Friday, March 31, 2006


Thoughts before the weekend…

1. The Red Sox are prepared to give David Ortiz a four year, $50M contract. That’s Paul Konerko money. Now I understand that Ortiz doesn’t play a position but how could his agent accept this offer?

Ortiz essentially re-wrote the history of the Boston Red Sox franchise with his back-to-back game-winning hits against the New York Yankees in Games 4 and 5 of the 2004 ALCS. He single-handedly kept the Red Sox in the playoff chase last year when the Yankees streaked to a division title with a good September. He stands to go down as the best signing of a non-tendered player in baseball history. He’s more productive than Paul Konerko. He’s more marketable than Paul Konerko. He’s better in all regards except defensively.

If Konerko’s making $12.5M per year (Vlad money, inexplicably), then Ortiz is worth $14M. Ortiz’s genius is certainly tied to Manny’s position directly behind him in the lineup but I don’t think any righty pitcher wants to see Ortiz at the plate. I am certain that Paul Konerko doesn’t illicit such fear in pitchers.

2. While we’re on the subject of baseball, I would like to add my thoughts on Bud Selig’s appointment of George Mitchell as the chief investigator in the steroids inquiry.

Bud Selig is the worst commissioner in the history of baseball. I suppose that isn’t enough of an honor, however, so he’s making a run at the title of worst chief executive in the history of American business. Baseball thrives in spite of him. He exhibits no leadership or vision whatsoever and his reign has been fraught with conflicts of interest and shady dealings. The latest example of this, of course, is his selection of Senator Mitchell.

Mitchell, as is well-known by now, sits on the boards of both the Boston Red Sox and the Walt Disney Corporation, the parent company to ESPN. ESPN is baseball’s largest media-rights owner, paying MLB an average of $296M per season between 2006 and 2013 (total value: $2.36B). How serious can an investigation be when the investigator is financially vested not only in one of the teams but in the chief benefactor of the league? That Mitchell is an honorable man is not in dispute; that he’s the consummate insider in the baseball business taints the integrity of the investigation.

Worse yet is that the investigation will have to be wide-ranging so as not to appear as a vindictive inquisition of Barry Bonds. That means that Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield, prominently mentioned in “Game of Shadows” (the book that launched this investigation in the first place) will be investigated by a board member of the Boston Red Sox. Only Bud Selig could see this as a legitimate investigation. How is this any different than asking Dick Cheney to investigate Halliburton in a case of no-contract bids for work in Iraqi oil fields? It’s the same damn thing and it stinks to high heaven.

3. And while on the subject of the steroids investigation, it should be pointed out that the investigation itself is doomed to failure because of the inherent stupidity in the way it will be carried out. As Buster Olney states his column, unless Senator Mitchell is prepared to ask tough questions of ownership, league management and union leadership, unless he is willing to widen the scope of the investigation beyond the players themselves, the whole investigation will amount to nothing more than a witch-hunt of too-little-too-late magnitude.

4. And while on the subject of stupidity, I’d like to switch gears for a second and rip the stupidity of the NBA’s decision to ban leggings. Who on earth comes up with this stuff? Why are leggings dangerous to the league’s image? While I didn’t agree with banning extra baggy shorts, I understood that the NBA was trying to move away from a look associated with urban youth culture which could be scary to corporate sponsors (besides the inherent racism in that position, of course…). But what’s wrong with leggings? Do gang-bangers wear leggings on the streets of Bedford-Stuyvesant or South Central LA? Have we seen rappers wearing leggings in MTV videos? This is just plain silly and a waste of time.

5. Finally, while we’re on the subject of things being banned, let’s all get Peter King banned from telling us about any future colonoscopies…read and be horrified:

“I was scheduled for a colonoscopy on Thursday in West Paterson, N.J. If you’ve had one, or if you’ve had any intestinal procedure, you know that the day before such an internal snaking you’ve got to be, well, cleaned out. One problem for me: On Wednesday, I was covering the Vince Young workout in Austin. My cleanout was due to begin at 1 p.m. My flight was due to leave Austin three hours later, and I was scheduled to get home by 8. In other words, I was not going to have the home-bathroom advantage for a good portion of the internal preparation.

Pretty tricky. I’ve had two prior colonoscopies – you should have these things fairly regularly after turning 40, and I’m 48 – and know that once you begin your prep work, it’s about a six-hour process. So I figure, OK, I’ll start on the plane home, then finish at home. When I advised a friend, Rich Fitter, of my plan, he shook his head and invoked an old Cosmo Kramer line. “Wet...and wild,” he said.

I took the first of the preparatory medication (and believe me, that’s putting it very nicely) just before the three-plus-hour flight took off from Austin. I was in fine shape until maybe 40 minutes from landing when the captain came over the intercom and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve been told by the tower in Newark that we’re going to have to slow things up a bit because of traffic into the New York area. They’re putting us into a holding pattern, and we’re going to head over to Pennsylvania to circle...”

