Monday, August 30, 2004

The Weekend in Review

Rambling while preparing the Kankas for Ellen's (and Dave's) Visit

  • I'll start with an "in case you haven't seen this yet" link: Jeremy Bloom's thoughts on the NCAA and their decision. At least Bloom can rest a little easier with Mike Williams also sitting out this year.

  • While we're linking, I give you the Rally Squirrel, the star of Cleveland's recent comeback over the Yankees. Unfortunately, only decided that the YES Network's coverage was worth posting. (movie link - might not want to play this at work)

  • Watching ESPN's "behind the scenes" of the USC-Virginia Tech game only made me hate television studios even more. You're supposed to cover the game as it happens, not tell them when and how to play! Idiots.

  • Speaking of the game: wow, VT almost had that one. If they hadn't laid over and died after that crap pass interference call (he was moving around the guy, not pushing him out of the way), USC is in a decent sized hole.

  • Speaking of ESPN's college football coverage: How many times this year will I catch myself saying this this year: "wow, Trev Alberts is actually making
  • sense this year. Oh wait, that's Craig James." Sounds like something my dad or Dave's dad (or Sports Guy's dad) would end up doing.
  • Still speaking of ESPN college football, it's official: College Gameday will be on campus again for the ND-Michigan game. I wonder how Fired-Up Friend Todd will be able to contain himself.

  • Mike Brey has named his captains for the upcoming season: seniors Chris Thomas and Jordan Cornette, and juniors Torin Francis and Chris Quinn. Cornette and Thomas are obvious, but Francis and Quinn are probably the surprises here. With Francis, perhaps not, since his solid play on the court is almost like natural leadership. In Quinn's case, it may be a strategical push (or a kick in the seat) on Brey's - go out there and play like you're a leader, like you're in charge. It could mean big things for ND's "other" starting guard.

  • Kanka's Sports page is getting a little more minor publicity. Apparently, Yahoo's Finance department has a separate message board for each company/stock. Well, someone on Sirius's message board apparently liked my comment about Sirius's Tom Brady commercial. Link here.

OK, so I happened to be in the room while my sister was watching the MTV awards last night. I pretended to be reading, but I kept peeking over my book for column fodder. Here are the highlights.

  • The first thing i saw was, reunited after five years, P. Diddy and Mase. Wow, it's almost like Simon and Garfunkle, but not as interesting. They were there to unveil their new slogan: "Vote or Die." Well, it is important for the youf of America to get out there and vote.

  • The award that Diddy and Mase presented went to an Usher song featuring Ludacris and Lil John. The stage was the biggest posse convention I had ever seen.

  • I will give the VMAs credit - they were very fired up about music history this year. LL Cool J called Alicia Keys this generation's Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder performed, Keys gave a 20 second tribute to Ray Charles (should have been much longer), and of course Dave Chappelle gave a shoutout to Rick James. When Usher won an award, he credited Michael Jackson, and - surprise - Jackie Wilson ("Your Love Keeps Lifting Me Higher and Higher") as dancing influences. It's nice to see someone remembers these people.

  • My favorite moment of the night came during Alicia Key's performance (and it wasn't just because Keys is nice to look at). Keys began singing one of her songs on piano, then the house lights came up on her band and a second piano player - Stevie Wonder. After that song finished, they broke into "Higher Ground" with Lenny Kravitz. Fun to watch. As I watched, though, I thought how funny it was to see a semi-Cosby Show reunion. Not only was the night a celebration of bthe history of black culture (a constant favorite theme of Cosby's - see previous point), but the performers all had Cosby ties: Keys was an extra, Wonder a special guest star, and Kravitz was formerly married to Lisa "Denise" Bonet. All that was missing was Adam Sandler (extra/friend of Theo's) on guitar.

  • Several female Olympic gold medalists were introduced during the show. I'd like to know who had the idea of standing Kerri Walsh (tall blonde beach volleyballer) next to gymnast Carly Patterson.

  • It's absolutely amazing that the Beastie Boys are still doing the 80s rapper thing, even with gray hair. They're doing it well, too.

  • To introduce a bit, Nick Lachey and Paris Hilton came out on a floating stage (think a cage from Heartland suspended by wires from the ceiling). The two stare at the wrong camera for 45 seconds until finally they turn, and Paris says, "Oh, over there!" My sister's comment: "Nick's probably thinking, 'finally I'm with someone dumber than Jessica.'"

  • The act these two introduced was supposed to be a group of "up and comers." It was a group of 12 people, all with long hair and robes. There was a male lead singer, 7 instrumentalists including brass, and 6 female backup singers. The song they sang was some sort of psychedelic showtune. While watching this, I could think: when did "Jesus Christ Superstar" become a music genre? The best part was the scattered cheering from the crowd. It was as if they were saying, "this sucks, but MTV is telling us we should like it, so maybe we should cheer."

That's it for today. Look for a Transaction wire Thursday morning, then my first ND football preview of the year Friday morning.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Transaction Wire

  • Cubs sign Neifi Perez, who had been with the Giants, to a minor league deal. His release by San Francisco unfortunately broke up the "I before E except in the Giants' middle infield" double play combo with Deivi Cruz. As for Perez's signing with the Cubs, Baseball Primer says it best: "Dear Mr. Hendry. Iowa is boring. Please [keep] sending crappy shortstops." Meg must be so proud.

  • Indians trade Scott Stewart to the Dodgers for a PTBNL or cash. Apparently, the Dodgers thought their bullpen was too good.

