Saturday, May 31, 2008

Cleveland Indians: All-Star Caliber Tools

Joe Posnanski recently had a blog post about the Royals' 60 tools. In summary, baseball scouts take each of a player's tools (for batters: hitting for average, hitting for power, speed/baserunning, defense, throwing arm) and grades them on a scale of 20-80. As Posnanski put it, 20 is "Barely knows which gloves goes on which hand." Eighty is a once-in-a-lifetime talent, like Ted Williams' hitting. Fifty is major league average, and 60 is All Star level.

The theory is that the more 60 tools you have on your team, the better the team will be. For example, he postulates that the Royals only have two 60 tools on the whole team, while the Red Sox have 11 just in their starting batting order.

Where do the Indians rank? Posnanski's commenters listed six 60 tools, and I'd agree right away:

1. Grady Sizemore' speed
2. Franklin Gutierrez' arm
3. Victor Martinez' hitting
4. Asdrubal Cabrera's defense (Which is a 60 at the very least, and may be the best tool on the team right now.)
5. Sizemore's defense
6. Gutierrez' defense

I've seen Ben Francisco's arm in person, and I'd give that a 60 as well. At the time, Francisco had been in the majors for less than a month, and already the Blue Jays knew not to run on him. That's a good sign that Toronto's scouts also give Francisco's arm a 60. Of course, Francisco has also hit well this season, but it's too early to give him a 60 there.

What else? The pre-slump Travis Hafner easily gets 60s for power and plate discipline. (I know plate discipline isn't one of the five traditional tools, but it's definitely something to take into account.) Casey Blake has a 60 arm in right field, but it looks pretty average from third base. Andy Marte is supposed to be a 60 defender with a 60 arm, but I haven't seen enough of him to pass judgment.

On the pitching side, I'd say this:

1. CC Sabathia's fastball
2. Sabathia's slider (Considered by some to be the best in the league.)
3. Fausto Carmona's sinker (Torii Hunter once said that it had so much movement, he felt like he was hung over.)
4. Cliff Lee's 2008 command (Everone has said that Cliff's command is the main reason for his turnaround this year.)

What do you think? Do the Indians have more 60 tools? Do they have less than what I mentioned? How many 60 tools does your favorite team have? Join the discussion on the KankaNation message board.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

My Interview on's And One Blog

Life is good. I'm up to number 500 on Wikio's sports blog rankings (and there's a shiny new badge in the Statistics section of my sidebar to track my progress). My last Cavs post made a cameo appearance on But the creme de la creme was being interviewed by Carolyn of's And One blog. Check it out here.

Carolyn had some very nice things to say about my writing and the site, and if she's reading this she's welcome to do a guest post here any time she'd like.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

The New York Knicks have the sixth pick in this year's NBA draft, and Knick fans can't wait to see who they'll squander it on.

Defensive end Charles Grant, who has been indicted on second-degree murder charges, is actually training with the New Orleans Saints. The team plans to make a special jersey for Grant where the name Saints is in big quotation marks.

Jose Canseco told friends he intends to try celebrity boxing. We were shocked, since we didn't realize he still had friends.

Mike Piazza is retiring from baseball after discussing his options with his wife and his agent. No word yet on what his boyfriend had to say. But he could go either way.

And former referee Tim Donaghy's attorney has indicated that gambling in the NBA stretches way beyond him. Oh, and Charles Barkley owes him $10,000.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

A high school athlete accidentally speared a photographer with his javelin at a track and field meet. In related news, Britney Spears is taking up javelin.

Columnist Tony Kornheiser will be inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, or as it's known elsewhere, the loneliest place on earth. The hall includes several hundred sports writers and three athletes.

USC is claiming it had no knowledge of any impropriety concerning O.J. Mayo. In fact, O. J. Mayo doesn't even know the meaning of the word "impropriety." Really, he has no idea what it means. Maybe it's a fish of some sort.

And NASCAR promoter Humpy Wheeler is retiring. He plans on spending time with his family, fishing, and selling his name to a porn star.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban admitted to smoking pot. Which we figured out when he traded for Jason Kidd.

Reports have surfaced that Kobe Bryant is having an affair with former Lakers Girl Vanessa Curry. Bryant's wife is looking forward to receiving some new jewelry.

An Atlanta Braves fan has serious head injuries after falling from the stands at Turner Field. The man fell so quickly and dramatically that many people mistook him for the Mets.

New York Mets Johan Santana and Jose Reyes now have their own signature brands of wine. Mets manager Willie Randolph is next in line, since he's got a huge supply of sour grapes.

