carries and scored a touchdown on a 46 yard run, so that's a good feeling. Let's see how they play under the lights at Arizona next Saturday. Think the Wildcats remember that 59-7 beatdown in '03?. Kevin is probably saying "they're going to do it again" as he reads this.

Speaking of good feelings, I'm sure the #5 Tigers of LSU felt great taking out the #15 Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium Saturday night 35-31. Not a defensive contest, for sure (42 combined fourth quarter points), but exciting for the fans, and a good feeling for the folks in Baton Rouge, no doubt. Beating a guy in ASU's Junior QB Sam Keller, who went 35-56 for 461 yards and tossed 4 TD, is nothing short of outstanding. I only saw the last 39 yard TD pass from Russel to Doucet, since the UT-OSU game was on in Austin, of course, but nice come from behind win nonetheless.

And that was just the College Games. Sunday, I saw the Bears lose a tight one to the 'Skins at the Stardust Club just south of Austin with some friends of mine (great place to watch football btw). Difficult to watch though, because the Bears made several mistakes on offense and both defenses were tough to do anything against. Well, unless your name is Clinton Portis (121 yds on 21 att). But, the worst part were the three consecutive false start penalties late in the fourth quarter the Bears commited while trying to drive only down by two. Ouch. Then, the youngster from Purdue, Kyle Orton, got a little nervous under the pressure and fumbled the game away. Oh well. Overall, the Bears looked good (Muhammad especially), and I think they'll beat the Lions in Soldier Field next weekend. That is, if they manage more rushing yards than the 41 they obtained against Joe Gibbs' new-look Redskins defense.

Then, I ventured up to the Alligator Grill and watched the Cowboys take out the Chargers (surprisingly) on their brand new 54 inch (or so) LCD HDTV. Nice. Both the TV and the game, that is. I did not know how the Cowboys would play this season, but if the 24-20 win over the Bolts is any indication, the fans in Dallas are going to be quite happy. Drew Bledsoe actually outplayed Drew Brees, thowing for 226 yards and 3 TD (18-24, zero INT) vs. Brees' 18-35 for 209 yards, 2 TD and 2 picks. Keyshawn Johnson looked as good as I've ever seen him. He caught every ball that was in his direction, including two touchdowns and a great play toeing the left sideline in the second half. However, the Chargers have a fantastic kick returner in Darren Sproles, a 5'6" rookie from Kansas State. He had four kickoff returns for 146 yards (36.5 yd avg, 49 yd long). The Tuna just might make the playoffs, but at 1-0, it's way too early to be talking postseason, and Parcells would be calling me an idiot for even mentioning it.

Finally, I closed the night out watching the Indianapolis Colts beat down the Baltimore Ravens 24-7, back at my house this time. Peyton Manning had to shake off a little rust, overthowing a wide open (I mean by 35 yards Wide Open) Marvin Harrison in the first half. But, after being up only 3-0 at half, they Colts took over and rolled off 21 straight points. Peyton ended up 21-36 for 254 yards and two touchdowns, and he didn't get sacked. It would have been a shutout had not the Ravens saved face, scoring a TD with 0:13 left on the clock (a 17 yd pass from Anthony Wright to Daniel Wilcox). I tell you what, if the Indy defense played like they did Sunday night, the rest of the AFC is in trouble. Maybe even the Patriots this time around. That game doesn't happen until November 7th, so there's a lot to be discovered before then. Also, the game's in Foxboro, so it'd be stupid to count out the defending Super Bowl Champs, but I'm just saying that the Colts are for real.

Oh, and the Steeler fans have to feel great as well, beating up on the Titans 34-7 and continuing Rothlisberger's run to 14-0 as a starter. Must see TV in Week 3 when the Patriots go into Heinz Field. I'll be watching that one for sure (after the Bears hopefully take out the Bengals).

