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Random Notes (2000-2001)

December 17, 2001

  • I think it's time that Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri gets the credit that he deserves. Last week Vinatieri converted all four of his field goal attempts in a 12-9 win over Buffalo. The four-for-four performance put Vinatieri's career field goal percentage at 80.5%. This conversion rate is better than Morten Andersen, Gary Anderson, Jason Hanson and Jason Elam. This is even more impressive when you take into account that two of those players spent most of their careers with dome teams and one played half his games a mile above sea level. Gary Anderson kicked in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, but has played his last four seasons with a dome team. Speaking of domes, Vinatieri is a perfect 23-for-23 in dome stadiums during his career. An even more amazing stat is that Adam is a combined 57/62 (92%) against division rivals Miami, New York and Indianapolis. Surprisingly, Vinatieri was only 15/30 (50%) against Buffalo before Sunday's game.
  • First, former Red Sox leftfielder Jim Rice was the Red Sox hitting coach. Now Boston's former great rightfielder Dwight Evans is taking over the job. I guess we know what Fred Lynn will be doing in about five years.

December 12, 2001

  • I'm certainly not one to shed a tear for Syracuse University but I can't help but feel some sympathy pain for the kick in the groin delivered to the Orangemen and their fans by the Gator Bowl Selection Committee. Virginia Tech, which finished a full two games behind Syracuse in the Big East standings, will head to the more prestigious Gator Bowl on January 1st while Syracuse will be shipped to Arizona for the far less notable Bowl. Not only did Syracuse finish two games ahead of Virginia Tech in the standings but they beat the Hokies in Blackburg, played a tougher non-conference schedule, and finished the season stronger (9-1 as compared to Tech's 3-3 finish). Even the idiots who run these bowls would not foolishly attempt to argue that Virginia Tech earned the bowl bid on the field. No, the Hokies will play on New Year's Day for one simple reason ... geography. Blacksburg, VA is closer to Florida than Syracuse, NY. The Virginia Tech fans will - it turns my stomach to use this phrase - "travel better."
  • Troy Bell is on the brink of passing Brian Gionta and becoming my second favorite Boston College sports star of all time. Not only does he do it all on the court, but he does it with class and a humble nature that is rare in superstar athletes. Jason Williams should take notes.
  • As a Patriots fan, I can't help but get that bad feeling that whatever the team does with Tom Brady and Drew Bledsoe, it will work out badly. If Bledsoe is traded (or exposed in the expansion draft) he will end up with a good team and win a couple of Superbowls while Tom Brady turns out to be a one-hit wonder. On the other hand, if the Pats trade Brady and keep Bledsoe, Brady will go on to become one of the great quarterbacks for someone else and Bledsoe will continue his slow descent to mediocrity.
  • I think Drew Bledsoe deserves some credit for not whining about the current situation. He is a nine-year veteran and a three-time pro bowler who has been benched for a rookie. I don't disagree with Belichick's decision to stay with Brady, but Bledsoe should be commended for his maturity. How many pro athletes would be screaming bloody murder right now if they were in Drew's shoes?
  • If I had the choice between going to see the new Meg Ryan movie where she falls in love with a guy from 1876 or bathing in honey then diving head first into a giant bee hive, I think I would choose the beehive.
  • Oh, how I love to see the frustration and disappointment on Matt Millen's face every time the Lions lose. The Lions may get even worse once Millen has more time to really ruin things.
  • I loved Ryan Sidney's interview after the Iowa State game. With his jaw wired shut, he sounded like Mush Mouth from the Fat Albert Show.
  • It sickened me to see N'Sync next to the Beatles in the Hollywood Wax Museum. That's the equivalent to Morton's serving tater tots with the filet mignon. Even in his wax form, I could see John Lennon cringing.
  • A forecast: Number of Clipper fans in LA today: 212. Number of Clipper fans in LA after the Clips make the playoffs: 1,000,000. Number of Clipper fans in LA if the Clippers ever become better than the Lakers: 5,000,000. Ladies and Gentlemen, start your bandwagons!
  • Much like Bill Clinton and Robert Downey Jr, the BCS system just can't help but embarrass itself. Had Tennessee won the SEC Championship game, the BCS would have saved itself from much of the criticism that has come its way ... again. But with Nebraska, fresh off a 62-36 loss in their final game, heading to the Rose Bowl to face Miami, the BCS has again become a circus. Fans of 10-2 Colorado, 10-1 Oregon, 10-1 Illinois and 10-1 Maryland, all have a right to claim that they should play for the Championship. Colorado is probably the best team right now and would likely provide Miami with the greatest challenge, but the Buffs lost two games and really shouldn't be considered. Illinois would be a great story. How unfair is it that they finally win the Big Ten after a 17 year drought but won't be able to play in the Rose Bowl. Maryland is another great story, coming from nowhere to finish in the Top 10, though I'm sure that the Terps would resemble their mascot against speedy Miami. To me, Oregon is the clear-cut choice. Their only blemish in the tough Pac Ten was a seven point loss to Stanford. Instead we are left with Nebraska. Not only is Nebraska not the second best team in the country, they may be the fourth best team in their conference. At the very least, the rules should require that a team win its conference in order to play in the #1 vs #2 Championship Game.
  • Have you ever seen Kurt Warner's wife Brenda and Cruella DeVille in the same place at the same time?
  • The Lakers are clearly the best team in the NBA and many think they will be unbeatable in a playoff series. What does it say about the state of the NBA when the third best player on the league's best team is Derek Fisher. The Lakers can get away with it though, because almost no one in the NBA has more than two good players. The third best players (in my opinion) on the other NBA teams: Boston (Kenny Anderson), Orlando (Darrell Armstrong), New Jersey (Kenyon Martin), New York (Marcus Camby), Philadelphia (Derrick Coleman), Washington (Christian Laettner), Miami (Brian Grant), Chicago (the ballboy), Detroit (Corliss Williamson), Indiana (Jalen Rose), Toronto (Hakeem Olajuwon), Milwaukee (Sam Cassell), Charlotte (Elden Campbell), Cleveland (Zydrunas Ilgauskas), Atlanta (Theo Ratliff), San Antonio (Steve Smith), Dallas (Juwon Howard), Utah (Donyell Marshall), Minnesota (Joe Smith), Denver (Isiah Rider), Houston (Kevin Willis), Memphis (Lorenzen Wright), Sacramento (Mike Bibby), Seattle (Brent Barry), Clippers (Quentin Richardson), Portland (Damon Stoudamire), Phoenix (Shawn Marion) and Golden State (Danny Fortson). Not an impressive list, especially compared to the rosters of the 1980's. At that time, Robert Parish and James Worthy were the third best players on the Celtics and Lakers, respectively. Danny Ainge and Byron Scott were the fifth best players on those teams! In fact, Kevin McHale was once the Celtics sixth man. The Pistons fifth best player was probably Vinny Johnson. The early 80's Sixers fifth best was likely Mo Cheeks. Any of those #5 guys are probably better than half of the #3 guys listed above.

