Sunday, October 31, 2004

Lions Diary

Before calling it a day, I should say something about the Lions game. The Honolulu Blue and Silver take on Dallas in Big D Sunday. I have no gut feeling about this game, which is usually a bad thing. However, Dallas is not playing good football and appear to be a team in transition.

Detroit, on the other hand, is playing wonderfully effective football on the road. They aren't crushing people, they are just winning games. That's not a formula I can complain about at this point.

I do know that a loss here, while understandable, will be a bit disappointing. The playoff talk increases with a win. I am going to be positive about this game until the Lions prove otherwise.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Thoughts I Had.....

In the time between the moment Keith Foulke grabbed the bouncer off the bat of Edgar Renteria and the time he tossed the ball over to Doug Mientkiewicz to complete the final out of the 2004 World Series, my whole life as a Red Sox fan passed before my eyes.

As I've said before, I am an adopted member of Red Sox Nation. As a non-native, I'm more a cousin, but I vividly remember almost every unfortunate moment of Boston's baseball history since 1975. I've also read more than enough books on baseball and the Sox to fill in the gaps that came before my time.

As Foulke turned and headed for firstbase, he hesitated just a second. It was almost a pump-fake or millisecond of fear, so desperately wanting to make a perfect toss to end the Series. In reality, he was probably just waiting for Mientkiewicz to get to first, but it prolonged the final out just long enough for my years as a Sox fan to flash before my eyes.

I thought of Dave Stapleton. The guy who should have been at firstbase in Game Six, 1986.

I thought of Bill Buckner. (Maybe Foulke may have, too, thus the millisecond of hesitation.) But, I think of how different his world would be if Stapleton was in the game in '86, as he was in all the World Series games prior to Game Six.

I thought of Jim Rice. A rookie outfielder in 1975, Rice missed the post-season after being hit by a Vern Ruhle pitch. Rice did play for the Sox in '86, but that '75 team was special. Rice could have made such a big difference versus the Reds.

I thought of Bruce Hurst who had his name on the 1986 World Series MVP Trophy only to have it removed.

I thought of all those who saw more Sox baseball than I who were finally going to see this nonsense end.

I also thought of all those who passed on without seeing the Sox win.

I also thought about Babe Ruth. I never thought there was a curse. I'm pretty sure Ruth cursed at quite a few people, but I never believed he placed any curses. On the Sox or anyone else. Ruth now gets to be embraced as one of the greatest Red Sox players ever.

I remembered the naive disappointment as an eleven year old in '75, the shock of '78, the heartbreak and sleepless nights of '86.

I recall reading The Curse of the Bambino, known in my household as the "Put Your Head In The Oven Book". Named after one of the reviews on the cover. (I considered burning the book after the Series, but I was told book burning was not a good idea.)

I remember my trip to Fenway Park.

Yeah, I remembered Bucky "Effin" Dent and Aaron "Effin" Boone, too.

Prior to the final out, I never, ever allowed myself to believe the Sox were going to win. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. After 1975 and 1986, I wasn't about to be fooled again. Up three games to none, winning 3-0 in the ninth inning of Game Four with two outs? Been there, done that. I need proof before I could let down my guard.

As Foulke trotted towards firstbase and history, I finally thought the one thing I refused to accept "They are really going to win the World Series". As Foulke underhanded the ball to Mientkiewicz, I could feel the weight of twenty-nine years lifted off my shoulders. It was equal parts joy and relief.

Immediately after the final out was recorded, I did think of so many others in Sox history. Apparently, Curt Schilling shared my thoughts, as he mentioned Bob Stanley, Calvin Schiraldi, Johnny Pesky and Buckner. I thought of them and Don Zimmer, Dominic DiMaggio, Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs, Luis Tiant, Carl Yastrzemski and countless others. I only wish they got their moment of World Series success.

That moment of Foulke's grab and lob over to first will probably be like a DVD in my head, stuck on a single scene playing over and over again. I'll probably recall the thoughts and feelings I had that moment every time I see that play. Before Wednesday, I never allowed myself to think the Sox would win the World Series, but I smile every single time I think about it now.

Sammy, Sammy, Sammy

Sammy Sosa is upset. Again. This courtesy of Chicago's front office should take a page from the Red Sox book. You can win without your highest profile player. The Cubs should peddle their disgruntled superstar, right now, if they can find a buyer. They can fill Sosa's spot with someone else (Carlos Beltran?) or re-sign ex-Boston hero Nomar Garciaparra and someone else with the money they save losing Sosa's seventeen million dollar salary in 2005.

The NBA's Top 50 Players

According to Fox Note: All five starting Detroit Pistons made the top 50.

Running At Four

I stumbled across this old column from David Kindred at The Sporting News. In the shadow of Smarty Jones' failure to capture The Belmont Stakes, Mr. Kindred suggests that four year olds be allowed to run in Triple Crown races. He argues the sport needs more stars, like Smarty Jones, and an extra year in front of television cameras would make all the horses more familiar to the general populous.

Like seemingly everyone else, Kindred wishes for a Triple Crown winner and thinks the current drought necessitates drastic action. I disagree with the entire premise on two points.

First, casual sports fans simply are not going to watch any more horse racing than they do now. Our sports calendar is already packed. As much as I enjoy horse racing, it's hard for me to cram the Triple Crown races and the Breeders Cup into my schedule. That's only four races a year and I would classify myself as something slightly more than a casual fan. The average guy just doesn't care enough, or have enough time, to watch more racing no matter how many times Smarty Jones runs.

The most obvious example of this is today's running of the Breeders Cup. In the event's last race, the Classic, a number of horses older than three run. How many casual fans will be watching? Can you name a single horse in the field? Given a choice between the Michigan and Michigan State football game today or the Breeders Cup, ninety-nine percent of the local sports fans I know would choose to watch football everytime. Familiarity is not the sport's biggest issue.

Mr. Kindred actually provides my second point. Here is his quote:

Which is why poor Smarty Jones became the 10th straight good horse in 26 years to win the Derby and Preakness only to lose the Belmont and the Triple Crown.

The problem with the horses that have come close to claiming the Triple Crown recently? They are good. Real good. They have not been Triple Crown caliber talents. A great horse will win the Triple Crown. Problem is great horses don't show up every year. It was twenty-five years between Citation and Secretariat. If it takes a thirty year dry spell to find another horse as good as Seattle Slew or Affirmed, so be it.

All parties interested in horse racing (the NTRA, others in the industry, old sportswriters, etc...) need to re-focus their energy. First, realize the sport will never again be as big as it was in 1900. Boxing and baseball aren't, either. It's no crime for horse racing to follow suit.

