Saturday, March 31, 2007
New York Mets - (Major homer alert) - I've been waiting to predict the Mets as division winners for too long to resist now. Years of guessing how few games Anthony Young would win got old quick.
Philadelphia Phillies - They'll stick around until September, but will fade away after the Mets get Pedro back. Will make the playoffs via the Wild Card, however. Pencil in Ryan Howard for another top three MVP finish, but who hits behind him? Games behind: 2-5.
Atlanta Braves - The Jason Voorhees of the NL East. No matter how much they "fall off" they still scare me. Games behind: 7-10.
Florida Marlins - I like this team, but they lack a centerfielder (Alejandro De Aza? Is that Spanish for Scott Pose?) and the Josh Johnson injury will hurt the staff. Look for them to float around .500 for most of the year until August or so. Games behind: 13-20.
Washington Nationals - Where do I start? This team is just not very good. Ryan Zimmerman and who? They will be the only team in baseball to lose over 100 this year. Games behind: 30+.
Milwaukee Brewers - (Another major homer alert - Prince Fielder graduated from my high school) - This is my surprise pick. Everyone knows they have the hitting with Fielder and Bill Hall, but did you know they have four solid starters with Chris Capuano, Dave Bush, Jeff Suppan, and Ben Sheets (if healthy)? If guys like J.J Hardy, Richie Weeks, and Laynce Nix have solid seasons with the bat, this crew avoids injury, and Derrick Turnbow resumes closer beastiness, I'm predicting a surprise. And they have Craig Counsell, who wins wherever he goes (see FL, AZ).
Chicago Cubs - Money will buy some happiness, but not enough to win the division. Blame it on a goat, a Bartman, or the ghost of Leon Durham if you want, I just don't think they have what it takes this year. Games behind: 2-3.
St. Louis Cardinals - A two-trick pony, although those tricks are the best in the league. The rest of their team is too old, too inexperienced, or too short. Games behind: 5-8.
Cincinnati Reds - Farney had to remind me about the Reds. I'm sorry, it's just been a while since they were relevant and sometimes I forget the longest active major league team still exists. Could this be the year we start hearing Ken Griffey, Jr. trade rumors? My guess is to the Yankees if one of their outfielders gets hurt. Games behind: 8-12.
Houston Astros - Carlos Lee is overrated and this team is one Lance Berkman injury from being the worst team in the division. Yeah, I said it. Games behind: 12-16.
Pittsburgh Pirates - They are young. They have some decent young arms, Jason Bay, and Freddie Sanchez. Other than that, it will another long season as the Pittsburgh faithful wait in joyful anticipation for Steelers camp to open. Games behind: 18-25.
San Diego Padres - Although I think Jake Peavy is overrated, if the old men of the rotation (Wells, Maddux) can stay healthy, they have the pitching. They will win the division if they can muster the offense in caverous Petco Park.
Los Angeles Dodgers - The opposite of the Padres. They have the offense, but their pitching is sadly mediocre. Give them a true ace (Jason Schmidt doesn't count) and they would run the division. Games behind: 1-2.
Arizona Diamondbacks - Good young players, led by former Florida State Seminole Stephen Drew (minor homer alert). Everyone's chic pick to surprise but I think by the time the youngsters reach their potential, Randy Johnson will be in a rocking chair. Games behind: 5-8.
Colorado Rockies - Ummm... let's dust off the usual Rockies prediction: great hitting, pitching questionable at best. Sounds about right for 2007. The big question, however, is if Rodrigo Lopez went 9-18 with a 5.91 ERA and allowed a .302 opponent's batting average in Baltimore, are they even going to let him pitch in Coors Field? Games behind: 9-14.
San Francisco Giants - I was not as up on Zito as everyone else was, although he would have been better served going to the Mets. He will finish .500 on a struggling Giants team that can't create runs. Why can't they create runs? Because after Bonds ties Aaron pitchers around the league will either walk him or bean him. Games behind: 10-15.
Mets - Phillies
(if Pedro is healthy) Mets
(if Pedro is not healthy) Phillies
Stay tuned. Tomorrow, before the Mets-Cardinals game, I'll serve up my American League predictions as well as wrap up my Tour de Grapefruit League.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
(The Cavalier is on an extended leave of absence. The following was not written by him, although he did return my rough draft covered in red ink.)
Look at this picture. What do you see? Yes, indeed, it's Wang ZhiZhi!
Don't remember Wang ZhiZhi? Drafted by the Mavericks in 1999, Wang ZhiZhi was the NBA's first player from China, beating Yao Ming to the U.S. of A. by three years. After several years of being "The Man" in China, Wang was a bust in the NBA, averaging only 4.4 points and 1.7 rebounds during his seven year career.
Having returned to China in 2006, Wang ZhiZhi has resumed his beastliness, and yesterday led his Bayi Rockets to the Chinese Basketball Association Championship. In what could only be described as an epic battle, Wang ZhiZhi "counteracted" the tremendous skills of NBA-hopeful Yi Jianlian. Thanks to Wang ZhiZhi, all was well again in the Land of the Bayi Rockets.
In bigger news however, take another look at the picture. See anything familiar? (Besides Wang ZhiZhi.) Is that an Orange Roundie? It sure looks like an Orange Roundie.
Could the Orange Roundie, like Wang ZhiZhi, have sought a brighter tomorrow overseas? Has anyone heard from the Orange Roundie since his hopes and dreams were shattered by the diabolical David Stern and his American basketball league? Perhaps through Wang ZhiZhi the Orange Roundie will come to rule all things basketball in China. First China, then the world ...
(The Cavalier is on an extended leave of absence. The following was not written by him, although he will return after these commercial messages.)
So The Cavalier is really on sabbatical and left a few of the inmates to run the asylum. Well then, call me the Randall McMurphy of this here looney bin.
Actually, the name is Scrubbings, Jordi Scrubbings. You might know me better as one of the stars of the 1999 cinematic splendor Flash vs. The Aliens, or more recently, as the writer, editor, publisher, illustrator, treasurer, CEO, CIO, COO, CFO, chief, cook, and bottle-washer of The Serious Tip. I've been selected to man the ones and twos here at YAYsports! NBA every Thursday until The Cavalier returns. Ole!
Before getting into tonight's news and notes, I would like to quickly mention my credentials as an NBA blogger. I am a long-time Knicks fan who hasn't watched his favorite team in nearly two years. No, I did not break my television in frustration, I am boycotting Isiah Thomas. I think my dedication to denounce my team no matter how good they may end up validates my loyalty in a sick, twisted way. Not to say I haven't watched other teams, however. Living in Florida, I've grown particularly fond of Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic.
Enough about me though, here are a few of last night's happenings:
Deutscher Basketballspieler twists ankle as Mavericks first to sechzig victories - Remember when Dallas only won 11 games all season back in 1993? They are a lot better now. Nowitzki's ankle could be their Achillies Heel in their quest for all-time greatness, however. (Get it? Twisted ankle, Achillies Heel?)
It's Raining Big Men, or rather, Big Men Make It Rain - Both Tim Duncan and Elton Brand sank three-pointers last night for different teams in different games on different courts in different cities with different results. It was Duncan's first three of the season and the first of Brand's career. As one might expect, the Spurs won and the Clippers didn't.
