Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Get Well Soon, Peter Gammons

I was planning on writing another "Transaction Wire" column today, but it just didn't seem right. Not before mentioning the king of the trade rumor, the only man who knows more obscure prospect names than I do, Peter Gammons. Gammons was found to have a brain aneurysm on Tuesday. He's since had surgery, which went well. Gammons is currently listed in good condition, but will be in the Intensive Care Unit for the next 10-12 days.
Like fellow J.G. Taylor Spink Award recipient Hal Lebovitz, Gammons reminds fans of a bygone time when sportswriters were basically positive individuals. In this day and age, anyone with a keyboard can disparage anyone else. People cut from their high school baseball team make up for it by criticizing the motives and moves of professional athletes and teams. Not so with Gammons. He looks at the game of baseball with a childlike passion and optimism. Every utility infielder from Class A Palookaville has all the potential in the world. People like Gammons and Lebovitz don't need "secret inside sources," because they've earned the trust of players and general managers. They don't need to write shock pieces to draw readership, because their informative, truthful, quality writing builds its own fan base. This is by no means an obituary for Gammons, as I know his passion and optimism will help him pull through. Instead, this is a tribute to a class act.
For the latest news on Gammons, I would trust his employer, ESPN. If you'd like to leave a comment for Gammons, as so many have already, you can do so here. My fellow Gammons fanatics at Deadspin have a nice feature on him as well.
Finally, I'll leave you with a quote from Gammons' Spink Award acceptance speech. It's good advice for everyone, not just sportswriters.

Throughout my career I have tried to be guided by one principle, that because I am human I have the right to like people. But because I am professional, I have no right to dislike any one.

EDSBS Round Table

Every Day Should Be Saturday took a turn with some Round Table questions. Even though I'm not a blogpoller, I still decided to throw my two cents in. Here goes.

1. Education. List the region of the country you were born in, what universities you attended and at least one other you would have attended if your alma mater didn’t exist.

Born and raised in Ohio - Cleveland area.

BS in Computer Engineering from Notre Dame - thus explaining all the bells and whistles (and lack of artistic eye) on my site. Supposedly doing some grad school work at Ohio U in the near future.

If Notre Dame didn't exist? I looked at Kettering and the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Cleveland State is my dad's alma matter. There are also the local options - Case Western, and the Jesuit school John Carroll.

2. Sports Affiliations. List your top 10 favorite teams in all of sports in decending order. For instance, your alma mater’s football team may be number 1, but perhaps there is a professional team that squeezes in before you get to your alma mater’s lacrosse team.

1. Notre Dame football
2. Cleveland Indians
3. Cleveland Browns
4. Notre Dame women's basketball
5. Notre Dame baseball
6. Cleveland Cavaliers
7. Notre Dame men's basketball
8. Any team that wears USA across their chest
9. Any team that wears IRISH across their chest
10. The underdog

3. Movies. List the movie you’ve watched the most, your favorite sports related movie, the movie you secretly love but don’t like to admit it (possibly a chick flick or b film), and the movie you were (or still are) most looking forward to from this summer’s season.

Most: I watch Rudy every time it's on TBS. But it would probably be something that goes back to my childhood: The Wizard of Oz, The Sound of Music (yeah, I said it), or the Adam West-era Batman.

Favorite Sports Movie: I'll be cliche: Rudy. But, if you play recreational baseball or softball in the Cleveland area, you develop a deep apprecation for Major League and Major League II. Field of Dreams is up there, too.

Secretly Love: 10 Things I Hate About You

4. Music. List your favorite band from middle school, high school, college and today. Also, as with the movies, include the song you secretly love but don’t like to admit. If Nickleback is involved in any of these responses, please give a detailed explanation as to why, god, why.

Middle School: The Monkees - I grew up watching reruns of the show.

High School: When you're 17, and the girl you like is a huge Beatles fan, you start digging through your parents' record collection for their Beatles albums.

College: I would have to define this as my Snoop/Dre phase.

Today: Um, I don't know. I'm all over the place. Should I try to sound classy and mention my new Thelonious Monk/John Coltrane CD?

Secretly Love: Anything by Kelly Clarkson. It's good music. Kelly is "attainable hot," and I may or may not have a thing for passionate women.