  • White Sox sign Alex Escobar, who had been released by the Indians to make room for Josh Phelps. Well, Escobar is still third in the AL in outfield assists, despite having been in the minors for several months. Of course, he was sent to the minors in the first place because he was having trouble staying over the Mendoza line. Hey, when Coco Crisp has 11 HRs and 50+ RBI, who needs Alex Escobar?

  • The Diamondbacks have placed 7 people on waivers, including Randy Johnson. Don't expect him to go anywhere, because Arizona still has the ability to pull him back. However, that doesn't mean they won't give him up if the right offer comes along.

  • Rumor has it that the Cardinals are looking to recall Rick Ankiel come the September roster expansion. I'm sure most of you are laughing at this due to Ankiel's past "location problems." However, he's been tearing up AA as of late. His problems were mostly a mental thing - "Steve Sax Disease" is the common term, named after the former all-star second baseman who went through a period of being unable to make easy throws to first. I know they're mental, because I go through spells like that on occassion, too. Ankiel says that he believes arm surgery has helped correct what was also partly a physical problem. Whether or not there was a physical element, the fact that Ankiel believes it is fixed is the first step towards him not worrying about it, and towards him living up to the potential of his rookie season.

  • Ced Hilliard, as reported Monday, was released by his hometown team, the Cowboys. On Tuesday, Hilliard was claimed by the Arizona Cardinals off of waivers.

  • Jets sign Quincy Carter. Maybe he's a crackhead, maybe he's not. Carter claims the positive test for cocaine was a media rumor run wild. Considering the media that I know and love, I'd tend to believe Carter. If he is lying, though, he wouldn't be the first coke addict that Dave has watched play for a favorite team.

  • Dolphins waive WR Snoop Minnis. Apparently, the Miami front office had heard of Snoop Dogg's mad pee-wee coaching skills and wanted to add him to the staff. But, after finding out they had the wrong Snoop, Minnis was gone.

  • The good news: USC suspended star RB Hershel Dennis for an alleged sexual assault occuring at his apartment. The bad news: USC still has 2 more star running backs. The worse news: "indefinitely" probably means "until we actually start playing good teams."

  • Speaking of USC: in case you missed it, the NCAA is still sitting on the Mike Williams decision, and he will not be able to play until they make it. He'll be out for at least their opener against Virginia Tech.

KankaMatic Football Draft Winners and Losers: Part 1

Rounds 1-10


  • Andy: Sure, having the number 1 pick overall helps, but check this out: If you put last year's stats into Dave's point system, Andy already has picked up the #1 QB (Peyton Manning), the #2 WR (Torry Holt - and he was a close #2), and the #1 TE (Tony Gonzalez). He can let Butch Davis finish the draft for him, and he'd still do OK.

  • Dave: Dave didn't see a QB he liked in the first two rounds, so he picked up Randy Moss and Ahman Green with his first two picks. Then, Tom Brady fell to him late in the third round. I'd say your strategy paid off, even if Jamal Lewis was a risky pick.


  • Kanka: Seriously, can I run a 3 RB/2 TE set? I lucked out by getting Trent Green (#2 QB by 2003 stats) at #5, but I made up for it with my WR picks. Next time I start wondering why a guy is lasting so long, I'd better start reading up on him. (Well, except for Derrick Mason. I should have picked him up.) Good grief. Maybe I should take Ricky Williams next. He did well last year, didn't he? And hey, Shannon Sharpe hasn't been taken yet...

  • Mike: Mike, you do realize QB rushing stats don't count, right? Right?

  • Ellen: Matt Hasselbeck's a good start. But Clinton Portis is overrated due to Denver's great O-Line, Corey Dillon is a risky pick, and Kellen Winslow - where should I start? Oh, and then there was the debacle with Pete taking Tiki. Ouch.

Not a winner or a loser, but he normally lucks out and wins everything anyways

  • Pete

Monday, August 23, 2004

The Weekend in Review

Ramblings with a Half Yurchenko Twist

  • First of all, I'd like to welcome a new blog to the list of links in our right sidebar - The Backer. It's an interesting mix of ND life, sports, and just about anything else you can think of. Welcome to the blog bandwagon!

  • You know, there's nothing like a 8 game losing streak to teach me to keep my mouth shut about the Indians' playoff chances. Then again, with a rotation that's in uncharted waters when it comes to innings, a bullpen that never was good, and a young lineup that's bound to have droughts, maybe this year was a little too soon.

  • There was a huge unfounded rumor floating around NDNation this weekend that Tom Zbikowski would be transferring to Nebraska. Well, he had missed a few days of practice, but it was nothing major. "TZ" was back today taking reps at free safety.

  • A week or two ago, there was a rumor that the Browns would trade WRs or Quincy Morgan or Andre Davis (not to be confused with LB Andra Davis) to the Dolphins for holdout DE Adewale Ogunleye. And why not? With Ricky Williams gone and David Boston out for the season, Miami needs offense. The Browns are relatively deep at WR (although they wouldn't be any more after this trade), and Butch Davis is known for taking quantity over quality on the D-Line. Well, this rumor wasn't even close to coming true. THis was something proposed by the Miami front office, but the Browns never even considered it. A few days later, Ogunleye went to the Bears for Marty Booker. Rumor has it that the Dolphins may still have their eye on Browns reserve RB James Jackson, a graduate of "The U" who has said he would gladly accept a trade to the Dolphins. They can have him.

  • Speaking of "The U" - is "ironic" the right word to use here? Football players from Miami refer to their school as "The U," even though U stands for University. University implies a school and the associated academic work, something Miami football players rarely concern themselves with.

  • My favorite moment of the Olympics thus far: after winning his first gold medal in the 400 IM, swimmer Michael Phelps turns to silver medalist and fellow American Eric Vendt and asks, "Do we have to take our wreaths off for the Nation Anthem?"

