Monday, July 31, 2006

Here's what I'm hearing

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Some of which or all of which maybe true....

The Orioles Front Office realized about a week ago, that the market for all of the bums on this team, RLopez, JLopez, Hawkins, Millar, Conine, etc, was virtually non existent. There was some minimal interest in Hawkins, but the FO determined that even though they knew it was going to take a huge offer to get Angelos to move Tejeda, that their efforts should be focused there.

As it turns out, the offers for Tejeda were pretty decent, but nothing mind blowing. And you can't always believe everything you read. Teams have becom increasingly more conservative with top-notch ML ready prospects the last few years, as the economics and the FA structure of the game has changed. Consequently, the Orioles were left with in most cases with someone else's ML problems and some quality prospects. And I think in most cases the O's were looking for ML ready field players, and pitching prospects. Whereas the two best offers, sort of were in reverse, ML ready pitchers and field player prospects. So there wasn't a real good match.

From what I have deciphered the Orioles probably would have done the Astros offer that included Oswalt, but they wanted to guage the market on Oswalt before that took place. The Orioles felt that in giving up Tejeda, they had to get both guys who could help now, and help for the future. They were concerned that with Ensberg's recent struggles, and Oswalt's contract situation that by the end of next summer, they could have virtually nothing in return for Tejeda.

I would have taken that chance and flipped Oswalt in the offseason or at the deadline next year, but the Orioles concern was that the market for FA's to be has been drying up considerably in recent years. And I think, they may have a point. Therefore, they felt if they were going to flip Oswalt it had to be now. By the time they had checked around and got back to Houston, the Astros for whatever reason, had decided Oswalt was staying in Houston. I think by that time the Orioles had found suitable trade partners in Texas, New York (Mets) and probably even Los Angeles (although the offer here was not as substantial). But at least from what I am hearing, it was the Astros that backed out of this.

Then the Orioles tried to salvage something with what was left. But found that there was little market left, and that most other teams who were making trades had more suitable targets left. There is still some hope that a waiver trade maybe made. But I don't see that as likely happening.

Anyway, that is what I know right now, which doesn't really help matters, but I think it does explain some things.

I am disappointed, but will continue to hope that at some point things will get better. And as a consolation, we still have the best SS in the game.

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Friday, July 28, 2006

Time to say goodbye

Go back in the archives and you'll find I had trouble deciding whether or not Miguel Tejeda should be traded in the offseason.

Well there is no wavering now.

Be gone with him.

And its not because I don't like Miggy. I do. But let's get what we can right now. From all reports, it sounds like there are two puruers, the Angels and the Astros. Everyone says the Angels have the better prospects. And if you believe Baseball America, and there is no reason not to, that is all true.

The Angels had 3 guys ahead of the Astros top ranked prosect Jason Hirsch in BA's offseason rankings. But Hirsch was also ahead of Jered Weaver in the rankings. If I'm the Orioles, I'm looking for one major leaguer for Tejeda, as well as a position prospect and a pitching prospect.

If you deal with the Angels, you've got to get either Brandon Wood or Erick Aybar, both SS prospects. And since they aren't going to trade Jered Weaver right now, you probably don't get as solid of a pitching prospect. LA's next best pitching prospect is probably Joe Saunders. He was 10-4 with a 2.55 ERA with Salt Lake before going 7 innings in a July 18th win over Cleveland. But with the health of numerous Angel pitchers questionable down the stretch would they risk giving him up? That might mean you've got to go all the way down to A ball to get a prospect from the pitching ranks. Tommy Mendoza and Nick Adenhart both started the season at Low-A Cedar Rapids with Adenhart jumping to the Cal League five starts ago. Mendoza throws harder, but Adenhart may have the best curve in the organization. The lefty was 10-2 with a 1.95 ERA at Cedar Rapids, and is now 3-1 with 4.55 in the Cal League. But both of those guys are at least another full season and probably two away.

I also think the major leaguer to return to the Orioles from LA is a bit of a reach. The Angels want Tejeda to play third. Macier Izturis has been playing third recently, but I don't want him in Baltimore. And there isn't a fourth outfielder that I'd take. So if its me, I'd want Wood, Dallas MacPherson or Casey Kotchman, and then I'd take either Mendoza or Adenhart, but would push for Adenhart. However, if they try to make you take Izturis instead of MacPherson or Kotchman, I'd demand Saunders. And they might actually try to hold onto Wood, and make you take Aybar, which is ok, but then you've got to get MacPherson or Kotchman -- the one you like better, and I like Kotchman, and probably Saunders.

That's why I think Houston might be the better partner. Adam Everett currently is the Astros SS, so he'd be the guy they'd like to get rid of immediately. I'd take Everett to be the everyday SS if I had to. But I would take an OF and let Brandon Fahey play SS. Still, the Astros have the pitcher closest to the majors in this whole situation, and that is Jason Hirsh. The 6-8 250 pound righthander is the Astros top prospect and is 12-2 with a 2.03 ERA at Round Rock (AAA). I also took a liking to lefthander Troy Patton, who just bumped from High-A to AA. With Salem he was 7-7 with a 2.93 ERA, while striking out 102 in 101 innings. His first start with Corpus Christi he struck out 6 in 5 2/3. He is 0-1 with a 1.59 there. But the guy I get most excited about is Hunter Pence. Pence has had a huge year at AA this year, after turning 23 earlier this year. He's hitting 299 with a 362 OBP and a 579 slugging pct. His 24 homers are matched by 24 doubles and 7 triples in just under 400 At-bats. He's stolen 13 bases to boot. If I could get Hirsh, Pence and Patton, I'd do the deal immediately.

I might even consider it without Hirsh, if I could get Pence, Patton and Chris Burke.

Again, I like Tejeda, but I'm ready to move on. I need something to get me excited about the Orioles again.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

What the Kruk?

I have to agree with my good friend Josh Martin. And oh man does in pain me to do that. He's a Pitt fan and everything. And you can read his article at with a premium membership. Or you can just believe me that he ripped John Kruk for his remarks about umpire Angel Hernandez and his generosity during Monday night's Dodgers-Dbacks game.

You see after Hernandez tossed Dodger first base coach Mariano Duncan from the contest. Duncan, a known hothead, tossed his hat at Hernandez, or off his head and onto the field. After the commotion ended. Hernandez gave the hat to a young fan in the stands. Kruk thinks, and Duncan agrees, that Hernandez should have to pay to replace the hat.