5. Books. Favorite book you’ve finished, worst book you’ve finished and the book you really should read but haven’t gotten around to it.

Favorite Book: Kurt Vonnegut is my favorite author. I'd have to go obscure and pick Player Piano, the story of an engineer who decides to give up the business and move to a farm in the middle of nowhere. Sounds like a great idea.

Worst Book I've Finished: If a book is that bad, I just won't finish it. I will admit that I struggled through the first half of Catch-22 until I realized that it was being intentionally absurd. From that point on I couldn't put it down.

Should Read: I didn't finish any book I was assigned in 12th grade. The Great Gatsby, what I read of it, was good, and I keep saying that I'll read the whole thing one day. I also plan to one day read all 1700+ combined pages of Ayn Rand's Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. No, really.

6. Travel. Favorite city you’ve every been to and the one place you still must visit before you shuffle off this mortal coil.

Favorite City: I've only been to the Washington, DC, area once, and I can't wait to get back this summer.

Still Must Visit: My homeland, Slovakia. As I understand it, I'm from the town of Kosice.

7. What do you love most about college football in 20 words or less?

Passion, intensity, pageantry. That I have a blog and am compelled to answer another blog's questions speaks for itself.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Hey, Do You Like Women?

I hope I have your attention now. You see, I learned something today. Title IX is about more than sports. It's about an end to discrimination in all academic programs. Some would even say that it's about keeping tabs on sexual harassment and opening career choices for women - and men.

Several sportswriters enjoy going out of their way to put down women's sports. Hey, if you don't like a particular sport, male or female, that's fine. But if you feel the need to continuously mention women's sports just to demean them, that doesn't speak well of your psyche. Besides, you're missing the big picture. Everyone should have the goal of being a well-rounded individual. Title IX and women's sports allow girls and women of all ages not only to participate in sports, but also to have positive role models of a healthy lifestyle. Mr. Sportswriter, when your docile trophy housewife (who nods and smiles politely every time your words demean women in any fashion), bears you a daughter, would you rather have that daughter look up to a shallow, petty socialite, or an active, well-rounded professional athlete?

In March of 2005, changes were passed that arguably loosen the compliance requirements of Title IX. Soccer star Julie Foudy and Save Title IX have put together some material on these changes. If you like pictures and sound, check out this flash video. If you prefer words, or don't like the fact that there are so many UConn players in the video, read this PDF factsheet. Either way, be sure to also check out this FAQ, including the "10 Key Areas of Title IX" list in the left sidebar. Finally, I'm not a big "cause" person myself, so I won't request that you sign Save Title IX's petition. However, if you choose to, the petition is found here.

Thank you. I'll be stepping off of my soapbox now to go play some coed softball.
(A grateful hat tip to reader Tara.)

Sunday, June 25, 2006

NBA Draft Predictions

Last year, I Introduced the "Never Heard of Him" theory for NBA Draft Early Entrants. Here are last year's results. I know it's far too small a sample set, but I'm going to draw some premature conclusions from that data. As you can see, players taken in the first round on average were familiar to just over 50% of the people participating. Players in the second round were familiar to 25% of the people participating.
Last year we had four people participate. This year it's seven. Now I'll draw on two of my favorite sources - fuzzy math and a sportswriter's ability to make predictions based on far too little input data - to make these bold predictions for the 2006 NBA Draft.
Full coverage of this year's "Never Heard of Him" results will come some time after Tuesday's draft.

"With the first pick in the 2006 NBA draft, the Toronto Raptors select..." 7/7
Adam Morrison Gonzaga

Lottery Picks 6/7
Josh Boone UConn
Rudy Gay UConn
Aaron Gray* Pitt
Kyle Lowry Villanova
Mustafa Shakur* Arizona
PJ Tucker Texas
Marcus Williams UConn

First Rounders 5/7
LaMarcus Aldridge Texas
Quicy Douby Rutgers
Jordan Farmar UCLA
Shawne Williams Memphis

Late First/Early Second Round 4/7
Arron Afflalo* UCLA
Nick Fazekas* Nevada
Thomas Gardner Missouri
Rajon Rondo Kentucky
Tyrus Thomas LSU

Second Rounders 3/7
Shannon Brown Michigan St
Cem Dinc* Indiana
Daniel Gibson Texas
Ekene Ibekwe* Maryland
Patrick O'Bryant Bradley
Curtis Stinson Iowa St