  • Ced Hilliard's NFL dream took a hit recently, as he was a victim of the Cowboys' latest roster cuts. Hey, maybe he'll end up in Cleveland.
  • The Mets welcomed ND Alum Aaron Heilman back to the majors today (Monday) and handed him the ball for their game against San Deigo. It hasn't been a great year for Heilman at AAA, but after a rough first innings, it appears that he's settled down against the Padres.

  • Speaking of Mets pitchers, or at least former Mets pitchers, Scott Kazmir will be in uniform for the Devil Rays starting on Monday night. Between Kazmir, BJ Upton, Carl Crawford, Dewon Brazelton, and Rocco Baldelli, it appears that Lou Pinella is trying to challenge most NBA teams for the youngest average age for a pro sports team. Hey, at least he's giving his young talent some experience instead of hiding them behind overpaid, washed-up free agents.

  • Well, it appears that Tom Timmermans will not be playing for the Nets this year. The Mark Paul Gosselaaar of Basketball signed a deal with the Cantabria Lobos of the Spanish League for the upcoming season. No word yet as to whether he actually speaks Spanish.

  • Congratulations to KankaSports contributor Ellen Fitzgerald for her first scoop. The South Bend Tribune is now reporting that Gary Godsey will be a part of the remake of The Longest Yard. Godsey will play a prison guard/defensive end named Malloy. He has no speaking lines, but in addition to his character, he will also serve as a stunt double for the "action" football scenes. Check out some of his co-stars courtesy Stone Cold, Brian Bosworth, Goldberg (apparently no longer feuding with Stone Cold, or at least not enough to keep him from getting a paycheck), Michael Irvin, Kevin Nash (the #2 recruit out of high school the year he graduated - second only to someone named Ervin Johnson), Nelly, and Bill Romanowski. You can't make this up.

Well, that's all I have. Time to go figure out how I'm going to screw myself over even more in the fantasy draft.

Monday, August 16, 2004

The Weekend In Review

or: The Stuff That Happened Outside While You Were Playing Madden

  • My favorite new commercial: John Madden is riding in Tom Brady's car. Brady is showing Madden his new Sirius satellite radio receiver. Brady explains that he can listen to every single NFL game on it, and Madden is impressed. (Shouldn't Brady be too busy on Sundays to listen to other games?) "It's my new favorite receiver," Brady comments. Cut to the Patriots' locker room. Troy Brown, David Patten, and David Givens are huddled around a TV, where Madden is giving a report. "I have bid news: Tom Brady has a new favorite receiver!" Givens then goes, "I thought I was his favorite receiver." Dah.

  • Too bad you can't have "conditional players" in KankaMatic baseball. I'd definitely have "Ben Broussard With the Bases Loaded" (something like 9-18, 23 RBI, 3 grand slams), "Clifford Lee and Jake Westbrook During the First Five Innings" (both are in uncharted waters as far as innings pitched, and have shown signs of fatigue starting in the 6th), and "Vic Martinez With Guys on Base."

  • You've probably already read enough about the men's Olympic basketball team (and by team, I of course mean "collection of high-selling jerseys"). At first, I thought that Larry Brown wasn't as great a coach as I thought he was. But hey, he did still take a team of outcasts and win a championship with them. They had the heart. This team doesn't have the heart. Maybe they need someone like Bobby Knight to say, "Shut up and listen to me, or you're on the bench." Or, maybe they just need a captain, an unselfish point guard, and a shooter.

  • OK, so this isn't a Dream Team. But, don't blame them. Even if you had a starting five of Kidd, Bryant, McGrady, Duncan (or Garnett), and Shaq, that's still not a Dream Team. Even if they were all unselfish (and yes, I'm starting to consider Kidd selfish). If I were an NBA historian, maybe I could name you a group of guys who played at the same time who were better than Magic, Bird, and Jordan (yeah, I said it...) with a supporting cast of Ewing, Robinson, Stockton, et al. But, offhand, nothing jumps out. That was something special. Here's another important thing, though: you can get away with lazy dribbling, poor defense, and 30% shooting when the other guy's doing it too. But, when the other guys are playing like a team, you'd better step up too.

  • While we're on the subject of the '92 Dream Team, just found this quote from :

    "They knew they were playing the best in the world," reflected Daly after the team won the gold medal with a 117-85 win over Croatia on August 8, 1992. "They'll go home and for the rest of their lives be able to tell their kids, 'I played against Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.' And the more they play against our best players, the more confident they're going to get.

    "Finally there will come a day -- I'm not saying it will happen anytime soon, mind you, but it's inevitable that it will happen -- that they will be able to compete with us on even terms. And they'll look back on the Dream Team as a landmark event in that process."

  • Speaking of Olympic baskeball: Last year, Ruth Riley outplayed and outclassed ("Ruth Riley can't guard me") Lisa Leslie in the WNBA finals. Yet, Leslie continues to be a womens' sports poster child, and a starter on the Olympic team. OK, I'll give the starting nod to her based on experience. But after her play against the Czech Republic (and not Czechoslovakia - that country split in 1993 idiots!) this morning. Slow, lazy, sloppy. She got a rebound or two based on her height, but that was it. Tom Timmermans could have owned her. And not even senior, "playing out of my mind", "The Hub" Tom Timmermans, but uncoordinated 6'11" freshman Tom Timmermans. Dah.

