Sunday, October 30, 2005

Hey!! I Had Texas #1 Before the BCS Did!!!!


CRYING FOUL OVER USC NOT #1:  This is why I hate the BCS.  No, not because USC isn't #1 [I think that Texas should be the #1 team]...but the arguements people are making about USC.  "But, Sportz...they've won 30 in a row and the last 2 National championships!"  WHOA!!!  What does any of that have to do with anything!?!?!?  What USC did before September 2005 should be irrelvent to voters in the 2005 polls.  The 2005 National Champion shouldn't be voted on using previous year's merits!!  "But, Sportz, they've been #1 all season long".  SO??  I know that the protocol is that a #1 team can't fall in the rankings if it keeps winning...but it has happened before.  When looking at Texas and USC this year...I think Texas (a) has done a better job with their schedule and (b) if they played a game right now...I'd pick Texas to win.  And, honestly, who cares who is #1 and #2????  Really, only the #3 team in the BCS gets screwed. 

WEISS IS NICE FOR A PRICE:  Charlie Weiss was given a new 10-year contract by Notre Dame.  This locks him up into South Bend as rumors of NFL teams hovering have come up.  One interesting thought in this.  Ty Willingham had a darn good inagural season with the Irish, too....but didn't get that kind of support that Weiss is now getting. 

MANNY WANTS OUT:  And why wouldn't he??  He only won a World Series title in a city that would adore him if he let them.  This marks the 4th straight year that Ramirez has asked for a trade out of Boston....and twice this year.  He has the right to block any trade and there is only a handful of teams that want to deal with his $18-$20M salary for the next several seasons.  To be honest, it's gotta be really hard to deal this guy if you are Boston.  He's an RBI machine who, evidently, doesn't tank it when he doesn't get his trade demands granted.  Sure, he's a loon, too...but this team has won despite that so far.  But, if the team is trying to move into a newer younger team.....then Manny just very well may be out.  Think New York Mets.

VIVI AWARDS:  I guess it is voting time for the Vivi Awards....some awards thing that has me, Monponsett and Alex as nominees.  Again, awards are great and all [I still cherish my 2004 Pigskin Blog of The Year]....but I don't need it.  I don't need an outside "award" to mark my significance in this AOL blog world.  Dude, I know where I stand.  I am proud of my blog....which is the most important thing to me.  My family gets to read my sports takes 500 miles away and actually read it with regularity [at least that's what they].  Some of my old pals from the message boards [Yannis, Raisin, YCS] have come into the blogging world and busted out some great blogs themselves....which makes me believe that I talk to some pretty smart individuals [and you couldn't even handle some of the others who have yet to embrace blogging!!!]  I was one the first and few on "Pigskin Bloggers Live" before it blew up into the phenominom that it currently is....and I genuinely feel that Jamie and the crew are really happy to have me on when I do come on the show.  I think I called in on the first 20 PBL/SBL shows....but have sort of "retired" from it since then [though I just did] due to the fact that I work during when the show is aired live.  And I have respect given to me from the bloggers that I respect.  The bloggers that I feel are the best....think that I do a good job.  And that makes me feel great.  Heck, I am honored that I am held in such high esteem by George Coztanza and Die Cast Dude [two of my favorite blogs] that they actually placed my takes of their blogs on their blog as a "blurb".  This is my hobby....not my job.  And I am honestly not trying to dump on the Vivi Awards or anyone associated with them.  From what I've seen, they do quite a bang up job organizing the whole thing...and being nominated, I will say, is an honor.  But I'm not going to throw a ticker tape parade if I win.  I won't really care if I lose.  My theme song isn't Journey's "Don't Stop Believing".  Anyways...good luck to Stacy and Alex in the balloting and I hope one of you two win. 

DUKE IS #1:  Did I write that??  Ugh.  Well, they are the #1 team in all the opening college hoops polls.  And they deserve to be.  They have Sheldon Williams and JJ Redick coming back and bringing in Josh McRoberts.  So, this team is stacked.  However, they don't really have a proven point guard this season [Shaun Livingston was supposed to be that guy...but he's now running the Clippers] and Coack K usually relies on a tough, reliable and defensively sound PG to run his team.  So, let's see how this goes.

NORTH CAROLINA IS UNRANKED:  The last defending champ to enter the next season unranked was Kansas in 1989.  Roy Williams was the coach of that team, too.  Yes...this team will have some ups and downs...but I think that it can be an NCAA tournament team.  They will break in freshmen Tyler Hansborough [a freakin' stud!], Danny Green, Bobby Frasor and Marcus Ginyard.  Next season, they add shooting guard Wayne Ellington [#4], power forward Brandan Wright [#5], point guard Tywon Lawson [#8] and power forward Deon Thompson [#22] into the mix.  That's three guys in the Top 8 of the Class of 2006.  Not bad.  While no one from 2007 is signed in....they are on the radar of many of the top recruits, including Kevin Love [and even on OJ Mayo's radar].  Needless to say....get your licks in guys, because we will be back.  Soon.

FOOTBALL PLAYOFF:  Here is a perfect reason for the playoff.  Georgia was without their Heisman candidate quarterback DJ Shockley in a big game against Florida.  The Bulldogs end up losing 14-10 and are most likely done for any National Championship talk [they still look alright for a BCS].  Of course, you could make that arguement around the country....but it still doesn't convince me that this system is just.  To be honest, if there was a playoff format....I'd put Notre Dame as possibly a favorite right now.  Not only are they good....but they've been able to win on the road in tough environments.

WHAT HAPPENED TO TENNESSEE??  Next on the Irish's slate is Tennessee.  The 3-4 Vols.  Yeah, Rocky Top isn't rockin' as much right now as Big Orange has really stumbled.  This team was ranked #4 two months ago....and now many struggle to get bowl eligible. 

CLOSE GAME THAT SHOULDN'T HAVE BEEN SO CLOSE:  I'm totally not sold on Florida State.  They should thank God that (a) they play in the ACC's Atlantic division where NC State, Maryland and Clemson are having subpar seasons; (b) Boston College threw that ugly pick on the first play against them; (c) Miami isn't that good either; and (d) Virginia Tech isn't on their schedule.  Yet.  The Noles struggled to beat a game Maryland team yesterday who had them down 10 in the second half.  Despite all of this, the Noles are a win against NC State away from being in the first ACC title game.  FSU is in big trouble against the Hokies if they both meet for the ACC title in a month. 

CLOSE GAME THAT SHOULDN'T HAVE BEEN SO CLOSE, PART II:  How in the world was Texas down 28-12 to Oklahoma State?????  Sure, the Horns outscored the Cowboys 35-0 in the 2nd half....but what about that first half???  That kind of crap could knock ya down a peg on "Sportz Top 12". 

1-Texas:  Okay, it didn't.  But watch it!
2-USC.  That's the way ya do it.  Winning 55-13.
3-Virginia Tech:  I really don't see anyone that can beat them, aside from the two teams ranked ahead of them. 
4-Alabama.  Playing Utah State may hurt their BCS rankings.
5-LSU.  This team is one bad half against Tennessee...yeah, Tennessee....from being mentioned among the elite. 
6-Miami.  Throw back those throwbacks!!!
7-Notre Dame.  They should cruise thru the rest of the sked. 
8-Georgia.  I'll give ya a mulligan.
9-UCLA.  Stanford gave them quite a scare. 
10-Penn State.  Your 2005 Big Ten Champions.  Can you believe that?
11-Florida State.  Overrated. 
12-Ohio State.  Hey, they won a big Big Ten road game!! 

Saturday, October 29, 2005



I am a child of the 1980s who became an adult in the 1990s and turned 30 this year.  So, I'm at that "comparison age".  That's when you compare things of today to things you remember as a younger lad.

With the quality batch of young QBs that have entered the NFL in the past 7 years or so, it makes me think back to the late 1980s and early-to-mid 1990s.  So I gotta compare.

Sure, you can look back on this and make judgements....which is fine.   A buddy of mine and I went back and forth on a few of these, so I understand dissent. ya go:

PEYTON MANNING.  I have to say Dan Marino.  Marino was the best passer of his time....just as Peyton is now.  Of course, neither tasted total team success....but both are masters of their craft. 


TOM BRADY.  How about Joe Montana?  Brady's idol, Montana was the coolest cucumber in the league.  The guy was nails when the chips were down.  All Tom Brady has done was drive his team down the field in the final moments to win a Super Bowl.  Twice. 

ELI MANNING.  This is a bit of a stretch....right now...but I am going with John Elway.  Both were #1 picks who refused to report to their drafted teams.  Both have strong arms and that ability to lead.  Elway was a master at controlling the game....and Eli is showing the same sort of traits. 

MICHAEL VICK.  I say Randall Cunningham.  I really want to say Steve Young...but Young's passing stats were just too great.  But Cunningham, like Vick, could scare teams with his pure athleticsm.  Just the threat forces defenses to adjust.  Both seemed to be at a different speed than everyone else on the field.

