Friday, June 29, 2007

Dennis Dixon MiLB Update #2

Well, not much to report here. Duck fans who have their panties in a bunch may be able to relax a little bit. Through 9 team games Dennis Dixon has yet to register a single statistic. Any reasonable person would assume that means he has not played yet. That may change though as the team is a sterling 1-8. I'm thinking they need to put some new blood in the lineup. Perhaps that record is a reflection of the Braves drafting strategy of selecting Pac-10 quarterbacks that have not played baseball since high school. In related news the Dodgers Rookie League team is still undefeated after 7 games. Further proving the point that they know how to draft, just like the Blazers of the NBA.

(Photo from AP.)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Live Blog: NBA Draft


I'm going to try and do a live blog on the first round of the NBA Draft. It should be exciting as the Blazers have the first pick and are in prime position to dominate the league for years to come.

7:37 pm -
The luckiest guy of the night is Petteri Koponen of Finland. He is in the building along with the rest of the Finnish National Team apparently. Well, that is all for me tonight. I will enjoy looking at the list of guys that left early but did not get picked in the first round. Usually that is a bad deal. Sometimes it does workout though. Ask Gilbert Arenas who was able to become a free agent a year earlier than the 1st round guys. Have a good night. I certainly will after the Blazers pulled their moves.

7:33 pm
- The last pick of the 1st round is 2 minutes away. Let's get it going Stern.

7:30 pm
- The Suns select Alando Tucker with the 29th pick. He was the Big Ten player of the year and was a great player. I agree with Vitale's assertion that he will be a good fit in Phoenix. Look for him to put up some of the better numbers among rookies being a part of the Suns scoring offense. Maybe a sleeper pick for rookie of the year?

7:25 pm
- Tiago Splitter from Brazil is picked by the Spurs. Whoop-dee-do.

7:22 pm
- I predict the Spurs will select a foreign-born player that will only make me hate them more. He will be incredibly boring to watch and remind me too much about soccer.

7:19 pm
- Arron Afflalo of UCLA is the 27th pick. I don't think he is going to be all that good but he made a good choice in leaving early. Nothing suggests to me he would have improved his draft stock by staying for his senior year. Afflalo's performances against Florida the last 2 years make me think he will be a decent guy off the bench in the NBA at best.

7:14 pm
- I hope Yi is a total bust. More talk about him trying to pretend he is big-time. He has no right to demand where he plays. Putting up good numbers in the Chinese Basketball League means nothing to me. Shutup and show up to Milwaukee, Yi. If you don't I will personally make sure your experience in NBA arenas away from home will be miserable.

7:12 pm
- Nice! The Rockets select Aaron Brooks of Oregon with the 26th pick. He went through a lot in his Oregon career and I'm glad to see him get a guaranteed contract. Rick Adelman who lived in Portland this last year may have had a big role in this pick. Brooks had an awesome senior year and put the Ducks on his shoulders countless times. He will certainly be missed in Eugene but being picked in the 1st round is great.

7:10 pm
- ESPN needs to stop stalling. The Rockets time has expired. Notifying me of an upcoming WNBA game is insulting. I'm taking time to watch the NBA Draft and they waste my time with women's basketball crap.

7:05 pm - The Jazz are up next. They choose Morris Almond of Rice. I saw him play against the Ducks this year. He was without question the only good player on that team and they took the Ducks to overtime early in the year. Almond appeared to be able to score at will. This pick does not make me like the Jazz more though. I still find them only slightly more exciting than the Spurs.

6:58 pm - The Suns select Rudy Fernandez of Spain for the Blazers. This makes two Spanish players in the Blazers backcourt. Again, I'm not crazy about the Euro players but whatever. Now they say he won't even be here. I don't think Paul Allen knew that. When they showed the Blazers draft room Paul Allen looked befuddled. I guess him saying something like, "What the hell did we just buy from the Suns?"

6:56 pm - Having one of the richest men in the world own your favorite team is fun. The Blazers just bought the Suns draft pick. I did not even know that could happen. Let's see who they can find with the #24 pick.

6:52 pm - The Knicks take Wilson Chandler from DePaul. That is exactly who Spike Lee predicted would be picked. I guess that explains why he is so in love with Isiah. Isiah lets him know about things before they happen.

6:50 pm - Spike Lee is happy about the Randolph trade. Let him be as far as I'm concerned. He is singing Isiah's praises so he must be enjoying some drinks as part of his draft experience. I however am not and am getting a little antsy. Once the last pick in the 1st round is made I'm jumping in the pool.

6:47 pm - Jared Dudley is the 22nd pick by the Bobcats. Dudley will never win any awards for being good looking but the guy made plays. He doesn't really look like a stud in his uniform but he was the ACC player of the year. Anyone in the ACC that does not play home games in the state of North Carolina and wins the POY award must be good.

6:45 pm - Rod Thorn says the Nets are not concerned about Williams' character issues. One of the reasons was his score on the SAT. Not sure being concerned about SAT scores and using them as a judge of character is a good idea for NBA teams.

6:42 pm - Trade Alert! Daequan Cook is selected by the Sixers at 21 and immediately traded to the Heat for Jason Smith. In my opinion Cook is the ultimate project. He wasn't that impressive for Ohio State this year. Bilas says, "Tremendous upside." Yikes, whenever I hear that I get a little nervous. Luckily, no team I care about took the chance on Cook.

6:41 pm - Mark Jackson rips on the Lakers pick. I like that a lot. A lot better than I like him being an announcer at the Finals.

6:35 pm - The Heat select Jason Smith. I have heard that Smith is a really polished player. Most Smiths are so that shouldn't be a surprise. Wow, didn't realize this guy was 7'0" tall. Had some pretty impressive moves in the highlight reel. Based on the little bit I have seen my bold prediction is that Smith will be better than Jianlian.

6:34 pm - Just took a brownie break. I should be set for the remaining 11 picks. Let's get them over with Stern.

6:29 pm - The 19th pick is Javaris Crittenton. I know nothing about Crittenton and hate the Lakers. Next pick please.

6:28 pm - Stephen A. Smith is back on the good side. Pointing out the obvious that Phil Jackson has only won titles with the greatest players the NBA has ever seen is refreshing to hear. He has won a lot but he has had a lot to work with.

6:24 pm - Looks like Belinelli might wear make-up during games. At least that is what his highlight tape and headshot suggest. Good luck impressing the people of Oakland with make-up.

6:22 pm - The team that made part of the playoffs bearable is on the clock. The 18th pick by the Warriors is Marco Belinelli from Italy. I'm not a huge fan of the international players so know nothing about this guy and likely never will.

6:16 pm - Sean Williams is the 17th selection. I don't know much about a guy that did not play this year. As a Blazers fan I am not too crazy about picking up players that are ultra-talented but have a questionable past. Good luck to the Nets I suppose.

6:14 pm - The Blazers have found someone dumb enough to acquire Zach Randolph. Is it any surprise that it was Isiah Thomas? I like Channing Frye's work ethic and if I'm not mistaken the Blazers get rid of the last holdover from the Jail Blazers era. Not sure Steve Francis has much left but now the young guys won't have Randolph screwing them up. Let the Knicks fans be excited about Randolph. I am excited he is gone so it's a win-win at this point.

6:13 pm - Stuart Scott asked a weird question to Nick Young about his deceased brother and was all in his face when he was doing it.

6:10 pm - Props to the Wizards for making their pick with :42 left on the clock. Nick Young is the 16th pick and it will be fun to see him and Arenas together. Young seems to be a colorful guy so there will likely be some great YouTube footage of the two of them next year. The greatest dunk I have ever seen in person was by Young on an unfortunate member of the Ducks two years ago (#42 if you check last year's roster).

