Thursday, August 30, 2007

Upset Special: Week 1

A few years ago I started picking one game each week as my upset special and writing it on the whiteboard at work. The first couple of weeks I was picking some gems but since that great start I haven't had much success. I could care less what my track record has been because this year is going to be a great year for my picks. Since today is the first day of the 2007 NCAA D-1A football season I figure I need to make my upset special known. Generally, I will pick a game where the point spread is a touchdown or greater. And an 'upset special' only counts if the underdog wins the game. Covering the spread means absolutely nothing.

This week, I am having quite a time finding a game with a spread of 7 or more. There aren't too many 'upset special' worthy games this week. Just take a look at your newspaper. USC, Oklahoma, Texas and Penn State are favored by an average of 41 points! With the slate of lopsided games this week I am going to the biggest game of the weekend even though the spread is less than 7.

Tennessee (+5.5) will defeat California-Berkeley in Berkeley. Pac-10 homers will denounce my pick but I do not like Cal-Berkeley and don't want to see them win. I understand what a Tennessee win could mean for the national perception of the Pac-10 but it doesn't faze me. Cal-Berkeley's performance last year in Tennessee gives me no confidence in its ability to win this week. It does not matter that the game is in Berkeley. Have you seen the locals get fired up about anything besides trees and granola? Another thing that bothers me about Cal-Berkeley is that they get a ton of hype and have not won a big game, ever. People love to hype the Bears because they almost beat teams. I can't think of a big game they have won (barely losing does not count) since Tedford has been there and this week's game counts as one.

(Photo from Wade Payne/AP Photo.)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Sellouts To Follow

Since the UO is the closest entity with sports teams to my residence I hear quite a bit about them. Most of the time I enjoy reading about the football team and athletic department politics. There are times though that I am bored to death by some of the stories. Call me a hater but women's basketball falls into this category. You see, where I grew up women's basketball was not the most popular sport around. The local area never really was itching for the women's basketball season to start up. Where the Ducks reside it is a little different. More than 15 people seem to get excited about women's basketball. I have never voluntarily been to a UO women's basketball game. The thought of countless turnovers and a plethora of missed shots never has interested me. Before I go on more of a tangent about a sport that could get me into trouble with the political correct police I will stop.

The main reason I feel compelled to discuss women's basketball is that I read in the local paper that the ticket prices for UO women's basketball have been reduced. (I do realize I linked to the UO Athletics website but I do believe it is the exact same thing that was in the paper.) You're to tell me they charge people to see the games? That was certainly news to me. The fact that this article was in the local paper less than 2 weeks before the season opening football game is appalling. As I understand it Pac-10 fans want their teams to be held in high regard nationally. When I see articles in the sports page this close to the football season about reduced women's basketball ticket prices I know why the Midwest and South think sissy football is played on the West Coast. Without doing any research I am confident none of the major football teams' local newspapers used column inches this week on women's basketball ticket prices. Yes, this bold statement includes Tennessee. I could be wrong but I seriously doubt it.

The other part of this article that got me thinking is, why are they lowering ticket prices? Again, without doing any research I contend that women's basketball is an event you either want to see or you don't. A couple dollars off of the ticket price is not going to make someone reconsider going to women's basketball. You either like to watch that type of basketball or you despise it. I understand that Eugene is not your typical American town but when it comes to having to pay for women's basketball games I think it is. Since the local paper finds it necessary to talk up women's hoops this close to the football season (and this far from the hoops season might I add) I want them to ask the powers-that-be what the reason for the reduction is. If it is to increase attendance I think they made a stupid decision. As I see it, the result will be the same or less, not more, number of people in attendance and even less money coming into the athletic department. I may keep an eye on attendance figures to see if my theory holds but I generally like dealing with large numbers so don't count on it.

