Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Astros Better Win The World Series


Roger Clemens is back.  Yeah.

Back in Houston.  The Astros are going to pay Clemens $22,000,022 to pitch for, oh, four months. 

Yeah, a $5.5M per month contract. 

If he starts every 5th day....he will be making $916,667 per start.  Yikes!

Well, not quite.  The contract will be prorated and the figure you see above is more symbolic than anything.  The "22" at the front and end of that number was just a shout out to his uniform number, 22.  The contract will be prorated....and it figures that he won't be in an Astros uniform until June.

The Rocket is agreeing first to a minor league contract that pays $322,000 and his first start is likely to be June 6 at Lexington, the Class A team where his son, Koby, plays.  If all goes well, his second minor-league start would be June 11 at Double-A Corpus Christi, Texas, followed by a start June 16 at Triple-A Round Rock, Texas.

If he does get up to Houston by the end of June, his major league contract will probably be worth around $13M.

RIP Steve Mizerak

Steve Mizerak is one of billiards most popular players....and I had the chance to see him play live before, at a 9-ball tournament in Charlotte about, oh, 12-15 years ago.....back when pool was a major, major part of my life.

Mizerak died, at the age of 61, from complications from gall bladder surgery.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Rating The Best NBA #1 Picks In the Lottery Era

The NBA Draft Lottery is an interesting thing.  It was designed to keep teams from tanking the rest of their seasons so they could gain the right to the #1 pick in the draft.  In 1985, the NBA started the lottery as just placing envelopes of the 7 NBA teams that missed the playoffs....then picking each one to make the order.  The Knicks got the top pick.

After Orlando won the lottery in 1992 and 1993, even though they were the best lottery team in 1993, the NBA started the weighted lottery better odds to the worst teams.  Still, the lottery usually isn't won by the NBA's worst team [see: the Raptors this year].

The NBA Draft in the 1990s was a time of change.  In the 80s, we saw people leaving college after their junior years.  In the 1990s, players were starting to leave after their sophomore years.  Then, in 1995, Kevin Garnett pushed the envelope into the first high school player in two decades to declare for the draft.  Since that moment, the draft hasn't been the same. 

But, we will always remember the #1 overall picks in the draft.  We can run them off like we run off the list of champions.  And what an odd mix it is.  Only three of these guys are NBA Champions. 

So here is my rankings of each of the top picks in the draft during the lottery era. 


#21-Kwame Brown [2001-Wizards].  Right now, Kwame is working on his bust status.  True, in Washington, Brown has a huge disappointment.   But, he was the first ever high school player to be picked #1 overall, was the top pick in a fairly unstarry draft, and shouldn't have been made a top pick anyways.  MJ screwed that one up.  You could say that he's playing much better in LA.  Well, he still scored under his low career average and shot from the FT line the worst of his career.  He is still salvagable...but there isn't much time left to fool with him.   Stats:  7.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg


#20-Michael Olowokandi [1998-Clippers]. He was a project when he was drafted...but it just didn’t pan out. As a Clipper, he was routinely outshined in LA by some other center that shares the same arena. He did develop into a 12 ppg scorer...but then left ClipperLand for Minnesota where he's posting the worst numbers of his career. And that is saying something.  Now he's a problem guy who's having run-ins with the cops. Stats: 8.6 ppg, 7.1 rpg


#19-Andrew Bogut [2005-Bucks]  Bogut has the shortest career of any of these guys....just one season.  But, it was a pretty good season and it netted his Bucks a playoff berth.  Stats:  9.4 ppg, 7 rpg


#18-Pervis Ellison [1989-Kings].  Ellison played just one year in Sacramento before being shipped to Washington, DC.  He did have a pretty good three year stretch with the Bullets...including the 1992 season where he averaged 20 pts and 11 rbs and achieved career highs in nearly every category [he was also the NBA's most improved player].  But injuries kept him from coming anywhere near that status.  He limped along until 2001 acting as a victory cigar.  Stats:  9.5 ppg, 6.7 rpg


#17-Joe Smith [1995-Warriors]. Not your average Joe has made his way around the NBA. Playing only three years in Golden State, he's been to Philly, Minnesota, Detroit and now Milwaukee. What makes this pick look worse is the fact that McDyess, Stackhouse, Sheed and Garnett were picked directly after him. He will probably be best known for having a "winkwink" agreement with Minnesota that he'd sign low short term and the team would hook him up long term. That action cost the Wolves 4 first round draft picks. He has the EXACT same birthday as me. Stats: 12.4 ppg, 7.1 rpg


#16-Danny Manning [1988-Clippers].  Another example of injuries killing a career.  Manning was off to a pretty good start until he shredding his knee in his rookie season.  Still, he averaged in double digits for his first 10 seasons...including four seasons in which he averaged at least 19 pts.  His last several seasons saw him as a backup, mainly.  Stats:  14.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2.3 apg.


#15-Dwight Howard [2004-Magic].  Sure, Howard is still young.  He just finished his 2nd season and he's still not old enough to drink.  But he's been near the top of the NBA in rebounding each season.  He hasn't missed a game yet....and has started 163 of his career 164 games.  Impressive for a guy so young.  Personally, I feel he has a tremedous upside and should have a rapid rise in this ranking before his career is done.  Stats:  13.9 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 52% FG


#14-Kenyon Martin [2000-Nets].  K-Mart splashed on the scene as a Tech Magnet.  Since then, and with the arrival of Jason Kidd in Jersey, Martin became one of the top up and coming players.  A deal to Denver has stalled his career a bit...and injuries are slowing him down more.  Stats:  14.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.2 bpg


#13-Larry Johnson [1991-Hornets]. LJ brought excitement and attention to Charlotte. Once Grandmama put on the teal...the franchise went from expansion to legit. A back injury and a big contract forced him up to New York where he played on the 1999 Eastern Conference Championship team. His 4-pt play is legendary in playoff lore [mainly because he wasn’t touched]. One of only two players on this list who were drafted after 1989 that are now retired, his 10 year career ended in 2001. Stats: 16.2 ppg, 7.5 rpg


#12-Glen Robinson [1994-Bucks]. He is the 2nd leading scorer in Milwaukee Bucks history. He went to the 2000 and 2001 All Star Games. One of the better scorers in the league...he averaged at least 20 pts in 8 of his first 9 seasons. Stats: 20.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 82% FT


#11-Yao Ming [2002-Rockets].  There are two ways to view Yao's impact.  On the court, Yao is becoming one of the elite centers in the NBA.  He still has issues of being "soft", but this past season saw him move more toward having a chip on his shoulder.  Off the court, Yao is the ultimate success.  He's the first international top pick and his following in east Asia is rock star like.  Stats: 17.5 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 1.8 bpg, 52% FG


#10-Derrick Coleman [1990-Nets] Drafted by the Nets, but starred for the Sixers and Hornets, Coleman is the classic example of potential never fully realized. Many people foresaw him as the forward that would change the game. We saw glimpses of it in Jersey and at times in his other stops...but he spent most of his career injured. He started only one All Star Game [1994]. Stats: 16.5 ppg, 9.3 rpg


#9-Elton Brand [1999-Bulls]. Brand has now smelled the postseason and had an MVP-esque career.  In 2002, became the first Clipper since 1994 [Manning] to make the All Star team.  He is charging his way up this list. Stats: 20.3 ppg, 10.4 rpg


#8-Brad Daugherty [1986-Cavaliers].  Daugherty had just an 8-year was cut short due to back issues.  But Brad never had a bad season.  During the recent golden age of centers, he was known as the best passing one.  That period was also the golden age of Cavs basketball.  And who else on this list had a 17 pt, 10 rb average in their final season?  Stats: 19.0 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 53% FG


#7-Chris Webber [1993-Magic/Warriors]. Originally drafted by Golden State, Webber was dealt to the Warriors for Penny Hardaway moments later. C-Webb’s career on the Bay was short, but he helped get the Washington Bullets to the playoffs and was the centerpiece in getting the Kings into the playoffs as well.He led the NBA in rebounding in 1999 and was one of the NBA's leading scorers in 2001. Stats: 21.6 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 4.4 apg


#6-Patrick Ewing [1985-Knicks].  Ewing brought excitement back to the Garden.  In his first 13 seasons, he averaged at least 20 ppg in every season.  But his legecy takes a hit with no titles and only one true Finals appearance [he has dinged up in 1999].  Eleven time All Star.  Stats: 21.0 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 2.4 bpg


#5-LeBron James [2003-Cavaliers].  Look, we all know that he is good enough to be #1 or #2 on this list.  The thing is that he hasn't done enough yet to get there.  But, on his current pace...and with a title or two....he'll be right at the top of the list.  He has the ultimate all around game.  Stats:  26.5 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 6.6 apg. 


