Monday, October 31, 2005

Arizona Granted Fourth Quarter Lead For Saturday's Game

Pac-10 officials announced today that Arizona will lead UCLA by 14 points heading into the fourth quarter of their game on Saturday.  The decision is considered a formality, as the Bruins have faced double-digit fourth quarter deficits in four of their five conference matchups thus far.


“We’re making this determination now to benefit the fans,” noted a league spokesman.  “At this point, they know that the first three quarters of a UCLA football game are irrelevant.  We’re giving them the opportunity to run errands and take care of personal business during that portion of the game.  They’ll have time to get home and see if the Bruins can stage another miracle comeback.”


UCLA set the tone for such comebacks in its league opener versus downtrodden Washington, whose media guide proclaims, “Not since the heyday of grunge has pessimism been so trendy in Seattle.”  However, the Bruins trailed 17–7 after three quarters.  The hosts rallied for a 21–17 victory, capped by Maurice Drew’s touchdown run with 1:08 remaining.  A step up in class the next week against California yielded the same result.  Overcoming a 40–28 fourth quarter deficit, UCLA took the lead for good with 1:35 remaining on a touchdown reception by Drew.


Those rallies were a mere warmup for the comebacks at Washington State and Stanford.  Trailing 38–21 after three quarters in Pullman, UCLA tied the game in the last minute of regulation and triumphed in overtime after a touchdown run by, of course, Maurice Drew.  This past Saturday, just for kicks, the Bruins fell behind 24–3 with 8:26 remaining.  Again they tied the contest in the final minute of regulation (on a touchdown run by – say it with me – Maurice Drew).  The overtime victory was a foregone conclusion.  Cardinal fans were despondent over the collapse and for having a tree as a mascot.


The only conference opponent who has not followed this pattern is Oregon State.  UCLA trounced the Beavers 51–28, with no late rally necessary.  The league is investigating why Oregon State failed to live up to its role.  Sanctions may result for head coach Mike Riley and the OSU program.


Interestingly, the much-anticipated USC-UCLA matchup on December 3 poses difficult questions for Pac-10 officials.  On numerous occasions this season, the Trojans have treated the first half with indifference before taking control in the second half.  Reportedly, the league office is leaning toward skipping the first half of the showdown in the Coliseum.


Arizona head coach Mike Stoops appealed the league ruling, but his request was denied.  The Wildcats have no choice but to accept their fourth quarter lead.  Stoops knows that his team is doomed as a result.  He has two options on how to proceed.  One is to accept the ruling and use the inevitable fourth quarter rally by UCLA as a character-building lesson for his team.  The other option is to kidnap Maurice Drew.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Preseason College Basketball Poll Analysis

On Friday, the USA Today/ESPN Top 25 college basketball coaches’ poll was released.  Here are some thoughts on each of the top 10 teams.


10.  Kentucky:  Wildcat supporters are antsy to reach their first Final Four since 1998.  Way back when Ashley Judd wasn’t known solely as “the hottie Kentucky fan.”

9.  Arizona:  Wildcats, part 2.  The nation’s longest current NCAA tournament streak (21 seasons) is safe.  Then again, you’d think the same about a 15–point lead with four minutes remaining.

8.  Louisville:  One of the new members of the expanded Big East.  Unconfirmed reports claim that authorities have located a man who can name every member of the conference.

7.  Gonzaga:  Has become the latter-day UNLV: a fixture in the rankings from a mid-major conference.  Just without the hot tub scandals.  And “Viva Spokane!” doesn’t have the same ring to it.

6.  Oklahoma:  The pollsters don’t actually know if the Sooners are this good.  They were just shocked to see OU out of the top 10 in football and did their part to compensate.

5.  Michigan State:  Avid college hoops fans know that the Spartans have been to four Final Fours in seven years.  Otherwise, most people outside of Michigan think that Izzo was Stockard Channing’s character in “Grease.”

4.  Villanova:  The Wildcats (does everyone in this poll have that nickname?) are in the unusual position of facing heavy expectations.  Fortunately, Philly sports fans don’t put much pressure on the local teams.