Now, if you are talking about Oregon women's volleyball I will sing a different tune. They look to be very good this year and the sport is infinitely more entertaining to watch than women's basketball. The entertainment factor has nothing to do with attractiveness of players by the way. I have held that women's volleyball will surpass women's basketball at the UO. Given the early start to the volleyball season and the confidence of the coach, this just might be the year. The UO and Register-Guard should do a better job campaigning for women's volleyball. At least the team is good and fun to watch.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Things have been quite busy but I do need to make mention of Mr. and Mrs. Phil Knight's gift to the UO Athletic Department. On Monday it was announced that the Knight's have pledged a $100M gift to the UO. It is the largest gift ever donated to an Oregon university and is tied for the 2nd largest gift ever to an athletic department in the US.

There are a fair share of people that feel this is an abomination for higher education. I strongly disagree. There is a professor on the UO campus that is famous only because he likes to bitch about college athletics. His name is Jim Earl and he finds it tragic that the academic side of the University does not get proper funding. I feel the same way but instead of chastising private donors I think he should take his fight up to Salem. I have a sneaky hunch he shares a significant amount of political ideology as the Democratic-controlled Oregon Legislature anyways so should be able to handle sitting down with them to actually get some meaningful work done. Instead of telling alumni how to donate their money or ripping on the athletic department Earl should tell the state politicians they are responsible for funding academics.

My suspicion is that Earl has an ego that has to be stoked and being the professor of a subject no one gives two cents about doesn't satisfy said ego. The Knights and all other donors are doing the University a favor by allowing the athletic department to run financially independent. Placing blame on the athletic department for Earl's like-minded (just taking a wild guess on ideology) political hacks' inability to fund higher education is an archaic line of thinking. This should come as no surprise as Earl is a "Medieval Literature expert". Personally, I find it more offensive that my alma mater pays someone a professor's salary to teach three courses. Only one of which is above 100 level to boot!

Now let's get back to the gift from the Knights. I cannot imagine giving any money to the UO (they made me pay out-of-state tuition even after I was married so they have all of the money they will ever get from me) let alone $100M. That is an amazing gift to the school and will allow the athletic department to build a new basketball stadium. Again, people are crying that a new arena is going to be built but it provides revenue streams for the athletic department to remain financially independent. This is very important and deep in his heart Earl knows that it is. The Knights' gift to the UO is a great one and I hope that they know it is appreciated. I could never bring myself to publicly rip an individual for donating millions of dollars even if it was to the Medieval Literature department. It amazes me that some people think it is their place to tell someone how to donate money.

Articles related to the gift itself are here, here, here, and here. Articles and blogs with reaction to the gift can be found here, here, here, and here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

2007 Dodgers, R.I.P.

It sure was fun while it lasted. After Sports Illustrated picked the Dodgers to represent the National League in the World Series in its season preview issue I was pumped. The Dodgers appeared to have what it takes to make a deep run. The season started out well as the Dodgers were in 1st place for much of the season until about 3 weeks ago. The wheels started to fall off near the trading deadline and now they have completely come off. The Dodgers are stuck on the side of the road and everyone is passing them by. If it weren't for the Giants, the worst team in all of organized baseball, the Dodgers would be noticing last place in the rear-view mirror.

I had a hunch things wouldn't end well
earlier in the season. Contrary to the statistics, I had been watching the games and noticed the Dodgers registered a 0 on the clutchness scale. They have spent the entire season hitting singles and leaving countless runners on base. For whatever reason the rest of the National League was sucking also, thus creating the mirage that the Dodgers were actually doing okay. I usually like to analyze the stats to back up what I say but it would be too painful. Someone else can actually figure out the Dodgers record over the last few weeks and their batting stats over the same time period because it will likely bring me to tears. I do know that not too long ago they were in 1st place with the most wins in the National League. But winning 2 or 3 games the last month or so makes that a far more . The Dodgers are loaded with prospects but have been dicking around with them (particularly the ones at 3rd base) all season. They certainly can't be any less clutch than the old, cagey veterans so it's time to get them some playing time and see if they are as good as everyone thinks.

A lot of folks will want to put the blame on Grady Little because that is the easy thing to do but I'm convinced that's not the problem. It really is not his fault the team has a lot of old guys and the starting pitching has had injury problems. It pains me to say that the Dodgers are done but their collapse over the last few weeks leaves me with no other option. Thankfully, football season is here and I don't have to agonize over the worst hitting team in clutch situations my eyes have ever seen.