November 15, 2001

  • One of the great scenes in college basketball this season - or in any season - occurred in a Temple-Pennsylvania game in late December when Temple's mascot, an Owl named "Hooter," was given a technical foul and ejected from the game by referee John Hughes after walking out onto the court and making a gesture in the direction of the official. I'm not sure if Hughes simply has a great sense of humor or if he thought that the mascot was actually John Chaney, who also looks an awful lot like an owl.
  • I can understand to a degree why Shaquille O'Neal went berzerk and attempted to punch Bulls Center Brad Miller the other night in Chicago. O'Neal gets hammered in the paint on nearly every move to the basket so it was just a matter of time before he sought his revenge on one of the league's many stiffs that can't contain him. Fortunately for Miller, Shaq's punches were about as accurate as his free throws. Phil Jackson complained, which was amusing to me for two reasons. First, Phil invented the "hack-a-center" philosophy while coaching in Chicago. Phil's centers couldn't defend or really play basketball whatsoever so they were instructed to make good use their six fouls. Now, Jackson is crying because the tactics have come back to bite him. Second, if the referees called the game as it is truly outlined in the rule book, Laker opponents would clearly be called for many more intentional and flagrant fouls on Shaq. However, the same execution of the rule book would also mean that O'Neal would not be allowed to use his considerable bulk to toss defenders aside on his way to the rim. Under this type of officiating, Shaq would foul out in the first half of nearly every game. The best solution would be for Shaq to actually learn to play basketball. In other words, develop an outside game and learn to make free throws, rather than simply bullying away defenders and dunking the ball.
  • The conventional wisdom in Los Angeles is that the Lakers are unbeatable in a seven game series. In fact, when the Lakers started the season 13-1 many of their fans predicted that LA would eclipse the Bulls record season of 72-10, accomplished in 1995-1996. No one can dispute that Shaq O'Neal is the most dominant player in the game. You could even argue that Kobe Bryant is the second best player in the NBA. However, LA's roster beyond these two stars is among the league's worst. In fact, of the ten best basketball players in Los Angeles, only two play for the Lakers. The others are six Clippers, a UCLA Bruin and a USC Trojan. There may even be a few guys playing on the courts at Venice Beach that could beat Rick Fox one-on-one. Beyond the first round, the NBA's Western Conference Playoffs will be very interesting. If either Kobe or Shaq are off of their game, the Lakers will be in a lot of trouble against the likes of San Antonio, Dallas, Sacramento and Minnesota.
  • It seems that there is a serious disease affecting many of the NFL's head coaches. That is, the obsessive compulsion to go for the two-point conversion once an extra point attempt is missed, no matter what logic dictates. This week the affiction was demonstrated by Packers head coach Mike Sherman. Late in the third quarter of the Packers-49ers playoff game, the Pack scored a touchdown to go ahead by eight points. An extra point would have given the Packers a nine-point (and therefore two score) lead. But Sherman decided to go for the two-point conversion (Green Bay had missed an extra point after their previous touchdown). The Green Bay conversion failed and 49ers later scored a touchdown and tied the game on their own two-point conversion. Luckily for Sherman, Favre and Company bailed him out with ten unanswered points.
  • Notre Dame basically "tripped and fell" onto a great football coach. Kevin White and the rest of the Domers tried very hard to screw this up, but in the end it worked out very well for the program. Tyrone Willingham has a proven track record and has shown that he can win games while still maintaining a high academic standard. Willingham will do wonders for a Notre Dame football program that has been on a rapid descent into mediocrity. Notre Dame will never again be a national power like Nebraska or the Florida schools, but with Willingham in charge (and the NBC contract in place) they have a great shot to be a consistent Top 20 program for years to come.
  • Has the world ever witnessed an uglier automobile than the Chrysler PT Cruiser? I heard that Webster's is placing a picture of this car next to the world "monstronsity" in its next edition of the dictionary. Who is buying these? The Cruiser reminds me of the car that Homer Simpson designed for his auto manufacturing brother Herb that eventually ruined the latter's company.
  • Given the events of September 11th, it is shameful that Rudy Guiliani and his cohorts are still trying to get New York to pay for new publicly-funded ballparks for the Mets and Yankees. First of all, there are much more important needs for that money in New York City right now. Secondly, since when are the New York Yankees in need of a handout? The team can spend $80 million more on payroll than the teams they play in the American League Playoffs, but they can't pick up the tab for their own ballpark? Give me a break. If the Yankees were willing to spend the league average for about ten years, the ballpark would be paid for without dipping into taxpayer pockets. I realize that under that scenario the Yankees couldn't buy the championship, but isn't that a reasonable sacrifice to gain a new ballpark. The last time I checked, the Mets weren't exactly on food stamps either.
  • It is upsetting and frustrating that schools like Boston College, Northwestern and Duke rarely get the credit that they deserve for upholding reasonable academic requirements for their student-atheletes. These schools sacrifice wins and losses to maintain academic integrity (though it obviously hasn't hurt Duke basketball). What is equally frustrating is that coaches like Tom O'Brien do not receive due credit for maintaining discipline within their programs. At Boston College, the coach is not afraid to suspend his best player for the biggest game of the year for leaving campus without permission (a violation of team rules). This move undoubtedly cost him a win over the eventual National Champions. At Ohio State, on the other hand, a player convicted of drunken driving, and headed for jail time, is allowed to play in his team's bowl game. It is unfortunate that the NCAA does not do more to require that athletic programs like Ohio State operate with at least some shred of dignity.
  • Speaking of criminals in college football, congratulations to Larry Coker, and more specifically Butch Davis, for proving that a National Championship can be won without recruiting felons. No one will confuse the University of Miami with MIT, but the Miami program bares little resemblance to the Dade County Penitentiary crew that brought championships to Coral Gables in the 80's and early 90's. Even though he left for the NFL prior to this season, Davis deserves most of the credit for this year's championship. My only regret is that Tom "toss a woman down a flight of stairs and you can still play in the bowl game" Osbourne was not on the sideline to witness the Cornhusker beatings at the hands of Colorado and Miami.
  • Only Dan Duquette could trade for a player one day, then allow him to become a free agent the next by not offering that player a contract. We'll have to wait and see if Pokey Reese is wearing a Sox uniform in 2002. Nice job, Dan. You can put that on your resume, which you will undoubtedly need very shortly.
  • The Celtics have the second best record in their conference, the Patriots finished with the second best record in their conference and the Bruins have the best record in their conference at the season's midway point. Who would have believed this just two months ago? I don't think anyone is printing championship banners, but clearly the proverbial corners have been turned. I had forgotten what it is like to win.