#4-Allen Iverson [1996-Sixers]. Like him or hate him...he’s one of the NBA’s best players. A 6-foot tall wrecking ball...Iverson gives max effort every single game. He’s won the scoring title four times now...something only Wilt, Jordan and the Ice Man ever did. He is currently tied with Elgin Baylor for 3rd all-time in points-per-game. He has an MVP award...and one of only a hand full of players on this list who’ve played their entire career with one team. Stats: 28.0 ppg, 6.1 apg, 2.4 spg

#3-David Robinson [1987-Spurs].  The Admiral was a force in this league.  He entered the NBA two years late due to a Naval commitment...but still averaged 24 a night when he got to the Spurs.  He's the rare guy that can win the NBA MVP award and win the defensive award in different years.  He led the NBA in scoring in 1994.  Led the NBA in rebounds in 1991.  Led the NBA in blocks in 1991 and 1992.  He won two NBA Championships with the Spurs.  Stats: 21.1 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 3 bpg


#2-Tim Duncan [1997-Spurs]. Three NBA titles, three Finals MVP awards and two regular season MVP awards sit in his trophy case. The Admiral’sinjury brought Duncan to San Antonio, but his leadership is what lifted the former ABA franchise to rings. He's been named to the first team All NBA team in each of his first 8 seasons. Stats: 22.1 ppg, 12.0 rpg, 2.4 blks


#1-Shaquille O’Neal [1992-Magic]. The Most Dominant Ever has 3 NBA championships....3 NBA Finals MVP awards and 1 regular season MVP award. He lifted the Orlando Magic to elite status and brought back the Lakers franchise to the elite. He has 13 All Star appearances.  He's led the NBA in scoring twice....and been 2nd in scoring another four times.  He's led the NBA in FG% nine times...making him 3rd all time in that stat.    Stats: 26.3 ppg, 11.8 rpg, 58% FG, 53% FT

College Baseball Tournament

The field of 64 was announced for the NCAA Baseball Tournament.  There will be 16 regionals played with 4 teams in each regional.  The "best team" in each regional plays host to the four-team round robin tournament.  The winners that emerge will go on to a Super Regional round.  The Super Regionals will be held from June 9-12...and the winners of those eight regionals will go onto the World Series, which begins on June 16.

Here are the top seeds....

1-Clemson, 2-Rice, 3-Texas, 4-Alabama, 5-CS Fullerton, 6-Nebraska, 7-Georgia, 8-Georgia Tech

The SEC got 8 teams in.  The ACC and Big XII each got 7 teams in.  Here is the tournament....

Virginia v Lehigh
South Carolina v Evansville

North Carolina v Maine
UNC Wilmington v Winthrop

Clemson v UNC Asheville
Mississippi State v Elon

Georgia v Sacred Heart
Florida State v Jacksonville

Georgia Tech v Stetson
Michigan v Vanderbilt

Kentucky v Ball State
Notre Dame v College of Charleston

Alabama v Jacksonville State
Southern Miss v Troy

Ole Miss v Bethune Cookman
South Alabama v Tulane

Arkansas v Oral Roberts
Oklahoma State v Princeton

Rice v Prairie View
Arizona State v Baylor

Texas v TX Arlington
NC State v Stanford

Oklahoma v TCU
Wichita State v Houston

Nebraska v Manhattan
Miami v San Francisco

Pepperdine v Missouri
UCLA v UC Irvine

CS Fullerton v St Louis
Fresno State v San Diego

Oregon State v Wright State
Kansas v Hawaii

Clemson Region v Fayetteville Region....Lexington Region v Atlanta Region....Fullerton Region v Malibu Region....Chapel Hill Region v Tuscaloosa Region....Houston Region vs  Norman Region....Charlottesville Region v Athens Region....Lincoln Region v Oxford Region....Austin Region v Corvallis Region

Monday, May 29, 2006

What The NBA Playoffs Taught Me

The NBA playoffs are halfway over...and there are a few things that have seem to open my eyes....


I DON'T LIKE MIKE DUNLEAVY:  Neither of them, actually.  The Junior went to Dook, so there is an obvious dislike there.  But I don't like the daddy either.  And not just for personal reasons either.  I just don't think he's that great of an NBA coach. 

His first head coaching job saw him take the LA Lakers to the NBA Finals...where they eventually lost to the Bulls.  Anyone who watched that team knows how truly valuable some guy named Magic Johnson was.  It was Magic who held the team together and who got more out of guys like Vlade Divac and Elden Campbell.  Magic retired, and he scraped the team into the playoffs....then bolted to Milwaukee.  In Milwaukee [a franchise that had a pretty good history of consistent playoff appearances], he tanked.  In his four seasons as the Bucks coach, only ONCE did his team win more than 28 games.  There were no playoff berths and they never finished higher than 6th in the Central Division. 

A year off, he goes to Portland....and he did do an alright job there.  Of course, the Blazers spent money widly, bringing in a lot of talent and a lot of experience.  In 1999, they were swept by the Spurs in the Western Finals.  In 2000, they got to a Game 7 of the Western Finals against the Lakers.  Holding a 15 point lead in that quarter....Dunleavy helmed one of the biggest choke jobs in playoff history.  The Lakers stormed back...won the game...and Portland went home empty handed.  The next year, the team underperformed, were swept in the first round, and Dunleavy was shown the door.

Now as the Clipper coach, he's doing the same thing.  He does get kudos.  He got the Clippers into the postseason.  But he made several boneheaded moves during the playoffs....mainly against the Suns.  In a game the Clippers had in the bank, Dunleavy inserts Daniel Ewing...a rookie from, surprise, come in and guard Raja Bell.  Now, Ewing played a total of 18 seconds leading up to that play....and all of that was in the first half.  In doing so, Dunleavy put a smaller, weaker, less experienced player on Bell....instead of a taller, stronger, veteran player like Cuttino Mobley. 

Bell shoved Ewing aside...stepped behind the three point line...and hit the shot that sent that game into overtime.  The Suns won that game...and eventually the series.  In another game that the Clipps had a great chance of winning....Dunleavy sat his best guard, Sam Cassell, nearly all of the 4th quarter.  Huh? 


I DON'T LIKE FLIP SAUNDERS:  Saunders was the most successful coach in Minnesota Timberwolves history [not that that's saying much]...but he got run when the team completely melted down.  Since he's left....the team hasn't gotten any better.  In fact, they are worse and their star Kevin Garnett is getting a bit angry.

He moves over to Detroit...and looks like a saint.  Not only do the Wolves stagnant demise show that it isn't totally his fault....but he actually elevated the play of the Pistons from their two-time Eastern champion era.  Not only were they still good defensively....they could play a bit of offense, too.  They 'cruised' to the NBA's top record...while the man he replaced, Larry Brown, 'cruised' to the worst record in the East with the Knicks.   Now, in the playoffs....he's seemingly hitting all the wrong notes.  The team is coming apart, a bit....and it seems that Saunders doesn't know how to keep them together.  And remember....the Pistons are supposed to be the embodiment of "team"....right? 

Look, I still like them to win the whole thing....just because they are the ONLY team left that can actually expect to get a defensive stop when needed.  But, you gotta be able to score, too.


I RESPECT MARK CUBAN.....A LITTLE:  Sure, he mouths off about everything, cries when things don't go his way and he's the kind of brash guy that just rubs everyone the wrong way.  But, he's the gazillionaire owner that rolls with his team.  I like that.  He doesn't sit way up in the owners box like some owners.  Heck, some owners don't even show up to the games!  He doesn't just sit up front...he sits close to his team...and cheers them on.  EVEN ON THE ROAD!  And he does so wearing Mavs gear.

Now, that doesn't make him a great man, or anything....but I won't crack down on him doing that. 


SPEAKING OF THAT, THE MAVS HAVE NADS:  I gotta give respect to the Mavs.  And, if you knew me in the ol' Laker Board know that's tough.  But, Dallas has shown toughness and heart that I have never seen from them.  Against the Suns in Game Phoenix....Dallas was playing with a very volitile situation.  The Suns were surging...and Tim Thomas went to the basket when Josh Howard fouled him hard [he was given a flagarant foul for it].  That's a move of a bit of desperation....and there was some testyness in the air.  Then, as Thomas was set to shoot the free throws, he walked directly thru the Mavericks team huddling at the top of the three-point line.  Mavs' guard Jason Terry shoved him.....Dirk Nowitzki pushed him.  There were technicals assessed to Dirk and Thomas.  Thomas hit the free throws, and gave the Suns a 10-pt lead.

The Mavericks then went on a 17-2 run.

If not for a complete meltdown in the last 2-3 minutes of Game 1.....the Mavericks would be holding a 3-0 series lead right now.  This comes after the Mavericks swept a pretty good Memphis Grizzliesteam....and dethroning the defending champion San Antonio Spurs.  In that seried, the Mavs had a 3-1 series lead....lost the next two...then beat the Spurs in Game 7 in San Antonio.