Second, make a big deal about your four afternoons in the spotlight. The Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes and Breeders Cup are wonderful, historic events. Let some fans know about the parties, the history and the fun horse racing can be even if you don't lose your car at the window.

Third, everyone needs to stop making every horse out to be Secretariat. Winning the first two legs of the Triple Crown makes you Real Quiet or Silver Charm, not the greatest horse ever. Not that being compared to Spectacular Bid or even Point Given is an insult. Winning two-thirds of the Triple Crown is a terrific, horse-of-the-year achievement. You can argue it even makes you a great horse.

However, remember that greatness is relative. It's like the difference between Hall of Fame baseball players. You have Babe Ruth and Pee Wee Reese. Maybe, Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski is a better example. Different styles, different eras, different career paths, different stats. Still both are great. Just not on the same level.

Someday another Triple Crown winner, another legendary horse will emerge. We don't need to manufacture one. We just need to be patient.

Dancing, Already?

Luke Winn of has Michigan's basketball team heading his list of schools making The Dance for the first time this millennium.

Pedro Plunked

Seems the ghost of Babe Ruth may have drilled Pedro Martinez. Here is the link via Fox Sports.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Sunday, October 24, 2004

B.B. Baker's Dozen

For a change, it was a rather quiet week in the poll. I may as well cut to the chase. Here's my top 13.

1. Southern Cal- A boring, solid win over Washington.
2. Oklahoma- Knocked down KU, again.
3. Miami- I may be starting to believe.
4. Utah- Crushing UNLV isn't going to hurt. Or help.
5. Auburn- Dropping UK nearly as impressive as beating UNLV.
6. Florida State- A road game at Maryland could be interesting.
7. Georgia- Yet another ugly win for UGA.
8. Texas- Many thought T.T. would prevail.
9. California- ASU comes calling this week.
10. Wisconsin- Bye week coming for Big Ten leaders.
11. Michigan- Shazor's hit an all-time highlight.
12. Tennessee- A tough win vs. Alabama
13. Louisville- Probably deserved to be ranked sooner.

White Lays Claim To Heisman

I mentioned this a while ago, but I knew Jason White was not going to get enough Heisman Trophy consideration this year. White had the audacity to have a terrible post-season last year alienating a number of voters who felt they were duped. White's stock fell so far that the Oklahoma quarterback wasn't even a pre-season first team All-American. A returning Heisman winner isn't a first team All-American? Please.

All the hype in 2004 had been given the Southern Cal signal caller Matt Leinart. Leinart had a fine year in 2003, but came up short in stats and the Heisman vote. However, Leinhart led the Trojans to a portion of the national championship last season, something White was unable to do, thus Leinart was perceived as both the nation's best quarterback and leading Heisman candidate heading into this year.

As the season has progressed, I have kept waiting to see Leinart have a Heisman-like afternoon. It still hasn't happened. Oh, he's been good. Sometimes very good. He just hasn't been the best player in the nation. Yet, the game's talking heads continue to spout off about Leinart, while completely ignoring White. Today, I took a look at the numbers and it only affirms my opinion. White is getting overlooked.

Leinart is 127 of 217 for 1,642 yards. USC's quarterback has thrown 17 touchdowns and has three interceptions. Pretty good numbers. White is 126 of 196 for 1,617 yards. He has thrown 17 TD's and only three picks. The difference between these two is?

Leinart has one more completion and thrown for twenty-five more yards. White counters with a better completion percentage. Both have the same number of touchdown tosses and interceptions. Both have led their teams to undefeated seasons. That's not much difference, yet Leinart is drawing all the raves.

Some will argue that White has a fellow Heisman Trophy candidate in his backfield, freshman RB Adrian Peterson. While I admit to being a co-chairman of the Peterson for Heisman campaign, for the majority of the year all I heard was how USC's Reggie Bush was a leading Heisman candidate.

At worst, Bush has been alternately called the best, most versatile, most exciting player in the land. So, that "White has Peterson to take the pressure off him" line doesn't hold much water. Besides, White somehow managed to be the best college football player in 2003 while Peterson was in high school.

In the latest Heisman tracking poll, White's name doesn't appear until after seven others. Worse, fellow quarterbacks Leinart, Aaron Rodgers, Kyle Orton, Jason Campbell and Alex Smith all came before the defending Heisman winner. At least, White's stock was climbing. The question is why did his stock drop so low to begin with?

The answer is simple. The voters are mad about White's collapse in the last two games of '03. So, as long as 'SC wins and Peterson piles up yardage at a record pace, it will be easy for the fickle Heisman voters to give White the cold shoulder. However, I have bad news for the voters. Jason White is a Heisman candidate. At this point in the season, he's also the best quarterback in the country. The voters really should be happy about this. It looks like White didn't dupe them after all.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Knuckling Under

Knuckleball pitchers scare me. A lot. They always have. Yes, the can be completely frustrating to hitters. Get even seven or eight innings out of one, then bring in a power closer and it's generally over. Hitters just can't adjust to the change quickly enough. It can even hurt hitters' timing in the next game, or so I am told.

However, the knuckleball guys also can look like glorified batting practice pitchers, too. Call me crazy, but I get nervous when my pitcher offers up big league hitters something that closely resembles slow pitch softball tosses.

I say this, of course, because Tim Wakefield is pitching tonight for the Red Sox in Game 1 of the World Series. The thought of Wake flinging those lollipops up to Larry Walker, Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen, Jim Edmonds and friends is not reassuring.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Tigers Switch Gears

The Detroit Tigers find themselves in a curious position. As recently as two years ago, the team seemed to be prepared to hold out for future success. They appeared committed to an in-house building plan. A plan that would require time and patience. However, it now appears the Tigers are on a revised Plan B.

Remember when Alan Trammell was hired as manager? The prevailing thought at the time was "Sure, Alan's a rookie manager. He will make mistakes, but he will grow with the team and both should be ready to win at the same time." Of course, most of us figured the emphasis on winning would be several years off, as the Tigers were going to go with their homegrown talent. Trammell would have plenty of time to figure out the fine points of managing.

However, the Tigers direction changed quickly after the 2003 season. After compiling the worst record in American League history, the Tigers were desperate. Not only were the Tigers in dire need of some positive buzz, to generate interest in a morbid franchise, but the contracts with luxury suite ticket holders expired. The Tigers needed some good public relations to encourage those suite holders to renew. They also needed a reason for the rest of the Motor City to show up at all.

To address this matter, the Tigers went the free agency route. Detroit signed Al Levine, Fernando Vina, Jason Johnson, Rondell White and Ivan Rodriguez last winter. The pursuit of Rodriguez alone generated more interest in the Tigers than they had over the last decade. Once signed, the mere presence of the future Hall of Fame catcher sold tickets and created headlines.