Tanks, or No Tanks? - So are the Celtics trying to lose or not? One week, they blatantly blow a game like they really really really want the number one pick, then the next week they play their collective keysters off to win a double-overtime game. Should be tough to win from here on out, however. There is talk
Paul Pierce Brian Scalabrine is done for the rest of the season.
Keep Hope Alive - I might face the scorn of The Cavalier for this, but after the Knicks spent their pre-game warm-up listening to Jesse Jackson's inspirational speeches, they put the kibosh on The Cavalier's Cavaliers 97-93, keeping the Knickerbockers' miniscule playoff hopes aflicker. Not that I care anyway. (See aforementioned Isiah boycott.) (Ed. Note: Although the Knicks did win, I have no idea if Jesse Jackson speeches were involved in any way, shape, or form.)
Ok, that's all for now. Hopefully, I'll be able to post once during my work day (8-4pm Eastern), and then sporadically throughout the evening. Peace.
Oh yeah, before I forget, if you want, desire, wish, or need to say hi, drop me a line, spread some gossip, complain, gibber-jabber, or give kudos, the e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
As I previously mentioned, starting this Thursday and continuing every Thursday until the end of April, I will be guest-blogging on the YaySports! NBA page. This is a great opportunity and I want to again thank The Cavalier for allowing me one of his coveted slots.
Well to anyone who followed my links from YaySports! to here, welcome. This is The Serious Tip and I am Jordi Scrubbings.
What is The Serious Tip?
Well, it is my corner of the Internet to babble about anything I want, mostly sports-related. Take a look around. I've written about a whole bunch of stuff.
About me: I am an award-winning writer who pledges allegiance to Florida State University, lives and dies by the New York Mets, reminisces about better days of New York Knicks basketball, and am slowly starting to warm up to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. I've been linked to by Deadspin, The Big Lead, TrueHoop, MetsBlog, and Kissing Suzy Kolber, among others. You can expect hearty servings of obscure sports knowledge, movie references, hip-hop lingo, personal narratives, in-depth analysis, sarcastic humor, and biased opinion. I try not to be too negative on teams that are not my own, however, as I know behind every loss there are suffering fans. Many long-suffering.
Here is a small sample of my beliefs:
I believe ESPN has too much power over the average fan.
I believe Jemele Hill was wrong based on one simple fact: Jordan scored over 50 against the Knicks three times, Kobe never has.
I don't believe NASCAR is a sport. Neither is golf, bowling, or poker. Dominoes and Spades, however, should be Olympic competitions.
I believe in order to call yourself a true fan you need to have suffered through at least one season in which your team's winning percentage was .400 or less. Yes, that's a .400 winning percentage, or 40% victories.
I believe pro-wrestling is wrongly associated with Southern stereotypes. The WWE started in the northeast and is headquartered in Stamford, CT.
I believe there will never be another Shaquille O'Neal. Or Rickey Henderson.
I believe baseball has the best opening day and all-star game, but the NHL and NBA have better playoffs.
I believe sports both brings us together yet polarizes us from others. I am not sure if that's a good thing or not.
Hope you enjoy The Serious Tip. It is undoubtedly a labor of love. Well, see you over at YaySports! NBA. The Orange Roundie is calling me.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Although I missed the first hour of the hour and a half broadcast, what I did see was really good. I tuned in right as Yao was squaring off against Shaq and the Lakers for the first time. Then I watched as Yao made his first all-star game, experienced his first playoff run, missed the playoffs, and headed back to China for the off-season. Hopefully I get to see the documentary in its entirety soon.
I find it hard to believe Yao Ming's rookie season was 2002-03. That long ago. Sometime in the very near future, after Shaq calls it a career, Yao will be the premier big man in the league. The torch will be passed to Yao, Dwight Howard, and possibly, just maybe, Greg Oden. But Oden is too much of a question mark at this point, and Howard is a power forward/center, not a true center. That leaves Yao.
I definitely see an MVP or two at some point in Yao's career, and maybe even a part on a championship team. Not bad for a guy Tony Kornheiser orginally said would just be a "stick man".
(By the way, I know The Tar Heel posted a Yao-centric post on YaySports! today as well, but mine is about his movie, not his Arabic.)
Sunday, March 25, 2007
(By the way, could there be a cooler place to hang out when the Super Bowl returns to Tampa than the local Hard Rock Casino? I am making it a priority in 2009. Think of the VIP sighting potential. Joey Porter? Maybe. Michael Jordan and Charles Oakley? Possibly. Charles Barkley? Probably. Bill Simmons? Definitely.)
First, and I know I am crazy late with this, but I have to comment on James Dolan's vote of confidence in Isiah Thomas two weeks ago. From what I can tell, Knicks' fans seem divided 50/50 on this. Some look at Isiah's draft picks, the youngness of the team, the team's record, and their potential to make the playoffs as evidence enough Isiah is doing a decent, if not good, job. Others, myself included, disagree. Yes, Isiah has a great eye for talent. Every team he has been with as an executive has drafted well and been able to accumulate quality young talent. Sometimes this talent is good enough to win games. But that doesn't make Isiah a good coach. At least not in the NBA. You know where his eye for talent may be better suited? As a college coach. And don't get me started on the payroll. Meanwhile, the Isiah Boycott will continue ...
On the subject of votes of confidence, the Cincinnati Reds released veteran pitcher Paul Wilson last Thursday. Why is this a big deal here at The Serious Tip? Because Wilson, a former Seminole pitcher, had the potential and the hype to be one of The Serious Tip's all-time favorites when he was drafted as the first overall pick in the 1994 draft by the Mets. He was the Mets' first number one pick since 1984 and remains the highest drafted Seminole in any sport. Two great tastes that should have been great together, like peanut butter and chocolate, strawberries and bananas, lamb and tuna fish. Instead, Wilson, like fellow Met busts Jason Isringhausen and Bill Pulsipher, hurt his arm and was eventually traded to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for spare parts Bubba Trammell and Rick White. So much for predictions of the "next Roger Clemens". Speaking of bad predictions ...
With Kansas losing to UCLA Saturday night, my boy Zheke Snow's bracket officially bit the dust. Glad I didn't bet the house on that. Add this to the fact that my own NIT bracket was busted, dusted, broken, battered, shattered, destroyed, and basically unsalvagable after the Noles lost, and you can see why I usually don't bother filling out brackets. Like I said, between FSU and Drexel, why did I believe the hype? Of course, speaking of "Don't Believe the Hype" ...
I had the great and honorable pleasure of seeing Public Enemy in concert in St. Pete Saturday night. I have always wanted to see them and they didn't disappoint one iota. Very impressive. They did at least one song off of every album in their catalog, which after 20 years, is a lot of songs. Of course, Flavor Flav received the most applause due to his Flavor of Love show. As a true P.E. fan, that still bugs me. I like the group because of Chuck D and his lyrics, not because Flavor screams "Flavor Flaaaav" on VH1. And finally, in other news about appearances on major media ...