I heard nothing else. All I could think was: My worst nightmare is coming true. It would get worse 10 minutes later, as we were banking bumpily somewhere over southeastern Pennsylvania. The flight attendant came on and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, because of the bumpy ride, we’re going to be turning on the fasten-seatbelt sign for the remainder of the flight...” AAAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHH!

Take deep breaths. Long, deep breaths. Bumping around for 45 minutes. An eternity. Hold on. Just hold on. You raised two kids not to be ax murderers, you can survive this. I’m going to have to get up and brawl with this flight attendant in a minute because of the seat-belt sign...

Out of the holding pattern. And seven or eight minutes later, like the God of Aviation knew what was happening inside me at that moment, the captain came on and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, we’re on our final approach into the Newark area.”

Day of my wedding. Births of my children. Red Sox win the World Series. Landing in Newark.

Once off the plane, I was as dignified as was humanly possible. I brisk-walked to the men’s room, and the rest is history.”

Have a good weekend and enjoy the season opener. Go Tribe!

Will the Real George Mason please stand up?


Thursday, March 30, 2006

The George Mason Ball

The question on everyone’s mind going into the Final 4 weekend, is will Cinderalla Mason ever hear the bell toll Midnight? Or will they become coronated as champions? The odds seems to be that they will finally start missing some shots and come belly up… anyways, here’s some interesting George Mason news I could dig up:

  • George Mason claims every other team thinks they are Superman, but they are Kryptonite. I found it funny when one article said that George Mason’s coach might be… Lex Luthor! As opposed to rooting for Cinderella, suddenly, you are rooting for a supervillain!
  • For those who haven’t seen the link,, only 4 people selected the Final Four correctly on ESPN out of 3 million entries. The funny thing is, one guy meant to choose George Washington in the Final 4, not George Mason, as he couldn’t remember which team he liked watching from earlier in the season.
  • Apparently, Hofstra beat George Mason TWICE in the final two weeks of the season leading up to the Tournament. The key? Apparently, it was utlizing quick guards who are also able to rebound if need be.
    On one hand, ‘Nova may have been the most likely candidate to beat George Mason. As said on CBS, maybe Florida should just pretend that ‘Nova was a good warmup game for George Mason!
  • Recognizing it takes good guard play to beat George Mason (they’ve simply manhandled all the big men at Mich. St, UNC, Wichita St, and Uconn), then the team with the best chance to slay Cinderalla may be UCLA. I would still be very intrigued by an LSU-George Mason final. If George Mason’s two big men can handle Tyrus Thomas and Big Baby, then would it be possible for 2 Cinderella big men to play their way into the NBA?????


It feels good to be a sports blogger again…

Today’s topic is one that is near and dear to my heart. It’s a three word poem I wrote called “Fire Larry Brown” and it goes something like this:


I normally don’t see eye to eye on things with the Sports Guy Bill Simmons but this mini-rant he wrote about “Coach” Brown sums it all up:

“By the way, you can't do a worse job coaching an NBA team than Larry Brown did with the Knicks this year. It’s impossible. Condescending, inexplicable, unfriendly, haphazard, rambling, incoherent, unprepared, overcritical, self-defeating, depressing, unrealistic...really, pick any negative word or phrase for a coach and it probably fits. This current Knicks team was poorly conceived, but it also wasn’t a 20-win team. Brown botched the 2004 Olympics beyond belief, he screwed up the 2005 Pistons with all the Cleveland rumors, and he’s destroyed the 2006 Knicks to the point it’s turning into a “24” episode. These are the facts.”

The Knicks and I both made a critical mistake in thinking that Brown was up to the task of coaching the team. Larry Brown’s a greedy old man in adult diapers who doesn’t care about appearances. He’s happy to collect his annual $10M salary with no sense of shame and having left his effort at the door. No matter what happens to the Knicks in 2007 and beyond, the Knicks would be better off firing Larry Brown immediately, admitting their mistake and moving on. At this point, who cares about pride and saving face – it’s about picking up the pieces and trying to think about the future.

The Big Dance... The Final 4

Well, my bracket and ego are recovering from a pounding that only the Big Dance or Peter North can deliver. In the annual clash between myself and mighty mike, I owe him a six pack (but he doesn't know that I will be buying him Mr Pibb!! HA!! No beer for you!! only pibb).

It's time for the Final predictions from the Back Seat Drivers.

Mason vs. Florida

Well, the George Mason Pats are at it again... after delivering their wrath to the Huskies, they face the Gators. Although I rarely find myself picking Florida, I do today. Mason needs ANOTHER perfect game from their big guys (Jai and Will Thomas) to free up the 3 point shooters. I do not think Mason will replicate going 6/7 from 3 in the 2nd half.


LSU will win (if they can break 50 points!!).