WHEW. What a weekend, eh? I need some rest. After posting here and at A Cub Fan Rants, I think I have carpal-tunnel as well. OK, so I exaggerate. Anyway, I'm out of here. Hope all is going well, and that your weekend was as fun as mine was.


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Sunday, September 11, 2005

Custer's Last Stand

I have watched alot of Packer games in my life, but I have never seen one as terrible and poorly played as what I just witnessed. I've seen games when Favre tries to force the ball too much and the Pack gets into problems with turnovers. Those are tough to watch, but it comes with the territory. You can't get mad at Favre for that. Sometimes he throws picks, sometimes its the best play you've ever seen. We Packer fans deal with it.

Today's game was a direct result of a horrific coach who has hung onto Brett Favre's coat tails to somehow continually make it to the playoffs and mask his own incompetency.

Issue #1-Play Calling

Sherman refuses to throw the ball down field. Does he think Favre doesn't have the arm? Does he not feel that Walker, Driver, and Ferguson are capable wideouts? Favre completed 27 passes. 12 of those were to running backs. One was a 17 yarder to Driver, but other than that none went for over 11 yards. Down by 2 touchdowns with under two minutes left, Sherman is still calling screens and flares. This makes absolutely no sense. It's like sac bunting in the ninth when you're down by 8 runs. Only Joe Morgan would advise that.

Second, the only thing that was having success all day was Ahman Green and the running game. Ahman averaged just under 5 yards a carry and was never stopped for less htan three yards. Even though it was a tight ball game all the way through, Sherman called in #30 just 12 times.

Issue #2-Penalties

A sure fire sign of a poorly coached and non-disciplined team is penalties. Green Bay had 14 for 100 yards, not to mention 5 by CB Ahmad Carroll. (another one of Sherman's brilliant draft picks) Five penalties by a single player in one game is ridiculous. The kid had problems with it all last year and Sherman refuses to bench him. Three of those penalties kept drives alive and one negated a 40 yard punt return. Carroll is a parasite to the team, but Sherman refuses to admit his mistake in not only drafting him but also allowing him to keep his starting position.

Issue #3-Kick Returns

Antonio Chatman has proven for 2 years now that he is not capable of hadling punt retuns or kickoff returns. He has never once broke a big play and will not even attempt to try. The job of a punt returner is to advance the ball downfield as far as possible, not simply secure the ball with a fair catch where ever it lands. Chatman seems more scared of being hit than Rodney King. Just catch the ball and run it, Antonio! Have a little faith that you won't fumble. Terrence Murphy and Robert Ferguson handled kick returns at A&M and were more than capable. Let's take that job away from Chatwoman and give it to one of them. And while we're at it, just release Chatwoman too. He serves no benefit to the team. Why can you not see this Mike Sherman?

I often stay up until 6 or 7 in the morning wondering how Mike Sherman got the job as head coach of the most storied franchise in the NFL. How does one go from TE coach of a struggling Seahawks team with no good tight ends to head coach of a perrinial playoff team?

Here's the answer, as dumb as it may sound. As a favor to Mike Holmgren, who is God in Titletown, the organization agreed to interview him the day before they were to meet with Marty Schottenheimer. Apparently, Bob Harlan was so blown away by measly Mike Sherman he gave him the job on the spot. What? We're not even going to talk with Marty? Didn't he lead the Chiefs to the playoffs for something like a million consecutive years? We don't even want to see what he has to say? I guess we really think this TE coach is going to be something. Turns out we were wrong. The ironic thing is that this guy who supposedly specializes in tight ends doesn't even use our gifted Bubba Franks properly. I can't remember the last time we throw to him inside the 20s. He was one of the premier TEs in the league his first couple years. Then the TE guru took over as head coach and took him out of the offense. Incredible! He can't even get that right.

