OK, Jason. I'll rise to the challenge. We hear a lot about the Bengals first round failures, and we all get to take this time to gather round the campfire and laugh at the idiots in charge of the team. So let's look at how bad they have actually done with their first round picks over the past 10 years.

1 10 Levi Jones OT Arizona State

He’s started 13 games last year. Too early to tell. Looks to be a decent player.

1 4 4 Justin Smith DE Missouri

8.5 sacks last year and 2 picks. Probably the best defensive player the Bengals have now that Spikes is gone.

1 4 4 Peter Warrick WR Florida State

Not a total bust, but the Bengals wanted more than 70 catches and 600 yards per year. Actually, he’s been a better pro than I thought he’d be.

1 3 3 Akili Smith QB Oregon

4.8 yards per attempt and a career rating of 55.6 kinda jump out at you. It’s safe to say he’s a complete bust.

1 13 13 Takeo Spikes LB Auburn

1 17 17 Brian Simmons LB North Carolina
The best draft the Bengals ever had. Both players are impact guys, Spikes is one of the very best MLB’s in the game, and Simmons is a Pro Bowler.

1 14 14 Reinard Wilson DE Florida State

A role player, giving the Bengals a pass rusher off the bench. Not a star, or even a starter, but a contributor.

1 10 10 Willie Anderson OT Auburn

A dominant tackle. Probably the most valuable player on the team.

1 1 1 Ki-Jana Carter RB Penn State

Knee injuries derailed his career. Yes, he flopped spectacularly, but it wasn’t due to poor scouting, it was unpredictable injuries.

1 1 1 Dan Wilkinson DT Ohio State

The Big Daddy is still bouncing around the league as someone hopes he’ll live up to his potential. He’s a great run-stopper, though. Not what you’d want out of a #1 pick.

1 5 5 John Copeland DE Alabama

Gave nine years of pretty solid play.

1 6 6 David Klingler QB Houston
1 28 28 Darryl Williams DB Miami (FL)

Avert your eyes. Just horrible.

The verdict
Honestly, it's not as bad as I thought. I threw in 1992 just to add one of the worst first-rounds ever, but that's outside our ten year window and it's gone outside the statute of limitations on mockery. Really, the Bengals only got two unmitigated busts: Akili Smith and Ki-Jana Carter, and Carter bombed due to injuries. It's not like the Bengals muffed the pick.

Sure, they could have done better than Big Daddy, they could have grabbed Marshall Faulk instead, but they've done okay since then, picking Corey Dillon in the scond round. And they weren't alone in rating Wilkerson that highly. And he gets downgraded because he's not a pass-rusher, he's still one of the best run-stoppers in the league.

Meanwhile, they've gotten three terrific players in the first round. Spikes is now gone, but they still have Simmons and Anderson. That's another thing that stands out, just about all of their picks are still on their roster, contributing. I'm not saying they have a great draft record, but it's not as terrible as people try and make it out to be. Honestly, it's pretty respectable. Their are plenty of reasons to mock the Bengals, goodness knows I've done it on this page, but their first round draft failure is a little overblown. So lay off of the Bungles.

posted by Poseur 4/25/2003 01:15:00 PM

Don't worry, hon. I'm coming to bed as soon as the game is over...

Thank God it's over. It's huge for us."

The Ducks were outshot 51-23 from the start of the third period until Sykora's game-winner. But goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere continued his stellar playoff run to keep the Ducks in it.

"I told Oatsie (Adam Oates) just give me one more from the slot," Sykora said. "And he gave me a beautiful pass. I was just trying to hit the net."

I got home late from work. I had dinner, I watched ER with my wife, and then I said I just wanted to catch the end of the hockey game before going to be. Three hours later, I finally went to bed.

What a game. It was exhausting to watch, who knows how tough it was to play in. And this just in, Giguere is still real good.

posted by Poseur 4/25/2003 12:09:00 PM

Jan Ullrich's return to cycling

Today [April 21] Ullrich rode the first race in Germany since september 2001. And with success. He made it clear he's back.
I'm very happy that I could make in Germany such a début. I'm really very surprised that it went so well. Miracles do happen.", said a happy Ullrich.
But the fact that he won isn't such a miracle. It's the result of months of serious training with a clear goal: getting back to the top.

