We're both LSU alums, but let me rip on my school for a second. This morning, officials from both schools formally announced they would not cancel the Saturday kickoff for the LSU-Auburn game. Frankly, I think this is an absolutely terrible decision which reflects poorly on both schools.

Alabama is in a state of emergency. 20 people are confirmed dead. There's over a foot of water on the ground and most residents are without power. Yet you have the resources to put on a football game? This is the height of misplaced priorities. Any time 90,000 people get together for an event, it places a strain on the local law enforcement and public officials, and right now they have bigger issues than the logistics of a game. They need to be getting the state running again, and diverting resources away so two schools can play football is a tremendous waste.

And I say this as somebody who will still watch the game and cheer my head off. But shame on both schools for this. Some things are more important than sports.

posted by Poseur 9/17/2004 11:24:00 AM

Schilling gets 20

Curt Schilling just won his 2oth game, the third time in four years he's won 20 games. That's really good, but you don't need me to tell you that. What it also does is bring the Cy Young race into clear focus. and as much as I like Schilling, I can't see any way not to give it to Johan Santana.

In alomst every key stat, Santana's got the edge. ERA? 2.76 to 3.40. That's not close. Strikeouts? 240 to 183, also not very close. The only "Triple Crown" stat Schilling's got the edge in is that mythical 20th win. Johan's got 18 and both have 6 losses. W-L is perhaps the most overrated pitching stat, but even if it wasn't, two wins is hardly enough to make up for Santana's dominance in both striking people out and preventing them from scoring.

Even in geeky sabermetric numbers, Santana's got the edge. He's got a 2.13 ERC to Schilling's 2.99, which is the ERA based solely on hits and runs. According to DIPS, Schilling narrows the lead to 3.14 to 3.28. That's the ERA without considering balls in play, only walks, strikeouts, and home runs. Even in the less-hard-to-comprehend stat, Quality Starts, Santana's got a small edge 23 to 20 (brief shout out to Brad Radke, the only pitcher to break Santana and Schilling's stranglehold on the top of the pitching stat leaderboard as he's tied with 23).

There is no earthly way to justify denying Santana the Cy Young.

posted by Poseur 9/17/2004 11:12:00 AM


Wow, not only have we exported baseball to Japan, we have now successfully exported baseball labor disputes to Japan. Ain't globalization fun?

posted by Poseur 9/17/2004 11:10:00 AM


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

CBC News has learned that approximately 50 per cent of the league's office staff numbering close to 300 in Toronto, Montreal and New York has received layoff notices.

The terminations will take effect on Sept. 20, with those remaining until that date expected to receive a severance package commensurate with their length of service. The NHL will not guarantee that all or any of those affected will be re-hired when the labour situation is resolved.

Hockey is run by morons.

The World Cup got almost zero coverage, as it was apparently marketed by the same guys who did the campaign for David Caruso's movie career. And then, as soon as a pretty dramatic title game closes, the NHL lays off half of its staff. So, what do you think the hockey headlines were? "Canada wins World Cup" or "Lockout Begins"?

And who are the first people to feel the pinch? Regular working stiffs in the front office. If you're trying to win a PR war in a battle over millions upon millions of dollars, perhaps you shouldn't lay off a bunch of people making $50k. If that.

Into the valley of death...

posted by Poseur 9/15/2004 11:04:00 AM

Sticks and stones...

The participating players must be suspended. As professionals, they ought to handle heckling with a lot more self-control.

But it's clear that crowd control at the Coliseum also needs tightening. Just last week, some disgruntled "fans" tossed debris on the field after a controversial call in a game between the A's and the Red Sox.

Are we equating heckling with tossing a chair into a crowd? The fans weren't inncoent bystanders here, and we've all been at the game next to some asshole who seems intent on ruining everyone's good time, but there's a simple solution: call stadium security. Someone is loud and abusive? The stadium employs ushers and off-duty cops who would happily remove the offending person.

You cross the line from moral high ground when you take a swing at the guy. Or throw a chair at him, hitting his wife and breaking her nose. There's nothing the fans could have said that justified the Rangers' actions. You do not attack other people with furniture.

A tough rule to follow, I know. My wife's been tempted to crack her mother-in-law upside the head with an ottoman, but y0u know why she didn't? Because she's a human being with a modicrum of self-control. There's just no way to equate heckling with physical assault.

posted by Poseur 9/15/2004 10:54:00 AM

Roger Federer

Part of tennis' problem in relation to golf is that the US is just another country in tennis. Golf gives us the healthy illusion of an international game, when it's really the US dominating about half of the field. It's an American game with a sprinkling of international flavor. Tennis, we're just another country. And even more alarming, the best player on earth is Swiss.

