Irsay says Colts won't move... as long as the check clears

"We're going to be in Indianapolis for a long time," he told The Indianapolis Star while taking a break from the NFL owners' meetings, which concluded Wednesday. "I'm going to live up to my part of the lease. It's through 2013.

"That's the kind of person I am. I'm not running out from under that lease."

I grew up outside of Baltimore. So I can tell you exactly how much an Irsay's word is worth. There as good as moved to LA. Get the Mayflower trucks ready.
posted by Poseur 5/22/2003 11:37:00 AM

Almonte pitching against kids his own age- and doing well

These days, the highly publicized left-hander from the Dominican Republic has much to smile about. In his first year of high school, Almonte is playing for one of the top-ranked teams in New York under Mike Turo, one of the city's more respected and successful coaches. Monroe's storied baseball history includes such alumni as Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg, a star for the Detroit Tigers in the 1930s and '40s.

Almonte, 16, has played in some capacity in every game for the postseason-bound Eagles, posting a 7-1 record on the mound, including a near-perfect game and a three-hitter.

It's a far different scenario than two years ago when national controversy swirled around Almonte. An investigation found Almonte was two years older than Little League's age limit of 12. His team, the Bronx-based Rolando Paulino All-Stars, was stripped of its third-place finish in the World Series and all its records, including a no-hitter by Almonte, whose talent was overshadowed by the incident.

Good for Almonte. What happened two years ago was bad, but it's nice to see him try and put the whole thing behind him. Maybe he still has a baseball career ahead of him. Hopefully, he won't always be remembered as kid who lied about his age.

Good luck, Danny.
posted by Poseur 5/22/2003 11:33:00 AM


It's tourney time!

OK, it's the NCAA baseball tourney, but Selection Sunday is this weekend, and just about every conference has their tournament this week. It's time to take a look at what's going on the amateur basepaths. I have to say, college baseball, at its current level of coverage and popularity, is a bizarre throwback to an earlier era of college sports. They actually are amateurs, and regionalism reigns supreme. Here's your notecards on the final week.

IN: FSU, Georgia Tech, NC State, Clemson, UNC
BUBBLE: Virginia, Wake

Actually, UVa's probably in. Play tough against NC State, get a win, things look good. Wake needs a very long run in the tournament. Not neccessarily a title, but close. Florida State's got a seed wrapped up, and Georgia Tech's in line for a seed as well (only eight teams get a seed in the tournament). Clemson and State are both in the running for a regional. This is the toughest conference except for maybe the Big 12, and everyone except UNC looks like they have a lot to play for.

IN: West Virginia
BUBBLE: Rutgers, Notre Dame

Only four teams make the Big East tournament (Virginia Tech rounds out the field), so it's tough to impress the committee. Rutgers-Notre Dame might be playing in a de facto elimination game. Rutgers won the regular season title with a 19-6 record, but WVU was 18-6 and the Irish was 16-7, so I'm not sure that means anything.

BIG 12
IN: Nebraska, A&M, Texas, Missouri, Baylor
BUBBLE: Oklahoma St.

Throw Nebraska, A&M, and Texas in a hat and shake. One of those teams will get a seed in the tournmanet, the other two will get regionals. All want to make the committee's job easier and just win this tournament. Okie State has the home field advantage, but they've already lost their opener to Texas 10-7. They need to crawl out of the loser's bracket.

IN: Long Beach St, Fullerton
BUBBLE: UC-Riverside

There's no tournament in the Big West, which is shame because it would have been a doozy. Only in baseball is the Big West a power conference, and the committee has to choose between Long Beach and Fullerton. Long Beach has the conference title, but Fullerton took the season series 2-1 and has the higher RPI. Tough call. UC-Riverside looks real good for a bid, but they'll be biting their nails just in case.

IN: Southern Miss, Tulane, Houston
BUBBLE: TCU, East Carolina

TCU's got a lousy RPI, but they finished second in conference play by a comfortable margin. They should feel safe, but don't want to lay an egg. Nobody's got a shot at a seed, and Southern Miss might be thinking regional, but it won't happen. So it's about the bubble teams here. ECU dropped the opener, so they are perilously close to missing the tournament.

