Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Excuse Me--What?

The Kansas City Royals reacquired Yuni Betancourt from the Milwaukee Brewers, who declined to take his option from his old Royals contract this winter. He is signed to a one year deal and is visioned to be an infield back up and another right handed bat off the bench.

Excuse me--what?

Tom Coughlin Will Need to Go

The Giants lost again in a most dispirited (and dispiriting) way to the Washington Redskins on Sunday, and I have come to an unpleasant but necessary conclusion: Tom Coughlin has to go. Somehow, he has lost this team, and when the team comes out in games against opponents it should beat and lays an egg, it is something that the coach has a big hand in. Todd Haley lost two games with this Chiefs team that should have been won, and he's gone now. I can't imagine the Maras are having much more patience with Coughlin at this point.
It has been a great ride, but it is time for a change with the New York Giants.

O Romeo Romeo...and Kyle too

I don't think anyone in this town was expecting our Chiefs to beat the Green Bay Packers last Sunday. I personally was praying that we would not be blown out with some awful score like 49-7. Before the game started, I noted that the key to staying in the game, with any chance to succeed, the offense had to stay on the field. Dreadful quick three-and-outs would kill the defense and ruin any possibility of winning.
Well, my plan was executed to perfection. The offense started with a 6 minute plus drive--with a critical conversion of a third-and-eight right out of the box--and worked to keep Aaron Rodgers and the Packer offense in a place safe for Chiefs fans, mainly cooling their heels on the bench. Couple that with an outstanding game from the defense, continued stellar kicking from Ryan Succup, and a less than terrific performance by that Packer offense and the Chiefs managed to pull off the upset of the season.
As to what it means for the future: for this season, it keeps playoff hopes, however small, alive, which is more fun than being out of the running. It gives us an idea of what we have with Romeo Crennel and Kyle Orton--not solving those problems, but giving us something new to look at. The next two games, against Oakland here and Denver there, will be quite revealing.
The end of the season will be very interesting.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Chiefs Fire Haley: Did The Wrong Man Take The Fall?

I figured Todd Haley was toast at the end of the season. He had lost his team and his relationship with GM Scott Pioli is apparently quite frosty so it was just a matter of time. However, it came down around 1015 this morning that he was "relieved of his duties" as head coach. I think the 15 yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was the last straw. I was trying to remember the last time a professional football coach got such a penalty. I could not. It is different from a technical foul in basketball--the 15 yards really hurt.

However, you have to question how this team was put together, how little depth there is, and why Tyler Palko, who washed out of both the CFL and the UFL was considered to be a NFL level quarterback. You have to wonder why we are $30 million under the salary cap with so many needs to fill. All that you lay at the door step of GM Pioli. And many are calling for an account from Pioli on how he put this team together. Some argue that the wrong man was fired.

I don't think Haley is a horrible coach. He needs to mature--he has a lot of rough edges and he has a rep of being hard to work with--but if he can mature, he might just be a fine coach someday. Marv Levy sucked the first time around--ironically with the Chiefs if you recall. Then he went on to lead the Buffalo Bills to the Superbowl several times. I would not be surprised if Haley lands on his feet.

Now, let's see what direction it goes for a new head coach. The rumor mill keeps grinding out the name Josh McDaniels, another branch of the Patriot tree. Will they take the best coach available, perhaps Jeff Fischer, or a guy whose resume is less filled with what he has done and more filled with who he knows?

This fan wants an experienced football guy coaching and a GM who is willing to spend money and take chances to give this team better personnel.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Chiefs-Steelers Sunday Night


We need one.

We have a lot of good stuff on this team, but we do not have an offense. Even with Matt Cassel in, we don't have an offense. Our lack is just highlighted by the injuries to Cassel, Charles and Moeaki. Our quarterbacks struggle to run the game, make the correct reads and execute. Some of our players have concentration problems. Bowe's lack of effort with the last pass was terrible--either he didn't see the ball's trajectory correctly, or he was afraid to get hit. Both are below standard for a professional football player.

I am glad, however, that we did not get our heads handed to us on national TV, and that the game was entertaining to the end, and the city shots looked pretty good. So, it could have been much worse.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Your Josh Freeman Update

It's been an up and down year for Josh and the Bucs. Like the Chiefs they are dealing with a much tougher schedule. Josh has made some comebacks in the fourth quarter, but he has also thrown more interceptions than all of last year already. The Bucs are losing more than winning. This year feels more like a sophomore year than last year did. Teams have "book" on Josh now.

Tampa Bay is a bit like the Chiefs now. If they have any chance, it is very small. It is more about learning and improving, not going to the Super Bowl now.

World Series Note

The St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series after an extraordinary game 6 in which they came back from the dead twice to win in extras. Texas should have won that game, which was pivotal in so many ways. The game will live on as a classic, with great performances, bad performances, the whole works.

As is so often the case, the loser of a tough game 6 cannot bring it for a game 7. The Rangers jumped out to a 2 run lead in the first, but after that it was all Cardinals. David Freese (rhymes with Breese as in Super Bowl MVP Drew--that's how I remembered how to spell it!) was the MVP of the series. He's a hometown boy, with many Missouri connections.

It's about time we had an excellent world series. It must be noted that in a bit of a stunner, Tony LaRussa retired after the series--as in, the day after. I must admit I was surprised.

Chiefs Report: Very Shallow

If you were a realist, you knew that this year for the Kansas City Chiefs had the potential to be a trying and long year. With a division champ's schedule it was possible that the team could have a worse record and actually be better.

This team is not very good at all. In addition to the tough schedule, which actually got tougher with Detroit and Buffalo improving, the Chiefs were severely bitten by the injury bug. The results are just 4 wins--all over weak or struggling teams (and one lucky win)--and blow out losses. Losses where the offense was AWOL, and by dint of that, the defense got blown off the field.

The injuries revealed that the Chiefs were beautiful--OK mildly attractive--only skin deep. When Charles, Berry, etc. were lost, the subs were revealed to be inadequate. The loss of Matt Cassel has revealed that Tyler Palko is not an NFL level QB. Injuries in the secondary have revealed that players asked for more playing time are not very good.

Our lines continue to be a disaster--the offensive line is not protecting or run blocking very well--and the defensive line lacks depth and size. No one has emerged to help Tamba Hali with rushing the passer, so pressure on opposing QBs is sporadic at best.

Coaching and managing too, has taken a step back. Todd Haley made several bad judgment calls on how to manage the team, Scott Pioli has not stepped forward to add new players and the team has a reputation for cheapness. Today, Orten was released by Denver, and I opined that the Chiefs should try to sign him. Then I remembered--it would take money to sign him. Going to be a long rest of the year.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sports World Crazy

It used to be that the world of sports had a predictable rhythm based on the seasons of the year. Concerns of the games themselves occupied our time in reliable time periods and generally out of season sports keep themselves to themselves. Not any more.

Furthermore, the news isn't just confined to the field of play. We have courtrooms and board rooms in the mix too.

So, what has happened? The two hottest stories right now are one, Missouri moving to the SEC. Two, the horrible sexual abuse case swirling around Penn State's football program and its legendary coach Joe Paterno.

West Virginia, pending legal action, is joining the Big 12.

Melky Cabrera was traded to the San Francisco Giants for two pitchers, one with a lot of possibilities.

The NBA is on strike and truly looks dead in the water at this point. Larger and larger chunks of the season are going away.

On the field of play, our Chiefs played a gutsy, heart filled and somewhat lucky game Monday night against San Diego, then laid a Sunday egg against winless Miami. The Giants and Jets are doing pretty well, with the Giants coming back against New England; with the NFC east playing the AFC east, Giants wins against Jets division foes count double!

Joe Pa is probably going to have to end his wonderful career with the distasteful stink of this scandal on it. He did what was legally required. Why he stopped there, and didn't go further to make sure that it was taken care of is any one's guess.

