It's a really beautiful thing. Baseball season is here. The NCAA tourney is right around the corner. We week of waking up at 4 AM everyday has come to a close. And I'm headed for a great weekend of good times and excess in the Big Apple. It's one of those rare moments in time, where all the right things are coming together, and the timing couldn't be better. Now in order for me to get ready for my great weekend, while at the same time keeping all of you up to snuff on the latest goings on, I need to just get down to business. Peep the funk...
Red Sox Update
-After the Sox visited the White House (minus Manny), George Bush did his best Jerry Seinfeld impression (minus the intellect), and Jerry Remy was sworn in as President of Red Sox Nation (minus the cigs). Eh who am I kidding. You know he was crushin' Marbs on the South Lawn with his loafers. Well in between the Prez makin' jokes about Manny's absence, or how his English wasn't any better than Dice K's ,some sort of ceremony actually went down, and I'm sure "Dubya" now has a Red Sox jersey with his name on the back. Ugghhhhh I shudder at the thought. Anyway, when all that was done, the Sox actually took to the field for the first time this Spring, and started gettin' down to business...
-OK, so when I said "business", I really mean they beat up on a bunch of college kids. And by beat up, I mean by a combined score of 39-0 over BC and Northeastern. Ewww. Hey, any game at this point is reason to smile, right? It's time to defend the title, baby. And I'm sorry if it seems like I'm lowering expectations, but I feel this season is a win-win. It's hard enough to repeat in this league, and with our stacked roster I just feel like we're playing with house money. Keep it locked here all season long for all the latest news and notes about this wicked awesome team, because you know the season won't be short on drama and entertainment.
With that little Sox update out of the way, it's time to get down with the ever evolving world that IS NCAA Hoops... -Yeah, I'd say I'm pretty pleased with myself for saying on Tuesday that Tennessee probably would never see #1 in my poll. Fresh off their big Saturday win at Memphis, the Vols went and proved one of two things with their loss @ Vanderbilt. 1) Memphis isn't nearly as good as we thought...or 2) The top of the SEC is a lot better than even I thought. I like Vandy 'n all, but I'm more apt to believe the former. That Memphis was a bit overrated. Obviously I would be part of the reason why people thought maybe Memphis was better than they are, but I also plan on being part of the new way of thinking that has them in the lower tier of the best teams in the Nation. I think it's more a case that they won't be peaking at the right time, and therefore will probably get picked off in the tournament, but either way they just don't look as good now as I thought they did a few weeks back. I'll do my best to rectify my past discretions with this week's top 10, but you'll have to read through the rest of this shit before you see where my mind finally settled...
-I've been pretty hard on Georgetown this season, but after a recent evaluation I realized I may not have been giving them the credit they deserved. Around the same time they were falling from my top 10, the Hoyas were in the midst of playing the bulk of the road games on their schedule. They didn' look all that hot in barely squeaking by some of those weaker squads, but we're talking about college kids here. Playing 4 road games in less than 2 weeks right after the New Year, is bound to take a toll on your average 18-21 year old, isn't it? So I've revised my position on John Thompson III and his Georgetown Hoyas. I like the way they keep games close. And I like the way they control the pace of the game, both big keys when it comes to tournament basketball. Roy Hibbert's still a stiff, I know. But the more I watch this team play, the more I see that aren't going to be such an easy out come March, no matter how boring their style is...
-Nothing like a little salt in an already gaping wound. With fans calling for his job, and criticising both his recruiting and in game strategy, it must not have been too much fun for PC head coach, Tim Welsh, to watch former Friar, Rob McKiver, go for a Conference USA record 52 points on Wednesday night. The knock on Timmy is that he can't keep the local kids around, his players don't improve, and too many of them decide to leave the program. Well, McKiver is from New Haven, he rode the pine as a Friar in '04-'05, and now he's averaging nearly 24 points a game as a Houston Cougar. If ever there was a nutshell, that's it. Your run is over Tim. You may have given it your best shot, but it's just not up to par with what people expected, and having ZERO NCAA tourney wins in nearly a decade isn't gonna get the job done at ANY school in a major conference. I know PC might be a little over their heads when it comes to competing with most of the Big East, but they've succeeded before, so it's reasonable to think they can do it again. Bring in a hot-shot young coach like UMASS's Travis Ford or another mid-major overachiever, and give the program the shot of energy it needs, and it's fans deserve...
