Thursday, March 16, 2006

15-2 Upset In the Making?

I'd have a better chance of assessing Winthrop's chances of pulling a rare upset if I hadn't been booted off of ncaasports.com's March Madness On Demand during the second OT of the BC game (and it's not letting me back in for any reason whatsoever).

Remember before, though, when I said that if there was to be a 15-2 upset this year, it would be Winthrop over Tennessee. Stupid CBS; they should be feeding us this game over the opening minutes of Marquette-Alabama (which could be headed for an upset if you consider a 10 beating a seven an upset. I do not).

Hopefully I'll have more luck with this service tomorrow, though I'd be surprised if that were the case.

Tourney Thoughts

First off, let me state that the on-demand viewing over at ncaasports.com is the greatest invention in the history of the world. All you have to do is surf the web while you wait 10 minutes to enter, and you have access to every game. And to boot, there's not much lag.

My first question comes from the BC-Pacific game (which is in OT right now, with Pacific up 6). Why, with nine seconds left, was Craig Smith handling the ball? I understand if you want him taking the last shot; he's a senior and has handled plenty of pressure in the past. But why is he taking the ball up court with his vastly inferiour ball handling skills?

BC looks horribly flat in overtime, kinda like they expected this win to fall in their laps, and are miffed that they're in OT, rather than playing their asses off and earning a win. Even when they're succeeding, they look lazy. They're doing so many things right, but just can't capitalize. And you know what? They deserve to lose this game.

Gray just hit a 3 to put Pacific up by five. This is significant mainly because he was UNGUARDED. Jared Dudley answered, but unless BC can D up, they're cooked.

Well, they didn't exactly D up, but they forced a TERRIBLE shot by Pacific, which hardly hit iron. Twelve point two seconds left, and my guess is that BC goes for the tie. They know they're the better team, so extending this to a second OT rather than throwing up a prayer for the win. And they do, though Craig Smith was fouled. We just watched him make one of two a few minutes ago. Is he clutch? He is for one. And two. We're headed for a second OT, baby!

And, as expected, BC steamrolled through the second OT. Now, if only ncaasports.com would let me back onto their damn server. Doesn't look like it's happening, though.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Damon Has Tendinitis

Yes, he is officially injured, but apparently isn't thinking about withdrawing from the WBC. In fact, he may be available to hit in tonight's game against Mexico, though it would likely be in a pinch-hitting situation, since A-Rod and Chipper Jones have been rotating at DH and 3B.

I know I'm the anti-WBC grinch here, but Damon seriously needs to withdraw. He just signed a deal with the New York Yankees, not Team USA. As such, he needs to protect his body against further injury, especially if said injury wasn't sustained as a Yankee.

He's done his part; he's represented his country. Now it's time to step back, assess your situation, and realize that the risk of further injury isn't worth a few Team USA at bats. Get back to camp, Johnny. Gene Monahan will make everything better.

Final Four

DukeNovaUNC
PittNova


I shouldn't need much room for explanation here. I have stated my position on Pitt, and while I don't think Duke is an overly strong team this year, I think they can make it to the finals. J.J. and Shelden won't give up their senior years without an arduous fight.

On the other side, while UNC will be amped should they make the Final Four, I think 'Nova is looking to exact a bit of revenge on the team that ended their 2005 dreams.

Nova over Duke in the finals, furthering the Big East's resume of recent championships.

NCAA: Minneapolis Region

1. Villanova'Nova'Nova'Nova'Nova
16. Monmouth
8. ArizonaArizona
9. Wisconsin
5. NevadaNevadaBC
12. Montana
4. Boston CollegeBC
13. Pacific
6. OklahomaWisconsin-MilFloridaG-Town
11. Wisconsin-Milwaukee
3. FloridaFlorida
14. Southern Alabama
7. GeorgetownG-TownG-Town
10. Northern Iowa
2. Ohio Davidson


