Thursday, January 29, 2004

Super Bowl XXXVIII Preview

We'll start with the Panthers having the ball. Carolina's pass game is slightly below average, and New England's pass D is middle-of-the-pack, surprisingly (at least as far as YPG go). The trick for the Patriots is a bend but don't break mentality. They lead the league in fewest passing TDs, most INTs, and are 6th in sacks. The Panthers will be able to move the ball a little due to the run game and their receivers Steve Smith and Mushin Muhammad, but as everyone knows, the big question is how Jake Delhomme handles the Pats' D. On the ground, Stephen Davis will lead the charge against a stellar Pats run D. Once again, bend but don't break is the mentality. New England will give up first downs, but they have only given up 2 ground gains of 20+ yards this year. If Davis gets it going, the OLine gains confidence, and DeShaun Foster will benefit from that. Everyone will be looking forward to great run offense vs. great run defense, which probably means Carolina will pass a lot just to tick everyone off.
When the Patriots have the ball, the OLine will have to protect for Tom Brady. Mike Trgovac's DLine is a great one, and they'll get a few hits in. It'll be up to Troy Brown, David Givens, and Larry Centers to get open and hang on to the ball (and Bethel Johnson. He's such a nice receiver.). On the ground, things can get tricky. If the Patriots prove early that they can't establish the run, Carolina can sit back and look pass. I have a feeling, though, that the Pats will be just effective enough with the run to get the job done.
On to special teams. Edge in the field position game goes to the Panthers, as a good Carolina punt team faces an average Pats retun team, and a decent Panthers return team faces a mediocre punter in New England's Ken Walter (considered by some to be the team's biggest weakness). The kick return units cancel each other out, as New England's fine return team faces a Panthers team that is very stingy in yards given up on runbacks. When the Pats are kicking to the Panthers, both units fall into the "good but not great" category. The man to watch here, of course, is Rod Smart. Both placekickers are good ones (the uberclutch Adam Vinatieri and the playoff's leading FG kicker John "Cousin Sal" Kasay. Both will play a big part in this game.

Look for a big game from: both kickers, Givens, He Hate Me, the Panthers DLine, and the Pats Secondary

The Final:
Patriots 23 (TDs by Givens and Antowain Smith and three FGs by Vinatieri. And yes, this did say 22 before. I forgot to take into account the fact I suck at math.)
Panthers 16 (a Smith TD and 3 Kasay FGs. Yes, this did say 4 FGs before. Wow have I been out of school for a long time.)

MVP: Givens. Why? Because this is my site and I went to school with him.

Transaction Wire Part Deux

Yankees sign Tyler Houston. Wow, you know the market is hurting when this is the best guy the Yankees can get to play third. Or maybe everyone has finally wised up and realize that the Yankees are evil. Or, (here we go, this is it) maybe Brian Cashman is trying to get fired so he doesn't have to see the Brian Cashman face on Sportscenter every night.
Tigers make an offer to Pudge Rodriguez. Last year when he signed with the Marlins, no one thought it was a good idea, since Rodriguez was terrible with handling young pitchers. He did OK, but if the Tigers don't win this year (and they won't - Rondell White, Fernando Vina, and Pudge aren't the answer), Rodriguez won't be happy, and that means he'll be out the door by the trade deadline. He did OK hitting in a pitchers/doubles park last year, so he'll theoretically do alright again this year. He won't be great offensively in the AL, however, but he will do better than Mendoza line sitters Brandon Inge and Mike DiFelice.

NL West preview and Era of Ara coming up. Enjoy the weekend, Julius and the All Star Challenge, the commercials, and the game.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Transaction Wire

Nets fire Byron Scott. Interesting. Head coach can't get along with best player, so fire head coach. Not too bad an idea, I suppose, and a player like Jason Kidd is worth it if this gets him to stick around for a few more years. Sadly, though, Eastern Conference Head Coach has joined the ranks of NFL kicker for least job security in a pro sport.
Mo Vaughn retires. Things weren't the same since he left Boston, but that should've been expected considering his swing was made for Fenway. With a nasty uppercut and an incredible fatness, a pitcher's park like Shea is the last place you want to be. By finally realizing what we've known for a few years now (that his career is over), Vaughn opens up a roster spot for a rebuilding Mets ballclub. Of course, that spot immediately went to Todd Zeile, who is passible as veteran leadership and a right handed bat off the bench.
Aaron Boone pulls a Shea Ralph. "Now batting for the Yankees... third base... Enrique Wilson. Wilson." Good good. The Boones were once a proud baseball family, but now Bret is a walking steroid joke, and Aaron is once again the human leg injury. But wait, couldn't Todd Zeile take his spot? Well, let's see what Zeile has to say about that.
Indians minor leaguer Kazuhito Tadano becomes the new Paris Hilton. I don't even want to comment on this.
Jesse Orosco retires. Satchel Paige and Minnie Minoso both breathe sighs of relief (and none of my readers understand why).
Cubs sign Ryan Dempster. Yet another young Marlins pitcher with arm problems. If he stays healthy (note: on this site, "if he stays healthy" means, well, he won't) he has a chance to be a decent number 5 guy. We'll see how that goes.
Blue Jays resign Roy Halladay. Get ready once again for sports people to pull out the old phrase "the best fill in the blank you've never heard of."
Red Sox resign BK Kim with intent to move him to starter. Yes, the BoSox do need a few more good starters, but the rap on Kim is that he's never effective after you've faced him once or twice in a game. Of course, Kim's the one who wants to be a starter, so let's see how this experiment goes. Remember, this guy's only thrown three bad pitches in his life, he just picked a really bad time for them.

My dad's explanation for his beer gut

"I heard people talking about 6 pack abs, and I thought you got them by drinking 6 packs of beer."

Jones to Perform in All-Star Challenge

No, this won't get him kicked out of Morrissey

Julius Jones has been selected to compete in the 2004 Capital One College Football All-Star Challenge on Sunday, February 1, at 12:30 eastern on FOX. At the challenge, 4 QB-back/receiver combos compete in skill competitions. Jones will be paired up with either MSU's Jeff Smoker, Tennessee's Casey Claussen, Kentucky's Jared "Get in mah bellay!" Lorenzen or John "Lance Storm" Navarre. The other receivers and back are Texas's Roy Williams, UDub's Reggie Williams, and Chris Perry. My personal hope is that they're a pie eating contest between Lorenzen and Claussen.