I, your humble writer, will be guest-writing for YaySports! NBA starting this Thursday. I have been chosen as part of the YaySports! NBA Substitute Teacher Program beginning this Monday and lasting until April 30th. Every Thursday during this time I'll be commenting and perusing about all things NBA. Should be fun. I want to give a big shout out to The Cavalier for his vote of confidence.
Until next time,
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Grandma's Vomit and Other Melodious Metal Monikers
Although far from a stereotypical metalhead, I am a fan of various types of music and music cultures to include many hard rock and mainstream metal bands. My interest in this type of music has led me to be fascinated by the names, images, and descriptions of the denizens of hard, fast, heavy, often unintelligible metal. Earlier this week, I found a web site that not only piqued my interest, but actually took from time normally spent at work perusing sports blogs.
Encyclopaedia Metallum is the wikipedia of metal bands, relying on user entries to become the one-stop-shop for all persons metal. The web site divides its entries in three distinct categories: bands by letter, bands by country, and bands by genre. Of course, it has all the mainstream performers such as Metallica, Black Sabbath, and Deep Purple, and the usual categories such as heavy/traditional and speed metal. But it is the depths of triviality that makes the Encyclopedia Metallum so enthralling. Did you know there are metal bands that specialize in German Viking mythology? What about bands who write songs about animals killing people or dentistry?
So in honor of the weird, odd, and demented throughout the Encyclopedia Metallum, here are my personal five favorite entries.
1) Carnivorous Vagina - Scary name. Puts the fear of God in every hetro male. Biggest problem with Carnivorous Vagina, however, is their lack of musical ability, according to an album review.
2) Nembrionic Hammerdeath - Although they have changed their name to just "Nembrionic", Nembrionic Hammerdeath are still banging out the tunes. According to their web site, "after years of being in the underground, Nembrionic still has no ambition to get rich, famous and more of this bullshit ... In 1998 Nembrionic has proven to be on the top of the death metal list with their new opus 'Incomplete'; pure brilliance, which leaves no doubt about their musicianship and songwriting qualties. Their one of the best around." Still tough to figure what a nembrionic hammerdeath is though.
3) Abwhore - No, it is not a person that only works abdominals at the gym. Abwhore is a "blackened gothic metal band" from Atlanta. By the way, how can a band be blackened? Are they fish or chicken? Dumb name, dumb description.
4) Godwaffle - Most metal bands that have "God" in their name are usually something demonic or evil sounding like GodDead or GodKills or NoGod or something like that. Godwaffle? Are you kidding? According to the band's myspace page, they are the Chuck Norris of metal, with such tidbits of insight such as "Godwaffle kidnap babies to raise for the ultimate battle between Heaven and Godwaffle" and "Godwaffle shot Hemmingway in the f**king face". The web site gets weirder, claiming Godwaffle's drummer was murdered by the lead singer and the guitarist, who then framed the bassist for the crime. While the bassist serves life in prison, the two actual culprits are rumored to be successful daycare owners hiding somewhere near Idaho. Ummm, I really don't know what else to say ... moving on ...
5) My personal favorite: Grandma's Vomit - These guys don't look half as serious as the other bands. Maybe that is to their advantage. Grandma's Vomit doesn't sound that imposing. After all, isn't tossing Grandma's cookies only a step away from eating Grandma's cookies, and who doesn't love those?
Well, that wraps up the inaugural "Flip the Script Friday". Hope you enjoyed. I know there was a lot of basketball played last night that you probably want to read about somewhere. Go ahead. The Seminoles are done for the season, and college basketball-wise, so am I. That's why you got a heaping of Godwaffles and Grandma's Vomit for your Carnivorous Vagina.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Because it's late I am going to do a wrap-up in bullet form, giving Tomahawk Ups to the positives and Tomahawk Downs to the negatives.
To Isaiah Swann, who scored 31, including 9 of 13 from three-point land. He was flat-out unstoppable.
To Al Thornton, who although he didn't score his usual 20, filled his line with 16 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, and 2 blocked shots.
To Toney Douglas, who had 12 points and 5 assists.
Outside of these three however, nobody else did anything. Leading me to my Tomahawk Downs.
To Uche Echefu and Ryan Reid, who each had 5 turnovers and played as if the ball was covered in butter. Remember when I said these two needed to "play big down low"? Well, that didn't happen. Mississippi State big man Charles Rhodes scored 14 points and pulled down 6 boards. Between Echefu and Reid's offensive ineptitude and lack of defensive presence, it almost seemed as if the Noles were playing a man down the entire game. Speaking of playing shorthanded ...
To Al Thornton. Yes, he scored. Yes, he played well. When he was on the floor. Thornton couldn't avoid the foul bug against the Bulldogs. After quickly getting two in the first five minutes, Thornton was forced to ride the bench as the Bulldogs slowly piled on the points. Then, to make things worse, Thornton got two more fouls in the first few minutes of the second half. After fouling out of the game against North Carolina, Thornton should been ready for opponents to come after him like that. Which allows a smooth North Carolina-related segue to ...
To whomever was supposed to be guarding Ben Hansbrough. Apparently, the Hansbrough family has a vendetta against Florida State as Little Hansbrough followed in his brother Tyler's victorious footsteps, lighting the Noles up for 12 points and 7 rebounds. 7 rebounds! From a 6'3" backup guard! Someone needed to box out and keep Little Hansbrough off the boards. No excuses.
To the bench. Ralph Mims, Casaan Breeden, Jerrel Allen, and Ryan Reid scored a whopping total of five points. Add in the zero Uche Echefu scored, and that is an average of one point per player for nearly half the team. Amazingly inept.
Anyway, that's all for Seminole Basketball 2006-07. Not a bad ride. A bit disappointing, but one does what one can with what one has. With the season over, odds are the next time I write a Seminole Basketball post will be the day we find out what NBA jersey Al Thornton will be wearing next year. A Knicks' one, perhaps?
Monday, March 19, 2007
Anyway, back to Sunday at sunny Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota. Yet again, I arrived in the middle of the first inning. This time however, it wasn't my fault. Everyone in west Florida decided to come out to the ballpark Sunday, pushing attendance to, no lie, standing room only. Standing room only. For a Braves-Reds game. In spring training. You would think the Braves had Hank Aaron and Johnny Bench was in the Reds lineup.
Although not quite of the caliber of Aaron and Bench, today's lineups consisted of Jeff Francoeur, Pete Orr, and a bunch of guys I never heard for the Braves and for the Reds, pretty much everyone except for Ken Griffey Jr., who was probably hurt. In Junior's place in the outfield was everyone's favorite feel good story of the spring, former first round pick and recovering drug addict, Josh Hamilton.
Pitching for the Reds was underrated superstar Aaron Harang. Did you know Harang led the National League in wins and strikeouts last year? Me neither. After watching him, however, he reminds me of a modern-day Andy Benes. Definitely a workhorse pitcher who will give his team a lot of innings and strikeouts, but I don't think he will ever be dominating. Especially from what I saw Sunday.
The Braves struck early and often on Harang. Although he managed to strike out nine in five innings, the Braves hit two home runs off of Harang, including one by Francoeur. After five, it was 3-0 Braves.
