Sunday, February 29, 2004

MLB Preview #4: NL East

Atlanta Braves

Rafael Furcal SS
Marcus Giles 2b
Chipper Jones LF
Andruw Jones CF
JD Drew RF
Mark DeRosa 3b
Adam LaRoche 1b
Johnny Estrada C
Russ Ortiz
Mike Hampton
Horacio Ramirez
John Thomson
Bubba Nelson
Jung Bong
Jaret Wright
The Braves' new philosophy is, "our rotation won't scare you any more, but our lineup sure will." The only problem is, the lineup doesn't really look that scary either. Giles and Chipper Jones will do alright, but Furcal's been slipping, and Andruw Jones has never hit for high average. Plus, JD Drew is decent, but he's no #5 hitter. Round out the lineup with Mark DeRosa and two rookies, and add in a rotation that's 75% no-names and control problems, and this may be it for the Braves. The good thing is that they have a good, young nucleus to this team, so any rebuilding effort in the near future should come rather smoothly.

Florida Marlins

Juan Pierre CF
Luis Castillo 2b
Mike Redmond C
Mike Lowell 3b
Jeff Conine LF
Miguel Cabrera RF
Hee Seop Choi 1b
Alex Gonzalez SS
Josh Beckett
Brad Penny
Carl Pavano
Dontrelle Willis
Darren Oliver
AJ Burnett
Who is Mike Redmond and why is he batting third? Well, he's the same guy who hit third for the Marlins last year when Pudge Rodriguez wasn't in the lineup. Pierre and Castillo are great at the top of the order, and Lowell is great in the middle, but unless Cabrera and Choi both have the breakout seasons to end all breakout seasons, this team is a bat or two away from solidifying a return to the postseason. The rotation looks pretty solid, now that most of their 25-and-under-Tommy-John-club members are gone. Beckett has a load of expectations on him this year. They're set so high, that even if he doesn't reach his expectations, he can still sneak in with a decent season. Pavano and Oliver will be the workhorses, and if AJ Burnett ("AJ" stands for Athomas John, apparrently) can stay healthy, the Marlins will do OK. Of course, you'd better hope that they enter the ninth with a comfortable lead, or else it's up to (gulp) Armando Benitez.
(An interesting aside: back when the Expos were looking to trade away Pedro Martinez, they came down to the decision of getting Pavano from the Red Sox or Bartolo Colon from the Indians. The Montreal brass thought that Pavano would turn out much better than Colon, and that's why Pedro is in Boston to this day.)

Philadelphia Phillies

Marlon Byrd CF
Placido Polanco 2b
Bobby Abreu RF
Jim Thome 1b
Mike Lieberthal C
Pat Burrell LF
David Bell 3b
Jimmy Rollins SS
Kevin Millwood
Randy Wolf
Vincente Padilla
Eric Milton
Brett Myers
On paper, this is a great team with a solid bench (Shawn Wooten, Tomas Perez, Ricky Ledee, and Doug Glanville), and the addition of the lights-out closer Billy Wagner was a great deal. However, in Philadelphia, baseball is not played on paper but on NexTurf (well, actually, now they play it on real grass - not to be confused with the "real grass" the Mets play on - in the new Citizens Bank Ballpark). In reality, Polanco should probably be a utility player, Abreu would be hitting leadoff if he would quit whining about it, and Pat Burrell has yet to come close to his potential. Add in the injury bug for Liberthal, Bell, Milton (yeah, he'll stay healthy, right), and Thome (chronic bad back), and I think it'll be another close but no cigar for the Phillies. I'll at least give them credit for making the team decent before moving it into the new park, instead of trying to make a fortune off of a crappy team in a new park (as most bad clubs have done recently).

Montreal Expos

Brad Wilkerson CF
Orlando Cabrera SS
Jose Vidro 2b
Carl Everett LF
Tony Batista 3b
Nick Johnson 1b
Terrmel Sledge RF
Brian Schneider C
Livan Hernandez
Tony Armas Jr.
Zach Day
Tomo Ohka
Claudio Vargas
Orlando Hernandez
Well, on the plus side, Rocky Biddle has turned into a solid closer, which the Expos will need with the loss of Scott Stewart. On the negative side, the lineup starts out well but goes quickly downhill. The 1-3 guys are good. Everett and Batista are solid, but you won't get anywhere if they're your 4-5. I'm still not sold on Nick Johnson at all, either. Having both Hernandezes in your rotation would look great if this were 1996. Day has some promise in his sinker, but other than that, there's not much to talk about on this pitching staff other than Biddle.

New York Mets

Jose Reyes 2b
Kaz Matsui SS
"Clifford" Floyd LF
Mike Piazza C
Jason Phillips 1b
Mike Cameron CF
Ty Wigginton 3b
Roger Cedeno/Timo Perez/Karim Garcia RF
Tom Glavine
Al Leiter
Steve Trachsel
Jae Weong Seo
Jeremy Griffiths
Aaron Heilman
Scott Erickson
OK, the lineup was just a guess (how I'd probably play them), so Dave, feel free to rip me apart. I've listed Cliff Floyd here as "Clifford," since apparently Peter Gammons can never just call him "Cliff" (he uses full first names for a few people - I should keep a list and use it as a future column). Cameron's hitting has been spotty at times (two years ago he had 4 homers in a game, then virtually none for the rest of the season), and he's never put up a high average. Trade him in for one good OPS guy, and this would be a lineup to watch. As for the rotation: Glavine, Leiter, Traschel, and Erickson? If this were 6 years ago, I'd definitely say look out for them. Fortunately, the presence of Heilman et al. proves that the Mets do have some hope for the future. This may be another rough year at Shea, but I'm going to bet it won't be too long before Dave doesn't have to drink heavily before going to the ballpark.

A Random Thought on Stadium/Arena/Court/Field Names

A recent trend has come about to not only name a stadium or arena, but to also name the field or court itself (for example, Coach K Court inside Cameron Indoor Stadium). Here's my opinion of the best and the worst:
The worst: Great American Ballpark, Cincinnati. It's a brand new stadium, and you have the gall to call it The Great American Ballpark? It's not even that great! I'm sorry, but I think that's an honor reserved for Fenway Park or Wrigley Field, my friend.
The best: (John and Nell) Wooden Court, Pauley Pavillion, UCLA. Why yes, that is in fact a wooden court. Very perceptive of you.

Coming up this week: Weekend in Review, including the man of 1000+ nicknames and 20+ points, bubble watch (women fall to Rutgers, again), Transaction Wire, and the NL Central preview.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Transaction Wire

Pistons trade for 'Sheed Wallace, eventually. I would have mentioned this trade last week, but I didn't have all my paperwork in. The great thing about this trade is that it reunites some of the "stars" of the mid-90s "we suck because Mark Price, Brad Daugherty, and Larry Nance retired" Cavs - Chris Mills, Wes Person, and Bob Sura. Sura, incidentally, was the one who inspired me to cut my hair short and comb it forwards my junior year of high school. Ah, good times.
Broncos prepare to trade Clinton Portis for Champ Bailey. Was it a bad call by Butch Davis to take William Green over Portis? No, it wasn't. The Browns O-Line isn't very good, except at getting injured, and since Portis himself is injury prone, it's not a good match. Besides, most of Portis's yards come from a great Bronco O-Line. I watched Portis closely during the Browns-Broncos game this year. All he did was sit there and wait for the line to open a hole for him. Heck, I could do that. Once he got through the line, nothing really happened. So, credit the Broncos O-Line, but don't discredit Davis for not taking Portis.
Cowboys prepare to trade Joey Galloway for Keyshawn Johnson. I believe it was SportsPickle who said that the '02 Bucs didn't have any stars on their team, but Johnson and Warren Sapp told everybody they were stars and the media believed them. John Gruden gets rid of a headache, and Keyshawn goes to a coach he's always wanted to play for. As for Joey Galloway, age isn't an issue, since he's only a year older than Johnson. Maybe Bill Parcells keeps confusing Galloway and Terry Glenn, both WRs from tOSU's streak of #2 finishes in the mid-to-late-90s. I know I make that mistake many times, too.
Yankees release Aaron Boone. You want to talk about player loyalty? How about team loyalty? Sure, Boone's contract said "no basketball," but you can be at least a little faithful to this guy, can't you?
Jamal Lewis indicted for allegdly helping a coke deal. And this wasn't the "$1.25 from the vending machine" kind of coke. Note to Tony Weaver: if one of your teammates invites you to hang out with them in your free time, and his jersey says "Lewis," STAY AWAY.

