Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Weekend in Review

Transactions and Ramblings

  • Remember all of those fahrvergn├╝gen rip-off t-shirts like "farfrompuken"? Why didn't Yonto and former roommate Chris Heck ever get the idea to create "f├╝tonboofen" shirts? Or, one more appropriate for me - "farfromboofen."

  • The other night, I started tossing a "why I hate politics" rant around in my mind, but I got over it.

  • Warning! Do not visit this site if you ever plan on getting anything accomplished at work ever! Every Day Should be Saturday recently started a series on pepidemiology - the study of "pep music." Included are links to FightMusic.com, where you can listen to most NCAA fight songs.

  • Cubs trade LaTroy Hawkins for Jerome Williams and David Aardsma. THe Giants get a good reliever who can serve as a very solid closer until they get Armando Benitez back (and when he does come back, they'll have a deep bullpen to help them challenge for a playoff spot). Williams is a good enough starter to compensate for the North Siders' injury bud. Aardsma is famous for breaking Hank Aaron's record... (wait for it)... for being listed first alphabetically on a list of all-time MLB players.

  • Royals name Buddy Bell manager. GM Allard Baird believe Bell is a good fit with the young ballclub because of his success at a young age as a player (MLB debut at 20; All-Star at 21). Bell was previously a manager for the Tigers and Rockies, and most recently was a member of a great braintrust in Cleveland. Bell served as bench coach for young manager Eric Wedge, while Mike Hargrove worked in the front office between his stints in Baltimore and Seattle.

  • Cavs name Indiana "associate head coach" Mike Brown head coach, and reportedly will make Larry Brown team president. With that news, Indiana VP of basketball David Morway pulls out of the GM race. I like the thought of Mike Brown - a young, untested guy from a successful team - as the new coach. It was Larry Brown himself who leaked the news - alleg-ed-ly - that he's taking the Cavs' job. With that, Morway declined the GM position for fear that he won't have enough say in personnel decisions. Rumors now have that Washington director of player personnel Milt Newton or former Cavs forward Danny Ferry (currently working in the San Antonio front office, I believe) are the new frontrunners for General Manager.

  • Danny Ferry story: when I was playing freshman basketball in high school, we had a kid who was starting to bald and was handed the #35 jersey. Combining those two things, he decided to accept his fate and started comparing himself to Danny Ferry, even emulating his playing style to an extent. I'd laugh, but I was the guy who, when asked to write a paper creating a new folk hero, chose John Crotty and dubbed him the "Left-Handed White Wonder."

  • Indians recall Juan Gonzalez and designate Ryan Ludwick for assignment. What the Indians needed coming into 2005, besides bullpen help, was power from the right side of the plate. Ludwick was the original plan for that power, but the Indians staff couldn't pass up taking a low-risk chance on Gonzalez. Now, they're giving up on (assuming he's claimed off waivers) a 26-year-old power hitter who's only hitting .220 this season in limited playing time for a 35-year-old with 434 career homers. Plus, Gonzalez will have to play outfield, at least against righties, with lefty Travis Hafner anchored at DH. The outcome of this move remains to be seen.

  • Congrats to the ND baseball team. Back-to-back wins in the Big East tourney against Pitt gave them another conference title, and now they're the #3 seed in the Florida regional. Winning a double elimination mini-tournament that starts with North Carolina and includes Florida and Stetson will put them in the super-regionals - one step away from the College World Series.

  • Finally, I'm going to open up the rest of the week for guest columns. Wednesday night I'll be at mini-Kanka's 8th grade graduation, and Thursday and Friday I'll be supporting the Ohio Valley Redcoats. The Redcoats, whose "alumni" include Brendan Donnelly, are without a home this season. They are splitting spring training and home games between Lorain, Marietta, OH, and Lafayette, IN, in hopes that one will become a permanent home next year. Of course, there are certain east coasters who will be rooting for Marietta and Lafayette, because if minor league baseball comes to Lorain, I may never leave.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Miscellaneous Ramblings

  • On Baseball Tonight a couple weeks ago, Peter Gammons that Robbie Alomar once said that John MacDonald was the best shortstop he ever played with. Two thoughts on this: 1. In past years, Gammons has called MacDonald the best defensive player in the AL, and I wouldn't argue too much. Johnny Mac plays every position like it's shortstop, with a great glove and a quick release. Truly fun to watch. But, he couldn't hit to save his life, and the past two years he was a victim of new manager Eric Wedge's reluctance to play his bench. Fortunately, with new life and increased playing time in Toronto, MacDonald is finally hitting - and fielding - well. 2.) The list of shortstops that Alomar has played with includes Omar Vizquel. Now, I'm not going to argue MacDonald vs. Vizquel, but as I said above, even Gammons has in the past alluded to the thought that MacDonald is the better fielder. But here's the thing. Alomar is the kind of guy who didn't have very thick skin and didn't get along with his teammates for a very long period of time (see the mullet picture incident with the Mets a few years back, and the theory that his production took a sharp decline after his first 3 years with each team he played). Omar is a nice guy, but he's not going to put on any airs if you're going to be a jerk (see his autobiography and the death threats from Jose Mesa). So, it's quite possible that there was a falling out there, and Alomar's assessment of MacDonald is part of a larger hissy-fit by Sandy Sr.'s younger son.