I'd get into Sherman's terrible drafts but there is no point. The Pack was finally smart enough to relieve him of his GM duties. It just took a little too long. The fact is that this might be one of the worst coaches in the league. His record looks good but I don't think he had much influence on that. He inherited a strong team from the Holmgren era and has taken into a slow decline every year since. And this is where we're at now. Ridiculous! How did we not see it coming? Holmgren must be laughing his way to the playoffs. He no longer has to compete with the team he created.

But I guess it's useless to complain. The Packers extended this bum's contract for 2 more years this offseason. I guess all you Vikings, Bears, and Lions fans have something to look forward to. Well, maybe not the Vikings. After all, they extended Mike Tice this offseason too.

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A&M/UT Rivalry From An Aggie Perspective

There are alot of great college football rivalries throughout the country. I think one of the best is the A&M/UT rivalry. Maybe I'm biased because I'm a lifelong Aggie fan who used to live in College Station, or maybe regional rivalries just seem more interesting. But for everyone around the country who doesn't know the in's and out's of this great in-state match up, I'm going to explain to you why this is one of the best rivalries in college football.

Unlike Ohio State/Michigan or Florida/Florida, A&M/UT is about more than football. Let me explain the history and the culture of the two schools. UT was the first university to be established in Texas. State congress decided there was also to be a subsiderary of the university that would teach agriculture and mechanincs. Hence the name Texas A&M. To be honest, the fact that UT was created as the premier university and A&M was to be it's sister school has created somewhat of an inferiority complex among Aggies. Not to mention the recent win/loss history between the two schools. But this rivalry is much deeper than wins and losses. It's about culture.

Texas is a huge state with alot of different types of people. There are alot of different ways to grow up in Texas. And Texans are proud to a fault. We all feel the way we grew up is the best way. That's where the difference between Aggies and Longhorns comes in. That's where the hatred stems from. It's more than our team hates your team. It's bigger than our school is better than your school. It's our way of life is better than yours.

The A&M/UT rivalry is all of these things:

Conservative vs. Liberal
Beer vs. Martini
Work vs. Silver spoons
Tradition vs. Change
Boots vs. Popped collars
Good Ole Boys vs. Metrosexuals
Real vs. Fake
Classic Rock vs. Pop Music
T-Bone Steaks vs. Sushi

That list has some extreme stereotypes included. But there is also alot of truth there. Is every Aggie a country boy? Of course not. Is every Longhorn eccentric? No way. But that's what these two schools represent in this state. And that's why this rivalry represents good vs. evil, no matter which side you choose to look at it from.

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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

NFL Kickoff Weekend 2005-

Bring out the grill. Bring out the potato chips and beer. Blow up that inflatable chair you got for the Super Bowl last year. Tell your boss you can no longer work on Sunday's for religious reasons. That's right, folks! Football season is here.

Jerry Rice would now like to sign a one day contract in San Francisco so he can retire as a 49er. The only problem is that due to league rules, the Niners would be forced to release a player because they are already at maximum roster level. The Niners aren't going to do it, nor should they. I know Jerry is possibly the best football player to ever play the game and a model citizen as well, but that can't justify the team putting some poor kid who worked his tail off for the past two months in the misery of being cut. Even if he is picked up by the Niners a day later. The real point to this story is this. Who really cares who the last team Jerry played for was before he retired anyways? NOBODY is going to think of him as a Bronco, Raider, Seahawk, or anything other than a San Francisco 49er. This charade of retiring with your former team is ridiculous. Either teams should make a commitment to keeping their star players until they retire or players should agree to take paycuts when their skills diminish. A one day contract doesn't make up for the fact that Cowboy fans had to watch Emmitt break the rushing record in a Cardinal uniform.

The Vikings signed troubled WR Koren Robinson to a new deal. What are they thinking on this one. Six months ago they trade the most talented reciever in the league because he was a locker room problem. Fine. I've got no problem with that. But after making that statement, how do you turn around and sign a bigger locker room problem with less talent. This is a bonehead move that doesn't make any sense. It's like listening to Guns N Roses "Paradise City" all the way through. You know what the beginning of the song sounds like, so why stick around for the second half? Same situation here, Mike Tice. Chapter 2 reads just like chapter 1, only it's not as interesting the second time around.