(Photo from Lori Shepler/LA Times.)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Civil War Controversy

Up here in the Willamette Valley we are in the midst of a controversy. Before I give you the details of said controversy I will provide a little bit of background for those not familiar with the Civil War. The state of Oregon only has two major schools that also participate at the the highest level of college athletics. The University of Oregon is located in Eugene and Oregon State University is located 45 minutes north in Corvallis. Both schools think the other school is inferior to the other. Both towns think the other town is inferior. It's quite funny because if one wanted to be truly honest about it neither town is so great that it makes the other seem pathetic. This comes from a Californian so take it for what it's worth. Eugene seems to think it's so incredibly sophisticated that Corvallis couldn't possibly be a place worth living (could be true). Corvallis thinks Eugene is so concerned with environmental matters that they can't get out of their own way (definitely true).

When it comes to the actual schools I tend to believe UO is far superior. I guess having two degrees from the place will make you feel that way. But in all honesty, depending on your interests each school could be the right one for you. UO has good business, education, architecture and journalism schools. OSU is known more for the sciences; agriculture and all forms of engineering. Now when you put all of this together (proximity, town snootiness and differing academics) you get quite a rivalry, but not a rivalry like they have in the SEC. You see, UO and OSU fans are in the same families, work together and live next door to each other. For the most part UO and OSU fans detest each other only when the teams are playing each other. At all other times they root for each other. Oregonians, regardless of affiliation, hate the same things; Huskies, Trojans, and Bruins, just not each other. Well, given recent events that may change but I truly doubt it if both sides really look at the incident in question.

The one OSU team that a lot of UO fans have gotten behind the last few years has been the baseball team. Without a team UO faithful needed a baseball team to root for so why not go with the best team in the country? This sentiment all changed on July 13th when the UO brought back baseball. Things have been relatively peaceful on the baseball front but Brian Meehan of The Oregonian tried to change that yesterday with his piece about Oregon's search for a baseball coach. According to "a well-placed source" (Meehan's words) the UO talked to OSU's Pat Casey (pictured above) about its vacant coaching job. Meehan didn't leave it at that, he went on to explain that Oregon has violated unwritten rules, been unabashed jerks and spit on Benny the Beaver. Okay, maybe not the last one, but I have a well-place source that says a UO alum did that recently.

I'm not real sure what Meehan was trying to do with his article. Maybe someone can help me out. Here's how I see it. Oregon stated they wanted the best coach possible, what's the harm in contacting the best coach possible? Is it Oregon's fault that he lives 45 minutes away? OSU faithful should be flattered the dreaded Ducks would even consider an OSU coach. There is no way he would leave the back-to-back national champs to start from scratch anyway.

Well, all of this talk about Oregon being incredibly rude for maybe talking to the best coach in the country led to articles in The Register-Guard and The Oregonian this morning. Ron Bellamy has a pretty good article squelching the thought that Oregon would contact Casey. (I'm not sure if it is a PR piece for the UO or hard-hitting journalism but it does get its point across.) On the front of the sports section is a picture of Casey with UO athletic director Pat Kilkenny at a Eugene Emeralds game over the weekend. (I'd provide a link to the picture but I do not see it online so just take my word.) Also in the picture is San Diego Padres general manager, Kevin Towers, a friend of Kilkenny and former teammate of Casey's. Then the 4th guy in the photo is a candidate for Oregon's coaching vacancy, Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin. In the article Kilkenny denied offering the job to Casey and UO President Dave Frohnmayer said he gave orders not to contact Casey about the job.

Now I would hope for the sake of Meehan that he did not receive word of Casey attending a game with Oregon's athletic director and then go on a wild goose chase trying to figure out if he was offered the job. Today, Meehan wrote a follow-up story with much the same information as Bellamy but added to his investigative piece from the previous day stating, "Other coaches in the Northwest also said they had heard about the offer (from Oregon to Casey)." Where in the hell was that line in yesterday's piece? Yesterday's article simply said, "... potential candidates already were talking about Oregon trying to woo Casey from Corvallis." Meehan then went on yesterday to talk to UC Irvine head coach Dave Serrano who isn't quoted saying anything about Oregon offering Casey. Serrano just says UO is trying to get a good coach and playing with limited scholarships will be difficult. Nothing inflammatory there as far as I can tell. Meehan does not have to disclose his source (according to yesterday's article) or sources (according to today's article) so one may never know what tipped him to write the piece.