November 8, 2001

  • The Boston College Eagles deserve a huge pat on the back for their effort on Saturday against the undefeated Miami Hurricanes. Without their best offensive player, best defensive player and best offense lineman, the Eagles came within nine yards of beating the #1 team in the nation. Tom O'Brien also deserves tremendous credit not only for getting his team ready to play but having the intestinal fortitude to suspend William Green for breaking team rules. O'Brien took some heat, but he did the right thing. On this team, the same rules apply whether you are a Heisman Trophy candidate or a walk-on. Even if the players won't say so, I'm sure they respect that. Some BC fans snickered about O'Brien decision and questioned his strict rules. I have two words for those people: Dan Henning. How quickly we forget what lack of discipline can do to a college football program.
  • Let's recap: During NYPD Blue's eight-year run, Andy Sipowicz has lost two partners (heart condition, murdered), a wife (shot), a son (shot), his Alcoholics Anonymous mentor (murdered by his son) and thought he was about to lose another son (possible cancer). I didn't realize that the Grim Reaper is bald with a moustache and carries a badge.
  • That makes me recall one of my favorite Simpson's lines --
    Marge: Homer, I don't think you should wear a short-sleeved shirt with a tie.
    Homer: Awww, but Sipowicz does it.
  • Sports Illustrated published their rankings for the Top 65 college basketball teams along with each program's respective graduation rates. The Memphis Tigers had a 0% graduation rate. Could there be a more perfect school for John Calipari? I think the UMass basketball team had a 0% grad rate too. I bet Coach Cal makes his players do wind sprints when they do go to class. I can't imagine that it is that tough to get a degree from Memphis. I guess these guys are flunking Intro to Elvis. By the way, SI listed BC's basketball graduation rate at 53%.
  • The last three weeks in the NFL are the reason why so many people buy satellite dishes. In the past three weeks, 15 games have been decided by three points or less or in overtime. That doesn't even include Monday's 16-10 Ravens-Titans last play of the game thriller or the Saints-Jets Turley/Robinson battle that probably would have gone to overtime if not for "the incident."
  • First Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken. Now Mark McGwire. In 2001, baseball lost not only three of its greatest players of all-time but also lost three of a dying breed of ballplayer that respects and cares about the game. McGwire could have continued for at least another year; long enough to reach 600 career homeruns and collect another $15 million. But McGwire felt like he was hurting his team and therefore would not continue. Imagine that, a pro athelete concerned with something other than his paycheck. What a contrast between McGwire and Jose Offerman. McGwire, who hit 29 homers in 299 at bats is willing to walk away because he doesn't think he is good enough to continue playing. Meanwhile, Offerman, who has about ten more reasons to retire than McGwire and is basically stealing $6 million a year from the Red Sox, feels obliged to gripe about playing time. Jose is more than willing to embarrass himself as long as he is collecting million dollar paychecks. I think baseball fans will miss Gywnn, Ripken and McGwire as much for their personalities as for their Hall of Fame caliber play.
  • Let's assume that Major League Baseball gets its way and Montreal and Minnesota are disbanded. Let's also assume that all players on the Expos and Twins major league rosters are selected in a contraction draft, beginning with the worst team (either Pittsburgh or Tampa Bay). In reality, a draft would probably combine the minor league and major league rosters but let's limit the draft to the current major league rosters for arguments sake. Here is my mock draft:
    1. Pirates or D-Rays: Vladimir Guerrero, RF, Expos - Guerrero is the clear-cut #1 pick in the contraction draft. Last season, he batted .307, hit 34 homers and had 108 RBI's. Believe it or not, those were the worst numbers that Guerrero has produced (in all three categories) in his four full seasons in the major leagues. The 26-year-old Dominican is probably the only true franchise player in the contraction draft and will create a lot of trade interest if the Pirates or Devil Rays are willing to bargain.

