Cuban Losing It

>> Friday

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban would be suing former Mavs coach and current Golden Warriors head man Don Nelson for using "confidential information" in the Warriors stunning upset over the heavily favored Mavs in this year's NBA playoffs. In this demand, Cuban also wants Nelson to be prevented from coaching against the Mavs in future games. I'm guessing Cuban must have had a recent run-in with Roy Pearson of $54 million pants lawsuit infamy. Not wanting to finish runner-up in the court of public ridicule, Cuban has decided to play a game of top-this.


What A Jerk


For all you Miami Heat fans (or fans of whatever D-league team Stanko Barac plays for next year)

And you thought I was kidding.




We All Gotta Go Sometime

The NFL has closed up shop on NFL Europe. The World League of American Football-->NFL Europe--> NFL Europa will forever be remembered as the league that brought us the Scottish Claymores, Yo Murphy, US brand-awareness of Skoda, and video of our favorite teams' players that needed a LIIIIIIIIIIIITTLE more time in the kiln before being ready for the NFL.

The writing was on the wall given the recent ticket success of NFL regular season games to be played this year at Wembley Stadium and next year in Germany. A 17-game schedule may be closer than we think.


Chicago Bulls had a few too many...

...and woke up this morning to THIS. Talk about Coyote Ugly.


My grades for every team in the 2007 NBA Draft

>> Thursday

Atlanta: C
Sure, they got Horford and Law IV early, but they had no second-rounders. Don't they know that Moses Malone was drafted in the fourth round? They missed out on a player twice as good as Moses Malone. Gotta dock 'em for that.

Boston: C
They drafted Jeff Green but traded him. So does that really count? Honestly, I already forgot who was in the trade, but it probably won't work out. They really should've drafted Oden.

Charlotte: C
Jared Dudley at #22 was an interesting pick, but the Bobcats have a problem on their hands if he shoots free throws anything like Chris Dudley. Fortunately, he does not.

Chicago: C
Noah and Gray give the Bulls some much-needed height, and JamesOn Curry gives them a really kickass name. But the question remains: Will Jordan return to persue that seventh title?

Cleveland: C
The Cavs had no picks, so it's kind of hard to give them an A. But they couldn't screw up the draft either. Let's call it... a C!

Detroit: C
They got stuck with Stuckey at 15, and Aaron Afflalo might put Flip Saunders in AA. As for Sammy Mejia, will he end up in D-troit or D-league?

Indiana: C
Just like Cleveland, they had no picks. Even still, they did way worse than the Cavs. They get an F. Aww, shucks... They tried hard. C sounds fair.

Miami: C
They drafted Jason Smith, but I think they traded him for somebody. Good move. As for second-round pick Stanko Barac, I've already got the "Stank Love" and "Barac in '08" t-shirt designs made, so he'd better make the team. Otherwise, I'll be clothing many a third-world child.

Milwaukee: C
Yi was a value pick at #6, but he's liable to give his teammates poison toothpaste and toys with lead paint. He'll mean well and all, but that's the nature of the beast.

New Jersey: C
Sean Williams is a character risk, but it's not like he got kicked out of school or something. What? Oh...

New York: C
Wilson Chandler is a fine talent, but will the Knicks' draft-night trade hurt his value? Zach Randolph could accidentally sit on him.

Orlando: C
I like Reyshawn Terry's value in the second round, but I'm not so sure he'll like playing in Stan Van Gundy's system. Of course I'd say that about anyone they drafted.

Philadelphia: C
The Sixers started strong, drafting Thaddeus Young at #12, but they accidentally used their two second-round picks on Petteri Koponen and Kyrylo Fesenko, who are hockey players.

Toronto: C
Another no-show! Well, I guess I have to grade these consistent, or the school board will be on my ass tomorrow.

Washington: C
Nick Young is good, but unfortunately, he'll never get to play because he plays the same position as Gilbert Arenas. Even if he does, he'll never get to shoot because he plays the same game as Gilbert Arenas.

Dallas: C
Nick Fazekas has by far the easiest name to pronounce among the Mavs three picks. Man, these foreign guys are just ruining the league.

Denver: C
They had no picks either. I mean, seriously, who did participate in this draft? (As it turns out, every team except Indiana, Cleveland, Toronto, and Denver.)

Golden State: C
I've never really heard of any of their three picks. But they look like a C class to me.

Houston: C
If this were an NFL fantasy draft, Aaron Brooks at #26 would be a horrible pick. Since it's not, I love this pick. But it's really hard to overlook that name.

Los Angeles Clippers: C
Second-round pick Jared Jordan played for the Marist Red Foxes, which is appropriate because Red Foxx once lived in L.A. too. Sorry folks--this is what passes for analysis nowadays.

Los Angeles Lakers: C
I can't wait to hear Reggie Miller try to pronounce "Javaris Crittenton." I bet it'll sound real choppy-like, and he'll make really hard "T" sounds.

Memphis: C
Mike Conley's dad was an Olympic medalist. I bet you've never heard that before.

Minnesota: C
Corey Brewer and Chris Richard are leaving sunny Florida to play in frigid Minnesota. If I were them, I'd feel like shooting myself right now. But mostly, I'd be overjoyed that I got drafted.

New Orleans: C
Julian Wright is no Julian Tavarez, but he should do fine with the Hornets. I've clearly given up trying.

Phoenix: C
I hope Steve Nash and Shawn Marion like competition. Watch for D.J. Strawberry and Alando Tucker to steal away their starting spots this season.

Portland: C
The Blazers drafted guys from the Big Ten, Big East, SEC, and ACC. It's like an alphabet soup that occasionally has short words spelled out in it.

Sacremento: C
When I think Spencer Hawes, I think "bust." As in, he'll be so good that someday someone will carve his bust.

San Antonio: C
I don't see how the Spurs were able to draft Marcus Williams after he already played an entire year for the Nets. No way the league office upholds this pick.

Seattle: C
I'm not sure I like the pick of "Big Baby." And by "Big Baby," I mean Kevin Durant. He couldn't even bench 180! Pussy!!

Utah: C
Morris Almond will be a "joy" to watch, and... Oh, I already did this schtick? Oops.


How The Experts Rate The Bulls' Draft: 2007 Edition


Zuch is, apparently less than pleased with the Bulls' selection of Joakim Noah. However, you gotta love that suit.

As for Nate and I, we're stoked. Yi should be an awesome player, but if he refuses to play in Milwaukee, he's dead to me.


Class of '07 is ready to make history

Tonight is the beginning of something big. This could be the one. This could finally be the year that the NBA rookies reverse the trend in The Rookie Challenge, which the NBA "sophomores" have dominated for the past five years.

After last year's loss, Brandon Roy vowed to keep the trend going in 2008 by coming back and winning for the sophomores. But come on Brandon, Adam Morrison and Paul Millsap are not going to get it done against your soon-to-be teammate and the scoring machine that is Kevin Durant. Last year's Florida team could handle last year's NBA rookie class, and most of that team will be there at next year's big game. Throw in Oden, Durant and Mike Conley Jr. with players like Jeff Green and Yi Jianlian coming off the bench and you have an opportunity to shock the world.

Man this is big. This is huge...I'm counting down the days until I forget to watch.


A Legit "Rivalry" Brewing?

For the past few years, Milwaukee Brewers fans have considered the Chicago Cubs their fiercest rivals. Sure, the interleague schedule dictates that the official rivals are the Minnesota Twins, but a lack of meaningful division play basically negates any legitimate bad blood between the two teams. Actually, between the fans of the two teams, because - as baseball fans tend to forget - most of the time, players probably don't really care. It's just another uniform, as far as they're concerned.

However, since the Brewers have, for lack of a more accurate term, sucked for the better part of two decades, Cubs hat wearing fans failed to see the point in developing a fierce dislike for the lovable drunks from Milwaukee. After all, the Cubs already have the Cardinals, one of the longest and most storied rivalries in all of baseball. However, in the past handful of seasons, the Cubs have done their fair share of losing as well, along the way helping to make the NL Central probably the weakest division in all of Major League Baseball.

But, in 2007, a new horizon has arrived. The Brewers, on the strength of one of baseball's best farm systems and some savvy personnel moves, have become a legitimate divisional contender and, for the first time in a long time, boast a legitimate major league lineup (no foolin'!). Gone are the days when foolish hope rested on the likes of Turner Ward and Brooks Keishnick. Here instead are the new Brewers, anchored in the lineup by NL home run leader Prince Fielder. However, not to be confused with the Brewers of years past, these Brewers no longer rely on just one player to determine their fortune. Instead, they're getting production from everyone 1-8, boasting one of the NL's best lineups from top to bottom that includes shortstop J.J. Hardy, centerfielder Bill Hall, a resurgent Geoff Jenkins in left field and red hot phenom third baseman Ryan Braun.