And Syracuse and Johns Hopkins are set to meet in the NCAA men's lacrosse final. The after party will be at Duke.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

A poll showed NBA fans would prefer a Lakers vs. Celtics match-up for the historical significance. Fans would also like to give Kobe Bryant a chance to cheat on his wife in a whole new market.

Chicago Bulls forward Joakim Noah has been arrested for possession of marijuana, which he obviously got from the guy who cuts his hair.

In Pittsburgh, markets are being anti-Red Wing by refusing to sell octopus. In Detroit, fans are being anti-Penguin by beating up nuns.

Some NFL insiders are proposing that all championships for the New England Patriots come with an asterisk. And the one championship for the Buccaneers should come with a question mark and one of those sideways smiley faces.

And former Mets and Red Sox pitcher Geremi Gonzalez was killed after being hit by lightning, proving once and for all that God is a Yankees fan.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

The ratings for this year's Stanley Cup are up 157 percent from 2007. The NHL is so pleased by the results that they're planning on extending the Penguins-Red Wings match-up into a best of 49 game series. The Red Wings are still favored to sweep.

The ownership of the Mets said Willie Randolph can keep his job as manager. Unfortunately, Willie didn't receive the message because Jose Reyes bobbled it. If things don't work out with the Mets, Randolph can always coach the Knicks.

And Rangers infielder Hank Blalock is suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. The good news is that he now carries dual roles: third baseman and guitar hero.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

Pacman Jones is meeting with Roger Goodell about reinstatement. Hopefully Pacman has enough points to get an extra guy.

Pedro Martinez is slated to start June 3rd for the Mets. So get your tickets now for "Too Little, Too Late Day."

Professional tennis player Ashley Harkleroad has agreed to pose nude for Playboy. Fans will finally have a visual that corresponds to that grunting sound.

And a blind wrestler has qualified for the Maryland high school state championships. Unfortunately, he showed up in Virginia. We look forward to the match, which will begin with a spirited game of Marco Polo.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Cleveland Indians: Room for Improvement?

The Cleveland Indians offense has struggled mightily this season, barely topping the 200 run mark through 49 games. But can fans expect improvement? There's a common theory that over the course of the year, players' "slash stats" will regress to their career averages. The slash stats, of course, are batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage. (The fourth slash below is OPS, on base plus slugging.) Using the great site Fangraphs, let's compare each hitter's 2008 performance to their career performance. I've left Ben Francisco and Michael Aubrey out of the discussion, because they don't have enough major league experience to make this exercise worthwhile. And, well, they are two of the few Tribe hitters who don't need any improvement.

Casey Blake 2008: .219/.310/.358/.667, Career: .260/.331/.440/.771 - Blake has a little room for improvement. I was going to chalk the low numbers up to his age. But he performed at or above his career averages in 2006 and 2007, so it doesn't look like he's regressing just yet.

Asdrubal Cabrera 2008: .172/.272/.234/.506, Career: .233/.317/.338/.655 - It may not be fair to judge Cabrera just yet, as his career totals are based on just 80+ games. Cabrera may be the defensive answer at shortstop, but he has a long way to go before his bat catches up with his glove.

Jamey Carroll 2008: .203/.329/.246/.576, Career: .269/.349/.348/.697 - Carroll got off to a good start this year, at least in terms of On Base Percentage. That's cooled off a bit as of late, but he's still around the league average. Carroll has yet to hit for any power in 2008, and it looks like he does have a little room for improvement there.

David Dellucci 2008: .228/.310/.377/.687, Career: .259/.343/.441/.784: A month ago, Dellucci was one of the lone bright spots for the Indians. Now his numbers have tailed off below his career averages. Expect to see some improvement for Dellucci as the season goes on, unless he's traded away to make room for Shin-Soo Choo.

Ryan Garko 2008: .236/.329/.372/.701, Career: .280/.353/.460/.813: Everyone knew coming in that Garko was just a guy that got on base, not a slugger. Still, he's struggled a bit in 2008. His walk rate (9.8%) is actually the highest it's been in his young career, but his batting average on balls in play is way down. BABIP is a flukey thing, and often relies on luck. His ground ball/fly ball/line drive rates aren't much different this year, so Garko just needs to be patient and wait for the hits to start dropping in.

Franklin Gutierrez 2008: .235/.279/.341/.619, Career: .259/.302/.411/.713 - Gutierrez has always been a five tool player, but those tools have never quite translated into good numbers at the plate. Still, as you can see, Gutierrez can expect for his numbers to improve a little as they regress back to his career totals.