News from the NFL Combine

Believe it or not, I've had tons of trouble trying to find news from the combine. You'd think at least one site would be all over this. Here's what I found:
  • Darrell Campbell is being looked at as either a big, kinda slow defensive end, or a small, kinda quick DT. The word going around says he'll be a good fit as a 3-4 defensive end. In the 3-4, each D-Lineman is lined up directly across from an O-Lineman, whereas in the 4-3, each D-Lineman lines up in a gap. Therefore, you want 3-4 lineman to be bigger and stronger. So, that's why you put Darrell at DE in a 3-4. Teams that have been looking at him include San Diego (who may switch to a 3-4 next year), New England (who runs various defensive sets), and Pittsburgh (a traditional 3-4 team). Go figure my two favorite ND D-Lineman would end up on the Browns' two biggest rivals.
  • Reportedly, the Browns are looking at Kellen Winslow, Jr. and scUM South safety Sean Taylor. I think my feelings about Winslow are well known. Taylor is a ballhawk who was also a great return man for the Hurricanes. It would be great to see someone other than Robert "all I know how to do it hit people with my shoulder, which is why the Browns gave up so many 200 yard rushing games this year Griffith. However, with Dennis Northcutt missing the deadline to file for free agency, the Browns will keep an already good punt returner.
  • Julius Jones has been impressive so far at the combine. Len Pasquarelli reports that Julius isn't doing one thing very well, but he's still doing every single thing well. Jones has also received high marks for his quickness and receiving abilities. Boy, I'll tell you what, if Julius is the best receiving RB in this year's draft class, wait til these guys see Josh Schmidt.

Sorry if today was a little busy. I'll try to have the NL East preview posted this weekend. Take care.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

OK, I can't just skip a post and not give you something to amuse yourselves with. Here it is: Sackbut Links. I haven't really looked around yet, but Trombone Samurai looks promising.
Ash Wednesday today, so I'm going to skip the column tonight. Join us again tomorrow for Transaction Wire and NL East preview. Until then, feel free to submit your thoughts about the KankaMatic draft to the message board. Or, Goolize yourself and post the results to the message board for everyone's amusement.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Bonus: What Google thinks of me, courtesy Googlism:

kanka is one of the most successful grassroots reformers in recent united states history
kanka is an old canker remedy that began to lose it's place in the market when less painful remedies started to appear
kanka is dead and there is nothing we can do to change that
kanka is semi
kanka is both a moscow pi tchaikovsky international award 1982 and prague spring 1983
kanka is the price we've paid for that policy
kanka is the assistant to the director and the associate director of the university center and the program in ethics and public affairs
kanka is famous for the yearly zatra knows as bodgeshwar zatra
kanka is the larger lake to the west
kanka is working in his studio in düsseldorf right now
kanka is working in his homestudio in düsseldorf on the follow up to the band's last release
kanka is studying acts
kanka is frozen in our collective consciousness because of her beauty
kanka is the name of a particular type of palm that is abundant in this area
kanka is my husband's grandfather
kanka is my bioloical mother
kanka is kidnapped
kanka is the bomb when it comes to canker sore aids
kanka is sanskritized as
kanka is set for nov
kanka is as much a lord of this kingdom as i myself
kanka is 6th level and has a strength of 18/30
First of all, since I'm out of control, and since this (QuickTime) is out of control, I simply can't stop watching it. I guess this guy is in some Drum and Bugle Corps somewhere, and also gives talks to grade school music classes. I have his email soemwhere if anyone wants it.

Notre Dame's Greatest Coaches: Rockne, Leahy, Parseghian, Holtz

by Moose Krause and Stephen Singular

Notre Dame's recent downfall began in or around 1993. The man they called Mr. Notre Dame, Moose Krause, died in December of 1992. He was recruited by Rockne, coached under Leahy, hired Parseghian, and aided in the hiring of Holtz. Hmmm... his years at the school almost exactly coincide with Notre Dame's era of football greatness. Conspiracy theorists, you may begin...
As for the book, it's definitely a must read. It chronicles the 1992 season, Moose's last, plus gives you a Moose-eyed view of the man's life and ND's greatest coaches. Why these four? Besides the national championship factor, these are the four that Moose felt were the epitome of "Notre Dame men."
This book was written from Stephen Singular's point of view, but includes much great insight from Moose and other Notre Dame personalities. Singular does a great job of making the reader feel like they're really there, sucking up Moose's cigar smoke and listening to his belly laughs.
Some highlights:
Notre Dame was beating Northwestern rather handily on the road, so the Northwestern students all started to flip Rockne the bird. After the game, Rockne turns to the stands and screams, "What? You jackasses can't beat us so you fart on us?"
The other you've heard before, but it bears retelling. John Lattner, after fumbling five times in a game, gets called into Coach Leahy's office. After making sure Lattner isn't having girl trouble or family problems, Leahy looks at the future Heisman winner and says, "Lad, I want you to go to confession, and to confess those five mortal sins you committed last Saturday."
I almost passed on this book, but that would've been a mistake. This is definitely a must read.

Thanks to Ellen for her writeup on the ND Swomen. I was going to mention them, but, as usual, I completely forgot.

Peter Gammons had a nice writeup on the Indians and, you guessed it, Jody Gerut. This is why people like Gerut and LeBron James ("Young people look up to me, so I know I have to be a role model -- on and off the court.") are role models, and people like Milton Bradley (jail time for resisting arrest, walking over to take a seat in the bullpen during pitching changes) are not.

Don't forget, the KankaMatic Draft is only a short time away (March 1).

That's it for today - a lot about nothing. We have the Transaction Wire tomorrow, NL East Thursday, and anything else as the spirit moves me. Oh, by the way, Lorain Catholic High School (my alma mater) is closing down after this year, so if anyone knows of any good high schools in the Lorain area where my sister can go for her senior year, and my brother can go for his four years, let me know (or, if you're incredibly rich and would like to write a huge check to save the school, let me know).

Monday, February 23, 2004

UConn Out-Physicals ND Men

Husky Men also Out-"Not Take Stupid Shots" The Irish

How bad of a night was it for Chris Thomas? Well, he actually pulled a Kanka. That's right, his 6-23 shooting night was capped off by a three from the corner that hit the top of the backboard. Dah. Thomas wasn't shooting well all game, but he refused to try to find anyone else who was passing well. Maybe that's because there wasn't anyone else. The lack of Torin Francis hurt in this game, not really so much for the rebounding presence, but more because Thomas put too much weight on his own shoulders - he felt that he was the only scorer out there, and the team lived and died with his 17 misses.
UConn's rebounding in this game was ridiculous, and it wasn't just because of Emeka Okafor and freshman forward Josh Boone. Too many times, the ND guards just stood there watching a UConn shot go up. This let the Husky guards easily slip around their Irish defenders and float to the basket for a tip-in. Also, ND has to be leading the country in opponent's missed free throws rebounded by the shooter. A big reason for this? Chris Thomas, who's resposibility is the shooter, just stands there flatfooted staring at the shot in flight, allowing the shooter to get in perfect, uncontested position for the long rebound.
Ugh. On one of the few positive notes, Colin Falls is starting to show hints he belongs in college ball. Keep it up, kid.
Next up for the Irish are the pesky Providence Friars. Providence actually comes in as a ranked team this year. But, as long as there are no no-name guards putting up 38 points on us, this is a very winable game, a la Seton Hall recently.