The Cubs, after languishing for the better part of two months in the cellar of the NL Central, have surged of late, winning their last six and seven of their last ten. Sure, the bulk of the Cubs' production has come from veterans Alfonso Soriano, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez, but the northsiders have gotten into the youth development game as well, getting production from Felix Pie, and twin Ecksteins Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot. Though the Cubs still sit 7 1/2 games back from the division leading Brewers, there's a lot of season left, and as the old saying goes, "the Cubs don't usually completely shit the bed until September."

Anyway, the bottom line, I guess, is this: if the Cubs and Brewers get hot at the same time this season, awesome. As a lifelong Brewers fan that was born after '82 and too young to vividly remember '92, I'm hankerin' for an old time divisional race. If this is to be the year that the Brewers bust out and finally make the playoffs, it would mean so much more to do it while fighting off a resurgent second half effort from the Cubs. Also, such a race would have great implications for this here blog because, as you, the dilligent reader are no doubt aware, while Nate and I love the Brewers, Vinnie, Mike and Pat bleed Cubbie blue. Zuch is a White Sox fan, though, so I think his hatred of the Cubs evens this thing out 3-3. Anyway, whatever, it'll be exciting, trust me.


Way to strike while the iron's hot, guys

The movie only premiered 6 1/2 months ago.


"The French Connection" aka "The Baseballin' Bayou Bengals" aka "The Silent 'T' Pals": A fluff piece BONANZA

>> Wednesday

To this point, the story of Cubs infielders Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot probably hasn't made it far outside Chicago, but each day brings the national audience closer to an angle that could well be Eckstein^2.

It's positively precious--two diminutive, high-contact, line-drive hitters with similar last names playing in the same infield... just like they did as college teammates at LSU! Add in a cutesy nickname for the duo ("French Connection"--the other two I made up) and second-half charge by the "lovable losers," and ...ka-blammo! You've got yourself the best This Week in Baseball moment since Steve Lyons's pants fell down.

I only want to prepare our readers because the Fontenot-Theriot explosion is imminent right now. After a five-hit game Monday and a three-hit game including a homerun today, Fontenot is hitting .408, and his emergence has coincided with--or in sports journalist logic, caused--the Cubs' recent hot stretch. And oh did I mention Fontenot is only 5'8" and 160 lbs?

"The Riot" is not quite as small--just 5'11" and 175 lbs--nor is he as good. But with his 13 SB and connection to Fontenot, a pesky .327 SLG% won't spoil this fluff mine of fluff. No sir-ee!

Prepare yourself, baseball fans. As the Cubs make their second-half charge at the NL Central title, these two young men with silent "T"s at the end of their names will steal your hearts and Alfonso Soriano's credit.

David Eckstein--your reign may be over.


"Hawk Harrelson is wrong about everything, and he's dumb, too"

>> Tuesday

Not my title, but that of the guy who posted this on Youtube. I'm way late putting this up, but if you're not from Chicago, you probably haven't seen this.

Watch the entire thing. You will not be disappointed.


Am I Missing Something?

>> Monday

From's Chad Ford, in re: Nick Fazekas

The skinny: Rockets GM Daryl Morey is a stats guy and Fazekas ranks very high on various sabermetric equations. They also need a power forward and a shooter ... making Fazekas an obvious pick. (emphasis added)

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but how the hell are basketball statistics ever "sabermetrics?" Doesn't "sabermetrics" come from the Society of American Baseball Research? Baseball? Hello? Huh? Where am I?


"Act like you've been there before"

That's what my Dad always told me on the rare off-chance that I actually succeeded at something on the field of play. My entire soccer career from "the Lazers" through Creeping Death United, I only scored one goal. It was celebrated with a single fist pump and a congratulations of my fellow "Orange Crush" teammates in the Willowbrook Park District U-13 league. Act like you've been there before, sez the man who controlled my meager allowance. Had I known that would be the only goal I would score in at least the next ten years, I probably would have lived it up a little more, making a total ass of myself in the process.

Besides, acting like you've been there before is never fun. As such, on this blog, we've noticed we sometimes sputter in our predictions. Despite all our collective sports expertise, sometimes the games just don't play out the way we think they will, or the way we think they should. But this is one time where I was dead on, and I don't mind crowing about it, because it may be another decade before I nail a prediction this well. I'm celebrating like I've never been here before, and like I never will. [pop open champagne bottle]

Back in February, with US soccer fans bitching and moaning about the US staking the CONCACAF Gold Cup as its priority tournament this summer, instead of the glitzier Copa America, where the US would get a chance to slug it out with world heavyweights Argentina and Brazil, I dove inside US Coach Bob Bradley's head and figured it all out. And I couldn't have been more correct [cartwheels]. Say what you will about soccer and its relative importance in the US sports landscape, but as far as this blog goes, we didn't really have the best of success with our "Lock of the Week" in football season so we should take anything we can get.

Back in February I posited that Bradley would send his cream-of-the-crop team to the Gold Cup to earn a berth in the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009, a sort of BCS-style dry-run the year before the World Cup in the same stadiums. I then said the States would send a younger, B-team to Copa America that would then be coming into its prime in three years for the 2010 World Cup, during which time they'd have already played on the world stage. [shooting off fireworks]

Wouldn't you know? Team USA won the Gold Cup, defeating Mexico 2-1 in front of a pro-Mexican crowd at Soldier Field Sunday. [Firing six-shooters into the air]
Then, Coach Bradley released a Copa America roster with 16 players with 10 or fewer caps (appearances for the National team), but who look to make up the bulk of the 2010 World Cup team. While we may not know for sure how this will all shake out for three years, I think I've got a decent idea, and that's more than assholes like Jamie Trecker had.

So I hate to say "I told you so," but I kinda did, and on this blog, that comes not nearly as often as we'd like.


An Early Look Towards Next Season in College Basketball

>> Friday

At my college basketball blog From Way Downtown, I have previewed my projected top 25 teams for next season. Besides my full preview of the top five shortly below here, other teams of note include Georgetown at 6, Michigan State at 8, Marquette at 9, Duke at 11, Villanova at 15 and Syracuse at 22.

1. Memphis:

An Elite 8 team last season, the Tigers return their starting five from a year ago and have one of the best point guard prospects in years coming in. Derrick Rose, the athletic 6'3 floor general from the Windy City, will lead the way for Memphis. A pure point guard with excellent size and a capable perimeter shooter, Rose has a very good chance of winning a national championship during his brief stay in college. A myriad of talented wing players join Rose on the perimeter. Chris Douglas-Roberts, a complete scorer who always finds a way to get open, should lead the Tigers in scoring again this season. Antonio Anderson gives the Tigers an adept ball handler and distributor from the wing, as well as another player who can take it to the basket. The super athletic Doneal Mack will provide instant offense of the bench, as he averaged 7 points per game in just 14 minutes of action. Another freshman, Jeff Robinson, should provide an offensive spark off the bench. A 6'5 wing from prep power St. Patrick's (NJ), Robinson can really shoot the ball and like most Memphis players, enjoys attacking the rim. To round the backcourt, last season's starter at the point, sophomore Willie Kemp, will back-up Rose and can also play next to him on occasion. Joey Dorsey and Robert Dozier return to anchor the Tigers frontcourt. Dorsey, an athletic 6'9 bull, does a great job of rebounding and altering shots. He struggles with getting into foul trouble, but always makes a big impact when out on the court. Dozier, an athletic 6'9 forward, enjoys getting to the rim and can hit the mid-range jumper. On defense, he uses his length to block and alter shots. Massive 6'8 sophomore Pierre Niles gives the Tigers a true back to the basket scorer when he comes into the game. If the 285 pound Niles can get into better shape, he will earn significant minutes this season, especially when the Tigers get caught up in a half-court game. With a balanced roster and a proven coach in John Calipari, Memphis has the chance to make history this season as the first non-BCS national champion in almost two decades.

Projected Starters:
G Derrick Rose, 6'3, Fr.
G Chris Douglas-Roberts, 6'5, Jr.
G Antonio Anderson, 6'5, Jr.
F Robert Dozier, 6'9, Jr.
F Joey Dorsey, 6'9, Sr.

Key Reserves:
G Doneal Mack, 6'5, So.
G/F Jeff Robinson, 6'5, Fr.
F Pierre Niles, 6'8, So.
G Willie Kemp, 6'2, So.
G Andre Allen, 5'10, Sr.