3.  Texas:  I can’t understand the fuss about the USC-Texas debate.  The Trojans were last in the Pac-10 last year.

2.  Connecticut:  You thought I’d take the lazy route and just write UConn, didn’t you?  Anyway, the backcourt leads the nation in steals, spending more time IN court than on the court.

1.  Duke:  Finally, some long-overdue recognition for the plucky upstarts from Durham.  I was wondering when they’d actually get some media attention.  Dick Vitale cannot continue to ignore this team and its low-profile coach.


The defending champs are conspicuous by their absence.  Somehow the one point and four rebounds contributed by UNC’s returnees in the national title game failed to sway the voters.  So who will emerge victorious in Indianapolis?  How should I know – am I supposed to see the future?  If I could, wouldn’t I have made millions from gambling by now?  I’ll just have to wait and see like everyone else.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Tampa Bay Changes Name To Devil Sox

After purchasing the Tampa Bay Devil Rays earlier this month, new owner Stuart Sternberg announced that he would consider a change to the club’s nickname.  The World Series title for the White Sox, on the heels of last year’s championship for the Red Sox, led to an obvious choice.  Sternberg’s team will now be known as the Devil Sox.


“Clearly it’s the right time to capitalize on the Sox trend,” noted Sternberg.  “Last year the Red Sox ended a long drought by sweeping the World Series.  The White Sox accomplished the same feat this season.  I might as well order the World Series rings for the Devil Sox right now.”  Some observers pointed out that the champions from Boston and Chicago had been waiting over 80 years for a title.  However, Sternberg responded that due to Arizona’s 2001 World Series victory, his long-suffering club is the only franchise that entered the major leagues in 1998 and still does not have a title.


The announcement was met with skepticism around the major leagues.  A fellow owner even mocked Sternberg for his decision.  “I can’t imagine changing a franchise’s name to one that will just invite ridicule,” remarked Arte Moreno, owner of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.


Perhaps Sternberg is engaging in wishful thinking, but any change has to be good for this franchise.  Tampa Bay is coming off a 70–91 season – the best campaign in the entire existence of the Devil Rays.  The club is somehow less famous than its AAA affiliate, the Durham Bulls.  The only memorable moment in the Devil Rays’ history was the 3000th hit for Wade Boggs in 1999.  Boggs is far better-known for winning batting titles with the Red Sox, celebrating on horseback after a Yankees’ World Series title, and allegedly downing 64 beers on a cross-country flight.


However, if the Devil Sox defy the skeptics and reach the Fall Classic, the odds could be in their favor against the National League adversary.  The Rays did have a 13–game inter-league winning streak in 2004.  Also, teams that play in domes (excluding retractable roof facilities) have never lost a World Series.  Indeed, the roof at Tropicana Field cannot be opened, so the controversy encountered this year in Houston will not be an issue.  The only possible objection from the league office is if commissioner Bud Selig decides that the venue is “just too crappy for our showcase event.”


The announcement has immediately sparked buzz in Tampa Bay.  2006 season ticket orders have already doubled from the 2005 total of 28.  Many local fans even claim that they will consider watching Devil Sox games over “Matlock.”  They know that it is time for a World Series in their town.  First the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl.  Then the Lightning skated off with the Stanley Cup.  Next, 2006 will once again be the year of the Sox.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Lessons From Philly

Sunday the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the San Diego Chargers 20–17 in a dramatic contest at Lincoln Financial Field.  Here are a few things we learned from this game.


The Chargers desperately need a running back.  The guy they had in the backfield rushed for only 7 yards on 17 carries.  Some very confused broadcasters referred to him as LT, but we all know that LT is in the Hall of Fame and consistently dominated the Eagles when he played.  Look for San Diego to start a new back next week.


Records held by Reading High School alumni are unbreakable.  It has been brought to my attention that the Chargers running back (apparently named Tomlinson) actually did pretty well in other games, scoring a touchdown in a record-tying 18 consecutive contests.  However, after the Eagles kept him out of the end zone, he still shares the record with Baltimore Colts great Lenny Moore.  Like myself, Moore is a Reading High School graduate, so I have the rare opportunity to work the alma mater into the blog.  Go Red Knights!


