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Random Notes (2002)

November 14, 2002

  • How ridiculous is the BCS/Bowl system in NCAA football? Boston College may have actually cost itself a bowl slot because they beat Notre Dame. Let me explain. The Big East Champion is guaranteed a BCS slot which would put them in one of the four top bowl games (Orange, Sugar, Fiesta, Rose). The Big East also has contractual obligations with the Gator, Insight, Continental Tire and San Francisco Bowls. Notre Dame is also eligible to take one of the Big East bowl slots as long as they are bowl eligible. The key part here is there are two at-large BCS bids up for grabs (ie. teams that did not win their conference championship). This easiest way to explain this is by using two scenarios. Each scenario assumes that BC finishes 5th in the Big East (and is thus fifth in line among Big East teams for bowl slots behind Miami, Pitt, Virginia Tech and West Virginia).
    • Scenario 1: BC beats Notre Dame and finishes 8-4. Notre Dame loses to BC and USC on Nov 30th and finishes 10-2. The Irish are knocked out of BCS contention. Miami goes to the BCS as Big East Champion, Notre Dame goes to the Gator Bowl, Pittsburgh to the Insight Bowl, Virginia Tech to the Continental Tire Bowl and West Virginia to the San Francisco Bowl. BC is left out in the cold unless another bowl finds itself with an open slot.
    • Scenario 2: BC loses to Notre Dame and finishes 7-5. Notre Dame, whether they lose to USC or not, takes an at-large BCS slot. Miami heads to the BCS as well for winning the Big East. With Notre Dame in the BCS, Pitt can upgrade to the Gator Bowl, Virginia Tech to the Insight Bowl, West Virginia to the Continental Tire and BC grabs the final Big East spot in the San Francisco Bowl.
  • As you can see, the ludicrous system may punish the Eagles for beating Notre Dame (and winning eight games) instead of losing to Irish (and winning seven games). If this is not an indictment on this terrible system then I don't know what is. Of course, this may all be a moot point if (a) Notre Dame beats USC or (b) BC loses one of its remaining three games.
  • Speaking of BC, did anyone catch the color commentary of ESPN (and former Notre Dame Coach) Bob Davie during the BC-West Virginia game on Saturday? This may have been the single worst performance by a football announcer ever. Davie repeatedly called BC quarterback Brian St. Pierre "Pierre" (a guy he coached against and recruited) and also mistakenly called West Virginia quarterback Rasheed Marshall "Rasheed Wallace" on more than one occasion. If you can't remember the names of the quarterbacks, you clearly don't belong in the booth. Davie also questioned nearly every single call by the officials that went in favor of Boston College, most of which were good calls. He mispronounced player names all day long, sometimes calling players by their first name. I think all Notre Dame haters are very depressed that this guy is no longer coaching the Irish. The question is: will ESPN extend Davie's contract by five years like Notre Dame did in 2000?
  • I must admit that I take the greatest of pleasure in seeing the Lakers sitting at 2-6 while playing without Shaquille O'Neal. Brainwashed fans and Los Angeles sports radio personalities have been making foolish claims over the past three years that the Lakers would still be a 45-50 win team without O'Neal for the entire season. I think the early season proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that LA is nothing without Shaq. Beyond Shaq, Kobe and Robert Horry, the Lakers are the biggest collection of stiffs ever assembled. The Lakers are not a great "team" by any definition. They have one of the best duos of all-time and the most dominant player since Wilt Chamberlain, but like the 1990's Bulls, it is a stretch to use the word "team" to describe them. Kobe Bryant is a tremendous player, but he has proven over the first eight games that without Shaq drawing the attention of the defense, he is not much better than Vince Carter.
  • I also laugh when I hear people talk about the Lakers being "unbeatable" in the Playoffs as long as Shaq is in the lineup. Are these people watching the same games that I am? LA fans will endlessly deny that it was friendly officiating that allowed the Lakers to beat Sacramento in the Western Semis last season (and Portland in Game 7 in 2000 as well), but everyone outside of LA knows the truth. The Lakers have won three titles in a row, but they have only earned one. Even if you discount the officiating, the Lakers needed a buzzer-beater by Robert Horry and several last minute wins to survive in the Western Conference a year ago. It is mind-boggling how people can come up with the word "unbeatable" after witnessing that.
  • In case you missed it, Miami of Ohio Defensive Coordinator Jon Wauford was arrested and taken off the field in handcuffs after allegedly shoving a fan who had come out onto the field to celebrate Marshall's last second win. The fan hit his head on the artificial turf and was taken to a local hospital with a concussion. When I first heard this news, I was angry that a football coach would lay out an overexuberant college student just for running onto the field after his team won the game. As foolish as it is, it has become tradition for the students to storm the field after any moderately important home victory. The coaches should understand this. Later, however, I learned that the person who was injured was not a college undergrad, but a 36-year-old man. Of course this changed everything in my mind. If anyone deserves to be whacked onto the turf, it is a 36-year-old man running out onto a college field after a win over Miami of Ohio. I sincerely hope that Jon Wauford and Miami of Ohio don't suffer because of the complete idiocy of this 36-year-old teenager.
  • There was much discussion this week about who should win the American League MVP, Alex Rodriquez or Miguel Tejada. It is clear that A-Rod had the better year than Tejada and in fact, it is arguably the greatest year ever by a shortstop. The other side of the argument is that A-Rod's Rangers finished in last place so how valuable could he have been? The Rangers may have broken the major league for losses in a season without A-Rod, but is that enough to justify giving him the award? Though I agree with the choice of Tejada, I do understand the point of view for those supporting Rodriguez. This argument has come up many times over the years and many times the player on the last place team has won the MVP Award. To me, the solution is simple. Baseball needs a third award called the "Player of the Year." This award would be given each year to the most outstanding position player. This would mean that the Most Valuable Player Award could be reserved for a player that truly made a difference to a winning team, like Tejada, and the Player of the Year Award could be given to the player who had the best overall season - in this case Rodriguez. The added benefit to the extra award is that pitchers would be given more consideration for the MVP. There are some voters who believe that a pitcher should not win the MVP simply because there is already an award for them (the Cy Young). With the Player of the Year Award, voters could no longer make this argument because there would be one award for pitchers, one award for position players and one award open to all players.
  • While on the subject, Alex Rodriguez was given a $200,000 bonus for finishing second in the MVP race. In case you missed it, A-Rod's contract pays him an average of $25 million per year, but somehow his agent felt that some additional bonuses were necessary. Can you imagine those negotiations?
    • [Enter Slimy Agent's Name Here]: "Well, $25 million per year is nice, but I think we need to add a few bonuses if we are going to sign here."

  • I would have had a hard time not throwing [Enter Slimy Agent's Name Here] out the window at that point. I'm sure Rangers management agreed to the bonuses just to get the negotiations over with, but I can't even imagine the overwhelming sense of greed that caused someone (be it A-Rod or his agent) to actually ask for it. Sickening.
  • This year Phil Simms and Boomer Esiason are both on the preliminary list of nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. If Simms and Esiason both make the Hall it will be good news for fans of both the Giants and Bengals. It would also be good news for the guy whose job it is to make the Hall of Fame bronze busts because he could create one head and then just make a copy.