2. North Carolina:

The Tar Heels, with the majority of their key parts returning, look to avenge last season's heartbreaking loss to Georgetown in the Elite 8. The hardest working player in America, Tyler Hansbrough, will once again lead the way. The 6'9 junior forward has been a scoring and rebounding machine during his two seasons in Chapel Hill, and should be the heavy favorite for ACC player of the year. Joining in him in the frontcourt will be a pair of talented sophomores, Deon Thompson and Alex Stepheson. Thompson, a well built power forward with excellent post moves, proved be a key player off the bench last season. During his one chance to start, he had a huge game replacing the sick Brandan Wright in their drubbing of Arizona. Stepheson, an athletic 6'9 forward, should be the first big off the bench this year and will be a nice option when Hansbrough or Thompson needs a rest. Super quick point guard Ty Lawson returns to lead the Tar Heels offense. The 5'11 Lawson has an extremely quick first step, and cannot be left open from the perimeter. Starting for the majority of his freshman season, Lawson generally played like an experienced floor general. Another sophomore, Wayne Ellington, joins Lawson in the backcourt. A very smooth player with an excellent perimeter shot, Ellington looks to be poised for a big sophomore campaign. At the other perimeter spot, Roy Williams will have an interesting choice between lockdown defender Marcus Ginyard and skilled wing Danny Green. After starting as a freshman, Ginyard adjusted nicely to coming off the bench last season and blends in nicely with this group of stars and future pros. Green, a crafty player from New York, could be a nice option as Carolina's sixth man. Guards Bobby Frasor and Quention Thomas give the Tar Heels two other very players off the bench, and redshirt forward William Graves will fight to earn minutes. While the Tar Heels lost two quality players in Brandan Wright and Reyshawn Terry, they still have a very talented, deep group capable of winning it all and ready to dominate the ACC.

Projected Starters:
G Ty Lawson, 5'11, So.
G Wayne Ellington, 6'4, So.
G Marcus Ginyard, 6'5, Jr.
F Deon Thompson, 6'8, So.
F Tyler Hansbrough, 6'9, Jr.

Key Reserves:
G/F Danny Green, 6'5, Jr.
F Alex Stepheson, 6'9, So.
G Bobby Frasor, 6'3, Jr.
G Quentin Thomas, 6'3, Sr.
F William Graves, 6'6, Fr.

3. UCLA:

The Bruins, coming off back-to-back Final Four appearances, look to be poised to make it three consecutive trips for Ben Howland. The return of super point guard Darren Collison and the arrival of awesome freshman Kevin Love gives the Bruins a dynamic pair to build around. Collison made the loss of Jordan Farmar to the NBA a non-issue last season. A very quick player with the knack for hitting big shots, Collison passed on the pros for a chance to help the Bruins take that elusive final step and bring the national championship back to Westwood. An excellent leader at the point guard spot, Collison will again look to set up his talented group of teammates. Joining him in the backcourt will be junior wing Josh Shipp. Despite struggling with injuries during his college career, Shipp has managed to be a consistent scoring threat and tough defender when he's on the court. Going through another hip surgery this offseason, Shipp hopes to finally comes back 100 percent for the 2008 season. The other perimeter starting spot will be competed for by Russell Westbrook, Michael Roll and incoming freshman Chace Stanback. Westbrook, a combo guard who can play off the ball or run the offense when Collison needs a blow, would probably be considered the favorite. Roll, a perimeter marksman, will need to work on the other elements of his game in order to get starter's minutes. The most talented of this group would be Stanback, but he may be better off playing Shipp's spot on the wing. An athletic 6'7 wing player who can get to the basket, Stanback should be a future stalwart for the Bruins program. The Bruins have lacked a guy who can score from the post, but Love will make that a non-issue this season. A complete forward who can hit the perimeter jumper and enjoys competing down low, I think Love will have the biggest freshman impact of anyone in the country. As a boon to the speedy Collison, Love may be the best outlet passer I have ever seen. After a disappointing sophomore season where he battled with injuries, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute will be back and ready to make a major impact. As a freshman, Mbah a Moute always managed to get his hands on the ball. However, that quickness and tenacity were quelled by nagging leg injuries and he looked like a shell of his former self towards the end of last season. Before injuries hit, Mbah a Moute showed flashes of developing a complete game that could prepel him back into the serious NBA discussion after this upcoming campaign. All-effort guy Lorenzo Mata will be back and should provide a willing defender and banger down low. Defensive minded Alfred Aboya and perimeter threat James Keefe round out what will be a much improved frontcourt thanks to the presence of Love. Like Kansas, UCLA could see their roster decimated after next season. However, they have all the parts to make 2008 a season to remember.

Projected Starters:
G Darren Collison, 6'0, Jr.
G Russell Westbrook, 6'3, So.
G/F Josh Shipp, 6'5, Jr.
F Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, 6'7, Jr.
F Kevin Love, 6'9, Fr.

Key Reserves:
G/F Chace Stanback, 6'7, Fr.
F Lorenzo Mata, 6'8, Sr.
G Michael Roll, 6'5, Jr.
F Alfred Aboya, 6'8, Jr.
F James Keefe, 6'8, So.

4. Tennessee:

The Vols let Ohio State off the mat in last season's NCAA Tournament, but return all but one of their key guys from a Sweet 16 team. Chris Lofton, the best shooter in America, returns for his senior season to make a run at the Final Four. The 6'2 guard, lightly recruited by homestate Kentucky and Louisville, has developed into a college star. Along with his perimeter marksmanship, Lofton has become an adept penetrator who can burn opponents that guard him too closely. He will again have plenty of help in the backcourt. Sophomore Ramar Smith had a very nice freshman season as the Vols floor general. A lead guard who can set up his teammates and also create his own shot, Smith enjoys playing in Bruce Pearl's up-tempo system. JaJuan Smith has quietly developed into an outstanding college scorer. A dangerous perimeter shooter not afraid to chuck it, Smith has taken a step up during each season of his career and could be poised to join Lofton as an All-SEC performer this season. Senior Jordan Howell gives Pearl a true, pass first point guard. Sophomore Josh Tabb, an excellent defensive player, can play all three guard spots in Pearl's system. Incoming freshman wing Cameron Tatum could be a nice scoring option off the bench. Upfront, sophomore duo Duke Crews and Wayne Chism lead the way. Crews, a hard working post player who can really run the floor, fits nicely as the interior option for Pearl. Chism, a 6'9 big man who can hit the perimeter jumper, did a nice job competing down low with more physical players as a freshman. A lot of the time, Pearl keeps one of these guys on the bench in case other gets into foul trouble and to keep them both fresh. Because of this, emerging junior big man Ryan Childress will probably start at one of the forward spots. Like Chism, Childress can hit the perimeter jumper and gives Pearl the option to play a line-up full of guys who hit the three. With an experienced roster used to playing in Pearl's swarming attack, the Vols should be SEC favorites and a team you will dread to face in March. Given the right draw, they could be the last team standing.

Projected Starters:
G Ramar Smith, 6'2, So.
G Chris Lofton, 6'2, Sr.
G JaJuan Smith, 6'2, Sr.
F Ryan Childress, 6'9, Jr.
F Wayne Chism, 6'9, So.

Key Reserves:
F Duke Crews, 6'7, So.
G Josh Tabb, 6'4, So.
G Jordan Howell, 6'3, Sr.
G Cameron Tatum, 6'5, Fr.

5. Louisville:

After getting healthy and on the same page, the Cardinals may have been the best team in America the last month of the 2007 season. The Cardinals frontcourt may be the most complete unit in the country. Senior David Padgett, a crafty post player who has successfully overcome a myriad of knee injuries, leads this embattled group. While Padgett has lost some of his athleticism, his knowledge of the game and ability to outsmart opponents still makes him a very tough player to guard. Also, fouling him does not work, as he hits better than 80% of his free throws. Juan Palacios, another player who has had to overcome a bunch of injuries, hopes to have a healthy and productive senior season. An athletic forward who can hit the perimeter jumper, Palacios looked to be a future star after playing a key role in Louisville's 2005 Final Four season. Since then, serious ankle and knee injuries have caused him to spend lots of time next to Rick Pitino on the bench and kept him from playing to his vast potential. Super sopohmore Derrick Caracter could be ready to step into the starting line-up. A strong 6'9 post player, Caracter played extremely well after initially clashing with Pitino. If he plays 25 minutes a game, Caracter could easily be a double-double guy. The athletic Earl Clark really emerged after stepping into Palacios's starting spot. While coming to Louisville as a wing player, Clark successfully mixed it up inside and gives the Cardinals a versatile guy who can really bother bigger, slower players. Freshman George Goode, a dangerous perimeter shooter, gives Pitino another versatile frontcourt player to utilize. In the backcourt, sophomore Edgar Sosa leads the way. The New York City guard loves taking it to the basket, and became a better distributor as last season wore on. Sosa had a huge game in their close second round loss to Texas A&M, and could position himself as one of the best guards in the Big East by the end of next season. Jerry Smith had an excellent freshman season, highlighted by a 30 foot game-winning shot to steal a critical win at Marquette. A talented perimeter shooter and lockdown defender, Smith has fit comfortably in Pitino's system despite rumblings that he was looking to transfer. Athletic wing Terrence Williams rounds out the Cardinals starting line-up. A talented player who can be really tough to handle when he focuses on getting to the basket, Williams led the Cardinals in scoring, rebounding and assists last season. However, Williams can be a hinderence when he worries too much about jacking perimeter shots. Still, he's a very tough match-up for opposing teams and the guy who makes the Cardinals go. Junior Andre McGee, a capable back-up point guard, will allow Rick Pitino to play Sosa off the ball while he runs the offense. If they can stay healthy and on the same page, Louisville has a chance to capture the Big East crown and make another run to the Final Four. After a forgettable start to their Big East career, the Cardinals have quickly vaulted their way to the conference's elite.