Travis Hafner 2008: .219/.320/.358/.678, Career: .285/.393/.540/.933 - Pronk's numbers have been enigmatic over the past two years, and many people say he hasn't been the same since the high beanball from Mark Buehrle in late 2006. What's changed since 2006?

As you can see, Hafner's fly ball rate (blue line) have been in a steady decline over the past few years. His ground ball percentage (green line) also had a huge spike, which is bad news when the opposing infielders always shift in your honor. The good news is that this year, Hafner's ground ball rate is starting to go down again and his line drive percentage is coming up. This could be the start of the turnaround. Indeed, Pronk has been making quite a few "loud outs" lately.
However, it looks like the slump has affected Hafner's famous plate discipline. Not so, according to the numbers. Hafner is swinging at just 16.38 of pitches he sees outside of the zone, the lowest mark of his career. He's also swinging at 62.78% of pitches inside the strike zone, a slight improvement over last year. Pronk also has had a higher contact percentage in these past two seasons (his "slump years"); I'm not sure what that indicates. Maybe the source of his power was a more emphatic all-or-nothing swing before the slump?

Andy Marte 2008: .115/.179/.115/.294, Career: .194/.256/.336/.592 - Marte's another guy that I'm not sure was fair to put on this list. He's never been a full-time player, including this year. The stats say he has room to improve over this year's numbers to date. Of course, the scouts and his minor league numbers will say that he has room to improve even over his career MLB stats.

Victor Martinez 2008: .300/.344/.357/.702, Career: .301/.372/.467/.838 - As you can see, Martinez has done well in terms of average and OBP, but where's his power been this season?

As you can see, his line drive rate is up, which is probably what's holding his average together. His ground ball rate is also up, which is good for a speedster, but not for a plodder like Martinez. But his fly ball percentage has completely fallen. I'd love to do a mechanics analysis of his swing from the past and this year, but unfortunately I don't have the time or the resources for that.

Jhonny Peralta 2008: .212/.277/.404/.681, Career: .262/.332/.424/.755 - Peralta and his better than 20/20 vision do have plenty of room for improvement. But improvement to what? Peralta's career .262 batting average and .332 on base are almost exactly league average. That's not what you want from a guy whose bat is supposed to make up for mediocre defensive play. Even a move to third base seems like a bad idea now, as you expect better production than that out of your third baseman.

Kelly Shoppach 2008: .217/.288/.300/.588, Career: .237/.291/.393/.685 - Shoppach is a very solid backup catcher. Maybe he could even start in the National League. But as far as this year goes, he needs to improve his average and power. His career is far too short to pay much attention to patterns, but since peaking in 2006, Shoppach's line drive rate has gone down and his ground ball and fly ball rates have gone up.

Grady Sizemore 2008: .261/.373/.472/.825, Career: .281/.369/.489/.856 - His batting average may not show it, but Grady Sizemore is having a typical year. He's actually on pace to match most of his career averages as well. I doubt there are many people disappointed in Sizemore's play to date, especially since he's doing very well compared to the rest of the team. So far, what you see is what you should get with Grady.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Cleveland Cavaliers: Are They Really That Bad Off?

Bloggers everywhere are decrying the "sad state" of the Cavaliers, calling for head coach Mike Brown's job and pining for the days when LeBron James will get some "real help" on the roster. But is Cleveland really in that bad shape?

  • The team put up with enough injuries to sink their season, plus had half of their roster traded away, and still finished fourth in the conference.

  • They took the top-seeded Celtics to 7 games in the conference semifinals, winning each of their home games.

  • Three of their losses at Boston were by less than 10 points. Had the Cavs had home court advantage, they very well could have won the series. Heck, they almost won it without home court.

So I'm optimistic for 2008-09. The Cavs will have had a little more time to work on their chemistry, plus (hopefully) they'll be slightly more injury-free. Clevelanders, prepare for the Cavaliers to Rise Up again next season.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

Charles Barkley owes a Las Vegas casino $400,000. Man, buffet cover charges sure do add up.

The New York Knicks have sent Isiah Thomas on a scouting mission to Europe. No word yet on when they'll give him a return ticket.

John Daly may join the PGA European Tour next year. Odd – we didn't realize Europe even had trailer parks.

And President Bush revealed that he has given up golf. Great – he finally learns when to quit, and it's at golf? Maybe having one handicap was enough for him.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

Charles Barkley will pay back his $400,000 gambling debt. He'd have run from his problems, but he didn't want to get winded.

