Archive for May, 2008

Manny Being Awesome

May 16, 2008 1 comment

Hat tip to the Starting Five: From 2 days ago during a game in Baltimore – video of Manny Ramirez’s catch, HIGH FIVE TO A SOX FAN, and throw back in to double up a runner at first:

Categories: baseball, funny, Sports, tv

Sports Links, 5.16.08

May 16, 2008 Comments off

J'Mison Morgan+Gary Parrish on the new style of recruiting: pounce on verbally committed recruits when there’s a coaching change through the AAU and high school coaches, aka the back channels.

+Allegations that Kansas’ Darrell Arthur shouldn’t have been eligible due to changed grades in high school, which could mean Kansas would be in danger of losing basketball title… in the most silly of worlds. Yeah, I’m sure no other school has players who’d had their high school grades changed. I know it’s hard to tell on a blog post, but that’s sarcasm.

+Dear athletes: how many times do I have to say this? Wear a $%^#@!!! CONDOM.

+Billy Wagner sure likes to talk. And in New York, talk is taken seriously. Will the other players stick around for the tough questions after being called out (again) by the team’s closer?

+The New York Times is going to love the quotable D’Antoni. He’s intelligent, political, contemplative, contrary, argumentative, and competitive; he’s a great news story.

+More on Kevin Parrom: Adam Zagoria indicates the incident was a fight about the team in general. Here’s hoping he goes to a prep or Catholic school with a decent relationship with St. John’s.

+A South African double-amputee, Oscar Pistorius (“the fastest man on no legs“), can compete to qualify for this summer’s Olympic games with his carbon fiber legs (below the knee). I bet he’ll be stripped of any medals if he gets to the games and wins. Especially if the bionic man sound can be heard on the track.

Video of Pistorius:

Sports Links 5.14.08

May 14, 2008 Comments off

+ Mets make moves, designating Nelson Figueroa and Jorge Sosa for assignment (Figueroa plans to go to the minors if he clears waivers, Sosa might declare free agency instead), and sending Angel Pagan to the DL. Coming up (or already up): reliever Matt Wise, starting pitcher Claudio Vargas (what’s with the ex-Brewers?), and Fernando Tatis. We don’t have anyone better than Fernando Tatis in the minors?

Jason Giambi+ Hank Steinbrenner thinks his team’s not playing hard enough.

+ D’Antoni wants to trade Marbury as part of a package for Leandro Barbosa and Boris “I don’t date American women, I have them” Diaw. Great trade, if the Suns are at gunpoint.

+ Soon-to-be senior high school basketball star (and St. John’s target) Kevin Parrom is arrested after an altercation with his coach. There’s more here than meets the eye, if only for the fact that this didn’t need to get into the paper, and the player didn’t have to get arrested if the coach didn’t want that to happen.

+ You can’t advertise your Larry Bird’s former home as the “Legend of French Lick Resort” and get away with it… Larry Bird hopes.

+ Arizona State eliminates wrestling, swimming, and tennis. It was too hot for the last two anyway. Article includes complaining about Title IX, roll eyes and move on.

+ Any post about the old WUniversity, even if it’s about track and field, is welcome in my blog.

+ A WHOA, BACK UP post on OJ Mayo asking some questions and stepping back from calling Mayo some kind of criminal deviant. The angle is interesting as the major news outlets are busy looking for culprits, as Rush the Court calls out the media. Whatever happened to investigative reporting? Whatever the outcome of the Mayo case, this kind of influence peddling will continue. Why would it stop if the only way to get at the info is a jilted snitch?

+ Joe Montana’s eldest son Nate Montana is going to walk on at Notre Dame this fall. He didn’t play much in high school, adopting the game late, but he’s still Son of Montana. You’d think he’d choose a more competitive school, though. John Elway’s son Jack will be suiting up for Arizona State, by the way. Does Jim Kelly have a kid? Joe Theismann? Warren Moon?

+ Gene Doping? Yikes. hat tip to The Sports Economist.

+ AND, What do you associate with various brands? The Wall Street Journal talks about the Brand Tags site.

US Open To Be Aired on ESPN

May 13, 2008 1 comment

I knew that something bugged me when I heard that ESPN was to broadcast the entirety of the US Open (taking over from USA Network), starting in 2009. And it wasn’t just the annoyance of the :18 and :58 banners and breathless coverage of Clemens-gate on the bottom line banner.

Gabriela SabatiniBut access to all the games will be a worry. From a Connecticut Post editorial:

You know what else makes the USA coverage outstanding? It’s always on. The matches start at 11 a.m., and that’s the time the USA theme song begins, a great start to every weekday until CBS takes over late in the tournament. There’s only a two-hour break in coverage from the first serve until the final point, and that break is often blown off if the matches are interesting enough. One of the first things I noticed with ESPN2’s coverage is that it will start at 1 p.m. during the first week. That’s two hours of tennis uncovered. Sigh.