Yes, I'm picking Wisconsin-Milwaukee solely based on their upsets from last year. I'm not overly impressed with Oklahoma and couldn't find any other viable upsets in this region, so they made the most sense. Most of the other teams seem clear cut above their first round opponents, and since this is the strongest region, I'm confident in picking most of them to win in Round 1.
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I'll admit my bias here -- I love Villanova. They play a different game, starting four guards, and I think that could play to their benefit in the tournament. Remember, last year they nearly outlasted UNC, and that was without Curtis Sumpter. They've been sans Sumpter the entire year, and still definitively got a No. 1 seed. Their test will be against BC, who could have the answer to their confusing scheme in the form of Jared Dudley. While I despise the guy, I can't deny his talent and aggressiveness. If Nova doesn't win this region, BC will.

Georgetown overtaking Ohio St. was as near a no-brainer as a 2-7 game can get, for me at least. The Hoyas have been impressive this year, while Ohio St. has run amok in a much lesser conference. The same logic applies to the Hoyas potential meeting with Florida in the Sweet 16, as I'm just not impressed with Florida, despite their run to the SEC crown. Remember, it was South Carolina they defeated for the title. While SC was hot leading up the game, I believe this was more a regression to the mean than Florida overtaking a hot team. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see Florida drop to the winner of Oklahoma vs. Milwaukee.

NCAA: D.C. Region

1. UConnUConnUConnUConnUNC
16. Albany
8. KentuckyUAB
9. UAB
5. WashingtonWashingtonWashington
12. Utah St.
4. IllinoisIllinois
13. Air Force
6. Michigan St.George MasonUNCUNC
11. George Mason
3. North CarolinaUNC
14. Murray St.
7. Wichita St.Seton HallTennessee
10. Seton Hall
2. TennesseeTennessee
15. Winthrop


Yeah, I know, I'm insane for picking UNC, especially considering their contingent of freshmen. While tournament experience is usually vital to how deep a team progresses, I think that UNC has the talent to win this region. They recently rattled off eight straight wins, sandwiched between losses to BC and Duke, which is forgivable. Oh, and they beat Duke -- in Cameron -- along the way. Murray St. should be a cakewalk, as should be their potential second round engagement against either Michigan St. or George Mason. I even think they're head and shoulders above Tennessee. After rattling off those wins, they'll surely be energized for a potential meeting with No. 1 UConn.
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My only initial upset was Seton Hall over Wichita St. Hall knows they got lucky with their birth -- it could just as easily have gone to Cincinnati -- and now they'll have to bear down and prove their worth. Since I'm not overly impressed with Wichita, picking the Big East team here was kinda easy. But then I got to thinking...

Last year, I picked Michigan St. to be upset in the first round, and it completely busted my bracket. They surprised everyone, despite their less than impressive run leading up to the tournament. This year, they're in a similar situation, and I still don't have any confidence in them. Sure, they have Ager and Paul, two integral pieces to their tournament run last year. But they were 8-8 and horribly inconsistent in the Big 10 this year, a conference that was well tiered as far as conference records go. In fact, I was surprised that they even got a bid, and even more surprised that the conference sent six to the dance. George Mason is 10-2 in thier last 12, with the only losses coming at the hands of Hofstra, which leads me to believe that Hofstra just had GM figured out. I don't think Michigan St. will.

Look for Washington also, who are pretty hot entering the tournament and could take the momentum from first and second round victories and turn it into an epic battle with UConn.

Notably, I have zero confidence in Tennessee, and am only picking them because I have negative confidence in Seton Hall's ability to win two games in the tournament. However, if there was going to be a 15-2 upset this year, it's going to be Winthrop over Tennessee.

NCAA: Oak-town Region

1. MemphisMemphisDukePittPitt
16. Oral Roberts
8. ArkansasBucknell
9. Bucknell
5. PittsburghPittPitt
12. Kent St.
4. KansasKansas
13. Bradley
6. IndianaSDSUZagsZags
11. San Diego St.
3. GonzagaZags
14. Xavier
7. MarquetteMarquetteUCLA
10. Alabama
2. UCLAUCLA
15. Belmont


Pitt has been hot, it's that simple. They may have lost the Big East Tournament to Syracuse, but they were playing an even hotter 'Cuse team. Part of me picking them has to be the strength of this region; the only team I think can beat Pitt is UCLA, and I just have a feeling they'll run out of steam when they face Adam Morrison and Gonzaga (though I did pick UCLA out of this region in my secondary pool).

