Wednesday, November 19, 2008

2008 Upset Special Week #13

Need to get this one in early since all of the JV college teams play in the middle of the week (Oregon State included!). Call me a hater but I cannot stand talk about non-BCS teams being Top 15 teams. Having to play no more than one good team a season does not allow one to claim they are worthy of inclusion with the big boys. Boise State is a cute story because they beat Oklahoma a couple of years ago, I get that. But you're to tell me a week after beating Oklahoma they would have been able to beat Texas, then Baylor, then Colorado, then Texas Tech, then Oklahoma State, then Oklahoma? Not a chance. (Notice I sprinkled in a couple of average BCS teams in there just for fun.) And I don't want to hear any talk about it not being fair to non-BCS teams. Is it fair that I couldn't get into an Ivy League school because my SAT, GPA and a variety of other things were not strong enough? I contend that it is.

I ramble on about all of this because tonight one of the spectacular non-BCS teams plays tonight. Ball State is at Central Michigan (+7). Central Michigan has a quarterback that is supposed to be the poor man's Tim Tebow. Whether or not that is true I have serious doubts. One thing I do not doubt is that if Ball State played Washington State the Cougars would not even be the third worst team they played. Go here to check out the gauntlet of football powers Ball State has had to encounter on their way to football glory. If I'm not mistaken only one of those teams has a winning record (Navy is 6-4). So there you have it. I have a strong dislike for non-BCS teams crashing the BCS just as you would have a strong dislike if I decided I should be a practicing medical doctor because it just seems fair.

Last Week: So maybe me being an upset special picker is just as foolish as non-BCS teams playing in big boy bowls.

Season-to-Date: 2-9. Still better than the Bengals and maybe the Oregon men's basketball team?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

2008 Upset Special Week #12

Not a lot of barn burners this week to choose from. After perusing the lines I was a bit surprised to see Oregon a touchdown favorite but there is no way I would pick that game. Nearly by default the game that will result in me having a winning streak is in the Big XII. Kansas State (+6) is hosting Nebraska. I do not even know the records of these teams I just know that I can't stand Nebraska and Kansas State is so bad their coach was fired already, though he is still coaching. With all of that it is a shock that College GameDay is not in Manhattan this week.

Last Week: Pure domination. As has been the case all year my pick pulled off the upset. The Hawkeyes saved the Big Ten a lot of embarrassment.

Season-to-Date: 2-8. When you're good you're good. What can I say?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

2008 Upset Special Week #11

Here we go again. This week's pick came down to two games. One in the Pac-10 (hint: Oregon's premier community college is heading to LA) and one in the Big Ten. Since I am such a charitable fellow I decided to go with the game from the Big Ten. I am making this pick because the Big Ten needs this upset to happen. It is an incredibly weak conference that is painfully boring to watch. In the event that the Big Ten has another undefeated team I am confident they would be able to weasel their way into the National Championship. My predictions have been admittedly terrible but I can guarantee a Big Ten team would get throttled in that game no matter who the opponent is. In essence, I am making this pick because I have the Big Ten's best interests in mind. The Iowa Hawkeyes (+7.5) will take down the Penn State Nittany Lions. This is the last chance anyone has of beating Penn State so why not go with the beloved Hawkeyes. Their coach may be the most overpaid and their roster may have the most convicts but you have to love Iowa.

Last Week: Only a certain Pac-10 team's special teams were worse than my pick.

Season-to-Date: 1-8, surprisingly right on par with the resurgent Bengals.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Cal Game Rehash

This recap of the Cal game is not late because the Ducks lost. It is late because I just dried off and now feel confident I can use the keyboard without ruining it. I did not see what the rain looked like on TV but trust that it was far worse than you could have imagined. As one who just spent eight years in Eugene I can tell you it was the worst rain I have subjected myself to ever. I could go to every Cal football game for the next 50 years, combine the amount of rain that falls on me and not get rained on as much as I did Saturday. I was the only one in our group that had rain gear and I was completely soaked by halftime. Luckily what my friends and family lacked in rain gear they made up for with beer and liquor. If not for that stuff I would have been watching the game alone. We were there for the entire game if anyone doubted our commitment. Some thoughts on the game as I remember them a week later:

The Lasik did no good. My brother-in-law could see better than he has in years but BearVision still stunk. From the other side of the stadium it was impossible to distinguish what sport was being played let alone who was playing. So you know, I am not a facilities snob. You will not find me bragging about Oregon's this and Oregon's that. It's all about winning games in my book so that will tell you just how pathetic BearVision is.

As for the play on the field. In my prediction I predicted that the special teams would be the difference since I did not break them down. I will only say that that was a major understatement. Drops, blocks and misses were present throughout the game. Never have I seen an early 4th quarter missed field goal change the momentum of the game. Up until that point the vibe in the stadium was all Oregon's and everyone knew it.

I give Cal fans credit. After the game I did not see any of them treating Ducks fans like second class citizens. I embarrassingly assured my wife's uncle that when he comes to Autzen (he calls it Autism) next year Ducks fans will not return the favor. They may have been extra nice to us because they too were miserable but whatever the case I appreciated the apathy of Cal fans at that point.

In the days that followed friends told me they were bummed for me and wanted to know what I thought about Oregon losing its national ranking. Maybe I love being a contrarian (okay, I really, really love being a contrarian) but does being ranked 24th mean anything? My response has been, "If you're not in the Top 5 or 10 it really does not matter." Teams ranked eleven through 119 generally go to crappy bowl games or none at all.

Lastly, this does not have much to do with the Cal game but Bellotti need not be fired. I actually like Canzano, we share opinions on a certain basketball coach, but I think his latest article is a stretch. I will have more on my thoughts relating to expectations for Oregon Football after the Stanford game, win or lose. And the result of the game will have nothing to do with my thoughts.

A Small Political Rant

(Warning: I am not a politician so when I talk politics it is real, not contrived. Therefore, I bounce from topic to topic and have a hard time making my points flow.)

I usually try not to talk too much politics on here. Though it is mentioned in the subtitle I figure it is best I leave that stuff alone. (Update: It is not in the subtitle. Oh well, you can still read this if you want.) Not too many people agree with my beliefs and certainly not very many people in my demographic. People enjoy reading what someone has to say about sports if they do not agree. It just fires them up to respond or wallow in the truth that was just read. When it comes to politics people take it far too seriously. The bottom line with thinking related to politics is that most people think their beliefs are the only ones. If someone else believes differently then they are terrible people. Don't believe me? Just be me in a journalism graduate school class during the '04 election and you will know what I am talking about.

Today the weird worlds of sports and politics intersected for me. As is my usual Friday tradition I wore a black polo shirt with a small, white Oregon 'O' on the left front breast. (I realize front breast is a bit redundant.) It very closely resembles the shirt that is to be worn at work so I have made the executive decision that I can wear it on Fridays. Before I made it to work I needed to stop at Kinko's to send out an item for express delivery. As I returned to my car a redneck came barreling through the parking lot. He glanced at my shirt and proceeded to 'M-F' me (sorry for not writing what he actually said, use your brain to figure it out) for wearing an Obama shirt. By the time I realized he was talking to me he had already passed. Trust me when I say that this guy was a redneck. He was driving a pickup, had a hat on with a bill that was curved to a near semi-circle, sported what looked like a Carhartt style jacket and well, said what he said.

The funny part about the incident is that if he had actually known what the 'O' on my shirt meant then he would have probably assumed I was an Obama backer anyway. Unfortunately, that is not the case. For fiscal reasons alone I am not prone to vote for a Democrat. And if the last few years are any indication, not a Republican either. Since I am so poor at this moment Obama's tax plan does not really tweak me. Rest assured, I am not out for handouts like a fair number of people. By the next election I hope to be close to needing a Republican in office for income tax reasons. I'll keep you posted on how that goes!

Now that I have tip-toed around the fact that I did not vote for Obama because I'm not that fired up about him I will try to win your hearts back. I abstained from making a selection on the presidential portion of my ballot. Maybe I am chicken but I could not bring myself to vote for someone just because. (The presence of the electoral college also made my vote pointless since I live in California and it was not going to be for Obama.) By choosing a running mate that is not smarter than me McCain lost my vote. That is one of my simple criterion when looking to vote for president. Are the people on the ticket smarter than me? I am not the smartest person so that is not a high bar to set but given Palin's performances I had to conclude that I would destroy her in any version of Trivial Pursuit. For those that want to say that T-Pursuit does not establish if one is smart or not, get a clue. It is meant as a joke. But if you know me you know you would bet your house that I would win that match up! Reading every word on the Internet allows for my brain to store an inordinate amount of pointless information.

The last little portion of the election that confuses me and forces me to question the intelligence of Americans is that local people did not get the boot like the national leaders. Though I am conservative (not registered with any party though) I found nothing wrong with Americans deciding it was time to give someone else a chance to drive the ship. But why doesn't that trickle down to the local offices as well? Here in my city things are just like they are elsewhere. Times are tough. But who wins the seats on city council? The incumbents. Give me a break. It is nice to put a new guy in the White House but what is he really going to do for the city. To be frank, nothing. The city council has a lot more to do with our day-to-day lives than does the POTUS.

Now that the American people have voted I hope Obama is up to the challenge. It takes tough skin to take the blame for everything that happens. You have to figure since Bush gets blamed for car wrecks, hang nails and attic fires that Obama will get blamed for weird things as well. As an American I am left to hope he can keep half the promises he made. We sure as hell know he made a lot of them. I am not going to stand in front of the Mormon temple and demand the results change because they are not as I would want them. Obama won fair and square so he is the one to take over and I can live with that.