NCAA champion = LSU. Big Baby will reign supreme.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Silly Illinois

I’m feeling very prolific today…

Now I know this will ruffle the feathers of my good buddy the Hitman but I just feel like I have to comment on the silly nature of Illinoisans.

Today’s poll question of the day is:

“What is the most prestigious basketball coaching job in the Big Ten?”

The choices were:
Michigan State; and

I selected Indiana because, to me, IU is one of the Meccas of college hoops. Sure, they’re no longer the powerhouse they were in the 1970’s and 1980’s but it’s still the Hoosier State and that means basketball more than anything.

A case could be made for Michigan or Michigan State, too, I suppose. But Illinois? Not at all. Before last year, I can’t remember the last time the U of I had a basketball team worth remembering. I’m not saying they didn’t have some good players pass through Champaign and I’m not saying that they’re a crappy program like Northwestern or Penn State but, please, let’s be real about this – the U of I doesn’t excel at any major athletics on a nearly consistent enough basis to lend itself to prestigious coaching positions.

Which brings me to my point. Out of the 59,731 who responded to the poll, 54% agreed with my pick of IU. Michigan State came in second with an 18%. On a state-by-state basis, respondents in 48 of the 50 states also went with Indiana. Michigan State won its home state 47%-24% over UM (with IU a close third at 23%). The only aberration is Illinois, which picked its own college a winner 39%-35% over IU.

Talk about dysmorphia and a total lack of self-awareness. What are Illinoisans smoking? In what universe is the U of I job THE MOST PRESTIGIOUS in the Big Ten? I’m not taking Michiganders to task despite my belief that the IU coaching job is the top job in the conference because a case could reasonably be made that the balance of power has shifted from Bloomington to Ann Arbor or East Lansing. The same cannot be said of the so-called Land of Lincoln (he was born in Kentucky, anyway…).

I’d be willing to chalk it all up to the sudden fair-weather fandom that has bitten the state of Illinois now that the Fighting Illini have actually made the tournament a couple of years in a row but it must really go deeper than that. There really must be something in the water out there in Illinois.

Marquis Grissom

For starters, I feel like a Catholic in confession because it’s been several weeks since my last posting. Anyway, I’m back now (from vacation, from midterms, etc.) so here comes an overdue column...

Baseball’s a funny thing. A player can play his whole career and do very well, put up nice stats, be a consistent performer, play on some winning clubs and yet make next to no impact on his peers or fans of the game.

Marquis Grissom announced his retirement yesterday, after 17 seasons for six different clubs. He broke in with the Montreal Expos in 1989 and has played with stars such as Larry Walker, Moises Alou, Pedro Martinez, Chipper Jones, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, David Justice, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, Orel Hershiser, Bartolo Colon, Gary Sheffield, Eric Gagne, and Barry Bonds.

To say the least, Grissom never stood out among his more famous teammates. And yet, here’s an interesting tidbit of trivia about him: Grissom leaves as one of seven players with 2,000 hits, 200 home runs and 400 stolen bases, joining Craig Biggio, Roberto Alomar, Barry Bonds, Rickey Henderson, Paul Molitor and Joe Morgan. Those seven are all first-ballot Hall of Famers (Molitor and Morgan are already in, the other five are soon to follow in the next two to seven years).

Honestly, would anyone have ever thought that Grissom is in a stat-club with seven of the all-time greats? That’s why I love baseball so much – there’s no shortage of surprises.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Final 4, NFL and other news

Well I've been away for a bit dealing with matters of far greater importance than sports, but vow to rededicating myself to the art of sports writing (which I believe is speaking in hyperbole and using "athletic" a lot. Here's a few comments:

Final 4
This year's tournament has certainly been one of the least expected one's in recent years. The big favorites (UConn, Nova, Texas, Duke) did not even make it to the Final 4. George Mason, an 11 seed, facing off against a Billy Donovan coached team. What? A return to glory Bruins pushed on by Bill Walton versus homegrown bayou boys of LSU. Did I read that right?

One thing that has been nice has been the return of the dominant big men. Leaving early for the big show has depleted the big man ranks in college basketball more so than any other position. However all of this year's Final 4 teams boast solid front courts whether its "Big Baby" Glen Davis, Jai Lewis (who is also the number 3 ranked competitive eater in the US), Joakim Noah (who nobody can actually correctly pronounce the first name), or Ryan Hollins (yes seven footers really do exist in the NBA).

I've learned my lesson in trying to predict games (albeit I seem to be tied for first place in the Second Annual Back Seat Drivers tournament challenge). However I will predict that the UCLA-LSU game will be the ugliest game, that Wisconsin was not involved, ever.