OK, so it was just stage 2 of a low-profile race. Still this is big news. Ullrich has been considered the greatest threat to Lance Armstrong's dominance of cycling. Ullrich is a former world #1, Tour de France champion, and Vuelta a Espana champion. A year ago he suffered through injury and a drug suspention (recreational drugs, not performance-enhancing). Another major knock on Ullrich has been that he doesn't train hard enough through the season.
Perhaps now he's a man on a mission. Winning a road race--any road race--is a big step in the right direction. But perhaps more importantly, as we can see in the photo, Ullrich is now with a new team. He's jumped from Deutches Telekom to another German squad, Team Coast. While Telecom is an elite team, this is actually a better fit for Ullrich if he intends to win a Tour de France. Team Coast is stocked with great riders to support him through a major tour with big mountains--riders like Manuel Beltran, David Plaza, and Angel Casero. These three Spaniards are all great climbers, and Casero is a former winner of the Vuelta. This is a team that can deliver in the Tour de France, and Jan Ullrich is a rider who can deliver in the big race. Lance Armstrong, take notice.

posted by uberschuck 4/25/2003 12:44:00 AM

What layoff? Devils take game one vs. Lightning

A long layoff did nothing to slow Jamie Langenbrunner, John Madden, Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils.

Langenbrunner and Madden scored third-period goals and Brodeur recorded his third shutout of this year's playoffs as the Devils blanked the Tampa Bay Lightning, 3-0, in the opener of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.

New Jersey continues to rip through their opponents in the NHL playoffs. ESPN’s commentators are ready to canonize Martin Brodeur, and we all know he’s good, but it’s really a total defensive effort. The Devils are playing the type of defense and they type of hockey that won them the Cup three years ago. This game was a scoreless tie at the start of the third period, but the Devils just suffocated Tampa Bay at the moment of truth. It’s only 1-0, and Tampa Bay has already proved it’s resiliency, but right now, the Devils look scary-good.

posted by uberschuck 4/25/2003 12:09:00 AM

Carmelo Anthony will enter the NBA draft

"First of all I just want to thank my coaching staff, and my teammates and the whole Syracuse program for allowing me to just come here and just do one year. I know a lot of coaches wouldn’t have kept a player just for one year. So I just wanted to give all my thanks to Coach Boeheim for taking me in and bringing me in as one of his family members. He treated me like a son this year. I really want to thank him a lot.

"I’m here in front of you today to announce that I will not be coming back next year. I will be moving on to the pros."

You had to be expecting Carmelo Anthony would opt for the NBA draft. As a freshman he led his team to a national championship. Through the season he set school records in scoring & rebounding for freshman. What’s left for him to do? Could he ever make his stock higher?

Right now he’s a lock for the one of the top 3 draft choices. In my opinion, he should clearly be the #1 pick in the draft. I’m not intoxicated with the LeBron James hype. Sure, James is awesome and is worth a very high pick. However, James has wowed us with acrobatic dunks and great passes over 5'10" high school kids, whereas Carmelo Anthony has put up impressive numbers against some of the best in college basketball, including a romp through the NCAA tournament. Moreover, Anthony has been seen hitting outside shots! They’re both great talents, but Anthony has demonstrated his talent in the face of far better competition. That said, I don’t expect hype to be left at the door for the NBA draft.

Footnote: Anthony made a point to say he’d finish his college degree.

posted by uberschuck 4/25/2003 12:06:00 AM

Bengals ink Palmer for #1 pick in NFL draft

Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer agreed to a contract with the Cincinnati Bengals , who have the NFL draft's top pick.

The Bengals narrowed their candidates for the No. 1 pick to Palmer, quarterback Byron Leftwich and cornerback Terence Newman , then recently targeted the passer from Southern California.

Palmer's agent, David Dunn, agreed on contract parameters late on April 23, and filled in the rest of the details a day later.

Congrats to Palmer. In the last few months he’s led his team to a great season, won a Heisman trophy, and now, he’s the #1 pick in the NFL draft, making him a very rich man. The only problem is that he’s now a Bengal. But let’s not jinx him now by recalling the bungles of the Bengals in previous drafts. Right now Palmer can be happy he’s the most coveted pick of the litter.

posted by uberschuck 4/25/2003 12:03:00 AM


I’m not going to project the draft, there’s too many twists and turns to count, and too many really bad decisions that just defy logic. Instead, I’m going to go with who I would take at each position. Then, I will list ESPN’s pick

1. Cincinnati- WR Charlie Rogers, Michigan St. / Carson Palmer, USC
OK, I don’t think he’s the best player in the draft, I think Newman is. I also think drafting a wide receiver with a top pick is foolish, considering the glut of talent. However, if I was Marvin Lewis, I would have been doing nothing but talking up Rogers because Detroit wants him bad. And that opens up a trade just to slide down one measly spot and you get the guy you want, Newman. But people have to believe you’ll take Rogers. Even when you do take him, call the Lions immediately and see if something can be worked out.

