Happy Wednesday to all and welcome to another opportunity to share a few deep thoughts. Since we are in the home stretch of spring training, I thought that it would be a good opportunity to focus in on MLB this week. There are so many things that I love about baseball, but one of the classic peculiarities is how players talk. Everyone has a nickname and they are all cliche spewing machines...I am just happy to be here...Oh and...never fuck with a winning streak!
The MLB channel did a special this week about cliches. They had Sean Casey, Al Leiter and John Smoltz see how many they could do in 20 seconds. The first person had the advantage as once a cliche was used, it did not count again. Smoltz was last but managed to tie Casey and Leiter with 7. Here is a compilation of cliches from this spring...winning has taken on new meaning:
As most of you know, my son is a catcher in high school. I may not have mentioned this, but my father in law was a catcher in college as well. There is nothing I love better than to get him telling stories of his playing days. It was such a different time, that much of what he describes just does not happen any longer. He tells one story about an umpire that used to call their games. They were pretty good friends, but one night this umpire was squeezing the zone and generally being an ass. One thing led another and he decided to give the ump a bit of the business. He called a fastball and acted like he was catching a curve. He let the ball through and it nailed the umpire. The ump was furious with him and threw him out of the game. I have never seen that happen, but check out this video:
Another story he tells is about this stud player that was all state in football and baseball in high school. He was on 2nd base and the ball was lined to right field. The right fielder made a great throw and my father in law knew that the runner was going to try to run him over (only allowed in MLB now). He gathered the career throw from right field and ducked down to absorb the collision, then stood straight up. When he stood up, he flipped the runner completely over his back and the runner hit his head on home plate...knocking him out. The base runner's coach came out and started yelling at my father in law and his coach came out and started yelling at the other coach. He said that they had the coaches had the most amazing fist fight you have ever seen...right at home plate. How crazy...but not as crazy as this:
Baseball...it is not quite as it was back in the day, but it is still fun.
What other sport can you engage an official like this?
If there is one thing that I am looking forward to this year it is the Baltimore Orioles. As you will remember, Buck Showalter took over late last year and the birds took flight under his leadership. In the offseason, management went out and got Buck a few new pieces to work with and it is obvious that he thinks that the Orioles will compete in the AL East this year. How do I know this? In an interview recently in Men's Journal, Showalter was critical of Boston's GM Epstein and the Yankee's Derek Jeter.
"I'd like to see how smart Theo Epstein is with the Tampa Bay payroll," Showalter told the magazine. "You got Carl Crawford 'cause you paid more than anyone else, and that's what makes you smarter? That's why I like whipping their butt. It's great, knowing those guys with the $205 million payroll are saying, 'How the hell are they beating us?'
"The first time we went to Yankee Stadium, I screamed at Derek Jeter from the dugout," Showalter told the magazine about the Yankees captain. "Our guys are thinking, 'Wow, he's screaming at Derek Jeter.' Well, he's always jumping back from balls just off the plate. I know how many calls that team gets -- and yes, he [ticks] me off."
Last season, the Orioles and Red Sox split their 18 games, 9-9.
Buck Showalter knows exactly what he is doing. He is stirring the pot and getting his guys ready to go battle the Yankees and the Red Sox this year. Do the Orioles have as much talent as the Red Sox and Yankees? No, but he knows that if he tip toes around the big dogs, that they won't get to eat. Buck is an old school manager and this is what he thinks that his team needs. There is one thing for sure, the games in the AL East won't be without a bit of drama this year. I can't wait...
When I played Little League, there was a team that we played that had identical twins. One of the twins later played QB at Southwest Texas State and is now a sheriff somewhere...but I digress. The twins both pitched and caught and you could never tell which one was which. I was reminded of this earlier in the week when I read about Jose Canseco sending his twin to box in his place. Did you read this story?
Yeah...I don't think that you are identical any longer Jose. How stupid was this plan? Perhaps if you boxed with long sleeves on? I don't think that Mr. Feldman's reputation took much of a hit from Canseco's tweet. Some things never change...a douche is always a douche.
That's all I have for today, but I will leave you with a bit of Jack Handey to chew on...
"When you die, if you go somewhere where they ask you a bunch of questions about your life and what you learned and all, I think a good way to get out of it is just to say, 'No speaka English.'"