I'm sorry but that is flat out silly.

Sure Major League Baseball may have rules against throwing equipment into the crowd and Hernandez' job is to uphold the rules. But what he did here was made a young fan happy. And as far as I am concerned, that should be baseball's concern right now. Find ways to make young fans happy. Hernandez did that, by making the most of a bad situation. Kruk is just wrong on this.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Random Ramblings

I like Padraig Harrington to win the British Open before. I've liked him before in majors. But for some reason, I like him again.

Do the Braves have a chance in the NL East? I didn't think so either. But they are hitting the snot out of the ball right now. Still it seems 11.5 is probably too much to overcome, because we don't expect the Mets to just totally tank from here. But at 5 back in the Wild Card race, I guess you have to call them a contender there.

Sprinkle me a Blue Jays fan for the second half. I figure if they play well, either the Red Sox or Yankees won't make the playoffs. Smile.

Why did I chuckle when I saw a truck full of junkyard cars today, carrying one with a University of Michigan vanity plate on it? Was it Mario Manningham that made me giggle?

Orange picked eighth in the Big East today. Good stuff. 1-10 will do that kind of stuff for you. But the outlook remains upbeat around the Hill. Seriously, I think they have to be better than last year, scoring a few points will keep them in many games. But I wonder how much the defensive losses will hurt. The D was not bad last year, but losing 7 starters can't be a good thing.

Major disappointment out of it all was Matt Reid not being academically eligible to begin play this fall. He joins Jermaine Pierce and Andrey Baskin on the casualty list. Although we sort of expected that, now didn't we.

Bruce Arena has been hired by the New York Red Bulls. Didn't take him long to land on his feet did it? We weren't happy with Arena and his managing of the US in Germany. But its no doubt that he's a top notch coach and will do well for New York.

The Orioles go for 4 straight wins tonight. That would be a season high. Scary isn't it? And scarier still that Russ Ortiz gets the ball. Oh, we love Russ.

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Some things I've been thinking

Yesterday was the worst sports day of the year.

Aubrey Huff is a good pickup for the Astros, but it won't make a significant difference. He isn't going to Carlos Beltran them to the playoffs.

I'm a Blue Jays fan for the rest of the season. I figure if the Jays play well the rest of the way, at least one of the Red Sox or Yankees will be golfing in early October. That makes me smile, so go Jays!

The Mount's basketball schedule is out. I'm excited by it. Some games against winnable opponents out of conference. And some interesting non-conference games at home before Christmas. Maine, James Madison, and American at home, could all be victories. Road games at NC State, and Maryland provide a big-time atmosphere. And trips to Lasalle, Winthrop will hopefully be returned next year. Although my guess is that one of those games is not a return trip. Either way it could be a great non-conference home schedule in '07-'08. As the annual battle with Loyola will also be at the Mount that year, its in Baltimore this year. Return trips to Binghamton and Lafayette are possible places to gain a win on the road.

The Live Updates of the Tour de France are not as exciting or compelling this year without Lance in the race.

Very surprising to me that there are only three National League games and four American League games. I don't ever recall an All-Star break extending so long for so many.

Syracuse's latest committment, Nick Provo a Tight End from Florida seems to me like the type of recruit that Syracuse is going to need to get back to the top of the Big East. The SU coaching staff, must outevaluate the other schools, and sell kids who might be a half-step slower or two inches shorter than the blue chip, that they believe in their ability and they can make them shine at a BCS school. Then they must do that.

Not many top kids are going to want to come after the 1-10 embarrassment that was last season. So you have to find kids who others have set to the side and outrecruit your peers for them.

But Provo did have offers from Minnesota and South Carolina, so there were others who thought the kid could play at the next level. I like the get.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Good for Young

Any chance that last night's all-star game game-winning triple, MVP performance gets Michael Young the credit he deserves as one of the top players in the game?

Unfortunately, I don't think so either.

It was an exciting conclusion to a rather drab game. But come one year, maybe one month, heck one week from now, people aren't going to remember it. And likely most will forget about Young.

He's buried down there in Texas, and if you are without the MLB Extra Innings package (pity you) you hardly see him play. And now with the unbalanced schedule, he only comes to most parks in the AL once a year. But the people in LA, Seattle and Oakland know about him.

I've liked him for a long time. Might have been the night I saw him hit his first major league homer, in an interleague game at Dodger Stadium. I remember Vin Scully saying it was a nice moment for the young kid in a game close to his childhood home.

Since that time, he's become a run producer in the middle of the Texas order. Last year, he led the AL in hitting and drove in 91 while hitting 24 homers. He finished 11th in the MVP voting. The guys in front of him were mainly deserving, and he does share the spotlight (or did last year) with Mark Teixeira. He has been an all-star the last 3 years, but I'll bet there were a lot of casual baseball fans last night, who were really questioning who this guy was.

Well now he has the All-Star MVP to add to his resume. And the resume continues to grow. He isn't the best player in the game. But there aren't too many position players I'd take over him. Vlad, ARod and maybe Ichiro from the American League. Certainly, Pujols and maybe Derrek Lee or David Wright in the NL. But that's about it. He's just entering those prime years at a top position.

Maybe last night gets him some of the credit he deserves. But somehow I doubt it.

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Zidane certainly left a final impression

I just wrote a followup to my Zidane post from the other day, but it was lost somewhere in the blogsphere. So, this post is basically a test. Good LuckAds by AdGenta.comTags: , , , ,

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Friday, July 07, 2006

Random Thoughts

The Luis Matos era is over in Baltimore. The outfielder was DFA'ed before last night's loss. The Orioles maybe trying to sneak him through waivers. But for what reason, he's had four years to prove himself and hasn't. He's better off getting a chance somewhere else.

I was the founding member of the Luis Matos fan club. Back when he was 0-for-18 or whatever he was to start his ML career, and I saw his first hit. At that point, I became a fan. But it just never worked out for Matos in Baltimore. Too bad, and good luck. I know there is at least one other fan saddened by the news.

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Why was I thinking of Dan Pasqua -- when Dan Johnson homered for the A's last night?

Why was I thinking of Dan Pasqua period?

Lots of bikes in town this weekend. Kinda noisy. But it shouldn't be bad on the golf course.