Nads, indeed. 

What A Sucky Sports Sunday, Eh?


Man....what a boring day of sports action.  I mean, why bother getting a rare off day from work when there is nothing to watch in the Sportz Room?

Well, aside from Barry Bonds passing Babe Ruth for 2nd all time in home runs.....and tops all time for a left handed hitter.

Oh, and aside from Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks going into Phoenix, winning game 3, and taking back the home court advantage in the Western Conference Finals.

And aside from the Carolina Hurricanes winning Game 5 of the NHL's Eastern Conference take a 3-2 series lead.

Well, and aside from Kasey Kahne winning the Nextel Cup's longest race, the Coca Cola 600 held in my hometown of Charlotte.

Oh...and aside from one of the best finishes I've seen in any Sam Hornish, Jr whizzed around Marco Andretti on the final straight away for the Indianapolis 500 win.

And aside from the fact that the French Open began today.

And aside from the fact that the Atlanta Braves knocked out EIGHT HOME RUNS at Wrigley today.

Or aside from the United States World Cup team winning their final match before heading off to Germany for the Cup games.

And aside from Jay Haas beating Brad Bryant in the 3rd playoff hole to win the Senior PGA Championship.

Other than that....the day sucked.


Sunday, May 28, 2006


Tomorrow is Memorial Day.

And during your day off.....visiting family....grilling burgers....swimming in the pool....lying on the couch watching TV.....take a second to remember why you are doing those things.

People died to give us and keep these freedoms.

My aunt's [my mom's sister] father was killed in World War II.  Something called D-Day.  When you watch Saving Private Ryan this weekend.....he was one of those poor souls in the opening sequence.  My mom's father [my mom was born after WWII so she and her sister have different dads] served in the same war.  My father served during the Cuban Missile Crisis and Vietnam.  Several of his uncles served.  One of my good friends was in the first Gulf War.   My wife's grandfather was in Korea.

Now, I am the Sportz Assassin....and I try to keep this blog tracked in the sports mode.  And I will.  But I always feel that we tend to forget holiday meanings.  At Christmas, we are always told to "remember what the day is about".  Same thing with Thanksgiving or Independence Day.  But Memorial Day is tangible.  It affects us all.  Everyone of us is related to...or is friends with someone related to....a soldier.  Many are fortunate enough to return home.  Others are not.  These people died so we can live on without a hiccup in our daily lives.  Honestly, how many of us are willing to do that?  We rather gripe about gas prices or NBA officiating or traffic jams or that idiot in front of us at the bank or how lousy our favorite team's GM is than think about putting everything we have on the line to serve our country and it's citizens.

The "Greatest Generation" is growing thin.  The soldiers who fought and survived World War II are fading away.  If you were 18 when Pearl Harbor'd be 83 right now.  Soon....very soon....there won't be anyone left who fought in that war.  There are barely anyone left who fought in World War I.  And the veterans of Korea and Vietnam are taking their places as our grandfathers.  We don't have much more time to have ol' grandpa or Uncle Bob sit around the porch and tell us all those war stories.

It's up to us to remember. 

Again....I run a sports blog I want to tie this in.


Remember guys like Pat Tillman, who quit a million dollar NFL career to serve his country.  And no matter what all of the fog around his death is....the fact that he did that in a time where we'd NEVER expect any athlete to do so is quite admirable.  It's the reason we cared in the first place.

Remember Bob Kalsu of the Buffalo Bills, who was killed in North Vietnam in 1970 by mortar fire. 

Remember all those athletes in World War II.  There were 638 NFL players who left the gridiron to take part in the bloodiest war ever.  Nineteen of those players were killed.  There were at least 3,000 minor league baseball players and over 300 major league players who also fought.  At least 50 were killed. 

Remember guys like Nile Kinnick.  He won the 1939 Heisman Trophy....but is better known as the name on the front of the Iowa Hawkeyes football stadium.  He died in a fighter plane crash during training in 1943. 

Remember Hobey Baker, who died right as World War I was ending in a fighter crash.  Baker was a star hockey player in college.  Today, an award in his honor is given in collegiate hockey as well as many other high school awards given for character.

Remember that while not everyone was killed in the war....many were wounded and would later die from complications from those wounds.  Or maybe they couldn't live life the way the did before they served. 


And remember Ted Williams.  No, Williams didn't die in combat.  But he was in combat.  Imagine that.  Imagine if now, during this War on Terror, guys like Peyton Manning, Tiger Woods, Dontrelle Willis, Kobe Bryant, Greg Oden, Michael Vick, Jim Thome, Brandon Webb, Shaun Alexander, Antonio Tarver, etc had to stop their sports jobs to go and fight.  That would be insane, huh?  Well, it used to not be like that.

So, please take a second to remember those who were willing to die....and ultimately protect your way of life.

I know I will. 

RIP Ironhead


Former NFL fullback Craig "Ironhead" Heyward, who played 11 seasons in the league with five different franchises, died here Saturday after a seven-year battle with a recurring brain tumor.

Heyward, who retired from the league following the 1998 season, was 39.

Heyward's tumor, known as a chordoma, and the inability of surgeons to completely remove it during two operations made his death not unexpected. Heyward also suffered a stroke a few years ago that left him partially paralyzed.  But loved one thought he'd have a few more years left in him. 

In 149 games [for the Saints, Falcons, Colts, Rams and Bears], Heyward registered 1,031 carries for 4,301 yards and 30 touchdowns. He also posted 177 receptions for 1,559 yards and four touchdowns. His finest season came with the Falcons in 1995, when he rushed for 1,083 yards and six touchdowns and earned his lone Pro Bowl berth.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

If I Was Sports' Ultimate Commissioner....

I did this on the blog a looooong time ago.....and I feel the need to revisit it. 

Everyone has a laundry list of things they'd change in sports if they could.  The ol' "if I was running thangs..." chatter.  Well, reality is that none of us will.  But, we can still discuss 'em.

So here is some of my list of thing that I would do if I was deemed the ULTIMATE COMMISSIONER OVER ALL SPORTS IN AMERICA.  Enjoy. 


*NCAA FOOTBALL PLAYOFF.  There.  It shall be done.  Why in the heck don't they have the playoff [and gimme an answer besides "bowl money" or "students"]?  Every other division does....and their kids have less of a chance to get into the NFL.  Here ya go:  Invite the champs of the ACC, Big Ten, Big XII, SEC and Pac-10 into the playoff.  Then, have 7 "at large teams" with at least 3 of them from conferences OTHER than the 5 previously mentioned.  12 teams.  4 weeks.  National Champion.

*CHANGE THE FOUL RULES IN HOOPS.  If you screw up in is an error.  In football, you get penalized and your mistake is broadcasted by the ref thru the loudspeaker.  In hockey you sit in the penalty box and your team is short a man.  Yet, in saves your butt from getting embarrased.  Fouling is a good thing.  If your man is going for a layup.....foul him so he has to shoot TWO SHOTS from 10 feet further out.  What inthe hell is that?!??!?  Do either one of these things:  (A) wherever you were get a free unobstructed shot from that spot or take the normal FT.  Or (B) give an extra FT.  If you were fouled on a dunk.....then let him shoot 3 FTs.  If he is fouled on a 3-pt shot.....he gets 4 FTs.  Why?  Then many of these punk fouls and Hack-A-Shaqs will stop.  The game has become a series of FTs that is broken up by turnovers and 3-pt shots.  This will free it up.  If someone is getting a layup....then a player is more apt to let him go than give up a possible 3 points. 

*MOVE THE NCAA THREE POINT LINE BACK:  Take it to the international line.  The three point line is a freakin' joke.  It's the same length as the ones we all fire from at our local rec centers.  The NCAA hoops game is made up, essentially, of three pointers and layups.  It's rare to find anyone who consistently hits [heck, even takes] jump shots. 

*CHARGE PER ROUND IN BOXING.  Here is a novel idea.  Instead of charging me $55 to watch [first] two chicks fight, [then] two dudes fight that I've never heard of only to see a title fight that goes 2 rounds....just charge me for the rounds of boxing I DID SEE!  Also, how about letting the winner of the fight get the larger purse??  Do a 66%-33% split. 

*DH IN ALL STAR GAME.  The MLB All Star Game is an why have the pitcher's hit??  Well, they really don't since those hitters on the bench come up for them anyways.  So why not just have the DH mandatory at every All Star Game?  Czar says it shall be!

*MLB ALL STAR GAME MEANS NOTHING.  Oh, and while we are at it...the winner of the All Star Game doesn't get home field advantage.  That is the dumbest idea of all time.  Why should the least important game [the All Star game] decide the site of the most important game of the year [World Series game 7]??  And it hasn't helped ratings for the game at what is the point??  The luster of the All Star game went out the window with interleague play. 