A lot of wheeling and dealing this off-season. Washington somehow went from being statistically guarenteed to forfeit all 16 games due being over the cap, to signing tons of players. Minnesota traded away Daunte "Captain of the Boat" Culpepper to Miami. I think Culpepper had worn out his welcome in Vikings land and the extra cap room allowed them to sign away Pro Bowl guard Hutchinson. The question of course is who is the next QB (Brad Johnson is not the long term answer). Miami upgraded over Gus Ferotte and Sage Rosenfels but that like saying an afternoon with Tom Arnold is better than an afternoon with Rosie O'Donnell. I'm not sure Culpepper is a star without Randy Moss bailing him out. New England lost a lot of talent, as always. We'll see if strict adherence to "THE PLAN" allows them to continue their success. Finally off in Browns town, I think Phil Savage quietly had one of the best free agent seasons. Cleveland addressed in shortcomings in offensive red zone (Bentley), rushing D (Washington), and pass rush (Mcginist). Onto phase two of the off-season (The Draft)

Well thats enough of the thought dumping excercise for one day. More to come...

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Sweet 16 of Madness

Time to quickly review and preview the Madness. I’m pressed for time, so we’re going in list format:

Big Man Who Made the Most Cash in One Weekend: This one goes to O’Bryant on Bradley. In my MVC preview weeks ago, I just said “Bradley has a 7-footer.” Now, he has a name, and because he’s a 7-footer, he will be drafted at some point, barring injury. Congratulations on making a lot of money!

Best “George” in the Tourney: If only GW would have made the Sweet 16, we would have had a trifecta of Georges (to join George Mason and Georgetown). I think both Mason and G-town can make the next round, but I’m suspecting only G-town will make it through, and take home the trophy of BEST GEORGE.

Best MVC Team in the Sweet 16: I’m going with Wichita State. Obviously, it’s a coin flip this weekend against G. Mason, but I like Wichita’s chances better than Bradley’s against Memphis.

Best in the Big 10: Damn. I’m taking the Clark Kellogg stance, no matter how precarious it might be: “You can’t judge a conference off of what happens in the tournament, because that’s about individual matchups. The Big 10 didn’t get the right matchups. You have to judge a conference off of their body of work from the duration of the season.”

#1 seed most likely to lose in the Sweet 16: It seems quite unlikely that all 4 #1s will make the Elite 8 (though I picked that in one bracket because I liked my chances of hitting 3 out of 4). Anyways, I hate to say it, but ‘Nova is my pick. ‘Nova could easily get bullied around by the bigger BC. Of course, if ‘Nova is running and hitting their 3s, everything should be fine.

Most likely Cinderella in the Final 4: Does Gonzaga count? Probably not. I’ll go with Georgetown who could ride their size advantage and the Princeton offense to glory. Granted, I think if teams practices their zone defenses they will avoid being embarrassed by the Princeton offense, like Ohio State was. I can’t tell you how many backcourt layups Georgetown got.

Best Name for the Midwest Region: “3 Big Men and a Little Ray” – This one goes out to ‘Nova and the other 3 teams in their region. The 3 other teams all have capable big men (BU has 2, Florida has Noah, Georgetown has Dr. Hibbert). ‘Nova starts 4 guards, including Ray & Foye. It’s a contrast in style and if ‘Nova can survive all of these big men, the sky is the limit.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Tournament Musings

Self-Less Acts? If one thing is going to help Illini fans get through their grief at watching the U of I go down in the 2nd round, it's that the Kansas Jayhawks have now been upset in the 1st round in two straight years. See, KU's coach, Bill Self, left Illinois a few years ago, in a manner that left a lot of people very angry. Self had come to Champaign amidst a lot of excitement and optimism, and just as he was building a winner - he was gone.

I've got to believe that there's a strong chance that Self is fired before next season. I haven't read any KU coverage - but I imagine that two straight 1st-round exits are not tolerated in Lawrence. That is not what we think of when we think of "Rock, Chalk, Jayhawk" - and I can only guess how pissed the fans are.

What goes around, comes around, Billy Boy. Looking forward to watching you try and resurrect your career in the D-1 sewers.

What's a Mid-Major These Days? I forget which game it was, but one set of announcers today referred to the increasing success of teams from mid-major conferences - and then cited Northwestern State as an example. Huh?!?! NW St is from the Southland Conference - which hasn't had a team make the Round of 32 since Karl Malone led Louisiana Tech there in 1985. The Southland ranked 22nd out of 31 in Conference RPI. In short: this is hardly a mid-major conference!

I think of a mid-major conference as one where (a) it's never unreasonable to think at least two teams will get bids, and (b) usually, at least one team gets to the 2nd round each year, if not to the Sweet 16, but (c) it's clearly not a power, i.e. "major" conference. The Missouri Valley, the MAC, the Mountain West, the WAC - these are mid-majors. Conference USA, also - though in previous incarnations, it was a major. Not the Southland, not the Ohio Valley, not the MAAC, not the SWAC, not the MEAC; these are the dregs of D-1.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. Hey, I love that every D-1 team has a chance to shock the world. But they're not all mid-majors. It's ok to let them be the small fry.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Madness: Screaming Orgasm Edition

Screaming Orgasm

Its tournament time. The picks are made. The bets are placed. Only thing left to do is strap on the helmet, belly up to the bar and attempt to watch 5 tvs, scan the internet and enjoy burgers and beer. While the NBA or MLB the best team will win give the 7 game series. Not so in the Madness. You have to bring your A game every game, or you get watch the other guys go on.