Missouri leaving has a bundle of implications for Kansas City, and for the wonderful ancient rivalry with Kansas. Mostly negative. KU does not want to play Mizzou and it is not likely that the Big 12 will play its tournament in a state that does not have a team in the conference.

College basketball is just starting, NASCAR is just ending and baseball winter meetings are just around the corner.

Those are the right things here.

Oh, and Tampa Bay lost to New Orleans. Josh has thrown more INTs half way into this season then all of last year. Pay attention, Josh!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Big What?

I promise I will write about the college football conference mess. Someday.

It is just the most distasteful thing imaginable, because it leaves no doubt as to what really runs big time college sports, especially football.

Money. Money. Money.

Bucs and Bears Travel to London: Bears Win 24-18

Despite losing their starting running back to a season ending Achilles injury and Josh throwing four interceptions, Tampa Bay was in the game until that last interception. Tampa Bay's defense picked off Bears QB Jay Cutler twice, but was gashed by Matt Forte for 145 yards, enabling the Bears to play ball control.

Tampa Bay scored twice in the fourth quarter to make a close game of it, and were driving in the last minute when the last INT was thrown. The Bucs gameplan was in a mess after running back Earnest Graham, playing for injured LeGarrette Blount was injured. The Bucs were dismayed with their play, and as hot as the Saints are, every game is critical.

World Series: Rangers Up 3-2, In St. Louis Now

This has actually been a pretty fun series. The games have been pretty close mostly (one blow out--Monday's game was much closer than its final 4-0 Rangers score) and very dramatic, full of strategy and second guessing, a real nirvana for baseball fans. After the Cardinals first two wins, I was wondering if my prediction was going to be wrong, but when Texas took game 5 and put St. Louis in the position of two must wins, the prediction looked better.

Tonight's game was postponed. For the second time this post season, the Cards started a home stand after the very best weather had ended. Today's early morning Kansas City rain became a steadier St. Louis rain, and MLB decided they didn't want a stop-and-start game and they didn't want a potential series winning game played under less than ideal conditions, especially since once the rain is outta here, it will be dry again--a little nippy but dry.

Texas, in general, has gotten better hitting with men on base and better rates of hits when really needed. Matt Holliday left many men stranded Monday night. The best Ranger has been Mike Napoli, pictured above in game 4 action.

Raiders QBs Stink It Up: KC Wins 28-love

Who can figure the crazy sport of football? The Chiefs appeared headed for a loss playing at the black hole home of the Oakland Raiders, but Raiders second and third string QBs threw 3 INTs each (including a pick-6 each in that total) and KC spun a bagel, 28-0.

It was not all special: Matt Cassell was awful--QB rating 38. So the defense took advantage of back up QBs and an injury to the Raiders #1 runner, but the offense could only generate 14 points in 60 minutes of football? That is not good.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Your Quicky Josh Freeman Update

Just a quick Josh update: As a fan of both Josh and the Saints, last week was a tough game to root. I wanted Josh to rebound after he and the rest of the rest of the Saints offense disappeared against San Francisco, yet I wanted New Orleans to keep up with Green Bay and get a win.

Josh and the offense reappeared and the Bucs won against New Orleans 26-20. It is important for a young team to rebound after a crappy game, and especially when now you are playing a tougher schedule and many teams you see are improved. I really feel like the Chiefs and Bucs are treading the same path to becoming good teams, but I think the Bucs have the better QB.

I would say that even if Josh Freeman hadn't gone to Grandview High School

NFL Football: One Undefeated, Three Suck for Luck

We are half way through the football season, and the drama over undefeated is still in order, but with only one team--the Green Bay Packers. Meantime the Suck for Luck competition is going strong with Miami, Indianapolis and St. Louis all winless to this point.

Surprises: That St. Louis is so bad. That the 49ers are so good. That Payton Manning meant so much to the success of the Colts. That the New York teams are frustratingly inconsistant--because of their offenses. That the defenses are coming back after a poor beginning. It has been a fun season.

Loss: Al Davis, batshit crazy but a pioneer and a bull, an innovative guy with attitude. As a Jets and Chiefs fan I hate the Raiders, but as a fan of football, there is no denying his importance to the history of the sport.

The Raiders made a daring deal for Carson Palmer, as if in Al's honor. We (Chiefs) play them this weekend. Makes for an interesting prep week.

World Series To Start Tonight

Well, I hope the Rangers brought their woolies, because our wonderful fall weather has changed for the cooler--near freezing here in Kansas City and I anticipate similar in St. Louis tonight.

Of the four teams vying for spots in the World Series last week, the Rangers had the most unknown and possibly the least good pitching staff. Otherwise, they stacked up pretty well against any of their possible opponents. So the question this series to me boils down to this: Can the Texas Rangers' pitchers hold down the Cardinals hitters enough so that the Rangers are not always playing from behind/having to catch up? Which in this post season environment is a tough thing to do? That is the key to this series, to me.

Here is my prediction: I would love to see St. Louis win--they were left for dead during some parts of the season and are in as wild card--but I predict the Rangers in 6.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Texas Rangers Return to World Series

Alas, Detroit's good season came to an end as the Texas Rangers took Tigers pitching to the woodshed in the process of taking the league championship series in six games. It seemed as if the Tigers were working from behind the entire series. When Detroit was able to keep Texas down in the early innings it was much easier for the Tigers to win. If Texas got away early, as they did in game six with a seven run third, Detroit found it pretty tough going to come back.

Tiger pitching frequently failed, both starters and bullpen.

Texas awaits the NL champion, either the Cardinals or Brewers. Either of those teams will have an advantage in starting pitching over the Rangers but the question will be can the NL champ hold the blazing hot Texas offense?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Lot Is Happening!

Really--Josh was on MNF--Chiefs won--Giants are doing OK--Jets in search of offense--Eagles crash and burn--Saints look ready to return to a Super Bowl--Vikings are terrible and Green Bay wonderful .

Only one series is over in the baseball post season and two are in game five tomorrow--the D-Backs are fighting to make it three game fives.

Missouri is likely leaving the Big 12, Nebraska got skunked by Wisconsin and Kansas State is in the top 25.

So see I am paying attention!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Baseball Drawing to a Close

Walk off wild pitch--hey, we take them however--wins the game for St. Louis over the Cubbies today. (www.mlb.com)

All the division races have been decided with about a week or so left in the regular season. Your champions are Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and Arizona in the NL and New York, Detroit, and Texas in the AL. The wildcard races are still being decided. In the AL, Boston has been fading over the past days, and is in a fight with Tampa Bay who is just 1.5 games behind. Lurking with an outside chance are the Angels of Anaheim or where ever. In the NL, it is between Atlanta and St. Louis, with the Braves ahead by 2 games. There will probably not be a repeat winner of the World Series as the Giants are 4.5 games out.

It has been a fun year for baseball in my opinion. The game has purged itself of the steroid pretenders, changing offense, and changing what is important. I like the way it is going, and to me, the grand old game of baseball is doing OK.

We'll touch on the Royals, and their season and future, in a later post, but suffice it to say for now that the Royals have an exciting future. They have played .500 baseball since early July (basically the All Star break on) and have been especially hot these past weeks. Now, I am not impressed by September success, since so many teams are mailing it in, but it just gives a glimpse of what can be. The team was 40-41 at home, and drew about 1.7 million to the K to watch. For a throw away year, it has been a lot of fun, and people paid more attention than you thought they might have.

The New York Mets surprised by playing around the .500 mark almost all year. 76-82 presently for a .481 winning percentage for a team that was essentially broke and whose ownership may go down with the Madoff ship. I don't know what all the Mets have in the pipeline, but they are good enough to watch. It is tough though, those Phillies are a very good team and they will be hard to overcome.

It won't be long for the first round of playoffs to start--next weekend as a matter of fact. Post season baseball is coming.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Oh. My. 48-3.