  • So, Michael Phelps won't be breaking Mark Spitz's record of 7 gold medals. You know what? Oh well. He didn't expect to. The record run was created by the media to attract the casual fan. You know you watched him because you were curious, just as countless droves watch a golf tournament with Tiger, regardless of how he does. Phelps has the right attitude, though, and seems very down to earth. Coming in to the games, he said (and I paraphrase): "Look, I didn't win any medals in Sydney. If I win one here, I'll be happy, and we'll go from there." After he did win his first medal, a gold, his only reaction was to celebrate the fact that his teammate won the silver. In a time when America's world reputation isn't the best, perhaps we need a few more people like this representing our country. (Side note: those huge headphones he wears before his heats reminds me of Brady Quinn as the team makes the walk from the Basilica to the Stadium.)

  • The Indians are starting to get noticed in the baseball world. Peter Gammons has praised GM Mark Shapiro since last year for his trades that landed a stockpile of, well, Gammons-esque players. Harold Reynolds loves their heart and hustle. And the series with the Twins was front-page news on The Tribe sure had the momentum going into the series. They were on a win streak, and the Twins were on a losing streak. Big first innings lead to 8-2 and 7-1 victories, and the Indians were a mere 1 game back of first going into the final game of the series. And the fans loved it. Jacobs Field had its first 40,000+ crowds since opening day. In the stadium's 10th anniversary year, it was starting to feel like the "good old days" - back when the lineup was so deep, Jim Thome hit 7th and Manny Ramirez 8th (Baerga, Bell, and Eddie Murray were 3-4-5, with the 1st Baseman du Jour hitting 6th). The final game was a 4-2 loss, but I'd hardly call this series a wash. The team is playing well and - surprise, surprise - this is the best offense in the AL. The rotation has played well, and this team can contend.

  • The Browns had a less than impressive debut. A 24-3 loss was marked by an O-Line that's still thin and tackling that's still sloppy. In a coach's show on today, Butch Davis was talking about the importance of depth, citing the 5 "quality" running backs he has (I still don't consider James Jackson a quality back). Hey Butch, how about some O-Line depth? The score was a little more lopsided than a regular season game might have been, as the Browns were trying a few things. For example, instead of kicking an easy field goal at the end of the half, the Browns decided to go for it on fourth down. A good hit by ND alum Rocky Boiman broke up a pass and saved the Titans 6 points.

  • Of course, Kellen Winslow couldn't even get through a series without incident. A few plays before being sat for a 15 yard unsportsmanlike that pushed the Browns out of field goal range, there was this: This of course is a movie, so you may not want to play it at work. Oh, and I'll include the obligatory "good, good."

KankaNation's Favorite Teams and Their Playoff Chances

  • Yankees 75-42, 1st in AL East. Yeah, yeah.

  • Cubs 63-54, 13.5 games back in NL Central, three way tie for wildcard lead (Padres, Giants). I like the Padres as a young upstart team, but the Cubs have to be the favorites to win the wildcard. With the unbalanced schedule, the Padres will meet each other and the Dodgers quite a bit in the coming month, and hopefully they'll beat each other up and knock themselves out of the lead.

  • Mets 56-60, 10 games back in NL East, 6.5 back in wildcard. Well, even if they go on a run, they still need to hope that 3 teams get cold to win the division, or 5 teams to get cold if they want to run the wildcard. That's why I don't know why they were playing for this year with their trades. Dave believes Kris Benson will sign a long-term deal, which will be helpful. But I still don't understand the Kazmir-Zambrano trade.

  • Mariners 44-73, 21 games back in NL East, 20.5 games back in wildcard. Well, they're not statistically out yet, but things don't look good. At least they have a good crop of young studs to build around. Now they just need more.

  • Blue Jays 49-69, 26.5 games back in the AL East, 16.0 games back in the wildcard. See the above about the Mariners, except for the young studs part. Some things in sports are contagious. For the Indians, good hitting has been contagious. For Carlos Delgado and Vernon Wells, it's been an off year.

  • Rangers 64-52, 0.5 games back in AL West, three way tie for wildcard lead (Red Sox, Angels). This has been a team to watch this year. And they're no fluke. However, with more games against the division as the year comes to an end, it's going to be a dogfight. Maybe they should just fire Buck Showalter so they can win the World Series next year.

  • Pirates 55-60, 20.5 games back in NL Central, 7.0 games back in wildcard. Well, the wildcard number looks nice, but they still need some good young talent to add alongside and Craig and Jack Wilson.

  • Indians 63-56, 2 games back in AL Central, 2.5 games back in wildcard. The wildcard margin looks nice, but it would take losing streaks by Boston, Texas, and Anaheim for the Tribe to take that spot. The best chance is with the Twins, and they'll have plenty of chances to do it head-to-head over the rest of the year.
Lastly, since this apparently didn't post last week, here's the intro to Ellen's new Bob Davie series:

Bob Davie, the man, the myth, the legend.

While many people despise this man because he single handedly, and I say single handedly because he had some awesome assistants like Urban Meyer (who I would love to be coach some day), ruined ND football because he took the great men of Lou Holtz’s era and turned them into the fat messes that they are today, I liked him. Not necessarily as a coach, but as a guy. He was pretty nice and extremely comical. He always made the LONG football practices exciting. Ok, I know what you all are saying, “football is always exciting”. I agree but after the initial, “Wow I’m at a football practice” wears off, you learn all of the plays, practice gets long, especially if you are just shagging balls or holding the down and distance (you can’t talk porn with the kickers every day).

The main thread in all of my Bob Davie tales is that he didn’t focus, or so it seemed, as much on football as he did on other things such as food, players’ personal lives, managers’ personal lives, coaches’ personal lives, diet caffeine free coke, relationships, driving his golf cart around, and Texas A&M. I guess it is no wonder with all of these things going on in his head he never knew what play we were on and couldn’t follow the script for the life of him. Glad I didn’t have to write the plays on the O or D Board.