  • Who played the better James Lipton, Will Ferrell or Will Sasso? Why has this never been debated anywhere? (Tangent: The random shot of George Plimpton sitting in the audience while the real Lipton was interviewing the cast of The Simpsons has got to be the best moment Bravo has ever experienced. The Bravo network, that is, not Katie Bravo.)

  • Chances are you're reading this on Friday, the day The Longest Yard debuts. For all of you Gary Godsey fans out there, Godsey is playing the body double of this guy during the football scenes. Interestingly enough, this guy is by trade a stunt double, and in fact worked the football scenes in The Waterboy
  • Why all of a sudden is Lloyd Carr doing Cialis and anti-drug commercials?

  • Recently, I made up a chart of the best available KankaMatic free agents, in case I ever need anyone at any position. Well, as you know, my handwriting is terrible. So, I glance over the board one day and see the name Brian Cronk. Good Lord is that a Gammonsesque move by me! Wait, no - turns out it was Milwaukee outfielder Brady Clark.

  • Votes in final NCAA football poll of the year will be made public.

Transaction Wire

  • Bears sign Doug Brien and release Paul Edinger. Edinger basically asked for his walking papers to look for work elsewhere after the signing of Brien. Bad news for Nick Setta - the placekicker job now looks like it's Brien's to lose.

  • Browns look for $2-$3million repayment from Kellen Winslow, Jr. for his idiocy. If Winslow's agents say one word during this whole ordeal, it may be time to send in the homeless people. (Wait, I don't think that story ever made the site itself, just the message board. Well, here it is: we were discussing ideas for ESPN6 programming. My one idea was to have homeless people waiting in the wings of every selfish athlete's (and agent's) interview. The key phrase would be "I gotta feed my family" - at that point, the homeless people would leap out and start beating the crap out of the guy.)

  • Reds designate Danny Graves for assignment. This happened the morning after Graves made an "obscene gesture" to a fan after blowing a save. But, there may be more to the story than this. Even last year, when Graves was leading the league in saves, there were many complaints about his high ERA. Also, about a week before Graves' release, the Reds cut ties with second baseman D'Angelo Jimenez (who has since reported to AA) for being a clubhouse cancer. After high expectations, the Reds have struggled, and maybe they're looking to start over. They could have already been looking to get rid of Graves, and the gesture offered them just that excuse. He'll be back somewhere, though.

  • Indians recall Jody Gerut. Angel Berroa who?

  • Mariners acquire the 42 year old Pat Borders. When I see this, all I can think of is a sideburned, pimp-stached circa 1985 Peter Gammons raving about Borders, Terry Mulholland, and Julio Franco.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

We're Halfway Halfway There

A look at the first 40-ish games of the MLB season

My ballot if the All-Star Game was held today


American League: Jason Varitek. Someone tell this guy that you're supposed to put up career numbers the year before you're due for a new contract. The Red Sox captain is earning his "C" with a .336 average and 9 homers.
National League: Ramon Hernandez edges out Paul LoDuca. Hernandez has the edge in homers, LoDuca in average, so it's a toss up. But it's nice to see Hernandez back to his 2003 form after a rough 2004.

First Base

American League: Mike Sweeney edges Mark Teixeira. Sweeney has a huge edge in average (.327 to .286), and is close in every other category except runs. Of course, if Sweeney didn't play for Kansas City, maybe those numbers would be even. Is it time to start the trade rumors again?
National League: Albert Pujols still can't catch a break. Derrek Lee has stole the show with a .351 average, 12 homers, and 39 RBI (and 8 steals). The experts have known for a while that Lee is a good all-around player, but I don't know if anyone expected this outburst.

Second Base

American League: Brian Roberts. Any doubt? Roberts burst onto the scene early this year, and now is hitting .376 with 11 HR. He had signs of being good, and with the trade of Baltimore's other second baseman, Jerry Hairston, he finally was given a chance to prove it. And my has he proved it so far.
National League: Two guys that you may have cast aside as washed up are ruling the position. Craig Biggio is back to being the Craig Biggio of old. But, Jeff Kent's performace for the Dodgers gets him the nod.

Third Base

American League: Alex Rodriguez. Crap, the tough transition is over. Moving on.
National League: Two more mini-comeback stories here. Many people thought Troy Glaus was done, or at best he would have to become a first baseman or DH. But he's having a fine season in the desert with 12 HR's. Meanwhile, Chipper Jones has returned to third and is flourishing. Jones is hitting .339. It's a toss-up, but I'll go with Glaus. With his health, he won't have as many chances to have any more all-star quality years as Jones will.


American League: Miguel Tejada. Now that he's settled in in Baltimore, he's back to his MVP form, and is outperforming most corner infielders. Tejada is hitting .328 with 11 homers and 40 RBI.
National League: Clint Barmes, but it's closer than you thing. Barmes came out like gangbusters this year, and he hasn't cooled off too much yet. Once above .400, he's now "only" hitting .341 with 7 homers. Barmes edges out brilliant glove man Cesar Izturis has seen his average rise to .346. Izturis definitely has a bright career ahead of him; I'll give Barmes his turn in the spotlight just in case this is the only one he gets.