Hernias are good for setting records.  Donovan McNabb, playing through a sports hernia that will require surgery, set a team record with 35 completions.  This milestone was achieved in large part due to the next lesson…


The Eagles have removed runs from the playbook.  McNabb threw 54 passes, while Philadelphia only had 14 rushing attempts.  Excluding McNabb’s scrambles and kneel-downs, that number falls to 10.  Except for Brian Westbrook, look for all running backs to be dropped from the Eagles’ roster.


Crossing the country to beat a Super Bowl team once is a cakewalk.  Twice is pushing it.  On October 2, the Chargers routed the Patriots 41–17 in New England.  They were not able to accomplish the double in Philly.


NFL wide receivers want to be waiters.  After scoring the first touchdown of the game, Terrell Owens pulled out a towel and acted as though he were “serving” the ball to a customer in an upscale restaurant.  Chargers receiver Keenan McCardell mimicked this action after he caught a touchdown pass of his own.  So, if NFL wide receivers want to be waiters, and waiters want to be actors, then actors want to be NFL wide receivers.  Why not?  It got Cuba Gooding, Jr. an Oscar.


Playing college football is overrated.  San Diego’s star tight end Antonio Gates had eight catches for 72 yards and a touchdown.  Gates did play in college – basketball for Kent State.  However, he never played football for the Golden Flashes.  No matter what sport, he apparently favors teams with electrical nicknames.


False fire alarms are great for fourth quarter rallies.  With the Chargers leading 17–13 in the fourth quarter, an alarm was tripped on the club suite level.  As a result, a voice came over the public address system, requesting those present to exit in an orderly fashion.  What could possibly go wrong when a false alarm goes off in a stadium filled with 67,000 tense fans, many of them intoxicated?  In any case, the Eagles’ rally may lead to a tradition of false alarms when trailing at home in the fourth quarter.  As the Angels used the Rally Monkey, the Eagles will rely on the False Alarm Ferret.


Never rely on a perfect kicker in the last three minutes.  San Diego led 17–13 with 2:37 remaining when it lined up for a 40–yard field goal attempt.  Kicker Nate Kaeding had converted all 11 field goal attempts and all 22 extra-point attempts this season.  Naturally, Philadelphia blocked the kick and returned it for the winning touchdown.  Who didn’t see that coming?


I hope these lessons have helped you.  There’s no need to thank me – just pass along the knowledge to others.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Thomas Added To White Sox Bullpen

The south side of Chicago is abuzz with the White Sox hosting game one of the World Series on Saturday.  The club’s first American League championship since 1959 had just one downside.  Long-time White Sox star Frank Thomas missed the playoffs and most of the regular season with an injured ankle.  However, the club ensured that the Big Hurt will realize his dream of being on a World Series roster by adding him to the bullpen for the series.


Although surprising, the move does make sense given the inactivity of White Sox relievers during the American League Championship Series.  The bullpen pitched a total of 2/3 of an inning during the entire five-game series.  Unconfirmed reports claim that three White Sox relievers did not even show up for game five in Anaheim, instead opting for a day at Disneyland.  Therefore, the ceremonial addition of Thomas to the roster will not be at the expense of someone who is actually doing something.


Some may question the logic of this decision.  However, they will not criticize manager Ozzie Guillen directly, because he swears a lot and can be quite scary.  Guillen reports that Thomas will take the place of Dustin Hermanson, who has not pitched in a game since September 30 against Cleveland.  “Hermanson has been stealing money for three weeks!,” ranted the White Sox skipper.  Luis Vizcaino is another reliever who has not seen action in the postseason, but Guillen opted not to replace him on the roster with Ron Kittle.


The only potential risk is if a game goes deep into extra innings and Thomas is forced into use.  The Astros already played an 18–inning contest during the Division Series, and they had the luxury of inserting Roger Clemens late in that classic.  If necessity dictates use of the Big Hurt, the White Sox’ best hope is that he will take so long limping to the mound from the bullpen, the Houston batters will be lulled to sleep.


Most World Series observers feel that the Astros have superior relief pitching due to the presence of Brad Lidge.  However, the National Leaguers do not have a two-time MVP in their bullpen.  For Frank Thomas, his Fall Classic moment has arrived at last.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Senators Seek Nominee's Views on East Coast Bias

Today it was announced that confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers will begin on November 7.  Because Miers has never been a judge, an air of mystery surrounds her stance on numerous issues.  As is the case with all high court nominees, senators will particularly scrutinize her philosophy regarding the hot-button topic in American society: the sports media’s east coast bias.