I'm really looking forward to the clever taunts the fans are going to have for Terrell Owens and Mike Vick. My favorite from last year was the sign that said "T.O. has B.O." My guess this year is that some fan will use the 'Ron Mexico' alias in some lude way to top the 2005 best sign list.

I used to go to Astro games and sit right behind the third base line. Every time I went they seemed to be playing the Reds. Whenever Junior would come to the on deck circle I would yell out, "Hey, that guy used to be Ken Griffey Jr." That was my all time favorite taunt. I wouldn't have been able to use it this year though. We would also purposely confuse Barry Larkin for Deion Sanders. I love calling Barry "Primetime". We give Adam Dunn a free pass because he's a hometown kid, but everyone else is fair game. Hey, heckling is a fan's right. as long as you stay within reason.

How jealous are Bears fans over the Packers? I think they've started something like 28 different quarterbacks since Brett Favre started his consecutive games streak. Two years ago I was dead set on the Packers taking Grossman. Sure am glad that didn't happen. I think this will be Brett's last year, so savor as much of it as you can. Even if you're not a Packer fan, and even if Favre consistently beats your hometown team, you've still got to respect the guy. He's a football player in the truest sense of the word. So here's to Brett Favre, here's to football, and of course, here's to twins.

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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Ranting Like the Madman I Am

OK, not much worth taking a whole post for, so I'm going to run around the Sports World, as it were, and drop a few tidbits along the way.

So, buckle yourselves in sportsfans, and be ready for part rant, part nonsense, part wtf are you looking at fool?

First off, the retirement of Jerry Rice. Well, honestly, it's up to Jerry. It's his decision to make. I guess when Shanahan told him he might not even be third string, the lightbulb lit up full force, and Jerry realized, hey, maybe it's time to hang 'em up. Hey man, you lasted 20 years. You took 'em all. Maybe you can't run with the young fools anymore. Sorry, but even the greatest of athletes meet their maker one day. You've reached your limit. Helluva run. Nothing to be sorry or embarrassed about. Well, except you should have retired either before the season started or after the season was over. But, again, that's all up to you. You've certainly earned the right to tell us the when and where.

But, speaking of NOT earning it...

Barroid Bonds (cue circus music here). I'm not sure about you, but Barroid Bonds' return to baseball holds about as much excitement for me as finding a penny on the floor of a cab. With gum stuck to it. And a slime-gloss covering the exterior. Whatever. For all of you who think he's only been "accused" of steroids, that he's never tested positive and all that political BS, let me remind you of one important thing: He's already admitted to using steroids, only "unknowingly". Under Grand Jury testimony, he stated he used both the "clear" and the "cream" but "did not know" that they were actually steroids. Whatever. You used them, your best buddy was pretty much the Johnny Appleseed of steroids in baseball. Do you think we didn't notice you blew up in size? You don't own a mirror or something? You don't think we didn't notice the 49 homers one year and the 73 the next? You hit 40 homers or more three times in 14 years, but then you suddenly did it five years in a row, including that 73 steroid-infused abberation? Have you forgotten what you looked like as a Pittsburgh Pirate? Whatever. Live in your sorry-ass fantasy world. Get another one of your young family members to stand in between reporters and you later on. Real Classy. You're a fraud. You'll always be a fraud. And I will never watch another game in which you partake. You're dead to me. And you should be dead to anyone who truly cares about baseball as well.

So go play your meaningless games here at the end of the San Francisco season, and help those millionaires who own the team make a few more bucks (and yourself as well). Congratulations for your outstanding morals. Lick the foot of the Man a few more times, will ya? I think you missed a drop.

