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Opening Day again: Things I'm looking for with April here.......
12) Will Bill Parcells really coach the Saints this year? What a unique situation that would be.
11) NFL Draft closes out the month; ESPN’s Todd McShay is saying Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill is just about as good as Robert Griffin III, which I strongly disagree with, but he knows more about it than I do. Time will tell. The draft is now spread over three nights and is almost always solid entertainment.
10) Rangers have won one Stanley Cup since 1940, but will be top seed in the East this year; can they parlay that into their first title since 1994? NHL playoffs are always great fun.
9) How many star players will miss the NBA playoffs because of injury? The condensed schedule was a stupid idea, but as long as the owners make money, who cares if the product suffers? And it is suffering.
8) Now that Eldrick Woods has ended his winning drought, will he keep on winning and get another green jacket? My theory was that he wouldn’t win, but if he did, he would win several times, not just once.
7) New baseball season starts Thursday; I’m not optimistic for my A’s, but I do think they have their best coaching staff they’ve had since the Larussa days and they won’t go in the tank late in the season. They’ll compete every night, but they’re talent-shy.
6) Looking forward to seeing the new ballpark in Miami, and also changes that were made at Citi Field. How hitter-friendly is the Queens ballpark now? Enough to revitalize David Wright’s career?
5) Red Sox fired their manager LY, a guy who won them two World Series; they let their GM and closer walk. Will they be any better? Something tells me they’re going to miss Mr Francona a lot more than they think.
4) How much of an immediate impact will the Dodgers see from getting out from under the cloud of Frank McCourt? Having Magic Johnson is an owner will be tremendous in the community, but the team that takes the field won’t change much this year. The perception of that team could change a lot.
3) Chase Utley has two bad knees; Ryan Howard has a surgically repaired Achilles tendon, which won’t be ready for games until Memorial Day or so. The Phillies’ position players are old and tattered; can the stellar starting pitching keep them atop an improved NL East?
2) College basketball coaching carousel will start spinning; Mississippi State-Kansas State-Colorado State are three of the better jobs still available. Lot of talent coming back next year at both K-State and Colorado State; they both should be tournament teams.
1) Studying the NFL schedule is always one of the highlights every spring; it comes out in a couple weeks-- will every Denver game be in primetime? Will the Saints get any night games? Which Jet-Patriot game is a Monday nighter? Lot of questions to answer there.
Catching up on my List of 13: Wrapping up some things I missed this weekend.....
13) Jeremy Lin needs knee surgery; by time he gets healthy, Knicks will be done for the season, so chances are Linsanity is a thing of the past in the Big Apple, since Lin will be a free agent and figures to get paid big money by someone other than the Knicks. Now they can go back to Carmelo Anthony having the ball all the time and playing unwatchable basketball. Too bad.
I know Knicks have been winning lately, but unless they win their division, they're playing Chicago-Miami in first round of playoffs; anyone out there think the Knicks beat them best-of-7 without Lin and Stoudemire?
12) CBS doesn't need three guys broadcasting Final Four games, and the guy who needs to go is Clark Kellogg; people who wanted Billy Packer gone can not possibly think Kellogg was an improvement. Steve Kerr is excellent on either college or NBA games. Actually, its too bad Hubie Brown doesn't do college games- that would be fun to listen to.
11) Pro golfer Briny Baird has made $12,596,088 in his PGA career, but has never won a tournament; you think he cares that much? No one on TV golf broadcasts ever talks about the money aspects the marginal golfer faces, but it has to be big. Winning isn't everything, earning a living is. Baird has made himself a terrific career without ever winning.
10) Since last August, Georgia Bulldogs have had four DBs transfer out, had another couple thrown off the team, suspended three others. How many do they have on their roster? Thats not even counting injuries. By the way, did a little college football work this weekend; its weird seeing some of the new league configurations. Missouri in the SEC just looks wrong.
9) Technical fouls in NBA should also be personal fouls; guys mouth off to the refs and don't get penalized- one foul shot, big deal.
8) There was an excellent high school game on TV late Saturday; Findlay Prep was down to Montverde Prep after three quarters, but scored 37 points in 8:00 fourth quarter to force OT, and then Findlay won in OT. Not sure who is paying the bills for a team from Florida playing a team from Las Vegas in Maryland, but it was fun to watch. High quality basketball. Most of kids on the floor will be Division I players.