It was just what the doctor ordered. Well, sort of. Pudge and company powered the Tigers to an incredible April. Detroit spent much of the initial month of the season in first place. While that level of play was unsustainable, the Tigers went on to improve by twenty-nine games. What's the downside of that? Expectations.

Now, Tiger fans expect more. There is talk of contending for the Central Division title in 2005. Why not? They just jumped up twenty-nine games. Fans argue that if the Tigers shore up a horrible bullpen, get an outfielder and maybe another starter, who knows?

Management has probably altered their expectations as well. The new look and vastly improved on-field product created a large increase in ticket sales. Hosting the All-Star Game in 2005, the Tigers could once again post a significant gain in attendance (and revenue) with hopes of even a better team next year.

In theory, the Tigers would be looking to their farm system to fill some of these key holes. However, 2004 revealed that very, very few Tiger farmhands look anywhere near ready to contribute in 2005. The kiddie corps most of us envisioned Trammell leading appears years away. Thus, to improve the Tigers must either make trades of visit the free agent market once again.

All indications lead towards opening up Mike Ilitch's checkbook for help this winter. When the Tigers pulled the offer from their number one draft pick, Justin Verlander, they not only dealt a blow to the future, but implied the money not used on the prospect would be spent on a free agent. That doesn't sound like Dombrowski's original plan to me. Suddenly, the Tigers are acting as if the future is now.

Now, I don't believe that this Plan B completely foregoes Dombrowski's emphasis on building from within. No organization with limited resources can afford that and Dombrowski has shown an ability and desire to build farm systems. This revised direction just places more attention on the immediate future of the big league club as help from the minors appears to be quite a ways off.

However, I wonder about the Tigers in the short-term. Can Trammell survive this change in direction? If the Tigers go out and acquire more veterans this winter, there will be even more pressure and scrutiny on Trammell. Depending on what new faces show up in Lakeland in March, Trammell might be expected to duplicate 2004's increase in wins. The next twenty game improvement will be far more difficult.

I also wonder what this team looks like in two to three years? Guys like Bobby Higginson, White, Vina, Levine, Johnson and others will be gone. Rodriguez will be nearing the end of his deal. Will some of the Tigers' young pitchers (Jeremy Bonderman, Wilfredo Ledezma, Nate Robertson, Mike Maroth) be able to carry the club by then? Will the next wave of prospects be ready by 2007? Will any of them turnout to be the impact players the organization appears to lack currently? Will the Tigers be going through a complete transition to youth in '07 or '08 that many of us thought would be going on right now? Or will Ilitch continue to spend in free agency to sustain a level of respectability?

Even with a revised plan in place, the long term future of the ballclub is as cloudy as ever. Dombrowski has played the cards dealt him beautifully to this point, but reviving this franchise will still depend greatly on the ability to develop prospects from within. That part of the plan hasn't changed. It also doesn't look significantly better than it did two years ago.

Update: Verlander suprisingly signed with the Tigers yesterday. Seems his agent may have been the primary roadblock to a deal. Here is the Detroit Free Press account. While it's great to add a power arm to the organization, I doubt we will see Verlander making much of a contribution before mid-2006. That may not be soon enough to help Trammell'c cause.

S.I. All-Americans

Sports Illustrated released it's picks for mid-season All-Americans. Three Michigan and one Michigan State player made the first team. Click here to see S.I.'s choices.

Un-Retiring Numbers

Paul Lukas, of Uni Watch at, offers this:

Update: Uni Watch's recent examination of retired numbers gained a bit of extra resonance this week when Jerry Rice was traded to the Seahawks. Rice has worn uni number 80 for his entire career, first with the 49ers and then with the Raiders. But the Seahawks retired that number in 1995, in honor of Steve Largent. Given Rice's recent temper tantrums regarding playing time and the loss of his consecutive-game reception streak, how would he react to having to wear an unfamiliar number?

Not to worry. Calls were made, permission from Largent was requested and received, and Rice
will be wearing number 80 after all.

First, Rice better not be crying about uniform numbers at this point in his career. As Lukas points out, playing time should be a bigger concern. (Note to Jerry: In case you are still wondering why the Raiders didn't toss you a pass, look at what they got in return for you. A seventh round draft pick. The Seahawks could probably get an eighth rounder for Largent right now.)

Second, and more importantly, it seems like uniform numbers are un-retiring about as often as boxers do. I, for one, am growing a bit weary of the trend. Either take the number out of action forever or don't retire numbers. What's the point of giving Steve Largent the honor of retiring his number so a washed up Jerry Rice can wear it for half a season?

If a player is so special or important to a franchise that the team retires his number, let's assume that no matter who arrives after, the number should stay retired.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Lions Diary

Jason Whitlock, over at, lists his top fifteen NFL quarterbacks. Get a look at number twelve.

Sox In Series

I should say something about one of the greatest playoff series ever played. I loved Boston Red Sox victory over the New York Yankees. However, I should put the disclaimer in right now. I am a member of Red Sox Nation. This adopted cousin of the Commonwealth's team joined the legions in 1975. That, friends, is a long time ago. I may relay the details of my entry into The Nation during the World Series, but suffice to say, I am not unbiased. (I guess that makes me equal with 99% of the journalists who claim they are.)

As such, I was happy to see the Sox get the breaks, bounces and calls for a change. I was also happy to see the Sox play some tough minded baseball at times. Especially, late in games. Those late inning miracles are usually the games the Sox lose, Carlton Fisk's shot notwithstanding.

Overall, I don't think you can expect much more tension or drama from a playoff series, or sport in general, than the Red Sox and Yankees provided over the last week. It was great theatre and another boost for the game's image. Obviously, the thing that clinched it for me was the Boston triumph.

Having said that, let me also state that I am not at all satisfied. Not even close. Sure, many in The Nation probably are just as happy to see the Sox make playoff history against the hated New York Yankees as they would be to win the next round. I, however, will not be pacified quite so easily.

The nightmare that is the Red Sox post-season history, post 1918, won't end until they win the World Series. No amount of playoff destruction or general humiliation of King George's pinstripers is going to make up for 1975 or 1986 in my book.

Yeah, dropping the over-confident Yanks in their house, in front of their fans, does balance out some of the Bucky Dent/Aaron Boone crap, but it doesn't give the Sox the most elusive prize. Only a World Championship can dull the pain of four straight World Series losses (1946, 1967, 1975, 1986) each in seven painful games. Only four more wins can help offset the champion-less streak dating back to World War I.

Winning this remarkable series is great. It's sweet revenge. It's also four wins shy of what generations of Red Sox fans have waited for. At least, this year's Sox get a chance to make those dreams come true.