What I Did this Weekend

Kanka Gets a Taste of Politics, Monster Pizza

So many times I have a boring weekend, but this Saturday night was actually quite amusing.
My buddy Matt invited me to go see presidential candidate John Edwards speak at Cleveland State University on Saturday. Cleveland is not a State, but it is the alma mater of my dad. Also, John Edwards is not to be confused with John Edward, "medium"/Biggest Douche in the Universe (I was hoping they'd open things up for questions, though, just so I could act like I didn't know the difference).
As soon as we get in the door, we're hit with flyers from two people. Sure enough, they read, "Vote for John Kerry." Ah, politics. Inside the meeting room where Edwards was scheduled to talk, they were passing out stickers and selling buttons. Most buttons had pictures of Edwards, but the big sellers were the "BUCK FUSH" buttons. After exclaiming, "BUCK FUTTER!", I thought of buying one for Dave, Bush's #1 fan, but then I realized that a) that would cost money and b) I'm insanely cheap.
We stood near the back, by the press area. ABC was early, complete with campaign trail bus - I was going to sneak us inside, but it wasn't empty at the time. CNN/NBC and CBS decided to wait for Edwards at the airport. I spotted two girls there by themselves. One had "band braids" - those double braids similar to Jess the Drum Major's baseball braids. Of course, being a bando, I've come to find that band braids are a rather good look. The other looked like a combination of Ellen and Rebecca Lobo, minus the tombstone-sized teeth. Despite this fact, she was also quite attractive. So, did I invite these girls, now standing right next to us, to join Matt and me for dinner afterwards? No, I'll just wait til this is over and ask them then. Of course, by the time it was over, they were long gone. Dah.
Edwards was running a little late; it was a marathon day for him, flying from New York to Minnesota to Cleveland. So, the minority/majority leader of the Ohio Senate (he's a Democrat obviously; I can't recall offhand which party has control of the Ohio Senate) put him self in charge of keeping the crowd in it, between the Dave Matthews and Elton John playing in the background. Finally, around 8:30 or so (Edwards was due to start talking at 8), the Senator goes, "OK, are you ready?" The crowd holds up their signs and starts chanting "Edwards! Edwards! Edwards!" I lean to Matt and, mimmicking the Senator, quip, "...and that's exactly what we'll do once he gets here!" Sadly, I was right. Edwards got there around 9 or so, CNN and CBS camera crews in tow. Once there, the place turned into a pep rally. There was a 40s-ish woman a few rows ahead of us in a business suit, and, well, you've seen those Microsoft Office commercials, where everyone's running around celebrating? Yeah, she was like that.
Knowing that Dave would be doing the same if he were there, I kept making wrestling references to Matt. I was waiting for Kerry or Dennis Kucinich to jump out of the crowd and hit Edwards with a steel chair, or for Edwards to rip off his suitcoat and shirt to reveal a LeBron James jersey. Alas, the most exciting news of the night (you heard it hear first!) was that Howard Dean will be dropping out of the race, and he and his followers will now be supporting Edwards. This supposedly will become official after Super Tuesday, March 2. After nearly 2 hours of the crowd waiting, Edwards talks for 20 minutes, and that's it. Time to go home.
I'm not much into politics, as you probably all know, and almost all of my readers are hard-core Republican, so it wouldn't matter what I said anyways. But, the speech itself was amusing. Politics is a game of telling people what they want to hear, and "forgetting" to tell the rest of the story. It's the same for both parties, there's no way around it. Still, it's a funny game, and this was definitely an amusing adventure.
After the talk, as planned, Matt and I (sans Ms. Band Braids and Ellen Lobo) headed for Alice Cooper'stown Cleveland. Alice Cooper'stown is a great idea. Alice Cooper is a huge sports fan, so he started opening up sports bar/restaurants around the country. This one is right across the street from Jacob's Field. The entrance walls were lined with signatures of celebrities who have visited, mostly Browns and Indians players, but also a group of DiamondBacks, and Chris Rose, Cleveland area "celebrity" turned Best Damn Sports Show Period host. Dah.
Parking was a fun adventure. To pay for the lot we picked, you were supposed to put the fee in an envelope, put down your license plate number, spot number, and the date and time, and drop it in a box near the front of the lot. If they're out of envelopes (there are no people attending this lot), you use your own. Being rather non-Klondikian, niether Matt nor I had an envelope. Matt did have a pen though, and I had a John Kerry flyer. So, I fashioned the flyer into a crude envelope, and we were set.
Inside Alice Cooper'stown, we were asked, "smoking or non?" They should have asked, "smoking or no fun?", as the non-smoking section is a small, dimly lit room in the back with two small TVs and no music, and only one waitress (I was able to rationalize my normal "I'll give her a big tip because she's hot" morale by reasoning that "I'll give her a big tip because she's waiting on 3 tables at the same time and bussing with no help). We ordered a "monster pizza" (the works, basically), and started to look around. The menu listed famous Clevelanders, including George Steinbrenner. Dah. It also had to rub in the fact that he tried to buy the Indians, his lifelong dream, and was turned down. Of course, he probably just would have moved them to Tampa, just like he did with the American Shipbuilding Company in Lorain. While waiting (although it was a rather short wait), I started to look around at the sports pictures on the wall. Right next to our table was a team picture of the 1991 Clevland Browns. Very nice.
OK, that's my story the end (now wasn't that anticlimatic?).

Bubble Watch

ND Women

The women continue to win, but their last three games have been against teams with RPIs lower than 150. This drops their RPI to 25. They have two games coming up against decent teams: UMiami, who they beat on the road earlier this year, and Rutgers, who's always given them fits. After that, it's two more crappy teams and then the Big East Tournament.

ND Men

You win some, you lose some. The men gain five spots, up to number 55. Let's check out the adjusted bubble RPI.
Magic Number: 34 at-large bids.
ND Men's RPI: 55
Conference Leaders RPI < 55: 15
Adjusted Bubble RPI: 40
So, they're improving (last week the adjusted number was 44), but they're not there yet. puts them in their "next four out," basically meaning they need to move up 8 spots to make the tournament. Well, a win against Providence would be a good start.

That's it for today. Check back this week for the Transaction Wire, the NL East preview, and a book report on Notre Dame's Greatest Coaches.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Happy First Day of Spring Traning everyone!

Transaction Wire

Colorado U fires Gary Barnett. If you ask me, he's probably not a good choice for a Ty replacement.
Pirates sign Randall Simon and Raul Mondesi. Simon isn't a bad resigning - he'll put the bat on the ball. But Mondesi has become Mr. Underacheiver, and playing for a team isn't going anywhere isn't going to help. It's money better spent elsewhere, unless the Pirates are smart enough to get a few good AAA guys out of him at the trade deadline.
Cubs sign Greg Maddux. A great young staff and an established veteran. Plus, it's a non Questec park. Great sign.
Rangers trade Alex Rodriguez for Alfonso Soriano and a PTBNL. Lost in the shuffle here is the fact that Soriano will probably try to play shortstop now. That's going to be ugly. And I doubt the Rangers need another all or nothing swinger.
A lot of people say A-Rod's contract was to blame for the Rangers not landing any big time pitching. Do you realize who Texas's GM is? That's right, its KankaNation favorite John Hart. With or without Rodriguez, there wasn't going to be any money on pitching.
As for Bud Selig, he's once again the owners' puppet. "Well, I'll let this go this time, but don't make a habit of it." Way to take a stand, moron.
As for Rodriguez, well, we have our AL East preview to discuss that. I do, however, like how all the Yankee haters are rationalizing the heck out of this trade. Maybe it's the fact that the Yankees were handed the championship each February each of the last 3 years only to fail. Time will tell.

MLB Preview #: AL East

New York Yankees

Kenny Lofton CF
Derek Jeter SS
Alex Rodriguez 3b
Jason Giambi 1b
Gary Sheffield RF
Jorge Posada C
Hideki Matsui LF
Bernie Williams CF
Enrique Wilson/Miguel Cairo 2b
Mike Mussina
Kevin Brown
Javier Vazquez
Jose Contreras
John Lieber
Where to start? Lofton's bound to hit the wall sometime, but if Torre can put up with Soriano at leadoff, he'll put up with anyone. Lofton and Williams aren't going to last a whole year in that huge center field. So, look for tons of Ruben Sierra time in LF as Matsui moves to center. Giambi has yet to live up to potential in New York, and when he proves he can't handle first every day, it's Tony Clark backing him up. Sheffield had a great year last year, but this is his first in the AL, so who knows what will happen. Bernie Williams is finally out of the four spot, thank God, and the prospects at second don't exactly look great. If Bret Boone or Jose Vidro end up in New York by the deadline, I'll officially lose any remaining faith I have in any owners. Any single one of them.
The pitching rotation looks atrocious. Javier Vazquez is a good pitcher, but he's just enough of a no name to get booed after a few bad starts, and from there his year could be awful. Kevin Brown's guaranteed to miss 20 starts, and there's really no one to take his place. Now. I better shut up before Brian Cashman starts scouting starting pitchers.
As for the bullpen - not impressive. Mariano Rivera is a one pitch pitcher, and if Bill Selby can figure him out (2-out grand caps off 6 run Tribe 9th in a win against Rivera the year before last), anyone can.
As for A-Rod and Derek. Rodriguez has two gold gloves, and Jeter is the worst defensive SS in the AL. OK, Rodriguez's gold gloves were cheap, and he only got them because of his offense. But still, it actually makes sense to have him make the move. He's the better defender, so he'll take a transition to a new position easier that Jeter. Plus, we all remember what happened when Jeter got involved in a play at the hot corner last year. Well, once Jeter's hurt again, Rodriguez will take over and play very well, perhaps prompting a Jeter move to second. It only makes sense due to Jeter's terrible range and week arm (plus the 40 AAAA 3rd basemen the Yanks now have). Oh, as for these two "captains": yes, Jeter not moving over for the better player was bad, but Rodriguez just left his team. Good good.
Oh, and A-Rod hit a whopping .208 at Yankee Stadium last year.