6:05 pm - Stuckey goes to the Pistons. There were rumors that he was given a guarantee by the Pistons that he would be picked by them. The Pistons always denied it. It doesn't matter though. He seems like he is a good offensive player, which is something most teams in the NBA need.

6:02 pm - Stuckey and Young are the last two guys in the green room. I can say with certainty that Young is a baller. As I saw it he was the best NBA-type player in the Pac-10 this year. I saw every team play at least two times and it wasn't even close. As for Stuckey he played 2 or 3 minutes against the Ducks in a preseason game due to an injury. It was a major disappointment since the Ducks had the weakest preseason schedule ever and he was the only Pac-10 type player the Mac Court faithful could have seen before the conference schedule.

6:00 pm - Thornton and I are the same age. Wow! That is old for the NBA. Much credit goes to Florida State for keeping this guy in school. I'm absolutely blown away that an NBA rookie out of college is my age.

5:58 pm - The Clippers take Al Thornton at number 14. Being that he did not play at an ACC school located in North Carolina I did not catch much of this guy. From what I hear he is a great athlete and offensive player. His highlight package is very impressive.

5:53 pm - Julian Wright is selected 13th. Poor guy has to go to New Orleans. Nothing about playing in a city that doesn't appear to be financially stable enough to support the Hornets and the Saints would interest me. His style leads me to believe he will be a bust. A lot of guys are athletic and can't shoot. If the guy could hit a jumper he might work out but I have my doubts.

5:51 pm - Did Billy Knight of the Hawks have the old school mutton chop sideburns? I'm watching it on HD but can't tell if it was shadowing.

5:48 pm - Word of advice to the NBA. Please eliminate all commercials about Tim Duncan and the Spurs during the Draft. Watching clips of him could only be made worse if it was followed by women's hoops clips.

5:45 pm - The 12th pick by the Sixers is Thaddeus Young. Must admit I know next to nothing about him.

5:44 pm - Stephen A. Smith has gone back to his old ways. He said with a straight face that Maurice Cheeks is a great coach. If he is a great coach, I was a great Spanish student. Cheeks is terrible and the record proves it. Someone please explain to me how he could possibly be considered a decent coach, let alone a great coach.

5:38 pm - Acie Law IV is the 11th pick by the Hawks. The experts say they needed a point guard and this guy can flat out play. Probably a good idea for the Hawks to pick an experienced college point guard. I think he will be better than Conley.

5:36 pm - I rarely agree with Stephen A. Smith but his knocking of the Noah pick is commendable. Nobody else on the broadcast wants to say the truth. Bilas likes 'energy' and that likely is why he never made it passed college. 'Energy' doesn't do much in the NBA if you ask me.

5:35 pm - John Paxson just picked Noah with the 9th pick. I really don't think that deserves him being interviewed. Paxson = Moron, unless he is able to find a superstar in the coming weeks.

5:32 pm - Well, the in-laws are pumped with the pick but I think Hawes has a great future. The Kings like offense so he should fit in. I realize Hawes won't be playing against the Ducks but his moves in Mac Court were smooth and polished. In the right system, I think the Kings are that, he will do very well. He will be far better than Noah, hands down.

5:31 pm - The hometown Kings are up and my father-in-law and brother-in-law are fired up they do not have to worry about Noah being the pick. That's right my draft party has ballooned to 3 people. I hate the Kings but must agree with that feeling.

5:28 pm - Noah is pumped right now but Mr. Green better inform him that the NBA does drug testing. And it likely is a bit more stringent than whatever tests he took at Florida.

5:24 pm - The 9th pick is Joakim Noah. He will make the Blazers debacle of drafting Sam Bowie way back when look good. If he scores more than 10 points in a game I will be shocked. His outfit doesn't impress me and now Isiah doesn't look like as much of a moron. Mark my words Noah is the undisputed bust of this draft. If he played for a middle of the road college team he would be playing in the NBDL next year. Billy Donovan and his teammates should split half of Noah's first paycheck. Noah will be a bum!

5:22 pm - Thanks to the brilliance of Isiah Thomas the Bulls are picking next. Thomas' genius will not be fully appreciated until... never.

5:18 pm - Jordan stays in the UNC family and takes Brandan Wright. He seemed like a great player in college. Some of his workouts didn't impress but the dude is 6'10" and runs like a gazelle.

5:17 pm - With the 8th pick the Bobcats take... Boo! Rachel Nichols has some face time right when the clock runs out. Get her out of the broadcast, I want Stern to give me the picks on time.

5:15 pm - I cannot stand the Home Run Derby commercial.

5:13 pm - Michael Jordan has 3 minutes to make a pick. Let's hope he doesn't crap himself like he did when drafting for the Wizards (see Brown, Kwame).

5:11 pm - The Timberwolves are on the clock. Kevin McHale has decided Corey Brewer is worth the 7th pick. I think Brewer is awesome. Saw him in St. Louis at the Elite Eight and let me tell you this guy is the skinniest 6'8" guy I have ever seen.

5:06 pm - How in the hell do the Chinese think they can strong-arm the NBA? They think they can tell teams where he is going to play? Screw the Chinese basketball people. Just be happy the lies about age weren't held against him. Only John Elway can get away with telling a team he doesn't want to play for them.

5:03 pm - The Bucks select Yi Jianlian of China with the 6th pick. He claims to be 19 but most everyone believes the Chinese are cheaters and he is in fact 22. I don't advocate that type of deception and I hope the Chinese flop in the Olympics as a result.

5:00 pm - Green and Durant on the same squad should be good base for them to build with. The question everyone will be posing is, How long will the team be in Seattle? Personally, I could care less.

4:57 pm - Ray Allen is headed to Boston. Sucks to be him. The Celtics have orders to draft Jeff Green for the Sonics with the 5th pick and they do. Green definitely did the smart thing by staying in the draft. He was one of the last, if not the last, to confirm he was staying in.

4:53 pm - Mike Conley, Jr. drafted 4th. Not sure I'm as crazy about him as a lot of people. I know of a lot of point guards that can penetrate and have a broke jump shot. Life in the NBA is going to be a little bit different than the Big Ten. I think he will be good but I'm not sure he is worth a 4th pick. In my not so expert opinion he is the Ted Ginn, Jr. of the NBA Draft.

4:51 pm - The Hawks have a new logo and it looks awful. It should be on the side of a high school football helmet.

4:48 pm - Al Horford goes to the Hawks at 3. I think that is a great pick. In my opinion he is the Florida Gator that is most ready for the NBA. Apparently Jay Bilas agrees. He is an absolute beast and can dunk a basketball. Something Oregon Duck fans have never seen from a big man.

4:45 pm - Durant downplayed his draft combine performance by saying he just plays ball. Great answer. Kevin Pritchard the Blazers GM is on the TV looking like a genius with the Oden pick as far as I'm concerned. He is certainly trying to figure out how to get something else done with the 4 2nd round picks.

4:44 pm - The Sonics made the hardest decision of the night by picking Kevin Durant at number 2. Interesting to find out what they do later in the draft.

4:41 pm - Sonics looking to trade Ray Allen to the Celtics.

4:39 pm - I would usually hate a guy that uses hand sanitizer but Oden can use whatever hygeine product he wants. Oden had to answer some softball questions from Stuart Scott and did a decent job.

4:36 pm - The Blazers have selected Greg Oden with the 1st pick. It is now official. A day many Blazers fans never thought would happen given the last 5 years or so. Things are looking up. Oden couldn't look any better in the Blazers hat. A lot of white guys in the Blazers draft room.

4:33 pm - The Blazers are on the clock.

(Image from 'rush the court'.)

