Neuheisel pulls a Bennett

UW athletic director Barbara Hedges was holed up in meetings with school officials most of yesterday discussing Wednesday's bombshell revelation that Neuheisel was being investigated by the NCAA for his involvement in a college-basketball pool in which he and his three partners may have won as much as $20,000. Any form of gambling by a college coach on college sports is prohibited by the NCAA and can be considered a major violation.

"We're just still gathering information trying to assess and evaluate," said Norm Arkans, the school's associate vice president for external affairs. "We're trying to figure things out. That doesn't happen in one day."

I've stood up for Eusthachy and Price. Whatever a guy does in his free time, as long as he isn't breaking the law, is his own business as far as I'm concerned. I just don't care. So let me change tack here...

Neuheisel is a scumbag. He can't even make offsite visits to recruits anymore because he plays so fast and loose with the rulebook. He left Colorado holding the bag, and he's already gotten into hot water since arriving at Washington. He couldn't even be honest with the administration about interviewing with the 49ers. The guy can coach, he can recruit, but he can't follow the rules. And for a school like Washington, which has first hand expereince with NCAA investigators, to hire a guy like Neuheisel in the first place is mystifying.

The NCAA rule book is pretty clear. You gamble on college sports, you are guilty of a major violation. Neuheisel should have been fired the exact moment this story broke. Hell, he should have been fired when all of his recruiting violations became public last year. Washington fans deserve better than the Jerry Tarkanian of the college football.

Fire the bastard. Fire him now.

posted by Poseur 6/06/2003 11:33:00 AM

Devils take 3-2 lead

After four consecutive games of limited scoring chances, minimal open ice, shutouts and excellent goaltending, all of the above vanished in a shootout that was the antithesis of the series to date.

"I don't know where this came from,'' Ducks coach Mike Babcock said.

"It was unbelievable,'' Devils goalie Martin Brodeur said.

What the hell happened?

Before last night, the Devils had outscored the Ducks over four games 8-4. That's an average score of 2-1 (tough math, I know). Then this 6-3 monstrosity comes out of nowhere. It's like both teams forgot how to play defense and the goalies took the night off.

So, let's be frank. Both teams played like garbage in this game. There were tons of fluke goals and neither played their game. The Devils just got more fluke goals than Anaheim. However, the Devils have played better throghout the series and desrve to be up 3-2 right now. They have two chances to hoist the Cup again.

Who knew this would be series?

posted by Poseur 6/06/2003 11:22:00 AM

Unseeded Verkerk in French Open finals

This being the French Open, he'll probably win. This is what happens on clay. He is the first unseeded player to make the finals since Mats Wilander, the patron saint of boring clay court tennis players.
posted by Poseur 6/06/2003 11:15:00 AM

Sosa's bats okay

All five milestone bats that Sosa has submitted to that sentimental depository were found Thursday to be free of cork, illegal substances and damaged memories. That includes the pair on loan from the Hall that Chicagoans can see at the Field Museum's ''Base-ball As America'' exhibit.

''We felt it was important to remove any doubt about the integrity of the five bats in our collection,'' Hall spokesman Jeff Idelson said.

OK, all evidence points that this was a one-time infraction for Sosa. His bad luck the bat shattered, but he hasn't been corking his entire career. He either grabbed the wrong bat as he claimed, or he grabbed a corked bat because he's been slumping recently and wanted to bounce out of it. Whatever.

Corking doesn't really do anything, but Sosa was attempting to cheat. It's not as bad as scuffing the ball, which actually does something, but it's not benign either. Suspend Sosa for 5-10 games and move on. We've already wasted too many valuable brain cells on this already.
posted by Poseur 6/06/2003 11:12:00 AM


Things just got interesting in Paris

The French Open is the freaky major. It's list of champions is probably the most underwhelming of any other Grand Slam. Remember Sergi Bruguera? Iva Majoli? Yeah, neither do I. But the women's draw, Majoli excepted, usually goes according to plan.