October 30, 2002

  • For the second year in a row, baseball fans were treated to one of the great World Series' of all-time. Like the Yankees and Diamondbacks a year ago, the Angels and Giants provided dramatic comebacks, late inning heroics and great stories. This year's World Series was particularly special because it matched two organizations that earned their trips to the Series through hard work, solid scouting and intelligent personnel moves, not merely because they had the deepest pockets. With the exception of the egomaniacal Jeff Kent and Barry Bonds, the players on both teams are extremely likeable. Each features a great mix of "out-of-nowhere" rookies, All stars in their primes and experienced veterans looking for a last chance at success. In Barry Bonds, we may have witnessed the most dominant player since Babe Ruth. I am not a Barry Bonds fan, but I can't help but marvel at his outrageous talents.
  • The only negative part of the Angels victory is that it rewards their enormous contingent of bandwagon fans. Outside of Montreal and the Florida teams, Anaheim probably has the worst fans in the league. I have been to Red Sox-Angels games at Edison Field in each of the past two seasons. Each time there were about 25,000 people in attendance, 20,000 of which are rooting for the Red Sox. Granted, there are some truly diehard Angels fans that were deserving of seeing their hard-luck team finally win the championship, but the vast majority of people in attendance at Edison Field during the playoffs could not have named more than two Angel players four weeks ago. The fact that the crowd was so loud during the Series shows how truly committed Southern Californians are to jumping on the latest trend. It is truly disgusting.
  • I loved seeing Angel relievers Brendan Donnelley and Ben Weber wearing those goofy specs on the mound. Dodger closer Eric Gagne also sported the glasses on the mound this season. See, I knew that the Kent Tekulve look would make a comeback.
  • What are the odds that major league baseball would ever have two Benji's/Bengie's in the league, much less on the same team. The World Series featured two Benji's, two Ortiz, two Rodriquez and two Molinas.
  • Was I the only one expecting a Bad News Bears-like ending to the World Series? I envisioned a scenario with the Angels up by four, bases loaded, two outs, bottom of the ninth inning of Game 7. Barry Bonds strides to the plate. Like Vic Morrow's Roy Turner, Mike Sciosia signals for the intentional walk to Bonds with the bases loaded. Then, in true Kelly Leak fashion, Bonds lunges across the plate and rips the intentional ball into the gap. As the Angels fumble the ball around the outfield, Bonds tries for the inside-the-park homerun and as he reaches the plate ...
  • At the top of my list of people that deserve to be shot is the guy that created the "Thunderstick" that TV and live audiences were tortured with during the World Series. I think someone needs to find this guy and spend a couple of weeks following him around (to work, to the supermarket, to softball practice) incessantly banging those plastic noisemakers directly into his ear. Only then will he realize the complete and utter evil of his invention.
  • I think that the major reason why the Angels won the Series is because they were much more focused on the task at hand. The Giants seemed more concerned with whose kid would be the batboy than they were with winning the series. Dusty Baker should be put in jail for allowing his three year old son to run around on a major league baseball diamond. LA Times columnist T.J. Simers came up with a great nickname for Dusty's son Darren - the "Rally Brat."
  • Hopefully, the success of midmarket teams like Anaheim and San Francisco will continue in the coming years with help from the new revenue sharing agreement that will begin next season. The agreement, though a step in the right direction, does not appear to do enough to spur true competitive balance in major league baseball. Many questions remain: Will the luxury tax coupled with increased revenue sharing put an end to the Yankee Buynasty? Will tightwad owners like the Twins Carl Pohlad actually spend their revenue sharing checks on players or will they simply pocket the profits? Will the owners finally show some fiscal responsibility when it comes to negotiating player contracts? Will Batman escape the Joker's fiendish torture device? (sorry, wrong subject).
  • The Angels have had the Rally Monkey for two years though no one noticed until this year's playoffs. Given the Angels' success in making late inning comebacks, it seems likely that many of the other clubs will add their own rally creatures. Here are some ideas:
    • Boston - The Rally Lobster
    • New York - The Rally Pimp
    • Baltimore - The Rally Crab
    • Toronto - The Rally Donut
    • Cleveland - Drew Carey
    • Chicago - Da Rally Monkey
    • Detroit - The Rally Carjacker
    • Seattle - The Rally Raincloud
    • Montreal - The Rally Stripper
    • Philadelphia - The Rally Cheesesteak Sandwich
    • Atlanta - The Rally Redneck (post previously held by John Rocker)
    • St. Louis - Archie, the Rally Arch
    • Milwaukee - The Rally Drunk
    • San Francisco - The Rally Interior Decorator
    • Los Angeles - The Rally Washed-up Celebrity
  • I have harped on this issue many times but it always bears repeating. What an absolute disgrace that once again this year not a single World Series weekend game was televised before 8:00 pm. It is criminal that Major League Baseball and FOX cannot start one or two World Series games at 5:30 pm Eastern Time to accommodate young fans that may not be able to stay up to see the games to their conclusion. Game Six was one of the All-time great baseball games, as was Game Seven a year ago and I'm sure not many kids under the age of 11 were able to see the conclusion of either game. Clearly, additional revenues gained now via the 8:00 pm start time will be more that offset by losses in revenue twenty years from now when no one under the age of 45 will even care about baseball. This is yet another indication that the owners, players and network executives are concerned only with making their money now and care nothing about the future of the sport. Baseball is rapidly losing the interest of its young fan base (and potential fan base) and they don't seem to care one bit.
  • I love the idea of the Expos playing in Boston next year if for no other reason than it gives the Red Sox a chance to convince Vlad Guerrero how much he loves Boston. I guy can dream can't he?

October 11, 2002

  • On paper, the 2002 Red Sox look outstanding. Their top two starters will likely end up #1 and #2 in the Cy Young balloting and three of their starters finished among the top four in ERA in the American League. Uggie struggled at times but converted 40 of 46 of his save opportunities. Nomar Garciaparra had an MVP caliber year with a career-best 85 extra base hits, Manny Ramirez hit 33 homers, drove in 107 and won a batting title despite missing 42 games and Johnny Damon gave the Sox their best leadoff hitter since a certain chicken-eating Nebraskan owned the spot a decade ago. Shea Hillenbrand proved to be a solid major league starter and Rey Sanchez filled an enormous void at second base. With all this, the Sox still managed to finish six games out of a playoff spot. I'm not sure any team in history has accomplished less with more than the 2002 Red Sox. The biggest reason for their ultimate failure was their total inability to make clutch pitches and get clutch hits in the 8th and 9th innings. As a result, the Sox were 13-23 in one-run games, including 6-20 in their last 26 one-run games. The Red Sox actually outscored their opponents by a whopping 194 runs in 2002. Here are some numbers to put this in perspective:
    • The Red Sox +194 run differential (Sox Runs minus Opponent Runs) was the fifth best total for any team during the last four years. Two of those teams were this year's Angels (+207) and Yankees (+200). Not surprisingly, the 2001 Mariners (116 wins) have the best run differential during that time (+299). The four teams that had better run differentials than the Red Sox over that time averaged 105 wins.
    • The Sox +194 run differential was 46 better than the 2000 and 2001 Yankees teams combined.
    • The average run differential among playoff teams from 1999-2002 was 141. Those teams won an average of 96 games.
    • The Red Sox and the Mariners became the second and third teams (out of 38) to win 93 or more games and not make the playoffs since the Wild Card was instituted in 1995. The 1999 Reds won 96 games and lost a one-game playoff to the Mets.
  • Reality shows featuring lunatics like Ozzy Osbourne and Anna Nicole Smith are grabbing huge ratings these days. ESPN, I have four words for you: "The John Rocker Show." Speaking of John Rocker, did you notice that his final 2002 ERA was 6.66? Spooky.
  • To the people attending home games played by the Angels, A's and Twins. Where the hell were you all season? By the way, the Orange County Transportation Authority will be running extra bandwagons to and from Edison Field during the Playoffs for you convenience.
  • The Major League Baseball League Championship Series' will feature the Twins, Angels, Giants and Cardinals. The last time I saw these matchups it was 1988 and I was playing R.B.I. Baseball. Nintendo Wally Joyner was THE MAN!
  • R.B.I. Baseball and Tecmo Bowl will always be the greatest video games of all time. I had to retire from video games when the controller went from three buttons to 38.
  • I finally caught an episode of CSI: Miami the other night. For some inexplicable reason, the creators decided that David Caruso's character should be named "Horatio." Is there anyone on earth that looks less like a "Horatio" than David Caruso? That makes about as much sense as casting Dennis Franz and calling him "Fabio."
  • There aren't many better names in sports than that of tennis player Anna Smashnova. Sounds like a cross between Anna Kournikova and Jennifer Capriati. Or would that be Anna Smashednova?
  • I'm convinced that Saddam Hussein is working as a maintenance man in my office complex. The resemblance is uncanny. Just the other day, I saw him carrying a folder labeled "W.M.D." When I asked him about it, he replied "It stands for, ummm, Waste, ummm, Management Department. Yeah, that's it." Hmmm.
  • To the Red Sox Public Relations Department, I have two words for you: "Rally Lobster."

September 12, 2002

  • For what seems like the fifteenth year in a row, Syracuse looks like an intramural flag football team to start the season. Two weeks ago, BYU racked up roughly 12,000 yards of total offense in their drubbing of the Orangemen and last week North Carolina outgained Syracuse by about 200 total yards on their way to a comeback win. Someone at B.C. needs to convince the Syracuse Athletic Department that the two teams can enhance their rivalry by meeting in the season opener each year, rather than waiting until the end of the season.
  • I watched Black Hawk Down for the first time last week. I'm wondering ... is it now in the Screen Actors Guild bylaws that Tom Sizemore must be in every war movie?
  • Despite the misery of the Red Sox season, I can't help but feel giddy knowing that Dan Duquette, Carl Everett and Jose Offerman are all long gone.
  • If the Raiders kick two field goals and lose a game 7-6 this year, will the team and their fans whine about the loss for eight months because NFL rules say that field goals are worth only three points, not four?
  • I was in shock earlier this week when I learned that the Gilbert Brown-esque Anna Nicole Smith actually has a personal trainer. What is this person being paid to do? I don't think anyone has deserved to be fired this much since Captain Hazelwood took the Exxon Valdez for a drunken joyride.
  • You know you are spending too much time at work when you are making a call from home and you dial "9" for an outside line.
  • The Cleveland Browns are now officially the NFL's version of the Boston Red Sox. The Brownies, pre or post expansion, seem to possess the same deadly combination of bufoonery and bad luck that only Boston Red Sox fans can understand. Here is some of the recent history:
    • In 1980, Cleveland was trailing Oakland 14-12 late in the fourth quarter of an AFC Divisional Playoff game. The Browns were well within "chip-shot" range for a likely game-winning field goal when MVP Quarterback Brian Sipe inexplicably threw an interception in the endzone. The play is known as "The Mistake by the Lake" (as is the City of Cleveland, by the way).
    • in 1986, Browns fans witnessed one of the most memorable drives in NFL history when John Elway marched 98 yards in the final five minutes of the AFC Championship Game in Cleveland to tie the score and send the game into overtime. The Broncos won in overtime on a field goal that many argue was wide left.
    • in 1987, Running Back Ernest Byner fumbled at the one yard-line as he was just about to cross the goal line for a possible game-winning score against Denver in yet another AFC Championship game. The Browns surrendered 30 points in the second half that day and lost 38-33.
    • In 1995, Cleveland fans suffered the ultimate indignity as the city lost its franchise - at least temporarily - to Baltimore thanks to the greedy Art Modell.
    • Last season, an improving Browns team lost two heartbreaking games - one in which the Bears completed a Hail Mary touchdown pass to tie the game as time expired then won in overtime on an interception return and another game in which the referees ignored NFL rules by going to an instant replay after the following play had already been executed (the infamous bottle-throwing incident).
    • If all that wasn't enough, the Browns began this season by losing a game only because mental midget Dwayne Rudd took off his helmet before the final play expired, which is a penalty in the NFL. Because a game or half cannot end on a defensive penalty, Kansas City was given one more play, which they used to kick a game-winning field goal for a 40-39 win. Ouch! It's no wonder these people dress up like dogs every week.
  • What an incredible first week in the NFL, especially when you are a DirecTV/NFL Sunday Ticket subscriber. Of the 16 opening week games, 11 were decided by one score (eight points) or less and most of those were still in doubt with one minute remaining in the game. Three games went to overtime. In fact, three of the five games that were not competitive still gave me great joy - the first, Matt Millen's Lions getting pasted by Miami; the second, the Dallas Felons losing to an expansion team in that franchise's first game ever, and third, the perpetually-disrespected Patriots beating up the Steelers on National TV ... again. Man, it's great to have football back.