Los Angeles Sparks forward Candace Parker just missed recording a triple-double during her WNBA debut. Though we could say that she did and no one would know if we were making it up.

Jason Giambi revealed that he often wears a gold thong to break batting slumps, prompting the media guide to list him as a switch hitter.

And disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding just completed her first book. She hopes to read a second one soon. The autobiography is actually 300 pages, and the hardcover version is excellent for bludgeoning your opponents in the knee.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. announced that he wants his organization to work full-time with the Sprint Cup program. He'd have announced it sooner, but he kept dropping the call.

Gene Upshaw says NFL owners could cause a lockout by 2011. Aaron Rodgers asked if they could work on making it this year.

Andy Roddick is pulling out of the French Open due to a shoulder injury. France is thrilled to hear that an American surrendered.

Former Bengals receiver Chris Henry has said that he would love to play for Miami. That, or go back to prison. It's a toss up.

And according to the rumor mill, Roger Clemens is not yet retired. According to all thirty major league teams, he is.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

Pedro Martinez may retire after this year. But instead of throwing in a towel, he's going to use Don Zimmer.

The Red Sox have completed installation of solar thermal panels at Fenway Park which will provide 37% of the hot water at the ballpark. The ballpark's hot air, meanwhile, will still be provided by Red Sox fans.

Good news - Pat Summerall will be able to receive a liver transplant. Bad news - it's from John Daly.

After defeating the Hornets, the Spurs had to sleep on a grounded plane in New Orleans. It was so frustrating that Tim Duncan almost frowned.

And Charles Barkley has pledged to stop gambling. In related news, Las Vegas is closing.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

Monday, May 19, 2008

Notre Dame Baseball in the Big East Tournament

Notre Dame's baseball team begins the Big East tournament against South Florida on Tuesday. The game is at 8:00 PM Eastern, and it appears the only coverage you're going to get is through the gametracker.

The Irish will enter the tournament with revenge on their mind against USF. Notre Dame looked to be on the bubble for one of the last spots in the NCAA Regionals before being swept by the Bulls in the last weekend of the regular season. Could a long run in the conference tourney put the Irish back on the road to Omaha? The journey begins Tuesday at 8:00.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Notre Dame Football Players to Watch

The guys at Bleacher Report asked me to take a quick look at Notre Dame players to watch for the upcoming football season. Of course, being long-winded as I am, my "quick look" turned into 1400 words. Still, be sure to check it out here.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

Tapes prove the Patriots stole offensive signs from the Miami Dolphins. We're still trying to figure out why.

HBO will follow the Cowboys again for its next season of the training-camp series Hard Knocks. They will also follow the Cincinnati Bengals during a remake of Oz. HBO will also follow the Cowboy cheerleaders for a series called "Hard Knockers."

KFC and the NBA have announced a new promotional partnership that will span 22 countries and territories. We're guessing one of them is Greece.

And a University of Florida football player was dismissed after using a dead woman's credit card. Authorities found out when he paid for a meal and the waiter felt... (wait for it)...stiffed.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

Dwyane Wade's Sports Grill in Boca Raton has closed after just two months. We wouldn't be surprised if the Heat follow suit. The restaurant's days were numbered when they combined the phrase "all you can eat" with Star Jones.

Former 49ers quarterback Joe Montana is suing his first wife and a Texas auction house for selling love letters and memorabilia from his time at the University of Notre Dame. It's the biggest disgrace in Notre Dame history since last season.

Heisman winner Tim Tebow is currently spending time in an impoverished village in the Philippines helping to circumcise impoverished children. Which makes sense, since football is a game of inches.

And seven-time Tour de France winner and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong is calling on Congress to renew the nation's war on cancer. Congress will respond as soon as cancer produces oil.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

The NHL and Versus are thinking of introducing puck-tracking technology that would make it easier for viewers to follow the fast-moving puck. The only problem is that to keep track of the puck, viewers would have to be watching hockey at the time.

In the NHL, San Jose fired coach Ron Wilson, whose career has officially jumped the shark.

Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Bruce Bowen, Tim Duncan and Marcus Camby were selected to the NBA All-Defensive team on Monday. Dikembe Mutombo also received several votes based on how defensive he becomes whenever anyone questions his real age.

Qualifying and practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway were cancelled for the day due to rainfall. On the positive side, the rains left the crowd cleaner than they'd been in months.

