Friday, June 15, 2007

What more could you ask?

A couple nights ago the Spurs went on to win the NBA Championship over the Cavaliers. This comes as no shock to most, but the fact of the matter is Lebron is a young man. The Spurs are by no means flashy, but they are fundamentally sound. They take one more pass to get an open shot, they look for the open man, and push the ball to the basket. They have a triple threat with Duncan, Ginobili, and the guy (Parker) who is to wed the chick that gets more airtime than all the above.
People will wonder aloud if the Spurs are a dynasty, and I would have to say so. I watched Jordan grow from his rookie year, in which he had no help. Through the baseball years, through his retirement, and his return to the Wizards. That's the closest thing to Lebron I can think of. Jordan went to the Wizards as a basketball god. He had as much help there as James does in Cleveland. None. How did that work out? Not so good.

For as much as we think that Lebron is the next coming of Mr. Jordan, we forget that it took him getting a guy named Pippen before he got a ring. Sure, give Lebron an Agent 0, or Kevin Garnett, and he'll get his rings. Until then allow him to grow up and into his own. Let him drop 60 on some team and lead The Sporting News on a next deity chase. In this world we forget that the man we think of as the greatest [insert name here Bird, Magic, or one of your own] wasn't the man until he had a sidekick. Let's just hold off the coronation until Lebron gets his own Robin.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Long Shot

Now that the fiasco that was my Southwest trip is over, I've had a little time to scan the world of sports for something to watch. Bam, here it is. At the U. S. Open being played at Oakmont C.C. there is a Par 3 that from the tips measures 288 yards. Yes ladies and gentlemen, that's what I said, because it is hard to stutter when the words are written down.
In all honesty, I don't have a club in my bag that could reach it. I would have to lay up at 210, because not only is it too far, but the ball has to fly straight. In this age of Flintstone sized drivers and balls more akin to a super balls than the real thing, I'm thinking the pros won't have a problem. Tiger can get there with an iron. Watching those guys putt on the greens is like going to your local putt-putt and playing with a egg. Balls roll in a manner which can only be described as against the laws of physics. There are 186 bunkers, one of which is referred to as the church pews. 5 inch rough; you could lose a Cooper Mini in that.

1 under is the leader in the clubhouse after the first day, but the names you see today will have to play in the afternoon tomorrow. This will make the course harder, and faster for the guys who posted those low scores in the morning on Thursday. So whoever comes out on top of the pile of bent clubs is truly the Open Champ. No if's, and's, or but's about it, this is the hardest course I've seen.

6 over wins this tournament hands down!

The past is the present

In 2005, the Oregon St. Beavers were the first team sent packing from Omaha. The following year with the experience that was gained, they won it all. I picked that one in the same way that I will pick this one, or at least make the argument. Last year the Beavers won the CWS, sending the Tar Heels home with the final loss of the year. Carolina sends a great deal of fire power to the bump this year, and the bitter taste of defeat will be fresh in their mouths. They are hungry and coming off a series with the "other" Carolina, the mashers from the SEC.
Given the fact that they are one of the higher seeds to get in, and their loss of the past year, it would be a safe pony to put your sawbuck on. Also the teams that are perennial powerhouses aren't there....i.e. Texas, USC, LSU, and any team coming out of Florida. The Tar Heels should take the cake. It's not going to be easy, and some of the best teams in the country are playing for the same title. Cal St. Fullerton, and Rice are no pushovers, and I've seen a couple of prognosticators pick the Anteaters of UC Irvine.

Okay, just for the record I'm happy to see new faces in the CWS but as for experience, it's priceless. For these young men, especially North Carolina, they have paid their way with a hard fought loss last year and will dig deep to leave Omaha with the sweetest taste of all. VICTORY!


As we wait for Whitey to hand down his College World Series predictions from above I present the Professor's Punctual Power Rankings based on exhaustive research and, well, my gut:
  1. Arizona State
  2. Rice
  3. North Carolina
  4. UC Irvine
  5. Louisville
  6. Oregon State
  7. Mississippi State
  8. Cal State Fullerton
My pick? Louisville, as they are the only one of these teams I have seen play live and I'm a Big East type o' guy. But more than that, I think Zack Pitts is the real deal and the Cardinals lineup presents a challenge top to bottom (ask Oklahoma State who had 20 runs come across in their final match-up). Regardless, this is one of the best sporting events you can find and I highly recommend catching as many of the games as you can. Don't let the ping of aluminum dissuade won't see intensity like this on a baseball field until October and even that doesn't quite compare. For the majority of these guys it will be the last baseball they ever play. And it shows. Louisville over ASU in 3!


Justin Verlander's no-hitter the other night brings to mind one of the most interesting accomplishments in baseball, one which comes up every time someone hurls a no hitter: Cincinnati Red Johnny Vander Meer's back-to-back no-hitters.

As of 1938, only two players had pitched two or more a career (bonus points: name 'em, answer at the end). On June 11, 1938 Johnny Vander Meer threw #1 against the Boston Bees (who would eventually become the Atlanta Braves). #2 came 4 nights later (try that one today) when Vander Meer no-hit the Brooklyn Dodgers in the first ever night game at Ebbets Field. (For a complete recap of this exciting contest, go here.)

A grand total of 234 no-hitters have been thrown in Major League history giving us, obviously, that many chances for the back-to-back feat to happen (of course, one of those times was a chance for three in a row...) An interesting side note: I decided to look up the grand total of cycles hit in MLB history: 275, and no one has ever hit for the cycle in back-to-back games.

But as for back-to-back no-hitters, even though I'm a die hard Red's fan and have enjoyed Vander Meer's claim to fame, I'll be rooting for Mr. Verlander next time he takes the mound. 131 years after the first no-hitter we'll have yet another chance to witness baseball history.

The two pitchers with two or more no-no's in 1938? Larry Corcoran (the first pitcher with 3) and Christy Mathewson. For a complete list of all MLB no-hitters make contact with this.

No runs is fun

Pitching is a game unto itself. One would think that watching 2 guys slinging the best they've got-and not getting hit out of the park-would be boring. I think brilliance. I had the opportunity to watch a pitching match up that, to the average fan, is like nails on a chalk board. However, I was in bliss. C.C. Sabathia and Aaron Harang went scoreless though 9 innings Sunday afternoon until the Reds finally got a run across in the 12th.

The few people sitting around me were up and down all game. Basically, they thought it was a bad one. A young lady said to me, "Why won't they score?" I replied, "They can't, they're getting shut down." There were a total of 13 hits in the entire game: To the novice this is an abomination; to a pitcher, almost heaven.

Final 12

Cleveland 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 7 0

Cincinnati 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 6 0

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Snooze you lose

Or, in the case of the NBA finals, you may get some much needed sleep. The game everyone probably decided to check out to see if the Cavs could make it a series worth watching found themselves subject to one of the most anemic offensive (in more ways than one) displays in Finals' history. Cleveland shot 36.7% from the field and built a house from beyond the arc going 3-19. It was enough to make one wonder how bad the NBA really is nowadays if these are the two best teams.

You could give it up for the Spurs defense, but I think the Cavs would have shot that bad in an empty gym. I'm already bored with this topic.