Monday, October 31, 2011

Big Ten Preview: #12 Penn State

Well that was a fun little run last year, wasn't it?  To see a guy like Talor Battle, a little do-it all guy whose talent so far exceeded everyone else on the team that he wasn't asked to do everything, take his team on a happy fun late season run, including an appearance in the Big Ten Tournament Championship, and grab their first NCAA bid since the annoying Crispins were running around State College.  Of course, the dream died when Juan Fernandez hit that off-balance shot in the NCAA First Second Round, and it's been dying every since.

First off, and biggest, everybody graduated.  Not just the great Battle, but three other starters as well (David Jackson, Andrew Jones, and Jeff Brooks), and the heir apparent to Battle, Taran Buie, transferred to Hofstra after being suspended mid-season.  All that means Penn State is losing 87% of its scoring, 74% of its rebounding, and 53% of its assists.  On top of that, despite leading the team to its first NCAA Bid in a thousand years, Coach Ed DeChellis bounced to Navy (Navy!) and with him talented Dayton transfer Juwan Staten changed his mind about joining the squad and will suit up for West Virginia instead.  So the Nittany Lions roll into this season with a new coach, a whole new team, and not a lot of reasons for optimism.

The one bright spot, and the reason the still get 47% of their assists back from last year, is point guard Tim Frazier.  He's an excellent point guard who excels at getting into the lane, setting teammates up (4th in the B10 in assists last year), and getting to the line.  He's not much of a scorer (6.3 ppg last year) and even less of a shooter (just 56 3pt attempts in two years), and although his skills make him valuable on a team like this, where he is clearly the best player, he's not a great fit.  The positive is that he should be able to help make his teammates better by finding them open looks, the question is if there's anybody here who is capable of even making those.

Really, there's nothing to get excited about here.  The only other players back who averaged more than 10 minutes per game last season are forwards Billy Oliver and Cammeron Woodyard, which at least means Penn State will have some size with some experience, but the two combined to shoot just 28% from the field last season which means somebody is going to have to make an enormous talent leap to make the Nittany Lions even competitive, whether it's one of those two, Jermaine Marshall (the only other returnee who averaged even five minutes per game), or one of a plethora of newcomers who I don't feel like writing about because I'd just be guessing.

It's going to be a rough year for Penn State, and the chance of a winless conference season is a very real possibility, but at least Tim Frazier is fun to watch.  Hopefully he can elevate his game this year and make Penn State at least watchable if it's the only game on TV.

DWG's OVER/UNDER on conference wins:  1.5

Week in Review - 10/31/2011

You know you've missed it. 


1.  Gopher football.  Awesome is probably a bit strong, but when the team is looking, convincingly, like they're unlikely to win another football game all year and there's no reason to root for them to lose because, it turns out, there's no draft picks in college football, this win is a bit of a relief, and the fact that it comes against Iowa, even in a down year for them, makes it all the sweeter.  I thought the storming of the field was a bit much and kind of embarrassing, but I'm probably not the right person to make that judgement (full disclosure:  I watched maybe 10 minutes of the game).  For those sickos that live and die with the Gopher football squadron, perhaps this was a "storm the field" worthy event.  Too each is own, even the weird psychos.

2.  Case Keenum.   You know the drill with Houston QBs by now - or at least you should - and Keenum is the latest big numbers Cougar QB, and Thursday against Rice might have been his magnum opus as he threw for 534 yards and 9, yes 9, touchdowns, an NCAA record, all while setting the all-time record for career TD passes.  So yeah, he puts up huge numbers, no doubt.  But there's a reason Andre Ware and David Klingler flamed out in the NFL and Kevin Kolb seems to be heading in that direction.  There's a reason Timmy Change and Colt Brennan and Graham Harrell aren't playing on Sundays and Ty Detmer was a career back-up.  Gimmicky offenses can put up big numbers and even win games when you aren't playing great teams, but NFL success is certainly not tied to it - and may even be inversely proportional.  That being said, Houston has perfected this system and used it for years, and it's god damn fun to watch. 

3.  Justin Blackmon.  Oklahoma State has a big-time offense.  They're third in the NCAA in total offense, fourth in passing offense, and second in points scored.  So yeah, they're putting up big numbers.  That's why when one player accounts for over half the team's catches and more than 62% of their passing yards, which Blackmon did with his 13 catch-172 yard-2 TD game in a 59-24 win over Baylor, it's worth mentioning.  Of course, it's not like this is out of the ordinary for Blackmon, who is top-3 in the Big 12 in catches, yards, and touchdowns and is 4th, 14th, and 2nd in all of NCAA D-I.  He's an interesting case because he clearly is in a class above college d-backs, but scouts say he lacks the true speed that a top flight NFL receiver needs and the stats bare that out - his ypc of 11.3 is 28th in the B12 and 275th in D-I.   He could end up an NFL star, a possession receiver, or even a complete washout and I wouldn't be surprised at this point.  If I had to bet I'd lean star, but those ypc and 4-time measurements are a concern.  For now though, he's nearly unstoppable.

4.  Cam Newton.  It's not often that I admit I'm wrong - mainly because it hardly ever happens - but I missed the boat on Newton big-time.  I thought Auburn tailored their offense to fit his talents so much that he wouldn't have a shot at transitioning to an NFL scheme because you actually have to make more than one read.  Even after he burst on the scene with that 400 yard passing game I figured it was just fluky, and still was in that camp when he did it a second time.  All season he's put up good numbers and I've convinced myself it was fake somehow, but after watching him on Sunday there's no doubt in my mind that he's got a real shot to be a star, and at worst will be a quality NFL QB.  I suppose there's still a chance he ends up more Kordell Stewart than Randall Cunningham (because we can only compare black QBs to black QBs, you see), but he is already one hell of a QB.  

5. Steven Jackson.  The Rams picked up their first win of the season on Sunday and did it in pretty impressive fashion, taking out an awfully good Saints team 31-21 and doing it with A.J. Feeley playing quarterback.  Of course the reason they were able to pull it off had very little to do with Feeley, and mainly happened because Jackson pulled a Kirby Puckett moment and put the whole team on his back.  Jackson rushed for 159 yards and 2 TDs and added 32 more yards receiving, all of which means he ended up accounting for over half the Rams yards in the game.  I don't really have anything interesting to add, just thought it was notable because I've had Jackson on a couple of my fantasy teams and he's been pissing me off all year.  Nice to see him do something.  Jerk.


1.   Ron Washington.  I don't know how else to say it, but this guy is a terrible game manager, more married to old school ways than even Ron Gardenhire, which is extra funny because he was actually a coach on those Oakland A's teams when Moneyball was written.  And even if you forget all about his constant infatuation with sacrifice bunts and stealing bases/hit and runs, he made some just horrible calls.  After the rainout he could have saved Derek Holland and pitched him in Game 7 - following up his nearly complete game shutout in Game 4 - but instead used him in relief (instead of Mike Adams or Mike Gonzalez, relief specialists they traded for at the deadline) and used a shaky Matt Harrison in Game 7 instead.  Then there's the constant use of Alexi Ogando out of the pen despite the clear evidence that he was gassed, Esteban German being used as a pinch-hitter more than Mitch Moreland, and Mike Adams pitching fewer innings than Darren Oliver.  I wouldn't blame him for the Rangers losing, after all they have to play the games and it's not like he can run for Ian Kinsler or tie a rope around his waist to keep him from getting picked off like those weird parents who put their kids on leashes and they make them all cute like a monkey backpack but we all know it's a leash you weirdo, but he sure didn't help.

2. Wisconsin.  It's so sweet.  The dirty dirtball Badgers, looking by all rights to be a legit contender to make the BCS National Championship game (where they would have no doubt gotten embarrassed) just straight blew everything to hell.  Two weeks ago they lost at Michigan State on that hail mary which was sweet as your mom's ass and knocked them pretty much out of national title contention, and just to make sure this season goes down as a complete disaster in Sconnietown they lost on Saturday against a super crappy Ohio State team.  That, of course, gives them two losses and essentially knocks them completely out of any kind of BCS bowl contention.  All that has to happen now is Green Bay to not win the Super Bowl and the Badger hoop team to miss the tournament and you gotta call it a pretty good year.  Yes, apparently it's come to this.

3. Kevin Kolb.  Oh my god this guy is terrible.  I mean, he's just awful.  I got to see a little bit of the Zona/Baltimore game and he holds the ball too long and then makes terrible decisions/throws when he does finally get rid of it.  Even worse, when Peyton went down I needed a QB for my keeper league team and after getting snaked on Stafford I ended up going for Kolb as my "QB of the future."  Christ on a cracker that isn't working out.  I've since traded for Sam Bradford but since he's been in a walking boot (I don't even know what that means - as Nancy Sinatra said all boots are made for walkin') for two weeks I've actually started Christian Ponder over Kolb.  And now, after finally getting to watch him, he's about to be cut and we're going to roll with Ponder until Bradford gets unhurt.  WHAT A GREAT DRAFT PICK BY ME THAT WAS! 

4.  Tony Romo.  Is it just me, or does Romo play well against crappy teams and then always fall on his dick whenever he's playing anybody good or in a big game?  This goes all the way back to the time he dropped that snap in the playoff game, but he might have saved his best for tonight against the Eagles, a prime time that was supposed to be a big chance for Dallas to make a statement - and I suppose they did.  He was just garbage.  Other than a bunch of late, garbage-time yards and a fluky 70-yard touchdown he did nothing, and he's killing Dez Bryant, maybe the most talented receiver in the game.  I almost hope they somehow manage to make the playoffs just so we can watch Romo destroy all Cowboy fans' hopes and dreams.  Because that's always fun.