    2. Pirates or D-Rays: Javier Vazquez, P, Expos - The 2-5 picks in this draft may all be starting pitchers and the most promising is 25-year-old Puerto Rican Javier Vazquez. Last season, Vazquez began to display his true talents, going 16-11 with a 3.42 ERA for the horrible Expos. Like Guerrero, there will not be a shortage of suitors should the Bucs or Rays be willing to pursue trades.

    3. Orioles: Joe Mays, P, Twins - The Twins have an outstanding 1-2-3 at the top of their starting rotation. The order in which these three will be drafted is tough to predict, but I'm going to go with Mays before Radke and Milton. Mays is coming off a great 2001 season where he went 17-13 with a miniscule 3.16 ERA in 233 innings. Mays is a bit of a risk because he was knocked around in 2000, but I'm betting that Baltimore will focus on his brilliance in 2001.

    4. Royals: Eric Milton, P, Twins - I'm going to go with Milton before Radke for one reason - he is lefthanded. The 26-year-old southpaw was 15-7 last year with a 4.32 ERA after winning 13 games in 2000. In September of 1999, Milton pitched a no-hitter against the Angels.

    5. Tigers or Reds: Cristian Guzman, SS, Twins - The first infielder taken in the contraction draft will likely be Guzman. He will be returning from a dislocated shoulder that ended his season prematurely last year. Guzman improved a great deal at the plate last season, hitting .302 with 52 extra base hits. The speedy Guzman has a total of 34 triples and 53 stolen bases over the past two seasons. If the Reds end up with this pick (both the Reds and Tigers finished with 66-96 records), they may bypass Guzman because they already have shortstop Barry Larkin under contract for another two years.

    6. Tigers or Reds: Brad Radke, P, Twins - At the present time, Radke is probably the second best player in the contraction draft but teams may bypass him simply because potential is usually more attractive than consistency to a team in a rebuilding mode. But, the veteran Radke would undoubtedly be a great addition to a young pitching staff. The Twins righthander is entering his prime at age 29. Last year, he won 15 games with an ERA of 3.94. Radke has been the victim of losing teams in Minnesota. Last year was just his second winning season despite having an ERA below 4.50 in every year since 1997.

    7. Brewers: Jose Vidro, 2B, Expos - I'm sure the Red Sox, desperately in need of a second baseman, would love to get their hands on the talented 27-year-old. Vidro batted .319 last season with 50 extra-base hits. Those numbers were actually disappointing coming off an amazing 2000 season where he batted .330 with 24 homers, 97 RBI's and 51 doubles. Vidro is also improving in the field.

    8. Rockies or Rangers: Corey Koskie, 3B, Twins - The 28-year-old thirdbaseman hit his stride last year with 26 homeruns, 103 RBI's and 100 runs scored. Koskie, a career .289 hitter batted only .276 last year, but made up for that by stealing 27 bases in 33 attempts. Koskie is yet another player that I'm sure the Red Sox covet.

    9. Rockies or Rangers: Torii Hunter, CF, Twins - Torii Hunter is another Twin with huge potential. Hunter is still learning to hit for average but his power game certainly arrived in 2001 as he blasted 27 homers and drove in 92 runs. Hunter is also one of the best defensive centerfielders in the game and has tremendous range.

    10. Angels: Tony Armas Jr, P, Expos - The son of former Red Sox outfielder Tony Armas is only 23 years old and loaded with talent. He and Carl Pavano were traded to Montreal in the Pedro Martinez deal in 1997. After battling elbow and shoulder problems in 2000, Armas came back in 2001 and made 34 starts for the Expos. He was only 9-14 but had a respectable 4.03 ERA. After a solid 7-6 start last year, Armas faded a bit down the stretch, winning only 2 of 10 decisions. Consistency has been his main problem since arriving in the majors.

    11. Marlins: Orlando Cabrera, SS, Expos - Cabrera improved dramatically in 2001 raising his batting average from .237 to .276. In addition, the 27-year-old Columbian shortstop had 61 extra-base hits and 96 RBI's. He also displayed some ability on the basepaths, stealing 19 bases in 26 tries. Cabrera is also a slick defensive shortstop. He made only 11 errors in 2001 and had a fielding percentage of nearly 99%. Cabrera would likely likely replace the disappointing Alex Gonzalez.

    12. Padres: Carl Pavano, P, Expos - Carl Pavano was the other pitcher traded to the Expos in the Pedro Martinez deal. Due to various injuries, Pavano has made only 42 starts in the past three seasons combined. Pavano struggled in 2001, but was impressive in 2000 before elbow problems sidelined him. Pavano is an uninspiring 21-27 in his career with a 4.54 ERA. However, it is believed that he could excel if not for the injuries. He's a health risk, but one the Padres are probably willing to take.

    13. Blue Jays: Adam Johnson, P, Twins - Adam Johnson, the second overall pick in the 2000 draft, got his first taste of major league action in 2001. He didn't fare too well, struggling to a 8.28 ERA in 25 innings, but he remains a top prospect at only 22 years of age. In 2000, Johnson struck out 92 batters in only 69 innings in A ball. He will likely be given more time to develop in the Blue Jays system.

    14. Mets: Doug Mientkiewicz, 1B, Twins - Mientkiewicz played very well in his first full season with the Twins in 2001. He finished the season at .306 with 15 homers and 74 RBIs after fading a bit in the second half.

    15. Red Sox: Rick Reed, P, Twins With most of the top young players gone, the Red Sox may try to grab a veteran arm for their starting rotation. Rick Reed was 12-12 with a 4.05 ERA in 2001, but went 51-30 in the previous four seasons with the Mets. Reed also gives the Sox something they dearly need in the rotation - innings. Reed has pitched 200 innings or more in three of his last five seasons. Not a single Red Sox hurler accomplished that in 2001.