-Oh, and while I'm already on the local hoops scene, what in God's name is goin' on with the Rhody Rams?! Just 3 weeks ago they sat at 19-3, and were in prime position to grab an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament. Fast forward to the here and now, and URI has dropped 5 straight, 6 of their last 7, and find themselves in virtual must win games from here on out if they have any hope of dancing in March. Star shooter Jimmy Baron, who had been averaging more than 15 points for the majority of the season, is averaging a touch under 9 points a game in that span, and the depth that seemed to be a strength early on in the season, is looking more and more like the team's major weakness.
-Seeing as the first time I posted my conference rankings it sparked such controversy, I figured it was about time I hit you with an update. Ian will be pleased to find the Big East in front of the SEC, but to be honest it's only by a hair, and was basically a toss up as to who was ranked higher.
Conference Power Rankings
1. Pac 10 (UCLA) 2
2. Big XII (Texas) 3
3. Big East (Louisville) 4
4. SEC (Tennessee) 1
5. Big 10 () 6
6. ACC (North Carolina) 5
7. West Coast Conference (Gonzaga) 8
8. Atlantic 10 (Xavier) 7
9. Missouri Valley Conference (Drake) NR
10. Conference USA (Memphis) 9
dropped: (10) Horizon League
So with all that in mind, I give you my latest top 10. UCLA has now established themselves as the team to beat, but this past week proved that there might not be as much separation between the top teams as we once thought. Then again, that always seems to be the case this time of year, doesn't it? Question is, why do we always seem surprised when it happens? Human nature I guess....OK enough psycho-self-analysis...and on with the rankings!
College Hoops Top 10
1. UCLA (26-2) 3
2. North Carolina (26-2) 6
3. Tennessee (25-3) 2
4. Texas (24-4) 7
5. Memphis (26-1) 1
6. Xavier (24-4) 7
7. Kansas (25-3) 4
8. Louisville (23-6) NR
9. Duke (24-3) 9
10. Vanderbilt (24-4) NR
just missed: UCONN, Stanford, Washington St., Georgetown, Indiana, Wisconsin, Marquette
dropped: (8) UCONN; (10) Washington St.
-I know there's a lot of movin' and shakin' goin' on there, but I feel good about it. I can honestly say that at this point, after posting those 10 teams, I feel more comfortable with my power structure than I have at any point of the season. Now that probably means all 10 of these teams are gonna lose their next game, but if I'm really that cursed then I think I got bigger issues than whether or not my top 10 is accurate. Here are the games goin on this weekend that will test my power and let us all know if I'm closer to being an evil genius, a pompus ass. Check 'em out...
NONE...There just aren't any good games this Friday, but Saturday is laced. I recommend using this free time to kick back and enjoy an adult beverage or two. Possibly even 8 or more. I know I'll be in NYC doin' my best Danny Bonaduce impression. Well, minus the roids and the spousal abuse. Whatever. You see what I'm gettin' at...
Washington St. @ Stanford
Vanderbilt @ Arkansas
Georgetown @ Marquette
Kansas St. @ Kansas
St. Mary's @ Gonzaga
West Virginia @ UCONN
Pittsburgh @ Syracuse
Texas A&M @ Oklahoma
USC @ Arizona St.
Mississippi St. @ Florida
Illinois St. @ Southern Illinois
Ohio St. @ Minnesota
URI @ LaSalle
Kentucky @ Tennessee
UCLA @ Arizona
Indiana @ Michigan St.
Villanova @ Louisville
Clemson @ Maryland
Pittsburgh @ West Virginia
Texas Tech @ Kansas
Well then. If that's not enough to feed your hunger for college hoops, then I'm afraid you may need professional help....and perhaps a sedative or two. Make sure to keep your eye out for the Kentucky Wildcats too. A win at Tennessee on Saturday and they're in the field of 64. Even without it, it's been 18 years since a team with 10 conference wins from the SEC has been left out of the Big Dance. And even though they only sit at 16-10 overall, their 10-2 SEC record, combined with some pretty good computer numbers, should make them close to impossible for the selection committee to resist...
