Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Transaction Wire

MLB Trade Deadline Edition - The Rumor Mill All-Stars

Starting Pitcher

Randy Johnson, Diamondbacks: It's Yankees or nothing, apparently. But do the Yankees have anything the D'Backs want?

Honorable Mention

Kris Benson, Pirates: The Pirates wanted the versatile Mike Cuddyer from the Twins in any deal for Benson. The Twins are looking to use Cuddyer to replace Corey Koskie as their everyday third baseman next year, so he's not available. Instead, the Twins are offering first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, who plays great defense, but has been disappointing at the plate after a hot start to the 2001 season.
Shawn Estes, Rockies
Corey Lidle, Reds
Carl Pavano, Marlins
Kevin Millwood, Phillies
Derek Lowe, Red Sox: If Lowe goes, it would either be to the Phillies for Millwood, or to the Padres for OF Jay Payton. Why Jay Payton? Trot Nixon can't stay healthy this year, and Johnny Damon is about to join him on the DL.
Gil Meche, Mariners: It's been a disappointing season for the still young and still talented Meche. Not a bad pickup if he can stay healthy.
Victor Zambrano, Devil Rays: A rumor out of St. Petersburg has Zambrano going to the Mets for Scott Kazmir. Not a bad "right now" move to go for Zambrano, but I don't know if I'd give up Kazmir to do it.

Relief Pitcher

Ugeth Urbina, Tigers

Honorable Mention

Jose Mesa, Pirates: The biggest teams looking for relievers are the Giants and Cards, with the Cards looking to Mesa as a setup man. With the Mariners holding on to Eddie Guardado, Mesa was the biggest name until Urbina became available. Basically, this is a case of "if we can't get Urbina, we'll take Mesa" for both teams.
Ron Villone, Mariners
Mike Myers, Mariners: The Indians are looking for relievers, but don't want to give up too much. Villone and Myers are the top names mentioned.
Armando Benitez, Marlins


Charles Johnson, Rockies

Honorable Mention

None. Guess this isn't a high demand position this year.

First Base

Carlos Delgado, Blue Jays: The Dodgers really want Delgado, and he'd be a good fit, but Carlos doesn't want to go anywhere.

Honorable Mention

Mike Sweeney, Royals: I'll just file this one under "Obligatory Mike Sweeney on the Trading Block Reference."
Fred McGriff, Free Agent: With Jason Giambi's health in question, McGriff has spent the past few days trying out with the Yankees.

Second Base

None, unless the Phillies were to use Chase Utley as part of a big deal.

Third Base

Ty Wigginton, Mets: With the emergence of David Wright, the Mets don't need Wigginton as a starting third baseman anymore. He's learned to play first, second, and left field - the question is whether or not he'll be playing those positions in Queens for the rest of the year.

Honorable Mention

Tony Batista, Expos


Nomar Garciaparra, Red Sox: The latest hot rumor has Nomar going to the Cubs for Matt Clement. Not a bad idea for either team. I'm sure I'll have more to say if this actually goes down.

Honorable Mention

Orlando Cabrera, Expos
Omar Vizquel, Indians: If the Nomar trade doesn't go down, Cabrera and Omar are next on the Cubs' list. Cabrera would likely go straight up for Alex S. Gonzalez.


Carlos Beltran, Astros: Will he or will he not challenge Randy Johnson for the shortest stint as an Astro? The Phillies need an option in center field better than Ricky Ledee and Doug Glanville. The Dodgers... you heard it here first... are looking to add Beltran to an outfield already consisting of Dave Roberts and Milton Bradley.

Honorable Mention

Steve Finley, Diamondbacks: The two teams Finley would be willing to go to are the Dodgers and Padres. The Dodgers deal would have been a blockbuster including Randy Johnson, Guillermo Mota, Jason Werth, Paul LoDuca, and Arizona first base prospect Jason Loney. The Padres deal would involve Akinori Otsuka.
Larry Walker, Rockies: The teams that want him would split his time between the outfield and first base: Atlanta, Boston, and... you guessed it... the Dodgers. Sensing a theme here?
Preston Wilson, Rockies
Kenny Lofton, Yankees: Wilson for Lofton is an extremely slim possibilty. Why on earth would the Rockies want to do it, though? Oh yeah, apparently there's a rule that says the Yankees have to screw over stupid teams in all their deals.
Matt Lawton, Indians: Lawton is finally living up to his potential. Do the Indians keep him and think about a playoff run, or stick to their original plan of contending in '05 or '06, and trade Lawton for prospects?
Frank Catalanotto, Blue Jays

Monday, July 26, 2004

The Weekend in Review

Thoughts from a guy who's wondering if there's ever been a normal athlete named "Ricky"

  • OK, so NCAA Football 2004 had ads for Sports Illustrated, Old Spice, and Nike. This year, they added adidas and Pontiac. Does someone want to explain why this game still costs $49.99, the same as every other game out there? (except for ESPN Football 2005 - they have to compete somehow)

  • Speaking of ESPN 2005, it's too bad they don't make it for Gamecube. With the whole Ray Lewis Madden thing, ESPN was at least worth a Blockbuster rental for me this year.

  • Also, speaking of Pontiac: My car - the Pontiac Vibe. The Official Performance Machine of the 2004 Women's NCAA Basketball Tournament? The Pontiac Vibe. Coincidence?