And O.J. Mayo is accused of accepting thousands of dollars in cash and other gifts from an event promoter. Mayo will probably be punished by being drafted by Miami.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

Former Patriots employee Matt Walsh met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for nearly three and a half hours on the Spygate scandal. Walsh's tapes of the meeting should be available shortly.

Seattle Seahawks linebacker Lofa Tatupu was arrested for investigation of drunken driving. He almost got away when police mistook his .158 blood-alcohol level for the Seattle SuperSonics winning percentage.

David Stern said he doesn't like all the promotional smoke and fire used during NBA games. Probably because it reminds him of the Miami Heat.

Goose Gossage criticized Joba Chamberlain's excessive celebratory style while on the mound. Not because it's unsportsmanlike, but because the Yankees haven't had anything worth celebrating in months.

And Annika Sorenstam announced she will retire. She reached retirement earlier than most because she got to start from the red tees.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

Sunday, May 11, 2008

My Reading List

I cleaned up the list of links in the right sidebar a little. As I was working on the list, I thought of a new column idea that I could use when... well, when I don't have any better column ideas. It's called "My Reading List," and it will highlight some of the links in the sidebar, as well as some things from my ever-growing daily reading list of RSS feeds. Today I'll cover a few sports syndication sites, a fellow Cleveland-area blogger, and some up-and-coming Gammonsesque sites.

You may have head of the big sports syndication sites BallHype and YardBarker. These sites are the digg of sports, in essence. I added links to the bottom of each post that lets you add my articles to those sites, if that's your sort of thing. (If it's not, and you think all the additional stuff at the bottom of each post is getting out of control, please let me know.) I was also asked to syndicate my content on the site Bleacher Report. So be sure to check out that site and give them some love. Finally, you can also find me on ArmchairGM, which is an amalgam of the three above sites and Wikipedia. Plus it's run by my new Twitter-buddy Dan.

In baseball, FanGraphs is becoming more and more addictive as it adds more statistics. The commentary and analysis is top notch, too. Saber Scouting is run by a pair of young scouts. On their site, you'll learn as much about the scouting profession as you will about the young prospects they cover. Speaking of prospects, Project Prospect is an up-and-coming community full of Gammonsesque prospect-addicts like me.

Finally, there's fellow Cleveland-area blogger Mitchell, who runs Juiced Sports Blog. Mitchell is a good give with whom I've shared many an email, so be sure to support his site.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)
Written by Steve Hofstetter, Keith Alberstadt, Ryan Murphy, and Chris Strait

The Yankees unearthed a Red Sox jersey that a construction worker hid in the new stadium's concrete. The jersey was buried so low, they had to dig past A-Rod's playoff batting average.

Broncos wideout Brandon Marshall cut a deep gash in his arm. Were he on the Dolphins, it probably would have been his wrists.

The Olympic torch will be in Africa for two days. It's a short run, but if it stayed any longer in the continent, Angelina Jolie would adopt it.

A new batch of emails suggests the Seattle SuperSonics may have been talking to Oklahoma City as early as 2007 about possible relocation plans. Wow. We didn't even know Oklahoma City had email in 2007.

And three people were injured before a game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Memphis Grizzlies when a section of the stands at FedExForum collapsed. The incident was particularly unfortunate since they were the only three fans in attendance.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)
Written by Steve Hofstetter, Keith Alberstadt, Ryan Murphy, and Chris Strait

Marion Jones' teammates were punished when the IOC stripped their relay gold medals. In a related story, Barry Bonds' teammates might have to forfeit their participation ribbons.

The ball from Barry Bonds' homerun #762 sold for $376,000. Unfortunately the ball will come with an asterisk that denotes the amount is in US Dollars.

Milwaukee Bucks forward Desmond Mason said his team needs to work on their chemistry. Based on the way the Bucks have been shooting, they may also want to work on their physics.

Browns wide receiver Joe Jurevicius has become the sixth Browns player in four years to suffer a major staph infection. At least the Browns are finally leading the NFL in something.

And Minnesota Vikings great Carl Eller has been charged with assault on a police officer, impaired driving and making terrorist threats. Or as the Bengals call it, Tuesday.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)
Written by Steve Hofstetter, Keith Alberstadt, Ryan Murphy, and Chris Strait

The Atlanta Hawks have made the playoffs. Atlanta fans cheered when they heard the news while watching a Braves game.

Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain has left the team to be with his ailing father in Nebraska. Hopefully his father will feel better once he stops watching the Yankees.

