Sunday, October 30, 2005

weekend musings

Ever get that feeling that you should post something but you're not quite sure what? Well thats me right now. So here are some random thoughts from the weekend...

*USC is unargueably the best team in the country until someone beats them.

*Georgia misses DJ Shockley... a lot.

*How many times can UCLA come back?

*LSU should be undefeated.

*How do the Redskins score 52 points one week and none the next?

*And if the answer is that the 49ers suck so bad, how did they beat Tampa Bay? Because Chris Simms is just that much worse than Brian Griese.

*Its time for Brett Favre to retire.

*Houston finally won a game, and it may be their only win all year.

*The Cowboys could easily be 8-0.

*The NFC North is the worst division in NFL history.

*It doesn't appear to matter where the Saints play when they're that bad.

*Tedy Bruschi is an amazing athlete.

Talk about your classic break up letters... this is a great read.

National #1 Prep team, the Carroll Dragons beat Grapevine Friday to move to 9-0.

Riley Dodge of Carroll

Friday, October 28, 2005

more BcS

Just for the record, I really cant stand Skip Bayless. Not back in the day when he was with the Times Herald and not now with ESPN. But as much as the flaming Bayless gets on my nerves, when he puts the shorthorns in their place, I have to give him some props.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

clean sweep

So I was going to title this post 'Lidge the goat'. But was he really? Probably not. Sure he and Ensberg, Bagwell, Clemens and others performed well below their abilities, but if your assigning blame for the Astros getting swept, look right at the top of the dugout stairs to Manager Phil Garner. You can't blame the Game 4 loss on Lidge when your offense manages just 5 hits and cant score a single run. But you have to question why Garner pulls Backe after 7 when he was still going strong throwing a shutout, only giving up 5 hits while striking out 7. But the White Sox played the NL version of small ball to manufacture a run off Lidge in the top of the 8th and you could just see it in the Astros' eyes that it was all over. They left runner after runner on base and in scoring position and nothing was going to change that now. Another questionable move by Garner was why he used Bagwell to pinch hit with no one on in the 7th instead of saving him for later when there could be a runner on, say like in the 9th? The Astros, including their manager, just seemed happy to be there.

The White Sox made all the big plays and had the big hits when they needed them. How about the defensive play of Juan Uribe? That guy has an absolute gun! The last out two outs in the 9th and the last out of the 8th were all spectacular plays. His catch of Burke’s foul ball going into the stands was, dare I say, Jeter-esk. And MVP Jermaine Dye hit a robust .440 for the series, including the game winning RBI in Game 4.

The games were close, but the series wasn’t. The Astros rarely looked to be in control, even when they had the lead. And the somewhat unentertaining series not surprisingly became the lowest rated ever series ever. So the ChiSox break their ‘curse’ of 88 years since last winning it all while the Astros hope it doesn’t take them 44 more years to get back to the Series. At least Biggio and Bagwell finally got to the series though they are long past their prime when their production could have helped make a difference.

Here’s one last rendition of World Series second-guessing.

party time

over and out

What can you say? How many unlikely heroes can one team have? First Pods and now former Astro Geoff Blum? Aside from Roof-gate which didn’t seem to impact the game at all, the Astros even got the close calls to go their way this time, like Jason Lane’s should be double that was called a HR in the fourth. Even with the roof open, the crowd sounded as loud as ever until the White Sox took the lead in the 5th. It was loud, very loud early when the Astros were leading and very quiet when they got behind. Every pan into the stands from the 9th inning on was of Astro fans quietly praying that they didn't lose, not cheering for a win. And just when it looked like Ezequiel Astacio had gotten out of a potential jam with Ensberg snagging Konerko’s screamer down the 3rd base line and turning two, up steps light hitting Geoff Blum. Astacio actually looked like he made a pretty decent pitch, very low and in, and it took quite a swing for Blum just to get the ball elevated enough to clear the right field fence, but clear it he did. And so went the hopes of all Astros fans. I was hoping Houston could at least win last night to make the series interesting. Its now over after tonight, probably in blow-out fashion, you heard it here first... and even with all the fuss made during the day, the roof had nothing to do with it.