Romeo Crennel's defense had its good moments, but 6 turnovers and too many errors crushed the life out of his unit eventually...

There were signs of hope. Three three and outs. The defense trying hard out there. But then, the penalties and turnovers, and no offense and Jamaal Charles injured...and the next thing you know it's a three touchdown margin...

People are calling for heads at this point, but I am not sure that firing anyone at this point is the right thing to do. I think we just try to live through the year, still looking for the right 53, and then assess at the end of the year. I do not think the team will go any where this year. No playoffs. No winning record.

Oh, and blackouts, we will have them...a boon to fans of other teams. Punishment to the Chiefs.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Your Josh Freeman Update

Josh was sacked twice and intercepted once by Detroit. Look for this group to introduce themselves to Matt Cassel this coming Sunday.

Tampa Bay played Detroit opening day on a nice hot sunny day in Florida and found themselves in a real fight with the improving Lions. The Detroit defense is starting to look like a classic NFC Central black and blue defense able to stop opponents at will. The Bucs could not run or throw, and had no offensive rhythm until it was too late deep in the fourth quarter. Josh Freeman's final numbers: 28/43 for 259 yards, one touchdown, one interception and two fumbles (not lost).

Detroit may be this year's Kansas City, especially if Matthew Stafford stays healthy: improving team with a relatively easy schedule. They do still have to play in their division, which up and down is better than the AFC West so it might not be quite so easy for the Lions to take the division, but don't be surprise to see this team in the playoffs.

NFL Week One: Are the Chiefs *That* Bad?

Bad start: "Krumble" on the opening kick off. (KC Star photo)

The Chiefs were really bad on Sunday, yes they were, and many many words have been spoken, written and typed over the past couple days about the game. Here is my take:
1. You are never as good as your best game and as bad as your worse game. This team may not be very good, but they are not as bad as they looked on Sunday.
2. The needs that were not addressed in the off season are still there. Offense and defensive lines are bad and did not get better.
3. As much as we would like to lay a lot of blame at the feet of the coach and the players, I am beginning to question the general manager instead. Scott Pioli has some work to do. He has some explaining to do, but he doesn't 'splain so I will just settle for him to fix this mess.
We didn't draft to need, and we didn't spend the money we have. That needs to change...now.
4. Clark Hunt, quit trying to run the team on a shoe string. A winning team will make money for you. If you are hoping to be just good enough to generate hope, the hope that keeps people going to the stadium in large numbers, and not take the actions that lead to the next level of performance, then I do hope that those inclined to go to the stadium piss on your expensive tickets and ridiculous parking fee and not go.
When I moved to Kansas City, the Chiefs were just getting good under Carl Peterson. The city really came together over the team and it was like a college atmosphere. That good will has been pissed away over the past 10 years or so of losing and seeming not to know how to stop losing. Good organizations are willing to do what it takes to stop losing--that includes taking some reasonable chances and not being afraid to spend money.
Tough football weekend--Giants lost, New Orleans lost (but to the Packers, so not as bad as it could be), Tampa Bay lost. At least the Jets won, beating those Dallas Cowboys. It is always a redeemable week if the Cowboys lose. :)

Friday, September 9, 2011

NFL Off and Passing

That was a rousing start to the NFL season wasn't it? That game between New Orleans and Green Bay had everything except consistent defense. Was it not cool to behold the wonder of Sproles? Seeing him in a new uni reminded you exactly what an exciting player he (still) is. The NFC is in for a treat, seeing him now for 12 games. PS: don't be surprised if this game is remarried in the playoffs...
Is Payton Manning done for the year? For his career? Yesterday's third neck surgery certainly puts this season in question for the QB star. To me, his career is also at risk. As he makes his decision he does need to remember he has about 30 years of living left to do. We are spinal animals and if our spines are compromised, our quality of life is very diminished.
This Sunday's Chiefs game will go a long way in telling us what kind of team we have. With Cassell's injury QB protection and an effective running game will be very important. Can we do it? And can our defense get the Bills off the field in a timely manner? I think the Chiefs are the better team, especially at home, and will win this game. How they win is what will tell us something about the team--a nail biter, big score, sluggish offense, etc.
The NFL is a bit of bread-and-circus for our times, I will admit that. I am glad that there was no strike. Let there be FOOTBALL!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Todd Haley Will Be Blamed...

...and I think he deserves it. The screwy way he handled the practice games--well, you have to wonder if it had anything to do with a season ending injury to our best tight end or our starting QB sitting out the opener.

Sometimes there are good reasons why people keep doing things the old way.

Monday, August 29, 2011

High School Football Is Back!

The 2011 high school football season in Kansas City has started--you can't beat Friday night lights. I took in the Center-University Academy game at Center on Friday. UA had a very small number of players, but put up quite a fight until yielding late in the third quarter.

If you have never caught a high school game, check one out. Typically parking is free and the admittance fee is under $10.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Practice Games Are Useless to Fans

Well, another round of practice NFL games is in the books and I am not sure I know any more about the Chiefs, Giants or any of my favorite NFL teams than I did before they played these games.

Oh, I can tell a few things: The Chiefs are still troubled by offensive, defensive line problems and still have not found a capable receiver to line up opposite Dwayne Bowe or a back up QB we can really trust. Also we have found out that first round pick WR Baldwin is a twit and a diva.

It does offend me, as it does many others, that the clubs charge full freight for these games. To me they should cut the price of everything but food, alcohol and souvenirs for the games. Get a good atmosphere, couple it with a decent team, and you will get fans to come because they will get hooked on the experience. Make it great: make the practice games, which are "lite"anyway the equivalent of the "free" version of an iPhone app, wetting the desire for the real and full thing.

Just sayin.'

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Football Camps Ongoing--Progress Slow

well the first round of exhibition games is coming to a close and you can really tell--nothing. Usually you discover what you already know. In the Chiefs case, we needed help on both lines and it is clear that we don't have it yet--certainly not to any depth. We could use a back up QB too.

The Chiefs will be hard pressed to repeat as AFC West champs this year. The Raiders are better, the Chargers are better and there are no games against the NFC West. Kansas City could play better and be a better team overall and still have a worse record and not win the conference.

Meantime the Giants lost also, although by the much more respectable score of 20-10 to Carolina.

The Chiefs need to go and start hitting now in camp.

Nifty time of year this--football and baseball going.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Meantime, Over in Baseball...

Whoops, almost published a blank space!

Although if we were just talking about the Royals and trade deadline action, we would indeed have nothing to say, because nothing is happening or happened. Cabrera, Frenchy and all the rest are all still here. Wilson Betemit's trade to Detroit is the only action so far from the Royals who have pitching bits that might intrigue teams more than the position players.

Meantime, the Giants won the Beltran sweepstakes, the Phils grabbed Hunter Pence, the Cards and Jays added to their rosters with multiplayer trades. The trade deadline is Sunday, July 31 at 3 p.m. CT.

Free Agency, Signings and Losses

Wow, this is like a mix master out here with these contracts flying around! You can't hardly keep up, even with the internets!

Players the Chiefs no longer have include Brian Waters, Chris Chambers, Ron Edwards, and possibly Shawn Smith. Good news is that we have signed almost all 2011 draftees, including our first round pick and picked up also Steve Breston. Overall in the league there seems to be much less holding out by first rounders. I am not entirely sure why, but I do like it. Sign and get in there and practice and learn stuff!

For the Giants, they are having trouble with the great defensive lineman Osi Umenyiora and his contract; he is not fully signed and happy. They have put him on the Did Not Report list after he didn't show for camp. They released Tiki Barber, who wants to return to the NFL, from being restricted. Madison Hedgecock was released. They signed excellent Jets punter Steve Weatherford. The Giants better watch out for Philly, who have resolved their QB delemma by trading Kevin Kolb, and signing Vince Young (shoot, this guy has a .600 winning percentage for games he starts in the NFL!), and signed that guy from the Raiders with the long name, the ridiculously good CB who no one throws on.