5.  Tim Tebow.  This experiment can't go on for too much longer, can it?  He's just terrible.  I get the allure, both from a skills standpoint as well as a PR/publicity/marketing standpoint and there are an enormous amount of people out there (and Jesus) who desperately want him to succeed.  But it's just not going to happen.  He's terrible.  He's what I thought Cam Newton was going to be.  His accuracy on his throws is far below Michael freaking Vick, and I'm pretty sure if he and Terrelle Pryor had an "accuracy-off" Pryor would actually win, probably the only person in America he could beat.  There's basically no chance the Broncos win another game if they stick with him.  

And I will always be thankful to sports jesus, who makes sure that just as the World Series is ending and you feel all sad about it, you don't have long to feel bad because the only other sport that matters, college basketball, is already here.  Yeah, that's right.  You might not even be aware of it, but both Michigan State and Missouri played (and won) exhibition games on Sunday heralding the beginning of the college hoops season.  (NOTE:  I'm sure other teams played too, these are just the two I am aware of).  Of Note:  MSU's freshman power forward Branden Dawson had a nice debut, leading the team with 15 points and 9 rebounds (and 14 field goal attempts) while Draymond Green seems already settled in the dude they run the offense through, going for 11 points, 6 rebounds, and 8 assists, which shouldn't really be a surprise because he's awfully damn good.  Seriously, we're gonna see at least a couple triple-doubles out of him this year.  With no real point guard he's going to basically run that team.  You could do a lot worse.

Finally, because I haven't talked nearly enough cooking lately and with college hoops firing up I probably won't, here's a pretty stellar Jamaican Jerk rub I used over the weekend:

1 T Coriander
1 T Brown Sugar
1 T Ginger
1/2 T Onion Powder
1/2 T Garlic Powder
1/2 T Salt
1/2 T Cayenne Pepper
1 t Black Pepper
1 t Thyme
1/2 t Cinnamon
1/2 t allspice
1/2 t cloves

Combine, throw it in a baggie/bowl with some wings or drumsticks and coat, then toss in a crockpot on low for 3-5 hours.  The ginger smells really strongly and you'll end up worrying you're making ginger wings, but they end up just fine.  Give 'her a shot.

Also Happy Halloween, jerks!  I hope at least one of you gets hit by a truck.

Friday, October 28, 2011

NCAA Basketball Preview - Big East

Ok, conference realignment has officially become out-of-control.  The Big East already has 16 teams, but now because they're losing Syracuse (sad) and Pitt (who cares) and have now seen TCU pull out of joining to become a Big 12 team instead they overreact in the opposite direction and add Houston, Southern Methodist, Central Florida, Air Force, and Boise State.  Except Air Force and Boise State will only be joining for football.  This move does absolutely nothing for basketball except to further weaken a Big East already weakened by the defections, unless you think the recent strong recruiting seen by Houston is sustainable - and I don't.

At first I thought all this conference realignment stuff was kind of cool, but at this point it's just gotten completely out of hand.  I don't even know who went where or who didn't or what's merging.  Like that Conference USA/Mountain West merger - does that effect hoops in any way?  I don't know.  It's too confusing.  I think it's time to just to to one big conference.  Easier that way.

1.  UCONN HUSKIES.  How are they #1 in a tough conference despite losing Kemba Walker?  Because everybody else is back, including Jeremy Lamb (who started to look like a star at the end of last year) and Alex Oriakhi (who is always solid defensively and now his offense is coming along), as well as a group of sophomores (of which Lamb is a part) who were ranked as the #20 recruiting class in the country last season by ESPN.  Oh, and they have one of the best classes in the country coming in with PG Ryan Boatright (#42 rivals), SF DeAndre Daniels (#10), and C Andre Drummond (#2).  Drummond is ridiculous and he's probably going to make people cry, and will likely be the #1 overall pick in next year's NBA Draft if it happens.  Seriously, UCONN is a big-time threat to win back-to-back titles.  Doubtful, yes, but a better chance than most.

2. SYRACUSE ORANGE.  God Boeheim is just incredible - great class after great class after great class.  He's followed up last year's top five class with a top 10 class this year, adding SG Michael Carter-Williams (Rivals #29 overall) and C Rakeem Christmas (#27) to last year's group that included C Fab Melo (#16), SF C.J. Fair (#94), and SG Dion Waiters (#29).  Scoop Jardine and Brandon Triche will be back on the perimeter to run things and awkwardly heave the ball at the rim, and scoring machine Kris Joseph is back for more.  The only real question is if Christmas (freshman) or Melo (super-subpar first year) can fill in for Rick "Automatic Double-Double" Jackson.  If they can, this is a national title contender.  If not, they'll be lucky to make it out of the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament.

3.  LOUISVILLE CARDINALS.  I have a feeling about this Louisville team, and it's not necessarily a good one.  I do think they'll be good and a legit Final Four contender, but I also think they're very ripe for some ugly nights.  It will basically all come down to Peyton Siva and how well he can control the offense, because with Preston Knowles gone he's now in charge of a whole bunch of talent, but a whole bunch of talent that's a little bit crazy.  The Cards have everything you'd need - excellent point guard, dead-eye shooting, perimeter and interior defense, and three incoming swingmen who all rank on in Rivals Top 70 (and a center as well), so really it's going to come down to how well they mesh - and that is going to depend on Siva.

4.  PITT PANTHERS.  I think at some point Pitt turned itself into kind of a minor dynasty (conference only).  They somehow shed the legacy of crappy overrated point guards like Brandin Knight, Carl Krauer, and LeVance Fields and are now actually acquiring good, quality players like Ashton Gibbs who is probably the best player in the conference.  They do lose quite a bit with three starters (including the giant version of kid from Kid N Play which makes me sad), and Gibbs biggest help now is a guy who is already hurt and missing most/all the preseason practice time, a point guard who makes LeVance Fields look like Craig Hodges, and a former big time recruit whose failed to average more than 5 points per game in his two seasons at Pitt.  But you watch, Gibbs will find a way, and Pitt will break into the top 10 at some point this year.  Big fan of this kid.

5.  VILLANOVA WILDCATS.  Villanova is turning into Chucker University, and this year is shaping up to be no exception as Maalik Wayns looks to become the next in the recent line of all-time great chuckers following Scottie Reynolds, the two Coreys, Allen Ray, and Randy Foye.  The real great news is that Wayns looks like he has a chance to be the greatest of them all.  His shooting percentage of 40% last year and 3-point percentage of just 27% were some of the worst numbers any of these chuckers put up at any point in their careers, but that didn't stop Wayns from taking the third most shots (and 3-pointers) on the team behind the two Coreys.  Really, the stars could be aligning for a spectacular two final years of his career.  I'm so excited.

6.  CINCINNATI BEARCATS.  Why do I have some trouble believing in Cincy?  It could be because there best player is named Yancy, but really there's a lot to like about the Bearcats this year.  Besides the aforementioned Yancy Gates, their leading scorer and rebounder last year, they also return essentially every player from last year's team that knocked off a very good Missouri team in the NCAA Tournament last year, and also add Shaquille Thomas and Jermaine Sanders, two athletic wings who will fit well in Mick Cronin's hyper-defensive system.  The biggest issue here will be Cashmere Wright, who is back to play the point for a third year.  Except he can't shoot, turns the ball over too much, and isn't a great distributor.  So I guess they got that goin' for 'em.

7.  MARQUETTE EAGLES.  Jimmy Butler was a do-everything type player and he's gone, but luckily for Marquette Darius Johnson-Odom is back and he's a do-everything type as well who was pretty much just as good as Butler last year and has a chance to be an absolute super star this year without having to share touches with Butler.  Jae Crowder lived up to his billing as one of the better JuCo players last season, looking unstoppable on the block at times despite a shaky shooting percentage and could be a big-time player this year.  The biggest key for Marquette will be the backcourt with Vander Blue coming off a disappointing freshman year where he had more turnovers than assists and shot at a worse percentage than Maalik Wayns.  Junior Cadougan is serviceable but not a star, so they really need Blue to live up to his pre-college hype.

8.  WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS.  Joel Mazzulla, captain bricklayer himself, is gone along with their best scorer in Casey Mitchell and their best defender, or at least one of, in John Flowers.  Even so, Huggy Bear will have these guys in contention for an NCAA bid because they're always going to play tough defense and Kevin Jones is back and ripe for a Big East player of the year type season.  The biggest key will be Truck Bryant, who will have to pretty much main the point alone with Maz gone.  Assuming he can avoid running into cars this season, WVU should be ok.

9.  NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH.  Obviously most of these previews are me combining my limited knowledge on these teams with what I can read, both online and in print, and trying to come up with some decent conclusions.  So basically a lot of guessing.  One thing I'm not guessing about, however, and I'll make it a guarantee, is that you're going to be sick of hearing about Tim Abromaitis by the end of this season.  Seriously, between him and Scott Martin the Irish are going to once again be the great white hope, except now the third wheel in little Hansbrough is gone and I have this crazy feeling Abromaitis is going to have a Harangody like season, only less behemoth-y.  Put on your gritty, hustly, heady, smart player shoes because it's going to be a rough year if you watch any of there games.  And god help you if they actually end up good.  God.  Help.  You.

