I hope he's a damn good holder

>> Wednesday


The answer: The Dallas Cowboys

The question: Who the hell would pay $11 million for a punter?

That's right, the team that told Vanderjagt to get lost gave Mat McBriar a five-year $8.5 million dollar deal, along with a $2.5 million signing bonus. Now I won't say that I can do what Mat (not a typo, by the way) can do - namely, catching a ball with seven or eight guys running at you and booting it 44 yards (McBriar's career average) in the other direction. But I do know that my uncle practiced punting in his back yard for a couple weeks and was able to walk on to the semi-pro team in Racine. So even if he is the best at what he does, is it really worth $2 million a year?

Regardless, the person I want to see interviewed right now is Tony Romo.

Tony, is McBriar going to be holding the snaps?

Hey Tone, what does it say about the Cowboys' confidence in your ability to run an offens
e if they go spend $11 million on a punter?

Hey, didn't the Cowboys give you a $2 million signing bonus in August? Not bad I guess, but they did give $500,000 more to a punter.

Are you going to be in Dallas long enough to see Mat play out his contract?


Seriously though, this is a brilliant move by the Cowboys. Any Packer fan will tell you that their fall from grace was a result of two key departures: Chris Jacke and Craig Hentrich.

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"Ohhh...Geez!"

So the pompous old men on the Veterans Committee--the same pompous old men who believe Bill Mazeroski is a Hall of Famer--passed on the everyone's favorite Square-D Electronics spokesman Ron Santo yet again. And as a Cubs fan whose uncle was once driven home from Wrigley by Santo when he was thirteen (true story folks), I'd feel I was neglecting my duty if I didn't complain.

I guess what amazes me about Santo's repeated snubs is that it so plainly contradicts most criteria used by Hall of Fame voters--even the bad ones. Lots of All-Star appearances--he has those. Best at his position during his prime--he was that. Excelled on both offense and defense--he did that. Reputation as a "gritty" player--he had that too. The one bad criterion he doesn't pass--postseason performance. Of course, if a voter counts team accomplishment against a player for Hall of Fame candidacy--and many voters do--he should have his privileges stripped. But life ain't fair.

As far as statistics, Santo's are pleasing to all tastes. Tons of walks (in an era when walking was rarely encouraged) and RBIs--those are numbers both Earl Weaver and Dusty "It's called hitting, not walking" Baker can appreciate. They may not be Willie Mays, but they are Joe Morgan.

It really does make you wonder--how much is the voting process skewed by personal grudges, or at least personal distaste. A lot of Santo's contemporaries thought he was a brash jerk; Mazeroski was everyone's darling because he was a gamer and a glueguy...and clutch!

But for all of Santo's qualifications, one factor should never enter the argument. And that's his diabetes. I realize that many writers bring it up merely to augment his case with dramatic flair or emotional appeal. But strictly regarding his qualifications, overcoming diabetes to excell at baseball--while incredible--should be viewed no differently than, say, injury struggles, below-average eyesight, or anything else that hinders one's ability to play baseball. When a writer tries to use Santo's diabetes as a criterion for his induction or as a means to rescale his numbers, it devalues Santo's accomplishments, undermines the argument, and--worst of all--patronizes Santo.

If Santo's as humble a guy as everyone says, he probably doesn't get too annoyed by the frequent allusions to his condition (after all, it does bring attention to his charity). At the same time, I'm sure he doesn't want to be a charity case himself. Like everyone else, he just wants to be rightly acknowledged for being really good at playing baseball. Fortunately, that mysterious upward trend by which retired guys get better with time is on his side right now. Let's hope it continues for one more round of voting.

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Teacher's Pets

>> Tuesday

For all the conspiracy theorists out there (I'm fast becoming one), here are the ten members of the 2007 Men's Basketball Selection Committee:

Gary Walters - Princeton AD (07) - Chairman
Dan Guerrero - UCLA AD (10)
Christopher Hill - Utah AD (09)
Laing Kennedy - Kent St AD (10)
Jonathan LeCrone - Horizon Commissioner (08)
Craig Littlepage - Virginia AD (07)
Stan Morrison - UC Riverside AD (11)
Thomas O'Connor - George Mason AD (09)
Mike Slive - SEC Commissioner (09)
Gene Smith - Ohio St AD (11)


With back-stratching being the treatment of choice in Indianapolis last year, I'll be keeping an eye of the following teams to see who may benefit from preferential treatment this season.

San Diego State: A fringe bubble team, but still more qualified that 2006 Air Force. Having a Mountian West rep did the conference a world of good last season, as along with Falcons getting an undeserved bid, the Aztecs received a pretty favorable seed

Old Dominion, Drexel and VCU: ODU and Drexel have reasonable at large profiles, similar to that of George Mason last season. VCU won the Colonial outright. Having a fellow Colonial rep on the committee may ensure multiple bids for the conference in consecutive seasons.

Alabama, Ole Miss, Georgia: Realistically, the SEC should only get four bids-Florida, Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Kentucky. However, I would be highly surprised if one of these other teams is not called on Selection Sunday. SEC teams have always managed to be on "the right side of the bubble" in the past, and with their commish on the committee, you have to think five will thrive.