  • OK, I'm trying to like Joe Buck because of his father, but then he goes on for 10 minutes about how great A-Rod is because of that fight against the Red Sox the other day. First of all, the pitch hit him in that huge contraption he had on his arm. Ow, I'm sure that really hurt. Why do you even need that thing in the first place? Oh yeah, it's a mental thing that gives you a huge edge over the pitcher. No wonder you're so "great." Ray Chapman didn't die from a spitball to the elbow, you know. Anyways, after Rodriguez gets hit, he starts cussing out the pitcher on national TV. Way to be a role model to thousands of kids. Then, Jason Varitek was only doing his job, and you start cussing him out. Alex, if I had any respect left for you, it's definitely gone now.

  • Congrats to Lance Armstrong for doing it once again. Every year, he'll be a few minutes back after the first few stages, and every year, I'll say, "oh, maybe he won't get it this year." But, before you know it, he's in the lead. Every single year. You know, I can hate the Yankees, and Jordan, and Tiger Woods, and the Lakers, and John Elway. But I can't hate Lance. Shoot, the guy beat cancer. All he does is work hard, and he doesn't flaunt it. It's hard for anyone to hate him. Of course, considering Americans have basically spit on the French since the war thing started, I can see how he would be a symbol of France's US hatred, but even then, it's wrongly placed.

  • The Lindsay Lohan vehicle Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen was released on DVD lately. Mini-Kanka has this one on his "must see" list, despite my sister Becky's protests that it's a "chick flick." Perhaps, I thought, my brother sees the new It Girl the same way creepy 45 year old "countdown til she's legal" do. No, he's only 13, it can't be. Then it came to me. Lindsay Lohan currently has the benefit of two images: there's cute, adorable freckle-faced Disney Lindsay, who keeps pumping out G-rated teeny movies. Then there's trucker hat, hanging out with the Hilton sisters Lindsay, which is the image that people like the Sports Guy go for. Let's hope mini-Kanka affection is more for the former image than the latter.

  • You may or may not have already read this article from Women's Wall Street, about a plane flight the author took where she believed she was witnessing a dry run of a terrorist attack. (I ran across the link at NDNation; I don't read WWS regularly.) In it, a group of Syrians make repeated trips to an airplane restroom, apparently building a bomb piece by piece. Well, it turns out their story of being musicians checked out, and calm observers noted that the Syrians weren't doing anything a normal group of friends flying together wouldn't do. In fact, according to, the author's concern was actually considered more suspicious than the activities of the musicians. Apparently, the flight crew was instructed to keep an eye on her. Since she was frequently signaling for the stewardess and inquiring about the air marshalls, it was feared that she herself was a terrorist, trying to gather information on the location of the air marshalls on the flight. Good good.

  • OK, so apparently I have no idea what I'm talking about. Ruth Riley is now back on the US Olympic team, replacing forward DeLisha Milton-Jones, who suffered, you guessed it... a knee injury.

  • A question for those who know more about football than I do: There are many complaints about cornerbacks being to small to compete with today's receivers (sub-6 foot vs. 6'2" plus). Yet, there are also many recruits who come in and are projected to be a wide receiver or a linebacker. Is there are reason why that isn't "wide receiver or cornerback"? Or at least "wide receiver or safety"? Is this a size issue, or a speed issue, or is linebacker for some reason an easier adjustment? Any answers?

  • For those of you who weren't "lucky" enough to see Summer Catch, the Cape Cod Baseball League is the premier college wooden bat summer league. It's only for the best of the best. Despite this, Steve Stanley managed to lead the CCBL in hitting for several years, and Brian Stavisky finished second behind Stanley in his final summer before going pro. This year, OF Craig Cooper and P Tom Thornton are playing in the league. Congrats to them. Of course, in addition to great baseball competition, they'll also be learning responsibility by working minimum-wage jobs such as cutting grass and the like. A "real" Cape Cod movie, Touching the Game, can be seen this Sunday at 5pm eastern on WGN.

  • Former ND pitcher Chris Niesel, now in the Indians organization, has been assigned to the Class A Lake County Captains. The Captains' stadium is an hour east of Lorain, so I'll have to check him out some day.

  • Best of luck to Rick Cornett, who will be undergoing surgery on his left foot due to a stress fracture.

  • Of course, the big news of the weekend was Ricky Williams's retirement. Why walk away in your prime? Well, Ricky's never fit anyone's definition of normal. His rookie year, he was quoted in Sports Illustrated that he wanted the Saints to move to Texas and sign all the linemen he played with in college. Not a very mature sentiment by any means. Then, there were the postgame interviews with his helmet on, which prove he's not a very outgoing person. There are the rumors of a failed drug test, but Ricky also claimed he just wanted to see the world (hey, he has the money to do it) and have kids, just like a normal person. The timing wasn't perfect, but why can't a man follow his dreams. Everyone has a right to feel jealous, since we don't have his talent, and he's just "throwing it away." But, there's no reason to be doing something when you're hearts not in it. Williams is also friends with running backs Robert Smith and Jim Brown, both of whom retired in their primes. After the Mo Clarrett situation, I might not have wanted to listen to Brown's advice. But, no one should call Jim Brown a poor source of advice before much more research.

A final reminder: as in the MLB, the KankaMatic trade deadline is July 31. All emails/KankaNation posts/whatever must be time stamped by 11:59:59pm eastern time on the 31st. Transaction Wire at its normal time, complete with the "trade bait all-stars."