7) Kobe Bryant missed his first 15 shots Saturday; don't see that a lot.
6) There have been five Final Fours played in New Orleans; not only has Rick Pitino coached in three of the five, he coached three different schools.
5) Kid on Kansas State gets suspended because a friend sent him $200; if you didn't notice, attendance at the Final Four Saturday was 73,361, all of whom paid a decent amount to get in including myself and Bobalou. Where does all that money go? I'm not big on kids getting paid to play, but there has to be some compassion involved. Its hypocritical to suspend a kid over 200 frreakin' dollars when the powers-that-be are raking in millions to watch the kids play.
4) Kentucky-Louisville was terrific game; Cardinals should hold their heads high, knowing they did their best, even though it wasn't good enough. No regrets when it ends that way.
3) Got my first look at the new Marlins Park today; looks pretty cool, but could the nitwit Bronx announcers realize attendance will go up, if only due to the retractable roof, which guarantees there will be a game every night? In previous years, sporadic downpours in south Florida would make it unsure if a game would be played or not. Now you know there's a game, and with the new ballpark in downtown Miami, its easier to get to the game.
2) Stadium is on the site of the old Orange Bowl, which hosted five Super Bowls; lot of history on those grounds.
1) At first glance, even though they have a strong lineup, park looks like a pitcher's yard, which is a curious decision they made. There is also a bobblehead museum there, which looks like it could be a lot of fun to see.
13) What does it say about the Basketball Hall of Fame the Nike CEO Phil Knight is in, but Rick Pitino/Jerry Tarkanian aren’t? How does this make sense? What has Knight done for basketball, except make a fortune off it?
12) Jimmy Buffett played a concert in New Orleans Sunday night, wearing a “FREE SEAN PAYTON” t-shirt; he brought Payton on stage to play the bongos for a while. Going to be interesting to see if the NFL shortens Payton’s suspension.
11) Was weird watching Kentucky-Kansas when I was there and thinking that freakin’ Butler played for the last two national titles. An amazing feat.
10) Odd stat of the day: New York Rangers haven’t had home ice edge in a playoff series since 1996. They’ll have home ice throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs this spring.
9) Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino was injured in a motorcycle accident this weekend, but a full recovery is expected. We certainly hope so.
8) Long time ago, there used to be an actor named James Stacy; was on a show called Lancer in the 60’s. Stacy lost an arm and a leg in a motorcycle accident. Will never forget him going on the Tonight Show after the accident; I was a kid, and it made a lasting impression seeing him like that, so much so that I never wanted to ride a minibike or motorcycle, anything like that. Coach Petrino is lucky he only broke some ribs.
7) Hopefully some journalist will get to the bottom of how Kansas State found out about the $200 the Samuels kid got wired to him by his old AAU coach, which caused the school to suspend him for the Syracuse game. Hard to believe it was some random customer finding a receipt and bringing it to the K-State gym. Things don’t work that way. Politics are a funny thing; the AD at Kansas State might want that information kept quiet.
6) I’m told that the TV show Mad Men took a cheap shot at Mitt Romney in Sunday’s show, using fact that Romney’s dad was governor of Michigan in the 60’s, and insulting the father in the show without using his first name, delivering the ol’ subliminal message. Not much class there.
5) Ohio U hired former TCU coach Jim Christian, who is smart enough to know that the Horned Frog job is a sinking ship with TCU joining the Big X, for football reasons only. Christian did good work getting TCU to the middle of the Mountain West pack, but getting them to be competitive in the Big X might be an impossible job, giving the difference in resources.
4) The store in Illinois that sold a winning lottery ticket this weekend gets a $500,000 bonus; the store in Kansas only gets $10,000; individual states set those bonuses, so I’m told.
3) Heard Rick Monday broadcasting a Dodger game Sunday night from Arizona; tremendous voice, very fair, not afraid to criticize either team. Can’t believe I’ve never heard him before; he was one of my boyhood idols, when he played for the A’s. Guess he does radio for the Dodgers.