Of significant note, Phil Garner's demeanor during the whole game looked as if he was uncomfortable and unsure if his team could win that game. He didn't seem confident about anything, whereas Ozzie Guillen seemed to have faith in his team throughout. And then after the game, he rips his team for its lack of hitting. Umm, Phil, newsflash here, you're team hasn't hit all year!

What would the day after be without a little more second-guessing from our friends at ESPN Page 2? My biggest question to Phil Garner is, how many batters and how many runs do you give up in a ‘must win’ game before taking a non-sharp Oswalt out of the game, even if it is the 5th inning.

Some interesting facts from Game 3...
-Geoff Blum was traded from the Astros for Game 4 starter Brandon Backe.
-Both teams stranded 15 runners on base.
-Houston had only 1 hit after the 4th inning.
-The Astros had 10 base runners from the 8th inning thru the 14th and only scored 1 run.

Blum's HR

It seems that Air Force football coach Fisher DeBerry has just figured out something the rest of the world has known for quite some time now. While expressing frustration Tuesday with the Falcons' dismal performance, DeBerry attributed the latest loss in part to TCU's having more black players who "can run very, very well.” “It just seems to be that way, that Afro-American kids can run very, very well. That doesn't mean that Caucasian kids and other descents can't run, but it's very obvious to me they run extremely well," said DeBerry. Not that anyone can really argue that point, but in this overly politically correct world, comments like that, as true as they may be, will get you in trouble.

Could the BcS be any more of a sham than it already is? Dropping USC from the top spot proves its unworthiness and lack of credibility as Kevin Blackistone points out.

A small footnote in the headlines today, Sheryl Swoops has ‘freed herself’ by coming out of the closet, meaning she’s a lesbo, greeeeat.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

roof gate, part 2

This just in from the DMN, the roof at the Juice Box, aka Minute Maid Park, is currently open and will remain open tonight for World Series Game 3. And here's how they feel about the roof down in Houston, unscientifically speaking, of course.

its open...

'roof gate'

The roof issue in Houston is becoming a big story leading up to Game 3. The Astros are pissed that MLB is wanting it open and one would think they should be able to choose, being it is their home field and all. I think this is more of a power struggle than anything though as I dont see the roof, open or closed, having an impact on the outcome of the game. As it appears MLB has jurisdiction here (why, I dont know), my money is on the roof being open tonight.

This isn't the first time a retractable roof has come under scrutiny. Sandy Alderson created a precedent on World Series roof issues by ordering Arizona to have its roof open for all four games during the World Series of 2001. The Diamondbacks were coming home after two crushing defeats down 3-2 in the series. But I dont recall Schilling, Johnson or Luis González whining about the roof. The Astros should stop making an issue of the roof and realize they can get back in the series if they start concentrating on the game instead.

Monday, October 24, 2005

some monday musings...

* Does anybody else find it annoying that Seahawks kicker Josh Brown can nail field goals of 55 and 50 yards (the latter being a game-winner as time expired, no less) but that Jose Cortez missed a 29-yarder for the Cowboys?

* Who didn't predict that Cortez would be cut today?

* You can't blame Dallas’ defense for this loss, they played a great game.

* Cows quarterback Vince Young is good. He's just not as good as the other Heisman Trophy candidates – USC’s Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart.

* Is it just me or does Texas’ band look like greeters at Sizzler?

* Texas Tech was indeed a very over-rated football team.

* What did the White Sox do with reliever Bobby Jenks? That sure didn't look like the same guy on the mound as in Game 1.

* What was Lou Rawls’ singing during his 'rendition' of The Star-Spangled Banner before Game 2 of the World Series, haven't heard it that bad since Rosanne.

is the rocket grounded

Phil Garner isn't sure if Roger Clemens will be available for Game 5, assuming of course, there is a Game 5. Here's an interesting read from Keith Olbermann. Not sure if he's insinuating that the Rocket isn't really that hurt or that he's not the stud post-season pitcher he's made out to be... maybe both.

