Wednesday, June 30, 2010

World Cup Quarters

The World Cup quarter finals are on Friday and Saturday for those still interested. The schedule:
Brazil vs. Netherlands, 0830 CDT, Friday
Uruguay vs. Ghana, 1300 CDT, Friday

Argentina vs. Germany, 0830 CDT, Saturday
Paraguay vs. Spain, 1330 CDT, Saturday

For you all out on the west coast, that time thing is a killer--the morning games will start for you at 0630!

A Germany-Netherlands final would cover two of my four Western European heritages!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Just In: USA Loses to Ghana 2-1 in Extra Time

Asamoah Gyan celebrates his score in extra time. It was a nice goal. He controlled a long ball, evaded US defenders and nailed a hard shot over US goalie Tim Howard who had come out to cut the angle. (AP photo)

The United States soccer team lost today 2-1 in extra time to Ghana. The US again let in early goals--at the 5 minute mark of the first 90 minutes and 3 minutes into the 30 minute extra time period. They were able to respond to the first goal by Ghana with a Landon Donovan penalty shot in minute 62, but despite putting pressure on Ghana late, could not put it all together for a goal to equalize in the extra time. An equalizer would have sent the match to penalty kicks.

A nice run for Team USA, but they need to figure out this early goal giving up thing. In the early rounds, when teams may not be as good, or as good as they are going to be, you might be able to get by with this, but once you reach the round of 16, most of the bad teams are gone. US soccer has not arrived quite yet.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

LeBron to New York?

Image from ESPN

The New York Knicks have sucked for a long long time. A long time. The Knick fan in me would love to have LeBron James in a Knicks uniform. It would be a start to real opportunity to vie for the championship--at least to make the playoffs!

I feel for Cleveland though, big time. Here you have a child of Ohio, your very own homegrown superstar. You don't want to let him go but do you have what it takes to keep him? The part of me that loves my medium sized city wants Cleveland to keep LeBron and keep trying to surround him with the supporting cast that will help the Cavs go all the way.

So, here it is. New York or Cleveland. Everyone else, blow off.

U.S. Soccer Wins, Advances to Round of 16

Landon Donovan after scoring the winning goal Wednesday. (AP via the New York Times)

In World Cup soccer, the U.S. has advanced to the round of 16 with an exciting win over Algeria, scoring in extra time. Both teams had excellent chances to win throughout the game--Algeria hit the crossbar in the first half and U.S. missed an open net in the second--but finally the U.S. prevailed. The United States and England are the advancers out of the group. The U.S. will play a second place team from another group. The complete brackets for the round will not be established until first round play is concluded Friday. Now, it's a one and done tournament. While the U.S has had success in the World Cup, advancing through the first round with modest regularity, it is the first time for the U.S. to advance since 2002.

Now, I don't know a blessed thing about soccer and which teams are good, but it's always exciting when your country's team does well in an international event. I don't know if we have even a little chance to win this thing. But still--Go USA!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Royals: Just Not Very Good

With tonight's 2-1 loss to the Nationals, the Royals now fall below .500 in Ned Yost's games. They were swept by the Braves in Atlanta in the series before this one. The last three games they lost, they lost by very small margins, and just couldn't quite put it all together. Tonight they left a bunch of men on base and finally lost when Mitch Meier struck out looking with men at first and third in the ninth.

Just. Not. Very. Good. Doesn't it stink to be having Mitch Meier hitting with the game on the line in the 9th inning?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

This Just In: Lakers Win NBA Championship

The Los Angeles Lakers have defeated the Boston Celtics 83-79. Celtics led most of this game, with the Lakers coming back in the fourth quarter to take the lead, then hold on through a Celtic rally in the last few minutes. The Celtics really did miss big man Kendrick Perkins--Kevin Garnett and Rasheed Wallace took most of his time, and did begin to suffer with fatigue and foul problems. The Lakers presented a real team effort, especially in that critical fourth quarter.

This may be the end for the Celtics in this configuration as they are definitely getting old together. It will be interesting to see who stays and who goes for the Big Green.

So, now, a rest, and then we will keep an eye on the NBA draft and its "Silly Season".

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Baseball All Star Game Coming to KC in 2012

Commish Bud Selig announces the news we all knew. (KC Star photo)
Assuming the Mayan calender isn't right, and we aren't having the Apocalypse, the 2012 Major League Baseball All-Star game will be played right here in little old K.C. at our renovated stadium. The rumor for this got out about two weeks ago, but today it was made official in a news conference--just before the rains came.
A nice feather in the city's cap and a fun event to boot.

Big XII Minus II Still Standing

As we predicted, the Big XII's fate revolved around the decisions that the folks at the University of Texas would make. They jumped their Tuesday regents meeting by a day and began declaring on Monday that they would stay in the conference. Apparently, they are being fed mo'money.