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Transaction Wire

  • Warriors trade Nick Van Exel to Portland for Dale Davis and Dan Dickau. Well, not only do I get to keep all the Dan Dickau fans in the audience informed on his current whereabouts, but I also gave everyone a chance to say, "Wow, Nick Van Exel is still playing?"

  • Hornets sign former Nugget Chris Andersen. Now that Andersen has established himself in the NBA, Tom Timmermans is in perfect position to take over his role as Poster Child of the NBDL.

  • Lakers reacquire Vlade Divac. Ah, you can't make this up.

  • Cavs trade Kedrick Brown and Kevin Ollie for Eric Snow. Brown is a decent player, but with LeBron and Luke Jackson (and to a lesser extent, Dajuan Wagner), he gets lost in the shuffle. Of course, now he gets stuck behind Allen Iverson. Kevin Ollie is a good guy, but he was basically just the Cavs' "oh crap, we need a point guard and Mateen Cleaves is still hurt" guy. Snow is just what the Cavs need - a good unselfish guy. He's proved it by a) putting up great assist-per-game and assist-to-turnover numbers and b) playing with Iverson all these years without complaining. The only question now is how well will "incumbent" Cavs PG Jeff McInnis take this trade? The Cavs have said Snow will be McInnis's backup, but I wouldn't put it past McInnis to take this the wrong way. Here's hoping he proves me wrong.

  • Titans release Eddie George. He'll still want to start, and with his injury problems, he'll need a great OLine. Maybe in a few years, he can return to his home state and become a good mentor to William Green and/or Lee Suggs.

  • White Sox trade RPs John Rausch and Gary Majewski to Montreal for Carl Everett. Hmm, they must have had another Family Night coming up.

  • Mets trade Karim Garcia to Baltimore for RP Mike DeJean. Well, you can never have too much relief pitching, especially when you're thinking about a playoff run. However, you apparently can have to many average-ish power hitting right fielders. Once the Mets acquired Richard Hidalgo, you knew that either Garcia or Shane Spencer were out the door.

  • Dodgers trade C Tommy Piazza to the Mets. Wait, how did the Dodgers get Mike's younger brother in the first place? The draft doesn't even have 64 rounds anymore. Oh well, at least Tommy can now enjoy some Ozzie Canseco-esque success, just as when Ozzie and Jose were with the A's. (Or, maybe he'll be more like Chris Gwynn on the Padres.)

  • Indians recall OF Grady Sizemore from AAA Buffalo. The 2003 Futures Game MVP now makes the Indians all the more Gammonsesque. Speaking of Gammonsesque, Sizemore joins Kansas City SP Zach Grienke as Gammonsesquity's "holy crap, I didn't actually expect to be able to use this guy this year" players.

  • Speaking of hot prospects, I hear this David Wright guy the Mets called up to play 3B is pretty good.

  • Cubs trade Ricky Gutierrez to Boston for a PTBNL or cash considerations. Hey, I've got some loose change in my couch, can I acquire Ricky Gutierrez. Or is this a case of, "Yeah, we'd consider giving you cash, but, it's freakin' Ricky Gutierrez!"

  • To make room for Alex S Gonzalez on the 40 man roster, the Cubs release Rey Ordonez. Don't the Cubs have any middle infield prospects? Are you even allowed to have Rey Ordonez and Ricky Gutierrez at the same time? Do the Cubs have some sort of secret bet with the Devil Rays to see who can carry the most crappy shortstops and still win? (The Rays have Rey Sanchez and Julio Lugo.) I'm a middle infielder, can I pretend to be a prospect for either of these teams so they can stop doing this? (Sorry Mike and Brittany, probably not what you wanted to hear after the Cards' and Cubs' recent play.)

  • After refusing to waive his no trade clause, Jon Olerud is released by the Mariners. Along with Rich Aurilia's release, this gives the Mariners a chance to give good PT to prospects Bucky Jacobsen and Justin Leone (along with P Travis Blackley). But, the real reason I mentioned this is to bring up a great Ricky Henderson legend. Olerud and Henderson played together on the Blue Jays, Mets, and Mariners (in that order). When Ricky joined the Mariners, he asked Olerud why he wore a helmet in the field. "Well," Olerud explained, "I had a head injury in college. If I get hit in the head again, it could kill me." "Oh," Ricky replied. "I had a teammate on the Mets who wore a helmet just like that." That teammate, of course, was also Olerud. (Of course, this story is also told about when Ricky first joined the Mets.)

  • Last week, I reported that Carlos Beltran will probably go to an NL team, most likely the Dodgers.  Shortly thereafter, I realized how stupid that sounded with Milton Bradley and Dave Roberts already in LA.  Turns out, it's Carlos Delgado that the Dodgers are interested in.  Delgado, however, doesn't want to go anywhere.

  • Speaking of not wanting to go anywhere, Randy Johnson wants to stay in Arizona.  The Red Sox, Yankees, and Angels are the lead contenders if he decides to go.  Arizona has one of the few smart management teams in the league however.  Instead of accepting $25 and a guy who may hit .250 in AAA from the Yankees, as most people do, they went a little Kanka-esque.  The D-Backs said they'll consider giving up Johnson, if they can get Jorge Posada.  Interesting choice, but it's not a bad idea to ask for a lot in this case.

  • After Johson, Pirate Kris Benson is the next biggest name at SP.  The Twins, Angels, Mets, and Rangers are interested, but no one wants to give up anything (specifically the Twins, who are looking to replace Corey Kosie with Mike Cuddyer at 3B next year.  Maybe they can give up Justin Morneau - they haven't seemed to find a use for him yet.)