Speaking of golf, Tiger might have his groove back a little. Or at least his swing. He shot 4 under this morning, to make the cut at the Western Open. Still a lot of golfers on the course, but he's gone from Tied for 82nd to Tied for 27th. Not a bad day's work.

Unfortunate that the BC Open had to be moved due to the Susquehanna flooding. Not something we like to see. Never played (golf) at Turning Stone, but I've played a few hands there before.

Anybody else remember the Activision game Stampede for the Atari? Amazing how far technology has come. Great game though. Watch out for the Black Angus.

Yesterday was officially 8 weeks til the first college football game. So we're one day closer today. My thoughts remain the same. Go Chippewas.

Have a great weekend.

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

So long to Z

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Sunday marks the end to the great career of Zinedine Zidane. And now that he has performed so remarkably in this Cup run, many are calling for him to stay on.

To that I ask, "Why"?

For someone who already won a World Cup title in 1998, and has had a great club career, what is playing in Europe really going to bring to the guy. Seriously, he's reached the top, he's not going any further. And if he continues to play, we'll be left of images of his declining play.

Can't we just take this Cup and remember ZZ for it. I mean shouldn't Jordan have stopped after that shot in Utah. Did we really need those years with the Mystics?

Zidane doesn't need that. He's had a great career, and he's been great in this Cup.

A wise basketball coach once told me, "Final Impressions are lasting impressions."

I prefer to remember Zidane based on this glorious run. Now is the proper time for him to call it a career.


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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

College Football Surprises

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I'm looking for a college football surprise. After watching the Big 33 game on Saturday night, I'm just about ready for some football. And now that it is officially summer, I guess I can go with that.

So who do I think will do better than most...

I think Iowa has a real chance to win the Big 10 this year. Although, I did get it from good authority yesterday that Archie Griffin is touting the Buckeyes to win the whole thing. Imagine that. Iowa still has Drew Tate at quarterback and I think that can be a real blessing. Plus, they can't suffer the same amount of injuries they dealt with last year, so I'm liking the chances. Kirk Ferentz has done a super job building the program and I think it grows.

Georgia Tech - Maybe they are only here because I think they win their opener. But isn't that enough. I mean if you beat Notre Dame, your season goes up a notch. I think the Jackets do it and finish in the upper echelon of the ACC.

Stanford - Pitt didn't realize how good they had it with Walt Harris. Now he has some offensive parts for the Cardinal and I think they may just win nine games and really make some noise out west. The Pac 10 is weak enough for people to move forward. If its not Stanford, could it be Arizona which played well at the end last year.


Notre Dame - I really think that the Irish is going to have a lot of trouble living up to the preseason hype. Sure they have Quinn, and sure they have Samardzia. But I just think they won some games they should have lost last year and aren't really ready to just jump right up there. I'm thinking they lose 2 games before October.

USC -- Maybe nobody is thinking a lot of the Trojans. But still who else is going to win the PAC 10. If they don't its a disappointment. I say they don't. So I say they will be a disappointment.

South Carolina - I just don't think Spurrier will be able to keep things going after last year. I think they bounce back to reality a little before regaining some momentum. Plus the SEC is just so doggone tough.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Not much time

Let's see what I can come up with in 3 minutes.

Disappointed I missed Ukraine/Spain this morning. Maybe this is Spain's year. Or maybe not.

I'll watch Tunisia/Saudi Arabia and Germany/Poland tonight.

The Ben Rotheslisberger motorcylcle accident story keeps adding intrigue. No license. Should have been wearing a helmet legally. At least he still has a tooth or two.

2 1/2 months til college football. I'm going to the Big 33 -- PA/Ohio game this weekend. Be fun to see Delone Carter for the Orange. err, I mean Ohio.

Ok, my time is up. Got a tee time.

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Monday, June 12, 2006

Looking at the First Weekend

Germany - Costa Rica - This was the only game, I didn't watch all of. But it was exciting. A lot of pundits were concerned afterwards because Germany gave up two goals. Well they scored four. For me, they were more impressive than unimpressive in this one.

Ecuador - Poland - This bore of a game to begin with, didn't offer a whole lot. Ecuador did look decent, and many think they are now through to the Knock-out stages. Well I think it comes down to Costa Rica and Ecuador and I think that could be a very entertaining game. You have to really wonder about Poland and its selection.

England - Paraguay - Sometimes you wish you'd say things before they happen, because you believe them. Well leading up to the Cup, watching England play Jamaica and Hungary, I really thought they were a solid, solid team in defense and through the midfield that was going to rely on David Beckham and his freekicks to score and win games. Sure enough, they score early on a Becks free kick. But were largely unimpressive after that. I've got to think they get a little bit better to do much better than get out of the group.

Trinidad & Tobago - Sweden - You've got to be a soccer fan to really enjoy a 0-0 tie. I did. No doubt. Shaka Hislop was phenomenal, and the atmosphere from the Caribbean nation made this sensational. A true joy of a game. It will be interesting to see what happens in this group the rest of the way.

That is half of the weekend action for now. More upcoming......

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Friday, June 09, 2006


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So I screwed up and now I know who won the Cup opener. Germany banged home four goals, including two by Klose, to take out Costa Rica 4-2. Not much of a surprise. But I'm disapointed that I didn't do a better job of not finding out the final before I watched it on Tivo. Oh well, that is what the Poland/Ecuador game is for. Viewing tonight. I'm thinking the Poles will win, but the way they played leading up to the cup anything is possible. But you want to talk about a bad Group. Its Group A. Germany is through to Round 2 already. Ok not really, but they are in theory.

I'll be looking for her in the Poland/Ecuador crowd. I like the headgear.

Great Start to the Cup

Ads by AdGenta.com3 goals at the start of the Cup. Germany gets one early, than Costa Rica answers, and the hosts power back to the lead. Everybody but the goalkeepers loved it. Hopefully, we have that much excitement for the entire next two months. I've only watched the first 30 minutes or so of the game, but TIVO will let me watch the rest later, but I really wasn't overly impressed with the Germans. Sure they scored early, but they just didn't seem to have what I've seen from the other contenders in the buildup.

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Long time No Blog

Been a long time since I blogged. Don't tell my wife.

But I promise to be better. Or at least make a better attempt.