It turns out that tennis will be covered. It’ll air on The Tennis Channel, which generally costs extra. Perhaps I’ll order TTC during that time span, but perhaps not; I pay more than enough for cable television as it is. To add insult to injury, the middle weekend night sessions — which have featured such matchups as James Blake vs. Roger Federer in past years — will be on TTC. That means a whole bunch of regular viewers will miss those matches, and possibly lose interest in the tournament as a result.

And there are other issues. The USTA made it clear it wants ESPN and tennis to become synonymous. The network already handles the other three Grand Slam events, often ruining them by focusing way too much on Americans, even in blowouts, ignoring live matches to show the American routs on tape.

The worst thing a network can do in showing a sport where Americans are not entirely dominant is… showing mostly Americans. Makes the sport look boring. If you watch the World Cup and only see the Americans, you think soccer is a slovenly, boring sport that sucks 90 minutes out of your life.

And those midweek matches are the most fun – late evening, watching two players who can’t break that top-ten ceiling fighting and struggling to win a 3 (for the women) or 5 (for the men) set match on pure grit and sweat, on an 85 degree night in Flushing? That’s the joy of the US Open right there. Those are the tickets I used to get and enjoy. And the AM games? When I was in high school, I’d go to any of those games I could get tickets to (okay, they were free. I didn’t have that kind of loot in HS!) and watch minor players try to prove they belonged.

And I am NOT buying the tennis channel for a month.

I can see the finals and semis drawing a strong crowd to ESPN, but otherwise, they’re just burying the early round matches to tennis fanatics, and there aren’t many of those anymore.

Photo above is of the great Gabriela Sabatini (purr); below is video of her 1991 US Open win over Steffi Graf.

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Categories: Sports, tennis, tv

Rating Coaches

May 12, 2008 Comments off

Fox Sports columnist Jeff Goodman recently posted his list of top college basketball assistants, polling head coaches, assistants, and those close to assistants. His names are broken into BCS conferences and mid-major conferences (would Xavier and Gonzaga have landed in the mid-major area? We don’t know, none of their assistant coaches were on the list). There are a few former head coaches (Larry Shyatt (Florida), Joe Dooley (Kansas), Donnie Daniels (UCLA)), some up and comers, some people with pedigree/ former player resumes (but no major ex-pros), and some guys who started out on the high school level.

This list, however, focuses on recruiting achievements. For an assistant coach, that is a somewhat quantifiable metric – how well a coach can lock down a recruit who is interested in their school. That focus, of course, doesn’t necessarily tell us how that coach is on a comparative level – in a good situation with a good product (some combination of a competitive team, tv exposure, playing time, an attractive campus, big booty hoes, a well-regarded head coach), many people can recruit the names we come to know in college ball. When he was hired, St. John’s coach Norm Roberts was advertised as the man who brought Russell Robinson to Kansas and got a verbal from Charlie Villanueva.*

Being associated with great college basketball names will get an assistant coach a job. But should it? Those recruiting achievements are not the coach’s alone; they belong to the head coach, to the quality and style of play, and perhaps to the institution. Believing that these recruiting wins are the coach’s alone is questionable; and the game isn’t won on the number of 4 and 5 star Rivals or recruits a coach gets. It certainly helps, but that’s not the end-all.

Answering some of this is Yet Another Basketball Blog‘s Coach Ratings by Dan Hanner. Admittedly, I don’t know all of ratings’ methodology. For example, the recruiting ratings might be from the aforementioned basketball player rating sites or some other source. And does this model account for players who have transferred (probably not, since he does not penalize for players going pro early)? How does one measure expected wins? What if talent is overrated? Otherwise, this is a sharp look at what ingredients constitute what we think of as a good coach. The ratings for recruiting and coaching come from regression analysis of the impact on talent on wins. The main point is that the numbers give a comparative look at a coach’s recruiting and regular season performance at each school.

Some light numbers, and of course chatter about St. John’s, after the jump.
Read more…

Sports Links 05.12.08

May 12, 2008 Comments off

And a wholly unnecessary Emanuelle Chriqui photo.
Emmanuelle Chriqui

+ Lenny Dykstra’s high end mag for pro athletes is stuck in legal/ monetary disputes, as former Ram defensive back Ryan McNeil’s is. That “Nails never fails” article in the New Yorker is getting old already. Move it to the “fiction” section, people.

+ More of a peek into the private life of Marvin Harrison after the shooting near a bar that he owns.

+ Mike D’Antoni is the Knicks coach! Holy Crapcakes!

The beauty of NYC is such that the first article I read is “Bringing in Mike D’Antoni wrong move for the Knicks“. And it may be true, if only for the dead wood on the roster that needs to be dumped. This article is a little wrong though; the roster is missing a credible point guard, for certain, but the idea that the Suns put up good shots all the time because of their IQ is questionable. Their speed and spacing allowed them to get good looks early in the offense, and unlike other basketball coaches, D’Antoni has no problem with early shots. Jamal Crawford loves to take jumpers with 20 seconds left on the shot clock! He’ll be a freaking natural! (I’m not joking. I actually think that Nate Robinson and Crawford might be good in this system. Starbury, however, needs to be bought out.)