  • Rumor has it that the Giants want to give Jose Mesa a second try.  Since the Mariners refuse to part ways with Eddie Guardado, Mesa is actually the best closer available.  The Cards are also looking at Mesa as a setup guy.

  • ND Football Verbal Commitments: QB Evan Sharpley, RB Asaph Schwapp, WR David Grimes and David Nelson, LB Scott Smith and Kevin Washington, and DB David Bruton and Brandon Harrison. Of this group, only Harrison is given any "stars" by - 4 of them. He's also ranked the #16 best cornerback prospect. Harrison is/will be a gradutate of Dayton's Chaminade-Julienne High School, the same school that produced Dominic Yonto's freshman rommate Chris Heck, as well as NB women's basketball standout Megan Duffy.
KankaMatic updates tomorrow - I mean it. The scores are up to date now, but that's it.

Monday, July 19, 2004

The Weekend in Review

and by "The Weekend," I mean "NCAA Football 2005," since that's how I spent most of my weekend anyways

Originally, I wasn't going to get the game on Friday night, mostly because I'm lazy and didn't want to drive 15 minutes to the mall.  But, fortunately, Blockbuster has started their new GameRush concept - yet another place to buy/sell/rent video games.  Blockbuster is more or less right down the street from me.
Since GameRush is the new kid in town, they're offering great deals.  "Most money for buy backs!" netted me $12 for NCAA 2004, and "new games only $39.99 with trade in!" cut my total price to $30 and change, tax included.  Hey, I'll take it.  Plus, it makes my game collection evil-free: I dumped Derek Jeter's All Star Baseball in exchange for Albert Pujols's MVP Baseball, dumped Carson Palmer's NCAA 2004 for Larry Fitzgerald's 2005, and I'm holding on to Mike Vick's version of Madden for an extra year.  Take that, Ray Lewis.  Score one for your two murder victims and your four illegitimate children.  Yep.
So, I raced home.  I painfully erased the 2004 "files" from my memory card: my profile that had all but 4 pennants unlocked, the soon-to-be-powerhouse Lorain State (Lorain's not a state) Lightning, the draft class that produced Darrell (yeah, I deleted it.  whoops.), my coaching career that started at Kent State and went on to give ND 2 titles in my first 3 years there...  Progress is progess.  Besides, I needed to make space to begin Lorain State anew.  I decided to start as an "Academic School," because I like to build up from the bottom.  Turns out, it's not a good idea to start as a school with D ratings when you've never played before, even in the conference I'm in (more later).  Cool new feature, though on Create-a-Team.  Not only do you name the city and state, but you also get to point out where in the state that city is located.  Hmm, maybe this will give me more recruits with actual northeast Ohio city names.  After taking 5 minutes to decide exactly where on the map Lorain is (as in, "is it here, or one pixel to the left?"; not as in "I have no concept of geography whatsoever), I realized how much of a dork I was (once again).  Oh well, time to modify my players to turn them into people I know, because I'm a dork like that.  There was one guy I had to leave alone - 4th string RB Keenan Hall. Hey, he's unstoppable.  It's as if he's a big brick building or something.  Anyways, back to the player modifications.  It was here that I first learned how Madden-esque this game is becoming.  They have the new Revolution helmets, plus the two other new styles.  Need a good discussion on helmet styles?  Talk to Ellen.
OK, time to start a dynasty.  Our head coach, obviously, is Joe Yonto.  He believes in a Balanced Run attack, because, as we all know, gimmicks don't pull the train.  Now, should Lorain State go Independent or join the MAC?  Well, I've tried that already, plus I'm going to suck, so let's go for something new.  There's nobody in the Sunbelt Conference that really belongs in IA football (except maybe for Utah State, alma mater of ahhh... Mistah Weavah!), so let's replace them with teams of a more meaningful flavor - Princeton, Penn, Hofstra (for Dave), Montata, Youngstown State (Youngstown isn't a state, but it did get away with tons of crap under Jim Tressel).  Now, it's time to take the field.  After a very disappointing 2-3 start to the season, I decided to check out ND.
Of course, by "check out ND," I don't mean "play a game as ND against a crappy team," I mean "jump right into a dynasty."  A few things I've learned thus far: 1) Ryan Grant seems almost Julius-esque in this game.  Let's hope that he plays like that this fall.  2) Carlyle is the man as a receiver.  Because of him, I almost don't even need Rhema McKnight.  (Fortunately, I also don't need Stovall.)  Defense looks OK, too.  There are quite a few "that's the best we have in this spot?" realizations I came to after playing the first game (a 45-0 thrashing of Michigan; screw you Michigan).  I'll have more of that in a football preview article some time over the next few weeks.  But, here's one thought: remember Sports Guy's theory about picking NFL playoff winners based on the backup QB?  Basically, he never trusted the Colts, because they were one injury away from having a then severely untested Kelly Holcomb as their QB.  Now, I'm sure Pat Dillingham is a good guy, and he has won games for us, but it looks like he's our best option if Quinn were to go down (perish the thought).
All in all, a good game.  It wasn't a game that made huge leaps like 2004 did.  For instance, 2004 introduced a lot of new things, like the College Classics.  This year, the College Classics didn't even change.  However, I can't complain about the gameplay at all - Grant dances around too much, even when I'm controlling him, and I still have a tendency to drop the ball waaay too much.  Dah.  Maybe this game is too realistic.  Plus, the first time you play away in a big game, and the controller starts to shake, it's something else.  It sucks for a person like me who likes to call tons of audibles, hot routes, and defensive shifts, but that's just a new thing I have to factor in.  Good times, and I'm sure I'll get my $30 worth in no time.