Look for the Super Bowl preview tomorrow, and I should have the NL West preview up some time this weekend. Also look out soon for my book report on Pagna/Best's Era of Ara.

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)

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Campbell Joins Senior Bowl Roster

Earl Visits to Interview with Scouts is reporting that KankaNation Hall of Fame Finalist Darrell Campbell will be playing in today's Senior Bowl, today at 4pm eastern on ESPN. ESPN is also reporting that Glenn Earl also visited practices to talk with NFL teams.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

I'll write a little about Bud Selig next week, but for now let's have some fun...

ND Fantasy Coaching Staff

The stipulation: create the ideal coaching staff for ND, consisting of people who theoretically would and could coach the team (in other words, they're still alive and they have some ties to the team, such as being a former coach or player). Some of these are a stretch, so by all means give me your thoughts.
Head Coach: Ara Parseghian. Not only did he bring home two National Championships, but he never had a team that lost more than 2 games. Not bad for someone taking over for a 2-7 team.
Offensive Coordinator: Lou Holtz. The latest head coach to bring a championship to Our Lady's University, he recently took over the offense at South Carolina.
QB Coach: Jon Gruden. The only person on the list never to play or coach at ND. Qualifications: could you win a Super Bowl with Brad Johnson? Assistants: Tom Clements, QB of the '73 team, was QB coach for the Steelers until his recent hire as OC at Buffalo; Joe Montana, just because.
RB Coach: Tom Pagna. He was Ara's backfield coach before becoming a longtime voice of the Irish. Currently works at the Notre Dame Football Fanasy Camp. Assistants: John Lattner, '53 Heisman winner and also a coach at the camp; Hank Stram, who was a backfield coach at ND in the 50s before becoming a legendary coach for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Receivers Coach: Urban Meyer. Held the same position while he was here with Bob Davie. After reviving the Bowling Green (not a state) program, he is currently enjoying similar success at Utah. Assistant: Rocket Ismail - although he will be missed for his hilarious insight on College Gameday.
TE Coach: Andy Heck. Converted from TE to tackle under Lou Holtz. Currently serves as U. of Virginia's OLine coach and also makes appearances at the ND Fantasy Camp. Assistant: Dave Casper - one of my favorite "Oh yeah, he went to ND" players, he had a fine NFL career with the Raiders and Oilers.
OLine Coach: Gerry DiNardo. A guard on the '73 team. After a successful XFL coaching stint, he is currently the head coach of the IU Hoosier(oon)s. Assitant: Dusty Ziegler, recently retired from the New York Giants.
Defensive Coordinator: Joe Yonto. See yesterday's HOF writeup if you have any doubts about his credentials.
DLine Coach: Yonto. Assistants: Mike Trgovac, assistant coach/DLine coach under Lou from '92-'94, was the Carolina Panther DLine coach before being promoted to DC this past year (I'd say he's doing a pretty good job); Greg Mattison - Ellen loves him.
LB Coach: Barry Alvarez. Was DC/LB coach under Lou Holtz from '87-'89. Has been head coach at Wisconsin since. Assistant: Bob Golic - although a nose tackle in the pros, he was a middle linebacker while at ND.
DB Coach: Ty Willingham. Hey, we had to put him somewhere. I thought about making him the RB Coach, as he was before he became the head coach of Stanford, but then I remembered his philosophy on fullbacks ("first a receiver, second a blocker, third a runner"). Willingham began his coaching career as a Secondary Coach. Assistants: Jim Johnson, secondary coach and later DC under Dan Devine and Gerry Faust, and currently DC for the Philadelphia Eagles (although that may not be much of a compliment); Dick Lynch, a HB at ND before becoming a great DB for the New York Giants (also a fired up ND alum who is loved by Ellen).
Special Teams: Davie. Hey, it's the one thing he got right. Assistant: Ismail.

OK, that was fun, and remember, it's just a rough draft, very open to discussion. Time for more fun, completely unrelated to this list:

ND Alumni Fantasy NFL Starters

QB: Steve Beuerlein, with backups Rick Mirer and Jarius Jackson.
RB: Jerome Bettis, with 3rd down back Tony Fisher and backup Autry Denson.
FB: Marc Edwards, backed up by Tom Lopienski and Joey Goodspeed (or we could just go jumbo with Bettis, Edwards, and Lopienski in the backfield).
WR: Tim Brown and David Givens, the latter of which enjoying a very good season. 3rd receiver is Javin Hunter, and Arnaz Battle comes in for 4 receiver sets.
TE: John Owens, with Jabari Holloway and Dan O'Leary for the big sets.
T: Luke Petitgout (Ellen loves him) and Mike Rosenthal, with Jordan Black, Brennan Curtin, and Kurt Vollers backing up (what a trio).
G: Mike Gandy and Sean Mahan. That's it, according to ESPN's list.
C: I'll give Jeff Faine the nod over Tim Ruddy, just because I can.
DT: Bryant Young and Lance Legree, backed up by Jim Flanigan, Paul Grasmanis, and Oliver Gibson.
DE: Ahhhh, Mistah Weavah! and Bert Berry, although I think Berry mave have been moved to DT. Backups are Grant "Fo Weel Dog?" Irons and Reynaldo Wynn.
LB: Rocky Boiman and Tyreo Harrison. Hmm... maybe we'll use a 5-2, or use a lot of Nickel.
CB: Jeff "Lead With the Helmet" Burris and Bobby Taylor, Nickel Back Shane Walton, Dime Back Deveron Harper, and Brock "I don't need a 5th year" Williams.
S: Deke Cooper and Shawn Wooden, backed by Gerome Sapp and Ron Israel.
K: John Carney.
P: Craig Hentrich.
H: Hunter Smith.
PR/KR: Allen Rossum and Battle.