IN: Stanford, ASU, Arizona
BUBBLE: Washington, USC

No tourney here either. Stanford's got a seed all wrapped up. So there's Washington and USC, wishing they had another chance to prove themselves. But they do! The regular season ends this week, and wouldn't you know it? USC travels to Washington. This is a huge series, as the tourney field probably isn't big enough for both of them. Heck, it might not be big enough for one of them.

IN: LSU, South Carolina, Auburn, Miss State, Ole Miss
BUBBLE: Arkansas, Alabama

Arkansas kicks off the tourney by playing LSU, so they'll know where they stand real quick. LSU's looking at a seed and a regional, while Auburn, USC, and State all hope to get regionals. So the SEC is its usual loaded self, though its not as strong as the ACC this year. Day one was rained out.

Who are the seeds?
There are 16 regionals of four teams, and the winners go onto the super regionals, a best of three series against your paired sub-regional. The host of the super regionals are the eight seeded teams. Florida State, Stanford, Rice, and Nebraska are pretty much assured of a seed. Then either Fullerton or Long Beach State will get one, but probably not both.

After that, LSU, Miami, one of the Texas schools, Georgia Tech, ASU, and Auburn are probably next in line. There's only three seeds for them to fight over but the early picks are: LSU, Georgia Tech, and Texas.

posted by Poseur 5/21/2003 05:37:00 PM

Albom sees the truth

Here's the simple truth, folks: There are teams that use a cushion and teams that are threadbare, and the Pistons are the latter when it comes to points. There are simply none to spare. The cupboard is always down to its last can of soup. The refrigerator is always a leftover sandwich and a box of baking soda. In such dire straits, there is little room for charity. So when the Pistons start giving points away they are in trouble.

But here they were Tuesday night at the Palace, handing it over. Lazy passes. A terrible rebounding differential. (Jersey had 19 offensive rebounds, giving the Nets all kinds of second chances.) And some bad shooting -- with the exception of Richard Hamilton, who almost single-handedly kept the Pistons in this thing.

The Pistons play an ugly brand of basketball. Defense is great, but these guys just have a pitiful offense. Not counting Rip Hamilton, the team shot 37.5% from the field. You don't need me to say that sucks.

The writing is on the wall, time is running out on the Pistons. buddy, can you spare a shooter?

posted by Poseur 5/21/2003 11:41:00 AM


Boswell runs the numbers on Sorenstam

You get the idea. On a great course, 600 extra yards is worth about 21/2 strokes. Such information is routinely used in handicap tournaments. Nobody doubts that it's accurate within a tiny margin of error. But as soon as a gender issue arrives, everybody forgets that there's a mountain of facts to analyze, rather than a hill of emotion to vent.

Add 21/2 strokes to Sorenstam's LPGA Tour average of 68.7 and it lands you at around 71.2 -- the same level as a Tour regular like Williamson or a great senior like Watson when he plays the PGA Tour.

Thanks, Tom.

I don't know enough about golf to know which statistical measures to use, but his point seems solid. There is a standard handicapping, generally perceived to be accurate within a tenth of a stroke. While the regular pros will have a par of 71, Anika's is closer to 73. She has about a 50/50 chance of making the cut. she's pretty much Tom Watson at this point in his career. Not a bad comp.

Once again, I don't know enough about golf, but his case seems pretty convincing to me. She should be fine. You go, girl!

posted by Poseur 5/20/2003 06:55:00 PM

Izenberg: Colleges now teach duplicity and deception

Ethically, morally and educationally (because, after all, these are institutions of higher learning) the would-be defectors tripped and stumbled under the rage of the five football schools that would be left behind.

It will make no difference in the end because, clearly, you cannot embarrass people who have no shame.

