Saturday, January 31, 2009
Friday, January 30, 2009
Thursday, January 29, 2009
I have taken to calling these four guys by an original and rather uninventive name: The Four Fives.
Who are the Four Fives, you ask? They are Chester, Alex Legion, Calvin Brock and Dominique Keller.
What a pack o' beasts.
Chester is the heartbeat of the team, the scuffler, the senior leader, the glue. He can aggressively dish the rock but has the caution and know-how of a senior to avoid turnovers. He is the key to the team. He averages 5.6 points per game.
Alex is the new guy, the recently-ineligible guy, the guy with the murky past. He transferred from Kentucky with some baggage but the legends of his shooting ability are ... legion. The man has long arms and can shoot the rock, silkily. One day soon the things that need to click will click. He will be score in bunches. He averages 5.5 points per game.
Calvin is the fifth-year senior, the leaper, the only man left from the Deron-Dee-Luther-Roger-James glory days. He has the motor off the bench, instant energia, as the Spanish announcers might say. If there were hurdles on the court he could hurdle them. He averages 5.6 points per game.
Dominique is the junior college guy, the guy who is learning by leaps and bounds, the guy who earned more playing time by proving to the coaches both on and off the court that he deserved it. He has the great ability to suddenly pop into the lane wide open. And then get the ball and make the shot. He averages 5.9 points per game.
So now that you know the Four Fives, please introduce yourself, make small talk, maybe invite them into your home for a meal. They're good ballplayers.
Sure, people are going to talk about the McCameys, the Meachams, the Tisdales and the Davises, but let it be known: this Illini team isn't anywhere near 17-3 without the Four Fives.
That is all.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
This is no time to be falling back in the standings.
Lunardi's current Bracketology has the Illini as a #4 seed playing #13 Western Kentucky in the first round, the winner playing either #5 Georgetown or #12 BYU. That's a tough draw but one I see the Illini handling with characteristic panache.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
But what do we know about the circumstances of the Chargers deal with Wasserman? Here are the facts as reported by Ronald W. Powell in yesterday's U-T:
- the team signed a deal with the Wasserman Media Group on Monday (January 26) to reach companies in Los Angeles and Orange County willing to purchase luxury suites and club seats, as well as sign sponsorship deals for Qualcomm Stadium advertising;
- beginning in February, the Chargers have a window until May 1 to leave San Diego by paying the city $56.2 million;
- the exit amount goes down to $54.6 million in 2010 and drops to $25.8 million in 2011;
- the Chargers' lease with San Diego expires in 2020;
- the Chargers are conducting a financial analysis on the cost of a stadium facility on the Chula Vista bayfront;
- the Chula Vista mayor is interested in continuing exploration of a stadium but has not spoken with team representatives since April;
- the Chargers did not sell out their luxury suites for some games last season;
- the Wasserman Media Group is headed by Casey Wasserman, grandson of Hollywood movie mogul Lew Wasserman;
- Wasserman represented 5 of the top 10 players in last year's NBA draft, including Derrick Rose;
- last week the City of Industry, a small town outside of Los Angeles, approved a $150 million bond measure to pay for infrastructure on a proposed $800 million stadium;
- two days later the City of Industry City Council approved an environmental report that clears the way for the stadium;
- the stadium plan belongs to billionaire Ed Roski, part owner of the Staples Center, the L.A. Kings and the L.A. Lakers;
- Dean Spanos is a long-time friend of Roski.
These are the facts.
Monday, January 26, 2009
That's big important stuff as far as this blog is concerned.
But more than their record, the intrigue of the '78 Padres - at least to me - lies with the players and coaches who made up the team. The roster was filled with Hall of Famers and other solid, quality players that looks like a Who's Who of Baseball from the '70s and '80s. The manager, Roger Craig, would later go on to manage the stellar Gints teams of the late 80s. Ray Kroc, Mickey D's magnate and the man who saved baseball in San Diego, was well ensconced in his fourth year as the owner. Players by the name of Dave Winfield, Ozzie Smith, Gaylord Perry and Rollie Fingers plied the dugout and bullpen.