DONOVAN MCNABB.  Now, I say Steve Young.  Both have that sort of chip on their shoulders.  Young got slammed that he wasn't Montana.  McNabb gets slammed because he's....well, for some reason he doesn't get as much respect as I feel he deserves.  Young was a better passer...but both have that winning intangible that lives inside them. 

CARSON PALMERTroy Aikman, maybe?  Both went to SoCal schools...were the #1 pick for a limping franchise...and both have helped turn them around rather quickly.  Both had the luxury of a premiere WR to toss it to and a pretty good RB [um, Aikman's was a tad bit better, eh?].  Cincy fans hope that the Super Bowls come around soon, too. 

JAKE DELHOMME.  I have to say Brett Favre.  He's not in Favre's class....but he has the same type of game.  Both are willing to see if they can make something happen out of nothing....sometimes hurting his team.  Both have that Cajun confidence that they can throw that football anywhere.

TRENT GREEN.  I am going to go with Phil Simms.  Well, this year is the exception...but Green is normally a reliable passer, just like Simms.  And when discussing the best QBs of their times...both get forgotten. 

JAKE PLUMMER.  Remember this name?  Jim Everett.  Or as Jim Rome called him....Chris Everett.  Many forget that Everett was the man back in the day-day for the LA Rams.  For some reason [I guess that gun-slinging attitude] Jake reminds me of ol' Everett.

DAUNTE CULPEPPERWarren Moon.  Both dome dwellers could spread that ball around all over the place. 

STEVE MCNAIR.  Okay...a slightly older QB.  But he reminds me of Jim McMahon.  Both played thru so many aches and pains that it may have hurt their longevity.  Both would stand in the pocket and take hits....or scramble out and take even bigger hits.

KERRY COLLINS.  How's about Mark Rypien.  Not the greatest mechanics...but boy can they get that ball deep!

Byron Leftwich...Bernie Kosar??
Tim Hasselbeck....Boomer Esiason???
Marc Bulger....Jim Kelly???

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Some NFL Wanderings...


Alright....look at the slate and you will see a couple of games this coming week that are battles for first place.  Which ones?

Redskins at Giants.   Most of us thought that the Eagles would have a least a 2-game lead in the NFC East....especially over these two teams.  But both QBs have really come on of late and both defenses are playing up to par as well. 

Bears at Lions.  Yep, you heard that right.  The Bears and Lions, oh my, are going to get it on with first place on the line in the NFC North.  What is this....1945??

Bills at Patriots.  Yeah...first place is on the line here.  The winner gains control of the AFC East, for now.  If it is Buffalo who wins...then control is owned by a 4-4 team.  And it would also mean that the Pats would be under .500. 


The parity of the NFL has been a great asset to the league as it has gained control of the #1 ranking of sports in America.  Every city has a feeling that they have a shot to do something every year.  I mean, how many people even jumped on the Cardinals bandwagon in the preseason??

But, it has really hurt the Monday Night schedule.  For several years now, the Monday Night games have turned into garbage.  It either features two bad teams...or one really good team pummelling a bad team.

So, starting with Week 9, here is my rankings of the rest of the Monday Night Matchups [there is no Monday night game in Week 17]:

1-Steelers at Colts [Week 12].  This one could be for home field advantage in the AFC.  In many people's minds...these are the NFL's two best teams.  Pittsburgh has already held down high octane Cincinnati in the Jungle.  The Colts have shown an ability to win without having Peyton Manning putting up big numbers.  But can it work against a team this good? 

2-Colts at Patriots [Week 9].  Huge game for both teams.  Indy enters this game undefeated.  The Patriots should be 4-3 heading into this game. So the Pats really need this home win to keep home alive for a home field advantage in the 2nd round of the playoffs.  For the Colts, a loss here would still keep that cloud over their heads that they still cannot beat New England.  And the Colts don't want to risk having to see this stadium again for a while. 

3-Cowboys at Eagles [Week 10].  This could be the game that decides the tough NFC East.  Not to mention Philly gets to seek revenge for that brutal smack down a few weeks ago in Dallas. 

4-Seahawks at Eagles [Week 13].  This game could end up being for a bye.  Despite some recent struggles, the Eagles are still capable of running away with the division.  And with the NFC North so bad and the NFC South so top heavy, this matchup of the best in the East and West could be for a first round bye. 

5-Patriots at Jets [Week 16].  Not the matchup it once was.  But, still, the Pats in New York is reason enough to watch.  However, if Vinny plays like he did last Monday night...I really don't want to watch. 

6-Saints at Falcons [Week 14].  Another rematch game.  Remember, the Falcons beat the Saints by a FG that was a re-kick from a penalty.  The Saints, for all of their injuries and flaws, find ways to score.  So Atlanta better be ready. 

7-Packers at Ravens [Week 15].  Well, it isn't as bad as the #8 matchup since it features Brett Favre against that Ravens defense. 

8-Vikings at Packers [Week 11].  The worst of the bunch.  However, technically both teams are very much alive in the division race and these two played a pretty good one this past week in Minnesota.  Hey, ya never know!


A quick rundown:

1-Eagles at Redskins [Week 9]
2-Raiders at Chargers [Week 13]
3-Falcons at Bears [Week 15]
4-Rams at Cowboys [Week 17]
5-Chiefs at Texans [Week 11]
6-Saints at Jets [Week 12]
7-Lions at Packers [Week 14]
8-Browns at Steelers [Week 10]
9-Vikings at Ravens [Week 16]




Congrats to the White Sox Nation!!

Though I am not a Chicago White Sox fan in any fashion....I have championed the White Sox Cause on this blog quite a few times.  I asked why the Red Sox Curse gets so much play, when the ChiSox last won the title two years before the BoSox last title.  The Red Sox may have Dent, Buckner and Boone....but the White Sox have the biggest black eye in the history of the sport on their resume.  Disadvantage:  White Sox. 

This is a franchise that hadn't won a Series in 88 years.  Hadn't won an American League pennant in 46 years.  The franchise of disco night, uniform shorts, Steve Lyons stripping his pants off on first base, tearing down Old Comisky Park to build New Comisky Park, which was much worse.  The only street cred the White Sox have ever had was (a) Hipless Bo Jackson and (b) Dr. Dre ["I had my chrome to the side of his White Sox hat"]. 

The franchise that gave up on Sammy Sosa and watch him become a Hall Of Famer uptown.  The franchise that had a father and his son run onto the field and beat the tar out of a Royals coach.

This is about as magical and as dominant you will see a champion.  They were the best team all season long.  Then, when the chips were down....they killed off the Indians, Red Sox, Angels and Astros.  In those 15 games....they won 14 of them. 

Sure...they did get thru these playoffs with a bad call that allowed AJ Pierzynksi 1st base.  And the Jermaine Dye "hit by pitch".  And they won Game 2 of the World Series on a walk-off home run.....Game 3 of the World Series in the 14th inning....and Game 4 of the World Series by a score of 1-0.  You could honestly argue that there could be a Game 5 tomorrow night, with the Astros holding a 3-1 lead.  Sorry...didn't happen.

This lackluster franchise that seems to have no fans or enemies beat everyone in their path this season.  And so for the second straight season...a long suffering franchise ends over 8 decades of frustration by sweeping the Series.  Maybe it will be the Cubs turn soon.  Or the Indians. 

Congrats to the Chicago White Sox.

P.S.  What's up with Brad Lidge???  Gives up that booming shot to Albert up the walk-off HR to Scott Podsednik....and gives up the series winning hit to Dye.  Three losses in a week.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Are TD Celebrations Getting Out Of Hand??


With the DirecTV NFL Sunday Ticket comes the RED ZONE CHANNEL.  The channel takes you to games when teams are getting ready to score.  Needless to say, the channel has turned into a one stop shop for all the lastest endzone dances.

So how do I feel on the matter?

I'm a hypocrite.

Honestly, I laugh my butt off on some of them.  I loved Steve Smith's "Sit Down And Talk On My Football Cell Phone To Tell People I See Myself On An Invisible TV" celebration.  I loved Clinton Portis' cartwheels.  I wasn't offended by Randy Moss' moon.  Chad Johnson's "Lord Of The Dance" take was pretty nice.  And I am a sucker for the "bowling celebration" during The Longest Yard. 

At the same time....they make me cringe as well.  I saw Terrell Owens take his towel off, drape it on his arm, and posed as a waiter.  I saw someone else use the football as a chainsaw to cut down the goal post.  And I saw Chad Johnson do, well, something after catching what turned out to be an incomplete pass.  This came a week after he planned to do a hoe-down dance if he scored in Tennessee.

I am both ways on this issue.  I personally like them.  I mean, if soccer-guy can run around the field and throw his shirt off like he was given a bazillion dollars....then why can't football-guy? 

Then I think of celebrations in American sport.  In baseball, it is "rude" to celebrate when scoring...say by jacking one out.  Though, there are the Sosa Step, Bichette Electro Charge and Griffey Stare.  But you don't see Bonds running over to the stands and doing a big production number after hitting one out.  In hockey, they do the ol' fist-pump and/or leg kick.  Everyone slaps mullets and we move on.  In the NBA....well, there are some celebrations.  The flex.  The knucklehead.  The Shaq eye-bug and strut.  The Kobe head-shake.  The Shawn Kemp point [which I think is followed by "are you my kid?"].  Or, the classic Zo Yell and tremors.  But you don't see a big dunk or a huge 3-pointer followed by a guy jumping on the scorers table and doing a Lord Of The Rings Dance.