ESPN plays it safe and takes Palmer. I like Palmer a lot, but given the huge bust trend of first round quarterbacks, I’m staying away.

2. Detroit- CB Terrance Newman, Kansas St. / Charlie Rogers, Michigan St.
They are obsessed with Rogers, and he is worth more to the Lions than anyone else. He’s already a local star. But the Lions should take the best player out there, and Newman’s a future Pro Bowler

I can’t quibble with ESPN here. That’s who the Lions want. I just think the Bengals should try and thwart them and make a trade.

3. Houston- WR Andre Johnson, Miami / Andre Johnson, Miami
This pick is begging to be traded. The best players on the board are at Houston’s very few strong positions. They can’t take Palmer, they actually have DB’s, so taking Trufant makes little sense, and Suggs can’t help them as much. Johnson’s the same level of player at a critical position. Break one of my guidelines and take him.

They agree with me. Must be a fluke.

4. Chicago- QB Carson Palmer, USC / Dewayne Robertson, Kentucky
The Bears would throw a party if Palmer slipped this far. He won’t as someone would trade up to get the Texans’ #3 if Palmer was still around. Then they would happily add more defensive prowess in Terrell Suggs.

I’m going to get into Robertson in more detail, but he is clearly the most overrated player in the draft. He was a mediocre college player, but he’s tested through the roof and now everybody wants him. The guy has never proven he can actually play football. He’s Mike Mamula redux.

5. Dallas- DE Terrell Suggs, Arizona St / Terrence Newman, Kansas St.
The Boys need everything and should take the best player on the board. In this scenario, it’s Suggs or Trufant. Either is a good pick.

If Newman lasts this long, Jerry Jones has officially made a deal with the devil. Getting Newman at #5 is a complete steal.

6. Arizona- CB Marcus Trufant, Washington St. / Terrell Suggs, Arizona St.
Take the best player left. Trufant can play right away, so this would really help the Cardinals, who can’t afford to draft potential.

He’ll probably slide this far, and Arizona will be the beneficiary of teams downgrading a guy who can play because of his vertical leap or whatnot. Then again, since it is the Cardinals, he’ll be a lousy pro.

7. Minnesota- CB Andre Woolfolk, Oklahoma / Jimmy Kennedy, Penn St.
They want a rush end more than anything, but Suggs won’t last and it’s not worth trading up to get him. Just sit back and grab one of the shutdown corners. Deciding between Weathersby and Woolfolk, go with the one who didn’t get shot.

Or take a dominating tackle! That would still be a really good pick.

8. Jacksonville- OT Jordan Gross, Utah / Byron Leftwich, Marshall
I’m a huge fan of drafting linemen. Gross is the best in the draft. It’s a deep class without any standouts, but he’s got the best shot at being a star.

ESPN has them going for the best player available. That’s a pretty good call, as passing on a guy with Leftwich’s skills will be really tough. They don’t have a desperate need for a QB, but grab talent when you can.

9. Carolina- CB Dennis Weathersby, Oregon St. / Marcus Trufant, Washington St.
Curse violently that Gross doesn’t last and then draft the last big-time corner out there. They also could consider taking Eric Steinbach, but there’s a long line of great college guards who didn’t pan out as NFL players. Don’t risk it.

Well, I already have Trufant off the board, so it’s obvious that I think Carolina’s getting great value if they can pull this off. ESPN seems to be scared off by thr Weathersby shooting as well.

10. Baltimore- QB Byron Leftwich, Marshall / Jordan Gross, Utah
If I’m the Ravens, I hope this doesn’t happen. Because if Leftwich falls this far, you have to take him. I’d rather stock up with a linebacker or defensive lineman, but you can’t pass on Leftwich.

Do NOT take Boller, do NOT take Boller. Grab a great tackle, even if it’s not a need. Do NOT draft Boller.