Not to mention that Jack Murphy Stadium - aka The Murph - hosted the All Star Game that Summer.
High times, indeed.
I was only a year-and-a-half old on Opening Day 1978. It may therefore surprise you to learn that I have no memories of my own from that year. My family tells me that by Opening Day they had either already moved or were planning to move from my iconic birthplace, La Mesa, to a gallant town in Central Illinois that goes by the name of Peoria. Moving away from San Diego is a big deal and not a decision one makes lightly. Even when one is 1.5 years old. I assume my parents allowed me to weigh in on the decision but, as I said above, I have no recollection on the matter.
But this isn't about me. It's about the 1978 Padres. What I want to do this season - the hopefully-glorious-but-likely-mundane 2009 season - is post regularly about the '78 Drinos: who was on the team, how those players were acquired, how they performed, and what happened in specific games using the awesome box scores on Baseball-Reference.com. Overall it should be really exciting and choice.
Perhaps even spectacular.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
You committed to the Zooker back in November but now have re-opened your commitment and are considering the likes of Michigan St., Ole Miss and, most recently, the Syracuse Orangemen.
Hey Craig, what's up that?
You are from Illinois, my friend. You go to high school outside Chicago at Morgan Park High. Do I have to tell you that those other three schools are not in the state of Illinois? Where's the loyalty for your home state? Don't you realize how huge you would be in Chicago and the entire state of Illinois if you followed through on your initial commitment and dominated in Champaign for four years. You'd be the next Juice Williams. Except on defense. It'd be epic.
What's got you down about Illinois? Is it the whole Blagojevich thing? Are you upset Obama is no longer one of the state's two senators? Are you disappointed with the Zooker's defensive coaching changes? I hope whatever the problem is we can get it ironed out before you sign with another school. I think you would really like Champaign and I can tell you, watching the Illini last season, they can use a player of your tenacity and demonstrated skill. Sirod Williams is back, but the Illini need you to come in and compete with Josh Brent, Corey Liuget and would-be fellow freshmen beasts, Cornelius Carradine and Lendell Buckner.
So, please, Craig, get to know new D-Line coach Keith Gilmore and go ahead and sign that LOI with the Illini. I'm certain you won't regret it.
[Update 1/26/09: Well, Craig, I see you have gone and chosen Ole Miss and are heading to Oxford to enroll as early as tomorrow. Dubious decision as far as I'm concerned, though, granted, rumor has it the ladies of the SEC may be a bit more alluring than the ladies of the Big Ten. I can't say for certain if that's true, that's just a rumor I've heard. Anyway, good luck. But if the Illini ever see you in a bowl game I hope Andrew Carter and the other Illini O-Linemen put you on your backside.]
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Friday, January 23, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
I remember when I first saw the card. My Mom and Dad drove us out to Timberlake for an afternoon barbecue and swimming. Actually, I don't know if we barbecued. My family in the early '80s was more the "pick up a few sandwiches and sodas and grab a corner of a picnic table" type. Anyway, on the way we stopped at a gas station and my Dad, as per his usual practice, bought me a few packs of cards. Probably didn't cost much. If I looked on the internet I could probably find a link to some site that could tell me the price of a Topps wax pack in Central Illinois in the summer of 1983, but I'm not going to look for that at the moment. I'm a busy man.
The summer of 1983 was the first year I really collected cards and really remember stuff about baseball. I know this because my card collection exploded that year. Sure, I have a few '82 Topps cards (more than a few, actually) but they always seemed from a remote time, as if out of some distant - yet also recent - past. My theory on this is that Dad probably just bought packs because he liked cards and wanted to get me interested. I may have said I was interested but I have no recollection of that. My first memories of asking my Dad to buy me packs and then opening them was in 1983. (Added to this, the first World Series I remember watching was the previous Fall, the Fall of '82, when Bruce Sutter struck out a Brewer to win Game 7. I have no recollection whatsoever of the '81 World Series between the Yankees and Dodgers.)