Projected Starters:
G Edgar Sosa, 6'2, So.
G Jerry Smith, 6'1, So.
F Terrence Williams, 6'6, Jr.
F Juan Palacios, 6'8, Sr.
F/C David Padgett, 6'11, Sr.

Key Reserves:
F Derrick Caracter, 6'9, So.
F Earl Clark, 6'8, So.
G Andre McGee, 5'11, Jr.
F George Goode, 6'8, Fr.

Teams 6-10

Teams 11-15

Teams 16-20

Teams 21-25


A thousand asterisks? Not enough, I say! A million trillion BILLION asterisks!

>> Thursday

As we all know, a certain man* known as Barry* Bonds** is fast approaching a new* MLB career home run record***. And if he does break* this record, it will be the end of baseball and God as we know them.

But us baseball fans are too proud to let him accomplish** this feat*--at least not without yelling a lot and being really sanctimonious about it!

That's why I want to share this email we got yesterday:

The fans have waved over one thousand foam asterisks in stadiums across the country. Boston fans are preparing for the Boston Asterisk Party. Why have you not heard of it? Because MLB has effectively muted this protest.

Without good journalists like you the fans will not be heard. The LA Times, Sporting News, Canada, and Florida have jumped on board. Our next goal is to get 1,000 asterisk in the Bleachers on July 17th! Can you help us out with a little grass roots word of mouth?

This is the year the storied steroid era will resurface and with our help the fans will unite...

That's right! Good journalists like us! We will UNITE!! To end injustice! To fight the good fight! To perpetuate the idolatry of baseball records! To make sure we condemn, humiliate, and verbally threaten this cheater of a cheat of scumbum!

That's right--CHEATER. You're a CHEATER, Bonds*!!
A cheater!!!




Cheater, cheater, excrement eater!!!!!

...Sorry. Got a little carried away. Let me just compose my--


Ok, done.

But the protest shouldn't stop at a thousand fans in the bleachers. No, friends. Our work will not be done until every set of opposable thumbs on this planet is gripping a foam asterisk on the day Barry** Bonds**** breaks****** the home*run* record**!!!


And when he does break it, we will tag the outside of AT&T Park with an askerisk so big that Barry's f***ing eyes* will pop! And then we'll head over to Bonds* Manor and dispense herbicide in the shape of a 300 yard-by-300 yard asterisk on Barry's lawn! And then we'll piss in the shape of an asterisk in the middle of it!!! I mean... yeah, it won't show anymore once the urine evaporates... But it'll be one hell of a statement!! And then we'll hang Bonds* in effigy! And then we'll take down that effigy and piss on it too! Who's with me!!

Join the power!! Fight the good fight!! Fight the power!! Fight the good!! Power the join!! Good the good!!...


Don't Sweat It, Sam

It's not like it will cost you the election. You didn't really have a chance to win anyway.


Even when you're right, you're wrong, Mr. Phillips

>> Wednesday

Do you think Sammy Sosa is a Hall of Famer?

Steve Phillips: Yes
Sammy Sosa is a Hall of Famer. Slam dunk. [steroids talk steroids talk steroids talk] In fact, consider that Sosa did get busted for corking a bat during his playing days. Why would a player on steroids cork his bat? He wouldn't.

Why would a man with an attractive wife have an affair? He wouldn't.

Why would a young woman of perfectly normal weight go on a diet? She wouldn't.

Why would Kenneth Lay steal from his employee stock holders when he was already rich? He wouldn't.

Why would Richard Nixon, holding a comfortable lead in the presidential election, have his campaign staff spy on his opponent? He wouldn't.

Why would a baseball general manager trade a 26 year-old Jason Isringhausen for a 37 year-old junkballer named Billy Taylor in 1999? He wouldn't. Unless he was Steve Phillips.

P.S.: For the correct answer on the Sosa matter, read the blurb by friend of YCS Keith Law.


A letter to Mr. Bonds.

Dear Barry,

I am writing to you on behalf of baseball fans everywhere. I know that it is awfully pretentious of me to assume the voice of some billion people worldwide, but someone needs to clear something up. Tuesday night I saw you play at Miller Park where you were, of course, booed by 30,000+ people that were there in hopes of seeing you hit a home run, so they could watch in awe...and then boo you some more. I half-heartedly joined in the boo parade (although I much more adamantly booed Craig Counsell's spot in the starting lineup). Since I kinda booed you, I thought I should explain myself, and in the process explain everyone else.

See, it's really not about you, personally. People aren't booing Barry Bonds; they're booing steroids. I'm betting that if you asked baseball fans straight up, "Are you really booing Bonds personally, or are you booing the steroids era?" you could get a lot of them to admit that it's the steroids themselves that piss them off, not an individual user of those drugs. And no, you're not singled out because it's so obvious you used steroids or because you're an asshole (if those were the only qualifications, we'd be all over Roger Clemens); you're singled out because you're going to break the most precious record in sports with the help of artificial performance enhancers. Steroids are interchangeable with the broad concept of cheating, which we like to pretend that we care about. Of course, any time we do anything competitive ourselves, we're more than likely to cheat. Who hasn't snuck a couple $500 bills from the Monopoly bank when our little brother wasn't paying attention? So yeah, we're hypocrites when we complain about cheaters, but we aren't about to etch our names into the MLB record books. You are. So the closer you get to that magical number, the harder we boo.

Now here's the tricky part. We don't really even care about the home run record. At least, we shouldn't. If any city has a right to be truly pissed at you for breaking the record, it's Milwaukee, where Hank Aaron is probably the biggest sports name in our city's history. But when you hit 755 and 756 sometime in July, will Aaron's name be at all tarnished? Have you lessened Babe Ruth's greatness by passing him up? Of course not. The game today is not the game it was then; the pitching mound is lower, the training is better, the body armor is fucking ridiculous, to name a few to compare any numbers, you need to add an asterisk.

So here's why we're really pissed off about the whole steroids thing. Because you, and the rest of baseball, tricked us. Now, I'm speaking for the general population here, and not for die-hard baseball fans, but after the 94 strike, we were fed up with baseball. The egos and the money and the bullshit was too much for many of us to handle, and we left baseball. Then in 1998 Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire had their unforgettable race to 61 and we were won back. The commercials were only half telling the truth when they said that chicks dig the long ball, because chicks, men, children and beast all want to see home runs, and all of a sudden everyone was hitting them. So we came back, and baseball regained its rightful spot as America's Pastime.

Then the steroid reports broke open and all the home runs that we had been drooling over were suddenly illegitimate, at least partially. Now we're faced with one mindfuck of a dilemma. We still love the home runs, and Sosa/McGwire or not, we've been reminded that we really do love baseball...but we hate that we were tricked into coming back. We feel duped, and we are really pissed off at steroids for duping us.

We're not about to stop watching baseball, and we sure as hell are not about to stop cheering home runs. So our only alternative is to insist that Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron are still the home run champs. Then we find a few scapegoats and boo them and yell the cleverest of chants like "Steeeeeeer-oids, Steeeeeeer-oids." And I'm afraid you're going to have to take the heaviest dose because of the whole 755 business. But just remember that we're not booing you. We're booing our own contradictory nature.


YCS Public Shaming

The latest in the long list of YCS's reporting on the shady characters of the world of sport comes in the form of a Tampa Bay Devil Rays prospect NOT NAMED Delmon Young.

However, unlike our usual cheeky cast of characters who make sport colorful, this guy is one sick motherfucker. It is in fact Elijah Dukes; the latest addition to the Douchebag hall of fame, so he's being pulled out here for a public flogging, since untill now, I'd never heard of this guy, and he definitely deserves a public internet flogging.

Dukes is presently accused of impregnating the teenage foster child of one of his relatives, then responding to the news of the pregnancy by whipping a bottle of Gatorade at his new baby mama.

I say "new" because Dukes is reported to have at least five children by four different women.

Oh yea, one of the mothers is his wife, who he recently threatened to kill, along with their children.

While we all point the finger at Barry Bonds (myself included) as being a total asswipe, it really takes characters like Dukes to put the word "scumbag" into perspective.

HT: Kenn Tomasch


Chicago Fire Head Coach Fired



>> Tuesday

Todd Boyd of pens that the Spurs are not a "true dynasty" despite their 4 championships in nine seasons. Among his best reasons, boiled down here so you don't have to read the whole article...

"They never defended their title"
"They play boring basketball"
"They beat low-seeded teams in the playoffs and Finals."
"Dynasties have to have an image, a persona"

For now, we'll just ignore the fact that Boyd lists his credentials to make such a judgment as "professor of critical studies at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. His next book, "The Notorious Ph.D.'s Guide to the Super Fly '70s," will be published this month." Essentially making him as qualified to comment on professional sports as Roger Ebert.

Whether or not you think the Spurs are a dynasty (which admittedly is a very vague term), the characterization of the Spurs as a very good team that got some lucky breaks and that they can't measure up to the 1980s Lakers or 1990s Bulls is starry-eyed nostalgia gone awry.