11. Seattle- LB Boss Bailey, Georgia / Kevin Williams, Oklahoma St.
The best players on the board are all Seahawk needs, the defensive front seven. I’m really torn on this one, but there’s loads of players who make sense here: EJ Henderson, Willie Joseph, Cory Redding, Jimmy Kennedy, etc. The run on defense begins now.

…or Kevin Williams. I think he’ll slide because of his size, but grabbing any of the front seven guys would be a good idea.

12. St. Louis- OG Eric Steinbach, Iowa / Boss Bailey, Georgia
OK, first the Rams take Steinbach. He’s a perfect fit for their team and at #12, worth the risk of taking a guard.

If Bailey’s on the board, he’ll be tough to pass on. He’s really the most complete linebacker out there.

13. NJ Jets- DT Jimmy Kennedy, Penn St. / Johnathan Sullivan, Georgia
Do NOT draft Robertson from Kentucky. He is this year’s Mike Mamula. He is the most overrated player in the draft. Heck, I’d take RB Artose Pinner as the first player from Kentucky. That said, I believe he’ll go in the top five, probably to Dallas or Chicago. Let someone else make that mistake.

Since ESPN has already made the Robertson mistake, they can then take Sullivan. I’d rather have Long or Joseph, but that’s just me.

14. New England- DT Willie Joseph, Miami / Ty Warren, Texas A&M
I really like Rien Long and can’t understand why he’s slipping so much, but I also understand that when looking at two similar players, take the one from Miami

You’ve got to be kidding. Ty Warren? With both Long and Joseph on the board? It would be cocktail hour at the Tennessee war room if that happened.

15. San Diego- LB EJ Henderson, Maryland / Willie Joseph, Miami
He probably won’t be on the board and they’ll take OT Kwame Harris (or goof up and take Robertson). But with Seau gone, Henderson can now slide in right away.

The Chargers benefit from Ty Warren going to New England. I’d pass on Henderson as well if Jospeh was still on the board.

16. Kansas City- DE Cory Redding, Texas / Chris Kelsay, Nebraska
Here’s a good philosophical decision. Do you take Redding and get a terrific pass-rusher who is sliding because of his measurables, or do you take smallish DT Kevin Williams and convert him to an end? Either one is a good pick. It’s how much faith you habe in your coaching staff. I have none, so I don’t think they can teach Williams something new.

ESPN has them avoid that decision by just taking Kelsay. Easily the safest pick of the bunch.

17. New Orleans- S Ken Hamlin / Jeff Faine, Notre Dame
No team has the guts to take Hamlin here, but this is where he should go. He’s got off-the-field issues and he plays with reckless abandon. Good. This guy is an unreal hitter and playmaker. He’s either going to bust spectacularly or make the Hall of Fame.

And I thought I went out on a limb. Jeff Faine? With Steinbach still out there? What? Does ESPN think the New Orleans front office will be smoking crack that day? Picking a good college center would be insane.

18. New Orleans- DT Kevin Williams, Oklahoma St. / Troy Polamalu, USC
He might be undersized to play tackle in the NFL, but it’s worth the risk. I would take Long, but after gambling so heavily on Hamlin, play it safe so the locals don’t kill you.

ESPN adopts the same “don’t have the locals kill you” strategy after the Faine pick. Honestly, I think they will take Polamalu here.

19. New England- RB Willis McGahee, Miami / Eric Steinbach, Iowa
Bench him for a year and deal. New England is a perfect team to draft McGahee because they already had one 1st rounder and won’t face a firestorm of criticism for not getting anyone who can play right away. Having two early picks can make risk more acceptable. Particularly when you’ve already gotten that tackle you covet.

Steinbach slips because he’s a guard, and this would be one hell of a pick. I can’t say I’d be tempted to pass on McGahee as well in this situation. But I’m sticking to my guns. McGahee.

20. Denver- DE Jerome McDougal, Miami / Kwame Harris, Stanford
I can’t imagine him lasting this long, but Redding might still be around. Get the great pass rush.

And ESPN keeps McDougal on the board. Harris is a solid pick, after all, my next selection is…

21. Cleveland- OT Kwame Harris, Stanford / Sammy Davis, Texas A&M
Get the best lineman on the board, offense or defense.

OK, I like the Wrecking Crew defense as much as the next guy, but it’s the system not the athletes. Quick, name those impact Aggies in the NFL. Remember Dat Nguyen? He’s a good pro, but come on, do you want the good pro or the guy who might be great?