However, I did realize that my last effort more or less gave you the national champion, Florida. Ok maybe it wasn't that clear, but its my blog, and I say read between the lines. And you don't have to stray that far.

So now, I'm giving you the World cup champion. I still have 19 minutes til kickoff. You're pumped aren't you. Seriously, I am.

It could be easy and I could pick Brazil. But I'm not going to. I'm taking Argentina. After watching them against Angola in a prelim, I think they are playing well together and have so much talent.

Others that are worth a play for the chance that Brazil doesn't win. How bout a Euro trio of Holland, France and Portugal? I like it. And I'm also thinking Portugal will win their group easily.

Germany and Costa Rica in 16 minutes. man I type fast.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Sunday Sports

It's Super Sunday. So I guess I have to make a pick.

Let's take the Hawks to win. Something like 24-17. Just a hunch. Too much focus on the Steelers in these parts. And if you put this game together before the playoffs, Seattle is a prohibitive favorite. I think they still win.

The Mount did what they had to last night. That was win. Wasn't the greatest performance but it served the purpose. So would a split on the road next weekend. Then they finish with a bunch 4 of 5 at home and a top seeding in the NEC would remain a probability.

Watched much of the Florida/Kentucky game last night. Florida doesn't have a lot on the wings, but they've got good strong guard play, and more than most teams have inside. I might be the only guy who thinks they can accomplish something in the postseason. I know they've had March Madness troubles in the past, but I liken them to Arizona. It took them some early exits before they figured it all out.

Enjoy it.

Friday, February 03, 2006

The New Orange

Recruiting is a crazy game. And watching how players develop through five years of college is always interesting. Most schools brought in 20-25 players yesterday. Approximately 15 will actually make a real contribution at the college level for most schools.

So how did the Orange do?

Well its anyone’s guess, and in five years we’ll know the right answer. But here is how I think this year’s class college careers go.

Listed in order by commitment date….

Mike Williams – WR – Buffalo NY – decent size from Western NY. My concern is he never gets to the Hill. I’ll bet he isn’t there in the fall. But arrives later and if the Orange gets as much production from him as they did from Jared Jones, I’ll call it a success.

Derek Hrinya – DB – Warwick NY – I think he has to play on the defensive side if he’s going to play. And I would think safety. But he does have good speed, so maybe they could make a big corner out of him. That would be a real good thing. My guess is that he never is more than a nickel back/special teams player.

Andrew Robinson – QB – Baltimore MD – This guy is going to lead the Orange to more wins than any other quarterback since McNabb. Not sure he’s going to be a superstar. But I think he’s going to be a super solid college quarterback, who will be a lot better as the years go on.

Jared Kimmel – DL – Harpursville NY – Great size, as far as height goes. But he needs to add a few pounds. So don’t look for him on the field too much before fall of 2008. Still I like his potential, and he might develop into a two-year starter before its all said and done.

Matt Reid – DB – Upper Marlboro MD – Another big corner, who I think is going to be a player at this level. I think he’ll see time as a redshirt freshman and leave with a fine resume.

Delone Carter – RB – Copley OH – Syracuse has always produced good numbers for running backs. Carter put up phenomenal numbers as a senior when he was named Mr. Ohio. I think he starts his final two years, after backing up Boonah Brinkley for two years, and is a huge asset to the program.

Ryan Bartholomew – OL – Hyattsville MD – one of eight offensive lineman in this class. Someone is going to move to defense. I don’t think its him. I think he’ll become a fine tackle for the Orange.

Jim McKenzie – OL – Springfield PA – This is my prize OL recruit. The guy I think turns out to be the best. He was first team All-PA as a senior and he might have the versatility to play a few different OL positions. I just like him. Enough to say maybe he starts three years.

Jonathan Meldrum – OL – Chatham VA – I’m excited to have him. But something just scares me about this one. I don’t think he develops the way you’d like, and I don’t see him playing at the end.

Adam Rosner – OL – Depew NY – Already on campus, so I give him the best chance to play next fall. The thing about him though is I think they might be thinking OL/DL, either way. So maybe that stalls his development. I think he’ll contribute, I’m just now sure where.

Anthony Perkins – OL – Washington DC – Also on campus via Milford Academy. Is he good enough to help at G or C in the fall? Likely we’ll find out early. From the same HS as Bartholomew. I think he helps in the middle quickly.

Nico Scott – DB – Greenbelt MD – I just don’t see him as a corner here. I don’t know why. But based on the fact that he was a HS QB, I’m thinking maybe he helps as a returner. Otherwise it maybe an uneventful career.

Ian Hammond – OL -- Mission Viejo, CA – Here’s the one guy that is guaranteed playing time next year. He will be the long snapper. Oh and Greg Robinson said he’d provide depth on the line. That means he’s a career backup there. And he got three stars.

Taj Smith – WR – Bakersfield, CA – Okay, so maybe two guys will get playing time next year. I expect Smith to step in and catch about two balls a game for the next two years. I don’t think he’s a superstar and I don’t think we have the offensive prowess to make it work even if he was. So let’s say he leaves after two years with 52 catches and a couple of long TD grabs.

Parker Cantey – LB – Brooklyn, NY – I get the sense that this is one Robinson really likes. I mean he said some people might want to put him on offense but we see him on defense. Who runs the defense? That’s right and Robinson wants him to be a part of things over there. I think he fits into a deep core of linebackers and becomes a player, but probably not quickly because of the depth of the position.

Dan Sheeran – WR – Cross River, NY – Might he get lost in the shuffle of all the young WR? It’s possible. We’ll have to wait this one out. If he ends up with as solid a career as Jeff Lowe, I’d be happy.

Tucker Baumbach – OL – Middletown, PA – You know that one of these offensive lineman isn’t going to work out. Based on his high school’s past history, I’d bet it’s him.

Jermaine Pierce – LB – Norristown, PA – If this guy gets to campus, I think he can help somewhere. Remember, I said if.

Derrell Smith – RB – Newark DE – Prime candidate to move to FB. If that happens color his career with 4 carries, 76 yards numbers. Oh wait, Pariani is gone. Maybe more. I think this kid will find a way to do something positive for the Orange. But it might just be a special teamer or specialized offensive role player.

Andrey Baskin – WR – Camden, NJ – The big word here is again if. If he gets here. Academics could once again be the problem. But I’m going to be positive and say he makes it and leaves as an NFL draftable receiver.