So let's examine his basic arguments. First, he claims that the 1999 title was not legitimate because A) It was a lockout-shortened season, and B) Because they beat the 8th-seeded Knicks in the NBA Finals.

First, let's look at the shortened-season which he claims warrants an asterisk in the record books. With labor negotiations ongoing throughout the summer and fall of 1998, the season did not have a set starting point, and literally could have started at any time following a breakthrough in bargaining sessions. The season began the first week of February, only one month after the deal was struck. While I can't personally testify as to each player's offseason training regimine, I can't imagine they spent all the time they would have normally played sitting in an inner tube sipping daiquiris. It's an educated guess to say that a good number were probably keeping up with their normal fitness training, so they could be ready to go whenever the season started, just because there weren't competitive fixtures being played doesn't mean they were sitting on their asses watching Jerry Springer and eating candy corn every day.

Second, he argues that the 1999 title should not count because of the low seed of the 1999 New York Knicks. He further accentuates this argument by saying that the 1980s Celtics were not a dynasty despite going to the Finals 5 times and winning 3 titles in that decade because they beat the Houston Rockets, not the Lakers for two of their titles, and that in 1981, the Rockets were similarly a low-seeded team.

This is true, but in the end, that is kind of the point of a knockout playoff system. Pit the lower-seeded teams against the higher-seeded teams and see who comes out on top. In this case, lower seeded teams came out on top, and in a knockout playoff format, that shows that over the course of that series, the worse team was better than the higher-seeded team. Whether the results would hold over say a best-of-99 series instead of a best-of-seven is the subject for bar debates, but for the NBA's purposes, best-of-seven is enough to determine a better team. As such, regardless of the regular season records or relative talents of each side, the 1999 New York Knicks were the best the Eastern Conference had to offer at the end of the playoffs. The 1999 Spurs were the Best the Western Conference had to offer. Was it a "glamour final" that made it must-see TV? Probably not, but that was the Final that got set up. It is also worth mentioning that despite the shortened season, the Spurs finished the regular season with the best record in the NBA.

Since he never mentions it, I suppose Boyd would not want an asterisk next to the Houston Rockets 1995 title since they finished 6th in the Western Conference. The fact that they beat 3rd-seeded Utah, 2nd-seeded Phoenix, and the top-seeded Spurs and Magic en route to the title apparently means everything. But when you add up their records (regular season and playoffs), the '99 Spurs won just as many games as the '95 Rockets, and did so in 27 fewer games. But no questioning of the '95 Rockets. Then again, Boyd thinks that if Michael Jordan wasn't playing baseball, the Bulls would have won the title, and also that they would have also won the 1999 title in the shortened-season: no doubt as part of a nine-peat. A mode of thinking already addressed on this blog.

His second argument was that the Spurs are not a dynasty because they're not Made-for-TV. They play boring basketball, and don't have a team "personality" like the Bad Boys Pistons or the Showtime Lakers (either incarnation). 1.) Aside from being a COMPLETELY SUBJECTIVE characteristic, this in no way should disqualify the Spurs from consideration as one of the great teams of our time.

Perhaps in a bit of counter-trendiness, their team "theme" is that they have no theme. They're just a bunch of good players who work together as a unit and get the job done. While their theme may not be "flash" or "bad boys" or what have you, the Spurs if anything should get credit for how they've won their NBA titles. In an age of parity (24 of the NBA's 30 clubs have made the playoffs at least once in the last three seasons), the Spurs have only failed to win 50 games once in the last 10 years (That being the lockout year, where had their winning percentage held for an 82-game campaign, they would have gone 61-21).

What is even more remarkable than their sustained success is the Spurs' roster turnover. While dynasties Boyd cites like the 1990s Bulls had a solid core of players that remained relatively stable, the Spurs have won 4 championships despite being a revolving door around Tim Duncan. The 2007 Spurs had only 7 of 17 players off the 2005 title team (59% turnover). Likewise, the 2005 team likewise only had 6 of the 15 players from the 2003 title team (60% turnover) and the 2003 team had 4 of the 14 players from the 1999 title team (72% turnover).

Meanwhile, over a similar timeframe, the 1998 Chicago Bulls retained 12 of the 15 players from the 1996 championship team (20% turnover). The 1993 Bulls had 9 of 12 players from the 1991 team (25% turnover). If anything, don't call the Spurs a dynasty because they won 4 different NBA titles in 9 seasons with 4 different teams, but in the current NBA strucuture, I'd say that's more something to be noted instead of brushed aside, as it speaks to the talent of their front office, coaching staff, and team; their entire organization from top-to-bottom.

In conclusion, Boyd's assertion is based on two pillars. The first is that the Spurs cannot be considered a dynasty because they don't have a swagger, made-for-TV image, or team identity that lends itself well to wistful nostalgia. This is wholly irrelevant since it rests entirely on the subjective viewpoints of the observer.

His second thesis is that the Spurs are not a dynasty because they somehow lucked into it, or because they never repeated as champions; that they played shortened seasons or beat weaker teams in the playoffs. Aside from repeating, each of those is something that the Spurs had no control over. If Boyd is upset that the 1999 eighth-seeded Knicks made the finals, that seems something to fault the NBA for, not the Spurs. Likewise, this assertion completely discounts the fact that the Spurs essentially rebuilt their NBA Championship teams three different times, something the '90s Bulls never had to do. As for repeating, this is a poor attempt at best to discredit the Spurs, as he holds them up to the 1980s Lakers as an example of what a dynasty ought to be. However, the Lakers only repeated as NBA Champions once, between 1987 and 1988. The rest of their titles were not concurrent (1980, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988).

Just to recap. 5 NBA Titles in 9 years = Dynasty, 4 NBA Titles in 9 years = "Very good team that doesn't deserve a dynasty tag."

Decide for yourself whether you think the Spurs are a "dynasty" or not, but it's hard to dispute that they have been one of the most astounding success stories of the league over the last 10 years.


Disappointing Finish

>> Sunday

Another U.S. Open, another boring winner who no one in America really gives a damn about. It should have been a thrilling finish. The most talented golfer to ever tee it up poised to make a late Sunday charge. Trust me, I'm not a member of the Tiger Woods fan club. However, I was sitting there actually hoping we could have an entertaining finish by Tiger charging to victory or at least forcing a playoff. Instead, we see a good bunker shot run off diabolically quick greens and Tiger actually happy with having a 30 foot putt with insane break on the 18th to tie. Even Tiger could not realistically make up that one shot at another tricked out, unfairly difficult U.S. Open course. If anyone still doubts that the PGA Championship is not better and more entertaining than the U.S. Open, compare the last three winners of each.

U.S. Open-Angel Cabrera, Geoff Ogilvy, Michael Campbell
PGA Championship-Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh


Danger, Slight Rant Ahead

>> Saturday

I tried, and I just didn't get it. I guess now I know how people I try to introduce soccer to feel when they just don't see the appeal. I know that my political leanings are slightly right-of-center (or so "The Compass" test tells me), so ergo I should like it, I guess, and I know that it's quickly growing, but I just don't get NASCAR.

I just don't understand it. I may not understand the culture (I'd likely need a Winnebago and a couple coolers full of Beast to figure that out.), but I'd like to think I could at least figure out the appeal of the sport itself. Even though I don't follow the NBA, I can still express admiration when great feats of athletic talent are on display, but not NASCAR. Sorry.

I don't understand how anyone could watch cars driving in a circle for 500 miles, around.....and around....and around....and around...why not watch goldfish? Or a model train?

I don't understand why someone would shell out huge money for a ticket, and in some speedways only be able to see a small portion of the event as the cars whizz by for a split-second. OK, perhaps the appeal is just watching cars go really fast, but then why not set up lawn chairs along I-55? I'll bet you see just as much jockeying for position, and some pretty spectacular crashes too.

I don't understand why a whole weekend of qualifying is needed if "the race is won and lost in the pits."

I don't understand the need for a pregame show when the storylines usually boil down to, "His car isn't working right," (despite his mechanics all being...well, professional race mechanics) or "His car used to not be working, but it is now."

I don't understand why the TV coverage of a race will cut out when the race is still going. Can you imagine if an NBA game in the middle of the third quarter, without stopping play, said, "Alright! We'll be right back after this short break."

I don't understand the hype around Danica Patrick (OK, not NASCAR) or any woman racer. I could understand it in a sport where physical attributes come into play more (basketball, etc.), but is a woman's foot's ability to hold the accelerator down that much different? At best, it's reaching for a story. At worst, it's blatant sexism.

I don't understand how the most spectacular stuff of the sport, that ends up on the sports highlights is total failure. What always makes the highlight reels? The crashes. Name one other sport where failure without someone else succeeding, (ie: Team A scoring and Team B's goalie failing) is the lead highlight of the sport. Do basketball traveling calls ever make it to Sportscenter?

I don't understand "teammates racing against each other." It's either a team (Hendrick Motorsports, etc.) sport or an individual car/driver/pit crew sport.