Oh, and have fun trying to beat up on more of your teammates real soon. Looks like you're just the most worthy athlete since Jose Canseco. You loser. Not enough bad things can happen to you as far as I'm concerned. Or to your girlfriend, concubine, lovers, yes-men or other fools who sit in the same room as you. I do feel sorry for your wife, though. You want to kick my ass now too?

(Deep Breaths...... OK.)

Texas, I'm not going to bash you until I see the Ohio St. game. Good luck to both teams. It's only your season, so don't get stressed or anything.

The Pirates fire Lloyd McClendon. Duh. Have you watched many Pirates games? Well, let me just save you some time. When your pitcher has only pitched 70 pitches, and is only one run out of the game, after five innings, but you still pull him? Great job screwing up your bullpen. Good job losing the faith of your team. Not like the GM gave you much to work with, but still. Make some good decisions will you? I've seen Little League managers make better baseball decisions. Not that I'm completely discouting the "Fall Guy" argument, but he's not that great of a manager. Period.

Lance might come back? Please don't, my man. You had the whole formal "goodbye" parade and all. Please don't screw all that up and come on back anyway. You want to prove those loser Frenchies wrong? You already did that. Seven f_cking times. Get over it. Enjoy following around your new hottie Sheryl Crow around for a while. Give it up, already. You mean to tell me all those articles that were written about how tired you were, how ready you were to walk away, how serious you were about moving along toward your next phase of life, were all bullshit? Great. Just like your first marriage.

OK. I think I've created enough death threats on my ass for now. Good luck to any "bad" athletes who I may have missed. For now. Maybe stick with playing by the rules for a few.

Or, for a novel approach, try actually being worthy.

I might be going into hiding for a while.


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Sunday, September 04, 2005

A Baseballer's View on College Football

(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Well, I really don't know what the hell I'm talking about lots of times (as you may have noticed once or twice), and with College Football, it's easy to see I'm no Mel Kiper, but nonetheless, I'm going to spout off on the opening weekend of National Drunkeness otherwise known as "Hey, Football started, dude!!"

First off, I have to comment on the guys on College Gameday, who are currently talking about "the favorite in the Big East", as I catch up on the days activities on ESPN. Ummm... yeah. That's like talking about the best tasting sewage in New Jersey. Looking for Viewer Ratings, perchance? The Mountain West is a better football conference than the Big East. Sorry y'all, but deal with it. Just wait 'til Hoops and you'll quickly feel better. Until then, have a Genesee and chill, K? Cool.

Anyway, for most of the rest of the country, College Football is something to get excited about. Well, not in Norman (Gunn threw for 222 on the Sooner D?) or College Station (Stuckey is a fast one, isn't he?! And wtf was that XP kick all about?) thus far, but perhaps it's about time the Big 12 got a wake up call.

I live in Austin and have to hear all about Texas football 24/7 (at least in September), and honestly, they do have a great squad this year. However, with away games at Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Missouri and Texas A&M, much less the game with now bitter Oklahoma in Dallas (yeah, OU's quarterback sucks, really sucks, but Stoops will have them ready for the game, maybe the only one that counts for 'em) things will be tough for the boys in Burnt Orange. BUT, UT is ready for some payback after five straight losses to the Sooners, and they've got the talent to make it happen this season, so I'd take the 'Horns if money was involved. Not that I'd advocate that sort of thing. In writing at least.

Well, I wouldn't take 'em over the Trojans, 'cause I'm not a crack smoker and Derrick Johnson is in the NFL. Did you hear tix in Columbus for the Ohio St. - Texas game are going for $1500 a pair? Insanity.

What other games were hot today? USC and Texas rolled over cream puffs, so those don't count. So did Arizona State and Cal. But Tennessee had all it could handle with perrenial power UAB. Wait, that's Hoops again. UAB Football is the equivalent of Virginia Tech Hoops. The Volunteers might slide a bit. Auburn getting taken out by GA Tech was a surpriser too. There goes the winning streak.