10.  GEORGETOWN HOYAS.  For the last several years the Hoyas have been a big-time March threat - at least on paper - and it's been on the strength of their guard play.  Unfortunately for them, they're in the habit of getting bounced to early and two of their three stud guards are now gone.  The one remaining, Jason Clark, was more of the third wheel type, and will now have to become the #1 option, and basically the difference for the Hoyas between a good or bad season, because between him and Hollis Thompson - who is the only offensive big man of consequence who is returning, they're going to have to be most of the offense for this team.  There are three highly regarded freshmen big men coming in, but other than throwing a right hook at some chinaman who knows if they'll be worth a damn. 

11.  RUTGERS SCARLET KNIGHTS.  Ever since Quincy Douby left Rutgers hasn't been able to build any momentum.  Even when they snag a great recruiting class with two Top 50 players like they did in 2008 things fall apart and both players ended up transferring before the end of their careers.  That being said, a new coach and another excellent class (ranked #24 nationally and 6th in the conference by Rivals) has hope welling up once again in Jersey.  If they ever get good the RAC gives them a nice home court advantage, so remember that when you're gambling.

12.  SOUTH FLORIDA BULLS.  You remember Anthony Crater?  The point guard who came aboard at Ohio State in the same class that netted the Buckeyes B.J. Mullens and William Buford, then quit 2 months into the season after shooting 3-15 from the floor in 10 games because he didn't get to start (keep in mind OSU's guards were Evan Turner, Buford, David Lighty, Jon Diebler, and Jeremie Simmons)?  He's played at USF the last two seasons and averaged less than 4 points per game both years despite playing over 25 minutes per game, and was kicked off the team in May for "violating team rules."  I don't know why, but that story makes me laugh.  Probably because he seemed like such a douche.

13.  SETON HALL PIRATES.  I don't know why I'm so drawn to Seton Hall.  Maybe it's because I fell in love with Shaheen Holloway, or maybe it's because a dude I played against (and got crushed by) in high school ended up going there (Darius Lane), but I also half-root for the Pirates and actually have a Seton Hall hat somewhere.  Unfortunately this year is going to be a rough one for the Pirates with Jeremy Hazell, the Big East's third leading scorer last year, and Jeff Robinson, the team's second leading scorer, both gone along with a whole bunch of supporting bits.  Herb Pope is still a freaking stud with bullets in his body and Jordan Theodore can score, but there just isn't much here unless Pope goes insane.  More than usual, I mean.

14.  ST. JOHNS RED STORM.   They would be higher, seeing as how Lavin came in and immediately grabbed a top 3 class to come play in NYC, but then things unraveled and three of the newcomers were ruled ineligible, and they just happened to be the #23, #51, and #68 recruits in the country.  There's still good talent coming in, but St. John's is trying to replace essentially everybody from last year and losing those three hurts, especially because the #51 guy - Jakarr Sampson - has already transferred out (maybe the other's have too but I'm not looking it up because I've already spent too much time on this one).  Lavin will turn things around in a hurry, maybe just in slightly less of a hurry than it looked.  I wonder if he's gone crooked yet or if he's waiting another year.

15.  PROVIDENCE FRIARS.  Marshon Brooks was really, really good at scoring.  He was also the rare player who was kind of a chucker, but was an efficient chucker.  I'm not really sure why I'm talking about him because he's now in the NBA if there was an NBA, but it's probably because I don't know anything else about Providence.  They do have two other double-digit scorers back from last year.  Shrug.

16.  DEPAUL BLUE DEMONS.  Talk about horrible.  I read somewhere that DePaul has gone 2-52 in Big East play over the last three seasons.  I knew they were bad, but assumed that was a misprint and looked it up myself.  Sure enough, they're 2-52.  And it's not fixing to change.  Despite being in the heart of Chicago, a nice high school hoops town, they can't get anybody to attend DePaul because of Dumpster Arena.  I just don't know how they're going to get out of this mess.  I guess they have a little momentum, what with Cleveland Melvin winning Big East Rookie of the Year last year and stealing DeJuan Marrero away from the Gophers recently, but yuck.  You'd think one of Illinois, Northwestern, DePaul, or UIC would have to be good, but here we are.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

World Series Game 6 (plus Tyus Jones and fantasy college basketball updates!!)

Watching Game 6.  Typing stuff.  Let's go.

-  Game update - It's 2-2 in the 3rd.  Nick Punto recently tried to kill Chris Carpenter by throwing his bat at him.  No big deal though, he threw it in a gritty way.

-  So the big news in Gopher hoop news is that Tyus Jones, the all-world 10th grader who is ranked as the 5th best sophomore and #1 point guard in the country according to ESPN, came out in an interview and didn't mention the Gophers.   This is, of course, big news because keeping instate recruits, especially at this level, and raising the level of talent coming to Minnesota was supposed to be one of the reasons Tubby Smith was hired, and because Jones would likely be the most important commit in Gopher history if Tubby was able to secure it.  A few points, if I may:
  • First thing, ignore the sensationalist headline and keep in mind that when he mentions "Arizona, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Duke" as the schools he's seriously considering he's not just talking about himself.  He is talking about the schools where he and fellow sophomore Jahlil Okafor, a center from Chicago who is ranked #3 by ESPN, are looking at attending together.  It isn't his "official" list.
  • There have been a lot of these "we're going to play together" deals, especially when kids are younger like Tyus and Jahlil.  Rarely do they end up happening.  I'd give you an example but I can't think of one.  In any case, Tyus could certainly still consider the Gophers as a strong possibility for himself if he goes his own way from Okafor.
  • All that being said, Jones has never come out and said Minnesota is a leader and he's never given me the feeling that he's even seriously considering the U, so it shouldn't exactly be a surprise that the Gophers aren't high on his radar.  Once teams like Kansas, Duke, Michigan State, etc. come calling, the Gophers don't look all that attractive even to many home town kids.  It's a sad reality, but it's a reality.   Remember Naadir Tharpe?  Not a hometown kid, but a kid who had narrowed his choices to Minnesota or Rutgers.  When Rutgers secured a commitment from a different point guard and it seemed inevitable he was going to be a Gopher.  At the last minute Kansas got involved, and like 2 days later he committed to the Jayhawks.  The power programs are power programs for a reason. 
  • Tubby HAS reversed the trend of the best Minnesota kids leaving the state.    Going back to 2006 the biggest recruits in the state were Isaiah Dahlman, Cole Aldrich, Jon Leuer, Jared Berggren, and Jordan Taylor, and to the best of my knowledge none of them even considered Minnesota.  Since 2008 the top kids have been Royce White, Rodney Williams, and Joe Coleman - all Gophers.  One miss does not mean he's not doing his job.  By all accounts Tubby has been after Tyus hard.
  • But no matter what you do, once a kid hits that level of accomplishment, that level of stardom, and starts receiving those kinds of accolades and has his pick of schools, he will nearly always go to a premier program rather than stay home to try to revive his home town school.  Looking at the Rivals top 10 from 2007-2011 , the only kids I found who actually stayed home were kids whose home town school was a national powerhouse and/or "premier" programs (Sullinger to Ohio State, Bullock to UNC, Holliday to UCLA, Mullens to Ohio State, and Gordon to Indiana),  There were only three exceptions - Perry Jones to Baylor (although technically he lived closer to SMU), Derrick Favors to G-Tech, and Demar DeRozan to USC.  So out of five years and 50 kids, only 3 stayed home to help their hometown school - this was a long shot to begin with.
  • A lot can change in the next couple of years, and maybe Tubby will re-energize the program, finally, and maybe Tyus will catch the fever and decide he wants to be a Gopher (and bring his buddy with him).  But I wouldn't consider it likely.  No matter who the coach is, Minnesota isn't the kind of school that gets these kids.  It just is what it is.  Tubby needs to get good, talented kids he can coach up, freaking keep them, and hope that every few years lightning hits and the Gophers are a Sweet 16 team with possible upside.  That's the reality folks.  Learn it.  Live it.  Love it.
This is GOLDEN.  GOPHER.  BASKETBALL.  (Get it.  You want it to be really good but it's just mediocre but you keep watching because you really hope it's going to get better and maybe they'll be a sweet dinosaur that shows up.

-  Dropped pop-up by Holliday after a miscommunication with Furcal.  You know who doesn't miscommunicate there?  Nick Punto.

-  Napoli knocks him in.  Of course he does.  I never realized how good a hitter that guy was.  He snuck up on me, just like that little sister of the girl you went to high school with and knew really well and she was always your little buddy and then all of a sudden it's the summer before your senior year and she's going into 10th grade and she comes into Blockbuster where you work and it's all BAM! boobs and the hotness and it's weird and sweaty.  I've heard.

Like this, only if instead of it being school it was Blockbuster and if the girl was way hotter
-  Throwing error on St. Lou's pitcher.  Looking like we might be witnessing the implosion to end the season.  Stay tuned.

-  Or not.  3-2 Rangers.