Cheers: To mid-major. I secretly always root for the little guy. Its equivalent of if randomly I was on a basketball court with people I had seen on tv. Honestly it only happens in the tournament.

Cheers: To watching multiple screens. Now in the old days CBS allowed multiple games on one TV (split screen or the orgasm inducing quad vision). Well today in our slower world we have to watch different tvs but hey its still a flood of basketball.

Cheers: Bonus coverage. Nothing better cycling through watching a bank shot to win to being sent half way across the country to watch the last 3 minutes of another game before being sent off to watch the last 12 seconds of a third game. Just writing about it is getting me excited. Ok I live a boring life.

Cheers: To Back Seat Drivers Tournament Pick'em Challenge. The winner will be cheered, the loser jeered till my throat is soar. Good luck to all (well maybe not Publius)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

World Baseball Classic

Killing time last night in the hours between dinner and catching up on some sleep, I tuned in to ESPN's broadcast of the Venezuela-Puerto Rico matchup in the World Baseball Classic. It sure was nice watching baseball for a couple of hours last night, even if I don't give a crap about either team or the tournament's outcome. Anyway, in watching, I remarked two things that annoyed me:

1. There is no reason why ESPN viewers should receive updates from the U.S./Korea game with the promise that the game, broadcast on tape delay in its entirety, could be viewed at 1 a.m Eastern time, immediately following SportsCenter. Considering the fact that ESPN bought the broadcast rights to show this tournament, considering the fact that the very viability of the tournament is based almost exclusively in the value of the media rights, why would ESPN broadcast a live game between two Latin American countries but only offer a tape delayed replay of the U.S. game?

ESPN's and MLB's programming directors should have their heads examined and their jobs revoked. Will sponsors and media outlets really want to buy this property the next time it rolls around if the message to consumers is "We know no one cares about it, that's why we don't bother showing these events live." Good marketing strategy, way to turn viewers off...

2. David Ortiz is a scumbag. I don't know what the rules of sportsmanship are in the Dominican Republic but the so-called Big Papi has been a major leaguer long enough to know that flipping his bat after hitting a home run is a cardinal sin in the big leagues.

He and Manny do it so often that both ESPN and Red Sox fans think it's charming and acceptable at this point. It's really disgusting to me. I hope Ortiz tries this move against the Tigers in 2006. I guarantee you that Tigers manager Jim Leyland will make the next hitter in the Red Sox lineup feel the sting of such an indiscretion.

As far as I'm concerned, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, for all their talents, are low-class bums from the bush league. I know Torre and the Yanks don't have the intestinal fortitude to put a fist to the mouth of these hacks but here's hoping that there are some teams out there in the American League that follow the old-school rules of the game.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Question of the Day

How deep is the Big East? Thoughts?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

More Tourney Thoughts

Just to add on to Gutsy's thoughts...

1) The easist draw I thought surprisingly went to Memphis. UCLA and Kansas are big unknowns. Neither of those teams got out of the first round last year. Not to say they haven't been hot down the stretch but they are at best unproven commodities under their respective coaching regimes. Outside of Pittsburgh, nearly of all the seeds seem bottom rung respective to the other brackets.

2) Team in that shouldn't be goes to Air Force. I don't think Air Force beat/played/saw a team that was ranked in the top 25. Just pathetic. Cincinnati or Hofstra I have ranked higher than Air Force. Looks like the Bearcats are back in the coaching hunt. Look for the Mid-Major coach that wins to head to Cincinnati.

3) The toughest area of the bracket seems to be concentrated in the bottom half of the East Bracket (I refuse to use the D.C. nomenclature). UNC, MSU, George Mason, Witcha St., Tennessee are all quality teams that could make it the sweet sixteen. It also features the potential rematch of last year's final 4 UNC v. MSU (as Gutsy noted already). That's more loaded than MJ's baked potato.

4) First round match-ups I'm looking forward to : West Virginia v. Southern Illinois, Pitt v. Kent State, Kentucky v. UAB, G'Town v. N. Iowa and My Liver v. St. Pattie's.

5) Non-story - I think Allan Ray, injured Villinova star, will be fine and lead his team deep into the tournament. Will the eye injury looked severe I'm confidant/hopefull that things will turn out ok for the All-American

NCAA Preview – Selection Committee was Cuckoo for Conference Tournaments

Absolutely insane how much the NCAA selection committee will change the seedings based on how a team does in its conference tournament. Syracuse, a BUBBLE TEAM, got a 5-seed. Jalapeno! To make things even more ridiculous, they drew a soft Texas A&M team that honestly, is probably just as good as the crappy Syracuse team.
As always, the regions seem vastly unequal. Memphis is supposedly the fourth best #1 team, yet they seem to have one of the easier brackets, all things considered.
Because West Virginia got knocked out early in the Big East tournamen, they became a 6-seed! Lower than Syracuse! To make things more ridiculous, they could be playing Iowa in the 2nd round.