The Bad News

In the wake of the Red Sox dramatic victory in the American League Championship Series, a portion of New England went criminal. Seems the locals in several areas got into fights, both with each other and the police, started things on fire and overturned some cars. One college student actually lost her life. (Related links: here and here.)

Shouldn't they all be getting along after their team won? Why fight with each other or destroy property? I'll just never comprehend this type behavior, alcohol induced or not. For someone to lose their life celebrating the night the Sox returned to the World Series for the first time in eighteen years is shameful.

Fielder Falls

Ex-Detroit Tiger star Cecil Fielder is apparently in quite a bit of financial trouble due to a gambling problem. The Detroit News revealed Fielder's problem in a cover story this past Sunday. If nothing else, Fielder's story should give some people insight into why gambling and professional athletes just are not a good mix under almost any circumstance.

If Fielder can toss away forty-seven million and end up running from those he owes money to, what might he have been willing to do if the debt was owed while he was still an active player? It's not a thought I am terribly comfortable with.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

B.B. Baker's Dozen

Surprise, surprise. The Bowl Championship Series (BCS) rankings are out and most everyone thinks they are wrong. I'm not surprised. It's a poll. Sure, it's a great big poll using data from all the other polls, but it's flawed just like the others. It doesn't much matter, though. It's all just fodder for discussion. Well, until someone gets left out of the title game, anyway.

1. Southern Cal- Headed for Orange Bowl.
2. Oklahoma- #3 in BCS. Second everywhere else.
3. Miami- #2 in BCS. Third everywhere else.
4. Utah- Beat UNC to maintain spot.
5. Auburn- Hard to argue with 7-0.
6. Florida State- Pasted UVA. On the move up.
7. Georgia- I still think this is a good team.
8. Texas- I'm not sure what I think about 'Horns.
9. California- Rodgers stay in Heisman chase.
10. Wisconsin- Badgers are Big Ten top dog.
11. Michigan- Gets Purdue Saturday.
12. Tennessee- Ainge continues to find a way to win.
13. Purdue- 'Boilers face elimination game this week.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Still The One

Carlos Beltran remains the best baseball player on Earth. At worst, he's simply the hottest hitter alive. Here's today's proof. Beltran, a free agent, is going to be very, very wealthy. Very, very soon.

Big Ben Believer

I am officially on the Ben Roethlisberger Bandwagon. Watching the Pittsburgh Steelers rookie against Dallas this afternoon, I am convinced. This kid has the potential to be special. His size is the first thing that caught my attention, but what I am most impressed with is Roethlisberger's feel for the game.

Unlike most rookies, forget that, most players, Big Ben seems to have a sense of where his teammates and opponents are at. He doesn't panic. He appears to improvise very well. He can throw on the run. He creates space for himself to throw. He scrambles effectively. It all those little things coaches and scouts blabber on about for days that make Roethlisberger unique for his age.

I now understand why Bill Parcells said the Big Ben is best looking rookie quarterback he has seen play since Dan Marino. Roethlisberger sure looks like the real deal. I, for one, am now a believer.

Lions Diary

I told you I had a bad feeling about the Packers game. In typical Lions fashion, Detroit went out and got spanked by Green Bay this afternoon, 38-10. After being a road dog to a hot Atlanta team and winning a week ago, the Lions come home favorites to a Green Bay team headed out to pasture only to see themselves end up slipping on the cow pie today. Typical.

I think it's safe to say a number of players stunk the joint up headed by Joey Harrington. Eventually, Harrington needs to make plays. Big plays. It hasn't happened yet. The Lions' QB was far from alone, though. There is plenty of blame to toss around.

I just knew this sort of thing was going to happen. Too many were way too high on the Lions and everything set-up just too perfectly (Lions coming off a road win, G.B. coming off a horrible home loss). I could dwell on it more, but I may just toss it out and pin my hopes on next Sunday.

Friday, October 15, 2004

No Name, No Owner, But We Got Uniforms

Washington, D.C. has baseball back. Now, they need uniforms. I stumbled across this very cool design at I haven't see the rest of the competition, but this design gets high marks.

NHL Lockout Notes

Apparently, Commissioner Bettman showed up in Raleigh to quiet fears the Hurricanes could get contracted. Seems the Commish doesn't understand why people would wonder such things, but then informs all that the 'Canes have lost tens of millions per season in a league that has lost $1.8 billion over the last ten seasons. Hmm? I wonder why contraction is being rumored?

Bettman has told everyone that contraction is not an option. That with the right financial plan (a salary cap) all thirty teams can be successful. I could be wrong, but hasn't he basically contracted the whole league right now?

Bettman assured all that the Raleigh area was a "terrific market". I'm sure it is. For college basketball. You'll note there is no comment in the AP story about how many attended this town hall meeting.

One other NHL note. ran a poll yesterday asking when you would miss the NHL? 156,135 fans voted when I checked last. 60.8% chose never. That's in never. Ever. I'm sure none of the voters were from the Raleigh area, though.

Sponsorship Overload

This is why some have trouble taking auto racing seriously. Casey Mears won the pole for the NASCAR Busch Series SpongeBob SquarePants Movie 300. I did not make that up. It's the name of the race. Really. The NASCAR Busch Series SpongeBob SquarePants Movie 300. I know you still don't believe me. Click here for confirmation.

I wouldn't even want to win the race with that ridiculous a name. I pity the poor guy that does. The stinking name of the race is a paragraph long. By the time a sportswriter gets done typing it, there won't be enough space left to mention who won. Besides, I shudder to think of the trophy featuring good ol' SpongeBob pounding down a Busch beer.

Tigers Drop Offer To Top Pick

Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers just cannot reach a contract agreement. As such, the Tigers have backed out of negotiations with the number two overall pick. This is a bad public relations move in the short term. In the long term, it delays the Tigers' internal rebuilding process.

A deal could still be worked out, but Verlander will have to change his mind because it looks like the Tigers have made up their's.

One, Two, Three Strikes And A Lockout For You

Let me see if I have this right. The NHL is in the midst of a lockout. The hot rumor in the NBA is that the basketball league will face a similar fate this time next year. While the Major League Baseball Players Association is already preparing for baseball's next work stoppage in 2006.

This leads me to two questions. 1) Who is more stupid: The leagues/players' unions or us fans? 2) When does that NFL labor agreement end?

Seeing Red(birds)

I know the American League Championship Series is getting all the attention, but there is a very entertaining battle going on in the National League C.S. The St. Louis Cardinals and Houston Astros are trading blows, with the Cards just having too many weapons so far. The Astros lineup of Jeff Bagwell, Jeff Kent, Lance Berkman, Craig Biggio and my current choice for best player in the game, Carlos Beltran are loaded, but the Cardinals can top that.