Pacman Jones said he applied for reinstatement. We're shocked at his announcement. Four syllables in one word? That's impressive. As with anything associated with Jones, the message was delivered by armed courier.

And the Oklahoma State Legislature has approved an incentive package to help lure the SuperSonics to Oklahoma City. The package passed by a vote of 66-32, which is usually what the Sonics are losing by at halftime.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

The former owner of the Seattle SuperSonics is suing the current ownership to get the team back. The team is also getting sued by every sports broadcaster who has a lisp.

Minnesota forward Antoine Walker wants to be traded to a team that will give him significant minutes. The New York Liberty have expressed interest.

Hershel Walker has admitted that he suffers from multiple personality disorder. Makes sense – he's a black man with a Jewish name. Suddenly, a 5 for 1 trade doesn't sound so lopsided.

And Tom Brady has allegedly proposed to his longtime girlfriend, Giselle Bundchen. Perhaps he can borrow a ring from the Giants.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

Pope Benedict XVI held a mass for 46,000 worshippers at the new Nationals Park in Washington D.C. He was such a big draw, the Nationals have asked him to stay and play left field.

Houston Astros shortstop Miguel Tejada admitted to being 33, two years older than previously thought. Tejada's confession came just in time, as the team was about to cut him open and count his rings. And considering he'd been playing for Baltimore and Oakland, he doesn't have any rings.

The Atlanta Hawks are playing against the Boston Celtics in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Those playoffs are taking place in 1998.

And Isiah Thomas was fired as the Knicks head coach. There's no joke here, we just think that's awesome.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

Tiger Woods will be out for at least a month after a minor knee operation. Only ten more surgeries and he'll break Jack Nicklaus's record.

The post Isiah Thomas Knicks aren't in the clear yet - they are already committed to paying over $177 million over the next three years. And that's just to Anucha Browne Sanders.

Kenny Chesney took batting practice with the Baltimore Orioles. The country music star looked entirely out of place since he's actually had a few big hits.

And the Yankees grounds crew did a terrific job of preparing the stadium for the Pope's visit. They even dug up two feet of concrete after hearing someone buried a Red Sox yarmulke. The team is hoping that the Pope can return to the Bronx while they're home, so he can give Last Rites to their pitching staff.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

New England Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss is writing his life story. He's only written two chapters and already he's finished an entire box of crayons.

Golfer Colin Montgomerie married his longtime sweetheart over the weekend in what reporters labeled the number one Scottish social event of the year. The second most popular event involved a bottle of Scotch and a couple of sheep.

Denver's team bus caught fire on the way to their playoff game against the Lakers. It's the hottest the Nuggets have been in a month.

Sega, Omega, and McDonald's have finalized endorsement deals with Olympic sprinter Tyson Gay. The contracts make him the highest paid Gay man in America since Tom Cruise.

And the third period of a Minnesota Wild-Colorado Avalanche playoff game on Versus was cut off for a Victoria Principal makeup infomercial. And the ratings actually went up.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

The New York Knicks admitted that Mark Jackson is on their wish list. Also on their wish list? A time machine.

Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen has been traded from Kansas City to the Minnesota Vikings. Allen is looking forward to his chance to be involved in a sex scandal.

John Smoltz has become the 16th player in major league history to join the 3,000 strikeout club. Or the 17th if you count Reggie Jackson.

A new report suggests that the Cubs may have thrown the 1918 World Series. No word yet on their excuse for the last 90 years.

And Jose Canseco spent more than three hours with federal agents discussing the alleged steroid use of Roger Clemens, Miguel Tejada and Alex Rodriquez. It's the longest Canseco has ever gone without talking about himself.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

The Titans have finally agreed to trade Pacman Jones to the Cowboys. Dallas's strippers are thrilled.

The Dolphins will select Michigan offensive tackle Jake Long as their number one pick. Miami officials called the selection a no-brainer, which is exactly how much brain they've used on the rest of their personnel decisions.

Michigan offensive lineman Justin Boren will transfer to Ohio State, where he will then change his name to Judas Benedict.

NBC has extended their deal with the NHL through the 2008-2009 season. Because they had eight dollars.

And fresh off defeating 43-year-old Bernard Hopkins, Joe Calzaghe is planning to fight 39-year-old Roy Jones. If that fight falls through, he'll be digging up Sugar Ray Robinson.

For more of the Sports Minute (Or So), visit

The National Lampoon Sports Minute (Or So)

Mavericks forward Josh Howard openly discussed his off-season pot use, before explaining to reporters how to sync up game film with "Dark Side of the Moon."