2) One of reasons the A’s won three straight World Series was tremendous starting pitching; after the ’71 season, Oakland traded centerfielder Monday straight up for a lefty starter named Ken Holtzman. Holtzman was terrific for the A’s and a huge reason they were so successful. The trade is one of many reasons Charles O Finley belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
1) Read some prominent NFL writer say this weekend that Bill Parcells was an overrated coach, that anyone could’ve won Super Bowls with Lawrence Taylor on his team. Bull.
Taylor was a handful to coach, more so off the field than on; Parcells was masterful coaching him, keeping him on the field and he is a deserving Hall of Famer. I’m not a fan of any team he has coached, but if you say he’s not a Hall of Famer, then you just don’t like him, and that’s not right. Its not a damn personality contest.
Wednesday's List of 13: Random thoughts on a hot spring day here in Florida........
13) Naysayers claim baseball is dying in this country. Reds just gave Joey Votto $225M for 10 years, Giants gave Matt Cain $112M for five; that will buy you a lot of medicine.
12) Critics point to Cain’s 69-73 lifetime record; optimists look at his ERA the last three years: 2.89/3.14/2.88 and his durability and age (28). Over the last three years, Votto hit .363 with runners in scoring position. Both seem like solid investments.
11) Was it me, or did John Calipari look very uncomfortable on the podium, waiting to be awarded the national championship trophy? Not sure why, just thought he did. Hope he gets to enjoy it a little before recruiting starts.
10) Not to beat a dead horse, but the Samuels kid on Kansas State got suspended over a cruddy $200, while the NCAA sells the rights to being the official scissors and the official ladder to cut down the championship nets after the game Monday night. I’m not kidding, there is an officially licensed scissors for cutting down the nets.
9) Detroit Pistons’ coach Lawrence Frank has a rule for players: When talking to the media, you must always mention at least one teammate in a positive way. Frank would be an excellent college coach.
8) Out of the 6.45M brackets entered on espn.com, 35.1% of them had Kentucky winning it all.
7) How does a major league team not have a third baseman? Right now, the A’s are using a converted catcher there, after Scott Sizemore blew out his ACL during spring’s first workout. I’d try and trade for the Mets’ Justin Turner. If not, just make Wes Timmons the 3B; guy spent last winter as a substitute school teacher. Perfect for the low budget A's.
6) Redskins are reducing the capacity at Fed Ex Field for second year in row, taking out 4,000 seats; in 2010, capacity was 91,000; last year it was 83,000. This fall, it’ll be 79,000.
5) Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos has scored 46 goals with the Lightning at even strength, the most in a season by any NHL player since 1993.
4) Most college conference moves hurt a school’s basketball program, but Georgia State moving to the Sun Belt actually helps, moving the Panthers from the tough CAA to the much softer Sun Belt Conference. Former Alabama coach Bill Curry is Georgia State’s football coach.
3) CBSSports.com ran an interesting article this week on a guy in California who gets $200 a day to mentor college-age quarterbacks on the nuances of the position, hopefully getting them ready for the pros. Reminds me of the old TV show The Rockford Files, when James Garner got $200 a day (plus expenses) to figure out that week’s mystery.
2) If you like to wager on individual matchups in golf, Eldrick Woods is -$107 this week against Rory McIlroy, -$149 against Phil Mickelson, -$158 against Luke Donald and -$169 against Lee Westwood.
1) Average ticket price for a Red Sox game this year? $151.10, highest in the big leagues. Cubs are next at $108.70. Cheapest average tickets are in Milwaukee-Pittsburgh-Kansas City, all at $48.
-- Marlins lost 4-2 to St Louis in their first game in the new stadium, as Kyle Lohse no-hit them for the first six innings. Nice stadium though.
-- Spurs scored only 28 second half points, still held on to beat Celtics in Boston, 87-86. All San Antonio does is win, and no one notices.
-- At one point this season, the Suns were 14-20; now they're 14-6 in last 20 games after nipping the Jazz 107-105 in Utah Wednesday, a testament to Steve Nash's greatness. Nash will make a fortune this summer.
-- Why do oddsmakers adjust the odds for Laker-Clipper games? Both teams are home; shouldn't all their games have basically same spread?
-- Those green hats the caddies wear at the Masters are freakin' $50, and they're not even flexfit, they're adjustable in the back. Not good.
-- Orioles lost an 8-inning scrimmage to Manatee CC 2-1 Tuesday; this is not good for a team in division with Bronx-Boston-Tampa-Toronto. Just to be clear, Manatee CC is a junior college team. Yikes.