American League: Johnny Damon, perhaps the most un-fundamentally sound guy in the league, is hitting .362. Ichiro! is hitting .322 with 14 steals. Vlad Guerrero's .303 and 7 homers beats out Gary Sheffield's .315 and 6, just because Vlad is all-around fun to watch.
National League: Miguel Cabrera may not be the best defensive outfielder, but when you're hitting .375 with 9 homers, people will tend to make exceptions for you. Bobby Abreu may have officially taken over Brian Giles' position as most underrated guy in the majors. He's hitting .331 with 12 homers. Finally, here's a guy that will probably surpise you. Brewers center fielder Brady Clark is hitting .332 with 6 homers and 34 runs scored. Yeah, Milton Bradley is having a great year, again hitting for a high average (.323) and showing show pop for the first time (10 HR), but I like underdogs like Clark, especially when they're not prone to hissy-fits.

Designated Hitter

American League: Yeah, it is unfairly an AL-only position on the ballot. A very close race here nonetheless. I'll give this one to another great comeback story, Shea Hillenbrand. Cast off for being too much of a free swinger, Hillenbrand is once again hitting for a very high average - .343 (even without the walks, an average like that still gives you a pretty nice OBP). David Ortiz and his 10 HR and 30 RBI are likely to get quite a few votes. In a close third (in my book, at least) is on-base machine David Dellucci, who has flourished since moving to the leadoff spot earlier this season.

Starting Pitcher

American League: OK, I also know pitchers aren't on the ballot, but I thought I'd throw a few out there. Jon Garland is the talk of the South Side, starting 8-1 with an ERA of 2.57. Roy Halladay has returned to Cy Young form, going 7-2 with a 2.84 ERA. Finally, my Gammonsesque selection is Erik Bedard, a man I considered not mentioning here in case I ever wanted to pick him for my fantasy team. Bedard has started the season 5-1 with an ERA of 2.08.
National League: Dontrelle Willis and Josh Beckett have been the Marlins' 1-2 punch so far, combining for a record of 14-4. Willis has an invisible 1.55 ERA, which almost make's Beckett's 2.47 seem gaudy. Brett Myers and Jake Peavy are pacing the NL with 71 strikeouts each. Myers has an ERA of 1.88, while Peavy has started the year 4-0.

Relief Pitcher

American League: Baltimore has been very successful this year, and part of that was due to placing BJ Ryan in the closer's role. Ryan has 12 saves and an ERA of 1.50. Meanwhile, the AL's other very successful team has found a surprise closer in Dustin Hermanson, who has 10 saves and an ERA of 0.00. You can't do any better than that. Honorable mention goes to Scot Shields of Anaheim (LA?), who has been the Octavio Dotel to Frankie Rodriguez's Billy Wagner so far. With K-Rod's injury, Shields will be moving his 1.09 ERA into the closer's role.
National League: Danny Kolb! What? No! Of course, Kolb is still near the top when it comes to saves. But this year's all-stars are the very underrated Jason Isringhausen (12 saves, 0.63 ERA), and the surprise out of Washington, Chad Cordero (10 saves, 0.95 ERA). Very honorable mention goes to Brandon Lyon's 13 saves and Derrick Turnbow's 6 save performance in Milwaukee so far.

Indians Review

Catcher Victor Martinez is a notorious slow starter, but I don't know if this year's performance can be considered a "slow start" any more. Martinez is hitting "on the interstate," .191 with two homers. (Or, as it was put the other day, only one more than CC Sabathia.) He's bound to break out of this funk sooner or later.

First baseman Ben Broussard has been quietly solid once again. .270 with 3 homers and 18 RBI doesn't look like much, but it's exactly what we need out of this guy. And, you can't put a number on "clutch."

Second baseman Ron Belliard got off to a bit of a slow start. There was a time when it was either home run or bust. He's since broken out of that, and is now up to .280 with 6 homers, which ties him for the team lead.

A lot has been said about Aaron Boone's .159 average. But, I'll go out on a limb and say his defense has made up for it. Case in point: Last night, the Indians were holding on to a 1-0 lead when then Twins had runners on second and third with two outs. Boone stops a hot grounder and makes the play, saving two runs, and eventually the game, as the final was 2-1 Tribe.

A lot was made of the Indians' loss of their 1-2 hitters or "table setters." One of those table setters was Omar Vizquel. Omar is having a fine year in San Francisco. His replacement, Jhonny Peralta, meanwhile, got off to a slow start. He made errors in each of his first few games, and wasn't hitting worth anything. But he's since settled down. He's no Omar defensively, but he's solid. And he's now hitting .260 with 6 homers, a good sign of the kind of hitter he's going to be.

Like Boone at third, the outfield has been brilliant defensively. Coco Crisp, a converted secondbaseman (explaining his lack of arm strength), can flat out cover a lot of ground in center. Move him to left to make room for Grady Sizemore, and you're not going to see a lot of balls hitting the grass. Casey Blake, who had been asked during the offseason to move to first, then second, then left, then finally right, agreed unselfishly. You can tell right field is new for him, but he definitely has the arm for it, as teams are quickly learning. Crisp was hitting .283 before a thumb injury sidelined him for the coming 3 months. Sizemore is hitting .273 with 18 RBI, showing hints of the solid run producer he's turning into. Plus, you have to love his hustle. Blake has struggled at the plate after the position change, finally getting his average over the Mendoza line this past week. But, his patience at the plate has made him a staple at the top of the lineup.

The Pronk, DH Travis Hafner, got off to a slow start, then predictably got uberhot against the Angels. Hafner is up to .271 with 5 homers and 20 runs scored. His power to center field reminds me a little bit of another lefty farm boy the Indians used to have, but I won't make those comparisons just yet. You do have to love the way this guy hustles his butt off as he chugs around the bases, though.