Larry Norton – OL – Bakersfield, CA – Brought in to play right away, or at least compete right away. I think he’s a long shot to make an impact.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Game Ball

I'm giving one tonight to the Mount Student Section.

It's easy to be good fans when your team is hot or playing well.

But good fans are needed most when there are down times. And this is exactly where the students fit in tonight.

At the night's darkest hour, with the Mount trailing by 9 with about eight minutes to play and seemingly headed to their fourth straight conference loss, the students got loud. They got noisy. They were the sixth man.

And the players responded. All of a sudden jump shots that weren't falling, swished. Rebounds that were going to the dark uniforms went to the white ones. And a few whistles were either blown or not blown in favor of the home team.

The paper tomorrow with talk about Mychal Kearse's putback giving the Mount a 60-59 win and they'll make him the hero.

But I can't imagine he would have had the chance to wear that crown without the students.

My favorite blog

Roch Kubatko of the Baltimore Sun mentioned Brad Pennington in his blog today. You know one fo the failed Oriole prospects of the past. And if you know Pennington, you immediately think of one thing, the Griffey blast he surrendered, that may have been the longest home run ever hit at Camden Yards.

If you hear Pennington's name and you're an Orioles fan, you think of that blast. That is the ultimate for an athlete. For their career to be associated with one moment. Pennington achieved it.

He was a can't miss prospect. Speaking of which anybody have any Joey Meyer rookie cards?

Boeheim the comic

He had just seen his junior forward/center rescue his team with a three-point prayer at the buzzer of overtime to save them from a fifth straight loss, and when Terrence Roberts in his moment of glory was asked what he was thinking when the ball ended up in his hands 20 feet from the basket and the game on the line, Boeheim ever the critic, interjected before Roberts had the chance to answer.

"The Lord's prayer," the hall of fame coach said.

That is pretty funny stuff. And Boeheim wasn't through. He acknowledged, "He shoots that shot everyday in practice. I tell him never to shoot it in a game."

After a win, that is funny stuff.

Syracuse needed a win, like Jake Plummer needs a haircut.

Sometimes a team gets going on strange things. Sometimes a team gets going on lucky bounces. Sometimes a team gets going on good wins. Syracuse got all three last night. Let's see if it gets them going.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Random Thoughts

Congrats to Jim McKenzie and Deleone Carter. They are a pair of SU football commitments who were named to the Pennsylvania Big 33 game. The Big 33 is always a big game, no Super Bowl has been played without a Big 33 Alum, and its nice for Syracuse to be represented. McKenzie is an Offensive lineman from Philadelphia, Carter is a running back who was Mr. Football in Ohio. The arrival of both onto campus is being anxiously awaited. I hope to get a peek of both in Hershey in June.

Mario Lemieux retired again. I suspect that is newsworthy. But to tell you the truth, I wasn’t even sure the NHL was playing again.

Just how bunched up are the in the NEC? Sacred Heart entered play yesterday tied for the lead. They lost. They woke up this morning in sixth place. That is tough. Of course, the team we are concerned about, the Mount, is now in a four-way second place tie. Man does that loss to CCSU still sting. A win would have given them a clear leg up in what is a wide open league race.

Lots of people got excited about Adam Morrison’s 41 point effort last night versus San Francisco. But it was 40 points shy of the effort Kobe Bryant put up on Sunday night. The amazing thing about Bryant’s performance was that it helped the Lakers erase a double digit halftime lead and the majority of the points came in the second half. 55 if I have my numbers straight. Kobe isn’t sure how it happened. I figured he’d score 80 more often if he made his shots – like he did Sunday.

Three in a row, the wrong way

Another game against a Top 25 team, another loss for the Orange. Can’t say I didn’t expect it. I really thought that last night was the worst we played in the run. And we still had a chance midway through the second half. A brief break and then a semi-easier five game run. I’ll be disappointed if we don’t win three of the next five. My enthusiasm has been tempered of course, and I doubt that we do any better than an NCAA first round win. Getting to weekend #2 would be a huge accomplishment. But remember, its only worth getting upset about one loss a year. I’m trying real hard to stick to that.

A day late on this tennis thing. But did you see what Dominic Hrbaty was wearing the other night. It was pretty shocking. A mainly pink shirt with some black through it near his neck and on the sleeves. No big deal. But then there were like these little ovals cut out in the back near his shoulder blades. I’ve never seen anything like it. Does anybody know what the purpose was? Oh, by the way, Hrbaty lost in 5 sets to Nickolai Davydenko – or some name like that.

I’m sure nobody noticed that Elon is hot. And I’m not sure where it has come from. But the Phoenix has had a remarkable turnaround. After losing eight of their first ten, including some real big losses, like the 46-point blowout to Butler, something happened. It actually must have started in the final loss. At that point the Phoenix had just two wins on the season, over SE Florida and Guilford (big-time opponents no doubt), but lost by one to Buffalo and I noticed. The next time out they beat Clemson and I shook my head a little harder. Since then they’ve run off six straight wins in the Southern Conference (a decent accomplishment), including last night’s overtime win over Furman. All of a sudden, I’ve got to think they are a Top 100 team. I’m not sure where it came from. But I’ve been watching.

A lot more I wanted to write, but I keep running out of time. Maybe tonight.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Back at it

A lot to talk about since I haven't written in a few days.

The editors have allowed me to talk about the Mount again. The Mounties have won five of six. Five of five until last night and some readers were afraid if I mentioned it here, that would be the end of the run. Not that were superstitious but we bought into in. Last night's loss at home was a tough one. Central Connecticut shot the ball extremely well at the outset, but had a lot of trouble scoring of the game's final 37 minutes. They scored 28 in the first eight minutes, but only 31 in the next 37, but managed to win 59-57 in overtime. CCSU had three FG in the first 14+ minutes of the second half. The Mount blew a five-point lead with three minutes left and still led by four with two to play. They had an early lead in OT. The Mounties didn't score in the final two minutes of regulation or overtime. The Mount is now in a three-way tie in the NEC for third place, and plays two on the road next week. If they want to be a contender, they need to find a way to execute at the end. Last night was not a game that should have been a loss.

But they could have been Syracuse. The Orange trailed 12-0 before even getting a shot off, and had so many turnovers in the first half you would have thought Joe Fields was in the game. Its off to Pittsburgh for a Big Monday showdown. Nice to catch the Panthers coming off their first loss.