October 24, 2001

  • The NCAA promised that the BCS ranking system would bring more fairness to the process of deciding college football's mythical national champion. But, in actuality, the BCS has made things worse. The BCS sparked controversy last year when its computer rankings placed 10-1 Florida State #2 and sent them off to the Orange Bowl to play for the National Championship against undefeated Oklahoma. This angered many Miami fans who cried like five-year-olds who just dropped their ice cream cones. Cane fans argued that Florida State should not be selected ahead of 10-1 Miami (#3 in the final BCS standings) because the Canes beat the Seminoles during the season. For some reason Cane fans felt that the same logic didn't apply to #4 Washington who was also 10-1 and had beaten Miami head-to-head earlier in the season. The 2001 BCS standings were released for the first time this past week and again it is Miami who may be the odd man out. Miami is currently 4th in the BCS rankings behind Oklahoma, Nebraska and UCLA. The good news for Miami is that they will move up to #3 this week because Oklahoma plays Nebraska. The bad news for Miami is that, even if they keep winning, the Hurricanes could remain in the #3 slot for the remainder of the season if this week's Oklahoma-Nebraska winner and UCLA also finish the season undefeated. In this scenario, the Canes would again be shut out of the National Championship game, though they would likely end up #1 in both national polls. Although a Miami-UCLA matchup is the championship game that I would most like to see, I am rooting for the other scenario. I feel that the more times the existing system embarrasses itself, the closer we get to a college football playoff system.
  • It's great to have the greatest television show of all-time, Cheers, back on syndication (9pm-10pm on Nick at Nite). Here are three Cheers trivia questions (ranging from easy to expert) to test your knowledge: (1) What was Sam's nickname? (2) What is Woody's middle name? (3) What is Norm's real first name? Answers at the end of the notes section.
  • Current Redskins and former Penn State linebacker Lavar Arrington left Sunday's game with an apparent head injury. Arrington returned to the game in the second half. My guess is that the trainers removed Arrington from the game after Lavar failed the "count backwards from ten" head injury test then later realized that he can't pass that test on a normal day.
  • The Vancouver NBA franchise that moved to Memphis this season will still be known as the Grizzlies, at least for this season. Hopefully, the team's ownership will recognize that there is only one logical name for this team - the Memphis Elvises. I can see it now: Hound Dog blaring on the arena speakers, sequined jump suit warm-ups, giant sideburns taking the place of stripes on the sides of the player's shorts and both fat and skinny Elvis mascots.
  • I find it amusing that NFL receivers are so willing to leap into the stands behind the endzone and celebrate with the fans after a touchdown. Any other time, most of these wealthy players wouldn't be caught dead in the same places as the typical fan, but on Sunday they have no problem being slapped, grabbed and hugged by those same people.
  • Being impressed when the Yankees make it to the World Series is like being impressed when the guy with the Ferrari gets the girl or when the boss's son gets the big promotion. In each of the past two years, the Yankees have had a higher team payroll than the two teams (Oakland and Seattle) that they beat in the AL playoffs combined. The Diamondbacks are eighth in the league in payroll, but the Monees still outspent them by $28 million this season.
  • One of the toughest things about moving from Boston to Los Angeles is giving up Dunkin Donuts. There are days when I'd trade my car for a Coffee Coolata. If I ever become an eccentric millionaire (and that is my goal), I am going to open up a Dunkin Donuts store in my kitchen.
  • As time goes on, I find myself becoming more and more disenchanted with professional sports. I think the fact that Boston's four pro teams have all fallen on hard times has a lot to do with it, but it goes beyond that. I still follow the NFL religiously, but I find myself watching much fewer Major League Baseball, NHL and NBA games. Actually, I find it virtually impossible to watch an NBA game for more than a quarter. Private boxes and enormous local cable contracts have created a land of aristocrats and peasants, ruining much of the competitiveness on the pro level. Consequently, I have gravitated more in the direction of college sports, but even the college game seems to have lost something over the years. Much of that is due to the fact that the number of players leaving school early for the professional game has skyrocketed. On the plus side, this has improved competitive balance, but the overall quality of play has diminished greatly and the teams are not as recognizable as atheletes pass through the revolving door at the major programs. Anyway, I got a little nostalgic and came up with a list of the things I miss most about sports and the things that I would just as soon forget.
  • What I miss:

    • I miss the days when 40 home runs and 120 RBI's was a great season.
    • I miss the days when college basketball players stuck around for four years ... or at least two.
    • I miss the days when championships in baseball, the NHL and the NBA were won with good management and hard-working players, not with check books.
    • I miss endzone dances. The NFL doesn't want a Billy "White Shoes" Johnson knee-wiggle or an "Ickey Shuffle" but they seem to be very tolerant of the incessant trash talking.
    • I miss the days when NFL wide receivers were willing to take a hit.
    • I miss old Olympic hockey when the US used college guys and the Russians were still evil.
    • I miss Bruins radio play-by-play announcer Bob Wilson. Hockey is the worst radio sport imaginable but somehow Wilson made it exciting.
    • I miss the old NBA. Playoff series' involving the Celtics and Lakers or Celtics and Sixers were amazing. Those teams won titles because they had the players who could pass, shoot and dribble. Now teams win because they have the biggest, strongest guy who can outmuscle everyone and stuff a ball through a hoop.
    • I miss the days when the Indianapolis 500 was the only auto race on TV.
    • I miss watching football when my TV screen didn't look like a video game. First down lines and a small scoreboard in the corner is fine, but enough is enough.
    • I miss the Battle of the Network Stars and the Laff Olympics. Who wouldn't love to see Jennifer Aniston in the dunking booth or Homer Simpson going up against Eric Cartman in the obstacle course?
    • I miss Chief Nok-a-homa.
    • I miss the days when the Big East Basketball Conference had nine teams. You could count on playing Providence, Georgetown, St. John's, Villanova, Connecticut and Syracuse twice every year.
    • I miss Dewey Evans and Pudge Fisk, Cam Neely and Ray Bourque, John "Hog" Hannah and Larry, Kevin and the Chief.

