Thursday, May 27

The Inevitable NCAA Blame Game

I'm not trying to rail against Whitlock personally, I read his stuff from time to time but his most recent article on the ticket scandal at KU brought me over the edge. I think it represents a lot the problem in college athletics, where the problems are being pointed to the NCAA and not the problems at hand. Until the American sporting community cleans up its own mess these issues will continually crop up. Are you willing to completely rethink how we treat sports in this country? I don't think so. You want your college football on Saturday, NFL on Sunday, and your basketball pool to get you some extra coin.

I really was planning to come to TBL today to just joke around and not enter any serious discussions. I have tomorrow off and looking forward to a 4 day Memorial Weekend, but this shit pisses me off. Whitlock goes for the LCD by attacking the NCAA. We should get rid of it? Yes, fantastic idea. I suppose we will simply move to the honor system. He makes Lew Perkins out to be a scapegoat but his article is based on using the NCAA as a scapegoat for a bunch of crooked administrators earning money on the side by hawking tickets. He points to the AAU problems in basketball but that is a youth basketball problem, one that the NCAA was way late into the game trying to control and still cannot feasibly with the power it wields.

I am not lifting the NCAA up as a paragon of virtue, but to criticize the organization for not doing what its membership(who has direct control over it) is cleary not in favor of is an armchair move. What drives sports in America today? $$$$$$, and that’s whether its amateur or not. Hell, 12 and 13 year old softball travel leagues are based off parents shelling out the cash in hopes their daughter can get a free(as in no fucking cost to them) ride to a college.

Money and human nature are at the crux of these problems, not the NCAA. You want to dissolve it? Go right ahead, but see how that tailgate beer tastes in your mouth when you know the starting QB for your school takes 3 credits worth of online classes, gets access to free cars, lives in a mansion and takes cash under the table for a host of seedy undertakings.

The popular phrase is hate the player not the game, well Whitlock just said he hates the janitor with the keys to the gym.

NCAA breeds a culture of corruption [KC Star]
Ticket Scanal Rocks KU [Yahoo]

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Monday, May 17

On The Road To Indianapolis

This week I am heading to the land of milk and Peyton for work. As a Patriots fan I find no joy in heading to the city but last summer when Catfish and I headed to Ohio it turned out to be a great time with many memories. However this is for work, this is my first actual business trip ever. I ponder the two extremes; burning through the company card on expensive wine, shrimp cocktail, and primetime hookers or being locked into boring meeting after meeting while pining for the trip home. I think attitude plays a big part in it so I am putting my best foot forward and hoping for some exciting adventures but I will not be bringing back any Colts gear but maybe a Hansbrough jersey for Cat, they can't be that expensive can they? I do know they have Steak N' Shake. Anyway I won't be posting for the rest of the week so you will have to find 2 minutes of internet distraction elsewhere. Maybe Catfish will take a break from solving the Bobcats offseason problems to pitch in. See you in the funny papers.

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Friday, May 14

Walter Peck Previews The NHL Western Conference Finals

The ASD did not adopt a hockey team this year as it did last year with the Buffalo Sabres. It has not stopped us from taking in the playoff action. Watching the final game ever in Mellon Arena was exciting. However, my best memory of is not for anything the Pens accomplished, it is the splendor of Jean-Claude Van Damme. The 1995 movie Sudden Death was filmed around a game 7 Stanley Cup game between Pittsburgh and Chicago, only terrorists have take the vice president hostage! As you can see from this trailer, JCVD must use his expert wit and high kicks to undue the plan of an evil mastermind played by the incomparable Powers Booth. Like the trailer says, "Terror goes into overtime!" My what a awesomely bad action movie; Van Damme at the height of his mid-90s powers. So that is what I thought of as the last seconds ticked away in Mellon the other night and the Penguins were eliminated.

The ECF have yet to be determined but another exciting game 7 tonight between Philly and Boston will decide who plays Montreal. Over in the west, game 1 of the conference finals start Sunday with Chicago facing off against San Jose. Since we are slightly inept at practical hockey analysis (but only slightly) we turn once again to our resident EPA administrator, Walter Peck. Ensuring maximum cultural insensitivity and proper air quality freshness, his preview of the WCF is after the jump.

The NHL Western Conference Championship with less F-Bombs and more shoot from the hip analysis.

The Western Conference Finals are a tale of two polar opposite teams. One has been a constant leader in the Western conference only to choke in the playoffs (much like a midget chokes on a normal person’s junk). The other franchise has been God awful since the late nineties similar to the Simpsons. Below is a half ass recap of the two organizations and how I see the WCF playing out.