Butler: Unquestionably, the Bulldogs belong in the Dance. However, a seed that could be slipping to the 7-8 range may not have its expected free fall with the Horizon commish helping their cause.

Virginia: Surprisingly, the only committee member who didn't exactly help his mates would be last year's chairman, Craig Littlepage. With Littlepage's Cavaliers in the talks this season, they may be the prime candidate for the Tennessee treatment(A ridiculously inflated seed) this season.

Also, they probably deserve it, but UCLA and Ohio State will undoubtedly be one seeds.

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Be afraid. Be very afraid.

See what happens when coaches stop coaching? No thanks to the NCAA's resident self-promoter Bruce Pearl's stunt. Remember where we all saw his nasty, sweaty, orange beer gut at a Lady Vols home game earlier this season? Do you remember who the Vols played? Do you remember who won despite it being a match-up between two top-ranked teams? Well thanks to the Pearl of Bruce, SI.com now reports that Tennessee Women's coach Pat Summitt is going to return the favor at the last men's home game.


Slow down all you Vols fans who were just itching to get a glimpse of Coach Summitt's 54-year old funbags painted in "hot tangerine." She has only dropped hints that it could be a throwback to her cheerleading days in junior high. (Artists' conception shown above.)
I suppose this opens up the whole debate over "Oh, that's so awesome! She's showing team spirit and pep and giving it the old college try and its all for fun!" But here's the big one.
"The fact that he and his guys painted their chests. He made that statement and...brought a lot of exposure to the university. I think people see me as being really serious, and I've just always been a kind of person that likes to have fun and do things like I'm going to do tomorrow night. But I usually don't do it on camera in front of the whole country. I figured, why not?" ~ Pat Summitt
Play for the cameras people. Pat obviously sees team spirit, but there's a time and a place for cheerleading (literally and figuratively). All I see is a Dominic James pass flying four feet over Jerel McNeal's head. Something done for the purposes of getting on SportsCenter, but in the end it falls flat on its face and just looks ridiculous.

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Wow. Perhaps violence is an inherent part of soccer....and religion...

In one of the more bizarre stories I've seen in recent days, a soccer game between priests in Vatican City was marred by violence on the pitch. Priests. At the Vatican.

A weekend match between Brazilian students at Pontifical Gregorian University and a Mexican team of trainee priests from Mater Ecclesiae Seminary reached a level of "chippy" play that saw one player leave the field in an ambulance. At the Vatican. In a game between priests.

The friendly match saw the officials using "blue cards" an experimental rule that punishes minor penalties in a manner similar to hockey, where a player sits out for a set period of time and the team has to play with a disadvantage for that time, but the player can return.

The official still ended up issuing yellow cards for major penalties. I think I can stand vindicated in my claim last year that blue cards would only increase violent play in the sport, not discourage it. I mean, for Christ's sake (no pun intended), here there are men of the cloth going at each others' throats.

Despite the roughhousin', The Mexican team, backed by a goalie seriously named "Jesus" won 6-0. Hallelujah.

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In other words, are you Miami Heat team physician Harlan Selesnick?

If not, then take a random guess at this one SportsNation:

Will Dwyane Wade play again this season?
Yes
No

Right now it's 70% "Yes" to 30% "No." Damn, Dwyane. You're fucked. Sorry, man.

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Sports.

>> Monday

"The speed is just phenawmenal."

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A Continuation of NCAA Tournament Harping

Having found a projected bracket at College RPI (love your work Jerry, but you're way off base here) that has Marquette as a 9 seed right now (ridiculously low, especially when he had us a 4 before ND game), here's a look at some teams he has ahead of us. The two criteria I'm using are record versus top 50 RPI teams(basically, that's who you'll be playing in the NCAA Tournament) and road-neutral record (NCAA Tournament games are not played on your home court).

The good guys would be 5-4 versus top 50 teams, and 7-4 away from home

4 Vanderbilt:
5-3 versus top 50
4-7 road/neutral record

5 Kentucky
3-8 versus top 50
6-7 road/neutral record

5 Virginia
6-5 versus top 50
3-7 road/neutral record

5 Michigan State
6-7 versus top 50
3-7 road/neutral record (which includes 1, count it 1 road win for the Spartans)

6 Texas
3-5 versus top 50
7-6 road/neutral record

6 Nevada (Maybe the one I'm strongest about)
0-1 versus top 50 (that's right, they've played one game against top 50 teams)
12-1 road/neutral record

6 Indiana
5-7 versus top 50
4-9 road/neutral record

7 Tennessee
6-6 versus top 50
5-9 road/neutral record

8 Louisville
2-6 versus top 50
6-4 road/neutral record

8 Notre Dame (Another real good joke)
5-3 versus top 50
4-6 road/neutral record (they're 18-0 at home, 4-6 away from Joyce Center)

Now, there are teams with similar profiles with Marquette like USC and Butler who I have rated a touch lower than Marquette when looking at other key factors like Strength of Schedule and Non-Conference wins. Still, it's hilarious to see so many inferior profiles rated ahead of Marquette just based on the knee-jerk reaction of Marquette losing four of their last five games.