[MORE]

Only one predicted upset in this region, and that's SDSU over Indiana, mainly because I am wholly unimpressed with the Hoosiers. San Diego State isn't a powerhouse by any means, but I think they can eek out an upset over a deflated Indiana squad.

I thought about taking Bradley over Kansas, but chose against it in both pools. As much as I dislike the Jayhawks, I don't see them dropping in the first round two years in a row. They have a more consistent team this year, and although Bradley may be on a relative hot streak, Kansas should take this one with ease. However, I don't see them beating Pitt in any scenario.

Memphis may have been impressive this year, but not impressive enough in my mind to warrant them a Final Four berth. Once again, Pitt seems like the tougher team. Gonzaga could make a run here, and I would actually give them a fighting chance to take down the Panthers in the Elite Eight. Their biggest obstacle, however, is UCLA, who are as hot as hot can be.

NCAA: ATL Region

1. DukeDukeDukeDukeDuke
16. Southern U
8. G. WashingtonG. Wash
9. NC-Wilmington
5. Syracuse'Cuse'Cuse
12. Texas A&M
4. LSUIona
13. Iona
6. West VirginiaWVUWVUWVU
11. Southern Ill.
3. IowaIowa
14. N'western St.
7. CalNC StateTexas
10. NC State
2. TexasTexas
15. Penn


I had a hard time picking Duke out of this region, since I plenty of flaws in them. However, judging by the rest of the competition, I don't really see any other viable choice. In fact, I've entered two pools, and the only team I'm picking for the Final Four in both is Duke.
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Let's go over the upsets first, most notably Iona over LSU. Their slimmest margin of victory over the past three games has been 16 (they won the other two by 19 and 26). Before that, they have strung together an impressive string of wins, and haven't lost by more than six since January 6th. Maybe the MAAC isn't the toughest conference, but let's be honest, neither is the SEC.

As for LSU, it's not that they've played terribly, but I just don't like what I see. They strung together seven straight wins before being manhandled by an unimpressive Florida team in the SEC semifinals, but their only impressive victories in that run came over bottom feeders like Vanderbilt and Mississipi State. We know a few first round upsets are in the offing, and I believe this one is a safe bet.

I struggled with the next two games, and flip-flopped the picks between my two brackets. WVU hasn't been very impressive since the turn of the New Year, but remember, they play in the toughest conference in the nation. The Salukis are always good for an upset, but in my strong bracket, I still have WVU overcoming them, mainly because of tournament experience and that they start four seniors. If they beat the Salukis, they stand a great chance of heading deep into the tournament. They just need to get the ball rolling.

The Iowa-Northwestern State game should be a no-brainer in most books, but I struggled with it. My initial inclination was to pick an upset in this game, but logic forced me to pick Iowa. However, there is still plenty of potential for an upset here. The Demons are 18-2 in 2006, and the vast majority of their playing time goes to juniors and seniors.

Finally, we have NC State-Cal, and while I like Cal (mainly because of the USC prank), NC plays in a tougher conference, and has to be motivated by recent losses to ranked and/or hot teams (UNC, BC, and twice to the red-hot Wake Forest team). Normally, I don't like picking a team with a losing streak headed into the tourney, especially as an underdog. But I have a feeling that the Wolfpack won't let their losing streak extend to five.

Jets Working On Abe Deal

This one looks rather enticing, though it doesn't look like the Falcons are very keen on it. Matt Shaub and the 15th selection in the second round for the former (and certainly future) All-Pro. The Falcons first round selection (obviously 15th overall) had been discussed as well, but they don't want to part with Shaub or their first rounder. This begs the question of whether the Falcons are serious contenders for Abraham.