But I have digressed, and I aplogize. So I'm sitting in the car on a summer day opening a Topps wax pack and we arrived at the Timberlake parking lot and the AC went off and - I remember this like it was yesterday - I was sitting there as the car heated up flipping through the last cards in the pack when I came across a Padre I didn't recognize. A cool, kind of funny looking Padre, no less. This was no Terry Kennedy or Eric Show. This guy had a fro and was running in an unathletic way with his butt high in the air, like and old man might run if his back hurt. Or like Terry Kennedy or Eric Show might run if they allowed the Topps photographer to shoot them on the basepaths.
This was my first introduction to Tony Gwynn and needless to say I was intrigued.
I sat staring at the card for a minute then flipped it over and looked at the statistics. Words like Walla Walla and Amarillo and Hawaii jumped out at me. Those places were so exotic I was only vaguely aware they were even places. What also jumped out at me were the high numbers under the .AVG column. That was one of the columns my Dad said was important. And this Tony guy was good in that category.
Pretty sure I stashed the card in the car and then went off to swim in the lake for the day. I'm not a huge fan of going to lakes to swim. I would much rather sit around looking at baseball cards.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Some things about Coach Gilmore's career that jump out at me:
- he has a BS in Recreation Management at Michigan St.;
- coached under Brian Kelley at Cincy that past few seasons, including in some big games, like this year Orange Bowl;
- got his start at Wayne St. coaching linebackers and running backs;
- worked at Howard in Washington D.C. from 2002-2005 as assistant head coach/defensive coordinator.
In short, there's nothing that really jumps out at me about Gilmore's background. He seems like a solid coach who has worked his way up the ladder, earning his keep at each rung. He'll probably coach well and, if he can recruit, could be a stellar hire by the Zooker, as per the Zooker's usual practice.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
In a shocking development, it was announced today that you are a shady bastard. You were caught talking to that recruit, John Wall or whatever, during a no-contact period.
I also love the slimy way you admitted to it immediately. You played it off like, hey, I was at a high school game, and after the game I went to the locker room to say good bye to the coaches and, whoops, the player was standing there. Imagine that, a player in the locker room.
No way you could have seen that coming.
Keep fighting the good fight, Bill. The Man's rules don't apply to guys like us, right Bill?
Ps - Illini lead the Bluckeyes by 12 at the half. Demetri has three nice looking threes and also picked up a blatant technical foul. What a monster.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Happy belated birthday, sir.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
The real story of the game, however, at least from the Illini perspective, was the cold shooting of Demetri McCamey and Trent Meacham. Combined, the two shot 1 for 16, the one being a long three by Trent from the top of the key. A few of Demetri's shots looked like they were going to fall but either rimmed out or flew a tad long. It just happened over and over again. Very annoying to watch.
I do have to hand it to Alex Legion though (not to mention Calvin Brock). Legion had 15 points off the bench and shot the ball with confidence throughout the game. He had a big turnover late when he stepped on the baseline while driving to the basket, but he looks like he is about to break out for a huge game soon.
My bet is it will be Tuesday night against the Buckneyes.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Beyond the standings implications, we'll find out even more about the potential of our Illini team today. A win or even a strong showing on the road against Michigan St. will give a strong indication that the Illini are capable of making a run in the NCAA Tournament. A blowout loss may mean going back to the drawing board to reevaluate expectations for this season.
This is just a huge Saturday afternoon game in January.
I better start drinking soon.
Friday, January 16, 2009
I'm pretty excited to get this year's copy. Mostly I want to see where Kellen Kulbacki (pictured above) and Kyle Blanks rank. I think those two hitters have Major League bats and could see at bats this season with the Big Club. Kulbacki will start the season with AA San Antonio and Blanks will start with AAA Portland. Kulbacki may be a year away but it's possible Blanks will get a September call up so the team can evaluate whether he or A Gon will be the starting 1B for the Drinos in 2010. The other will be dealt - I hope - for a haul of beasts.