Boston Red Sox

Johnny Damon CF
Bill Mueller 3b
Nomar Garciaparra SS
Manny Ramirez LF
David Ortiz/Ellis Burks DH
Kevin Millar 1b
Trot Nixon RF
Jason Varitek C
Pokey Reese 2b
Pedro Martinez
Curt Schilling
Derek Lowe
Tim Wakefield
BK Kim
Boy, the Sox sure love their D at 2b. If Alfonso Soriano is the "how not to" example of moving from SS to 2b, Pokey Reese is the "how to," winning several gold gloves at second. That's the only big pickup in the lineup, but this lineup doesn't need to much help.
The rotation looks good, but if you take a second look you'll notice it's not very deep. That could be trouble when Pedro gets hurt. Plus, BK Kim is much more effective coming out of the bullpen, when he doesn't give the opposing rotation a chance to roll over a few times. As for the pen, Keith Foulke may be the most underrated signing of the offseason, both because it shores up the back end of Boston's bullpen, and because Foulke has quietly become a great closer.

Toronto Blue Jays

Reed Johnson RF
Frank Catalanotto LF
Vernon Wells CF
Carlos Delgado 1b
Josh Phelps DH
Greg Myers C
Eric Hinske 3b
Orlando Hudson 2b
Chris Woodward SS
Roy Halladay
Miguel Batista
Ted Lilly
Pat Hentgen
Josh Towers
Both the lineup and rotation are great up top but terrible on the bottom. If I were actually funny, I would've had a great joke to go along with that one. Maybe I need to hire an official one-liner writer. Delgado, Wells, and Halladay are as good as they come. Catalanotto is a good guy to have in the lineup, and Hinske is two years removed from a rookie of the year trophy. Miguel Batista is a good #3 starter; let's see how he does after he moves up a spot. Josh Towers is tempting fate by wearing a single digit uniform number (7) as a pitcher. A lot of these guys are close to breakout seasons. Of course, many of them have been that way their whole careers.

Baltimore Orioles

Jerry Hairston Jr. 2b
Melvin Mora 3b
Raphael Palmeiro 1b
Miguel Tejada SS
Javy Lopez C
Jay Gibbons RF
Larry Bigbie LF
Jack Cust DH
Luis Matos/Tim Raines Jr. CF
Sidney Ponson
Kurt Ainsworth
Rodrigo Lopez
Eric DuBose
Matt Riley
Erik Bedard
Omar Daal
The names will impress you, the results may not. Melvin Mora should again put up bid numbers. Miguel Tejada needs to prove last year wasn't a fluke. My feeling is that the real Miguel Tejada is more like last year's version than the MVP Tejada two years ago. Javy Lopez may not do so well now that he's not surrounded by all stars. As for some of the Gammons-esque types: Jay Gibbons is decent, he's more or less the poor man's Aubrey Huff. Jack Cust was a very high draft pick. He can't play a position, and he's struggled to live up to the hype on offense as well.
Getting Syndey Ponson back is big, and the Orioles still get to keep Kurt Ainsworth. Other than them, the pitching staff isn't much, other than closer Jorge Julio.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Carl Crawford LF
Rocco Baldelli CF
Aubrey Huff DH
Jose Cruz Jr. RF
Tino Martinez/Robert Fick 1b
Geoff Blum 3b
Rey Sanchez SS
Toby Hall C
Julio Lugo 2b
Victor Zambrano
Jeremi Gonzalez
Mark Hendrickson
Doug Waechter
Damian Moss
Dewon Brazelton
Paul Abbott
Tampa Bay's lineup is much like Toronto's, only the names aren't as big. Then, you get to the bottom and see both Rey Sanchez and Julio Lugo. At least they have exciting young stars in Baldelli and Huff (and to a lesser extent, Crawford). Believe it or not, I would actually pay money to see these guys (Baldelli and Huff, not Sanchez and Lugo).
As for the pitching staff, the Devil Rays had a few good young pitchers, but it looks like they're all gone now, except for Victor "don't call me Carlos" Zambrano. Paul Abbott isn't listed in the opening day rotation, but look for him to eat a ton of innings. As for the pen, well, you have 2003 all star Lance Carter (only an all star because the AL needed more pitchers) and Danys Baez, who was the victim of too many good young pitchers in the Cleveland system. Oh, and sucking. He was also the victim of sucking.

Well, that's the AL East for you. Next week is the NL East. If you're looking for some fantasy baseball chatter, check out the NDNation site, where they discuss their fantasy league. Scott, if you'd like to play KankaMatic Baseball, please let me know, and also let me know what your favorite team is.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

ND Men Creep Towards Proverbial Bubble

Thomas Creeps Towards Proverbial "Decision Making That Doesn't Completely Suck"

It was a big weekend for the Irish. Two more ESPN games, two more wins against quality teams. This time it was Seton Hall at home (they're actually good this year - who knew?) and in the Carrier Dome against Syracuse, no small feat indeed.
Against Seton Hall, ND just looked like the better team. Maybe it was the UConn game that snapped them out of whatever funk they were in, but they definitely played better than they had all year. Still, it did seem like Seton Hall was only one run away from taking over. Maybe that's a sign that the Irish now have the fight to shut down a late comeback.
Against Syracuse, it did help that Gerry McNamara started cold, and that the team doesn't have many other scorers. Yet, the Irish played hard for 40 minutes (which is OK for basketball, but not for football. Someone please remind Dicky V of this.) and they made their shots. As in the Seton Hall game, they kept the rebounding advantage close, and that was enough.
Let's take a look at how each player did:
Chris Thomas: Is he shooting the ball well? Yes and no. He's not shooting 60% from the field, but he's also not shooting 25%, so I guess I'll take it. The important thing is that his maturity is starting to show on offense. No more Kanka-esque full sprint threes or off balance hope I get fouled dives. He's in control and making smart passes. Hopefully this is something he'll remember, and not something Mike Brey will have to reteach him after ND starts next year 7-8. Thomas's defense is another story. Andre Barrett was running circles around Thomas like you wouldn't believe. This cause Brey to switch Torrian Jones over to guard Barrett, which unfortunately left Chris Quinn guarding someone five inches taller than him. Fortunately for the Quinn, Seton Hall completely missed their chances to exploit this, and fortunately for the Irish, Quinn actually plays defense so the Pirates thought his man wasn't open.
Chris Quinn: Just a few weeks ago, I was starting to worry that Quinn was going to go the way of Alicia Ratay: great when they're not the center of attention, and when their teammates get them open, but not so good when they are the focal point or have to create their own shot. After these past few games, that comparison is starting to move towards Mark Price. I'm not saying Quinn is the next Mark Price, I'm just saying that I idolized Price growing up, so he's my reference point for what a great point guard should be. In the Seton Hall game, Quinn would drive, and then immediately kick it out to someone wide open outside the arc. Unfortunately, this was more often than not Torrian Jones. Fortunately, Jones had the forsight not to shoot every single time. Now, if you put Colin Falls out there, we may be getting somewhere. However, over the course of the game, I noticed that Quinn made the same pass every single time he drove, and Seton Hall noticed as well. Great, there goes that, I though. Well, it wasn't a bad idea - the team they were playing wasn't outstanding, so he could try a few things, but now everyone's going to be looking for it. Then comes the UConn game. Quinn drives, and shoots off the dribble. I was worried that the new ND Basketball resurgence would end once Thomas leaves (and I was afraid this year was already the beginning of that), but after seeing Quinn this weekend, I'm starting to think we'll be in capable hands.
Torrian Jones: Last year, I suggested bulking Jones up and putting him on the football team as a safety. That may have been a good decision. "But Kanka, he's been playing well lately," you say. That's my point exactly. He flies to the ball, grabbing defensive rebounds away from opposing big men. He slashes through traffic. When someone needs to step up and make a play, he's willing to be that guy (that guy in a good sense). He plays with heart and hustle and brains. I'm no football expert, and this is a terrible metaphor, but I think those are pretty good qualities for a safety. They're also great qualities for a senior captian, and Torrian Jones is a big reason why this team is winning again.
Torin Francis: As soon as the UConn game ended, I thought, "Could we possibly be seeing the Ewing Theory in action?" It may be too early to tell (and, being as he's only the second biggest star on the team, this may not even qualify), but this may be the Theory in action. Or, it may just be a coincidence that everybody's started to turn it on just as Francis is out.
Tom Timmermans: The king of the hi-low formation 17 foot jumper is another reason why this team is winning. In Timmermans and Jones, you have probably the two starters with the least basketball talent. But, you also have the two starters with the most hustle. (Can you tell I was always the "no talent, hustle guy" when I played? Seriously, it's all I ever talk about.) He plays hard, knows his role, and has fight in him. He also has 880 nicknames at last count.
Rick Cornett: He's showing he belongs, both on defense and on offense. Kind of makes you wish Brey gave more guys playing time, to help tone the raw talent into experience.
Colin Falls: Yes Dave, he's still white. He hasn't been the second coming of Matt Carroll yet, but he's still working out the jitters. He plays with "I need to show coach I'm good" hustle, but he just needs to relax and get into his groove as a shooter. Once again, time and experience is the answer for this.
Jordan Cornette: He's almost getting lost in the shuffle in all this (probably due to a bad Syracuse game - 0 pts, 3 boards). You expect him to get quite a few boards, block a shot or two, and throw in a few points. Maybe Jones's trip to the Junenation machine and Timmermans's increased minutes have lead to this, but Cornette is still a solid player.
Well, call it maturity, leadership, heart, hustle, desire, or the fact they're actually rebounding and making shots now. The ND Men's team is going somewhere - let's just hope it's not too little, too late.