No big splashes from the Jets yet. They cut Mark Brunnel, who provided Mark Sanchez with strong back up work, and lost Mizzou product Brad Smith to Buffalo. They wanted the aforementioned DB but lost out to the Eagles.

Around the league, many players have been cut that have been staples at their teams. Antwaan Randle-El was cut by Pittsburgh for example. Lots of players with a bit left in the tank will be available to sign as free agents this year, especially if they are willing to take a cut in pay. Going to be a very interesting year.

Monday, July 25, 2011

NFL Lock Out Over

Well, the lock out is over. Agreements and votes were taken and now the season can proceed. "Silly Season" will be condensed greatly, and perhaps a bit less silly. Drafted players need to get signed, get their playbooks and get learning. Free agents signed. Etc.

In this condensed time, we will find out some things...
We'll find out what players managed to stay in the best shape without the OTAs they were used to that helped keep them accountable for their conditioning.
We'll find out what teams have the best scouting for obscure free agents, undrafted college players, and late draft picks, because these players will not have much time to show themselves.
We'll find out which rookies are the quickest studies and able to pick up complex pro play books.

Teams with established quarterbacks and coaches will have an advantage over those who are searching or have just changed.

There are a few teams that should just figure on rebuilding and not winning much this year, and their fans will hate every moment of the 2011-12 season.

Chiefs shopping list: Another wide out (we did draft one, but should look at FAs), nose tackle, offensive line, running back.

Giants shopping list: New accuracy for Eli. Really. The team was OK, but all those turnovers--nightmares!

Jets shopping list: Offensive line, running back, receiver. I seem to remember struggling to score at times.

Fantasy players are thrilled.

Code writers for the video games are frantic...

Friday, July 22, 2011

NFL: Getting Close?

Well the owners liked their plan. The players? Not so much.

More meetings this weekend between owners and players. There is still space for slip ups. One game has been canceled--the Hall of Fame game. Some are optimistic, but I do think they could still strike. It would be a very bad idea. Just saying.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Awesome Fan Catch at Home Run Derby!

Check this out!

What a catch! A little risky, but the other folks were looking out for him. And if you look carefully, he hung on to his drink in his throwing hand as he caught the ball in the glove!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Carlos Beltran to Start as DH--and Something Interesting

I did not know this. Carlos Beltran, the extraordinary 5 tool player the Royals had to let go not too long ago, well, his Topps rookie baseball card was an uncorrected error. I was looking for pics of Beltran as a Royal to put in this post congratulating him on having a nice bounce back year and the honor of starting the All Star game tomorrow when I found this:

I thought the person in the photo looked a little too slender, especially in the face, and the eye brows were too bushy. I've seen Beltran in person and he has a round baby face. (He's good looking, in case you were wondering...)

Yup, this is him. Much better looking guy, bigger neck, more powerful. Very stern look. Did someone forget how to tell him to smile in Spanish? Turns out the names were reversed, and it was never fixed. Anyhow, kudos to Carlos Beltran and congratulations. His next trick? Getting out of New York and helping a contending team win.

MLB All Star Break--12 Thoughts

Well, here we are at the half way point of the baseball season and the analysis has been going full bore. Here are just a few cents worth from this vantage point.

1. American League Wild Card will come out of the East. This division is the best in the league hands down. Boston and New York are playing .600 ball and Tampa Bay is not far behind.

2. AL Central is not very good. Detroit, especially if the pitching holds out, is probably the class of the division. Minnesota, ordinarily very good is struggling, and Cleveland is fading.

3. Expect Texas and Angels of Anaheim to fight it out to the last in the West.

4. Jose Bautista seems to be real.

5. Pittsburgh Pirates over .500. Wow!

6. Offense is generally down. Hard to say if that's because pitching is better, or hitting is worse. No steroids = no power? But I think the game is pretty exciting--I don't have to have a bunch of home runs to enjoy a game. Yesterday's Tigers-Royals tilt with Jeff Francis and Justin Verlander matching each other just about pitch for pitch is a perfect example of a great watchable game that doesn't have a high score.

7. SF Giants in a position to repeat at this point.

8. Boy did that guy eff up the LA Dodgers.

9. Phillies also in a position to return to the playoffs, just quietly going about their business.

10. Can't help but note that the Mets are one game over .500 but still in third place. Can't help but wonder if everyone but Reyes and pitching is trade bait to restock their depleted farm system.

11. NL Central is also a bastion of the only-good. Brewers and Cards tied for first with 49-43 records. Jury still out for Milwaukee fans on Greinke trade. We certainly like that little shortstop you all sent us :)!

12. The Royals. People are getting discouraged with the continued losing and the continued promises of "wait until the youngsters get here." However, the team really does allow for a pinch of optimism: keeping games close, playing smarter baseball, good team chemistry, excellent defense and relief pitching in general. There's a lot wrong--we wouldn't be on a pace to lose 90+ games if all was peaches and cream--the starting pitching, lack of power and consistency in hitting, the mental errors from inexperience are just a few items that reflect the fact that this team needs more talent and experience to contend. Position players are developing well, but pitching is lagging behind, both at the major and minor league levels. As development continues, we may need to consider looking outside for pitching help, via trade and/or free agency to complete our transition from a losing team to a winner.

Meantime, this fan really hates the All-Star break. Whatyamean there's no baseball game tonight or Wednesday night?

Saturday, July 2, 2011

NBA Lock Out: Yawn...

I used to be a bigger pro hoops fan, especially when I lived in New York City. The Knicks were the bomb in the early 1970s and I continued to follow them off and on for years. When I lived in Philly, I followed the Sixers and they are still one of my favorite teams.

As long as I can remember, the NBA regular season has been 82 games. However, play was done in late spring, and the draft in May. Now it seems that the NBA season drones on indefinitely and decides very little, and professional basketball continues deep into May and on into the first part of June. This after starting in October. Include the draft and "silly season," and the NBA seems impossibly diluted, droning on and on, and having no real off season. In addition, NBA players have proven to be impossibly human. Young, frequently clunk headed, one dimensional, tattooed, promiscuous, and for some (not myself--the annoying manage to come in all colors), too Black. Yes, I have to think for some, the NBA's majority Black make up is an issue.

So, we have a lock out by NBA owners who say they cannot afford the players' salary demands. I don't have specific figures but we are talking a substantial separation in the numbers. No where close. Further, there is little agreement on things like salary caps and luxury taxes. Unlike football, there are several franchises on shaky financial ground, and not a few with uncertain ownership. However, unlike football, people are not trampling down the door to buy an NBA franchise.

The NBA has encountered rough times before, but they risk with a long lockout/strike losing the fan base--especially since some fans may already have issues with the way the league has been running these past years. The players especially may need to be careful not to kill the goose with the golden eggs. Meantime, I probably won't miss it.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Boston Gets the Cup

Boston wins Lord Stanley's cup in Vancouver over the Canucks, thanks to the stalwart goal keeping of Tim Thomas, former University of Vermont player. The home team won each game until vital game 7 when Boston took it 3-0. Enjoy your time with the cup boys. Mr. Thomas, I expect to hear about Lord Stanley taking a trip to Burlington!

NBA: Dallas Mavericks Win--I Like

If the Mavs win was a Facebook post, I'd click the "like" button. There are a lot of reasons for this, including an enjoyment of team oriented basketball, a dislike of LeBron and all the stuff that has emanated from the Miami Heat, and a just reward for the long and great career of Dirk Nowitzki of Dallas.
Once this series was established, everyone was just about crowning Miami champion before the first tip off. However, Miami's lack of ability to finish kept the talented team from winning the series. Dallas was just too good for Miami to overcome with its less than perfect chemistry and team work, and its tendency to fade in the fourth quarter.