The Falcons steadfastly refuse to include two-year veteran quarterback Matt Schaub, the player Jets officials regard as the centerpiece to any deal, in their trade proposals.


This makes some sense, since Shaub is regarded as a solid prospect for a starting gig. This translates into an adequate backup for Michael Vick, who is always at risk for injury. However, Shaub is the most attractive player on the Falcons roster to the Jets, as they are seeking competition for incumbent QB Chad Pennington. He is also a much better option than Patrick Ramsey, who could be headed to New York soon in return for a sixth round pick. Not much for compensation, but with the state of the Jets offensive line, Ramsey will surely flop.

The only other viable option from the Falcons roster is RB T.J. Duckett, though I'm sure the Falcons will also be reluctant to part ways with him, seeing as he's 25 and Warrick Dunn is 31. That leaves the only real option as a 2nd and 3rd rounder, which isn't exactly attractive for a guy of Abraham's caliber.

My take: unless the Jets can acquire Duckett, Shaub, or a 1st rounder, it's best to look elsewhere.

Uh Oh. Larry's Pissed.

Larry Brown raises the issue of credibility with Starbury.

"I've been coaching how many years, a long time," Brown said. "I never left a team in worse shape than when I got them. Not once. Think about that. Think about me and think about the guy who's talking. I never left a team in worse shape. Never asked anything of my players any different than I'm doing right now."

That response came to the question of whether he and Marbury can work this thing out. Brown, in seven prior NBA stops, has lifted all his clubs from the doldrums to the playoffs. Meanwhile, Marbury will miss the playoffs for the sixth time in 10 seasons and never has won a playoff round.


So I'm not the only one lobbying for a Marbury trade over the summer. Then again, Steve Francis would have to go as well, since I have zero confidence in him as the Knicks point guard. But think about this:

Larry Brown is known for making point guards. He has a mold he likes them to fit, and he trains them well to play that style. Look at Chauncey Billips, who could never catch on as a PG until Larry got his hands on him. Well, what about Jamal Crawford?

As for Marbury, Brown took another dig, saying Jamal Crawford's "becoming our best perimeter defender."


I've been an advocate of Crawford all season after deriding him in 2004-2005. He's really stepped up this year and become a much more consistent performer. But with the "deep" Knicks bench, he hasn't been able to get in for more than 20 minutes a game. But converting him to a point guard may be the best solution. It may not be easy, but hey, what else are the Knicks going to do this summer (other than blow their mid-level exception on another dud)?

As for Quentin Richardson, well, my opinion of him may have risen, just a bit.

"I'm not taking Quentin out," Brown said. "He's defending every play as hard as he possibly can."


Q was never hyped as a defensive player, mainly because of the environment he came from in Phoenix. They were a fast-break, move the ball around and see where the best shot is kinda team. Amare Stoudamire, Shawn Marion, and Steve Nash were such threats that Q and Joe Johnson could easily be lost in the mix, leaving them open for jumpers.

That's where Q created his value, but he's not in nearly the same situation with the Knicks. Instead of trying to play the same game he did in Phoenix, however, Q has helped out where he best can, on defense, rather than hovering by the three point line and firing up prayers.

And now that I look at it, the trade wasn't all that bad, save for the grave injury risk. Q and Kurt Thomas both have contracts that expire in 2009, so the Knicks didn't become any more cap-strapped by adding Q. Plus, he's about seven years younger than Thomas, AND the deal netted them Nate Robinson. So I take anything bad I said about the trade back. It may have been Isiah's best trade to date.

Pena Available?

The Detroit News reports that 1B Carlos Pena may be released this week.

Personally, I just can't see this happening, especially in the league with the DH. Pena is still relatively young at 28, and was once a hyped prospect (thanks, in part, to Moneyball). While his batting average has been consistently below average and he strikes out a bunch, he has a demonstrated ability to draw walks and hit for power. Call him a poor man's Adam Dunn.