22. NY Jets- WR Kelly Washington, Tennessee / Kelly Washington, Tennessee
I look at like this. I have three options, take another DT (what a great DT class), take Troy Polamalu, or take the best wide receiver out there, neck injury be damned. Did you see this guy play?

See, even ESPN agrees with me!

23. Buffalo- S Troy Polamalu, USC / Michael Haynes, Penn St.
Honestly, the same options as the Jets. I’d be real tempted to take Long or Sullivan and plug that hole in the middle of my defense.

Instead, ESPN is tempted by a rush end. Particularly since the Trojan is gone. That’s a solid pick.

24. Indianapolis- DT Rien Long, Washington St. / Eugene Wilson, Illinois
Long was the best tackle in college football. He had bad workouts? He plays to upright? He looked disinterested? Those are concerns, but he was the most productive player still on the board.

I’ve never been impressed with Wilson. He’s just not as good as his rep. Maybe I’m wrong.

25. NY Giants- DE Chris Kelsey, Nebraska / Jerome McDougal, Miami
A complete no-brainer.

So is ESPN’s pick. Take the best DE left. Period.

26. San Francisco- DT Johnathan Sullivan, Georgia / Kyle Boller, Cal
Ridiculously productive. Normally there’s only one tackle you’d really want in the first round, I’m on the fifth one.

And there is the Boller fallacy. Look, he wasn’t that good in college, why do you think he’ll be a good pro? He’s got arm strength, but so did Jeff George.

27. Pittsburgh- S Terrence Holt, NC State / Andre Woolfolk, Oklahoma
The added benefit here of getting a return specialist. Seriously, Pittsburgh should be interested in trading up, particularly in this scenario with Palmer slipping to #4.

Probably our biggest disagreement is right here. I have Woolfolk going #7. Did I watch a different Sooner team than these guys?

28. Tennessee- DE Dewayne White, Louisville / Tyrone Calico, MTSU
OK, if the Titans sit back and watch this many defensive tackles go, they should fire everyone in the front office. They need line help badly. Most teams aren’t “one player away,” but the Titans might be.

The second, “huh?” pick on ESPN. Let’s draft a really fast guy with bad hands. Because we saw how well Patrick Johnson’s career turned out. Did I mention how badly they need a tackle?

29. Green Bay- DE Michael Haynes, Penn St. / Kenny Peterson, Ohio St
Meanwhile, there will be a defensive end here. It might not be Haynes, but someone who can play end will still be hanging around.

Yes, there are this many good defensive tackles in the draft.

30. Philadelphia- LB Terry Pierce, Kansas St. / LJ Smith, Rutgers
I think Pierce will fall to here, but the Eagles really need a linebacker and they may not be able to sit back and watch. Honestly, a guy like Hamlin will still be around and they should take him and change his position.

If they take a tight end, it better be Jason Witten.

31. Oakland- WR Bryant Johnson, Penn St. / Julian Battle, Tennessee
There’s a lot of Penn State guys up here. Maybe, just maybe, JoePa should have had a better year. I’m kind of scared by the huge reputation of so many Penn State players in the first round. If they were so stocked with talent, how come they weren’t more productive in college? The most productive Nittany Lion is still on the board: Larry Johnson.

Another corner goes. That’s actually a pretty good prognosis. In today’s game, you can never have too many cornerbacks.

32. Oakland- OT Wayne Hunter, Hawaii / Willis McGahee, Miami
Resist temptation and here and pass on Eugene Wilson. He’s not that good. Maybe Mike Doss, but he can’t cover. Play it safe, take the lineman. Doss is a really interesting player, he was a great college player, but he’s a defensive back who just isn’t that good at covering the pass. However, his run support is unbelievable. The Bengals would love to get him with the first pick of the second round (and if not, they are really dumb). Average college players tend to become average pros, but not all great college players become great pros. I really want Doss to succeed, he’s one of my favorite players, but honestly, I’d be really scared of a safety known for poor coverage skills.

Oakland would laugh all the way to the bank. And look, ESPN did have a two-pick team take him.

posted by Poseur 4/23/2003 03:40:00 PM

Game Sevens

Tuesday evening in the life of a hockey fan: Clear nighttime schedule. Take nap. Order dinner and turn off the phone. Settle in, prepare to spend six hours on the edge of your La-Z-Boy. For the housebound pucklover the night was a little like hitting the jackpot: 7 7 7.