ND Senior Player News

Julius Jones and Courtney Watson are headed to the Senior Bowl, this Saturday at 5pm Eastern on the ESPN. Scouts are saying that Watson has "good size and [is a] tough, aggressive player," but it doesn' t look like he has "the athleticism or speed to become much more than [a] backup and special teams player in the NFL." I agree. What happened to his athleticism. This is a guy famous for an interception/fumble run back last year, and this year he's huffing and puffing on a run back against Syracuse. Does anyone know what happened?
Julius is considered the best receiver out of the backfield there, which speaks wonders for a) his improvement catching the ball since the beginning of the season and b) the receiving ability of ND's backs, since Grant and Wilson are considered the best receivers, and Schmidt is just amazing. The scouts think he's a little small, but at 5'10" he's about Tiki Barber's size and much stronger. One scout said he wouldn't be surprised if Julius went as high as the third round with his hands and return ability. (Is it bad that I'm hoping the Browns lose both their 3rd down back and their kick returner to free agency just so we can pick Julius up?)
Darrell Campbell and Ced Hilliard are slated to play in The Villages Gridiron Classic, Saturday the 31st at Noon Easter on ESPN. On most draft reports, these two usually show up as 5th to 7th rounders, and it seems to be a toss-up as to who is better. The one exception is a lone Packers fan who did a complete mock draft and seems to think that Darrell will go in the 3rd round to Seattle.
Not seeking 5th years are Garron Bible, further weakening our secondary, and the much-maligned Ronny Rodamer, who may or may not transfer to the University of Montana (or so hope fans of the Griz). I'll see if I can pull strings with my contacts in the UofM athletic department to see what's going on.
No word yet on the decision for Gary Godsey's sixth year, although a ruling was due last Tuesday.
To see those reportedly seeking 5th years, click here. (

Well, that should keep you occupied for a while. I'll try to get a Super Bowl preview out next week, in the in-depth style I used for ND previews. I'll tell you right now, though, that the winning team will be the Pa

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

The Class of 2004

Well, we only had 4 ballots returned, but it was still enough to make Snoop Dogg, Bill Simmons, Gary Godsey, and Coach Joe Yonto the inaugural class of the KankaNation Hall of Fame.

Snoop Dogg: Simply famous for being cool, he is the most recognized rapper of his generation.
Bill Simmons: Revolutionized sports writing (and the way many men talk and think) with his column on Page 2. Inspired many knock-off sites such as this one.
Gary Godsey: He Beat Purdue. Twice. Nowadays, is more or less famous just for being Gary Godsey.
Coach Yonto: National Championships follow him everywhere: he was an injured member of the B team for ND's '46 championship, Assistant D-Line coach in '66, D-Line coach in '73, Defensive Coordinator in '77, and retired in '87, the year before Lou Holtz lead the Irish to the title. Also well known for his thoughts on gimmicks and locomotives.

Here's how the voting went down (out of 4 ballots, 4 votes required):
Snoop Dogg 4
Bill Simmons 4
Gary Godsey 4
Coach Yonto 4
Joe Namath 2
Kanka 2
Darrell Campbell 2
Elizabeth Hasselbeck 1
Joe Horn's cell phone 1
Jody Gerut 1
the KankaManiacs 1
the other Manning brother 1
DJ Fitzpatrick 1
Dick Lynch 1
the creator of Happy Days (and hence "jump the shark") 1

The Weekend in Review

Colts/Patriots: A textbook case study of the Peyton Manning face. Every expletive in the book. Every emotion from "are you kidding me?" to "why did I do that?" to "not again." New England was able to shut down the Colt receivers, taking their chances with Marcus Pollard. They made the right choice. This game is a lesson learned from John Hart and the Indians of the mid-90s: no matter how high-powered your offense is, the good all-around team will always win.
Panthers/Eagles: Defense wins championships. We should have seen that coming. The injury to McNabb surely didn't help, but that wasn't the Eagles main problem on Sunday. Carolina just wanted it more. The Panthers were making the hard hits, going out for the tough catches, and fighting for the extra yards. The Eagles, on the other hand, had players like James Thrash olé at passes over the middle and Deuce Staley dance out of bounds a yard short of the first down marker. Freddy Mitchell was one of the few guys fighting hard for that team. In the end, the Panthers had much more heart and determination, and when you combine that with their talent, you get a free trip to Houston.

ND in the Playoffs Update
Javin Hunter DNP, injured
Gerome Sapp DNP?
Anthony Weaver 1 game, 3 Tackles
Bertrand Berry: 1 Game, 1 Tackle, 1 Assist
Steve Beuerlein: DNP, injured
Jarious Jackson: DNP
Tom Lopienski: 3 Games, 1 Catch, 2 yrds Rec, 1 TD
Hunter Smith: 3 Games, 1 Punt, 55 yards, 1 heads up play on the safety
New England
David Givens: 2 Games, 12 Catches, 94 yrds Rec, 1 TD
Kansas City
Jordan Black: 1 Game?
Rocky Boiman: 2 Games, 1 Tackle, 1 Assist
Craig Hentrich: 2 Games 6 Punts, 44.7 Average, 63 Long, 4 Inside 20
no players
Kurt Vollers: 1 Game
Green Bay
Brennan Curtin: 2 Games?
Tony Fisher: 2 Games, 2 Rushes, 9 yrds Rush, 4 Catches, 25 yrds Rec
Jim Flanigan: ?
Paul Grasmanis: Injured, DNP
Tyreo Harrison: DNP?
Bobby Taylor: 2 Games, 7 Tackles
no players
St Louis
Jeremy Akers: 1 Game?
Joey Goodspeed: 1 Game, 1 Catch, 9 yrds Rec
Shane Walton: DNP?

ND Men's Basketball
Well, they lead the whole way to beat VPI Tuesday, but let's talk about that Syracuse game that was on TV. Tom Timmermans deserves all the talk he got from the announcers. Why? He (and maybe Colin Falls) was the only guy showing any semblance of hustle out there! I mean, I watch the Cavs, a mediocre NBA team, and they even box out! A very winnable ball game...