Contenders for Mr. Irrelevant 2/7
Will Blalock Iowa St
Guillermo Diaz U of Miami
Mike Efevberha Cal St Northridge
Marcus Slaughter San Diego St
Ian Vouyoukas* St Louis
Darius Washington, Jr. Memphis

Mr. Agent, the NBDL is on Line 1 1/7
Renaldo Balkman South Carolina
Ronnie Brewer Arkansas
Carl Elliot* George Washington
Brandon Heath* San Diego St
Trey Johnson* Jackson St
Danilo (JR) Pinnock George Washington
Black Schilb* Loyola (IL)
Cedric Simmons NC St
Andrea Bargnani Benetton Treviso (Italy)
Sun Yue* Beijing Aoshen Olympians (ABA)

Everyone else should have taken a hint from these guys, who went 0/7 and withdrew.
Akbar Abdul-Ahad Idaho St
Morris Almond Rice
Larry Blair Liberty
Jahsha Bluntt Delaware St
Bobby Brown Cal State Fullerton
Derek Burditt Blinn College (TX)
LeRoy Dawson Emporia State (KS)
Travis DeGroot Delta St
Reggie George Robert Morris College (IL)
LeShawn Hammett St. Francis (PA)
Tedric Hill Gulf Coast CC (FL)
Clarence Holloway IMG Academy (FL)
Donald Jeffes Roxbury CC (MA)
Alexander Johnson Florida St
David Johnson Clinton JC (SC)
Coby Karl Boise St
Mark Konecny Lambuth University (TN)
Aleks Maric Nebraska
Japhet McNeil East Carolina
Paul Millsap La Tech
Matt Mitchell Southern University-New Orleans
Evan Patterson Texas Wesleyan
Leon Powe Cal
Richard Roby Colorado
Jontae Vinson Cal St Los Angeles
Albert Weber Connors St
Andriy Agafonov Khimik (Ukraine)
Nemanja Aleksandrov FMP Zeleznik (Serb. & Mont.)
Pape-Philippe Amagou Le Mans (France)
Yannick Bokolo Le Mans (France)
Carlos Cedeno Guaiqueries (Venezuela)
Tadija Dragicevic Crvena Zvezda (Serb. & Mont.)
Lior Eliyahu Hapoel Galil Elyon (Israel)
Rudy Fernandez DKV Joventut (Spain)
Kyrylo Fesenko Mariupol (Ukraine)
Rafael Hettsheimeier Akasvayu Vic (Spain)
Marko Lekic Atlas (Serbia-Montenegro)
Damir Markota Cibona (Croatia)
Mickael Mokongo Chalon (France)
Brad Newley Townsville (Australia)
Oleksiy Pecherov Paris Basket Racing
Hrvoje Peric Split (Croatia)
Kosta Perovic Partizan (Serbia & Mont.)
Giorgos Printezis Olympiacos (Greece)
Milovan Rakovic Atlas (Serbia-Montenegro)
Aleksandar Rindin Gala Baku (Azerbaijan)
Sergio Rodriguez Adecco Estudiantes (Spain)
Dusan Sakota Panathinaikos (Greece)
Renaldas Seibutis Olympiacos (Greece)
Saer Sene Verviers-Pepinster (Belgium)
Sidiki Sidibe Levallois (France)
Tiago Splitter Tau Ceramica (Spain)
Ali Traore Roanne (France)
Ejike Ugboaja Union Bank Lagos (Nigeria)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

U.S. vs. Italy Recap

by Mike Hatton, KankaNation FUTBOL! Correspondent

In general, the U.S. looked much better than in their game against the Czech Republic. The attack's were crisper, although the finishing still needs some work. Other than one mental lapse, the defense looked solid, and the midfield controlled posession fairly well. Clint Mathis Dempsey [Mike, I doubt anyone caught this mistake. -ed.] was especially impressive on the right side, and Reyna and Donovan worked well together in the middle.

Why then was the U.S. only able to come away with one point in a 1-1 draw? Look no further than the head referee from Uraguay, who was suspended from the 2002 World Cup do to "inconsistencies."