-  Oh, right.  You wanted to know how my Fantasy College Basketball Draft was going.  Well here she is:
  • ROUND 1 - TREVOR MBAKWE, F, MINNESOTA:  When you're in a college basketball draft with bunches of players who you might not even see on TV this year and a hometown boy should go somewhere near where you're picking, you take him.  I picked 9th, and after what I thought was a clear top 5 (Tu Holloway, Jared Sullinger, Harrison Barnes, Terrence Jones, and Jordan Taylor) it's pretty wide open after that.  Mbakwe is somewhere on that second tier, and with a legit chance to put up 18-12-2-1-2 with 60% shooting this year, I had to take him.
  • ROUND 2 - DEE BOST, G, MISS STATE:  Bost managed to average north of 6 assists per game last year while scoring 15 points per contest.  His shooting percentage is a atrocious, but he's going to dominate the ball and put up some serious numbers.
  • ROUND 3 - DREW GORDON, F, NEW MEXICO:   I love this pick.  He was the Mountain West newcomer of the year last season and is the front-runner for player of the year this year.  He could easily put up the same numbers as Mbakwe, but I got him three rounds later.
  • ROUND 4 - JOSH SMITH, C, UCLA:  He slimmed down a bit and he's also had the talent, hopefully he's a little more motivated this year - and that weight loss is a good sign.  I'm a little bit nervous because the Wear twins are there now and he could end up losing playing time, but he was good last year with the talent to be great, and we start 3 centers so they're at a premium with 13 teams in the league.
  •  ROUND 5 - ALLEN CRABBE, G, CAL:  Team was looking a little bit too front-court heavy, so I went with an all-around guard who can help out in most categories.  I regret this one a bit and am thinking I should have gone with Ramone Moore from Temple, but they're pretty similar statistically. 
  • ROUND 6 - ANDREW SMITH, C, BUTLER:  I considered Smith a nice sleeper at C, but a huge run on the position caused me to move earlier than I wanted to.  Remember we start 3 centers, and in the last 10 picks prior to me going here Augustus Gilchrist (So Fl), Ralph Sampson (lol), Kenny Frease (Xavier), Reggie Johnson (Miami), and Greg Echenique (Creighton) - all centers - were taken.  I expect Smith to see a nice jump in production with Howard gone, and it was either get my 2nd center here or just forget about it altogether.  I still have some nice sleepers I can't mention here because stupid TRE reads this blog and is in the league, but I feel much better with 2 solid centers on board.
-  Error by Michael Young to open the bottom of the 4th.  I swear this is like watching adapted softball.

-  A 4-pitch walk, and then Andrus throws the ball about 200 feet too high trying to turn the double-play.  What an ugly game.  It's like watching the Twins play the Twins.

-  Top 5, now a 3-3 game and David Freese drops a pop-up.  He drops a pop-up.  He.  drops.  a.  pop-up.  So bizarre right now.  Nobody wants to win.

-  Aaaand I just missed a shitload of the game because my daughter is a psychopath.  It's now the bottom of the sixth, we're tied 4-4 with the bases loaded and one out, and Nick Punto is up.  I'm not going to lie to you, I totally have an erection right now.

-  Matt Holliday picked off third.  Wow.  And according to the inning summary Michael Young made another error as well.  Pretty good chance this is the worst played world series game in history.  Of course Nick Punto was involved.

-  Alexi Ogando just walked Punto to re-load the bases, which means if Matt Holliday didn't have his head up his ass (note:  that is valid for this entire series) the Cardinals take the lead.  Instead the bases are loaded for Jon Jay.  If I'm the Rangers I like my chances here.  Of course, Nick Punto just walked for like the 8th time this series, so whatevs.

-  Jay grounds out to the pitcher.  Colored me shocked.  Which would probably be some shade of blue.

-  Beltre goes yard to lead off the 7th, giving Texas teh lead and winning a bet for me.  Nice.

-  Cruz home run, which probably loses a bet for me.  The lord giveth and he taketh away.  But at least he digs gambling.

-  Nice work Lance Lynn, by the way.  I'm just stunned someone with your name is a terrible pitcher.  It's such a manly name you'd think you'd be throwing gas in the upper 90s and mixing in some filthy breaking stuff.  Instead it's like watching Jamie Moyer but if he never changed speeds.  I'm pretty sure Lance Lynn is the worst pitcher and person ever.  I heard he likes to torture kittens and kick babies.

-  Jesus christ there are five minutes left in this Houston/Rice football and Case Keenum has 483 yards passing with 8 TD passes.  Yes 8.  Houston is just ridiculous.  I don't know that it's even football they play, but they've perfected it.  Sure, there are wannabes like Texas Tech, but nobody has been able to perfectly copy whatever Houston's system is.  Both Andre Ware and David Klingler?  And now this Keenum cat?  Not to mention Kevin Kolb who is heading in that direction.  Just brilliant.  And all this with Donnie Avery being the only WR of note there ever, and I'm not even sure he's of note but I've heard of him because of my unhealthy love of Sam "Six Killer" Bradford.  Also this is way too long of a paragraph talking about a Houston QB.  I miss Rodney Peete.  Who has nothing to do with anything.  I really don't know where that came from.

-  I got to see the new Muppet movie last night as a sneak preview (comes out in a month).  WonderbabyTM liked it and so did I.  It was weird because the whole message of the movie was pretty much "Hey you've forgotten about the Muppets but they were a huge part of you life and guess what they're still awesome" and that's pretty much exactly how I felt.  I didn't really even realize how big they were in my own life, but watching this movie I remember every character, every bit, and every joke and when Kermit and the gang sang "Rainbow Connection" it was, no kidding, totally awesome.  Especially when Animal rocks out.  It was just so much fun. 

-  AAAAAH Derek Holland's mustache is back!   Also is Mike Adams dead?

-  Allen Craig goes yard here in the bottom of the 8th to make it a 7-5 ball game, filling in for the "injured" Matt Holliday.  Injured?  Well considering how lost he's looked at the plate, in the field, and on the base paths he better be injured and hopefully for him it's some sort of brain injury.  He's been absolutely terrible.

-  Tivo'd the new Beavis and Butthead tonight.  Gotta at least give it a shot, right?  For old, awesome times, sake? 

-  Weird play, but I guess it's fitting with tonight's theme of sucky plays.  Daniel LaRusso hits a routine grounder to Andrus who looks at second (runner on 1st) despite it being a pretty easy out, double pumps, throws it in the dirt to first and even though it's cleanly picked LaRusso beats it out like he beat up Johnny Lawrence.  Runner safe.  So weird.

-  Base knock for Jay, bases loaded.  Molina, of course, couldn't score because he's slower than dirt and he's still on the base paths because LaRussa will never, ever, take him out because of his defense.  Also the music guy at Busch is playing a little House of Pain here so I'm pretty sure Furcal's clearing the bases here.

-  Groundout to the pitcher.  Might as well have played a little Dido.

My tea's gone cold I'm wondering why-y-y, we traded for Fur-cal.
-   My favorite part of this World Series is now when Tim McCarver said, "A home run doesn't tie it" when there was nobody on base and the Cardinals were down by two.  You can't pay for that kind of insight.  And Pujols just doubled with one out, so now a home run does tie it.  I think.  McCarver hasn't weighed in yet.  He's pretty much a slightly younger, more well-paid Sid Hartman, right?

-  Walk.  Things are interesting.

-  Feliz just froze Craig for strike 3.  And that pitch was a hanging slider.  Should have smoked that one.  Now just one out to go. 

-  I have a feeling Freese wants to walk here.  Looks like he has a giant Louisville Slugger in his rectum.  Also I hardly knew 'em.

-  Shows what I know because Freese just smoked one to the wall to tie the game and now he's sitting on third - the winning run.  Luckily Nelson Cruz's athleticism is approaching Manny from Modern Family levels.

-  We're going to extras.  And I'm supposed to go watch Parks and Rec.  Hold on, brb.

-  That is definitely the best show on tv.  And now I get to watch the rest of the game in speeded up time.

-  With one out Andrus singles, and McCarver can't hold himself back from talking about stealing bases.  Honest to god it's some sick sort of obsession.  It's all he ever talks about.  If we could find stats on this I bet 70% of the sentences he's said in this series have revolved around stolen bases or "sending the runner" which is extra creepy when you think about how often there has been nobody on base when he talks about it.

-  Hamilton with a moon shot and the Rangers are up 2.  Again.  Did that HR hit a fan in the head and kill him?  Seems likely.

-  He thrusts his fists against the post and still insists he sees the ghosts.

-  LaRusso leads off with a knock for the Cards.  They certainly aren't going away.  Although Jon Jay is up, so that's pretty much an automatic out.  The Cards should consider this a win if this isn't a double play. 

-  Texas-Leaguer, base hit for Jay.  2-on, nobody out, and we have a pitcher pinch-hitting for I assume a pitcher but I can't look it up because I'm on tivo and looking it up means I see a box score which means I learn stuff I don't want to.  And the pinch-hitter edwin jackson is pulled and now it's Kyle Lohse.  Former twin.  Up in a huge spot and being asked to bunt.  And since he's a pitcher the corners are going to be way in and if he gets the bunt down they'll get the out at third.  Same thing happened to Colby Lewis earlier.

-  Well he gets the runners over but only by making an absolutely horrendous bunt, which just happened to find an open area and was actually closer to a hit than an out.  Now Ryan theriot is up with runners on 2nd and 3rd and 1 out.  I think they should walk him and pitch to Pujols.

-  Ground out to score a run by Theriot (best case scenario if you're st. louis).  Tying run on second, Pujols up.  Do you walk him and put the winning run on base?  Tough call, but the Rangers are going to do it.  Single by Berkman ties it, double wins it, out ends it.  It ain't game 7, but there's some high drama here tonight.

-  Jesus christ.  Berkman singles to center to tie the game.  Winning run now on third.  I'm so tired and excited. 

-  We're going to 11 folks.

-  I fast forwarded through the top of the 11th to get live.  Nothing happened.

-  Home run David Freese, and of course Buck steals the "we'll see you tomorrow night" line.  Great series.  Calling it now:  Pujols at least 3 hits tomorrow, and probably 2 home runs.  Book it.