So Henin's upset today of Venus Williams is huge. Particularly how she did it. She did the unthinkable and played the net on clay. You just don't do that. You're supposed to trade groundstrokes from the baseline, resulting in rallies which last days. And typical for a French Open match, winners were rare and unforced errors were plentiful. Williams had 79 unforced errors to 27 winners. Henin had 25 winners, but a mere 68 errors. In the deciding third set, Serena actually committed less errors (28 to 31), but Henin scored 11 winners to Serena's 6. And those winners came from the net.

Serena was 0 for 6 at the net in the third set, but Henin went 4 for 5. Without those 4 winners from the net, she probably loses. Is this the way to beat Serena? Yes, in that you just hope she makes errors. And play her on clay, which slows down her powerful strokes.

Henin versus Clijsters in the finlas. Take Henin.
posted by Poseur 6/05/2003 12:27:00 PM


The MLB draft

No one cares. There's several reasons why no one cares about the draft and I'll try and at least highlight the big ones.

1- Outside of me and few other diehards, most people don't follow college baseball. I know who Richie Weeks is, though I've never actually seen him play. Unlike the NFL draft, the average fan just doesn't have an opinion on these players. There's no emotional attachment already formed like college football or basketball players.

2- It's not like they draft college kids anyway. The number one pick was a high school kid. 5 of the first 10 picks were high schoolers. 17 of 30 first rounders? You guessed it. High schoolers. And we ain't talking about LeBron James here. This is routine.

3- No trades. The best part of draft day is those huge draft day deals, when armchair GM's like myself get their knickers in a bunch over Arizona trading down. It's against the rules for teams to trade, so the small market teams, instead of trading their picks, let good players slip due to "signability" issues. So there's no drama, and it's no fun seeing crappy teams get continually screwed because they won't shell out several million to a guy who has about a 35% chance of making the big leagues.

4- Most of these players will never see the big leagues. When an NFL first rounder busts, he makes the team, plays horrible, and you get to make fun of him. When a MLB first rounder busts, he never makes it out of Scranton or whatever town they send to. Even if they do make the big leagues, it's three or four years down the road, and you've already forgotten about the draft.

5- It's impossible to judge quality. There's no cottage industry of gurus because we have to compare college kids to high schoolers, an impossible task. Even the NBA, which has the international flavor thrown in, at least has measurables to go by. And it's only 2 rounds. The MLB draft is, get this, 50 rounds. Good luck.

posted by Poseur 6/04/2003 04:18:00 PM

NBA Finals

OK, I've been advocating anyone but the Spurs. But let me say that I really like this Nets team. It's not just the fact they have the best point guard in the league, that Kenyon Martin has finally developed into the player we thought he'd be, and that they have more front court thugs the '88 Pistons. This team is on a mission. They take care of business. Just ask Detroit. Or Boston. They just go straight for the jugular. And one thing the Spurs have never quite shaken is the soft label. Even with an NBA title.

The Mavs didn't have the frontcourt to matchup with Duncan, and he continued his dominating ways. The Lakers didn't have a bench and the Spurs just took advantage. The Nets would have had no chance against the Lakers, but the Spurs, they can matchup well. And Jason Kidd can run wild.

But the difference in the series will be K-Mart. There are three star players, the Nets have two of them. And that usually means a title.
posted by Poseur 6/04/2003 02:26:00 PM

Urlacher signs nine-year deal

Why not sign him to a one-hundred year deal? It's worth about the same thing. People, there is no such thing as guarranteed contracts in the NFL, which means that players signing longterm deals for backloaded cash will never see that cash or those years. It's all about the signing bonus. Everything else is just for fans to point to. It doesn't mean a thing.

posted by Poseur 6/04/2003 12:56:00 PM

Could Serena shine on men's tour?

Five years ago, Serena Williams and her elder sister Venus walked into the ATP office at the Australian Open and challenged the men's tour to a one-set showdown.

Karsten Braasch, a German ranked 203 in the world, was in the office at the time and took up the challenge. A few days later he beat Serena 6-1 and Venus 6-2.

Following golfer Annika Sorenstam's creditable performance last month in a men's PGA event, the question arises - how would world number one Serena fare against a man now?

She'd get killed. OK, she wouldn't lose 6-1 again, she's better than she was 5 years ago, but unlike golf, a woman would have to square up head to head against a man. And since Serena is a power player, on the men's tour, she'd have to rely on shot placement. Her power game would merely be average. Golf remains the best chance for a woman to play full-time on the men's tour.