It was obvious early on that it would be a tightly called game. Italy scored off a free kick when Eddie Pope tried to run a one man offside-trap, letting his man get an easy header past Keller. The U.S. quickly equalized off a free-kick of there own, when the Italian player, trying to clear the ball out for a corner kick, and prevent McBride from having an open net, cleared it into his own net.

Then the cards started coming out. Pope was already carrying a yellow on a ticky-tack foul at this point, when McBride went up for a header, and was elbowed in the face by De Rossi, opening up a cut that required three stitches to close. The red card was well deserved.

Then in the closing minutes of the first half, Pablo Maestroeni came in a little late on a slide tackle, with the ball still on the Italian half. This would normally be a foul at least with maybe a verbal warning, a yellow card at worst. Instead, Pablo was shown a straight red, nullifying the man advantage the American's had.

Minutes into the second half, Pope picked up his second yellow of the match, leading to his ejection, leaving the U.S. to play with 9 men for over 40 minutes.

The remaining 9, bolstered by second half subs Conrad and Beasly, managed to hold off the Italians, and even had a few chances to score the first World Cup goal with only 9 men on the field. If Brian McBride hadn't been offside when Beasly's shot glanced off the Italian keepers hands and into the net.

Some will wonder why McBride, wasn't subbed out for fresh legs in last 10-15. However the best option, Eddie Johnson, who played well against Czech Republic, has limited experience, and maybe wouldn't be the best choice when playing with 9 men.

My only tactical criticism is why wasn't Pope removed at the half. He had already made key mistakes, was carrying a yellow, and would be crucial in the game against Ghana. Now the U.S. is forced to play with a very young back line in a must win tomorrow.

U.S. advancement scenarios:

The U.S. will advance to the second round, likely to play Brazil if...
U.S. win, Italy win
Italy tie up to 2-2, U.S. win by 5+
Italy tie of greater than 2-2, U.S. win by 5+goals more than 2 scored by Czech Republic
Czech Republic win, U.S. win, combined margin of victory 5 or more

Monday, June 19, 2006

Preseason Round Table

Via Bruce Ciskie's blog, a quality site.

Which preseason college football magazine is your favorite?

Honestly, I'm still in baseball mode this time of year. (Keep that in mind as you read the rest of my answers.)

SMQ has been doing an oustanding job. That blog is good enough for me as far as previews go. But if I had to pick a magazine, I'd try Phil Steele. Obscure abbreviations and a "unique" stat-packed writing style seem right up my alley.

What team is being supremely overrated in the preseason rankings?

I could play devil's advocate and pick Notre Dame here. Close analysis of last season shows Charlie Weis is still learning on the job: The offense couldn't put up big numbers against Michigan, Michigan State upset them in the home opener, and sloppy play in the second half of the season led to a disappointing Fiesta Bowl loss. But the schedule this year favors a top 10 finish. (Of course, last year's schedule looked like an 0-6 start to some, so we'll have to wait and see.)

Most of the traditional powerhouses of the last 5-10 years are overrated. Michigan seems about right at 10 or 11, as does Nebraska in the bottom five. But placing Miami in the top 10 and Tennessee in the top 15 is a bit too much. Tennessee's defense is solid, but Ainge has yet to perform up to lofty expectations. If you put Oklahoma in your top 3, it just looks like you're trying to justify overhyping Adrian Peterson over the past two years.

Everyone seems to be pretty high on Clemson. I haven't watched them much over the past few years, so for the time being I'm going to assume their rankings are justified.

West Virginia's soft schedule may give them a good record, but does a final ranking of #6 mean they're better than all but five teams in the country? I suppose that's an argument for another day.

Turn the tables. Who is underrated?

I'm going to go with three teams who have been atop the SEC as of late: Auburn, Georgia, and LSU. All three have managed to stay consistent, even immediately after losing key players to the NFL. Ironically, what's inconsistent is the polls' opinions of these three teams. Steele has Auburn at #2 and Rivals has LSU at #4, but other than that the opinion of these three teams isn't incredibly high.

Which conference will be the best in 2006?

As a blogger following an Independent team, I'm going to stay out of this one.

Which "non-BCS" conference will be the best in 2006?

This would be a perfect time to show love to the MAC (it's MAC-tastic!), but that conference is in a down period right now.