In a terrible attempt to abruptly wrap this up I will return to my 'Oregon/Obama' shirt. After I chuckled at the idiocy of the redneck I got in my vehicle and proceeded out of the parking lot to the intersection. It just so happened that I was one lane over and one car ahead of the redneck at the red light. With my Oregon 'O' sticker on the back I can only assume he thought I was taunting him. His windows were rolled up by then so I was not able to hear the venom I assume he was spewing. How dare I wear an 'Obama' shirt and put an 'Obama' sticker on my vehicle!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Oregon vs. Cal

I am headed over with a group of 13 to Berkeley tomorrow. It is a mixture of Ducks and Bears but we have one thing in common, we are family. Any time you can get the family out for a football game it is awesome. We are leaving early in the morning so we can tailgate with breakfast burritos, pastries and beverages of one's choosing. It all has me wondering if I am even going to be able to sleep tonight. The threat of rain (90% chance) does not bother me at all. Though sunshine would be nice, the opportunity to see the Ducks trumps that. There is not a single Duck fan that follows this blog that wants me to make a prediction so I won't. My upset specials have been anything but special. I will predict a couple of things though.

First, my brother-in-law (a Duck grad) has no idea how happy he will be that he got Lasik surgery done today. Though he may not be fully recovered, without the surgery he would have had zero chance of seeing the Cal video board. Now with those wicked shades the doctor provided him there is hope that he will be able to see a Duck touchdown on the screen.

My other prediction is that the game will be close. I do not see the Ducks winning a blowout and Tedford's ultra-conservative playcalling when in the lead means this one will be a nailbiter. I'll provide a layman's breakdown of the key positions.

The Ducks appear to have the advantage on the lines since Cal's O-line is banged up. The quarterback position isn't necessarily a strength for either side but if forced to I would give the slight edge to Oregon since for whatever reason Riley has not been the man for the entire season.

Running backs end up being a draw for me and that is because of the linebacker play. As long as I have been a Duck fan the linebackers have never been better than servicable. This year's bunch doesn't strike fear into anyone and when healthy (not sure how healthy he is at this moment) Jahvid Best is the type of runner that wreaks havoc on unathletic linebackers. On the other side the Ducks running backs are solid and so are the Cal linebackers. That is likely where the game will be won or lost.

I think both secondaries are overrated and more so if the weather is wet. If I'm Masoli I throw at whoever Syd'Quan Thompson is covering. Though he appears to be a Strawberry Canyon favorite I have not seen anything from him that suggests he can actually cover a receiver. His name gets called a lot because he has a knack for tackling the receiver that just caught the ball in front of him. Hopefully the Ducks defensive line is able to make a mess of the pocket so that Riley doesn't have time to find the open receivers.

I admit to knowing very little about the special teams play for either team. Contrary to popular belief I actually have a life. So you have to figure the kickers, along with the weather, is what will decide the game since I have not broken them down. As for the prediction: I'm going 30-27.

2008 Upset Special Week #10

My success with this weekly post has been phenomenal. It's a minor miracle that a major news network or Vegas casino hasn't hired me. This week I'm heading to the SEC. I see that Auburn is a 6.5 point underdog at Ole Miss. Auburn has had a terribly disappointing season. My hunch is that their defense will hold Ole Miss to less than 10 and score at least 10 on their own. In essence I am picking the Auburn defense to defeat Ole Miss.

Last Week: Do you even have to ask?

Season to Date: 1-7. When all is said and done the record will show that the Pac-10 refs screwing UW in week two did more than cost Ty Willingham his job.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cal Game Prelude

This should have been posted a while ago but now is as good a time as any. I went to the Cal vs. ASU game a few weeks ago. First things first, it sure brought back terrible memories. The last and only time I had been there before was the site of "The Drop." If my memory serves me right, a Duck who shall remain nameless dropped a crucial pass right in front of the seats I was sitting in for this game. What a horrific moment to relive.

Now some random observations from the game:
  • The atmosphere at Cal games is very weak. They seem to think they are a big time bunch of fans but they have a dudeleader yelling into a megaphone/pa system telling them what to do. For me a lot of Duck fans are major homers but that sure beats having a trust fund, frat kid reminding me to get "moderately louder so that the opponent has difficulty converting on third down and long, which is defined by being seven yards or greater." So maybe those weren't his exact words but they were similar.
  • It's no wonder the fans need to be clued in on what's going on. If the folks sitting around me are any indication of the fan base then I would guess they prefer to attend art shows, not football games. The man seated right in front of me was a nice guy. He seemed like the type of guy that has two or three advanced degrees and works in a bookstore. Here are some of his gems:
"Hard yards, but well earned." (After a decent five or six-yard run.)
"One more opportunity to shine." (After a big play was called back on a holding penalty.)
"That was a work of beauty." (After a touchdown pass.)
"No creativity on that run." (After an unforgettable kickoff return.)
"Not a very distinguished series." (After a patented second half drive by a Tedford team that goes three and out, giving the impression that he has no desire to score and wants the opponent to stay in the game.)
"I hope you have a bulletproof car." (Yelled at referee after a questionable call. This one came out of nowhere but no one else seemed to think it was a weird thing to yell when the stadium was completely silent. And it got me thinking: What if a fan from say the Southeast or Midwest had said the same thing would the tolerant liberals of Berkeley had shrugged it off as no big deal? Oh, I am sure they would have. What am I thinking?)
  • I did not go to Cal but was offended by what they call a video screen. As a California resident who pays taxes that support the school I can't believe that is all the athletic department can muster. From the other side of the field it looks like nothing more than a 47" tube television seen at any number of grandparents' homes across America. Simply pathetic.
  • If this does not describe Cal then nothing does. Between the first and second quarter the UC Chief of Police was honored for doing such a wonderful job handling the tree protesters. Are you kidding? This is government at its finest. The man does nothing for over a year and gets recognized publicly for it. And to top it all off the crowd actually stands and claps for him. My conscience does not allow me to respect a place that thinks law enforcement's job is to do absolutely nothing and let hippies run anything but a commune.
  • I did not spend all of my time trying to rip on Cal. Through squinting eyes I did notice that they did a great job on one video shown on the big screen. As part of Homecoming they had a recent graduate spend a couple of minutes describing the fun she had as a Cal student. The genius part of the thing was that this recent graduate was very good looking. For a brief moment in time I wondered what it would have been like to go to Cal and I was not the only one. One gentleman I went to the game with who is 47-years-old seriously considered pursuing baccalaureate studies after the video ended.
  • Finally, I did learn something worthwhile that day. I now know how to determine if a college football rivalry is a real rivalry. Notre Dame is involved in the equation. If you hate Notre Dame more than the team in question then a rivalry does not exist. A true rivalry is like Cal vs. Stanford. When the score was announced that Notre Dame had beaten Stanford there was a unanimous cheer celebrating the Stanford lost. In comparison, I'm pretty sure the typical Duck fan is still tickled pink about Oregon State's Fiesta Bowl win way back when. To prove my point further let's pretend we are at Autzen. If Oregon State is beating Western Washington there is polite applause and a few cheers. If Notre Dame is losing in the first quarter by one point to Virginia it sounds like Oregon just scored a touchdown, minus the horn. So when someone tries to tell you that a rivalry is fierce just add Notre Dame to the equation to see if it really is. And if anyone can explain to me the vitriol Ducks fans have for a team that they have not played or had any reason to care about in the last 30 years please tell me.

Friday, October 24, 2008

2008 Upset Special Week #9

I promise I have not seen the results. Just got home from a long day. My pick this week is SJSU over Boise State. I heard on the radio that the spread was 7 so I should be good. This pick is simple. Boise State's schedule is as offensive as the preseason Oregon men's basketball schedule the last few years. Not this year though. Now that we have all freshmen we play harder teams, go figure. Rest assured I will delve into that phenomenon soon. Back to Boise State, I can't stand their schedule. You hear about people ripping on the SEC preseason schedule for being lame. Well, Boise State plays that schedule for an entire season. For all of the faithful Boise State fans out there I do know they beat Oregon this year. There is nothing I can say about that. Let's hope in turns out being a good Oregon team. Only time will tell. Now onto to see if I am already wrong.

Last Week: Nothing is working for me.

Season-to-Date: 1-6, still doing better than the Bengals.

Friday, October 17, 2008

2008 Upset Special Week #8

My apologies for missing last week. I am sure whatever team I was going to pick was heartbroken that I did not take the time to do it. I have a good excuse for missing though. I was busy planning a Grand Opening for the family's new business I am working for. Here is the website if you are interested.

Due to my tailbone (read the post below) I am making this quick. Iowa State is the pick. I do not even remember who they are playing. After scouring the lines earlier in the week that is the one that stood out to me. I could take the easy way out and pick Washington State over USC but have decided I want that second correct pick to be something special.

Two Weeks Ago: Loss, real shocker there.

Season To Date: 1-5. Just think, if I were a Bengals fan I would be thrilled to see that in the AFC standings!

I Miss Eugene

I never thought I would say the above words. Eugene is a nice enough place but let's just say Eugene and I do not agree on much of anything. I think transients are a bad thing, Eugene advertises to the transient demographic that it is a wonderful place to stay. I like to have parks for kids to play in, Eugene likes to have parks for dogs. I tend to think drug use is not a redeeming quality, Eugene prefers that one uses drugs. I could go on and on but you get the picture.