Had this situation developed over the off-season, I would have been on board for a Yanks-Tigers trade. But check out the stats for our current backup first baseman:

G   AB  R  H   2B 3B  HR  RBI TB  BB SO  SB CS   OBP   SLG   AVG    
12 37 6 12 2 0 1 6 17 5 2 1 0 .405 .459 .324


So while I like the idea of acquiring Pena, it looks like Phillips might do just fine playing once a week. Plus, there is no guarantee that he will be available:

The Tigers have said nothing that would indicate Pena is a goner. Manager Jim Leyland said again Tuesday that the Tigers will not be making any significant roster moves before Saturday and that any surprises would be on the "mild" side.


Leyland is known for being controlling of his players. Back when he was managing the Pirates, he had enough pull to nix a Barry Bonds to the Braves trade, so if he wants to keep Pena around, surely he will.

That story reminds me, buy John Schuerholz's new book, which hits shelves tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Normally I like Dayn Perry, But...

The Red Sox as No. 1 in initial power rankings? Seriously? Well, if he's going to make such an assertion, he'd better have some hefty words to back it up.

The Red Sox have done a solid-to-admirable job of filling their holes at third, first, shortstop, and in center. The relief corps has been impressively revamped, and the rotation has imposing depth. To boot, Theo Epstein’s back in the fold. Much depends on the health of guys like Curt Schilling, Josh Beckett, David Wells and Keith Foulke, but as things stand now the Red Sox are tops in baseball.


How does one define a "solid-to-admirable job?" Apparently Alex Gonzalez and J.T. Snow fit Dayn's bill, but not mine. J.T. is a quality part-time player, and associating him with the word "admirable" is quite a stretch. He'll have a platoon partner in Kevin Youkilis, which could define the Sox handling of the position "adequate," but not quite "solid" or "admirable." And Alex Gonzalez may shore up a hole in the defense, but his presence inspires zero confidence offensively. Remember the days when Bill Mueller was batting ninth for the Sox? Yep, they're long gone.

Mike Lowell also doesn't inspire me to use Dayn's words, considering his horrible regression in 2005. There is no guarantee that he'll find his stroke this year, so to call him a solid or admirable acquisition isn't exactly accurate. I will give the Sox some credit, as Coco Crisp can be described as "admirable."

Finally, Dayn shoots himself in the foot with his final note about the fragile pitching staff. He lists four guys who are certifiably injury prone or possibly over the hill. David Wells's back is a bad outing away from ripping into two equal parts, and there have already been concerns this spring with Foulke's rehabilitated knee. Schilling hasn't yet proven he can return to pre-bloddy ankle form, though he has made a compelling case this spring. And Beckett...well, he could be the next Nolan Ryan or the next Matt Mantei.

He ranks the Yankees third (behind the White Sox, which I can't argue with) with this blurb:

As the Bombers are wont to do, they filled their most gaping hole but overpaid to do so. Johnny Damon gives them a capable, albeit pricey, glove in the outfield and good left-handed stick at the top of the lineup. The rotation is potentially deep, if a tad unimposing, and the bullpen will be solid. The aging lineup is still capable of scoring 800-plus runs on the season.


If he is compiling power rankings for the 2006 season, why does he mention Damon's contract twice? How does that have anything to do with how he'll perform in 2006? I'm sensing a little bias here, which is natural, since he's a Braves fan and is obviously envious of the Yankees championship run.

Call me biased if you will, but I think the Yankees are the team to beat in the AL East. I won't go so far as to say they're the team to beat in the American League, since the White Sox are until further notice. The Red Sox have plenty of questions to answer before they can assert their dominance in 2006.

Happy Gary

Gary Sheffield has fluctuated back to being content. This will last approximately two weeks.

"How do you go from playing for the Yankees to playing for someone else?" he said. "I know (playing with the Yankees) keeps me interested. I'm the type of guy who loses interest real quick. When I give out what I'm giving out and I don't feel like I'm getting back, I just go the other way. But the motivation has always been there here. I've never had to go the other way."