Other items on the game

Signs: As a take off of Madden's new Create-a-Fan feature, NCAA has a Create-a-Sign feature, where you can make custom signs for each of several different situations.  Of course, I go into the feature for the first time, and the default sign is "Lee Corso is a genius."  Dah.  Well, I had to change that, and here are my custom signs:

  • General : More Cowbell!

  • Passing TD: Out of Control

  • Rushing TD: Power pulls the train

  • Big Play/First Down: Get 'em up! (a reference to the Bone first down thing)

  • Interception: Gimmicks don't pull the train

  • Fumble: Better to die a small boy (all I could fit)

  • Blowout: Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!

Custom Playbooks: Well, not as cool as it sounds, but you get to pick the 9 formations your offense will use.  Finally, I can replace one of the five Ace formations with a good, old fashioned Frank Leahy T.
Recruiting: They stepped it up a notch this year.  In 2004, I could start as a crappy team, then unexpectedly pull in a coupld 5 star guys and be set.  That doesn't look to be the case this year.  Gulp.
Matchup Stick: OK, it lets you see who's good and who's bad, but that's it.  Not really worthy of too much hype, but I guess it could be useful if you want to audible to a run over a weak D-Lineman, or hot route a receiver to a fly pattern against their version of Clifford Jefferson.  A good idea, but I guess I was expecting more out of it.
Academic Issues: Sometimes players do bad things, and you have to punish them for it.  If you're too easy, the NCAA gets upset.  As I figured, the game had no balls, and started all the schools with a generic "B" rating for discipline.  There was one other thing that was missing, but hopefully be there next year.  I was expecting that the recruits would have a discipline rating - something that says how often (if at all) the guy will get in trouble.  That way, as in real life, you can take the Willie Williams, or you can be like Ara, and take the not-as-talented guys with good character, and just coach them into becoming great players.  Some notes on Lorain State's academic issues so far: In week one, Frankie and I were both in trouble.  Frankie's grades were a little low (ok, he and I were underacheivers in real life), and I had forgotten to sign and return a progress report.  What, is this third grade?  That is very realistic, though.  In week two, Ellen, normally a good student, was a little late for curfew.  Keep this up, and Dave might end up in Carroll.  Everything was OK, but we did have to use WR Dominic (Ellen loves him!) as the kickoff specialist for a quarter.
Transaction Wire as usual on Wednesday.  As I've started to do lately, I'll include all the latest MLB and NBA trade/free agent rumors I come across.  Also, I ran the latest KankaMatic stat update, but I realize I haven't updated the web site yet.  If I have time before my 9:30 softball game Tuesday, I'll do it then.  Until then, I want you all to think about how terrible fan voting is.  Here are some examples: last season's American Idol (I didn't watch, but I hear there was much controversy), Jeter/Nomah 1-2 at AL shortstop and Giambi at first base, and Diana Taurasi over Annika Sorenstam as Female Athlete of the Year in an awards show presented by... you guessed it... ESPN.  After you've come up with a good response, be sure to email Dan Shanoff, and include the words "publicity contest," "drunken idiots," and "bandwagon."  Thank you.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Transaction Wire

  • Lakers trade Shaq to the Heat for Lamar Odom, Brian Grant, Caron Butler, and a first round pick. Interesting. Odom fills their lazy mess quota. Grant recently beat out PJ Brown for the "Didn't He Retire for Being Too Old Yet?" Award. Other than that, Butler is a good player, and Shaq doesn't have very many years left in him. So, overall, we have two uh players + 1 good young player + 1 high draft pick = 1 "great" player who won't be around very long. I guess it evens out.

  • Suns re-sign Steve Nash, the team he played for in the days when everyone kept confusing his name with Rick Nash. Rick Nash, coincidentally, was the second highest rated high school basketball player behind Magic Johnson after their senior years.

  • Grizzlies sign free agent Brian Cardinal. Yep.

  • Jazz sign Carlos Boozer. Yep.

  • Astros fire Jimy Williams and hire Phil Gardner. This brings up three thoughts: 1) You kind of saw this coming when Williams was introduced to the home crowd at the All Star Game, and everyone booed. 2) This once again brings up the question, why do you hire multiple 100 game loser Gardner over Cito Gaston? Seriously, did Gaston fall off the face of the earth? Can we at least do a "Where are they now?" on this guy? Oh, and 3) Gary Gaetti was named the interim hitting coach. Nice.

  • Randy Johnson officially put himself on the trading block. As expected, the Yankees and Red Sox are the big contenders. Here we go...

  • Speaking of Johnson being traded, there may be another player making an extremely short stay in Houston (remember that?). Carlos Beltran may be on his way out, and experts say he'll be a good match in the National League, especially LA. Beltran is a free agent at the end of the year. So, he's useless to a non-contender, unless they can get some prospects out of him.

  • Matt Kerls was named Assistant Equiment Manager for the University of Notre Dame. Since Kerls graduated this past May, I'm assuming this is his full time job. Now, I've known some great managers in my time, but this move to ensure indefinite VIP status at the 'Backer is the ultimate coup de grace. Kerls, you may remember, was also the "Token Kurt Angle Fan" of the Morrissey WWF Raw watchers. (there's one in every group)

Monday, July 12, 2004

The Weekend in Review

This column was compiled from notes made in that infamous notebook... that I still owe Mike 69 cents for.