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A Good Article From ESPN

Once in a blue moon, even a blind squirrel finds a nut. For our readers just starting to take a close look at college basketball and the NCAA Tournament, this article will be an excellent Cliff's Notes for you to help get ready for March Madness.

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Last Ten Games

With Selection Sunday quickly approaching, it is now time to talk about what I feel has become the most overrated criteria in evualating team's resumes: their performance in the last ten games. In my transition to becoming a full-fledged stat geek, something that takes a look at a random sample of games should not be taken so seriously.

To use an easy example, the good guys have been "sliding" because of four losses in their last five games. It just so happened that their conference schedule has been extremely heavily backloaded. Road losses to Georgetown, Notre Dame and even DePaul are far from embarassing. A two-point home loss from a miracle three-point shot at the buzzer to surging Louisville is not anything to be ashamed about. When taking a ridiculously close look at all the resumes, I've found 15 that trump Marquette right now and another 8-10 that are very comparable to ours. Yet, there is talk of us being a potential 8-9 seed because they have "struggled" down the stretch. If you had magically flipped this tough stretch with our 8 game winning streak (basically what Maryland would be doing now), all you would hear is how Marquette quickly rising up the bracket like the Terps would be doing.

The last ten games stat seems extremely subjective, especially when so many "hot" teams down the stretch suddenly have early exits in the NCAA Tournament. With most teams having a week or so off before their first NCAA Tournament, the momentum a "hot" team may have can quickly evaporate. A team's complete body of work should not be affected by their performance in the last few games.

Now, there are occasions when the last ten games can be taken seriously. If a team has a mid/late season injury or suspension to one of their key players, you can critically evaluate their performances without said player. An excellent example of this would be Georgia Tech, who lost their leading scorer Lewis Clinch in January. The Yellow Jackets only quality win away from home, against Memphis in the Maui Invitational in November, came with Clinch in the line-up. Oklahoma State has collapsed down the stretch after losing sixth man Obi Muonelo. The Cowboys lack of depth without him has caused the starting five to become heavily fatugued, and they have lost seven of their last ten games. Conversely, a team that missed a key player for a long stretch and gets them back at the end of the season should receive credit if their return leads to a stretch of improved play.

Still, unless an extenuating circumstance exists, the last ten games should be a statistic that only comes into play when two teams have virtually identical resumes. When you win a game should have no bearing on its importance, unless other factors like injuries come into play.

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Bob Bradley (like everyone) is smarter than Jamie Trecker

Several news outlets including the Joe Morgan to my Vinnie, Jamie Trecker at Fox Sports, apparently have some beef with Team USA's priorities.

With new USA coach Bob Bradley 2-0 and still with his interim tag attached, questions are abounding about this relatively unique upcoming summer in US Soccer. The Gold Cup, the regional championship of North America ends just a few days before Copa America, the regional championship tournament of South America, where the Yanks are invited guests along with Mexico.

There is a belief out there that the United States Soccer Federation is misguided in fielding two teams for the two tournaments (because clubs will be reluctant to release their players for so long), and that the US is wasting a chance to earn some serious respect in the international soccer community by sending its B team to Venezuela this summer to take on first round opponents Argentina, Paraguay, and Columbia, while its A team stays home to try and hoist the oversized Gold Cup at Soldier Field on June 23 (DAMN MY COUSIN FOR SCHEDULING HER WEDDING THAT SAME WEEKEND!!!!) The Americans are the favorites to win the 2007 Gold Cup and are also defending champions.

Isn't the point of being in Copa America to try and earn some respect by playing in front of an international crowd and get some experience in front of hostile crowds? Why not send the best team you can to Venezuela and try to win the tournament? Claim a scalp against Argentina, or maybe a second-round draw with Brazil? That would go a long way towards regaining the reputation the Stars and Stripes lost at the last World Cup.
True, but frankly, only to me and other people who visit soccer message boards. You can have all the respect in the world (cough, Spain, cough) and it still won't get you results at the World Cup.
Bob Bradley isn't stupid. He knows soccer is still a niche sport in the United States and that by and large, the success of the sport is hinged to the success of the National team, and the casual sports fan only tunes in once every four years in June for the World Cup Finals.

Bob Bradley's plan here is almost absurdly brilliant. Bring your A-team to the Gold Cup , win the North American championship, and earn yourself a place in the Confederations Cup, a tournament held the year before the World Cup in the same country, featuring the 6 continental confederation winners, the World Cup Champion, and the host nation. Send your B-team, full of young, untested prospects to Copa America and see if you can't claim a scalp or two while you're down there.

The team in their prime runs through a weak Gold Cup field (Guadeloupe? Cuba? Honduras? Canada?) and gets USA to the 2009 Confederations Cup, potentially getting matches with World Cup sides Italy, France, possibly Brazil again , and a hungry South Africa team in the same stadiums as will play host to the World Cup the next summer. By that time, the 2007 Gold Cup Champions will be too old to warrant serious consideration for the World Cup squad, but the 2007 Copa America team will be coming into their prime, having already experienced hostile crowds and high-pressure situations in Venezuela two years earlier. Even if let's say on the far outside fringe shot that the United States knocks off Brazil and Argentina to win Copa America, that still won't get them to the Confederations Cup in 2009 because as a North American team they can't represent South America in that tournament.
When the team arrives in South Africa the next summer, most of them will have already been there the year before, and that added familiarity can't possibly hurt on the world's biggest stage, the only international stage that Americans really pay attention to, and in a non-European World Cup, where history has shown that European teams traditionally underperform in, opening the door for US overachievement like in South Korea in 2002.