Well, tonight I wish I was in Eugene. That is assuming there is a softball league in Eugene that plays this late into the year. The one thing I learned from Eugene is that sometimes things aren't worth caring about. For me that is city league softball. It is fun to get out there but I will not dive, I will not slide and I do not really care if my team wins. There are far too important things to worry about in a typical week for me to get stressed out over softball. In our city league down here some people live for their city league game each week. They wear pinstriped baseball pants, cleats, fitted baseball hats, batting gloves, etc. Just for reference I wear tennis shoes, no hat, shorts and a long sleeve dri-fit.

Let's cut to the chase. In tonight's game I got completely ran over by a guy in pinstriped baseball pants as he was running the bases. My team has me playing third because the only reason I played varsity baseball was because I could field and throw. My hitting is not so strong. It probably reflects that I am not that strong to begin with but that is not important right now. Said moron in baseball pants at a city league softball game had no reason to run home so he stopped on third base. Knowing this is what he was going to do I did not move from standing on the foul line between third and home in the event of a throw. However, this guy decides that because I am in the base line he will take two or three steps, charge me, shove me and knock me flat on my back. For someone that is not a landscaper or road construction worker I thought the guy went a little too far to prove I was in the baseline. His teammates thought he was a hero and wondered why the umpire would not let him advance to home for my mistake of being in the baseline.

After getting up and realizing my tailbone is going to hurt like crazy tomorrow (why I am writing this now and not going to bed, just trying to delay the inevitable) I said a few things as I am prone to do. I made fun of the guy for caring way too much about city league softball and told the fat guy coaching third base to shutup and think about getting exercise. (Later in the game the fat third base coach guy sprained his ankle running the bases and I reassured him he would be okay since he is in such good shape.) I ashamedly admit to using a bad word at one point when yelling at their bench. It truly is out of character for me and looked even worse because I am playing on my church's softball team. At least it was a word I have seen in the Bible before. Jesus rode one of them on what we celebrate as Palm Sunday in case you cared. Hey, everyone has their faults and I am the first to admit it.

I tell this lengthy story because I know if I played a game in Eugene tonight no one would have cared enough about something so meaningless to make my tailbone's weekend miserable. It does make me feel good that the moron that ran me over has an arm at shortstop that is more suited for a co-ed division, if you know what I mean. If I threw like he did while wearing pinstriped baseball pants at a city league softball game I would probably try to act like a jerk too. It is far more acceptable to be remembered for being a classless punk than it is to throw a softball like my seven-month old daughter throws pacifiers. And you know I let him know I was impressed with his throwing arm, I just couldn't resist myself.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

2008 Upset Special Week #6

Since I am heading out the door to Berkeley for some California vs. ASU football I have to make this quick. My strategy this week was to pick the first game I came to on the list with a spread near seven. Lucky for me it was the first one. NC State (+8) will beat Boston College at home. There is no doubt in my mind. If you are a Wolfpack fan, I am sorry for doing this to you.

Last Week: Don't even ask.

Season-to-Date: 1-4

Saturday, September 27, 2008

2008 Upset Special Week #5

After scouring the sports page this morning I am left to assume the Sacramento Bee made a mistake. Duke is favored by seven points against Virginia. I realize Virginia stinks but Duke has defined the word for my entire lifetime. Just recently Duke was sued by Louisville for breach of contract by backing out of some games. As part of its defense Duke said it was the worst team so Louisville should have no problem replacing them on the schedule with a team of similar stature. That is the Cliff's Note version, find more here. Duke ended up winning the case so I am left to go with the courts on this one. Thomas Jefferson's school will pull this one out.

Last Week: Don't ask. It was better than the week before though.

Season-to-Date: A gross 1-3.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Starting Over

Much like those on Wall Street I am in need of a do-over. My strategy in picking an upset special every week is a complete and utter failure. Choosing a team whose coach I believe to be on the hotseat is not working out, for obvious reasons I know. The only thing worse than my last upset special may have been Oregon's defense but that is certainly up for debate. I do know my upset special pick was better than the special teams play of the Ducks though. A new strategy in picking an upset special has not been defined. I have spent the last couple of days trying to get over just how bad my last two picks have been. The craziest thing is that I almost felt like a winner this week since my pick only lost by 20-something as opposed to 59. Baby steps I suppose. At this rate my pick on October 4th might be in line for an actual win. I will be at the Coliseum watching one team that will be a severe underdog hoping they pull off a miracle. For that reason alone I am not picking the Ducks against USC because that would all but ensure a long drive home for me. This week's pick will be the beginning of a long road back to .500 for me. Probably just as long of a road for the Pac-10 (minus USC) to gain any respect from anyone.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

2008 Upset Special Week #4

It is probably a good idea to venture away from the Pac-10 since the last couple of weeks have been tough to take. I have had this pick in my sights for a whole week now. I admit to not being too confident in this pick but at some point the favored team's trash talk about its opponents is going to come back to bite them. Pardon the pun since they are known for waving their arms in a fashion that is supposed to resemble a chomp. I think it looks more like a variation on every two year olds favorite game, pattie cake, but that's just me.

This week's pick is the host Tennessee (+7.5) over Florida. Tennessee did lose to UCLA and, well, that is pathetic but I sense the players want to save their coach's job. This theory nearly worked for my Washington pick until the Pac-10 got in the way and I suspect the SEC officials will be dotting their I's and crossing their T's so let's take a chance on this one.

Last Week: The few people that do read this blog made fun of my pick and they have every right to. A weaker man would quit doing these picks after UCLA's performance but I am going to stick it out. I do stand by my assertion even more though. The Bruins will be back in the thick of playing for second place in the Pac-10 before too long so take advantage now.

Season to Date: 1-2

Saturday, September 13, 2008

2008 Upset Special Week #3

Things are really busy around our place. Trying to get things in order for a little get together to watch the Ducks in HD. As a result, the upset special breakdown is very simple. UCLA over BYU. Earlier in the week UCLA was about a 9-point underdog and I feel good about this one. Lost in all of the referee hubbub is that BYU stinks. UCLA on the other hand, Pac-10 teams better beat this year and next because they are going to be scary good very soon. Or so I predict.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Old White Men Ruin Everything

Once again the Pac-10 officials have shown their true colors. It never ceases to amaze me. Just one week after the conference had a great weekend on the field, the officials steal all of the thunder. And to top it all off the refs jobbed my upset special this week. No one needs to tell me that the game would have gone into overtime with a made kick (BYU had no chance of stopping Locker) and they still had a great chance to make the extra point with the penalty. That is not the point. The point is that Pac-10 leadership is a joke.

As of tonight they are defending the referee for making a call by saying a flag had to be thrown since it was not a judgement call. The defense for this is that the rule says you cannot throw the ball high into the air. Would the old, fat white guy please explain to me how he defines 'high' since there is no definition in the rule? My definition for high is so complex there is no way I would ever be able to throw a flag. I take into account elevation from sea level, speed at which the ball is thrown, when the ball is thrown, where the ball lands, what the follow through looked like, if the guy has a hot girlfriend and a bunch of other pointless variables. Every time someone back east rips on the Pac-10 they have every right to. The refs are brutal, the commissioner is brain dead and the media contract offends me. The product on the field is spectacular, ask Ohio State after next week's game, but everything else seems second rate.

This egregious error in judgement ruined my perfect upset special season, probably ensured Ty Willingham will be looking for a job about four months from now and increases the chances of my sleeper pick (Chip Kelly) being in contention for the UW job. That is the other part that bothers me. Willingham gets a lot of credit, and rightfully so, for being a class act but at some point he needs to show emotion. His team got royally screwed and all he could do was roam the sideline as if it were warm ups and then say the ref made the right call in his press conference. Here are his words (remember to read them in a boring monotone voice), "It's one that they almost have to call. It really should be a no-call, but it's one they have to call when they see it."

Willingham needs to stand up for his team in this instance and didn't. They should have taken the keys to his courtesy car as he left the podium and paid him his severance in pesos. I am 1,000 miles away, never played a down of tackle football in my life and hate the Huskies but somehow cared 10 times as much about that terrible call as Willingham did. My wife should have called an unsportsmanlike penalty on me for throwing the remote too high. I suppose she figured I had reason to lose my cool. If only Pac-10 refs had the smarts of my wife.

2008 Upset Special Week #2

After scouring the betting lines for this weekend's games there were not many candidates. A lot of "no chance at an upset" type games. Then I got near the bottom of the list and one game stood out: BYU @ Washington. Washington is a 9-point underdog so they're the pick. This boils down to one person and he is Jake Locker. I think he is a phenomenal athlete and hope he can turn into a phenomenal quarterback. The guy played some wooden bat college summer baseball and according to Baseball America was the top prospect in that league. I don't think he has even played baseball in a couple of years. The rationale behind this pick is pretty simple and is as follows:
  • The old-timers back from their Mormon missions have no chance of containing Locker.
  • Washington has to win this game to save Willingham's job because they are not beating Oklahoma next week.
  • I do not think Washington will play as poorly this week as last.
Last week: Stanford did beat Oregon State in a great ball game. I've already rehashed this brilliant pick so won't do it again.