September 1, 2002

  • Three months ago, I believed that the idea of a baseball strike in 2002 was outlandish. Over the past decade, we have grown familiar with the insatiable greed displayed by Major League Baseball players and the unrelenting stupidity that has become commonplace for baseball owners. Still, how could either side be foolish enough to allow a work stoppage that would likely ruin the game forever. The past year has been one of the worst in American history. America has been at war, families are struggling to recover from the events of September 11th and senior citizens have lost their life-savings because of corporate corruption, yet we are forced to listen to the reasons why a collection of 750 arrogant, pampered prima donnas might feel obliged to abandon a game (let me repeat, A GAME) that pays them, on average, $2.5 million per year. That's about $15,000 per day to run around in the sun for two or three hours playing a kid's game. On the other side are a group of 30 billionaire weasels who have backed themselves into a corner with their foolish overspending. Many of these same men promised fans a new era of fiscal responsibility after the 1994 strike, then promptly allowed the average player salary to double in the next seven years. I am certainly not one of those people who will claim that baseball players are paid too much. These men are the best in the world at what they do. If Keanu Reeves can earn $20 million per movie and a CEO can earn a $50 million annual bonus when his company's stock falls 80% in the same year then Alex Rodriquez is probably a bargain at $25 million per year. The problem lies in the fact that the game's health is jeopardized by these salaries. But, I guess all is well that end's well. For the first time, the two sides actually reached an agreement without a work stoppage. That in itself is historic. I have read through the specifics of the new labor agreement. Here is a rundown of what I like and don't like about the new collective bargaining agreement.
  • What I like

    1. The fact that they reached an agreement -- Eight negotiations, eight work stoppages. You could not find more ominous data than that. The key to this round of negotations was that the players actually made compromises. In the past, the players have agreed to take one step for every 19 steps that the owners take. In this case, both sides gave ground. I think the players realized that the owners were serious this time and would not simply cave in as they have in the past. With the majority of clubs losing money, the status quo favored by the players was simply not an option.
    2. The role of the fans -- The players and owners have shown time and time again that the feelings of the fans mean nothing to them. The expectation in the past has been that fans have short memories and do not hold grudges and would therefore be quick to return to ballparks once the work stoppage ended. Many fans returned after the 1994 strike, but much of that was a result of the heroics of Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and Cal Ripken, coupled with a surging economy and the novelty of many new ballparks. In recent weeks the media painted a picture of fans who would clearly hold a grudge if baseball players went on strike in 2002. Baseball is already losing the younger demographic and a strike may have cost them much of the rest of us. I truly believe that the fan uprising had a major impact on each side's willingness to compromise. So to all those people who voiced you opinion, pat yourselves on the back.
    3. Increased Revenue Sharing -- The new deal calls for each club to contribute 34% of its revenue (after ballpark expenses) to a revenue-sharing pool. This is a rather large increase over the 20% that had been in place. Baseball can not survive when half of its teams are hopelessly out of playoff contention by early July. How long do you think people in Kansas City and Pittsburgh will deal with losing before they give up on the sport entirely? The players (and George Steinbrenner) complain about higher revenue-sharing, claiming that it "subsidizes" small market clubs, but to me it makes perfect sense. If the Yankees' cable station pays them $2 million to telecast a game against the Kansas City Royals, why shouldn't the Royals get half of that money? The last time I checked, the Yankees couldn't play a game without an opponent and I don't think they could get a $200 million per year to take on the Yankee farm teams every night. From the player perspective, revenue-sharing should only those on the lower two-thirds of the salary pyrimid because more teams would have money to bid for their services. I would have liked to have seen a revenue-sharing figure closer to 40% but 34% will certainly help to bring a little more competitive balance to the game.
    4. Drug Testing -- At this point we do not know how many of today's players are using steroids. My hope is that the number is not nearly as high as the Ken Caminiti's of the world claim it to be. Drug testing can only be good for the game. Those who are cheating should be exposed. Those who are not cheating, but are suspected of using steroids, deserve a chance to put an end to the suspicion. Those who are already using these substances now have an incentive to clean up their acts.
    What I don't like
    1. Luxury Tax Thresholds -- The team payroll levels at which the luxury tax kicks in is way to high. If any sport needs a salary cap, it is major league baseball with its dramatic discrepancies in local revenue. Even with revenue-sharing increases, the Yankees will still have more than twice as much money to spend on players as the Oakland A's. Granted, this is better than the Yankees having four times as much money to spend as the A's, but the opportunity to buy championships will remain.
    2. No Minimum Payoll Requirements -- The problems in baseball stemming from payoll inequity are not all about who has the money, but who is willing to spend the money. The transfer of revenues from big market to small market clubs does no good if the small market owners are not forced to spend that money on players. There is no reason to believe that Twins Owner Carl Pohlad (baseball's version of Jeremy Jacobs) won't put that big revenue-sharing check into a new mansion or some European sports cars. Both sides really dropped the ball on this issue.
    3. The Sox Season Continues -- The Red Sox are now five games behind in the Wild Card race, they are a mind-bending 5-22 in their last 27 one-run or extra inning games and Pedro is having injury problems. I'm not sure if I can take another month of this.

    And the Rest of the Notes ...

  • Believe it or not, I was relieved when William Green decided to leave Boston College early and enter the NFL Draft. Green gave BC fans many thrills during his three years at the Heights, but it became abundantly clear last season that William felt that his own interests came before the team. Green was suspended not once, but twice in the past two years for violating team rules. The second suspension last season almost certainly cost the Eagles a victory over eventual National Champion Miami. Many BC fans made excuses for Green, claiming that he is young and immature and should be given the benefit of the doubt. The last time I checked, the rest of those guys on the team were young as well, but they were able to follow Coach O'Brien's rules. The Eagles will miss Green's talent, but he is clearly not a guy that the 2002 Eagles could have counted on. It is very unfortunate that Green tarnished what was a phenomenal career at BC. However, despite my enormous disappointment, I do wish Green well in his new career with the Cleveland Browns.
  • I really, really hate the fact that I have to root against Tyrone Willingham now that he coaches Notre Dame. Willingham is likeable and has all the makings of a great coach. If he succeeds at Notre Dame, it will be that much tougher to stomach knowing that Notre Dame ended up with Willingham only because of their own ineptitude while searching for a replacement for Bob Davie. If Willingham had refused Notre Dame's offer, the only coach left would have been Craig T. Nelson.
  • If there is a sequel to Vin Diesel's new action movie XXX (and we know that there will be), will it be called XXXXXX or YYY?
  • I caught a glimpse of the WBNA's Seattle Storm Coach Lin Dunn the other day. Are we 100% certain that this isn't Dick Versace in drag?
  • Is there anyone that looks more uncomfortable in an interview than Mel Gibson?
  • One of the funniest television moments of the past month was when Bill Parcells said that he "always had a thing for Kathleen Turner" on the YES Network's interview show Center Stage. I guess the Tuna is human after all.