Bob Bradley's not stupid. He knows his job security depends on World Cup success, and he's aiming for it by serving youth in South America this July.

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Classless asshole spells name with two Gs, writes amazingly shitty column

Gregg (yes, two Gs) Doyle at CBS Sportsline has written perhaps one of the most enraging columns ever. Not because he took a shot at Marquette or the Fire or the Cubs or the Bears or Celtic or any other team that I root for. It was in fact the exact opposite.

The Wisconsin Badgers.

The team that I most love to see lose in any sport (especially in basketball) to any opponent (especially Marquette). Some of the high/low-lites of this column.

If the best team this 2007 season has to offer was at the Schottenstein Center on Sunday, college basketball needs to die and come back as something else.

May I suggest competitive hyperbole?

Perhaps rugby. Or hockey. Lacrosse? Anything but that la-schlock I saw Sunday.

Danny, can you tell us what a la-schlock is? It sounds yiddish.

Ohio State won 49-48 if it matters, which it does only in the Big Ten picture. The victory means the Buckeyes will win the conference title outright even if they lose their regular-season finale later this week at Michigan.

Yea, I'd say winning a conference title outright by winning a tough game against the #2 team in the country "matters." The loss could conceivably cost UW a #1 seed in the tournament.

But nationally? Ohio State cannot be the best team in America. Not the Ohio State team I saw Sunday.

Because the #1 team in the country never has an off day, or wins when they don't play their best. They play top-caliber basketball every single day of the year in every single game, practice, charity slam dunk contest, game of HORSE, PIG, and Jordan vs. Bird for Sega.

Wisconsin can't score enough points to beat a team fair and square -- I equate offensive prowess with fair play ... sue me

I'm sorry Wisconsin wasn't the Harlem Globetrotters to Ohio State's Washington Generals. Perhaps there's an NBA All-Star game somwhere you can watch where the first team to 140 points wins.

so the Badgers bogged down the athletically superior Buckeyes and kept this unwatchable game in the 40s, which was a shame considering the game was televised on CBS and not that rinky-dink, four-letter network that deserved a game like this more than my lovely company.

Looks like some little brownnoser is looking for a promotion. First rule of writing. YOUR knowledge of the issue doesn't matter. Just bash your opposition. It works for politicians.

Oden had 11 points. I watched the whole thing and thought he had six. Or four. Maybe I fell asleep for a few of his baskets.

Jesus, I can't wait to see this guy's column when The Masters rolls around next month. He's gonna be ready to stab someone. And finally, the piece de resistance...

Look, Ohio State has a very good team. The Buckeyes have depth and talent and a great coach in Thad Matta. They have the next David Robinson in Oden, the next Chris Paul in Michael Conley, and lots of solid complementary pieces. One of those pieces is Daequan Cook, whose scoring average has been cut nearly in half, from 15 ppg to 8.3 ppg, since the Buckeyes entered conference play. Cook has all the tools in the world, and he thinks he's headed to the NBA perhaps as soon as this summer, but he sums up this OSU team:
Tons of potential. Ought to be great. But something's missing.
I can't tell you what that missing ingredient is, but I have good company. Matta also can't figure it out, because if he knew what it was, he'd fix it.

Translation: I know more about college basketball than Thad Matta does. In fact, I know so much more about this team than the coach who scouted, recruited, drilled, and trained these players that if I were to tell you peons, you might not be able to handle it.

Wisconsin? The Badgers weren't good enough to win the national title -- period -- and that was before cryin' Brian Butch left Sunday's game with an elbow injury that might end his third consecutive disappointment of a season.

I really hope Brian Butch reads this in the hospital, gets so pissed off that he flies to wherever Gregg with two Gs Doyle lives, dislocates his elbow while he's working, and sees how much of a cryer he is, then piles on it by calling him a disappointing columnist. That would only be sweet, poetic, ironic justice.

The Badgers can make do without Butch's soft play and yucky body.

Wait, "yucky"?

What Wisconsin can't overcome is its offensive liabilities at three positions on the floor. Centers Jason Chappell and Greg Stiemsma can't score. Small forward Joe Krabbenhoft doesn't want to score. Point guard Michael Flowers doesn't shoot well enough to score. The Badgers are Kammron Taylor, Alando Tucker and Bo Ryan's quicksand.

So in other words, one of the best players in the conference, a solid supporting cast, a coach who understands what his players are capable of and a great defensive strategy?

Best team in the country? Not Ohio State. Oden is too passive

So much for the second coming of David Robinson. That was nice for the few paragraphs it lasted.

Not Florida, strange as that is. The Gators returned everyone who mattered from last season's national championship team, but they've lost to NCAA bubble team Vanderbilt and to NIT bubble team LSU in the past eight days.