Sheff's declining stats are more of an issue in my mind if he is in fact properly motivated. If, as the article states, he believes his body is "more like a 33- or 34-year-old's," then his numbers shouldn't continue spiraling downwards in 2006. Ergo, he should be content playing under his current contract until he proves that he can hit like a 34-year-old. Naturally, that won't be the case, and we'll see Sheff back to "Angry Gary" soon enough.

George's Fear Becoming A Reality

Of course, Johnny Damon is the first Yankee bitten by the injury bug.

Damon’s shoulder – his throwing shoulder – started bothering him several days ago and he discussed the injury with Yankee GM Brian Cashman Sunday after pinch-hitting in Team USA's victory over Japan and Damon said Cashman thought "it was a good idea" if Damon took a break from throwing.

Damon said the injury "is just a problem for the short-term. Long-term, I’m good, but we’re playing it safe. Obviously, I would love to be in there and do what I can, but we’ve got to wait, which kind of stinks.


Just wonderful. And I'm not completely sold on that whole "problem for the short-term" jabber. Damon would never admit that this could be a long standing problem, not at this stage of the game.

Also of intrigue is this paragraph:

Teams in the WBC can make roster changes between rounds if there is an injury and Damon said that would be "up to Buck (Martinez, the Team USA manager). I'm going to let him run his roster. We have to have respect for the Yankees also. I would love to be able to be here and help the US team, but if that’s not possible…"


What I want to know is, did Johnny just kind of trail off at the end there, or were his comments cut out -- in "yadda yadda yadda" fashion -- with the three periods? I would have liked to have read something like, "I would love to be able to be here and help the US team, but if that's not possible, I'll head back to Tampa to rehabilitate my injury."

Yankees Tidbits

WBC? Hell no. NCAA Tournament? Eh, soon enough. NFL free agency? It’ll come soon. But for right now, I’ve got the Yankees on my mind. So let’s take it from the top.

Easily my favorite pitcher on the staff last year, Shawn Chacon is really making an impression this spring. Sure, he may have been a little shaky in his last outing, but that doesn’t phase me much. Chacon was far from flawless last year, despite the incredible results he brought.

We know from Chacon’s peripherals that he’s not going to tear through batters a la Randy Johnson. But, he can certainly toe the line as a No. 3 starter, which his just what the Yankees need this year. Chacon is also playing a role in keeping J-Wright out of the starting rotation, though he doesn’t need to make much of an effort on that front; he’s pitching his way to the bullpen just fine on his own.

PLAYER    W  L  S  ERA   G GS  CG SHO    IP   H   R  ER
J Wright 0 0 0 5.78 2 2 0 0 4.2 7 3 3


Just atrocious. At least that will prevent Joe from handing him a rotation spot based on his contract and veteran status. Then again, that spot is going to wind up in Carl Pavano’s unproven arm, which doesn’t inspire a much higher degree of confidence. A better option, in my opinion, to take the ball in mid-April:

W  L  S  ERA   G GS  CG SHO    IP   H   R  ER
0 0 0 4.05 3 0 0 0 6.2 10 6 3


That line belongs to Aaron Small. While they may not be awe-inspiring numbers, they are comparable to Mussina’s:

W  L  S  ERA   G GS  CG SHO    IP   H   R  ER
0 0 0 4.05 2 2 0 0 6.2 7 4 3


And since I’m grinding out (nearly meaningless) spring statistics, I might as well post the following pair of pitching lines:

W  L  S  ERA   G GS  CG SHO    IP   H   R  ER
0 0 0 3.00 3 0 0 0 3.0 1 1 1
0 0 1 3.00 3 0 0 0 3.0 1 1 1


Who do they belong to? Well, they’re both relievers. Closers, in fact. One of them is not Kyle Farnsworth. Give up? It’s Mo and J.B. Cox. While Cox won’t make the team out of camp, he sure could bolster the bullpen come mid-season, when the weak are filtered out. I mean, how badly could we have used a guy like Cox last June when Stanton and Quantrill were finally jettisoned?