The turning point was without a doubt game two in Miami, where Dallas came back from a double digit deficit half way in the forth quarter to win that game and keep the series from going 2-0 Heat. If the Heat win that game the series was essentially over. This showed that Dallas could keep up with the athletically gifted Miami team. It was funny though, even after this win, people were still crowning the Heat, saying they'd win the next three.

The pattern of Heat fade and Mav push in the last quarter maintained through out the remaining games--even the second Miami win was nearly a Miami loss in the late fourth quarter.
Miami has questions to answer--Dallas has celebrated. Assuming the NBA can avoid a nasty labor situation, next year looks to be a fun year for the league, which is wide open for new heroes and teams in a way it hasn't been for a long time. (Good night, Kobe.)

Photos from the Dallas Morning News.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Aviles Down; Moustakas Up

You just knew that it had to happen, that Mike Aviles, who I really like as a ball player and who seems to be a top notch guy too, was playing too poorly. He has regressed defensively--I don't know if it's all the switching, or something with his arm after surgery or what but Aviles was optioned to AAA and Mike Moustakas was brought up.

Not all are in agreement about bringing "Moose" up to the bigs, but he is in for a full dose of it, as Ned Yost has indicted he will play every day. We shall see then.

The Royals are going as their starting pitching goes right now. If they get good pitching at the beginning, and aren't dumped in a hole, they do alright. If they go down several runs, they do not have the punch to come back.

As it goes...

Monday, June 6, 2011

Royals Take Starling in First Round

I don't know if it was a surprise or expected, but the Kansas City Royals made the intriguing pick of Bubba Starling out of Gardner, KS. Starling was a two sport star at Gardner-Edgerton HS, playing outstanding quarterback for the school in the fall.

Considered a five tool player in baseball, with a live arm, hitting for average and power at the high school level, able to run well and play defense, if the Royals can actually sign Starling he would be quite an addition for the team in the future.

However, many consider that he is even better at football than baseball, and believe that he will go to Nebraska and throw passes in the Big 10 for the Cornhuskers. In addition, his agent is Scott Boras who no doubt will make signing him as difficult and expensive as possible.
The cynics out there are saying that this is one way the Royals can save money, by drafting a guy in the first round that they have no chance of signing. The optimists are saying that the Royals know more about signing him then they are letting on.

Earlier today, I saw this story on how Bo Jackson was signed by the Kansas City Royals. Hat tip to Tony's Kansas City. Images here are screen captures from footage on mlb.com

Monday, May 30, 2011

Two Good Moves

Two good moves were reported in sports news today--they were both initiated by the people with the issues.
The first is that after blowing his third save in a row for the Royals, Joakim Soria went to manager Ned Yost and asked to be removed from the closer role. He said in his post game interview that he was doing this because his ineffective work had lost games for the team. If I remember right, Soria has blown 5 saves, and the Royals lost all but one of those games. Aaron Crow, the Mizzou product, will get the job for now. Good on Soria for going to Yost and all but forcing his hand to make a change. The plan is to pitch Soria in "low pressure" situations and hope he gets his stuff together. I would send him to the doctor too, even though he says he feels fine, just to be sure.
The second is that Jim Tressel resigned as coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes football team. I am very glad he did this, as the program had gotten out of control. Talk about lack of institutional control! Ohio State players were found to have sold school stuff for money, gotten deals on cars and gotten money. Tressel at times has made a big deal out of integrity and being a Christian blah blah blah but has gotten into trouble--and not just picayune trouble but big trouble--at the last two schools he coached teams. He needs to think about what it means to profess Christ with his mouth and to do what God desires in the cut throat world of big time college sports. I am glad he had the guts to resign--he needs a good spiritual retreat and time to figure out what he wants to be--perhaps he would do better at the pro level where the rules are different?

So two needed step aways--one we will see results right away, the other not until the fall when the new Buckeyes take the field.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Professional Basketball Winding Down

Four teams left:
Oklahoma City Thunder
Dallas Mavericks
Miami Heat
Chicago Bulls

What?! No Celtics? No Lakers? Nothing to love--or hate?

The best I can do is work up annoyance at LeBron because he is not a New York Knickerbocker.

I hear tell the basketball has been pretty good watching though.

Josh Gets Some Love From ESPN

How about that? One of the "cover stories" on the NFL home page on ESPN! Makes me smile.

Verwy Verwy Quiet...

As Elmer Fudd would say, "...Verwy verwy quiet..."--on the labor front with the NFL. There is increasing pessimism that the 2011 season will start on time or play all its games.

Ray Lewis thinks that crime will increase as football fans, deprived of their games, and bored will look for crime to get into. Here's the quote from the ESPN interview:

"Do this research if we don't have a season -- watch how much evil, which we call crime, watch how much crime picks up, if you take away our game," Lewis told ESPN's Sal Paolantonio.

That's because, Lewis said, the NFL lockout affects "way more than us" -- the owners and the players.

"There's too many people that live through us, people live through us," he said. "Yeah, walk in the streets, the way I walk the streets, and I'm not talking about the people you see all the time."

I think he's on to something, I really do. I think there is a segment of the population, mostly male, that lives through the games, the violence in the games, the identity that the teams give. Call me crazy. I hope I'm wrong, especially if there isn't a season.

I much prefer football to crime. No contest.

These Are Probably the Real Royals

The Royals have played worse than .500 baseball the past couple of weeks and have seen the quality of some aspects of their play go down. Billy Butler and Alex Gordon have both cooled off at the plate, a few errors have been committed in the field, and base running gaffs have cost important runners in late innings of close games. Pitching has been inconsistent. Starters have gone shorter in games and relievers have been wild at times. 13 walks cost the Royals a victory in the Sunday game against St. Louis.

I suspect that this is the revealing of the real Kansas City Royals--a team that will dazzle you one night and make you hold your head the next. A team that will pull one out of the fire one day, and kick one away the next. A team that will not make the play offs and will have a record of say, 81-81.

I heard one radio commentator talking about how all the prospects could fall apart--how pitchers will need surgery and position players won't be able to hit at higher levels. It really depressed me. How is it that our default position has become the grey cloud--waiting for calamity to hit our team? I personally prefer optimism to pessimism and joy in the good, rather than despair in the bad.

Someone else opined that in baseball, it is better to keep an even keel, to not go too high or too low. I agree with that. Because of its long season, baseball is a bit more like life than most sports. "One day at a time, one moment at a time, taking hardship as a pathway to peace."

Play ball!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Royals Rough Streak Caused Many Changes

A four game losing streak and injuries to two Royals starters plus the implosion of one prospect have caused a bit of roster upheaval out at Kauffman Stadium. After the dust settles, we have a slew of new names and numbers to learn, and a pitching youth movement in full force.

Adcock and Duffy are new names to get used to. We hope for Bruce Chen's rapid recovery to add some stability to what has become a very young rotation.

The Royals have dipped under .500 for the first time this year. This is the moment where we find out a bit more about the young players and about manager Ned Yost.

Yost has come under fire for leaving Vince Mazzaro out to take an awful 14 run beating. Mazzaro suffered two and 1/3 of the longest innings in major league history and many are questioning if he can come back from that beating. To me it is not his head--it's his stuff. He threw pitches in places you just cannot put them to major league hitters. If he gets back to doing and performing in the way that caused you to be called up in the first place, he will be fine. It could be that that will not be with the Royals in the future. That's OK--not all the younguns who make the majors will make it with the Royals.

I just hope we can continue to play close to .500 ball and keep it exciting, smart and competitive baseball all summer.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Royals Call Up Hosmer

Just a quick bit of breaking news--the Royals are calling up Eric Hosmer and sending Kila Ka'aihue to Omaha. Ka'aihue has struggled this season to hit. He is hitting .195 with 2 homers in 23 games. This I think explains the recent appearances of Wilson Betemit at first base.