Most everyone and their brother puts out prospect lists these days, all the major publications and all the best bloggers included. Some of the best Padre blogs - Ducksnorts, Friar Forecast, Mad Friars (not really a blog), Padres Revolution - all discuss the minors and do it well. (Gaslamp Ball focuses more on the big league club and that's very refreshing in an old-school way.) Of course DePodesta's blog always talks up the minor league players and draft picks and such.
Reviewing the various lists, here are in my mind the three biggest questions about the Padre prospects:
- what was wrong with Matt Antonelli last season? Was it just a fluke? Will he rebound? Even if he does rebound, will he be a star or just an average second baseman?;
- what is the plan for Blanks? Assuming he mashes at AAA like he has at every other level, will they trade him? Give him reps in LF? Trade A Gon?; and
- will any of the injured pitchers make comebacks? Cesar Carrillo, Matt Bush and Nick Schmidt are all first round draft picks who have had Tommy John surgery in the last few years. If one or two or three of them regain their promise the Padres could have a sneaky strong back of the rotation in a few years.
Time will provide the answers to these questions. Let's hope we like the answers.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Listen, right now I kind of think of you as a little punk. Can you blame me? I mean remember the 2005 NLDS against the Drinos? Game 3 on that Saturday night at Petco? Ring any bells?
I flew out from NYC for the game and met my mom and stepdad. I gave them my two good seats (no one will ever accuse me of being a bad kid) and scalped a seat in far far upper right field. You could not get farther away from the field. Your Cardinal team had a 2-0 series lead over the Drinos but I was optimistic the Drinos could snake at least one game before fading away like the 82-80 team they were.
But you had other ideas you little pipsqueak. You singled to lead off the game and promptly scored on a Phat Albert double (incidentally, he looked huge even from where I sat, on Jupiter). Then, in the bottom of the second, you hit a 2-out, 2-run bomb into the left field seats off Woody Williams. You and your 8 bomb season effectively ended the Padre season with a homerun.
How dare you, sir? Have you no decency?
But listen, that was the past. I remember that you seemed locked in during that series (you batted .385 with 4 ribeyes and 3 runs scored) and I always respected that. You seemed like a winner. True, you're an older guy now and maybe not so quick with the bat, but I know you'll bring a competitive, winning attitude with you to the Padres.
So let's let bygones be bygones. I'm happy you are joining the Drinos. And as far as this blog goes, you can join Darren Sproles as the only 5'6" athletes in the Diego area.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
I watched the game at Blondie's on 79th between Amsterdam and Broadway. Sat along the wall across from the bar. Two Hoosier fans - looked like boyfriend and girlfriend - were already sitting at the bar in their red Indiana shirts when I arrived. They already had their coats off and had ordered food and looked ready to settle in for a good basketball game. Then the Illini opened a 22-2 run to start the game.
Needless to say they left before halftime, right after polishing off their double order of wings.
Speaking of Blondie's, I'll be there tonight again for the Illini-Michigan game. My friend Tatty Mareeco, a Michigan fan, will be there as well. The fan of the winning team pays for drinks and appys.
I expect to be opening my wallet.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Quentin was having a monster game early. That third down stick he made on that big fat Steeler fullback was epic. At that point the Bolts D was swarming and Ben Roethlisstubber and the rest of the Steelers offense looked like poop. Then, I forget exactly when it happened - whether it was before or after the Steelers' final drive of the first half - Jim Nantz said Jammer had left the game with cramps. All of a sudden Ben had time to pass, his throws miraculously started finding their way to the Steeler receivers, and Willie Parker had room to run.
Things get a lot easier when Clinton Hart and Steve Gregory are on the field every play. Don't you think so, Steelers Offense?
[Postscript: turns out Jammer didn't have cramps ... he had a partial tear of his hammy. Ouch.]
Monday, January 12, 2009
In my mind the Stillers won't need to play as well as they did yesterday to win out and take home the franchise's sixth Super Bowl.