And some more fun second guessing from David Schoenfield and Rob Neyer on ESPN Page2.

Apparantly the roof is now part of the home field advanatage. MLB wants it open but the Astros prefer it closed.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

houston, we have a problem

First Pujols, now Podsednik? No, really, Scott Podsednik? Possibly the most unlikely player on the White Sox to hit a walk off HR, Podsednik took Brad Lidge deep on a 2-1 fastball and just like that Houston is down 0-2. Ironically, just before the pitch that Pods, as his teammate call him, deposited in the right-center field bleachers, the Fox announcing crew asked hypothetically if Lidge would still be thinking about the bomb Pujols jacked off him in Game 5 of the NLCS. The banter went something like this: ‘So, many wondered why Garner didn’t bring Lidge in to pitch in Game 6 against St. Louis to get him back on the mound right away even though Houston was up big in the game. Do you think Lidge still has a bad taste in his mouth from that Pujols homer? Nah, he doesn’t have any taste right now ‘ Then bang, there she went. Game over.

There were plenty of storylines and momentum shifts in this game; the Astros fielding problems in the 2nd, the Dye HBP, the Sox 0-8 hitting with runners in scoring position prior to the Konerko at-bat (coincidentally, they showed the stat right before the at-bat), then his dramatic grand slam (only the 5th in W.S. history coming in the 7th inning or later), the 9th inning, 2 out, 2 RBI slap base hit by Vizcaino and finally Podsednik’s walk-off shot, only the 14th game winning HR in series history.

Now only elimination games are truly ‘must win’ games but for all practical purposes, Game 3 in Houston is a must win game for the Astros. Go down 0-3 and its time to dust off the golf clubs. Fortunately for the Astros, they will have their ace on the mound in Roy Oswalt. The bad news is, Jon Garland has been clutch for Chicago in the playoffs and now Houston has to be wondering if they get a 1 or 2 run lead late in a game, can they close it out? Is Lidge still the guy you bring in? It will be a long flight home to Houston tonight.

Konerko's slam

Pods game winner

deja vu?

game on

Even though Joe Crede had the game winning RBI with his HR in the fourth, the game was won by the White Sox pitching. Contreras did an outstanding job through 7 with Cotts and Jenks nailing it down. The 'Stros had runners on 1st and 3rd with no outs in the 8th and not only could they not get a ball in the outfield to tie the game, they didn't even put one in play as Ensberg, Lamb (why isn't Burke pinch hitting here?) and Bagwell all struck out swinging, blown away by fastballs. After adding an insurance run in the bottom of the 8th, Houston went down easily in order in the 9th.

Its always fun to second guess when a team loses. Here’s an article from ESPN with some questionable calls made by Phil Garner during Game 1 of the World Series. Game 2 pits Buehrle against Pettitte in some cold rainy weather in Chicago. Look for another low scoring game.

Crede's Game 1 winner

Saturday, October 22, 2005

world series prediction

So here’s my World Series breakdown and prediction:
Starting Pitching: White Sox
Bullpen: Astros
Closer: Even
Offense: Slight Edge White Sox
Bench: White Sox
Manager: Slight Edge Astros
Intangibles: White Sox

Look for several close games as both teams will look to manufactur runs and hope their pitching can hold the lead. I see Chicago holding serve at home for the first two games and then taking game four on the road before closing it out at home in game 6.

Keith Olbermann's view.

Friday, October 21, 2005

high school football roundup

A quick look at the top local area h/s football matchups:

*Keller (3-4) at Carroll (7-0) – the #1 team in the nation should have this put away before halftime (5 of Carroll’s last 24 games have been televised either regionally or nationally)
*Highland Park (7-0) at Wylie (6-1) – would be a big upset to see Wylie pull off a win
*Woodrow Wilson (7-0) at Hillcrest (5-2) – could be closer than some may think
*Trinity (7-0) at Irving (4-3) – should be another run away for the Trojans
*Hebron (7-0) at Frisco (5-2) – Hebron wins easy here

Tre' Newton of SL Carroll

In action last night…
Undefeated SGP took on undefeated MacArthur in Irving as both teams put on quite a defensive show. Three turnovers doomed SGP who eventually lost 3-0. Worth noting are the 3 missed field goals by SGP, one a 20 yarder that was blocked. Lots of missed chances there.