Top to bottom, I'd have to go with the Mountain West. The WAC has a good argument with Boise State (Boise isn't a state) and Fresno State (neither is Fresno). There are a few other teams who could make a decent showing if they wanted to. But then there are perennial homecoming opponents like Idaho and Louisiana Tech. The Mountain West is led by TCU, with BYU and Utah on the rise. Colorado State always turns in a decent showing, and San Diego State is bound to beat a Big Ten opponent one of these days.

Which non-BCS conference team will have the best season?

I want to see Navy do well this season, and I think they can. However, it will be interesting to see how the quarterback position plays itself out.

But what would preseason predictions be without a blatant contradiction or two? I just said the Mountain West would be a tough conference. Now I'm going to tell you that TCU is also going to have a great season.

Let's get your first read on this one...who will win the H*i*m*n? Oh, by the way, players whose last names begin with the letter "Q" are ineligible.

Well, that saves me the trouble of checking on Dan Quisenberry, Jr. status.

CFR put together a good list of players who fit Heismandment 7. That's a good place to start. Names that jump out for me:
  • Chauncey Washington - USC is still USC, and Washington does have experience in that offense.
  • Adrian Peterson - If only to satisfy the hype machine. Of course, if he averages 200+ yards a game, that's not just hype.
  • Troy Smith - If the Bucks are undefeated come the end of the season, will some voters feel that giving Smith the Heisman somehow makes up for the Vince Young "situation" last year? (I'm not implying Young deserved the Heisman over Reggie Bush, or that Smith and Young should be in any way connected. I'm just wondering aloud if some voters would think that way.)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

U.S. vs. Czech Republic Recap

by Mike Hatton, KankaNation FUTBOL! Correspondent

Editor's Note: See, I knew I was right to leave the soccer analysis to the experts.
Also, in case you're not used to such frequent posting, make sure you don't miss Jon Byrer's Prairie Home Companion movie review and my World Cup team nickname rundown.

The simplest analogy I can use for this game, is that the U.S. looked like ND against BYU in 2004. They looked un-inspired and un-prepared.

Everyone was standing around, no-one wanted the ball. When we did try to mount an attack, it was quickly stifled by Czech midfielders who seemed to be everywhere.

Five minutes in, the left back failed to challenge the Czech attacker, giving him too much time to get a good cross in, that was easily headed past Keller by the 6'8" Koller.

Reyna had a chance at an equalizer, but hit the post, and the US wouldn't seriously challenge again.

Later in the first half, Onyewu headed a clearance into the middle of the field, leading to a 30 yard strike that beat a diving Keller. Middle school players know that clearances should go to the outside, never up the middle.

Eddie Johnson, a second half sub, seemed to be one of the few bright spots, and he should crack the starting 11 against Italy on Saturday.

Its now an uphill climb to get out of the group stage. In a perfect world, we win out against Italy and Ghana, and the Czech's do the same, giving the group a 9-6-3-0 look. If we can only manage a tie against Italy, we'd need to blow out Ghana, to make up for our -3 goal differential coming out of the game against the Czechs.

But its the World Cup, and anything could happen. I look forward to seeing how we bounce back against Italy on Saturday, and hopefully manage to move on to the knock-out round.

Watching a little bit of the Italy-Ghana game, I'd expect the US to have more room to operate in the midfield, which should help their confidence. Time will tell.

Prairie Home Companion Movie Review

by Jon Byrer, KankaNation Legal Analyst and Movie Critic

If I had to describe this movie, I wouldn't use words like "good" or "bad", I'd be more likely to say "bone-crushingly disappointing."

Garrison Keillor has always struck me as a fantastic storyteller. Having grown up in a small town myself, his stories about his fictional hometown in Minnesota always struck a particular chord for me. He could always manage to tell the sort of stories that were both poignant and funny at the same time, evoking laughter one moment, and nearly bringing you to tears the next.

It was with this in mind that I insisted to my friends that we go see the Prairie Home Companion movie last night. Instead of classic Keillor storytelling, however, we get Meryl Streep playing what is perhaps her most unlikable character, a near-mad singer who blathers on and on in some of the movie's most awkward moments.

Also, an odd angelic figure constantly makes an appearance throughout the movie. The figure only has one good piece of dialogue, when describing how she died while reacting to a joke told on the radio show ("Two penguins were sitting on an iceberg. One says to the other, 'You look like you're wearing a tuxedo.' The other says, 'What makes you think I'm not?'") Otherwise, she is merely awkward and somewhat creepy.

