Wednesday, October 7, 2009

For Pete's Sake, Lift Rose's Ban

I’m on a listserve with sports journalists who enjoy the give and take of talking candidly about life. Maybe that’s putting what we do far too politely, because our discussions can be as brutal as the time I sat with Michigan fans when my Buckeyes went to Ann Arbor. We wage verbal warfare over our differing points of view.

Being irreverent isn't beneath us; neither is being politically incorrect nor downright goofy, such has the two- or three-day discussions on soul food and fried chicken. (Popeye’s and KFC didn’t get a mention in this freewheeling chitchat.)

One of the listserve’s topics recently was Pete Rose. We kicked around whether Rose was a better leadoff hitter than Rickey Henderson. We never did reach a consensus, though I reminded my comrades that Henderson’s speed made him far more dangerous than Rose. I made headway with that reasoning.

(Continue to Justice Is Served)

MLB Playoff Predictions

I have absolutely no idea what is going to happen this post-season. Perhaps you picked up on that when I predicted so surely that Minnesota would easily dispatch of the Tigers in the AL Central playoff. No such luck there. (Obviously, I got the team right, but not the route to victory.)

Ask me an hour ago who was the best team in the National League and I would have said hands-down Saint Louis. Then I had myself a look at the standings and realized the Cardinals finished with the worst record of all of the National League playoff teams. I don't know when that happened...I would have thought the Dodgers' recent slide easily put them ahead of only Colorado...but no. So now I'm not sure I even like the Cardinals.

In the American League I may be trying to convince myself the Yankees will lose, but I'm just not feeling as confident about the Yankees as everyone else is. Perhaps they run away with everything...but I feel like there are teams that can beat them.

So I have no idea going into this write-up who's going to win what. But I'll have it worked out in the next few paragraphs.

(Continue to 200 Miles From the Citi)

A Postseason Without Tigers

I went into last night’s game fully expecting the Tigers to lose. There was no way, I reasoned, that Detroit could go to Minnesota, against a red-hot team and win this one-game playoff; especially with rookie Rick Porcello on the mound.

It was a self-defense mechanism. Emotionally, it was better for me to be pleasantly surprised than terribly disappointed.

But any sports fan can tell you that no matter how low you set your expectations, when the game begins that bar is still as high as the clouds. And after the Tigers took an early 3-0 lead, I was walking on cloud nine, 10 11 and 12.

(Continue to Michigan and Trumbull)

Cards-Dodgers: Old School Matchup

When the Cardinals and Dodgers open up their series tomorrow in Los Angeles, it will be an old-school match up among long-time rivals.

The Cardinals have had good success against LA in recent playoff history. Remember Jack Clark's dramatic HR that stunned the Dodgers.

This series looks like some hard fought baseball. Both teams struggled to the regular season finish line. Both teams are looking for some postseason magic that will erase how the regular year ended.

You know the logic. Teams want to play their best baseball heading into the playoffs. So the next best thing is actually playing well in the playoffs.

(Continue to Paul's Redbird Report)

Something's Rotten in These Rankings

We try to run a respectable joint around here. Really.

But hold your nose and take a look at all the sorry teams that have stumbled toward the end of the NFL 100-proof rankings, and are already pulling on the rot gut this year.

For cripes sake, we count 11 of 'em!

Good golly, is Jeff Fisher's team really hanging with that gang? Is that John Fox's squad we see down there spilling all over itself? And isn't it a shame the younger Mora is taking after his under-achieving dad?

(Continue to The Grill Room)

Ravens' Bad Dream: Brady in a Skirt

Baltimore Ravens' Coach John Harbaugh
Sunday's Don’t-Hit-Brady Game
Photo: Associated Press

Baltimore is having a bad dream over the notion of Tom Brady in a skirt.

It is so bad that you just want to run down the hall and tell your mother about it. Even after two days, the image just won’t go away.

See, Brady is an NFL golden boy, Super Bowl champion, etc., etc. His New England Patriots beat the Ravens 27-21 Sunday in Foxborough in a key AFC matchup.

But for a lot of Ravens fans, along with pro football commentators and observers nationally, some of that Brady mystique is taking a beating after perceived favoritism the QB received on officials’ calls Sunday.

(Continue to DMA 7-22 Sports)

Too Early to Panic in Vancouver

Hey, what's the deal with the Vancouver Canucks? Picked by many -- but not me, I like Calgary -- to finish first in the Northwest Division, the Canucks have lost their first three games and haven't looked very good while doing it.

The biggest problem: subpar work by star goalie Roberto Luongo, who was yanked in Monday's home opener against Columbus after allowing goals on three consecutive shots to begin the second period.

Luongo actually played OK in Saturday's 3-0 loss in Denver, but he was medicore at best in Vancouver's season-opening defeat in Calgary and awful against the Blue Jackets.

Luongo is the Canucks' best player -- at least, he should be -- and he's just too talented to keep playing the way he has. Vancouver has outshot the opposition by a wide margin in each of the first three games, yet has nothing to show for it.

(Continue to Through the 5 Hole)

SEC Bloodbath ... Coming Soon

For the second week in a row, the top of the BCS Standings (Simulated) are dominated by SEC teams. Alabama, LSU and Florida are ranked 1-2-3 this week. This week's standings are just about as good as the real thing, with both polls (Coaches and Harris) and five of the six BCS computer ratings available. Anderson & Hester made its 2009 debut this week, leaving just Peter Wolfe, who does not publish his rankings until the first actual BCS Standings are released (this season on Oct. 18).

Since the computers are not allowed to use margin of victory (MOV) as a component, there's little surprise that LSU is so highly rated, despite two close-calls the last two weeks. The Tigers, in fact, are ranked No. 1 in all five BCS computers. Alabama's high computer ratings also help to keep the Tide at No. 1 for the third straight week.

Florida and Texas, the two teams atop the polls, are dogged by soft schedules and therefore less-than-stellar computer rankings. The Longhorns will have a three-game stretch where they'll face Oklahoma, Missouri and Oklahoma State, which starts in two weeks. The Gators will have an opportunity to fix that this week with a visit to Baton Rouge.

(Continue to BCS Guru)

The Week in Review: Europe

Premier League
A change of hands at the top of the Premier League standings occured over the weekend. Chelsea's 2-0 over Liverpool combined with Manchester United's 2-2 draw with Sunderland allowed Chelsea to take back the top spot in the Premiership.

Arsenal had the weekend's largest margin ov victory, as it defeated the Blackburn Rovers 6-2 to pull into a tie for with Liverpool for fifth place while Portsmouth finally registerd its first points of the season by defeating the Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0.

(Continue to Soccer 24-7)

Purity of an Underdog's Effort

Having just watched the Twins survive a bases loaded top of the 12th against Detroit and then score to put themselves into an unlikely playoff against the mighty Yankees, I'm probably one of a thousand or so writers wondering what comes next.

Will the proverbial gas tank be empty of emotion and/or effort when they step into the magnificent $1.5 billion structure that is Yankee Stadium (and yes, like the 'Marvelous' that Marvin Hagler saw before his name so frequently that he finally added it legally, the price tag for the House that Steinbrenner built will surely always be there), or will they believe they are *Destined* and continue over-achieving?

(Continue to Baseline Shorks)
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