Newman Smith lost another close game, this time to Richardson Pearce. NS lead or was tied for the lead throughout until Pearce RB Zach Plinario scored with 3:03 left in the game to put Pearce up for good 30-23. Smith QB Adam Jones threw for 280 yds and 2 TDs.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

houston, we have liftoff

After 44 years of existence, the Astros have finally made the World Series. That leaves only 5 teams that have not made an appearance, one of which being the Texas Rangers. So looking at the teams that were ousted from the playoffs, its become obvious that pitching has won out over hitting (see Boston, New York, St. Louis). The White Sox/Astros match up appears pretty even with probably a slight edge in offense and starting pitching to Chitown and the bullpen/closer advantage going to Houston. I see a low scoring series throughout going six games… I’ll wait to divulge who I think will win. Who would have thought that this team which got swept in Arlington by the Rangers in late May would find itself in the World Series.

Oswalt was unhittable most of the night.

Zam, are you in there somewhere? ;)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

some minor rants

Lots of grumbling about the SI reporter, Michael Bamberger, who turned in Michelle Wie’s infraction last weekend. You do the crime, you do the time as they say. Whether it was intentional or not isn’t a factor. Some say Bamberger should have said something sooner, as in that day. Yeah, maybe so. There could be numerous reasons why he didn’t though. Maybe he wasn’t really sure there was a violation, just a possibility at first so he wasn’t sure what to do. Maybe he had a deadline to meet? Maybe he just plain forgot for a bit? In any case, even if he brings it up later that same day, if Wie has signed her card already, she’s DQ’d. You live and learn. She should have called a rules official over and then this is all moot. In any case, blaming Bamberger for Wie’s mistake is wrong. Is it the radar gun’s fault when an officer is writing you that speeding ticket?

How does an intelligent person come to the conclusion that David Stern’s dress code policy is a racial thing? Its not like he’s only enforcing it only on the non-white athletes. Granted there are more minorities in the No Bling Allowed League than whites, but neither the policy nor the league is discriminating in any way. I don’t understand why such trivial things cause people to play the race card. Some of the players are saying they should get stipends to pay for the required clothes. Are you serious? You make millions in a year and you can’t afford a $50 pair of pants and a shirt without gang signs? Give me a couple grand and I’ll take care of it for ya.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

feast or famine

They've had a day to think about it. A day for it to soak in. And also a day to be asked repeatedly by the media all about the 9th inning collapse. Do Brad Lidge and the Astros bounce back and buck history, which tells us devistating losses tend to linger, or do they cave and watch the Cards win two at home just like last year? Oswalt is the better pitcher in his matchup with Mulder though both pitched well in game 2. The question will be have the Cards bats woken up. I think Houston needs to score first and early to avoid a hangover from Monday. If the Cards get the lead, look for a game 7 with the pressure shifting squarely on Houston.

yep Brad, its gone

wishing he'd pitched to Edmonds?

Monday, October 17, 2005

zam, i feel your pain...

I’m not an Astro fan. Never have been. Not a fan of any Houston team. But I was rooting for the Astros tonight, rooting for a Texas team to finally reach the World Series. Lord knows the Rangers never have, never been that close either. But being a Dallasite causes one to root for our teams and against those in Houston and San Antonio. So to say the least, I’m not a big fan and don’t really know many of the players. But tonight things were different.

I had already typed most of the post, a comment to Zam, a die-hard Astro fan, congratulating her and the Astros for finally making the Series. For she had called it earlier in the day. When Lance Berkman hit his 3-run job in the 7th, I thought to myself, must be women’s intuition. Then it happened and a sudden hush came over Astro-nation.