But, maybe they should.  This IS entertainment...and it is entertaining to people.  I mean, ESPN's NFL Primetime and HBO's Inside the NFL makes these a vital part of their post-week shows.  But, the NFL doesn't.  In the NFL "Short Cuts" and NFL "Highlights On Demand" they edit these celebrations out. 

I guess where I really draw the line is with props.  No sharpies.  No cell phones.  No towels.  No signs.  Give me the Spiderman back.  The Lambeau Leap.  The Goal Post Punching Bag.  The Worm.  The FG Dunk.  The Nestea Splash.  The Dice Roll.  The "Warming Your Hands In the Football Fire".  Even "The Ball Is Stuck To My Hands" trick which, I admit, in pickup football games I even do.  Or the "Heath Miller drop the ball to the turf".  Or the "Barry Sanders Hand The Ball To The Official."

I'm just sure next week I will see a guy score a TD....grab a teammate....and do a ballroom dance.

Then I'll be wishing for Sharpies. 

R.I.P. Wellington Mara


When Jack Kent Cooke died several years ago....a few Giants fans I knew said some really great things about Mr. Cooke that I will never forget.  Essentially, the loved the enthusiasm and class Mr. Cooke brought to, not just the Redskins, but the NFC East.  I feel the same way about Giants owner Mr. Mara...maybe even with higher regard.  He passed away yesterday at the age of 89.

Mr. Mara has been part of the New York Football Giants organization since the team came into existence in 1925.  Everything you know about the NFL today was pretty much helped along by Mr. Mara. 

Mr. Mara did something that is quite unthinkable to us today.  Being the owner of the NFL team in the nation's largest TV market....he was willing to share revenue for the betterment of the entire league.  Do you think that George Steinbrenner would make such a move? 

People say this at times....but in this case it is true:  he is the last of his breed.  He was a complete football guy that loved the game for it's orginal values but had the vision to help it into modern ways.  And now the NFL is the model league that all sports wish to emulate.

As a Washington Redskins fan, I have the upmost respect for Mr. Mara and everything he stood for....and my heart truly sank when I heard about his passing. 

Thank you, Mr. Mara. 

Monday, October 24, 2005

Redskins Roll 52-17

REDSKINS 52-NINERS 17.  Is this 1992???  I know we aren't this good....but it's nice to know that we can at least look this good at times.  The Redskins scored 35 first half points....amazing for a team that struggled to reach the 20 pt mark over the past couple of seasons.  In fact, it has been FOUR YEARS since the Skins scored 35 pts in a GAME!!!  Not only that, but Clinton Portis has finally rushed for a TD....make that two.  Mike Sellers keeps doing what he's been is Santana Moss.  Sure, the Niners offense is being run by a guy in just his 2nd career start...but they look dominant.  And it is GREAT to see LaVar Arrington back and making big plays.  We even forced a turnover!!  And I am starting the "Mark Brunell For Comeback Player Of the Year Award" campaign. Oh, and thanks to JAMIE MOTTRAM for putting this quote "I figure the Skins will have sucess running the ball between the redzones....a may even get their first rushing TD [please, for the sake of my fantasy team, let Portis get a TD!!!]" I made in my preview in the PIGSKIN BLOGGERS page which makes me seem pretty smart. With both franchises struggling in recent is hard to believe that from 1981-1991 these two teams won 7 of 11 Super Bowls...and were the NFC champion 8 times. (Sportz 1-0)

STEELERS 27-BENGALS 13.  Why I picked the Bengals is beyond me.  All year long I have been preaching about the Bengals problems against a team with a great ground game and a tough defense.  The two teams they've faced with these strengths [Jags, Steelers] have beaten them.  The Steelers defense really did a job on that explosive Cincy offense especially in the redzone.  (Sportz 1-1)

COLTS 38-TEXANS 20.  The NFL's only unbeaten team stays that way.  As does the only winless team.  Though the Texans did make quite a run at it...but fell short.  (Sportz 2-1)

LIONS 13-BROWNS 10.  You know you suck, Joey Harrington, when a guy with a torn up leg takes your starting job.  And wins.  (Sportz 2-2)

VIKINGS 23-PACKERS 20.  I can't believe the Packers, in the worst division in the NFL, is 1-5.  Especially in a game that they led 17-0.  Props on that 56-yard FG to end this game.  (Sportz 2-3)

CHIEFS 30-DOLPHINS 20.  In the game pushed up by Hurricane Wilma, KC ran in for 3 TDs and Tony Gonzalez finally looked like he was part of the team.  Oh, and nicegame to Captain Hippie Lettuce.  (Sportz 3-3)

EAGLES 20-CHARGERS 17.  Three things.  One, I TOLD YOU THAT LT WOULDN'T SCORE A TD!!!!!!  [" My bold prediction!!!!  The Eagles end LaDanlian Tomlinson's TD streak.  Bold!!!"]  Two, how improbable was that win for Philly??  Down 17-13 with 2:37 left, the Eagles block a punt and run it back for a TD.  Then, just when the Bolts are driving for a tying FG, they force a fumble and salt away the win.  And third, this make the FOURTH GAME this season San Diego gave away in the final moments.  It happened against Dallas, Denver, Pittsburgh and now Philly.  This team could be 7-0 right now.  Instead, they are 3-4.  (Sportz 4-3)

RAMS 28-SAINTS 17.  The Saints led late in this game, but the Rams completely took it over.  Oh, and from my preview "I think with Bulger out, the Rams will use Steven Jackson a lot more [which they should've been doing anyways]"  I guess that works.  (Sportz 5-3)

SEAHAWKS 13-COWBOYS 10.  This one has to just dig at Bill Parcells gut.  Good.  The Boys had this game won.  They basically shut down Shaun Alexander. Then Dallas snatched defeat from the jaws of victory for the 2nd time this Seattle scored a TD, picked off a pass, then kicked the game winning FG to move to [get this] 5-2 for the season.  This may be the kind of game that turns Seattle into a legit contender in the NFC.  (Sportz 6-3)

BEARS 10-RAVENS 6.  You expected anything different??  This was the #2 and #3 ranked defenses going against two of the worst offenses....on the same day Chicago honored the 1985 Super Bowl Bears.  Oh, and Chester Taylor may need to be the featured back in B-more (Sportz 7-3)

RAIDERS 38-BILLS 17.  I said before the season started that the most important acquision Oakland made was acquiring Lamont Jordan.  He demanded the ball from Norv Turner and rewarded the trust with 3 TDs, 122 yards rushing, and 40 yards recieving.  The other big name addition, Randy Moss, shook off his pain and caught a TD pass.  And Buffalo's defense really looked whipped! (Sportz 8-3)

GIANTS 24-BRONCOS 23.  I think Eli Manning truly arrived with this win.  Denver owned this game until Manning and the G-men took over.  After shaking off a bad interception, Eli drove the Giants 83 yards in FIFTEEN plays to give New York the lead, and the win. (Sportz 9-3)

CARDINALS 20-TITANS 10.  Kurt Warner's days in Arizona are over.  Just like in New York.  Maybe he'll back up Alex Smith next year. (Sportz 10-3)

Sportz   (67-34)
Lew   (65-36)
Monponsett   (64-37)
Pre-Jock (63-38)
Treesoup   (61-40)
George Coztanza (59-42)
Jamie   (59-42)
Kiser Blade   (58-43)
Raisin   (54-47)
Angel (48-39)
Yannis   (53-48)
NYGFAN (30-29)

ATLANTA:  Sportz, Lew, Treesoup, Pre-Jock, Monponsett, G-Coz, Jamie, Kiser, Raisin, Yannis, Angel

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Roll Tide!!!! Texas Tech falls. Shockley Injured

My Tar Heels beat a ranked Virginia team yesterday.  Sure, the final score was 7-5....but it was a win none-the-less [Florida State couldn't beat 'em!].  It isn't enough to place them in my New Top 12.  Here are the teams that do. 

1-TEXAS.  Busted T-Tech's bubble in a big way
2-USC.  Ho, hum.  A win in the Emerald City. 
3-VIRGINIA TECH.  Still waiting to be tested.
4-GEORGIA.  They hope Shockley will be back soon.
5-ALABAMA.  They needed a horrible fumble into the endzone by the Vols to stay undefeated. 
6-UCLA.  They are starting to look really legit.
7-NOTRE DAME.  BYU is a cupcake compared to the Irish's recent schedule.
8-MIAMI.  I want to see how they'll deal with the Hokies
9-LSU.  Ended Auburn's 13-game SEC winning streak
10-PENN STATE.  Bounced back with a dominating win vs Illinois.  Don't dismiss it. 
11-FLORIDA STATE.  Took their anger out on Duke.  Pick on someone your own size!
12-NORTHWESTERN.  No, not really.  But they may end up winning the Big Ten Conference.  Wow. 