Transaction Wire

Hot off the presses! Cavs trade Darius Miles to Portland (you can't make this up!) for PG Jeff McInnis and center Ruben Boumtje Boumtje! I wish I were kidding. Miles missed practice the other day. He apparently overslept, and when he didn't answer his phone, the Cavs sent the police to check on him. A posse member answered the door, and Miles explained the situation. I don't think this incident is in any way related to the trade. The Cavs need depth at PG, especially since LeBron is becoming overworked. McInnis is a solid, starter-quality ball handler who doesn't turn the ball over. RBB is the question. The Cavs are already fairly deep at center with Ilgauskas, Battie, and Diop, although Ilgauskas and Diop are injury prone. Hopefully this is a sign that the east's best center (scoring-wise, anyway) is about to be traded away. If you would like to see me wearing a Boumtje Boumtje Cavs jersey the next time I visit campus, feel free to send donations to...
Rockie sign "El Presidente." Coming of arm surgery and a bad 2003, Turk Wendell isn't making his situation any better by coming to Coors Field. At least he still hates the Yankees.
Several more Gammons-esque names were involved this week, plus the Giants made many assistant coaching hires, but unfortunately, it looks like this is it for the Transaction Wire this week.

Join me tomorrow for what will probably be a short article. I have a few ideas in my mind, plus a look at forming a "not" Hall of Fame. Congrats again to Snoop, Bill, Gary, and the Coach. Watch the message board as I'll try to make sure each HOF member is contacted. Join us again tomorrow - same Kanka time, same Kanka Channel.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

NSS meeting tonight, so no "Weekend in Review."
I will tell you, however, that with 2 ballots still out, we currently have 4 new inductees to the Hall of Fame, and 2 more who have yet to be mathematically eliminated. Results announced later this week.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Let's start with the book report - Leahy's Lads by Jack Connor. I recommend it highly. Connor, a former player, went around and interviewed many of the former players from the 40s. This book includes small accounts of each of the games, but mostly it's a collection of anecdotes and inside jokes catalogued so the players themselves can remember them. This "by the players, for the players" approach makes this a very amusing and enjoyable book.
I won't go into too much detail, but here are two things I wanted to point out:

Coach Yonto's Playing Career
The Coach got most of his playing time as a "burly" backup fullback on the 1945 squad, when most of ND's regulars were off to war or playing for service academy/training base teams. You see, for most of '44/'45, college age men were often required to transfer to a school that had their particular training program - ND for Navy, Great Lakes for the Army, or one of the service academies. Anyways, when most of the players came back for the 1946 season, the team was stacked. In fact many third stringers who saw little to no action for the Irish that year went on to incredibly successful NFL careers. So, Coach Yonto was relegated to the "B" team, sort of a JV team that went around playing other schools' B teams. One day, the B team was scrimmaging the first-teamers. The Coach took a handoff and bucked into the line. He came out with a leg so badly broken, his foot was turned at a 90-degreee angle. Ouch. Many people thought he would never walk again. Fortunately he could, and Jack Connor praises his success as a defensive guru under Parseghian, Devine, and Holtz.

Ziggy Czarobski
A great tackle (and member of the Polish Sports HOF) who played before and after the war, may I be the first to nominate this man for Bone Legend. Among his bone-esque accomplishments:
Beat Purdue: It may have been Ziggy who first coined this phrase. Coach Leahy always judged how the coming Saturday's game would be by how the team was at the beginning of Monday's practice. A loose, talkative team meant that they weren't too worried about the coming contest. A quiet team, however, meant there was some anxiety over the coming game. That, of course, meant Leahy would have to work the team harder in the coming week. Knowing this, and being always the "class clown" of the team, Ziggy acted quickly when the team was silent the Monday before a Purdue game. As Leahy approached, Ziggy began clapping and chanting "Beat Purdue! Beat Purdue!" Soon, the whole squad joined in and the team was loose and relaxed for the rest of the week.
The Muggers Club: This exclusive club, comprised mainly of the war vets on the squad, liked to meet weekly at one of the local licensed establishments to drink, share stories, and do other poker night-esque things. The club was very exclusive, and each member had a beer stein with his name engraved on it. Leahy know he couldn't be too hard on the war vets, so he let them have their fun in Ziggy's little club.
Tackles practice: Often, the team would split up to pratice by position. Knowing how long-winded the tackles coach could be, Ziggy and fellow tackle George Connor (a former Bear and Jack's brother) took turns asking questions of their position coach, while the guards worked hard and looked over in disgust. Sound like Bone Circle to me.