Larry Walker, Scott Rolen, Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds and Edgar Renteria have been just a few runs better each night. Even with the Astros top pitchers on deck, Roy Oswalt and Roger Clemens, I don't think we are going to see any perfect games through seven innings in this series. These teams can rake.

It certainly looks like the Cards are going to advance, being up 2-0. In spite of what I feel is questionable starting pitching for St. Louis, it's going to be hard for either New York or Boston to stop this impressive Cardinals attack.

College Hoops Time

Midnight Madness has returned. For those in my neck of the woods, Big Ten country, here is a story about the conference's potential breakout players courtesy of

Of course, there is also the continuing work of Yoni at the college basketball blog. You want hoops? These sites have got more college basketball news than you can handle.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Club vs. Country

The debate has raged over club versus country. International football (that's soccer) fans, coaches and players have wondered which should be more important. The battle has reached the States, as U.S. coach Bruce Arena recently chided Major League Soccer for it's scheduling of games during World Cup qualifying contests.

Here's an interesting column about the subject from a European perspective. Seems the problem will never go away.

Just A Bit Outside

Drew Sharp, a writer for the Detroit Free Press, wrote this column about Ken Caminiti's death. The tone of the piece, that athletes should learn about the potential dangers of steroid abuse, is right on. The fact baseball, Caminiti's sport, is drilled is slightly off-base.

Sure, baseball has a drug problem. It has a fairly lame testing and enforcement policy, too. However, this is just piling on the "Baseball is a dead sport" bandwagon that began after the last work stoppage.

Did anyone take note of this past Olympics? How many athletes got bounced out of The Games for testing positive for steroids? It was nearly a daily occurrence.

Forget the regular Olympics, some Paralympic athletes that got booted for testing positive for steroids and other illegal substances. Baseball players are the only ones who are having a problem?

When Lyle Alzado died years ago, many suspected his death was steroid related. Steve Corson, the offensive lineman with the Pittsburgh Steelers, suffered with a number of unique medical conditions that many attributed to steroids. Alzado and Corson played in the 70's when a number of players began using a all kinds substances to improve performance. Did any football players learn? Seems a number get caught each season.

Honestly, in a league widely regarded as bigger, faster and stronger than it was when men like Alzado and Corson played, does anyone think that maybe steroids are still an issue in the NFL? No, that can't be, they have testing. Of course, the Olympics have tested for years. That hasn't stopped the use or caught every suspected abuser.

To imply baseball is alone in the depths of performance enhancing substance abusers, or that this is the first death that could be connected to steroid abuse, is wrong.

Update: ESPN is reporting Caminiti died of a drug overdose.

Let's Call The Whole Thing Off

I have a new approach for the hockey lockout. Let's hope it lasts forever. Yes, I'm serious. Let's let these two groups of morons, the NHL's owners and players, shut down the league for good. You may rightfully wonder how this helps? Well, perhaps, the best way to get professional hockey back is to eliminate the only two obstacles to that end-the current owners and players union.

The only way to get Gary Bettman and Bob Goodenow out of the equation is to have the National Hockey League go belly up. (Do any two people deserve to be unemployed more than these two?) Yes, that's dramatic. Yes, there is a high cost. There is also a cost in letting these guys continue to lead this dog and pony show. A cost, that in the end, may be the same.

Leaving Bettman and Goodenow at the helm of a sport that is slightly above a cottage industry is darn near suicide, anyway. If Bettman and Goodenow have proved nothing else, they have given us ample evidence that hockey is not headed in the right direction. Work stoppages. Lower quality of play. Terrible public relations. Even worse television ratings.

Need more proof? Recently, Mr. Bettman said in a radio interview, and I paraphrase here, "We are not trying to save the season, we are trying to correct the league's financial structure". That sounds like a solid plan. Toss a season away for a salary cap. That won't be a public relations disaster of unequal comparison.

All Bettman and Goodenow do well now, other than not talk to each other, is hammer one another in the media. They also do a great job of dragging the league's image even further into the mud. Given an entire year to not negotiate a deal, cancel the whole season's schedule and call each other liars should make the barely visible NHL hard to find with radar, a GPS system and a shovel by 2006.

In this political season, here is the question every single hockey fan should ask themselves. Is hockey better off today than four years ago? How about ten years ago? Twenty? If the answer is yes, you probably disagree with me completely and that's fine.

If the answer is no, maybe it's time we considered letting go. Let Bettman and Goodenow destroy the league and we will wait for a new one to take it's place. (Trust me, if the public demands pro hockey, another league will form in the NHL's absence.) I'm willing to let these guys go down with the ship and wait for the next ship to come along. I'm willing to wave bye-bye to the NHL and the-powers-that-be for good.

You may not be willing to go that far yet. I understand. The NHL is cool sans the labor rhetoric. It's has a glorious history. One none of us wants to see disappear. Just keep in mind that Bettman and Goodenow might be willing to follow my example.

High School Football?

I hate to even mention this, but ESPN2 is televising a high school football game. Isn't this what local cable stations do for programming? We wonder where tomorrow's spoiled athletes come from, but we start giving them national tv coverage, and pressure, long before college. On second thought, maybe we don't wonder.

Lions Diary

Here comes The Pack. Green Bay, fresh off gets run over on Monday night, comes to Ford Field to take on the Lions Sunday. Detroit fans are hoping this is the Lions chance to finish off the Packers once and for all. A loss would be devastating to the Packers playoff hopes and a win would elevate the lion's post-season chances. Some are wondering if a loss would end the current era of Packers' success?

Regardless, a Lions victory would be a big, big win. In some ways, it would mean more than last week's road win vs. Atlanta because the Packers are a division opponent. Beating The Pack, improving their divisional and conference record, while inching closer to a playoff birth of their own? Yeah, it's a stinkin' big game no matter what Green Bay does the rest of the year.

Even with Bret Favre's so-so dome history, I am leery of thinking the Lions can beat the Packers. Call me crazy, but I felt much more confident of beating the Falcons in their home than the Lions dropping the Packers in Detroit. Not that I think it cannot be done, Green Bay has looked putrid and the Lions have been solid, but maybe the old cynical Lions fan in me is speaking up. I've just seen G.B. beat up the Honolulu Blue for too long.

If the Lions hope to win, the ground game will have to step up for Detroit as will Joey Harrington. Artose Pinner is going to need to get 100 yards rushing or very close to that. A touchdown is probably necessary, as well. Harrington will need to spread the ball around and keep the chains moving. I don't know if we can count on Roy Williams to make a great play, so Harrington may have to.