Remember This Day

Assuming reports by Ric Bucher of ESPN are true, today is the day that will change the Blazers fortunes forever. And for that matter will change the future of all NBA teams. Technically, fortunes changed when the ping-pong balls came up black and red last month but who's keeping track? Admittedly, I have watched very little of the NBA since about 2002 so it would be dangerous to take anything I say as truth. In fact, with the NBA being so boring I only plan on watching the Blazers, which is more than I have been doing.

As I see it LeBron James has missed out on his chance to win an NBA title with the Cavaliers. With Greg Oden in the paint the Blazers are instantly playoff contenders. Be careful, an outrageous statement follows. Within 3 years the Blazers will be in their first of many Finals. Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge will be in their 4th seasons and Oden's wrist will have finally healed completely. I am hosting a Blazers draft party at my in-laws house near Sacramento this evening. So far I am the only one attending but I am going to have a great time. The only thing that could ruin the one-person party is the Blazers not drafting Oden. If they do that they pick up Kevin Durant instead, which isn't all that bad but I really want the Blazers to take Oden. I have already set aside an inflation-adjusted amount of money for my plethora of Blazers NBA Champions in the not too distant future.

(Photo from Motoya Nakamura/The Oregonian.)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Are The Bears Taunting Briggs?


A lot of folks are familiar with Lance Briggs, unfortunately it is because he was the first player of this NFL off-season to show that he had any balls. Some players like Larry Johnson decide as mini-camp begins that they want more money and may holdout. Briggs let the Bears know well in advance that he wasn't going to appreciate being 'franchised'. He wasn't trying to use deception he just wanted a little respect. The Bears put the 'franchise tag' on him and offered him a 1-year deal worth $7M and change. (The $7M figure is a result of a rule in the collective bargaining agreement where the contract for a 'franchised' player is the average of the top-5 paid players at his position the season before.)

To the fan that hates that pro athletes make a lot of money they say Briggs is a greedy guy for wanting more. The problem is that it is a bit more complicated than a desire for more money. Let's get past the fact that Briggs wants more money and look at his situation. He was a 2nd round draft pick in 2003. Meaning he did not get a huge rookie contract with an insane signing bonus. Briggs had the fortune of being drafted by the Bears who had a great defense. (As an aside, the Bears have had an embarrassingly inept offense primarily caused by horrendous quarterback play in my opinion. However, they will have a great offensive line as evidenced by some off-season coaching changes.) Briggs has played his balls off since being drafted and has been to the last 2 Pro Bowls. Before last season the Bears and Briggs tried to come to an agreement on a contract extension but were unsuccessful. Briggs let his frustrations over being 'franchised' be known but to no avail. He has honored his rookie contract and now wants to take advantage of being a premier outside linebacker. The NFL salary cap increased for this upcoming year so teams had money to spend. As a young, 2-time Pro Bowl linebacker Briggs would have commanded top dollar on the free agent market with a nice signing bonus (Key Point: The only money a player is guaranteed to receive during the contract is the signing bonus).

Again, people claim the guaranteed $7M is enough for Briggs to be happy. Yes, that is true but put yourself in his shoes. You were a 2nd round draft pick, became a Pro Bowler through hard work, honored your rookie contract and became a free agent at just the right time. Instead, a crazy rule allows your team to keep you for 1 more year at a pre-determined salary. The team could show you respect and sign you to a multi-year deal but don't. If I owned a business and instead of making $7M I could guarantee myself $10M I would sure as hell take the $10M. Maybe I'm greedy but I'm not stupid. I'm assuming my business has nothing to do with me wearing pads and a helmet and using my body as a weapon for 50+ plays once a week. Have some of the old-timers of the NFL tell you how that turns out 25 years later.

Then to top this all off word came out yesterday that the Bears have signed a contract extension with cornerback Nathan Vasher (going into his 4th season) and are trying to extend their other starting cornerback Charles Tillman (going into his 5th season). Briggs has said he will never play for the Bears again but it seems more likely he will sit out the first 10 games of the season. If I'm not mistaken he still gets paid by playing in the final 6 games. As far as I'm concerned he should do just that. The Bears have shown him no respect. He has asked to be traded but they have done nothing to get that done. Only the NFL in the year 2007 can hold its players hostage without the players have any recourse. I guess that is what happens when Gene Upshaw is in charge of the NFLPA. (His incompetence deserves a later post on its own.)

In conclusion, the Bears are taunting Briggs by signing other players who still have years to be played on their rookie contracts. He should be sitting out and I commend him. The media and most fans will rip on him for sitting out but in the end he may be the reason the 'franchise tag' rule is abolished. Also, by keeping Grossman behind center the Bears have shown they have no desire to help the defense out. Grossman could have Randy Moss, Jerry Rice and Tony Gonzalez. His high school JV level mechanics and his apparent inability to distinguish between uniform colors will always guarantee horrid numbers.

(Photo from Nam Y. Huh/AP File.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Back-2-Back A Day Late


Congratulations are in order a day late for the Oregon State University baseball team for claiming back-to-back national championships. Read about it here, here and here. It truly is amazing that they were able to pull the feat off. They are the first northern team to win consecutive titles. They are the first team with a losing record in conference play to win a national title. They are the lowest seeded team to ever win a national title. They were the very last team put in the tournament bracket. There are likely many other firsts accomplished by this team but these are the ones I have run across.

The Beavers were a great team to watch and in my opinion played baseball the way it should be. The pitching was phenomenal, the hitting was timely and the defense was as close to perfect as I've seen. It seems hard to imagine that a team was able to win consecutive titles this day in age. Player turnover from year-to-year is significant and being the defending national champs puts a target on your back every day you take the field. As has been mentioned, it pains me to be this complimentary of an Oregon State team but I would be a fool not to be. They were a great team put together by Pat Casey that the entire state should be proud of. I know I am, so much in fact that I placed my order for a championship t-shirt today. Blasphemous I know, but something I had to do. Now if only they weren't the only Pac-10 team to represent the state.

(Photo from Dennis Hubbard/OSU Athletics.)

Monday, June 25, 2007

Jesse Jackson Loves UNC Baseball


That is not the UNC golf team though it certainly looks like it. It is in fact the back-to-back national runner-ups in Division I baseball, the Tarheels of North Carolina. It appears the only player or staff member on the team that is of non-Anglo ancestry is Kendric Burney. I have a sneaky suspicion you won't have any trouble finding him. In case you do have difficulty here's a hint: he is the guy wearing a football jersey. Now I realize baseball is not the most diverse sport at this time but this seems a bit much. The football staff must have strong-armed Mike Fox into letting Mr. Burney on the squad. Fox is the man in charge of this operation. He is the white guy in the photo. The white guy in the white polo shirt in the very bottom row on the right.

My assumption is that this says more about minorities, particularly African-Americans, playing other sports instead of baseball but the panning of the dugout in last night's National Championship game struck me. After seeing the dugout I decided to go to the trouble of looking at every player's bio but the names alone could have given their ethnicity away. Reid Fronk, Hunter Rome, Chad Flak, Matt McNichol and even equipment manager Nate Yarbrough are just some of the examples. Again, Coach Fox must be doing something right, his team has had great success. You just have to wonder if Mr. Burney wishes he could have taken a headshot with his baseball jersey on so he wouldn't stand out so much.

(Photos from UNC-Chapel Hill Athletics.)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Kobe Should Be Traded

My feelings for Kobe Bryant are not ones of kindness. I can't stand him as a player or person so I really have no use for him. As painful as it is to admit I actually think he should be traded if he so desires. I generally am one that defends the players (see Briggs, Lance) and this is no different. It is hard to figure out why Kobe is asking his 8-ball in the mornings if today is a day to talk to the media and if he should ask to be traded. An 8-ball is the only explanation for his erratic grumblings on the matter. Have some conviction with what you say and stick to it (see Briggs, Lance).