News and Notes
-The Cardinals cut first baseman Scot Speizio earlier this week in wake of allegations that he tagged someone with his car on December 30th. Oh, and he was wasted when he did it. AND, he then proceeded to go to a friend's house, puke all over the place, and then start throwin' bows at his buddy. OK. Especially following the Josh Hancock incident where he was killed in a drunk driving accident, I see why the Cards would wanna make this move. What I don't get, is why the Cards decided to trot Tony LaRussa out there to say that this move was "consistent" with what he team was trying to do, and that they "didn't need guys like that around". What? You mean guys like you?...
Unless Cardinal GM Walt Jockety has some pending rape charge I'm unaware of, I think he's the guy they should have gone with to deliver that message to the media. Did they honestly not see the hypocrisy involved there? You think these guys with these big time jobs in this big money sport would be smart enough to know better...then BAM!...they show you their just as dumb as the rest of us...and in cases like this...prolly dumber...
-Speakin' of no-brainers, the reports from Houston Astro camp say the club is rethinking the 10-year service contract it has with embattled "misrememberer", Roger Clemens. Owner Drayton McClain says he's going to wait and see the results of this Department of Justice probe before he takes any action, but that's just a nice way of saying "We all know you're guilty, but we don't want you to sue us for wrongful termination". Cut him loose Drayton, there's no help he can bring to your team that's going to outweigh the constant distraction he'll be whenever he's around...Oh, and he's about to be a felon, and that CAN'T be good for ticket sales...
-Good looks by New York Giants head coach on his new 4-year $21 million deal. Not too bad for a guy that had most of the NY papers calling for his job no less than 4 months ago. Maybe he can use some of that loot to invest in a $2 ski mask for the next time he has to travel to Green Bay. Either that or a huge vat of Vaseline, cuz a man rollin' with those kind of cakes can't be roamin' the sidelines with his grill lookin' like somethin' Bear Gryls just plucked from the stomach of a dead camel...
-And I'm sure there will be a lot of activity in the NFL as free agency started up at 12:01 this morning, but instead of speculating as to what might do down, I'm gonna sit back and let shit happen before I throw my two cents in. Hopefully when you're reading this, the Patriots have already re-signed Randy Moss and added a nice piece on defense. There have already been a lot of older stars cut like Ty Law and Jevon Kearse, so there's bound to be a lot of interesting story lines to follow in the coming weeks...
-From the broadcasting game, Sean Salisbury told ESPN to pay him what he's worth, or he was hittin' the bricks. Apparently, the boys in Bristol didn't wanna pony up the cakes, so they sent the ex QB packin. Word is that Salisbury was annoyed at the money bigger named athletes got, despite doing a fraction of the work that Sean was putting in. The final straw may have even been when ESPN newbie, Marcellus "Dat Dude" Wiley, was brought on the scene, and despite limited duties, immediately started making more than Salisbury was making. So the dude took pictures of his unit with his phone and showed them to women in the office....so what?! Salisbury is the hardest working person in that joint, and he's gonna be missed on both the radio and TV ends of the operation. I'm sure he'll end up on his feet somewhere (more than likely with Dan Patrick and Michael Irvin), and I look forward to continuing to hear his insight. It took a while for the guy to grow on me. But the fact that he actually made sense on a continual basis, gave him a huge leg up on most of his colleagues. And who on earth is gonna take his place when it comes to bickering with super-nerd John Clayton? Hmmmm. Well I'm sure they'll find somebody, but somethin' tells me it's just not gonna be the same...Unless of course they let ME fight with Clayton. I'll beat his ass so hard he'll become addicted to painkillers, and well on his way to Celebrity Rehab II with Dr. McNamee...
Speaking of working hard in the sports biz (and potentially going to rehab), it's time for me to make like a tree....and get the Hell out of here! I'll be off visiting NYC and the Dirty Jerz for th weekend. If you're in the area, get at me. If you're not, then don't, because you'll just be wasting my time. Stay pimpin' kids, and I'll see you all next week...