Some Derby handicapping

What does the wise guru of racing, Andrew Beyer, tell us? Let's see...

No horse can win the 2004 Kentucky Derby.

That's the only conclusion to draw from the 3-year-old stakes races run this year. Not a single colt has compiled even a minimal set of the credentials necessary for success on the first Saturday in May. Almost every youngster who has shown a flash of talent has proceeded to injure himself or to discredit himself with a dismal performance.

Tell us how you really feel.

posted by Poseur 4/09/2004 01:51:00 PM

Keady to retire

This is it. Matt Painter's been hired from Southern Illinois to be the associate head coach for a year, and then he'll take the reins of the Purdue program from the man worth the worst haircut in the world, Gene Keady. Keady is a legend who could just never get over that hump and make the Final Four, his best chance being a team led by the Big Dog which came up so tantalizingly short.

Painter will do a good job, he's done wonders at SIU, but now he has a full year to prepare to follow a legend. I'm surprised more programs don't do this, naming the successor with a full year left on a coach's contract, allowing the head guy to impart some wisdom on the new coach coming in. This looks like a smooth tansition, and it's a uniqe, and pretty damn smart idea.
posted by Poseur 4/09/2004 01:47:00 PM

Bengals make the first move

Late Thursday night, Cincinnati completed a trade with Denver in which they swapped first-round picks with the Broncos giving the Bengals cornerback Deltha O’Neal and a fourth-rounder to move up from No. 24 to No. 17 in the first round. Cincinnati, which picks 114th in the fourth round, now goes again 15 minutes later with Denver’s 117th pick.

The Bengals did indeed end up getting a first-round cornerback out of this draft, but it turns out to be O’Neal, 27, the 15th pick in the 2000 draft who went to the Pro Bowl following the 2001 season. Cincinnati had just 52 NFL starts at cornerback before the trade, but O’Neal brings them 36 more.

Highway robbery.

Let me get this straight, the Bengals move down seven spots in the draft, and for those mere seven spots, they get a Pro Bowl corner AND a fourth round pick? Did they ask the Broncos afterwards if they wanted to buy a bridge? That's a very high cost for not very much movement. The Bengals, I can't believe I'm going to say this, feleced somebody in a trade.

Wow. The times are a-changin.

posted by Poseur 4/09/2004 01:43:00 PM


The Masters

Today is the first day of the Masters. I know I'm supposed to care, but we here at BartCopSports have a long-standing policy of hatred towards golf. It's like bowling, only with more walking. Maybe I could enjoy it more if golf fans weren't so damned pompous and arrogant, if the game wasn't so expensive and exclusive, or if watching the game wasn't an excrutiating ordeal. I can't help it, golf sucks. One of my best friends is an avid golfer, and we went to the local course, and we had a pretty good time drinking and whacking the ball around, but for the amount of money I spent, I could've done any number of things, like buy the entire run of the Sopranos on DVD.

So, even as an ardent non-golf sports fan, I will grugingly admit it is pretty cool arnold Palmer is teeing it up for his 50th Masters. Yeah, he hasn't made the cut since 1983, and he won't do it this time either, but it is nice to see the guy whack it around one more time. Of course, can you imagine even a fellow "wussy sport" like tennis trotting out Rod Laver for a match? Palmer was a star in the 1950s, but he really hasn't been any good since the late 1960s (1967 was his last Masters top ten), so this is a tribute for a player nearly forty years past his prime. I can think of no other sport which would trot out former greats to play in the actual competition. You don't see Hank Aaron trying to hit a fastball.

Oh. I'm being negaitve again. Nevermind. It's pretty cool he's allowed to play. Go Arnie.

posted by Poseur 4/08/2004 12:58:00 PM

Cup Time

Ah, yes, the regular season of hockey has just begun, or as some of you like to call it, the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The NHL isn't nearly as ridiculous as it once was, due to expansion now only 50% of the teams make the playoffs, which I guess is progress. Not much, but at least it is something. They reward mediocrity, but give a mediocre team a hot goalie, and they can beat anyone. Given that we are in an era of extreme defense, I'm not even going to bother to break down teams. Just look at the goalies. Also, the very best team only has 10 more wins than the last team in the playoffs. That's significant, but not huge. Pretty much every team is evenly matched. This is what parity looks like, folks. Ugly, ain't it?