"Whenever I need to ``get away,'' I just get away in my mind. I go to my imaginary spot, where the beach is perfect and the water is perfect and the weather is perfect. The only bad thing there are the flies. They're terrible!"
Thanks for stopping by and comments are welcome!
2011 Baseball Predictions
The Return of "THE EXPERT"
Here is the predictions of 2011 Baseball Season, Be ready for some shocking picks, (Or Non-Picks)
Lets review 2010 Picks
AL--Yankees, Tigers, Angels and Wild Card White Sox
Oops only got Yankees, I picked Rangers, Rays and Twins for 3rd
NL--A little better, Phillies, Cards, Giants, Wild card Reds
Got Giants, Did pick Reds for Playoffs
Picked Phillies over Braves for World Series
First some notes,
Red Sox look loaded but they have serious pitching questions, Yankees Starting Rotation could be among the worst in Baseball. The question is who will be this years Rays? Well how about the Rays? But bullpen is a question, How about the Orioles.
Twins, Tigers, White Sox should be a shootout
Can the Rangers even without Lee contend? how about the A's, Are the Angels done?
Phillies on paper should win 125 games, (On Paper) but they have lots of questions in the field, They are getting Old, Is Lee really that good, Oswalt talks about retirement does he have a full tank?, Who knows about Hammels and what about the bullpen again?
The Braves seem to be solid, The Marlins with a tiny payroll seems to over achieve, The Nats could make a jump, and for the 2nd year in a row I predict the Mets lose 100 Games
The Cards have health issues that will cost them. The Brewers have been toying with their fans for years now, Could this be the Year, are the Reds for real. Then there are the Cubs, Astro's and are the Pirates still in the league?
Was the Giants the baseball version of VCU or Butler, and How about the Rockies? They seem poised to make a big Move
Red Sox (Hitting is the best in Baseball, But relying on Beckett and Lackey?)
Yankees (If AJ Burnett, Hughes and Young Nova come up big the Yankees can win it all)
Orioles (Buck Showalter gets the most out of his teams)
Rays (If the Bullpen finds itself the Rays could be a playoff team)
Blue Jays (Oh Well)
Twins (Just cannot pick against them)
White Sox* (Wild card Team)
Tigers (Stays in till September)
Royals (Jumps ahead of the Indians)
Indians ( Cleveland hits rock bottom as a Sports City)
A's (Why Not)
Rangers (Slips from last year)
Mariners (Begins its rise up, May Contend)
Angels (The Mighty has fallen)
Braves (New Manager, Great results, Much Better)
Phillies (Note no asterisk, That means No Playoffs)
Marlins (Will Fade in 2nd half of season
Nationals (Some Hope in Washington)
Mets (100 losses and contends with Indians, and Pirates as worst team in baseball)
Brewers (Good Pitching and good bats)
Reds* (Last year no fluke)
Cubs (Very weak bottom 4 in this division)
Cardinals (Injuries, age and stress of Albert Pujols drags team down)
Astro's (Not Much Hope)
Rockies (Finally gets over the Top)
Giants (They are good but not that good)
Red Sox over White sox
Twins over A's
Twins over Red Sox (Twins don't have to face Yankees and get over the Top)
Braves over Reds
Brewers over Rockies
Braves over Brewers
Rematch of 1991--Same Result
Twins over Braves
Greetings from the Hoodwood, where the brackets got wrecked a long time ago.
Is the Carmelo to New York trade overrated?
I’m gonna start with a player that I actually like. Carmelo Anthony. Melo was a player that coming out of high school, had the game to be in the NBA right away. He instead went to Syracuse and led the Orange and long suffering head coach Jim Boeheim to their only national title in 2003. Anthony was selected 3rd in the talent laden 2003 draft by the Denver Nuggets (don’t you think in hindsight, Detroit would love to have a mulligan and pick Anthony ahead of the forgettable Darko Milicic) ahead of such luminaries as Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, David West and Mo Williams. Anthony made an instant impact, making the all-rookie team in 2004 and leading the Nuggets to the playoffs every year since his arrival. Anthony became the first rookie to lead a playoff team in scoring since David Robinson in 1990. Anthony is your classic tweener, big enough to give small forwards and guards trouble but small and quick enough to take a bigger matchup outside the lane and do damage with quickness. Keep in mind that as long as Melo has been in the league 8 years, and won’t be 27 till the day before Memorial Day. Anthony is in his prime.