I do think these things are interesting. How would Serena rank on the ATP? She'd get blown away at first, but I'm fairly confident she'd eventually learn to return the big serves of the men. once she mastered that, she could be a credible pro. She wouldn't win a Grand Slam or anything, but she could probably hand around ranks 150-200. Which means she'd beat me in straight sets without dropping a game.
posted by Poseur 6/04/2003 12:53:00 PM

Jayson Stark on Sosa's corked bat

Now the image is going to be Sammy hitting a dinky little broken-bat ground ball to second base -- on the night his world changed forever.

Now people will ask if he has cheated his way to those 505 home runs, even though all the cork in Portugal wouldn't help a man hit 505 home runs if he couldn't hit.

Now people will ask if his whole career, his whole rise from raw strikeout machine to one of the great sluggers of all time, was phony and tainted -- even though Sosa's maturation as a disciplined hitter who learned the strike zone and hit great pitches to every field was not something he could have accomplished with a drill and some cork.

Now people will look at a man who was once one of baseball's most beloved figures and ask: "Why?" And no matter how reasonable or unfathomable the explanation, will anyone be interested in accepting it?

This is my favorite kind of journalistic hit piece. When the author, instead of just coming out and saying something bad about a famous player, he instead lets "people" make his argument. Who are these invisible people?

This way Stark gets to have his cake and eat it, too. He can write a column questioning Sosa's fitness for Cooperstown and the authenticity of his 500+ homers, but he can do it without looking like he's attacking Sosa. Hey, he's just reporting what "people" will say. He's just theororizing about Sosa's legacy.

Just come out and say Sosa's using cork. What the hell is he smoking? He doesn't need to do this, as cork doesn't help a guy that much. Sosa's been ridiculously reckless with his career and his reputation and that's just sad. I hope it's just one bat and this blows over, Sammy is genuinely likable player, but if it doesn't, the only person Sosa can blame is himself.

posted by Poseur 6/04/2003 12:01:00 PM


Finishing up the review of college baseball's weekend...

Baton Rouge
They played suprisingly close games against UNCW and Northeastern, but this regional was never really in doubt. LSU saved their big game for a complete annihalation of Tulane, 13-5. OK, it was close for six innings, but hatred finally came through and the Tigers just bludgeoned the Wave into submission. Tulane lost in the nightcap to the jeers of the LSU faithful. Actually, the fans were so appreciative, UNCW's players took a victory lap after losing to LSU in 10 innings in the final game.

When you lose it, you lose it big time. At the end of six, Southern and Baylor had played to a 3-3 tie in a winner's bracket game. Southern was 9 outs away from Sunday. Then the bottom fell out. Over the next 12 innings of baseball, the Jags were outscored 25-1. Baylor cruised to a meeting with the Bayou Bengals next weekend.

Going in, everyone expected a pretty high scoring weekend. No one really boasts a topnotch pitching staff, and all of the offenses were stacked to the gills. The regional did not disappoint. The scores? 14-2, 14-12, 22-3, 15-0, 16-10, and 16-1. OK, so only one game was close. For those scoring at home, the average final was 16-5. I don't know what to say other than I feel sorry for whoever had to operate the scoreboard.

The weekend hinged on Game Four, when Notre Dame came up just short in their comeback. Down 3-0 in the 7th, the Irish scored one in the 7th and then 2 in the 8th. But with runners on the corners and two outs, they couldn't get in the go-ahead run. Fullerton scored the next inning to regain the lead and win 4-3. By the time Notre Dame played Fullerton again, the chance for an upset had passed and the Titans just put them away 8-1.

Palo Alto
This was supposed to be one of the best regionals. Stanford defending their homefield against UC-Riverside, one of the chic underdog picks, and Richmond, an always solid squad.It just didn't turn out that way. Richmond played a great one against UCR on the first day, 10-8, but after that, the closest game was a 5-0 Spider win over UIC. No one came within seven runs of Stanford all weekend, and they move on to the Supers hitting on all cyclinders.