BCS WATCH!!!  Right now, here are my 8 BCS Bowl teams:  USC, Texas, Virginia Tech, Georgia, Penn State, West Virginia, Alabama, Notre Dame.  Why??  Well, I feel that USC will beat UCLA for the Pac-10 crown.....Texas will win the Big XII South and romp over whomever the North puts out there.....V-Tech will beat Miami in a few weeks and then beat Florida State in the 1st ACC title game.....Georgia has the SEC East race all but wrapped up.  I do think they'll beat the LSU-Alabama winner in the SEC title game....God knows who will win the Big Ten, it could be Northwestern.  I think when it all shakes out, Penn State will take the title....West Virginia, right now, looks to be the best team in the Big East, and they've taken care of Louisville already....I don't really like Alabama, but I think they'll beat LSU in a great game on Nov 12, and possibly get their first loss in the SEC championship to Georgia.  Either way, if all goes as planned, their final 3 games are LSU, at Auburn and then Georgia....Notre Dame has navigated thru such a tough sked.  They play their next 3 games at home [Tennessee, Navy, Syracuse] before ending in Stanford.  Only the Vols game do I see any problem, and UT has problems of their own

So why not certain teams??  I think that UCLA's loss to USC at the end of the year may slide them out of the race.....Florida State may have 3 more losses in the tank.  They have the rivalry game at Florida to end the season, but they also have a really tough game at Clemson before it.  Add in the ACC title game against Virginia Tech, and this may be a 9-3 team....Miami may get only 2 losses, but it will be in both their biggest games.  I think V-Tech takes them out in two weeks which puts the Canes out of the Coastal division title....Texas Tech has a shot, since they dealt with Texas already, in a loss.  They only have Texas A&M and Oklahoma remaining.  I think they lose one of those, and get knocked out of the BCS race...Really, anyone can still win the Big Ten

Michigan State has completely crumbled since that blocked FG at the end of the 1st half versus Ohio State.  How do you get pummelled at home to Northwestern 49-14???....Tennessee already has THREE losses this year [Florida, Georgia, Alabama].  If not for a big comeback against LSU, they'd be 2-4 right now with Notre Dame on the horizon......Is Chuck D'Amato feeling any heat lately??  Losing to rival Wake Forest like that doesn't help....

Vivi Award Nominee


Apparently, I am up for a "VIVI AWARD" for Best Sports Journal....which I wasn't aware there was such a thing.  Check out the Vivi Award Website here: VIVI Awards

Anyways, I am honored to be nominated....though not really on edge about winning.  No offense to anyone behind the Vivi Awards, but the love and respect I get from my peers here in the AOL Sports blog community has been the biggest honor.  The fact that the bloggers whom I think are the best to read feel the same way towards my site is what keeps me motivated and on top of my game.  Either way, it's not to say that I wouldn't be happy if I did win...but I won't slice my wrists if I don't.   Other nominees include:

Alex's Sports Blog
The Belly Check
High Above Courtside
Sportz Assassin's Sports Journal
Two Minute Warning

Really, there are only two other nominees.  Of course, I am one of the many writers on "Two Minute Warning".   So is Monponsett, who's "Belly Check" and "High Above Courside" blogs are included.  Rounding out the mix is Alex with his "Sports Blog."

Good luck to Stacy, Alex and me for the award. 

Friday, October 21, 2005

NBA Dress Code


First off....this NBA dress code has been blown out of proportion.  It has become a buzzworthy story that gets people talking about race, first ammendment rights and what is "proper".  So, to continue on this...I guess I'll contribute to the hype.

Now, the NBA players have KNOWN this was going to come for quite a while.  It was agreed to in their recent Collective Bargaining Agreement that the NBA could [and most likely would] pull this move.  So the NBA players crying about it now makes no sense.  If they want to blame anyone, blame the player's reps who either negotiated or were team embassadors to the negotiations.

Second isn't a bad idea, I just think it goes a bit too far.  I am all for the "business attire".  When asking players about financial issues, they all love to say "this is a business".  Well, most businesses require certain attire....whether it is uniforms or a suit and tie.  And if the people who pay your salary [read: employers] want you to be presented in a certain way....they have that right.

However, I don't agree with the extent of this.  I would say it is fair that players must wear this "business attire" when arriving to the arena for game day.  That's when these guys are the most visable and really in the true essence of their "business".  I also think it is fair to say they are dressed this way for postgame interviews and such [as in those news conferences].  And I think it is fair to say they have this attire if they are sitting on the bench and not in uniform...which most players do.  I just think it should end there.  Any other time, the player should dress as he wishes. 

This is a sport in which players are most recognized wearing underwear.  A tank top and shorts.  I think the NBA should adopt the same sort of deal the NFL has.  The NFL wants their players and coaches to either be "business attired" or in NFL licensed clothing.  If the NBA adopted this, that would allow these players wear those throwback jerseys [or they are NBA licensed] or something similar.   

I also STRONGLY disagree with banning jewelry. 

But, players, this isn't totally foreign.  Many schools [both college and high school] require a dress code when the "team" travels together.  And to anyone who cries that this violates the player's first ammendment rights can get off their soapbox.  Most people in this country have jobs that require a dress code.  I do.  I have to dress a certain way....and take out my jewelry before beginning work.  Every job I've had required a dress code.  Well except one job....and that was with me scrubbing toilets at age 15. 

Now, reality.  I don't want to get into the whole racial tension this has brought up.  But I can see how this can be thought of in that light.  From the NBA's point of view, their guys aren't viewed that favorable to the demographic they want to reach....which is 25-50 year old white people.  To the NBA, the only time we, the public, see NBA players in suits is when they are being called a "defendant".   Of course, this isn't true.  I mean, remember Michael Jordan always looking dapper in his suits?? 

No...the NBA wants to get rid of the image of the white-tee, baggy jeans, sneakers, gold chains, with huge headphones and an I-pod in hand.  Instead, they want their guys to look like they do when they shake David Stern's hand on draft day. 

In summation, I think both sides need to relax a little.  The league needs to bend a bit on the amount of time players must adhere to the dress code and allow the chains and such.  The players need, then, to shut up about it and follow the rules their employers set forth.  If that happens, we all get along just fine.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Again, NC State, You Blow!!!!


Just a few weeks ago, I wrote Screw NC State - Wolfpack player faces deportation on my blog.  Just a little thing to vent....but I guess this is just the beginning of an ongoing trend.

In that post, I talked about one of the NC State basketball players who is in the country illegally...and may be deported.  Now NC State has been in the limelight for three more things.

One, on the field, was the drubbing NC State got from Clemson in front of a national audience on ESPN.  The Tigers went into Raleigh and taxed the Wolfpack, 31-10.

Now...the good ones.  The company that runs the video screens for NC State has issued an apology for offensive images projected on their JumboTron during that Clemson game.  On the JumboTron....there was a picture of some fans with "Fan Cam" written on in.  Then some other fans where shown with "Kissing Cam".  Then, another picture of a fan.....but this one said "Mexi-Cam".  Yeah...Mexi-Cam.  Great one guys!  Especially in a place that relies on many Mexican people to help with farm labor [read:  picking tobacco]. 

Oh, and last, the finale of the murder of an NC State fan at their 2004 home opener on September 4.  Timothy Johnson was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Chicago insurance broker Kevin McCann and second-degree murder in the death of Marine 2nd Lt. Brett Harman of Park Ridge, Ill.

Great times at NC State.  Go to the games.....get offended, maybe deported, that is unless you are murdered after the game.


Here is at take called So much for saving face from about the Mexi-Cam. 

"Let’s face it. Thursday night was embarrassing.

And not just in a shameful sense. We’re talking in a dismal, anxious and borderline angry way, as well.

Let’s just start at the top level and work our way down, shall we? You’ll feel one of these three things along the way.

There’s the obvious. Clemson handed our ego to us on a silver platter — only after dismantling it, annihilating it, drinking it on the sidelines to refresh themselves, then being as kind as to give it back to us. Our football team is 5-2 under Amato on ESPN, including the win at Georgia Tech two weeks ago, and the only other loss coming last year against Florida State. Not only did we lose the Textile Trophy, but we also put ourselves on the path of finishing 4-7, which makes us question our planned victory against what we thought was a lesser opponent, Southern Miss for Homecoming and showed us that we like staying warm under the blanket of mediocrity.

But amidst the boos and woes of the fading student section in the fourth quarter — those that stuck around were taken aback by a completely irrelevant, yet disgraceful, act toward the end.

The “Mexi-Cam.”

There’s the “Kissing Cam,” the “Fan Cam” followed nonchalantly by the “Mexi-Cam” — which was wrong on so many levels that even someone looking for a funny joke would not have laughed.

On the Jumbotron, the camera found a Hispanic-looking (notice the 'looking' here) couple and plastered the words “Mexi-Cam” under their picture for a good two to four seconds.

The Wolfpack has already embarrassed us on the field, not living up to their self-proclaimed National Champion status. In addition to the embarrassment, someone had the audacity, prejudice and disgrace to think the "Mexi-Cam" might bring a bit of humor to the otherwise dismal game.