Grahame's got the better GAA and save percentage, but you'd be hard-presed to find anyone outside of Tampa to say he's better than DiPietro. special mention should be made that the Lightning actually have an offensive threat in Martin St. Louis, a rarity in the league. Everyone's picking the upset, but the goalies really are even, so I'll take the better team in this case. TAMPA.

Theodore's the slightly more hyped goalie, but once again, he's not demonstrably better than Raycroft. The B's won game one riding their goalie, and there's no reason they can't continue. BOSTON

Martin Brodeur. End of discussion. NEW JERSEY

These teams actively hate one another, so if you only watch one series, this is the one. Not only are Prusek and Belfour's numbers almost identical, so are almost all of the team's numbers. these teams are ridiculously even. SoI'll take thebets player, Mats Sundin. TORONTO

Legace has a save percentage of .920, ridiculous even by today's standards. It's a huge advantage for the Wings. DETROIT.

Nabokov is awesome, but so is his backup, Toskala. Osgood's pretty good in his own right, but the goalie edge is another landslide. SAN JOSE

Kiprusoff is the best goalie in the NHL right now. The Flames also have a pretty good backline and a frontline scorer in Iginla. I know this sounds silly, particularly after they got lit in game one, but I think they'll win the Western Conference. Why the heck not? CALGARY

Turco's got the GAA edge, but Aebischer has the save percentage edge, and I give more credence to that stat. So my bias towards Sv% over GAA leads me to take the Lanche. If you're a GAA guy, take the Stars. COLORADO

posted by Poseur 4/08/2004 12:06:00 PM


I'm A Hack!

Selig has been -- baseball is a game of inches, but this is not a close call -- the greatest commissioner. His achievements include a quickened pace of games (in three seasons, 12 minutes have been shaved from the average game length), interleague play, the unbalanced schedule, three divisions, partial realignment, wild card teams (the last two World Series winners were wild cards), increased revenue sharing ($250 million this year; $20 million in 1992) and the competitive balance tax on the highest payrolls. That tax and revenue sharing will cost the Yankees $81 million this year.
Competitive balance is improving: 22 different teams have made it to postseason play since 1995. In the past three years, 11 different teams (of a possible 12) have played in the League Championship Series. As late as Sept. 7 last season, 14 of 15 games had playoff implications.

Not content with being an unethical shill for whoever gives him the largest paycheck in the political arena, Will's been trying his hand at partisan hackery in baseball as well. His column is his annual "life begins with Opening Day" effort, which I'm fine with. anything that keeps Will from writing about politics is a good thing. But when I read this bit in my Sunday paper, I almost spewed coffee all over the kitchen. Then, i remembered he's on the blue Ribbon Panl, and has a vested interested in puffing up the commissioner who so generously gives Will money to tell Selgi he's wonderful. In porn, will would be a fluffer.

Let's just rip apart his claims and then include the things he left out.

FASTER GAMES. Who cares? Really, is spending an extra 12 minutes watching baseball a bad thing? And has anyone noticed that football games are getting longer?

INTERLEAGUE PLAY. I hate interleague play, and it does not increase attendence. Yes, interleague games are better attended than regular games, but that's because they are played during the summer, when attendence is up anyway because it's warm outside and the kids are out of school.

REALIGNMENT/ WILD CARD. Yay! I destroyed pennant races! There will never be a pennant race between two great teams ever again due to the wild card. He created three divisions in order to let as many teams into the playoffs as possible, leading us to...

INCREASED COMPETITIVE BALANCE. Yes, more teams have made the playoffs, but that's because more teams can. You double the amount of playoff teams, then more teams will have a chance at making the field. It's liek the NBA bragging that they have competitive balance because the Nuggets might make the playoffs. Then again, the Yankee dominance has always been overstated to serve Selig's purposes. They were a dominant team, but so were the bulls and no one was complaining about that. And historically speaking, this is nowehere near the levels of dominance the Yankees had once acheived. And the 1980s were possibly the most competitively balanced decade in baseball history. Only one team won two World Series, the LA Dodgers.

REVENUE SHARING/ PAYROLL TAX. The luxury tax has actually increased payroll disparity. Why? Because the Yankees are the only team which can afford to pay the tax, so they don't care how far over it they go. Other teams treat the luxury tax limit as a hard cap, and they reach a definite end point to payroll, while the Yankees blow past that mark, vastly outspending their competition at once-unthought of levels. Payroll disparity has increased in the past two years as every team but the Yankees have slowed down spending. All the tax does is create a salary cap, which does nothing for competitive balance, it just holds down costs for the owners, which is all they care about anyway.