The Quotes

(I apologize in advance for the number of people I get in trouble here.)

  • "I told my dad, "Hey Dad, I bet you never thought there'd be a Dr. Cronk.' He accused me of cheating." - Cronk

  • "Are you decent? Are you boofing?" - Kanka, upon entering someone else's hotel room

  • "I drive a Dodge Stratus! Big time stuff!" - Mike

  • "It's friends like us who ruin weddings." - Byrer

  • "It's got to be Miller Time pretty quick." - Mr. Brintnall, after taking wedding pictures

  • "Lisa's ready for tonight." - Kanka (who said that?)

  • "Is that Cronk's Sister? I've been hearing stories about her for years, but boy is she hot!" - Vnak

  • "The 'Backer lives!" - a rather unsober Ellen, during a Bon Jovi song

  • "My drinks match my tie!" - Kanka

  • "There's a cow! MOOOOO!" - Ellen

Other Trip Happenings

  • The trip there: On the flight there, I sat next to a guy who noticed I was reading The Mental Game of Baseball. After learning I was a baseball player, he informed me that his son was, too. "Are you a parhtr?" he asked. "Pardon?" "Are you a parhtr?" I was wondering why he would be asking me if I played for the Pirates, but after the third time he repeated himself, I realized he was asking if I was a power hitter. No, I'm not, sorry.

  • My favorite Minnesota road signs: "Normandale" - named before or after Hoosiers came out? "Mtka" (Minnetonka) - "Who would win between Mtka and a hurricane? ... Wait, the hurricane's name is Hurrican Mtka."

  • Leinenkugel's Brewery: Klondike, you should have gone. It was on your way home. You got FREE BEER, and you could have bought a hat. Plus, on the tour, they gave a free keychain to the person who travelled the farthest. Of course, we could have been jerks and asked you to pull out your driver's license.

  • The Mall of America: Yeah, so Saturday night I was bored (I don't have a cell phone, so I couldn't get a hold of Pete), so I drove down to the Mall of America. There is a lot of space in that mall. So much so, that there are three of almost every store in there. Great, why not just have bigger stores with more stuff? I mean, in some of those stores, the selection was downright disappointing. And then, they have a gift shop (or three)? Great. I did, however, come dangerously close to picking up a Lindsay Whalen college jersey on sale for $40. Dangerously close. I did also see a shirt that Mike and Yonto would enjoy - "Joliet Criminals Baseball Club."

  • The top 25 movies of the last 25 years: I've officially given up on trying to argue with list shows. They're just too stupid when it comes to ranking things. However, I did note two things: 1. If I wanted to be mean, I could point out the resemblance between Ellen and Rosie Perez. 2. Dave, you're right - the Sports Guy does have a weak, nasaly voice. One might say it's "a perfect voice for writing."

  • Between the Mall of America and MSP Airport, I think Minnesota's official nickname should be changed to "The Land of Uneccessarily Large Buildings." Can Jesse Ventura make this happen?

  • Speaking of the airport, while waiting for my flight home, I spotted a rather large young man in a USC hat (in other words, there was a great chance he was a football player). Now, I wanted to kick him squar in the nyuts. But, since Kirk Herbstreit is a football genius, I've learned that USC has great "team speed." I never would have been able to outrun him with my backpack on.

  • The flight home: The plane I was supposed to be on came in 45 minutes late, and had a mechnical problem. Not a big deal; our flight was just moved to another gate nearby. We got on the plane only 10 minutes late, but... not realizing where we were, the refreshment truck passed us by. We waited 40 minutes just so the truck could come back and give us our supply of pop and pretzels. Now, the flight's only 90 minutes long - I really wouldn't have minded spending $1.25 on a pop when I got home. And, as we now know, I could have just gotten the pretzels online.

Stuff Actually Related to Sports

  • My sources on the East Coast (ok, it's Ellen) tell me that Tom Timmermans has joined the Nets' summer league team. The Nets like to run there offense through the high post, so who's better than "The Hub."

  • Speaking of former ND basketballers, it's great to see Charles Thomas doing well in sports.

  • And speaking of "speaking of"s... Speaking of former athletes in unusual new jobs, I was fired up to see Keith Lockhart conducting the Boston Pops on the Fourth of July.

  • You know, I blame Carlos Boozer's agent for this whole mess he's having. "Yeah, we want to stay with the Cavs. But let's sign an offer sheet so they have to match it." Good, good.

  • Joe Torre has Jeter 7th and Soriano 8th in the AL lineup? OK, let's put one of the most undeserving starters 7th, and the guy who strikes out too much in front of the pitcher. Torre's a genius.

  • Indians catcher Vic Martinez declined this year's All Star invitation, after two straight years in the Futures Game. In his place, surprise Indians starter Jake Westbrook was selected to replace the injured Curt Schilling. That's five All Stars for the Tribe. I believe the word we're looking for is "upside." Or, maybe we're looking for a phrase - "worst bullpen ever!"

Seen on the Internet

  • If you write a 100 word essay, you could become a part of U93's ND Football Pre-Game Show.

  • Jayson Stark is reporting that the Mets are putting Ty Wigginton on the block to make way for Futures Game starter David Wright. Speaking of the Futures Game, it's time for me to start some New Player Auctions....