Though the film was supposed to be a poignant look at the last broadcast of the radio show, the script never really makes you feel sad that the show is coming to an end (which is odd considering that I personally think it would be a disaster if the show ever were to be cancelled). The only time I felt really sad throughout the film was with the resolution of the romance between two of the elderly cast members, which might have been the best side-story in the movie.

Throughout the film, Keillor was outstanding, and I wish the directors would have focused more on him instead of the Streep psycho-character. Keillor continues to be everything that Hollywood is not, rising above the things that makes modern movies so downright terrible. It was a shame that the director saw necessary to focus on Hollywood hacks like Lindsey Lohan, who once again showed that she can't really act, even when blonde.

Overall, if I had to make a recommendation regarding this film, it would be 1) buy the soundtrack, which is phenomenal; and 2) go to the Prairie Home Companion website and listen an episode of the radio show instead. The radio show is much more fun, and isn't marred by the weirdness and Hollywood crap that ruined this movie. And it's free, which is always a good thing.

Final rating: 2 stars (out of 5).

Monday, June 12, 2006

World Cup Nickname Rundown

Well, this may or may not be a blatant ripoff of Golden Tornado's football analysis. But, considering what I know about soccer, maybe it's better that I stick to nicknames and stay away from real analysis.
Also, since this is blatantly copied and pasted from Mike's message board post, the numbers in parentheses represent the current FIFA world rankings.

Group A

Germany (19) "The Mannschaft"
I was playing around on YouTube yesterday, and I came across a video with the same name. Trust me, you do not want to see it.
Poland (28) "The White and Red"
Nothing fancy, just Poland's official colors. At least they got their official colors correct (unlike one country we'll see later).
Costa Rica (26) "The Ticos"
Another simple one, as "Ticos" is a nickname for someone of Costa Rican descent. May I suggest a cheer for them:
"Give me a T!" "T!"
"Give me a cos!" "Cos!"
"What's that spell?" "Ticos!"
Ecuador (39) "The Tricolor"
This is a pretty down-to-earth group. Ecuador's flag has - you guessed it - three colors: yellow, blue, and red.

Group B

England (10) "The Three Lions"
The three lions on England's coat of arms go back to the days of Richard the Lionhearted. (You may remember him - the good guy from Robin Hood.) That's a pretty cool guy to base a nickname on.
Sweden (16) "The Blue and Golds"
Again we're playing it safe and sticking with the country's official colors.
Trinidad and Tobago (47) "The Soca Warriors"
It's always cool to call yourself the warriors. It's even cooler when you describe yourself as warriors of island dance music. I only see two bad things coming from this.
1.) Once American announcers find this out, they're going to make as many "Who Let the Dogs Out?" references as possible.
2.) It'll be hard to convince some people that you have no relation to the ASU version of "Hot Hot Hot".
Paraguay (33) "The Guaranies"
Wait, the American Idol guy?

Yep, just a blatant excuse to post a Kelly Clarkson picture.

Group C

Ivory Coast (32) "The Elephants"
Ivory. Elephants. Duh.
The Netherlands (3) "The Oranje"
Oranje, while not in The Netherlands' flag, has become an official color of the country's athletic teams.
Serbia and Montenegro (46) "The Blues"
As we'll soon see, "The Blues" is a popular nickname for soccer clubs.
Argentina (8) "The Albicelestes"
Every time I look at this, I see Asbestocides. Asbestos is bad, and an Asbestocide would get rid of Asbestos, so I guess an Asbestocide is a good thing.

Group D

Angola (58) "Plancas Negra"
For those of you who don't habla espanol, Plancas Negra is Portugese for Black Impalas. For those of you who don't habla fancy words, Impala is fancy wordish for an African deer.
Iran (22) "Team Melli"
Iraq, of course, is Team Vanelli. Please don't bomb me.
Portugal (8) "Team of the Shields"
Well, the official symbol of Portugal is a shield, duh. What, you thought the team was huge fans of the FX Network? (Warning: Annoying flash movie with sound. Just don't bother clicking on the link.)
Mexico (6) "El Tri"
Well, the name could either refer to Mexico's triangular shape, or the Aztec Triple Alliance. I'll go with the latter, and leave any lame NCAA Native American jokes to the reader.