But what you may not understand yet is that there are words that need to be used to explain what really is happening here. Start with "duplicity," pick up "deception," throw in "amoral" and "unethical.

Just shut up. OK? Shut the hell up. I don't blame fans of Virginia Tech or Pitt or Rutgers (if Rutgers has fans) being really pissed off about this. But this column is ridiculous.

Let's not kid ourselves. Why did the Big East form? To make money off of TV. It was perhaps the first made-for-TV league. Ten years later, they created a football conference that stretched from Miami to New England. So don't give me any of that crap about the geographic size of the new ACC or the ethics of destroying the lilly white Big East.

It wasn't a huge ethical dilemna for the Big East to woo Notre Dame. It wasn't a big problem for the conference to steal VT from the Metro (remember them?) or Rutgers from the A-10. Oh, it was okay to do that for the Big East, but when the ACC raids your conference, suddenly its unethical? Suddenly a conference spanning from Miami to Syracuse (which is actually less space than the Big East) is an unwieldy monstrosity? Save it for the tourists.

I also remember the Big East repeatedly refusing to add VT to its basketball membership until they won the NIT one year. This is a conference built on one concept, milking TV contracts for all they are worth. For them to suddenly complain about the tables being turned is laughable.

Good riddance to the Big East.

posted by Poseur 5/20/2003 06:38:00 PM

French screw the Italians again

"I've heard the reasons he has given for not inviting me and my team but I think he's trying to find any excuse he can. His reasons don't stand up. Leblanc has been saying I have not finished the Tour for three years but in the meantime I've won 14 races, the Milan-San Remo World Cup race, Ghent-Wevelgem and the world title. If that's not good enough for the Tour de France, I want to know what is."

"The Tour isn't just a French race, it's the biggest race in the sport (and) it's the third consecutive time I've been refused a place," Cipollini told reporters. "I thought there wouldn't be a problem this year because I'm world champion. I thought they'd be obliged to invite me as I represent the sport with my rainbow jersey but clearly I've been proved wrong."

Ah, it's almost Tour de France time. Well, not really, the race isn't until July, but the organziers announced the teams and in their annual slap to the Italians, they left Cipollini off of the invitee list. This is just ridiculous. The Tour de France is the most important road race and to leave the reigning world champion off the list of riders is a complete joke.

He's currently ranked 9th in the world. He is the reigning world champion. OK, his team is ranked 23rd right now, but the Posties are 24th. He should be in the field, now he's just got to content himself with winning the Giro. What a complete joke.

posted by Poseur 5/20/2003 11:48:00 AM

Mavs steal Game One

Greg Popovich should kill himself. He was just outcoached by Don Nelson. Seriously. Don Friggin' Nelson! How does that happen? How does perhaps one of the worst game day coaches in NBA history outfox a guy who won the NBA coach of the year award? I'm stumped.

The Mavs won this game on the free throw line, hitting 49 consecutive free throws after missing their first attempt. 49. So almost half of their points came uncontested and with the clock stopped. On the flip side, fouling Tim Duncan before he had a chance to jack up a three pointer was a brilliant move.

So, as I noted before, the Spurs are a one-man team. The Mavs made the smart decision and simply conceded Duncan his dominance and forced the other Spurs to win the game, which they couldn't pull off. For those counting at home, Duncan scored 40 of his team's 110 points (36.4%), took 19 of their 48 free throws (39.6%) and 20 of the 74 shots (27%), grabbed 15 of their 37 rebounds (40.5%), made 7 of the team's 23 assists (30.4%), and blocked its only shot. He is the team, and Duncan is good enough to lose to the Mavericks by 3. He needs more help.
posted by Poseur 5/20/2003 11:34:00 AM


Baseball at the quarter-pole

Believe it or not, we're 1/4 of the way through the baseball season. So let's make some unfair assessments on limited data, shall we?