  • OK, we probably know where this list is going.

Your 2004 KankaNation All Stars

Composed of players from our seven favorite teams - Yankees, Cubs, Mets, Mariners, Blue Jays, Rangers, and Indians (not of players from our KankaMatic teams)

Catcher: Victor Martinez, Indians. .290 with 63 RBI. He took off after being moved to cleanup.
Honorable Mention: Michael Barrett, Cubs. You can make the argument for Barrett to win this, but hey, it's my site.

First Base: Derrek Lee, Cubs. Quietly having a great year at .304/12/49.
Honorable Mention: Mike Piazza, Mets. The Mets site lists him as a 1B, so that's where I put him. .290/16/40 isn't bad, but I'm giving the edge to Lee's superior glovework.

Second Base: Alfonso Soriano, Rangers. He's a bit shaky at second, and I wouldn't bat him leadoff, but he's still a good player.
Honorable Mention: Ronnie Belliard, Indians. He fell off after flirting with .400 at the beginning of the year, but he's still hitting .304. He knows he isn't the greatest on defense, but he does know how to position himself to make up for it. A great "contagious hustle" guy. Todd Walker, Cubs. Let him play!

Third Base: Hank Blalock, Rangers. 2nd in the league in homers (23), 5th in RBI. I'd take him over the guy who skipped town.
Honorable Mention: Aramis Ramirez, Cubs; Alex Rodriguez, Yankees. Ramirez is hitting .326; A-Rod is totally awesome! (maybe)

Shortstop: Michael Young, Rangers. Is there a Breakout Player of the Year Award? This guy's always been a very good hitter, but .332 with 12 homers will get you noticed even by non-Gammonsesque people. Also is handling a position change very well.
Honorable Mention: None. A defensive slump by Omar Vizquel has overshadowed a decent offensive year, but he's not quite All Star worthy.

Outfield: Gary Sheffield, Yankees; Ichiro, Mariners; None. I actually could find three outfielders having "great" years between these three teams. Many are having good years, but only these two (Sheffield with 16 HR; Ichiro hitting .321) are doing very well.
Honorable Mention: Moises Alou and Sammy Sosa, Cubs. Alou has 19 HR and has been very clutch this year, but he's only hitting .276... and he pees on his hands. Sammy's been hurt again and has missed quite a few games. Matt Lawton, Indians. Lawton's hitting .355 as a leadoff man, leads the Indians with 15 HR, and is 3rd on the team with 49 RBI. But, he's turning in to Manny Ramirez with his laxidazical, sometimes boneheaded play in left field. That keeps him off the club.

Designated Hitter: Travis Hafner, Indians. "Pronk" is hitting .313 and is second on the team with 61 RBI. Many here in Cleveland were wondering if he'd ever break out - he has. And all it cost the Indians was Einar Diaz. This is another "contagious hustle" guy - teammates see the big guy rumble around the bases, and they want to do it too. My favorite moment was last year, when he hit it into the right-center gap at the Metrodome, and he rumbled out a triple for the cycle. Who knew?
Honorable Mention: None. Well, only 5 teams qualified, anyways.

Starting Pitcher: Kenny Rogers, Rangers (12-3); Cliff Lee, Indians (9-1, 3.77); Carlos Zambrano, Cubs (9-4, 2.61); Javy Vazquez, Yankees (10-5).
Honorable Mention: Kevin Brown, Yankees (7-1); Kerry Wood, Cubs (2.71 ERA); Al Leiter, Mets (5-3, 2.40); Tom Glavine, Mets (5th in NL in ERA); Jake Westbrook and CC Sabathia, Indians (3rd and 5th in the AL in ERA)

Relief Pitcher: Mariano Rivera, Yankees (#1 in AL in saves - 32, ERA 0.99); Francisco Cordero (#2 in AL in saves - 27).
Honorable Mention: LaTroy Hawkins, Cubs (2.47 ERA); Braden Looper, Mets (18/20 saves, 1.88 ERA); Jason Frasor, Blue Jays (2.17 ERA).

Let the arguments begin.

So, I'm a little behind on the KankaMatic happenings. A softball bye tomorrow should give me time to catch up. Pete, I'm still working on that trade, too...

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Transaction Wire

  • Cavs fail to pick up Carlos Boozer's option, effectively releasing him. Boozer is now a restricted free agent. This is actually a good move, though. Instead of letting him play one more year at $500,000, then losing him as an unrestricted free agent, the Cavs now can sign him to a new contract of $4-6mil a year for 4-6 years.

  • David Graves joins the Washington Wizards' summer league team. Like the Cavs, the Wizards were terrible from long distance last year. While the Cavs looked at Matt Carroll and Danny Miller before deciding on Jason Capono (now a Charlotte Bobcat), the Wizards look to yet another ND product in Graves.

  • Spurs release Matt Carroll. This is supposedly similar to Carlos Boozer's situation - the Spurs will look to resign Carroll with a new contract. That's probably a sign that the Spurs are taking Carroll seriously as a member of their team.

  • After helping out with Mike Brey's basketball camp, Torrian Jones is scheduled for a second tryout with "Jelly Bean" Bryant's Boston Frenzy of the ABA ("Jelly Bean" is Kobe's father, and I believe he is also a player-coach). All the lanky and long-armed Jones need is a fro to make him the perfect ABA player.

  • ND Baseballers Brennan Grogan, Chris Fournier, and Chris Vasami have decided to transfer. All three suffered from an overabundance of players at their respective positions - Grogan and Fournier in the outfield, and Vasami at pitcher.