Long Beach
It was a great regional full of tense, exciting games, as long as the Dirtbags weren't playing. No team could compete with Long Beach, who didn't dominate their regional to the same extent as Stanford, but it was pretty close. They trailed for exactly one-half of an inning all weekend long. And that was the bottom of third against Washington on Saturday. We now get a hopefully epic matchup between Long Beach and Stanford, the west coast equivalent of the FSU-Texas series.

Twice, the Tar Heels won in 11 innings, in both their first and last games of the weekend. Against Missouri, the Tigers got a man in scoring position in the 9th, 10th, and 11th. They failed to score every time. In the title game against MSU, the Heels came back from a 6-2 deficit in the 7th to win by two in the 11th. After Bakker surrendered six runs in six innings, the bullpen pitched five innings of scoreless ball to give UNC the chance to comeback and pull the upset. The lesson: bullpens count a lot.

Georgia Tech wins the Most Disappointing Team Award. The national #3 seed went out and dropped their opener to Stetson, 5-4. No big deal, just bounce back and win out tommorrow. No such luck, as ECU beat the Yellow Jacket 10-3. GT was the first team in the enitre tournament eliminated, which opened the door for USC to sneak through and set up the all-Carolina super regional. They even get to host it!

posted by Poseur 6/03/2003 12:11:00 PM


French Open Update
Is women's tennis getting competitive?
On Sunday Venus Williams, Jennifer Capriati, and Lindsay Davenport all suffered upset losses at the French Open. Could it be that women's tennis is finally getting competitive? Not really. First of all, this is the French Open, and this sort of stuff always happens on the clay surface. In the men's game, it happens in the first two rounds; in the women's game we have to wait until the round of 16. And cut Davenport some slack--she had to retire because she had a nasty blister. There are some new names in the elite 8 of this tournament. Vera Zvonareva and unseeded Nadia Petrova have squeaked into the quarterfinal. Also, Chanda Rubin, always in the second tier of American tennis, has advanced to the round of 8. So, there's a chance we could see unfamiliar faces in the semis and final. Enjoy it while you can.

The men's side.
Twenty-eighth seed Tommy Robredo continues to steal the show. After ousting #1 Lleyton Hewitt, he took out three-time champ Gustavo Kuerten. In the quarterfinal he'll face defending champion Albert Costa. Will he slay another giant? Surprisingly, seeds 2 (Agassi), 3 (Ferrero), and 4 (Moya) are still alive. As usual, there is no heavy favorite--it's up for grabs.

Simoni wins Giro

On Sunday Gilberto Simoni won the Giro d' Italia, cycling's second most prestigious race. As predicted, he put the race away last Thursday by attacking in the mountains. While Simoni sped away, his chief competitor fell on icy roads, sealing his fate. The crash took down Stefano Garzelli and Marco Pantani, adding to their gaps behind Simoni. The conditions were horrible, as the mountain side was covered in snow and ice. Actually, I'm surprised there weren't more crashes. To the credit of Garzelli and Pantani, both managed to finish, and Garzelli fought off Yaroslav Popovych to hang on to his second place overall.
In the following stage, Simoni stamped his authority on the Giro and won the 19th stage. By the time all the riders were done on Sunday, Simoni had won the race by a 7 minute margin.

Lost in this was that a couple dozen riders were eliminated from the competition in the 18th stage. They failed to make the time cut, so they were expelled from the race. Among them was Alessandro Petacchi, winner of 6 stages and leader in the ciclomena jersey competition (points leader). OK, rules are rules, but this was a bad move. For crying out loud, excuse these guys for not flying down ice covered mountain slopes at 50 miles per hour. All the sprinters played it safe and decided not to die in stage 18. It's not as though 5 guys tanked the stage and lolly-gagged along. Over 30 riders, including one of the stars of the race were cut. And there's precedent for bending the time cut rule. A couple years ago the Tour de France officials made an exception when two thirds of the field finished behind the cutoff time because of a rain storm. No riders were expelled, and for once, the Tour brass showed intelligence by making a decison that helped the bike race. Too bad the Giro bosses couldn't do the same.