There is no guarantee that the couple shown was Mexican for starters, nor could they have in any way appreciated what the rest of the leftover crowd saw. With so much national attention that this game received, such a childish stunt merely confirmed to the outside world that N.C. State is a redneck school.

This isn’t about not being able to take a joke or lightening the mood. What happened Thursday night in those two-to-four seconds is an insult to a painful injury and was completely unnecessary. Someone from Athletics needs to take responsibility for this.

That wasn’t exactly the ending note NCSU wanted to have for Hispanic Heritage Month."

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Phil Fulmer Back In Bama

                            Stephen Jackson

*OFF THE CHAINS:  For the 2nd time in less than a year, an Indiana Pacer is calling out the NBA as racist.  In the spring, Jermaine O'Neal raised the racist question when the NBA was attempting to put an age requirement on potential draftees [which was ultimately approved by the league and the player's association in which O'Neal is a member].  Now, his teammate Stephen Jackson is calling the NBA racist for the recent ruling of "proper attire" and no chains over their suits.  Actually, Jackson has no problem with the dress code as far as the business casual look the NBA wants their players....but he is quite bent over the no-chains rule.  Let's just say that the NBA is in for a bit of a battle with the players over this issue.  However, like most things, the players do tend to cave in.  Let's see how this will turn out. 

*ROCK PAPER SCISSORS:  The "Rock, Paper, Scissors" Championships will be held this Saturday in Toronto.  Wow....I've heard of some horrible tournaments, but this??  I'm sure ESPN 8, "The Ocho", will cover this. 

*NFL TRADING FLURRY:  Is this the NFL???  With the trading deadline approaching.....there was a flurry of deals.  Tampa Bay acquired Tim Rattay from the San Francisco 49ers.  What is this???  Well, Brian Griese is most likely done for the season, and we all know about Chris Simms ability to stay healthy.  Now Rattay may be asked to be an important part of a team that has the best record in the NFC.  This also begins the Alex Smith Era in San Fran as there is no reason to sit him now.  The Vikings picked up an offensive lineman from the Chargers [which leads me to believe that some linemen may be the ones to be suspended from the Viking Love Boat incident].  The Chargers also made an interesting move, acquiring AJ Feely from Miami.  Interesting, since the Bolts have Drew Brees starting and Philip Rivers backing him up.  Does this mean that Rivers could be on the move??  Quite a day of movement.  Usually, the trading deadline brings maybe one deal with it....but not anything of notice [usually something like a disgruntled player, like the deal that sent Keenan McCardell to San Diego last year]. 

*POWER RANKINGS:  Speaking of the is my power rankings: 
1-Colts:  Spotted the Rams 17 pts, then demolished them.
2-Broncos:  Made defensive stand for 2nd straight week
3-Bengals:  Alas, we'll see their meddle against the Steelers
4-Cowboys:  If they had closed out the Skins, they'd be 5-1 right now.
5-Steelers:  Sure they lost, but that was with no Ben and Ward
6-Buccaneers:  Just one 2-pt loss to the Jets from being undefeated
7-Falcons:  Their defense is giving up too many big plays
8-Chargers:  Where's Gates been the last 2 weeks??
9-Eagles:  The NFL's biggest underachievers
10-Panthers:  They're winning ugly and with some luck.  Just like in 2003.

*NBA PRE SEASON AWARDS: is a guess about the NBA's upcoming season.  MVP....LeBron James.  Why?  I think with a better collection of talent around him [Hughes, Marshall] and a healthy Z, he could take the next leap.  ROOKIE......Francisco Garcia.  Bogut may get it because of the amount of minutes he will log in Milwaukee, but Garica looks to be an intrigal part of what the Kings want to do.  He's looked quite well in preseason.  COACH....Mike Montgomery.  The Warriors could be ready to do some big things in the West.  With the Grizzlies, Wolves and Sonics losing some guys.....and Phoenix with their own issues....the Warriors could be this year's Wizards or Bulls.  Or Suns.

*THE BCS:  The initial BCS rankings are out...and there are no real surprises.  But why even have this poll now??  Why not wait another few weeks.  There are so many big games left to play, that the BCS poll is meaningless.  I mean, we have Texas-Texas Tech, Virginia Tech-Miami, USC-UCLA, Georgia-Florida, and Alabama-Tennessee coming on the slate.

*FULMER SNITCH:  Speaking of should be quite a sight in Tuscaloosa when Vols' coach Phil Fulmer takes the field.  Remember, this is his first appearance there since he snitched to investigators about the Crimson Tide's program...which eventually netted them some punishment.  It will be on!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Pujols Shut Up An Entire City

                                              NLCS Gm. 5

I returned to work today after about 10 days off.  I caught a bit of the NLCS Game 5...but the TV in the breakroom was on the Colts-Rams game.  As I got in my car to go home....the Astros were pitching in the top of the 8th inning with a 4-2 lead.  My radio was on the I listened to the play by play.

The announcer said something quite interesting.  He said that the TV broadcast flashed a picture of Nolan Ryan watching from a skybox.  The announcer went on to recount the 1980 NLCS, when the Astros [who had to beat the Dodgers in a one-game playoff for the NL West title] faced the Phillies in one of the greatest League Championship Series ever.  Four of the five games went into extra innings.  The Astros had a 2-1 series lead....with Games 4 and 5 at the Astrodome.  In Game 4, Houston lost in extra innings after tying the game in the bottom of the 9th.  But the killer was Game 5.  The Astros had a 5-2 lead heading into the 8th inning....with Nolan Ryan pitching.  Philly exploded for a 5-run inning....and taking a 7-5 lead.  Houston scored twice in the bottom of the inning....but the Phillies scored in the 10th and ended up going to the World Series.  Heartbreak.


The announcer then went on to mention the 1986 NLCS.  The Astros trailed the Mets 3-games-to-2......but had a 3-0 lead heading into the 9th inning of Game 6.  A win there, and the Astros force a Game 7 in New York.  The Mets scored 3 times in the top of the 9th...and the game went into extra frames.  Many extra frames.  Both teams tallied a run in the 14th inning.  In the top of the 16th, the Mets pounded out 3 runs....and had a nice 7-4 lead.  The Astros mustered 2...but that was all.  The Mets won the game, 7-6, and the series.  That Game 6 was the longest playoff game in MLB history.....until the Astros beat the Braves in 18 innings last week.  Heartbreak.


And, of course, he mentioned last season.  Houston went to St. Louis with a 3-2 lead [sound familiar?].  The Cards won Games 6 and 7 to go to the World Series.

When I got home, I sat in front of the TV to see Brad Lidge ready to mow down the Cardinals and lift the Astros, who have never been to the World Series in their 45 year history, to unchartered territory.  Lidge got 2 outs....and 2 strikes.

Then David Eckstein trickled a ball between short and third for a hit.  Then Lidge got wild and walked Jim Edmonds.  Then, as if we've seen it before, Lidge served up a fat pitch to Albert Pujols that was crushed like it was batting practice.  St. Louis would go on to win, 5-4. 

This teams and it's fans were ONE PITCH away from the World Series...and then had in dramatically ripped from them.  How will they respond??  I mean, the Cards will be at home [where, oddly, the home team is only 4-6 in the LCSs] and have a bit of momentum on their side.  The Astros will have a bit of down feeling....and the Cards know they can get to Lidge. 


Monday, October 17, 2005



When I first lauched this blog in May 2004, I wrote a blog entry called Why Care About The Red Sox?   That blog entry wasn't so much as to bash the Red Sox as it was to bash the media love that the Red Sox got because they just don't get a darn break.  I was angered about how much pub some "curse" got even though (a) there is no curse and (b) there are other franchises who have had it much worse. 

In the 17 months since I wrote that......the Red Sox won their first World Series and pretty much got a full year of being the only thing anyone whose lived in New England wants to discuss.  Now, the White Sox, who along with the cross-town Cubs I called the cursed teams of them all, are in the World Series.  It is a Chicago team that has blitzed thru the AL playoffs with a 7-1 record and has been the most dominant team in this postseason.   Yeah.  The White Sox. 

The White Sox are in for the first time since 1959.  That was 16 years before I was born....and 2 years before expansion hit baseball.  Alaska and Hawaii became states that year.  The Lakers were still in Minneapolis.  "Some Like It Hot"...."North By Northwest"....and "Ben Hur" were at the theatres.  To be alive when the Pale Hose last hit the'd have to be 46 years old.  The guys who were on that team would be at least 64-80 years old now. 

They haven't won a title since 1917...the year before the Red Sox's vaunted "1918" title.  Think about that.  That was just 5 years after the Titanic sunk.  The US declared war on Germany....for World War I.  Half a million people died in the US from a flu pandemic.  There was no NFL and the NHL was just created.  Haray Carey, who would go on to broadcast for the White Sox, was born.  It has been 88 years since the Sox brought a championship back to Chicago.

And this just isn't the White Sox.....this is Chicago.  For every pitful drought the Sox have suffered, the Cubs have suffered longer [1945 was the last series, with 1908 the last title].  So just having Chicago involved in a World Series will be quite surreal.  And this is the franchise that, for the most part, has soiled professional sports like none the Black Sox scandal of 1919 is still the biggest black eye on any of our American sports [it did get my Reds a World Series title]. 