If you turn to the bench, you'll only see more defense. Jody Gerut is back from injury, replacing Coco in the lineup. In 5 games back, he's hitting .429, and he's always a joy to watch in the field. If you watch the heady Alex Cora play second or short, you wonder why this guy would ever agree to be a backup instead of looking for a place to start. Of course, his .238 average could have something to do with that. Jose Hernandez has played wherever he's been asked to, and played well.

The starters have been up and down this year. I've seen a lot of great starts turn into 2-1 losses thanks to the struggling offense. I've also seen an ugly start or two, but that's expected with a young rotation. CC Sabathia was injured to start the year, but has been decent since he came back, 3-3 with an ERA of 3.48. Plus, did you see that home run? The big guy has a big stride, but otherwise he's got a great power stroke. Jake Westbrook has been up and down this year, but probably better than his 1-7 record and 5.80 suggests. He has had more than a few bad starts (in fact, it seems like half of them have been in the ugly category), but he's also lost his share of 2-1 games. This will happen when your ace (Sabathia) goes down and you have to move up to the #1 spot to face everyone else's ace. New acquisition Kevin Millwood has been another tough luck loser. His ERA is 3.31, pretty good for an AL starter, but his 1-4 record suggests otherwise. Clifford Lee, meanwhile, is back on track, with a record of 5-2 and an ERA of 3.69.

The bullpen has been nothing short of spectacular. It's a complete 180 from last year - they're now tops in the AL in bullpen ERA. Pirate fans are calling the Matt Lawton for Arthur Rhodes deal a steal, but no one in Cleveland is complaining about Rhodes' 0.87 ERA. Closer Bob Wickman, who always makes things "interesting," is one of only two relievers with an ERA over 3, and that high number is mostly due to one bad outing - his first of the year. Four guys have an ERA under 2, including Rhodes and Matt Miller, who actually had to be sent down to AAA to make room for Sabathia - at a time when Miller's ERA was 0. So yeah, it's basically a game of waiting for the hitting to catch up with the pen. But it is nice for Eric Wedge to know that he can his starter out in the 6th when he starts to tire, instead of leaving him in when runs are at an absolute premium for this team.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Googling Google

I may be letting gimmicks pull the train, but today I decided to forgo a normal column in favor of some Google-related fun.

GoogleWhack: The challenge of finding a pair of words that will return one - and only one - Google result.

rorriM elgooG: (Google Mirror). The site's backwards; the words you look for also get turned around. Not very useful, but amusing once or twice.

Google Video: Google's latest pet project. For now, they're only chronicling transcripts and screenshots of a few major TV channels, but eventually they also hope to add the recorded streaming video. Think of it as TiGoogleVo. (Wow, this really blows are NDTiVo project out of the water.)

GoogleFight: Like GoogleWar, but with Flash stickman graphics. Looks like Klondike still can't beat his booze habit.

Omnipelagos: As noticed by Klondike. May or may not use Google, but fun anyways. My booze connection.

TouchGraph GoogleBrowser: Draws a map of sites that Google feels are related. Try it with kankasports.blogspot.com, and you'll notice some familiar web friends.

Keyhole: You've seen it on the news. Technically, you've seen it if you've ever used Google Maps in "satellite" mode (it uses the same maps). But, if you sign up for a free 7 day trial, you can do all the zooming animations just like on the TV!

Google Cartography Applet: Kind of a combination of the last two links - it "maps" the streets around your area

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Cleveland Cavs Head Coach and GM Search

Head Coach

Paul Silas

The Upside: Not much - he's already been fired. He was an overachieving winner as a player, and considered a player's coach at first.
The Downside: This "player's coach" got into well publicized arguments with Eric Snow (a misunderstanding, but Silas never showed much remorse afterwards) and Jeff McInnis (signs point to this being McInnis' fault). Nowadays, everyone is saying that Silas gave Dan Gilbert no choice but to fire him. Silas didn't agree with Jim Paxson (Jiri Welsch being Paxson's answer to Silas' constant asking for an outside shooter being the last straw), and definitely didn't agree with Gilbert's new team. Also, Silas was never much of an X's and O's guy, even though he was smart enough to swallow his pride and hire an assistant who was good at X's and O's - something that many coaches in many sports are to arrogantly stubborn to do.

Brendan Malone

The Upside: Malone, the Cavs interim coach at the end of the season, does have past head coaching experience with Toronto, and of course is familiar with the Cavaliers.
The Downside: Gilbert has already said that Malone won't be considered as a candidate.

Eric Musselman

The Upside: Musselman, whose father Bill used to coach the Cavs (here we go again...) is a native of the Cleveland area, and has former head coaching experience.
The Downside: I've always been a little wary about hiring a guy who has shown no signs of success elsewhere instead of giving someone new a try. Also, Musselman, a former Magic assistant, is rumored to be up for the Orlando job.

Flip Saunders

The Upside: Another native of the Cleveland area, Saunders was 411-326 with the Timberwolves.
The Downside: Some may consider him a "can't win the big one" type. His downfall in Minnesota, where he finished 1 game under .500 this year, I attribute more to the cancers - I mean players - than his coaching.