The Royals took two out of three from Baltimore this series with a serious offensive breakout and a 9-1 win today. This home stand then, they are 5-1. Next are the Oakland A's in for three.

The news is from the Royals FB page. If you are a fan, you should "like" them!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

NFL Draft Notes

Honest, I have been trying to get excited about the 2011 NFL draft, but it's been hard. Especially now that the lockout has been restored, rookie players can't even talk to coaches, or come to the team practice facilities, never mind starting their contract talks. Except for those drafted before the judge put the order out that restored the lock out, the players didn't even get a chance to get a play book or anything. That being said, some intriguing choices have been made by the teams I care about.

The New York Jets drafted two defensive line players, two wide outs and a quarterback. The New York Giants drafted mainly for defense, including a first line cover guy, two linebackers, a defensive lineman, an offensive lineman, a running back and an another defensive backfield player. The Kansas City Chiefs drafted a wide out in the first round, an offensive lineman, two defensive linemen, two linebackers, and a defensive back. They also drafted a full back and a quarterback. The Chiefs draft featured the Chiefs snagging a couple players who seemed to fall past what their anticipated draft spot would be. Assuming there are no character issues, this looks like the best of these three drafts. All three teams addressed their needs--no funky "best player there" picks here.

Assuming there is football, there is a lot to look forward to as these rookies come into camp...

Royals Like That Home Cooking

Alex Gordon hits a three run HR in the 8th. Charlie Riedel/AP via mlb.com

After a dismal road trip with horrible starting pitching and no timely hitting and occasionally shaky defense and 7 losses, the Royals have come home. The starting pitching has been better, the hits coming when needed and lo and behold, the Royals are winners of two in a row over the Twins of Minnesota. The Boys in Blue sit at 14-13, good for second place 4.5 games behind the Indians in the scuffling AL central.

Friday night, they won with small ball and speed. Tonight they put the smack down with 8 runs in the 8th inning. Friday there was 31 K in the stadium and apparently the place was buzzing. There were 22 K at The K tonight. This may be the way this season is: we end up at .500 with streaky play. A young team with sometimes wobbly starting pitching will do that.

.500 would really be fine with me! Anyone got any extra tix?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

If There's Football in 2011, Here's the Sked...

Well, assuming we have football, our Chiefs will be on prime time a few times and will finish up with a pretty tough bunch of games...

Sept. 11 vs. Buffalo, noon
Sept. 18 at Detroit, noon
Sept. 25 at San Diego, 3:05 p.m.
Oct. 2 vs. Minnesota, noon
Oct. 9 at Indianapolis, noon
Oct. 16 Bye
Oct. 23 at Oakland, 3:05 p.m.
Oct. 31 vs. San Diego, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 6 vs. Miami, noon
Nov. 13 vs. Denver, noon
Nov. 21 at New England, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 27 vs. Pittsburgh, 7:20 p.m.
Dec. 4 at Chicago, noon
Dec. 11 at New York Jets, noon
Dec. 18 vs. Green Bay, noon
Dec. 24 vs. Oakland, noon
Jan. 1 at Denver, 3:05 p.m.

We start out "easy" with Buffalo and Detroit (although the Lions at home can be tough), then almost all the games that are not division foes are with some tough teams. Miami and Minnesota might be down a bit this year, and both those games are here, but overall this is a much harder group of games then last year. Also there will be no sneaking up on people this year.

I hope there is football...

Royals Doing All Right

Long suffering Kansas City sports fans are suspicious of success at this point. Our default is that the wheels will fall off any time, and we will be thrust into the abyss of countless loses by our professional sports teams. Thus the 10-6 start of the Royals was a challenge to the fan--how do we think of this with this team, this "just wait until all the youngsters are up in 2012" team?

This is like the Chiefs last fall. Anything at this point is gravy. If the Royals play .500 ball, or even better all year long, well, aren't you just drooling thinking about the future?

Now, last night we had one of those games. Starter Kyle Davies pitched lights out, the offense got the lead and it was looking very promising for a win over the currently first place Cleveland Indians. Until the bull pen pitchers all forgot where the strike zone is and the Royals first gave up the lead, and then the game. Tonight Bruce Chen is pitching well in his start, and the Royals offense has plated 5 runs to this point, and it is looking like a promising bounce back from last night's disappointment. Current score 5-2 mid 7th inning. If the Royals hang on and win--and likely it will come down to relief pitching again--this is a great bounceback for this young team.

Attendance is down but the weather has been poor for much of the schedule. People are still skeptical--all we heard all winter was how bad this team would be and how we have to wait for 2012. I think this season will be more exciting than that. I am looking forward to each and every game. That is the thing about baseball--it's a one day at a time sort of thing. Each day the sun rises is a new day, each game is a new game, with fresh possibilities. I'm planning on enjoying each moment.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

College Hoops Championships and Stuff

So what were you expecting from a Butler-Connecticut title game?

Not what we got, especially in the second half, when a tiring Butler team could not hit from outside or in, overwhelmed by UConn's length and quickness inside. A scintillating defensive game by UConn but very bad basketball at bottom. (Bill Walton on radio was awesome on this--in fact, the radio side with Gus Johnson, Bill Raftery and John Thompson is a better team than the TV announcers at the final--just saying.)

Butler shot 19% for the game. The halftime score was 22-19 Butler. Final 53-41 Connecticut.

The ladies halftime score was 35-33 Notre Dame. The final score 70-76 Texas A & M.

Both games were exciting in their own way, but the ladies game had momentum flowing back and forth and more exciting plays. The men just were grinding it out. There are lots of critics of the lack of "athleticism" in the women's game but in this case, I would say the women were just as exciting to watch as the men. All that flying through the air isn't very effective if you can't put the ball through the hoop.

A & M's Kansas City connection served them well as Danielle Adams (Lee's Summit) led scoring with 30 points and Tyra White (Hickman Mills) made an important late hoop. Nice ESPN article by former Star newsie Mechelle Voepel here.

Oh, yes, the Mizzou coaching drama ended with the controversial hiring of one Frank Haith, a coach from a football school (Miami) with a losing record. Mr. Haith is going to have to win over skeptical fans in both Columbia and in the conference that he is a serious possibility to do well and stick around for a while. I think when he gets in a full Mizzou Arena and realizes that these fans do give a damn is when he realizes what a tough job he has.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

NCAA Final: Connecticut and Butler

Huskies and Bulldogs will fight it out on Monday night for the NCAA mens basketball championship. Both semis were tense tight games, but you could see the eventual winner drawing away with a couple minutes left.

56-55 Connecticut

70-62 Butler

Monday, March 28, 2011

No KU in Houston

VCU could shoot and make baskets from outside and the charity stripe; KU lost this ability this game. (Kansas City Star photo)

Do I really have to?
I have to write about Kansas' loss to VCU?
I guess I have to do my sports bloggy duty.

Kansas spit the bit on Sunday against Virgina Commonwealth University. They wanted it "too much," tightened up and lost the game due to poor execution to a team that was too good to execute poorly against and win.

You can still hear the sound of three point shots and free throws clanking off the previously friendly Alamo Dome rims even now. This team that swaggered through much of their schedule and the tournament up to this point ran into a team that played better than it did, especially under pressure.

Here's what I thought would transpire after the first few minutes of the game. You'll remember that Kansas went out to a lead at first, looking impressive. VCU then responded, gaining the lead themselves. I thought at that point we would see a taut back-and-forth basketball game with runs by each team, rather like the scintillating Arizona-UConn match of Saturday.

What did happen: VCU kept on with their run. KU, despite multiple time outs by coach Bill Self, could not stop them and ended up behind 14 points at the half. OK, KU fans said to themselves, we come roaring out in the second half and we catch and surpass them. It almost happened too, except the fouls and mistakes caught up with the Jayhawks, killing their momentum and letting VCU continue to lead. When clutch shots needed to be made it was the Rams that made them, not the Jayhawks. Final score: 71-61. KU's last play? Two missed three point attempts.