And this is the team that tore down ancient Comisky Park to build the bland....uh, Comisky Park [now US Cellular Field].  This is also a team that wore uniforms with wide collars and shorts.  And had that classic SOX logo of little dude with his bat.  They also held "Disco Demolition Night" in 1979 that turned into a riot at ol' Comisky.


Jerry Reinsdorf, who brought Chicago 6 NBA championships with the Bulls, becomes a hero yet again by bringing Chicago to baseball's center stage.  Ozzie Guillen is beloved in Chi-town.  But the White Sox' website says it best.

"Say It Is So."

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Brett Hull Retires

            Brett Hull

Brett Hull announced his retirement....becoming yet another in a long line of NHL greats hanging up their skates. 

FROM - NHL - Hull, third-leading scorer in history, retires 

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Brett Hull choked back emotion and thanked "everyone who ever touched my life in the game," announcing his retirement Saturday from a career that left him the third-leading goal scorer in NHL history.

"I wish no one had to do this because it's so hard, it's hard because you never think you're going to grow older and be unable to live up to the expectations you set for yourself," he said.

The 41-year-old Hull, who had one assist in five games for the Phoenix Coyotes in his 20th NHL season, had to stop to gain control of his emotions, with his three children, fiance and several former teammates looking on.

"There's an old expression, and I don't know who said it -- 'The mind is willing but the body isn't,"' Hull said.

Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky is one of his best friends, yet Hull found his minutes on the ice diminishing.

"I realized I wasn't who I thought I was," Hull said. "I wasn't Brett Hull at 30 or 35 even. I was 41 years old and after a year and a half layoff, I didn't have what it took to play in the new game that was so exciting."

Hull's announcement came two hours before the Coyotes faced his former team, the Detroit Red Wings.

"The National Hockey League will miss Brett's skill, his scoring touch and his fun-loving attitude," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. "He was a splendid athlete, a passionate player and someone who never hesitated to speak his mind. His achievements further cement the Hull family legacy of hockey greatness."

Hull signed with the Coyotes on Aug. 6, 2004, lured by Gretzky, who was leaning toward becoming the team's coach. There was no 2004-05 season, though, because of the NHL lockout. When Hull joined the team, he found it hard to keep up with the younger players.

"Unfortunately, the lockout probably affected him as much or more than anyone," Gretzky said.

Only Gretzky and Gordie Howe have more goals than Hull in NHL history.

"I was probably more emotional today about him retiring than I was the day I retired," Gretzky said. "It's a new beginning for him and his family. I told him today he's going to look forward with a lot of great times with his kids and his fiance. His records speak for themselves. He's a consumate professional. My dad told me today that I ran 800 goal scorer out of hockey."

Before the Coyotes' home opener a week ago, Hull's father, Hall of Famer Bobby Hull, had his number "un-retired" so his son Brett could wear it this season. The Hulls are the only father-son players to each top 600 goals.

Hull had 741 goals and 650 assists in the former Minnesota-Duluth star's long NHL career with Calgary, St. Louis, Dallas, Detroit and Phoenix. He joined the league with Calgary in the 1986 Stanley Cup finals. He is second on the NHL career list for power- play goals (265) and third in game-winning goals (110).

"I don't think I've seen a better player shoot the one-timer," said New York Rangers forward Jaromir Jagr, whose 541 goals since the 1990-91 season are second only to Hull's 595. "It was a gift."

Hullwon Stanley Cup titles in 1999 with Dallas and 2002 with Detroit. In 1999, he scored a controversial goal in the third overtime to give the Stars a 2-1 victory over Buffalo in the series-ending sixth game.

"I made so many friends, had so many good times," he said.

Hull played in nine All-Star games and was the league MVP in 1991. Hull played for the United States in the 1998 and 2002 Olympics, as well as in three World Cups. He was part of the gold medal World Cup team in 1996.

Brendan Shanahan, who played with Hull in St. Louis and Detroit, called him "a guy who spoke his mind, a colorful guy."

"A lot of the changes that are being made in the NHL, he should get a lot of credit for," Shanahan said. "He's been talking about these things for the last 10 years."

Hull said he wanted to stay in the game, perhaps in management, but never as a coach.

"I don't care what anyone says," he said, "it's the best sport there is."

College Mayhem!!!!

What a Saturday of college football!!!!

What a season!!!  Let's look at the Countdown Of What Happened Today.

                                Matt Leinart

1-USC BEATS NOTRE DAME:  I really felt this game was waaaaay overhyped.  In fact, I was set to write a blog entry about just that when I decided that writing about how overhyped it was would be just contributing to the hype.  Good call.  This game was even better.  Both teams met blow for blow.  Reggie Bush placed himself a mile ahead of any other Heisman contender.  We had a great 4th down play by USC.  And a great ending with Leinart sneaking into the endzone for the winning TD.  To me, this game wakes up the beasts.  It wakes up USC, as I feel they will truly play to their full capability the remainder of the year.  It wakes up Notre Dame, as I feel they just found out how good they really are and can be.  Great atmosphere for a great game!


2-MICHIGAN BEATS PENN STATE:   If you remember [I hope you don't] that I had Michigan facing USC in the Rose Bowl this January.  Well, the Wolverines have lost 3 games already.....and were headed for a 4th.  Until Chad Henne tossed a 10-yd TD as time expired to beat Penn State.....who scored a TD less than a minute earlier.  A huge loss for Penn a win would've meant they beat both Michigan and Ohio State in back-to-back weeks and would have a strangle hold on the Big Ten.  Instead, the Lions take a tough loss, their first.

3-WISCONSIN WILLS A WIN IN MINNESOTA:  The Gophers have this game won.  With 30 seconds left, all they gotta do is punt the ball away and hold the Badgers.  Instead, a bad snap on the punt....which got blocked...then recovered in the endzone for a Wisconsin lead.  A stunned Metrodome crowd!!!!  Then, on the insuing kickoff....the Gophers cough it up.  Amazing finish!!

4-OHIO STATE POPS MICHIGAN STATE:  Two plays define this game.  One was the blocked FG at the end of the first half that resulted in a Buckeye TD.  The Spartans rushed the play....left several Ohio State defenders waltz into the backfield and smothered the kick.  Right after that, the Mich State head coach lit up his coaching staff [when he walked off the field, he said the coaches where "screwing it up" for the players].  Then, right after halftime, they give up a big play on defense....surrendering the lead. 


5-WEST VIRGINIA BEATS LOUISVILLE:  Big, big, big, big loss for the Cardinals, putting their Big East title hopes in jeopardy...losing their first two Big East games [0-2].  The Mountaineers [3-0] are now the lead dog.  As for the game...West Virgina scores 17 points in the final quarter to send the game into overtime, 24-24.  The game went to a third overtime, when WVU converted on a TD and the mandatory 2-pt conversion.  L'ville got the conversion.  Steve Slayton of West Virginia scored 6 TDs......all after halftime!!!!

6-LSU OUTLASTS FLORIDA:  This SEC season is brutal!!!  Not just did these teams knock heads....but now Florida faces Georgia and LSU takes on Auburn. 

7-VIRGINIA BEATS FLORIDA STATE:  When the ACC expanded to 12-teams...many felt that these new teams would dominate the traditional ones.  True, the newest 4 ACC schools [Florida State, Miami, Virginia Tech, Boston College] are the class of the league.  But, Clemson, NC State and Virginia show the ability to keep eyes fixed on Tobacco Road too.  Virginia, the first ACC team to knock off FSU [a decade ago]....handed the Seminoles their first defeat of the season. 

Boston College had to make a big comeback to pop Wake Forest at home....Oregon State goes into Berkely and shocks California, giving them two straight losses.....Northwestern wins in Purdue, giving the Boilermakers their 4th straight loss.....Missouri tops Iowa State in overtime, giving them the leg up in the Big XII North race....UCLA stays undefeated by beating Washington State in overtime....Don;t look now, but Nebraska is 5-1 after popping Baylor....

.  While USC was in a battle with Notre Dame, the Horns were spanking the best team in the Big XII North, Colorado. 
  Can't wait for that Miami game.
4-GEORGIA.  Dawgs keep on winning.  Got a big Cocktail Party to go to.
5-ALABAMA.  Squeaked by Ole Miss with a FG with the clock running out. 
6-LSU:  Again, a bad 2nd half against the Vols keeps this team down.
8-NOTRE DAME.  Despite the loss...I'm movin' them up!
9-MIAMI.  Hey, you just beat Temple.  No big whoop. 
10-PENN STATE.  Not undefeated any longer
11-UCLA.  Um, yeah, they are still here.
12-TEXAS TECH.  This team scores like they are playing video games.

Happy Anniversary, Treesoup!!

When I celebrated my first anniversary...I did the prequisite "flashback" blog entry about why I was here....who helped me along the way...and what the future holds.  So I like it when others reach that milestone and decide to chime in with other takes.