In the bottom of the fifth I went on a tour of Ed Smith Stadium. Honestly, there is not much to be said about Ed Smith Stadium other than it used to be the White Sox spring home and will cease to exist in a few years, when the City of Sarasota builds a new park across the street. On the positive side, Ed Smith is currently home to an interesting Mr. Met rip-off. This is a bad trend, folks. We can't have every team with a baseball-head mascot. It's just wrong. What kind of example are we sending to the rest of the free world when all our mascots look the same?
Anyway, before heading back to my seat, I decided to partake in one of those speed gun measure-how-fast-you-can-throw booths. Bad, bad, bad idea. These booths are kryptonite to the adult male psyche. Many moons ago, I liked to think I was a quality little league pitcher. Then reality hit and I failed to make my high school team. What better time than now then to prove my old high school wrong and impress major league fans with what my old left arm can do? Eagerly I bought three throws for a dollar and commenced to fire away.
First throw came in at a scorching 63 mph. Ok, just a warm-up.
Second throw, a blazing 68.
You would think I would at least break 70, right? Wrong. The third throw was a mind-melting 67 miles per hour. Not even fast enough to get pulled over on the highway.
Adding to the embarrassment, the vendor though I was parentally responsible for the pack of little kids behind me and kept calling me dad. "Let's see what Dad can do. Oh, Dad's arm is going to be hurting tomorrow." Totally threw me off my game. I was an emotional mess. The sliver of hope I had to become the next Jim Morris was officially decimated.
With my wounded psyche and broken self-esteem, I found my way back to my seat to see the Reds in the middle of a comeback. In the bottom of the 7th they scored two to make it 5-3 Braves.
The Braves would post one more run and make the score 6-3 heading into bottom of the ninth. Attempting to close the game for Atlanta was minor league pitching prospect Will Startup. Startup reminded me of a young Mike Stanton, with his herky-jerky motion and over-emphatic leg kick. He also reminded me of Stanton in that he made the game interesting in the ninth. A few Reds hits and a few walks quickly made it 6-5 before Startup found his groove and shut the door, saving the game for the Braves. Being, of course, an old pitcher myself, I admired the unconventional herky-jerkyness of Startup's motion. However, if Startup pitches like he did Sunday there might soon be another adult male lefthander trying to reclaim past pitching glory at a random speed gun booth. And he might even be mistaken for a random kid's Dad.
There is no doubt the innocence of major program college athletics is gone. I don't need to rehash the obvious. Everyone makes money through the tournaments, the bowl games, and other assorted college competitions - the television networks, the universities, the booster programs. Like Henry, when I was in school I was convinced we, my fellow students and I, were in this together. They were my classmates who doubled as athletes, and didn't mind sacrificing their free time to represent my university, which they did, of course, for the love of the game. Playing at the next level was a bonus, a reward for greatness at the amateur level.
Having left college for a few years I realize now that there are a few cases where this is true. There are the third string senior linebackers and the walk-on 12th man on the end of the basketball bench who may play for the love, the camaraderie, or the accolades, but overall, the innocence of big time college sports is the second largest myth endorsed by universities. (The first being that you will change the world upon graduation - good luck with that.)
There is a reason, for example, Florida State University starts its most recent booster email with a story about Spring Football Practice and barely mentions the ongoing men's basketball season. Football draws more money. The type of money that can buy out old coaches, hire new coaches, and swing recruits, who in turn hopefully elevate the team to national championship prominence. Which, of course, leads to more television time, more donations, and more boosting, which leads to better players, and better coaches, which leads to a better team. Lather, rinse, repeat. Lather, rinse, repeat.
However, with all the money circulated through the big time programs, and only the most naive still believing college athletics is a baston of innocence, why are people still so quick to point the finger at athletes when they make decisions based on finances? Is it because their team is worse off, or because their boosting program's meal ticket is leaving? This weekend, for example, I heard renowned sports journalist Mike Lupica derogatorily list many of the NBA stars who would be playing in this year's NCAA tournament had they chosen to go to or stay in school. Lupica listed players such as LeBron James, Dwight Howard, and Amare Stoudamire. Interesting, yes. Relevant, no. What right does he have to criticize people for following the dollar when everyone around them has been getting paid? Had Mr. Lupica been writing for no pay for his college newspaper as the paper posted massive profits, and then during his sophomore year was offered the writing job of his dreams, I sure he wouldn't have turned it down.
College is a great experience for those who wish to make the most of it. For those who don't, and would rather forgo academic sense for financial dollars, I say more power to them. There is a lot of money out there to be made. Just ask the corporations, the networks, and the university booster programs.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
(Why do I care about the NIT? Because I am a Florida State fan, and I am rooting for my team, that's why. Yes, I know I am the only one on the planet who cares. Thanks.)
Over the weekend only one NIT game was played, and of course, its result had an effect on Florida State. With the Mississippi State Bulldogs defeating the Bradley Braves 101-72 on Saturday, there will no more home games for the Seminoles. As Mississippi State is a higher seeded team, Florida State's next game will be on Tuesday, March 20th in Starkville, home of the Bulldogs.
Worried? Hardly. If we beat Duke in Cameron Indoor and showed our stuff against those fanatical Cameron Crazies, we can win anywhere.
Besides, a win against Mississippi State not only advances the Seminoles into the NIT semi-finals, but allows them to enact a small bit of revenge against the Hansbrough family. Ben Hansbrough, younger brother of North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough, is a freshman guard for the Bulldogs.
How Florida State can beat the Bulldogs:
- Move the ball. This is obvious, but the Noles cannot stand around like statues a watch Al Thornton. As good as he is, he needs help. Which leads to ...
- Balanced attack. There is no need for Al Thornton to score all the points, as evidenced by his meager 11 points in blowing out Michigan. If all five starters can again score in double figures, Thornton can relax and help create offense, instead of having to force up his shot.
- Play big down low. The Noles cannot let Mississippi State's second leading scorer Charles Rhodes beat them down low. Rhodes is much more of a scorer than FSU's "center" tandem of Uche Echefu and Ryan Reid. Both must step up and limit Rhodes' ability to score in the post.
- Keep Jamont Gordon off the boards. There is no reason a 6'4" G/F should be averaging seven rebounds a game. Either Jason Rich or Isaiah Swann should be defending Gordon, the Bulldogs leading scorer. It will be their responsiblity to keep him from getting anywhere near a triple-double as he did once, and came close to several times this season.
- Play to win the game. I always wanted to say that.
Click here to see how I am doing in my NIT bracket (Curse you, Drexel. Why did I believe the hype?).
Thursday, March 15, 2007
I just spent five hours at a local sports bar hanging out with people I didn't know, all because I needed somewhere to sit, they looked friendly, and one of them rooted for Florida State. As did I, of course. I really need to stop talking to strangers. I think my mother warned me about that once. But homeless people do make the best conversationalists, not that the people I was watching basketball with were homeless, although I didn't go to their homes, I would assume they weren't homeless, which isn't saying much. Ah, whatever.
Alright, let's get the homer news out of the way first. For those privileged enough to get ESPN U, you saw an ass-whoopin'. Florida State put on a show for the home crowd, beating Michigan 87-66. When Casaan (Casaan Chop!) Breeden scores 10 on you, your season is over. Thanks for playing Michigan, sorry it's such a long trip home. Better luck next year.