Season to Date: 1-0

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Pac-10 In Review - Week 1

I admit to watching very little football this weekend. It was not because I did not try though. At the very last minute a long-time friend and his wife invited us to spend the weekend with them at a cabin near Santa Cruz. My very first question was whether or not there was a TV and if it had FSN. The answer was no. I then told them I would talk to my wife and she would decide if we went. Needless to say she thought very little about watching the Ducks game and we went. It was a great time had by all. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology I was able to follow the action on my phone so it was not all that bad. In the end, I accumulated some bonus points that I will cash in at a later point in the season. Not all was lost as I had a fresh boysenberry pie at about halftime of the Ducks game to celebrate certain victory. As for the happenings in the Pac-10 from a very uneducated point-of-view:

Stanford was my hero of the weekend until Monday night. Putting a hurting on Oregon State was great to see. I suppose I have finally been able to forgive Stanford for ruining a perfect season way back in 2001. Man, that was a very long time ago.

Oregon State coach Mike Riley is smarter than all of us. After much thought I have determined he loses early season games intentionally. He sets the bar so low that if Oregon State comes close to beating Penn State this week then he looks like Vince Lombardi. With Oregon State fans only hoping for a bowl appearance every year he has the cushiest job in America. Well done, Mike.

UCLA versus Tennessee was the only game I saw this weekend (unless you count Oregon's game on TiVo). It was a phenomenal game to watch. There is no way UCLA should have been close let alone win. Now I know this next sentence will banish me from any special Ducks, Huskies or Buffaloes clubs but I have to say it. I kind of like Neuheisel. I really don't think he is cheating now but he found a way to win that game with a rag tag bunch of misfits (not including the defensive line). A few more wins like that and he will retire early to become a motivational speaker.

Washington got beat by a far superior team. It certainly will not be the last time this year. I would have guessed they would show up and try to save Willingham's job but that did not happen. If I am a UW fan I have Chip Kelly as my darkhorse for next year's coach. His offense has destroyed the Huskies twice now. Luckily, for the Ducks UW has not had an athletic director for months so maybe they will have no idea who to hire.

California-Berkeley is probably my least favorite Pac-10 team. They are the closest team to my current residence and everyone knows I like to hate the hometown teams. My wife's uncle has season tickets to the Bears so when they struggle it makes it so much more fun to talk to him. Beating Michigan State by a touchdown is lame. According to the paper the game was not that close but Longshore found a way to keep the Spartans in it. What was he doing in the game?

Arizona beat up on Idaho. Wow, very impressive. Who's up next, University of Alberta? There preseason schedule is offensive to me.

Arizona State did not play anybody very good either if I'm not mistaken. All I know about their weekend is that their indoor facility blew down. That is God's way of telling them an indoor facility in Tempe is a complete waste of money and space I suppose.

Washington State needs to be kicked out of the Pac-10 immediately. I do not care who replaces them. The school does not even have to field a football team. Just somebody take their place NOW!

USC manhandled Virginia. I have not seen a single highlight from the game but I gather from the score that things must have gone well for Petey. Everyone knows the true competition for USC comes during Pac-10 play so look for much of the same against the most overrated team in the history of sports next weekend.

Oregon looked great and I am very happy about it. Jake Locker was a non-factor to my surprise. Did anyone else notice the Oregon DBs were tucking their jersey bottoms into their shoulder pads showing off their stomachs? Reminded me of watching Miami play back in Ray Lewis' day. The one thing that does worry me a bit is that Oregon used its fourth quarterback by the second or third quarter of the first game. The Masoli pick up in the summer may have been Bellotti's greatest coaching move.

One last thing, I have been spreading the Duck gospel down here. A couple of weeks ago I asked my coworkers if they liked college football? No one really did. Can't really blame them with Sac State being the hometown team. That did not deter me from talking about the start of the season and the Oregon Ducks. Come to find out I show up to work today and I'm the only one that did not watch the game live. They were all fired up about the Ducks and congratulating me on the win as if I had something to do with it. One lady I work with even told me she got home on Saturday night, checked her satellite and called her provider to upgrade so she could get the channel the Ducks were on. I thought everyone got FSN but who knows. I do have to report that not a single one of them liked the uniforms though. Oh well, I'm sure their kids did.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Just As I Thought

It turns out that Stanford was a three-point underdog tonight. That it was that small was a bit surprising to me but the Oregon State performance was not. I realize Mike Riley is a low-key guy but he certainly did not look surprised on the sidelines that his team went down in flames. He has it all figured out. Lose next week to Penn State and have the fans all over him and then pull out a winning record by season's end and play in the Tupelo Rotary Club Bowl played on December 12th. There is nothing wrong with that as long as the boosters approve of it and the folks in Corvallis have shown they enjoy trips to Mississippi in the winter. I do apologize that I picked such an easy game. It is like a major league player playing slow-pitch softball with 12-year-olds but I had to get off to a strong start. I knew there was a reason Oregon State exists. They always find a way to boost my self-esteem.

2008 Upset Special Week #1

By golly, this is the year I am going to pick a game every single week of the season. In the past my weekly schedule during the football season was a nightmare. It seemed like I could never get in a groove and find the right time to pick a game. This year is going to be different but my first pick is a staple of my upset picking history.

The Stanford Cardinal will defeat the Oregon State Beavers. If there is one thing that is constant in college football it is that the Beavers season will go something like this. Lose a couple of games early in the season against really inferior competition, Mike Riley starts taking heat and rightfully so, win the games they are supposed to and pull out an upset or two in Pac-10 play, qualify for a ninth-tier bowl game, win bowl game against a I-AA team and sing the praises of Mike Riley for the entire offseason. Now you know why I feel so good about this pick. To be honest I do not even know what the betting line is or if Oregon State is the favorite but I am making that assumption. (Do recall that I will generally pick games with betting lines of six or more.)

I must say that the Ducks vs. Huskies game has me nervous. Usually that is a good sign for the Ducks though. There is something about Jake Locker that is likely keeping Nick Aliotti up all night this week. And something else tells me Ty Willingham is quite thankful that he has to beat Justin Roper and not Nate Costa. One of these days things will go right for Willingham but Saturday is not one of those days.

College Football Is Here!

I admit to loving college football more than a lot of people. Just so you know exactly how I feel about college football. I mean that I love football more than I love some people. Not that I love it more than other people love it. In fact, only my family and really close friends receive more love from me than does college football.

At this time of year my mind is on one thing and one thing only, college football. With the Dodgers incapable of winning a single game and the Broncos looking to be an average squad could you really blame me? I am even thinking about college football at church. This last Sunday our pastor started a seven-week series. When he announced the seven-week part I immediately thought, "Wow, the college football season will be half over by that time. Will the Ducks be in contention? Is that about the time I go to the Ducks vs. Cal-Berkeley game or is that after the series is over? I love college football. I love pie. You know what? I'm going to have some pie while I watch the Ducks play Washington next weekend." About this time I realized I had missed the pastor telling us what topics were going to be covered during the series. I suppose that just means I will have to go every Sunday. Thankfully Oregon plays on Saturdays!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Where's The Love For Griffey?

A week ago I was able to go with some friends to the Oakland A's vs. Chicago White Sox game. It was a great time had by all. We took the train from Sacramento to McAfee Coliseum (it's name may have changed since then), which was incredibly convenient and since no one needed to drive you can imagine what happened on the train. The game got off to an incredible start because we were one of the first 10,000 fans in the building, which meant we received a Dave Henderson jersey. To my surprise it was not a t-shirt but an actual button-down jersey. The only thing that could have been improved was that both sides of the shirt had the "e" so if it was really hot (it was) and you decided not to button the jersey it said "Athleetics". Oh well. Some other observations:

A's trades - Most A's fans are tired of all of the trades. This year has been especially hard to handle with Billy Beane trading the entire pitching staff. When a kid threw out the first pitch everyone pleaded for Beane to sign him up and not trade him. Same was said if anybody made a play on a foul ball in the stands.

I'm old - I was sitting next to some 8 or 9-year-olds and their favorite player was Jermaine Dye. It never occurred to me until then that those kids have not been around long enough for Ken Griffey, Jr. to be their favorite player. I had to try to explain to them that if they were my age they would have no other reason but to love Griffey (the only clean slugger of his generation).

Chavez brother - Eric Chavez has a brother that hit two home runs against my high school team in a Spring Break tournament way back when (see above). Well, now he is the bullpen catcher for the A's. Apparently Eric pays his salary and he gets to pretend he is a major league baseball player. This was the first time I ever wished I was not the oldest child.

Cal fans - I was with one guy that has Cal Bears football season tickets. We had a great time ribbing each other. I probably would not have been so liberal with my trash-talk had I known the Ducks' starting quarterback was going to have a secretive injury but I'll take the heat if I have to. Back to Cal fans. The guy I was with yelled, "Go Bears" to a fan sitting behind him and got nothing. It was as if he had forgotten he was wearing a Cal hat and shirt. Then on BART the same situation happened. I suppose that is why Cal football sucks. The fans are too busy trying to win Nobel Peace Prizes and whatever else Cal folks do to care about something as important as football.

Hammer pants - The best moment of the game was the die-hard A's fan sitting in the first row of the leftfield bleachers (we were in about row 8) wearing A's Hammer pants. I suppose since M.C. Hammer is from Oakland that those pants are acceptable. What is not acceptable is that this die-hard fan that looked a lot like he was homeless (long hair, scraggly beard, aforementioned Hammer pants, waved a giant A's flag, etc.) dropped a home run ball that was right to him. To top it off he tried to use his hat to catch the ball and both the ball and hat ended up on the other side of the fence. Needless to say Hammer pants fan had food thrown at him and a drunk firefighter get in his face and berate him for dropping the ball. I felt bad for him but that did not stop me from laughing.