I don't fumble

After a game in which future Heisman Trophy winner John Lattner had five fumbles, coach Frank Leahy called Lattner into his office. After asking Lattner if his family was doing alright or if he was having girl troubles, Leahy said, "Lad, I want you to go to confession, and I want you to confess those five mortal sins you committed on Saturday."

NBA All-Star Weekend

Rookie-Sophomore Challenge

I was waiting for a LeBron to Carmelo alley-oop that would be shown forever on ESPN, and instead I got several Carmelo to LeBrons. Oh well, I'll take it. Carlos Boozer had 25 points. To quote former roommates of our Morrissey alumni, "He's pretty good!" The thing ended in a dunk contest which amusing to watch, but I missed most of the game because I chose "going out and doing stuff" over "being lame and staying home to watch TV on Friday night."

Slam Dunk Competition/Three Point Shootout/Skills Competition/Etc.

Um, yeah, I completely forgot this was on. Whoops. Well, I'm not going to report on anything I didn't see, so you'll have to go somewhere else for news on this part of the weekend.

The Game Itself

So, "Hey Ya" has officially jumped the shark now, right? Speaking of which, I have a story from visiting my high school's jazz band last week. Everyone's getting ready, and the director walks in from his office. "Did everybody see which song the Trojan Marching Band played at the Grammy's?" Dah.
For the Canadian National Anthem, it was amusing to see Nelly Furtado taking jersey dresses to the next level with the low cut, full length jersey evening gown. Being as it was jersey-related, I am secure enough in my manhood to admit I noticed this. I couldn't understand her bando-esque double braids, however, until I remembered that Furtado is in fact a former trombone player. Don't ask me how I know this, you'll only get an answer.
As for the game, it resembled one of our Bookstore Basketball practices: no one wanted to run real offensive plays and no one wanted to play defense. Of course, the only difference is that the NBA all-stars have talent and can dunk, and we're fat messes.

I'm sure Ellen would like me to point out that the Big East swimming championships start Thursday in East Meadow, NY. A whopping 26 of her swimmers will be competing this weekend.

Women's RPI Watch

The wins were decisive, but the opponents were crappy. Solid showings against RPI #215 Providence and #163 St. John's actually cost the Irish a few spots, dropping their SOS to 6 and their RPI to 16. Still in good shape to play in March, though.

Bubble Watch

There are 31 conference in the NCAA tournament, and 34 at large bids. Theoretically, those 34 spots go to the teams that are in the top 34 RPI slots after taking out the conference champions. So, if you take ND's RPI and subtract the number of conference leaders above them, you can see how close ND is to that magic number 34.

Current ND Men's RPI: 60
Number of conference leaders with RPI < 60 : 16
Adjusted Bubble Watch RPI: 44

So, as you can see, the men are at least 10 slots away from dancing in March. But, with a good schedule ahead, if they keep playing like they have been, it's not out of reach.

Finally: here's looking at you. ND Basketballer Torrian Jones and Bowling Green (not a state) QB Josh Harris. (It looks a lot closer when Harris has a helmet on, but I'm too lazy to find a good picture of Harris with a helmet.)

Tomorrow: the obligatory A-Rod edition: Transaction Wire and AL East Preview

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Well, the bad new is that my NSS meeting means no post tonight.

The good news is that you've all been signed up for KankaMatic Baseball! Hoorah! But what if you didn't want to play KankaMatic Baseball? Well, it doesn't really matter, because with all the automatic features of KankaMatic baseball, you don't have to do anything if you don't want to! (and, basically it looks really pathetic if Dave and I are the only people playing this) I set a draft order in this fashion: first, I wrote a Javascript that would output our 8 names in a random order. I ran this script 10 times, noting the order of finish each time. I then took the average of the order of finish and used it to determine the draft order. If anybody wants to check my math, let me know and I'll show it to you.
So, without further ado, here's your 2004 draft order:
1. Ellen (Yankees)
2. Mike (Cubs)
3. Dave (Mets)
4. Klondike (Mariners)
5. Pete (Pirates)
6. Cronk (Rangers)
7. Kanka (Indians)
8. Brittany (Cubs)

Some notes on the draft:
  • The draft is still tentatively scheduled for March 1. I'm still taking suggestions on how to do this.
  • Do to the player rankings we'll be using, the autodraft order will be Round 1 Starting Pitcher Round 2 Catcher Round 3 Relief Pitcher Round 4 First Base.... Outfielders will be taken as outfielders, not by specific position (you will still be required to have a left, center, and right fielder on your active roster, however).
  • Remember, the favorite team autodraft rule will apply: no one can autodraft a player from another person's favorite team. You will get the next highest player at that position instead.
  • The draft will be in complete snake format: odd numbered rounds go from 1 (Ellen) to 8 (Brittany), even numbered rounds go 8 to 1. This was based on how the Sports Guy does things, not on my crappy pick number.

I put your favorite teams in parentheses for the autodraft rule (see above). Please correct me if I'm wrong, or forever hold your peace.
Also, please tell me (on the message board or by email) whether or not you're going to autodraft. If you don't reply at all, I'll assume you're autodrafting.
Finally, if and when you come up with a team name, let me know, or else I'll come up with a boring/lame/inappropriate one for you.

Big week this week: Weekend in Review (2 ND men's wins, NBA all star weekend), Transaction Wire, and what a time for the AL East preview to come up. I'll have a lot to say about that. Also, a new feature I'm going to start, the Bubble Watch: I'll take the men's spot in the RPI, subtract the number of conference leaders with automatic bids above them, and see if the result is lower than the number of at large bids (example (I'm making this up): RPI=60 - 25 conference leaders with RPIs above ND = 45, which greater than the number of at large bids available).

Good luck and happy drafting!

Thursday, February 12, 2004

MLB Preview #2: AL West

Oakland A's

Mark Ellis 2b
Mark Kotsay CF
Eric Chavez 3b
Erubiel Durazo DH
Jermaine Dye RF
Bobby Kielty/Eric Byrnes LF
Scott Hatteberg 1B
Damian Miller C
Bobby Crosby SS
Tim Hudson
Mark Mulder
Barry Zito
Mark Redman
Rich Harden
Kotsay and Kielty were nice pickups, although the A's already have enough Billy Beane-style outfielders. They could use a little more pop in the lineup, but they do have the pitching staff to go far with this lineup.