Whatever the case, I don't think this is as big a deal as Meehan wants it to be. If Oregon didn't talk to Casey the picture in The Register-Guard is a pretty tight alibi since Meehan wouldn't name names. And if Oregon did talk to him it wouldn't be the first time the best coach in a college sport has been approached by another school. Just becuase it is a rival shouldn't matter. Oregonians need to quit thinking big-time college athletics is like Little League. Ruffling the other's feathers (pardon the pun) at a time besides Civil War week of football should not be seen as a crime. If UO and OSU want to be seen as national powers they shouldn't get their feelings hurt when someone else wants to talk to their coaches no matter who it is.

As a side note to all of this, read both of Meehan's articles. Yesterday's was certainly an opinion piece, then today's was much more of a news piece. I also like how in today's article Meehan states, "... the university reacted emphatically to a column in The Oregonian on Monday that reported Oregon had offered its head baseball position to Pat Casey." Meehan, could you somehow throw in there that yesterday's column was an editorial and you were the one that wrote and that you were adding some information today that was not in there yesterday to make that piece a little bit stronger? I did not go to journalism school so someone needs to enlighten me on journalists being able to provide opinions based on conjecture one day then write a follow-up piece on the same topic the next day and present it as news and not opinion.

(Photo from OSU Athletics.)

Monday, August 13, 2007

Awkward Commercials Are Back

Due to a busy work schedule last night's Seahawks vs. Chargers game was the first NFL preseason game I was able to catch a substantial part of. It's embarrassing to admit that I watched most of a game that does not count but I needed to get my football fix in. I generally dislike the Chargers and Seahawks for obvious reasons. The Chargers because they are in the Broncos' division and the Seahawks because they had to leave the vaunted AFC West before they could win consistently. It's no coincidence that the Seahawks finally became a playoff contender after leaving the AFC West. As I watched the game a few things caught my eye.

1. John Madden is already in mid-season form. He spent a good couple of minutes dissecting the enchiladas he received. I'm sure it is a surprise to nobody that he did a marvelous job. It makes me wonder when he will ever be on a Martha Stewart or Rachel Ray type of show.

2. There were countless shots of the cheerleaders throughout the broadcast. The uniform designers defy all rules of physics with the tops they create. The women are so tantalizingly close to falling out of their tops. It's like a car wreck actually. You just can't take your eyes off of it because you don't know what you are going to see next.

3. One would only have to watch the commercials to know the NFL is back. I sat through a few too many Cialis commercials that made me uncomfortable and embarrassed for the actors.

4. San Diego is my favorite city in California. I love visiting there so seeing the sights of the city throughout the night was awesome.

5. Apparently due to Tony Romo's inability to hold a snapped football on field goals the NFL has its own version of Homeland Security for 'K' balls. There is a completely new way of dealing with balls used for kicking. It's quite a science. As sad as it is, the NFL takes more care in ensuring the 'K' balls are taken care of than the NBA does in ensuring its games are fairly refereed.

6. At one point in the 4th quarter the Seahawks 5th string was making a comeback on the Chargers 5th string. The Seahawks were down two points and got into field goal range. Their kicker missed but the Chargers had 12 men on the field. Thus, the Seahawks kicked again and made the kick. This completely changed the momentum of the game and the Seahawks went on to win by 8. I bring this up because if Marty Schottenheimer can be fired after going 14-2, I think it is time to put Norv Turner on the hotseat after that blunder.

7. They previewed the upcoming September schedule for Sunday Night Football and it nearly put me to sleep. There are way too many games involving teams from the NFC East. It is easily the most boring division in the NFL and their games are painfully boring. Only the Big Ten games on Saturday's compete for being less TV-friendly.

8. Towards the end of the game they showed the spots in Qualcomm Stadium where the team video coordinators shoot from. I will simply say that it was awesome to see that. I had no idea there was such a thing as team video guys. See, you learn something new every day.