Needing just one strike to get that last out, suddenly things changed. I was ready to publish my comment as Eckstein batted. There were two outs, no one on and David Eckstein was in a 1-2 hole and I thought it was over. Eckstein’s a good contact hitter, so I wasn’t thinking strikeout here, but probably a defensive swing resulting in a ground out somewhere… except the ground out found a hole on the left side. No biggie right? Then Jim Edmonds almost gets plunked and I’m thinking you really don’t wanna face Albert Pujols as the go ahead run. You had to know Edmonds might be taking at 2-1 and then for sure at 3-1 and Brad Lidge just couldn’t throw the strike he needed. He really hadn’t look that sharp even in getting the first two outs. Jimmy takes the walk and the raucous crowd quieted a little, almost as if they new something bad was going to happen.

So here comes Fat Albert. The man you don’t want to face in this situation if you’re the Astros. Pujols is going to be the NL MVP, probably should have already won it at least once before. He’s batting .429 in the series entering the game but was 0-4 on the night. Hmm, think he’s due? Lidge makes a good first pitch and gets Albert to miss on a very good splitter in the dirt to get ahead 0-1. Maybe the best pitch he threw all night… followed by the worst pitch. Lidge hung one right in the wheelhouse and Pujols hit it as far as I’ve seen a ball hit in Minute Maid Park. I swear that ball was still going up when it hit up in the rafters above the tracks in left field. Talk about hushing a stadium. They were ready to celebrate, time to pop the corks. Then everything changed. Jason Isringhausen closed out the ninth in easy fashion, and you have to wonder if in the back of Houston’s mind they are thinking about last year when they went back to St. Louis in need of just one win and came up empty as the Cards went on to the Series. Are the Astros thinking here we go again? For Zam and all of Astro-nation’s sake, lets hope not.

Quite a shot by Pujols. (is Ausmus grabbing his ass?)

weekend roundup

USC/ND – What can you say, probably one of the best college football games in my generation, maybe ever. Too bad I had to miss the 4th quarter and had to see it in just highlights. :/

So what will the BcS come out with today? When speaking of the insane college football championship game process, its best to just call it the BS system, as it is more apt to apply. USC obviously deserves to be #1 and should stay there unless beaten. As for who’s next, well pick a team from Texas, Virginia Tech, Georgia and Alabama, though personally I feel that the Hokies and the Shorthorns probably should be given the most consideration for that second spot. But how do you separate them if they both finish undefeated? Well in the BS world, you don’t. Its called a playoff, something every other major college sport has except Division I-A football. As always, the reasons for not having one revolve solely around money, college football pays the bills.

Ok, it’s out now… and Texas Tech is #7… wow! There’s an endorsement for scheduling all cream puffs for pre-conference if I’ve ever seen one. It makes me laugh to even think that some poll believes Tech is the 7th best team in the country, let alone, the 'great' BcS. With whom they've played, Tech shouldn’t be even sniffing a BCS bowl.

More to come… some pro action.

Sunday, October 9, 2005

christmas comes early for tech

Bonehead play of the week goes to: Le Kevin Smith of the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Smith, the Huskers nose tackle, intercepted a tipped Cody Hodges pass inside the 10 yd line with 1:11 left in the game and Nebraska up 31-27 over Texas Tech. Instead of just going down, guaranteeing the win, Smith decided to run with the ball, immediately fumbling as soon as he was hit. Tech then recovered the fumble and converted a subsequent 4th and 2 for the game winning TD. Congrats Smith, on quite possibly the stupidest play of the year and earning the Huskers not only their first loss of the year but also their first homecoming loss since 1968!

On a separate note, Texas Tech has to be one of the most over-rated ranked teams in the nation. 13th best in the country? No way, not even close! Until the game in Lincoln, which they should have lost, Tech had yet to play a quality opponent. It wont be long before the real Tech is made apparent.

pro picks

Tough games to pick today with injuries and all. After a good Saturday (13-8), the early games are slim pickings, but for entertainment purposes only, we’ll go with:

Tenn +3 over Houston
Cleve/Chi Under 35
TB -3 over Jets
Miami +3 over Buffalo
Miami/Buff Under 35
St. Louis -3 over Seattle
Cleveland -3 over Chicago

and for the late games:
Indy -15 over SF
Dallas +3 over Phily (a homer pick I know)
Carolina +2' over Arizona
Indy/SF Over 45

Saturday, October 8, 2005

friday night wrap up

As expected, the Dragons took it to Haltom, 69-7, with just a missed extra point keeping them from cracking 70 points. Haltom’s only score was on a 50 yd interception return in the 4th quarter. Denton Ryan is up next.