Next up for the Seminoles is the winner of Mississippi State and Bradley, who play on Saturday, March 17th. So far the Noles are looking really good and I like their chances.
On to some other happenin's of the day that I found interesting. I feel safer; the tournament has been exorcised. No more Blue Devils of any sort. Although I like not having to see the Duke Blue Devils anymore, I would like to know how Greg Oden was able to contain the unstoppable force known as Central Connecticut State Blue Devil center Obie Nwadike? Gotta wonder if his friends call him Ben.
By the way, here is a question for you, and feel free to opine, where do 6'4" former college centers go when they graduate? They don't go to the NBA where the players fly. Do they go to jobs of burgers and fries? Won't see them again 'till next year's Ides.
Ok, enough butchering Nirvana and The Meat Puppets. On to the picks. Disclaimer: I have never filled out an NCAA bracket. Ever. I've made individual game picks, but never took the time to pencil in each game. I don't have the patience. Then there is the matter of having to pay attention and root for my picks. I don't think can get over the loyalty dilemma. For example, if logic dictates a team I dislike (Florida, for example) should win, and there is money on the line, and I pick them, are they buying my allegiance? Am I a sell-out? These are things I wonder every March. That and why we bother coloring beer green on St. Patrick's Day. Dumb tradition.
However, in order to amuse all 12 of you who loyally read The Serious Tip, I decided to bring in a man who fills out more brackets than old ladies play bingo cards, none other than Zheke Snow. For those unfamiliar with Zheke, you may know him better for his modern reinterpretation of the classic role of Joe The Policeman from the "What's Going Down" episode of "That's My Momma". Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, I give to you Zheke Snow.
What's up? I am full of enthusiasm. This is my favorite time of year. I get to drink beer and watch a lot of basketball. And you should too. Just don't do drugs.
Anyway, here are my picks for the tourney.
Florida winning and Arizona beating Purdue.
I had Butler and Maryland winning and they did.
Winthrop over Notre Dame (you heard it here first).
UNLV beating GT (because we (Florida State) should have been in that slot).
And Wisconsin over the fake Texas A&M.
Florida beating Arizona.
Butler beating Maryland. The MVC representing.
Oregon over Winthrop.
Wisconsin over UNLV.
Florida ending Butler's season (this hurts).
And Wisconsin beating Oregon.
Then Florida over Wisconsin (this hurts more.)
New York, I mean Kansas, beating Niagara 400-10.
Nova winning a good one over Kentucky.
Illinois beating VA Tech (because a 12 has to beat a 5).
SIU beating Holy Cross.
The Dookies beating VCU although I hope it doesn't happen (Ed. note: wrong already, Zheke).
Indiana beating Gonzaga.
And UCLA winning.
I have New York, I mean Kansas, beating Nova.
SIU beating Illinois. Pitt beating the Dookies and UCLA beating Indiana.
I have New York, I mean Kansas, beating SIU.
UCLA beating Pitt.
I have New York, I mean Kansas, beating UCLA.
UNC winning as well as Marquette.
USC over Arkansas.
Vandy was winning big last I saw so that is good.
WSU won (I had them).
Texas Tech lost (so did I).
G'Town won (so did I).
UNC beating Marquette.
Texas beating USC.
Vandy moving on.
UNC losing to Texas.
G'Town winning over Vandy.
G'Town beating Texas. Hibbert is the man.
Oden and OSU pounding Central Connecticut State.
Virginia winning (although I almost picked Albany).
As did Texas A&M (I picked both correct).
Creighton over Nevada (the game of the first round-you heard it here first again.)
Memphis won (so did I).
OSU beating Xavier.
Tennesee beating Virginia (or Albany).
Texas A&M beating Louisville (a good one).
Memphis beating Creighton (continuing their season long trend of beating mediocre teams).
OSU beating Tennessee.
Memphis losing their first real game of the year to Texas A&M.
Texas A&M shocking OSU.
New York, I mean Kansas, beating Florida.
G'Town beating A&M.
In the finals I have New York, I mean Kansas, beating G'Town.
There you have it.
Bet the house.
Thanks Zheke. I'd rather not bet the house, though. If I lose, then I would be homeless. And who would talk to me?
There are some times where the performance doesn't live up to the hype. This was not one of them. Last night's Phoenix-Dallas match-up was one of those games that forces us to invoke the most trite of cliches. The type of game that makes us praise the Orange Roundie and the other gods of the hardwood. The type of game that causes us to remember that although we might flirt with the college game come tournament time, it is the NBA game, with its high level of play and exasperating drama, that wins our fanaticism time and time again.
Phoenix 129 - Dallas 127, 2 OT. Game of the Year.
By the way, I'll post on Isiah Thomas' recent contract extension as soon as I find the words to completely articulate my flabbergasted-ness. Stay tuned.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Tonight at six in the evening hour, the Seminoles of the Kingdom of Florida State begin this "NIT" Tournament against the Mid-Atlantic Conference Champion Toledo
As this scribe swears his loyalty to the Kingdom of Florida State, I believe the Kingdom of Florida State will be victorious tonight and throughout the Tournament For Those Who Say "NIT". As for the
For more on the Tournament For Those Who Say "NIT", check out the Tournament For Those Who Say "NIT"'s official home page. Or, as I, participate in predicting the winner of The Tournament For Those Who Say "NIT" here. They promise "sweet" prizes. Perhaps a shrubbery?
Monday, March 12, 2007
With that in mind, I have chosen to express my frustration over the non-selection of the Florida State Seminoles to the men's basketball tournament in letter form to two targets I feel are directly responsible.
Dear NCAA Selection Committee,
Please explain to me why you left Florida State out of the men's tournament once again. You have ripped our hearts out three of the last four years. This year alone, we have beaten Duke at Duke, we beat Florida, and we beat Maryland. Yes, this wasn't the greatest year for Duke, but a win in Cameron Indoor is still a big win.
According to ESPN, we had "zero bad losses -- all 12 of our losses were to teams in the RPI Top 50." Yeah, we got crushed against Pittsburgh and Wisconsin, but who didn't? And wasn't that your top gripe last year, that we didn't play enough tough games out of conference? Well, we did this year. And still no love.
I know you are not in the business of what if's. You want results. You look at the bottom line, not potential. But consider for a moment the plight of the Seminoles. On February 7th, our starting point guard, Toney Douglas, went down the an injury. We lost four of the next five games. When he returned, we won three in a row, including defeating Clemson in the ACC Tournament. With a healthy Douglas, how can you discount us?
You have made our life difficult, NCAA Powers That Be. We'll be back. Next year there will be no argument.
(P.S. By the way, I really appreciate you putting us on your "65 Teams ... One Dream" t-shirt (top right quadrant, bottom left logo), but not in the actual tournament. Someone in marketing must have thought we were good enough.)
Dear Alexander Johnson,
How is life in the Developmental League? Good to see you are averaging 11 points a game for the Arkansas RimRockers. Remember when you rocked the rim in Tallahassee and jumped over that poor guy from Georgia Tech? Yeah, that was cool. Do you remember your days at Florida State? You enjoyed them, right? Well, why the hell did you leave?!?