My reasoning for thinking Kobe should be traded is that the Lakers do not appear to want to get better. At this point he has earned the right to play for a good team and Jerry Buss and Mitch Kupchak are too inept to provide such a situation. I'm not convinced Kobe can win a title without another big-time player alongside but I know he can't win with a NBDL roster of characters. The team the Lakers had this year was pathetic. To think a trade for Jason Kidd was nixed because the Nets wanted too much. How could the Nets possibly want too much? Unless they asked for the Laker Girls, management should have welcomed Kidd with open arms in return for the entire roster. Kobe has led the league in scoring the last couple of years and has stretches of games where he is absolutely unconscious. Reminiscent of the Clark Hall squad in 2000-01. It is now obvious that the Lakers only want Kobe so they can sell tickets. There is no desire to be competitive in the Western Conference and now is not the time to have that attitude. The Blazers' dynasty is starting in less than a week. The Lakers need to give Kobe his trade provided his 8-ball tells him he wants it.

(Photo from Matt A. Brown/AP File.)

Friday, June 22, 2007

Memories of George Kenneth Griffey, Jr.


Having been born in the early 1980s the greatest baseball player my eyes have ever seen is Ken Griffey, Jr. He may not be the healthiest, most 'roided or consistently dominant in the twilight of his career but in the 1990s he was hands down the best. At his peak he was an unstoppable hitter and impeccable fielder. If you have any doubts about that you should have watched FSN Northwest tonight. With Griffey returning to Seattle for the first time since he was traded before the 2000 season a big deal was made. I just finished watching the TiVo of the pregame show and ceremony and it was awesome. Here are some of my favorite Griffey memories growing up.
  • I remember visiting my grandparents in the Portland area the Summer of 1993 when he hit a home run in 8 consecutive games (scroll down to #6 on the list). As each day passed the headline and picture on the front of the sports section grew bigger and bigger. I woke up in the morning just so I could see what he did.
  • I also remember when he scored the winning run against the Yankees in the 1995 AL Division Series. That series may in fact be the point in time when I first started passionately hating the Yankees.
  • Of course my friends and I were Griffey fans and couldn't get enough of his baseball cards, magazine covers or posters. One friend gave me a new, teal-colored, fitted Mariners hat when I was in elementary school. It was at least a half-size too big but I had to wear it. For whatever reason I decided to stuff toilet paper around the edges of the hat so I could wear it. I guess I justified it because all of the girls at school were doing it to their bras at the time.
  • My last Griffey memory growing up was also at my grandparent's house. I thought I was artistically talented because I learned that if I put something I wanted to draw against a window and put white paper over it I could easily trace it. Back when Sporting News was printed as a newspaper Griffey was on the cover so I traced it like a champion. I got creative by using the edge of the pencil to shadow the picture. My grandma thought it was awesome and to this day I'm not sure she knew I traced it.
It really sucks that Griffey was not able to stay healthy during his career. If so, the resident jerk in the Bay Area would be a non-story at this point. In fact, he likely would not be playing since he wouldn't have a reachable record to chase. I have set my TiVo to never erase tonight's footage of Griffey until the day I die. Whenever I hear people claiming someone else is a better player of this era I will watch it and know in my heart that the only player that can claim that title is George Kenneth Griffey, Jr.

(Photo from Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times.)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

What A Day!

Today was a marvelous day. I can't believe I used the word marvelous. As a result of fortunate circumstances I was able to meet the greatest quarterback of all-time. He leads the NFL in games won by a starting quarterback (148) and 4th quarter game-tying or game-winning drives (47). He threw for over 50,000 yards and rushed for over 3,000. He took 5 teams to the Super Bowl and won 2 of them. He won an NFL MVP and a Super Bowl MVP. A lot of people dislike Mel Kiper, Jr., but he says every year that the greatest NFL prospect out of college he has ever seen is the man I met today. This man even dabbled in the New York Yankees farm system and averaged 36.1 yards on 7 punts. The man I speak of is Hall of Famer John Elway.



My encounter with Mr. Elway was certainly brief but will be remembered forever. It went down like this. Shaking of hands. "Mr. Elway nice to meet you. Hope you have a nice visit." That's right, if I had to take a guess I don't think I said my name but the gentleman that introduced me did. Oh well, as a friend so eloquently put it via text, "a non event for mr elway no doubt." That is likely true but it still was a great moment. I have idolized Elway ever since he took the Broncos to Super Bowl XXII and got pounded by the Washington Redskins. Then to meet him in person nearly 20 years later after seeing him dominate the NFL like no one else has or ever will was awesome. Thanks Mr. Elway for a simple handshake and a nice greeting.

(Photo of Elway after defeating the hapless Packers in the Super Bowl from Timothy A. Clary/AFP-Getty Images.)

Dennis Dixon MiLB Update #1

Oregon's starting quarterback did decide to lace up the baseball cleats this summer. Some people can't figure out why but I say, "Why not?" If you really want to play baseball why not do it. I have no idea what kind of bonus Dixon got but it is bound to be better than the scholarship check he would have received by going to summer school. He has graduated but my understanding is that an athlete needs to be enrolled in classes in the summer to receive the check. Check the NCAA Rules out if you would like to make sure, I have no desire. Perhaps his break from Eugene, school and football will be a good thing and allow him to come back refreshed.

I checked out the Atlanta Braves Rookie League team roster and Dixon is present. He plays for the Gulf Coast League Braves. Interesting note is that every team in the league is called Gulf Coast League "parent club nickname". It fires me up to see the Dodgers rookie team undefeated with a 1-0 record. The GCL Braves are 0-3 after this afternoon's game against the GCL Blue Jays. The team website lists Dixon as a pitcher wearing #50. He has yet to get into a ballgame. The accuracy of the website does worry me though as it says Dixon's birthplace is Eugene, OR. I can almost guarantee that is not true. So take the information as truth at your own peril.

(Photo from Don Ryan/AP.)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

America Is Good at Soccer?


I realize talking about soccer may be a mistake. The small number of people that read this blog may become even smaller. Someone has overvalued American soccer and I don't appreciate it. If you were asked which league is better, the English Premier League or Major League Soccer, what would you say? According to Alexi Lalas it's a tie, the MLS is just as good as the English Premier League. For folks that know who Lalas is it is only because he had long, flaming red hair when he played. I am not a soccer aficionado but I do know that if you are any good at soccer you do not play professionally in the U.S. With that, how could anyone say the MLS is equal to the Premier League? There is no reason to use the 'age of the leagues is so different' argument. That fact clearly had nothing to do with Lalas' assertion.

Again, I'm not a big soccer guy but it seems to me this would be the same thing as saying the Little League World Champions are equal to the MLB World Series Champions. It makes absolutely no sense. I recall catching a piece of a soccer game last year or so on TV with a European pro team involved. I'm pretty sure it was a Premier League team. Anyhow, the MLS all-stars played this team. What's more is that the Premier League team did not have its best players because this was their pre-season and they were doing more important things. If I recall correctly, the MLS team ended up winning but nothing would have suggested to the viewers that a team of MLS all-stars could compete in the Premier League, let alone a regular MLS club.

The Premier League seems to have some of the most rabid fans in all of sports. Stadiums are packed and cities live or die with where their teams are in the standings. On the other hand, an average sports fan in America has no chance of naming more than 3 MLS teams. There is absolutely no interest in the league as games are played in tiny stadiums with second-rate players. I define them as second-rate because they get paid next to nothing when compared with the big boys in Europe. It is essentially the same as the Arena Football League and the NFL. Until I see someone leave the NFL in his prime to play for Jon Bon Jovi I am not going to listen to Lalas. I leave Lalas with one question. If the two leagues are so similar why are Premier League teams being sold for hundreds of millions of dollars and MLS teams being sold in packages for a few million dollars?