The Blackhawks have been irrelevant in the Hockey world for the last 10+ years. From 1997 to the 2007/08 season the Blackhawks made the playoffs once and were bounced from the 1st round in 5 games by the Blues. They routinely traded their talent or let their free agents leave thanks to their penny pinching president Wirtz. Wirtz was so despised by the fans that when he died the Blackhawk fans booed during a moment of silence for Wirtz at the arena. It was a classless move even the Philly fans tip their hat too.

Since then the Blackhawks have been rebuilding through smart drafting and development of their talent. The primary players in their young core are Kane, Toews, and Seabrook. Kane and Toews performed really well in the 08/09 season and carried the team to the conference finals until they were knocked out by the Red Wings. The Blackhawks added some good veteran players to round out the roster including defensive forward John Madden (greatest hockey name ever?), Marian Hossa, and blue liner Campell. This unit is young, dangerous, and have looked great this post season. While I admit there were a couple of hiccup games this team is poised to get to the finals.

The other side of the coin has the Sharks. Gay ass uniforms aside this team has been an absolute monster for years… until the playoffs came. Then they folded faster than a Chinese woman at a laundromat. While the Blackhawks have used drafting to build a roster, the Sharks have acquired free agent talent namely, Thornton, Heatley, Blake, and Boyle. While that formula hadn’t produced much in the past the addition of youngster Setoguchi and the phenomenal play of Pavelski helped the Sharks get over the proverbial hump. It also helps that Thornton and Marleau have possibly shaken off their usual dreadful playoff performances. And when I say dreadful I mean more dreadful than a Lybian airline pilot (too soon?).

As for the series itself I see it going the full seven if the Sharks of this year show up and not the duds of years past. As for deciding a winner my personal bias comes in. I don’t care for Chicago, its denizens, and its teams. If Michael Jordan was on fire I wouldn’t cross the street to piss on him. Speaking of getting pissed on thank God Kim Kardashian has nothing to do with the NHL. Not enough brothers I suppose. Random tangent aside I pick the Sharks in seven. The Blackhawks are on the cusp but their youth will bite them in the end (see their two losses to the Canucks).

Of course my prediction could be wrong. But then again looking back at Cleet’s picks during the NCAAs I can’t possibly do worse.


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Thursday, May 13

Extensions, Smart Thugs, Higher Expectations At The U

Randy Shannon recently received a four year extension as football coach at the University of Miami. We all know that college coaching contracts are barely worth the ink and paper used to construct them, but it serves more as a symbolic gesture that the administration approves of what the coach has done thus far. The commitment to Shannon is a reward for his work off the field of competition more than on it.

While Shannon took over a program in complete disarray and improved the program's wins in each of his three seasons from 5 to 7 to 9, there is a large contingent that wants him gone. While the main contingent of Miami fans is small in numbers compared to their larger public counterparts, it is no less forgiving. The school has 5 national titles under its belt in the past 30 years and there are those that think they should be in contention every year. Larry Coker did a great thing for the school, he steered the rudder on one of the greatest college football teams ever to a title. After that things fell apart, some of which was Coker's fault and some of which was not. Either way the Randy Shannon era began with a bare cupboard and a team rife with off the field incidents, an on the field brawl, and the murder of one of its star players.

While it is easy to point out the troublemakers Miami has produced during their historic rise to prominence in college football, there have been just as many if not more success stories within the program. Shannon is one of them. His experience as a kid from the bad part of town, who became a champion at Miami and a player and coach in the NFL has turned into a pipeline of recruiting that has the Canes poised to turn their fortunes around. When Randy came in he made it clear that the players would go to class and stay out of trouble. So far it has worked. The team has escaped the police blotter and was even recognized by the NCAA for its success in the classroom.

Yet with the perverse world we live in those accolades are seen as a negative to many. They believe the only way for Miami to be successful is to channel the brash behavior of teams of the past. This idea is not only asinine, it is impractical. The NCAA Football Committee is getting ready to put into effect a rule that would call back touchdowns for live ball taunting; times have changed. The "Swagger" the Canes became known for cannot be displayed in the same manner as in the 80s, early 90s and even from a decade ago. A lot of this desire comes from a peak at other rivals who are having football success. The big program in this picture are the Florida Gators. Florida has had almost 30 players arrested over the past four years but the results on the field overshadow everything. This has led to the false assumption that Miami needs to "thug it up" in order to vault ahead of Florida in the state once again. That could not be further from the truth. Shannon has collected great talent using his methods, there is no need for introducing a negative element. College football is not the wild west like it used to be, the media scrutiny and amount of money at stake have taken away that rebel attitude which Miami required to become a powerhouse. The closest thing to a rebel in college football is Boise State or Orrin Hatch.