Though D’Antoni would have KILLED with the Bulls’ roster, no doubt. But they would never play defense, and GM Paxson wanted assurances that there would be defense played at the United Center.

+ Yesterday I glanced at the score of the Mets game and.. what the hot hell? It’s Oliver Perez’ good day! Which ended with a bad hiccup. From the Journal News:

The unsolved mystery that is Oliver Perez was back on display yesterday at Shea Stadium. There he was, sweeping breaking balls past the lefty bats of Adam Dunn and Joey Votto. There he was firing five innings of one-hit ball. Yet there he was giving up three runs in the sixth.

Suddenly, it was a Day at the Improv. He dropped his arm lower, trying to change speeds because he was tiring. It turned out to be a wild pitch, skipping past Brian Schneider to allow one of the runs to score. Perez also surprised the Reds with a bunt single. Before that, he walked and stole second.

“How crazy are you, Ollie?” manager Willie Randolph playfully asked, turning toward the 26-year-old lefty entering the interview room. “Do you have a full deck? They want to know. Inquiring minds want to know. I’ll take you anyway. I’ll tell you what, you can play on my team any day.”

Perez is good. Perez is bad. Sometimes in the same game. Good luck predicting the unpredictable. But after throwing three straight losing duds, the Mets will take the three-run, three-hit, eight-strikeout, four-walk, one-hit-batter work he gave them over six innings in beating Cincinnati 8-3 in the rubber game of the series.

+ Meanwhile, like me, Mets’ minor leaguer Fernando Martinez is allergic to lobster.

+ Uni Watch has lots of the Mother’s Day pink paraphernalia Cubs pink batthat MLB players and umps rocked.

+ Cablevision is buying Newsday? Isn’t there a limit to local media synergies? I guess not.

Will Long Island become one giant Cablevision bubble, where Jim Dolan is a cuddly teddy bear and the Knicks are everyone’s favorite? If I want to reach Long Island… will I have to go through Dolan? Will he manage Long Island’s media future?

+ The Devil Rays are winning baseball games? What is this world coming to?

+ Florida State player plans to play all 9 positions in today’s game. If the game goes extra innings, he should offer to umpire the game, just to add another layer of gimmick.

+ The 4 armed robbers accused of killing safety Sean Taylor will not face the death penalty.

+ One Droo Hill makes edits to the United Countries of Baseball region map, which was perhaps influenced by this unscientific but interesting attempt from 2007. The map does not reflect certain sports teams that roll deep in every city they go to like the Yank-These and Mets.

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Willie Randolph In Trouble?

May 9, 2008 Comments off

The team is 71-71 since last June 1st and the management plans to sit down and evaluate Randolph’s performance at the end of the month. I am sure other teams do that, but ownership might just have a quibble. From Dan Graziano’s article at the Star-Ledger:

Where Randolph comes up short is in his failure to recognize what kind of team he has and manage accordingly. Randolph is a decent man who cares deeply about his team and his job and believes strongly in himself. But he’s also stubborn, and that’s what has him in trouble.

Randolph came from the Yankees, where the championship teams of the late ’70s and the late ’90s were packed with hard-nosed winners. He believes he shouldn’t need to motivate or fire up big-league players, because his teams never needed that.

In principle, he’s right. He shouldn’t need to remind major-league players that it’s important to raise their games in big spots, or not to take games or at-bats off.

But unfortunately for Randolph, his players are soft. His players are the types who don’t raise their games in big spots, who do take at-bats off. His players coast through long stretches of the season, assuming their talent will carry them through without any extra effort or emotion on their part. His players are not self-motivators, and they are a group that might respond well to being scared every now and then.

That’s not to say they need a Larry Bowa/Lou Piniella type of screamer. “Scaring” players like this would be as simple as letting them know their playing time isn’t guaranteed — that a long, languid slump by the $17 million-a-year center fielder isn’t going to be tolerated when there’s a hungry, energetic Angel Pagan around to man the position while Carlos Beltran gets his head together on the bench.

Randolph doesn’t do that. He does what Joe Torre used to do when his veteran players slumped. He tells them he believes in them and will stick by them until they come out of it.

But in the case of these particular Mets, it doesn’t work. These Mets get too comfortable. They can keep mailing it in at no threat to themselves or their lifestyle. You went 0-for-5 again, Carlos? No problem. You’ll be back in there tomorrow, have no fear. We’ll never embarrass you.

By now — after the playoff flop of 2006, the historic meltdown of ’07 and the sleepy start to ’08 — Randolph should understand this, and he should be doing something about it. He is not.

But does scaring players with the threat of losing playing time work? Or does it alienate the player? I hate watching Carlos Beltran’s at bats as much as anyone, but playing time is a blunt instrument to effect change. I think Beltran might be served by taking fewer stinking pitches, myself. How does one build the desire to get pissed off at each failed at bat like Paul O’Neill? And do the Mets want players that tightly wound?

Don’t get me wrong, I think Willie needs to do something more than sitting back in the cut. or the dugout, as it were.

This weekend: The Cincinnati Reds. Analysis here from Amazin’ Avenue.

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