What? You mean winning the NCAA tournament doesn't have everything to do with personnel? That it might include getting hot over a three week period in March? Remember. Florida lost three straight at this time last year.

So if you're asking me to name the best team in the country, I can only tell you this: The best team in America wasn't in town on Sunday.
Unless Kansas happened to be stuck at the Columbus airport

Kansas may very well be the best team in the country, but even they have had their off days [Losses to Texas Tech (18-11), DePaul (17-12), and Oral Roberts (20-10)]

Just because you lose, even to a bad team, doesn't make you unworthy of winning the National Championship. And likewise, the best team in the country isn't always going to play like the '96 Bulls (who lost to the 35-47 Denver Nuggets once in '95-'96, remember?)

The jist of this column

1.) Gregg with two Gs Doyle is a classless asshole for making fun of a man who dislocated his elbow in what looked like a very painful injury. The caption of the picture read "The action on the floor's so bad it's enough to make a man named Butch come to tears. "

2.) Gregg with two Gs Doyle probably has ADD if he keeps falling asleep during a low-scoring but from what parts of the game I saw, looked to be a very interesting game.

3.) Gregg with two Gs Doyle thinks that if the #1 team in the country doesn't beat every team they play by at least 30 points, they're too soft to win the national championship. Likewise if the action isn't full of flair and panache.

4.) Gregg with two Gs Doyle thinks that if an opponents' game plan works at all against a good team, limiting their effectiveness, and the good team still wins despite the effectiveness of the strategy, then nobody deserved to win the game. Basically, if the outcome of the game could be known in the first two minutes, that would be nice. That would solve his ADD, would be enough so Wisconsin could give up, and Ohio State could concentrate on firing off alley-oop dunks from halfcourt while fireworks go off and Jackie Chan roundhouse kicks a ball into the hoop off a motorcycle.

5.) Gregg with two Gs Doyle thinks that Florida's losses to Vanderbilt and LSU disqualify them for the national championship, but would probably fall all over himself to fellate Kansas, who lost to DePaul and Oral Roberts.

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Projected Bracket as of 2-23

>> Friday

Well, after about two hours of research(or, 1 hour and 59 minutes more than what Joe Lunardi does), I have pumped out my latest projected bracket. The good guys have dropped a rung since last time, down to a 4 seed. However, with 3-4 straight wins, they can jump right back onto the 3 line.

Our readers who don't like the ACC may be gravely disappointed on Selection Sunday. They look to be in excellent shape for 6-7 bids, with plenty of high seeds. What separates them from other conferences is that their middle of the pack teams, Duke and Maryland, did so well out of conference. That allows them to be higher seeds than your typical 7-6 conference team.

The Big East suddenly looks strong for 6-7 teams. Villanova and West Virginia still have work to do, but I greatly prefer them to other bubble teams like Illinois, Drexel, Georgia, Clemson and Ole Miss.

Anyway, here's the bracket:

West Regional-San Jose:
Sacramento
1. UCLA vs. 16. Weber State
8. BYU vs. 9. Notre Dame

Spokane
4. Virginia Tech vs. 13. Santa Clara
5. UNLV vs. 12. Creighton

Winston Salem
3. Duke vs. 14. Toledo
6. Vanderbilt vs. 11. Texas Tech

Buffalo

2. Pittsburgh vs. 15. South Alabama
7. Arizona vs. 10. Winthrop

East Regional-East Rutherford:
Winston Salem
1. North Carolina vs. 16. Delaware State
8. Indiana vs. 9. Tennessee

Columbus
4. Marquette vs. 13. Oral Roberts
5. Nevada vs. 12. Kansas State

Lexington
3. Memphis vs. 14. Holy Cross
6. Butler vs. 11. West Virginia

Lexington
2. Ohio State vs. 15. Sam Houston State
7. Oregon vs. 10. Xavier

Midwest Regional-St. Louis
Chicago
1. Wisconsin vs. 16. Play-In Winner: Jackson State vs. Central Connecticut State
8. Texas vs. 9. Stanford

Sacramento
4. Maryland vs. 13. Davidson
5. Air Force vs. 12. Old Dominion

Buffalo
3. Georgetown vs. 14. Pennsylvania
6. Kentucky vs. 11. Missouri State

New Orleans
2. Texas A&M vs. 15. Austin Peay
7. USC vs. 10. Georgia Tech

South Regional-San Antonio:
New Orleans
1. Florida vs. 16. East Tennessee State
8. Michigan State vs. 9. Villanova

Spokane
4. Washington State vs. 13. Vermont
5. Virginia vs. 12. Virginia Commonwealth

Columbus
3. Southern Illinois vs. 14. Long Beach State
6. Boston College vs. 11. Purdue

Chicago
2. Kansas vs. 15. Marist
7. Louisville vs. 10. Alabama

Bid Breakdown:
7-ACC, Big East
6-Pac 10
5-Big 10, SEC, Big 12
3-Mountain West, Missouri Valley
2-Colonial

Last Four Teams In: Missouri State, Creighton, Kansas State, Old Dominion

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Marquette-Notre Dame: This time, it's slightly less personal (because we've graduated) ...but personal nonetheless



While the Marquette-Notre Dame basketball rivalry may not grab the interest of the entire country, or even all of the teams' current players, this game always means a ton to us MU faithful--especially those of us from the Chicago area.