The Lions' front seven has been excellent and will need to continue to be. I love what the LB's did last week. Seems like Teddy Lehman, Alex Lewis and James Davis all had a big play or two. As the DL has been making plays all year, Shaun Rogers and James Hall are having Pro Bowl-type years, it was nice to see the 'backers step up, too.

I'm cautiously optimistic about the game. Not as much as last week, but still hopeful.

Update: The Lions are ranked 11th in Dr. Z's power rankings. Maybe a win away from the top ten?!?!?!

The Greatest Player In The World

If I asked you who was the best baseball player in the world today, right this second, who would be your answer? If you ask me, and I know you haven't, I would take Carlos Beltran of Houston. He's tearing up the playoffs. He's a five tool player living up to all the expectations. I'm not sure how you could take anyone else.

Yeah, Barry Bonds would get some thought. So, too, would Albert Pujols. Do either play defense or run like Beltran? I don't think so. Scott Rolen, when healthy, can hit and catch with anybody, but he can't run like Beltran. Manny Ramirez and Gary Sheffield can outhit 95% of the game, but neither can run or field with Beltran's ability. Vladimir Guerrero, or maybe Alex Rodriguez, may come the closest, but I still like Beltran over both at this second.

I know he's in a contract year, so maybe he gets an asterisk, but Beltran is playing like the best player on Earth. At least he is right this moment. By next week, I may have a new greatest player in the world.

A Great World Series Match-Up

I admit that my Houston versus Boston World Series prediction doesn't look very likely (or smart) right now. However, I would caution everyone that it is still early in both series. I would also like to point out that really almost any combination of the four remaining teams makes for a great World Series.

My Astros vs. Red Sox scenario provides Roger Clemens returning to Fenway Park. It would be a homecoming for ex-Sox farmhand and Astros' legend, Jeff Bagwell. It would provide us with a team that had never even won a playoff series prior to this season and one's whose playoff failings are legendary. Someone would have to succeed. Wouldn't they?

A St. Louis Cardinals vs. Red Sox outcome would be shades of 1946 and 1967. The Cards and Sox met both times for the World Championship. Each series went seven games. The Cards came out with the title on both occasions. It may feature the two best baseball towns in America. What's not to like?

If the Cards face the New York Yankees it would be a 40th anniversary series of their 1964 World Series collision. I may be wrong, but I think the Cardinals have the most World Championships in National League history. We know the Yanks have the most overall. The series would ooze baseball tradition and feature two great lineups.

An Astros vs. Yankees series would have Roger Clemens returning to Yankee Stadium, the place he "retired" from. I'm sure the Yankee faithful would welcome The Rocket back with open arms. It would be a battle of a team with more post-season success ever against one with no post-season success prior to two weeks ago. An underdog scenario if there ever was one.

So, even if I am wrong (yet, again), the World Series should still be great baseball. Besides, I should get some credit for getting the first round of playoffs predicted correctly.

U.S. Advances

The U.S. men's national soccer team rolled over Panama 6-0. The win secures a birth in the next round of qualification for the 2006 World Cup. Landon Donovan, who I am liking more and more at midfield as opposed to forward, scored the first two U.S. goals. Eddie Johnson, who just got his first international tally Saturday, netted a natural hat trick.

I love to see the young U.S. forwards, like Johnson and Brian Ching, emerge. It gives the team more depth, more scoring ability (which they need more of to compete at the highest level) and allows Donovan to move into a midfield spot where he certainly looks more comfortable. Donovan may be the best U.S. player and he gets far more touches in midfield than at forward. While I am no soccer expert, that seems like a good idea.

The win over Panama may not be like winning a World Cup game, but you can't do that unless you make the field for Germany '06. Last night's victory puts the United States one step closer to that end.

Monday, October 11, 2004

It's Go Time

The countdown to the first pitch is down to less than twenty-four hours. The series everyone has been waiting for is less than a day away. It's Red Sox vs. Yankees in the American League Championship Series.

It's plain and simple. This is baseball's best rivalry, one sided as it has been. It's is arguably the best confrontation in all of sports. It's the same two teams, playing in the same league, in the same division, wearing the same style uniforms, playing in basically the same ballparks for almost 100 years. (Yeah, yeah, I know all about The House That Ruth Built and it's remodeling, but give me some literary leeway here.)

It's Joe DiMaggio and Ted Williams. It's Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx. It's Thurman Munson and Carlton Fisk. It's Derek Jeter and Nomar Garciaparra. It's Pedro Martinez tossing aside Don Zimmer and Reggie Jackson's shouting match with Billy Martin in Boston's dugout. It's Denny Doyle and Brian Doyle. It's Carl Yastrzemski and Bucky Dent. Of course, it's tons of Babe Ruth, too. It's the history of the sport rolled up into two franchises.

It's big business, big headlines, big contracts and big egos. It's free agent signings and blockbuster trades. It's every sticky-sweet, melodramatic baseball prose ever written about autumn evenings, David versus Goliath and the cycle of life, but it's all true. The series cannot possibly live up to the hype, but, for a change, the hype may be warranted.

The Sox were the team from 1900-1918. The Yankees have dominated since and dealt Boston a number of historic setbacks along the way. Of course, the Sox have offered up some of their own improbable losses without the Yankees assistance. However, it's those near-misses against New York that have united Red Sox Nation and given this battle it's backdrop.

The history of their regular season clashes for the American League pennant have been joined, in this wild card era, by post-season games featuring baseball's most heated rivals. Now, instead of one team staying home during the playoffs, they can meet in a best of seven series to crown the winner of the American League. It's ten times the pressure, ten times the hype, ten times more fun.

Tomorrow another chapter between the sport's most written about franchises begins. I think we are all ready. Let's get it on.

Caminiti's Death

I, like most baseball fans, was saddened to hear that former MVP Ken Caminiti died of a heart attack at age 41. The definition of hard-nosed ballplayer, Caminiti had battle substance abuse and personal demons for years. His life was far too short.

B.B. Baker's Dozen

Oh, let's face it. Nobody has any idea who to rank after number two. Well, that's a bit untrue. Miami is clearly third, even though they look prime for a loss, so the top three are simple. However, four through thirteen are anyone's guess. After a couple of days of thought, here's my guess at college football's top 13.