But how bout the Big East yesterday. Georgetown and West Virginia both secured big out of conference wins. And UCONN is likely to move to #1 in the polls tomorrow.

My picks for today's football games. Seattle and Denver. I'm rooting for the two others. But I just think 3 games on the road in as many weeks against good football teams is too much.

Anna Benson is headed to Baltimore, and her husband Kris is coming with her. I sort of like the deal. And will be interesting to see if the Orioles now move pitching for offense. If I was Eric Bedard, I wouldn't get too comfortable. My concern though is what to make of the Oriole bullpen. It seems like they have lost a lot of parts (3) Ryan, Julio, Kline without adding a lot Hawkins. We'll see how that shakes out.

Ok, I'm going to watch some football.

I'll be a better blogger this week.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

There have been worse nights

I'll be 100% honest. No fan ever likes to see their team lose. I'm no exception. And the beating the Orange took last night hurt. But at the same time, I only get upset about one loss a year. That's the one that comes in March. Other than that its all preparation for the six-game run in March.

The disappointing thing about last night is that it clearly demonstrated that SU is not among the national's elite. No doubt about that now. Before last night, it was still a question. And in fact, I was teetering with the idea that there were closer than they really are. Last night made me realize two things. UCONN maybe the elite of the elite and Syracuse is clearly not a Final Four team. Yet. And the fact is they're a lot better than they were a month ago, and they've got two months to reach the level they need to be at. It's still possible.

My biggest disappointment was that the Orange game kept me away from the Double OT thriller between S. Illinois and N. Iowa. Don't snicker, I'm serious. Not sure either of those two teams are elite either. But I'll guarantee at least one of them makes it through the first weekend of the tourney.

Some guy named Ovechin scored last night. Anybody know anything about it?

Nice to know the Jets front office listens to the Fanblog. I mean you had to know that all those interviews with this year's outkasts were just a formality.

Just a hunch that David Duval might perform well at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic this weekend. Duval once shot 59 there and he seemed to find a groove in last week's Sony Open in Hawaii. After all he's been through, I'm at least rooting for him.

Anybody else happy the Aussie Open is on late night? I mean its the perfect thing to fall asleep to.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Norfolk ain't a State

The State of Norfolk leads the State of Morgan on ESPNU right now.

Some much bigger games coming up later tonight. None bigger, from my personal perspective, and from the national perspective than UCONN and the Cuse from the Loud House. As I've previously said, I think the Orange is playing well right now and blossoming into a solid contender. McNamara is playing extremely well, but tonight is a big challenge. GMAC has never played well against the Huskies, at least in the regular season. He had a decent game in last year's Big East Tourney win, so it will be interesting to see how he responds tonight. Its not a make or break game for the Orangemen, but a win would guarantee a positive record in the five-game stretch of games that included at Notre Dame, at Cincy, home to Connecticut, at Villanova, at Pittsburgh - and would make a split in the final two PA games a 4-1 run. I'd take that.

Got some feedback from a Bearcat fan earlier today. He had some trouble with the comments section, but we're happy to report that we are now fully open for business as far as the comments are concerned. He was correctly pointing out that Cincy has had way too many injuries and defections to be counted as a quality win anymore. No doubt they are down to eight healthy players. But as Jim Boeheim said when asked if he felt sorry for them, "No they were 13-3." The comment suggests they won't get to 18 wins. I say they get 20. They still have a lot of talent that should get them wins against the lower portion of the league. We'll wait and see how that plays out.

Nice of the NFL to sub out the refereeing jobs for the playoffs. But anybody have a clue why they gave it to the Sun Belt conference?

Yesterday surprised me with the two dogs both winning outright. Not exactly sure what to make of next week's games. I think both of the road teams are playing better right now, but three games on the road in three weeks scares me a bit for both teams. And Pittsburgh playing such an emotional game with Indianapolis might work against them. But Denver's win over New England was emotional as well, so that should help. Check back later in the week and I'll have it all figured out.

The big game tonight nobody knows about. Southern Illinois and Northern Iowa in the MVC. I think the Panthers end the Salukis streak.

Duke no longer unanimous in the AP poll. John Kaltefleiter of the Athens (Ga.) Banner-Herald switched his No. 1 vote from Duke to Florida. I respect Kaltefleiter's right to pick somebody other than Duke for the top slot, and for awhile I agreed that Duke might not be the best team out there. But come on, Duke has been dominant and at this point it might take more than a loss to prove to me they aren't #1.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

End of the week

I've gotta admit it. I was very impressed with my Orange last night. The second half performance in Cincy makes me very excited about the possibilities for the rest of the season. Of course, the time I get excited is usually about the time they go into a tailspin. But the one thing about this team that is different from Syracuse teams in the past is the balance possessed and the ability for one guy to have a rough night and someone else step up. Watkins and Devendorf struggled last night, but Onauku gave some very strong minutes off the bench. Very, very good win.

Still trying to figure out Gonzaga. They've had three chances to beat elite teams this year and they've lost all three. But they seem to be above that next level as wins over Michigan State, Maryland and Oklahoma State would signify. Adam Morrison is still the best player in the land and that makes them dangerous every time out. They are going to rack up the wins in the WCC and may just may run the table. But I haven't figured out to play them come March.

I told you not to get too far down on Texas. The Horns are back playing extremely well. Or at least beating good teams. Yesterday's three point win over Villanova signified another big win in the win column and has to push them back into at least the top eight in the rankings.

Another thing I told you about was be careful of those underdogs in the NFL. Both were defeated and failed to cover last evening. Washington gave a little better showing than I might have anticipated. But just missed the number. It wouldn't suprise me if the favorites end up covering all four, but wouldn't be shocked if one of the dogs gets a cover today.

The Orioles designated Walter Young for assignment the other day. That means little to most. But nothing about Young is little. The 322-pound 1st baseman was being thought of as a potential 1B starter just the other day. But now with the surplus provided by the Conine and Millar signings, the Orioles found him expendable. I guess so. All I know is Young hit one of the longest homeruns I've ever seen. Two years ago at Bowie, the mammoth 1st sacker hit one to Annapolis off of Gustavo Chacin who was pitching for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats at the time. An absolute bomb.