NDNation Issues
Monk: As evidenced in Shake Down the Thunder, the debate of overemphasis of football has been with Our Lady's University since the program began. Surely, Monk isn't a huge fan of watching football, but is he really against it? His coaching hires haven't been great, but it wouldn't be the first time 2 straight bad coaching hires have been made. Plus, he did fire the guy who hired Bob Davie. The administration has always grappled with the football program, so I don't know if it's a reasonable scapegoat in this case.
Kevin White: The man has great taste in ties. That being said, let's look at his dealings in the football head coach department:
1. Fired Bob Davie. The "first" time an ND coach was fired, but it was justified. Bob knew he had a great job, so he wasn't going anywhere no matter how much he sucked.
2. Hired George O'Leary. I had a feeling this guy wouldn't be the savior when he came in, but White wanted someone who "got Notre Dame." I've come out and said that White may not necessarily "get" Notre Dame - hiring practices, "aspirational peerdom," deemphasis, the conference talk, but I think this all remains to be seen.
3. Hired Ty Willingham. More below.
Ty Willingham: I'm willing to give him a second chance. His first year was made by great seniors who finally had a reason to be enthoused. Last year can be chalked up to "one bad year for the new guy" - hopefully. I'll give Ty some time, but still it is frustrating seeing the times when he's not being the ubercoach - not making decisions you'd expect a coaching genius to make (then again, I'm no coaching genius either), the 30+ point shutouts, the list goes on. Still, as a college coach (that is, a molder of students as well as a leader of athletes), he may have been the best guy available.
Jon Gruden: The first F-bomb at a pep rally, and he would've been canned. I just don't know if he would have fit in with the administration (you don't have to be their puppet - just let them think they have control over you). Plus, we see he had a case of the sophomore jinx too this past year. Then again, that may be a positive sign. Most of Gruden's troubles came from clashes with the spoiled, self-centered athletes on the Bucs. That could be a sign that Gruden is a big-time discipline guy, which is a great quality for a college coach.
Steve Spurrier: Ah, no, I don't think it would work. He'd be at odds with the administration from day one. His "my system is perfect, my players messed up" philosophy is not what you want to teach college athletes. Plus, if we find out he starts getting into shady recruiting practices, that's it. Ara Parseghian always believe that if you needed to buy a kid with cars and under the table gifts, that kid isn't worth it. Spurrier may be a great Florida "college" coach, but I don't think he'd be a good student-athlete coach.
Olympic sports: I have absolutely no problem with sports other than football doing well at ND. Heck, I am ND Women's Basketball's number 1 fan, at least according to Karen Swanson and the rest of the players on my signed poster. So, hoorah for swimming and lacrosse and fencing and soccer and all the rest.
aspirational peerdom: I'm not even sure I know what this means. Sure, ND wants high academic standards. It's always been that way - starting back in the early 1900s when the Holy Cross priests decided to give a small Catholic school a cutting-edge, mainstream curriculum. The key is to work with it. Leahy found a way to win with reduced scholarships, so it can be done. And, there will always be snobs who go to ND because they were rejected from Harvard, but the school will always have enough hard-working Catholic midwestern kids who go there to live out their dreams. [a basis for the NDNation drinking game: every time you read the phrase "aspirational peer," chug an "aspirational beer"!]
recruiting: Yeah, I'm sure all the spoiled kids will want to go to warm weather schools and have cars handed to them, but once again, we don't want those kids. Get the good kids who are just as talented, or get the good kids who have almost as much talent, and use your coaching skills to make them better.
strength and conditioning: One NDNationer blamed the strength & conditioning program for the recent trend of great in HS->mediocre at ND->decent in the NFL. The only example I have of this is Julius, so I can't make too many assumptions based on one person. I can tell you, however, that Darrell is very large with very little body fat, and that Ced is in such good shape this year (compared to freshman year's Bookstore Tournament) that one Internet draft preview actually said he needed to put on some weight to play DT in the NFL!
independece: The place where I worked over the summer was a tOSU hotbed. One guy was almost drooling over the thought of tOSU, scUM, and ND in the same conference. Should we join one. I'm still in the camp that says, if we play well enough, we don't need to. What about the BCS? Well, after our recent bowl performances, we'll need to gain the bowl sponsors' trust back, which once again starts by playing well. Plus, USuCk has just proved you don't need to play in the BCS championship game to call yourself champion. Conferences: great for our other sports, but not for football. Let's hear it for a better football team.

OK, that's all I have for today. If I feel like it in the next couple days, I might actually look at the NFL playoff games... gasp!... before they play them! We'll see how that goes.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

We begin with some "if I had a cell phone" news:
ND Women/UConn: A 15 point victory for the Irish, in case you haven't heard. I first found out about this game from Sports Illustrated. There was an ad for the game being on "CSTV." Being that this was the Connecticut issue of SI, I figured it was a Connecticut sports channel, and wondered why they'd be advertising it in a nationwide publication. Only after the game did I realize that CSTV stands for "College Sports TV," and that we get that channel as part of the new "here's 5 random sports channels we'll give you now but raise the price on later" package of the local cable channel. Dah. I started watching this game on Gametracker while writing yesterday's article. Each time I looked up, the girls were up by 10. Was this a mistake? Knowing that Internet radio is a premium service, I quickly found UConn's Internet brodcast of the game. Was that ever a delight. Here's a recap: Taurasi didn't hit her shots, and no one backed her up. This gave Auriemma fits, including chewing her out before she went to shoot free throws. ND, simply put, made their shots. A huge game from Jackie Batteast, including a key block of Taurasi with 4 fouls, and solid backup from LaVere, Severe, and Borton, and there's your upset. Auriemma may be joining Mike Martz in Larry Coker land soon. He can't handle losing - screaming at his girls and the officials, blaming poor recruiting (I'm sure that really boosts his players' confidence). The list goes on. Auriemma strikes me as the kind of guy who would fill his Little League team with 14 year olds - he didn't get a job as a men's coach, so he has to beat up on every girl's team he can, and when he loses, he can't handle it. Good good. On to the transaction wire.

Transaction Wire
Knicks fire Don Chaney and hire a former Cavs coach. But wait... it's not Mike Fratello (the Czar of the Telestrator). It's Lenny Wilkens! Wilkens can be a good molder of men on this team, but as great as he is, he couldn't take Toronto too far. He'll make the Knicks decent, but it may only be killing time until the next great coach comes in.
Bears hire St. Louis defensive coordinator Lovie Smith. As long as he wasn't the guy who put Jason Sehorn in at cornerback, this is a good deal. Chicago is a defensive-minded club, and if Lovie can find a good offensive coordinator to work with, the team will be in good shape.
Browns promote Terry Robiskie to offensive coordinator and hire Rob Chudzinski as TE coach. Robiskie, a former OC at Washington, plans to return hard-nosed, smashmouth football to Cleveland. Exactly what I wanted to hear. Chudzinski, OC/TE coach at scUM South (including a few years under Butch Davis) is a lifelong Browns fan. Great, as long as our first round pick isn't wasted on Kellen Winslow. I might have to shoot myself if that happens.
Angels sign Vlad Guerrero. Wait, the Angels were even interested in Vlad Guerrero? Apparently, the Angels are trying to compete with the Twins for most people trying to play right field at the same time. I can see giving Tim Salmon rest or moving him to DH, but they just signed Jose Guillen, too. Baseball Primer seems to think that the Angels should put Garrett Anderson on the block, but I don't buy that. The Angels are definitely looking to contend again in a tough division, but they will need to stay healthy. Maybe that's their plan: Jeff DaVanon plays center when Darin Erstad goes down again, Guillen and Vlad play right when Tim Salmon gets hurt, and Kelvim Escobar tries to prove he's not a flash-in-the-pan when Aaron Sele and the newly acquired Bartolo Colon are on the DL. If you have the money to overstock, why not do it? Then again, I wouldn't be surprised if their were more moves ahead...
Orioles sign Raphael Palmeiro and BJ Surhoff. This transaction copied and pasted from my 1989 Transaction Wire.
Astros sign Roger Clemens. Boo hoo, he's a traitor. He lied to us. No he didn't, he said he wanted to be by his family. His family is in Houston, so this makes sense. The Astros are lucky to have a deep bullpen, because without the DH, Roger may only average 4 IP per start. With Pettitte, Roy Oswalt, and Wade Miller, this is a great rotation. If they stay healthy, they complement the bullpen perfectly. If they get hurt (when they get hurt - all of them), things could get interesting.
Indians sign Jose Jimenez and Lou Merloni. Jimenez threw a no-hitter against Randy Johnson once, and Merloni is famous for keeping his starting 2B job in Boston by being Nomar's best friend. Other than that, Jimenez will be a good late innings/innings eater guy, and Merloni will be a decent clubhouse guy who can be this year's stopgap at 2nd and 3rd when John McDonald's back starts acting up again.
Cubs make an offer to Greg Maddux. This will be a good move for Maddux. Get your $7mil a year over the next 2 years before you don't get any offers after this year. In addition, while it may seem tempting to join Tom Glavine with the Mets, Chicago is the better place to go. Sorry Dave, but since Shea has Questec and Wrigley doesn't (correct me if I'm wrong), Maddux will be able to settle into his new surroundings earlier and avoid a tough start like he did last year. A better support staff, both on the mound and at the plate, will also help.
Many more solid trades that didn't make this list at the link above, including many by the Devil Rays, who are definitely trying to go somewhere this year.