I don't understand why NASCAR fans root for their favorite driver in the Home Depot Car or the Bud Light Car, but cry afoul whenever a corporation buys the naming rights to their favorite baseball/football team's stadium, or when the possibility of putting ads on their favorite team's uniforms comes up.

I don't understand why ESPN covers NASCAR, and justifies it by saying that it's "the fastest growing sport in America." Now many sports make that claim. Soccer, Lacrosse, and Arena Football among them. While each use a different criteria (revenues, attendance, participation, # of teams/stadiums), NASCAR's bill is that they are the fastest growing in terms of TV ratings.

NASCAR gets more TV time because they are the fastest growing in TV ratings. Kind of a chicken & the egg, no? Especially when you consider that NASCAR wasn't on TV all that much 10 years ago or so.

People who love NASCAR, great. More power to you. You've found something that makes you happy and you enjoy. Go for it. But I just don't get it.


Phil Calls Out the USGA

>> Friday

First, I'll preface this by stating that I'm a huge Phil Mickelson fan and admitted Phil apologist. The catastrophe at Winged Foot ranks as one the five most painful moments for me a sports fan.

Anyway, getting to the point, Phil complained during today's post-round press conference about injuring himself while preparing for the U.S. Open a few weeks ago. For the last three and half years, Phil has spent an extraordinary time beforehand preparing for major championships, going to the host course weeks in advance of the majors to scope out the host course and construct a gameplan. Since adopting this strategy, Phil has won 3 majors and contended in many others. As with most U.S. Open's, the rough at Oakmont is extraordinarily tough and thick. Knowing he would face tough shots in the rough during the tournament, Phil sprained his wrist while practicing shots in the greenside rough. While understandably upset with a performance that will likely have him for the weekend, Phil has an excellent point about having to risk himself to serious injury by just going through his normal major preparation. The announcers at NBC, defending the USGA and hoping not to ruffle any feathers with the powerful group, wonder why Phil would actually practice out of the hard rough beforehand.
Personally, I think it's ridiculous that someone who's busting his ass to become the best in his profession suffers a setback through his normal preparation. Along with further highlighting the unnecessary brutality that defines the USGA, it exemplifies the risk that every player undertakes by trying to win one of the biggest events each year. Besides Mickelson, notable pros like Vijay Singh and Steve Stricker have suffered injuries while competing this week at Oakmant. It's an absolute farce that what is supposed to represent our national championship involves such insane mental and physical pressure. Maybe one day the USGA actually construct a fair test for the U.S. Open, but I wouldn't hold my breath.


YCS Newest Staff Member: James Dillon Franklin

Some time this afternoon, YCS' own Nate became the father of a 7lb, 8 oz. 22" baby boy. I'm told that contrary to my predictions the child is, in fact, a human and not a monster. We're told that mother and child are doing fine.

Mazeltov to Nate, and on behalf of the rest of the YCS staff, welcome to the world, little fella.


Local Blogger Still Catching Up after weeklong vacation

>> Thursday

OK, so it's a bit of an oldie (2 weeks) but no one else commented on it, and I just recently found out about it, so I'll throw my oversized 7 & 5/8ths hat into the ring.

Jerry Porter got fined $210,000 by the NFL for changing his number from 84 to 81.
The NFL's justification is that the fine is needed to reimburse the team and Reebok for unsold #84 Porter Jerseys.

First of all, does the NFL really need the money?

Secondly, what's the logical extreme of this? If a player gets traded, will they have to pay the NFL for all those jerseys? Whatever happened to all those Randy Moss Raiders jerseys? What if a player picks a new team via free agency? Will they have to reimburse Reebok in a similar manner?

Thirdly, NFL spokesman Steve Alic said Porter could wait until next year, when the supply of unsold shirts would be depleted and the cost would be less, before making the change.
Why would anyone buy a jersey that's only going to be relevant for a year? OK, aside from jersey hounds, memorabilia-seekers, Zuch, and everyone at Wrigley Field wearing a Gary Gaetti jersey?

This is just an asinine move by the NFL.


Will Ferrell is a better golfer than any of us

...and that is why he's going pro. (Video from

I'm linking this mainly because I love his golf get-up, and whoever golfs with me next (which will be Father's Day if I'm not in the hospital becoming a father) will see me strut out to the first tee in green shorts and a bright blue polo.


Ex: Why "Hit and Run" is stupid

>> Wednesday

Brian Anderson, quoted after Cory Hart was gunned down at second base because J.J. Hardy was forced to swing (and miss badly) at a ball that was nearly in the dirt on a hit-and-run call on a 1-1 count, with one out and one on:

"J.J. Hardy tries to start all over, down 1-2 with two outs, after Hart was gunned down on the failed hit-and-run attempt."

Obviously, this is one isolated example, but if this doesn't epitomize the evils of the hit and run, I don't know what does.


Top 25 in Second-rate Paper

Admittedly "Top whatever" lists are almost always entirely subjective, although there are some things most people can agree are wrong. While meandering through the metal detector at Kansas City International Airport on Monday, I came along a copy of USA Today, where they were proclaiming their list of "The Top 25 Sports Stories" of the 25 years of USA Today. A wholly original idea.

Some issues with USA Today's highly dubious list. Admittedly, USA Today is "kind of a newspaper" in the same way that UWM has "kind of a basketball team," but I feel the need to open fire despite the feeling like I'm playing dodgeball with a paraplegic.

#1: Boston Red Sox win World Series
Seemingly on this list for no other reason than winning the World Series, and having it been a long time since they had done so before. If that's all it takes, then the White Sox should have this place, since it took them longer to win it, and suffered even greater futility throughout the years. Wanna play the Curse Card? Did you know---the term "Curse of the Bambino" was not even coined until 1986? It also lists heartbreaking losses to the Yankees as justification. But honestly, outside of Bucky Dent and Aaron Boone, are there any that immediately come to mind for the average sports fan living outside of New England? I am suspecting that whoever compiled this list is a Red Sox fan, as Buckner's error also clocks in on this list at #15. Also, the Red Sox winning the World Series gave us the movie "Fever Pitch," which bastardized a great book on what it means to be a fan, and as such automatically disqualifies it from the top spot.

#14: US Women win '99 World Cup
Sure, 90,000 people got into the Rose Bowl for the largest crowd to ever attend a Women's sporting event, but where are they now? There's not even a major Women's professional league in this country. If this is the "token women's team sports story," then they chose poorly. If it's the "token soccer story" then the 1990 World Cup, 1994 World Cup, and 2002 World Cup all did more for the men's and women's game in this country than the '99 WWC ever did. Honestly, if Brandi Chastain didn't take her shirt off, would anyone outside of the stadium have talked about it?

The numbers that count: 0, 1, 1
Zero. That's how many of the Top 25 moments are taken from the NFL. The closest an NFL moment comes is the OJ Simpson Trial clocking in at #24, which can hardly be considered NFL-sanctioned. One is the number of the top 25 stories that actually happened in a football game, Doug Flutie's Hail Mary against Miami coming in at 11. Think about all the great finishes, individual and team efforts, Super Bowls and Bowl games, coaches, National Championships, and legacies of College and Pro Football in the last 25 years. If anything, the growth of the NFL in that time to the juggernaut that it is today is worthy of consideration.
One is also the number of events on this list from the NBA. From 1982 to the present (or depending on how much of an old-timer you are, 1998), the NBA went from a bush league also-ran to a must-see attraction. Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Isaiah Thomas (Pre-Knicks), Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, the "NBA on NBC" theme, Charles Barkley, Clyde Drexler, Karl Malone, all the great players and great finishes could only get 1 mention, and that was Jordan's last-shot-that-wasn't-really-his-last-shot.

#25 Wayne Gretzky sets all-time scoring mark
A huge feat to be sure, but I would argue that the Great One's move from Edmonton to Los Angeles was a bigger event, as it put the NHL on the map on the West Coast and in the Sun Belt. His play in LA revived a franchise and showed that the NHL could succeed in warm weather markets after earlier franchise failures in Atlanta and the Bay Area had halted expansion there. New teams in Dallas, Phoenix, Anaheim, Tampa Bay, Atlanta, San Jose, South Florida, Carolina, and Nashville followed shortly afterwards. The last three- and four of the last eight Stanley Cups have been won by those Sun Belt teams. 8 of the last 11 Stanley Cup Finals have featured a warm-weather team, and 6 different warm-weather-teams have made it to the Finals [Los Angeles, Anaheim (twice), Carolina (twice), Florida, Dallas (twice), Tampa Bay] since 1993.

Perhaps appropriately so for this list, the poll on the side of the page at press time asking "Which moment is your favorite of the last 25 years?" The response for "none of the above" is leading with 45% of the vote.

Suggested moments:

  • "The Catch" 49ers vs. Cowboys, and 49ers dynasty
  • Jordan's retirement/baseball foray/first un-retirement is at least as big a story as hitting his last-shot-that-wasn't-his-last-shot
  • The Dream Team
  • Even though I find it boring, the rise of NASCAR as a marketing and "sports" powerhouse.
  • The stadium construction boom. Just think about how many pro and college teams are playing in new or newly renovated stadiums just since 1990.
  • 1994 FIFA World Cup is (financially-wise, still) the most successful World Cup in history and gives top-flight soccer a foothold in the United States
  • If you're going to include the 2004 Red Sox, you also have to include the 1994 New York Rangers


For England, James?