1. Southern Cal- Solid win vs. Cal
2. Oklahoma- Peterson is THE man.
3. Miami- Here is where the poll gets fuzzy.
4. Utah- Yeah, I know. It's Utah. But no one else can maintain this spot.
5. Auburn- The SEC's top team. This week.
6. Purdue- Orton and Co. squeak past Penn State.
7. Viriginia- The poll gets even fuzzier.
8. Florida State- 'Noles on the move up, again.
9. Georgia- The up-and-down Dawgs are down this week.
10. Texas- Can't pass. Can't beat OU, either.
11. California- Tough loss to 'SC.
12. (tie) Michigan and Wisconsin- Your choice of Big Ten school here.
13. Tennessee- Win at UGA puts Vols back in poll. Barely.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Lions Diary

See, I thought the Lions could do it. Every once in a while I am right. Today was one of those days. The Falcons played like I expected, as did Detroit. It was ugly, but I will gladly take a second road win. The Lions are now 3-1.

The injuires continue to mount, though. The loss of Roy Williams being the biggest. Williams' ankle injury will really hurt the Lions offense in the weeks to come. (It won't help my fantasy league team, either.) However, a win is a win.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Soccer Night In El Salvador

The U.S. Men's National Team has just won a World Cup Qualifier in El Salvador 2-0. Brian McBride and Ed Johnson tallied for the U.S. Very nice road win for the U.S. Next up is Panama Wednesday night at RFK.

New Kids On Campus

If you've been around here at all, and if you have you are probably alone, you may have noted my general disdain for the "freshman can't contribute" line most college coaches hand out. Not that it doesn't prove true, but it's hardly 100% accurate as they make it sound. Coaches would have us believe these first-year kids are just slightly above worthless. Yet, I doubt many want to go back to freshmen ineligibility.

In light of this, I offer the following moderately sarcastic observations from Saturday's big games.

Tennessee beats Georgia? That can't be right. Freshman QB's can't win big games on the road. Yet, Vols' QB Erik Ainge played his first ever road contest, in Georgia no less, and walked out with a win. David Greene, a pre-season Heisman contender and senior, has a lackluster game for UGA, but Ainge guides UT to a huge conference win. Casey Clausen must have played, not Ainge.

Chad Henne continues to improve. Wait, that can't be right, either. Another TRUE freshman quarterback guides his team to a win against a top twenty, conference opponent? Freshman rarely make an impact, especially at the big programs. Henne could not have thrown for over 300 yards versus Minnesota. You can't trust a freshman in a big game, everyone knows that.

Oklahoma runs over Texas, 12-0. Adrian Peterson runs himself into the Heisman race by going over, around and through the Longhorns. Wait, Peterson can't be in the Heisman hunt, he's a true freshman. Freshman aren't supposed to be key contributors. They certainly cannot be considered the best player in the country.

I know the best thing about freshman is that they become sophomores. If that's true, I guess we will have quite a Heisman race in 2005.

Lions Diary

I haven't had much to say about the Honolulu Blue and Silver, but the boys had last week off and there's been a ton of other sporting events to keep my short attention span occupied. However, tomorrow the Lions lineup against the Atlanta Falcons. Some in town, and many across the land, think the Falcons are in a prime spot to cream Detroit. Maybe I'm a homer, maybe too darn ignorant, or both, but I'm just not too worried about ATL.

Let's have one understanding, though. Michael Vick scares everyone. That includes me, but I'm still not overly impressed by his teammates. Sure, the Lions have way too many injuries to name and they are probably an 8-8 team in the making, but I still think they've got a chance Sunday. Again, it could just be I'm plain crazy, but I don't see why the Lions are so inferior to ATL.

A Falcons win won't surprise me. Neither will a Lions "W".

Friday, October 08, 2004

Slippin' Sammy

Anybody want Sammy Sosa? Anybody? Four or five years ago, Sosa was untouchable. He was one of baseball's premier stars. He was one of the game's most dangerous hitters, a former MVP, and a top gate attraction. He was part of everything that was good about baseball. Oh, how things have changed.

Sosa's season long run-in with manager Dusty Baker have taken the luster off the former golden child. He now looks more like pouter than player. Of course, his premature departure in the middle of Game 162 only helped further that image.

His decline at the plate, coming in the same season that MLB tested for illegal substances, has added fuel to Sosa's rumored steroid use. It's not unreasonable for people to question just how much of Sosa's prolific output was due to ability and how much came as a result of enhanced Juicy Juice? Or that enhanced bat? Or both?

Due $17 million next year, the Cubs would probably love to move Slammin' Sammy along. However, if traded, Sosa would be guaranteed another $18 million for the following year. $35 million for two years for an aging, pouting star with declining numbers? Few general managers are going to look kindly on that deal.

In 1999, I doubt any G.M. would have passed on grabbing Sosa. Now, completely redefined as a quitter who can't produce huge numbers without a pharmacist, Oprah would have a tough time giving away Sosa and his big contact. The mighty do fall. Sometimes very quickly.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

NHL Lockout Observations

Eric at Off Wing Opinion offers some thoughts on the NHL lockout.

Tiger Ties The Knot

Unless you've been on the moon over the last week, you may have heard something about Tiger Woods getting married. Apparently, the third ranked golfer in the world did indeed tie the knot Tuesday. I would like to wish Tiger and his wife, Elin, a long, happy and healthy life together. (I'm still trying to figure out a gift.)

I'd also like to thank the couple for actually getting married, thus ending relentless speculation about their impending nuptials. The sports media acted more like The Star or People magazine at thought of golf's top attraction marrying. I had grown weary of the coverage. So what? A golfing legend gets married to his longtime girlfriend? This is sports news? If it got any coverage at all, and I respect the Woods' desire for privacy, it should have been from E! not ESPN. Yet, there it was each day in my morning sports section.

Thankfully, Tiger and Elin are married and the rumors and coverage of their marriage can now be replaced by actual sport stories. Maybe something more important to sports fans? Like Ontario Hockey League scores.

Make Mine A Double

Michigan State University is attempting to crack down on excessive drinking at tailgate parties and instituted some new rules towards that end. Fans, of course, are in an uproar. Some of the Spartans' fans concerns are legit. (Traffic issues are one example.) Others just seem more pre-occupied with tailgating than Spartan football.

This is obsession with pre-game partying is not limited to East Lansing. The way "fans" complain each time an opportunity to consume alcohol is altered, at any sporting event, there is an outcry. Sometimes, I really do wonder what sports, and football in particular, would be like if alcohol and gambling were removed.

Would attendance drop? If so, how much? If you refused to attend a game because alcohol wasn't being served are you a sports fan or an alcohol fan? If you cannot attend a game without your favorite adult beverage in hand, perhaps, (and this is just a suggestion) you might have a teeny, tiny, little problem.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

MLB Playoff Predictions

Borrowing a notion from the Heels, Sox and Steelers blog, this loser is going to try and pick some baseball winners. I have little chance of being correct, even as a baseball geek, but here goes.