So hopefully, over the course of my installments I will not only entertain you, but also give you insight on the man, the myth, the legend that is Bob Davie.(You know, the more that I think about it, I’m pretty sure that Will Ferrell could play him in a movie)

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

The Weekend in Review

Thoughts from my "surprise" Chicago visit

  • So, I spent this past weekend with the rest of the Kankas visiting my aunt in Chicago. I didn't mention this to anyone at first, since I didn't know how much free time I would have. Turns out, I had my whole Sunday free. I was able to meet up with Mike and Meg, but Klondike said he was busy. He didn't exactly use the words "clothing order," but they were implied.

  • The surprising thing was that Klondike actually has an answering machine. I was fully expecting to not be able to reach him. Now, did he actually reply to my message? No, but that's another story.

  • On Sunday, the young Hattons (and their new Focus) met the Kankas for brunch at Denny's (Meg's comment: "We went to Denny's after church on a Sunday. When did we get so old?" Hey, it was really close to our hotel.) Afterwards, my parents unceremoniously dumped me into the Hattons' care, while the Kanka girls could go shopping. Since I'd been to Chicago before, I didn't really have any sightseeing to do, so we just went to the Hattons' luxurious 4th floor apartment.

  • Well, I did have some sightseeing to do, but I couldn't locate the place. The map our hotel gave us listed a Knute Rockne Stadium, but I forgot to bring that map along with me. Mike, if you still want to look, it's between Oak Park and Cicero, on the corner of Roosevelt and a street that begins with a C.

  • Once at the apartment, Mike showed me the scrapbook a fired-up old ND alum had given him. It chronicled the late 20s to the late 40s. In it were scores of old pictures and newspaper clippings recalling the years from Rocke to Leahy. Wow, there was so much in there. Also included were handwritten recordings of famous people commenting on Rockne's death. One of the only non-ND set of clippings were from the Jackie Robinson saga - obviously, this person knew that this was a momentous happening.

  • After that scrapbook, it was time for Mike and Meg to pull out their own photo albums from the past few years. Ah - good times, great memories, and not a sober Brady picture in the bunch.

  • On to more random ramblings. Coming home from one of First Federal's branch offices the other day, I noticed a sign for a "Playmakers Theatre" production of a Shakespeare piece. There was no mention of Snoop Dogg making a special appearance.

  • The latest Madden commercial features the Titans facing a 3rd and 1 against the Ravens. Ironic considering how well the Titans ran on the Ravens last year, but that's another story. In the commercial, Ray Lewis starts babbling like an idiot, then picks up the yellow first down line (which he finds to be rather heavy) and moves it back a few yards. The moral of this commercial? Lewis, an overglorified safety who always plays the robber spot and relies on tips from the DLine to get interception, has no chance of stopping anyone on 3rd and short.

  • The phrase of the summer? "He's doing what's best for his family." This is how LeBron James explained Carlos Boozer taking $68mil over $40mil, and it's also how former Miami Hurricanes now on the Browns explain Kellen Jr.'s holdout. I don't blame LeBron, and I in fact commend him for realizing that he needs to say the right thing, but this is ludicrous. I don't even want to start on the Postons this week, but I will say this: we need to round up a bunch of homeless people and parents who couldn't afford Christmas presents for their kids, and then line them up to kick the Postons squar in the nyuts.

  • While we're on the subject, I read in an SI lying around in the Hattons' apartment that Shaq's wife thinks that they've outgrown their 18-bedroom house. Well, there can only be three explanations for this: 1) Shaq is now so fat, he can no longer fit through the doors. 2) as Mike suggested, Shaq now has way too many posse members staying at the house. 3) the O'Neals need a visit from the underpriviledged squadron I mentioned above.

  • Great news out of San Diego: the Chargers have said that if Phillip Rivers continues to hold out, they will begin to reduce their offer to him. Good for you guys. Now, in the Chargers' case, they can do this, since they didn't even draft Rivers, and since they still have and Drew Brees and Doug Floutie. But, the Browns are in no position to do this. Butch Davis already proved that he wanted Kellen Jr. at all costs by giving up an arm and a leg to move up one position. That's something the Postons can feed off of. Maybe I'm just lucky that Mark Shapiro of the Indians is willing to put values over talent. Shapiro was willing to trade away Milton Bradley because he was a jerk. Butch Davis, on the other hand, appears to be a guy who looks at talent over personality, as evidenced in the Winslow case, and with guys like Gerard Warren.

Answering Ellen's Essay Questions

  1. Team USA Men's Basketball will not medal at Athens. Explain why. Use the following to support your answer; no defensive intensity, no half-court passing, and the total inability to hit jumpers against the zone.

  2. No defense, no passing, poor shooting. Well, have you seen the NBA lately?
  3. The Modern Pentathlon, shooting, fencing, swimming, cross-country running and equestrian show-jumping, is outdated. The following will comprise the new, Postmodern Pentathlon; Golden Tee, EA Madden NFL 2005, Tony Hawk's Pro-Skater, Halo for Xbox and Fantasy Football. Explain why.

  4. Why is "going out and doing stuff" outdated? Because we're a nation of lazy fat messes. Aw screw it, let's just stay indoors and play video games all day. Can you at least throw darts or something pretend-athletic in there?
  5. Which white actor was more miscast as a Native American Olympic champion; Burt Lancaster as 'Jim Thorpe, All American' or Robby Benson as Billy Mills in 'Running Brave'. Use examples.