Seattle Mariners

Ichiro RF
Randy Winn CF
Brett Boone 2b
Edgar Martinez DH
Raul Ibanez LF
Rich Aurilia SS
John Olerud 1b
Scott Spiezio 3b
Ben Davis/Dan Wilson C
Freddy Garcia
Jamie Moyer
Joel Pineiro
Gil Meche
Ryan Franklin
This is a deep lineup, and once again Seattle carries three starting outfielders who could all play center. That has to be a pitcher's dream. Aurilia may not put up the numbers from a few years ago, but if he, Olerud, and Martinez put up good stats, there's no reason to complain about this lineup. That, and I'd probably trade Mike Cameron for Raul Ibanez any day. As for the rotation, Rock lookalike Garcia should be back to him old form this year, Moyer (an Elkhart native and Digger Phelps's son-in-law) will continue to confuse, and Pineiro, Meche, and Franklin will continue to be good young starters. The loss of Arthur Rhodes and Kaz Sasaki will mean that the bullpen is the only thing Seattle fans have to fear this year.

Anaheim Angels

David Eckstein SS
Darrin Erstad 1b
Vlad Guerrero RF
Garrett Anderson CF
Troy Glaus 3b
Jose Guillen LF
Tim Salmon DH
Bengie Molina C
Adam Kennedy 2b
Jarrod Washburn
Bart Colon
Kelvim Escobar
John Lackey
Ramon Ortiz
Aaron Sele
OK, there may be one thing better for a pitcher than having three center fielders in the outfielder, and that would be having 3 of the top 4 outfield arms playing behind you (Ichiro is the 4th). Oh, and they aren't too bad when it comes to hitting either. Add in Colon and Escobar, plus a lights out bullpen, and this is a team to watch this year.

Texas Rangers

Mike Young 2b
Mark Teixeira 1b
Alex Rodriguez SS
Brian Jordan RF
Brad Fullmer DH
Hank Blalock 3b
Kevin Mench LF
Einar Diaz C
Laynce Nix CF
Kenny Rogers
Colby Lewis
RA Dickey
Rich Rodriguez
Chan Ho Park
Joaquin Benoit
Ryan Drese
Kevin Mench has the largest head in baseball. Just thought I'd point that out. The lineup looks nice, adding Jordan and Fullmer. However, when I was looking at the starting rotation and came to "C. Lewis," even I couldn't figure out who that was. And this is their #2 starter. Once again, John Hart, you will need some pitching if you want to go somewhere.

ND Football News and Notes

B&G Illustrated is getting a little worried about Anthony Fasano's back problems. Of course, if he is hurt, this only means more time for Gary Godsey.
Eight Irish seniors were invited to the NFL comines, scheduled for February 28-March 4. This is a great list of names, as many are loved by most if not all members of this site. They are: kankasports HOF finalist Darrell Campbell, Vontez "I'm not 35, I swear" Duff, Glenn "Human Special Teams Big Play" Earl, Big Ced "blocking Mike's first Bookstore shot really wore me out" Hilliard, Julius, Jim Molinaro, Nick "Ellen loves me!" Setta, and Senator Courtney Watson. Good luck to all.

Other News and Ramblings

  • Maybe it's just me, but with a name like Patrick Surtain, shouldn't this guy be playing LW for the Avalanche or something? (Surtain is a Dolphins DB).
  • Drew Henson finally decided to quit baseball. But what about my lame running joke that the Yankees farm system is nothing more than Henson and Luis Sojo playing catch in Columbus? Fear not, for the Yankees have just signed Joe Girardi to a minor league deal. You can't make this up.
  • Mo Clarrett is going pro. For once, I actually want to see Ray Lewis eschew a form tackle for a pointless helmet-to-helmet hit (and yes, I did use "eschew" and "helmet-to-helmet" in the same sentence).

KankaMatic Baseball Update

The more I think about this, the more I think I should be able to pull this off. I'll work out some of the details over the weekend to see if this really is possible, but until then, get ready for the draft. I'll probably start the draft around March 1 or so. There will be 40 rounds, since teams can hold up to 40 players. You only need 25 to have a team, so you may withdraw from the draft any time after the first round. Some notes on the draft:
  • Each team must have at least 25 players, but no more than 40. 25 will be your active roster, and the remaining players will be your "AAA" roster. Their stats will not count, but you may call them up at any time (provided that someone is on the DL or you put someone on waivers).
  • Each 25 man roster must consist of at least 10 pitchers and 10 position players.
  • Of your position players, you must have at least one for each position, including the three outfield positions (LF, CF, RF). For a player to qualify for a position, they must have played at least 10 major league games at that position. Exception are made for rookies and cases like Jose Reyes (moving from SS to 2b). If you think you have another good exception, let me know.
  • The pitching staff must have at least 5 starters. Looking at the categories (Wins, Saves, ERA, WHIP, K/9 (I changed this to make it more even)), there's no real advantage of having more relievers or more starters.
  • You may carry DHs, but they are by no means necessary. In fact, they will actually hurt you when fielding stats are calculated.
  • If you would like your team autodrafted, please let me know. To make things easier for me, I'll autodraft your team in this order: round 1 best pitcher available, round 2 best catcher, round 3 best pitcher, round 3 best 1b, round 5 best pitcher....
  • For autodrafters, I will make one exception: if the player that is to be picked for your team is a member of another person's favorite team, I will skip them over for the next best pitcher. For example, if Ellen is autodrafting and it's time to pick a pitcher for her, and the best pitcher available is Mark Prior, I will skip him for the next person, giving Mike a chance to pick him. Of course, if someone who isn't autodrafting decides to take Prior between Ellen's turn and Mike's turn, well, that's tough luck for Mike. Of course, when it's time to autodraft and the person is on the autodrafter's favorite team (for instance, if it's Brittany's turn and Mark Prior comes up), then that player will go to the autodrafter. Since it appears that the Cubs are the only team with more than one fan, Mike would be at a disadvantage if Brittany decides to autodraft. Sorry, Mike.
  • I'll use a little random number generator, similar to the quote generator in the top right of this page, to determine a draft order. Then, we'll snake each of the rounds. (unless you'd prefer to just snake the first two rounds and go in order the rest of the way).
  • Here are the two options I could think of for the draft: me setting up the message board with the round number and person's name, then you reply to that name with your pick like this:
    Round one -post by Kanka
    Ellen -post by Kanka
    Don Mattingly -post by Ellen
    Dave -post by Kanka
    Mookie Wilson -post by Dave
    Mike -post by Kanka
    Ryne Sandberg -post by Mike
    Kanka -post by Kanka
    Joel Skinner -post by kanka
    The other option would be for each of you to give me a list of your top 60-75 names in order, and I'd use that to do the draft. Let me know what you think.
  • In case you were wondering, I'll probably ago with these player rankings from or these from

I'll probably set up a separate site for KankaMatic baseball, and I'll give you more of the rules as I go along. Also, if you think of a good team name for yourself, pass it along to me.

OK, that's it for today. I put the link to Chad's site up on my list of links. Ellen, if you would like to tell Chad about this site, feel free. But, if you ask me, I think his site puts my writing to shame.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Transaction Wire

Blazers trade Sheed and Wesley Person for Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Theo Ratliff, and Dan Dickau. Portland continues to make changes - they're for the better personality-wise at least. Abdur-Rahim is decent from what I hear (I haven't followed the NBA much in the past few years). Dan Dickau (oh, so that's where he went!) will make his floppy-haired return to the west coast.
Yankees trade for Mike Lamb. The Rangers used to have two young generic infielders named Mike: Lamb and Mike Young. One was considered good, and the other terrible, even though their stats are virtually identical. Fortunately, I think the Yanks got the sucky one. As for the Rangers, with so much talent at 3rd in Hank Blalock and Mark Teixeira (and don't forget Herb Perry).
Mets sign Scott Erickson to a minor league deal. Erickson didn't play last year, assumedly due to injury. If he stays healthy, he'll eat some innings for the Mets. If not, at least he'll be there to mentor young'ns like Mike Bacsik and Aaron Heilman.
Red Sox sign Ellis Burks. The Red Sox will add to a deep bench (many players could start somewhere). Burks brings veteran leadership and a great clubhouse presence. He will unselfishly play anywhere in the batting order, and if his knees hold up he can handle the small left field. names Jose Reyes 10th best fantasy second baseman to have for the coming year.