For the Bolts, this game was not a dagger loss by any means, but it was still a frustrating and annoying loss. The Stillers played well in the facets you expect them to play well in if they're going to win a game. They ran the ball, stuffed the Chargers running game and made clutch third down conversions throughout the second half. But the Stillers also got all the breaks in a very fluky game. These two teams could play 100 games at Heinz Field and, yes, maybe the Stillers win 60-65 of those games, but never again would there be a third quarter as strange as yesterday's third quarter. The Bolts only touched the ball twice in the quarter: a 63-yard kick return by Sproles to put the Chargers at the Steelers 20 ... and a tipped pick by Rivers on the next play. That was it. And the Bolts had a punt clang off Eric Weddle's head giving the Stillers a first down at the Bolts 23. This is all in addition to the Holmes' punt return in the 1st quarter, the first punt return touchdown allowed by the Bolts during the Mike Scifres era. Very odd for all that to happen in one game.
Listen, as good as the Steelers played - and well they should have considering they were 100% healthy, were playing at home and were rested coming off a bye week - the game finally came down to a 3rd and 3 play with 8:15 to go in the 4th quarter. Rivers had just engineered an excellent 10-play scoring drive capped by a 4-yard touchdown strike to Legedu Naanee. Despite the absurd third quarter, that Chargers' touchdown drive made the game 28-17 with 9:09 to play; the Bolts were still two scores down but there was a ton of time. But then, as they had done on three huge plays on the opening drive of the third quarter, the Stillers converted a big 3rd and 3, as Roethlisberger knifed in a low line drive pass that slipped just under the hand of the Charger defender and into the arms of Heinz Ward. After that play the exhausted Charger defense could not stop the Stiller running game - particularly Willie Parker - and the Stillers put the game away with a 16-yard TD run by Fast Willie.
Here's a possession-by-possession summary of the game ... you know, for posterity's sake:
- the excellent opening Charger drive culminating in the prettiest play of the day for either team, the 41-yard bomb to Vincent Jackson;
- the Roethlisberger pooch punt on 4th and 8 from the SD 34 that put the Chargers at the 9 yard line;
- the Bolts do nothing second drive ... two runs and an incomplete pass;
- the effing Holmes' punt return, hurdling a diving Legedu Naanee ... this is when you realized the football gods might not be with the Bolts today;
- the frustrating third Bolts' drive that started well but then died out after two 5-yard penalties and a Woodley sack;
- the Charger defense, still rocking at this point, forcing another Stiller three and out;
- another frustrating drive where the Bolts ran Sproles on 3rd and 2 and gained only one yard ... Norv challenged the spot - Schottenheimer-style - and lost;
- people are going to forget this but until Rivera changed the scheme on the final drive of the first half, and before they got exhausted in the late third and fourth quarters, the Bolts defense was en fuego ... on the next Stiller drive the Bolts gave up some yards to Fast Willie but tightened up and forced another Stiller punt with 7:38 to go before the half;
- three straight incompletions by Rivers ... I don't remember the first two passes but the 3rd and 10 play was the outstanding diving effort by Vincent Jackson that was initially ruled a catch but was then overruled on Tomlin's challenge ... Rivers was under duress when he threw this ball but if he hits Vince in stride this is an 80-yard touchdown bomb;
- the Bolts D still kicking butt at this point, even to the tune of stuffing an ill-advised fake punt on 4th and 1 giving the Bolts the ball at the Stiller 44;
- a middling drive highlighted by a 3rd and 11 pass to Gates for 15 yards ... the drive stalls though at the Stiller 32, four yards short of a first ... Kaeding drills a 42 yard field goal but there is still 1:56 left ... one more first down would have been huge;
- inexplicable change in defensive strategy ... until this point the Stillers only had 3 first downs, but now Rivera noticeably starts dropping three linebackers into coverage and rushing only 4 linemen ... Big Ben has eons to pass and moves the Stillers right down the field, most memorably on a 41-yard catch and run to Heinz Ward as three Chargers in loose zone coverage watch the ball float in to Ward's arms ... Fast Willie runs around left end to score with :40 seconds remaining in the half ... the whole drive was disturbingly reminiscent of the Patriots drive against Wade Phillips' prevent D in the final minutes of the first half of the '06 Divisional Playoff game in the Diego;