*GET RID OF THE NFL ALL PRO GAME.  Sorry that I'm on the All Star tip...but do we need this game to be played??  The game is held one week after the most important sporting day of the year....and no one really cares.  I'm a football NUT and I don't know when was the last time I watched this bore-fest.  Heck, the guys that are named to the team don't even play since they are busy getting work done on their aches and bruises.  Oh, and players from the 20 teams that didn't make the playoffs haven't played for 5-6 weeks!!!! 

*NFL, STOP THE CLOCK AFTER 1ST DOWNS.  Just in the final 5 minutes of each half.  Hey, they do it with the out-of-bounds why not the 1st downs??  One of the cool things about college football is watching a team frantically move down the field in the closing minutes.  NFL games would be even more exciting!!! 

*GET RID OF THE TWO MINUTE WARNING.  Not the blog that I contribute to....but the NFL's 2 minute warning.  If my above proposition comes into we really need the TMW??  I mean, what is even the point of it?  Is it like a national pee break?  Does it allow the networks to get in all those advertisements that hadn't aired yet?  It is for.........dramatic pause??  Get it out of there!


*LET NBA OFFICIALS WEAR SHORTS TOO.  Most of us have played rec sports...and most remember hoops officials wearing shorts.  In the NBA, players essentially dress in their underwear to play.  So why do the officials have to wear slacks?  Yep...I'm getting old because I just said "slacks".

*MAKE BOXING JUDGES SCORECARDS PUBLIC DURING THE FIGHT.  I don't know why they don't.  Well, except that most boxing secrets are dirty, anyways.  I mean, every other sport has a scoreboard...why not a fight?  And I'm sure you'd get much better action in those last few rounds if one of those guys figures he can't win without a knockout. 

*PUT BYU AND UTAH IN THE PAC-10.  Since it is heading to all these football conferences becoming mega conferences...might as well facilitate it now.  Both of these schools have solid basketball and football programs and would fit the Pac-10 lifestyle of twin teams [Stanford-Cal, UCLA-USC, Zona-Zona State, Wash-Wash St, Oregon-Oregon St].  Then take Boise State from the WAC and slide them in the Mountain West. 

*PUT NOTRE DAME IN BIG TEN.  Why not?  I know the Irish are bent on keeping their tradition alive....but that all changes.  Dude, you are in the same boat as Temple!!!!  The Irish routinely play Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue....why not take on Wisconsin and Illinois too??  With the 12-game schedule coming...they still could keep USC and Navy on their docket.


*SPLIT UP THE BIG EAST.  I know, they haven't even played in the new 16 team format yet.  Well...don't.  It is a bad idea.  How will a 16-team league function??  Oh, yeah...ask the WAC.  Go ahead and create a football league [UConn, WV, Rutgers, Cincy, L'ville, Syracuse, Pitt, USF] and a basketball league [G'town, Nova, Seton Hall, St. John's, Providence, Marquette, DePaul].  If Notre Dame is still in the Big East...put them in the hoops conference.  If they bolt, like I said they should, then get Temple in the conference.  They really don't wanna be in the MAC, do they? 

*MAKE THE "PLAY IN GAME" FEATURE TWO BUBBLE TEAMS.  The NCAA has this "play in" game every year that essentially pits the two worst teams that made the NCAA field in Dayton...with the winner playing a #1 seed.  No fair!!  Those teams got automatic bids into the tournament...they shouldn't have to sit at the kids table!!!  Make those bubble teams we read about [and, errrr, some of us spend a ton of time writing about] have to play that game...with the winner playing a #5 seed in the tournament.  Maybe UAB and No. Iowa should have met in the play in game. 

*NAH....SCREW IT....JUST OPEN THE WHOLE NCAA TOURNAMENT UP.  Go back to the olden days.  I know....we all like the NCAA Tourney like it is.  Well, it is RIDICULOUS that a 7-9 team in the ACC can go to the dance when a team that had some fluke loss in their conference tournament gets denied.  Just include all 320+ teams to the dance.  "Thats crazy!!" you say.  But, ahhhh....they technically DO have such a system by holding these conference tourneys an allowing only the champion to advance to the Big Dance. 

*STOP THE NFL WEATHER REPORTS.  I know, I know....the betters love them.  But the NFL "hates" betters.  Yeah right.  Anyways, I don't need an update on the weather situation in every game.  I'm not sitting there with my phone in my hand and a credit card number ready to lay down a bet if it is sunny in Chicago. 

*MERGE THE MARLINS AND DEVIL RAYS.  Okay, there are two teams in Florida and neither of them are doing too well financially.  So...why not just merge the two??  Keep the name "Florida Marlins" and let them play 41 games in Miami and 40 games in Tampa.  Then place a new franchise in Las Vegas. 

*MAKE THE NBA FIGURE OUT SOME NEW SONGS.  For all those who've attended NBA games...we all know the songs.  The "If your happy and you know it" ditty that plays while your team is bringing up the ball.  The stomping "defense" song.  And what NBA game is complete without the "Mexican hat" song.  Figure out something else!!!

*STOP CALLING YOUR HOME THE "PIT", THE "HOLE" OR THE "JUNGLE".  I just hate those names. 


*STOP WITH THOSE POP UP ADS ON TV.  Look...I know that the Simpsons will be on after the Skins-Giants game.  I mean, the show has been on Fox for 18 years!!!!  I think everyone in America is aware that the Simpson are on at 8pm on Sunday!!!  And I can't wait to see the promo for the Simpson's Treehouse Of Horror XVIII being advertised for 10 weeks.  I mean, how many of us actually watched SPRING BREAK SHARK ATTACK after it popped up 4000 times during the NCAA Tournament??

*ADD EIGHT MORE MLB PLAYOFF TEAMS.  You wanna shut up those small-to-mid market teams??  Add another round of playoffs to give them a shot at the postseason.  If there is anything that the wildcard has shown us is that anyone can win in the playoffs that gets there.  So add another round.  Give those franchises who have steller [for them] years reap the rewards of a playoff berth. 

*SPEAKING OF FOX, STOP PLANTING YOUR SHOW'S STARS IN THE CROWD!  Fox is known for that crap.  Here I am, watching the World Series...and I get a shot of the kids from The OC at the game.  Or...any new show they have coming up.  Do I watch a boxing bout on Showtime and the flash a picture of the gang from Queer As Folk near ringside???  No! 

*GET RID OF THE NBA SLAM DUNK CONTEST.  It has run it's course and it no longer is exciting.  Unless you place a $5M prize for respectable dunker will even enter the thing.  Remember, this is the primadonna NBA where everyone thinks they are the best player in the league.  It meant something when I was a teenager, but now it is retreads of old dunks.  And since the new dunkers are more even makes the old dunkers look lame.  I mean, we saw the white Brent Barry do the Michael Jordan and Dr. J "free throw line dunk". 

*MAKE THE ROAD TEAM JERSEYS HAVE THE CITY'S NAME ON IT.  I know, most do already.  But it should be law. 


*CHANGE THE BALTIMORE RAVENS LOGO. guys got cool colors [black and purple], a cool gothic name and a cool team.  So why is there a magpie on your helmet??  Oh, because it was better that the B with wings you originally had.  Look, Ray Lewis doesn't need that thing on his helmet. 


*MAKE MLB MANAGERS WEAR NORMAL CLOTHES.  Why on Earth do managers wear jerseys??  NBA coaches look like they are heading off to a business meeting.  NFL coaches look like, well, NFL coaches.  So why do baseball skippers have to goo into those tight pants and jersey??  Imagine Rick Majerus wearing a hoops uni on the sideline??  Or Mike Shanahan with a helmet and pads on.  It is stupid. 

*WHY DON'T WE HAVE A TOUR D'AMERICA?  Maybe because cycling doesn't play well here....but why not have a cycling tour here?  It can start in Boston and end in San Francisco or something.  I mean, in the Tour de France, all we get to see is "french countryside" which is like saying "corn fields" over here.  We could name it the "Cannonball Run"....and instead of a yellow jersey, they could be able to drink their water from a pimp cup. 

*BAN GARTH BROOKS AND KEVIN COSTNER FROM SPRING TRAINING.  We get love baseball.  But stop taking coaches time from real baseball players by having your own fantasy camp.  Move on. 

*PENALIZE THE PLAYERS....NOT THE TEAM.  This goes for college sports.  When an NCAA rule has been broken, punish those responsible....not the ones who had nothing to do with it.  Sorta like the whole Kelvin Sampson thing.  Sampson is being punished...which hurts new employer Indiana [who knew this could come up, so their butts don't deserve to be covered].  And punish those at Oklahoma who were in on the dupe and the ones that turned their eyes to what was going on.  But don't punish the kids who didn't do anything wrong. 

*BRING BACK DOUBLE HEADERS.  Baseball needs to go ahead and schedule double headers...and not those "twi night" ones either. 