  • Well, it now appears that Ruth Riley will not be playing for team USA in the Olympics this year. Earlier this year, I reported that she had made the cut. Now, it appears that, after Swin Cash and Diana Taurasi took roster spots 10 and 11 on the 12-woman team, the 12th spot was between Ruth and Yolanda Griffith. Unfortunately, Griffith, also a center, was chosen over Ruth to back up Lisa "Ruth Riley can't guard me" Leslie.

I'll see everyone this weekend. Weekend in Review returns on Monday night. Just in time for the MLB All-Star Game on July 13, I'll name the KankaNation All-Stars - the best starting lineup that can be made out of the 7 favorite teams of our KankaNation regulars.

Monday, July 05, 2004

The Weekend in Review

The last ramblings Cronk will enjoy as a free man

  • Ah, so the Sports Guy is starting to watch VH1. Unfortunately, I watch waaay too much VH1. Sad really. They do far too many countdowns, and I don't even pay attention to those. But, they do have a show called "Best Week Ever." It's an interesting little show where D-list celebrities (people who have the word "Comedian" and/or "Actor" listed under their name, but you've never seen them before in your life) make fun of the stuff that A-list stars have done over the past week. Surprisingly good. A major plus is that now, L'il John has joined the cast of commentators. One week, the show was discussing a school board's decision to add Jewel's book of poetry to their summer reading list. So, L'il John read a short Jewel poem as only he can. Then, he commented, "that's not a poem, that's a run on sentence! Yea-uh!"

  • Since Sports Guy watches "The Real World" religiously, and since my buddy Matt admitted to watching it occassionally, I decided to sit down a watch a few episodes. Good Lord, that show is as addicting as crack. It helps, of course, that there's always hot girls on it. Thanks to a VH1 special on reality shows, I picked up this little tidbit of information, which makes the viewing experience all the more entertaining: Reality shows don't take normal people - they only cast people who are blatant stereotypes. Take, for instance, that this year's "Real World" cast had the New York meathead, the trophy wife, the psycho hose beast, the punk girl. Entertaining. As for the Sports Guy's comments: Yes, the Asian girl was insanely hot. It's funny that the punk girl had to leave the show after she realized she didn't fit in with the other stereotypical braindead MTV types. I don't think Jaquese was gay, he was too laid back and smart for those idiots. Y'know what I'm saying?

  • I'm also glad the SG agrees on the Moneyball approach to offense. Hey, you can get as many guys on base as you want, but if they can't score, you're not getting anywhere. Look who won the championship last year - the Marlins. They know how to steal bases, hit and run, and lay down a bunt. Oh, they also know how to play defense. Statheads say bunts are a wasted out, but last I checked, you still win by having more runs, not by having a higher OPS. Hello, you play to win the game!

  • While we're on the subject of statheads, take a look at the Transaction Wire site I link to. There's nothing like watching a bunch of guys who played the bench in little league trying to belittle Major Leaguers for hitting .260 but having a low VORP (or whatever the crap they make fun of people for).

  • What would it be like if all of us KankaManiacs were SportsCenter anchors, or play-by-play/color commentators? Well, we'd be something like John Kruk. You just have to watch Baseball Tonight or read his Page 2 columns, and enjoy the fact he's not taking things too seriously. "The Practice?!"

  • Best home run call of the moment, made by a guy who does ESPNews and the weekend SportsCenters: "Barry Bonds steps up to the plate. He's got 99 problems, but that pitch ain't one!"

  • In our cable package, ESPN 1 and 2, Fox Sports, TBS, and WGN are all right next to each other. So, during baseball season, my remote's Up and Down buttons get a great workout. The other day, Kaz Tadano was pitching for the Indians (and pitching very well - 19 K's in his last 2 games). I flipped to TBS, and I saw Kevin Millar sporting the Mike Piazza look - bleach blond hair and a fu man chu. Then, I hit the Up button one more time, and WGN was showing what appeared to be an actual gay porno. You can't make this up - but why would you want to?

  • I have to admit, the Shea Stadium organist is pretty good. Who else can play "Blister in the Sun," or turn "Mortal Combat" into Charge? Best performance I've heard since the Wrigley organist played Pink at one of my visits to the ballpark.

  • A few weeks ago, I commented on Carson Daly's new trend of wearing a sweatband elbow-level with a button-down shirt. Well, while we're starting baseball related trends, I've got a good one. I'm going to start wearing batting gloves in my back pocket, no matter what I'm wearing. The only problem is that this may become expensive as gloves become lost/stolen/dropped.

ND Basketball All-Time Hair Team

Monty Williams, F - well, it was in style at the time
Orlando Woolridge, C - rockin' the part
Dave Batton, C - my hair looks like that when it gets long
Leo Klier, F
Kelly Tripucka, F - I think my mom had that hairdo in the late '70s, too.

ND Basketball All-Time Name Team

Damian Sweet, G - or, as mini-Kanka would say, "Damian Sa-weet!"
Noble Kizer, G - nothing I like more than a noble kaiser
Ed "Moose" Krause, C
Harold "Booty" Swanagan, F
Ken Barlow, F - ok, not really a great name, but if you were Marcus, wouldn't you tell everyone that that was your dad?

View the nominees here

KankaMatic is more or less up to date, but I still have some work to do. I'll also try to put a Transaction Wire up Wednesday night. See everyone this weekend.