So no Kansas Jayhawks in the Final Four this year. The "if-only's" have to be making Kansas faithful crazy...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Two in for Final Four

Well, we have two of four. Butler upset Florida in a game I really thought Florida should have won. Butler was just better under pressure, better coached and just generally better. It was a great college basketball game!
If I read the bracket right, if Kansas prevails over Virgina Commonwealth, it will be Butler they face.

The second game put rebuilding basketball powers UConn and Arizona against one another. This was a game of surges but UConn always seemed to have the last word. Arizona had several solid chances to win or tie the game but just could not get the ball to fall.
Connecticut now awaits the winner of Kentucky and North Carolina.

Not to look too far ahead, but KU would end up playing one of these classic programs from the southeast should they get by the streaking VCU Rams and the tough Butler Bulldogs.

Elite Eight

The games start in less than an hour to determine the Final Four. One more 1 seed fell on the way here--Ohio State was not able to best a young Kentucky team. You have to give the annoying Kentucky program and its equally annoying (and cheating or at least around when cheating happens...) coach John Calipari its due--they've won two tournament games with last minute buzzer beaters. Meantime, VCU's dream is still intact--someone pointed out yesterday that they are from the same conference as George Mason.

Kansas and North Carolina both cruised last night in games that were over after the first half.

Today it's Butler (8) and Florida (2) at 3:30 CDT and Arizona (5) vs. Connecticut (3) at 6:05 CDT.

Tomorrow it's Kansas (1) and VCU (11) at 1:20 CDT and Kentucky (4) vs. North Carolina (2) at 4:05 CDT.

I have no more predictions, since I was convinced that it would be Ohio State and Kansas in the final!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mike Anderson

It's been a gossip fest about Mike Anderson.

Yes, he is staying at Missouri, with a new contract. (Never mind he just renegotiated last year.)

No, he is definitely going to Arkansas for $2.2 million.

One thing I know for sure. He is not worth $2.2 million to Missouri. If that is the truth, that Arkansas offered him $2.2 million, then we should be sure to give him plenty of time to pack his stuff. His record is not that of a $2.2 million coach.

I think he's gone, from the print news, radio news and radio talk I've heard.

Monday, March 21, 2011

NCAA March Round Up

March Madness is pretty nuts this year and it could have been nuttier.

Duke almost lost. VCU--yes, they had to play in!--is through to the Sweet 16.

The Big East has stunk it up pretty good including the lost of #1 regional seed Pitt.

Kansas is lone Big 12 survivor--and looks good to have the chance to win it all. The Morris twins were on fire against Illinois.

Heart breaking loss for Kansas State against Wisconsin in a game I thought was very badly officiated.

Ohio State lurks though and the Buckeyes have just been taking care of their business.

So...here are your match ups:

Ohio State (1) vs. Kentucky (4)
Marquette (11) vs. North Carolina (2)
Duke (1) vs. Arizona (5)
UConn (3) vs. San Diego St. (2)
Kansas (1) vs. Richmond (12)
Virgina Commonwealth (11) vs. Florida State (10)
Butler (8) vs. Wisconsin (4)
Brigham Young (3) vs. Florida (2)

There are parts of the bracket that are quite intact and there are parts that are blown up completely. And the prez didn't do too badly--he got 10 of the 16 teams correct. Considering the upsets that's pretty good.

A few high seeds just escaped loses in the early rounds--Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke all came within a whisker of being upset. I would watch for these teams to be more focused. However, it does mean that vulnerability have been shown and better teams might be able to take advantage.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Basketball, Basketball, Basketball!

Kansas started the tournament run against America East's Boston U (Kansas City Star photo)

The college basketball post season is in full swing and the NCAA March Madness thing is down to 32 teams before play started today. As usual, there were bracket busting upsets, mostly in the match ups between the 11-12-13 seed and the 4-5-6 seed. To wit:

Xavier (6) lost to Marquette (11)
Vanderbilt (5) lost to Richmond (12)
Louisville (4) lost to Morehead State (13)
Georgetown (6) lost to Virgina Commonwealth (11)
Texas A&M (7) lost to Florida State (10)
St. John's (6) lost to Gonzaga (11)
UNLV (8) lost to Illinois (9)

In addition Arizona (5) and Kentucky (4) just escaped the upset bug--Kentucky with a last second hoop against Ivy League school Princeton. (Darn, that's too bad...and it might have woke them up too. Today they had no problem with West Virgina [5])

Locally, Missouri, seeded 11, lost to Cincinnati. The Tigers continued to shoot poorly and they could not stop the Bearcats on defense at all. Any time Mizzou got a little run on, Cincinnati would just breeze through the Tigers' half court defense and score pretty easily. The team needs to be bigger, and perhaps just a little tougher next year to progress in the tournament.

Kansas State's game--and seed (5)--scared me. That 5-12 match seems especially susceptible to upsets. Kansas State prevailed over a game Utah State team. Jacob Pullen had a nice game leading the Wildcats but many contributed to a good firm win. Next up for K State is Wisconsin tonight at about 7:40 pm our time.

Kansas (1) started slow and tight, but in the second half got their act together and pulled away from America East rep Boston University (tabbed with the dreaded 16 seed). The Terriers showed well for the conference of the UVM Catamounts giving Kansas everything they wanted until just wearing out in the second half. Next up for the Jayhawks: Illinois (9) who won their 8-9 match handily over UNLV.

Speaking of Vermont, the Catamounts played in the NIT. Seeded No 7, they drew No. 2 Cleveland State. Playing without Evan Fjeld, UVM gave the Vikings all they could handle, but ended up losing 60-63. UVM ended the year with Fjeld's injury stealing precious momentum and wins. It might have been the Cats giving the Jayhawks a tough time instead of BU.

Plenty left to watch--sorry for all you who filled out brackets. Take heart though--your chances of winning were pretty slim to begin with as this article points out.

UVM played tough against Cleveland State without vital cog Fjeld. (photo: Cleveland Plain Dealer)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Royals 9-5-1 in Cactus League Play

Spring training is a notoriously difficult time to evaluate ball clubs. On paper the Royals, stripped down of many of the best performers of the past couple of years but not yet ready to bring up ballyhooed youngsters look to have a very bad, long year. However, there are signs that the team is making the right progress.

Don't expect the 2011 Royals to surprise--they are just too raw and there are too many questions, especially in the pitching area. With youngsters though you just never know. I would be thrilled if the 2011 Royals won more than 63 games, and just played smart baseball all year.

Kauffman Stadium is still a nice place to spend a summer evening too!

Kansas Through to Big 12 Finals

The efforts of Grandview native Alec Burks were not near enough to help Colorado, who came through by upsetting Kansas State, defeat mighty Kansas. The game was respectable at half time--the Buffs had even led during the first half. Kansas started the second half strong and took care of business. The game ended 90-83 for the Jayhawks.

Missouri lost big to Texas A & M--the Aggies are playing Texas for the right to face Kansas in the finals. Both teams have the potential to give the Jayhawks trouble. I have to commend KU--they have come into the tournament and taken care of business. As I listened to the game tonight, I noted that players like Josh Selby, who have struggled to find rhythm in the last games, got chances to play and took advantage of them. Kansas with better guard play is a much scarier team than the Kansas that throws the ball away.

NFL Labor Situation Poor

Frankly, I am not that up on all the legalities of this but apparently if a union has the status of "decertify" it effectively puts the negotiation process in the ice box. The NFL union has been "decertified"--the commentators are all saying that this means an owner lock out is virtually certain. This very much puts the timely beginning of normal NFL off season team activities in serious peril as well as the season itself.