Mo Cheeks

The Upside: Cheeks got a bad rap in Portland thanks to players that aren't exactly angels, but he is an NBA-quality coach. Also a good guy (see the incident where he guided a stagefrightened 13 year old girl through the National Anthem by singing along, despite lack of vocal talent), Cheeks had a .538 winning percentage with the Blazers.
The Downside: You know what, I was a little skeptical at first. But, now that I've done a little research, I don't see much downside to this 4-time all star.

Bill Laimbeer

The Upside: Laimbeer has been named by the media as a possible candidate due to his and Gilbert's common Detroit ties. Hey, I'd gladly let a man who owes all he is to Notre Dame and the beer at CJ's be my next head coach.
The Downside: Anything about Laimbeer so far has been media speculation. Confusing many of the meatheads out there, Laimbeer says he's happy in the WNBA.

Dru Joyce II

The Upside: LeBron's high school coach, he could follow in the footsteps of Maverick Carter in a "LeBron hooks up his buddies big time" binge.
The Downside: He's only a high school coach - even if St Vincent-St Mary could probably beat a few D-I mid-majors in any given year.

LeBron James

The Upside: I'm surprised no one in the media has mentioned this yet - they seem to think that LeBron is spoiled and/or should be spoiled as much as possible. Besides, this wouldn't be the first time Cleveland had a player-coach.
The Downside: I'll make the token "ball-less Cleveland sports personality" move here and avoid saying bad things about LeBron for fear that he'll leave.

Lenny Wilkens

The Upside: Speaking of Cleveland player-coaches... Wilkens was perhaps the most popular and most successful coach in Cavaliers history.
The Downside: Lenny retired after a weak showing with the Knicks.

No One

A lockout is looming. I'm dreading the thought that years of LeBron's prime are being taken away from me - years I'll never have back. Oh... wait... nevermind.

General Manager

Jim Paxson

The Upside: An ND grad, he almost built a playoff team this year. He's also related to a successful GM.
The Downside: See above about the Jiri Welsch thing. Even before that, Paxson wasn't considered a good GM. The timing seemed bad, but as with Silas, this team needed to improve at this position if they ever wanted to step up to the next level.

David Morway

The Upside: The former agent and current senior VP of basketball operations in Indiana is said to have a great understanding of salary cap management. Plus, the Pacers are a pretty decent team right now.
The Downside: Some would say that being in the same position for 7 years without "moving up" to GM may be a bad sign. His ties (more or less) to Stephen Jackson and Ron Artest may or may not show that character (or lack thereof) isn't an issue - whether those decisions are his or not.

Rick Sund

The Upside: The current Seattle GM, whose contract is up at the end of this year, has turned the Sonics into a winning team again. Plus, he knows a thing or two about outside shooters and may or may not have the pull to bring Ray Allen with him.
The Downside: If you have a winning team, why leave it?

Ed Stefanski

The Upside: Stefanski, current GM of the Nets, only became GM after last year, so he may not be responsible for the massive firesale they had going into this year. A former scout, he's also said to be a great talent evaluator.
The Downside: I'm too lazy to do research, so maybe Stefanski did start the firesale.

Grant Innocenzi

The Upside: St Vincent-St Mary Athletic Director. See above.
The Downside: I don't care how many times you're on ESPN, and how much your tickets are - high school AD isn't NBA GM.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The Weekend in Review

Good ol' Fashioned Ramblings Edition

  • I recently saw Brett Favre in a Sensodyne commercial. Sensodyne, as you probably know, is a pain relieving toothpaste. Now, wait a minute, isn't this guy recovering from a huge painkiller addiction? Shouldn't his agent be advising him not to do these types of commercials?

  • Have you ever seen less impressive Web Gems than those turned in by Derek Jeter or Ken Griffey, Jr.? OK, I take that back - partially. Griffey has made some nice at-the-wall catches in his time, but he's historically known for taking a loafing route to a ball and then unneccessarily diving just to make the highlight reel. (Mini-tangent: in the mid-90s, it was said that the reason why Griffey made so many more "great" diving catches than Kenny Lofton was because Lofton's speed got him easily to balls Griffey had to dive for.) But I have not seen one highlight of Jeter that has amazed me. That little jump-throw? OK, he's reasonably smart to use it to make up for his lack of arm strength, but I wouldn't call it an amazing play. Give me a guy who can stop on a dime, plant, and fire a seed any day. And, for once, give me a shortstop who makes the highlight reel for a jaw-dropping play, not for the uniform he wears.

  • A random realization I came to today: Klondike works primarily with a programming language called C# - pronounced "C sharp." Now, while coding, do you think he ever has flashbacks of Larry Dwyer saying, "C# grr grr grr second position!"

  • I had a whizzinator joke to go here, but it's probably old already.

  • While we're on the subject of old news, I was also going to give a Dave Chappelle update. It appears that the combination of stress (living up to expectations?) and creative differences caused Dave to flee to South Africa for a week or so, but he did not check into a mental facility while there. Chappelle is now back in the states, but I couldn't find an update on the start of season 3. The season 2 DVD will still be released as scheduled, however.

  • If someone ever asked you to explain what a herky-jerky baseball windup is, just point them to the Angels' bullpen (you can, of course, also include former Angel and current Red Ben Weber). Even starter Paul Byrd, while not herky-jerky, has a "full" windup, bringing his hands behind his back as he winds. This was very popular pre-1960, but otherwise unseen today. Do these unusual styles come from pitching coach Bud Black? Black pitched for the Indians while I was growing up, so I think I would have remembered (and tried to immitate) that. In all honesty, the Angels should just give up and sign Hideo Nomo.