Michigan won an easy one vs. Northern Illinois, although the 148 yards on 17 carries they gave up to Garrett Wolfe has the rest of the Big Ten salivating. (Garrett Wolfe?) As does the squeaker Illinois had over Rutgers. Yeah, Rutgers. Hah hah. Iowa's going to crush both of 'em.

How about Georgia slapping Boise State around? Either Georgia is underranked at 13 or the Broncos are overrated at 18. I'd stick with the former. And I'd stick with D.J. Shockley. He threw for 285 yds., tossed 5 TD's and ran for 76 yds and a TD as well, leading both teams in passing and rushing. Watch out Spurrier. The Dawgs are comin', and it's going to be ugly next weekend.

Notre Dame! Weis gets win number one rolling all over Pitt 42-21, and it wasn't even that close. Sorry Wannstedt. You blew up in Chicago (in a bad way), you struggled in Miami, but I thought you'd have more of a shot in the College ranks, especially with your alma mater. Ouch. If the game with the Irish is any indicator, good luck being an analyst on TV or getting a radio show or something.

Oh, and don't forget about Wisconsin's Brian Calhoun rushing for 258 yds. and 5 TD's vs. Bowling Green. Bowling Who? Before you say that, better remember who their QB is: Omar Jacobs. He was 29-50 today, throwing for 440 yards (avg. 8.8 yds. per att.) and 4 TD's. Yeah, that's 440 yards. I think that's Adrian Peterson and Reggie McNeil in the rearview mirror, my man. Leinart went 18 for 24, collecting 332 yards (13.8 per att) with 3 TD's, so he's still the fave. Since he's the best player on the best team and all that. But, if your making a list, you ought to include Omar in your pro-level QB list as well as the Heisman list (yeah, yeah, one game), but that's just one guy's opinion. And Mr. and Mrs. Jacobs'. And Coach Brandon's. And some guy named Mel.

That's all I've got for now. Get ready for FSU vs. Miami. That ought to be fun.


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Saturday, September 03, 2005

Living the College Life

Judging from what I have seen today, it should be an interesting college football year. I've already seen the OU powerehouse lose to TCU. What a shocker! If I didn't live in Texas, I'm not so sure I would know who TCU was. They haven't been any good since Slingin' Sammy Baugh was taking the Horned Frogs to a NCAA title.

UT, who I think is consistently overrated in every sport, is trying to prove me wrong this year. It's 53-3 as I type this. Vince Young has looked good, as have the RBs adn defense. I know it's just LA-Laffeyette, but they still look impressive. I guess we'll find out more next week when the Longhorns travel to Columbus. I'm anxious to see how dangerous Young will be with A.J. Hawk spying him all afternoon.

South Carolina won a squeeker against UCF. I doubt Spurrier has ever squeeked by UCF before. I hear alot of analysts talking about how South Carolina could be a bowl team this year. I don't see it. Not with that schedule. I think the mediajust loves Spurrier too much. Personally, I was happy as hell to see him fail in Washington. The only thing entertaining about Spurrier was his cocky attitude and "good natured" humor. (i.e. Free Shoes University) Now he says he wants to stay out of the limelight and let the focus be on the team. What team? They stink. Spurrier should be more outrageous than ever to try and keep the spotlight off that team. He shouldn't have taken that job. I don't see him winning even 1 SEC title in South Carolina.

USC is putting it on Hawaii. Big whoop! With their easy schedule there is no reason they shouldn't go undefeated and repeat as national champs. They just have too much talent not to win it again this year.

Underrated Teams

I know Iowa is ranked 11 or so, but I think they will finish in the top 5. Their defense is dominant and Drew Tate can light up the score board. And Kirk Frentz is one of the most underrated coaches in the country. Him and Lloyd Carr. How does Carr not get more respect?