Speaking of Farnsworth:

W  L  S  ERA   G GS  CG SHO    IP   H   R  ER
0 0 0 0.00 4 0 0 0 4.0 3 0 0


Freakin’ sweet. Once again, I realize that these numbers bear no correlation to regular season success. But it’s nice to know that Farny has found a groove already. Oh, and does anyone else buy the whole “Tanyon and Kyle are sharing the 8th inning” bit? Sure, I’d love for Tanyon to resurface and become Sturtze circa May 2005, but it’s certainly not anywhere near probable. I’m figuring that by the end of April, Sturtze and Wright will be scratching each other’s asses on the bullpen benches. And the Yankee fan base will be wondering why the hell they’re taking up TWO roster spots.

I’ll spare you the batting lines for right now, since I’m cooking something up with them, hopefully for later today.

Nate Dogg to the Rescue...Well, Not This Time

Okay, so the Knicks got slapped a bit silly by the Nuggets in the third quarter and it cost them the game. There is some good to be taken of this. For the first time since Steve Francis has been a Knick, Nate Robinson suited up.

Of course, Larry Brown knew to use Robinson at the exact second that he would be the most effective: 1:30 remaining in the third quarter with the team down 19. Of course, Nate knocked down a 25-footer within nine seconds of being on the court.

He again entered the game with 4:00 minutes left and the team down 20 and quickly netted six more points, including two technical freebies.

Think Larry Brown will up his workload to 10 minutes next game? I'd beg, but I know it's futile. Why does Brown have to hate rookies?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Internet Explorer Sucks

It has come to my attention (through my own exploration, I might add) that the site does not display properly in Internet Explorer. I tried fidgeting with the pixels to make it fit, but it seems the problem is in the code dealing with the new right side bar.

Now, I could go back through the entire template and fix it, but I don't think that's going to happen. The page views perfectly in Firefox, which everyone should be using anyway (sorry, I don't mean to tell people what to do, but IE just isn't safe).

So yeah, if you're having a problem viewing the site, I offer my sincere apologies. There are two simple options. 1) use Firefox. 2) just scroll down for the main content. It may be a slight pain, but it ain't that bad.

And I've been a bit busy, hence no real post yet today. Still a few errands to run, but I'm sure I'll get bored and type 5,000 words on the Tournament and NFL free agency later on today.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

'Cuse Wins

8. Cincinnati1. UConnSyracuse
Syracuse
Syracuse
9. Syracuse9. Syracuse
5. Georgetown4. MarquetteGeorgetown
12. Notre Dame5. Georgetown
6. Pitt3. West VirginiaPitt
Pitt
11. Louisville6. Pitt
7. Seton Hall2. VillanovaVillanova
10. Rutgers10. Rutgers


A few unexpected turns, but it ended up favorably. Syracuse was certainly the most inspiring story of the tournament, taking their 9th seed all the way, taking down the net following a victory over Pitt. This momentum is just what they needed entering the tournament, where they're looking to avenge their 2005 first-round loss to Vermont.

Tonight should be of great interest, since the Big East could receive eight bids, possibly nine if everything goes thier way. That is highly unlikely, however, as I have discussed before. Had George Washington won the A-10, bids for Cincinnati AND Seton Hall could have been in the offing. But since Xavier won and thus clinched a bid, one of those two teams could be out. In any event, the Big East should be sending eight to the tourney, which is a monstrous number. But remember, they're a 16 team conference that doubles as the best in the nation. Hence, it's logical that they should receive eight bids.

I might not be live for Selection Sunday after all, but I'll try to work out a table for the tournament later on. Hope your team makes it.

(B)Lazing on a Sunny Afternoon

Yesterday was gorgeous. Nary a cloud in the sky, it would have been downright picturesque had the leaves been green – or even existent for that matter. Sure, we’ve had a few strings of nice days already in 2006, but nothing quite like this. And as such, it was only natural that my friends and I wanted to spend the bulk of our time outside, away from the heat of Clay’s apartment (you know, one of those complexes where the heat is centrally controlled, so it’s on regardless of the weather). Problem was, he didn’t have the tools of the trade – a whiffle bat and ball, a frisbee, a baseball, gloves…absolutely nothing.

