Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Jones Leading Rusher for North

Campbell, Watson trade series in Senior Bowl Loss

That's right, Julius Jones was the leading rusher for the North Squad in their 28-10 loss in this year's Senior Bowl. Jones rushed 4 times for 8 yards, leading the team in both categories, as the North needed to go to the air to play catch up for most of the game.
Darrell Campbell had 2 tackles, one for a loss, while playing both defensive tackle and defensive end. Courtney Waston played middle linebacker and special teams and recorded one pass breakup.

Too Little, Too Late, as ND Men Fall to Kentucky 71-73

Improved Effort on Defense Isn't Enough Against #8 Team

When the ND Men's Basketball team releases their "year in review" tape, it should be called "Too Little Too Late." Once again, a late run against a good team couldn't quite make up for a sluggish start.
I'll give Kentucky a lot of credit on the defensive end. Despite being undersized, they were able to swarm to the ball in the low post, and completely shut down Torin Francis. On the offensive side of the ball, athleticism won out over height, as the Wildcat frontcourt was able to maneuver around the Irish big men instead of going up strong.
When the Irish had the ball, there wasn't much to watch. Torrian Jones did a nice job of slashing to the basket a few times. But, with Francis shut down and the outside game gone cold, ND struggled. "Listless," I believe, is a good word to use. Too much standing around. Where are the backdoor cuts? Do something to get someone open down low! Adjust to what the defense is doing!
On D, the Irish have improved in the hustle department a little. They did outrebound UK 38-31, and for once I didn't see any 15 foot offensive rebounds coming off free throws.
Notes on individual performances: Colin Falls has become the token "hustle" guy. He runs around like a man possessed, always swarming to the loose balls and rebounds. He's becoming fun to watch, even though it isn't looking right now like he'll be the second coming of Matt Carroll. Once again, I have a beef with Chris Thomas. Several times, he went all out for a steal in the backcourt, letting his guy get completely by him. Then, he just lollygags back, giving the opponent an automatic power play! I'll quote John Wooden from the recent IBM Linux commercials: "A player that makes the team great is more valuable than a great player." Don't make your teammates do more work just because you want to make a weak attempt at quick personal glory. Oh, and slowing down so you can dunk only to let the defensive guy catch up with you on a steal? Brilliant. Should Thomas jump to the NBA next year. Let's go to this replay courtesy my dad and me:
Me: "Well, he shoots 30% and doesn't play defense."
Dad: "Well, then, he's ready for the NBA."

Random Rambling: Why I shouldn't be allowed to pick the first two songs for my wedding reception

If I were to marry Ellen, our first dance together would definitely be to the classic "I've Grown Accustomed to Your Face."
And, for the first dance with the parents, I'd definitely go with "Que Sera Sera."
"When I was just a little boy
I asked my mother, what will I be
Will I be handsome, will I be rich
Here's what she said to me.
Que Sera, Sera,
Whatever will be, will be"
(ok, so you have to think about this one a little. Think along the lines of "I asked my mother if I would be handsome, and she couldn't give me a straight answer.")

Thoughts on Jayson Stark's Column on Bud Selig

I just watched Eigth Men Out the other day, and in ESPN Classic's analysis, someone made the point that the comissioner has always been the lackey of the owners, so this could be interesting.

  1. Wild cards, more playoffs, interleague play. No, no, and no. OK, the Wild Card isn't so bad, since it gives a team like the Red Sox a chance to make the playoffs playing in a good divison. It wouldn't be to fair to say that the Twins deserved a spot in the playoffs more than they did. As for the expanded playoffs, I personally don't mind playing baseball in November, but I understand that for some people November weather seems a little cold. I'll let it slide since it means more baseball. Interleague play? Well, I finally get to see my team employ the strategy of playing without a DH, but what Bud forgets is that they're supposed to be two separate leagues. That's why there's rule differences, and two different league presidents, and the stats don't carry over. These aren't conferences, they're leagues. Arena Football is not part of the NFL, but the Federal League was a major league. There's a difference, let's keep it that way.