A couple of bad losses yesterday for some teams that we are accustomed to seeing in the NCAA tourney. Kentucky beaten at home by 'Bama and Arizona finished up a winless trip to the Northwest falling at Oregon. Is it possible that both of those teams miss the field come March. Kentucky has lost three in a row, and at 10-6 has to be on the bubble. There still is time to rally and against the weak SEC that's seems possible. But seriously, they are in trouble. Meanwhile, Arizona sports a matching mark and had seemed to figure things out after a slow start. But this latest skein against some mediocre competition is cause for concern. If they don't fare much better than their current .500 mark in conference play, they could end up on the wrong side on Selection Sunday.

Speaking of the SEC, how bad is it? Well Florida is the only definite in the league. Tennessee is probably the next best the conference has to offer, but you have to still have a few questions there. Ole Miss got another good solid win yesterday over in-state Mississippi State and is teetering on the rankings at 13-3. But when you have 53 point losses to New Mexico on your resume you tend to get overlooked, especially with an RPI above 75. Vandy has played well at times but lost yesterday when trying to followup the Kentucky win. LSU has played everybody tough but has five losses, while Alabama will try to put it together after yesterday's upset at Rupp. Is it possible this conference only gets three teams in the field in March? Or as strange as it seems, less?

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Ahhh, Jimmy

You may have noticed that Loyola College has won a few more basketball games than normal at this time of the year. And if you noticed, you may have inquired as to why. Chances are somebody told you about Jimmy Patsos, the longtime psychotic assistant for Gary Williams, who took over the program last year. And maybe they told you about Andre Collins and the center Fafana who followed him to Evergreen land.

But did they tell you that somebody needs to sit Patsos down and get him under control. During two of the Greyhound's wins this year, Patsos has drawn the ire of the opposing coach for yelling at people he shouldn't be yelling at. First, Patsos accused the Mount Saint Mary's scorekeeper of cheating and when Mount head coach Milan Brown intervened they nearly came to blows. (Patsos was later proven wrong about whether or not the officials had ruled the play in question a 2 or a 3). And then the other night at Canisius, Patsos screamed at a Canisius player after the player had committed a hard foul on Collins late in the contest. Canisius's head coach MacDonald didn't like it and let Patsos know it.

My editors won't like it, but Patsos is turning the program around in Baltimore. But you have to question the way he's doing it. He has garned enthusiasm for a program that so often lacked any sort of following and you have to applaud that. But consistently going against the etiquette of basketball and making enemies within the coaching fraternity isn't going to help him in the long run. A suspension is in order in this case. And if the folks at Loyola won't do it, the MAAC ought to step in. These incidents have been semi-minor and nothing major has developed out of them. But the frequency is showing a pattern. Somebody needs to stop that pattern before we have a major situation to deal with.

One quick word of caution. Be very wary of what seems like free money in regards to the underdogs this weekend in the NFL. More often then not, good teams with home field advantage and a week to prepare outperform their opponents and the odds on this weekend in the NFL playoffs.

The Cuse at UC tonight. Would have been worth the trip to the Shoe just for the dance team.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Hope Springs Eternal

Real quick...but I couldn't pass it up.

Sean Taylor will get to play in Saturday's NFL playoff game. Yeah, his trial for waving a gun in the face of a woman has been delayed. Yep so he can play.

The Redskins are happy about this....but the guy who is most happy with this news.

Marcus Vick. He figures he still has a chance of making the NFL.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Truth in Advertising

If you click on the above link, you can get a free Hokie screensaver. Or you can do something neat and have pictures of Tara Reid. You decide. But I mean if you do click on the link, and least read what they are selling you.

Can Marcus Vick bring the Hokies back to the glory days of brother Mike? Can the Hokies hang in against the toughest football and basketball conference in the land? Stay tuned to this channel for the answers and get hundreds of full screen images of all the action from every contending Hokie team!

You can't make that stuff up. I mean seriously, I'm not that funny.

Pitt's in trouble at the half. I'll have to watch the second.

Big, Big Day

Less than one hour til Reggie Bush announces his plans for next year. Does anyone think he's coming back. Formality baby. But credit Louisville, or maybe Michael Bush in particular, with at least providing some drama today. The headline on CBS Sportsline said, Bush will be back; Louisville running back returning . At least got me to read the headline.

So who is the next coach of the Jets going to be. Apparently, they've interviewed Mike Tice, Joe Vitt, and Jim Haslett. Who's next? Dennis Erickson. That would be a hoot.

The Packers hired Michael McCarthy. Not the former Delaware Park jockey. But the former Brett Farve quarterbacks coach. Of late he's been leading the 32nd ranked offense as the 49ers offensive coordinator, and getting fired from the same job in New Orleans.

Yes, there are 32 teams in the NFL.

Good, solid effort by my Orangemen last night. It's my blog, I can call them Orangemen. McNamara continues to be a great player, finding different ways to make a difference. Devendorf had a great game and continues to impress as a freshman. A bit too much skin ink for my tastes, but keep putting up 20 a night and I'll learn to live with it. And Mookie was sensational. If this team continues to get balanced scoring from McNamara and Nichols, and somebody else steps up each night, it wouldn't surprise me if they made the second weekend. Somebody go buy the rights while they are still out there.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

BC - What a sham?

Took a shot at VTech earlier, so why not one at BC, the other of my despised Big East runaways. That's right they are 0-3 in the ACC now. I swear it was the quietiest gym I've ever heard on television. Of course getting pounded has its effects. But all in all, I like Conte. Its neat because its connected to Alumni Stadium, and of course has the ice for hockey, which you don't see too often in College hoops arenas. Plus they have this little auxillary gym they used to play the women's games in. Pretty cool complex, but wouldn't bother me if BC never wins again. Big win for the Pack though. They do the most with the Princeton offense, and they move it around enough that sometimes you don't realize its all Princeton.

Oh, and by the way, Tech lost in hoops tonight as well. North Carolina in that reloading year got them in Blacksburg. Pity, Pity.

Call somebody, Oklahoma lost. Again. 0-2 in the Big 12 now. And its losses to Missouri and Nebraska not exactly top of the line. Kelvin Sampson needs to get it figured out quickly. This team could spiral fast.