After playing guitar on his stoop for a half-hour didn’t yield us much of an audience – and no females, which is the whole point – we decided that CVS would be our next destination. A football, whiffle bat, anything would do at this point. After a 20 minute walk there and back (what would be the point of a nice day if we drove?), we returned with our sporting apparatus – whiffle ball and bat, and a frisbee (plus batteries for Clay’s electronic dart board).

Twenty minutes later, we were down to the darts. Ten minutes into darts, we were down one, forced to play with two darts. Maybe it was the beer muscles, maybe it was the fact that we’re too old to be playing with $3 frisbees and whiffle bats. In any case, we managed to break everything we had bought.

First came the frisbee. None of us are particularly skilled in the way of the disc, and as such we had plenty of wild throws. We were so bad that we couldn’t even intentionally overthrow in the direction of a cute blonde wearing lowcut jeans. Naturally, we improved over the course of the 10 minutes we were throwing the thing, but things took a turn for the worse as we attempted to showboat. Showboat for whom? Well, no one really – except the cute blonde, who we found out has a cute blonde roommate, though they were nowhere to be seen at this point.

My buddy Sam became frustrated with this showboating effort, since it usually ended up with him chasing an errant throw. When a flurry of low throws came his way, he began attempting to kick the frisbee up to himself. Two kicks later, our frisbee had shattered into three nearly equal pieces. Our $3 had netted us roughly 15 minutes of entertainment. For comparison, $15 for bleacher seats at Yankee Stadium promises 2 ½ hours of entertainment. We got ripped off.

Never ones to waste time (that’s a complete lie), we didn’t hesitate to pick up the whiffle bat and begin an epic game of “Ghost Man on First” (which, coincidentally, was our band name for all of a week). The problem with this became evident right from the start; we all have an “alpha male” complex, leading us to swing feverishly at the slow moving whiffle ball. Everyone knows that you don’t need to swing at full capacity when you’re dealing with a plastic ball and bat – especially when neither of them is wrapped in duct tape.

Fast-forward about six minutes. I had already taken my swings, which mainly resulted in non-solid contact, mostly pull shots off the handle of the whiffle bat. I should have known we were in for trouble, since the handle of the bat is harder than the sweet spot, thus causing more damage to our whiffle ball. A few handle shots from Clay, and it was an inevitability. Sure enough, he made solid contact on a pitch, which tore our ball apart at the seams. Game off. Roughly 10 minutes of entertainment (if that) for our buck fiddy. Yes, Yankee Stadium still provides more efficient entertainment.

If anything positive can be taken from this, it’s that 1) we discovered that Clay lives very close to two cute blondes and 2) it was nearing dark, so we could justify moving the party inside for some darts action. Unfortunately, the beer muscles did not rescind, nor did our collective “alpha male” complex. A few minutes into a game of Cricket (we hadn’t even opened up any scoring yet), I took a few ill-advised throws, resulting in a shattered dart tip. And that’s what we get for playing with plastic tip darts on an electronic dartboard; a miss is a quick recipe for shattered darts. I mean, he could have bought and actual dart board, but I’m sure he values his rented walls (and his security deposit).

A few minutes more, and we were pretty sick of playing with the two remaining darts. Another trip to CVS was contemplated, but we decided that the rate at which we were breaking shit simply couldn’t justify a further investment in entertainment. And, as many of our nights end, we settled on marijuana and a movie (Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, which was an hour and 15 minutes of eye candy).

Note to everyone my age: sports are a wonderful thing. They fill hours upon hours with pure enjoyment. However, we need to realize our means. If you’re playing whiffle ball, substitue the flimsly plastic thingy with a tennis ball, and duct tape the bat. Not only will the ball go further, but you won’t break the damn thing within 15 minutes. And if you’re throwing a frisbee, don’t showboat unless you can actually throw the thing. And for the love of God, don’t kick it. We now know how that can end up.

Was there a real point to this post? Not really. It’s just what I thought was an interesting sports story on the nicest day thus far in 2006. Happy amateur sports season, everyone!