Like a lot of rivalries, MU-ND stems as much from academics and socioeconomics than from actual gameplay. Both schools offer Catholic-based educations and have historically held a storng presence in the midwest--particularly around Chicago. By reputation, Notre Dame is more provincial, prestegious, and acadmeically selective while Marquette is more welcoming to students of a less refined, lower achieving ilk.

From the Marquette perspective, Notre Dame is a blue-blooded, elitist club whose lofty standing far outpaces its true academic and social merit. From the Notre Dame perspective, Marquette is a harmless speck, a rung or two down the academic ladder, and its students are unruly drunks who harbor bitterness for their own failure to gain admittance to ND.

Of course, these are just extremes of the stereotypes, but they come out in full force each time the teams match up. Whether it's posterboard signs claiming a greater share of God's love or some bitchy, uptight lady scolding Nate, Mike and I for cheering too loudly at the Joyce Center, the MU-ND game always seems to reinforce these stereotypes.


To this day, Digger Phelps hates Marquette and is pretty bad at hiding it. If you'd watched him closely on ESPN last year, you'd have thought the Irish were the 10-6 team, and Marquette was the team struggling to make the Big East tourney.

The Marquette that Digger knew was the Marquette of Al McGuire, who--in their many matchups when both schools were independents--was constantly showing up the refs, showing up Digger's team, and showing up Digger. Also, Digger is a huge baby and hasn't gotten over a couple incidents when Marquette fans screamed profanities at him and his team.

This year, both teams are doing rather well, and both teams want a win pretty badly Saturday afternoon, so expect this year's atmosphere to be intense. If you have ESPN Full Court (the game is also on ABC), you may even catch a glimpse of YCS's Mike and Danny if you look hard enough (and if you know what they look like).

So if us MU grads on the YCS staff take a little extra pleasure in this game, should we win it, we just want you readers to know where we're coming from. We strive on this blog to be as objective and self-critical as we can be. But as a general rule, we really dislike Notre Dame and enjoy slandering their name.

You know, just so you understand where we're coming from.

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This post brought to you by insomnia

>> Thursday

Things that might have come to mind when you first heard the name of Oaklahoma St. guard JamesOn Curry:

  • A gay porno featuring New York Knicks big men Jerome James and Eddie Curry

  • A really horrible one-on-one basketball video game featuring Jerome James and Eddie Curry, a la Atari's Jordan vs. Bird

  • The horribly lopsided matchup of LeBron James guarding retired sharpshooter Del Curry

  • Baseball stat guru Bill James discussing the win shares of turn-of-the-century St. Louis Browns pitcher George "Soldier Boy" Curry

  • The song "Laid" played on Brookings, Oregon's 95.3 FM radio station KURY

  • Ninteenth century author Henry James's scathing critique on the French scientists who discovered radium (only if you slightly misheard his last name)

  • Young songwriter James Morrison in a special primetime interview with Katie Couric (only if you badly misheard his last name)

  • Rock and roll legend Tommy James sharing recipies using his favoirte Indian spice
(Sorry...I know that was horrendously lame. It's not my fault. This post should've never happened. I can't sleep, so shut up. And go to hell.)

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Yale, Harvard et. al Basketball teams discover they can't get to the Big Dance with a handshake and a smile

The "apocalypse" as Seth Davis would put it is upon us. The Ivy League is seriously considering holding a postseason conference tournament to decide its bid for the Big Dance.

Now, I didn'a go ta one a'dem reel smurt skools out east, but I really can't see how this would be anything more than a sideways move for the Ivy League, who currently is the only D-1 league to award it's automatic NCAA bid to it's regular season champion after a true round-robin home and home schedule (wistful sigh).

1.) Most sports fans don't give a shit about the Ivy League, Ivy Leaguers give even fewer shits. ie) Name the last NBA prospect to come out of Cornell or Dartmouth.

2.) As Davis points out, hosting first round games at higher-seeded campus sites would drive up ticket revenue, but would lose the charm of a conference tournament bringing all the schools together. Not sure even that would do much better than the 826 people who recently watched Dartmouth and Brown, or even the 6,129 that watched perennial Ivy powers Princeton and Penn square off.


3.) Does the Ivy League really need to drive up ticket revenues anyway? Or can they just fill the gaps from their bottomless endowments?

There must be a reason for hosting a conference tournament. Oh wait, could it be that forcing Penn or Princeton (who have won 38 of the last 40 Ivy League titles) to play 3 more games in 3 days to make it to the dance could open the door to NCAA tournament riches for schools like Columbia and Harvard?

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If only Robbie Gould had hit Rex Grossman with a golf club

>> Wednesday

It was widely reported last week that Liverpool's Wales international Craig "The Dennis Rodman of Welsh Football" Bellamy had drawn the wrath of team officials after a night of boozing in Portugal where LFC was training for their Champions League first leg match against defending champions FC Barcelona.