The emphasis on this issue is clear.  Of all the 100 senators, the one scheduled to meet with Miers today is Republican Jim Bunning from Kentucky.  Bunning was a Hall of Fame pitcher in the major leagues.  Therefore, he knows how important the east coast bias subject is in comparison to trifling issues such as abortion and affirmative action.  Miers stands a good chance of earning Bunning’s support, unless she cracks jokes about the horrendous collapse of his 1964 Phillies.


In the landmark 1958 case of O’Malley v. Brooklyn, the Supreme Court ruled that east coast bias was unconstitutional.  Although the high court has not overturned this ruling, the debate has raged ever since.  Supporters of the decision trumpet it as one that champions equality to athletes across the nation.  Dissenters counter that New York teams are more important than anyone else and should always be the focus of the sports media’s attention.  They also contend that many west coast games are played too late at night to be of interest.


Although this issue seems to leave little room for gray area, a moderate group has also emerged.  These fans support east coast bias in general, but allow for heavy coverage of an occasional west coast powerhouse such as the USC football team.  However, this group will seldom be heard from on cable news scream-fests.


One of the central points on the east coast bias issue is the original intent of the Founding Fathers.  Supporters argue that the framers of the Constitution were firmly in favor of east coast bias.  “The original 13 states were all on the east coast,” noted one advocate to this side.  “So the Founding Fathers were definitely pro-east coast bias.”  A detractor countered, “Most of our favorite sports hadn’t been invented in 1787.  You’re an idiot.”


The retirement of Sandra Day O’Connor, an Arizona native and Stanford graduate, has brought anxiety to backers of the O’Malley decision.  Miers is a Texas native who conceivably could go either way on the issue.  On the one hand, she is a trusted adviser to President Bush, one-time owner of the American League West’s Texas Rangers.  However, the Lone Star State’s marquee sports franchise, the Dallas Cowboys, play in the NFC East.  The American public will demand to know where she stands.


In the coming weeks, Miers will face scrutiny like she has never encountered before.  The confirmation hearings are sure to bring tremendous stress into her life.  Perhaps a former Redskins star will advise her as he did to Justice O’Connor: “Loosen up, Harri baby.  You’re too tight.”

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Coca-Cola Giddy Over Rodriguez, Guerrero Pepsi Ad

The White Sox have advanced to their first World Series since 1959. Monday, the Astros can earn their first-ever birth in the Fall Classic. However, despite the first round exit of the Braves, the biggest postseason winner calls Atlanta home. Coca-Cola executives are delighted with the heavy rotation of Pepsi’s commercial with Alex Rodriguez and Vladimir Guerrero.


Rodriguez faced the brunt of Yankee fans’ criticism after the club’s division series loss to the Angels. The likely American League MVP had just two hits in 15 at-bats and failed to drive in a run during the series. His futility was best exemplified by his ninth inning double play in the decisive fifth game.


Likewise, Guerrero endured much adversity during the playoffs. Although his Angels triumphed in the first round, he failed to drive in a run versus the Yankees. His ALCS performance was downright miserable, with one hit in 20 at-bats. With no contribution from the 2004 American League MVP, the Angels fell to Chicago in five games.


The struggles of these two superstars, noted a Coca-Cola spokesman, prove that “Pepsi is a drink for chokers. When viewers watch these guys perform miserably, then see them drinking Pepsi, what other conclusion can they reach?”  The spokesman suggested some additional ideas he thought would be perfect for his rival cola. One involved a Coca-Cola can rolling through Bill Buckner’s legs before he manages to snag a Pepsi. Another possibility featured Chris Webber calling a time-out to drink a Pepsi.


In contrast, the spokesman invoked a famous Coca-Cola commercial involving an athlete.  “What did Mean Joe Greene ever win? Only four Super Bowls! And he shows he’s a sweet guy when he gives the kid his jersey.”  On the other hand, the spokesman continued, “Guerrero shatters the moon in his ad, depriving the earth of its largest satellite. What a selfish jerk!”