Even in the tightly wound, anything-goes NHL playoffs -- where games can skate into triple overtime and Ducks can fly faster than Red Wings -- a Game 7 gets your attention. Three in one night? Feels like March madness six weeks late.

Don't believe the hype. It was a dud. A total dud. Only one good game out of three. The Leafs didn't show up as Eddie Belfour had an apparent nervous breakdown. The Canucks-Blues was good for about two periods before becoming a rout.

Only the Wild-Avs gave us any excitiment. The thrill of the underdog winning certainly help. Ironically, the winning goal was scored by a former Capital: Andrew Burnette. so apparently they stop being choking dogs when they go to expansion teams.

posted by Poseur 4/23/2003 11:56:00 AM


Yankees tire of kicking the crap out of Twins, decide to go home

Did you know Ron Gardenhire has never beaten the Yankees? Not once. He's 0-15, including 7 losses this year. My God, you'd think he'd win just one. So how awesome have the Yankees been?

The team is hitting 302/388/551. Let's look at it by position.

C- Posada 276/353/603. Posada leads all catchers in HR, RBI, and doubles. Among catchers with 50 at bats, he's first in slugging. Outisde of Ramon Henrnandez, he's been the top hitting catcher in the league.

1B- Giambi 205/354/308. The only Yankee not hitting up to his ability. But do you think Giambi will continue to stink up the joint? didn't think so.

2B- Soriano 364/423/670. He's knocking the cover off the ball. 7 HR, 20 RBI's and 4 SB's? Are you kdding me? The only second basemen with better rate stats is Jiminez, a former Yankee prospect.

SS- Almonte 268/317/375. Doing an okay job as a fill-in. He's outhitting Tejada though!

3B- Ventura 283/345/604. He's among the league leaders at his position in just about every category. He ain't Scott Rolen, but he's doing a darn fine impression of him.

LF- Matsui 293/365/453. The initial adjustment seems to be over and Hideki is already a very good left fielder. He's not among the elite, but he is playing just below All-Star level.

CF- Williams 365/461/649. Um, Bernie is just crushing the ball right now. There's just no one in the AL even close to him right now (ok- Milton Bradley is playing out of his mind right now).

RF- Mondesi 352/420/704. Holy crap. Someone's been eating his Wheaties. 704 slugging pct? He's even stealing bases. Mondesi right now has been the best player in the AL. That can't last.

DH- Johnson 300/440/533. The Yankee farm system strikes again. Nick the Stick seems to have finally arrived.

So look at that, everybody's playing well, but it's not ridiculous. Except for Mondesi, but as he cools as off, Giambi will heat up. And as Ventura comes down a little, Jeter will return to the lineup. This team is just so loaded it hurts right now. And take my word for it, the pitching is just as good.

posted by Poseur 4/22/2003 12:35:00 PM

Spain vs. Italy in the Champions League

Another chance for the Primera Liga to prove its superiority to Serie A. Juventus is really struggling and really is lucky to still be in the field. Going to Barcelona should prove to much for them. In their last five Champions League matches, they have won once. Barca, on the other hand, still hasn't lost. So that draw in leg one has got to be stuck in their craw.

The situations are reversed in the other Spanish-Italian tilt. Valencia is a mess right now, losing to just about everybody in their domestic league, while Inter Milan is playing like, well, Inter Milan. It's 1-0 Inter right now, but Valencia will have home field.

Both leagues have another team playing tommorrow as well. Real Madrid is up 3-1 on Man U, and AC Milan is all square at 0, hosting Ajax. That would be an incredible all Spanish-Italian semis.

How good have the Spanish been in Champions League play? They've sent two teams to the semis three straight years, maybe a fourth if things go as expected over the next two days. They have had a team in the finals three straight years, winning twice. It's just an unbelievable run right now. The Spainiards rock right now. No other league is even close.
posted by Poseur 4/22/2003 11:57:00 AM

It really hasn't been a bang up week for Carl Lewis. First the IOC releases documents showing he failed a drug test before the 1988 Olympics, and now a DUI arrest. Sometimes it doesn't pay to get out of bed.
posted by Poseur 4/22/2003 11:38:00 AM

Now it's Illinois' turn to whine

Athletic director Ron Guenther said he hopes to have a new coach in place within two weeks. But Guenther didn't deny he was angry about Self's departure.