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011

    NCAA Basketball Preview - The Mountain West

    With BYU heading for the weirder pastures of the West Coast Conference, Utah shipping out to the Pac-12, and TCU heading to the Big 12 via the Big East, the Mountain West is looking less and less recognizable.  BYU and Utah are both gone already (meaning the Mountain West is now Utah-less), with TCU heading out next year.  Boise State is already in place, and starting next season Fresno State, Hawaii (football only), and Nevada will jump on board to bring the MWC to 10 (at least for basketball, assuming Boise stays here for basketball and doesn't do something weird after the football team gets invited into the Big East).  It's all very confusing, but it boils down to trading TCU, Utah, and BYU for Boise, Hawaii (football only), Fresno, and Nevada.  Not exactly a great trade for the MWC, and this conference is already on the way down.  More than 2 bids would be fairly miraculous.

    1.  NEW MEXICO LOBOS.  This team is going to be a monster.  Last year they won 22 games and just missed out on an NCAA bid, and this year they return basically their whole team including basically automatic MWC Player of the Year as long as he doesn't go crazy or get suspended or anything in Drew Gordon.  The only player they're missing off last year's squad is Dairese Gary, which is actually a big deal because he was there point guard and was all-conference last season, but they have a great nucleus back and plenty of options to take over the point, including Demetrius Walker, a combo guard who transferred from USC and was the main subject of the recent book about AAU ball.  Really though, assuming they get competent point guard play this should be a sweet 16 team.

    2. UNLV RUNNIN' REBELS.  The Rebels lose Tre'Von Willis and Derrick Jasper and they will be missed, Willis especially, but UNLV has plenty coming back and anything less than an NCAA bid will be a big-time failure for first year coach Dave Rice.  Combo guard Oscar Bellfield is a potential stud, especially since he'll be playing more SG with Willis out plus the emergence of Anthony Marshall, and Chace Stanback is probably the best player in the conference outside of Drew Gordon and can do it all.  The teams biggest issue, and the real problem for them all year, will be in the frontcourt.  They were weak there last year as well and made due, but five of their six leading rebounders last year were perimeter players.  I'm predicting first round NCAA exit here.

    NOTE:  This is an Aztec tramp stamp
    3.  SAN DIEGO STATE AZTECS.  Last year the stars aligned for the Aztecs with several key players hitting their peak at the same time and it resulted in a very fun and likeable team and an appearance in the Sweet 16.  Now four starters are gone, including stud Kawhi Leonard who left early, but things aren't completely barren in San Diego - although it would be a rather large shocker if they made the NCAA Tournament again.  In typical MWC fashion, the main additions to the team come via transfer - Garrett Green from LSU, Deshawn Stephens from a JUCO, and Xavier Thames from Washington State.  None are instant superstars (like Gordon was for New Mexico) but all should be solid with potential.  Add that to the talent they have coming back, much of it from a reserve role of course, and they should be decent.  Remember this name:  LaBradford Franklin. 

    4.  COLORADO STATE RAMS.   You know how when the Gophers were looking for a coach everybody was all like "Tim Miles blah blah blah" and mostly it was just because NDSU beat Monson's Gophers?  Well maybe he's pretty decent, because the Rams have gone from 0-16 in conference play a few years ago, to a CBI berth two seasons ago, to an NIT bid last year.  That may not sound all that great, but remember this is a CSU program that hasn't done shit since 2003.  This year could be tough because they lose their two leading scorers and front court starters, so it will be up to some reserves to step up - or this could be a breakout season for redshirt freshman center Chad Calcaterra, a name you probably recognize because he either spurned the Gophers or they spurned him, I don't remember.  And this is probably too many words about CSU already so I'll just say there's enough talent on the perimeter to get them to fourth and another probably NIT bid - tough to see an NCAA bid coming just yet.

    5.  AIR FORCE FALCONS.  Air Force has gone from 0 conference wins, to one, and then jumped to six last season and thank god because while a super slow paced team that wins is kind of beautiful in a weird Betty White kind of way, a super slow paced terrible team is like spending time in a nursing home.  I don't remember where I was going with this.  Go Air Force!

    7.  TCU HORNED FROGS.  TCU has something the two teams below them don't have, and that's a standout player and that's good enough for 7th place.  The Horned Frogs have Hank Thorns who led the country in assists at 7.0 per game and did it with an impressive 2.71 assist-to-turnover ratio, all while averaging double figures in points per game.  He's not much of a shooter, but he did notch 4 double-doubles last year of the points/assists variety which I'm going to assume led the nation.  Unfortunately TCU's actual best player, and Thorns back court mate, Ronnie Moss was suspended last year and transferred out, or this would have been a legitimately exciting and intriguing back court.  Oh well.  Not like anybody cares if it isn't football anyway.

    7.  BOISE STATE COWBOYS.  If you're anything like me, and god help you if you are, you don't know dick about Boise State's basketball program because other than Utah State and Magnum Rolle nobody pays attention to the WAC.  According to what I read, they were a CBI team last year but are losing their top 4 scorers from last season and returning just one guy who played more than 18 minutes per game last season.  There's a bunch of blah blah newcomers, but really it's going to be a rough one for Boise.  They're stepping up in class conference-wise at the same time their team is taking a step backwards, but at least they aren't last.

    8.  WYOMING COWBOYS.  In all my years of college basketball watching I'm almost positive I've never seen a Wyoming game. That's probably a good thing.  The good news is that they hired a new coach, Larry Shyatt, who was part of the mini-Florida dynasty that was going on.  The bad news is that when they hired him their best two players decided to split.  Basically they're now relying on a midget point guard, a guy who has had two knee surgeries in as many years, and Larry Nance's kid.  I don't think I'll be seeing them on TV any time soon. 

    Other previews:
    Big 12
    Atlantic 10
    Pac 12 

    Monday, October 24, 2011

    Monday Musings (World Series, Vikings, Billy Beane, Racism in football, etc.)

    I'm watching the World Series right now (currently 2-0 St. Louis in the 3rd) and watching the Rangers work on imploding, which is exactly what Detroit did to hand the Cards their last World Championship, when they were once again a substantial underdog.  So far C.J. Wilson has walked Lance Berkman after being ahead 0-2, and Berkman then advanced to third on David or Daniel Murphy's error on a single to left (which scored Holliday), and then scored when Keith Moreland's kid booted a ground ball.  C.J. Wilson also threw a Furcal bunt away, but was able to pitch out of it.  And now Moreland just hit a Thome-sized home run.  Looks like a ball game.  I'm not going to live blog it like, but I'll just do that thing where I type whatever comes into my head about whatever.  I guess that's what I usually do.  Whatever.  Shut your big fat face.

    -  So I suppose, for the first time in two years, there's something worthwhile to talk about with the Vikings.  Of course, this is only because they have clearly jumped into rebuilding mold and Ponder gave everyone hope, but despite being impressed with Ponder I'm not exactly looking forward to the next couple of years. 

    Here's your problem - too old and/or too bad.  What do you have?  Well you have a good start because you have one bona fide superstar on each side of the ball (AP and Jared Allen), both of whom will probably be able to give you 3-5 more years at a high level.  That's an excellent start, and far better than a lot of teams can build around.  But from there it's tough.

    Ponder looked very good for it being his first start.  He made his mistakes, misjudged just how fast even an old cornerback is in the NFL, and made some interesting decisions, but he also made a lot of good throws, showed a lot of poise for a rookie, and never seemed rattled.  I don't know what exactly his upside is, but, at the very least, he looks like a young QB the team can build around.  It's been a long time since this team has had that (Culpepper), and I'd say Ponder's downside is as a middle of the pack type starter.  That's very, very good.

    But what else do you have?  Nothing.  On offense the only other person who has big-time potential is Percy Harvin, but it's hard for me to see him as anything more than a kick returner slot receiver type.  I think his absolute upside is the kind of guy who can have a 5 catch-180 yd-2 td day and then follow it up the next week with 1 catch for 8 yards.  Who else is there?  Kyle Rudolph I guess, but I'm pretty sure everybody loves him because he's white and he's best friends with Ponder who, it turns out, is also white and everybody loves.  We'll see. 

    The real problem here is that there is absolutely nothing, and I mean nothing, on that offensive line.  There is not one single player who starts on that line who would start for any other team in the league with the possible exception of Steve Hutchinson, but that doesn't matter because he's too old to matter when this team is 2-3 years away at a minimum.  Loadholt I suppose has some potential and I wouldn't exactly give up on him, but he's not nearly as good as I had hoped and the rest of these guys are fuckin' clown shoes.

    And the defense?  Who, outside of Allen is remotely interesting?  Greenway is alright and Robison is fine as long as you're ok with a mediocre DE2, but that's it.  E.J. Henderson?  Please.  Guy is so overrated and still can't move around correctly.  Maybe after another year of healing he'll be ok but I'm not betting on it.  Kevin Williams is done, I have no idea who the other DT or LB is, and the only half-way decent defensive backs are a guy who has had 2 knee surgeries and a guy who is currently in jail.  Antoine Winfield is one of my favorite players ever but he's pretty much done unless he can move to safety which they should definitely try because Hussain Abdullah's one skill seems to be allowing the big play and also because he's probably a terrorist.