Coca-Cola has declined to purchase advertising time during the World Series. Reaping the rewards of Pepsi’s efforts will do just nicely.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Hurricane Fears Cause Temple To Cancel

So far in 2005, incoming hurricanes have led to numerous reschedulings in college football.  Those actions have been taken primarily by schools near the Gulf Coast.  However, today a northeastern program has added itself to the list.  To avoid certain disaster, Temple has cancelled Saturday’s game versus the Miami Hurricanes.


Temple officials referred to the school’s history against Miami in explaining the decision.  A former Big East Conference foe, the Hurricanes won 12 straight lopsided matchups with the Owls, most recently a 52–14 rout in 2003.  Temple currently stands at 0–6, with two losses of more than 60 points.  Staring at the #7 team in the nation, the program faced carnage unimaginable to many.


The cancellation puts a damper on the school’s homecoming activities.  However, noted athletic director Bill Bradshaw, most students assumed that scheduling Miami as the homecoming opponent was just a prank.  All football season ticket holders were notified of the cancellation by telephone – a Herculean effort that required three employees to make six calls each.


The action comes amid a tumultuous week for the program.  On Monday, head coach Bobby Wallace announced he would not return after this season.  Wallace has faced an uphill climb during his eight seasons with a 19–66 record.  Gaining respect proved to be an insurmountable obstacle.  Particularly frustrating Wallace were the numerous press conferences in which university chancellor Peter Liacouras and other administrators repeatedly chuckled and made quote signs with their fingers when referring to Temple “football.”  Additionally, efforts by FEMA to relieve the program proved to be insufficient.  However, President Bush did assure the coach during a recent disaster relief visit, “Wally, I think you’re doing a heckuva job.”


Reached for comment, the president announced that he has called off his scheduled visit to Lincoln Financial Field after Saturday’s game.  However, he encouraged all Americans to donate what they could to the devastated Temple program.  He emphasized that the Owls were in particular need of offense, defense, and special teams.


Temple may have avoided the Hurricanes this weekend, but another fierce storm is brewing.  John Chaney starts basketball practice on Saturday.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Clemens vs. Devine

On Sunday, the Houston Astros eliminated the Atlanta Braves with an amazing 7–6 victory in 18 innings.  The result was not surprising, given the pitchers who ended the game.  Here is a comparison of the Astros’ Roger Clemens and the Braves’ Joey Devine.


Clemens:  Drafted in the first round by Boston in 1983

Devine:  Born in 1983


Clemens:  Has won 341 regular-season games in the major leagues

Devine:  Has won 0 regular-season games in the major leagues


Clemens:  Possesses nickname “The Rocket”

Devine:  Possesses name you’d expect from a strip club owner


Clemens:  Allowed second career grand slam in 17th major league season

Devine:  Allowed second career grand slam in second major league appearance


Clemens:  Earned $18 million this season

Devine:  Earned free buffalo wings on last visit to Hooters


Clemens:  Experienced great misery – watching Red Sox collapse in the 1986 World Series

Devine:  Experienced great misery – attending NC State


Clemens:  Has won 7 Cy Young Awards

Devine:  Sometimes sighs, and is young


Better days may lie ahead for Devine.  Clemens himself had to rebound from a postseason-ending loss in 2004.  Perhaps like the Rocket, the young Brave will respond in impressive fashion next season.  I just wouldn’t count on getting $18 million.

Friday, October 07, 2005

"Four Minutes" Part of ESPN's Campaign of Lies

As a writer, I take my responsibility to the readers very seriously.  When I see injustice done to the sports fans of America, I simply cannot pretend that all is well.  With that civic duty in mind, I am compelled to break this disturbing bit of news: ESPN has been lying to the American people.


In recent weeks, the ESPN family has relentlessly promoted Four Minutes, which first aired Thursday evening on ESPN2.  My research has uncovered a shocking truth: The so-called Four Minutes, in fact, runs for two hours.  I was not a math major, but I do know that 120 minutes are required to fill two hours.  So while millions of unsuspecting viewers planned to watch the program from 7:00 to 7:04pm, ESPN hijacked another 116 minutes of their time.  Never to be recovered.