June 28, 2002

  • I was in attendance for Saturday and Sunday's games between the Red Sox and Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. The Red Sox faithful were there in full force, but the weekend turned out to be total wash for the Sox as they found new and exciting ways to lose close ballgames to National League foes. The worst part of the weekend for Sox fans, however, was dealing with the taunts from the Dodger "fans" for three straight days. In case you don't know, Los Angeles sports fans are far and away - probably by a factor of five - the most fair-weather fans on the planet. When the local teams win, the people of LA start attending games. They gloat and brag about players that they had never heard of before the winning started. They fly flags featuring the team's logo from their 4-ton SUV's/ status symbols. When the local teams lose, they simply do not care.
  • As Sox fans, we all know how difficult it is to tolerate the barbs of Yankee fans, but at least there is some acceptance in the fact that New Yorkers are as loyal to their baseball team as we are (I am of course excluding the lowest members of the sports fan food chain - the Yankee fan born and raised in Massachusetts. These people are such vile, traitorous front-runners that even the LA "fans" pale in comparision.). Most Yankee fans can name the players from the dreadful Yankee teams of 1983-1993. Most of the supposed fans in attendance over the weekend couldn't name more that two Dodger players at the start of this season. What's worse is that most of these people were hopped up on arrogance stemming from the Lakers 3rd consecutive NBA Championship. The fact that the title was won with a combination of dumb luck, fortuitous officiating and their opponent's ablity to choke didn't seem to matter to fans of such limited knowledge. On the positive side, in typical LA fashion, the fans fled the scene by about the seventh inning so there weren't as many left to gloat by the end of the game. My only response was to ask "What's your shortstop's name?" which seemed to be an effective comeback because most of them didn't know the answer. I'll remember that next time.
  • The miserable weekend of baseball (at least from a Sox fan's perspective) was nearly salvaged in the seventh inning of Sunday's game. I was sitting about ten rows deep in the leftfield seats when Juan Diaz drilled a two-strike pitch in my direction. As the ball came closer, I carefully secured the nachos in my right hand as I extended my left hand into the air above me. As the ball moved closer, it was clear that I would not have a play on it as it would be over my head, so I began to turn and prepare for a possible richochet. Unfortunately, the ball landed on an empty seat two rows behind me and remained there for about a second before a grown man in a Dodgers jersey could wrestle the ball from a couple of ten-year-old boys. The man raised the ball above his head with pride ... as if he had actually caught it and not simply grabbed it from the top of an empty seat. Immediately, the Dodger crowd urged the man to throw the ball back onto the field, stealing a tradition of returning the opposing team's homerun ball to the outfield that began in Wrigley Field many years ago. The man pondered his dilemma for a few seconds then gave into peer pressure and tossed the ball into leftfield. Just for the record, to throw the ball back in Wrigley is a great tradition. To throw it back anywhere else is simply moronic. The story does have a happy ending though because: (a) Juan Diaz was able to keep his first major league homer as a momento and (b) the brainless Dodger fan who tossed the ball onto the field was escorted out of the ballpark. That was one of the few victories for Boston's side during the three game sweep.
  • I'd love to watch the World Cup Finals this weekend but I already have tickets for a paint-drying contest. I think it's safe to say that a sport is officially boring to watch when the game's highlight package is a collection of players shooting and missing the net. "Wow, did you see that? He almost scored!" Thank god this only happens once every four years.
  • Speaking of boring sports, a couple of weeks ago I flipped to a sports radio station in LA and heard the live broadcast of a NASCAR race. I could not believe my ears. The dumbest sport on television is now apparently the dumbest sport on radio. It's got to be a great gig for announcers though. "Left turn, left turn, left turn, deadly crash, left turn."

June 4, 2002

  • Believe it or not, winning Game 3 after trailing by 21 points in the fourth quarter was the probably the worst thing that could have happened to the Celtics. They simply didn't play with any sense of urgency after the dramatic fourth quarter in Game 3. In Games 4 and 5, the Celtics came out flat and in Game 6, they let a solid first half slip away in the third quarter. In the final three games of the series, Boston played as if they could simply flip the switch and make another dramatic comeback. They nearly did in both Game 4 and Game 5, but they allowed themselves to fall behind by too much. I hate to use one of the tiredest sports cliches of all-time, but it fits in this case -- the Nets wanted it more.
  • I Never thought I would say this, but the Celtics sorely missed Vitaly Potapenko in the series against New Jersey. Vitaly's physical presence would have been a huge benefit to the Celtics who were trying to defend the inside with three guys (Walker, Rogers, and Williams) who appear to be allergic to paint and another (Battie) that would probably be outmuscled to the basket by Steve Urkel. The Nets were able to drive to the basket without absorbing much punishment. Meanwhile, Pierce and Walker were paying a severe physical price every time they drove to the hoop. By the end of the series, both appeared much more reluctant to enter the paint, and thus settled for jump shots. Unfortunately for the Celts, few of those jumpers were going into the basket.
  • Despite the amazing disappointment of the last three games, it was a great season for the Celtics. Pierce and Walker both took their game to the next level and Jim O'Brien showed that he is the right guy for the program. Rodney Rogers could be a key contributor again next year, assuming that the Celtics can sign him. Both Kenny Anderson and Tony Battie played well at times, especially in the playoffs. The Celtics are clearly a couple of players away but you can't help but feel good about the team's future. The Eastern Conference should be much improved next year, but I suspect that so will the Celtics.
  • It truly sickened me to hear phrases like "heart of a champion", "greatness" and "dynasty" to describe the Los Angeles Luckers (oops, I mean Lakers) after their seven game victory over Sacramento in the Western Conference Finals. Everyone outside of Greater Los Angeles knows that LA's appearance in the Finals this season has little to do with what they did and everything to do with what their opponents did not do. The Game 7 choke-job by Sacramento would have been about the worst in playoffs history if not for the three games coughed up by San Antonio in the previous series against the Lakers. Just one look at the purple and gold along with the number "4" under the word "Period" on the scoreboard caused the Spurs to wilt, much like last season. The Lakers took Game 1 against the Kings fairly impressively but then relied on a fluke bounce to give Robert Horry a chance to win Game 4 with under one second remaining. In Game 6, the generous officials handed the Lakers 27 free throws en route to a close win. In Game 7, the Lakers benefitted from a Sacramento free throw percentage of under 50% in regulation time, enabling to contest to go into overtime. An overtime played without Vlade Divac, who fouled out on a questionable call. Vlade missed most of the final 16 minutes of regulation. The Lakers would not have been close to winning had he been on the floor for even half of that time. Near the end of regulation, a rusty and clearly tense Peja Stojakovic air-balled an open three-pointer that likely would have won the game. The Kings had open jump shots all night long, but missed most of them. The delusional people of Los Angeles will go on thinking that the Lakers are a great team, but anyone who watched the Western Conference playoffs knows that is far from the truth. Let's not forget that LA's 7th Game victory over the Portland Trail Blazers in 2000 was only possible because of fortuitious officiating on behalf of the Lakers. Just ask Arvidas Sabonis and Steve Smith.
  • Speaking of greatness, some credit needs to be given to Kobe Bryant. I have always thought of him as this decade's version of Scottie Pippen, a man who succeeded almost entirely because he played next to the greatest player in history. But Kobe made big shot after big shot during the playoffs and proved me wrong. When Shaq was out of gas, Kobe was there to finish it. He's a terrible outside shooter in the first three quarters, but somehow he can't miss in the last five minutes. Some fools will continue to use the word "greatness" to describe Shaq. Well, if greatness the ability to toss smaller men out the way and stuff the ball through the hoop, then yes, he is indeed great. My opinion is that a man who shoots about 9% from outside a four-foot range is not, in any way, great. However, Shaq is the most dominant physical force in any pro sport in at least thirty years. When they want to be, Kobe and Shaq are unstoppable. They need to be, because 3-12 the Lakers are the worst team in the NBA. Take Kobe and Shaq out of the mix and the Lakers could go 0-82. I'm not kidding.
  • On Sunday, I heard Peter Vescey say that the Knicks wanted to trade Marcus Camby and New York's pick (#7 in the draft) to Houston for the #1 pick overall. If this is true, I would have loved to hear the laughter coming from Houston after that call. I'm not sure I'd give up the 10th pick for Camby and the #7.
  • Please note: due to overwhelming demand, the New Jersey Turnpike will be running 1,000 extra bandwagons to and from the Continental Airlines Arena during the NBA Finals. I wish I had a nickel for everytime someone in the arena asks "Why isn't Buck Williams starting?" during the NBA Finals. The only thing keeping the Nets from having the worst fans in pro sports is the Expos.
  • Speaking of fans, I must give credit to the people who supported the Celtics at the FleetCenter during the playoffs. Normally, the FleetCenter is filled with people that are either: (a) talking on cell phones and ignoring the game, (b) trying to make business deals and ignoring the game or (c) booing Antoine Walker for no good reason, even if the team is up by 30 points. During the Playoffs, however, the atmosphere at the Fleet was electric much like the old Boston Gah-den in its heyday. The energy clearly sparked the team on numerous occasions. Hopefully, we'll see more of that in 2002-2003.