"Why wouldn't I be?'' Guenther said. "When we talked three years ago, Bill felt this was a stop he could live with a long time. It's disappointing. When you make a commitment to get the job done, you come and do the job, finish the job and then you move on. The right thing was for him to stay.''

OK, this just in. Coaches leave jobs. They take new ones. This has got to stop, with every program whining endlessly about betrayals and treason. Roy Williams left Kansas to go home to UNC. Bill Self left Illinois, admittedly a great job, for Kansas. KANSAS. What coach would turn down a chance to coach for one of the most legendary programs in college basketball.

This isn't a knock on Illinois. That's one of the best jobs in the country, and I'm sure they'll get a good coach to fill that vacancy. But we're talking Kansas here. What other jobs compare? UNC, Kentucky, and UCLA. End of list. Those are the most successful programs over the life of college basketball, and if someone offers you one of those jobs, you accept. OK, maybe not UCLA, but that's just because it doesn't pay as much.

I'm sick and tired of hearing about every school shouting to the heavens when a coach leaves for what is, essentially, a better job. Particularly when those schools would fire those coaches in a heartbeat if they had two subpar years in a row.

posted by Poseur 4/22/2003 11:32:00 AM


Here's a pretty good guide to draft day strategy

So let's look at the rules:
One: Don't draft a quarterback in the first two rounds unless he does something at an elite level
QB's bust more often than any other position. Of the 50 QB's taken in the first two rounds since 1984, only Troy Aikman won a Super Bowl. That's a terrible track record, but it shows that teams often throw their top QB's to the wolves while 5th and 6th rounders learn the NFL and become Brett Favre (well, maybe not that good). This is a great rule to remember. I'm a Ravens fan, and I'm hoping they sit tight and draft Gesser in the 6th round, a perfect fit for their west coast offense.

Two: With the possible exception of quarterback, take the best player available no matter what
Good Lord, yes. Drafting for need is the #1 way to have a lousy draft. You can never have too much talent at any position. If nothing else, it sets you up for trades. Talent is talent, take the best available. I call this the Buffalo Bills strategy, and they consistently have great drafts.

Three: Don't get so hung up on pass rushing defensive ends
Yes, sacks are overrated. But I'm equally wary of wideouts. There is always tons of receiving talent deep in every draft, so remember Econ 101 and your supply curve. The corralary to this is that defensive tackles are worth their weight in gold. You know how hard it is to find a great college tackle? Heck, there's a talent shortage in the NFL. Grab those interior lineman.

Four: Draft Willis McGahee early and don't think twice about it
Only good for this draft, but the logic is clear. You would trade a late 1st rounder for a top pick in the 2004 draft, and that's what McGahee is when healthy. Pay the guy to rehab, let him learn your system, and then enjoy the fact you got one of the most talented players in the draft. Let's say Clinton Portis and his 1400 yards got hurt. Would you trade a 1st rounder to get him on your team even if he's hurt now? I know I would.

Five: ... injuries heal
Read: draft Kelly Washington. Players get hurt all of the time. Downgrade guy who gets hurt a lot, but don't downgrade him for one injury. Yes, that neck surgery is scary, but did you see the man play?

Six: Actually watch college football games
Look, if he wasn't a good college player, why would you think he's going to be a good pro? What's the deal with Dewayne Robertson? I saw Kentucky play, and he was nothing special, measurables be damned. Meanwhile, Rien Long was easily the best tackle in college football, and his stock is dropping like the valueof my 401(k). Yes, Long's got flaws and desrves to fall a little, but not as much as Robertson deserves to climb.

Seven: Don't be an idiot. In other words, don't try to make a pick happen, don't buck a trend and don't take dumb chances
They use the Penn State running back example, but that's dumb. What school you went to has very little to do with how successful you will or will not be. However, drafting slow, undersized wide receivers who run lousy routes with a top five pick (Peter Warrick) was bucking a trend. Terrence Newman was probably the best player in college football last year (I've argued for him to get mention for the Heisman) who's skills translate to the NFL. Draft him. Right now, the Texans should be laughing maniacly over the prospect at getting Newman with the #3 pick.

