Friday, November 28, 2008

The David Cutcliffe Era Has Begun

Duke is a much improved football team this year. Under the leadership of offensive guru David Cutcliffe, also known as He Who Makes Mannings, they've actually won a few games, beaten multiple bowl-eligible teams, and not been, well, embarrassing.

That being said, it bears noting that in last week's shockingly winnable game with Virginia Tech, Duke completed two (2) forward passes for twenty (20) yards.


The first completion apparently didn't come until well into the second half.

Now, I know the Dolphins are experimenting with direct snaps and the single wing, but this is ridiculous. On the other hand, if Cutcliffe can keep Duke close with a monster program like VaTech without using half the offensive arsenal, perhaps that's an indication of what a truly impressive coaching job he's actually done.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Ravens a lot, Eagles not so much

You can't see it from here, but that's Donovan McNabb the fork is sticking out of. Unfair, really - it's as if the entire team decided to collapse at once - but you can't tie Cincy, throw a raft of interceptions and admit to not knowing the rules, and expect to get away with it in the City of Brotherly Love.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Golson Gone

The Greg Golson era is over in Philly before it got started.

Former 1st round pick was the lightning rod for stathead criticism of the Phillies' system in recent years. He seemed like the second coming of Jeff Jackson, an incredible athlete who hadn't really figured out that whole "baseball" part of the "baseball player" equation. Even this last year, when it looked like he was putting it together, there were still lots of unbelievers. Quoth Keith Law:
Greg Golson can crush a high fastball, but his recognition of anything else is poor. He's such a good athlete that, given his limited feel for the game, he looks like he should be playing another sport professionally but showed up at the wrong stadium.
13 homers, yes. 23 steals, yes. Amazing speed and defense, fine. But 130 strikeouts...yikes.

And now it doesn't matter. He's gone to Texas for someone else's first round "meh", John Mayberry Jr. Mayberry's got less speed, but more power, and with Pat Burrell on his way out the door, there's a need for that. It feels like a reasonable trade, but it's always sad when a team gives up on a #1 pick. That's blowing out the candle on years of wishcasting, a tacit admission that they got it wrong, and that this kid whom we've been asked to get excited about for years will never make those hopes come true.

Of course, this isn't the end of the line for Golson. He's going to an organization in much more flux, in an insanely favorable hitting environment, and with a definite need for his skills. He may yet go all Josh Hamilton on the league, or he may simply learn enough to be a useful player, or he may end up doing not much of anything. That part of the story hasn't been written yet. But the first chapter is done, and by its very nature, is ever so slightly bittersweet to those of the fannish persuasion.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Utley Injured, Mets Not Yet Implicated

But they're probably happy about it...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

In case you missed it...

...several All-Pro NFL players have tested positive for banned substances and are in New York this week to plead their cases to Commissioner Roger Goodell. The players, including Saints RB Deuce McAllister and a pair of Vikings defensive linemen, claimed they had no idea the supplements they were using contained the banned substances. Earlier this week, ESPN talking head Chris Mortenson was on the air with Tirico and Van Pelt talking about the possibility of leniency for these guys.

I, for one, am outraged that sportswriters across America are not in fact outraged by this. Come on, guys, where are the ringing denunciations? The high-minded moralizing about the sanctity of the game and the health risks the players are taking?

Oh. Wait. Right. It's football, and they don't talk about that sort of thing, especially when the Steelers get juked out of covering the spread.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Was it just me...

...or did Penn give Carolina more of a game than Kentucky did last night?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

You Betcha *wink*

By all rights, the flubbed touchdown call at the end of the Steelers-Chargers game shouldn't matter. After all, the Steelers still won, and the odds that Pittsburgh is going to find itself in the point differential neighborhood of the tiebreakers this year are slim, at best. It's a mistake and maybe Troy Paulomalu's agent can get upset about it, but hey, the game came out the same, right?

Unfortunately, in a post-Donaghy world, you can't just assume something that swings the spread is an innocent mistake, not any more. Rightly or wrongly, it will get dissected. It will get analyzed. And the ugly truth that the rise of the NFL was built on gambling will peek out from behind the curtain once again.

And if you're an NFL purist and you're going to debate the point, ask yourself this? What drives NFL injury report rules? Gambling - the disclosure is done so gamblers have accurate information. Why are point spreads printed in newspapers in states that will never see legalized sports books? Again, gambling. Why does the mainstream media report breathlessly every year on the odds of each team winning the Super Bowl, as set in Vegas? It's because the hidden engine of the NFL is gambling. And in this instance, the NFL has done gambling wrong.

The repercussions should be interesting.

Tie, Redux

So Donovan McNabb didn't know you could tie in the NFL? Big deal. If there is any fault here, it's Andy Reid's, for not ensuring his quarterback was situationally aware.