Pretty Good Memorial Day Weekend Shaping Up

                                               STEVE NASH

WATCH THE NBA PLAYOFFS:  Saturday and Sunday nights will see a continuation of the Conference Finals.  The stages change from Detroit and Dallas to hotspots Miami and Phoenix.  Both series are 1-1 with all four games played thus far being hotly contested.  Game 3 will be the higher seeds will try to regain homecourt advantage while the lower seeds try not to lose it.  Detroit-Miami will be on ESPN.  Dallas-Phoenix will be on TNT. 

WATCH THE NHL PLAYOFFS:  On Saturday night, watch the 8th-seeded Edmonton Oilers try to get to the Stanley Cup finals with a win in Anaheim. the Ducks stay in this thing with another win facing elimination [if the Ducks do win, then they will battle in Game 6 on Monday night].  On Sunday, watch the gripping Hurricanes-Sabres series....which is deadlocked at 2-2.....take a huge leap in Raleigh.  The loser of that game will have their backs against the wall the rest of the way.  Both games are on OLN. 

WATCH THE GREAT AMERICAN RACE:  I won't, but many people will plop down after chuuuuuuch on Sunday to catch the Indianapolis 500 [ABC].  Most of those eyes will be fixed on Danica Patrick....who is vying to not become the next Anna Kournikova. 

WATCH NASCAR TAKE OVER THAT NIGHT:  After the Indy race, click on over to FOX and check out the Coca Cola 600 in my hometown, Charlotte.  Will Jimmie Johnson's Lowe's car win at Lowe's Motor Speedway again??? 

WATCH THE BONDS, UH, WATCH:  Bonds last hit a home run on Saturday.  Maybe he can finally pass the Babe one week later?  They play the Rockies in San Fran. 


Friday, May 26, 2006

Timmy Smith: Prisoner


Timmy Smith, best known.....okay, only known.....for his unexpected and record setting rushing effort in Super Bowl XXII, will be spending the next 30 months in prison for for conspiring to distribute cocaine.

Yes....the former Super Bowl champion, and still record holder for his 204 rushing yards in that blowout win over the Broncos 18 years ago, was working as a security guard at a juvie center.  And he got caught [along with his brother] selling coke to undercover DEA agents.  Timmy Smith pleaded guilty in March to the conspiracy charge after federal prosecutors agreed to drop eight additional cocaine-trafficking counts in exchange for a guilty plea.

It's sad....since Smith, to me, represented the oddity and the "anything can happen" nature that the Super Bowl can bring.  Smith was a nobody.  A nothing.  He was a 5th round pick from Texas Tech in 1987....that Super Bowl season. 

Think about this.  In that Super Bowl, he rushed for 204 yards.  In his entire regular season career in the NFL....he rushed for a total of 602 yards. 

Think about this.  In that Super Bowl season, Smith rushed only 29 times for a total of 126 yards.  In that one Super Bowl game....he ran 22 times for that 204 yards.

Think about this.  In the two playoff games heading into that Super Bowl [against Chicago and Minnesota]....he ran 29 times for a total of 138 yards. 

Think about this.  He rushed for 2 touchdowns in Super Bowl XXII.  He only rushed for 3 for the rest of his career, regular season and playoffs.

Think about this.  After that record setting performance....he played just one more year for the Redskins and just 15 more games the rest of his career [which ended in 1990 with the Cowboys].

Talk about the ultimate one game wonder. 

Nats Bench Catcher During An Inning

                                 Nats' Royce Clayton leaps for the ball as Houston's Morgan Ensberg steals second during the seventh inning Thursday. The Astros stole seven bases, but lost the game, 8-5.

We've all seen the manager go to the pitchers mound.....and point to one of his arms.  We all know that's code for "bring in the lefty" or "bring in the righty" in a pitching change. 

But what if the manager motioned to the bullpen....and it wasn't a pitcher he needed?  He wanted the catcher.

That happened in Washington on Thursday.  The Nationals third string catcher Matthew LeCroy was pulled during the top of the 7th the Houston Astros stole SEVEN BASES off of him. 

Well, here is the story on it.....


WASHINGTON (AP) -- Tears of sadness streamed down both of Frank Robinson's cheeks, and his voice quivered, even in the aftermath of an 8-5 victory. The Washington Nationals manager had been cornered into a move rarely seen in baseball, the benching of a catcher in the middle of an inning.

The Houston Astros had stolen seven bases -- the most by any team in the majors in nearly four years -- against third-string catcher Matthew LeCroy. After three batters in the seventh inning, with the tying run on base and shortly after LeCroy had committed his second error by throwing a ball into center field, Robinson pulled him for emergency catcher Robert Fick.

"If my daddy was managing this team, I'm sure he would have done the same thing," LeCroy said.

Robinson took it a lot harder.

"I feel for him," Robinson said. "And I hope the fans understand. And I just appreciate him hanging in there as long as he did."

The Nationals captured their third straight victory and fifth win in six games. They are playing their best baseball of the season, but Robinson couldn't overcome the emotions he felt after putting a veteran through an embarrassing scene. LeCroy, who handles pitchers well but has a suspect arm, was starting because Brian Schneider and Wiki Gonzalez were hurt.

"It's not LeCroy's fault. We know his shortcoming," Robinson said. "They took advantage of them today. ... I wasn't trying to embarrass him in any way. It's just a move that at that time I felt like I had to do for the good of the ballclub. That would have been a very devastating loss for those guys, and I'm just happy they held together out there."

LeCroy, Gonzalez and Fick are the Nationals' backup-by-committee for Schneider, who is scheduled to come off the disabled list Friday after missing 14 games with a hamstring injury. Gonzalez was unavailable after getting a concussion Wednesday night when he was hit in the head by a backswing.

"It was a tough day," LeCroy said. "They were running all over the place. A couple of no-throws, and a couple of balls I shouldn't have thrown ended up going into the outfield, which you can't let that happen, especially when you're up four or five runs. Ain't nothing you can do, just try to keep coming back day-in and day-out."

LeCroy said he didn't blame Robinson for the mid-inning benching.

"I'm man enough to take it. I don't think he should get that emotional about it," LeCroy said. "Hey, he's doing his job, just like I would do if I was in his position."

The last time Houston had seven stolen bases was April 13, 1999, at San Francisco. Eight is the team record. The Florida Marlins were the last team in the majors to steal seven, on May 27, 2002, against the New York Mets.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Overrated Sporting Events


With the Indy 500 looming....I can't help but think about how the Great American Race is just something that, well, I don't care a lick about.  Sure, you could say it's because I'm not into racing....and that's a fair take.  But even most racing fans I know don't watch that race.

I think that with the emergence of NASCAR as the primo racing extravaganza in our culture....the Indy 500 is just a niche thing. 

So, in light of, to me, are the overrated sporting events.

1-INDIANAPOLIS 500:  Like I said, Sunday will come and go without me giving a crap about this race.  I mean, they take....what.....a month to run qualifying on it?  I have no idea who is actually races in this thing [oh, yeah....that chick who gets all the run, Dana Kirkpatrick does].  If I wanna watch some racin' on Memorial Day will take place in Charlotte with a bunch of Coca-Cola ads flying around.

2-NFL PRO BOWL:  I've said my piece on this before.  It's the dumbest of all the All Star events.  It takes place after the season....five weeks after half of the players out there last played.  About 60% of the people actually named to the team show up.  And it is the least important NFL game held one week after the most important, the Super Bowl.  Sorry, but the NFC/AFC battle is played on the Super stage....not one in Hawaii.

3-THE NIT:  Okay, I am actually FOR the tournament.  There is nothing wrong with letting these guys play some more hoops.  For many of them, this is the last chance that they get to play on such a stage.  However, it is about as important as the New Orleans Bowl.  Winning this tournament isn't a "championship" thing.  You are the best team that couldn't get into the real tournament.  Again, this isn't against the teams and players actually in it....but to ESPN and the like that act like it's important. 

4-THE X GAMES:  I like the X Games in theory.  But I don't watch them.  And can they at least wait awhile for the next one.  The have the Winter and Summer X games each year.  Space them out just a little bit, huh?  Oh, and in those Winter X games, can they stop with the "chillin' in a cabin with a bunch of tatted up skiiers" view on ESPN???

5-WINTER OLYMPICS:  Again, I've said my piece on this too.  The events in these games suck.  Only hockey gauges my interest....and only figure skating reels in everyones elses.  The USA needed to place those Winter X sports into the fun just to come back with a few extra medals. 

6-THE ARMY - NAVY GAME:  I have the ultimate respect for those who serve[d] in our armed forces.  I have various family members who have served.  But this game means relatively nothing anymore.  In my lifetime [1975-  ], this game hasn't meant a lick on the national level.  Only recently, has either team even sniffed the bowls.  It may as well be the Harvard-Yale game....only with a much more raucous "student section". 