(Photo of Cristiano Ronaldo from the Premier League website.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

No Spell Check in Omaha

If you've read this blog before you already know my feelings on Oregon State baseball. I root for them as if they were my own and as sad as it is to admit I want them to win a baseball national title as badly as I want the Ducks to win a football title. That level of 'badly' is 'really badly' if anyone is wondering. Many people will likely take offense to that but they don't love baseball as much as I do. No one cares that I take offense to Oregon not fielding a baseball team so I don't feel too bad about my love for Beaver baseball.

Should you be a Duck fan don't get worked up over my feelings for the only Pac-10 baseball team in the state. This love does not transfer over to anything else related to OSU. Aside from their baseball team all other teams should compete at the D-III level and academic degrees from OSU should carry the same weight as those from community colleges. I would never let anyone near and dear to me attend the school. If anyone has any objections to that belief please take note of the picture below. Thanks to Deadspin for providing me the unending joy.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Tiger Failed Me


Man am I glad there are only 4 major tournaments in golf every year. If I tried to predict the order more times than that it would be too embarassing. My picks for the U.S. Open were extraordinary. Once again, I picked with my heart and got burned. I suppose that is why I am awful at fantasy sports. I just dislike too many of the good players. If you ever need an extra guy for fantasy and are worried you may finish last send me an invite to your league.

Let's see, I had Tiger Woods winning. He did not win, instead he finished in a tie for 2nd, one shot back at +6. I watched nearly all of Tiger's 36 holes this weekend and he was unbelievable. On Saturday he was awesome from tee to green then looked like my brother-in-law on the greens. Then today Tiger's approach shots closely resembled mine, but his par-saving putts were right in the heart of the cup. Had Tiger putted his birdie putts yesterday like he did today's par putts he would have shot a crazy low number on Saturday.

Much the same could be said for my 2nd place prediction, Jeff Quinney. Only one problem, he wasn't in the tournament! Needless to say I did just as well on Friday at the local municipal as Quinney did at the U.S. Open this week. Then my 3rd place finisher was the Masters winner Zach Johnson. One of the keys in picking him was that he wins in Georgia. I thought that would translate well to Pennsylvania (both end in 'ia') but that was wrong. Johnson finished tied for 46th at +20.

In the end I must congratulate Angel Cabrera. He had a bit of a meltdown yesterday and then played a great round today. On the super long, par-5 12th hole he had a 397-yard drive. Tiger went nearly as far if not farther later in the day on the same hole but I did not see him smoking cigarettes on the course or sporting a spare tire like Cabrera. He is the first Argentine to win a major golf tournament so that must be good for him, particularly if he is not married. Because if Manu Jablowme is a national hero this guy must be too.

My last thought on the U.S. Open is that Tiger Woods really let me down. When I saw him on the 1st tee today I was inspired by his physique. The guy looked like a linebacker so I thought I should too. At that moment I decided I was going to do 50 crunchies on an exercise ball everytime he had a birdie. Well, I am not any closer to that 6-pack after Woods dinked and doinked around the course and finished with 1 birdie. Sitting on the couch for 4 hours and only doing 50 crunchies wasn't the phsically demanding chore I had hoped for.

(Photo of Angel Cabrera from Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images.)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Vlad the Impaler vs. A-Rod


While golfing with some buddies yesterday the topic of who is better between Vladimir Guerrero and Alex Rodriguez came up. Apparently, there was a discussion about this on ESPN a few days ago. I was not privy to the discussion so I am going to have to break this down on my own. In the spirit of full disclosure I think Guerrero is the best player in the game and I hate all Yankees. I will do my best to keep these biases out of the comparison. Let's start with three basic statistical breakdowns of the two: career, full-season averages and current season numbers as of June 15.


Career


Full-Season Averages*

*Guerrero has played 9 full seasons and Rodriguez 11 full seasons.

2007 Season


Due to the fact that A-Rod has been a full-time major leaguer for two more seasons a lot of his cumulative numbers are significantly greater than Vlad. For this reason I thought it was appropriate to include a 'Full-Season Averages' table on the major categories. Just glancing at the numbers shows these two to be very comparable.
  • Both play nearly every day. Vlad had one season in which he only played 112 games (2003).
  • Both have over 180 hits per season. Vlad has 4, 200-hit seasons and A-Rod 3.
  • HR and RBI are relatively close with A-Rod with holding a slight edge.

There are however a couple of areas where they differ.
  • A-Rod scores 20 more runs per season.
  • Vlad bats 20 points higher and strikes out far less.
Now we have a general feel for their numbers so an analysis of these numbers is in order. The above numbers are the extent of the numbers that I know. I don't know too much about the stats that require calculus to figure out. Maybe a couple of those types of stats make the argument clearer but I will use some of my general thoughts on baseball to determine who is better.

The one category where A-Rod clearly has an advantage over Vlad is runs. Given that hits, HR and RBI are similar I believe this difference is a reflection of their teammates. Anyone that has heard my argument on why Derek Jeter is way overrated has heard this before. In the categories where Vlad and A-Rod have direct control over whether they score a run (hits and HR) they are nearly identical. This may be an oversimplification of the way baseball is played but I believe the teammates each plays with is greatly reflected in the runs differential. A-Rod does steal more bases (23 per season) than Vlad (19), which may explain some of the difference.

Vlad is significantly better than A-Rod in terms of BA and SO. I'm not sure what to say here in terms of deep analysis but the numbers do not lie. I don't think one can say Vlad is a more disciplined hitter. He is famous for hitting pitches nowhere near the strike zone. Given that his BA is 20 points higher and his SO are nearly half that of A-Rod, the only conclusion is that Vlad is an absolute genius with the bat. I don't have the patience to try and find such things as longest hitless streak but it seems to me that A-Rod goes through frequent droughts. I do not hear about Vlad going a week without a hit. This may be explained by the frequency of A-Rod's stats and performances being the lead story on SportsCenter. Given Vlad's high batting average, I have a hunch it is more than a media driven thought on my part. As a matter of wrapping up hitting let's look at the Silver Slugger Award, which is given to the best hitter at each postition in each league. Vlad has won 6 and A-Rod has won 8.

We have given the hitting numbers a fairly exhaustive look so it's time to factor in defense and intangibles I suppose. Vlad and A-Rod play two different positions. In fact, A-Rod doesn't play his best position so he gets credit for that. Anyone with half a brain knows he is the best shortstop on his team, yet he moved over to the hot corner so that someone with far less range, a weaker arm and a propensity to boot routine grounders can play there. With Ichiro now playing center it is a no-brainer to call Vlad the best rightfielder. He does not have a gazelle's stride out there but he flat out makes plays and has the strongest outfield arm in baseball.

In terms of Gold Gloves, A-Rod has 2 (shortstop) and much to my surprise Guerrero does not have any. This is likely me trying to defend Guerrero but if Jeter has 3 Gold Gloves how representative of actual talent can a Gold Glove really be? Is it only a coincidence that Jeter has won all of his after A-Rod came to the squad? I am convinced it is a media conspiracy to give the Gold Glove to Jeter so people continue to incorrectly assume he is an adequate shortstop. Yes, I know that coaches and managers are the actual voters. There have been some stories in the past about managers voting for guys they know will not win so their own player wins the award but that has nothing to do with this comparison.

Back to Vlad and A-Rod. After the hitting and defense analyses the numbers show a tie as far as I'm concerned. Vlad wins overall hitting and A-Rod defense. My understanding of defensive stats outside of Gold Gloves and errors is limited. Maybe one of the fancy stats shows otherwise but extra credit must be given to A-Rod for being a respectable 3rd baseman and perhaps the best shortstop.