Tomorrow: Leahy's Lads, NDNation, and more as the Spirit moves me.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Panthers/Rams: Unfortunately, I missed this classic to go to a high school basketball game. The good news is, Lorain Catholic was able to hold off the larger Huron High School 44-42. Am I surprised with the outcome? Not overly. The Rams were on the decline for the second half of the season, and Mike Martz is definitely the Larry Coker of the NFL right now. With Stephen Davis likely out (or is that just a tactic?) can Jake Delhomme prove he's a Super Bowl QB? Or can he prove that his coach has a Super Bowl system?
Pats/Titans: Eskimo Up! The Pats did just enough to win, but that's all that matters. My buddy Matt quipped that maybe Drew Bennett deserved to have the Gatorade dumped on him (due to the 4 degree weather), but, on the same token, he did have two key catches to keep that drive alive. Once again, Steve McNair can only carry his team so far. And is there a more clutch guy out there than Adam Vinatieri? When the Pats had the ball late, I had no doubt they'd be getting a sure 3 from the drive. (and with that, watch for a key miss from him or Mike Vanderjagdt next week)
Colts/Chiefs: Kansas City was also a team on the decline (or did the media just stop covering them after the 9-0 start and after Dante Hall cooled off?). This game featured little defense, go figure, and that's how I figured that KC had a chance in this one. However, the Indianapolis offensive machine just kept marching, and they'll try to keep it going next week.
Packers/Eagles: The Packers, like the Rams, were a "good enough because there's nobody better" team to this point. But, Philadelphia silenced the critics once again, playing a full 60 minutes (and even more). I thought that the winner of this game would be able to breathe a sigh of relief knowing that Carolina would come in tired, but with two overtime teams going into the NFC championships, this could be interesting.

ND Alumni in the Playoffs Report
The comprehensive list.
Javin Hunter: DNP, injured
Gerome Sapp:
Tony Weaver: 1 Game, 3 Tackles
Bert Berry: 1 Game, 1 Tackle, 1 Assist
Steve Beuerlein: DNP, injured
Jarious Jackson: DNP
Tom Lopienski: 2 Games, 1 Catch, 2 yrds Rec, 1 TD
Hunter Smith: 2 Games, 0 Punts, several nice holds
New England
David Givens: 1 Game, 4 Catches, 26 yrds Rec
Kansas City
Jordan Black: 1 Game?
Rocky Boiman: 2 Games, 1 Tackle, 1 Assist
Craig Hentrich: 10 Punts, 40.4 Average, 63 Long, 6 Inside 20
no players
Kurt Vollers: 1 Game
Green Bay
Brennan Curtin: 2 Games?
Tony Fisher: 2 Games, 2 Rushes, 9 yrds Rush, 4 Catches, 25 yrds Rec. Unfortunately, his hold cost Green Bay crucial field position late in the game.
Jim Flanigan: ?
Paul Grasmanis: 1 Game
Tyreo Harrison: DNP?
Bobby Taylor: 1 Game, 3 Tackles
no players
St Louis
Jeremy Akers: 1 Game?
Joey Goodspeed: 1 Game, 1 Catch, 9 yrds Rec
Shane Walton: DNP?

ND Men's Basketball
After a solid showing against Nova, the Irish came out strong against a flat Pitt team. However, things started to fall apart towards the end of the first half, as a 31-24 advantage became a 31-30 halftime lead. Then, the team started playing Breyball. I'm not criticizing Mike Brey as a whole, I'm just saying that Mormon Bachelor Party could out-rebound the team just because we know how to box out. OK, maybe not MBP, but at least UBUF. I'm just getting a little sick of us being "the only finesse team in the Big East." Our 3's almost got us back in it, but poor free throw shooting combined with Pitt remembering that they're a physical team spelled doom for the Irish. Thomas started well, and Quinn had a hot streak at the end, but where was Francis? Was it just Pitt's size? Tough loss. The men need to start winning these ones.
Random notes I scribbled into my new Palm Pilot during the 1st half:
Which team are we? Are we trying to blend in with the Pitt students?
Bill Rafferty on Tom Timmermans: "Good screener, capable rebounder." A good description. I especially liked the word choice of "capable." Nice booty screen in the second half, too.
When did Torrian Jones get good? Oh, 3 games ago. Play like this for 4 years, and you may find yourself at the end of the bench in a place like Atlanta or Golden State (speaking of Golden State, see below).
My favorite play of the night: Thomas races up the court, then pump fakes like he's about to airball another stupid three. Then, to everyone's amazement, he passes! Way to know your tendencies and use them to your advantage.
Taft - cocky freshman. Good good. He's a little on the skinny side, so hopefully the big bodies will knock him around in league play.
At least Zvackas is gone, but I guess that Demetris is his replacement.
That Brown guy was 35 years old last year! Is he in his 18th year of eligibilty now?

