Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Been a long time...

But hell, it's not really fair to be blogging on the clock at The Spokesman, either. At any rate, let's talk some about the diamond, where the Mariners are really pulling a, well, Seattle-like season by raining on just about everyone's lofty pre-season predictions this year. While the Texas Rangers are roping the rest of their AL West competition and keeping them in tow in the division race, the anemic Seattle offense is preventing a solid pitching staff from notching a few more wins than currently show up in the standings.

I mean, five starters on offense are batting a lowly .200 at the dish. Their batting average is tied for second worst in the majors, and the Mariners are tethered to the bottom of the barrell in almost every other category offensively (not to mention the pathetic amount of times I've seen baserunners been picked off or gunned down).

At any rate, here's my homemade recipe for turning the Mariners into winners again:

1. Have Milton Bradley do clean-up duty at local elementary schools of his own tears and keep inspiring kids to grow up to not be like him.

2. Re-sign Eric Byrnes to open up bicycle repair shop behind wall in center field.

3. Erect commemorative Mariners lighthouse between second and third base, cutting down on range Chone Figgins and Josh Wilson have to cover in infield.

4. Supply Cliff Lee's agent with free popcorn and hot dogs so he'll pipe down for once about the hurler's future.

5. Make sure first base is wheelchair accessible and buy Ken Griffey Jr. shake weights so he can pull himself together by the time the All-Star break hits.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Quick-hitting Sweet 16 picks

Been a while on here, but it's been busy at work, where I typically post form. Below are a list of today's Sweet 16 picks:

  • Washington-West Virginia: Da'Sean Butler was the X-Factor for the Mountaineers throughout the Big East Tournament en route to the title, and he should prove to be such again in the absence of Daryl Bryant, who will be gone for the remainder of the tournament with his broken foot. Joe Mazzula, who leaves much to be desired shooting on the offensive end, should be able to hold the Dawgs' Isaiah Thomas in check, though Quincy Pondexter could carry his squad into the Elite 8 with another stellar tournament performance. WVU 81-73
  • Cornell-Kentucky: John Wall should be showcasing his signature dance after this contest as well. Though I expect the game to be close throughout, especially with Cornell's ability to drain the outside shot (Six players have made more than 20 3-pointer this season). But John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson and Eric Bledsoe should have their way with the Big Red's defense. UK 85-78
  • Butler-Syracuse: I'm not a big Andy Rautins fan, but I think he and other Orange guards need to step up in the absence of Arinze Onuaku. Without the big veteran in the middle, the Bulldogs could sag their defense down low, forcing Scoop Jardine, Brandon Triche and Rautins to make jumpers and bring Butler's D out to the perimeter. If that happens, Syracuse should earn another comfortable win. Syr 69-60
  • Xavier-Kansas State: While I hate to disappoint those "parity purists" who think this year is especially ripe for upsets, the higher seed picks continue. Despite how impressed I am with former Kentucky Wildcat Joe Crawford's little brother Jordan, who is averaging better than 27 points per contest thus far in the tourney, I don't see any way he can escape the lockdown defense of KSU's Jacob Pullen. The senior guard took BYU's Jimmer Fredette out of last weekend's second round contest, and I expect him to do the same against the Musketeers. Offensively, the Wildcats have a lot of depth, with ten players averaging over 10 minutes per game on the year. I don't see how a less-deep Xavier can keep up with the fresh legs off the bench for KSU over a 40 minute period. KSU 75-61

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Word to the wise: Be wary of Vancouver Olympic tickets

Recently, a friend was looking online to scoop up some tickets to an alpine skiing event for the February Olympic games in Vancouver.

But where do you start looking? The internet sounded most logical for starting the search. A quick Google search yielded an advertised link on the search page that stated they had tickets galore. Right on.

A bushel full of clicks later, and he was on the final page of buying his way onto the slopes of Whistler. But upon further examination, there were some quirky words on the confirmation page. What is "test shipping"? Doesn't sound reliable. Hmm...

Or what about using "Courier 39" to ensure the tickets make it to your mailbag. Not a clue who he is, but he must be good if he goes by that Bond-like moniker.

After a friend had dropped $419 on tickets to the supercombine event, it gives me pause to think about how easy and frequent sports ticket scamming goes on. I mean, right now, there has to be fraudulent tickets for the Olympics, the Super Bowl, the World Cup and the NBA All-Star game.

I'm not sleuth, but just watch where you get this from. Don't take every "Sullivan Boutique" seriously if they say they've got just what you're looking for.

Hoops, hardwood and...executive orders?

Though the action on the court once again centered around two top-ranked teams in the nation, the focal point from a fan's perspective may shift to who's butt was once again in a court side seat.

President Obama, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, were on hand to see the Hoyas throttle the Blue Devils this afternoon. While the President has a difficult job and I thoroughly believe the balance between work and leisure is integral to having an enjoyable life and a successful career, Mr. President seems to certainly be taking in a lot of sporting events since his tenure in office began.

Aside from today's Duke-Georgetown game, President Obama has watched George Washington University take on Oregon State, . Originally, President Obama was also scheduled to make it to the Vancouver Winter Olympics opening ceremony. And the Obama administration is also teaming with senators to determine the legality of the Bowl Championship Series. Oh yeah, I almost forgot about Mr. Obama trying to get the International Olympic Committee to let the United States get in on the hosting party.