Short game - After seeing the White Sox score eight runs in three innings we decided to leave the game. That certainly is the earliest I have ever left an event of any kind but it was a good decision. The A's ended up losing by about two touchdowns.

Best homeless sign - I spent eight years in Eugene so I consider myself an expert on homeless signs. In fact, I saw more homeless signs than hot girls but that just means there were a lot of signs. As we left the ball game to head to San Francisco for the rest of the afternoon (imagine 12 guys walking through the city with the same A's jersey, it was hilarious) we passed a homeless gentleman with the following sign: "Family kidnapped by ninjas, need money for karate lessons!"

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Faking The Opening Ceremonies

Well, news in recent days has shown the Opening Ceremony to be a bit of a farce. I can't say that I am very surprised. The fact that the IOC gave a country with a horrendous human rights record the Olympics suggests a lot of things they have done have been a joke. It is one thing to use computer generated images to make aerial shots of the fireworks seem more impressive but to have a small girl lip sync the national anthem is pathetic. Apparently the girl with the best voice needed some help from an orthodontist so they made her sing it and then had a "prettier" girl "perform" it for the world to see. As if anybody cares what a 7-year-old's teeth look like when she is singing. The whole idea of looks being important in this instance is creepy on so many levels. If they are going to fake the Opening Ceremonies I have a sneaky hunch they'll do whatever it takes to win a medal. China is such a great place, I really wish I could raise my daughter there.

(Photo from Getty/AFP.)

Monday, August 11, 2008

NBC Dropping The Ball

The West Coast and Pacific Time Zone are two things that cannot be beat. Getting to watch entire Monday Night Football games and every college football game allows this side of the country to accurately critique football teams. We do not let the New York Times tell us which teams are good because we can see it for ourselves. When it comes to these Olympics though NBC is being (a not so kind name according to my father-in-law). Why on earth did I have to wait until 11:30pm to watch the men's 4x100m swimming relay last night? It happened at around 8:30PDT.

I am not a television ratings genius but I have a feeling shows between 8 and 9 get far better ratings than shows on between 11 and 12. To make matters worse NBC hit me below the belt by saying Phelps started at 10:00pm. Yeah, the swimming did and maybe they did a short piece on him around 10 but the relay was long after that. If NBC can send HD all the way from China to California then they sure as hell can move around tape recorded events so I can watch the events without having to be completely worthless at work the next morning.

Now I do not want to sound like I hate another country (I likely will anyways though) but why did we have to hear the Japanese national anthem last night before the relay? I patiently waited for Phelps and the guys all night long and they delay it even more so I can see that. Put a montage of national anthems at the end of the broadcast if it is so important. Call me an American pig but I have absolutely no interest in watching that at 11:00pm or whenever it was. And just when it couldn't get any worse NBC decided the Star Spangled Banner was not necessary after the amazing relay. In reality that didn't bother me since a guy from France with a name pronounced just like my mother's (a fairly feminine name here in the States if you ask me) choked. Seeing a Frenchie (an American swimmer's word, not mine) with a girlie name cry in the pool was a great way to finish the night. I just wish it had been a couple of hours earlier.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Late Look At Opening Ceremonies

The incredibly confusing time difference makes a late recap of the Opening Ceremonies acceptable. I am a huge fan of the Olympics. During the Olympics I hate every competitor that is not American. I realize having outrageous American pride is not cool these days but I do very few things that are cool. A sappy story from NBC does nothing to change my opinion. If you are not wearing the Stars and Stripes then I am rooting for you to lose, get hurt, quit or all of the above. To top it all off I strongly dislike China at all times so I am really getting into these Olympics. I stayed up what seemed like all night to watch the Opening Ceremonies and noticed some things. It started at 7:30pm and ended at midnight. Since becoming a new dad midnight now seems like 4:00am but I battled through and made it to the end. I commend myself on getting the Games off to a very strong start and setting the tone for the rest of the team. Now the in-depth analysis:

China is stupid - They spent $300M on the Opening Ceremony, which is nothing short of ridiculous. I could care less if Bob Costas wants to blow hot air about how beautiful and miraculous it is. China is a pathetic Communist country that should be spending its money in better ways. We are only two days into these Games and I am sick of the American media spending all of its time talking about how great Beijing is. Costas and all of the others are scared to say anything truthful about China so I hope they stick to talking about the competition and leave commentary on the actual country to people that aren't sell-outs. Okay, I'm done ranting on China. There are not enough fireworks in the world to make me change my mind.

China is really stupid - A country that appears to be larger than the United States has one timezone! Please don't let any person that loves bashing Americans (this includes pretentious Americans) tell you Chinese people are smarter than we are.

Attractive athletes - You know some of the South American athletes are very attractive when I find myself appreciating their presence at the Games and could find myself rooting for them. Did anyone else notice the only athlete they showed from Paraguay?

Random countries - Since all countries, for the most part, are a part of the Olympics I shouldn't be surprised to see a country competing but I was. I would expect to see Palastine if suicide car bombing were an event or Nicaragua if drug cartel efficiency were a factor in gymnastics judging.

Familiar face - The gentleman holding the flag for Belarus looked eerily familiar to an ophthamologist I know in Eugene, OR. Not too many mustached men with gray hair holding flags in Beijing.

Fashion police - I am famous for having an impeccable sense of style. Recently I asked my wife if a black polo would look good with brown pants and was laughed out of the bedroom. (Please no jokes about being laughed out of the bedroom. I have thought of them on my own so it wouldn't be orginal.) Come on, I thought black went with everything. With that being said the Hungarian women were wearing white dresses with large red flowers. They looked an awful lot like a dress my mom wore in the late 80s for one of our Easter family pictures. Hungary was not the worst dressed folks though. Someone in Denmark thought it would be a good idea to wear jort capris. Maybe appropriate at an SEC football game but certainly not the Olympics.

No Borat - I scoured the Kazakhstan team for Borat and could not find him. A few of them could pass as his cousin but that is about it.

W is proud - My coolness is going way down because I thought it was awesome that Bush was there and that he was fired up when the US team came into the stadium. Most people probably dislike him enough to never read my blog again because I said that but I could care less. My American pride is at an all-time high right now.

Jason Kidd - People should be more offended by Jason Kidd's presence in Beijing than Bush's. Kidd is terrible and old. Not a good combination when we are trying to reclaim our rightful place at the top of the basketball world.

Chinese Taipei or Taiwan - Would someone explain this to me? I went to school with a girl from Taiwan but whenever a team from that country is competing at a world event (Olympics, Little League World Series, etc.) it is listed as Chinese Taipei. If they want to be called Taiwan why do we bother to call it by a name China would prefer?

Torch lighting - I heard so much about the torch lighting that I had no other option but to stay up to watch it. It was kind of cool to see an old gymnast look a little awkward trying to run around the top of the stadium but it took forever. I took two naps while the torch was going around the stadium and the lighting ended up being okay. The HD made it look cool but China should have spent $350M so the actual lighting was more spectacular. They couldn't displace another million poor people to use a panda bear for the torch lighting?

Medal count - There was talk at the Opening Ceremonies that China had a chance to overtake the US in the medal count. Over my dead body. If China ends up with more medals than the US then you can be guaranteed Olympic drug testing is a joke. I have nothing more to say about that. The US will dominate the Games and I am going to love it.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

30-Year Duck Fans

I recently received a comment on one of my posts from a person known to the Internet world as Anonymous. This individual was ballsy enough to brag that he/she was a 30-year Duck fan. It got me wondering: What the hell is the problem with 30-year Duck fans?

Whenever someone talks about Ducks sports (football and men's basketball) and expects them to be competitive every single year and finish near the top, not necessarily at the top, of the Pac-10 there are 30-year Duck fans throwing in their two cents. It seems more times than not their two cents are worth about .0001 cents because all they do is talk about how fortunate Ducks fans are today. A BCS bowl trip here and an NCAA tournament bid there.

Well you know what, that is a load of crap. I paid out-of-state tuition for 6 years (two of which for grad school so don't think I am some idiot that took forever to finish though having paid out-of-state for that long may qualify me as an idiot anyway) and I have been a fan for all of nine years so I have every right to have high expectations. I could care less if back in the 70s the football team sucked and if the basketball team was an embarrassment during the 80s. Since I have been around the athletic department has been flush with cash, the football team has been competitive nearly every year and the men's basketball team has been good about half of the time. It is amazing to think that because I think the men's team should be good more than half of the time that I am asking way too much of people paid millions of dollars.

Since it is obvious 30-year Duck fans have no idea what high expectations in sports are I will turn to something they likely consider themselves experts in: presidential politics. My assumption is that a vast majority of 30-year Duck fans are liberals (just a wild guess) and chomping at the bit to vote for Obama in November. I wonder why they are so excited. Could it be because they have high expectations that he will change what is going on? If I'm not mistaken, since 1980 (before I was born 30-year Duck fan) a Democrat has been in the Oval Office for eight years. Tell me if this sounds stupid. "Hey, 30-year Duck fan you are a moron for having high expectations that Obama will win. You are so greedy wanting a Democrat in power right now, just be happy with the eight years you have had in the last 28." As you read that you recognize that line of thinking is asinine. But when it comes to college sports, the last 50 years should be the barometer by which all things are compared. As an aside, if you think you should not change the expectations for a college sports team but you think a politician will alter the direction of an entire country then you are not very intelligent. My short history has shown me that most politicians are the same regardless of affiliation.