(Photo of Ben Obomanu from Lenny Ignelzi/AP Photo.)

The Limb Does Not Break

I went out on a limb last week and predicted that Tiger Woods would win his 13th major at the 2007 PGA Championship. Nobody else thought he had a chance but I stuck my neck out there and it paid off. There is nothing sweeter in sports than picking the underdog and watching him prevail. Tiger had very few people rooting for him on the course yesterday but he was able to battle through it. I commend Tiger on his amazing performance and making me look like a genius with my daring prediction.

As for the other guys I picked to do well? I guess it depends on your definition of 'well'. Camilo Villegas finished in a tie for 23rd at +5 and Jeff Quinney was a mile from making the cut. As I define 'well' those guys did not perform up to the standard. It doesn't matter though as I feel great after seeing my darkhorse hold up the Wanamaker Trophy.

(Photo from Charlie Riedel/AP.)

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A-Rod Follow-Up

A little while back I alerted readers to Jose Canseco's assertion that he has "dirt" on A-Rod. He didn't actually say anything specifically about steroids but one could guess that is what he was referring to. As I predicted very little was mentioned by the general media on the matter. Put simply, A-Rod isn't the villain Bonds is. This week Chipper Jones has been bothered by media in New York because of some of his comments concerning A-Rod and his pursuit of the all-time home run record. I believe Jones was trying to say that in this day and age any player that puts up crazy numbers is going to have to answer questions. He may not have said it so succinctly but that seems like a reasonable interpretation. Due to my dislike of A-Rod that was essentially my point as well. If everybody else from this era (except Griffey, Jr. of course) is looked at with a critical eye, why not A-Rod?

Since I have kept my eye out for any discussion of this I came across a pretty good point dismissing the thought of A-Rod using steroids. I wish I remember where I read/heard it but I can't so the proper individual doesn't get the credit. The defense of A-Rod went like this. In the case of Bonds his home run numbers and body type changed dramatically after rubbing "natural" creams all over his body. Since A-Rod started playing at the age of 19 he has been putting up crazy numbers.

It kind of sucks for A-Rod, provided that he is clean, that he may have to go through this. Like my mom said when I hung out with friends of questionable character growing up. "Whether it is fair or not you can be guilty by association." It's not A-Rod's fault that he is playing today but regardless, he is going to have to answer the same questions as his contemporaries.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

New Duck Football Blog

Rob Moseley of Eugene's The Register-Guard (putting 'the' in there sounds weird) has started writing a blog, Duck Football with Rob Moseley, to accompany his daily work in the print version of the paper. If you want to know as much about Duck Football as you can possibly handle I would recommend giving the blog a try. In addition to being a Dodgers fan, Rob is at every Duck practice the UO Media Services allows him to be at and has good insight. He has said he is going to try and make the blog as interactive as possible so if you have a question or comment put it on the blog for him to read or consider. You can be assured Rob takes his job seriously since he is also on the UO women's basketball beat. If that's not pure dedication to one's craft I'm not sure what is. Make sure you give the blog a look if you are interested in Duck Football.

(Picture of Rob from The Register-Guard.)

2007 PGA Championship Preview

The tournament just started but a preview is still in order. I have had tremendous success previewing the last 2 majors so why not make it a trifecta.

Course Report: The PGA Championship is being held in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I haven't been to Tulsa but I have been to Oklahoma. Not exactly the type of place I would want to be playing golf in August. The course superintendent is probably setting some type of water usage record trying to keep things green. In the limited coverage I have been able to catch leading up to the tournament I see the golfers using water bottles like NFL players at training camp. With the weather being so hot I have a hunch a player that is in peak physical shape will take the trophy. So who could that be?

1. Tiger Woods - He demolished the competition last week winning by 8 strokes. For perspective realize that most NBA games not refereed by Tim Donaghy are decided by a smaller margin. Also, Woods is in tremendous shape. While some of the other guys are literally melting down on the weekend he will be grinding out another win.