  6. I actually haven't seen either, so I can't form too much of an opinion here. I do know that Lancaster did very well in Field of Dreams, and that Jim Thorpe was completely robbed by not being named greatest athlete of the 20th century (but that's how short-minded the ESPN types are for you). So, if I had to make a choice, I'd say Benson was more miscast.

Coming tomorrow: a look at everyone's favorite teams' chances at the MLB playoffs, plus the highlights of MLB players' entrance music.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

2004 ND Football Preview


All eyes are on Brady Quinn this year. Some are still skeptical about the sophomore QB. He may not be the next Joe Montana, but that doesn't mean he's cluless in the the pocket. It's nice to know that, for the first time in a few years, 3 and 15 for ND doesn't automatically become a bathroom break. With Carlyle Holiday putting all his practice time in at receiver, Pat Dillingam will be the main backup. I'm sure Dillingham is a good guy and all, and he did beat MSU, but I still have reason to worry if Quinn goes down. Of course, if Marty Mooney can make the jump from Yale to Morrissey MVP to big time IA football, I'll breathe a little easier.
Player to Watch: Quinn
Potential Breakout Guy: Quinn

Running Back

Julius will be sorely missed. As 2003 proved, most of Ryan Grant's 1000+ yards in '02 were due to a great veteran line. Grant is the man again, so let's see if he can step up and hold on to the ball. Backing him up are a trio of young studs - Jeff Jenkins, Travis Thomas, and Darius Walker. Any one of those three may step it up and challenge for carries.
At fullback, we once again have RPN and Josh Schmidt. Powers-Neal will be getting some carries this year, but most (if not all) will come at halfback. Why convert one of your best rushers to fullback, if not to give him carries from that position? Don't ask me. Schmidt has the best hands out of the backfield, and may even have better hands than certain very tall receivers on this team. He'll be a great safety valve for Quinn just by sneaking into the flat and picking up ground in 7-12 yard increments. Unless, that is, other teams realize that he's the "receiving back" and key in on him.
Player to Watch: Grant - the pressure's on.
Potential Breakout Guy: Any of the three young guys, unless RPN starts tearing it up, or Schmidt starts getting 5+ passes his way per game.


Fox Sports named Maurice Stovall ND's offensive player to watch this year. Their argument: with all the attention being payed to last year's breakout star Rhema McKnight, all Quinn has to do is lob the ball up to Stovall a few times, and let his large athletic frame do the rest. What, you think they haven't tried that already? Stovall showed that his potential isn't just hype in last year's Purdue game, but he was back to his old self soon after that. A dose of aggression (or, a swift kick in the pants, as a fired-up old alum might say) would do Stovall well. Carlyle Holiday joins the receiving corps full-time this year. His athleticism gives ND's passing game tons of upside, but opposing defenses will be keying on him and looking for gimmick plays. I don't think this year's performance will get him a job as an NFL WR, but I truly hope he proves me wrong.
Player to Watch: McKnight. When it's third down and so many yards to go, why run a pattern that doesn't take you past the first down marker... unless you're Rhema McKnight, who can spin, juke, and dive towards the sticks with every ounce of effort he has.
Potential Breakout Guy: Jeff Samardzija. Growing up, I idolized Browns WR Brian Brennan. This guy made a career out of running to the first down marker, turning around, and catching the football. By mimicking Brennan at recess, I turned myself from the uncoordinated last guy picked to a guy picked in the middle for being a reliable third down option. You certainly can't call Jeff S uncoordinated, but you can say that he has the potential to be BQ's favorite "posession receiver."

Tight End

I believe it was Yogi Berra who first said, "we have deep depth." That's definitely the case at TE for ND. We have the guy who can block - Billy Palmer, the guy who can catch - Anthony Fasano, and the guy who can do both - Jared Clark. Oh, and none of them are f-ing soldiers who do a stupid dance when they make an 8-yard catch on 2nd and 10.
Player to Watch: Fasano. If Billy Palmer starts walking around with some hot Bachelor reject, feel free to watch her too.
Potential Breakout Guy: Fasano.

Offensive Line

A young, inexperienced line takes over, matures into a solid veteran line, moves on through graduation, and the cycle repeats itself. It seems rare that we'll see a mixed line of 2 vets and 3 new guys, followed by 3 vets and 2 new guys, followed by.... I would think that that is the ideal situation, so you're not starting fresh every four years, but maybe that's just how things work. Who knows.
Player to Watch: Ryan Harris. Why? He's the first guy who came to mind. Proved that he can be "underweight" and still be a solid player (he's listed at 289 lbs. this year, which isn't bad). The line seemed to gel once he was stuck in at tackle. (or was that just coincidentally when Julius started getting the ball more?)
Potential Breakout Guy: Chauncey Incarnato. Why? NDNation seemed to like him. Plus, it's hard to argue with a 6-6, 280 freshman.