My parents must have dropped the ball because I was taught to try and be the best in whatever you do. If you fall short there is no need to make excuses just make sure you do better the next time. How did I ever make it through my childhood with such mean parents? My guess is that it is 30-year Duck fans that have persuaded a Little League in Ohio to cancel having an all-star team because it singles out the best players. They probably also instituted the "everyone gets a trophy no matter how bad you actually are" rule.

When all is said and done the coaches at Oregon do report to the 30-year Duck fans since they are the ones using their disposable income to get things done. My advice to the next generation of coaches is to make sure you are competitive at all times and moving forward. Before too long the 30-year Duck fans will be me, expecting Bellotti-type results in football and Kent-like success (the success his teams have every once in a while) nearly every year.

I admire 30-year Duck fans for constantly comparing things at the Casanova Center to times when no one cared a lick about Duck athletics. It takes someone special to be that stupid. Heaven forbid Duck athletics progress (there I go using a word that many progressive 30-year Duck fans love to throw around in other aspects of life) and have fans that expect the recent success all of the time.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Her Act Is Getting Old

Anyone that knows me realizes there are a plethora of athletes that I do not like. Generally, my dislike is a result of two things: the team the player plays for or being vastly overrated. In the case of Danica Patrick she falls into the second category. She has received attention for simply being a girl and for no other reason. It only took her 50 tries to actually win a race in a circuit that has not had very many competitors during her tenure. As far as I can tell she thinks that because she is the prettiest driver that she should get special treatment. Someone should let her know that being the prettiest race car driver is about as impressive as being the fastest placekick holder.

In addition to not being very good it appears that Patrick has Napoleonic Complex. If I'm not mistaken she got after a male driver because she got in a wreck earlier this year. I admit to not being the biggest race car fan but even I know there is a decent chance of wrecks when driving 200 mph and maintaining all of 2.64 inches of clearance between other cars. Then Patrick goes and wins a race in Japan a little while ago. Again, car racing is not my thing but I have never known people getting too excited about a race in Japan. If she was nearly as hot as she thinks she is the tape-delayed ratings for the race would have been greater than 0.00043, which translates into about three viewers.

All of this brings us to yesterday when she decides to go off on another driver by going over to her pit and calling her out for being too slow in practice. My new favorite driver, no idea what her name is, went on to throw a towel in Patrick's face two times within one minute. Only Danica Patrick would think it is a good idea to act like a jerk and then try to explain it away on TV today by saying she simply wanted to talk to the other driver. Who taught Patrick that it is appropriate to be really overrated and act like a buffoon at the same time? It must be a complete joy to be married to her. Nothing about her suggests she would give her husband a curfew, bedtime and allowance. Just a real sweetheart I am sure.

On a related note, someone should have told Patrick that her showing up in the front row of the ESPYS was a bad idea. My Gold Glove performance in left field at Kloss Field #2 on Friday night had a better chance of winning an award than anything she did last year.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

More Job Security

Sometimes you have to wonder if smart people run college athletics. Imagine this scenario in the real world. A manager leads a group of people to great success one year. Then the next year he leads nearly the exact same group with another year of experience to considerably less success. Those people that led the group the last two years have no other option but to leave so the manager is starting with an entirely new group this upcoming year. Recent history suggests this manager takes a few years to achieve any type of success with a young group. Would that manager get a contract extension and raise in the business world? I seriously have my doubts.

Well, if my Internet is working correctly it appears the UO has done just that with the men's basketball coach. All of the followers of this coach may counter that adding a year does nothing except make it easier to recruit. If that is so, why in the world did the UO decide to increase the buyout? Good luck to whoever has to live with that decision. Paying the debt service on a new arena with a team that is good every now and then and a coach that puts together an abomination of a home non-conference schedule shouldn't be too hard.

Beautiful People

I was fortunate enough to vacation at Squaw Valley last weekend and decided I would venture down to South Lake Tahoe and watch the celebrity golf tournament. I was only there for a couple of hours but did notice some things. Here are the items I jotted down in my phone as I walked the course:
  • First off, I recently moved from Oregon so I am not used to wearing UO gear (I had a black polo with a very small "O" on it, nothing obnoxious) and having people yell "Go Ducks" at me. After not saying anything to the first two people I texted a friend and he told me the appropriate response is to yell it back. That seemed to work so feel free to yell at me if you see me.
  • I am sick of Brett Favre so I don't think it was a coincidence that the first golfer I saw hit a driver was Aaron Rodgers. My only response is that the Packers must be confident he controls a football team as well as he pummels the golf ball. Absolutely crushed the ball the one time I saw him swing.
  • Someone needs to make sure Gene Upshaw, Director of NFLPA, is not one of the NFL veterans that can't afford medical care. He looked so frail that I am beginning to think all of the talk about current players wanting to fire him is not allowing him to eat and sleep as well as he should.
  • I have long felt that Packers fans were the most white trash fans in the NFL. Well, fortunately for the cheeseheads the Steelers faithful have taken that title. There were a couple of fans following Roethlisberger around like he was their best friend. The thing that made me doubt that was that one was wearing a jersey and waving a Terrible Towel. Another one of them had a sleeveless shirt and jorts. Need I say more.
  • The bronze medal winning white trash fans are certainly followers of the Cowboys. Romo certainly had a fair number of them following him around. Something about grown men dressing like their five-year-old son at a golf course makes me cringe. And please don't ask, I did not see Romo fall into a pond (wish I would have) or Jessica Simpson (plenty of pretty people in the crowd anyway).
  • You could notice a lot of the football players from a couple of fairways over because they walked like they had their shoes on the wrong foot. It really did not look all that comfortable and makes me glad my knees never had to take the stress.
  • I saw one of my favorite baseball players growing up, Darryl Strawberry. He was my favorite player when he played for the Dodgers, which was not very long. Unfortunately for me he wore Dodger Blue when I visited the National Baseball Hall of Fame as a kid. So the memento I had to get while there was a Strawberry T-shirt that looked like a baseball card. Picture on the front and stats on the back. Seeing Strawberry in person only made me want to revisit the Hall of Fame even more. There has to be a better souvenir.
  • The guys standing next to me as we watched Trent Green tee off were funny guys. They had great commentary for everyone in the gallery and the celebrities. When Green came by one of them commented on Green's propensity for brutal concussions and wondered if Green knew what green he was on. That pun is not nearly as funny in written form a week after the fact but believe me it was worth a laugh at the time.
  • Of course I saw Barkley's swing. It was so bad (far worse in person than on TV) I could only watch it once. I am a terrible golfer but if I had seen that even one more time I would have to quit the sport.
  • This was not a traditional golf tournament so there were a number of people in the gallery that had no idea what was going on. One lady was standing right next to the 17th tee (par-3 along the lake that is always shown on TV) and would not shut up. She was so excited to see a friend who was a member of the media shooting still photographs. You would think this lady being most excited to see a photog at a celebrity golf tournament would be reason enough to call her the biggest moron of the day. Well, what she had to say as I was trying to avoid her at the 16th green takes the cake. She asked her husband who of the three in the group putting was Marcus Allen (the former NFL running back). That was a legitimate question since his playing partners were Neil Lomax (former QB) and Jeff Feagles (NFL punter). They are painfully white and let's just say Allen isn't. You have to love when women ask stupid sports questions in public. It is as bad as guys asking questions about dress styles at a bridal shower.
  • Jim McMahon must have fit in very well at BYU in Provo, UT. When a guy that lived in Eugene for eight years is shocked by an outfit you have to wonder how he made any friends in college. There is something about an orange sherbet top and polka-dot pants that made me look twice.
  • Nearly all of the actors in the field were dinky guys. I don't think it was because they were hanging out with athletes either. Greg Kinnear looked to be about the size of my mother-in-law. And for all you smarty pants out there that simply means Kinnear had to have been beaten up in school because he is tiny.
  • No surprises here but one of the course volunteers told me John Elway was in one of two groups created for fan appeal. Elway is the greatest quarterback to every play football so the tournament director made a very wise decision.
  • Michael Jordan and Ray Allen (part of the other group created for the fans) were wearing Jordan XI golf cleats. For the sneaker folks in the audience that certainly is a bit of news worthy of getting excited about.
  • I ended up catching up with Barkley again at a point on the course where the back and front 9s met up. Luckily, I did not see him take a shot because he got sick of a sand trap about 120 yards from the green and decided to quit playing that hole just before I showed up.
  • Former major leaguer David Wells did not look as bad as I thought he would. When he was getting paid to be an athlete he resembled a competitive eater so it made sense to me that he would have gained 100 pounds. He actually looked just the same and had the back of his shirt untucked. I guess it goes to show that if you are left-handed you really only need to be worried about that one appendage and you will have a pitching job for many years.
  • In Wells' group was one of the greatest college coaches of all time, Lou Holtz. As a lifelong Notre Dame fan it was great seeing the last coach that took them to the promised land. To think that a man the size of Greg Kinnear coached football players is astonishing to me.
  • Say what you want about me but the most impressive thing I saw was Jack Wagner. From 20 yards away the soap star is quite an attractive guy. The flowing blond hair and baby face were quite striking. Rarely would I compliment a man for being good looking so you have to figure Wagner had his pick of pretty Tahoe ladies.
  • And that takes me to the one thing I learned by walking the course. Beautiful people follow celebrities no matter where they are. Lake Tahoe isn't exactly Siberia but it certainly is not Hollywood. There were a number of beautiful people strolling the course. So you know, the only beautiful male I noticed was Wagner so if you are a woman don't go thinking I am providing this information for your benefit.
  • That is about all I saw. Watching famous people do something they are not necessarily good at is not the most exciting thing in the world. I suppose if you subscribe to People and US Weekly something like this would be reason to cry tears of joy. If being around famous people does not really get you too excited then do not go out of your way to go. I did go a bit out of my way and if it weren't for wanting to provide you with an informative blog entry I would have felt I wasted my time.
  • You may be wondering how I knew it was time to go. That part was easy. When my boxers started to ride so much that I needed to leave the premises to take care of the discomfort I decided a trip to the parking lot was appropriate.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