It's nice that your schools are in a conference that gives them lots of exposure and helps with money for the athletic program as a whole and helps with recruiting students and such. I'm happy that the exposure will continue for the worthy state institutions of Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri. But my biggest concern is not as a sports fan but as a resident of a medium sized city in the plains of America. College athletics are a big part of our identity in Kansas City, a big part of our investments, and a big donor to our economy. I still feel pretty vunerable that this could come apart at any minute. Remember, this all started with rumors of Missouri leaving the conference.

We are secure for now. What can we do to insure college sports continuing presence in our city? What can we do to insure that our really cool rivals still play each other--or are economics going to undo 100 years of athletic history? We can't bask long in this victory. We must shore up our proverbial levies. I'm pretty sure there will be another hurricane.

Celts Destroyed in Game 6--on to Game 7

Holy crap!

Is Kendrick Perkins that important to the Celtics team or were the boys just toast after the games in Boston? The final score was 89-67 but I didn't stick around for the end of this clunker. The Kobe Bryant show was closed and the Los Angeles Lakers show was opened. We saw the Lakers in all their terrifying talented glory, on the home court to boot.

Boston has won all four of the previous game 7s they've played against the Lakers, but the last was back in 1984. Overall, the home team has won 13 of 16 game 7s. The Celtics have left themselves an extremely difficult task this Thursday night.

If I was in Doc Rivers' shoes, I would try to isolate this game from everything else as much as possible. From history. From trends. From the previous play in this series, other than strategy. One game. Win it and we're champions. Simple as that.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Texas Talks Up Big XII

The question is should we believe any of it? I have never heard so much rumor in my life. First, Texas (and by extension Tech and maybe A&M) are definitely going to the Pacific 10. Now, not so much. Also, how many schools are rumored to be interested in joining the Big XII, especially if Texas stays? And if the Big XII sticks around, will it stop at 12 schools or try to get more?

Texas regents meet tomorrow. Real answers might be forthcoming then. And I would expect the news to break quickly, like a Kansas City flash flood. So just like the waters of Indian Creek, this bears watching. It could go quickly either way.

Boston Celtics Win Two in a Row......

...........Now, back to LA, leading 3-2.

Here's the difference in this game: Boston was a team, with one good player, who was a part of the team.

LA was one good player. Team, not so much. Only Kobe Bryant took shots for the Lakers during the third quarter. Think about that--every time the basketball was flung towards the goal by the Lake Show in the third quarter, it was by Bryant. That's mind boggling.

Kobe takes one of many difficult shots during game 5. (LA Times photo)

Paul Pierce will be remembered for the steals he made, the shots he made and the passes he made--including that amazing catch and pass along the sidelines in the late forth quarter.

Paul Pierce calmly catches Kevin Garnett's long pass in the fourth quarter. He will turn and make a perfect pass to Rondo cutting to the hoop in this sequence. ( photo)

Can the Celtics win one of two in LA? I would not bet against them.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Down to 10

The countdown on the demise of the Big 12 Conference is at 10, as Nebraska has joined up with the Big 10 conference. Mizzou meantime, is outside looking in at the Big 10 (13) ironic as it was rumors of the Tigers joining the Big 10 that got this thing started.

Many commentators believe that any continuing existence of the Big XII will depend on the Texas schools. Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech are reportedly eying the Pac 10. Oklahoma is considering the Southeastern Conference.

It's just a matter of time, folks.

Sam Mellinger considers all the ways this just sucks for Kansas City in this column here.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Big 12 Update: Colorado to Pac 10

News today is that the University of Colorado is definitely out, going to the Pacific 10 Conference. The other news is that Oklahoma State is denying Pac 10 ambitions. The third item is older news from yesterday: Missouri officials are saying they have no invite from the Big 10 Conference to join.

By Monday, the Big 12 will be just a fond memory, I think you can book it. I would be shocked otherwise.

Just follow the money, honey $$$$$$

Secretariat at Belmont 37 Years Ago

Ron Turcotte looks back, but he had nothing to worry about. Photo from

June 9, 1973. Secretariat wins the Belmont Stakes by 31 lengths in a performance that has never been duplicated. Where were you? I was at a beach club in Sea Bright, NJ--northern Jersey coast, near Sandy Hook. We watched the race in black and white on one of the club's TVs in the hallway. Watching this amazing horse run away with the race--other horses not even in the picture at the end--is a memory I carry to this day.

Chicago Black Hawks: NHL Champs

The Stanley Cup is in there with this bunch of happy players. (Reuters)
Have to give a shout out to the Chicago Black Hawks, who defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 in OT to win Lord Stanley's Cup. They take the series 4-2 and win their first Cup since 1961. Congrats to all, and enjoy some of sport's best championship traditions with the Cup over the summer!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Boston Down 2-1; Must Win Thursday

Derek Fisher scores against three Celtics in the critical forth quarter of last night's game (photo:
The most interesting thing about the seven game NBA Championship series is that every night someone steps up or steps down. In game 2, the Celtics' Ray Allen was unstoppable, shooting better than 50% from the field in a Celts' win. Game 3, Ray Allen was MIA.