ND Women's Basketball
Trailing VPI (that's VaTech for the newcomers) 20-16 at the half, the Irish went on a 22-7 spurt and outmuscled the Hokies to a 53-40. Leading the way were Jackie Batteast and Theresa Borton, with help from Katy Flecky, Le'Tania Severe, and Megan Duffy. The Irish currently are leading the UConn Huskies 33-26 at the half, let's see if they can hold on.

Warriors: Remember Brian Cardinal, the balding 40something guy from Purdue? Well, apparently Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy weren't enough to make up for the loss of Bob Sura, so now Cardinal plays for the Warriors. Who knew?
cavs/Lakers: Shaq and Malone out + Kobe gets hurt + 11 point first quarter lead = 10 point loss. Dah. If Austin Carr (now one of the local color commentators) wants to start talking playoffs, the Cavs need to win games like this.

That's it for today. Join us tomorrow for the Transaction Wire - Rocket and Vlad and Raffy oh my! Later, we'll look at my book report on Leahy's Lads, and that NDNation thing I promised, which turned out to be not as big as I originally thought.
Don't forget to keep the HOF discussion alive, and if you have any ideas for 2003 year end awards, let me know.

Monday, January 12, 2004

Weekend in review tomorrow, but for today, start thinking about the first ever kankasports KankaNation Hall of Fame inductees. Inspired by the baseball HOF, each reader (that's you guys) gets to vote for up to ten (10) personalities that have been mentioned on this site, be they sports figures, celebrities, or even one of us. I'll tally up the votes, and anyone who gets higher than a 75% share gets inducted. Feel free to discuss this on the message board (it'll probably be easier to get 75% for someone that way), and email your votes to I'll give you a week, so ballots are due by 5:30 pm eastern time on Monday, January 19th.

Be on the look out for the Best of 2003 awards, too, even if they're a little late.

Also, a few weeks ago, this site named Ced Hilliard ND DT of the year. In fact, Ced is often considered a Nose Guard. Therefore, Ced will now receive the NG of the year award, and the DT of the year award will be given to Darrell Campell. Congratulations to both. Kanka regrets this error.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Transaction Wire
(warning: the above link contains names of a Gammons-esque nature)
Knicks get Stephon Marbury and Penny Hardaway from the Suns for 25 guys who were immediately cut. New York finally decides that one good PG and one good-when-healthy kinda-PG are better than 6 mediocre PGs. They didn't win the first night out, but the changes being made will make the Knicks a decent team. Tough luck for Charlie Ward - just when he thinks he's becoming a real journeyman (see my article a few weeks back), he's cut. As for the Suns, apparently they're planning on playing 5 PFs at all times, since they're only carrying 2 real guards as of right now. The best part about researching this trade: going to the Sun's website, and watching the rotating image on the left of the page, which cycles though (I kid you not) Jake Voskuhl, Tom Gugliotta, and the gorilla. High comedy.
Giants hire Tom Coughlin. Coughlin, an assistant under Bill Parcels while in New York, promises to return to smashmouth, mistake-free football. That remains to be seen. Smashmouth, mistake-free football may also mean doom for Tiki Barber (Ellen loves him), the small, fumble prone runnning back. We'll see how that plays out. I don't know what else to say. Head coaches are hard to come by these days, and except for Nick Saban (who they weren't getting) and maybe Dennis Green, Coughlin may be the best fit for this team.
Padres sign David Wells. You know, with Phil Nevin, Ryan Klesko, Trevor Hoffman, et al., the Padres really shouldn't be a bad team if they stay healthy. As the past few years have shown, however, that's a huge if.
Yankees sign Javier Vazquez. For years, I've been trying to figure out if Vazquez is underrated by the media or just overrated by baseball uberintellectuals. Although his record may not show it (perhaps due to the team he played for in Montreal), he has good numbers. The way the Yankees are, though, expect the W-L numbers not to change much. At 28, he's very young compared to Mussina, Clemens, and Wells, but that could mean another Jeff Weaver-type disappointment.
Indians get Scott Stewart for Ryan Church and Macier Izturis. I grew up playing baseball with a kid named Scott Stewart, so I'm sure I'll run the "Did you hear Scott Stewart signed with the Indians?" joke into the ground around here. Stewart is a good pickup in the back of the bullpen, considering the loss of Danys Baez, the uncertainty of Bob Wicman's health, and the contract situation of David Riske. Church was buried deep in the Indians' rotation of minor league outfielders, and Izturis apparently isn't going anywhere, so this is a good deal for the Tribe.
Indians also sign Kevin Orie, Jeff D'Amico, and a few others. Orie, the former Cub, is AAA insurance at 3rd. Believe it or not, there are actually 2 starting pitchers named Jeff D'Amico. After the "bad" Jeff D'Amico toiled in the Cleveland minors for a while, the Indians must have realized they had the wrong guy, and finally signed the "good" Jeff D'Amico, who will be a good middle-of-the-rotation starter for this young staff.
Mets sign Brandon Looper. He's a solid young back-of-the-bullpen guy. He's another good-as-a-closer-but-great-as-a-setup-man pitcher.
Diamondbacks sign Robbie Alomar for $1mil. If Arizona contends, Robbie will love the change of scenery and the huge gaps of the BOB. If they don't, he may get sick of being in the middle of nowhere and continue his fall from grace.
Royals sign Juan Gonzalez. Hey, we're spending money now! He has some pop, which will help the team especially if he hits behind Mike Sweeney. But, with his health, this may be another case of "spending loads of money to show we want to contend" turning into "we're a small market club who screwed ourselves by not spending wisely."