- Cromartie fields a short kickoff and nearly breaks a return ... the Bolts run one play and let the clock run out on the first half;
- Halftime ... I consider going to Starbucks to grab a coffee but decide to stay in the apartment and pace;
- now the ridiculous drive opening drive of the second half ... I have to hand it to the Stillers, anytime you convert three third and longs in a drive you are doing something right, I don't care how bad a defense is playing ... as I remember it the Bolts could not get pressure on Ben, but I want to watch the drive again, as painful as it would be, to see exactly what happend on each third down play ... I mean jeez, they were 3rd and 7, 3rd and 11 and 3rd and 8 ... the Bolts should have been able to stop one of those;
- so the Stillers run 7-plus minutes off the clock and have put together two great looking drives in a row to go up 21-10 ... things don't look good ... but then Darren Sproles busts out a 63-yard kick return and right away you start thinking that the football gods may just be with you after all;
- the play looks great ... you have the ball at the Steeler 23 and you've gained some momentum after the Sproles return ... a quick strike would be choice ... you haven't been able to run against the Stiller D and Rivers is the guy who has to win this game for you ... so you see Rivers drop back and unleash a quick slant and for a split second your mind says, "Yes, that is the perfect play!" ... and then inexplicably the ball is in the air ... for. efffing. forever. ... and ends up in the hands of two diving Stillers ... this is when you know ... it's not happening today;
- coming back from commercial Norv decides to challenge the pick and Phil Simms actually says its a good challenge ... you allow yourself a glimmer of hope;
- back from another commercial and Simms now says the angle isn't great and Nantz says it looks like Foote got his hand under the ball ... Simms says he at first couldn't tell if he was seeing the ball or a glove ... he thinks its a glove now ... the Bolts are out of challenges;
- the Bolts D shows some mettle like they did in the first half, forcing a Stiller punt ... this is when things get kooky, one of those if-these-plays-happen-you-probably-won't-win plays ... the punt bounces off Weddle's helmet and the Stillers take over on the muff rule ... they get down to the 4 on another pass to Heinz Ward ... but then the Bolt D mans up again and stuffs the Stillers on 4th and goal;
- despite all the absurdity of the third quarter the Bolts are hanging in 21-10 ... on first down from the Stiller 1, Rivers hits Hester for an 11 yard gain ... nicely drawn up and executed ... but on second down Woodley sacks Rivers and tosses him to the ground on what should have been an unnecessary roughness penalty ... if the refs call the penalty the Bolts have a 1st and 10 at the Stiller 25 ... instead they're 2nd and 20 from the Stiller 2 ... I don't recall the next two pass plays but they both fell incomplete;
- on 2nd and 6 from the SD 45, Roethlisbutter throws to the end zone and draws a PI call on Eric Weddle ... whatever, maybe it was interference, but both players were diving for the ball so hey ref, if you're going to let Woodley toss Rivers to the ground when he's already in the grasp, why not allow a little contact in mid-air between Weddle and the Stiller receiver ... the Stillers scored on the next play to go up 28-10;
- Rivers refuses to give up and drives the Bolts down the field in 10 plays hitting Manumaleuna for a nice, spinning 15-yard gain, and Chambers for choice gains of 15 and 25 yards ... the TD pass to Naanee made the score 28-17 with 9:09 to play;
- now comes the big third down play described above ... if the Bolts knock down that pass they get the ball back with about 8:00 minutes to go probably around their own 25 or 30 yard line ... I don't care how good your defense is, Rivers and the Diego offense are not out of the game down 11 with 8:00 to play ... but as it happened the Stillers converted, kudos to them, and then ran the ball down the Bolts throat to ice the game 35-17;
- the last 4:11 of the game was, in keeping with the rest of the day, odd ... the Bolts go three and out and decide to punt, despite being down three scores ... the Stillers bring in Leftwich and go three and out when a Leftwich strike bounces off Sweed's fingertips (incidentally, Roethlisbooger gave the play away on the sideline when he overheard the play call and laughed ... CBS caught the whole thing on camera and you could tell from Ben's reaction before the play the Stillers were going to try something deep) ... Mike Tomlin challenges a meaningless play up three scores with two minutes to play ... but maybe it wasn't so meaningless because Rivers hits Sproles for a 62-yard TD on the next play setting up a last ditch Scifres onside kick attempt ... the Stillers recover thus ending the season for good.