If you had stayed you know you would be playing in the ACC Tournament right now. You know you would have been one of the baddest centers in college basketball, and the best in the ACC. You know you would have been a first round pick, not a mid-second rounder. A 6-9, 240lbs mound of muscle with mad hops and four years of college experience? No question. But no, you had to leave. You had to listen to your agent.
Did you think we were going to be able to replace you? Who did you think we had to play center? Uche Echefu? Come on, man. Uche might be good next year, but he is no A.J. down low. He can't jam like you. He can't rebound like you. At best, he's a small power forward. And how did you leave Al Thornton like that? I'm sure he is overjoyed with you right now. Hell, he probably listened in to your D-League game Saturday and just cried his eyes out as you tore it up for two points in six minutes.
Wait, you scored only two points in six minutes in the D-League? You know I wish the best for you, but you better have gotten hurt there. Maybe you weren't as good as we thought. Never mind.
I'm sure there are plenty of others I could write to and vent my frustration. But I am too livid. Maybe this time we just might win the NIT. A lame consolation prize, true, but a prize nonetheless. Whoopee.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Thanks to our new and improved daylight savings time I went to bed late, got up late, and left for Lakeland, Florida late. My destination: Joker Marchant Stadium, spring home of the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers' opponent: my favorite team, the New York Mets.
Due to my late arrival, I failed to see the top of the first inning. Perhaps you are noticing a trend. I tend to be late quite often. However, the biggest difference between this instance and my previous late arrival for the Dodgers-Nationals game was that where in Viera I missed nothing but the first pitch, this time I missed the Mets scoring three runs in the top of the first. When I asked a fellow onlooker how the Mets scored, he simply said, "They came out hitting." So since that's all I know, that is all I can pass on.
Before I get started in writing about what I did see of the game including today's lineups, I want to say Joker Marchant Stadium is perhaps one of the finer spring training ballparks I have been to this spring. Granted, it's a small sample, but I really liked Joker Marchant. According to Spring Training Online.com, the Tigers have spring trained in Lakeland since 1934 and played in Joker Marchant Stadium since 1966. So there is quite a bit of history here, and it shows. Although it has been revamped through the years, Joker Marchant has still hosted a who's who of baseball legends such as Al Kaline, Jack Morris, Willie Horton, and Sparky Anderson for the home Tigers, and Roberto Clemente, Bob Gibson, Johnny Bench, and thousands upon thousands of other names and no-names for the visitors.
Contributing to this list of superstars, has-beens, and never-will-be's are today's contestants. Pitching for the New York Mets, Aaron Sele. His opponent on the mound: Tigers' starter Mike Maroth. Knowing both of these guys have been legitimate major leagure starters for quite sometime, I knew I was in for a decent game.
Although the starting pitchers were both qualified major leaguers, the Mets' lineup could hardly boast the same. As they often do during spring training, the Mets were playing two games today, with half the team in Lakeland and the other half in Port St. Lucie hosting the Florida Marlins. Due to the nature of the split roster, none of the Mets starting lineup made the trip to Lakeland. Instead, Sele was supported by numerous top Mets prospects such as Lastings Milledge, Fernando Martinez, Carlos Gomez, Anderson Hernandez, and Ruben Gotay. Just a guess, but if the Mets were the Kansas City Royals or the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, this would probably have been their major league lineup.
The Tigers, on the other hand, didn't have all their starters in the lineup, but they had quite a few, including Sean Casey, Carlos Guillen, Ivan Rodriguez, and Placido Polanco. Also playing for the Tigers were ex-Mets Timo Perez and Vance Wilson, spare parts for the late '90s Mets.
Despite now being long in the tooth, the ex-Mets struck back in the 4th, as both Wilson and Perez reached base before a double by Tigers 3rd baseman Kody Kirkland drove home Perez. Wait a minute, Kody Kirkland? That should be a female porn star name, shouldn't it? My guess is he probably has a sister named Kourtney and a brother or sister named Kasey. Anyway, after 4, it was Mets 3, Tigers 1.
Do you want to know what I like about spring training? Do you want to know what makes spring training great? The casualness. Only in spring training do you see groundskeepers stop grooming the field to break out into a dance performance to YMCA. Five middle-aged white guys with protuding waistlines breaking it down in front of thousands. Of course, the crowd cheered. You would never see that at a major league stadium. But back to the game ...
Although the Mets were churning out minor league pitchers and hurlers trying to find a spot on the roster, the Tigers followed Maroth with Zach Miner, Alfredo Ledesma, and Guitar Hero Joel Zumaya. Lucky the minor league Mets scored when the did.
In the 6th, with the Mets up 4-1, the revenge of the ex-Mets continued as Timo Perez hit a Jorge Sosa pitch over the right field wall for a home run. Mets 4, Tigers 2.
Speaking of Perez, it's random complaint time. You know who I can't stand? Obnoxious Mets fans that bitch and complain about everything. No one holds a grudge like New York fans. I know, I know, I can be that fan on occasion. But after Perez homered a Mets fan a few rows down from my seat chastized Perez for a baserunning blunder he made during the 2000 World Series. First of all, Perez was a rookie in 2000 and barely played before August. Second, the 2000 World Series was nearly seven years ago. Let it go, man. Let it go.
As the last remaining innings drew to a close, the Tigers brought in Fernando Rodney to mow down the last of the Mets' lineup. I was a little too far to see, but I hope Rodney was issued a hat that fit his head this season. His hat always seemed three sizes too big during the World Series. Whatever his hat size, Rodney did pitch well, as did his Mets counterpart, Willie Collazo, thanks to a spectacular crashing-into-the-wall catch by Milledge in the bottom of the ninth. Your final: Mets 4, Tigers 2.
(P.S. Although I previously wrote that I would be attending the Yankees-Pirates game on March 10th, I have to apologize. I did not go. My most sincere apologies to any of my readers who may have been looking forward to my write-up on this game. I failed you. It will not happen again.)
Friday, March 9, 2007
But this week the St. Pete Times Forum finally earns its keep and plays host to its biggest group of guests since Motley Crue. This week the ACC Tournament ventures out of its traditional home in the Carolinas and makes its way to beautiful sunny Tampa. And since I first saw the banner advertising the tournament last May, I vowed to be there.
Unfortunately, in the months and days leading up to the Tournament, I had become dismayed by the lack of availability of tickets. Apparently, the ACC hasn't had a public sale of tickets since the 1960s. Tickets are issued to the universities, which then issue them to the biggest boosters (read: rich, old, white men). So where is the average fan? Left to buy tickets from seedy scalpers. Fortunately, there were quite a few not-so-shady people outside the forum selling tickets to the games they were not interested in attending. Makes sense, I guess. If you were a Virginia fan, for example, why waste time watching Florida State and Clemson battle it out when you could take the cash, drive across town, go to Busch Gardens, and ride roller coasters all day?
(By the way, I know they are an integral part of the college fund-raising process, but I cannot abide boosters. Disgusting creatures. I can't stand their team logo polo shirts, their team logo golf hats, and their pretentious attitudes because they can donate thousands of dollars a year to my alma mater. And I absolutely hate how they swing their power around like Dirk Diggler to get their way with the university (think Jeff Bowden). F*^# boosters.)