Incidentally, lost in all the yammering about how NFL overtime sucks and the team that loses the coin flip is doomed is the fact that the fix, if one is needed, is very simple: make OT more like football. All of the proposed solutions - the knockoff college style, the "each team gets a shot" version, and so forth - make it less like football, less like the rules the rest of the game has been played under, and more like hockey, or soccer, or some other sport that beefy shirtless men who have painted themselves purple and orange so they can sit out in twelve degree weather and boo Jay Cutler wouldn't be caught dead watching.

You want OT to work? Make it like football. Instead of sudden death, make it a full quarter, regardless. And if there's a tie at the end of that quarter? Play another one. Hell, it worked for Miami and San Diego back in the day, and they're still talking about that game. Why not go to what worked? Why not keep the rules of your game consistent? Why not make football...more like football?

Just asking.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Just Wondering...

...if the leak of the information that the Red Sox were apparently about to suspend MannybeingManny when they traded him is just an attempt to depress his market price, and thus put a dull stick in Scott Boras' eye?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bengals Win, 13-13

Or, to put it another way, when you fail to pummel a Cincy team that's running out a quarterback from Harvard, it's time to give up on the season.

BCS Bid? Anybody? Anybody?

So a handful of ACC teams go into today's play ranked because, well, someone from the ACC has to be, and in short order, they all lose. Maryland, which has been about as predictable as a Wile E. Coyote blueprint this year, takes down #16 UNC. Boston College confuses Florida State with the numerous extraneous consonants of Coach J's name and takes out the #19 Seminoles. And NC State pulls their annual late-season upset of an ACC frontrunner, this time taking out #20 Wake Forest. There are a horde of teams bunched up at the tops of the respective divisions, but honestly, whoever ends up stumbling into the BCS bid - right now, my money is on Coastal Division-leading Miami, in that Maryland looks likely to take the Atlantic Division, the Turtles are roadkill in road games, and the ACC championship game isn't played at College Park. Regardless, it seems highly likely that whoever comes out of the ACC is going to get massacred in their BCS bowl of choice, unless, of course, they get lined up against the champion of the Big East in the "yeah, we have to play this one, too" Bowl.

Speaking of the Big East, at least one team - Cincinnati - seems interested in a late-season charge. This is, of course, the same Cincy team that's currently being run by its third string quarterback, which is always a recipe for BCS success. It's almost odd, though, how completely the league has collapsed this year, especially coming after last year's dominant bowl showing. But preseason faves South Florida and West Virginia (whose much-touted offense is fourth in the conference in points scored) have imploded, early season darling Connecticut has remembered that it is, in fact, Connecticut, and Rutgers started its run too late. One can only hope that neither the Big East nor the ACC champion gets matched against the second-place Big 12 or SEC team, either of whom is liable to be pissed off and able to blow Miami, Cincinnati, Maryland, or really an all-star team made up of any and all of these guys right off the field.


Great concept - let guys watch sports while getting haircuts.

Reasonable execution; could possibly be improved by offering beer and some variant on bratwurst as part of the barbershop experience.

One small problem: the haircut in question makes my head look like an angry bowling ball. I have no idea how the woman who cut my hair did it, but she did. Consider me resigned to looking like one of the less stable Caesars for the next four weeks.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Yanks bid way more than anyone else on Sabathia

In other news, water remains wet.

Part of me was actually hoping that the Evil Empire would live up to its name - you know, string everyone along, cruelly raise the hopes of fans in Milwaukee, and then at the last minute swoop in with the crushing Death Star-sized mega-offer. If nothing else, it would have livened up the off-season, and I can imagine Hank Steinbrenner shouting "Sweep the leg!" at Brian Cashman just before he puts the offer to paper.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

After Long Silence

Sorry, folks.

Regular posting will resume shortly, now that I've wrapped up some work travel and I'm not glued to like Renfield with an entomology textbook in one hand and a cookbook in the other.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The worst argument yet for a neutral site World Series

It was either this outfit or my vintage Tigers jersey. Whaddaya think?

Add Buster Olney to the herd of ESPN personalities calling for a neutral-site World Series. What's his logic? Well, here's part of it:

In a place like Phoenix or San Diego, there could be daily charity golf tournaments, with fans being part of the scramble -- the John Smoltz Desert Classic on the first day, the Jeff Francoeur Invitational the second day, and so on.

Because what the World Series really should be about* is allowing sportswriters to go golfing between games.

*Of course, it is possible that he's saying "Look at all the neat side stuff MLB could do to make World Series Week-and-a-Half a mega-experience!" The problems with that take are A)it doesn't come across that way B)last time I checked, the World Series was supposed to be about baseball and C)the sorts of people who'd be attracted to the World Series by the possibility of going golfing with the players whose teams didn't make it are precisely not the sort of fans who will produce that rocking World Series atmosphere that adds so much to the games.