May 10, 2002

  • How bad are the 1-2 hitters in the Cubs lineup? Let's see ... Sammy Sosa is batting .357 with 15 home runs, but has only 23 RBI's. At this pace, Sosa will not reach 100 RBI's until homerun #66.
  • Speaking of the Cubs, they are already 2-10 in one-run games in 2002. At this pace, the Cubbies would lose 49 one-run games this season. Tough times on the North Side.
  • The Tampa Bay Devil Dogs have been outscored 24-0 this season in the ninth inning. There isn't even a word to describe futility like that. I'd love to know whose replica jersey they sell in the gift shop at Tropicana Field. I imagine it is either Manager Hal McRae, "Raymond" the mascot or the Rays batboy.
  • I saw Rafael Palmeiro's Viagra commercial for the first time last week. I can only conclude that Raffy owes big money to a bookmaker because there is absolutely NO other reason for a 37-year-old professional baseball player to admit on national television that he uses Viagra.
  • The St. Louis Rams drafted drunk driver Steve Bellisari in the 6th Round of the NFL Draft. Belisari joins Leonard Little, who killed a woman while drunk driving a couple of years ago. All I can say to the people of St. Louis is stay off the streets after Happy Hour.
  • Some early choices for Boston Red Sox 2002: The Movie. Tony Shalhoub (Antonio from Wings) as Frank Castillo and Billy Bob Thornton as John Burkett. I'm gonna get me some Fenway Franks and French Fried Potaters, umm hmm.
  • The casting of chick-flick star Tobey Maguire as Spiderman raised some eyebrows, but so far the movie has been wildly successful, breaking the record for the most money generated in an opening weekend. Spiderman's success with Maguire has prompted Sony Pictures to begin production on The Incredible Hulk starring Steve Buscemi and Wonder Woman starring Roseanne Barr.
  • Look for the American League Wild Card to come from either the AL East (Boston or New York) or the AL Central (Chicago, Minnesota or Cleveland). Teams in those divisions will be treated to 50-plus games against doormats Toronto, Tampa Bay, Kansas City and Detroit. Teams in the AL West will play only 34 to 36 games against those four teams. This is good news for the Sox, who already have 24 wins and still have 38 games left against the non-so fearsome foursome. If the Sox can go 25-13 against those four, they would need to be only 51-42 (a 55% winning percentage) against the rest of the league to win 100 games.

April 10, 2002

  • The latest in a seemingly endless string of stupid and classless acts by sports fans occurred last Thursday when fans at Yankee Stadium booed new acquisition Jason Giambi and chanted "Tino, Tino" after the slugger went 0-for-4 in his fourth game as a Yankee. What's worse, the Yankees were ahead 4-0 at the time. As the season moves along and Giambi begins ripping the ball over fences with reckless abandon, Yankee fans will begin to love him. At this point in time, Yankee fans obviously don't realize Giambi's value. First, the Yankee offense without Giambi would be anemic at best. They needed a legitimate power hitter in the middle of their lineup and Giambi fits the profile better than anyone. Equally important from the Yankee perspective is the impact of Giambi's removal from the Oakland lineup. The Yankees nearly lost to the A's in the first round of the American League playoffs in each of the past two seasons despite a payroll three to four times higher. Had Giambi remained in Oakland this season, it is unlikely that New York would have had a chance to get past the A's in the 2002 playoffs. By taking the best player from one of your top competitors, you improve your chances exponentially. It is understandable that Yankee fans love players like Scott Brosius, Paul O'Neill and Tino Martinez, but keeping them around would mark the certain end to the Yankee mini dynasty. By opening up the checkbook and landing all-stars like Giambi, Robin Ventura, David Wells and Rondell White, the Yankees have put themselves in position to beat superior though less financially well-off organizations like Oakland and Seattle. Yankee fans are slow to realize this, but they may be very appreciative when October rolls around.
  • I was watching the fourth quarter of the Celtics-Heat game on TNT the other night when, with about a minute left in the game, the lower left corner of my television screen flashed an advertisment reading "Brendan Fraser ... The Mummy ... Sunday Night on TNT." This advertisement occurred not during a timeout, but in the middle of the Celtics half-court offense. Kenny Anderson nearly dribbled the ball through the Mummy logo. I was horrified, hoping that someone new was working in the TNT production truck and had simply made a rookie mistake and jumped the gun on the promo. In my heart I knew that it was likely no accident. When television networks began placing the score and time of game in a small capsule on screen during live play, it was a welcomed change. Most viewers appreciated being able to quickly flip to a game and check the score and period. Unfortunately, that positive enhancement opened the door for networks, even the cable stations, to feel obliged to put anything they want on the screen during live play. It's bad enough that the TV screen looks like a Nintendo game, but now we are being forced to view advertising for the Sunday Night Movie plastered over a moving basketball during the last minute of a game that impacts the playoff race. Is TNT in such dire straights financially that they can't wait until play stops to tell us about their non-sports programming? Unfortunately, this obnoxious display is probably just the beginning. Before long, networks will be superimposing their logos on the basketballs, teams will be named after corporations and we'll all have to buy the Superbowl on Pay-Per-View.
  • On Opening Day, aces Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens and Kevin Brown combined to pitch 11 1/3 innings while giving up 25 hits, 8 walks and 22 earned runs. Their combined ERA was 17.47.

  • How ridiculous is the NHL's overtime loss point system? Last week the Bruins lost a game but gained ground on the teams chasing them in the standings. It's bad enough that the NHL standings look like an international phone book, but do we really need a system that rewards teams for losing?
  • Is there a worse organization in sports than the New York Rangers? They spend more money than just about everyone in the league except Detroit, but miss the playoffs every year. This season, they acquired Pavel Bure to make a run at the playoffs and still fell flat on their faces. The rumors are that they will spend even more money next season. Absolutely Pathetic.
  • What a welcomed addition Johnny Damon and Rey Sanchez are to the Red Sox lineup. They have they significantly strengthened the Sox defensively up the middle and added some much-needed speed to the mix. The two combined for a double-steal the other day. I haven't looked it up, but I'm guessing that it was the first Red Sox double-steal since the FDR administration.
  • This week's "Are You Freakin' Kidding Me" Award goes to the Buffalo Bills for thinking that the Patriots will trade three-time Pro Bowl Quarterback Drew Bledsoe to the Bills without receiving at least a first-round draft pick in return. These are the same Buffalo Bills who surrendered a first and fourth round draft pick to get the utterly terrible Rob Johnson four years ago.
  • This season, Major League Baseball wants to cut down on so-called "body armor," the padding that batters wear on their elbows to protect themselves if they are hit by an inside pitch. Craig Biggio and Mo Vaughn come immediately to mind. With the heavy padding, players are less afraid to crowd the plate, a tactic that gives batters a significant advantage over a pitcher trying to work the outside corner. It is believed that batters will be a little more fearful about moving closer to the plate if they don't have the padding to protect themselves. I think this is a good rule, but only if the league also cracks down on umpires that consistently give an extra six inches (a foot in case of Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux) on the outside corner of the plate. When these pitches are called for strikes, batters have no choice but to move closer to the plate.
  • Question: How do you know if your broadcasting career is going nowhere? Answer: If you are the host of Robot Wars. I wonder if the guy who hosts Robot Wars tells his parents that he is a bathroom attendant so they will be less ashamed of him.