Further investigation reveals a pattern of such blatantly false claims.  On Friday afternoon, Baseball Tonight will air at 3:30pm Eastern time.  You read that correctly – a program airing in the middle of the afternoon tries to pass itself off as being at night.  Similarly, the College Game “Day” crew has often provided commentary – brace yourself – in the evening!  Furthermore, NFL Live almost always airs when there is no live NFL action taking place.  The network of deception is simply disgraceful.


Saturday’s schedule contains a particularly egregious fabrication.  At noon Eastern time, ESPN Classic will carry the football game between Central Michigan and Army.  Exactly what is “classic” about the matchup of the 2–3 Chippewas and the 0–4 Black Knights?  Did Central Michigan’s win over the Akron Zips vault this contest into “classic” status?  I think not.


With no one holding it accountable for its deception, ESPN bills itself as “The worldwide leader in sports.”  However, there are plenty of nations around the world in which ESPN is not the sports leader.  For example, Al Jazeera Sports is the most popular sports channel in the Middle East.  You will never hear that news item from the fortress in Bristol.  At this point, I cannot trust anything I hear on SportsCenter.  The next time Stuart Scott says, “He’s as cool as the other side of the pillow,” I will assume that the other side of the pillow is, in fact, considerably cooler than that athlete.


I am sorry to have to break such ugly news to you.  However, I cannot sit passively and allow such treachery to go unchecked.  My personal safety is secondary to informing readers of the truth.  Some may call me a hero, but I’m just doing my job.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Vitale Comments On American League Playoffs

It’s still more than a month until college basketball begins, but Dick Vitale is always eager to be heard.  Yesterday he was asked for his analysis of the American League Division Series.  Here is an excerpt from that interview.


Interviewer:  Dickie V, the White Sox had the most victories in the American League, yet most observers view them as underdogs.  What do you think of their chances?

Vitale:  Oh, you gotta love the White Sox, baby!  They’re from Chicago, and you know who else is from the Windy City?  Coach K, baby!  So is his assistant, Chris Collins – somebody give that guy a head coaching job!  Are you serious?  Johnny Dawkins and Wojo on the same bench?  What an unbelievable coaching staff, baby!

Interviewer:  Yeah… uh, what about the Red Sox?  Will they be able to repeat?

Vitale:  I love the Red Sox too, baby, because “Red Sox” sounds like “Redick,” the best shooter in college basketball – bar none!  He’s automatic with the trifecta, baby…

Interviewer:  Okay, this interview has nothing to do with Duke.  Red Sox Nation wants to hear about David Ortiz, not J.J. Redick.

Vitale:  The Boston fans are special, but they can’t compete with the Cameron Crazies, baby!  I just love those wackos – 1800 on their SATs and they’re painting their faces and screaming like maniacs – you gotta love it, baby!

Interviewer:  First of all, you can’t score more than 1600 on the SAT.  Secondly, and most importantly, we’re supposed to be talking about BASEBALL!  Ugggh, what about the other series?  Will Randy Johnson and the Yankee pitching staff get the job done?

Vitale:  They call him the Big Unit, but you know who the REAL Big Unit is?  Sheldon Williams, baby!  He just owns the paint – a spectacular inside-outside combo with Mr. Redick!  And don’t forget about the diaper dandies Coach K brought in…

Interviewer:  For the love of God, if you go on for one more second about Duke, I’ll lose it!  Now… oh, why am I bothering… what about the Angels?

Vitale:  Vladimir Guerrero is a real PTPer, baby, a Rolls Roycer!  He’s super, scintillating, sensational!

Interviewer:  Finally, a comment that’s actually about baseball!

Vitale:  And Mike Scioscia is a real maestro on the bench, baby!  There’s no better coach in any sport in southern California…

Interviewer:  Okay, now we’re getting somewhere…

Vitale:  But that’s because Coach K didn’t go to the Lakers, baby!  And why would he ever leave Durham?  It’s a special, special place!  The tradition, the Cameron Crazies…

Interviewer:  That’s it, I’m outta here!


After the interviewer stormed off, Vitale continued to jump up and down, screaming about all things Blue Devil.  A group of men managed to fit him with a straitjacket and take him from the scene.  He is currently secure in a padded room, periodically yelling, “Coach K is awesome, baby!”