Nuggets coach George Karl is reportedly on the radar of Knicks president Donnie Walsh. Of course, at 250 pounds Karl is on everyone's radar. Walsh would have hired him already, but he’s waiting for Karl to get swept out of the playoffs before deciding that he’s qualified to coach the Knicks.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. will wave the green flag at the Indy 500 just weeks after an appearance with WWE. Racing and wrestling? If he learns how to fish, he'll officially move from welterweight to Foxworthy joke.

And a golfer in Iowa hit two holes-in-one in the same round but said that he's not a lucky person. Evidenced by exhibit A: living in Iowa.

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The University at Buffalo's top basketball player has been suspended indefinitely for posting an online ad offering to pay someone to write a paper. The school was livid, since they would have done it for free.

An umpire was knocked unconscious when a 96-mph fastball hit the right side of his jaw. The ump was so rattled, he began actually making quality calls.

Larry the Cable Guy took batting practice with the Milwaukee Brewers. It's the first time all season that Prince Fielder looked svelte.

And new reports suggest that Roger Clemens had a decade-long relationship with country star Mindy McCready that began when she was 15 years-old. And he seems like such an honest guy. Clemens said he did not, but if he did have a relationship with a 15-year-old, she was provided to him by Brian McNamee.

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Notre Dame is considering shedding its independent status and joining the Big Ten. It would be a huge move for the school given that the only organization they looked fit to join last year was Pop Warner.

Barry Zito has actually been demoted to the bullpen by the San Francisco Giants. Zito said if he felt anymore useless, he'd be the extra-point kicker for the 49ers.

A man bought his 7-year-old son a Mike's Hard Lemonade at a Detroit Tigers game, not realizing the drink was alcoholic until much later. In a related story, Roger Clemens now claims that he merely asked his trainer for some juice.

The Hawks shocked the Celtics by winning their second consecutive game in their first round series. The last time Atlanta put up this much resistance was the Civil War.

And the Lakers inched one step closer to the NBA Finals by sweeping the Nuggets. Kobe Bryant was especially ecstatic afterwards since the last time he got a ring it cost him $4 million.

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Alex Rodriguez is on the DL with a strain of his quadriceps classified as Grade 2. That makes the strain better educated than half his teammates.

Veteran NFL official Ed Marion died at the age of 81. His family tried to bury him, but were whistled for piling on.

And the captain of the Scranton Penguins was caught running naked through town. It's the first interesting thing to happen to Scranton since "The Office." And the most indecent thing to happen to Pennsylvania since the Pirates. The player has since been charged with public drunkenness, disorderly conduct, open lewdness and high sticking.

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Rumors are swirling that Roger Clemens had an affair with John Daly's ex-wife Paulette Dean. You know your life is in a freefall when you’re willingly scooping up John Daly's seconds.

Tampa Bay Ray Scott Kazmir is expected to make his season debut on Sunday after missing more than a month with an elbow injury. He spent the first 3 weeks on the DL, and the next 10 days in central Florida traffic behind a Buick with one turn-signal on.

Barack Obama scrimmaged with the University of North Carolina basketball team. Players had no problem guarding the Democratic senator since he always went to his left.

Dennis Rodman was arrested for hitting a woman in a hotel room. He was upset that she borrowed his blouse without asking.

And the Oklahoma City council has required that if they move, the SuperSonics must use Oklahoma City in the team name. This puts a quick end to the plan of naming the team the "extremely southeast of Seattle SuperSonics."

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Randy Moss has formed a racing group. He said if he can't win a ring, maybe it's best just to drive around one.

Red Sox player Brandon Moss had his appendix removed. The team doctor said if the organ were any more worthless to the system, it would be called "Mike Timlin."

Arizona’s Brandon Webb is 7-0. Webb is extra motivated this season, because if he wins ten in a row, he gets invited to Matt Leinart's next party.

David Beckham scored twice when playing Salt Lake. He is not the first man to score multiple times in Utah.

And the Hawks were blown out by the Celtics to end the first round of the NBA playoffs, losing Game Seven 99-65. Too bad - the Hawks were just 35 points away from losing in the second round instead of the first.

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The Phoenix Suns have allowed Mike D'Antoni to talk to both the Bulls and the Knicks. Because they hate him.

The Pistons beat Orlando 91-72 in Game 1 of their second round match-up. Magic fans haven't been embarrassed that badly since David Blaine.