Roger Federer just won the US Open like he was playing a bunch of amateurs. He's 64-6 this year, the best record since Ivan Lendl in 1989. He's already wrapped up the player of the year title, leading the points race by 400 points. And he won three majors this year.

This guy is awesome. He's just toying with the rest of the world right now. He is about to dominate this sport like no other human being has, not even Borg. So, do yourself a favor, watch him play. It's always a good idea to check out greatness while you can.

posted by Poseur 9/15/2004 10:26:00 AM


NFL Week One

Hey, what did we learn? It's way too easy to read too much into just one game, which is why we're going to do it anyway. Game-by-game, starting with our stat of the game...

The Patriots ran the ball 17 times. They called for a handoff less than 30% of the time, so while they rarely get credit for it, the Patriots are an air-it-out kind of team. By contrast, the Colts rushed the ball 42 times, almost 60% of their snaps. The real surprise was that this was one of the few games in which the offense seemed ahead of the defense. In the Colts case, that might just be because the defense stinks.

McNair's stat line? 9/14 for 73 yards. Counting sacks as attempts (which I do), McNair was 9/16 for 61 yards. So, in a game in which the Titans mustered 61 yards of passing offense, they never were in danger of losing the game. The Dolphins defense played great, only to be horribly let down by a turnover-happy offense. There's been a lot of complaining about Fiedler losing his starting job after just one game, but he was pretty awful: 5/13 for 42 yards and 2 INTs. Feeley was 21/31 for 168 with both a pick and a touchdown. My point is, maybe benching Fiedler is panicking, but it's not like they just benched Joe Montana.

The Cowboys committed 9 penalties for 119 yards. Boys and girls, that is your football game. Ok, the Boys couldn't rush the ball worth a damn, but Vinny kept chucking it and they gained more yards than the Vikings. Both teams were efficient on third down, protected their QB well, and had even time of possession. The two turnovers hurt Dalls, but it's really the penalties that killed them. So what do we take from this? The Boys probably aren't 18 points worse than the Vikings, so don't start writing the requiems just yet.

McNabb to Owens... three times. This game was over at halftime, but let's just say the final nail was TO's third TD catch in the third. TO's a pain in the ass, but he's really good. The Giants surprised me by actually running the football well, so maybe they won't be quite as bad as I thought, but they do stink. And, wow, Eli got crushed on that hit, huh?

The Raiders fumbled five times, losing two. They also threw two INT's. You cannot win if you turn the ball over four times. The Raiders actually moved the ball much more effectively, but the turnovers just ruined any chance they had. But let's throw out the gimmick stat you've hard so many times: Betts had 5 carries for 1 yard and 3 TD's.

30 yards rushing for the Bucs. Hey, welcome back Coach Gibbs! Let's give a game ball to defensive co-ordinator Gregg Williams, who held the Bucs to 2 yds/rush. And it's not like they boasted a robust passing game, either. It's not like the Skins lit things up on their end, so we may have just witnessed a showdown between terrible offenses. Stay tuned.

FALCONS 21, 49ers 19
The Falcons had 132 yards passing. We mention that as today's "Vick is Overrated" stat du jour. Yes, he's good. But he didn't move the football, got sacked four times, and threw an interception. Against a lousy team. There's no one in the league more fun to watch than Vick, but he's just not that effective. highlight plays don't make you good. Effeceincy does.

The Rams had 448 yards of offense. Which means they moved the ball up and down the field almost at will, only to come away with a mere 17 points. They needed a last minute touchdown to win the game. Which is why we rate offenses on points, not yards.

Holes: 26-151-3 TD and Griffin: 23-156- 2 TD. The two starting backs had a field day. In the end, KC lost because Green had a pretty bad night, completing 50 percent of his passes for a total of less than 15o yards. So? Are the backs this good, or do the defenses stink? I think we know the answer regarding Holmes, but probably the truth lies somewhere in the middle for Griffin. But let's say neither team is complaining about the Champ Bailey-Clinton Portis deal.

The Jasg were 2-13 on 3rd downs, 3-3 on 4th. And all of those came on the final drive, including the game's final play. I'd also like to say that Willford was out of the end zone because his own momentum carried him out, noit because a defender pushed him. The NFL rule is ridiculous anyway, so I can't say it was a bad call, but I can say it's a terrible rule. The Bills got hosed. However, the Bills offense was given a gift and couldn't get one first down and score a TD to put the game away, so I'm not exactly bursting with sympathy.