    The good news is there are some legitimately nice players here - AP, Allen, Harvin, Ponder, and Greenway are all quality players.  The bad news is this isn't baseball or basketball and you can't just trade veterans from prospects and/or picks.  It's unfortunate, because guys like Winfield and Hutchinson would be perfect trade bait in other sports, but not the NFL so their kind of stuck.  So I guess my point is that the Vikings will be bad for a while but should at least be fun to watch.  So I guess that's something.  The Gophers are going to be terrible and no fun to watch, so I guess point NFL.

    -  You know what I'd rather watch than that Captain America movie that's coming out on DVD tomorrow?  Anything.

    -  You know what I do like though?  Walking Dead.  Very good show so far.  Not exactly the most realistic, but if you're looking for realism in a show about zombies I contend you're kind of lost already. 

    -  Last time Pujols came up there as a runner on third with 1 out and they walked him.  Holliday grounded into a double play.  Now there are runners on 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs.  They're walking him again.  The intrigue is so thick you could cut it with a spoon.

    -  Ground out to short.  Holliday is terrible.  Billy Beane was right again.

    -  Know who the A's got for Holliday?  Shane Peterson, Clay Mortensen, and Brett Wallace.  Mortensen was then traded to the Rockies for Ethan Hollingsworth, Wallace was shipped to the Jays for Michael Taylor, and Peterson is still in the minors (along with Hollingsworth and Taylor).  And Beane originally had to give up Carlos Gonzalez, Huston Street, and Greg Smith to get Holliday.  So essentially he flipped a superstar outfielder (down year notwithstanding), a still capable closer, and a young starter who is already in the majors for three minor leaguers, only one of which (Taylor) is considered a top 20 prospect in their system.  I guess Joe Morgan was right, moneyball schmoneyball.

    -  So not only am I playing in the fantasy Big 10 hoops league with my friends (Snacks, Dawger, Snake, Bogart, Optimator, Elk, and Grandslam), but I'm playing in a bigger college hoops league as well, similar to the won I played in - and won - 2 years ago.  We've got 13 teams and we're using the Big Six leagues plus the meaningful outliers (UNLV, BYU, New Mexico, Memphis, Gonzaga, etc.).  It's a lot harder, and I wish I could talk about it more in depth but unfortunately TRE from Still got Hope? (which if you don't read you should) is also in the league, so I can't divulge my secrets.  We fire up the draft tomorrow and it's slowish style so I might get like 2 picks per day.  I pick 9th, and I'll give you a hint (and also TRE picks after me) - if he's there I'm going to go with a guy whose name rhymes with Shumbakwe and probably has a huge crank.

    -  That "huge crank" talk is probably inappropriate but I'm going to leave it in there because it's just going to help the google search results.  Also megan fox lesbian kiss midget vagina fart ass sex nick punto.

    -  Speaking of Nick Punto vagina farts, he just struck out with runners on 2nd and 3rd and 2 outs.  Big spot there.  Punto's definitely the guy I'd want up in that situation.

    -  Adrian Beltre just hit a home run on a lollipop curve ball from his knees.  No lie.  That was pretty weird and impressive.  Now 2-2.  This has been a great series.

    Big fuckin' deal, Beltre.  I could've done that do if that dickhead Veeck would've let me swing.
    -  So this morning before work one of our Direct TV remotes stopped working.  It had been going and even when we switched batteries it didn't get any better and today it was just done.  So I looked it up on their website and I can get a replacement remote for $15.  I figured cool, that's a reasonable price and I'll swing by the nearest retailer to my house and see how much more it is, thinking I'd be willing to pay $5-$10 to have it tonight rather than waiting for it to ship.  So I get home from work, grab my damn wiener kids so Mrs. W can do her Tae Bo or yoga or whatever it is tonight, and run up to said retailer.  Almost immediately find the remote.  It's priced at $44.99.  Forty.  Five.  Fucking.  Dollars.  Naturally I walked out without it and am now watching the game with no ability to flip channels on the commercials or mute Tim McCarver, but I'm sure as shit not paying 200% more than I have to.  I'll wait a couple days, thanks.

    -  Top 7, tie game.  Allen Craig or someone with a name like that, walks with one out and then tries to steal second and is out by two billion feet.  And now they're walking Pujols.  And guess what they would have done if that steal would have been successful?  Yep.  Walked him.  Since he's nearly as likely to hit an XBH as get a single, maybe you just stay put on first, ok?  I get the stolen base and it certainly has it's place, but these two managers both seem to be way to obsessed with it and have both screwed their teams over in this series.  Also let's see if Holliday can go 0-3 after getting slapped in the mouth.

    -  Hey a base hit!  Way to go little buddy!  And thanks to a whole bunch of thrown the ball around-itis, we're at 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs.  20 bucks says Berkman strikes out for the 3rd time tonight.

    -  I missed what happened with Berkman but the bases were loaded when David Freese struck out so I assume they walked him.

    Let me guess, you were expecting a picture of Arnold as Mr. Freeze?  You probably don't even know who this is, do you you unoriginal bastard? 

    -  By the way you should probably ignore everything I wrote about the Vikings above.  I made most of that up. 

    -  Bottom 7, 1 out, Kinsler on first.  20 bucks says they send him here. 

    -  Nope, but Elvis Andrus struck out on 3 pitches.  God they'd be so much better if they hit Napoli or Cruz or even Beltre second.  But of course, Ron Washington can't do that.  You gotta have a guy there who can handle the bat, right Gardy and every other manager in the stupid world.  And Dawger.

    -  Ever want to combine racism with football?  Go nuts. 

    -  After a leadoff hit by Yadier Molina I'm pretty sure the Cardinals just pinch hit for Skip Schumaker with Ryan Theriot just so he could sac bunt.  You're telling me a dude named Skip can't bunt?  You might as well tell me that sliding into first doesn't get you there faster.  I can't believe it.  I won't.

    -  Punto blows it again, striking out in a still tied game with a runner on 2nd and 1 out.  Takes a special kind of guy to constantly disappoint two franchises.

    -  In one fantasy league I'm in today I was offered Cam Newton and James Starks in exchange for Hakeem Nicks and LaSean McCoy.  So that was pretty fun.

    -  Bases loaded.  One out.  Bottom of the 8th.  2-2 game.  Mike Napoli up.  A hit, and particularly an extra-base hit, would help my bank account tremendously.  Na-Po-Li.  Na-Po-Li.  Na-Po-Li.

    -  Double, scores 2.  Damn dude, shit never works out like this for me.

    -  That message board I posted earlier really thinks Peyton Hillis is being held down because he's white.  Why can't they just accept that he's terrible at football?  Probably a good blocker though.

    -  I couldn't tell you one thing about Lance Lynn.  Well, other than he's a pitcher for St. Louis who is about to come into a high leverage situation in the World Series.

    -  Your name is Lance Lynn and you're gonna roll out the perm?  Interesting choice.  Also he just intentionally walked Ian Kinsler and then got yanked.  Looks like LaRussa  has his overmanaging pants on again.

    Oh hello.  I pitch for the Cardinals.
    -  Feliz now in for the ninth and he gets 2 strikes on Craig and then plunks him right in the back shoulder on a pitch that was so zeroed in on him that there was no way Craig could've gotten out of the way even if his life was on the line.  Pujols up.  Tying run, can't walk him.  Nice.

    -  Jesus Pujols has a great eye.  Now at 3-2.  Laid off three close ones but were clearly balls.  He's really good at hitting stuff. Not unlike Chris Cook, I suppose.

    -  Strike 'em out throw 'em out.  Pujols whiffs on a pitch that was ball four and Craig is tossed easily and I have no clue why they sent him.  I know Albert doesn't strike out a ton, but you just took a runner out who, really, didn't matter.  If he gets to second and scores on a single who fucking cares, you're still down by a run.  Stupid play.  Tony LaRussa outsmarted himself here tonight.  I hope Holliday hits a home run here.

    -  Holliday walks.  Will probably get thrown out stealing.  Stay tuned.

    -  Berkman whiffs.  Texas wins.  Pretty sure we're going 7 folks.  Adios and good night.

    Friday, October 21, 2011

    NCAA Basketball Preview: C-USA

     So what's the deal now?  Conference USA is merging with The Mountain West, but only for football or something like that?  Seriously, I can't keep all this crap straight.  Too hard.  I need a flow chart or a Venn diagram or just someone to come sit with me for 20 minutes and explain what's going on.

    I guess it doesn't really matter though because that's football and everybody knows basketball is way more important, and I don't think that merger or whatever touches hoops in any way, so C-USA is safe.  Well, kind of safe, as long as you don't count Houston and UCF going to the Big East (I think UCF is part of that, right?), and I don't know if that's like, just football or what.  I think it's a full on move.

    Oh never mind.  Let's just get to the boring previews.

    1.  MEMPHIS TIGERS.  After a couple of meh seasons, at least by Memphis standards, the Tigers are most definitely back and despite what's looking like and "up" version of C-USA this year it wouldn't be stunning to see them run the table in conference play.  They lose only one contributor from last year's team, which means at this point the team is loaded with ten guys on the roster who were Rivals Top 150s when they came to college.  Actually, with seven players who averaged between 6.6 and 12.3 points per game back from last season (and nobody over that 12.3) this reminds me a lot of those Calipari teams where they were just loaded with super athletic, super talented, interchangeable parts.  Good thing for those who hate Memphis that Pastner is looking like he's on the same "game coach" level as Calipari.