  • Congratulations to 1964 Heisman Trophy winner John Huarte, who will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, in a class that includes former Bowling Green (not a state) and West Virginia coach Don Nehlen and <> Mark May.

  • While Huarte is being inducted, Alan Page will receive the National Football Foundation/College Hall of Fame Distinguished American award. This award is not handed out every year; Page is the 34th recipient since the award began in 1966. From UND.com:

    Established in 1966 and presented on special occasions when a truly deserving individual emerges, the award honors someone who has applied the character building attributes learned from amateur sport in their business and personal life, exhibiting superior leadership qualities in education, amateur athletics, business and in the community.

    Page, now a justice for the Minnesota Supreme Court, founded the Page Education Foundation, which encourages minorities to continue on to higher education.

  • Finally, here's a nice blurb on the mini-resurrection of Aaron Heilman's career.

Transaction Wire

  • Bears sign kicker Doug Brien. Bad news for Nick Setta - if Brien's signing doesn't end the open competition for Chicago's place kicker position, it only adds to the increasingly long list of Setta's competition for the spot. As a guess, I would say that puts them up to about 7 or 8 people who will be trying out for place kicker. Setta has not shown a strong leg on kickoffs in NFL Europe, and I'm wondering if that will cost him at all.

  • Dolphins sign Abram Elam. Related story here.

  • Mets option Victor Diaz to AAA. Klondike taking Diaz in the fantasy draft has been the Gammonsesque move of the year so far. If the former Alaskan doesn't start paying attention to turning in lineups, his offense is in for huge trouble.

  • Cubs sign Enrique Wilson. Wow, when it comes to the Cubs signing random middle infielders, you just can't make some stuff up. The Transaction Oracle says that moves like this - and optioning promising SS Ronny Cedeno to make room for Wilson - have made Cubs fans frustrated with Dusty Baker. Mike (and Brittany), your thoughts?

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

A quick look at the 2005 Lorain Sports Hall of Fame Banquet

  • Once again, the Master of Ceremonies was unfortunately Joe Tait. Now, why would it be unfortunate that the Cavs' radio announcer, a man with a very distinct and memorable way of calling a basketball game, be the master of ceremonies? Well, because MC of this banquet is his job every year, except when he's on the road with the Cavs during the playoffs. Ah, maybe next year....

  • Tait was introduced by the mayor of Lorain. As he was introducing Tait, the mayor said a thing or two about a few of the inductees. For the one, a long-retired football line coach, the mayor said, "If he was still a coach, we wouldn't have a problem with all the violence in the city schools!" What a great thing to hear from your mayor.

  • The keynote speaker was Brian Brennan, formerly a receiver for BC and the Browns. He retired in 1991, and my dad noticed that he isn't much bigger than me, but he still looked like he could beat everyone in the room (including the high school seniors up for scholarships) in a sprint.

  • Now, Brian Brennan was one of my favorite athletes growing up, but it's surprising I still like him today. He started with a Slovak joke ("I asked so and so if I could tell ethnic jokes. He said, 'OK, but remember - I'm Slovak.' So I said, 'OK, I'll tell them Slow-ly.'") and it was all downhill from there. Sure, the speech was very good. But, as we soon found out, he only went to BC because Dan Devine's staff thought he was too small. No wonder the students tarred and feathered Devine's house. (And don't blame Joe Yonto - remember that he's the one that brought in a 6'0" 145 pounder named Theisman to play QB.) Apparently, "Notre Dame Bashing" is a required course of study at BC, as Brennan's 10-minute speech featured no less than 4 ND references. (A 'highlight': "Coach Marty Schottenheimer was a devout Catholic, and he used to make a player lead the Our Father before each game. One time, I [Brennan] was in the back with Bob Golic. Golic goes, 'I bet you five bucks that he doesn't know the words to the Our Father.' So I say, 'You're on.' Coach picks a guy, and he starts 'As I lay me down to sleep....' [laughter] So then Bob turns to me and says, 'Well, I guess I owe you five bucks.'")

  • The speeches were decent. Olympic sailor and former Indiana U tackle Phil Trinter, absent due to a competition in Greece, turned in a professionally done acceptance video (a first to my knowledge, but then again this is only the third banquet I've been to). Then, we got to the aforementioned old line coach. He proceeded to ramble on for a full 20 minutes about anything and everything - my dad joked that he had one page of notes for every year they didn't vote him in to the hall of fame. He obviously had his hearing aid off, or else he would have heard the groans every time he paused - seemingly done - then started again. He did throw in Grantland Rice's Four Horseman quote at the end, so that was nice.

  • The last speech went to the coach of the inductees for this year's team category. This year, the team was the 1967 Lorain St. Mary's (the forerunner to Lorain Catholic) Fighting Irish football team, and the coach was Tim Rose. Rose was my dad's gym teacher in high school, and I've heard stories about how much of a tough disciplinarian the guy is. It's obviously paid off for him, as he's the current defensive coordinator for Toledo, after stints as head coach at Miami U in the '80s and defensive coordinator at schools that include Minnesota and Boston College. And boy could this guy talk. All he did was list off the name, current hometown, and high school position of the former team members in attendance, but even then I wanted to get up and smack someone for the guy. Now there's a coach.