The steps taken by Miami to clean up the program should be seen as positive. However, the bottom line is winning. Shannon has shown improvement but he still has a ways to go in actual game management and league titles. The revitalization of the Miami football program cannot be made unless they take control of the conference. The ACC has ironically been made into more of a joke after their expansion to 12 teams. Virginia Tech has been the lone school to boast success on a national stage and that still came without a title. Miami fans want to dream about reclaiming national titles but they need to start thinking inside the conference, hell inside their own division. Anything short of a trip to Charlotte for the ACC Championship will be a disappointment. Considering two road trips to Columbus and Pittsburgh in the first four weeks of the season, 2011 should be the target year for national title aspirations.

With the Hurricanes recently gaining the ficticious NFL pipeline crown as well as these new developments in the program, confidence is at a high it has not been at for a long time in Coral Gables. One thing Shannon detractors cannot deny is that he has brought in the talent and has the players conducting themselves the right way, the only missing piece is the hardest: a national title.

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Wednesday, May 12

Cleveland Cavaliers Flop: So many questions

Following last night's debacle, I'm left with so many questions. Not quite as many as actual Cav fans but plenty none the less. Here's my top ten questions that may or may not be answered in the next few months.

10. If LeBron leaves does Mo Williams turn into the midwest version of baron Davis complete with beard and 25 extra pounds?

9. If Shaq and Z are both gone, do the Cavs believe a frontline of Varejao, Jamison, Hickson and Powe could be championship worthy?

8. Could Usain Bolt beat Mike Brown out the door when the inevitable happens?

7. Is there any chance we could ever put LBJ in MJ's class after that performance?

6. Will John Calipari be the next man on the bench in an effort to get the King to stay?

5. If the Celtics can have a 42 game turnaround in one season, why are people so convinced that the Knicks would be a multi-year rebuilding project?

4. Is this the Celtics last stand or do they have enough in the tank to challenge the Magic?

3. How can a team think it's championship caliber when a guy with 0 FGs leads the team in scoring at halftime?

2. Is this the first time someone has referred to Cleveland fans as being spoiled?

1. Does LBJ realize at this point that Kwame Brown has just as much right to have a Chosen 1 tattoo?

Last night was perhaps the most disappointing performance by an All-Time great I've ever seen. I can understand having a poor shooting night, but to not compete is inexcusable. He may want to become a global icon, but at this point perhaps the biggest question is what will that brand stand for, because the greatest crossover sports icon is Michael Jordan and he got there by always competing. The King can no longer say that. Watching him "play" last night was like meeting your favorite athlete and realizing he's a jerk (edited for the kids). He gave perhaps the greatest fan gut punch of the last 20 years. When Kobe quit against the Suns, the Lakers weren't going anywhere. This team was seen as one of the legitimate contenders for the crown and even if they win game 6, the King has robbed his teammates of their confidence in themselves, each other, and even him.

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Saturday, May 8

Mr. Green Banks $1 Million

I am an admitted Jeopardy fan. I watch the show every chance I get and have even tried out for it. Alas I only made the 2nd round of the tryouts but it is a longtime goal to make the show. Jeopardy just got finished with its $1 million celebrity tournament. Normally the celebrity versions are a breeze, allowing entertainers that are not normally known for their scholarly prowess to compete and win money for their favorite charity. However, since the prize so great and the celebrities they invited had all performed well on the show previously, the questions were a little more difficult. I also had a rooting interest. Michael McKean was one of the finalists, going up against Cheech Marin and Jane Curtin. Now most people know McKean from Spinal Tap and his most recent projects like A Mighty Wind and Best in Show. He also was on SNL for awhile. For me, his most indelible role will always be as Mr. Green in Clue.

I used his given weapon, the lead pipe, as the basis for my NFL "lock" picks in 2008. I did this mostly as a mocking of the use of the term lead pipe locks, but also because I have an unhealthy obsession with the movie Clue. So needless to say I was rooting hard for McKean to win. If I ever met Michael the first thing I would want to talk about is Clue,and I'm sure that there are little or no people that would do the same.

McKean won the title and preserved his perfect record on Jeopardy(which includes Rock and Roll Jeorpardy). His $1 million prize money goes to the International Myeloma Foundation. In its own words,

The International Myeloma Foundation is the oldest and largest myeloma organization, reaching more than 195,000 members in 113 countries worldwide. A 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of myeloma patients and their families, the IMF focuses in four key areas: research, education, support, and advocacy. To date, the IMF has conducted more than 200 educational seminars worldwide, maintains a world-renowned hotline, and operates Bank on a Cure®, a unique gene bank to advance myeloma research. The IMF can be reached at (800) 452-CURE.
Congratulations Mr. Green.

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Friday, May 7

Video Game Representation of Braves Nets Man $1 Million

Yesterday I took some heat from loyal reader and fan of all things involving The Dirty Dirty, Beck. She is a Braves fan and once held the gaze of Jeff Francoeur at close range, if tales be true. So when I presented the picture of the Senate catering gaff in the previous post she was not too happy. Now, since I am a Mets fan I normally take great delight in anything that casts the Bravos in a negative light. However, since I have not received any correspondence this week from Beck regarding the Saved By the Bell reruns that are part of our individual morning routines, I have a peace offering post.