This has been a bit of a long and crazy story so I'll just give you the bare bones and the latest weird turn it has taken.

Last month, EPL side Sheffield United were relegated from the Premiership after posting a miserable 10-20-8 record this past season. However, United have appealed the result, claiming that West Ham (who finished just above them in the standings) should have been docked 10 points for illegally signing Argentinian international Carlos Tevez (and subsequently that West Ham should be demoted instead). Tevez subsequently led a late-season charge for the Hammers that will see them stay up in the lucrative Premiership next season. Even after the Florida 2000-esque legal suit that will see the 2006-07 season decided in the courts, the case has just gotten weirder.

Sheffield United may have a shot to avoid the drop, and to press their case, they have rather bizarrely called in Sheffield resident and United fan Sean Bean, perhaps better known as Alec Trevelyan from "GoldenEye."

I suppose the thinking is if the man could escape from an exploding chemical weapons plant, and survive a several-hundred-foot drop from a satellite dish, he might be able to help the Blades avoid the drop just as miraculousy. If only they could justify calling in Famke Janssen as well.


YCS Trip to U.S. Cellular Field, Sponsored by 7-11, UPS, LaSalle Bank, Connie's Pizza, Best Buy, and Dick's Sporting Goods

>> Tuesday

My dad decided to get Sox tickets for last Saturday's game, so my broke ass got to see the most uninspiring team up close and in person. With Nate calling for a Chicago baseball park post, here's my wild and nonsensical ramblings of Saturday's experience.

1:45-Get to the ballpark, and enjoy the fact that some of the best food in baseball has not had a drop in quality like the on-field product.

2:00-Thankful to see that Josh Fields is still avoiding Ozzie's crazy whims despite his slow major league start and is in the line-up today. Right now, Fields would be one of the only reasons I still have half a reason to watch this sorry ass team.

2:15-My dad goes to the concourse for his first of about 20 cigarettes. I think he spent more of the game smoking than sitting in our seats and watching the proceedings. In hindsight, he had the right idea.

2:45-An earlier than normal national anthem because of the Fox 2:55 start. I'm sure the ratings exploded for this match-up of teams clearly well beyond their 2005 World Series form. With it being Negro League Day, we hear the black national anthem first. Awesome singer, but extremely confusing lyrics to the song and no semblance of a melody to it.

2:50-I make the mistake of turning down my dad's offer for a free beer, as I was in a rare non-drinking mood. Later in day, I strongly regret this decision.

Bottom of the 1st inning-Tadahito Iguchi starts the game on a good note, hitting a double down the line and getting thrown out at third trying to stretch it after the left fielder bungles the ball.

Top of the 3rd inning-Career journeyman Eric Munson gets the Astros on the board with a solo homer. About the only good decision Phil Garner would make today would be playing Munson in favor of the useless Brad Ausmus.

Top of the 8th inning-After seven strong innings, Jon Garland gets pulled after scattering 8 hits and just one run from Munson's homer. The Sox bullpen then enters the game. Brett Prinz channels the spirit of Rick "The Wild Thing" Vaughn and throws six straight balls, followed by a line drive double by Lance Berkman. With guys on second and third, Prinz intentionally walks the next batter and leaves the field to a round of boos (sorry Vinnie). Boone Logan then does a very admirable job, getting a force play at home and allowing a sacrifice fly. Of course, he then gets pulled in favor of latest rookie project Ryan Bukvich. After walking the bases loaded, Bukvich strikes out the next batter and the Sox escape only giving up one run and down 2-0.

Bottom of the 8th Inning-Josh Fields leads off with a single, and Phil Garner pulls Jason Jennings after less than 100 pitches thrown and no runs allowed on six hits and a walk. The reliever then walks Rob Mackowiak on four pitches. With two guys on and no one out, Ozzie Ball comes to the forefront with a Tadahito Iguchi sac bunt. My guess is that Ozzie had no clue that the Sox were actually down two runs. Thome bails out Ozzie's ass by hitting a two-run double and tying the game. Of course, mad that someone would actually try to hit the ball hard, Ozzie pulls Thome for a pinch-runner in a tied game. That being Alex Cintron, he of the .194 average and worst place discipline on a team of free swingers. I think I'll sacrifice the couple of steps lost running home instead of pulling your best hitter in a tie game for someone who does not belong on a major league roster. As expected, the Sox rally stops and it's a 2-2 game after eight.

Top of 9th inning-Ozzie finally makes a good move and brings in Bobby Jenks. Of course, Jenks proceeds to give up 3 soft singles and the Astros take a 3-2 lead.

Bottom of the 9th inning-Juan Uribe actually draws a walk before the Sox go out meekly and lose 3-2. The backdrift of Rob Mackowiak's swing could have taken out some small towns. In the end, another day, another loss.

To top the day off, the Red Line takes 15 minutes for the last two stops on our ride back to the Howard L. My unbelievably resilient bladder takes another beating I'll pay for down the road. We finally get back home at 7:45 and I experience freedom. The Sox actually win a game Sunday before rolling over here to the Phillies the last two nights. At this point, Kenny Williams really needs to waive the white flag and try to get the Sox some young position players for our next run in a few years. Also, I really do not like the idea of Ozzie managing a young, up and coming team.


Brewers Lose 4-0, Nothing Else Happens

Shut up shut up shut up shut up shut up I don't wanna hear it lalalalalalalalalalalalala


End Chicago-centric revisionist bullhonkey--Realize the Dream

In the spirit of the NBA Finals, I've decided it's time to weigh in on a fantastical myth that abounds among a good many NBA fans--especially those from the Chicago hereabouts.
This past Saturday night as I was trailing off to sleep watching the ESPN Classic NBA Finals marathon, I was reminded of two things: 1) how incredibly awesome it was to watch Hakeem Olajuwon in his prime and 2) how wildly underappreciated his mid-'90s Rockets are.
Lots of folks--lots of loudmouthed Chicagoans, that is--will tell you that the '93-'94 and '94-'95 NBA seasons were the most "meaningless" in the league's history. They'll tell you that they were invalidated by the phantom year-and-a-half of Michael Jordan's prime that never reached the court. They'll pretend that the Rockets served as default champions while the NBA awaited the return of M-Jay.
But such is not true.
Yes, the Bulls may very well have won in '93-'94 had Jordan been playing for them. He could very well have bridged the gap between a seven-game defeat to the Knicks in the second round and an Eastern Conference title. And as good as Hakeem and the Rockets were that year, they beat those Knicks in the most closely contested seven-game Finals in history. So it's not altogether unreasonable to extrapolate that potential defeat of the Knicks into a title.
But remember that the Bulls only slipped two games in the entirely-based-on-sheer-talent regular season from '92-'93 to '93-'94, which would indicate that they were only slightly less potent compared to league average. That is to say, the Knicks were a very good team that was peaking that season and had viably threatened the Bulls in the previous year.
However, '94-'95 was an entirely different story. And it's where the "Bulls woud've won" refrain gets really insane.
First of all, Jordan was there.
"But he was still rusty!"
Garbage. He put up 55 in his third game back. I realize that he shot 26% from the field that season (exaggeration), but could he have truly re-rustified so drastically over the next 18 games leading up to the Orlando series?
More importantly, the Bulls were godawful weak down low that year. No matter how sharp Jordan could have been, he had no control over this obvious weakness. Does Kukoc and Purdue ring a bell? The Bulls barely posed a challenge to Shaq's Magic--a team that posed no challenge to Hakeem's Rockets.
The 72-win season the following year obscures how mediocre the '94-'95 team was. A 14-man roster that sees 86% turnover in a three-year span is rarely a title contender--especially when it includes such an obvious sag. '94-'95 was the sag stage of that turnover, and it would have been that way regardless of whether Jordan had retired.
There never was an eight-peat; there never could have been an eight-peat; and most importantly, THERE NEVER WAS AN EIGHT-PEAT, SO GET OVER IT, LOSERS.
Perpetuating the myth that the '94 and '95 NBA titles rightfully belonged to the Bulls only distorts some really, really obvious reality. And worse, it undermines the brilliance of one of the finest athlete primes we have ever seen.


Sports History Landmark Bought Out; To Be Renovated

Only loosely related to sports, but pretty related to the staff of this esteemed website.

From the official Marquette University press release...
Marquette purchases building at 12th and Wells
Marquette University has purchased the Newbridge Apartments at the corner of 12th and Wells. The transaction was completed last week, at a reasonable cost. Marquette’s location, the changing dynamics of university life and the desire to enhance the campus environment make it prudent for the university to monitor property opportunities in our campus area. The Newbridge became available for purchase and presented an opportunity to solidify the campus’s northern border. The current plan is to leave the property vacant, because it will be easier to make major renovations if funding becomes available. Students who signed leases for the apartments have been offered housing in other properties owned by the seller or in university housing. While the building houses Jim Hegarty’s Pub, 1120 W. Wells St., the pub will continue to be owned by St. James Estates and will remain open. In the context of the university’s overall long-term planning, there is always discussion about multiple projects, new initiatives and general growth that require additional space.