Maybe I'm biased because I lived in College Station for 3 years and have been a lifetime Aggie fan, but I think they are alot more dangerous than people give them credit for. In my opinion, Reggie McNeal is the best overall QB in the country. He can run, and unlike Vince Young he doesn't need recievers to be standing on a ladder to complete a pass to them. Vince Young is Tommie Frazier. Reggie is Donovan McNabb.

Overrated Teams

UT is always overrated. Don't get me wrong, they are good, but not #2 in the country. It wouldn't surprise me if they lost 3 games this year. I think they will lose next weekend at OSU, in College Station, and they might lose to OU again. Although i'm not as confident about the last one after today's embarrasment.

That's really all I've got for overrated. And it might just be a cheap shot at those teasips from Austin.

Best Pro Prospects

QB-Reggie McNeal
Matt Leinart
Drew Stanton

RB-Gerald Riggs Jr
Reggie Bush
Cedric Humes

WR-Santonio Holmes
Jason Avant
Todd Watkins

OL-Mike Jones (Who?) Mike Jones
D'Brickshaw Ferguson
Eric Winston

DL-Rod Wright
Mathias Kiwanuka
Gabe Watson

LB-A.J. Hawk
Ahmad Brooks
Chad Greenway

DB-Michael Huff
Laron Landry
Darnell Bing
Alan Zemaitis

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Thursday, September 01, 2005

Understanding Pitching

Well, here's my shot at Pitching 101. Now, my views aren't as popular as Mr. Lewis or Mr. James or Mr. Beane. Or even Mr. Ed, but here it goes anyway.

Pitching. Taking a little ball wrapped in leather around an ever-changing center, perhaps humidified (hello Denver) but never altered all that much (at least in the last 25 years) and trying to throw it by a big ol' dude sitting there spitting in your direction with a big piece of hickory in his hands. Some call it the most important part of the game. But, that assumes your offense scores at least one run. Right, Matt?

What do you do? What is successful? What in the world was I thinking?

Well, first off, the role is different for starters than it is for relievers. That's pretty obvious, I realize, but many teams don't get the subtleties involved in knowing how to measure the difference between a successful starter and a successful reliever.

First up: ERA.

ERA. The old stand-by. Earned Run Average. Basically, how many runs does a pitcher give up (not counting errors, even his own, but I'll get to that) over a nine inning stretch. What is usually called "good" is anything below 3.33. Why? Because people like threes. .300 batting average. Three bases and one home plate. Three outfielders. Three beer minimum in the Wrigley Field outfield. Ya know, symmetry. But seriously, The general rule is score me three or four runs, and I'll get you the win. For A Starter.

For a reliever, however, there is a much more important stat. A statistic ignored by many old timers in the game (like Dusty Baker for instance). I'm talking about WHIP. No, no, not the ol' cat o' nine tails, but Walks and Hits per Inning Pitchted. Simple enough, isn't it? Should be, but for some reason, lot's of people still only look at the silly ERA for relievers. Why is this a problem?

Well, to start with, when a reliever comes in the game, he usually has runners already on base. Now, if he gets into a little bit of trouble, with say two runners on, and gives up a two hits and a walk, he may get out of the jam without surrendering a single "earned" run, although he allowed both inherited runners to score. Those earned runs get tacked onto the person you are relieving. This is what Joe Borowski was the master of in his early Cub days, and may be pulling off in Tampa Bay. This has no impact on your ERA, but it doesn't reflect that you are not that great of a reliever. I mean, the runs scored, your team probably loses, but you can still walk off the mound with that ERA sparkling. Doesn't make sense does it?

So, WHIP, boys and girls, is the top of the heap for important stats in my book, especially for relievers. Basically 1.30 is a good line to draw in the sand. Below and you're doing alright. Above, and you might just be a powder keg looking for a match. A starter can allow an extra runner or two now and again (because they are going to get a chance to get out of the jam), but ask anyone who knows or cares and they'll tell you, if you keep letting runners on base, sooner or later it'll bite you in the ass.