Falcons linebacker Michael Boley was charged with battery. It's the first strong hit an Atlanta linebacker's had in years.

Fred Davis overslept during Redskins minicamp. Davis was unable to wake himself from a wonderful dream in which he played for a contender.

And police pepper sprayed the Chicago Bears Cedric Benson after arresting him. The arrest was for boating under the influence. The pepper spray was for playing for the Bears.

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Ozzie Guillen lashed out at the media and at White Sox fans in a vulgar tirade. The only thing more vulgar than Guillen's tirade is how the White Sox have been playing.

Barry Zito will rejoin the Giants rotation, having not made a single relief appearance. Because he'd probably blow that, too.

Steelers first-round pick Rashard Mendenhall was robbed at gunpoint. The good news is that getting robbed and being treated unfairly will prepare him for life as a Pirates fan.

And a Wisconsin boy who wore a Brett Favre jersey everyday for four straight years has finally taken it off. Too bad – just three years shy of John Madden's record. When asked what he plans to do now, the boy said he might consider having a friend.

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The Nevada Boxing Commission is trying to make fights more exciting – by lowering the glove size from 10 ounces to 8 ounces. If that doesn't work, the next idea is to give ringside seats to Pacman Jones.

Former Georgia Tech QB Joe Hamilton was charged with marijuana possession and hit-and-run. Which was probably more of a hit and drive away very, very slowly.

The Orlando Magic's flight from Detroit to Orlando was diverted because of a mechanical problem. Wow. Even Orlando's plane can't land one.

And New Jersey Nets forward Richard Jefferson was arrested for grabbing a man's neck. Jefferson was livid when the man mistakenly thought he played for the Knicks. Which fits, because the Knicks are used to choking.

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Six harness horses have tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. On the positive side, none of them have had an affair with a 15-year-old country singer.

Video has surfaced of Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis telling Michigan to "go to hell." Considering how well Notre Dame played last year, Weis can give Michigan precise directions.

Chargers star LaDainian Tomlinson has said he plans to retire in five years. Which is strange, because we thought he quit during last year's playoffs.

And the Olympic flame found its way to the top of Mount Everest, where it barely grazed the bottom of Kobe Bryant's ego. In Nepal, a mountain that high is called Sagarmatha. In America, it's called Ricky Williams.

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Sunday, May 04, 2008

Ten Ways To Improve The Game Of Basketball, In Increasing Order Of Entertainment Value

by Klondike, 2007 KankaNation Laetare recipient

#1: Actual Enforcement Of Rules
Yeah, buddy, I'm pretty sure that was a travel right there.

#2: More Creative Enforcement Of Rules
Free shots just don't seem very sporting; every point made should be a point earned. Instead, penalties should result in punitive action. The obvious choice would be to institute a hockey-style penalty box, but there are more creative methods. They could forbid the player from using his arms for thirty seconds, or tie one of his legs to that of a lucky fan.

#3: Style Points
The more flamboyant the shot, the more points that are awarded. First and foremost, after all, the players are here to entertain.

#4: Time-Progressive Penalty Restrictions
The game would start with the normal five-penalty limit per player. As the game progresses, however, less penalties would be acceptable. The last ten minutes of the game could not be played by any player with more than one penalty, and the last two minutes would be limited to those without any.

#5: Height Classes
Apply graduated height limits to the players on the court. Each team needs one player on the court who is less than four feet tall, one less than five, and one less than six and seven feet, respectively. One player's height could be unlimited. If you don't have a playable person for a given class, you can't fill that position on the court.

#6: Larger Courts
We don't really need games with three-digit scores. How about we extend the length of the court a bit? A hundred yards seems like a nice, round, common number.

#7: More Sponsorship Deals
I . . . I just can't get enough. Should I drink the sports drink, or . . . or buy the shoes, or wear the clothes, or . . . or what? I need a basketball player to tell me how to live my life! Somebody, please help me.

#8: That Guy Award
After every game, the fans get to vote on which player was That Guy. This player would then be subjected to something suitably humiliating, like a pie in the face or a wedgie.

#9: Foley Artists
Pretty much every specific action in basketball begs for an attendant sound affect. With Foley artists, slam dunks would actually slam. Swishes would actually swish. Penalties would actually sound like foghorns. Foley artists make everything more entertaining.

#10: Hazards
With a larger court, there would be plenty of room to mix it up a bit. How about a rope-swing/mud-pit splitting the center court? Low-friction, sandy, and sloped areas would also be entertaining, as would wind machines, fog machines, and rogue Syrian hamsters.