Big offseason for the Bolts.
Get r dun, A.J.!
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Last week you played a heckuva game - that 12 yard run on 3rd and 13 was epic - and led the Bolts to victory over the Colts.
Well, guess what?
We need another epic performance today.
In Pittsburgh a few months ago you had a rough game, throwing a couple picks and taking a safety that were key to the Stillers 11-10 victory. But that was then and this is now. The team is playing better, you are playing better. I have confidence that the D is going to play tough, that Sproles and Bennett will break a few big runs, that Mikey Scifres will pin the Steelers deep in their own territory a few times, that the O-Line will keep those pesky Stiller linebackers off your back, that Vincent and Antonio and Chris will make some clutch catches.
All you need to do is bring it all together.
Let's do this.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Today's Illini-Indiana game probably won't have that same drama, nor will it have the same ferocity of last year's games when Indiana had Kelvin Sampson and Eric Gordon on the floor. But today's game is more important than either the Nick Anderson Game or either one of last year's games. And I'll tell you why.
In '89 the Illini were one of the top teams in the country and were going to the tourney as a high seed no matter what. They were a pack of pure beasts. Last season the Illini weren't that good and the season was mostly a lost cause. Winning against Indiana last season was more about a vendetta against Sampson and Gordon. This year though the Illini are a talented team that figures to be about fourth or fifth in the Big Ten and should garner an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament ... assuming they don't blow home games to the likes of the Indiana Hoosiers. What gives me slight pause about this game is that Tommy Crean's Hoosier squad has blown huge home leads to Michigan and Lipscomb. I wonder if the basketball gods may feel - rightly or wrongly - they owe them one.
Doubtful, but you never know. I'd be more worried about it if Bruce Weber wasn't manning the helm for the Illini. He'll have the troops fired up today.
Let's get it on.
Friday, January 9, 2009
I was sorry to hear about your run in with the Diego PD earlier this week. Reports are they pulled you over early in the morning on suspicion of DUI. They also say you are currently on probation for a previous DUI charge back in '06. You've said you're innocent and so far the city has not filed charges.
So you know what I think, Vincent? I think it's time to set this business aside and play some football.
And from what I know about you, I don't doubt that you agree.
I expect you will hit the field Sunday in Pittsburgh and have a monster game. I expect this because I know you are a competitor with a ton of character, a ton of heart, and the will to make big plays.
This game needs someone to play the role of Beast. And I'm casting you for the part.
So get after it on Sunday, Vincent.
I know you will.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
I for one think they can do the job.
Also, I highly encourage you to visit www.chargers.com and watch McNeil's Wednesday press conference. Just an outstanding interview with a funny guy. One of my favorite quotes: "The game's going to come down to which offense can handle the other team's defense the best." Also: "I'm gonna to try and keep my sleeves off this week. You know, you kinda get a little mo' jacked up when you play without sleeves and man through that weather."
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
I like this hire. Schultz helped lead TCU to a great season in '08, including a choice Poinsettia Bowl victory over previously unbeaten Boise St. TCU's only losses this season were on the road against Oklahoma and Utah, two teams you might have read about in the sports pages this week.
Plus you gotta love the fact Schultz coached LT back in LT's Horned Frog days. I love it when my favorite teams have crossover appeal. It's like the Zooker hired Schultz with this humble blog in mind.