Eight: Don't worry so much about height
Hello, Troy Polamalu. He'll go late first instead of in the top 15 picks, where he should go. He's the second best safety in the draft (the best will also go in the second round, Ken Hamilin, but that's for different reasons). The only position where hieght is a huge concern is wide receiver.

Nine: When in doubt, trade out of the pick
Picks have value. Most teams will trade next a round higher in next year's draft for your pick now. That means you can dump a 2nd rounder for a 1st rounder in 2004. Don't force the pick, if there's no one you want, think ahead. Always think about next year.

Ten: When in doubt, go for the home run
I'll call this the "pot rule." Teams were stupid to pass on Sapp because he smoked pot a few times, just as they'll be stupid to pass on Rogers for the same reason. They'll pass on Hamelin because he's got discipline problems. Frankly, once you get outside the top three or four players, everybody's got some question marks. Taking the occasional discipline problem is good route. Especially if their problems related to money, a problem which tends to evaporate in the pros. Who excites you? Guys like Hamelin could either be a huge star or a huge bust, but once you're out of the top 10, take the risk. Swing for the fences. Take guys you think will make the Pro Bowl. Terrell Suggs might be a little slow? The guy set an NCAA record for sacks, he can get to the QB. Take the chance. McGahee's knee? He's the best player out there.

I pretty much agree with their rules. It boils down to this, buy talent at the positions where it is hardest to acquire talent.

posted by Poseur 4/21/2003 05:10:00 PM

This Iverson guy's pretty good

55 points. His team only scored 98. How awesome was AI? Let's look.

He shot 21-32. The rest of the team shot 15-45.
He was 3-5 from three-point land. The rest of the team went 1-6

Heck, he was second on the team in assists, with eight. Iverson showed once again why he worth any headaches he may cause. Because he is one of the toughest players in the NBA and when the pressure gets high, he's at his best.

If only he had decent players around him.
posted by Poseur 4/21/2003 11:52:00 AM

Cubs' luck turning?

Sosa went to Allegheny General Hospital for a CAT scan that determined there was no serious injury after he was hit on the left ear flap by a pitch from Salomon Torres in the fourth inning. Sosa left the game immediately, shaken and shocked. There were fears of a concussion, but the only visible damage was minor.

I don't know if you saw this, but omigod. It's always scary to watch someone get hit in the head with a pitch, but I've never seen the guy's helmet actually shatter. It could have been one of the worst moments in Cubs history (and that's a tough list to get on).

Instead, Sosa's completely okay. Maybe this is a sign. Maybe this is the year things go right in the Windy City. Maybe.

posted by Poseur 4/21/2003 11:45:00 AM

Self to Kansas

While school officials maintained their policy of not discussing specific candidates, a source close to the KU search team said Self had accepted a five-year contract with a $1.1 million annual salary and would have been introduced Sunday had it not been a holiday.

Charlene Taylor, whose son, Keith Langford, was the Jayhawks' third-leading scorer last season, said she was relieved Self was taking over.

''He's a real good motivator and a good recruiter, so I think Kansas is still going to be Kansas,'' she said. ''It's just instead of having an '80s style, you just move up to today's basketball. A lot of the people that were still there, including coach Williams, were '80s style. And it worked. They won. But there's nothing wrong with change.''

Another good hire in the offseason. A lot of schools have done real well for themselves, and while Self isn't the legend Roy Williams is, he's done a great job at Illinois, so don't expect Kansas to have any fall-off (or lose any recruits).

So all's well that ends well. UNC gets their favorite son. Kansas gets a hot, young coach. Everybody wins. Except, um, Matt Doherty and Illinois.
posted by Poseur 4/21/2003 11:43:00 AM

Caps choke

Sitting in a quiet locker room, shaking their heads, shrugging their shoulders, searching for answers. Another collapse, another meltdown, another series that got away.

The Washington Capitals, again, played the role of choke artists, gagging away a playoff series they seemingly had stashed away in their satchels.

For the fourth time in the past 11 years, the Capitals couldn't hold on to a two-game lead in a best-of-seven series. This one, though, might have been the worst collapse of them all.

The worst thing for the Caps, who have got to have cinched up the unofficial title of biggest choking dogs in sports history, is that they completed dominated this game. There was no reason for it to even be close. But Khabibulin made 60 saves and well, that's really good. He was just unbeatable.

So another year, another 2-game playoff series lead goes up in smoke. You can practically set your watch by it.

posted by Poseur 4/21/2003 11:39:00 AM

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