Warren Spahn dies

He's the winningnest left-hander in baseball history. He threw two no-hitters. He fought in WWII. He's rightly enshrined in the Hall of Fame and is considered one of the greatest pitchers ever. The baseball world is a little poorer now that he is gone.

Outside of Lefty Grove, he's the greatest lefty to ever throw a baseball. Yes, even over Koufax and Carlton. Spahn was a giant in the game.

posted by Poseur 11/25/2003 07:38:00 AM


Every twenty years or so, Chaminade, a Division III school, pulls an upset in its home tournament. They managed it this year, knocking off Villanova. I'm not sure what to say other than Villanova has no business losing to Chaminade. But it's still pretty cool.

posted by Poseur 11/25/2003 07:32:00 AM

Cartwright fired, Skiles hired in Chicago

I was hoping they would give Cartwright a chance to see what he could do once his team had been healthy for three or four weeks. That would seem fair. On the other hand, these losses were taking a terrible toll on gentle Bill. A season-opening 99-74 defeat against the Washington Wizards had Cartwright crying in front of players after the game and coming into the postgame news conference red-eyed. After a 98-90 loss to the Seattle SuperSonics left the Bulls with a 1-6 home record, he was about 45 minutes late coming to that news conference, again red-eyed.

Now it's being widely reported that operations chief John Paxson will hire former Phoenix Suns coach Scott Skiles to succeed Cartwright. Paxson is passing over more qualified candidates for the job. Chicago native sons Isiah Thomas and Doc Rivers and veteran NBA coach Mike Fratello are all better choices than Skiles, who sandwiched two partial seasons around a 51-31 effort with the Suns in 2000-01. Skiles quit the next season after a combination of him burning out and his players tuning him out. He has a 116-79 career record.

While Thomas, Rivers and Fratello are all interested in coaching again in the NBA, Rivers, fired last week by the Orlando Magic, confirmed reports that he doesn't want to coach again for the rest of the season.

The only coach I think who is clearly better than Skiles on that list is Rivers, and he ain't interested. Isiah Thomas was a great player, but the jury is still out on his coaching career. Mike Fratello is a retread. Skiles ain't Red Auerbach, but he's a pretty decent coach, and it's certainly a defensible hire. Rivers should have gotten a job first, but he doesn't want to work until next year, so the top coaching candidate is off the board. Memo to teams: don't fire your coach until the offseason.

posted by Poseur 11/25/2003 07:28:00 AM

Refs blow it

I hate to single out officiating crews in any sport. They have a tough enough job, they don't need jag-offs like me who have several hours to peruse rulebooks to tell then they are wrong, when they have to make snap judgements. That said, the refs at the Ravens-Seahawks game completely dropped the ball.

Mike Pereira, the league's director of officiating, issued a statement to the Seahawks explaining what he described as "an administrative error by the officiating crew," with specific mention of referee Tom White.

The incident in question occurred late in the fourth quarter. With 1:03 left, Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander ran for three yards from the Baltimore 36-yard line. Just before the run, the Seahawks sent reserve tackle Floyd Womack into the game as an eligible receiver to have an extra lineman to block.

Officials threw a flag after Alexander's run and called the Seahawks for an illegal substitution, stopping the clock at 58 seconds. The Ravens had also tried to call their third and final timeout but were not charged with it because, the statement reads, "the administrative stoppage of the clock for the penalty flag supersedes a request for a time out."

Now comes the controversy: The officials waved off the penalty when a conference among themselves produced the fact that Womack had indeed properly reported as an eligible receiver. At that point, White, by league rule, should have re-set the play clock to 40 seconds and then immediately started the game clock. That would have allowed the Seahawks to run their next play after Baltimore would have been forced to spend the time out, and if they had failed to gain a first down and decided to go for it on fourth down, they could do so with about 20 seconds to play.

That's just terrible. This isn't missing a pass interference call or something, this is simply losing track of time. The officials gave the Ravens, in effect, a fourth timeout. The flag was honest mistake, one they corrected by waving off the penalty. At that point, the crew needed to run the clock and force the Ravens to choose whether to call thier last timeout. For argument's sake, let's say they didn't. The play clock would be set to 25 as it is after stoppages, and start to run immediately. This runs 58 to about 34 seconds (screwing the Seahwaks out of 15 seconds because of the mistaken flag, but that's life). They run a play (7 seconds) and the Ravens call their last timeout at about 27 seconds. Seattle runs one more play and the Ravens get the ball back with 20 seconds left.