Defensive Line

There's no reason to worry about the end position this year. Justin Tuck proved he's not just hype, and Victor Abiamiri proved he can be an impact player, even as a freshman. Add Kyle Budinscak's return from injury into the equation, and you're set.
Defensive tackle, however, is another story. The starters will be Greg Pauley and Derek Landri. This is probably the first time I said "this is the best we have?" with this roster (except for the backup QB spot). Pauley and Landri have done a great job as backups over the past couple years, but I don't know how they'll do as starters. Hopefully, I'm just worrying for nothing. If I were coach (and I'm not), I'd play Tuck (experience)-Pauley-Landri-Budinscak for running situations, and Tuck-Pauley/Landri-Budinscak-Abiamiri in passing situations, just to get my three best guys out there at the same time.
As far as depth, Trevor Laws and Travis Leitko both have experience, so there's not too much to worry about.
Player to Watch: Tuck
Potential Breakout Guy: Abiamri


You really can't replace Courtney Watson, but a starting corp of Mike Goolsby, Brendan "the COBA computer cluster's so cool, I'm on scholarship and I still work there" Hoyte, and Derek "the 'other' DC, and also Paul Green's freshman roomate" Curry still sounds good to me. Goolsby may have trouble staying healthy, but I'll assume he's given up his hoop dreams, which is a start. Hoyte is great against the run. Curry is a solid all-around guy, unless he's forced to match up in man coverage against a very fast running back who's lined up wide. But that's not his fault, he shouldn't be put in those situations. The fact that the only backup at LB I can name is Corey Mays scares me (not because of Mays's ability, but because I can't name anyone else), so we'll need to keep our starting 3 healthy.
Player to Watch: Goolsby. As a senior and a linebacker, he'll need to be the field general on defense.
Potential Breakout Guy: Hoyte


The secondary has the heart, but they don't have the soul. No, wait. They have the soul, but they don't have the heart. No, that's not it either. They have the heart, and they have the sould, but they don't have the talent. Or maybe they do, and it's just young talent. I felt like an old man last year looking at nameless jerseys of secondary players, and not having any clue who they were. This year probably won't be much better. Losing Garron Bible hurts, especially since he started getting his act together at safety at the end of the season. Freddie Prinze Jr., I mean Freddie Parish IV, looked competent in his substantial PT last year. Quentin Burrell and Lionel Bolen. Bolen did look good some of the time, so if I had to chose I'd lean his way. Tom Zbikowski wins the Joe Germain/Eric Crouch Memorial QB to Safety award, and he'll be a key backup in the secondary.
Who do we have at corner? Dwight Ellick, Ambrose Wooden, Carlos Campbell, Preston Jackson, Mike Richardson, and Chinedum Ndukwe. Wooden has potential. I'm still not sure why Campbell converted to DB - it sure hasn't helped his playing time. Ndukwe, on the other hand, has probably made the switch early enough to be effective down the road. Jackson is Jackson. He'll play like the 5'2 nickel back he is, and get drafted by the Packers anyways. Cornerback will be the position to watch (or not watch) on the team this year.
Side note: What the DBs lack in depth and talent, they make up for in the cool names category. There's one DB named Rich Whitney III, which at first glance to me looked like it said "Rich Whitey III." Also at DB is one Junior Jabbie, whose high school is listed as "The Hun School."
Player to Watch: I'll go with Bolen. Just a hunch; I don't know why.
Potential Breakout Guy: Wooden. Let's see if he can step it up. Parish gets runner-up in both categories here.

Special Teams

Well, it looks like DJ Fitzpatrick (Ellen loves him!) will still be handling the kicking duties this year. Joining him to do the punting this year will be the young and talented Geoffrey Price. Boy, you should have seen the discussions on NDNation last year about whether or not Ty should have redshirted Price. So, he's definitely someone to watch.
On the return side, last year's "who the heck is that at kick returner?" Matt Shelton, perhaps the fastest guy on the team, returns. I'm sure there were more than a few "they let a white guy return kicks?" comments from some of the "smarter" opposing players, coaches, and fans (and probably some from our side). But, if he's the burner they say he is, by all means give him a chance to return the ball. Assumedly, playmaker Rhema McKnight will join Shelton on kickoffs, and also handle the punt return duty. Who do we have to backup? NCAA 2005 lists Stovall (gulp), Holiday (not a bad idea), Grant (gulp), and Ellick (I believe he does have experience) as the next best.
Player to Watch: Rhema. As good as Price may be, you have to enjoy watching a guy who can get stuff done in the open field.
Potential Breakout Guy: I'll go with DJ here, just to make Ellen happy.

Well, there you go. I'm sure there's a lot you disagree on, and a lot I missed, so feel free to discuss it on the board. (Oh, and in case you were wondering, my depth chart did basically come from NCAA 2005.) Also, be sure to check out the new ticket exchange board above.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Transaction Wire

I'm doing things a little differently this week. The trade deadline was last Saturday, so I'm taking care of that on Monday night. Wednesday marks one month until FOOTBALL, so I'm looking to do an ND preview that night (which most of you will read Thursday morning).

Mets 1) trade C Justin Huber for INF Jose Bautista. Bautista is then involved in the exchange of 2) Ty Wigginton and Matt Peterson for Kris Benson and Jeff Keppinger. But we're not done yet. 3) trade Scott Kazmir and P Jose Diaz for Victor Zambrano and INF Jeff Keppinger. Unless Peterson is on pace to become a star, the Wigginton/Benson deal was a steal. Kazmir/Zambrano, however, was far from one. Wigginton for Zambrano, with throw-ins of similar value would have been a good deal. Kazmir and a throw-in for Benson and a prospect would have been good, but only if Benson resigns next year. Since they did the opposite, does this mean the two trades equalled out? I don't know. Plus, the Mets are 7 games out right now. I know the division sucks and all, but if I were in Queens right now, I'd be calling Kazmir up to prepare him for the next two seasons, instead of trading him away to win it this year. If you want Baseball Primer's opinion, check the link above (I highly suggest it, Dave).

Philles 1) trade Ricky Ledee and P Alfredo Simon for Felix Rodriguez (F-Rod, technically, is Francisco Rodriguez of Anaheim). The Phils needed bullpen help, but they made their center field situation worse. Ledee couldn't field CF, and Doug Glanville couldn't hit well enough to start there. There only hope now is that Marlon Byrd figures himself out and can get back to the Show. 2) acquire Todd Jones from the Reds for a few minor leaguers. Another good move for the bullpen, as long as their are no gays on the team.