After dropping 20 on parking and another 80 on a ticket (I know, I got ripped off), and with still an hour to waste until tip-off, I headed towards the ACC Fan Fest. This was the usual corporate interactive smorgasbord of free throw contests, credit card t-shirts, and goodie bag give-aways. Eh. Nothing special.
On the subject of things that didn't quite blow my socks off, after searching high and higher, I found my seat among the bats and cobwebs of the St. Pete Times Forum's extreme upper deck. Considering I spent 100 dollars already, I probably should have spent the additional cash and sprung for an oxygen tank. The air was mighty thin in the belfry. 80 bucks for this? Whatever. Only real fans sit in the nosebleed seats. And people looking for a place to anonymously get some lovin'.
Another random note about fans: maybe I am just being negative, but nothing says bandwagon basketball fan like a guy wearing a university's football jersey to a basketball game. Even the polo shirt wearing boosters have more sense than that. How about wearing an FSU basketball shirt, buddy? You know they do make them. You can even get one for free if you go to some home basketball games. Hell, that's how I acquired half my wardrobe. But I digress ...
As for the game ...
Florida State came into this game absolutely needing a win. They had lost to Clemson twice this year, both on the road and in Tallahassee. And being one of the many bubble teams hoping to play in the NCAA Tournament, they could ill-afford to make a quick exit from their conference tournament.
Oddly, FSU Coach Leonard Hamilton chose not to start normally-starting point guard Toney Douglas, instead opting for backup Ralph Mims. I can not emphasize enough how much better the offense plays with Douglas on the court. Without him, they stand around and wait for Al Thornton to do something spectacular. Douglas drives, dishes, swings passes from one side of the perimeter to the other, and just makes the offense much more fluid and effective.
The beginning of the game was pretty rough. Neither team seemed to be shooting well. Maybe it was the facility, as even during warm-ups the St. Pete Times Forum rims seemed unforgiving. Thornton, like all other scorers in the game, started off slow, although he eventually warmed up enough to lead all players with 18 at the half. One of my biggest fears is now that Al Thorton has reached "superstar" status, will the other Seminoles cede too much of the offense to him? Will other player be more apt to think Thornton will lead them to victory so they will give less effort on the offensive side? I hope not.
Despite the offensive ineptitude, FSU led 38-36 at the half. Unfortunately, as I only had 1 dollar in my wallet, my halftime experience consisted of sitting around and watching the amazingly beautiful, somehow nationally-ranked FSU Golden Girl dancers. Oh, how I wish Bea Arthur and Betty White could shake it like that. Give Golden Girls a whole new meaning. By the way, I remember when FSU used to bring in halftime acts like trampoline guys and guys who did flips across the court. What ever happened to them? Anyway, that was halftime.
The second half mirrored the first as neither team went on any type of scoring run to put the other away. FSU's Douglas, who actually played a majority of the game despite not starting, seemed reluctant to score, and rarely took the ball up whenever he drove into the lane, instead opting to pass. Not a bad strategy as the defense usually clamps down to prevent the lay-up, but putting the ball up once in a while might be good, you know, to change up the routine. Maybe he was afraid of getting re-injured.
And re-injured he almost was, falling hard after tripping on a Clemson player with 6 minutes left in the game. Much to the collective joy of the FSU fans, Douglas either played hurt or was alright, returning to the floor 14 seconds later.
With the game winding down and with the score 66-66 and 35 seconds on the clock, FSU attempted to inbound the ball for the score and the win. This should have been easy, set a screen, get Thornton open, and watch him win the game for you. Unfortunately, the only man able to get open was freshman Ryan Reid, who has an effective shooting range of about 2 feet. Reid, standing beyond 2 feet from the basket, couldn't get the job done and Clemson drove down the court only to turn the ball over, and giving the Noles one last chance for the win with 8.3 on the clock.
This time the Noles were able to get the ball to Thornton, who then attempted a crazy fall-away-from-three-defenders shot. Luckily for FSU fans, and much to the dismay of Clemson fans, the refs called a foul, sending Thornton to the line with 1.5 seconds remaining in the game. Who better? Who else? Bill Simmons, I hope you were watching. What's the saying, "big time players make big time plays in big time situations"? Well, it was Al Thornton's time.
Thornton made one of two free throws, which was enough, as Clemson failed to make their last-second hail mary attempt. Final score FSU 67 - Clemson 66. Next up: North Carolina.
No one said this would be easy.
As for me, although I would love to go to one more game, I don't think I am going to spend another 80 bucks on nosebleed seats. I think I am going watch the game in the comfort of my local Hooters. Mmmmm .... Hooters.
Oh yeah, speaking of, and I know this is belated, but because yesterday was International Women's Day, here are links to a German woman (NSFW), a Brazilian woman (mostly SFW), and an American woman (also NSFW). (I'm tired right now, I'll put safer links up if anyone asks.) Enjoy.
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
This offseason, former Pittsburgh Steeler Joey Porter and New Orleans Saint Joe Horn have been among the many long-time veterans shown the door by the teams on which they achieved their first taste of fame. Porter and Horn are far from alone. In seasons past, the NFL salary cap has shown no favorites, as famous cap casualties have included former Tampa Bay Buc John Lynch and Hall of Fame-bound former Buffalo Bill Thurman Thomas. Even the great Jerry Rice was made to sing the salary cap blues.
Since nobody wins when famous players are told to pack their bags, I have an idea that might reduce these draconian releasings, promote team loyalty, decrease the incentive to shed veteran players, and increase fan appreciation. The NFL should institute a gradually increasing loyalty discount that would reduce the amount a player's contract weighs on the salary cap. This discount would only be applicable to players with continuous service to the same team for a predetermined amount of years and would cease in an individual case when the player left the team.
To simplify: if the NFL sets the tenured discount limit at 6 years, in the 7th year a player spends with the same team, his salary would only count 90% against the salary cap. In year eight 80% against the cap, year nine 70%, year 10 60%, etc., etc. Using this case, by the time the player spends his 16th year with the same franchise, his salary will count 0% against the cap. This measure will assuredly increase a team's desire to keep its players and in turn will increase fan loyalty to the players, as they will become mainstays on the team and hopefully in the communities as well.
In order to see the effects of this proposal, let's look at the salaries of the 2006 Indianapolis Colts, who of course have an interest in bringing back all the key components of their recent Super Bowl winning team. Using the loyalty discount, only half of WR Marvin Harrison's 8 million dollar salary would count against the cap. Comparatively, all of tackle Ryan Diem's 7 million dollar salary would count, as Diem had only been in the league six years. As for Payton Manning, with his salary almost all bonus money, only 70% of his $668,520 yearly salary would count against the salary cap.
Although I don't think it is the end-all, be-all of salary cap solutions, the NFL and its organizations would have a lot to gain and very little to lose by instituting a loyalty discount. Perhaps with this idea we can avoid the embarrassment of seeing great players in jerseys unbecoming of their legacy.
Tuesday, March 6, 2007
Now I am not trying to go all Charlton Heston on everyone and I know this is supposed to be a safety measure in the wake of the Bryan Pata murder and the shooting of Willie Cooper, but this does not make sense. Quick, which Hurricane was shot by a fellow teammate? Ummm ... none. Coach Shannon would be better off telling all the people in Florida who do possess firearms to stay at least 500 yards from his players.