An All-Star Performance

I hate to embarrass people that are far better than I at a sport I played for my entire childhood but Dan Uggla deserves it. The game is no over (only the top of the 15th) but he has had an unforgettable night. Rarely does someone play in an All-Star Game long enough to pull off the double that Uggla has tonight. To this point he has three errors and three strikeouts. His errors were brutal. If I did not know any better I would guess he is a DH but since he plays in the National League I am left to assume he actually plays second base on a regular basis. As for the strikeouts, I do not think he has swung at a single pitch that was actually in the strike zone. Luckily for Uggla (oddly enough "uggla" is norwegian for "ugly") he came in the game in the 6th or 7th inning so much of the country has been asleep for his unprecedented performance.

(Photo from NL Beast.)

Jeter Is Bush League

Anyone with a brain realizes Derek Jeter is a fabrication of the media. There is no need for me to delve further into this because those people that allow the media to dictate what they believe cannot be convinced of the truth. Tonight's All-Star Game was an excellent example of Jeter's incompetence. A review of his night at the plate resembles a typical night for "the great one."

In his first at-bat he slapped the ball (If you did not see it picture a 10-year-old girl playing softball) to 2nd base and Chase Utley misplayed it. In any other stadium or uniform Jeter would not have been credited with a hit but of course tonight he was. If you think I am being tough on the perfume-wearing shortstop then take a look at Dan Uggla's third error of the night in the bottom of the 13th. In Jeter's second at-bat with runners on he hit a tailor-made double play ball to shortstop. If I hit infield practice to a high school team for an entire season I would never be able to give the shortstop such a perfect ball to practice starting a double play. Then in his 3rd at-bat Jeter decided to pull off his signature move: a one-hopper to the pitcher. I have never been able to figure out how someone could be considered clutch for hitting very weak grounders up the middle. When I do that in summer softball games I get ridiculed by my teammates and rightfully so.

What really set me off tonight was a simple replay shown in the 6th inning. The announcers said nothing about it but that does not surprise me. Hanley Ramirez, without question baseball's best shortstop and it is not even close, was on first. Chase Utley hit a ball down the right-field line and as Ramirez was rounding second base Jeter went to second base acting like he was going to receive the ball to turn a double play. Since Ramirez is older than six he was not tricked but it showed the true Jeter. Contrary to what the media wants you to believe I am convinced Jeter is totally classless. He is all about himself and would be the friend that would not think twice about sleeping with your girlfriend/wife. Stay classy Jeter, all of the pathetic people that think the media is objective will make sure your image remains pristine.

Yankee Stadium Made The Babe

I have watched nearly every pitch of the marathon All-Star Game, which is in the 13th inning as I type. There have been more mentions of Yankee Stadium than outs in the game. I get that the stadium is old and the Yankees have played their home games in it but is it really that big of a deal that it is closing? Furthermore, does Joe Buck have to mention every 7th pitch that the stadium is closing after this year. I kid you not, my wife commented that she is sick and tired of hearing about this being the last season. She has watched no more than two innings of the game. Joe Buck has been jabbering so much about the archaic structure that I am beginning to think that the inanimate building is the reason that Babe Ruth exists and not the other way around.

Just because it is the home stadium for one of two teams that the media cares to talk about does not mean we have to talk about it incessantly. We are all smart enough to deduce that if Yankee Stadium is closing at the end of this year, this is the final All-Star Game being played there. Perhaps some of my anger directed at the blabber about this being the last year is that I am jealous. As an Oregon alum I have long wished the men's basketball were consistent enough that folks would decide a new arena is in order. It seems like it will happen but I'll believe it when the hippies get out of the way and let the structure be built.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

NBA Draft '08

I freely admit that I just wasted five hours of my life. They are hours I will never get back and it is a bit frustrating but I have to live with it. Watching drafts on TV are always dangerous for me. I want to watch the beginning and then I end up watching it all. It never seems to fail. It seems my biggest problem is that I picked the wrong school for college. Whether it be the NBA or NFL I am always interested in seeing guys from Oregon get picked. More often than not Oregon guys are perfect late round picks in the NFL or very late picks in the NBA. Oh well. It was awesome to see Maarty Leunen get drafted. Having gotten to know him just a bit over the last couple of years I can say that he is a really good guy and someone that will not embarrass my alma mater (see Smith, Onterrio). I did have some other thoughts on the draft too:

1. Why Euro?: Even David Stern gets things right every now and then. The decision to eliminate flopping was a brilliant one. Provided the rule is enforced I find no reason to consider drafting a non-American. Since so many Euros were drafted I am left to assume the non-flopping edict will not stick. There is no other reason to pick a soft, skinny and pathetic Euro player. Their one asset is to act like a soccer player on the hardwood.

2. Blazers Domination: Once again the Blazers took over on draft night. I had a friend earlier in the day tell me the Blazers needed to get Jerryd Bayless and I agreed. It was unfortunate to see him get picked just before the Blazers picked but lo and behold he will be wearing red and black. It was a great trade for the Blazers and only makes me more certain that they will be taking part in a parade within four years.

3. Long-Term Foolishness: Not to beat a dead horse here but drafting Euros makes no sense to me at all for another reason. One of the excuses for drafting them is that they do not take up a roster spot and cap money while playing in Europe. Plus, they get a chance to play against other bums in Europe perfecting the flop, which means they may be good enough to bring over here in a few years as long as the dollar does not become so worthless that playing in Siberia is more lucrative than New York City. The biggest problem with this theory is that the coaches and general managers that draft these guys for the future will likely be fired by the time they have mastered the flop. Now am I the only one that thinks that makes no sense?

4. Biggest Bust: I found that this draft had about seven players worth anything. Ironically enough they were just about all from the Pac-10. This fact also makes me feel like more of an idiot for watching so many future NBDL journeymen get drafted. Basically, the point is that I foresee a number of the players from this draft doing nothing substantial in their careers. Having done very little myself since college I can't really knock them too much. With all of that I am proclaiming O.J. Mayo to be the biggest bust in a draft full of busts. I saw him play at USC and was not impressed at all.

5. 2009 Rookie of the Year: In a draft full of weak players it is easy to predict that next year's rookie of the year will be Greg Oden. No explanation is necessary. Start etching his name in an elegant font right now and I will hand deliver it to him when I see him dismantle the Sacramento Kings at some point next season.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

We Have Another

At the beginning of last football season I watched a Clemson football game and one of the players had a hilarious major. I actually can't recall it at this time but rest assured that the name of the major suggested that football player was taking part in rigorous classes. I thought I would come across a lot of interesting major choices among football players last season but I didn't. Let me be clear, I am not dissing on the student athletes. They are not the ones who decide names of majors. In a previous life I knew a fair number of student athletes and all I can say is that I have the utmost respect for them. The amount of time they are required to give to their sport makes me wonder if I would have been able to graduate with any type of degree if I had been an athlete.

Well, after watching the College World Series last night I was treated to another fantastic major. One of Georgia's players, who shall remain nameless, had his major listed as 'Real Estate.' You would think the school would be smart enough to throw the word 'Management' after it to give it the guise of something special. I suspect this may have been a typographical error by ESPN but I'm going to go with it anyway. Besides, it is another school from the South and my ignorance leads me to believe schools in this region (SEC members in particular) have weak major names. I repeat, weak major names. Not necessarily weak majors, just the names of them.

I do wonder what courses are involved in the Real Estate major though. You know there is a class all potential majors dread is the entry level class that weeds out all of the slackers. What class is that you ask? My guess is Real Estate 104: Location, Location, Location. Other possible class names are:
  1. Digital Arts for Real Estate: How to use Photoshop to make the backyard look nice
  2. Finance for Real Estate: How jacking up the price a few thousand dollars in negotiations is not worth it to you since commission on that is not going to be very much
  3. English for Real Estate: You can never use the word 'potential' too many times
I am starting to think this would be a great major. The breadth in the subject material would be extraordinary. So there you have it, The OpinionSmith Ivy League now has two distinguished members: Clemson University and the University of Georgia.

Photo of the University of Georgia library from Britannica.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Hiatus Over

(Written a few days before being posted so some commentary is completely out of line.)

