Monday, August 28, 2006

Odds and Ends

  • Much was made of Maurice Stovall's 15-pound weight loss last year. I was watching the Buccaneers preseason game last night, and the announcer offhandedly mentioned that Stovall now weighs 229. To each coach their own weight training methods, I suppose. But there may be more to the weight issue - with ten other wide receivers on the Tampa Bay roster, there have been rumors of Stovall moving to tight end. Considering most Tampa Bay coaches and reporters are quick to praise his size and run blocking ability, a move may not be out of the question. We will have to wait and see.

  • After being waived by Buffalo, Courtney Watson was picked up by Houston. It's a good time to be a Notre Dame-loving NFL fan in Texas. Watson joins Tony Weaver and Glenn Earl (both potential starters) in Houston, while Anthony Fasano and Rocky Boiman joined Julius Jones in Dallas.

  • I stopped by Browns training camp the other day, and got to say hi to Darrell Campbell. It's bumfuzzling to stand at a distance and see that Darrell almost looks small compared to his fellow linemen. But, after practice, Darrell came over to the bleachers to sign autographs, one of the few players to do so by choice. He joked and signed autographs and took pictures until a camp worker "forced" him to leave. Darrell's biceps have entered Grant Irons territory - they're as big as my head (and I have a big head). It will be an uphill battle for Darrell to make the team, even though he's proven that he can play both defensive tackle and end, but we here at Kanka's Sports Page are pulling for him (and not just so we can join his posse).

  • For someone who's met professional athletes "before they were stars," it's odd to see some fans' idol worshiping ways. People who may not have even known who Darrell was were acting like meetin him was a life-altering event. My favorite moment was when he was joking around and apologized for how sweaty he was. A few (grown) women told him that they didn't mind (they didn't, they were just happy to be getting an autograph from a "celebrity"), and started rubbing their hands on his arm for a "souvenir." I'm not making that up.

  • Clarifying my stance on big-time sponsors (Nike, I'm looking at you) of Little League teams, high schools, and the like. It all comes down to the intent. Don't just sponsor select good teams as a way to promote your brand. Brand promotion should be an afterthought, or not a thought at all. If you're going to sponsor one team, do the right thing and sponsor an entire league, conference, or town - simply because you want to give young kids of all backgrounds the chance to play an organized sport.

  • As I'm sure most of you have seen by now, the depth chart for the Georgia Tech game has been posted. Feel free to go back to my football previews and make fun of my horrible depth chart predicting skills.

  • Book review/recommendation: I just finished reading Baseball Between the Numbers by the Baseball Prospectus guys. If you're a traditionalist looking to understand the stathead movement, this is the way to go. Whereas Moneyball author Michael Lewis has an agenda against the "scout" side of things (or so accused by the epilogue of the BP book), most contributors to "Between the Numbers" realize that both numbers and traditional means are needed to put together a successful ballclub. There are quite a few numbers and formulae in this book, as well as charts and graphs, so it may not be for everyone. But if you're looking for a great introduction into the world of VORP and WXRL, this is an informative and interesting read. The format is inventive as well - 27 "out" chapters are divived into nine "inning" metachapters, each with a chapter title that poses a question. From "What's the Matter with RBI?" to "Why Doesn't Billy Beane's S*** Work in the Playoffs?" this is a great read.

  • It's almost time for September callups, the time when Major League teams can expand their active rosters beyond the usual limit of 25. Who will the Indians call up? Manager Eric Wedge once commented that "everyone we want to look at is already here." In a way, that's true. Prospects Andrew Brown, Tom Mastny, Edward Mujica, Brian Sikorski, Ryan Garko, Joe Inglett, and Andy Marte are already on the parent club. For lack of a better option, Mastny has moved into the closer role and currently leads the team with three. Garko was first called up when Casey Blake was put on the disabled list, and he's hit very well while getting most of the first base playing time. Inglett, besides playing several other positions, has been sharing the second base playing time with new acquisition Hector Luna. Marte, the third baseman of the future, has found that the future came a little sooner than expected. Mired in a slump at AAA when he was called up, Marte is finally starting to find his swing.

  • So, who's next for the Tribe? After a failed experiment at closer, Fausto Carmona has been sent down to AAA to become a starter again, like he was when the season began. He has been assured of a September callup. Jeremy Sowers is nearing his innings limit, so Carmona will likely take Sowers' place in the rotation when Sowers is shut down. Kevin Kouzmanoff has hit a combined .380 between AA and AAA this year; despite being another third baseman, he deserves some time on the Indians roster. Top pitching prospect Adam Miller has been throwing well, but you don't want to overuse him. I wouldn't be surprised if he was called up just to "soak in the atmosphere," but never play so as to save his arm. The AA Akron Aeros have had a good season, and some thing standouts Brian Slocum, Tony Sipp, Ryan Goleski, and Ryan Mulhern may be on the callup list.

  • As for Irish alumni, Chris Michalak has already been called up and placed in the Reds starting rotation. IN three starts, he's 1-2 with an ERA of 4.76. Outfielder Brian Stavisky was in the A's big league camp in spring training. He started the year at AAA Sacramento as a backup, where he hit .239 in 33 games. Sent down to AA Midland, he has flourished, as he did last year at that level. Still, the demotion may be a good indication that he shouldn't book plane tickets to Oakland. Danny Tamayo was in Kansas City's big league camp. He was considered a top prospect, and has been at AAA Omaha for several years now. Still, it looks like his star may be starting to fade. Last year, he made 27 starts and posted a 9-8 record. This year he has made seven appearances, but only three starts. He is currently on the 15-day DL. Like Stavisky, I don't think he will see the big league roster come September.