The Baseball HOF
Who's in:
Paul Molitor, a great hitter (3300+ hits, .306 lifetime average) who found a way to keep playing (2nd to 1st to DH) and keep winning (Yount's Brewers to Kirby's Twins).
Dennis Eckersley. He tips his cap to a hitter that wins the battle (screaming "WOW" when Manny Ramirez crushes a game-winner off of him, being the "victim" of Kirk Gibson's "This is gonna be a home run!", coining the phrase "walk-off"). We remember him as a dominant closer from the A's mini-dynasty of the early 90s, but my dad remembers the day he didn't feel like walking from his Cleveland State dorm room to municipal stadium and ended up missing a young starter named Dennis pitch a no-hitter.
Who's not in:
Ryne Sandberg: solid ballplayer, nice guy, consummate professional. Unfortunately, first ballot inductions are more for guys like Molitor and Wade Boggs (next year), but Ryno should be there some day.
Bruce Sutter
Jim Rice
Andre Dawson
"Goose" Gossage
Lee Smith
Bert Blyleven
Jack Morris
Steve Garvey
Tommy John
Alan Trammell
Don Mattingly
Dave Concepcion
Dave Parker
Dale Murphy
Keith Hernandez
Joe Carter
Fernando Valenzuela
Dennis Martinez
Dave Stieb
Jim Eisenreich
Jimmy Key
Doug Drabek
Kevin Mitchell
Juan Samuel
Cecil Fielder
Randy Myers
Terry Pendleton
Danny Darwin
Bob Tewksbury

Many good names on this list. There will always be the Jim Rice argument. Dale Murphy is incredibly underrated, and Dennis Martinez got a surprisingly low total in my opinion. Other than that, there are some good names on this list, and a few will make it some day (Mattingly, Dawson, Carter), but this isn't the NFL. It's nice that the NFL lets everyone in, but in a way it's awe-inspiring at who doesn't get into Cooperstown. For instance, Fernando would be a shoe-in in the NFL for his personality, and Tommy John's legacy of the elbow surgery would also get him in the hall. But, just because these guys don't have plaques, that doesn't take away from great careers.
Joe Jackson: with all the Pete Rose talk, I once again wanted to get on the Shoeless Joe soapbox. He had a great career for the Indians and ChiSox. He was one of the greatest hitters of all time, and his glove was
"where triples go to die." He was accused of throwing the 1919 World Series, but, as Field of Dreams points out, how are you throwing the series when you hit .375 and commit no errors? Say what you want about Pete Rose, I'm still undecided on that one, but Shoeless Joe does deserve the respect of induction into the Hall.

Alright, that's enough time in front of the computer. Time to go enjoy this unusually balmy January day (wind chill is actually above 0!)

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

We'll break it up this week: games of the weekend today, issues tomorrow/Thursday, and the NDNation thing at the end of the week. Let's go bowling... (now that's original)

NCAA Football
Florida/Iowa: You know what I absolutely loved about this game? Listening to Bob Davie point out every single decent player on the field, then proceed to say, "You know, I tried to recruit him." Great. Just great.
scUMSouth/Free Shoes: This was just not a good football game. The lack of discipline, stupidity, and mistakes, just made this unbearable, I'm sorry.
USuCk/scUM: Michigan needs to establish the run or they're in trouble. USC has a run defense that's unusually good for the PAC 10, and combine that with decent talent at WR, and there you have something. Mike Williams: "You see this hat, this says 'Champions' and that's what we are." Mike, you're an idiot. More on this tomorrow.
tOSU/KState: Wow, did Oklahoma not show up for the Big XII championship. KState had a lot going on, but they just didn't play well. Should El have sat for breaking curfew? Yes. Would Tressel have benched his best player for this game? Heck no, not even if he pulled a Ray Lewis. tOSU lucks out again against the perenially overrated Wildcats.
Oklahoma/LSU: Bob Stoops was outcoached (there I said it, it had to be said). His team committed too many stupid penalties, and they played scared. Oklahoma may have been the better team, but I think one too many cakewalks hurt them. The Heisman curse continued, this time for Jason White. Was Mauck better than White, though? Not really. He got the job done when he needed to, but he also had the help of a great running game - something White didn't have due to LSU's stifling D. LSU's the champion, no questions here.

Titans/Ravens: McNair can't carry this team all the way, but he's still better than the Lewis twins. Note to Ray Lewis: did you notice that the Titans didn't dance after stopping Jamaal for a 1 yard loss, even though you had to celebrate stopping Eddie George after a 6 yard gain?
Panthers/Cowboys: The bad thing about this is Bill Parcels will now be hissed for a mediocre ending to the season. What people will forget is that he took over a team that was striving hard to be mediocre, and he made them a solid team. They'll still need some talent if they want to go anywhere, though. Carolina, on the other hand, may be a receiver or two away from a great team (then again, with all this parity, they may end up at 4-12 next year).
Packers/Seahawks: I knew the 'Hawks were falling apart as the year went by, and they may be another victim to parity next year, even with a solid team. The Packers are once again one of those teams that may not seem incredibly great, but then you turn around and see the competition's not much better.
Broncos/Colts: You know, I almost felt bad for all of the one Broncos fan that I actually associate with, then I realized, wait a minute... (and no, I didn't realize this after flipping to ESPNClassic and watching it for more than 15 seconds) I don't know whose idea it was to let Peyton Manning's 12 year old cousin (Brandon Stokley) play receiver, but it sure payed off.

NCAA Men's Basketball
Texas/Providence: Turned this one on just as overtime was starting. As soon as I saw who the refs were (our favorite "I'm too old" crew - too old/drunk to get anything right), I knew something bad was going to happen. Sure enough, Texas puts up a buzzer-beater, and the crew, with persuasion from Texas's head coach, decides that, even though the clock read 0.0 before the shot was taken, the red light/horn hadn't gone off yet. The shot counts and Providence is screwed much like the Heart Break Kid in his title fight against HHH just over a week ago (HBK's shoulders were down during his pin of HHH, so Eric Bischoff rules that the tie allows HHH to keep the belt. Just when I thought we'd have a legitimate ending to a good match...)

NCAA Womens' Basketball
ND/Purdue: ND cemented their status as a "good middle-of-the-road" team with a 13 point loss to the 7th ranked Boilermakers. This game was actually on TV locally, but I had no idea. Well, I'd better watch what I say, since the 5 year rule is still in effect.
Duke/UConn: Heartbreaker at the buzzer - how happy was I to see that? And it was Taurasi that hit UConn's last shot to put them up with a few ticks left! It was a great moment for me being able to see Ray Lewis, Diana Taurasi, and Shannon Sharpe all experiencing the agony of defeat on national television less than 48 hours apart.

Well, sorry to cut this short, but like I said I'm on the installment plan this week. Tomorrow we'll look at the Transaction Wire, Pete Rose, Tom Coughlin, USC whiners and LSU winners, and why computer nerds may be better than agenda-minded coaches and media.