April 3, 2002

  • I was thoroughly disgusted with the fans at the FleetCenter who booed Antoine Walker on Sunday afternoon following one of Walker's many misses from three point range. Booing the home team when they aren't playing well is a time-honored tradition that can often provide a wake up call for an underperforming home team. The problem with Sunday's booing of Walker is that it came with the Celtics ahead by about 30 points in what was probably their best game of the year. It was equally ludicrous that the fans ire was directed at an NBA All-Star. There is no doubt that Walker had a terrible day shooting the ball, but he rebounded well, played solid defense (including 4 steals) and dished out 9 assists, helping to set up Paul Pierce who scored 32. Walker has often been accused of making bad decisions when it comes to shot selection. Much of this is warranted, but most of Walker's shots on Sunday were open looks at the basket. He simply missed them. Somehow, the despicable trolls who booed Walker failed to realize this fact. Antoine is having a great season and the Celtics would not be in playoff contention, much less #3 in the conference, if not for his contributions. Walker continues to be haunted by his inconsistency in his first few seasons under Rick Pitino. Back then, Walker made one bad decision after another and seemed more concerned with the "Walker Wiggle" than his game.
  • Times have changed though. Walker, under Jim O'Brien, has matured and is much more of a complete player. He is currently 11th in the NBA in scoring average, 17th in rebounding, 29th in assists (4th among non-guards) and 24th in steals (3rd among power forwards). He has also shown great unselfishness by his understanding that Paul Pierce is the "go-to guy" in the fourth quarter. Walker does not seem to have a problem playing second fiddle to the younger Pierce. Antoine has also toned down his antics on the court.
  • One of the problems with the fans at the FleetCenter is that most of them are not true Celtics fans. Many of the FleetCenter seats are owned by corporations and the people that sit in those high-priced seats tend to be much more interested in making business deals and talking on their cell phones than watching a basketball game. The typical over/under on how much actual basketball these people watch is about five minutes. Much of the rest of the crowd is comprised of Boston's new generation of bandwagon fans. These are some of the same people who couldn't name more than five Patriot players on January 1st but were the first in line to buy NFL Champion t-shirts after the Superbowl. In much the same way, these people have ignored the Celtics for the better part of five years, but are now showing up in full force now that the team is winning. They don't even realize the strides that Antoine has made over the past two seasons because they haven't been watching. The third group are, as sports radio calls them, the fellowship of the miserable. These people simply cannot be pleased. The Celtics have been losing about 50 games per year for nearly a decade, but somehow this group of whiners can find a reason to complain about a 42-32 team. Don't get me wrong, there are also plenty of die-hards at the FleetCenter who were applauding the great effort on Sunday, but unfortunately, it was probably the contemptible booing and not the cheers that the national television audience noticed. It was a shocking display of classlessness usually reserved for Philadelphia and bandwagon fandom more reminiscent of Los Angeles. Boston is often regarded as one of the best sports towns in America, but on Sunday it the worst.
  • For those morons who booed Antoine on Sunday, do us all a favor and stay away from the FleetCenter. The knowledgable fans who follow the team on a regular basis do not want you around, the team certainly does not want you around and the City of Boston, basketball fans or not, does not want you making the city look bad on national television. If, in your limitless stupidity, you feel the need to boo the Celtics in the midst of a 30-point victory, please do it from your own home.
  • On Monday, New Englanders celebrated one of the most important holidays on the calendar. No, I'm not referring to April Fool's Day. I'm talking about Opening Day for the Boston Red Sox. For the past 73 years, however, Red Sox seasons may just as well have all started on April Fool's Day, because Red Sox fans have been fooled into believing that their beloved Olde Towne Team could actually win the World Series. Despite the repeated failures, the baseball season in Boston usually arrives with great anticipation. The Red Sox always seem to have either an abundance of talent but no team chemistry (which describes most of the teams of the past 25 years) or good team chemistry but not quite enough talent to get over the top (1967, 1995, 1999). Consequently, the Spring optimism eventually transforms into Fall discontent. Then winter comes and goes and the frustrations of the previous season are washed away and the cycle begins again.
  • The 2002 Boston Red Sox should probably change the logo on their caps from the traditional "B" to a giant question mark. To be honest, the Red Sox could win anywhere from 75 to 100 games in 2002, depending on the answers to a long list of questions and what-ifs. The most of which are:
    1. Will Pedro, Nomar, Jason Varitek and Tony Clark be healthy? More to the point is how healthy will each of these players be in 2002. If Spring Training is any indication, Jason Varitek and Nomar Garciaparra will be fine. Varitek seems to have recovered from last year's season-ending elbow injury and Nomar has been drilling the baseball all over the State of Florida. Hopefully, Nomar has now realized that he is a shortstop, not a bodybuilder. Pedro, on the other hand, has not looked like the Pedro of old during his starts in Spring Traning. However, the medical staff has proclaimed him healthy and he will start against Toronto on Opening Day. Pedro at 80% is still better than anyone else on this staff, but the Sox may need more than that to compete for a playoff spot. A healthy and productive Clark, whose numbers have declined precipitously over the past two years, batting behind Garciaparra and Ramirez should drive in 120 or more runs this season.

    2. Will Carl Everett's departure help team chemistry? The answer to this question should be an emphatic Yes. By all accounts, Everett's influence on the Red Sox clubhouse was nothing short of disastrous. In each of the past two seasons, the Red Sox have played reasonably well through August and put themselves in position for a Wild Card Playoff spot, only to have the eruptions of Mount Everett ruin the team's focus and send them reeling out of contention.

    3. Will Manny Ramirez find happiness in the Red Sox clubhouse in 2002? Like many Sox fans, I had great concerns about the ability of Manny Ramirez to deal with the pressure of playing in Boston. Manny was well-known for laziness on the field in Cleveland, something that Red Sox fans and the Boston media simply do not tolerate. Last season, Manny first complained about playing left field, then he whined because he felt that the Red Sox clubhouse was too small. I think most of us would work in telephone booth for $20 million per year but for Manny an issue that small is somehow a big deal. Hopefully, a more settled Red Sox clubhouse will allow Manny to focus more on what happens on the field, rather than off the field.

    4. How will Derek Lowe adapt to his rew role as a starter? There is no question that Derek Lowe has the skills to become a 20-game winner as a starting pitcher. The experiment that made Lowe a closer was wildly successful in 2000 as he converted 42 saves in 47 save opportunites, but 2001 was a different story. Lowe often looked shaky in the closer's role and was eventually replaced when the Red Sox traded for fireballer Ugueth Urbina. I think Lowe is much better suited for the starter's role and seems to have the type of the arm that should be able to give the Red Sox 200-plus innings at some point, though not necessarily this season.

    5. With the addition of Johnny Damon and Rickey Henderson, Will the Red Sox finally learn how to steal some bases? It's doubtful that the 43-year-old Henderson will be able to contribute too much to the Red Sox on a regular basis, but he will certainly be an upgrade in the pinch-runner department. Johnny Damon comes with some question marks as well. The 28-year-old centerfielder improved steadily as a Kansas City Royal, averaging .304 with 77 RBI's between 1998 and 2000. Last year, however, Damon got off to a terrible start and ended up batting just .256 with 49 RBIs and 27 stolen bases for the Oakland A's. The Red Sox obviously see his 2001 as an aberration and expect Damon to steal bases, play great defense and give the Red Sox their first legitimate leadoff hitter since Wade Boggs.

    6. Will Dan Duquette's departure make for a happier clubhouse? Only time will tell what the departure of Dan Duquette will mean to the Red Sox. The Duke obviously scored big points with his acquisition of Pedro Martinez from the Expos and his outright thievery of Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek from the Mariners (for the immortal Heathcliff Slocumb). He also drafted Nomar Garciaparra. However, most of the rest of his moves were questionable at best. He lost Clemens and Vaughn for nothing, made one bad financial investment after another (Offerman, Lansing, Saberhagen) and completely depleted a farm system that he was supposed to rebuild. Dan Duquette created a caustic relationship between Red Sox players and management and allowed the word to leak out that the Red Sox are not a player-friendly organization. The new ownership would be well-advised to help change that perception around the league.

    7. Will Skinny El Guapo be as good as ... ummmm Not-so-Skinny El Guapo? I ask this question largely in jest. Rich Garces has become one of the most dependable set-up men in the game and his newfound physique can only help his development.
  • If the answers to many of these questions are positive then the Red Sox should be in contention for at least the Wild Card. If not, we could be in for a long season. Spring Training bought us mixed news. Nomar, Jason Varitek and Tony Clark appear to be healthy, but John Burkett is ailing. Johnny Damon looks like he will easily shake off his subpar 2001 season and return to the his 1998-2000 form. I have few concerns about Derek Lowe's abilities to adapt to his new role. Garces is solid but Urbina scares me, both on the mound and injury-wise. The talented Carey Fossum will continue to improve and could end up in the Red Sox starting rotation by the end of the year. That leaves the $15 million question. Will Pedro Martinez ever be the same? Rotator cuff injuries, even small ones, can ruin a pitcher's career. With Pedro at 100%, he is capable of being 20 games over .500 by himself. This, coupled with a not-so-lofty goal of 10 games over .500 for the rest of the staff combined, would give the Sox 96 wins and in all likelihood a spot in the 2002 American League Playoffs. The good news is that 2002 could not possibly be any worse than 2001.

NCAA Notes - March 26, 2002

  • Missouri became the first team seeded #12 or higher to reach a Regional Final since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985. The previous 12, 13 and 14 seeds were a combined 0-16. Indiana became the third #5 seed in 17 years to reach the Final Four. The prior two were Mississippi State in 1996 and Florida in 1990.
  • 2002 marked the second time in the history of the 64 team tournament that two double-digit seeds reached the Elite Eight (Kent State and Missouri). The only previous instance was 1990 when #11 seed Loyola Marymount and #10 seed Texas accomplished the same feat.
  • There were three major reasons why I loved watching Indiana beat Duke in the Regional Semifinals last week:
    1. Arrogant Punk Jason Williams once again played the role of goat as he missed the free throw that would have tied the score and likely sent the game to overtime. Williams is the most overhyped college basketball player in recent memory and it seemed fitting that his college career would end the way it did.
    2. Duke's early exit means that we will actually get a chance to hear about all of the teams in the Final Four rather than getting the usual eight day Duke-fest. No team in sports, college or pro, is on the receiving end of more media brown-nosing than the Duke Blue Devils.
    3. I absolutely love the fact that Indiana coach Mike Davis has won twice as many tournament games in the past two weeks than Bobby Knight has won in his last seven NCAA appearances.