2. Camilo Villegas - I am going to stick with the 'guys that are in shape' theme. Anyone who lies on his stomach to read the greens must be in decent shape. However, this tradition of laying out spread eagle on every green may equalize his conditioning in the warm conditions. He is from Colombia so perhaps he is used to such warmth.

3. Jeff Quinney - His near man-boobs may suggest he is not the most athletic golfer but don't assume that. I have heard from his former high school classmates that he was quite the baller. There is also word that his brother was a phenomenal tennis player in his day. With all of that taken into consideration watch for Quinney to be near the top of the leaderboard.

I can assure you that will be the final leaderboard. It would probably be wise to watch the event over the weekend just in case someone sneaks into contention.

(Photo of Southern Hills Country Club from

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Chase Is Finally Over

Barry Bonds finally hit 756 last night. Nothing like hanging around just so you can break a record. It was fitting that the Giants choked the game away last night because that's the way Bonds wanted it. Having never won a World Series you'd think he do what NBA players are famous for and find a team to pay for that might give him that ring. Instead, Bonds prefers to play for the one team that we all know had zero chance of winning a ring before the season started. For Bonds it's all about him so last night is exactly what he wanted. All of the attention and a loss.

It's obvious I am not a Bonds fan so I wasn't really rooting for him to break the record. When it became apparent he was going to break it I was hoping it could just happen. The chase dragged on for what seemed like months and it was getting so tiresome I was rooting for him to hit it already. Seeing his daughter do the chicken dance was getting really annoying. The first time she did it that was kind of cute. Then every other time she did it I wanted to puke. ESPN would always cut away to her and make a sweet comment about it. If Bonds was the loving father ESPN kept telling me he was he would have told his daughter she was embarrassing the family. Unless she does that to dad every time he walks through the front door at night I think Bonds should have told her to stop. As I see it a team that walks the only batter on the opposing team that has any chance of hurting them is not being chicken. On the other hand, a player who wants to play for a team that perpetually loses so he can feel comfortable is a chicken. A player that blames a teammate for his failed performance enhancing drug test last year is a chicken. And a player who's personal trainer is in jail for covering up for him is a chicken.

My last commentary on the record breaking home run is the spectacular reporting of one Erin Andrews. Let me first say that I do agree with the majority of human beings and think she is quite attractive. Up until last night I was never really bothered by her sideline reporting. The only thing that bothered me was that sometimes she would report from the sideline at college basketball games and the director would not cut away to show her and instead just put her name at the bottom of the screen. Well, last night Andrews didn't show me much. I remind you that she has been in the Giants dugout for the last couple of weeks now so having to interview Bonds after the record-breaking game had been on her docket for quite some time. When talking to Bonds she came up with some brilliant questions. Let's see if I can remember them:
  • When you walked to the batter's box what did you feel?
  • When you started to swing the bat what did you feel?
  • When the ball hit the bat what did you feel?
  • When you rounded the bases what did you feel?
  • When you touched home what did you feel?
  • When you saw Hank Aaron's message on the video board what did you feel?
  • When you mentioned your dad what did you feel?
Brilliant work Ms. Andrews. I can't imagine what questions you would have been able to come up with if you had been an honorary member of the Giants for another 2 weeks. I don't rail on her because I wanted her to ask about steroids. That would not have been the time to do it but at least pretend that you made it through journalism school because of your journalistic merit Erin. My brother-in-law has kids in his 6th grade class that could have come up with something a little bit more intelligent than that. The good thing is that the chase is finally over. The bad thing is that I don't get to watch the Giants lose every single night. Instead, I have to suffer watching the Dodgers melt down on every night.

(Photo from Jeff Chiu/AP.)

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Dennis Dixon MiLB Update: Final

With football practice starting Dixon has finished up his 2007 baseball season. It wasn't a complete success but it certainly wasn't a failure. Here are Dixon's stats at Rookie level in the Gulf Coast League and here are his stats from Rookie level in the Appalachian League. For having not played baseball in something like 4 years he held his own. Dixon's high number of walks suggests good plate discipline. There were a decent amount of strikeouts though too. Without seeing film and taking into account the bases on balls, I attribute that to simply not making contact as opposed to swinging at bad pitches. I'm not much of an expert on baseball but being selective at the plate seems like it would be pretty hard to do after a lengthy layoff. Over time I imagine Dixon would be able to hone his swing and make more solid contact. The question for the Braves becomes will Dixon have/make the time? He certainly won't this fall as quarterbacking the Ducks is his sporting priority.