Everyone's favorite category, intangibles will have to break the tie. I myself am not a huge fan of intangibles because it can be defined in any way. Some players are considered the greatest ever solely on intangibles (see Jeter, Derek). But again, how in the hell do you define intangibles? I will give it my best.

Oddly enough I think this is the area where the comparison isn't even close. First and foremost, let's look at World Series rings. Vlad has 1, A-Rod has 0. The best part about this is that anyone can name the teammates A-Rod has had in his career. A-Rod has played with the greatest players of this generation aside from the 3 years in Texas. Naming the players around Vlad is quite another story. The Angels won the World Series only a couple of years ago and I think you would be surprised to find out who was on that team. Not exactly a who's who of perennial All-Stars and future Hall of Famers. While Vlad has A-Rod beaten in World Series rings, A-Rod does have one more MVP award than Vlad with 2.

Now the infamous teammate argument. I have long held that looking at an entire batting lineup around a certain player must be taken into account when considering his true place in history. At this point in time there are about 7 legitimately dangerous hitters in the Yankees lineup. The opposing team must take their pick at who to pitch to. Pitching around one player just isn't an option. With the Angels there is only one player you need to worry about. Vlad is the only player that strikes fear into anyone. Opposing teams can afford to pitch very carefully to Vlad because if he is walked you have to take your chances against Gary Matthews, Jr. and Casey Kotchman. Seriously, take a look at the Angels lineup. I knew it wasn't impressive but I didn't think it was that bad. On the other hand, A-Rod has more protection in his lineup than any player in baseball. How else do you explain him getting a steady diet of fastballs even when he is at his hottest? With Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui to follow, you just might like your chances against the free-swinging A-Rod. Every major league manager seems to have that line of thinking. Vlad has been walked 41 times this season (12th in MLB) and even with his amazing start A-Rod has only walked 35 times this season (24th in MLB). Case closed.

Let's imagine both players spending two months in the other's lineup. For the record we know Vlad would never do that because he is not a sellout. This is pure conjecture but something tells me the free swinger will have difficulty without any protection in the lineup, and the guy with phenomenal numbers in a pathetic lineup may be granted automatic enshrinement into the Hall of Fame at the end of the 2 months. In fact, if Vlad were a part of the Yankees, Roger Clemens would be rubbing his plaque in the outfield before every start and not Babe Ruth's.

As the last part of the intangibles section really ask yourself who you would want on your team. Do you want the guy that has the dirtiest helmet in baseball, does not wear batting gloves and never finds himself in controversy? Or do you want the guy who's uniform is cleaner than an operating room, wears military armor while batting, nearly wets himself after hitting home runs in April and annually finds a way to be bush league?

In conclusion, both Vlad and A-Rod are amazing players who will be in Cooperstown exactly 5-years after they retire. Having either player on your team only makes you better. After giving the two a very close look I would prefer Vladimir Guerrero but if I were stuck with Alex Rodriguez life would be okay.

(Photo of Vlad from Julie Jacobson/AP and A-Rod from Kathy Willens/AP.)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Colletti Listens... Sort Of


It has not been too long since I let my feelings be known about the Dodgers and their offensive prowess. Apparently GM Ned Colletti took note and said, "Screw getting some players with legitimate power, let's fire the hitting coach." Now I am all for firing people and trying to change things up when necessary. I'm not so sure firing the hitting coach is the best idea at this point but someone has to take the heat as I stated in an earlier blog entry.

As far as the Dodgers' lineup goes they could bring Ted Williams back to life with help from a device that melts ice and they still will not be able to hit for power. The Dodgers most memorable home run from the last two years was hit by Hong-Chih Kuo, a pitcher, a couple of nights ago. It sure was one great home run though with the leg kick, massive distance and phenomenal bat flip. Just click the link so you can hear Vin Scully if nothing else. As the lineup is currently constructed the Dodgers need at least two hits (when Pierre or Furcal lead things off and steal a base), but more likely three hits to score a single run on most nights. Unless Bill Mueller, the consumate singles hitter as a professional, has a legal power-hitting secret he decided not to use for himself I still see a trade or two needing to be made.


Finally, a quick mention on ESPN's coverage of the Yankees. Do we really need to make their 9-game winning streak against weak NL teams the lead story on SportsCenter? It takes 15-game streaks by any other team for special notice to be taken. I really don't care that the Yankees have tricked the East Coast media into thinking they are back by defeating some wrank teams from the NL. Yes, I do realize the Diamondbacks are neck-and-neck with the Dodgers. That is not the point.

(Photo from John Soo Hoo/Dodgers.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

U.S. Open Preview

The U.S. Open starts tomorrow so I figure a preview/prediction is appropriate. Now I admit to following golf more than the average person and enjoy watching it on TV more than 98% of people. The 2% who enjoy it more than I are the other 2% that enjoy watching it. I really can't explain what I like about watching golf on TV but it sure beats the hell out of any drama or sitcom my wife tries to put me through on any given night. I digress. Now I have established my love for watching golf but I am not an absolute die-hard fan which makes my Open preview/prediction fairly short.

First, it is being played at Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania. Second, the course is crazy long with a 280+ yard par 3 and a par 5 that is over 650 yards I do believe. That is the extent of my preview, now onto the prediction.

My trifecta is Tiger Woods winning, Jeff Quinney second and Zach Johnson third. I pick Tiger because as I said I am not a die-hard fan so to pick anyone else to win would be stupid. Plus, I like watching Tiger play. I pick Quinney second because he is from Eugene and has been playing very well this year especially in the big tournaments he has played. I must admit I do not know if he is in the field this week but I am assuming he is. And I pick Johnson third because he wins golf tournaments played in Georgia and he is from Iowa.

As an aside, I played some golf today and my brain started going a little overboard. A medical doctor was part of the group I was playing with and we agreed that golf takes up so much time. That is when I started thinking really hard. I did not verbalize any of this so now is the time. Here it goes.

Since golf is expensive, really successful people (e.g., doctors) have the means to participate on a consistent basis. The ironic thing about that is it costs a doctor quite of bit of money to take the time to golf. If a doctor plays golf for 5 hours he (I realize this lacks gender neutrality, deal with it) is not able to see patients for at least that long. I am just making up numbers here but let's say the doctor does x-rays and all that crap with patients so each patient is worth $300. The doctor sees 5 patients an hour. Therefore, by playing golf for 5 hours and being out of the practice for 7 hours the doctor has foregone over $10,000 to play a round. Additionally, the doctor pays the money to play golf. On the other hand, I go out and play golf and it takes me the same 7 hours but since I only have one advanced degree it only costs me like $100 worth of work time to play. In the end, the folks that can afford to play big-time golf give up a ton of money each time they are out on the course. Perhaps, most of you don't need 24+ years to realize that but it came to me today and I found it interesting.

(U.S. Open logo from usopen.com)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Must Trade Now


Of course the Los Angeles Dodgers go and win consecutive games against the New York Mets right when it is time for them to make some changes. They are in a dead heat with two other teams atop the NL West but the potential is there for them to run away with it. The Dodgers clearly have the highest payroll in the division and it's about time they got their money's worth when batting. This will not happen if their roster remains the same. At this point in time the Dodgers' ability to hit a baseball, or lack thereof, is enough to make a sane Dodgers fan go crazy. Just this weekend Derek Lowe threw a 4-hitter and lost 1-0 to the Toronto Blue Jays. That is completely unacceptable and Ned Colletti needs to do something about it. Here is a quick glance at the prolific Dodgers lineup through games played on Monday (MLB rank in parenthesis, stats courtesy of ESPN.com).