  • Has St. John's announced a date for Omar Cook's induction into the Bad Decision Hall of Fame? Gee Omar, I can't imagine why the NBA wasn't impressed with your ability to turn the ball over on every other possession and miss 15 out of 19 shots every game.
  • The Texas Rangers are continuing the process of building their team in the mold of the 1990's Dallas Cowboys by adding Ruben Rivera - who was given the boot by the Yankees for stealing and selling one of Derek Jeter's gloves - to a roster that already included redneck racist John Rocker and raving lunatic Carl Everett. The Rangers will be a beat writer's dream and should spawn the sequel to one of the funniest baseball books of all time, Mike Shropshire's Seasons in Hell, a collection of stories written by a sportswriter that covered the early 1970's Ranger teams that were among the worst in baseball history.
  • I noticed in the Spring Training box scores that the Red Sox have a pitcher named "D. Hasselhoff." I did some research and found out that he loves the beach, has been seen talking to his car, likes to sing (badly) and has a huge fan following in Germany. Hmmmmm.
  • According to recent published statistics, three schools in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament had 0% graduation rates among scholarship players that entered their programs between 1991 and 1994. That's zero-point-zero! The schools on the infamous list were McNeese St, Hawaii and Oklahoma, or as I like to call it, the 13th grade. Eleven more programs had grad rates under 25% and more recent reports indicate that these rates are even lower in more recent years. No one is asking the athletic departments to produce 4.0 students but they should at least try to get a few players to graduation day. I think it is time for the NCAA to step in and begin penalizing schools like Oklahoma, Cincinnati and Ohio State by removing scholarships when they fall below a reasonable graduation rate over a four or five year period. Penalizing the schools that refuse to stress academics would have the dual impact of rewarding schools that require their athletes to go to class and acquire degrees. The schools among the tournament field that graduated the most men's basketball players were Stanford (100%), St. John's, Notre Dame, Holy Cross and Winthrop.
  • I laugh every time I hear a report about Arkansas Athletic Director B. Allen Sugg. With a name like that, I can't help but think that he belongs in Hazzard County with Boss Hogg, Roscoe and the Duke Boys.
  • The San Diego Padres have decided to wear a patch on their uniform this season honoring the memory of outfielder Mike Darr who was killed in an automobile accident early in Spring Training. The patch will display Darr's uniform number 26 within a small circle. Darr's death is certainly a great tragedy and it is understandable that his teammates would like to honor his memory. However, I feel that the Padres are wrong to honor Darr publicly. Police found that Darr was legally drunk at the time of the accident which resulted in his death and the death of one of his passengers. The Padres are sending the wrong message by honoring a man whose irresponsibility ended the life of another and left his two young children without a father. This is yet another example of professional sports not taking drunk driving seriously. There is no more glaring example than Rams lineman Leonard Little who killed a woman while driving drunk four years ago. The courts let him off with 90 days in jail and community service because he was a professional athlete. The NFL and the Rams welcomed him back with open arms. In fact, Little signed a multi-million dollar contract with the Rams last month. Professional sports leagues have become fairly strict when it comes to drug use among its players. It's time that the same tough policies of suspensions are handed out for drunk driving convictions as well.

March Madness Notes - March 19, 2002

  • I heard many commentators foolishly say that the tournament selection committee's seeding of Gonzaga (#6 in the West) was justified given the Zags first round exit from the tournament. That is foolish thinking. Anyone can play poorly for one game (just ask USC). Gonzaga played terribly against Wyoming and deserved to lose, but had they been a #3 or #4 seed and thus played that game against a #13 or #14 seed, they could have survived despite their surprisingly poor shooting. The committee claimed that the Zags RPI ranking of 21 warranted a 6-seed (which is true if you do the math). However, how can the committee then justify Oregon's #2 seed given the Ducks' RPI ranking of 34. I think the committee does a decent job of selecting the 65. They have explained the guidelines (RPI, record in the last ten games, conference record) and, for the most part, they adhere to them. It is the guidelines for the seedings that should require further explanation.
  • There was a great deal of controversy - most of it originating from Dick Vitale - about the Butlers and Ball States of the world not receiving at-large bids to this year's tournament. Based on the committee's list of criteria, neither school even came close to qualifying. Normally, an RPI less than 60 is required to even be considered. Ball State and Butler had RPI's close to 80. Moreover, those schools lost four or five games to schools that most church leagues could beat. Vitale, in the asinine way only he could, suggested that no conference should be allowed more than five bids to the NCAA tournament. I'm not surprised that this inane chatter would come out of Vitale's ACC-butt-kissing mouth. Five teams from the ACC would constitute 56% of the teams in the nine-team conference as compared to 36% of the 14-team Big East. I could, however, live with Joe Lunardi's suggestion that at-large teams are required to be .500 or better in conference play (in a sense "tournament-eligible" much like football teams become bowl-eligible by winning 6 games).

    My recommendation would be to expand the tournament to 68 teams with four "play-in" games. I would add a stipulation that the committee select a minimum number of mid-major conference teams. This way the additional three slots don't simply go to three mediocre major conference schools. The other benefit is that the 1-seed vs 16-seed first round games become more interesting. History has shown that the 1/16 games are not worth watching. #1 seeds are now 72-0 and few games have been closer than 20 points. By adding three teams, all of the seeds shift, thus making the first round games featuring 1-4 seeds more competitive. The teams that were previously #14 seeds (and capable of upsets once every couple of years) are now #15 seeds. The prior #15 seeds will be shifted to play-in games with the winners moving on to play the number one seeds. These teams would have played and won two days earlier, giving them at least a shot to upset the #1 seed.
  • Best of the Best: The following is a list of the school's with the most NCAA tournament wins since 1995.


  • Reversal of Fortune: The following table shows the major conference teams with the worst NCAA tournament winning percentages between 1995 and 2001 along with their 2002 records (minimum four appearances).

    Team1995-20012002 Record
    Ole Miss3-40-1

  • Reversal of Fortune - Part 2: The following table shows the teams that have the most tournament losses to teams seeded six seeds or lower (upset losses) between 1995 and 2001 along with their 2002 records.

    TeamUpset Losses2002 Record
    North Carolina3-

  • Is doing well in your conference tournament really that important? If you are in a one-bid conference or are a team on the bubble, absolutely. But, what if you are already a proverbial lock for field of 65? It has always been my theory that playing three games in three days in a conference tournament is severely detrimental to a team's hopes for success the following weekend in the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament. This is contrary to the conventional thinking that says that a team that reaches their conference tournament final is on a roll and is a good bet to continue that roll in the NCAA tourney. After doing some research on conference tournaments played over the past 10-12 years, I found that teams who play three or more games in their conference tournament do in fact perform quite poorly in the second round of the NCAA tournament as the fatigue of the previous week sets in (for a more detailed explanation, check out my tournament trends page). Based on this year's results, I have to say that these trends continued. Teams from the 10 major conferences that played three games in their conference tournaments were 11-2 in the first round but only 4-5 in the second round (games where BOTH teams played three games the week before were excluded). Four of those games were upsets, including three major upsets.

    • (2) Alabama lost to (10) Kent St
    • (3) Mississippi St lost to (6) Texas
    • (4) Ohio St lost to (12) Missouri
    • (1) Cincinnati lost to (8) UCLA
    • (12) Tulsa lost to (4) Kentucky

  • Among the teams in this category that did win in the second round (Kansas, Duke, Arizona and Pitt), only Pittsburgh played a team seeded better than 8. Duke beat Notre Dame, but the Blue Devils were certainly not at their best.
  • More Stats: Here are a few more statistical tidbits from the first two rounds:
    • Teams with the five worst road/neutral records were 1-4 in the first two rounds (excluding the one matchup where two of these teams played each other).
    • The eight teams that had won five games or fewer over their last ten were 6-6 (UCLA and Missouri 2-0). Major conference teams that had won nine of their last ten were 14-2.
    • Teams that struggled against the Top 50 RPI teams during the season (less than a 40% winning percentage) were 7-10 in the first two rounds as compared to 14-3 for the teams that played the best against the Top 50. However, most of the teams in the latter group were high seeds.
    • In games where the numerical difference between the seeds was 7 or less, the teams with more tournament experience over the past two years (total NCAA tournament games played) were 15-7.

  • Three or more double-digit seeds reached the Sweet Sixteen this year for the fifth time in six years. Over the past five years, 16 double-digit seeds have reached the third round as compared to only five between 1992 and 1996. Missouri became the 17th team seeded #12 or higher to reach the Sweet Sixteen since 1985. The previous sixteen teams were a combined 0-16 in Round 3.

March 12, 2002

  • What would be a bigger shock?
    A. If #16 Boston University beat #1 Cincinnati or
    B. If a Cincinnati basketball player actually graduated

  • I can't imagine why the selection committee dropped Gonzaga all the way down to a #6 seed. The Bulldogs are #6 in the lastest national poll. I guess the committee wanted to punish Gonzaga head coach Mark Few for his constant whining. At any rate, the committee did CBS a huge favor because Gonzaga will likely face Arizona on Saturday in what is undoubtedly the greatest Round 2 matchup in NCAA tourney history. This would be a potential Final Four game if not for the fact that the teams are playing in the same region.

  • Could someone please tell me what is going on between the tournament selection committee and the University of Georgia. Last year, the Bulldogs finished 16-14 after capping their season with a first round SEC Tournament loss to LSU, the conference's last place team. Still, the BUlldogs were invited to the dance because the committee was impressed by their schedule which was the toughest in the nation. It didn't appear to matter that they lost to almost all of those good teams. This season, Georgia finished at 21-9 leaving no doubt that they deserved to be in the tournament. What was surprising is that Georgia, eliminated in the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament, was given a #3 seed, ahead of Big Ten Champions Ohio State, USC and Gonzaga.