After 7 years in Denver, it was no secret that Melo wanted a change of scenery as his wife Alani “La La” Vasquez made it clear that she felt that her husband would be better exposed in a larger market. Anthony being Brooklyn born seemed destined to head to New York and the Knicks, the Knicks openly coveted Anthony especially after failing to land LeBron James the previous summer and despite signing Amare Stoudamire lacked a real headliner.
Ok, those are the facts. These are not disputed. The fact is that I think that the Nuggets are better off without Anthony. The Knicks and their fans were giddy after the trade was consummated, but the problem is that the Knicks have no real leader. I take nothing away from the redoubtable Chauncey Billups, another player Ive always liked. But Billups is 34 and has a lot of miles on him, he wont be playing at his top level for too long. It is rare when I agree with the Man-gina that is Colin Cowherd, but he made a statement about Anthony that I agree. “Anthony is closer to Allen Iverson than Kobe Bryant in leadership.” Make no mistake, I like Anthony and more often than not he has proven to be a good guy on and off the court. But I don’t think he is the missing link to a championship, while I mentioned that the Nuggets made the playoffs every year that Anthony was in Denver, they only made it to the Western Finals one time. And the Nuggets don’t seem to be missing Anthony all that much, having a better record of the two teams since the trade. Much was made in the media about the trade, but I think that a better deal should have been made with the Lakers, had Anthony gone west he would have been had less pressure to be "the man" with other bona fide scoring options in Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom and the Lake Show has some guy named Bryant who is pretty good and is the unquestioned leader of the team. Melo would have even placated his wife by being in a high exposure market. But Melo for now is a Knick. But in spite of an inspired performance last night in a win over the Magic I think that Knicks fans are getting a rude wakeup call that acquisition of Anthony will not get them to their title since 1973.
Speaking of the annoying Cowherd, I know he is having a fit seeing, heretofore unremarkable teams like VCU and Butler crashing the Final Four. Now Butler isn’t the surprise that some are making it out to be, but they are proving that Gordon Heyward was not the end all be all for the Bulldogs. They return to the Final Four for a second straight year with a remarkable tenacity and determination, you can almost bet that the so-called big boy teams are salivating even more heavily to snatch Stevens up and hope that the 34 year old coach can work his magic on them. Speaking of hot commodities Virginia Commonwealth coach Shaka Smart will likely be on the top of every short list of desirable young coaches. The Rams are now the belles of the ball now, two weeks after being lampooned as being unworthy for inclusion to dance are still doing the cabbage patch at the Big Dance having ousted supposedly bigger, better teams. The Rams have beaten teams from the Pac-10, Big East, Big Ten, ACC, Big 12 to earn their trip to Houston. If you’re keeping score that’s five of the six power conferences. Only the SEC has not had a team fall to the Rams and in what would be the ultimate David and Goliath story who could the Rams possibly face in the final if they beat Butler in the national semifinal? Kentucky from the only power conference that the Colonial Rams have not faced, the SEC.
Has anyone fallen out of favor faster than Jimmer Fredette? I mean damn, the so-called experts were practically lining up to give him head three weeks ago and now they are lining up just as fast with the “I told you, he was a buster” talk. Don’t get me wrong, I like Fredette but I wasn’t one that was calling him the next Pete Maravich or Larry Bird. I thought he was fearless shooter who was carrying Brigham Young to heretofore unprecedented heights but as the media tends to do they will build someone up fast just to gleefully take him apart at his first real setback, Im expecting Kemba Walker will be next if UConn doesn’t take the title.
And while Im on the subject, lets get off the whole let’s reseed the final four. Its like the big teams want to get guaranteed to avoid strong teams, but I’ll be honest I didn’t want to see VCU and Butler face off in the semis On one hand its good that a so-called mid major will make the final for the second straight year, but the VCU/Butler game seems like a JV game next to the UConn/UK game.