We won't even get into the motion penalty on the second-to-last play. Yes, the Seahawks shoudl have played a little defense and can only blame themselves. but that doesn't let the refs off the hook. They screwed up, and gave the game to the Ravens. The NFL has now admitted as much.

posted by Poseur 11/25/2003 07:17:00 AM


England wins Rugby World Cup

When they reflect on the 100 minutes of rugby that has changed their lives England's players will shake their heads in grateful wonder. This was a rugby occasion sanctioned by the gods but at least a couple of the English squad members will be toasting Jonny Wilkinson for the rest of their days.

Top of the list is probably the Leicester lock Ben Kay who, for one awful second, feared the World Cup had just slipped through his fingers. Mostly forwards make mistakes away from prying eyes at the bottom of a ruck but in Kay's case, as he galloped clear on the right with the try-line gaping, his aberration could scarcely have been more public.

How's that for some cool sportswriting, eh?

England won the game with seconds left in overtime. That's about as tense as a final game in any sport can get. Congrats to the world champions.

posted by Poseur 11/23/2003 10:54:00 PM

College football review

Maryland locked up a second place finish with a gutty win over State, and the natives aren't pleased finishing two games behind the Noles. If that's not testament to the outstanding job Friedgen gas done, I don't know what is. Three years ago, Terp fans would have sold their children for a second place finish, now it's a ho-hum season.

Tommy Bowden may have saved his job by completely destroying South Carolina. 8-4 (5-3) isn't going to win you Coach of the Year honors, but wins over USC and FSU might keep the wolves at bay for at least another year. i'm not sure it's a good thing, but he has earned another year. And how about Duke? They finally get that win over UNC, completing what may be the worst year in Carolina in over a decade. For all of the people who criticize Mack Brown, let's remember where UNC was under Brown and where they are now that he's in Texas.

Big East
Another day, another day closer to the ultimate Big East nightmare scenario: West Virginia winning the conference with an 8-4 record. Syracuse played them tough, but really were outclassed. So now the Neers will root like hell for Pittsburgh to ruin Miami's year. The BCS bowls and the Big East will root like hell for Miami so the Big East champ doesn't get squashed in their bowl game by 50 points.

Oh, and it's November, so the Hokies must be losing.

Big Ten
I heard there was a pretty big game in Ann Arbor. I know we want to talk about how the Buckeyes never gave up and they showed the heart of a champion in defeat and all that crap, but come on, they were down 21-0 before you could say "Chris Perry for Heisman." If Braylon Edwards doesn't have his long TD catch called back, nobody watches the fourth quarter. Ohio State played a tough game, but it was pretty clear from the outset: Michigan is simply a better team.

Speaking of Michigan schools which have football teams much better than their opponent's, did you catch any of the Penn St game? It as like watching Temple play football. You just wanted to cover your eyes and pretend it wasn't happening. Penn State didn't just lose, they got humiliated. It was about as competitive as a game between a good team and one of the worst teams in the conference should be. The problem is, Penn St. has no business being in the bottom half of the conference.

Well, it's official: Oklahoma vs. Kansas St. in the title game. K-State didn't back into the game either. They made Brad Smith look average, won just about every statistical category, and built a huge lead and hung on to win. Oh yeah, and Darren Sproles rushed for 273 yards. Why can't this guy get some Heisman love? When it mattered, Sproles came up huge. No team matches up better with OU than the Cats, so we have an outside shot at a decent Big 12 title game.

And congrats to BJ symons for setting the NCAA record for passing yards in one season. Too bad it came when he was throwing INT after INT and generally getting the snot beat out of him. but there's a long line of players who have looked poor against the Sooners. In a few weeks, the accomplishment will sink in. right now, he's just the QB of a team that got blown out by 31 points.