  • The most bizarre seeding upgrade was clearly Oregon, who did not even reach the Pac Ten finals, had eight losses and finished with an RPI of 34, yet was still given a #2 seed by the committee.

  • Hopefully, ESPN will learn its lesson and never make another movie. I personally give Season on the Brink -1 stars. First of all, Tommy Boy's father (Brian Dennehy) was about as believable as Bobby Knight as CarrotTop would be playing Malcolm X. Second, the movie was flat out boring. The cutting back and forth from actual television footage to ludicrously fake studio scenes gave me a headache. It resembled a bad home movie at times. ESPN's attempt to portray such a disgraceful character as Bob Knight as a misunderstood educator simply trying to get the best out of his players was laughable. Although I am not personally offended by the language used in the movie (I'm sure it was accurate), I think ESPN should be ashamed of itself for exposing its young fan base to that kind of content. Showing an edited version on ESPN2 hardly excuses what was shown on ESPN. Stick with sports, ESPN, and leave the filmmaking to the pros.

  • Which is the strongest Region in this year's tournament? My choice is the West with Oklahoma the best among #2 seeds, Arizona the best of the #3 seeds and Gonzaga the strongest #6 seed in recent memory. The field also includes UCLA at #8, a team that has beaten Kansas, Alabama, Arizona and USC this season. The following is the strength of each region's top ten teams, according to the RPI, from strongest to weakest.

    1. West - Avg RPI: 18 - 7 of the top 21 teams
    2. South - Avg RPI: 21
    3. East - Avg RPI: 22
    4. Midwest - Avg RPI: 23

February 19, 2002

  • How long before we will see Cam Neely make an appearance on Denis Leary's cop show The Job?
  • Next season's Patriots could be the Cleveland Browns. Under Butch Davis, Cleveland improved from 3-13 to 8-8. They could have easily been 10-6 if not for the infamous replay challenge/bottle-throwing game and the Bears hail mary game.
  • If Allen Iverson is "The Answer" then Derrick Coleman should be referred to as "The Question."
  • Justin Timberlake of N'Sync recently broke the record for the highest fame to talent ratio in history. When reached for comment, Patrick Swayze told reporters "I knew it couldn't last forever. Records are made to be broken. Now if you will excuse me, there are people here that need gas."
  • I'm can't say that I'm exactly overwhelmed with American pride when the United States wins a medal in a ridiculous sport like moguls or snowboarding. Do we need to invent inane winter sports just so we can win a few medals? What's next? Speed Shoveling? Freestyle Snowman Building? I remember having a lot of fun sliding down big hills on those round silver discs. Maybe that can become an Olympic sport.
  • I hated to see the Americans lose the men's hockey gold medal but I felt good for Team Canada and the Canadian people in general. They worked ard for the win and played aboot as well as anyone could ave oped for. Dey played a great ockey tournament. People from Trunno to Cal-gree should be very proud of der effort, eh.
  • If speed skating races lasted for two hours and occasionally involved someone dying, would NASCAR fans be into it?
  • I read somewhere that Bobby Bonilla is thinking about retirement. This came as quite a shock to me because I thought that Bobby Bo retired about three years ago. Where has he been hiding? He has stuck around without anyone knowing it longer than Who's the Boss.
  • Apparently FOX is looking for a third bout to add to their celebrity boxing night to be televised in March. The matches already set will be Barry "Greg Brady" Williams against Danny "Partridge" Bonaduce and Tonya Harding against Long Island Lolita Amy Fisher. My choice for a third bout would pit Jared from Subway against Steve, the annoying twit from the Dell Computer commercials. Only in this case, I would invoke celebrity death match rules. Steve could smash Jared over the head with a laptop and Jared could retaliate with an even more lethal weapon - a Subway sandwich.
  • Is there anything in the world more pathetic than the proposed middle aged guy golf tour? Barry Bonds can break the homerun record at 37, Ray Bourque can lead his team to a Stanley Cup at 40 and Michael Jordan can play All-Star basketball at 38, but these whiny country club prima donnas feel that they can't compete with the younger players on the pro golf tour. It's golf guys! Golf. The sport that 85-year-olds can play at a reasonably high level. The average length of a football career is somewhere in the vicinity of five years. Golfers can earn money on the tour for up to 50 years, yet they still feel the need to cry and moan because Tiger Woods and some of the younger golfers on the tour can hit their drives 20 yards longer. I guess improving the short game is out of the question. Don't get me wrong, I think the seniors tour is great. Sixty-five year olds probably shouldn't be competing against Tiger Woods. But to think that a 38-year old can't compete is simply outrageous. So guys, go ahead with your "We're not good enough" Tour. I won't be watching and I assume that no one else will either.

February 6, 2002

  • Unlike Superbowls XX and XXXI, the Patriots came out in the first quarter and did exactly what they needed to. They hit the Rams hard, they hit them early and they hit them often, setting the tempo for the entire game. I think Isaac Bruce and "Victoria" Holt were hiding under the Gatorade table by the end of the first quarter. The Patriots reinforced the fact that this was a football game, not a ballet recital. Everyone knew that the Rams were soft and Patriots exposed that fact to the entire world on Sunday.
  • One of the most gratifying things about the Patriots Superbowl victory was that it made fools of the so-called "experts." Almost no one in the media gave the Patriots any shot to even hang with the Rams, much less win the game. The Carson Daly wannabe on The Worst Damn Sports Show, Exclamation Point went so far as to predict that Superbowl XXXVI would be the biggest blowout in Superbowl history. There were even some members of the Boston media that were clueless enough to predict that the Rams would annihilate the Pats. Apparently, those gentlemen have been asleep for the past 15 weeks. Even more amazing was the fact that most of those same morons were claiming that the Patriots and Eagles had no chance to win their games the previous week. The Pats of course won and the Eagles were within a few inches of blocking a fourth quarter punt that would have likely given Philly the NFC Championship. The point spread on the Superbowl fell from 15.5 to 14 early in the week which showed that the average fan did in fact realize that New England would be competitive. This all helps to prove my theory that the only real difference between most of those guys on television and the average fan is nothing more than an expensive suit.
  • One week of Superbowl hype is more than enough. There should NEVER be a week off between the Conference Championship games and the Superbowl.
  • The Patriots victory ended an eight game Superbowl losing streak for the AFC East (Buffalo 4, Miami 2, New England 2).
  • Some possible casting options if anyone decides to produce a film about the 2001-2002 Patriots
    • Matt Damon as Tom Brady - a no-brainer given the resemblance and Boston connection
    • Omar Epps as Troy Brown - isn't Omar in every sports movie ever made?
    • Lee Majors as Bill Belichick - that would be the Six Million Dollar Man Lee Majors, not the Fall Guy/hairpiece that looks like a dead animal/"I used to be married to Farrah" Lee Majors.
    • Gerry Callahan as Jon Gruden - he's practicing the "face" as we speak
    • Barry Bostwick as Mike Martz - I know, "who is Barry Bostwick?"
    • Ted Lange as Isaac Bruce - because he has experience playing guys named "Isaac"
    • Chris Klein or Keanu Reeves as Drew Bledsoe - or ... Drew could play himself because he is a better actor than either of those guys

  • How appropriate that the first February Superbowl would feature defensive coordinators named Lovie and Romeo. I wonder if Bobby Valentine was in attendance.
  • John Madden has probably done color commentary for 75 Packer games over the past ten years, yet he stills refers to Brett Favre as "Brent."
  • Terry Bradshaw's attempt to sing A Hard Day's Night (and not knowing the lyrics) with Paul McCartney during the Superbowl halftime show was probably the single worst moment in television history.
  • To the Raiders and their fans. I think you need to worry less about replay reviews and more about the fact that you lead the league in rape arrests. I suppose it is also the referee's fault that you lost three consecutive games (very nearly four) to end the season.
  • I'm glad that Adam Vinatieri is finally getting the credit that he deserves. As I have mentioned before, Vinatieri's career field goal percentage (80.4%) is very comparable to many of the great kickers of the past two decades, including Gary Andersen, Morten Andersen, Jason Hanson, and Jason Elam. Vinatieri's stats are even more amazing when you consider that three of those kickers have spent the majority of their careers kicking inside dome stadiums and the other (Elam) has had the advantage of kicking in the high altitude of Denver. Vinatieri has never missed an overtime kick (9-for-9) and is a perfect 25 for 25 kicking inside dome stadiums during his career. Had Vinatieri spent his career with a dome team, he might be considered one of the all-time great kickers.
  • Good luck to Drew Bledsoe. He is the all too rare unselfish star player. I was extremely happy that he was able to contribute the the win against Pittsburgh. I hope he wins a Superbowl someday.
  • Bryan Cox will be visiting the White House. Be afraid, be very afraid.

January 15, 2002

  • 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.

Notes Archive

Superbowl XXXIX
Superbowl XXXVIII
NFL Sunday

March Madness
Red Sox