It also has implications for the draft. How do teams sign the players they draft? Do they bother? How will the delay affect the development of the rookies?

The NFL is the hottest professional sports league right now in the United States. They should remember the lessons that baseball had to learn from the 1994 strike debacle. They could easily alienate the fans from the game and wound themselves. I would suggest getting back to work at the negotiation table. Now.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Alas, Ruskin Lost 45-40

Just to catch up here--unfortunately the Ruskin Eagles did not get past the Lee's Summit North Broncos, losing 45-40. That final score makes me think that LSN, who had beaten Ruskin earlier in the year, kept the Eagles in check with slow play. Still this was an excellent way to begin the new era in hoops at Ruskin High School. We will be looking forward to next year!

College Hoops Round Up

The UVM men's basketball team will not be dancing in the big dance this year. They took a bad defeat from .500 NY-Stony Brook 69-47. They were undone by good defense by Stony Brook, injuries to important players and poor shooting.

The Vermont men are going to the NIT by virtue of their regular season championship. They will find out who they play Sunday night. Hopefully by then they will have their momentum back.

Their loss in the America East tourney illustrates how important it is to have some good flow going into the post season. Of our three local teams, two have good flow, Kansas and especially Kansas State, who has been playing very well. Missouri? Not so much. The loss to Kansas in Columbia was a tough one, the Tigers couldn't shoot a lick in that game. 28%? Two three point goals the whole game? Mizzou stayed close by dint of Kansas turnovers and making most of their foul shots. Still it had to be a bit of a demoralizing loss for the Tigers. That, coupled with the loss to Nebraska in Lincoln gives negative momentum for MU. Also they have no bye in the Big 12 Tournament.

Kansas State has been winning consistently for about a month now, and is playing its best basketball. Kansas is winning ugly, has point guard and chemistry problems, but as long as the Morris twins and Robinson keep up their strong inside work, Kansas will be tough to beat. The Jayhawks are likely a #1 seed in some region or another. Both KU and K State have byes in the Big 12 tourney so they will be less worn out if they go all the way to the finals.

March Madness (copyright NCAA) is here!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ruskin Boys Beat Rockhurst 63-61 In 2 OT Nail Biter

Tick, tick, tick. When's the bomb going to go off?

Happy Eagles celebrate District 13 Championship win.

This was really a terrific game to watch--close throughout with good basketball played by both sides. Rockhurst with their designed plays and strong outside shooting, Ruskin with its speed and quickness of hands and feet and ability to run the break and penetrate. However, I will remember this game for the way that each team handled stalling, or holding the ball.

There is no shot clock in Missouri HS Boys Basketball, and that leads to some different strategies when the game is close. At the end of regulation, Ruskin held the ball for close to 20 seconds. Rockhurst declined to defend closely, thus keeping the five second rule out of play. It was the first time we saw the full stall, but it would not be the last.

Rockhurst tried it later in OT when they had the ball and the lead. Ruskin came out and played defense. Rockhurst turned the ball over. It seemed the right strategy to me at this level of basketball. It's hard for young players not to get nervous when holding the ball for any period. Ruskin stalled later on and Rockhurst still declined to play close defense.

It came down to some clutch shooting in both the field and foul line for Ruskin as they were able to regain the lead in the second OT period after going down to Rockhurst a point or two at the beginning. A really nice win that is a tribute both to Ruskin's physical ability and their mental toughness and coachability too.

Next game on the road to State is Wednesday, March 2 at 6:30 pm at the Independence Event Center against Lee's Summit North.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Ruskin in District 13 Game

I can't think of any more of a contrast between Ruskin High School and Rockhurst High School.

The bird fight will be at 1:00 pm at the old Hickman Mills High School on Saturday.

Go Eagles!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Anticipating Lots of Basketballs!

It's all drawing down to a close. High schools will be in Districts shortly, with Ruskin looking good for their first season in the higher class.

Missouri, Kansas and Kansas State disposed of their opponents today. K State is now .500 in the conference, warming at the right time. Think if they had made a few more free throws at Colorado...

Oh, and TEXAS lost to Nebraska in Lincoln. How sad for the Longhorns! ::grin::

Observer pic of Ruskin High action against Truman High.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

That Was a Short Pause...

With the Super Bowl so late, now going into February, it was just a short pause in sports action before things got lively again.

Pitchers and catchers reported to MLB Spring Training.

It's getting so we can tell who is going to win the regular season NCAA hoops conference championships.

High school divisionals are coming--though it's hard to tell exactly when as the weather has really mucked with the regular season.

The Daytona 500 is next weekend.

NFL Draft is coming up and silly season is getting started.

Just to put it in perspective, MLB opens last day of March here in KC--about when the finals will be determined in NCAA D-I men's hoops.

Let the Spring games begin!

UVM Men Win America East Regular Season

The University of Vermont men's team beat the University of Maine to go to 22-5 and win the regular season America East title. A pretty big accomplishment, but there is still more work to do. The Catamounts must win the America East post season tourney for a seat at the Big Dance.

Congrats and Go Vermont!

Freeps file shot of Matt Glass against New Hampshire earlier this season.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Super Thoughts

Well, another nice game in the books! One reason some thought that this could be a blowout was that we were due for a clunker game after three really good games. For a little while, at 21-3, it was looking like a blow out.

I was looking back at my preview post. Goodness, a lot of my thoughts came true.

The game did indeed go lopsided for the Pack in the first half but the Steelers made their way back into it. The touchdown near the end of the first half was critical to Pittsburgh's chances.

Pittsburgh made critical mistakes, that often led to more mistakes. The pick-6 was set up by a bad penalty on a kick run back shoving the Steelers back from the 14 yard line to the 7. When Roethlisburger found himself under pressure at the goal line the options of taking a sack or heaving the ball were removed as they may have resulted in a safety by play or penalty. The Packers had 21 total points from turn overs during the game.

Even so, with three turnovers and untimely penalties, the Steelers had all the opportunity to drive down for the tying TD and winning extra point. It was clear that Roethlisburger was not playing well. They were disorganized and took too much time. They had lost their margin for error.

Green Bay took everything that Pittsburgh gave them. That is why they won this game.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Pre Super Thoughts

Well, tomorrow is the Big Game. Are we feeling like making a prediction?

Green Bay--
* Very good offense, especially now that they seem to have found a runner.
* Defense improving every day with players returning from injury and young players more experienced.
* pretty decent special teams and kickers

*very good defense, capable of shutting down a team
* adequate to good offense. Rothlesburger is relentless and innovative--Bret Favre but with better aim. Erratic run game. O line in flux.
* Explosive return, but did have to replace their kickers over the course of the season.

Green Bay is the faster team, the Steelers the stronger one.

Game is inside, in climate controlled environment. (Good thing, since Texas is enjoying the same sucky weather we all are here in the middle of the US)

Green Bay will win if--
*Speed kills--if Green Bay's passing game gets going the Steelers could be in trouble.
* Stifle them. Don't allow Pittsburgh to hold the ball for minutes with a long field chewing, time chewing drive. Get Pittsburgh's offense off the field.
* No interceptions.

Pittsburgh will win if--
* Aaron Rodgers is sacked, hassled, bothered and just generally harassed and rattled. Especially if he turns the ball over.
* Relentless offense. Nothing special, just make first downs until you score a touch down. Aaron Rodgers can't score standing on the sideline.
* Avoid turnovers and penalties--no negative plays.

There is a potential for a Green Bay blow out in this game, but I could also see a game where the Pack start fast, then Pittsburgh comes back to at least make it interesting. The Steelers margin for error is much smaller than Green Bay's. Too many Pittsburgh mistakes will result in a rout for the Pack. A flawless Pittsburgh team will be a hand full for Green Bay.

I think Green Bay will win, in either a very tight game in doubt to the end or a laugher that is not in doubt after the third quarter.