Wade McGilberry of Alabama won a contest for MLB 2K10 which challenged players to throw a perfect game and send the tape in. The prize was $1 million. The team Wade used? The Atlanta Braves. The opponents? The New York Mets. Wade is not a professional gamer. He is just a working man, a husband (at only 23, but that's how they do it down south), and a guy who thought he had a chance. Once 2K verified his feat which occured in March, they appeared at his house with the ceremonial giant check. He and his wife Katy plan to pay off their mortgage and start a family. A very happy ending, all thanks to the Braves and the simulated arm of Kenshin Kawakami. The real arm of Kawakami is 0-5 with a 5.47 ERA. So huzzah for Wade and huzzah for the Braves, making dreams come true.

On Deck For Millionaire Gamer: Starting a Family [Kotaku]

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Thursday, May 6

Senate Honors Bobby Cox

What else would you expect from the town that has the Natinals as their baseball team.

pic via

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New NCAA President Might Get It

It's been about a week since Mark Emmert was hired as the new president of the NCAA. Time will tell what kind of an impact he will have over college athletics during his tenure, but from his comprehensive explanations and air of determination it appears he will leave a positive mark. For him to leave his old post at the University of Washington in Seattle and move to Indianapolis alone shows you dedication right there. At its core the NCAA will try to insist that its sole function is to facilitate the opportunities of amateur athletics but the bottom line is the bottom line. Money is that makes all of that possible, and all programs from the struggling small school to the large big conference behemoths are always seeking more.

Emmert has the challenge of making those desires come to fruition while trying to maintain an impossible image of moral perfection. His predecessor, Myles Brand was known for his sweeping reforms of academic standards and Emmert has admitted there is not much headway he can make in that area. His legacy may very well be hinged on whether he can keep the system afloat during these tough economic times in the country. Within the populous, the college basketball and football post-seasons are in the foreground of college athletics. Emmert has allegedly stated that he thinks a college football playoff will happen. Of course he also recognizes he cannot simply Roger Goddell himself upon the association.

"So, when people say things like, “Well, the Association doesn’t have the power or clout that it needs to solve issues,” often they’re referring to issues that some people would love to see the Association solve by dictate. “Coaches’ pay should only be X.” “We should have subpoena power to compel somebody to testify in an infractions issue.” Obviously, the NCAA doesn’t, and shouldn’t, have those kinds of authorities."
So far he is saying all the right things, but he has a long list of challenges ahead of him which he cannot solve by dictatorial mandates or a wave of the hand. Perhaps the best thing all the NCAA member institutions and the public can hold onto right now is cautious optimism.

Mark Emmert interview focuses on NCAA membership issues [NCAA]

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Monday, May 3

Happy May Day (Belated)

May Day was on Saturday, but I was attending an Uno de Mayo celebration. In honor recognition of a belated May Day celebration, the one and only Grace Jones who played the Bond female villian May Day. She was also Catfish's favorite character to play in Goldeneye on N64(just kidding it was Valentin). A View to a Kill was on TV as I was nursing my hangover yesterday. I hit the trusty info button on my remote control and saw the movie got 2 and half stars. Just more proof that the star system is way out of whack. I am a fan of the Bond films(working on a top ten Bond films), but not a completely obsessed one. I've seen just about all the movies at least once. This one I had not seen since I was pretty young.

View to a Kill was bad on many levels. First, Christopher Walken played the villain but he did not play it with the lunacy that made him so memorable in later roles. Tanya Roberts as a geologist was about as believable as Denise Richards as a nuclear scientist. The biggest problem though was that Roger Moore was too old by this time, and he knew it. Old Roger Moore in love scene with Grace Jones? Do not want but hey, Duran Duran knocked out that theme song.
Anyway as our faux May Day celebration, let's look forward to what is happening in the sports world in May.

Playoffs? Playoffs! The NBA and NHL playoffs last all month long! Lucky for you the champion in both sports won't be crowned until June. It's the journey not the destination right? Jazz fans agree.

We'll be roughly halfway to the halfway point of the MLB season by May's end. It should give time for Mets fans to come back down to Earth(process started last night) and teams like the Yankees to get their rightful place in first.

World Cup....doesn't start until June. You can use May to hear about all the problems forthcoming for it.

UFC 113 will be this weekend. True MMA fans will be looking forward to Machida/Shogun 2, while others can spark up the Kimbo Slice discussion.

Hey, so May is not the pinnacle of the sports landscape but offseason football talk will always be there to entertain us, bring our hopes us, or cause us to lose faith in humanity.

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