Check out the AL West Preview tomorrow, and if you see any free baseball stat services, please let me know. One rambling to take you home: my sister Becky is an alternate for my HS's Academic Challenge team (or, as we called it when I was a member, our "Academically Challenged team"). It was a radio taping, and they were playing one of the local public high schools. When it came time for the players to talk about themselves, everyone was rattling of extra cirriculars like tennis and yearbook and computer club whatnot, until they got to a football player from the public HS. His little spiel ended this way: "My hobbies include playing Madden with my friends." You can't make this up.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

ND Men Win Some, Lose Some

Francis, Quinn suffer injuries as Irish split weekend ESPN games

The Irish got out to an early lead against Pitt Saturday night. But after back injury for Torin Francis, the physical Panthers were once again too much for ND Men. Oh, by the way, there is a reason why Jaron Brown looks about 38 - he is actually old for college at 24 (which makes him older than most of the Cleveland Cavs).
On Monday night, the fight and heart finally came back to the Irish. Francis played for as long as he could. Once he was out, Tom Timmermans once again had a big game on the ESPN. Helping him were the Cornett(e)s, Rickfinally getting some well deserved playing time. Chris Quinn pulled a Willis Reed (remind me to look up what this refers to), coming back from an ankle injury. It didn't seem on the surface that he did much, but I'd much rather have an experienced ball handler in the backcourt than an inexperienced in Colin Falls. Chris Thomas didn't do too many stupid things, and as a result ended up with 31. The team played hard for 40 minutes, hit keys shots when they needed to, and shut down UConn when it mattered.
My favorite part of the weekend? If you flipped to ESPNews after the game, you would have seen the studio anchor and the three game announcers discussing whether or not the announcers were planning to stop by the Linbacker Lounge after the game. I know I would have been there.

Pro Bowl teams comine for 100+ points

Rule changes for game include "Don't play defense."

Ray Lewis is still and idiot, Mark Bulger may have just nailed the lid in Kurt Warner's coffin, and once again the Browns had no players in Hawai'i.
In case you missed it, Warner claims (and later retracted) that Rams assistants told him his performance is slipping because he spends too much time reading the Bible and not enough studying football. Good good.

RPI Update

The ND women lost to Seton Hall Sunday, falling from both polls and dropping to #13 in the RPI. Their current SOS is 4.
The ND men's 52nd ranked SOS and 10-9 record (as of Sunday) gives them an RPI ranking of 87.

Other News and Ramblings

  • Ruth Riley was chosen to compete for one of the final 3 spots on the 2004 women's olympic team. According to, Swin Cash, Cheryle Ford, and Nikki Teasley. Four players and 3 spots? Pretty good odds there. Lisa Leslie is the only current center on the team, and Riley is the only center trying out (Cash and Ford are forwards in the 6'2, 6'3 range, as are several women already on the team).
  • OK, I just saw one of the "Wassup" guys on a Dr. Scholl's "I'm gellin'" commercial. You can't make this up
  • In case you missed it, the Patriots were able to get Bill Belichick to do a little "funky whiteness" at their Super Bowl parade. Amazing.
  • Is it just me, or is Serena Williams quickly passing Anna Kournikova for "female tennis player most famous for not playing tennis."

That's it for today. Transaction wire tomorrow and AL West preview Thursday night, as I work on the KankaMatic project.
wassup scholls

Friday, February 06, 2004

Bonus Weekend Ramblings

  • At the Cavs game the other day, no less than 3 songs played were from the Madden soundtrack. I was starting to wonder if maybe they were just playing Madden in the control room.
  • A while back, Dick Vermeil offered kicker Morten Andersen, a wine enthousiast, a bottle of very expensive wine if he was to make a game winning kick. Well, this is considered a bonus not stipulated in Andersen's contract, which is a no-no. So, since Vermeil couldn't give Andersen his bottle of fine wine, Andersen's teammates chipped in and bought him a bottle of the Boone's. Chicks dig the Boone's.
  • Over Christmas break, my sister bought a "Jesus is my Homeboy" shirt. I don't know what to say about this, but at least my 85 year old grandma was amused.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Transaction Wire

Pretty much a quiet week, except for the Pudge Rodriguez signing, but I covered that last week. Here's one, though:
Mets sign Shane Spencer. Spencer and Karim Garcia join the ranks of former Yankee/Indians turned mets, following in the fine footsteps of Alvaro Espinoza. Too bad Jeff Manto isn't on that list.

Baseball Preview #1: NL West

As will be my tradition, I'll give the starting lineup as I'd play them (not necessarily as the manager will play them), players who will be making the majority of the starts this year, and any comments that may come to mind.

Ray Durham 2b
JT Snow 1b
Edgardo Alfonzo 3b
Barry Bonds LF
Michael Tucker/Dustan Mohr RF
AJ Pierzynski C
Marquis Grissom CF
Neifi Perez SS
Josh Schmidt
Brett Tomko
Kirk Rueter
Jerome Williams
Jesse Foppert
Kevin Correia
Dustin Hermanson
This lineup doesn't exactly strike fear into the hearts of an AL fan, but the giants will find a way to get it done again. Tucker is overrated (mostly by himself), but playing him with Mohr will be aa decent combination. Pierzynski is a jerk and a crybaby, but a decent catcher nonetheless. Unfortunately, the Giants had to give up pitching prospect Boof Bonser to get him.

Dave Roberts CF
Caesar Izturis 2b
Paul LoDuca C
Shawn Green RF
Juan Encarnacion LF
Robin Ventura/Bubba Trammell 1b
Adrian Beltre 3b
Alex Cora SS
Hideo Nomo
Odalis Perez
Kaz Ishii
Darren Dreifort
Wilson Alvarez
Jeff Weaver
Andy Ashby
The Dodgers need offense... so they lost Brian Jordan (Rangers), Daryle Ward (Pirates), Jeromy Burnitz (Rockies), and Chad Hermansen (Blue Jays). Juan Encaracion will help. If Shawn Green hits like he did the year before, and Adrian Beltre finally hits like everybody expects him too, they'll do OK again. I'm also very interested in seeing how Jeff Weaver does. Hopefully he can relax and go back to his Detroit Tiger self, instead of pulling a near Rick Ankiel.

Alex Cintron SS
Robbie Alomar 2b
Louis Gonzalez LF
Richie Sexson 1b
Shea Hillenbrand 3b
Steve Finley CF
Danny Bautista RF
Robby Hammock/Brent Mayne C
Randy Johnson
Brandon Webb
Shane Reynolds
Casey Fossum
Steve Sparks
They lost Miguel Batista to the Blue Jays, but between Reynolds, Fossum, and their young pitchers, the rotation should be fine. The lineup can go one of two ways. Situation A: Alomar finds the rejuvenation machine, Gonzalez holds his numbers thanks to the addition of Sexson, Sexson picks up where he left off in Mil-ee-walk-ey, and Shea Hillenbrand continues to prove the OPS geeks wrong. Situation B: Alomar and the team start to suck and Alomar gets upset, Gonzalez continues to feel the effects of age, Sexson can't adjust to the new park, and Hillenbrand finally proves the baseball geeks right.

Clint Barnes SS
Jeromy Burnitz LF
Todd Helton 1b
Preston Wilson CF
Larry Walker RF
Charles Johnson C
Vinny Castillo 3b
Aaron Miles 2b
Shawn Chacon
Shawn Estes
Joe Kennedy
Jason Jennings
Denny Stark
By the time the dust cleared, 41 different players had either left or joined the Rockies this offseason. The offense will do alright once again, except they're very lacking in the middle infield (2 or 3 guys with half a season's experience, and a few guys up from AA - that's it). I'd still like to see a few more doubles hitters in the lineup at the big-gapped Coors field. Look for another solid year from Preston Wilson. The Rockies don't have to many proven starters, which will definitely be a problem. Joe Kennedy was a good pickup, but going from Tampa Bay to Colorado can't be good for this kid.

Ramon Vazquez/Khalil Greene SS
"Sweet" Mark Loretta 2b
Brian Giles CF
Phil Nevin 1b
Ryan Klesko LF
Ramon Hernandez C
Sean Burroughs/Jeff Cirillo 3b
Xavier Nady/Jay Payton/Terrence Long RF
David Wells
Brian Lawrence
Ismael Valdes
Jake Peavy
Adam Eaton
Akinori Otsuka?
Sterling Hitchcock
This isn't a bad team, if they stay healthy (ok, ok, when they get hurt). I'd even say this lineup is better than San Francisco's. Vazquez was the starting shortstop last year, so he'll probably be the starter again this year. I just wanted to point out Khalil Greene, though. Remember Steve Stanley's senior year, when Stanley was #2 in the nation in hitting, and finished #3 in career hits? Well, take Stanley, move him to shortstop, and make him #1 in hitting and #2 in career hits. That's who Khalil Greene is. Someone to watch. Jay Payton isn't a terrific pickup, but you can't expect to play Brian Giles in center every day. Payton/Giles will be a more than acceptable substitution for the loss of Mark Kotsay. The rotation is OK but not great. Otsuka is from Japan, and I'm not sure whether or not he's a starter. I also haven't heard anything about his acting career. The Beck/Hoffman combination will make the pen decent as well. It'd be nice to see just one year when everyone on the Padres stayed healthy, but good luck with that.