Monday, October 03, 2005

Postseason Baseball Predictions

With the regular season in the rear-view mirror, eight clubs remain on the quest for a World Series title.  In anticipation, here are my predictions for the major league baseball playoffs.


My Phillies won’t be part of the festivities.  This is what happens when you have to rely on a victory by the Cubs.  As the Astros clinched the wild card, profanities echoed throughout Philadelphia sports bars.  Because the Eagles were losing at the time.  Plus, Philly sports fans just like to swear a lot.  Most of them were unaware the Phils still had a shot.


Fox’s “All Yankees and Red Sox, All the Time” policy will be in effect.  If the Angels and White Sox win their division series, network executives will lock themselves in their offices and cry like babies.  Then they will regroup and show the ALCS – not the current series, but reruns from 2003 and 2004.


The phrase “They won’t apologize for being here” will be used as often as possible during Padres games.  And the Cardinals won’t apologize for ending their season.


The animated “Scooter” character will inexplicably be used on Fox broadcasts.  I have to think, the first time this thing was shown to Joe Buck, he echoed his late father: “I don’t believe what I just saw.”


Plenty of good seats will be available in Turner Field.  The Braves can’t possibly compete with Hawks preseason games.


The city of Chicago’s World Series drought will be mentioned at least once per inning during White Sox games.  A championship for the White Sox, on the heels of Boston’s victory last year, would mean that it’s the Cubs’ turn in 2006.  Wow, I almost kept a straight face while typing that sentence!


Tim McCarver will make a very insightful comment.  And will hammer his point into the ground for the next three innings while sprinkling in painfully corny jokes.  Viewers will beg for more Scooter.


Okay, I suppose you actually want me to pick the winners.  My prediction is the Cardinals over the Red Sox in the World Series.  My other prediction is that I’ll be completely wrong.  Play Ball!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Pac-10 Coaches Seek To Eliminate Second Half

According to reports from Tempe, 8 head football coaches from the Pac-10 are lobbying to cancel the second half from conference matchups.  The coaches contend that playing an entire game unfairly benefits USC and is harmful to the competitive balance of the league.


In each of its past two contests, USC has trailed a conference foe at halftime, only to dominate the second half and emerge victorious.  Last week Oregon led the Trojans 13–10 after 30 minutes, but the Ducks were outscored 35–0 the rest of the way.  Today USC seemed in serious danger, trailing Arizona State 21–3 at halftime.  However, once again the Trojans put up 35 in the second half, triumphing by a 38–28 margin.  In total, the two-time defending national champions have outscored opponents 140–28 in the second half this season.


This situation does not sit well with rival coaches.  “The system is completely biased towards Southern Cal,” fumed the leader of one Pac-10 program.  “They have so many great football players and are so much deeper than anyone else, it’s completely unfair that they get to play a whole football game.”  Added another coach, “Why are they so afraid to play only the first half?  All that playing another half accomplishes is to wreck our football players’ self-esteem.  Are you proud of yourself, Pete Carroll?”


California’s Jeff Tedford is the lone dissenter among USC’s foes.  He referenced Cal’s victory over the Trojans in 2003, as well as a close call last year.  “I think we can beat them in a 60–minute game,” proclaimed Tedford.  A reporter responded, “C’mon, seriously!”  To which Tedford replied, “Yeah, really!”  The reporter added, “Dude, quit messin’ with me.”  The exchange continued for another five minutes with no further progress.


The angry coaches are hopeful not only that the measure will be passed, but that it will be applied retroactively.  Under that scenario, USC would be 2–2 and effectively eliminated from the national title chase.  Hearing this news, Mack Brown, Frank Beamer, and Bobby Bowden immediately announced their support for the proposal.


USC head coach Pete Carroll remains unfazed by the development, stressing that this week’s practices will assume that the entire 60 minutes will be played in the upcoming Arizona game.  Whatever the outcome of the measure is, the following week’s contest at Notre Dame will be unaffected as the proposal only applies to conference games.  Knowing this fact, Irish head coach Charlie Weis is hoping that Joe Montana, Rocket Ismail, and Paul Hornung in their primes will be available on October 15.


The controversy is certain to be the central story in USC’s remaining Pac-10 matchups.  It remains to be seen whether the resulting debate lasts for 30 or 60 minutes.