That's the Zooker for you, always thinking of ways to help a guy out.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Yeah, that's right, this guy:
The thought of Trev in another uni makes me want to drop a deuce on Alderson's carpet. At the same time, Trev isn't the pitcher he once was and baseball is, after all, about winning. It's also a business and maybe the Padres just can't afford Hoffman. Whatever the reason, I guarantee Trevor gets stoked if he ever pitches against the Drinos.
I remember September 2003. I was in the Diego for a few days and my Dad and I went to Qualcomm for a game, I think one of the final 12 or so at the Q. Don't remember much about the game, I could look it up on baseball-reference.com if I was so inclined, but I do remember that the Drinos brought in Trevor for a non-save situation. He hadn't pitched all season after undergoing shoulder surgery (nice fill in work by Rod Beck). He looked good and I remember feeling good about the fact that the '04 Padres, sporting new digs at Petco Park, would have Brian Giles in RF and a healthy Trevor Hoffman closing out games. Those were good days.
Look, Trevor isn't officially gone. But now that day feels real close.
Monday, January 5, 2009
In related news, I think the Illini have three pros right now, all sophomores. The more I watch Demetri McCamey, Mike Tisdale and Mike Davis, I think they might all become pros someday. Tisdale has size and that great mid-range and turnaround jumper game that's popular with the European kids; McCamey can run point and hit threes from long distance and criminy, the kid scored 31 in a game as a freshman last season; and Mike Davis has a long, athletic body, can get to the basket, and can hit the open shot. He has an NBA game in the making. If you project all three out I think you get three pros.
Time will tell.
The Illini are off until next Saturday when they host Tom Crean and the Indy Hoosiers.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
Here are the plays that stand out, both the good and the bad:
- the opening offensive play for the Bolts where LT ran around right end for 13 yards;
- the Mathis sack on 3rd and 2 that ended that opening drive;
- every Mike Scifers punt starting from the first to the last where the ball miraculously landed on the two and bounced straight into the air, going out of bounds at the 1 yard line ... because of Scifres the Colts started possessions at their own 10, 19, 3, 7, 9 and 1;
- that 36-yard completion from Manning to Anthony Gonzalez where Gonzalez snaked up field;
- the big completion to Gates where Gates ran to the 10 and then turned and stiff armed the Colts defender;
- the Manning shady 72-yard pass to Reggie Wayne that caught Antonio Cromartie and the rest of the Bolts D sleeping;
- the beautiful Bolts drive from their own 20 that ended with Sproles fumbling the ball into the end zone for a Colts touchback ... this is when I took my glasses off, sat on the couch and rubbed my eyes, unable to look at the television;
- the gutsy 12-yard scamper on third down by Philip Rivers that set up a 4th and 1 sneak for a first down ... Rivers' dive along the sideline to try to get the first down epitomizes his toughness;
- the interception to the deep safety in the end zone on the very next play after getting a first down at the Colts' 32;
- the Dobbins' sack at the 1 yard line on 3rd and 2 after Manning double pumped ... Manning never saw Dobbins;
- Rivers' two passes to Gates over the middle on the game-tying drive;
- Kassim Osgood clapping that the coin toss came up tails;
- the defensive holding penalty on 3rd and 8 where the Colts' DB grabbed Chris Chambers and spun him around; and
- the Sproles run around left end for the game winning touchdown.
Bolts win 23-17.
Now on to Pittsburgh.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Friday, January 2, 2009
A very interesting development to say the least. All previous reports said that it would take months for Moores to work out a deal to sell the Padres. Although a final deal may indeed be a few months away, the fact Moorad resigned today would seem to indicate a deal may get done faster than anyone initially imagined.
Some initial positives of this development are that Moorad is a SoCal kid, has shown a willingness to okay expenditures in 'Zona, has overseen development of a strong farm system while with the Backs and, let's be honest, is not going through a divorce. If we're lucky he'll take over in time to okay an increased payroll so the Pads can keep Peavy and maybe sign another free agent or two.
I'd have no problem with that.