Throughout the summer I believed that him playing baseball for a few weeks wasn't a terrible idea. Among die-hard Ducks fans I got the feeling I was in the minority. Who can fault a guy for taking a nice little 6-figure sum to play some baseball in Florida for a few weeks? According to Rob Moseley of the Register-Guard, teammates and coaches felt Dixon had a pretty good first day of practice. The article even mentions that Dixon thinks he learned a lot from baseball, primarily dealing with failure. Only time will tell how Dixon's season will go. With the article as evidence, I will have a hard time believing Dixon playing baseball for a few weeks will have a negative impact on the Ducks' season. Fans will want to blame baseball on any negatives that happen but as the first day of practice proved, baseball likely won't have a negative impact on his ability to quarterback.

(Photo from Brian Davies, Register-Guard.)

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Coaches Say ACC = WAC

The first USA Today Coaches' Poll was released yesterday. I do not have any historical data on the relevance of the first poll of each season but I could care less. I am really fired up for college football this year and this gives me a chance to talk about it. As was predicted during last season's Rose Bowl the USC Trojans are the overwhelming #1. They received 45 of a possible 60 1st place votes. With a lot of stars returning and a who's who of high school All-Americans waiting for their chance to shine, USC looks like a tough team.

A fair number of people in the Northwest want to hate on USC but their record speaks for itself. They will be getting everyone's best game and have to travel to Autzen this year. Unfortunately, Autzen is no longer the intimidating venue for opponents it once was. The Ducks are 15-9 (.625) at home against BCS Conference schools in the last 5 years. (I value games against non-BCS teams very lightly and choose not to count them. We can get into my theories on playing cupcake teams at a later time.) Whatever your belief on using non-BCS victories in compiling historical information, we can agree that hopefully Autzen becomes the venue it was in the late 1990s. I'd be remiss not to mention that if you count the 'others receiving votes' category the Ducks are 36th. Here's to hoping that improves as the season wears on. (The 2nd game of the season will likely dictate how fast that does or does not happen.)

I enjoy looking at conference breakdowns in the rankings so have provided that for the first poll of the season below. We'll have to revisit this at the end of the year to see how it panned out.

SEC: 6
Big Ten: 4
Big XII: 4
Pac-10: 3
Big East: 3
ACC: 2
WAC: 2
MWC: 1

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Giants Get What They Deserve

As a hater of the San Francisco Giants nothing makes me happier than seeing them in dead last. They have decided that it is in their best interest to pay a very old player, that the rest of MLB did not want to sign, an extraordinary amount of money. In return they have one of the oldest everyday lineups in the history of baseball (10 out of 14 positional players over 30, some way over 30). Keep in mind the history of baseball is a very long one. As a result of selling their souls to the devil the Giants have also resigned themselves to being Barry apologists. This certainly is something I would never want to be for any price. I guess 35 years from now when the Giants still have not won a World Series as members of the Bay Area community they will be glad they devoted themselves to the great farce that is the home run chase.

Theories abound as to why the Giants have stuck with Bonds and for me it is quite simple. They are the Giants. They are a terrible team and have no other way of servicing their stadium debt then putting a sideshow out in left field for the crazy people of San Francisco to come and watch. I have long had this theory that Giants fans are getting just what they have asked for. An awful team with a player everyone wants to see so they can blindly cheer him (Bay Area folks) or boo the hell out of him (nearly everyone else).

Tonight as I read a side article on the Dodgers vs. Giants game I realized even Bonds' teammates have to toe the company line. Whether it was a coincidence or not the Dodgers hosted a steroid awareness clinic at the ballpark for teenagers. Personally, I find it hilarious that they had to reschedule the event and today was the day chosen as the makeup date. There really is no other team that should be opposing the Dodgers as they host a steroid awareness clinic. With the Giants being complicit in the Bonds fiasco I predict they have essentially replaced the Red Sox as the team with a curse. My grandchildren will be telling their grandchildren about the Bonds Curse many years from now.