  2. The Schedule: The "unbalanced schedule" is forced parity. Teams play schedules of unequal strength in an attempt to level the playing field. This is stupid. Stark points out that it lets division contenders play each other many times in September, but let's look a little closer at that. The Indians and Twins were supposed to be 2 of the AL Central contenders last year, and they did meet several times in September, but their first meeting wasn't until right before the All Star Break. Teams are very streaky in baseball, you have to play them at different times of the year to get the full effect.

  3. Attendance and Ballparks: Attendance is up, but this is mostly due to gimmicks (which, as we know, do not pull the train). Most gimmicks are included in #1 above, but the greatest perhaps is the owners' latest get rich scheme. Jon Hart had a great idea for the Indians in the early '90s. A new park was on the way, and he decided to trade away some of the Tribe's older, more beloved players for some young hot prospects. When Jacob's Field opened, Carlos Baerga, Joey (Albert) Bell, Sandy Alomar and Charlie Nagy were just starting to hit their primes. Plus, there were a few newcomers by the names of Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez. So, the team was good for the first time in ages, and when you couple that with a new ballpark, attendance soared. Other owners saw this and though, "oh, if we build a new ballpark, people will start selling out every game, I'll make tons of money, and we'll automatically become good." Unfortunately, that's not how it works, as places like Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and Milwaukee (hmm... own by the Seligs) learned.

  4. Globalizing the game: This is a great thing, but I wouldn't give Selig the credit for it. It's the GMs, and owners, and scouts who did it. Plus, once one guy goes, many follow (Ichiro, El Duque, etc)

  1. Labor: This is strictly owners vs. players. And the next time you want to complain about how much money baseball players make, just remember that owners make a whole lot more for doing a whole lot less. (That, and many "small market" owners pocket the money they receive to help their ballclub.)

  2. Style and Image: All the other major sports comissioners are liked, as far as I know, so I can't say he wins this one.

  3. Owner unanimity: OK, great, so he has the owners all teamed up together. Well, baseball isn't about unathletic guys in suits (except at the winter meetings, or maybe when Don Zimmer or John Kruk make an appearance at the ESPYs). You don't want these guys too powerful, especially the baseball-illiterate ones who only care about making a buck.

  4. Milwaukee as the center of the baseball universe: Hey, everybody says my team plays like an NL team, let's move them to the NL! Hey, let's contract the Twins so all their fans become our fans! Hey, let's take a team that was great with Paul Molitor and Robin Yount and make them sucky! Hey, I (or my daughter) still own this team, let's have every decision I make benefit us!

And one thing not mentioned: contraction. Let's add 4 teams during my tenure, then take 2 away. While we're at it, why not include one of the most history-rich franchises ever? (the Philadelphia-Kansas City-Oakland A's) Not a good idea, especially for the Twins and A's, and thank God it's been forgotten about

Random Rambling #2

Thank God for the on screen guides that come with digital cable. Friday was AFC playoff classics day on ESPN Classic, and hadn't I been careful, I would have tuned into The Drive, and later The Fumble, both within hours of each other. No so good.

Cavs Commercial Gets it Right

Here's the latest Cavs commercial for Fox Sports Ohio: a set of twins are joined at the finger, and one decides to become an absolutely obnoxious fan who jumps on every bandwagon available. In this instance, he's a Lakers fan. But, the other twin remains a Cavs fan, and he is rewarded. The "moral" of this commercial: with Fox Sports Ohio, you can be a true fan and watch your hometown team, instead of watching all the bandwagon favorites on some national channel. Very nice.

OK, hopefully that's enough for today. We'll have the Transaction Wire tomorrow and a Super Bowl preview Thursday. Also, inspired by the first Baseball Tonight of the season that was on last week, I'll start a division-by-division look at the upcoming baseball season. Here's the proposed order (and why that order makes sense to me):
NL West (no current KankaNation fans)
AL West (one quasi-Seattle fan)
AL East (one bandwagon Yankmees fan)
NL East (one Mets fan)
NL Central (two Cubs fans and a Pirates fan)
AL Central (this is technically an ND AND Cleveland sports site)