OK, at 31 Simoni has two Giro titles to his name. He's obviously one of the elite riders in the world. He's been talking smack about challenging Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France. He's been irritating other riders with statements like "I dedicate this win to me" (after stage 19). Enjoy it while you can, Simoni. The time for honoring yourself will soon be at an end. The Tour de France starts in 33 days, and the champion awaits.

posted by uberschuck 6/02/2003 11:10:00 PM

Cavs hire Silas

What a brilliant move. How often do the Cavs get a chance to capitalize on someone else's stupidity? Silas worked wonders in New Orleans, and has a great reputation as a teahcer and working with young players. On a team with Boozer, Miles, Wagner, and soon LeBron James, this hiring is a complete no-brainer.

Great job to snag Silas.
posted by Poseur 6/02/2003 02:40:00 PM

And back to college baseball...

South Alabama made it interesting on Saturday, as Cole Craig hit a 3-run shot to cap off a 5-run eighth inning. USA went into the inning down 5-3, so the rally sparked the upset. All it did was piss FSU off. After that loss, FSU beat Rutgers 17-7 and then came back on Sunday to slaughter USA twice 13-5 and 12-2. Neither game was that close. This sets up an epic Super Regional matchup with Texas.

Lamar and Arkansas played some epic baseball games, but it was to no avail. Both of their games were among the best of the weekend at any regional, with Lamar winning both games by one run. Jordan Foster drove in the winning run in the opener by getting hit by a pitch. Lamar made the title game by hitting a bases loaded single in the bottom of the 11th. They momentum carried to the next day as Lamar upset Texas in the first game, but in the second game of the double header, Texas took a 5-3 lead in the fifth, added a run in the eighth, and only saw Lamar advance one runner to second base after the first inning.

Justin Riley's bomb in the 10th against VCU put NC State in the finals and concluded the best game of the first round. Three times the Rams got a runner to third base and failed to score, gving the Pack the opening they needed to avoid the loser's bracket. but the big story was not the game itself, but the gamesmanship. The local groundscrew painted over some advertisements to make it easier for the right-handed hitters of the Wolfpack to face a lefty. VCU complained to no avail, and let the distrcation get the better of them. Despite great pitching, they lost out and the Wolfpack advanced.

The Gators offense exploded, but they still couldn't win. Good old-fashioned college scores like 22-14, 15-5, and 13-10. Actually, Miami had a 9-2 lead in the final game, and then a 12-3 lead. Florida's comeback came up just short. This is not a great Miami team, but they beat Florida with offense and FAU with defense (a 1-0 pitcher's duel). That is the mark of an Omaha team.

It was a wakeup call, even if you only allow 5 runs in 4 games, you can still lose if you don't score. Rice's close call came in the opener against lightly regarded McNeese St. They trailed for most of the game, until getting a two-out RBI single in the 7th to tie it up. They won on another 2-out single in the 10th. After that, Rice went into crusie control and never was seriously threatened again. I still think they have to be the favorite to win it all.

College Station
Houston lost badly in the opener, 9-3, and then fought through the loser's bracket to advance to the super regionals. Down 6-5 in the first game on Sunday, they got a 2-run HR to take a 7-6 lead in the 7th. The Aggies didn't panic, knowing they could win the second game to advance. Up 6-2 in the eighth, it looked over, but then the Aggies just fell apart. Hosuton scored 2 in the 8th (both with 2 outs), two in the 9th (keyed by a 1-out triple), and then 1 in the 10th off a throwing error by P Matt Farnum. A&M just fell apart.

7-0. SMS beat Nebraska on their home field 7-0 in a loser-goes home game. Southwest Missouri State. That just shouldn't happen. Bob Zimmerman, a pitcher with a 4.70 ERA, struck out seven, walked none, and scattered five hits for a complete game victory. Against one of the best offenses in the nation.

The third 3-seed to advance is Ohio State, a team missing their best player. A team that struggles to score runs scored 25 in only three games. How does Auburn, one of the best teams in the best conference in the country, drop two straight to OSU? The second one, facing elimination, by blowing a 7-5 lead? How, you ask? Simple, by cranking out EIGHT homers in three games. Now, either OSU or SMS is going to Omaha.

More to come later today...

posted by Poseur 6/02/2003 01:04:00 PM

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