The greatest quotes from the article on this evening's event came from the Giants themselves. Rich Aurilia said, "I saw that today when I was coming into the park in the taxi -- steroids awareness clinic. Pretty ironic, huh? You think they planned it that way?" Wow, that is a true teammate. Everyone knows if the tables were turned Bonds would throw him under the bus given his history as a true team player. Aurilia could have mentioned that it is a good idea to have an event at the park and that the Giants should consider doing the same. Nothing really controversial in that type of statement.

Okay, so the teammate looked like a moron, what was the manager's response? Bruce Bochy's response to the event, "What they're doing here, I don't have any thoughts on it." You're to tell me Bochy, who has had one former player that admitted to steroid use die at an early age (other drugs were also used, cocaine was found in his system at the time of his death), has no opinion on teaching kids about the dangers of steroids? What a moron. My only hope for Bochy is that the twisted management of the Giants that has pandered to Bonds all these years has told him to respond in that way. For someone to have a 'who cares' attitude about steroids and kids is truly embarrassing.

In the end, not only do Giants fans look stupid for drooling at the sight of Bonds and the ownership look foolish for overpaying by a long shot for his services but his teammates and coaches (who he could care less about) look like imbeciles trying to defend him. San Francisco Giants fans everywhere, have a good time with that Bonds Curse, I know I will enjoy every minute of it.

(Photo of the last time the Giants will ever win a World Series from the Academy of Achievement. So you know, it was 1954 and the Giants were residents of New York City since the majority of people reading this weren't around then and would have no idea the Giants have actually won before.)

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Throw It Back!

I don't have much in common with Los Angeles Dodgers fans. The only thing I do have in common is that I am a Dodgers fan. I don't like the city of Los Angeles. I don't root for USC in the fall during football season then root for UCLA in the winter during basketball season. I don't go to Staples Center one year to see the Lakers then to see the Clippers the next year. And I don't have much use for Hollywood celebrities. I get the feeling we do feel the same about Barry Bonds though.

The last 2 nights the Dodgers have played the Giants on ESPN2 because Bonds is one home run away from Hank Aaron. Bonds hasn't done much and the Dodgers have been pitching to him for the most part. The animosity between Bonds and the Dodger Stadium faithful gives me the chills. Every time he comes to the plate they boo him and as sad as it is to admit I am doing the same thing from about 1,000 miles away. It makes me feel good to boo such a bad guy. On tonight's broadcast Chris Berman predicted Bonds would hit the tying home run tomorrow night in Chavez Ravine. I think he has made that prediction every night for the last week but we won't hold it against him. The Dodgers do have Brett Tomko pitching tomorrow, which guarantees that they will need to score 8+ runs to have a chance at winning. Bonds may get a home run tomorrow, I doubt it. In the event that he does I encourage the Dodgers fan that catches it to throw the ball back.

With all of the steroid talk the value of the ball has diminished over the last few years. One may ask how a ball that hasn't been used could be going down in value but it has. Just believe me. I understand that the ball could still fetch quite a bit of money but the chance to throw it back would be legendary. Giving away thousands of dollars is considered a terrible mistake in today's culture but I contend the individual that throws it back will become more memorable than the one that sells it. People will remember how much money the ball sells for but they won't remember who's bank account has the money. On the other hand, the image of a true Dodgers fan chucking the ball back onto the field will be right up there with the Kirk Gibson home run of 1988. I realize I may be talking out of both sides of my mouth by arguing one should pass up the money in exchange for the chance to become more memorable/famous. I just think it would be more fun to throw the ball back and have 15 minutes of fame as a result of dissing Bonds and the pathetic Giants.

As a side note, the record will show in October that the Dodgers late season dominance began with a Nomar Garciaparra home run on August 1st. It was a great moment for all Dodgers fans and will be held in my heart forever. It was the first Dodgers game I ever watched with my unborn child at my side. He or she will most certainly be a fan of the Dodgers as a result of Nomar's heroics and my celebratory dancing.

(Photo from Kevork Djansezian/AP.)