Should renovations be undertaken, it will most likely mean a total overhaul of the building that is really just north of squalor, and the complete loss of the tough-as-nails identity and character for one of the great forums of sports discussion...The Establishment.

For one glorious and alcohol-fueled year, three of the current YCS staff writers inhabited this building in a simple three-bedroom sub-ground level apartment and remarkably paid less than $400 in rent each. The rest of the staff were frequent visitors. It was here that such great epic sports discussion battles as "Chicago Preliminary Olympic Plans v. Mass Chaos," "Kyle Orton v. Suck," "Sport v. Not-a-sport," "Iain's Arm v. Wall," and "Kyle Orton v. Suck II" were decided. It was also the host facility of the 2006 Beer Olympics , where the "Slipup in Flipcup" gave Team USA the gold, thus preventing Team Ireland from sweeping the Golds. Team Latvia finished a shameful third.

If Marquette chooses to renovate the apartments into bland, squeaky-clean, fun-free freshman dorms or something like that, that's fine. However, please kindly preserve The Establishment as a museum for posterity, to show what the perfect mixture of Jaegermeister, sports debate, 2AM Mortal Kombat, and gross neglect for basic sanitation can do to make our world a better place.


Op-ed: All sports fans are ignorant swine and ought to conduct themselves in a manner that better suits this scantly-read blogger

>> Monday

To revive an obnoxious soapbox of mine, here's a litte sitchy-ation that unfolded on my radio yesterday:

White Sox lead the Astros 6-1 with one out in the top of the 9th. Dewon Day is on the mound for the Sox; Mark Loretta is on first after a walk. Morgan Ensberg comes to the plate.

Pitch 1: Ball
[low grumble, festering rage]
Pitch 2: Ball
[grumbling and boos]
Pitch 3: Ball
Pitch 4: Strike
[wild, sarcastic cheer]
Pitch 5: Ball

Ozzie Guillen emerges from the dugout, calls for Boone Logan. Crowd roars. Mike Lamb to the plate.

Pitch 1: Ball
Pitch 2: Ball
Pitch 3: Ball
Pitch 4: Ball
[lynch mob-style rage, BOOOOOOOOO!!!!]

Guillen emerges again, calls for Bobby Jenks. Crowd roars.

Jenks enters, throws a wild pitch to let in Loretta, then retires Brad Ausmus on a groundout and Luke Scott on a strikeout. Game over; Sox win 6-3.

So where am I going with this?

You know it. Booing.

Booing at athletes--Stupidity. Calousness. Hallmark of idiots and ingrates. Epitome of assholeish-ness. Embarassment to the human race.

I don't know how else to describe it. It's primitive and sad. We don't duel in the streets anymore. We don't do public stonings. We don't sacrifice virgins to volcanoes. And we shouldn't boo anymore either.

Somewhere between this:

And this:

...We created this idea that the pro athlete's sole obligations are toward the success of the organization into whose grasp he unwittingly landed and toward those who crave that success for reasons altogether arbitrary. And somehow, we all bought into this. I guess because it made us feel important.
But the truth is--now more than ever--that the athlete should never look out for anyone but himself. I say take every damn cent of that money, and don't feel bad about it. And don't feel bad about blowing off the guy pressuring you to sign his kid's damned baseball glove. Because that guy's not looking out for you. No one's looking out for you. The whole world's looking out for your ability to perform--but not two shakes for you.
So when 33,000 chumps rain hate on a 22 year-old kid with a fragile talent and zero financial security just vying for his chance to do something he might love for a living, and when they do it because of a team-wide trend that he had no part in creating, someone has to turn and ask, "What have you ever done that's so goddamned flawless?"
If you think I'm exaggerating, then realize this: Dewon Day entered that appearance with a forgiveable total of three walks in seven innings pitched. Logan entered his with only four in 18 IP. Individually, these two men had no part in the White Sox' recent bullpen base on balls problem. But they got their asses reamed for it anyway.
Fans are no longer fans. They don't love sports. They love their goods, and they see "their" team as their property. It's not love, or even enjoyment. It's jingoism. And the tragedy of professional team sports is that, somewhere along the way, we took it seriously--exalted it, even. We've indulged ourselves on it to the point that we're all just spoiled kids--so jacked up on sweets that we can't even recognize the things we profess to value.
But I guess I shouldn't come down so hard on current sports fans; I'm sure it's been around as long as team colors have. It's the resentment of seeing another man have something you once wanted but couldn't have... And on top of it, he's got the nerve not to use it in a way that satisfies me! How dare he! Boooo!!!
And that's what it drives us to. We see a 22 year-old kid trying to realize a gift and make a living doing something he might love to do, and we fucking boo him. We jeopardize his fleeting opportunity and his fragile talents for our trivial, arbitrary wants. We let him stand victim for things beyond his control--things at the mercy of our distorted perception and shit judgment. Think about that. Think about that for one goddamned minute, and it should make you cringe.
We don't ever get exactly what we want. Dewon Day and Boone Logan won't ever get exactly what they want. No athlete will. But they have an opportunity to have something very special. They have the opportunity to do something they love and showcase a talent.
If you can say the same for yourself, then you've got no reason to be so angry. If you can't, then I feel bad for you. I honestly do. You're probably miserable. But that's no excuse to drag someone else down with your sorry ass.


YCS On Location IV: Can we tour all 30 parks collectively?

It began with an opening day trip to Miller Park in Milwaukee, then a brief layover in Dallas, then hit the Nation's capital when Matt recently continued YCS's version of [Insert name of favorite traveling pre-game show here], aka: Not broadcasting anything, drinking beer, watching baseball, and telling you about our exploits. Following Matt's report on a trip to RFK in Washington, it's time to bring you a YCS On Location report from another ballpark that I'd be willing to bet most of our readers have never visited: Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mizzurah.

I spent the weekend in Kansas City for the weekend to visit the girlfriend and meet her family at a graduation party. It was there that I was introduced by her crazy 83-year old great aunt as her "fiancee" which just about caused everyone in the kitchen to do a spit take before order was restored. With my leading lady playing tour guide around her home town for three days; sadly, things to do in KC ran thin very quickly. Ask yourself. After getting yourself some decent BBQ, as a tourist, what would be the first 5 things YOU would do in Kansas City?

Luckily, the Royals were at home Friday night to play against the Phillies, where it was "1980 World Series Rematch Night" so we all got lapel pins that I have no idea what I'm going to do with. I found it a little odd to be coining it a "rematch" when that series took place before the birth of a good portion of today's rosters.

Kauffman Stadium (or "The K" as the public address announcer referred to the structure several times) is in the middle of bufu [expletive deleted] nowhere and is a solid 20-30 minute drive in rush hour traffic from downtown Kansas City. About the only thing it is convenient to is Arrowhead Stadium, however, since the Chiefs and Royals rarely if ever play on the same day, any sense of convenience is lost. Arrowhead shares the parking lot and the same early-1960s cement molded exterior architecture with Kauffman that marred many a ballpark untill baseball's recent building boom. Tickets start at 7 bucks and as far as I could see, even in the upper deck there wasn't a bad seat in the house.*
* = read on and you'll see.

In a little bit of Soldier Field in KC, the stadium that is ghastly from the parking lot is gorgeous in the stands. The much-famed fountains in the outfield are pretty sweet and shoot off and light up different colors in between innings and during pitching changes. The Royals have also introduced their own version of the Brewers sausages/Pirates pierogies/Nationals Presidents races, with blood rivals Ketchup, Mustard and Relish. Three costumes that looked like they were made at the last minute with mattress foam, masking tape, and finger paint. Relish won on Friday night. I'm told that he never wins, so I feel like I witnessed something truly special.

Speaking of special things that I witnessed, I got to see former Cub Mark Grudzielanek knock one off the left field foul pole to put the Royals ahead and send the 19,121 in attendance into mild delight. *Late in the game, in one of the more bizarre features of the park (besides the fact that they advertise in the fountains for the cheap off-brand hot dogs that I ate in college when I had no qualms about putting anything of questionable composition into my body), reared its ugly 5 million heads. Remember how I said how the upper deck had a great view of the field? That is untill about the 8th inning when thousands of moths descended on "the K" and were inexorably drawn to the shining lights. Needless to say, it kinda took the magic out of a summer night at the ballpark, but a decent post-game fireworks show fixed that.

All in all, aside from some small scoreboard technical difficulties , Kauffman isn't a terrible park to watch a game in. The interior was lucky to escape the dreary cookie-cutter effect of many stadiums buit in its time, and has a fairly knowledgable fan base (aside from the kid who asked his dad "Is is halftime?" during a pitching change). So if you've got 7 bucks, and don't mind being in the middle of the Missouri hills, "the K" is "OK" [rimshot].

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