Thursday's List of 13: Baseball thoughts on Opening Day........
13) Miami Marlins are the most interesting team to follow early on; new stadium, new uniforms, new manager, lot of combustible personalities, from the owner on down. How will they draw? How will they play? I like the new hats.
12) I feel sorry for Oriole fans; they have no chance, no matter how much they improve, because the other four teams in their division are all so much better. Toronto is a fashionable pick to contend this year. Bronx/Boston have so many more resources than the O’s; how can they compete?
11) I’m thinking the Rays are going to be disappointing; this is worst spring training record they’ve had since 2007, the last year before they got good. I’m also not optimistic for my A’s, but I can’t wait to see them play on TV; at some point, if they’re going to leave Oakland, I’ve got to get myself out there to see a series in the Coliseum, a much-maligned stadium with a tremendous amount of history (think A’s/Raiders). If they ever get the go-ahead to build the stadium in San Jose, the A’s franchise will rise again. If not, well, that’s another, less happy story.
10) I like the additional Wild Card in each league; think it’ll help make September a more interesting baseball month.
9) I’m hoping the guys on my sons fantasy team get healthy; Victor Martinez is out for the year, Ryan Howard probably until June, Carl Crawford and Tim Hudson until May. Thank God I don’t pay their salaries—that’s an expensive disabled list!!!
8) For my kid’s sake, I hope the Mets are better than expected; Santana’s unexpected start on Opening Day has to be a big lift. Will the shortened outfield dimensions revive the hitting of Wright/Bay? Why are they insisting on playing a defensive liability (Murphy) at second base, a key defensive position? What happened to being strong up the middle?
7) I’m excited for Dodger fans, now that the Frank McCourt era is over and Magic Johnson’s group will be running things; the results won’t show on the field right away, but nitwits like McCourt and the Mets’ Fred Wilpon shouldn’t own big league teams. I mean, its bad enough I root for the small market A’s; imagine rooting for a big market team that acts like they’re a small market team? Not good.
6) I think this is the year the Mark Grace character wins the sausage-type race at the 7th inning stretch in Arizona; they copied Milwaukee’s sausage race, and use costumes of famous D-Backs. The Grace character is like 0 for 200, kind of like Teddy Roosevelt in Washington, with the Presidents’ race. It says here Grace wins one this year.
5) Looking forward to hearing Duane Kuiper/Mike Krukow late at night doing giant games, even if the Giants are the evil group blocking the San Jose stadium. Kuip/Kruk are great together and fun to listen to.
4) Also out west, we get Hall of Famers Dick Enberg and Vin Scully doing games late at night; every new broadcaster should listen to their tapes. It’s a pleasure to listen to them.
3) Mike Matheny has his hands full for sure, taking over for Tony Larussa, skippering a team that won the World Series but let Albert Pujols walk. Their pitching is shaky; this is a tough job for Matheny. Hopefully the St Louis fans will have lot of patience with this team.
2) I think the Angels have overtaken Texas and are better than the Rangers and will win the AL West.
1) To me, sitting in my living room, a bar or a Las Vegas sports book for six hours on a Friday night, scanning 15 baseball games qualifies as an excellent night; not the World Series or playoffs or All-Star Game, just a normal night where you never know what might happen. For six months this plays out most every night and to me, that’s whats terrific about baseball.
How is that to start off the baseball season with a winner. Gotta love it.
-- Blue Jays scored three in 9th to tie game, then won it 7-4 in the 16th, the longest Opening Day game in major league history.
-- Marlins got blanked 4-0, have scored only two runs in two games.
-- Detroit beat the Red Sox 3-2, despite Jose Valverde blowing his first save since 2010. Austin Jackson had the game-winning hit.
-- Andres Torres lasted six innings as the Mets' CF, pulling a calf muscle chasing after Tyler Pastornicky's triple. He's on the DL already.
-- In 1992-93, Orlando assistant coach Mark Price was 289-305 from the foul line, making 94.8% of his foul shots. Dwight Howard missed 18 foul shots in one game this season.
-- The Howard/Stan Van Gundy drama is what is hideous about the NBA. Fact of the matter is, star players can get a coach fired. Carmelo Anthony did it in New York by not trying hard enough. Its not good.