Last night's hero was Derek Fisher, who is like the Eveready Battery Bunny, just, from year to year, keeps going and going. In game 3, he pretty much single handedly rebuked the Celtics' run. He was just not stopped by Boston, making plays on both ends.

So we have a 2-1 Lakers lead, and the games went thus: LA 102 BOS 89 in L.A.; LA 94 BOS 93 in L.A. and LA 91 BOS 84 in Boston. IMHO, Boston almost must win both games remaining in Boston to have a reasonable chance to win the series. Going back to LA trailing 3-2, with two losses in Boston makes winning the series much more difficult.

Well, It Looks Like the Big 12 Is Kaput

With the reports that the University of Nebraska is joining the Big 10 conference, I do believe that we can see the end of the Big 12 conference. I don't see how Nebraska can be replaced, and if Mizzou goes also, the Big 12 is definitely history. There are three effects from this, none of which I have a crystal ball for.

1. Football. The BCS will get stronger, and we may see another breakout of the colleges that play football. The big boy schools will join together in 3 or 4 superconferences and then play each other to determine a champion. The not-so-big boys, which includes Missouri, Kansas and Kansas State and a whole bunch of other schools will not be able to participate in any sort of national championship. I think you could still have these programs going on, but any hopes of a Boise State, or a Kansas or a Cincinnati playing for the national championship or in a BCS type setting are pretty much done. And smaller schools, playing on the D I level might drop a level for their football programs or create a new slightly lower level.

2. Basketball. More schools are better at basketball, and the list of "majors" is longer and I also think, easier to crack (see Butler), and the tournament in its present format allows for participation by midmajor programs, so I think the changes will be less seismic. You'll probably see more changes in the regular season.

3. Kansas City. Kansas City has long been a centering point for Big 6/8/12 hoops, both because of location and enthusiasm. Plus if KU and MU and K State all end up in different places, rivalry games might be lost or lessened, which would be a pity. So Kansas City will lose the opportunity to host championship and rivalry games, and will be a lesser participate in the national college sports scene. This will mean a loss of prestige and money. A tough pill to swallow.

Remember as you consider this: While the colleges actually do educate a few people along the way, and money is made through these big sports so that other varsity sports can go on, the primary point of big time college athletics has become MONEY. Whatever makes the most money, that is the resolution you'll see. Players and boosters may find themselves in new and uncomfortable positions.

So, buckle up, folks, cause change is coming, whether you are ready or not.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Blown Call In Detroit

Armando Galarraga pitched a near perfect game last night. Perfect until this blown call on a ground ball. This should have been a routine 3-1 ground out but no--an ump screwed up big time.
This blown call is really bad. Now what I don't understand is why the umpires don't get together and help each other, like refs in every other sport.

I'm beating up You Tube today between the blogs--here are the pros--note the baffled commentary...

Here is a video from someone in the stands. You can clearly see here that all the umpires are just standing around, even though they know their colleague just totally missed the call, instead of running over and saying, "Well, actually, Jim, he was out."

Word today is that commish Bud Selig is not reversing or doing anything with this horrible, horrible call. Gack!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Ken Griffey Jr. Retires

Ken Griffey Jr has decided to retire. He felt that he was more of a distraction then a help to the Seattle Mariners at this point. Griffey has been in the bigs since 1989, and for several years was considered one of the best. He has had a HOF career in my book.

I posted this pic of a BB card from his AA days as a Vermont Mariner. His time playing in Burlington was limited due to injury, but we all knew, from the very first day, that he was the real deal. He proved it to us by jumping the next year from our AA club to the major leagues. He never looked back. The game will miss him. I count it a privilege to have seen him play in person.

NBA: Lakers-Celtics for the Zillionth Time

As a native born New Yawker and a Knicks fan--not that there's been anything to cheer about lately--I have the card carrying right to not give a hoot about this NBA championship. The Lakers and the Celtics are both profoundly hated by New Yorkers everywhere. Not to mention that the Lakers beat Dr. J and the Philadelpia 76'ers when they had Dr. J--Julius Erving. I have never forgiven the Lake Show after that.

However, you just can't resist a good rivalry, and the best basketball played by anyone anywhere. So I hold my nose and root for the Boston Celtics. At least the Celts are well followed in Vermont. They also feature ex-Jayhawk Paul Pierce as one of their most important pieces.
Pierce for a little while looked like another KU NBA flop, but he has gone on to have very nice NBA career. He has developed some nice offensive moves, still can play lock down D, and despite looking like a total doughboy, is strong and durable.

Kobe and friends will be tough work for the Celtics, and if they can get it working inside and out, will be hard to contain. The Celtics have the defensive chops to keep the Lakers from working both ends, though, and with a healthy Garnett especially will be tough if Bynum is not 100%. Celtics in 7, with each team taking one game in the other's arena.