The teams combined for 18 penalties for 175 yards. They also had five turnovers. They converted, together, 8 of 30 3rd downs. There were 17 punts. All in all, this game sucked out loud.

Boller went 22/38 for 191 yards and 2 picks, plus 3 sacks for -25 yards. The focus after the game was that Deion was pretty effective for a 37-year old when it should be how neffective their QB is. The Ravens abandones the run in what was a close game, and put the success of their team on the arm of a QB who has done nothing to inspire confidence. Who came up with the game plan?

Houston had four turnovers, San Diego none. And there's your ballgame. The Chargers aren't a terribly good team, but if you give them four extra possessions, even they can score once or twice. Both QB's played very well, as did both RB's. Once again, mistakes will absolutely kill you.

Brooks: 18/37 for 221 with both a pick and a TD. The Saints need Brooks to be an elite QB, and throwing at a 50% clip ain't gonna do it. A stellar return game kept giving the Saints good field position, only to have it squandered repeatedly. It's not panic time, but Brooks must play better. Period.

219 yards rushing, 219 passing for the Jets. Talk about balance. I don't say this publicly very often, but Gioia was right. I did underrate the Jets. Martin went for 196 on just 29 carries, and Pennington was 20/27 for 224. They look like a real offensive machine, one that could challenge the Pats on Any Given Sunday. Pennington completely changes the look of this team.

posted by Poseur 9/14/2004 09:13:00 AM


We're working on the NFL week in review, which I think will be a Tuesday staple, giving us time to digest the whole football weekend. So let's just dive right in to college football.

College Football Week 2

The games were great, but marred but some downright idiotic coaching decisions. Look, I'm not capable of coaching a football team. I wouldn't know how to organize practice, actually teach those fundamentals, or draw up plays. I know that I'm not qualified for the job. That said, there are some things I think those of us sitting on the couch can do just as well and that is clock management, deciding when to go for two, and the occassional play call.

Marsahll lost because Bob Pruitt can't manage the clock. It's as simple as that. He played for overtime with almost two minutes on the clock, essentially giving the best kicker in the country a chance to beat him (which he did). Southern Miss needs to take the two-point play out of their playbook. It didn't cost them, but the eight-yard two-point attempt when up by four is never ever ever a good idea.

Yes, FSU-Miami went to overtime. However, just because the game was close doesn't mean it was any good. Both quarterbacks were this side of awful, and FSU gagged on a ten-point fourth quarter lead. they couldn't even score in OT. Just a miserable game from two teams that were supposed to be really good.

We didn't learn anything else other than you should never leave a Clemson game early. That's now twice in two weeks that Clemson has taken the game to the final second. Only this time, they weren't the ones celebrating. And I know we're supposed to be in awe of UVa, but guys, it's just UNC. They stink.

Big East
BC got the conference's big win, taking out an extraordinarily overrated Penn State team. Hey, that makes them a contender for the Big East title. WVU's the team to beat, but UConn and Syracuse aren't exactly impressing anybody with their wins.

And Temple showed some fight in getting walloped by Maryland, but they still got walloped. And Rutgers, a week after showing a pulse, lost to New Hampshire. A 1-AA team. New Freaking Hampshire.

Big Ten
It's not the kind of week they'll want to put on the brochures. Last week, the Big Ten looked awesome, beating up on the poor, pitiful MAC. Now, some real teams showed up and things got ugly. Penn St. lost to a very average BC team. Illinois got hammered by UCLA. Minnesota struggled against Illinois St. Northwestern lost to ASU. Iowa struggled against their cross state rivals, ISU. Ohio St. needed a 55-yard figgie to beat Marshall. Michigan lost! To Notre Dame!And Purdue... well, they kicked the crap out of another lousy team.

But all is not lost! INDIANA!!! The Hoosiers had 71 yards passing and not even half of the yards of the Oregon offense. But no matter. Keyed by turnover after turnover, IU notched perhaps their biggest win in over a decade.

Big Twelve
How bad does the North look right now? Mizzou loses to Troy, K-State to Fresno, and Nebraska to Southern Miss. Taken by themselves, none of those losses are all that bad, but as a group, it makes the conference look very weak. Iowa St. at least played Iowa tough before losing to, frankly, a much better team. And somehow, I have to say something nice about the Team Which Represents All That is Evil.