It's already a two-team race. Baltimore wasn't god-awful at first, mainly due to a ridiculously easy schedule, and the D-Rays look like they aren't a complete joke. By the end of the year, the D-Rays look to pace the O's, but still fall short of the wayward Jays, caught in mediocrity. OK, so it's the Sox and the Yanks, and we can stop payying attention to the other three teams for another year. As awesome as the Yankees have been, they haven't been able to put away the Sox with their start and the two are tied atop the division standings. The reason? Boston is 10-4 in 1-run games. Maybe that bullpen isn't so bad after all. Because the Yankees rotation has been awesome. Among AL starters, Moose ranks 2nd in ERA, Clemens-8th, and Wells- 13th. Heck, Pettite is 23rd and Weaver 28th. Only Pedro compares. So, let's be honest, the Yankees are better. At what positions would you rather have the Red Sock? Third base with the way Mueller is playing right now. Maybe shortstop just because Jeter's been hurt. And Manny in left. That's it. Down the line, the Yankee is better and usually by a wide margin. But here we are, tied at the quarter pole.

It was fun while it lasted. But it's over. The Twins are back in first and the Royals shall begin their descent towards the basement. Luckily, they won't fall too far because A) The Indians are real bad and B) The Tigers are even worse. Actually, the real excitement here is whether the Tigers can put together one of those all-time horrid seasons. They are on pace to win about 40 games, I think they'll pick it up and win 45-50, but I wouldn't bet on it. They are truly awful. Speaking of awful, why is the White Sox offense so bad? 173 runs ranks them 24th in baseball, which is pretty bad. Konerko's been terrible, Carlos Lee's been worse. Lost in this is that Frank Thomas has done a great job so far this year. But they need more offense, a lot of it, or the Twins will win this division by 15 games or so.

Texas still can't stop anyone from scoring. Anaheim is playing well, but the aliens are no longer inhabiting the clubhouse and they are merely really good instead of great. So the M's and the A's are set up to battle in another pennant race. The A's have the best defense in baseball, allowing fewer runs than anybody, but suddenly, they can't score. Tejada's doing his best Mario Mendoza impression and Chris Singleton's been predictably bad at the plate. The Mariners have ignored Ichiro's poor start and put up runs by the bushel because Edgar Martinez is a hitting god. And Bret Boone and Mike Cameron don't hurt.

The divsion that defies logic. In the Pythagorean Standings (using RS^2 over RS^2+RA^2 to determine Win%), this is a really tight division:

Philly 27-17
Montreal 26-18
Atlanta 26-18

But the standings don't look like that, do they? Instead, the Braves are 31-13 and the Phils are six games out. Simply put, the Braves are extremely lucky right now, and these things tend to balance out over the course of the season. Expect things to get tight. And can someone look into the fact whether the movie Major League accurately predicts the 2003 Expos?

GO Cubs!!! In interesting Pythagorean quirks, the Cubs are short three wins to their projected record, but the Cards are four short. Good news for the Astros, who have muddled through a pretty lousy start from the Killer B's. I refuse to discuss this rationally, I will merely blindly root for the Cubs.

The duct tape and staples are falling off the monstrosity known as the D-backs. They borrowed and borrowed and borrowed, putting off the bill for overpirced, old players past their prime. They got the World Series rings, but the bill has come due. And it sure is steep. Oh, and the Ginats are on pace to win this division by a lot provided Bonds doesn't get hit by a truck or anything.

posted by Poseur 5/19/2003 06:14:00 PM


Giro Update

The first week of the Giro d' Italia is now in the books. Let's take a look at what's happened since the last update.

Stages 5 & 6. As if Alessandro Petacchi had not impressed everyone enough in the previous days, he delivered with two more stage wins and extended his overall lead. Meanwhile, Mario Cipollini continued to be frustrated in the shadow of Petacchi. Cipollini even quit the sprint of stage 5, pulling up while the younger sprinters passed him by.

Stage 7. The real contenders for the leader's pink jersey grabbed the spotlight in the first mountain stage. Stefano Garzelli, one year after being disqualified from the Giro for doping, scored a huge stage win to take the overall lead from Petacchi. Two of his rivals, Francesco Casagrande, and Marco Pantani, didn't have such good days. Casagrande lost two and a half minutes; Pantani lost nearly 4 minutes.