Group E

Ghana (50) "The Black Stars"
Because there's a black star on their flag. Duh.
Italy (14) "The Azurri"
Again with "The Blues"? (That does mean The Blues, right?)
Czech Republic (2) "The Locomotives"
Well, no wonder they're #2 in the world. They're obviously coached by some sort of Robot Genius from the Joe Yonto School of Locomotive Propulsion.
USA (4) "Stars and Stripes"
I'll give it an A+ for patriotism, but a C- for creativity. A version of the Stars and Stripes has been sailing in the America's Cup since 1987.

Group F

Japan (17) "The Boys in Blue"
There's that blue again. And blue isn't even one of Japan's colors.


Croatia (24) "The Vatreni"
Vatreni, of course, means "Is not foul in Croatia!"
Australia (44) "The Socceroos"
Australia's team nickname was decided by a write in contest. Other finalists included the "Battlin' Teachers" and the "Ball State Ball Busters."
Brazil (1) "The Selecao"
When you've won more World Cups than anyone else, you have the right to call yourselves The Select. (Assuming my Portugese is correct, of course.)

Group G

Togo (59) "The Sparrow Hawks"
While you're trying to figure out if you should be fearful of the hawk part, or laugh at the sparrow part, Togo will run circles around you. Then again, maybe not. There was a team named the Ligers in our softball league last year, and they only won one game all season.
South Korea (30) "The Asian Tigers"
I've never seen Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and I'm still worried about what the Koreans can do.
France (7) "Les Bleus"
I can just picture the French version of Klondike sitting in the stands:
"Oui Bleus!"
"Oui Bleus!"
"Oui Bleus!"
"Oui Bleus!"
Switzerland (35) "The Oath Comrades"
This team does not sound like they back down easily.

Group H

Tunisia (21) "The Carthage Eagles"
The lack of originally with the name Eagles is instantly made up for by the reference to the ancent culture of Carthage.
Saudi Arabia (34) "The Falcons"
Solid, if not creative.
Ukraine (41) "Zbirna"
Zbirna is Ukranian for "The Zbikowskis." I wouldn't want to mess with them.
Spain (5) "La Furia"
Remember when you actually waited with anticipation for Dan Patrick to say "En Fuego"? Now, picture him saying "La Furia."

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Notre Dame MLB Draft Mini-Recap
(and a mini-er link dump)

  • Cubs select Jeff Samardzija in the 5th round. This ends Samardzija's baseball career at ND, but he's said several times that he will return for his senior football season. Rumor has it that Cubs GM Jim Hendry, good friend of ND manager Paul Manieri, will offer the Shark "first round money" in an attempt to persuade him to go baseball-only. Regardless, Samardzija will play this summer in Boise or Peoria. Boise, the Cubs short-season Class A team, starts play June 19. Peoria is Chicago's full season Low-A affiliate, and it would be relatively close to home (Valparaiso, IN) and school. Coincidentally, the Indians assigned the collegiately seasonedChris Niesel to Low-A Lake County to start his professional career. Samardzija's press conference is available on

  • Blatantly stolen from BGS. I hope their servers can handle the extra 40 hits a day.

  • Padres select Craig Cooper in the 7th round. Cooper, ND's leadoff hitter and first baseman, led the Big East by hitting .425 this year. He also led the team by a large margin in several categories: 79 runs (runner up: 46), 97 hits (68), 9 HR (6), 149 total bases (107), .654 slugging % (.525), .522 OBP (.441).

  • Twins select Jeff Manship in the 14th round. Manship, a junior, said before the draft that he would return to ND if he wasn't taken in the first three rounds, so that may be the reason he went relatively late. Of course, he did miss the 2004 season after Tommy John surgery. Then again, Tommy John is as vogue as elbow guards these days, so that shouldn't be too much of a red flag.

  • Tigers select Tom Thornton in the 21st round. The lefty went 7-3 for the Irish this year with 2 complete games.

  • Toronto selects Greg Lopez in the 33rd round. G-Lo was a two-year captain for the Irish. The infielder, who started at shortstop this year, hit .305 on the season.

  • They're endorsed by Fred McGriff!

  • For those of you who forgot, Tom Zbikowski makes his professional boxing debut this Saturday. House Rock Built has the story covered.