So, my man Treesoup is celebrating his Year 1 culmination with a shout out...on his The Packerz Zone blog.  Soup, to me, is best known for his The WildCat Blog.  When this whole blogging thing got going....he was one of the few people that had a college hoop blog.  Well, being a college hoop nut myself, I kept him on speed dial. 

Having said that....he is a UKKK fan...which chaps me.  Having lived in Wildcat Country for about 7 years now, I will say that Kentucky fans are loyal, passionate, myopic and tunnel visioned fans I've ever met.  I mean, they love their Big Blue....and don't mind telling you as such.  The problem, in my eyes, is local dominance.  Kentucky has no real rival.  The SEC sends someone out there for a couple years to the top....whether it is LSU [Shaq era], Arkansas [Nolan Richardson era], Florida [Billy D's era], etc.  Locally, Indiana is a pretty nice is Louisville.  But there really isn't a war as such.  Most L'ville fans live IN L' the rest of the state doesn't get into heated debate.

All that is weird to me...since I am a North Carolina Tar Heel fan.  In Charlotte.   There is ALWAYS a local war.  My best friend was an NC State fan.  I've dated two different girls who bled Dook blue.  And my mom's work is run by people who went to Wake Forest.  When I was in wanted to miss the bus whenever your team lost.  Because all the Dook, Wake and State people would ride your tail!!!  During Duke-Carolina week, you wanted to kill every Duke fan with all the smack that went on during the week.  Hey...I am 30 now and I STILL feel that way!

But I digress.  The point is that Treesoup isn't like that.  He's a different kind of Kentucky fan.  He's smart.  When Carolina beat Kentucky last December...he congratulated me.  When I went into work....all those Kentucky fans spouted "yeah...well, Carolina was supposed to win.  No big deal!!!!"  But this year, when Kentucky will be favored over my rebuilding Heels, if we lose I will hear "BOOOYAA!!!!!  Take that!!!!!"  Of course, my response will be "I will take that......take that banner hanging in the rafters."

That's why I like Treesoup.  He's a fan....a real fan.  Fans love their teams to a fault....but acknowledge that their teams have fault.  He studies his teams as well as the entire landscape.  He doesn't spout "we're #1" when he knows that he isn't.  But, he does when they are.  He is not only one of the top bloggers I read [and that is in all honesty], he's a guy that I can chat with on the side as well....which is a rarity. 

So congrats on your anniversary....and thanks for these kind words you mentioned about me: 

· The Sportz Assassin : This guy, Quite Frankly, should have his own show. I bow down to this guy because every time I click over to his blog, I leave with the feeling that I’m a pre-schooler. If there’s one guy that could stump the schwab (ESPN Show for you guys who know what I’m talking about because I’m pretty sure I spelt it wrong), it’s the Sportz Assassin. From all things sports, you can bet top dollar that this guy will provide a point of view that a) you’ve never heard before and/or b) convince you that you’re wrong and he’s right. Great guy, and great blogs, I enjoy reading the Sportz Assassin.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Hawks' Jason Collier Dies Of Cardiac Arrest


Jason Collier of the Atlanta Hawks, died this morning of an apparent heart attack. 

I haven't seen much of Collier in the NBA, as injuries have limited him to about 150 games in his career.  But he was a pretty good player at Georgia Tech [of my ACC] for a couple years.  He went to Indiana initially....bounced out of there.....and attended G-Tech.

He was drafted by the Bucks in the 2000 NBA Draft [15th pick...and promptly shipped to Houston] but hasn't really blossomed into nothing more than a spot starter.  His best season, 2003-4 with the Hawks saw him score 11.4 ppg...but he appeared in just 20 games.  Over the past season, he bounced around in the NBDL and was brought up by the Hawks again.

He was 28. 

Here is the story from ESPN: 

ATLANTA -- Atlanta Hawks center Jason Collier died Saturday morning, possibly of cardiac arrest, the team said. He was 28.

Hawks spokesman Arthur Triche said no other details immediately were available and did not say where Collier was when he died.

Collier experienced chest pains at his home Friday and his wife performed CPR and called 911, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Hawks players were notified of Collier's death at 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning before a scheduled workout was canceled, according to the paper.

The 7-foot, 260-pound Collier, a five-year NBA player, spent his first three seasons with Houston before joining Atlanta in 2003. He averaged 5.6 points and 2.9 rebounds in his career.

Collier played for Georgia Tech and was drafted by Milwaukee in the first round, with the 15th pick overall, in the 2000 NBA draft.

Midnight Madness in Chapel Hill

       lead photos

Late Night Recap:  

Late Night Recap :: The Tar Heels unofficially kicked off their NCAA title defense on Friday night.

Oct. 14, 2005
By Adam Lucas

It's already time.

Although it seems like the Tar Heels just arrived back in Chapel Hill from St. Louis, the 2005-06 basketball season begins today. Doors for Late Night with Roy open at 5:30 tonight, with much basketball merriment to follow.

We'll be refreshing this story throughout the day with various tidbits and stories from the Smith Center. Here's the thing: reader input makes this story work. So send in your emails and we'll try to get to as many as we can. We'll also use numerous emails tonight during the All-Access broadcast of Late Night, so make sure to include your full name and hometown so we can give you proper credit.

And we're off...

8:02 a.m.: Roy Williams gets his first standing ovation of the day as he walks onto the Smith Center floor for the Fast Break Against Cancer breakfast. Approximately 300 people attend the event, which raises roughly $50,000 for the American Cancer Society and the UNC Lineberger Cancer Center.

8:35 a.m.: Williams issues a warning about his young team to those in attendance: "When you come to games this year, you might want to keep your hands up when you're in the stands, because we might throw you the ball."

8:56 a.m.: Reece Holbrook, as usual, steals the show by hopping from the dais down to the floor with a delighted, "Weeee!" Williams watches his young friend and says simply, "That's what it's all about."

9:14 a.m.: The breakfast attendees don't seem to care about lowered expectations for this year's team. Two people bid $4,100 each for four tickets to a closed practice session in November. The very last team-signed basketball from the national championship season goes for $5,000. 
9:28 a.m.: The new video boards debut with a showing of the Carolina-centric version of "One Shining Moment" put together by Jones Angell. When Marvin Williams makes the go-ahead shot against Duke (it was so noisy in the Smith Center after that shot that the crowd noise actually had to be turned down during the video's production), it still brings chills--and cheers from the crowd.

10:00 a.m.: The breakfast is over and now a very long day of hard work for the Smith Center operations and maintenance crew begins. They had to set up for the breakfast last night. Now they'll tear down that setup and prepare the floor for Georgia Tech's 4 p.m. volleyball practice and the thousands of expected guests who will pack the building. Then they'll have to convert from volleyball to basketball, and after Late Night is over they'll have to take the arena from game readiness to practice readiness for Saturday's 2 p.m. basketball practice session. Kudos to Angie Bitting, ClaytonWomble, Clara Andrews, Bryant Medlin, Chad Wade, Ron Pendleton, Mitchell Kivett, Eric Quigley, Curtis Cotton, Chris Sparrow, Randy Young, Danny Maddox, and the rest of the building's staff.

10:05 a.m.: Jackie Manuel pulls up in the Smith Center parking lot, limping just slightly from his midsummer foot injury. Jackie's posse is now Jackie and Rhonda's posse, as they were married this summer and are living in Chapel Hill.

1:15 p.m.: Last year the line outside the Smith Center began forming at 1:30 p.m. But if you're heading out right now, you're not going to be first. Massie Minor, a sophomore from Charlotte, has made the wise decision to skip his Friday classes and has been standing in front of Entry A since 10 a.m. "I can't wait to see the new guys," he says. "I'm so excited about this year. Last year we knew how good we were going to be, but this year it's going to be fun finding out."

Meanwhile, at Entry D, Jessica Woltz arrived at 12 noon, coming straight from Italian class. Jessica, who clearly possesses great wisdom due to the fact that she graduated from Apex High (also the alma mater of a certain writer), is a UNC junior. "I've been a huge Carolina basketball fan ever since I can remember," she says. "I had to be here." Not only will she be here, she'll have really good seats.

Of course, being early pays off in other ways as well. We gave both Jessica and Massie their own personal copies of Led By Their Dreams plus a free Carolina basketball t-shirt.

1:45 p.m.: Let's hit a quick reader question from Elaine Whitley. The All-Access broadcast will begin at 9:30 p.m. No men's basketball activities will take place before that time, so All-Access viewers will see every second of the men's basketball festivities.

We've got to take a quick two-hour hiatus from updating because the technology wizards will be transferring all our content to a completely redesigned site. Once that site goes live around 4 p.m., we'll be back to updating.

4:35 p.m.: We're back and all of a sudden we're feeling much more horizontal. Hope you like the new look.

The Smith Center floor is fully converted to the volleyball setup and Georgia Tech is going through a quick practice. That means Wes Miller and Byron Sanders, who were shooting around, had to leave the floor.

The crowd outside has grown considerably, as it's now less than an hour until the doors open. That means it's also less than an hour until the annual "Run For The Front Row," which is annually one of the most entertaining parts of Late Night.

Across campus, Jones Angell and Ken Cleary have put the final touches on the videos for tonight. Don't worry, All-Access viewers, you'll get to see the videos as well, as we'll be running them on the broadcast.