ATTENDENCE. Attendence is up about 6% under Selig. Which is good, more people go to games than ever before. Of course, before Selig, growth was at nearly 15%, so growth has actually slowed under Selig. Not many CEO's would brag about slowed growth.

STUFF WILL DIDN'T MENTION. A strike, a lockout, a cancelled World Series, a constant badmouthing of his own product causing unneccessary controversies, the All-Star game tie, censure from the US Congress, and PR disaster after disaster usually stemming from his compelte inability to tell the truth about anything.

If that's your best commissioner, I'd hate to see a bad one.
posted by Poseur 4/06/2004 10:51:00 AM

Where the hell was this team all season?

The reason I picked against UConn was that they had easily been the least impressive of the top teams going into the tournament. They had a lackluster 4-5 record vs. the RPI top 25, which pretty much demonstrates their habit of rolling out of bed and not taking teams seriously. They were a good team during the year, but one that never warranted the immense amount of hye which surrounded them. Frankly, they were your standard talented team which looked like they would get blown out of the gym by a team which actually palyed hard. Because one thing UConn didn't do this season was play hard every night (Okafor excepted).

Then came the tourney. This was perhaps the most dominant run a team has ever had in the tourney. i'm gonna have to do some research on this, but I just can't think of another team which so consistently whacked the hell out of its opponents. They only played one close game, and that's because Calhoun coached it as if he wanted Duke to win. UConn pretty much showed us why the regular season is meaningless, just get to the tourney and flip the switch. Only teams rarely can just flip the switch after playing disinterested ball for four months. Just ask Florida.

This game wasn't nearly as close as the final score. Had the Huskies wanted, they could have won by 30. They reverted to their usual form of sloppy play in the second half, but the game was so out of hand it didn't really matter and everyone in the country knew it. And Georgia Tech is a good team, beating real powers en route to the title game, but they looked positively inept against UConn. That wasn't magic, that was UConn's defense which made them look so terrible. The talent gap was a chasm, and once the TV cameras started rolling, the Huskies started playing for real. And "for real" is one of the most talented college teams in recent years. Too bad they missed the bulk of the season.

posted by Poseur 4/06/2004 10:08:00 AM


Jim Calhoun is the biggest fucking idiot on the goddmaned planet. Very rarely does a coach do as much as he did on Saturday to negatively impact his team's chances of winning. And when a coach does do something as mind-bogglingly stupid as Calhoun, he usually does not get complimented on it by the chattering classes. Yet there they were, media members falling over themselves to praise Calhoun's numbskull blunder as the very reason UConn won.

It's a common media failing, to praise everything a team does in victory, thinking they all positively contributed to the win. A baseball team that gives away two outs, one at third base with two outs, due to overagressiveness on the basepaths, gets credit for winning because they stole bases. Forget about the home runs and timely hitting, right? Everything must have contributed to the win. Well, it didn't. The amouth of time Calhoun kept Okafor on the bench was criminal, and not only could it have cost the Huskies the game, it almost did.

While Okafor sat on the bench with two fouls, Duke outscored the Huskies by 21 points. TWENTY-ONE. At no point to Calhoun think to himself, "wow, I better stop the bleeding. Our interior play is so bad we're making Nick Horvath look like he's a good player." He just sat on his hands and watched the lead spiral out of control. Luckily, Okafor is good enough that when he got into the game, he led the comeback with 18 points. Frankly, it shouldn't have been enough, but Coach K uncharacteristically panicked in the last three minutes, handing the game back to UConn.

I was absolutely dumbfounded. In order to not lose Okafor, Calhoun played most of the game without Okafor. Does this strike anyone else as insane? Okafor finishedwith three fouls, so the Huskies missed out on even more contributions from Okafor that they should have had. instead, he spent half the game on the bench because Calhoun was so scared of losing Okafor in the stretch. Had he pulled Okafor for a few minutes and then put him back out there in the first half, given how UConn played with their big man in the game, there wouldn't have been a stretch run, UConn would have been up by twenty. Why let Duke into the game? Usually, you leave the door open a crack for the Blue Devils, they will absolutely bury you. Calhoun lucked out that Duke blinked.

It was a stupid, stupid move, one that should have cost his team the national title. Duke choked to be sure, the officiating sucked, but it shouldn't have mattered. UConn turned a blowout into a nailbiter.
posted by Poseur 4/05/2004 03:17:00 PM

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