BA: .258 (16)
OBP: .328 (16)
Runs: 275 (19, 4.29/game)
HR: 39 (30, dead last)
RISP: .275 (9)

The fact that the Dodgers rank 9th with runners in scoring position blows my mind. Due to MLB.tv I have been able to catch a fair number of games and it seems the Dodgers leave multiple runners on base every inning. Perhaps my expectations are too high but I hope not. If my expectations were any lower I would have to be a San Francisco Giants fan. The fact that the Dodgers are not hitting home runs is not a surprise but being last is. You're to tell me all those millions the Dodgers have spent on players and not one of them is a legitimate threat to turn a game around with one swing of the bat?

As always the Dodgers pitching staff has been phenomenal. The team ERA of 3.71 ranks 5th and the bullpen ERA of 3.46 ranks 6th. These performances on the mound cannot be wasted. Colletti needs to trade for a big bat, maybe two, pronto. The Dodgers have a stacked farm system and this is the year to let it all hang out. No one in the National League is setting the world on fire. With a couple of potent bats in the lineup the Dodgers will have everything necessary to be the team to win the Pennant. Rumors have it that the Dodgers may or should be inquiring about a few guys (e.g., Jermaine Dye and Miguel Cabrera). Cabrera is likely wishful thinking but the guy is a stud so such thinking is acceptable. Whomever the choice the Dodgers must get help now.

(Photo from Bob Rosato/Sports Illustrated.)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Mr. Greenthumbs


I have spent the last 8 weeks or so trying to fix the lawn, with great results might I add (see above). It started with a little weed and feed and ended up with Round Up and a hydraulic rear-tine tiller. I would recommend anyone that lives in a rainy climate and does not have an irrigation system to do such a project. After seeding I was so excited to see rain in the forecast. In fact, I was extremely happy since rain dominated the forecast. The only problem is that this had me excited for rain for about 4 weeks. As of this moment I am desperately hoping for more consecutive days of sunshine than a women's basketball team record for consecutive possessions without a turnover. I have done little research but I think the number is 4.

Most people would think this has little to do with sports. That is pretty much true except that I think I have a chance at being a part of some grounds crews in the area. You see most parents in Eugene are worried about tofu options for school lunch, immaculate parks for pets and welcoming transients with open arms. They do not appear to worry about the quality of baseball fields, which I feel is very important. Every time I go by a local high school I cringe at the sight of the lip on the infield. I am sure the Little League has data that shows Eugene has the most kids per capita missing teeth, breaking cheekbones and getting tagged in the jewels by what would be routine grounders anywhere else. When I was growing up we would have died to have bike jumps as prolific as the lips seen on infields around these parts. Maybe the OSU Beavers' third consecutive appearance in the College World Series will lead parents to care a little bit less about the pet park landscaping and more about the kids brave enough to play baseball.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

2007 Prefontaine Classic


Today was my favorite sports day of the year in Eugene. I enjoy today more than any fall Saturday and that is likely because there are at least 6 football games. There is only one Prefontaine Classic every year. Going to Hayward Field to watch the world's fastest and strongest humans can't be beat. As always, it was a sellout and thankfully the rain held off for all but the last lap of the final race, the Bowerman Mile. Here are some of my highlights from today:

1. The best race of the day was the Men's 800. Nick Symmonds of Eugene, via Boise, came from behind and defeated 2004 Olympic gold medalist Yuriy Borzakovskiy of Russia in 1:44.54. Symmonds went to D-III Willamette University and has recently come onto the scene by winning the 2007 U.S. Indoor Championships. He came from 4th place with 100m to go to win the race. As he did his victory lap the crowd was going crazy and you could tell he really appreciated it.

2. Maria Mutola of Mozambique won the Women's 800 for the 15th year in a row. She apparently went to high school in nearby Springfield so has the crowd behind her for obvious reasons. This was my 5th Pre Classic and it seems as though she has won the race the exact same way every time. Coming from 2nd or 3rd place in the final 100m to eek out a win.

3. Liu Xiang of China won the Men's 110 Hurdles by .01 over Anwar Moore of the U.S. After the race it looked as though a tornado had come through the competition. It seemed nearly half the hurdles were knocked over and strewn all over the track. Replays showed the runner next to Xiang nearly taking Xiang out due to difficulty clearing the hurdles, staying in his lane and maintaining his balance.

4. Alan Webb of the U.S. who became a legend at the first Pre Classic I attended in 2001 by breaking Jim Ryun's U.S. boy's high school mile record had a tough day. He finished 9th in the 2-mile and had his U.S. record in the event beaten by Matt Tegenkamp. On a positive note, Webb seems to have added a full head of hair in the last year. There was no evidence of balding, which certainly could not have been said last year.

5. Irving Saladino of Panama won the Men's Long Jump. This was not necessarily the 5th most exciting event for me but it did provide my best picture from today. His winning jump was 27'10.25" which is a distance I cannot relate to.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Faux Injuries


It has been a little over a week since Michelle Wie pulled out of a tournament due to a wrist injury. It has also been about the same amount of time since Roger Clemens had groin issues and needed to postpone his first start until today. There is more than a 30-year difference in age between the two. Clemens has a Hall of Fame career and Wie has yet to do anything except steal money from her sponsors. The timing of these injuries is what connects these vastly different athletes.

Those that follow sports fairly closely have been made aware of the Wie debacle. She apparently fell while trying to be an athlete (jogging) and harmed her wrist. She took some time off and then came back and was downright awful. In fact she was in serious danger of being barred from the LPGA for the rest of the year for shooting a very high score. A couple of holes from the finish she decided to withdraw/quit due to serious pain that would not allow her to finish the round. Wie made it very clear that the potential ban from the LPGA had nothing to do with her decision to quit. Oddly enough, two days later she was at the course of this week's major tournament practicing. As a result, many people, including Annika Sorenstam, questioned whether or not Wie just flat out quit. I am not a rocket scientist but common sense tells me Wie quit. There may have been an injury but the fact that she sucks at golf right now was the key determinant in her decision. As a sidenote, I do realize how pathetic I am for knowing the details of this story. This may be the first step in admitting I have a sports problem.

Now there is MLB's version of Brett Favre. In case you have not heard Roger Clemens has returned to the New York Yankees. Those that watch ESPN have had to watch his every ball scratch for the last few weeks in the minor leagues. Clemens is coming back to save the Yankees from themselves and allow the earth to properly rotate on its axis. Initially it was decided he was going to come back last week and pitch against the Chicago White Sox. It was determined last weekend that Clemens would not be able to make his start against the White Sox and instead would debut against the Pittsburgh Pirates. When I saw this crawl along the bottom of the screen I instantly thought it was bogus. ESPN tried to convince me he was injured by showing a first inning pitch from his last minor league start that suggested a tweaked groin. Any independent thinker would conclude ESPN was just covering for Clemens because he ended up pitching 6 scoreless innings on the night. Maybe it's just me but if I'm heading to the Hall of Fame I am not risking tearing my groin in half by pitching six innings in a minor league game. Everyone seemed to accept the story and waited breathless for today's grand appearance against the Pirates. Are you kidding me, Steinbrenner's paying Clemens a king's ransom to pitch against the Pirates? I don't care how old you are or if you're heading to the Hall of Fame. I am going to question the legitimacy of a groin injury that was pitched on for 6 minor league innings if you delay your debut appearance to face the Pirates.

Wie and Clemens have come down with interesting injuries. One has rightfully been hammered by her peers and the media. The other has escaped scrutiny because everyone wants a reason to talk up the resurgent Yankees. When all is said and done the evidence shows that both athletes are scared of the truth. For Wie it is that she seems destined to go down as a bust, which is unfortunate since she is still a teenager. For Clemens he is destined to show his age unless he is able to convince the Yankees and the media that he should only pitch in interleague games against weak NL lineups.