Well, that's all I got. Probably not as good as it was hyped, but oh well. Some time soon, look for a writeup on the Cavs' coaching search. Also, don't forget that baseball lineups are again due this Friday.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Weekend in Review

A few quick hits

Miscellaneous Ramblings

  • Megan Duffy has been selected to try out for the US National Team that would compete this summer at the World University Games, and the Under-19 World Championships. Duffy is also expected to be a leading candidate for the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award that goes to the best senior 5'8" or shorter. This award went to Niele Ivey following Notre Dame's championship season.

  • On the heels of Rickey Henderson being signed by an independent minor league team out of San Deigo, Harold Reynolds shared his favorite Rickey story on Monday night's "Baseball Tonight." Harold Reynolds won the AL stolen base championship with 60 in 1987. "HR" is the only person not named Rickey Henderson to own an AL SB title from the 80s (Rickey only played in 95 games that year, and still had 41 steals). Following the season, Reynolds, who had never really talked to Henderson before, got this phone call:
    "Yeah, who is this?"
    "Oh, hey Rick."
    "60?! Rickey had 60 at the All Star Break!"

  • Let me tell you something - I would not want to be Bob Wickman's manager. (Wickman, of course, is the Indians' closer.) One night, with a two run lead in the 9th and a runner on second, Wickman intentionally balked (yeah, you read that right) the runner to third. Why? So he couldn't tip pitches, of course. (In other words, the runner on second couldn't read the catcher's signs and relay them to the batter.) Of course, Wickman proceeded to walk that batter and let him steal second, but he won anyways. A few days later, Wickman had a one run lead with one out in the night. After giving up two singles, he got a popup for the second out. Then, he proceeded to pitch around and walk the lefty at the plate - moving the tying run to third and winning run to second! - just because he preferred to face the righty that followed. He got the job done, but his save opportunities have never been for the faint of heart.

Transaction Wire

  • What would a mention of Rickey be without a mention of John Olerud? Sure enough, that guy who wears a helmet in the field signed a minor league deal with the Red Sox last week.

  • Giants claim Tim Hasselbeck off waivers. Cue up the search hits for wife Elizabeth Hasselbeck. And really, with Hasselbeck, Eli Manning, and Jesse Palmer, could the Giants have more borderline celebrities at the QB position?

  • LeBron has fired his agents, the Goodwin brothers. It is rumored that he will name high school friend Maverick Carter, currently a consultant with Nike, will become his new agent. It is also rumored that Def Jam Recordings and Russell Simmons will somehow sign a deal with James.

  • After being "turned down" by Phil Jackson, the reported favorites for the Cavs coaching job are Eric Musselman, formerly of Golden State, and Flip Saunders. Both Musselman and Saunders are local products.

  • Joe Torre, Brian Cashman, and Jason Giambi reportedly will meet to discuss sending Giambi to AAA Columbus. Speaking of Cashman, I sorely missed the Brian Cashman Face during last week's Kentucky Derby. It just needed to be there.

A look back at the Lorain Sports Hall of Fame Banquet later this week.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Sightings/Alumni Updates and Ramblings

by Ellen Fitzgerald, KankaNation Feature Writer

Saturday my dad was at the Meadowlands working a soccer game. Since it was at Giants' Stadium, and my dad cares little to none about MLS, he instead decided to invade the Giants Rookie Camp. He chased down Tuck, Grant, and Lovecchio all who he said claimed to remember me from out mutual experience on the Bob Davie Farewell Tour of 2001. We survivors must stick together. I think when my dad retires from teaching after this school year we should hire him as a roving reporter.

There was a severe lack of TV on Saturday Evening (yes I was a loser and at home alone) so I decided to watch an NFL Europe game on the NFL network (great channel) and low and behold is Nick Setta kicking for the Rhein team. It was very exciting.

On a side note, my mom got very fired up about Kanka this weekend. When I was explaining to her that Dave was meeting a friend (Doug) after he got off the train Saturday night she screams "Kanka???". And I was like "Mom, he lives in Ohio" She said she knew but she was hoping. That then started a conversation about the whole Katricak Clan because she wanted to know all about "the little Kankas" (and you wonder where I get it from) which included imperinations of Harry Dog and discussions of how cute Mini Kanka is and my mom saying that the Katricaks are like "One Big Kanka Sandwich" Because it is Kanka, two sisters, and then a mini Kanka. (Once again, wondering where I get it from?)

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Miscellaneous Ramblings

Some Quick Hits as I prepare for the Lorain Sports Hall of Fame Banquet

  • Someone is definitely toying with my emotions in this whole Kellen Winslow situation. First, he's drafted by the Browns, while my scream of "YOU IDIOTS!" at my handheld radio is muffled by my brother mowing the grass. Then, he's injured in game 2, and I don't have to put up with him for the rest of the season. But, he's back for 2005 with much fanfare... only to get hurt on Sunday when he crashed a motorcycle in a parking lot. At first I was happy, but then I felt guilty when I read "internal injuries" and "don't believe they are life threatening" (but not ruling out that they are). But, it appears he's relatively OK. Now, I can laugh because not even the Postons could get the standard "don't do stupid stuff like ride a motorcycle" clause out of his contract, and he may be out $44mil. To add to that, he may once again be out of the season. Am I a jerk for being happy about this? No. He's not seriously injured, and he already has enough money to last him the rest of his life. Should I feel sorry that he's hurt and can't play in the NFL this season? Why? Should the entire country feel sorry for me that I can't play in the NFL this season because I'm small, slow, and sucky?