    2.  CENTRAL FLORIDA KNIGHTS.  There are some very interesting things happening with UCF, and none of them involve either of the overrated Jordan brothers.  The most interesting thing, to me, is Keith Clanton, who made a huge leap in his sophomore year and was among the C-USA leaders in points, blocks, boards, and FG %.   Guy is a monster, and the Knights will be able to put Michael Chandler, the fifth best incoming center in the country according to Rivals, right next to him this year - and he picked UCF over Kentucky.  With those two, the Jordans, their starting point guard back, and some talented transfers, UCF has a very good chance at grabbing an NCAA bid - or starting out hot as fire and then collapsing like a dying star like last season.

    3.  MARSHALL THUNDERING HERD.  It's been two years since Hassan Whiteside jumped to the NBA D-League, but somehow, improbably, Marshall is actually like, really really talented this year (for a C-USA team).  DeAndre Kane was freshman of the year last season, and Justin Coleman was stolen away from Louisville and then did this at their big not Midnight Madness event:  

    And I'll just leave it at that.

    4.  RICE OWLS.  You probably aren't smart enough to know this, but this is actually a really ballsy call.  Rice has been one of the worst college basketball teams in the world the last few seasons, but last year managed to win five conference games - which equaled their combined total for the previous 3 seasons.  A small step, but still a step in the right direction, and they still have Arsalan Kazemi, who is not that Lion from the Jesus movies but might be the best player in the conference outside of Memphis.  They also add a truly excellent mid-level play-making point guard in Dylan Ennis, who had offers from basically every mid-major and chose to become an Owl.  It's a down year in C-USA this season, so maybe Rice can actually make a postseason tournament.  WHAT AN ADVENTURE!

    5.  TULSA GOLDEN HURRICANE.  Justin Hurtt led C-USA in scoring last season and has graduated, but it looks like Tulsa has a player already waiting to take over for him in Jordan Clarkson who scored 12 per game as a freshman last year and closed out last year with seven straight games in double-figures.  Tulsa also returns two other double figure scorers including former UCONN transfer Scottie Haralson, who is the best long-range threat on the Hurricane, and Steven Idlet who gives them an inside presence.  I might actually be underselling them a bit with that much back, but it will take a while to adjust to not having Hurtt around.  Probably one of those teams that is a lot better in February than in November. 

    6.  UAB BLAZERS.  The Blazers are a lot like several other C-USA teams in that they have an awful lot of talent from last year that's no longer available - in this case their three top guards are all history - but they have an advantage over many of the other squads because they have a solid base with a couple of very good post players, including Cameron Moore who was their second leading scorer and #2 rebounder in the conference last season, and rather than relying on freshmen or transfers to fill in for the departed they have a bunch of sophomores with some experience.  I don't really see an NCAA berth here, but I wouldn't rule it out either.  I'm like Peter King.  MAYBE.

    7.  SOUTHERN MISS EAGLES.  Another team dealing with some major losses, the Eagles will have to replace leading scorer and rebounder Gary Flowers as well as two of their three starting guards.  Larry Eustachy did what guys like Larry Eustachy do, and went out and grabbed a ton of JuCo players to team up with starting point guard Angelo Johnson - yes the Minnesota kid - who led the team in assists last season.  The JuCos being brought in look good with three guys ranking in the top 150 JuCo players according to Rivals, including #2 Keith DeWitt who was originally a Missouri commit, but you never know what you're getting with Juco players - don't forget this same list had Devron Bostick ranked as a top 5 player (which he could have been if Tubby knew how to use him properly - arg.)

    8.  SOUTHERN METHODIST MUSTANGS.  Despite losing one of the best players in C-USA last year, Papa Dia, SMU should still be competitive thanks to four other returning starters.  Robert Nyakundi is clearly the best returner - he was second on the team with 14.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game last season, and even though he is an excellent outside shooter, hitting 50% from three last seasons, he doesn't live out there and can score from anywhere, not to mention being an excellent rebounder.  Then there's some other guys too.

    9.  UTEP MINERS.  UTEP was a pretty fun team to watch last year.  Randy Culpepper could score in bunches and I'm pretty sure is one of the all-time leading scorers for the Miners, Christian Polk had one of the most incredible games I've ever seen against Memphis in the C-USA Championship (27 pts on 11-14 shooting), Julyan Stone was a defensive standout and awesome rebounder, and Jeremy Williams was the team's third leading scorer who I don't remember  Now those guys are all gone.   Basically the whole team is new guys, either from high school or transfers, either JuCo or otherwise, and who knows that'll probably make them competitive here and there but it'll be a tough year. 

    10.  TULANE GREEN WAVE.  Tulane loses three starters from last season, but the good news for them is they are at least retaining the most important two - swingman Kendall Timmons and point guard Jordan Callahan (who is probably related to that little wiener from South Dakota State).  Timmons led the team in scoring, rebounding, steals, and blocks last year and can do it all, while Callahan was second in scoring and led the team (and was fifth in C-USA) in assists, so Tulane at least has a good backcourt to build around.  Of course I'm not sure what they're building around them with, since there are only two other returnees from last year's team on the roster.  Josh Davis is a transfer from NC State where he played in all 31 games as a freshman two seasons ago, so that's a good start, and those two guards are going to be good enough to engineer at upset or two at some point this year.

    11.  EAST CAROLINA PIRATES.  By ECU standards, last season was a smashing success - they beat Memphis for the first time ever, won two CUSA Tournament games, and were granted an invite to the post-season tournament, their first postseason berth since 1992.  Of course, as it goes with these kinds of programs, that was the big shot and now three of their top four players are gone to graduation and it's back to the depths of the conference for the Pirates.  Although there is some reason for optimism - ECU landed transfers from both South Carolina and Missouri.  If ECU can become an attractive "second-chance" transfer school that might be their way to climb up the C-USA pecking order.

    12.  HOUSTON COUGARS.  You know what's never good?  When you go 12-18 and lose all three of your double-digit scorers.  Welcome to Houston.   The good news here, however, is that nobody really cares about this year because this is just year #2 for their new coach and he's got recruiting moving in a very good direction.  The Cougars bring in a Rivals Top 150 recruit this year in PF TaShawn Thomas (#113) and have two more on their way next season in PF Chicken Knowles (#47), who chose the Cougars over Missouri and Baylor, and an incredible get in PF Danuel House (#15) who went with Houston and spurned Arizona, Kansas, Ohio State, and Texas amongst others to become a Cougar.  Very impressive stuff here, and maybe a hint that Houston could actually survive in the Big East.

    Wednesday, October 19, 2011

    World Series Game 1

    Man I love the stupid World Series.  Even when it's Texas vs. St. Louis and I can't even decide who I'm rooting for until I put money down on Texas.  I watched the top of the first while folding clothes and drinking a Hamm's and saw Texas kill its early momentum by being too obsessed with running.  Seriously, McCarver and buck suck and are prone to hyperbole, but Yadier Molina really is that good when it comes to throwing out base-runners so here's a tip - don't freaking run on him.  I mean jesus christ Ron Washington, you were on the Oakland A's staff in the salad days of moneyball, did you learn nothing?  I guess that's why you never trust a crackhead manager.

    7:17 - Furcal walks to start things up for St. Louis.  Tonights' action:  Rangers to win, over 7.5 total runs, David Freese no RBI, Adrian Beltre YES Hit, Nelson Cruz YES to strikeout, Mike Napoli to have more total bases than Yadier Molina, and Furcal no RBI.  They all matter, but that Furcal no RBI is a monster wager.  We need that one.

    7:19 - I think Tim McCarver is watching a completely different game than everybody else.  It's either that or he's completely insane.

    7:24 - Michael Young weakly grounds to 2nd and I'm reminded that I hate him.  Throughout the ALDS, which was not a bastion of profit, whatever I bet he did the opposite.  Bet on him to K before he gets a hit, he gets a hit in the first inning.  Bet on him to get a hit, and he goes 0-4.  I think I was like 1-5 wagering on him.  I hope he dies.

    7:25 - Base knock for Beltre, a double down the line.  I always like winning those bets on the guys first time up.  Now maybe Nelson could whiff here for me.

    7:27 - Joe Buck just said, "It's now 2-1 to a guy who is 31."  What kind of weird ass sentence is that?  What's next, "Here comes the pitch from a guy who really, really digs pine nuts in his salad."

    7:28 - Cruz apparently didn't wear his chasing pants tonight because Cruz walks after completely refusing to chase Carpenter's slider which he threw low and away four times.  I'm pretty sure Cuddyer took a swing at his TV there at least twice.

    7:30 - That's the second time Carpenter's thrown one in the dirt and yelled "God damn it" loud enough for the camera mics to pick it up.  Pretty sure little Joey Buck's ears are bleeding.  Also DP by Napoli.

    7:36 - Lance Berkman, fourth all-time in home runs amongst switch hitters.  That seems odd for some reason.  FUN FACT:  Former Twin Chili Davis is fifth and former Twin Ruben Sierra is 8th, and right up until this very minute of my life I had completely forgotten Sierra played for the Twins.

    7:41 - FUN FACT #2 - Roy Smalley holds five of the top 10 HR hitting seasons by a switch-hitter in Twins history.  Of course, it's not a very distinguished list considering Bobby Kielty is in 6th place and Cris Guzman is top 10, but still.

    7:45 - Uneventful inning.  But that reminds me that you wanted to know why I was drinking Hamm's.  It's because the local liquor store had it on sale for $11.99 for the 30-pack.  How could I not buy it?  I mean, it's from the land of sky blue waters (waters).  And I have to admit, it is the beer refreshing.