Your own players are not at fault, Coach Shannon. As a matter of fact, you just made them targets, as much as big 300lbs men can be targets. But think of your poor defenseless kicker, now just begging to be robbed. And to your argument that "When you have a firearm, there's a 50-50 chance that you're going to get hurt", you have to explain that one to me.
Yeah, there might be a lesser chance of a Miami player capping someone this season thanks to Coach Shannon, but his new decree does beg the question, what are players to do with their anniversary gun racks?
Monday, March 5, 2007
In today's Basketball Blog, Simmons writes:
I've only seen bits and pieces of Al Thornton, and I know he's 23 years old, and I know the game went into OT, and I know Miami sucks ... but 45 points in a college basketball game? I'm officially intrigued. Al, I have the TiVo set for your next game.
Shamefully, I wasn't going to post about the FSU-Miami game over the weekend because I didn't see it. I am a poor excuse for a fan, I know, but I was out of town at the Dodgers-Nationals game and couldn't catch a telecast. Needless to say, however, Al Thornton went off again, scoring 45 points, grabbing eight rebounds, and blocking four shots. Thorton's 45 points were one off of the FSU record and put him over 20 points per game on the season. And he apparently got Bill Simmons to stop drooling over Kevin Durant for a moment and watch some FSU basketball. Which in itself is an accomplishment.
So what can Bill Simmons expect? Well, first of all, Thornton is one of the most complete players to come from FSU in recent years. He will be playing in the NBA next year as most mock draft sites have him going anywhere from 10th to somewhere in the mid-20s. Thornton comparisons range from Phoenix Suns star Shawn Marion to current NBA role players James Posey and Hakim Warrick. So Bill, you are obviously watching an NBA talent, and it is never too late to buy an Al's Pals t-shirt.
Although no one can accurately predict any draft pick until the actual pick is made, allow me to segue from Bill Simmons' praise to where Al Thornton might go in the 2007 NBA draft. Like I mentioned, most sites have him going anywhere from 10th to the end of the first round. I even saw one site that didn't have him listed. But let's look at two of the more interesting predictions that have Al Thornton going to teams I think he can make a definite impact on.
NBADraft.net has possibly the highest Thornton draft selection, predicting he will go to Minnesota with the 10th pick. I like this prediction, and not just because of the high selection. Although the Timberwolves currently feature recent draft pick Randy Foye and veterans Ricky Davis and Mike James at the guard and small forward positions, respectively, I think Thorton's offensive game would mesh well with the T-Wolves.
Mockdraftcity.com has Thornton going slightly lower to my New York Knicks at the 20th pick. According to ESPN, as of March 4th, the Knicks don't have the 20th pick, they have either the 22nd or the 12th, pending a possible selection swap with the Chicago Bulls. As mentioned, Al Thornton falls in this range. Could Thornton fit with the Knicks? Could I be any happier seeing a player I have watched since his freshman year playing for my favorite NBA team? With Isiah Thomas' penchant for athletic swingmen, I can definitely see them drafting him. He is taller than Jamal Crawford, better offensively than Jared Jeffries, and has been a better 3-point shooter at the college level than Quentin Richardson. Far be it for me to be a homer, but I can see Thorton definitely helping in the Big Apple as well.
Anyway, welcome to the Al Thornton fan club, Bill Simmons. I do hope you TiVo every game FSU plays in the ACC tournament this week. Not only do I like their chances to do something special, but you might even see me. I'll be the guy with the big "Need Ticket" sign outside the forum.
UPDATE: Florida State will definitely have their hands full this ACC Tournament. They have Clemson, who defeated the Noles twice this year, followed by North Carolina in Round 2. Sheesh.
Sunday, March 4, 2007
Before I go into the game itself, I have to admit, whenever I go back to Space Coast Stadium I always have that "Luke Skywalker" feeling. Remember when Luke and Obi-Wan Kenobi prepared to leave Luke's home planet in the original Star Wars and Luke says "I'm never coming back to this place," only to return in Return of the Jedi? Well, before I left for my time in the military, went to college, and embarked on my career, I grew up in Melbourne, FL - then the spring home of the Florida Marlins. I watched the Marlins' inaugural talent take the field even before their first official game. I cheered wildly for players like Jack Armstrong, Rob Natal, and Chuck Carr. So going back to the Melbourne area for a ballgame is a homecoming of sorts.
In 2003 the Marlins moved to Jupiter, Fl. and the Washington Nationals moved to
Although I didn't arrive until the second inning, I didn't miss much, as the score was 0-0 until the top of the third. In the third, the bottom of the Dodgers split squad lineup pieced together a walk, a double, and a base hit against Nationals starter Jason Simontacchi, scoring one. Simontacchi calmed down and got the next batter, Juan Pierre, to ground into a 6-4-3 double play. The ease in which they got Pierre leads me to think either Pierre is losing a step or the Nationals double play combinations will be better than some people might assume.
Speaking of the Nationals players, playing for their split squad was Tony Womack, Austin Kearns, Ronnie Belliard, Nook Logan, "Showtime" Larry Broadway (yes, you heard that here first), and the Nationals sole superstar Ryan Zimmerman. Fans across the park were dressed in Zimmerman garb, some even had University of Virginia shirts on. From the looks of things, Zimmerman is high on the Nationals' public relations radar as well; his is the only jersey for sale in the whole park.
In the bottom of the third, the Nationals' split squad tied the game with a home run by catcher Juan Brito, who I mistakenly kept calling Juan Primo, Benicio Del Toro's character in The Fan. The Nationals' Juan proved to be just as much the superstar Primo was as Brito would again strike in the 4th, driving in two with a double, putting the Nationals back ahead after the Dodgers tied the game at 2. At least from this game, I am making the bold statement Juan
Towards the middle innings, I did a little wandering around the ballpark. Among the guests I saw was Major League Baseball ambassador, Dodger Legend, and rumored adult companion purchaser Tommy Lasorda. In all honesty, I really wanted to say hello to Mr. Lasorda, but felt that if I did, my next question would be what kind of girl on girl porn he prefers.
Of course, as the game continued, the Dodgers and Nationals began emptying their benches, inserting numerous players with no-name jerseys and wide receiver numbers. Among the no-name Dodgers was infielder Chin Lung Hu, to which I overheard one fan say, "You gotta like a long chin ho." I never said Space Coast Stadium was frequented by the most politically correct people.
In the bottom of the 7th, the Dodgers continued the no-name parade, this time inserting a pitcher who will probably be bagging groceries by May. After walking the ever-dangerous Juan
After the Nationals added one more run, they sent closer Chad Cordero to the mound. I understand Cordero needs work like every other pitcher, but sending in a major league closer to finish off the unnamed refuse of the Dodgers bench seemed a little unfair. Even if one of the unnamed Dodgers was former Florida State second baseman Marshall McDougal, who did manage a single. After McDougal, the remaining Dodgers went down in order and the Nationals pulled out the 6-2 victory behind solid spring pitching and the powerful bat of Juan
Next stop: Bradenton, Fl., spring home of the Pittsburgh Pirates.