I can already hear the weeping and gnashing of teeth already by some of these pundits. Some of the elitst fans too who are already rolling their eyes and looking down their collective noses. I heard that the talk 2nd national semifinal between UConn and Kentucky is the real national championship that the winner will invariably punish either the Rams or Bulldogs in the final. Ive already heard wonks like Billy Packer whine that the Final Four should be reseeded to keep UK and UConn away from one another till Monday. These pundits like they did five years ago are whining that these supposedly undeserving teams got into the Final Four by more luck than skill, drive and determination. Butler is getting a whole lot more dap this year than last year simply because they were in Indy not as only the host school but as a regional champ. But the fact remains that these pundits will have to have to do some work this week in Houston. They will have to figure out where Virginia Commonwealth University is. (Its in Richmond) Who their go-to players are They do know that their coach is Shaka Smart and they are already touting him for a big name job (Missouri and Providence are two that come to mind) Sorry writers, no goofing off in the Houston skripper clubs, no taking in the NASA control center. You will have to work!
By the way, when is Bill Self going to start taking some static for not being able to beat teams from these so-called mid-majors? Northern Iowa, Bradley, Bucknell and VCU are all once lightly regarded so-called mid-major teams that have knocked Kansas off in the past few years under Bill Self. Had a shot by Stephon Curry of Davidson went down in the 2008 regional finals, Kansas would have the title of biggest annual chokers in the NCAA’s
Phat Dap/Head Slap
Kemba Walker…nuff said…he’s a beast, Brittany Griner of Baylor…40 points in the sweet 16 to will her Bears to a win. And the incomparable Maya Moore of UConn who just keeps playing at another level to keep the Huskies on track to defend their national title. But the Phattest dap has to go to Notre Dame's women's basketball team who had lost their past 20 meetings with perennial powerhouse Tennessee before coming up aces in a 73-59 win that sends them to the Women's Final Four. 21st time's the charm for the Irish.
To Buck Showalter skipper of the Baltimore Orioles, a manager who has never been a favorite here in Hoodwood for his idiotic comments about Derek Jeter saying that he jumps away from more inside pitches than any other player. ESPN did some research and found that Jeter actually gets called for more inside strikes than any other MLB player. Showalter also lambasted Red Sox GM Theo Epstein saying that he would like to see Epstein win with the Tampa Bay Rays payroll. And exactly how World Series rings do you have there Buck? Last I counted Jeter has five and Epstein two, which is seven more rings than you. I know Showalter is trying to pump his team up but it makes no sense to try to do so at the expense of teams that have been consistent playoff contenders for the past 15 years. Showalter has always been good at shooting his mouth off and he is in midseason form already
That’s the view from the Hoodwood, until next post fellow sports fans!
Some moron (Rick Reilly perhaps?) had the stupid notion to compare Jimmy Fredette to Pistol Pete Maravich. Ummm, how ‘bout we give young Mr. Fredette an opportunity to play a game or two at the NBA level before you go that route? Here’s the deal – the NBA is tough enough for rookies, and this kind of hype will not only put a ridiculous amount of pressure on the young man, it'll inflame passions in the locker room of the team where he goes.
March Madness. I’m having fun watching this stuff. Too bad Florida State got beat.
Anybody wanna run their pie-holes on the VCU rams now? These boys did the Pac-10 (USC), Big Least (Georgetown), the Little Ten (Purdue), and now run up into the Biggest of the Big 12 boys (Kansas). It’s OK Dickie V and Jay Bilas, but on your man pants and admit you were wrong, and that shit like this is exciting.
Now we get to the Ohio State Fuckeyes! Did you hear that loud cheer screeching out from across America? That was the rest of the country celebrating your loss Punk-eyes! Look Suckeye fan, enough is enough with your Ohio is great attitude – Yeah, you took a deserved loss. But don’t worry Chuckeyes, you be excessively hyped again next year by the stupid knob-gobbling talking heads, and you’ll talk your trash, only to have your hearts cut out of you again! It’s all good.
NFL . So let’s see, the players are locked in a money struggle with owners, and they don’t seem to care that their silly actions are making them look worse and worse. Adrian Peterson compares it to modern day slavery. Dez Bryant has nothing better to do than getting banned from an exclusive luxury mall for 90 days because his pants were sagging and he “has a history of problems” there. Yet another Cow-sissy, Bryan McCann got busted for public intoxication after an incident at a Dallas nightclub. Yeah this type of crap will get folks onto your side you dumb asses.