Toledo won a big game in the MAC conference and nobody probably realized it. After taking a 17-point lead to the intermission they held on for a 3-point win over Buffalo. The Bulls have now lost two in a row following this weekend's overtime loss to Northern Illinois. Yes conference play is totally upon us.

I figured that Minnesota might bounce back after the embarrassing loss to Northwestern and Wisconsin could have been feeling pretty good about itself after the win over Michigan State. Sure enough the Gophers kept it close. But the hard fought road win secures Wisconsin's place near the top for me.

Vanderbilt just won at Kentucky. That might bother a few people in the BlueGrass state. Yeah that and the 30 point loss to mediocre Kansas over the weekend. Speaking of mediocre.

Bruce Sutter made the Hall of Fame today. I have no problem with that. Sutter was clearly a dominant relief pitcher of his time. Which I thought was what the criteria was all about. But if that is the case, why wasn't Goose Gossage elected. I mean for that stretch he was as dominant as they get. It was a different game then and guys didn't wrap up 40 or 50 saves a year, but guys did pitch two or three innings to close out games as Gossage so often did. As a kid he scared me, and he won and saved lots of games for the Yankees. It really is late. I'm making an argument to get a Yankee in the Hall of Fame.

Put me on the side of liking the Corey Patterson trade in Baltimore. Yeah and remember I was the founding member of the Luis Matos fan club.

Real quick on Joe Paterno. Lesser coaches would have been fired. But as Ray Ratto on CBS Sportsline pointed out 11 win seasons help to keep you employed. Still a stupid series of comments by Paterno who should know better. Personally, I think Penn State ought to suspend Paterno for the season opener next year and donate one game's salary to a Rape Victims Group. Oh, but then we'd know what he makes.

Looking forward to Syracuse/Notre Dame tomorrow night.


Anyone taking one of the free Virginia Tech jerseys being offered above will forever be banned from the TheFanBlog.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Hit or Miss

First the important buddy Travis, a Pitt fan, is doing something far more important than anything you or I is doing this week. He's spending a week helping to rebuild in the Gulf Coast region. He's got a blog about it, and you should check it out and do anything that you can to help. Good stuff Travis. Thanks for the effort.

Ok, now basketball. The rigors of the Big East felt by UC tonight. The Bearcats humbled a bit in Gampel. UCONN has been struggling some but might now be getting into it after playing such a cupcake schedule in December. They will jump into my Top 10 with this win. I think.

Somebody run an IQ test on Marcus Vick. I mean seriously the guy just isn't too smart. By my math, it took him two days to get himself into trouble after getting thrown off the Virginia Tech football team. This time he pulled a gun on three teenagers in the parking lot of a Suffolk Virginia restaurant. My initial thought was he must have been mad that they wouldn't drink his alcohol.

Is the Kansas City job really that much better than the Jets? Or did Herman Edwards just sense that another 4-12 year in the Meadowlands might not be a good thing?

The media is trying to make something of the Carson Palmer injury. Sure it was a tough tough break for the Bengals, but it wasn't a diry hit. Palmer to his credit put that to rest as well. Good for him. We like Carson Palmer. We still can't believe that was brother at quarterback for UTEP.

Speaking of college football, did we tell you the Horns would win. Yeah we thought so. But we're not as smart as our favorite blogger, Roch Kubako - he doesn't get a link, we reserve that for Travis, who hit the score outright.

Sort of Duke, then Florida and a whole lot of mush in the college basketball poll isn't it. Well I'm still high on Illinois, but their offense has shown chinks in the Big Ten. I've got Duke, Florida, Illinois, Cincy and Pittsburgh five entering the day. But Cincy will have to fall after their loss. Does that mean I move Northern Iowa into my top 5? It could be.

The Panthers have a road win at LSU and a win over Iowa. They are tenth in the RPI and they've won 10 out of 11 or something like that. But they are still not ranked by the AP.

Neither is my Orange, who is 13-2 with a 10-game win streak. Seems odd. But if they play well the next few games they'll jump in there. How bout a stretch of @ Notre Dame, @ Cincy, Connecticut, @ Nova, @ Pitt? Anybody even want to argue that the ACC is the better conference?

Didn't think so.

I'll try to be better, I'll try to be back tomorrow.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year

Hasn't 2006 been just dandy?

I think I've lost all but 3 of the 600 hands of online poker I played today. Oh well.

The year didn't end up so well for UCLA on the hardwood did it? The curse of the fanblog. Move them to Top 5 status and BAM! the upset happens.

But things were better on the hardwood for the Bruins. After falling behind 22-0 in the Sun Bowl, the Bruins rallied for the win over Northwestern. In fact they got so far ahead, they ended up running two onside kicks back for touchdowns. The first time I don't think the Wildcats realized he was allowed to do that. The second one, they tried to tackle him, but he just made a good move.

Its 2006 and Miguel Tejada is still an Oriole. The latest rumor is a four-team deal with the Orioles getting Matt Clement, Anna Benson and Julio Lugo. Frankly, I'm sick of the whole situation. My next comment on the deal is when its done. Yeah, lets see if I can do that.

Dick Vermiel is hanging it up again. He did better with the announcement this time around. Not as many tears. But after you've retired three times already its tough to force the tears out. Seriously, best of luck working with Musberger next year. That guy makes more references to the betting line than I do.

Northern Iowa appeared cooked at home to Evansville yesterday. But the Panthers showed why they are an NCAA invite contender by rallying from down big early to win going away. The MVC continues to be one of the better conferences in the country. And they deserve much recognition come tournament time. Obviously, there is a lot of basketball to be played between now and then. But right now, you have to give six teams consideration at least. Missouri State, Wichita State, Northern Iowa, Bradley, Creighton and Indiana State would all be on a list of bubble teams if the committee met today.

Speaking of bubble teams, or not... The Mount lost again yesterday. Just how much does this team frustrate me? I turned the radio off when it was 27-7 and the Penn State announcers were joking about having a three touchdown lead. It must have gotten better from there. The final ended 65-53, but it was more than I could handle early.

I'll get a look at the Mounties on Tuesday night versus Lafayette. Its one of those games that if they don't win, I'm just about ready to call it a season.

The 49ers went and beat the Texans in overtime. That means there will be no reunion for Reggie Bush and Alex Smith. They played together in high school you know? Imagine how many points George Chaump could have gotten out of them? I'm talking one Friday night.

But remember I still say Texas wins.