    What I don't miss:

    • I don't miss symmetrical cookie cutter baseball stadiums.
    • I don't miss Ray Lucas, Tommy Hodson, Hugh Millen, Scott Secules, Jay Barker, Marc Wilson, Tom Ramsey, Tony Eason or Tom Flick.
    • I don't miss the early 1980's uniforms such as the Washington Bullets horizontal striped shirts that made Manute Bol look like a giant candy cane, the Houston Astros rainbow shirts and orange caps, the Vancouver Canucks v-shaped jerseys that looked like your grandfather's ugliest sweater and the three-tone baseball caps worn by the Expos, Orioles and White Sox.
    • Speaking of uniforms, I don't miss the short-shorts worn by 80's NBA teams.
    • I don't miss the days of college basketball before the three point line and shot clock. There was nothing worse than watching a team take a four point lead with sixteen minutes to play and attempt to pass the ball around in the "four corners" offense for the rest of the game.
    • I don't miss all the Red Sox "hot prospects" that eventually disappointed me.
    • I don't miss Albert Belle or Tony Phillips.

  • Here are the Cheers answers: (1) Sam's nickname was "Mayday" (2) Woody's middle name is Tiberius (3) Norm's real first name is Hillary. If you got all three, you a truly a Cheers expert.

October 17, 2001

  • As a friend noted to me the other day, the most upsetting thing about Saturday's loss to Virginia Tech was the lack of emotion displayed by the Boston College coaching staff. The Eagles were committing one dumb, undisciplined penalty after another and all we saw was an eye-roll or two from Tom O'Brien. Meanwhile, Virginia's Tech defensive coach was seen screaming and breaking chalkboards because his team gave up 13 points. Coach O'Brien needs to pattern his sideline demeanor to be more like Tom Coughlin and less like Dan Henning.
  • The national championship race in college football looks like it will be more interesting than ever this year. We may even decide who plays in the championship game based on what happens on the field, rather than on a computer geek's hard drive. It looks like six teams will battle for the right to play in this year's #1 vs #2 title game at the Rose Bowl on January 3rd. Interestingly, these six undefeated teams are comprised of two teams from each of three conferences. They are Miami and Virginia Tech from the Big East, UCLA and Oregon from the PacTen and Oklahoma and Nebraska from the Big12. As luck would have it, each of these conference foes will play each other later in the season. Circle your calendars for: #2 Oklahoma at #3 Nebraska on October 27th, #5 Oregon at #4 UCLA on November 10th and #1 Miami at #6 Virginia Tech on December 1st. Oklahoma and Nebraska could also meet in a Big12 championship game on December 1st. Obviously, if all three of those conference winners finish undefeated, one will be "BCSed" out of the championship mix. My prediction is that we will see Miami and UCLA in Pasadena on January 3rd.
  • What a performance by Mike Mussina in Game 3 of the AL Divisional Series. The big righthander pitched shutout ball for 7 innings, bailing out a pathetic Yankee offense in a 1-0 win. Mussina's effort not only kept the Yankees from being swept out of the playoffs without a win, it enabled them to come all the way back to win the series. This underscores two undeniable truths about major league baseball: (1) there still isn't anything more important to a team than a great starting pitcher and (2) money still buys playoff success.
  • Kiss was forced to drop out of an upcoming benefit concert in Washington DC because singer and guitarist Paul Stanley needs to go in for hip surgery. Hey guys, I think you're officially too old for spandex and face paint when your band members start missing concerts because of hip surgery.
  • The Rams may have the best group of wide receivers in the NFL but they are also the wimpiest. Whenever a defender approaches in the open field, the Ram receivers dive to the turf before there is even a chance to get hit. You would think that if Kurt Warner is willing to get whacked by pass rushers 10 or 15 times per game, the least that Tory "Is that short for Victoria?" Holt could do is allow himself to get tackled once in a while.
  • Do you get the feeling that if Dennis Miller calls Melissa Stark "Missy" one more time on the Monday Night Football telecast, she's going to head up to the booth and break a chair over his head? ... Speaking of Melissa Stark, I'm disappointed that Eric Dickerson is getting one out of every three sideline interviews this year instead of the one out of four he got last year ... I haven't seen the ratings, but I'm sure this week's Redskins-Cowboys telecast probably had fewer viewers than the ESPN/ESPN2 "We Give Up Monday" lineup of women's billiards and men's figure skating. ABC would have been better off showing a tape of a 1985 Cowboys-Redskins game.
  • Of the 21 New England Patriot games the past two seasons, 17 have been decided by a margin of eight points or less. Of the 14 losses the Pats have suffered since the start of the 2000 season, 12 have been by eight points or less. Patriot games have not necessarily been well-played or even interesting, but they have definitely been competitive.
  • Happy Birthday to Evel Knievel, who turned 63 this week. I can't imagine many people bet the over on that one.