Hey AP, stop fumbling the ball, then you MIGHT have room to talk.
Bryant has zero room to be fucking up like this – his name ain’t the cleanest as it is. He needs to be doing things better, cleaner, smarter, and far more respectful than everybody else. Dude, you’re a fucking professional football player, pull your pants up and be respectful of your surroundings – you have to know that the snobs aren’t gonna be down with the gangsta look. By the way Bryant, I’d say being late to (and falling asleep at) practices, refused to participate in hazing (I do agree with the hazing shit), often injured, and worst of all not knowing the playbook doesn’t qualify as doing the right thing.
NHL. The last person right about now in the NHL that should be going with head shots would be who? If you said Bertuzzi, you’d be right. So what did this mental giant do? Gets tossed five minutes into the game for high elbows that connected with the Black Hawks Ryan Johnson.
Rant of the Week – Rock bands. Colin Cow-turd has his version of a 64 team bracket, but instead of ball teams, he has rock bands where the fans can vote – this idiot had five million votes and the final two remaining was Led Zeppelin vs. the Beat-nicks? The Beatles? Are you freaking kidding me?
OK look, I gave up rock and metal somewhere in the 80’s when the hair bands got popular and never looked back, especially now with the screamers out there, but this obsession with the Beatles is annoying at best. Some ass-clown from Rolling Stone Magazine make the point that the Beatles were better because they did everything first – DUDE WILL YOU PLEASE SHUT THE FUCK UP. Just because those turd-burglars did it first doesn’t mean they did it right. Jesus, I'd rather listen to ABBA!!!
Cow-turd then said that he can’t hear a Zeppelin song on the radio nowadays because it takes forever for the song to get going. This dude spends far too much time with the arts and croissant crowd or something.
OK Gabbers, whose better – the Beatles or Led Zeppelin?
I just get the feeling that true rockers didn’t vote because I just can’t see the real ones getting into the Beatles. I’m still wondering what about the Ramones, Rush, Lynard Skynard, Pink Floyd, Ted Nugent, and similar type groups? Simple, the record industry didn’t put all kinds of money into advertising them and the DJ’s wouldn’t play them either.
Anyway folks, time to head out - got to get back to work on renovating the Kitchen. Peace and ranting forever...
This morning I heard that out of 5.7 million brackets known to ESPN only two. 2, count 'em T.W.O got the final four right. It's possible that over the larger group not known to ESPN there are a few more but when one applies the empirical odds, a “few” is about right. Naturally I give congratulations to these teams but only as I'm making sure that there are not sharp objects or things that shoot convenient to the NCAA or the (damn) media. However great a story this may seem to the public, it's a disaster to those running the tournament and those broadcasting it as well as those talking or writing about it. Why, you ask. Well, here are a few reasons.
Publicity. Advertising is sold on the notion that the more popular teams are those that audiences will watch. Of the four remaining contenders, Kentucky has the broadest appeal but that doesn't touch the numbers following a Duke or an Ohio State. Certainly VCU has their followers but not a significant number to wow the people putting up the sponsorship money for the games.
The Cinderella Factor. Every year there are one of two team who, in spite of odds, size of school and their relative obscurity, make it beyond the nosebleed seats (otherwise known as the round of 64) and advance well into the tournament. Everyone loves a Cinderella team, the guts, the spirit, the courage....However, when Cindy gets testy and starts taking the big boys to the woodshed and coming out alone, she's getting pushy. (Butler, in it's second year of being a Cinderella must be growing tired of this. Once is wonderful, twice signifies a non-recognition of talent [See Boise State].)
Does it play in Peoria? No. Again, taking Peoria as sort of an everyman sort of city, who in these teams electrifies the 115,000 souls in Central Illinois? Certainly there's some interest, but, from an advertisers standpoint, frighteningly little.
Name That Player. Between the four survivors there really aren't any players who can draw a crowd. There are some “names”, some “All Americans” but none the level of past players, Michael Jordan for example, who can make the throng cheer.