Best player name: Ken Tutt, Oral Roberts. I can’t wait to see the headlines: “King Tutt and Oral Roberts topple Memphis in 1st round!” (Or the more likely, "Ken Tutt's 27 points not enough to topple Memphis")

Best 1st round matchup: Georgetown vs. Northern Iowa – There is no better way to prove conference superiority than pitting a team that beat Duke (Georgetown) against an MVC team that acted like an assassin through much of the year (Iowa, LSU).

Most anticipated 2nd round matchup: Michigan St. vs. UNC – Final 4 matchup last year, 2nd round matchup this year. Two great coaches, tons of NBA prospects. It’s just cruel and unusual punishment not only for the players but for all of the bracketologists like myself. If you add in the seeding that Iowa and Illinois got, as well as the tough 2nd round draws of the Big 10 teams (West Virginia vs. Iowa, and Illinois vs. Washington). The Big 10 REALLY got the shaft by the organizers this year, in terms of seeding. But honestly, the conference that got shafted the most was definitely the MVC and Missouri State and Creighton. That’s such garbage! Missouri State had a whopping 21 in the RPI, and 25 in the Sagarin ratings.

Region of Death: The Uconn region. Uconn, Kentucky, Illinois, Washington, Michigan St., UNC, Tennessee, and MVC champion Wichita State. Aye carumba!

Cinderlla Final 4 Team: Granted, I’ve had just 30 minutes to peer over the brackets, but I like UCLA to make the stretch run. I think its also safe to say that whomever makes it from the Memphis-region will definitely be a “Cinderella” in my mind [Memphis, Kansas, Indiana, Gonzaga, Pitt]. Yes, I even put Memphis here though they are a 1-seed.

Darkhorses- Indiana. The team seems to have been playing well again now that Mike Davis announced he was leaving. FYI – Marco Killingsworth said the only reason he came to IU was because of Davis. So, whatever you do, don’t get in his way! I also want to give a shout-out to Arkansas, coached by former Kent St. coach Stan Heath. Stan Heath only coached 1 tournament, and took Kent State to the Elite 8. It will be interesting to see what he can do against Bucknell then Oral Roberts. (Just kidding, I mean Memphis).

Now, on to the rules I've devised to analyze the tournament! If you want to see the rules I’ve devised, check out the link to last year’s blog article.

Rule 3 – When a non-1 seed wins, it happens in 2 straight years followed by multiple years of 1-seeds reclaiming the crown.
I slightly modified the original wording of the rule, because it wasn’t clear. The moral of the story is that last year a 1-seed, UNC won after a couple of non-1s had won (3-Syracuse, 2-Uconn). What this means is that a 1-seed is winning this year and in 2007 as a minimum.

As a result, this leaves us down to Uconn, Villanova, Duke, and Memphis as the candidates. Sorry Memphis, but I can’t go with a Conference-USA team. Villanova has way too many question marks with the lack of availability of Roy, who suffered an eye injury. Duke has no bench to speak of which will end up being their doom at some point. This leaves us with Uconn as the champion this year. I really don’t care that they lost to Syracuse in the Big East tourney, this team is stacked and I expect Coach Calhoun to find a way.

Rule 4 – A 12-seed always beats a 5 (except in 2000)
This year, my team of choise is definitely NOT Kent State (MAC sucked, see below), Montana (terrible RPI, I mean, a 91!), so I’m down to either Texas A & M against Syracuse or Utah State against Washington. I probably will go with Texas A & M, because I don’t think that Gerry Mcnamara has any magic fairy dust left.

Rule 6 – One conference will have multiple teams in the Final 4.
Just about every year this happens. The Big East is by far the best conference this year. I already have Uconn in the final 4, it’s just a matter of picking someone else. The problem is Villanova is missing its best player. The problem with picking the Big 10 to have two means that either Illinois or Michigan State would probably have to survive the Uconn region, which is just a low percentage outcome. Basically, everything’s tied to the Region of Death, Uconn’s region. I’m actually having trouble figuring out some likely outcomes. Here are the 4 options I’ve devised, and I’ll probably choose one of them later this week. Note: I’m probably choosing one of the first 3 options, because I’m taking Uconn all the way.
Option 1 – Texas, Pitt, Uconn, Ohio State
Option 2 – Texas, Indiana, Uconn, Ohio State
Option 3 – W. Va, UCLA, Uconn, Ohio State
Option 4 – Duke, UCLA, Michigan St, Ohio State
Option 5 – Duke, UCLA, UNC, Ohio State
CBS's dream option – Duke, Gonzaga, UNC, Villanova
NOTE: I'm assuming the kid from 'Nova doesn't play, and if he plays, he won't be 100%.