October 1, 2001

  • Notre Dame is now off to their worst start in school history at 0-3. You know what that means -- four more losses and the Irish can kiss their Fiesta Bowl hopes goodbye.
  • The Bonehead Coach of the Week Award goes to Kansas State Head Coach Bill Snyder. After scoring a touchdown to cut Oklahoma's lead to 38-35 with 2:02 left in the fourth quarter, Snyder elected to kickoff rather than go for the onside kick. The only problem was that Kansas State had only one timeout left. Following a three and out and intentional safety by Oklahoma, K-State got the ball back, but only had time for one hail mary pass (as anyone who has ever watched a football game before could have guessed). Snyder might end up as the first head coach in the NCAA with a clock management assistant.
  • You had the love it the other day when BC's T.J. Stancil tackled Army's D.J. Stancil (no relation).
  • Let's recap: Douglas Richard Flutie 3-0, Rob "Dan Cortese" Johnson 0-3. Doug is now 33-14 as a starting quarterback in the NFL.
  • Flash ahead to the 2002 MTV Movie Awards. "And the Award for the Worst Hairpiece in a motion picture goes to ... Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton for Bandits."
  • Rutgers head football coach Greg Schiano was recently quoted as saying "Are we as talented as Miami and Virginia Tech? No. Will we be someday? Yes." Schiano didn't say which sport he was talking about, but my guess is synchronized swimming or chess. The Scarlet Knights are 1-3 this season, having lost by a combined 111-0 to the aforementioned Hurricanes and Hokies then following that up with a 20-19 loss to UConn.
  • Are there any Nebraska linemen that don't look like Eric Cartman?
  • I wonder what it is like to be the mediocre pro athlete brother of a superstar athlete. It must cause a mighty big inferiority complex. The names Billy Ripken, Dan Gwire and Mike Maddux immediately come to mind. Actually, the most notable inferior athelete brother of all time might be Jose Canseco's twin Ozzie. Ozzie is like the Wondertwin that could only turn himself into a bucket of water while his sibling was becoming a lion, tiger or fire-breathing dragon.

September 24, 2001

  • I just found out that Timothy Stack, better known as 'Notch Johnson' of FX's Son of the Beach attended Boston College in the late 1970's. If you haven't seen Son of the Beach, it is a satire on Baywatch. The only difference is that the plots on Son of the Beach are ridiculous on purpose. By the way, Stack began his college career at BU before gaining some sense and transfering to BC.
  • Did you ever see the Simpson's episode where the town institutes punishment by catapult for offenders of the town's prohibition laws? I think Boston should invest in a catapult and take the opportunity to launch Carl Everett out of town. Wouldn't it be great to see him flying across the Charles? Carl likes to point to the sky after home runs (a rarity the last year and a half), so let's give him a closer look.
  • When Matt Millen took over as President and CEO of the Detroit Lions, I changed Rule #1 in my NFL Football Pool strategy. Rule #1 is now: never pick the Detroit Lions. I wouldn't let this oaf run a lemonade stand, much less a professional football team. On the evolution chart, Millen is the second guy from the left. He is probably the worst sports broadcaster of all-time and in five years people might be calling him the worst NFL executive of all-time. By the way, the Lions are 0-2 vs the spread this year.
  • Police recently searched Mike Tyson's home for evidence pertaining to a sexual assualt that alledgedly took place in Nevada. In other equally surprising news, the ocean was wet and the sky was blue.
  • I'm glad that Kim Delaney escaped NYPD Blue before the dawn of the Gosselaar Era. She is now starring in a new drama called Philly. I get the feeling that Dennis Franz is about to become network television's version of Emmitt Smith.
  • You can't watch a Sunday of football and not hear about the famous "West Coast Offense" made popular by the great San Francisco 49er teams in the 80's and 90's. The Patriots have been working on a new "East Coast Offense." It called the "East Coast Offense" because the offensive players move around the field as if they are running through a snowstorm.
  • Chris Kattan's new movie Corky Romano opens in theatres on October 12th. Look for it in your local video store on October 19th and on the TNT Friday Night Movie on October 26th.
  • I hope the United States Military saves a few heat-seeking missiles for those people out there selling American flags for profit or otherwise using the country's horrific tragedy as a means to cash in. These people - and I'm glad they are a small minority - are simply repulsive.

September 10, 2001

  • Stanford has a wonderful campus, but the football stadium is an absolute dump. It makes pre-1988 Alumni Stadium look like the Taj Mahal. The concessions are laughable, the bathrooms look like Fenway Park on its worst day and getting into the stadium is a challenge in itself. It is basically a high school stadium with about ten times the seats. I'm sure the Eagle players had a few choice words for the condition of the playing field as well.
  • I wish I had a half billion dollars so I could buy the Red Sox. I would fire Dan Duquette before the ink dried on the contract. Then I'd write out a check to buyout the remainder of Jose Offerman's seemingly endless contract and send him into retirement. Next, I'd get Carl Everett a non-refundable, one-way ticket to Bellvue. There, he'll be called "the crazy one."
  • Trying to select Boston's worst General Manager over the past five years is like trying to choose the most annoying Backstreet Boy.
  • Is anyone outside of San Francisco rooting for Barry Bonds to break the homerun record? I think more people rooted for Ivan Drago to beat Rocky.
  • Syracuse football early season records: 2001: 0-2, 2000: 1-2, 1998: 2-2, 1997: 1-3, 1996: 0-2. It's too bad that we never play them in September.
  • Why must we be subjected to the WBNA on national television when there are perfectly good "this is only a test" messages from the Emergency Broadcasting System that could be aired?
  • Speaking of the WBNA, here is my list of the Top 5 Worst ESPN Programming Selections of All-Time

    • 5. Miniature Golf Championships - "His approach to the clown's mouth is about 75 inches. I think he'll go with the putter."
    • 4. Strongman Competition - Fire engine pulling, car lifting, bending a metal bar over your head. Where did I put that Lou Ferrigno rookie card?
    • 3. Vic's Vacant Lot - From the very early days of ESPN. The premise here was to send a fiftysomething guy (tennis guru Vic Braden) out with a group of young children to show them how to organize competitive sports in busy streets or places that looked like abandoned contruction sites. Gee, I can't imagine why that one was cancelled.
    • 2. Synchronized Diving - Oh, sorry. That's the Olympics.
    • 1. World Series of Poker - Card by Card broadcast by Dick Van Patten. If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn't have believed it.
  • ... and my Top 2 Cult Classics of ESPN Programming

    • 2. Canadian Football - I used to watch CFL games while eating breakfast before school. Warren Moon owned the league back then. But, I still don't understand why an eight team league needed two franchises called the Rough Riders.
    • 1. Australian Rules Football - This sport is basically chaos, violence and mayhem, but with referees and what appeared to be a few rules. Did I mention that they don't wear helmets?