7-BOXING WEIGH INS/PRESS CONFERENCES:  These have become even more cliche the more that they are allowed.  The press conferences consist of barbs thrown at each other to make us [the people they need to fork $50] believe they really hate each other and that their fight will be an all-out brawl.  Of course, it's mostly garbage.  Then, the day before the fight....we get to go out to the casino and witness chisled dudes wearing banana hammocks weigh in like it is Celebrity Fit Club.  Does this need to be a public deal??  Do football players put their pads on for all of us to see??  Look, in a sport which pretty much everything is suspect to foul play....showing us a weigh-in is completely moronic. 

8-THE NFL DRAFT:  Do we really need 15 minutes between picks??  Does the draft coverage need to look like I'm watching the Bloomberg Network???  Sure, in the first hour or two [read: 8 picks] there is some freshness to the coverage.  But after that, we've heard all the nonsense already.  The draft is held several months after the Super we've all heard everything already.  Chris Berman gets bent trying to keep (a) us interested and (b) the analysts on the same page.  And if any of these people really were "experts", they'd be working for an NFL team right now. 

9-THE NHL SEASON:  Do we really need an 82-game season??  Most NHL fans and passers by will tell you that the Stanley Cup playoffs are where it is at.  So let the NHL just be a playoff thing.  Have a 40-50 game regular season....then seed EVERYONE in the NHL for a playoff berth.  It's just one extra round. 

10-A HEAVYWEIGHT FIGHT:  Look, back in the 1990s....I had madd fight parties.  I still love having fight parties.  They are fun, easy, and a good excuse to (a) have people over and (b) in charging $5 a head, getting to see the fight for free.  But those heavyweight fights can just go away.  Unless someone plows thru for the knockout in the first 4 will just look like two drunks dancing until one falls down. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

My Confernece Finals Picks




SEASON SERIES:  Pistons 3-1.  Detroit won the first two game by double digits. 

STORYLINES:  This is a rematch of last year's ECF.  Miami went thru the offseason and this season with the mindset [and the talk] that if Wade and Shaq had been healthy in last year's series, they would've beaten the Pistons.  Both are healthy now.  Also, the coaching lines have changed.  Last year, the Pistons had the Hall Of Fame coach [Larry Brown] and the Heat had the newbie to this [Stan Van Gundy].  Now, Miami has the Hall of Famer [Pat Riley] and the Pistons have a coach, while experience, has only won two playoff series before this season [Flip Saunders].

KEY FACTOR:  Shaq.  This is the series where Shaq has to earn his money.  The Pistons have a good defensive front line that can limit Shaq's effectiveness.  Still, if Shaq wants to, he can dominate them.  And therein lies the challenge.  If Shaq can bring his A game in this series, the Heat can advance.  If not, well, Detroit advances again. 

PREDICTION:  Heat in 6.  This one is hard.  The Pistons are the best team...but aren't playing like it right now.  They were blown out in a game by the weak Bucks....then let the Cavs extend them to 7 games.  Heck, Detroit had the backs to the wall after Game 5.  Miami started off rough in the Bulls series with in fighting.  But they looked so good in the Nets series.  Right now, they have the momentum and they have the hunger.  If Shaq can show signs of being a force in this series....Miami advances.



SEASON SERIES:  Tied 2-2.  Suns won the first two....Mavs won the 2nd two. 

STORYLINES:  These two teams met last year....with the Suns advancing.  This year, it is the Mavs who are favored.  For Mark Cuban, the Mavs owner, some solace could be found be eliminating fomer Maverick Michael Finley last round and then former Maverick Steve Nash in this round.  Still, I doubt this series will be as testy as the last few have been for these teams. 

KEY FACTOR:  Tempo, obviously.  The Mavs can run, but not like the Suns.  So the Mavericks have to be able to pick their spots and run their offense at other points.  Both teams aren't as traditional as teams who usually comprise this round.  Neither contain big post precences and both have shooting big men [Dirk and Tim Thomas].  The key will be Jason Terry, who nearly cost the Mavs in the Spurs series with the "Fruit Punch".  He must control tempo for the Mavs, do a decent job guarding Nash, and being Dirk's sidekick in scoring. 

PREDICTION:  Mavericks in 7.  I like the Mavs team.  I really don't like the Suns team.  But, those Suns defy the odds.  This is a team with a guard and a bunch of forwards running around and firing up three pointers.  This is a team that has throwaways Boris Diaw, Tim Thomas and Raja Bell becoming huge parts of this team.  But, the Mavs went up against the defending champs...held a 3-1 series lead...and won a big Game 7 in the Spurs building.   That shows me that this Dallas team has cojones like they have never had before.  But, remember, the Suns are now 4-0 in elimination games....with three of those wins being blowouts.  Still, they won't be able to contain Dirk.   

It's Like Winning The Lottery Right After Someone Hit The Powerball


This will be a weird NBA draft.

It will be the kind of draft that won't produce many stars....but could produce a high volume of guys who last in the league.  Call it the "role player draft". 

Also, call it a toss up.  There is absolutely no clear cut #1 pick.  In fact, many felt that the top pick would've been different depending on who won the lottery.  Ah, yes....the lottery.  As the title says, this is like winning the first powerball after somebody cleaned up the huge prize.  There are no LeBrons, Shaqs or Greg Odens.  Call it the 2001 Draft Redux.

Toronto was the winner of this lottery....and they have a nice array of people to pick from.  But who knows who that will be???

Go to and they think it will be DeMarcus Aldridge. 
Go to they think it will be Andrea Bargnani. 
So does - NBA Mock Draft has Tyrus Thomas as the top pick. 
So does - NBA Mock Draft. has JJ Redick going 16th....and Rajon Rondo going 26th.
ESPN has Redick going 8th.....and Rondo going 6th.

ESPN has Miami's Guillermo Diaz going 19th. has Diaz going 45th.

Yeah, that's the 2006 NBA Draft.  Get your mock drafts ready.



Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Dirt That I Read


I appreciate all of those who read this blog.  I really do.  So...if you enjoy this blog....please click on some of those other blogs I have listed in the far left column from time to time.  All [okay,] are very good.  With my work sked and just overall ability to keep up with everything....I usually let things slide.  And, usually, these people keep up with it.

So here is just a sampling of my favorites [where are you Tree???] for you to enjoy.

AOL's Pigskin Bloggers talks about ol' school football art.....namely those 1970s and 1980s posters that some of us still have on our walls.  I had a Dexter Manley poster in my room as a teenager.....and I recently had my Super Bowl XXII poster destroyed from neglect in a shed. 

Mr. Irrelevant's Sports Blog warns NBA GMs to stay away from the Great White Hype.  Ya know, those big, goofy, white centers that tend to make their way into the NBA here and there.  This morphed from a discussion of the best American born white NBAers in the last 20 years.  And, yeah, it's a tough list to build.

Coztanza's Commentary, to me, is like a GZA album.  There are huge gaps between releases.....but when it debuts, it soothes my soul.  G-Coz talks about the Dolphins possibly becoming the new Raiders.....what with them signing Marcus Vick, dealing for Daunte Culpepper, and keeping Ricky Williams on their leash.  On George's Yankees Blog, he takes on the recent edition of the Subway Series.  Normally I would never pimp a Yankee blog because, Lord, I'm tired of all the national press they get already.  But George isn't as myopic nor downtrodden as the rest of the Yankee nation tends to I can actually stomach his takes.  Again, another set of kudos to his style. 

On the other side, 20 Years in the Making... is a Mets fan and is celebrating the Shea Kids play against the Bronx Bombers. 

And props to Monponsett at High Above Courtside, who can get religious on a take relating lying and fishing to each other.  I always can trust Stacey to put the alternative [and Chowd] take on anything in the sporting world. 

To those who don't know, Die Cast Dude has moved to his new site....The Diecast Dude's (Mostly) NASCAR Blah Blah Blog.  Any NASCAR knowledge I ever needed can either be had by (a) reading his blog or (b) just asking him directly.  With the Nextel Series currently chilling in Charlotte....he's on my regular list again.

Yannis' Sports Journal turns the fork that the Mavs stabbed in the Spurs fans' hearts.  San Antonio lost Game 7 of the Western Conference semis at home last night....and Yannis touched on a point that gets forgotten by many.....the Spurs are worn down.  As a Laker fan, I know how this can happen.  During the Lakers three-peat, the Lakers essentially played another season worth of games just due to playoff games.  That takes a toll on a team when their offseason begins in mid June and ends in early October.  Same thing with the Spurs.  The team just seemed so tired.  Tim Duncan was nicked up all year [but played valiantly in this postseason].....but the real issue was in Manu Ginobili.  He had a great season and all....but he was done.  After a championship run last year following a big Olympic season the summer before....Ginobili sure didn't play like the All Star he has become.  Dude needs a rest.  They all do.  And I am sure they will be back fighting for the title in 2007. throws up a few takes about the recent Preakness Stakes.  In the days since this has happend....I've heard a lot of cruel jokes about the incident.  To me, it isn't funny.  I agree with Chris here.....I feel sorry for the horse and the jockey but not so much for the gazillionaire owner.  But, in my prayers for the horse, I just hope the owners [which I feel is the case] are doing everything in their power to keep Barbaro alive and in good health.  He was willing to die for you.....the least you can do is using some of those winnings you got to keep him alive. 