5:29 p.m.: All you can hear in the Smith Center is the sound of volleyballs thumping off hands and the occasional shout from a player. Then you hear Angie Bitting say, "Here come the doors!"

5:32 p.m.: All you can hear in the Smith Center is the crashing of feet careening down the metal stairs. The doors were opened one minute ago and the first fans (including Massie and Jessica, naturally) are claiming their seats.

5:45 p.m.: A seating tip: why do people consistently underrate the Smith Center ring as a place to watch the game? Some fans immediately dashed for the baseline when the doors were opened. You actually get a much better view from the ring (the first three rows of the upper deck) at midcourt than you do from the baseline.

It's getting down to crunch time with the emails, folks. Once the broadcast begins, it's a challenge to keep up with the inbox. So submitting your question/comment/random suggestion now gives it a much better chance of making it into the story or the broadcast. We've already gotten an email from as far away as Cairo, Egypt--thanks to Thomas Moore, a UNC senior studying abroad who obviously realizes it's much more educational to follow hoops live on the internet than to do something less valuable such as, say, visiting the pyramids. Anybody else out there listening near one of the seven wonders of the world? Already today we've spanned the globe from Apex to Cairo. It doesn't get much more highbrow than that.

5:55 p.m.: T-minus 40 minutes until volleyball against Georgia Tech. Intrepid volleyball SID Bobby Hundley provides the volleyball game notes, which include the following nugget about the last pre-Late Night volleyball game in 2003: "16,126 fans--the most to ever watch an NCAA volleyball match--saw the Tar Heels defeat the Duke Blue Devils in five games. Carolina volleyball is now in the NCAA record book for attendance at a match held in conjunction with a special promotion of another athletics event." No one's ever going to accuse the NCAA record book of an overemphasis on brevity.

Volleyball pregame music update: we just had Ozzy Osbourne and Trick Daddy's version of "Crazy Train" followed immediately by Color Me Badd's rocking single "All For Love." That CMB (as we in the know call them) song includes the lyrics, "See everyday in my life without you/Is like a hundred years/The distance between us/An ocean of tears." Those of us in the writing community marvel at such prose.

6:10 p.m.: Ken Cleary just walked by with a set of very long cables in his hand. This is a good sign for All-Access viewers, because it means everything should be hooked up by broadcast time. Ken's the guy who makes much of the video magic at the Smith Center and Kenan Stadium happen (and also one of the driving forces behind the very good Team Carolina DVD).

6:20 p.m.: Last year's readers/viewers will remember that one ongoing theme was the quest for a good place to eat lunch in Salt Lake City, as the next day involved a trip to Utah for the football game. This year it's a football bye week so we're going with a more basketball-themed question: where were you the last time the Tar Heels took the court on April 5? We'll include the most unique national championship memories later in the column.

Oh, and we got a good reader question: where's the basketball team while all this is going on? They're over at the Carolina Club having the pregame meal. So if you're in town and pass 11 tall guys wearing suits--Quentin Thomas was promising to wear a bowtie, but we're not sure yet if he pulled it off--it's probably the Tar Heels.

6:40 p.m.: Volleyball has started and I just realized something very important: I'm in prime get-spiked-in-the-nose territory. There will be a delay in the updates while I put on a Matt Baker-style flak jacket. By the way, Carolina leads the first game 4-1.

6:50 p.m.: An interesting little state-of-the-ACC note you might not realize: there's no ACC Tournament in volleyball. Instead, with the expanded ACC, the league uses that extra weekend to play a complete double round-robin schedule. You might remember that particular scheduling format, as it used to be the norm in men's basketball in the ancient days of 2003.

Carolina leads 15-9 (games are played to 30).

7:10 p.m.: Carolina takes game 1 30-23.

The basketball team is in the building and busy making the folks sitting near the home tunnel very happy by signing quite a few autographs.

8:30 p.m.: No, your fearless correspondent didn't get brained by an errant spike. The Tar Heels won the volleyball match in three straight games. Kenny Smith is officially in the building and the volleyball court is being converted back to a basketball court. We're about 20 minutes away from The Jet's (is there a cooler nickname in Carolina basketball history?) introduction.

8:50 p.m.: Former player check: Al Wood, whose daughter is on the women's team this year, has arrived. King Rice and Hubert Davis have also been spotted.

We've got an update on the teams for the scrimmage. It's going to be the freshmen plus a former player or two against everybody else. Too bad Eric Montross isn't here, as he was last year, to recount the story of what happened when his heralded freshman class challenged the upperclassmen in the first scrimmage of the year. Hint: the rookies didn't win.

9:05 p.m.: Kenny Smith has taken the floor. Good speech from Kenny: "I'm not just representing Kenny Smith. I'm representing all the former players. I'm representing Sam Perkins. I'm representing James Worthy."

Now Kenny's taking on some contest winners in a game of one-on-one. He missesa jumper against the first one and then throws out some kind of behind-the-head move against the second guy. Fortunately, neither of these contestants are as good as Justin Timberlake.

9:20 p.m.: Ivory Latta and La'Tangela Atkinson lead the women's team out for a quick skit. It's very hard to do this skit justice in words. Let's just say that it's set to "My Humps" by the Black Eyed Peas. Let's also say that one day if Carolina needs a host for this event, it'd be hard to do better than Ivory Latta.

A quick observation: Rashanda McCants, who is wearing number-32, looks a lot like Rashad.

9:28 p.m.: We're about two minutes from going live on All-Access. That means it'll begin a couple hours of struggling to talk and type, kind of like rubbing your stomach and patting your head at the same time. A word of warning: I was never very good at that. This would be a good time to send in a few quick questions. We've heard from about 10 states so far.

9:50 p.m.: Thought we weren't coming on air, didn't you? A few easily solved computer problems later, all the folks at home are getting to check out the new Tunnel Walk video on All-Access. The coaches have made a brief appearance, we've had the national anthem, and we're just about one minute from the team introduction and the first skits of the night. No surprise here--David Noel's variety of dunks on the video draw the biggest applause from the crowd.

We're getting some reports of choppy audio and they're working on it.

David Noel just took the prize for best introduction by coming out of the tunnel wearing a gaudy, Rasheed Wallace-style, championship belt.

10:00 p.m.: There are some potential dancing stars in this group of freshmen. That being said, as a dancer, Tyler Hansbrough (who has a good sense of humor and therefore can take this) makes a really good rebounder.

10:10 p.m.: OK, audio update. It was an internet connectivity problem. They've shut it down and are rebooting. We'll be back on All-Access in about five minutes.

In the meantime, David Noel is playing Stuart Scott as he hosts a special Carolina edition of the ESPN show "Teammates." Hansbrough, who is quickly becoming the foil for this team, is taking a few more hits. All three pairs of teammates just selected him as the roommate they'd least like to have on a roadtrip.

10:15 p.m.: Thanks to Ken Cleary and Jason Dimberg, the audio is fixed on All-Access. Thanks for bearing with us.

10:20 p.m.: Byron Sanders and Reyshawn Terry win the Teammates competition. Meanwhile, Marcus Ginyard and Danny Green got just two answers correct. As Noel just said, "Hey, they're freshmen. They've got four years to learn."

10:30 p.m.: You know, Bobby Frasor might actually be able to pass for a member of the Jackson Five.

10:40 p.m.: Now it's time for "Dancing with the ACC Stars." This features perhaps the biggest group of celebrity guests yet. Bobby Frasor is playing a certain other Tobacco Road coach, Tyler Hansbrough is a well-loved former Wake player and current TV personality, and King Rice is, well, himself. They're the judges. They'll be judging an illustrious group that includes the return of Divine Noel and the return of Wes Miller imitating Roy Williams.

10:50 p.m.: Wes Miller does an unbelievable Roy Williams impression. And the man enjoying it the most was the head coach himself. Wes actually didn't want to do that particular impression this year for fear of making the first day of practice especially tough, but he was persuaded that it's an essential part of Late Night.

10:55 p.m.: They've just unveiled the national championship banner, and the arena is--as you would guess--going crazy. The dropping of the banner was preceded by a highlight video from the Illinois game. It wasn't just the fans enjoying the memories, as the eyes of every player were locked on the boards.

11:05 p.m.: On the script, it's called "Men's Circle Dance." That means everyone forms a circle and each player gets a turn in the middle to freestyle a few dance moves. There are some high quality dancers on this team. And then there are a few who, well, the scrimmage is coming up soon. The coaches, as always, turned in a few sharp moves of their own, concluding with Jerod Haase doing some type of heel-clicking maneuver.

11:20 p.m.: We're about five minutes away from the scrimmage. We've got Frasor, Green, Ginyard, Hansbrough, Copeland, and Hubert Davis taking on Noel, Thomas, Sanders, Miller, Terry, and King Rice.

11:50 p.m.: Marcus Ginyard actually gets some playing time, Danny Green gets a barrel of rebounds, but the freshmen lose 27-19 to the returning players in a 10-minute scrimmage. The rookie downfall probably came because they never ran a play for "Huuuuu..."