One of these teams is going to win, go to Disneyland(world), meet the President of the United States and then....fade into obscurity. This isn't to infer I'd rather someone else would win, I'm saying that from a marketing standpoint it would be better if someone else won. Each year we hope and pray for upsets, for a Cinderella to emerge but in the final analysis we want a name brand to take home the top prize.
The thing about the NCAA tournament is that it's supposed to represent the best and the most talented (the two are not the same). It's a showcase for (theoretically) Amateur Sports and those guys from all over this great land having a shot at the title. All well and good. We want them to have a shot at the title, in a bizarre sort of way we want them to crush our carefully considered brackets and, God knows, the sports books in Vegas want a slightly more predictable outcome. (Let us say you put a friendly fifty on VCU to get to the Final Four or, horrors, win. What's the payout? Would Steve Wynn have to take an equity loan on one of his hotels?) I'm sure the people in Indianapolis are having a field day (and wherever VCU comes from as well. But there's a comment. I could look it up but until I heard someone say “Virginia Commonwealth University” I didn't even know what VCU stood for; Veterans Confederation of Unicorns? Vice Controllers United? And I mean that as no slur, but, be honest, how many of you more than 500 miles from Virginia knew, or had even heard of them. Until last year, Butler was the county next to Sedgwick in which Wichita is. There's a Butler Juco but no Butler University (or perhaps it's college)?
I'm going to pick Kentucky if only because in a film I quite enjoyed, “2011”, Roy Scheider's character talks about them making good Bourbon and playing good basketball. As to the other three, I know zip, nada, nul, niente, nicht, nyet. Etc. And I might even get it right. My own personal bracket, blinded by an unfounded loyalty had Kansas winning. Of course, my final four feature Kansas, Ohio State and two other non-entities. That piece of paper has been shredded, thrown from a window and blow around the corner onto the Avenida Libertador.
The coming weekend should be interesting for lots of reasons beyond just who wins and, well, who doesn't. The (damn) media and sponsors and networks are going to be watching every demographic like it was an advancing solar burst. All of them need to know if a final, and the games preceding it, have sufficient “draw” to justify the monies that will be spent on next year's tournament. The frightening thing to advertisers is that the way the NCAA sets the invitees isn't a known thing until rather too late to make or back out of sponsorship. Ditto the various networks who commit hunks of their time to shows about analysis or post mortems. It all comes down to can we feel certain that a final four of lightly known teams (and, yes, I can hear the jeers when I put UConn in that goup, but, compared to OSU, Duke, Kansas etc, they're a notch or two down save in there own area.Most fans can identify Duke or Kansas even if they aren't entirely sure where they are.) has the power to command a sufficiently large audience to be worth the investment.
Take away television and this tournament could be played in a series of High School Gyms. Sure, the faithful to this team or that would follow, but only the final game would have much meaning. There was a time when this was true and it's not so far back. Just now, the NIT-in many ways the precursor to the NCAA tournament (the NCAA owns both tournaments to clarify the point) is headed for New York and their final four. The difference over the years is that while both are invitational, the NIT was more restrictively so. When I was in my teens, fans from Wichita would hire trains to follow the “Shockers” of Wichita University when they did well at the NIT. (They're doing well this year only now it makes more sense for the loyal and faithful to hire a Boeing or two.) But few outside those associated with the university had much interest. What the NCAA did was strip some of the trappings of elitism from the NIT and make the tournament seen more as a truly national affair. As the dominoes fell, and television came along, the games could be seen everywhere, and not just in those cities or areas who had a dog in the hunt. But the problem there is that as the tournament grew in importance, the costs associated with it grew as well. Cities made big offers to host a Regional. (One city, Greensboro, North Carolina, went so far as to take an already too small stadium, the Greensboro Coliseum, and add seats that were virtually more vertical than anything else. Everyone got a “birds eye view” and not a few people were injured trying to climb the stairs leading ever up to their seat atop Mt. Blanc. Not to mention those who became physically ill as a result of Vertigo.)
The NCAA as big business is an established fact. The next thing they need to establish is that it really doesn't matter who plays, the support for the tournament outweighs remains strong regardless of who plays. Next Monday we'll all know who won the championship but not who won the war for the attention span of The United States.