The over-achieving Mac Cardinals escaped with another close victory over Irving 21-14, intercepting a pass in the end zone to preserve the win. MacArthur is an over-rated team which will become apparent when the face Trinity and SGP in the upcoming weeks.

Plano is looking like the Plano of old, beating up Allen 45-7.

And last but not least, the Newman Smith Trojans opened up a can of whoop-ass on the RL Turner Lions, 56-31. The game wasn’t close the whole way as the Trojans opened up a 3 TD lead in the first quarter. Three of the Lions TDs came in the 4th quarter, the last of which came on the last play of the game.

As a side note, there was some serious t p-ing going on Friday night, with cheerleaders being the main targets... not that I know anything about that. :)

Thursday, October 6, 2005

high school football

A little high school football as the week winds down. The 5-0 Southlake Carroll Dragons, ranked No.1 in the state and No. 2 in the nation, play 4-1 Haltom Friday night at Dragon Stadium. The Buffalos only loss was a 24-21 setback on the road at Grapevine where the Buffs missed a game tying 27 yd field goal as time expired.  The Dragons are averaging 50 points per game on offense, but look for Southlake to surpass that and run it up some in preparation for rival Denton Ryan next week, where they will want to be firing on all cylinders.

Other games of note include:
4-1 Irving at 5-0 MacArthur
5-0 Plano at 4-1 Allen
1-4 RL Turner at 1-4 Newman Smith (battle for the cellar in 10-5A)

Wednesday, October 5, 2005

random musings from the baseball playoffs…

* The Redsox let one slip away today and are now must win 3 straight from the Palehose, doable, though unlikely with the current state of Bosox pitching… you could hear a collective sigh from Redsox Nation when Graffanino let the ball trickle under his glove.

* The Braves could do nothing against Pettitte today and now must face Clemens tomorrow in a virtual must win game or go to Houston down 0-2.

* Did Atlanta look old today against the ‘Stros, or was it just me?

* Morgan Ensberg had a great game with 5 RBI.

* The Angels blew several chances on Tuesday but made amends tonight with a big win. And they’ve got a good shot to be Randy Johnson on Friday to go up 2-1.

* The Padres are in the process of getting swept in easy fashion by the Cards.

* One hockey note, talk about opening up the game! The Kings had a 3-0 lead on the Stars barely 5 minutes into the game and were up 4-0 after the 1st. In years past, that’s game over, but it was 4-3 after the 2nd and then in the 3rd the Stars pulled out a wild comeback with 2 goals for the 5-4 win.

Monday, October 3, 2005

window or aisle seat

So Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees aren’t happy with Buck Showalter and the Rangers… isn’t that just too damn bad! Now A-Rod is really just about the only Yankee I like, but many of the New York Yankees, led by the whining of Rodriguez, are upset that Buck took out Michael Young, Mark Teixeira and Hank Blalock in the 3rd inning of Sunday’s game against Anaheim. Showalter pulled each in succession after they reached base to recognize each and allow the fans to acknowledge their great year of all three. The Rangers loss to the Angels combined with the Yankees being blown out by Boston allowed Anaheim to have home field advantage in the first round match-up between New York and Anaheim. Just a thought here, but if New York starts Mike Mussina instead of Jaret Wright on Sunday as originally planned, maybe they don’t get blasted out of Fenway Park in the first inning causing them to totally give up the rest of the game. Don’t blame the Rangers when you can’t even take care of your own business! Another thought for Torre and his Spankees, how bout winning a few more games against Tampa Bay?!?! They went 8-11 vs. the second worst team in the AL. All that with a $200M payroll, more than double any other teams… Cry me a river A-Rod, just try not to let it ruin your MVP year.