    7:47 - What a quaint little story by McCarver.  Turns out C.J. Wilson, get this, even though he's a pitcher, you're not going to believe it, but he considers himself a hitter.  OMG that's so crazy!  He's such a unique snowflake with his California surfer attitude and his really unique necklace that every god damn pitcher in the league wears.

    7:53 - Nick freaking Punto with a base hit to lead off the bottom of the third.  Not only is this annoying because he's Nick Punto, but it sets up a sac bunt by Carpenter and then Furcal can get an RBI with a hit AND THAT CAN'T HAPPEN.  Also I'm pretty sure Punto slid into first even though he lined it into center.  They didn't show or anything, but I can just feel it.

    God Damn that Punto gives me a boner
    7:55 - Carpenter strikes out, which is good.  Still need no extra base hit from Furcal here.  Or maybe an xbh but then Punto slides head first into third instead of scoring.  Because he's so gritty, you see.

    7:57 - Furcal whiffs on a pitch that barely crossed the plate in the air and was missed by at least 2 feet.  Now that reminded me of Twins baseball.

    8:04 - Tim McCarver is interviewing Ron Washington.  This is like Richard Dawkins interviewing Stephen Hawking, only the exact opposite.

    8:06 - Another 1-2-3 inning.  Glad Snacks convinced me to take the over. 

    8:13 - Punto hit by a pitch, Holliday double, and Berkman scores them both home by not being able to catch up to a pitch and fisting it into right.  It counts, I know, it's just blah.  I remember the last time these guys were in the Series (I think) and the Tigers should have smoked 'em but they have some kind of jedi mind shit over teams.  It's happening again.

    8:14 - I just realized I typed Punto when I meant Pujols.  HE'S IN MY HEAD, MAN!!!

    8:18 - With Berkman on 2nd and 2 outs they intentionally walk Punto, and yes this time it is Punto, and that has got to be the first time that's ever happened.  Checking Baseball Reference, and Punto has actually been intentionally walked 9 times in his career (3 this year, 1 with the phils, and 5 with the Twins).  How could he possibly have been IBB'd as a Twin?  Gotta be interleague, right?  I mean it has to be.  I need to figure this out.

    8:26 - Carpenter strikes out Cruz with Beltre on 2nd.  The important thing is that that's another bet won.

    8:28 - Napoli with a monster shot to right to make it a 2-2 game.  That also gives him a 4-0 advantage in total bases over Molina.

    8:30 - This infrared shit might be literally the gayest thing I've ever seen.  McCarver, "This is weird to me, I don't know how you do that."  With infrared cameras you dumb fucking hick.  I swear to god I'm going to find out where he lives and stab him in the tongue with a crocodile.

    8:31 - "That camera reminds me of The Thing."  - Tim McCarver.  I'm 99.9% sure he means Predator.  It seems weird to hate someone you've never even met and who is mostly harmless, and yet here we are.

    8:38 - A Furcal walk (with no RBI) and then a sac bunt and we have a fast runner on 2nd, representing the go-ahead run, with one out and Albert Pujols up.  Looks like this is where we find out just how valuable he really is oh wait no I guess we don't because they're walking him.  Damn it I wanted to see this.  Now I'm going to have to watch Matt Holliday ground into a double play.

    8:39 - McCarver, "Pitchers really struggle to pitch around batters because they're trained to throw strikes and when you ask them not to they can't make that adjustment."  I'm now thinking some kind of garrotte.  Or maybe just C.J. Wilson's cool hip California style necklace.

    8:41 - I love it when I call things.  Double play for Holliday.  And that shit rhymes, homeslice.

    8:44 - Kinsler with a nice texas leaguer into right for a knock to lead off the sixth.  Hopefully the Rangers don't do any kind of running here.  I could accept a sac bunt from Andrus, if need be.

    8:46 - Sac bunt down, now time to see if Hamilton can be a hero or if he's really just a fan murderer.  McCarver, "This is a really evenly matched World Series."  Well, Tim, actually the Rangers are fairly heavy favorite and would likely be almost 1-2 to win if they had home field advantage, so once again you're wrong.  I'm not entirely certain McCarver could outwit a briefcase full of crackers.

    The battle of wits has begun
    8:48 - McCarver:  "as a pitcher you have to have complete confidence in your catcher where you can throw the ball in the dirt with a runner on third."  He said this after a pitch that was at the batter's knees.  Also no run scored. 

    8:56 - Freese with a double with one out (which is fine because there was nobody on base).  With Molina up followed by Punto and pitcher why not just walk Molina?  Punto is terrible and since he already has a hit tonight you know he can't possibly get another one, then the pitcher in which case you force the Cards to pinch hit and get Carpenter out of the game.  Win win win.

    8:58 - Wild pitch moves Freese to third.  Looks like Wilson can't trust Napoli.  Probably because he's Sicilian.  I kind of wish I hadn't used my Vezzini picture already.

    9:00 - Wilson whiffs Molina on a huge, huge pitch.  All he had to do was put that ball in play and St. Louis takes the lead, instead there are 2 outs and it's up to Nick Punto to get the runner home.  Watch, that little dick is going to get a hit now too, just to eff with me.

    9:03 - They walk Punto non-intentionally but intentionally to get Carpenter out of the game.  Makes sense, but now you're facing a legit major league hitter when you could have faced Punto, one of the worst hitters in the history of the game.  Tecas countering with Ogando.  Good move here.  Good game for Wilson, but it's time go get the Ogandonator in there.  I just made that up.

    9:08 - And THAT's why you pitch to a shitty hitter like Punto when you have a chance.  Craig, the pinch-hitter for Carpenter, singles to right to score the go-ahead run.

    9:09 - Oh shit that means Furcal is up with a runner on third.  God please just bean him or something.

    9:11 -  Furcal hits the shit out of it but thankfully he's a little noodle-armed weiner and it dies at the warning track.  I'm not going to lie to you, I'm pretty sure I just made some pants chocolate.

    9:12 - These Chili-Lime almonds are really the cat's pajamas.

    9:15 - I wonder if this Fernando Salas character is at all related to former Twin Mark Salas.  I kind of doubt it because he's not a big fat pile of goo.  Still, I'll always have a soft spot in my hard for Mark Salas because his was the first autograph I ever got.  It looked like M-scribble S-scribble, but it's a nice memory.  Not like that fuckface Jeff Reardon.

    9:20 - I stopped paying attention for a minute but now the Rangers have 2 on and 1 out and Mark Salas is out and the guy with the weird polish name is in.

    9:26 - Polish guy strikes out Dennis Nedry in a huge spot, which once again validates the Colby Rasmus trade because polish guy was one of a couple of relievers they picked up.  Rangers have one more shot, but they're pinch hitting with Esteban German so they might as well not have pinch hit.

    9:29 - Polish guy whiffs German, which is no surprise.  Slightly more surprising is after that when McCarver says, "It's a five-letter word, S-T-R-I-K-E."  Now, the fact that it's a six letter word isn't even the least bit surprising at this point because it seems like exactly the kind of thing McCarver would say.  Better, though, is that he never follows up on it.  That's his entire point.  He says nothing else, there's awkward silence, and then we cut to some army dude singing.  So bizarre.  I assume twitter must be blowing up about this.  I'd check it, but I'm about 20 minutes behind due to tape delay so I don't want to spoil anything.

    9:34 - McCarver, "By the way, I figured out between innings that strike has six letters, not five."  I'll give it to him, I never expected a classic doucher like McCarver to admit his own error.

    9:43 - No runs scored, and we go to the 8th.  I seem to be getting a bit sleepy.  Damn Hamm's.

    9:45 - So I went to the Gopher tip-off deal last Friday night with WonderbabyTM, and it really didn't go all that well.  They started late, I assume because the autograph part of it went long, the intros took forever since they introduced like 30 alumni who were there, and then they ended up skipping the skills competiton for current players (although we did get to see Abdul-Shamala and Brent Lawson win for the alumni).  Then they went to the halfcourt shot thing, which was really stupid because nobody made one so it was really boring.  Then my lovely daughter had finished her popcorn and mello yello and was pretty bored because "nobody's even playing, daddy" and it was almost 2 hours past her bedtime so we left.  Which means other than the half-court shot I didn't see any current players do anything outside of warmup.  Still kind of excited for the year though.  I'm kinda dumb that way.

    9:53 - no runs again, despite the Rangers getting a shot at the world's oldest lefty Arthur Lee Rhodes.  We go bottom 8, still 3-2 National League.

    9:57 - I miss Derek Holland's mustache.

    9:58 - Berkman with an infield hit to open the bottom of the 8th, which seems weird when you think about how he's 800 years old and kind of fat.  The good part of this is, by the way, is that it seems David Freese is out of the lineup and I didn't even know it.  His replacement tosses down a nice sac bunt, setting things up for Molina, Punto, and pitcher's spot.  A true murderer's row.  Although compared to Repko, Butera, Tolbert......I'm just sayin'.

    10:01 - IT'S ALL UP TO PUNTO

    10:03 - There's not a lot of meat in these gym mats. 

    10:04 - Punto whiffs.  I laugh.

    10:07 - Looks like Jason Motte is the closer tonight.  I can't keep up.  I do know that I don't like him because I took him like 2-3 years ago late in a fantasy baseball draft because a friend of mine told me he was a "great sleeper" because nobody really knew him and he was assured to win the closer role.  Which he did, but then he pitched as if he was throwing BP and lost the job and my heart.

    10:09 - Tim McCarver is definitely retarded.

    10:12 - they get all the outs and the Cardinals win.  This game got kind of boring.  Needed more Punto.