  • I brought this up at Blue & Gold Weekend, but never mentioned it here. I suggest that we form a consultancy agency that advises kids as to whether or not they should leave college early to enter a pro draft. How will we make our decisions? It's called the "Never Heard of Him Method." First, you take a group of people very similar to KankaNation - we have people who are very into all sports, people who are into some sports but maybe not the sport in question, and people who maybe aren't so familiar with recognizing current athletes by name. A college athlete comes into our agency and asks for advice on going pro. An advisor takes this athlete's name and mentions to each of the members of the panel. After talking to each member of the panel, the advisor returns to the athlete and tells him the amount of people who replied, "Never heard of him." (And thus, the title: the "Never Heard of Him Method.") The athlete can then take this information and do with it as he likes, or ask the advisor for further help based on the statistics. With the right mix of people on the panel, and the right amount of past data, I believe the "Never Heard of Him" method would be a very effective indicator of whether an underclassman should try to go pro.

  • Oh, the poor Yankees! They had to call up a second baseman from AAA! (Wait, they still have a farm system?) East Coast bias! The Indians played four leadoff men in four days (Crisp, Belliard, Sizemore, and Alex Cora), and is there one mention of that on ESPN? I know you're based in Connecticut, but this isn't a little cable access show!

  • Flying in completely under the radar, the Bucs signed Carlos Campbell this past week. Insert your own NDNation-esque rant about Jon Gruden and realizing Campbell's return potential here.

  • Finally, in case you missed it (and you probably did, since it wasn't on TV and it is finals week), the Detroit Shock and Indiana Fever played an exhibition game at the Joyce Center Tuesday night. Ruth Riley had 12 points on 5-14 shooting in a 81-73 loss for the Shock, while old teammate turned new teammate Niele Ivey was scoreless in 13 minutes. Ruth had a bit more luck on ESPN's Bowling Night, where a 137 in her first game was likely the single-game high for the 4 women in the tournament.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

ND Alumni in Pro Baseball Update

Aaron Heilman, New York Mets: In his third year in the Bigs, Heilman is 2-2 with an ERA of 4.65 in 5 starts, including one complete game shutout.

Brad Lidge, Houston Astros: A brilliant setup man, Lidge was thrust into the closer role in 2004 with the trades of Billy Wagner and Octavio Dotel. He responded by setting a new record for strikeouts by a reliever and almost singlehandedly keeping Houston in the NLCS. This year Lidge is 5 for 5 in saves with an ERA of 0.93 and 16 K's in 9.2 IP.

Brant Ust, Wilmington Blue Rocks (Red Sox High A): After reaching the AAA level in the Tigers organization, Ust signed a free agent contract with the Blue Rocks, where he is hitting .122 in 14 games this year.

Brian Stavisky, Midland RockHounds (A's AA): Stavisky has taken his promotion from A ball well, hitting .295 and slugging .449 this season.

Chris Michalak, ??? (Blue Jays): The Joliet native, who prepared for his first MLB start by watching Rudy, is currently in the Toronto organization.

Chris Niesel, Lake County Captains (Indians Mid-Level A): Lake County is a great place to start for a 2004 pick. Niesel is 2-1 in 5 starts with an ERA of 5.55.

Christian Parker, Tulsa Drillers (Rockies AA): Parker, who has made one career MLB start is 1-1 with an ERA of 1.09 in 5 starts.

Craig Counsell, Arizona Diamondbacks: The perennial postseason hero is hitting .274 this year as the starting second baseman for the Diamondbacks.

Danny Tamayo, Omaha Royals (Royals AAA): Considered a great prospect in the Royals organization, Tamayo has started the year 1-2 with an ERA of 4.32.

Grant Johnson, Mesa Cubs? (Cubs Rookie League)

Javy Sanchez, Beloit Snappers (Twins Mid-Level A): A 2004 draftee, Sanchez is hitting .244 for Beloit this season.

JP Gagne, Tri City Dust Devils (Rockies Mid-Level A)

Matt Macri, Modesto Nuts (Rockies High A): Drafted out of high schoolby the Twins the same year as Joe Mauer (and the same year they passed on Mark Prior for money reasons), Marcri instead went to ND, where the much-vaunted prospect had an up and down career. He's apparently gotten it back on track, as he hit .284 in his first 25 pro grames.

Paul O'Toole, West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx (Cubs AA): One of 3 catchers carried by the Cubs' AA affiliate, O'Toole is hitting 0.59 in 34 at bats this year.

Ryan Kalita, ? (Cubs)

Steve Sollman, Brevard County Manatees (Brewers High A): Sollman takes home the honor of having the highest placement of any of the 2004 picks. The second baseman is hitting .235 through 23 games.

Steve Stanley, Midland RockHounds (A's AA): After hitting .432 in AA last year (one of the highest, if not the highest average in all of AA baseball last year), Stanley had a cup of coffee with Oakland's AAA club, but couldn't crack the Mendoza line. Back in AA, Stanley is hitting .265 after a bit of a slow start. (Interesting aside: I was in a bookstore a couple weeks ago, and thumbed through Moneyball just look for Stavisky and Stanley references. At the time he was drafted, Billy Beane thought that Stanley was already a better all-around center fielder than Terrence Long.)