Next week: AL West

Random Kanka Family Discussion

For religion class, my sister Becky was learning about what's valuable in life. The assignment was to list 10 things you would want to take with you if the house caught on fire. My comment was, "a coat, because it's cold outside." My dad one-upped me though. Standing right next to my mom, his comment was, "my tape of the Super Bowl half time show."

Cavs Lose to Lakers in OT

At least I get a free chalupa

Well, now I know why Shaq was so upset with refs the other day. Apparently, they weren't letting him get away with murder. Well, fortunately for Shaq, the refs last night made up for that. I was in the second to the last row (technically. the last row doesn't go all the way around, so I was still up against the back wall), but I could still see Shaq wrapping around with the forarm and getting "fouled" by Zydrunas Ilgauskas and DeSagana Diop. (Devon George would've made Michael Jordan proud with all the pushing off he did, but that's another story). Well, the Cavs played well, and they're becoming a good team. When Tony Battie and Rueben Boumtje Boumtje are healthy again, there will be 4 legitimate centers on the team, which is 2 more legit centers than the rest of the Eastern Conference combined. Other highlights:
  • Carlos Boozer is a great, hard working player. I'm almost starting to wonder how Ryan Humphrey (Ellen loves him!) was able to contain him).

  • First a UNC game, then a Lakers game. I sure am getting sick of bandwagon fans by now. Anyone have Yankees tickets?

  • A local rap group performed at the end of the first quarter. One of the guys wore a wine and gold Cavs throwback. From where we were sitting, I commented that it looked like a Dominique Wilkens era Hawks jersey. My friend Matt's response: "Must be a costume malfunction.

  • Ton Loc, rap pioneer famous for the song "Wild Thing," performed at halftime. Unfortunately, a microphone problem caused him to be booed. He kept yelling to the guy at the mixer "Turn it up!" - meaning the microphone - but apparently, the mixer guy thought he was just trying to fire up the crowd. Good good.

  • That LeBron James guy is going to be pretty good. The funny thing is, I keep expecting him to do Chris Thomas-esque things, but he seems to have his head on straight. It does seem, though, that lately he is shooting more in situations where he would pass before. Maybe it's just confidence in himself. Who knows.

Tom Pagna and Bob Best's Era of Ara

A solid book that takes you from Ara's playing days at MiamiU, to a short stint with the Cleveland Browns, and then through his coaching career. Written circa 1974, Ara's resignation is a continuing theme in the book. Still, an interesting look at Ara the man, the changing times that were 1964-1974, and a few pretty good football teams. By the way, the most losses Ara ever had in a season at ND was 3.

Well, that's it for this week. Happy belated National Signing Day. I know this is Dave's favorite holiday; mine will be in a few weeks. Be sure to check out NDNation for links to and discussions of the ND football class of 2008.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Givens goes from Catholic Disney World to Real Disney World

That Brady guy from scUM does pretty well too

Ellen makes a good point: whenever there isn't a standout performance for a winning Super Bowl team, the MVP usually goes to its QB. That's why I wanted Givens to get that second TD catch, so he'd have a legitimate shot at MVP. It probably would've taken 3 TD catches, though, to beat out Brady for MVP. Plus, Givens was one of three New England receivers to have a good day. Deion Branch had 10 catches for 143 yards, and Troy Brown quietly caught 8 for 76. Antowain Smith rushed for 83 yards, so it was a good all-around day for the Patriot offense.
The Panther pass offense also had a good day. When you have good receivers, as Carolina does, all you have to do is get it to them, which any NFL-worthy QB can do (just as any NBA player can get 15 points given enough minutes). Jake Delhomme is obviously NFL-quality QB, and he got the ball to his receivers when he needed to. All he needed was a line to block for him. They had trouble at the start of each half, and as a result Carolina kept getting stopped on 3rd down. But, late in the halves, the line held and Delhomme got the ball to Muhammad, Smith, and Proehl.
The last few Super Bowls have been some of the best ever played, and this one definitely lived up to the standards of its recent predecessors. We got inpenetrable defense followed by offenses that couldn't stop scoring, and then the second half started and the same thing happened all over again! The Panthers couldn't run, their DLine couldn't stop the run, the Patriots couldn't punt, Fox went for 2 too early, Vinatieri couldn't buy a field goal... until it really counted. What a game.
David Givens finished the playoffs with 7 catches for 163 yards and 2 TDs.

The Commercials

The commercials were built up big time this year. Some commercials even had teasers, and the Jimi Hendrix commercial was actually shown in its entirety the night before. With all that buildup, of course this year was a little disappointing. The "Simpsons" commercial was good, as was the ref getting chewed out. Everyone liked the donkey one, and it was OK, but Bud has done better. Unfortunately, Cederic the Entertainer may have jumped the shark with this last one. Anyone want to see Starsky and Hutch with me this spring?


Some notes:
  • I now know why I don't usually watch the Super Bowl half time show.

  • There quickly came a painful realization that some these "stars" haven't had a hit in a few years.

  • The American flag is not to be worn as clothing ever - especially when you have to cut a slit in the middle to wear it.

  • Justin Timberlake is a tool. Water is wet. Scovil is tall. It's old news. This has been played out, so I won't go into it here.

Jones wins Capital One Challenge

Teammate Rutherford comes back strong in win

Further impressing pro scouts, Julius Jones helped take home the Capital One All Star Challenge trophy. Teammate Rod Rutherford of Pitt, filling in for the announced John Navarre, started slow and finished last in the moving target competition. This meant Julius went first in the obstacle course. Going first on the wet turf, he took it a little carefully. Fortunately, receivers Roy Williams of Texas and Reggie Williams of Washington took it even more gingerly and finished behind Jones. Chris Perry went last and won the event, but had Julius not gone first, he may have won this one. Next up was the throwing distance competition. The catch was that the pass had to land on a "landing strip" target. J-Lo (Jared Lorenzen of Kentucky) went first and missed both times. Rutherford went next and hit both times. Casey Claussen of Tennessee was next. He hit the target the first time, but just barely. Knowing he'd have to put more on his second throw, he ended up missing the target. Chris Perry's teammate Jeff Smoker missed the target twice, and although their team was leading the whole way, Rutherford and Jones were now within 4 points. The last event consisted of the receiver/running back running through a course that simulated pass patterns, and stopping at 5 different spots to turn around and catch the pass. Jones was the only player to catch all 5 balls. Since this was the only event where points scored counted towards the final score (all other events awarded 10 points for first, 8 for second, 7 for 3rd, and 6 for 4th), Smoker/Perry and Rutherford/Jones ended tied for first. The tiebreaker was points scored in the last event. Once again, Jones was the only player to make all five catches (taking his time helped), so the trophies went to Julius and Rod Rutherford.

Another great site

Be sure to check out Misha Tseytlin's Blog, one of the links in the right column. He talks about sports, offers Madden 2004 tips, and discusses politics. Also, he has been nice enough to link to this site, a move that opens both of our pages to more readers.

ND Women's Basketball 23 in AP Poll, 12 in RPI

ND Men? Not so good

The Irish women have won five straight, including wins over #17 Miami and #23 BC. Their 13-7 record, coupled with a #3 strength of schedule, has earned the women's team a #12 RPI ranking.
The men's team has combined a 10-7 record with the 73rd strongest schedule and comes out with a #82 ranking in the latest RPI. Coach Mike Brey is planning on moving Chris Thomas to a 2 guard in an attempt to shake things up. This is February, which means March Madness is next month, so this team better get its act together soon.

I'll be at the Cavs-Lakers game tomorrow, so the next post will come Thursday. Because I actually spent the past few days not sitting in front of a computer, the baseball preview has been delayed a little bit. Transaction wire and Era of Ara will definitely be on the agenda for this week.