The blog has been quiet for far too long and I apologize for that. The past couple of weeks have been absolutely nuts. Needless to say the blog now calls Northern California home. The sunshine and blue sky has been amazing. In addition to a relocation, I was studying for a standard exam that will determine just how much more school debt I am going to accumulate. What's another few thousand, right? With that test over my schedule will allow for more spectacular commentary that the seven of you have come to expect. In the last couple of weeks there have been some important matters that have caught my eye:

1. Tiger Woods makes golf the coolest sport ever. Think about how amazing that is. If you don't know what I'm talking about then you have been outside of the country. Unfortunately I will not be watching any golf for the next many months because the one guy that makes golf cool is taking a break.

2. NBA fans are morons. You are to tell me it took a crooked ref trying to avoid jail time for you to realize David Stern picks winners of games before they are played? I have a sneaky hunch the Lakers will win Game 6 to force a Game 7. Heaven forbid Stern gets trumped by a golf tournament. I am most looking forward to watching the refs and not the players. That's what happens when the two teams playing make me want to puke.

3. Dodgers are pathetic. I am thankful I have been too busy with things to follow baseball. To think the Dodgers are closer to the Giants than first place is reason enough to buy out Torre's contract at the All-Star Break.

4. Olympic Trials will bring a tear to my eye. Here I lived in Eugene for 8 years and I move three weeks before the sporting event I was most looking forward to. My seats were in a prime location and I had to part ways with them. I will be watching them on TV like it's my job and encourage you to do the same. Track is great to watch, particularly in person.

I hope your summer's are off to great starts. There is sure to be a lot to comment on in the coming months so check back frequently for thoughtful words on truly important matters.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Pac-10 Still Blowing

I have long held that the Pac-10 will always be looked down upon by the rest of the country because it seems to care more about bragging about its successful water polo programs than the sports that actually matter (see football and men's basketball). Some may question whether track & field matters, I certainly do. (As a UO alum I better like track since all of the other sports have a combined one national title ever and that was in 1939.) What set me off today is that the Pac-10 Track & Field Championships are happening this weekend and I can't find any live online scoring of the event. I did check the UO athletics website, which has live scoring for the most random track events all season long, and the Pac-10 website in case anyone is wondering.

This is 2008 and you are to tell me I have to wait until tomorrow morning to read about the results in the paper. Come on Tom Hansen, get your act together. People seem to think your FSN TV deal is acceptable but not using the Internet should be universally admonished. This has to be the straw that breaks the camel's back. It is 2008 and I can't find live results. I realize I have already said that but I have to type it out a couple of times to come to grips with it. I am embarrassed to say I have multiple degrees from a school in a conference that thinks the Internet is a fad that is sure to pass. If I were in charge of the Pac-10, it would never happen because I use my brain, I would take the chance that the Internet is something that is here to stay. If someone knows where I can find the live results I will take back only the comments about the Internet. Tom Hansen is still a bum no matter what.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Fly-Over States

Back in my days as a college student I took a graduate class entitled Mass Media & Society. It was an election year and I tend not to align myself politically with the same people that journalists do so there was animated discourse in class, shall we say. As part of my introduction to the media hoity-toity (not sure if that's a real world but it fits) I learned what a fly-over state was. For those, like myself, that are not civilized it basically refers to the Midwest. Some lady in class introduced me to the term "fly-over states" when she was trying to figure out why some Americans were stupid enough to vote Republican. Meanwhile I was trying to figure out why a 40-something mother was in my graduate class as a student and not an instructor. Anyway, I was slightly caught off guard by her advanced intellectual thought since a large portion my family lives in Iowa.

Let's fast-forward to the present day. Due to a death in the family I recently spent a couple of days in Iowa. I really love the place even if esteemed Journalism Schools across the country disregard it. As an aside, the funniest part is that my entire family in Iowa is blue-blooded Democrat. For most of them "Bush" is the fiercest of the four-letter words. It should come as no surprise that I love my family and therefore Iowa but it is the other people in the Midwest that put a smile on my face.On the way from the church to the cemetery we were a part of about a 15-car processional that meandered through town for a couple of miles. The respect other people showed my grandmother was nothing short of astounding. To our family she was a woman worthy of a national holiday but she really was just a regular lady from Iowa, which makes the reaction our processional received all the more impressive. There were not many people outside but those that were will remain vividly in my memory forever.

One lady stopped mowing her lawn, took off her hat and solemnly watched us all pass. Now that was awesome! Then a little bit later a couple stopped eating lunch on their porch and appeared to pray as we passed by. Throughout the entire drive the policemen leading the processional through town would step out of their patrol cars and put their hats over their hearts at every intersection they blocked.

Maybe these events are run-of-the-mill wherever you go in America but the heart of a person from a fly-over state is different from the rest. No matter your religious or political affiliation, you have to appreciate the respect for life shown by people in a very small Midwestern town. I love you and miss you Grandma. Now do your part and help your beloved Cubbies win the World Series!

Genius Move

When I came to Eugene for school I loved the fact that KSCR-1320 was ESPN Radio all of the time. I had grown tired of listening to radio guys back home talk about a certain NBA team that wore purple and routinely lost to the Lakers in the playoffs. Getting a national perspective on things was very refreshing. A couple of years ago 1320 started a 3-hour show. The start was brutal but The Sports Idol has come into his own over the years. It is an afternoon show so it did not bother me that much. I actually did have class and work during those hours. Within the last few months 1320 added a one-hour show with a local newspaper guy. This was great because it meant the worst talking head on radio, Stephen A. Smith, would not be heard in the Eugene area. When I had the chance to catch it I enjoyed his open perspective. By open, I mean he did not have to sing the praises of UO Athletics like it seems The Sports Idol has to do. That appears to have been the last smart decision 1320 made.

Last week 1320 lost its mind. They added a couple more hours of local programming and dropped the Jim Rome Show. That infuriates me! I grew up on his radio show. In fact, in our baseball program my senior year of high school I listed him as my hero. Probably something I wish I could take back now that I have grown up a bit but you get the point: I appreciate good talk radio. Dropping Rome for anything would generally be a poor decision but 1320 replaced him with a whiney, East Coast slappy that never shuts up about New York sports. I have only heard him for a total of 20 minutes and completely understand why he was fired by another local radio station and replaced by Michael Savage. That's right, this East Coast lackey was replaced by the bastion of conservative talk radio in the bastion of liberal thinking. How hilarious is that? Not nearly as hilarious as the fact this guy replaced Jim Rome.

I have clearly established that 1320's management has lost their mind by replacing a sports radio legend with someone that makes bloggers seem like Pulitzer Prize winning journalists. There is one more aspect of this that drives me nuts. Remember when I mentioned that I loved the fact that 1320 had all national programming. That is no longer the case. A metro area of 200,000 people, no pro teams and one Pac-10 university has six (6) hours of local sports talk. It boggles my mind that someone thinks Eugene is in desperate need of more local sports radio. This is especially idiotic when you consider a large portion of the programming likely has to take the same side on any story related to the only local sports entity.

The only thing that may be more mind-boggling is when a women's basketball coach keeps her job after failing to meet any expectations set forth when the season began. I'm in a never-ending quest for a job that pays that well and allows me to perform that poorly. Wait, I would probably have too much self dignity and fire myself before I got paid to suck. Anyway, I digress. Make sure you enjoy listening to all of that wonderful local sports talk. There simply isn't enough time in the day to talk about all that goes on around here.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Am I A Runner?

I enjoy the occasional run. I wear running shorts but they are the longest ones Nike makes. When I go on long runs I have a water bottle belt and energy gel. I also have a foam roller for silly runner guy stretches. Last but not least, I live in TrackTown USA. Given all of this I still was not sure if I truly was a runner. Well, I think I put that to rest early last week. What did I do you now ask?

I woke up early (for me) to go on a run in an effort to simulate starting a half marathon at the crack of dawn. Let's just say my body does not do so well in the mornings but I tried to combat that by using the bathroom just before I left. My run started pretty well until about the 2-mile mark. I planned an 8-miler so I was barely a quarter of the way through. It was at this point that my insides were telling me they wanted to be emptied. I figured I would have a chance to get to a porta-potty about 1/3 of a mile away. Unfortunately, even walking did nothing to minimize the discomfort.

I then decided to do what I see every unleashed (against the rules might I add) dog in Alton Baker Park do: veer off the path and find a suitable collection of trees to let loose. Lucky for me I found this spot about 150 feet off the path with the trees serving as a suitable barrier between the path and myself. The only problem would be if one of Eugene's many homeless people staggered out of the bushes opposite my barrier. It was a chance I was willing to take given the odds were pretty slim since panhandling hours seem to mirror those of rush hour traffic. (Did you know my research has shown panhandling to be the 4th most popular industry in Lane County behind education, RVs and medicine?)

The obvious question is: What would I use to finish the job? Since I did have another 6 miles to go and my route took me closer to civilization a plan was needed. It was at this point that I was thankful Eugene's weather is colder and rainier than most because I was wearing 3 layers on my upper torso. Also, I had an exact of one of the layers at home! Really, how great is that? I can relieve myself, toss the materials needed to fully relieve myself and not miss that dri-fit one bit.
I will spare the details of the actual relieving part but know that it felt great. It was invigorating to know that I had become a true runner. And all it cost me was a dri-fit (which I had two of) off my back. The location of my episode shall remain a mystery but know that if you see a Eugene transient that scoured through garbage near Autzen wearing a stylish dri-fit there is a legendary story behind it.

I will leave you with some advice. Should you be in the woods and have no toilet paper, dri-fit material is glorious. A wee bit more expensive than leaves, but glorious nonetheless.