A good news, bad news day for Southern Cal. The good news? The blew out long-time rival UCLA while BCS #2 Ohio State lost to Michigan. USC moved into #2 in the BCS poll and is the favorite to play for the national title as long as they beat Oregon State.

The bad news? No more quality win. WSU collapsed in the fourth quarter against Washington, as Pickett discovered he has a pretty good wideout to throw to. And Oregon St lost the Civil War with Oregon, hurting USC's future SOS when OSU gets added to their schedule. SOS doesn't calculate the teams you will play, just the ones you have, and the bonus for playing Oregon St is lower than it was just a few days ago. Other than that, a good day.

Oh, and no laterals were seen during the Big Game.

Once again, both Gioia and I went to LSU. We are huge LSU fans. It's not possible for us to talk about the Tigers without getting all riled up and completely irrational. I'm going to try, but forgive me if I go astray. Watching the Ole Miss game was sheer torture. I've never enjoyed a win less. In fact, I kept checking the scores throughout the night to make sure LSU had still been credited with a win. It was that kind of game.

We've been dismissive of Ole Miss, but good teams bring their best game for their biggest games, and that's what Ole Miss did. Manning may have had a poor statistical showing, but he single-handedly willed that team back into the game and he looked like he was going to win it. They didn't, but that's not because Manning had a bad game, it's because LSU has the best defense in the country and they make good players look bad, and they make great players like Manning look merely good. I came out of that game with loads of respect for the Rebels. They played with a ton of heart and could very well have ruined LSU's season. For that, they should be proud.

posted by Poseur 11/23/2003 10:46:00 PM

College Football Week 14 Review

Game of the Week

#3 LSU 17
#15 Ole Miss 14

Ole Miss brought their best for their biggest game in decades. The Rebel defense was outstanding, setting the tone by returning an interception for a touchdown on LSU’s first offensive play. The Rebels harassed Tiger QB Matt Mauck all day, picking off three passes and forcing a few intentional grounding calls. The Tigers did manage a couple big plays on offense, but it was their defense that carried them to victory. They kept the pressure on Eli Manning, holding the Ole Miss offense to only one score. In the end, the difference was in the kicking game, as Groza award finalist Jonathan Nichols, who was 23 of 24 on the season, missed two field goals, but LSU’s Chris Jackson hit from 45 yards out in the first quarter.

Honorable mention

#5 Michigan 35
#4 Ohio St. 21

For a while it seemed like Michigan was going to blow OSU away. After a Michigan TD was called back because of a penalty, OSU showed the resilience they’ve been known for the last two seasons. In the second half they cut a 21 point lead down to 7. But they never could catch the Wolverines. John Navarre and Braylon Edwards made big plays through the air, and Chris Perry was a workhorse on the ground. Seriously, he looked like he had been hit by a bus, but he kept on running straight ahead. Michigan wins the Big Ten and OSU’s national title hopes are gone.

Upset of the Week

Boston College 34
#12 Virginia Tech 27

Just like last year the Hokies are falling apart at the end of the season. The offense wasn’t the problem—they got a few big plays and a big game from Kevin Jones. But he was outdone by BC’s Derrick Knight, who rushed for 197 yards and two scores. Plus, the Hokies botched a field goal attempt, a tough break for a team usually so dominant on special teams.

Honorable mention

Washington 27
#8 Washington St. 19

In the fourth quarter WSU was up by 9. Then they gave up 20 points. I think there were something like 138 interceptions in this game. WSU just made the more costly errors. In any event, they’ve lost 6 straight to the Huskies and can forget about a BCS bowl.

Beat-down of the Week

#2 USC 47

Remember about a month ago when Mr. Baker put this game on his list of the top 5 games he wanted to see? Hope you enjoyed it. USC just abused the Bruins. It was 33 to 2 at the half. Matt Leinart and Mike Williams were playing pitch & catch; the Trojans defense even scored twice. Just one more game to win before booking a spot in the national title game.

Honorable mention

#9 Tennessee 49
Vanderbilt 0

You didn’t think Vandy would get another conference win, did you. Look, Tennessee is the forgotten team of the SEC. I bet you didn’t even realize they were #9 in the nation? Right now they are hitting on all cylinders and look very tough to beat.

posted by uberschuck 11/23/2003 10:18:00 PM

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