Allegedly, after Bellamy's teammate John Arne Riise repeatedly refused to enter a karaoke competition at Bellamy's request, Bellamy attacked Riise with a golf club in their hotel for humiliating him at the karaoke bar in front of the team.

In the Champions League knockout stages, it's a two-game total goals series, with away goals being the first tiebreaker, so scoring on the road even once is potentially a huge advantage should the series end in a tie. Liverpool won the game at Barcelona by a 2-1 scoreline, and the goalscorers were...Craig Bellamy (43') and John Arne Riise (74').

Cosmic.

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All roads lead to Wayne Fontes

>> Tuesday

(Click to enlarge. Yeah, you're gonna need to.)

If you've had trouble tracking the NFL coaching carousel over the last few decades, you're not alone. That's why we at YCS have put together a simple diagram to track the career paths of your favorite retread head coaches and coordinators.

It's as they say--one man's treasure is another man's garbage, as well as another man's treasure, as well as another man's garbage... and one other guy's treasure and finally, one more guy's garbage.

And of course, this post wouldn't be complete without John Madden's favorite picture in the whole wide world:

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Brilliant

Searching through my digital channel guide, I'm looking to see if Versus (that would be the former OLN) was airing tonight's big Air Force-UNLV game. Being a college basketball nut and certified bracketologist, I'm anxious to see if these teams are as good as their lofty RPI rankings. Of course, no dice. Back in the day, Mountain West games aired every Monday as the nightcap of Big Monday, with the occasional Saturday night showdown mixed in. However, feeling emboldened to air more Mountain West games at a "more suitable" time, Craig Thompson, the Mountain West commissioner, decided to leave ESPN for the fledgling CSTV. While most sports fans get fed up with ESPN's increasingly cartoony coverage of sports, trying to pull a power play on them is a great way to render yourself and your conference into obscurity. Instead of the regular Monday 11 p.m. central, 10 p.m. mountain showcases, fans outside of the mountain time zone have been left to the occasional game picked by Versus and hoping your cable system actually carries CSTV. Thanks to this, I have seen the three serious NCAA Tournament contenders from the conference, Air Force, BYU, UNLV, play a combined half of basketball. That half featured UNLV without their two best players and San Diego missing their two best interior players. Diehard college basketball fans would like to thank Thompson for the dumbest business decision this side of New Coke.

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Oh, I've caught the fever, baby. I've caught it REAL bad.

Say what you will about the NBA (e.g. “It’s booooring!” “No one plays defense!” “The players are so promiscuous! Someday they’ll all be dunking...in the fiery depths of hell!”), but they sure know how to market well.

If this weekend’s All-Star weekend proved anything to me, it’s that the NBA has absolutely smoked the other two (come on; let’s face it) pro sports leagues in promoting its product in recent years. Maybe it’s just the luck of an exceptionally charismatic wave of talent, but somehow the NBA has turned into the fun-time feel-good league that few would have fathomed eight years ago.

Overblown? Yes. But All-Star Weekend was fun to watch. The creativity in this year’s dunk contest was fun to watch. The Barkley-Bavetta race was very fun to watch. Even the Shooting Stars competition, which is stupid, somehow proved entertaining.

I know I’m a year or two late with this whole NBA rebirth theme (sorry, the blog hasn’t been around that long), but it’s still apt, as the vibe seems only to build further. It almost seems counterintuitive that the NBA, what with David Stern’s wacky codes of conduct, has found momentum in the self-expression of its players. But whether it was Gerald Green and Nate Robinson’s cardboard cut-out antics, Shaq’s point-guard play (a repeat gag, but great nonetheless), or Gilbert Arenas just being the generally ridiculous character he is, that’s what happened this weekend.

Would any other league let one of its Hall of Famers and one of its officials stage a footrace? Or for that matter, have the other pro leagues ever enjoyed such a lightheartedness that could produce a stunt like that? On the whole, NFL and MLB Hall of Famers are a pack of icy stiffs too hung up on (respectively) their macho pride and self-importance to look silly dicking around with the young guys.

The current NBA links to its past by having George Gervin launch half-court shots and showing campy-yet-cool Red Auerbach “Roundball” videos on its website. Right now, the MLB’s strongest links to its past are Jose Canseco and Pete Rose book tours and a surly Hank Aaron bemoaning the accomplishments of today’s steroid users. And when these connections aren’t strained or downright negative, they’re so up-their-own-ass with the sacredness of baseball tradition that they alienate the 99.999% of the fan base that never made the big leagues.

Maybe it’s rooted in the fact that most NBA stars never completed college—if they went at all—but their playfulness comes off so much more genuine than their NFL and MLB counterparts. Never propped up by baseball dads or corrupted by college education, many are literally living part of their unfinished childhood in the NBA. And it’s great to watch, even when it plays out as petulance more than playfulness.

When Gilbert Arenas talks about banding together with regular season opponents for a shot at 35-grand, it’s charming and refreshing in a way that Sammy Sosa’s “I’m just trying to put on a good show for the fans” in the 2000 Home Run Derby tried to be, only to ring phony. Even the NBA’s charity pin-ups and “guys from all different backgrounds coming together because we all love to ball” angles come off way more authentic than they do in other sports. And I think, in part, that’s because they are.