Rule 8 - The MAC has never gone consecutive years w/o winning a tourney game (well, since 1994 anyway).
This rule needs serious updating. The MAC already has struck out in 2004 and 2005. This year will probably be a 20-point victory for Pitt over Kent St. This was the worst year in about 15 years. There was not one “quality win” in the WHOLE CONFERENCE. I’m not talking about just Kent St. The whole conference stunk it up this year, and I don’t see why things would change now.

Rule 9: If you win your conference tourney, you are in a power conference, then you won't do well in the NCAA tourney. (Exception: top 10 teams)
This is by far, my favorite superstition which has worked out pretty well. This year, I was really debating whether I should work on the definition of the rule, because should I count teams that end up making the top 10 in the last week? Or just those teams who are already in the top 10? To be as fair as possible, I’m counting whoever is in the top 10 at the end.
So, the teams that are suspect are: Big East Syracuse, Big Ten- Iowa, Big12 – Kansas. Beware of picking these teams beyond the 2nd round. It saddens me that Kansas is on this list, so I may take them farther anyway.

Experimental Rule 11: The 1-seed with the worst strength of schedule will NOT make the Final 4.
This rule is just downright scary. Granted, it’s not 100%, but then again, no rule has 100% certainty, they are only guidelines to be used to control the Madness. Last year’s Illinois team had the worst strength of schedule of the 1-seeds, but still made the finals. Obviously, Illinois was a special team. This year’s cursed team is none other than Memphis. Only another reason to pick against Memphis!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


To borrow a term used to describe Rush Limbaugh, I think David Wells is a big, fat idiot. He’s self-aggrandizing and incredibly selfish. He’s a lousy teammate. He is a man who doesn’t keep promises or make good on his word. He famously crapped out on a handshake deal with Arizona to re-join join the Yankees in 2002 and then famously crapped out on the Yankees in his Game Five start of the 2003 World Series, costing the Yankees a chance to win the title.

And yet, the one and only thing I respect about David Wells is that isn’t afraid to call out the proverbial elephant in the room. I’m glad David Wells isn’t on the Yankees anymore, especially after his latest outburst. If Wells were on the Yanks, famous Yankee-hater Bud Selig would probably call in the state militia and forcibly barricade Yankee Stadium. Since he’s on the Red Sox, we can rest assured that Wells will only have to apologize and, at most, pay a small fine. I doubt any suspension will come of this.

Anyway, thanks to Boomer for telling it like it is. Bud Selig is a horrible commissioner and everyone should know about it.

PS – For those wondering when my American League preview will be posted, I promise that it is forthcoming. I was supposed to have it done by Saturday but my midterms got in the way so if you have to blame anyone, blame Prof. Katz.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Big East Tournament Preview

I was excited all season to do a Big East Tournament Preview. For those who may have forgotten, Big East Basketball expanded to 16 teams through the addition of normally good teams (Cincy, Louisville, Marquette) and some suspect teams (S. Florida, DePaul). I kept believing that they really were going to have a 16-team tournament, and I was prepared to pick a 12-seed over a 5-seed, no matter what the situation was.

As it turns out, the Big East decided that only 12 teams would make their tournament (giving 1st-round byes to the top 4 teams). So providence, USF, st john’s, and depaul don’t have even a shot at the tournament. Should still be one of the more interesting tournaments of “Championship Week,” especially becaue there are multiple Big East teams which still could get at-large births by making the finals (or even the semis).

Here’s how I see things shaking out, keeping in mind that conference tournaments are meaningless, and desperate teams tend to go farther here than in the actual NCAA tournament.

First round
9-syracuse over 8- CINCY – Syracuse is desperate for some wins. They got blown out by DePaul last week, who didn’t even make the tournament!
12-notredame over 5-georgetown – Of course, I’m still picking a 12 over a 5!
7-seton hall over 10-rutgers- I didn’t even realize Rutgers still had a basketball team.
11-louisville over 6-pitt – This is a dangerous matchup. Pitino will have his kids believing again.

2nd round
1-uconn over 9-syracuse – Syracuse may be desperate, but not desperate enough to make Uconn lose. I think Syracuse will still get the benefit of the doubt and enter the tournament as a 12-seed.
12-notredame over 4-marquette – Notre Dame is not your ordinary 12-seed. They lost 5 big East games by a total of 7 points.
2-nova over 7-seton hall – If I get a chance, I’d love to watch some ‘Nova basketball, who supposedly play w/ one forward, and four guards.
3-west virginia over 11-louisville – Louisville will not be able to keep the magic going. From Final 4 to NIT in one season. Yowsers.