Texas finally got that Arkansas monkey off their back, needing a Matt Jones fumble to help 'em out. But the big monkey is Oklahoma, who shook off that rust from Bowling Green and just laid the lead pipe to Houston. Unless somebody else shows a pulse, this is a two-team conference.

Oregon St, we hardly knew ye. In one of those classic letdown games, the Beavers just got whipped by Boise St. Boise's a good team, but after taking LSU to the wire, the Beavs thought they had a nice team. Oregon had their classic mental lapse. How do you lose to Indiana? At home?

Everything else went according to form. USC and Cal? Still good. Arizona? Still stinks. And Wazzu's play calling in the final minute against Colorado left something to be desired. This means the Buffs have won two stright games on successful goal-line stands because the offense couldn't get in the right play. Proof positive Satan works on the staff.

Georgia looked vulnerable for about one half of football. And then they started to take South Carolina seriously. It's hard to read much into that game other than UGa bought into their press clippings, and then got chewed out at the half.

Hey, where are all the feel good stories about Sylvester Croom? Actually, I think this game is far more signifigant than beating up Tulane. MSU got beat up by a much better Auburn team. It wasn't close after the first quarter, and Tubberville's not one to call off the dogs. MSU got the same rough treatment that anyone gets from Auburn. And that is what equality looks like. It's gonna take the Dogs a long time to get up to merely decent.

posted by Poseur 9/13/2004 02:41:00 PM


College Football Review

Last week was pretty lame. Not so this week. Great games, a lot of upsets. Damn, what a good football weekend.

Game of the week
Notre Dame 28
#8 Michigan 20

It pains me to highlight this game after the way the legitimate sports media swoons at the mere mention of Notre Dame. But since we’ve got a team that we thought sucked real bad beating the team Baker picked to win the national championship, I sort-of have to mention it.

The problem for Michigan was that they couldn’t find the end zone. They had 4 field goals but didn’t score a TD until less than 3 minutes remained in the game. Notre Dame was just terrible in the first half, but one big play was good for a 46 yard touchdown. It was an ugly game featuring 7 turnovers, but here’s the glaring stat—the Irish, who had 11 yards rushing last week, out-rushed the Wolverines 135-56.

Honorable mention
#3 Georgia 20
South Carolina 16

I didn’t give USC much of a chance, but after an early safety, a big pass play, and an interception returned for a touchdown, the gamecocks were up 16-0. David Greene had the poise you expect from a senior QB, and the UGA defense was stout. After Georgia took the lead with 10 minutes remaining, UGA forced a USC fumble at the bulldogs’ 18. UGA turned it over shortly after, but UGA stopped USC on 4th and 1 with 5 minutes to go. Maybe UGA isn’t as great as I thought they’d be. We’ll find out when they get to Florida, Tenn., LSU, and Auburn.

Fantastic Finishes…
Since there were so many good games, I’ll invent a new category to mention some more.

# 5 Miami 16
#4 Florida St. 10

Really, it was a sloppy game, but it’s hard to deny a UM-FSU game that goes into overtime. Xavier Beitia began the game by hitting a long field goal. Of course, he had one blocked with under 4 minutes to play, so he’s probably still not able to sleep at night. Bottom line: both offenses stunk. Bad. Brock Berlin had a good game, but Miami kept finding ways to shoot themselves in the foot. Chris Rix was terrible, 12 of 28 for 108 yards, 2 INT and a fumble in overtime. We’re accustomed to seeing these teams try to win a national championship. On Friday it looked like neither wanted to win until we got to the last minute of regulation. All my criticism shouldn’t diminish a great run by Frank Gore.

Honorable mention

Georgia Tech 28
#20 Clemson 24

The first three quarters were terrible. How about the fourth quarter? Check out these scoring drives…

Clemson made it 17-7 with a 63 yard TD run by Reggie Merriweather.
GT responded with a 5 play, 34 second TD drive.
Clemson’s next possession was just 38 seconds, capped off by a Kyle Browning 54 yard TD run.
GT responded with a lengthy 2 minute TD drive to make it a 3 point game with 1:54 remaining.
Clemson’s next possession: 9 yards on first down. Shut down on 2nd & 3rd. A bad snap and poor handling on the punt meant the punter could only dive on the ball.
GT: one play, a TD pass to win the game. Since no one calls WRs for pushing off, the score stands.

And oh, by the way… Mike Nugent hit a 54 yard field goal as time expired to give #9 Ohio St. the 24-21 win over Marshall.