September 1, 2001

  • Miss Cleo says BC will go 8-3 this season and head to a bowl game. That's good enough for me. My bags are packed.
  • Jose Offerman must be on his way to breaking the Major League record for taking called third strikes. By the way, has anyone seen Mo Vaughn lately? I saw him on TV the other day and thought it was Rerun from What's Happening.
  • No one can believe that the NFL officials turned down a 200% pay raise phased in over the next five years. Turning down an offer like that simply doesn't make sense. My guess is that the NFL refs couldn't see the contract well enough to read the terms.
  • It was ruled that the Bronx, New York little league all stars will have to forfeit their World Series victories because they used a 14-year-old pitcher (the maximum age for little league is 12) which gave them an unfair advantage over the competition. This would be comparable to a big league team with a $120 million payroll playing a team with a $30 million payroll in the playoffs. Well, I guess it's not that much of an unfair advantage.
  • Has Notre Dame been invited to the Fiesta Bowl yet?
  • I won't get into a discussion here about the existence of God. However, the fact that Roger Clemens is on his way to another Cy Young proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no Baseball God.
  • My All-time Baseball Movie Lineup.
    • C - Crash Davis, Bull Durham (beats out Jake Taylor and Mike Engelberg at a tough position)
    • 1B - Klu Haywood, Major League (played so well by former Brewer pitcher Pete Vuckovich)
    • 2B - Linus Van Pelt, Peanuts (not really a movie, but ...)
    • SS - Tanner Boyle, Bad News Bears (will rush the mound any time you need it)
    • 3B - Roger Dorn, Major League (known to tank a grounder once in a while)
    • LF - Moonlight Graham, Field of Dreams (he's batting 1.000)
    • CF - Willie Mays Hayes, Major League (also the team's leadoff batter)
    • RF - Roy Hobbs, The Natural (stock up on light bulbs)
    • SP - Nuke LaLoosh, Bull Durham (likes old chicks on and off screen)
    • RP - Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn, Major League (California Penal League All-Star)
    • MANAGER - Jimmy Dugan, A League of Their Own ("There's no crying in baseball")
    • BENCH COACH - Morris Buttermaker, Bad News Bears (gives beer to 10-year-olds)
    • ANNOUNCER - Harry Doyle, Major League (Juuuuuuust a bit outside)
    • UMPIRE - Lt. Frank Drebin, Naked Gun (Steeeeeeeerrrrike three-ee-ee)
    • NATIONAL ANTHEM - Enrico Palazzo, Naked Gun (buncha bombs in the air)
    • HONORABLE MENTION (TV) - Sam Malone, Cheers (the bases were loaded and so was he)
  • As far as LA is concerned, the Clippers do not exist. It is easier to find a 1967 Anaheim Amigos ABA jersey than a Clippers t-shirt in this town. I suspect that I'm going to find Clipper tickets in my Cheerios box one of these days.
  • Just when you thought that NYPD Blue couldn't get any worse, they decided to cast Mark Paul Gosselaar as the new detective. If you don't know who Mark Paul Gosselaar is (like the rest of the world), he played the blond kid, Zach, on Saved by the Bell. Apparently Screech wasn't available.

October 25, 2000

  • The Dolphins had given up 58 points in 27 quarters entering the 4th quarter of Monday's game vs the Jets. They gave up 30 in the 4th quarter.
  • Given the strange way Jets games have ended this season, one must wonder if the team has incriminating evidence against each of their opponents. Bill Parcells might be in Doug Flutie's bushes with binoculars and a camera as we speak.
  • I calculated each baseball team's wins per million dollars in salary. The best ratio was the Twins (4.18). The best playoff teams were the A's (2.85) and the ChiSox (2.76). The Yankees were the worst (0.86) followed by the Dodgers (0.95). I rather have a three year baseball strike than put up with this for another minute.
  • The Raiders are about ready for their annual collapse. Since 1995, they have started the season 8-2, 4-4, 3-4, 6-2 and 4-3 and finished 0-6, 3-5, 1-8, 2-6 and 4-5. That's 25-15 early and 10-30 late.
  • My new excuse for everything I do wrong -- "I was throwing it to the batboy."
  • Apparently Tim Couch was dating Playmate of the Year Heather Kozar until he introduced her - and lost her - to Bears QB Cade McNown. Now Couch has two reasons to be criticized for "not living up to Kozar standards." This gives new meaning to "Quarterback Challenge."
  • ESPN obviously understands that they can't compete with a New York/New York World Series. Tonight's "We Give Up Wednesday" programming includes: Halloween on Ice, Incredible Dog Challenge, Sumo Wrestling, a World's Strongest Man Marathon and Billiards.
  • The Red Sox, Blue Jays, A's, Mariners and Mets should all boycott future dealings with the Cleveland Indians. Had Cleveland not traded Justice to the Yankees (for nothing I might add), the Yanks would have finished third in AL East and would not be making life miserable for everyone else. Plus, the Indians may have screwed themselves out of a Wild Card spot in the process.
  • Bill Clinton received credit for the economic resurgence of the last 7-8 years, while George Bush took the fall for the bad economy of the late 80s/early 90s even though it was mostly the result of the cyclical nature of the economy. I'm now starting to get the sinking feeling that the positive economic cycle will end just in time for George W. to be blamed for it.
  • Apparently Sony's Playstation 2 is so hot that stores have been taking advance orders for 8 months. The game consoles are in stores tomorrow but not everyone who wants one will get one right away. I'm sure Sony will remedy the situation before the unthinkable happens and some unfortunate kid plays outdoors.
  • The euro fell to 83 cents against the dollar today. At this rate, it won't be long before that money will be sitting in a box between the Chance Cards and the deed for Baltic Avenue.

Notes Archive

Superbowl XXXIX
Superbowl XXXVIII
NFL Sunday

March Madness
Red Sox