Stage 8. After a long delay Mario Cipollini finally won a stage. The stage 8 victory made it career victory #41 for Cipollini at the Giro. That ties him with a nearly 70 year old mark by Alfredo Binda. Let's put this into perspective. Each major cycling tour has about 20 stages each year, but several are mountain stages and time trials. So, that means sprinters have about 12-14 stages they can win per year in a tour like the Giro. Over a 15 year career--like Cipollini's--a cyclist would have to average nearly three stage wins each year. Just being competitive for a 15 year career is impressive! And obviously, the competition now is far greater than 70 years ago. After all this is the era of Eric Zabel, and there are lots of other great sprinters to challenge Cipollini. Yet, he's reached an amazing mark that might not ever fall.

Stage 8 didn't involve any major shake-ups of the overall standings, so we're left with this leader board one week into the race.

[place, name, nation, time behind leader]
1 GARZELLI Stefano ITA VIN 37:09:10 0:00
2 SIMONI Gilberto ITA 0:31
3 NOE' Andrea ITA 0:54
4 PELLIZOTTI Franco ITA 1:36
6 TONKOV Pavel RUS 1:50
7 POPOVYCH Yaroslav UKR 1:56
8 RUMSAS Raimondas LTU 2:04
9 TOTSCHNIG Georg AUT 2:26
10 MAZZOLENI Eddy ITA 3:12
11 CASAGRANDE Francesco ITA 3:21

posted by uberschuck 5/18/2003 05:44:00 PM

Giro update

The first week of the Giro d' Italia is in the books, so let's see what's happened since the last update.

Stages 5 & 6. Alessandro Petacchi entered with the leader's pink jersey and continued to impress. Petacchi won both the 5th and 6th stages and extended his lead with each victory (stage winners get time bonuses). Mario Cipollini seemed like a broken man despite wearing the world champion jersey that he won nearly a year ago. Cipollini actually quit the sprint in stage 5.

Stage 7. The real contenders grabbed the spotlight on the first mountain stage of the Giro. Stefano Garzelli scored a huge victory and took the pink jersey from Alessandro Petacchi. More importantly, Garzelli put two and a half minutes on Francesco Casagrande and nearly four minutes on Marco Pantani, seriously damaging two rivals. However, Gilberto Simoni, Andrea Noe, Ramondas Rumsas, and Pavel Tonkov lost no more than a minute to Garzelli on the day.

Stage 8. Another sprint stage. Finally, after a week of waiting, Mario Cipollini burst forth for the stage win. That's 41 career stage wins at the Giro, and it ties a record set nearly 70 years ago. Let's put this into perspective. The big cycling tours have about 20 stages each year, but a lot of those are mountain-climbing stages or time trials. There are only about 12-14 stages per tour that a sprinter can win. In order to win 41 in 15 years of cycling--as long as Cipollini's been riding the Giro--a rider would have to win nearly 3 stages every year. Just being competitive 15 years is hard enough! Obviously, the competition now is greater than 70 years ago--this is the era of Eric Zabel. All Cipollini did was win one stage today, but what he's done over a career is absolutely amazing.

There was little movement on the leader board in stage 8, leaving us with this top 10 one week into the race.
[place, name, nation, time behind leader)
1 GARZELLI Stefano ITA 0:00
2 SIMONI Gilberto ITA 0:31
3 NOE' Andrea ITA 0:54
4 PELLIZOTTI Franco ITA 1:36
6 TONKOV Pavel RUS 1:50
7 POPOVYCH Yaroslav UKR 1:56
8 RUMSAS Raimondas LTU 2:04
9 TOTSCHNIG Georg AUT 2:26
10 MAZZOLENI Eddy ITA 3:12
11 CASAGRANDE Francesco ITA 3:21

posted by uberschuck 5/18/2003 05:24:00 PM

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