Upset of the week
Nebraska lost to SMU at home, yet I found two others.

Indiana 30
#24 Oregon 24

Ouch. Indiana only won 2 games last year. They’ve already equaled that with the win over the ducks. Indiana was out of the gate early and took a 23-0 lead at the half. Oregon came on late with some big pass plays, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Indiana. I hope that last sentence doesn’t crash any computers. It’ doesn’t get better for Oregon. Next week they’re at Oklahoma.

Honorable mention
Troy St. 24
#19 Missouri 14

That’s two consecutive weeks Troy State has pulled the upset. Next week they’re not eligible. Who said Missou was overrated this year?

Beat Down of the week

Fresno St. 45
#13 Kansas St. 21

The margin is too big to be just an upset. We used to make fun of KSU for never scheduling a quality out of conference opponent. Now we see why. For the second consecutive year they’ve come up empty against a non-BCS team. This time they got their asses handed to them in a hat. Total yards: FSU 400, KSU 180. Heisman hopeful Darren Sproles had a big kickoff return, but was held to 37 yards rushing. KSU is known for a great offense with a ton of speed. FSU’s defense totally throttled them.

Honorable mention
#1 USC 48
Colorado St. 0

Forget how rusty USC looked at VaTech a couple weeks ago. They brought their A-game for the home opener. LenDale White ran all over CSU.

Honor Roll

Kyle Orton, Purdue. 23 of 26, 329 yards, 5 TDs + 1 rushing TD. Surreal. In two weeks no one has put up better numbers.
Aaron Rogers, Cal. 20 of 26, 266 yards, 2 TD. Nice percentage.
Joel Statham, Maryland. 18 of 25, 268 yards, 2 TD.
Jared Zabransky, Boise St. 20 of 34, 225 yards, 3 TD, INT + 74 rushing yards, TD.

Darius Walker, Notre Dame. 31 carries, 115 yards, 2 TD
LenDale White, USC. 14 carries, 123 yards, 3 TD
J. J Arrington, Cal. 16 carries, 177 yards, 3 TD
Cedric Benson, Texas. 29 carries, 188 yards, TD

Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech. 8 catches, 127 yards, 3 TD.
Mike Hass, Oregon St. 12 catches, 293 yards, 3 TD.
Santonio Holmes, Ohio St. 10 catches, 218, 2 TD.

posted by uberschuck 9/12/2004 02:31:00 AM

Americans—good at cycling, not tennis

The only Americans at the US Open this weekend were in the stands. The days of Sampras and Agassi are gone. The Williams sisters were taken out by Capriati and Davenport, who were beaten in the semifinal by a pair of Russians. Svetlana Kuznetsova defeated Elena Dementieva 6-3, 7-5. The Kourniklones have taken over women’s tennis, winning the last three majors. Maybe Korniklones isn’t a good name since they can actually win.

In the men’s draw the Americans didn’t even get to the semifinals. The aged Andre Agassi was the sentimental favorite, but Roger Federer didn’t shed a tear in beating him in a 5-setter. Defending champ Andy Roddick also lost in 5 sets to Johansson, who simply served more aces, if you believe that. The Sunday final will be between Aussie Lleyton Hewitt and Swiss Roger Federer. As we often say on this page, Americans usually don’t care when Americans aren’t in the match. So the ratings for the Open will be low, but at least we have football.

But what about cycling?

The Vuelta is the last of the 3 major tours. I wish Lance Armstrong were somehow connected to the race, because OLN would might consider showing it on TV. Oh well.

We’re one week into the race, and USPS has held the lead (through 4 different men) throughout. Manuel Beltran started Saturday’s stage with the lead, but he’s not all that great a time trialist. Yet, he managed to finish fourth. Olympic gold medalist Tyler Hamilton won the individual time trial in a time of 47:16. Columbian Victor Hugo Pena was second, 15 seconds behind. American Floyd Landis was third, 18 seconds behind Hamilton, and then came Beltran at +0:28. Oh, by the way, Hamilton has now won a stage in each of the three major tours.

With two weeks of racing to go, Floyd Landis wears the leader’s gold jersey with his teammate Beltran 10 seconds behind. Hamilton is just 32 seconds back in third place. There are still 26 men within 5 minutes of Landis, including a lot of big names like Heras, Mancebo, and Valverde. Sunday’s stage is a big one in the mountains. That’ll help sort things out. There’s a long way to go, but both Hamilton and Landis are tough in the mountains, with very strong teams.

posted by uberschuck 9/12/2004 02:29:00 AM

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