I like the New York Yankees over the Minnesota Twins. The Yanks pitching does have problems, but can the Twins get wins out of anyone other than Johan Santana? I like Brad Radke, but Gary Sheffield, Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter (remember when he was so awful in April?) and Alex Rodriguez can pound the baseball. Even if Yankee starters falter, they should be able to hit their way to a series win.

My head says take Anaheim. They are on fire and just put away Oakland's fine starting rotation. However, my heart thinks Boston is going to find a way to win. The key is Pedro Martinez. I assume Curt Schilling will win his starts, so if the Sox #2 starter can pitch like his former #1 self, the Red Sox will advance. If not, this will go the limit and then either team can win. Obviously, I think Pedro will pitch well.

In the National League, I'll take St. Louis over Los Angeles. I have no idea how L.A. got here, but I do feel they will push the Cards. Why? Because they have defied logic all year. What's another week or two? St. Louis should have enough offense to batter the Dodgers starters and thus avoid facing Eric Gagne.

I'm going with Houston over Atlanta. I love what the Braves have done this year. I can't say a Braves win would surprise me, but I just like the Astros right now. Of course, I hate their chances in mid-August, but it's not August anymore.

There you have my first round guesses. It will be another Yankees vs. Red Sox ALCS and Cardinals vs. Astros NLCS. Guessing a World Series match-up from this, I'll take Boston versus Houston. If I'm not right, it won't be the first time.

I Have Bad News, Ty

Urban Meyer, Utah's football coach, has an interesting clause in his contract. Here are the details I found most enlightening according to Matt Hayes of The Sporting News and Fox

Let's flip the reality switch: When his contract was restructured after last season, one of the tradeoffs Utah included was a significantly lower buyout clause (to $250,000) for Meyer. He is allowed to leave for any of three schools (Notre Dame, Ohio State and Michigan) without adhering to the clause, and -- here's the key -- he can change one of those schools during the length of the contract. Agents don't add such stipulations in contracts without an eye on the future.

Now, I don't think Jim Tressel is going anywhere soon, so the OSU job is not an option. There is a rumor that Lloyd Carr might be thinking of retirement. Well, lots of people, some of them in their twenties, think about retiring. Doing it is another thing. The odds of Michigan's job opening up soon would seem like 10% tops. However, there is one other school on that list that seems far more likely.

I realize Ty Willingham's Irish have looked better this year, but Willingham's on the hot seat and we all know it. He knows it, too. The Michigan win bought him some time, but the Purdue thrashing at South Bend will rekindle the "Ty Must Go" talk. Would anyone be surprised if come January 1 or sooner, the Irish are looking for a new head football coach? Would there be any better choice than Meyer, who has ND on his dream job list?

He could do for Notre Dame what Bob Stoops has done at Oklahoma or Pete Carroll has done at USC. He could re-energize the entire program. He could make ND a national power once again. However, Notre Dame is not alone. There are a number of schools, including a few dormant super powers, that could use Meyer right now. Can you say Penn State?

I suspect a few movers and shakers at traditional powers that are still playing well, like Texas and maybe even Michigan, allow themselves a second or two to ponder what Meyer would do at their program.

Meyer's desire to move up will put pressure on coaches at big time programs to succeed and force school administrators to consider firing their current coach in order to land college football's hottest coaching prospect before someone else does.

B.B. Baker's Dozen

West Viriginia, Tennessee, Fresno State and Louisiana State and Ohio State all left my top 13. The Mountaineers, Vols and Buckeyes all have a chance to return. LSU's second loss most likely eliminates them from re-entering the title hunt. Fresno probably won't as their strength of schedule will not help them.

The top five remain the same, but that will change this week as more conference collisions will lead to upheveal in my poll.

1. Southern Cal- No reason to leave the top spot.
2. Oklahoma- Lackluster game vs. Tech a result of U.T. being next on the schedule.
3. Miami- A typical Miami game. I just get the feeling they aren't going undefeated.
4. Georgia- The Dawgs finally showed up. Dismissed LSU in impressive fashion.
5. Texas- It's all about OU.
6. Utah- The Utes climb as others fall.
7. California- It's time for USC. Is it Cal's biggest game ever?
8. Auburn- Beat up Tennessee in Knoxville.
9. Purdue- Orton leads the way.
10. Virginia- Benefited from all the upsets.
11. Florida State- Seminoles return. Can they stay?
12. Florida- I still like Chris Leak.
13. Minnesota- Gophers visit Ann Arbor Saturday.

There will be a mini-Heisman Bowl in Texas this week. The Longhorns' Cedric Benson is probably number two in the Heisman chase, it belongs to Kyle Orton right now, but Benson will take on the defending winner, Oklahoma's Jason White Saturday. If either post big numbers in a win, they will close the gap on Orton.

I may be on an island with this thought, but Sooners' freshman Adrain Peterson can also make a case for player of the year with a strong showing (and an OU win). No doubt that White is one of the best QBs in the country, but the Sooners are riding Peterson's legs more than White's arm to this point.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Go, 'Stros, Go!

I'm rooting for the Houston Astros to win the National League Wild Card. After today's win and San Francisco's loss (I still don't know how Los Angeles wins), the Astros need only to win tomorrow to make the playoffs. Like many others, I wrote the Astros off quite a while ago. At the time, things looked pretty bad for Houston. Andy Pettitte was done, Roger Clemens was hurting and I couldn't see Carlos Beltran alone keeping them afloat. He didn't have to.

Jeff Bagwell, Lance Berkman, Roy Oswalt and Clemens cranked it up a notch and the Astros have been on an unbelievable roll. Tomorrow they can complete their spectacular rebound. I hope they do.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Lions Diary

No game for the Detroit Lions this week, but WR Roy Williams did get some notice. As did kick returner Eddie Drummond (here).

Ichiro Inches Closer

Ichiro Suzuki is probably going to break the all-time hit record for one season. He needs one hit to tie George Sisler's mark and two to pass him by. I know many baseball fans who yawn at this acheivement. It's not as exciting as a home run title, but getting over 257 hits in 162 games is darn impressive.

It wasn't that long ago many wondered if Ichiro would even be a good MLB player. I guess we've gotten that cleared up for good.

Top Tough Guys

Curt Sylvester, the Detroit Free Press Lions' beat writer, offers this list of the top NFL tough guys of the last twenty-five years. This was done in light of the Tony Siragusa/Joey Harrington comments and counter-comments.

An all-time list would be even more challenging. Mostly because it would be hard to only have a top 10. Dick Butkus, Doug Atkins, Mike Curtis, Sam Huff, Joe Schmidt, Chuck Bednarik, Pat Fischer (why is he not in the Hall of Fame?) would all have to be considered. Guys on Slyvester's list, like Lewis, Lambert, Taylor and Lott, would also be in the running for my all-time tough guy top ten.