Now, on the good side, if you rock and come in a tough situation and don't allow runners on base, your future's so bright you gotta wear shades. Ugh, I can't believe I said that, but you get it. No baserunners allowed = success as a reliever = Wins = Cash Money, my man. Ya dig?

So, ERA for starters is cool, but WHIP is what relievers should be graded on and are a great indicator for starter's success as well.

Oh, and about errors, if a pitcher makes an error, like throwing the ball into the stands instead of the first baseman's mitt, it doesn't count against his ERA. He's a bonehead, he might lose the game, but his ERA doesn't take the hit. So, one could say fielding is important to success and Wins as well. Speaking of...

Second up: Wins.

OK, this'll sound funny to some of you, but Wins are possibly the most overrated stat a pitcher is measured by. I mean, it really isn't as indicative of a pitchers stuff as WHIP, ERA or even Opponents BA. If you pitch for the Yankees, and your team can score eight runs with one hand tied behind their back, then wins will come even for mediocre pitchers (Mike Mussina 4.34 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, but has 14 wins - Not that Mussina is mediocre, but you get the picture). But, if you pitch for, say, the Astros, and your ERA is 1.51 and your WHIP is 0.92 (are you serious?), your record could be 11-6, like Roger Clemens.

How can you say wins don't matter? I'm not saying that. I'm just saying wins are more indicative of offense and other factors then of pitching prowess. Unless you just can't pitch. Then your record might look like this: 5-13, 6.56 ERA and a 1.62 WHIP. Right, Jose? Can you say Lima Time? Is that like Happy Hour? Cause, they need some extra beers in KC to wash that taste out of their mouth. Not like Greinke is doing much better, but at least he's young and might turn the corner. If he gets lucky and gets the hell out of Kansas City.

Last, but not least: Innings Pitched.

OK, this won't take long. The more innings you can pitch, assuming your name's not Jose Lima, the more you help your team. Obviously, this is in the "generally speaking" category, but the more you can keep the bullpen rested and ready for "Emergencies Only", the better off your team will be. The bullpen is a necessary element of the game (duh) but you need to keep their arms loose and connected to their bodies. If they are heading out there five or six times a week to save your sorry ass, then trouble is lurking just around the corner. Especially in late August and early September.

However, don't be like Dusty Baker and keep your starters in until blood comes shooting out of their fingertips (ok, slight exaggeration) and have them throw 140 pitches in meaningless encounters. He may be singurlary responsible for the early demise of Kerry Wood and hampered the development of Mark Prior. You have 12 pitchers on the roster for a reason. The Marlins' Jack McKeon is an arm killer too, as Dontrelle Willis has found out the last three years. Although Willis, so far, is still throwing gas, with guys like A.J. Burnett and Josh Beckett just coming off surgery and frequent trips to the DL and Willis fading every year, don't you think it might be smart to take 'em out a little early in a game or two?

Just a thought.

Oh, I'd better say that the White Sox have the fifth best team ERA in the bigs and are tied for fifth in WHIP or my brother and Suzanne will kill me for sure (however, they are 21st in team BA and 28th in team OBP, so they're all about pitching). Although Mark Buhrle is looking tired lately (only Chris Carpenter averages more innings per outing) losing three of his last four starts. His ERA for the month of August is a decent 3.46 and WHIP was 1.27 as well, but they might want to spot start someone and give Buhrle, Garland and Garcia an extra day off to prepare for the Playoffs. They're going to need them to win those 3-2 and 2-1 games.

OK. Did that clarify anything or just make you feel dizzy and a little sick to the stomach. I have that effect on people. Even when I shower.

Please feel free to pick me apart and tell me what a fool I am. I'm no Leo Mazzone. I simply focused on stats for this Unrestricted post, and some pitchers do perform well, stats be damned. Maybe one or two. In the last 10 years.

Have a nice day.

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