Go to The Ohio LeBlog to see the roller coaster ride which is the NBA playoffs.  Especially when you are a Cavs fan celebrating the fact that you are back in the fun.....yet had it ended sooner than you hoped.

Dave Sez spills his take on the rumored move that the NCAA may expand the tournament to 80 teams.  He's not in favor of it.  Neither am I.  I want 96 teams in the tournament.  Sure, Dave is right.   Greed is involved in this.  But I've stated my case before on why I like this move. 

Calling the shots tells the tale of the Baseball Card That Never Should Have Been.  I love this story just because of the baseball card world is something that I've never had any interest in and I am always amazed how certain things tend to gain value for odd reasons [see: NFC Championship hot dog on Ebay].

Check out the all new The Sports Guru » Random Thoughts of a Sports Junkee blog. 

And, finally, while Alex has retired his blog....there is a new comer to the mix.  ESPN Nut's Sports Blog is furiously filling his blog with various sports items.  As constructive criticism.....I like the takes and the follow ups on the blog.  Especially his "Reactions to Barry Bonds' 714th home run" entry.    But, don't bother with the TV listings or scoreboard recaps.  Most people will just go to ESPN, Fox Sports, or AOL Sports for that.  Instead, put that energy into your opinions and research....which both seem to be pretty darn good.  Again, I'm just saying that to help, not hurt. 

Oh....and I can't end this kinda blog entry without my favorite blog item of all time.  Any Sportz Assassin fan knows that this is the greatest video of all time.  The problem is that the source has moved.  But, the good folks at YOUTUBE have kept it alive.  Again....YouTube - Carl Lewis "Break It Up"

Monday, May 22, 2006

Is Bonds Really At 616???

Here is an interesting article from Patrick Hruby at's Page 2.  You can find the article here---> Page 2 : 616* (* no asterisk required).  It tells the tale of Barry Bonds' possible true HR total.  Instead of chasing Aaron....Bonds' would be chasing Mays right now.

616* {* No Asterick Required}

By Patrick Hruby
Page 2

Heads turned. The ball bid the park adieu. With a single, violent swing of his bat, Barry Bonds made baseball history Saturday in Oakland, climbing one home run closer to the immortal Willie Mays. Six hundred sixteen home runs. It's a mind-numbing number, a body of work to rival Tupac's posthumous releases. Congratulations are in order.

Wait. Hold up.

You say Bonds actually has 714 career home runs?

Barry Bonds

Er, no. Good one. But no. Sure, if you want to get all technical, there's no arguing that Bonds has forcefully redirected 714 pitches into home run territory over his 21 major-league seasons. Yet according to the ziggurat of evidence complied in the book "Game of Shadows," Bonds also ingested a Mexican farmacia's worth of performance-enhancing drugs during his peak slugging period, making some of those dingers less authentic than country crooner Kenny Rogers' reconstructed face.

Question is, how many? How many of Bonds' home runs are honest? And how many came courtesy of his reported juicing?

Start with a caveat: There's no way to know. At least not for sure. The homers themselves can't be replicated in a lab, let alone studied. The variables involved in each at-bat are too numerous and complex to tease out completely. The specific physical effects of taking bovine bulk builders and female sex hormones -- Bonds reportedly took both; did he end up lactating buttermilk? --are poorly understood.

Truth be told, we can only manage a crude approximation. An educated guess, but a guess nonetheless.

On the other hand, that sure beats an unsightly asterisk.

So, how did Page 2 place Bonds' "legitimate" total at 616 homers? In taking away 98 home runs since 1999 -- when Bonds' allegedly began using steroids -- we sought to quantify the performance-enhancing effects of steroids in four hitting-related categories: strength, stamina, longevity and confidence. To do so, we spoke to a swing guru, a major league scout, training and biomechanics specialists, and an expert on the physics of baseball. We looked over hit charts and home run distances, tabulating every Bonds blast from '99 to now. We even got help from a nuclear scientist (albeit a nuclear scientist who really likes baseball).

We then did the math. Follow along...

1. Strength

"I don't know if steroids are going to help you in baseball. I just don't believe it. I don't believe steroids can help eye-hand coordination [and] technically hit a baseball."
-- Barry Bonds, Jan. 22, 2005

Bonds is correct. Steroids alone won't help you hit a curveball. But coupled with skill and training, they will help you hit that same curveball farther. Here's how:

Barry Bonds
Steroids build size and strength. They allow longer, harder workouts and promote better physical gains than would otherwise be possible.

According to "Game of Shadows," Bonds began using performance-enhancing drugs and training with Greg Anderson following the 1998 season. The results were astounding. In 1997, a team media guide listed Bonds at 206 pounds. By spring training of 1999, he weighed 225, with authors Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams claiming:

    "...almost all of the gain was rock-hard muscle ... the change in Bonds' physique was startling. Around the Giants, they took to referring to Bonds as The Incredible Hulk. When Bonds took batting practice, he was driving the ball farther than he ever had before."

In 2003, Muscle and Fitness magazine reported that Bonds, then about to turn 39, weighed 230 pounds and was in "the best shape of his life." Bonds himself told the magazine that his improvement as a player was due to "training and nutrition," making him "a better athlete than before."

An accompanying photo shows Bonds and Anderson sitting in front of BALCO ringleader Victor Conte, who has a hand on each man's meaty shoulders. All three are smiling. And why not? At an age when most top athletes have a hard time simply maintaining their chiseled physiques, Bonds packed on 20-plus pounds of added bulk.

Extra size and strength equals extra bat speed. Robert Adair wrote the book on baseball physics. Literally. His "The Physics of Baseball" has enjoyed multiple editions and is considered the classic text in its field.

On page 139, Adair provides an equation relating bat speed (that is, the speed of the bat's sweet spot at the moment it makes contact with the ball) to player weight:

V = k sqrt(M/(m+M/81))

(Note: V is the velocity of the bat in miles per hour, m is the bat weight in pounds, M is the player's weight in pounds, sqrt means square root and k is a constant, 10, in mph. Phew!)

According to Adair's formula -- and don't worry, we asked him to double-check the calculations, since our last math class came in high school -- the 206-pound Bonds generates a bat speed of 67.34 mph, while the 228-pound Bonds swings the same 32-ounce bat at 68.81 mph, an increase of 1.48 mph.

Trust us: That's more impressive than it sounds.

Bat speed is the key to power hitting. Jack Mankin is an electrical engineer. He also is a youth baseball coach and something of a baseball swing junkie.

Way back in 1986, Mankin bought a VCR that featured frame-by-frame replay, a rare and exotic luxury at the time. He taped about 100 major league games, then set out to chart the swing mechanics that separated great hitters from average ones.

Mankintaped plastic strips to his television screen. He used a grease pencil to trace body movement. He plugged his findings into computer spreadsheets. He's still at it today.

Recently, Mankin looked over clips of Bonds, from 1988 and the present. Conclusion?

"There's absolutely no change," said Mankin, who runs a Web site devoted to bat speed. "The only difference is that back then, most of his home runs were just enough to clear a 360-foot fence. Now, he's up to 400-some with the same dang swing."

The same dang swing. Only faster. In an excellent 2005 San Diego Union-Tribune article detailing the effects of steroid use on power hitting, major league scouts claim Bonds' bat speed not only stopped declining but also increased during the time he worked with Anderson -- an observation consistent with Adair's weight-to-bat speed formula.

Barry Bonds

"I've seen [Bonds'] bat speed improve," a longtime major league scout told Page 2. "But I can't say it's because of steroids."

How does extra bat speed help a hitter? Simple. While many factors influence the height and distance of a flyball, the most important variable is the speed of the bat at the instant it connects with a pitch.

Mont Hubbard, a mechanical and aeronautical engineering professor at the University of California-Davis, co-authored a 2003 American Journal of Physics article examining home run ball flight. An accompanying graph plots bat speed against flyball distance -- and like a rising homer, the curve sloped upward, almost in a straight line.

The faster the swing, the longer the long ball.

"We work with bat speed a lot, especially with a lot of the [major league] guys who come down here before spring training," said David Donatucci, director of the International Performance Institute at the IMG Academies in Bradenton, Fla. "If you're working [at] the skill [of hitting] and increasing in strength at the same time, you'll become a more powerful hitter."