Look, I'll be the first to admit I love the President's enthusiasm for an important aspect of American culture. I mean, hey, I was at the Inauguration. Sports is big (bucks) to a lot of Americans, and Mr. President is astute enough to espouse that.

But with blanket health insurance legislation, the mending of a battered economy and a relief effort in Haiti all in full swing, I think sports should be on the back burner right meow. While it may be a way to boost his swooning public opinion numbers, the real approval of the populous lies in the bigger current domestic political agenda.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Everpresent conflict between club and international duties

I was reading today how Michael Essien will be out of action for Chelsea for 4-6 weeks after sustaining an injury training with Ghana at the African Nations Cup. Often, clubs are hesitant to let their players go to international competitions because of the fear of injury. Without a top player lining up for the game, it could have an adverse affect on a team's chances to win.

But is it really so wrong for a player to want to play for his country? It would be cool to slip on a jersey with "USA" affixed to the front, and millions in bars and homes watching you play on TV.

Plus, it's a rare thing to play for your homeland. With only 32 countries in the World Cup this summer and roughly 20 players per team, it's a select crowd. I feel badly for soccer players who are put in the uneviable position of having to choose between their competing duties to clubs and national teams.

Soccer is unlike the NBA and MLB in the respect that there are very few times (none whatsoever in the NFL) where the national team comes calling for practices and games for global competition.

The Olympics and world championships for basketball are few and far between, and because much of the NBA is comprised of American players still (77 players in the 2008-2009 season were from abroad), only a small number of teams are affected. And like the NHL when the Olympics and Ice Hockey World Championships and the MLB when the World Baseball Classic happens, often a break in the season ensues or the competition takes place outside the season.

Obviously the competitions are present to showcase a country's best talent on a national stage. Players enjoy representing their country and exhibiting a sense of pride in where they're from.

Lots of kids grow up wanting to play for the popular teams: Yankees, Red Sox, Lakers, Celtics, Red Wings, Penguins and so on. But everyone always dreams of playing for their country in a sport. Can we really fault them for that?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Other should get same treatment as Kiffin in Knoxville

Naming a wastewater treatment facility after a coach branded by fans for his treachery after abandoning ship for the next big gig: Is there something ironically refreshing about that or what?

After a Tennessee attorney has filed paperwork to name a sewage center in rememberance of Kiffin, there are a few other places that should certainly look into giving a run out for names to immortalize coaches who left under similar circumstances:

The Billy Donovan Flip Flop Emporium

Petrino's Hog Heaven BBQ Pit

The 1st Annual Calipari Swap Meet

Ohno's Ice Dancing Rink

The Brett Favre (Un)Retirement Center

Tiger's Hole in One Cadillac Dealership and Cocktail Lounge

Abdominal Bowflex - Rex Ryan Edition

Regeneration: A Place of Healing, with John Daly

Tourret Anonymous: Ozzie Guillen, Chicago Chapter President

Mike Gundy's 40-and-Over Gym

The Plaxico Burress "Legs Only" Shooting Range

Colorado All-Star Women's Kicking Camp with Rick Neuheisel

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Carroll to 'Hawks right move?

Time to get back on the posting trail after the holiday hiatus.

I'll start off by talking about the big Washington news of the day -- Pete Carroll to Seattle.

Let's lead off with the positives. The guy can coach, as evidenced by his stellar record at USC (96-19 in nine seasons), and his plus-.500 record as the head man in the NFL (33-31 in four seasons).

However, let's look at what we know about Carroll:

A player's coach. Carroll, while maintaining his stranglehold over his players as the enthusiastic coach, is also seen as one of the guys. His exuberant delivery . Carroll also appears to be a pretty benevolent guy -- helping with youth football, inviting handicapped children to practice (read: ESPN's 'Outside the Lines' story) and even adding an extra special teams coach to his staff. In all seriousness, players gravitate towards this guy because of his charisma -- something certain to lure impressionable high school stud athletes to campus as a college recruiter.

But pro ball is a different story -- players get drafted, free agents ink contracts with greenbacks and playing time (not coaching philosophy) on their minds, and the well-oiled machine of the NFL grinds on. If it were about being a player's coach, Jim Mora would still be toting a Seattle clipboard. Because he couldn't deliver consistent, week-to-week results, he was jettisoned out of town.

How will personnel issues be decided? Since Carroll was able to plug-and-play with the athletes that rolled in at USC, he will be in a different scenario in the NFL, especially in terms of handing roster moves. It has yet to emerge whether or not Carroll will handle contractual negotiations, have final say on draft choices and be given authority to go after desired free agents. If so, this role will be vastly different than his ability to woo tweens to committ to the sunny So-Cal life. Instead, Carroll will have to flash Paul Allen's money and hope players buy into his 4-3 defense and seemingly big play offensive mindset -- be it Jeremy Bates or Norm Chow that runs the offensive show in Seattle. It has been reported Will Lewis could take on the General Manager role in Seattle should Carroll only have coaching responsibilities.