(Photo with Clemens elements from Peter Foley/EPA and photo with Wie elements from Donald Miralle/Getty Images.)

Friday, June 8, 2007

The 6 Minute Finals

I brought myself to watch 6 minutes of the NBA Finals yesterday. Unless LeBron James can get his team within one game of winning the thing I am certain that will be the only 6 minutes for me. In fact, I watched a little bit more than that because I saw the introductions. The crazy part is that I thought the Spurs were boring. Did anyone else hear the PA announcer? That guy had the personality of a doorknob. In fact, I have been to mass with 85-year-old priests who have shown more emotion than that guy.

It has long been my belief that the San Antonio Spurs are incredibly boring. As I see it they are a really good women's basketball team. What separates them from women's basketball teams is that they actually are fundamentally sound and can go multiple possessions in a row without turning it over. I'm not taking time out of my day to watch fundamentals. It also bothers me that Manu Jablowme thinks an American basketball court is an acceptable place for soccer flops and overacting. I find it offensive to the basketball culture I came to love in the 1990s. Charles Barkley did not make controversial commercials so that 15 years later some Argentine would bring soccer shenanigans to the NBA.

You know the Finals are a disaster when the #2 storyline is some Frenchie marrying a Desperate Housewife. In the 6 minutes that I watched I saw Eva Longoria two or three times. I would much rather see Parker writhing in pain under the basket than her. The announcers thought they were hilarious by making marriage related puns. Those puns really aren't funny. I expect to hear such commentary from local high school sports guys on cable access channels. Which brings me to the announcers. Mark Jackson? Please quit talking like you are in the huddle during a timeout. Give me some actual analysis I couldn't get from a 4th grader playing organized basketball for the first time. Mike Breen? Come one, he was NBC's 9th-string NBA guy way back when. Wow, the quality of the Finals has plummeted.

As it stands now I will spend the next couple of weeks following the College Baseball World Series with the hope that the OSU Beavers continue their winning ways. At some point, the big timers at UO will have to bring baseball back if that happens. Keep me posted if the Finals become interesting.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Oregon Baseball?


As has already been explained the University of Oregon does not have a baseball team. It is sad, pathetic, embarassing, ridiculous, etc. However, could the gentleman pictured above be just the 5-tool player the Ducks need to start a baseball team? According to the Atlanta Braves he just might be.

Dennis Dixon, the starting quarterback for the football team was drafted in the 5th round by the Braves today. Now having a college football player drafted to play baseball is not out of the ordinary (see Williams, Ricky and Benson, Cedric) but considering Dixon hasn't been playing baseball for a few years now is. Dixon is apparently a very talented baseball player. In fact, some people felt the Ducks would miss out on having him as a football player because Oregon does not have a baseball program. It may be interesting to see what Dixon does. I am not well-versed in the minor league baseball/college football at the same time rules. I do know that Jeff Samardzija of Notre Dame did it last year. He played in the Cubs minor league system during the summer then rejoined the Fighting Irish in the fall.

The Braves did not make quite as much of a reach as the Colorado Rockies did a few years ago when they drafted Michael Vick in the 30th round. There was only one problem. No, not that he was running a pit bull fighting operation, but that he had not played baseball since junior high. Needless to say Vick did not sign with the Rockies.

(Photo from Rick Bowmer, AP via MSNBC.com.)

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

London 2012


I am amazed at human beings and what we do. The above logo is a perfect example on so many levels. To make sure everyone is on the same page that logo was unveiled yesterday!

That my friends is apparently the logo for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England. Having never been to the UK I was under the impression it was an industrialized nation and on the cutting edge. If that is truly what they have come up with in 2007 I must be mistaken. The choice of colors is downright pathetic. I have not seen those colors together since my 3rd grade indoor soccer team picture. My shorts had a few other fluorescent tones as well but it is obvious why I have not seen those colors since the late 1980s.

Then to top the conceptual masterpiece, according to the article, people in England have noticed that an animated version of the logo induces epileptic seizures. I have never dealt with such a condition and hope I never have to. However, my family did have a black cocker spaniel named Westhaven's Jumping Jack Flash (J.J. for short) that suffered from epilepsy. Anyway, I am not well-versed in epileptic seizures but I can imagine that an animated version of the above logo would make matters worse. Just looking at it in a sedentary state makes me want to scream. Given the choice of colors I can only assume the animated version used the same technology the original Oregon Trail computer game had except with brighter colors. The green on black of the Oregon Trail would not suffice for such a spectacular international event.

(Logo from MSNBC.com courtesy of London 2012 via AP.)

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Dissecting Dice-K


Well, after tonight's baseball games it is time to analyze one of the most expensive pitchers in the history of baseball. Daisuke "Dice-K" Matsuzaka is in his first season in the States and cost the Boston Red Sox at least $104M. They paid the Seibu Lions $52M and then signed Dice-K to a contract worth $52M, which could reach $60M if he reaches incentives. Now that the season is more than 25% over it is time to take a look at Dice-K. Is he proof that the Red Sox are attempting to win championships in the same fashion as the Yankees (overpaying players) or is he a wise signing? For purposes of this argument all that crap about marketing, Japanese language signage on the Green Monster, countless press credentials and a boatload of Red Sox junk sold overseas is not going to be factored in. This is all about winning and losing. After all, aren't Red Sox fans about winning anyways? I honestly do not know what my findings will say. Obviously I think Dice-K is overrated but let's give it a look.


Here are Dice-K's primary stats through games played on June 5th (ESPN.com and baseball-reference.com):

12 starts, 7-4 record, 4.63 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 86.2 IP, 88 H, 76 Ks, 23 BB


Now those are decent stats but let's look into them a little bit deeper. Here is a list of teams Dice-K has beaten: Royals, Yankees (twice), Toronto, Detroit, Atlanta and Texas. These teams are a combined 160-186 (.462). Here are the teams Dice-K has lost to: Seattle, Toronto, Cleveland and Oakland. These teams are a combined 123-102 (.547). Not sure what this tells us exactly except that the teams Dice-K beats are bad and the teams he loses to are good?

Let's analyze Dice-K's records against teams based on record. His record against teams over .500 is 2-3 and his record against teams under .500 is 5-1. This appears to support the above assertion that he is good against crap teams and not so good against legitimate playoff contenders.

In Dice-K's defense he is 2-0 against the hated Yankees and for that I commend him. Against the Yankees Dice-K has a 6.92 ERA and 1.38 WHIP (13 IP, 13 H, 5 BB, 10 R). Something tells me in the heat of the summer (let alone October) this type of performance is not going to hold up too well. His performances against the Yankees do bring up another aspect, run support. Dice-K receives about 7 runs per start, which in my book is substantial. Now of course the Red Sox bats have been shutout twice in Dice-K's starts but that is the way the cookie crumbles.

I feel like my head is going to explode with all of these numbers but I feel a reasonably accurate picture has been painted. Red Sox fans do have excuses like: Dice-K was feeling under the weather before a start, the movement on his pitches wasn't the best or he was using a left-handed glove (well maybe not the last one). Come on, this is not jr. high girls volleyball, he is a professional so quit covering for him. I'm not real big on excuses with $100M players let alone pitchers.

If you attempt to confront a Red Sox fan with the above ammunition I can guarantee you this will be the response. "It doesn't matta, he's our third stawta at best." And there my friends is where you pounce on the mentally fragile New Englanders. You simply respond by saying, "Only the Yankees and Red Sox pay their third or fourth starters $100M." They will hate the comparison but have nothing to say in response!

(Photo from WBZ News Radio 1130 in Boston.)