Alan Nathan, a baseball physics buff and nuclear physics professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, estimates every one mph of extra bat speed translates into roughly six feet of added flyball flight distance. Back to Bonds. By bulking up and increasing his bat speed, he added about nine feet to his average flyball distance -- the difference between the warning track and the outfield seats.

Now for the fun part. Using statistics and a chart provided by STATS, Inc., Page 2 examined every home run hit by Bonds from 1999 to May 2 of this year, 301 in all.

The entry for each home run lists the ballpark where it was hit, the estimated distance it traveled and the approximate area where the ball cleared the field of play. Comparing each homer to the ballpark dimension diagrams found at, we sought to answer a single question:

If you take away the extra nine feet of flyball distance Bonds generated by putting on 20 pounds, how many of his home runs fall short?

Here's how the answer breaks down:

• 1999: four home runs out of 34.
• 2000: nine out of 49.
• 2001: 18 out of 73.
• 2002: 11 out of 46.
• 2003: 10 out of 45.
• 2004: 13 out of 45.
• 2005: one out of five.
• 2006: zero out of five.

In total, Page 2 estimates that 66 Bonds home runs would have landed inside the fence sans his alleged steroids use. Again, this is an approximation. But is our guess wholly unreasonable?

According to Adair, a 1 percent change in flyball distance translates into a roughly 7 percent change in the probability of hitting a home run. Since Bonds enjoyed a 2.4 percent increase in flyball distance, he should have seen a 16 percent increase in home run production.

Our number -- 66 home runs -- represents about 22 percent of Bonds' home runs since 1999. The numbers are in the same ballpark. Emphasis on in.

2. Stamina

"Before, I would train really hard in the offseason and work out just a little bit during the season, trying mostly to keep my flexibility. Then I'd hit a wall in August. But the last few years I've been training all year, and that has changed my whole career, because I don't get weaker during the year. I don't suffer a down spell or hit bottom. I stay strong all year."
-- Bonds, in Muscle and Fitness magazine, 2003

Perhaps you've heard the term: The dog days of summer. Temperatures rise. Injuries nag. Fatigue sets in, mental and physical. The season seems endless. Older players feel the grind most acutely.

Some switch to lighter bats. Others skip batting practice. Anything to conserve precious energy.

Enter steroids. In "Juiced," Jose Canseco writes that performance-enhancing drugs kept him feeling fresh, as if the last day of the season was the first day of spring training. "Game of Shadows" reports that using human growth hormone helped Bonds retain his buffed-up body without rigorous training.

That August wall? Knocked down like the one in Berlin. Get pumped, stay pumped, with more pep to boot.

Without steroids, how much would Bonds have sagged in the stretch? We don't really know. But we can make another reasonable guess. Assume that instead of gaining 1.8 mph in bat speed, an aging Bonds would have lost that amount by the end of July.

Subtract nine more feet from Bonds' charted home runs from August through October, and here's how many die on the warning track:

Barry Bonds

• 1999: six home runs.
• 2000: three home runs.
• 2001: five home runs.
• 2002: zero home runs.
• 2003: one home run.
• 2004: one home run.
• 2005: one home run.

Add it up, and that's 17 more homers we're taking away from Bonds, bringing our running total to 83. Time to check our work.

3. Longevity
"I don't have to [use steroids]. I mean, I'm a good enough ballplayer as it is. I don't need to be any better. I can't get any better at this age."
-- Bonds, in an interview with Bob Costas, 2002

No kidding. At age 39 in 2004, Bonds hit a home run every 8.3 at bats -- the second-best rate of his career, and far superior to Babe Ruth (16.6), Willie Mays (17.1) and Ted Williams (15.8) at the same age.

Is Bonds simply a marvelous athlete, benefiting from advances in training and nutrition unavailable to the sluggers of yore? Perhaps. Or perhaps Bonds has access to better chemicals.

Testosterone levels decline with age. Typically, so does athletic performance. Recent research suggests that both testosterone and human growth hormone may have significant anti-aging effects.

Now consider: At ages 31-33, the top 10 home run hitters not named Barry Bonds (and not including contemporaries Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro and Ken Griffey Jr.) collectively averaged a dinger every 13.8 at-bats. From age 34 through 39, however, that average fell to one home run per 15.6 at bats, a drop-off of 1.8.

Similarly, Bonds at ages 31-33 averaged a home run every 13.5 at bats. But from age 34 onward -- when he allegedly started using performance-enhancing drugs -- Bonds has averaged one home run per 8.5 at bats, an unprecedented surge.

If "Game of Shadows" is correct, steroids helped Bonds throttle Father Time, becoming more powerful at an age when most players slip significantly. How many fewer home runs would he have hit had his production declined at the rate of his non-juiced peers?

Let's crunch the numbers:

• At 31-33, Bonds' home run rate is 13.5. He suffers a drop of 1.8, making his 34-39 rate 15.3;
• At 34-39, Bonds had 2,477 at-bats;
• Divide 2,477 by 15.3, and you get 162.

By the standards of his historic peers, Bonds should have have hit about 162 homers from age 34 through 39; in reality, he smacked 292. The difference: 130 home runs.

Are all of those bogus? Hard to say. Give Bonds the benefit of the doubt. Suppose, for argument's sake, he's as ageless as the man he's chasing, Hank Aaron.

Barry Bonds
At ages 34-39, Aaron enjoyed a rare rise in his home run rate, from 15.4 to 13.0 (explained, in part, by a move from Milwaukee's County Stadium to more homer-friendly Atlanta Fulton County Stadium). Assign the same moderate 2.4 boost to Bonds. Then divide his at-bats accordingly.

Bonds ends up with 223 homers, much closer to his real-life total of 292. And the difference between the two -- 69 fewer home runs -- is pretty close to the 83 we've already taken away.


"There are some things I don't understand right now. The balls I used to line off the wall are lining out [of the park]. I can't tell you why. Call God. Ask Him."
-- Bonds, to the San Francisco Chronicle, 2001

So Bonds is stronger. More energetic. In goes the needle. Out go the long balls. His confidence surges.

Out go more long balls.

Feel good. Play better. Self-assurance is the great sports intangible, nearly as important as raw talent. Think you can do it? You're halfway there.

"Look, steroids make you better," says the major league scout, a former player himself. "But the other factor is confidence. You can't measure that. But there is a value there, and athletes all thrive on it. They need to know that they can perform."

Call God. Spoken like a man who knows he can perform. Bolstered by steroids, would a supremely self-assured Bonds swing for the fences more often? Seems likely. From 1987 to 1998, Bonds' average ground ball to flyball ratio was 0.81; between 1999 and last season, it was 0.62 -- an increase of about 19 extra flyballs for every 300 balls put into play. Maybe a pumped-up Bonds was trying harder to go deep. Maybe he belted additional home runs as a result.

More on confidence: "Game of Shadows" reports that performance enhancers improved Bonds' eyesight, helping him track pitches. Coincidence? Not necessarily. Extra bat speed means extra time to differentiate between afastball and a slider.

Moreover, a 2002 University of California San Francisco study found that older men with higher testosterone levels performed better on cognition tests than men with lower levels. Two years later, Harvard researchers discovered that men with higher testosterone levels are quicker to solve spatial-relationship problems.

Really, what is spotting and crushing a major league fastball if not a spatial-relationship problem ... played out at warp speed?

"People talk about bat speed, but nobody talks about [Bonds'] eyesight," said the major league scout. "He sees a pitch so quick, so early. He can see it and relay that information to his muscles faster than anyone else. That's what all good hitters do. They know what the ball is when it has been out of the pitcher's hand for just 10, 15 feet. Only special people do this."

How many home runs are quicker reactions and a juice-boosted feeling of invincibility worth? Could be five. Could be 25. Could be more, if fearful opposing pitchers lack confidence and fail to summon their best stuff.

What seems clear is this: Confidence helps, same as muscle. Let's say increased self-assurance allowed Bonds to belt 15 more home runs -- about three per season. That brings our grand total of tainted dingers to 98, a number that corresponds nicely with 1998 -- Bonds' last clean year, if "Game of Shadows" has it right. And even if the book is wrong, the photographs don't lie: Bonds today is a swollen sponge, a hulking parody of his lithe former self. Of course he bashed like never before. The laws of physics demand nothing less.

In his book, Adair states that if 140-pound Paul Waner uses a 32-ounce bat to hit a 90 mph fastball 338 feet, 225-pound Mark McGwire can use the same swing and same bat to drive the same pitch nearly 50 feet farther. Hello, andro!

"Bigger is better," Adair said in an e-mail interview. "But Waner was a damn good player."

Six-hundred sixteen home runs. Our best guess. A long way from 715, but still an incredible number. Such is the shame in having to wonder: Without steroids, Bonds was a damn good player. With steroids, he's a good player damned.