Final 4
1-uconn over 12-notredame – And the dream comes to a crashing halt. Sorry, Notre Dame, but the run was good while it lasted.
3-w. va. Over 2-nova – This should be an especially fun game with West Virginia’s unusual 1-3-1 defense and shooting forwards against the small, quick ‘Novas.

3-w. va. Over 1-uconn – Who knows? It’s not like this will have any impact on the tourney if these teams meet in the final. Of course, my superstition is that if you are NOT a top 10 team, and you are from a power conference [i.e. West Virginia], then winning your conference tournament is a curse! But then again, its only a superstition.

Editor's Note: I will be providing my usual insane, superstitious NCAA Scouting Report sometime after the bracket is announced that will be full of darkhorses, favorites, trends, and slanted viewpoints.

Game of Shadows: Barry and Steriods...again

If its front page on,, it deserves a thread....

A new book, Game of Shadows, uses fairly thorough evidence documenting Barry Bond's steriod usage starting 1998 partly as a jealous response to McGwire's success.

(The cnnsi article can be found here )

1. How does this affect the Bonds homer chase this year?
2. Would anything keep Bonds from the HofF?
3. Is ESPN spitting blood or cheering madly given their reality show with Barry this season?
4. Is this a black-eye for baseball
5. Is this news?
6. Other thoughts?

Monday, March 06, 2006

A Devastating Loss

Kirby Puckett

Cheers and Jeers: Irish Car Bomb Edition

Irish Car Bomb

-1 shot Bailey's Irish Cream
- 1/2 glass of Guiness
-Note: Drop and Chug

Well its getting close to the Madness. We've reached Conference Tourney time which means the winners will be cheered, the losers jeered until Hart's throat is sore. Oh Yes, there is a lot of cheering and jeering to do so bring out a special Monday edition of cheers and jeers.

Jeers: The Dookies. David Noel (pictured left) and the rest of Tar Heels went into Cameron and beat Duke like a rented government mule. Sheldon Williams, a poor man's Jerome James, couldn't get off the bench because of foul trouble. JJ Redick, who pranced around after hitting a three early on, was limited to 7 points over the last 35 minutes. Meanwhile Diaper Dandy Tyler Hansborough controlled the middle for the Tar Heels. The real boys in blue have now won 10 out their last 11 games and seem primed for another tournament run. Roy Williams get that acceptance speech ready for coach of the year. ESPN, please, please don't show Duke fans again. They are stupid and ugly and nobody likes them.

Cheers: To the Dominican Republic.You know I have a lot of problems with the World Baseball Classic but there is something laudable about team Dominican Republic. The players generally seem to care about their country and giving back their island nation. They really don't have a chance to do it for the Olympics (well I heard David Ortiz will start training for the 500 m hurdles). So we here in America place our cities before our country (as manufactured as this event may be) but if I lived in the DR I'd be pretty excited for my team. Of course if I lived in the Dominican Republic I'd be happy that we produced baseball players while the Bahamas only produced Limbo Champions.

Jeers: The NFL. This labor strife stuff is getting old. Personally I put the blame squarely where it belongs: you the readers. Umm, wait no that's my blame for allowing Crash to win the Oscars. No I still blame rich owners that who turned these negotations into three dimensional moving Chess boards (those that do game theory would realize that elementary Chaos Theory tells us that Daniel Snyder will eventually turn against his players and run amok in an orgy of blood and the kicking and the biting with the metal teeth and the hurting and shoving).

Cheers: Spring Training. One of my favorite things about spring training is checking out how the prospects look. Different from football where the youngsters are fighting for their lives, young players for baseball (or some of them) will evantually make it to the majors. With the WBC going on there are a lot more youngters getting their shot to show off their stuff. In Cleveland land , once heralded prospect Brandon Phillips (he was touted as better than Grady Sizemore and Cliff Lee when traded for) is on his last chance to make the club as utility infielder. Just goes to show their is no such thing are a guarenteed prospect.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Jon Stewart is Funny

SI did a Q & A with Jon Stewart. I just had to share this because it was too hilarious. If you want to see more, here's the link:

SI: What will happen in the World Cup?

Stewart: The U.S., coming out of the Group of Death, ties Ghana and the Czech Republic and beats Italy 1-0. We go into the quarterfinals where we face Brazil, but due to a terrible and ironic twist, the Brazilians get dysentery from the food in Germany and the U.S. wins in a shootout on a goal by Kasey Keller. Now we're in the semis where we play the host country, Germany. But in an amazing display of respect for America's status in the world, Germany decides to lay down its boots, allowing the States in a walkover to get to the finals. At this point we face Afghanistan, who got in with one of those Michelle Wie sponsor exemptions. They defeat the United States because they are on horseback. And that is turned into a movie that Pelé likes better than Victory.

Thursday, March 02, 2006


#6 seed Charleston Southern downed #3 Birmingham Southern by 21 points on Tuesday night.

Damn it, my whole Ohio Valley Tournament bracket is screwed.