Dodgers screw themselves over by 1) trading away Paul Lo Duca, Juan Encarnacion, and Guillermo Mota for Brad Penny and Hee Seop Choi. Well, apparently Eric Gagne is very upset about losing his catcher and his best setup man. The Dodgers needed to make room for Steve Finley, but giving up Encarnacion was a terrible idea. Penny and Choi are good pick-ups, especially for a team in need of a first baseman, but they game up way too much. 2) to replace Lo Duca, the Dodgers were supposed to get Charles Johson from the Rockies, but he turned that down. So, instead they 3) got Brent Mayne, along with Steve Finley, in exchange for three minor leaguers. Interesting. And those are just the major deals.

Yankees trade Jose Contreras for Esteban Loaiza. Um, OK. Name two guys not named Tom Gordon who didn't belong in this year's All-Star game. Yeah.

Quasi-blockbuster sends Nomar and a minor league OF to the Cubs, and Doug Mientkiewicz and Orlando Cabrera to the Red Sox; the Twins get P Justin Jones (the best prosepect in the bunch), and the Expos get Francis Beltran and Alex Gonzalez. Let's see here:
1) The Cubs upgrade at SS, and give an unhappy guy a change of scenery. The Cubs fans will be good to him, and he'll do well. Does this, and the A-Job trade, now make Derek Jeter the best SS in the AL? Well, I have a feeling the fan support may get him in the Hall some day (think Don Mattingly), but my answer to the best SS question is no. Cabrera is decent, but not great. Right now, it's Miguel Tehada, Michael Young and - surprise - Carlos Guillen (well, Guillen's having a great 2004 at least). Look out, though, because Bobby Crosby and BJ Upton of Tampa Bay (who just got his first Major League hit as I was typing this) are right on their heels.
2) Theo Epstein wins an award for being the first Moneyballer to realize that you also need defense and baserunning to win. Mientkiewicz, Cabrera, and Pokey Reese won't put up huge numbers. But, Mientkiewicz has the potential to put up big numbers when he's motivated to. The year before he hit .306 in 2001, he said he would be happy to stay at AAA Toledo (his hometown) for life. His hitting's struggled as of late (even though his D is still tops), but I don't blame him with influences such as Torii "I'll get a pitcher thrown out not for hitting me in my huge elbow guard, but just by yelling at him for throwing inside" Hunter, Jacque "Boo hoo, now that we're in first, everyone plays really hard against us" Jones, and AJ "I hate everyone not wearing the same uniform as me" Pierzynski. Another good change of scenery. Cabrera won't put up huge numbers, but he has the potential to put up good ones. Plus, the BoSox still have Millar, Ortiz, and Manny to do the heavy hitting. As for baserunning? Well, Cabrera and Reese aren't fat messes. Plus, in a minor deal, the Sox also picked up Dave Roberts from the Dodgers (yes, LA basically gave up a mediocre team's starting OF to make room for Steve Finley). Roberts, even though his average isn't too high, has kept his steal and steal percentage near the top of the league thanks to the tutelage of Maury Wills. Not a bad teacher.
3) The Twins win on addition by subtraction. Not only is Jones supposedly a good one, but the Twins can finally make room at first for the big-hitting Justin Morneau, who's been tearing up AAA for the past few years.
4) The Expos? Well, they'll be Peter Angelos's problem soon.

Finally, it turns out the Yankees are close to signing John Olerud, instead of Fred McGriff. Olerud reportedly would start over Tony Clark. Too bad this deal didn't happen during one of the 12 times Rickey Henderson was on the Yanks.

Bonus Ramblings

  • Thursday morning, I had a dentist's appointment. Now, the dentist's office always has the Classical radio station playing in the background. I walk into the room and sit down, and all of a sudden, Sabre Dance starts playing. Great. Now I'm expecting the dentist to walk out with a circular saw or a ridiculously oversized power drill (a la Pee Wee's Big Adventure, I believe). Of course, next was a very soothing rendition of Canon in D, which almost put me to sleep right there on the chair.

  • Later that day, I was talking to someone on the phone, and needed to be put on hold. The music that played? A trombone absolutely belting out Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered." Best hold music ever. I strongly considered asking the guy I was talking to where they get their hold music from.

  • For those of you who missed it (including me), here's the reason why Garron Bible transferred to Delaware. Apparently, after Bible's shoulder surgery, the ND medical staff didn't believe Bible would be able to play this year. So, Bible went around until he found a team doctor who would clear him to play. Delaware's team doctor did, so that's where he chose to play.

  • So, Kellen Winslow Jr. was been offered a deal that would make him the highest paid TE in the NFL without even playing a down! The problem? Too many incentive clauses, not enough guaranteed money. Gee, why would you need to prove you're a good player, when you can get paid to tell us that? The sad thing is that, with what the Postons have done, Kellen Sr. is starting to look like a jerk. I've officially lost all respect for the man. While we're on the subject, I'll post">this cartoon again. It has sound, so you may want to wait until you get home to view it.

  • Just saw a commercial for Madden 2005. Apparently, since Ray Lewis is the cover boy, Tiburon made the decision to throw out all their textbook form-tackle animations, and instead go with Lewis's shoulder bumps and arm slaps (yes, I said arm slaps, as in those things that were made illegal due to Deacon Jones). Great thing to teach young footballers. No one can be proud of this one.

On that note, see you Wednesday for the football preview.