Whether the NBA is that great at marketing their product or just very lucky right now, gone is the image of the league where shady, criminal-minded characters like Latrell Sprewell and Shawn Kemp were free to choke coaches, start fights, scare children, make illegitimate babies, and run isolation sets. Now when players start fights and spawn illegitimate children, they earn it by cracking zone defenses. And it’s in a more fun, diverse, charitable way.

And that’s what this weekend taught me. That, and a 44 year-old fat dude can beat a 67 year-old runner in a short footrace.

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"Well Duh." Moment of the Weekend

>> Monday

"Kansas is better than us in so many ways. From the coach on down, probably." Nebraska head coach Doc Sadler on his team's 92-39 loss to Kansas.

The Jayhawks outscored Big Red 56-17 in the second half.

Kansas beat Nebraska 76-56 earlier this season, making the total score on the year so far Kansas 168, Nebraska 95. Average margin of victory: 36.5.

Coach Sadler shouldn't find too many people to disagree with him on that one.

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Reality Check Version Two

Once again, cliff jumping has commenced in Milwaukee. The good guys have lost 3 straight, the last coming on Jerry Smith's last second contested 30 footer at the buzzer. Combined with a close loss at a solid DePaul team and suddenly Marquette is a bubble team(not even close) who may not even make the NCAA Tournament. Like after our 0-2 start, I'm here to tell everyone things will be better.

Marquette clearly has some significant flaws that this three game losing streak has helped accentuate.

1. Lack of consistent perimeter shooting. The closest thing Marquette has to a marksman is Dan Fitzgerald, and his elongated shot release requires him to be wide open in order to consistently hit his shot. I think Lazar Hayward will be a sharpshooter during his junior and senior seasons. However, he needs more development on his other perimeter skills in order to play the majority of his minutes at a wing position. The Three Amigos are all very good at driving to the basket, but none of them have developed a reliable outside shot. David Cubillan has hit the freshman wall, plus his height(I'm guessing he's actually 5'10) also requires him to have a clear opening.

2. No true power forward-Hayward and Fitzgerald struggle against the athletic 6'8-6'9 power forwards that the Big East has in bunches. Guys like Wilson Chandler, Jeff Green, Terrence Roberts and Jeff Adrien are bigtime mis-matches against our guys who realisitically should be wing forwards. Dwight Burke has the body and athleticism to compete here, but his total lack of offensive skills make him a liability to be out on the floor more than 5-10 minutes.

3. Guard depth: Our four guards can compete with just about any unit in the country. However, at this time of the season, the grind of having to play 35 minutes a night seems to be affecting the Three Amigos. Even if James goes pro after the season, the presence of Maurice Acker and Scott Christopheron will allow Matthews and McNeal to get more breathers and be fresher for the latter part of the season.

4. Poor Free Throw Shooting: The last two games, this has kicked Marquette squarely in the ass. Despite being a guard-oriented team, Marquette cannot consistently hit their free throws. All Three Amigos have the potential be 75-80% free throw shooters, but for whatever reason they struggle. I do think that fatigue may come into play, but you still need to hit at least 70% of your free throws. I would not be surprised if free throw shooting greatly improves next season, especially if the issue is a main offseason focus. Other than Dwight Burke, this team has the potential to collectively shoot 72-75%.

Still, this team has some serious strengths that have led to 21 wins. Marquette has one of the nation's best five backcourts. Ousmane Barro has become a tough match-up for slower big men because of his consistent effort running the court. Despite being a smaller team, Marquette is a very good offensive rebounding squad. Also, the defensive effort has been outstanding this season. If teams become sloppy with the ball, Marquette can run them straight out of the gym.

Basically, looking at all the positives and negatives, Marquette should be a 7-6 or 8-5 team in the Big East. They may have taken an unconvential route to get to their 8-5 mark, but that is still an impressive conference record for a team with notable shortcomings that many top 25 teams do not have.

Breaking down the rest of our conference match-ups, I think Marquette has an excellent chance to get to 10-6 or 11-5. I think Villanova will struggle to match-up with our perimeter quickness and athleticism. Curtis Sumpter will be a tough match-up, but he no longer possesses the athleticism of guys like Jeff Green and Wilson Chandler. Even after all of his knee problems, he is still a crafty scorer who can hit the three and post-up on smaller defenders. However, he won't overwhelm Hayward, Fitzgerald and Wesley Matthews like the aforementioned Green and Chandler.

After having a needed five days off, I think Marquette will be ready to give Notre Dame their first home blemish. I don't think Notre Dame can handle Marquette's quickness and athleticism. The one match-up problem will be 6'8 bull Luke Harangody, but he cannot single-handedly win the game for the Irish. All conference road games are difficult, but Marquette has proven they can win in hostile environments.

The final game of the year, a re-match with Pitt, comes after a week off for Marquette. In the first match-up, Marquette was able to tire out Pitt's horse, Aaron Gray. Look for Ousmane Barro to run Gray all around the court and tire him out again. Also, Pitt has really struggled against quick, perimeter based teams. In a must-win game for Marquette, I look for them to finally come away triumphant in a big home game.

As far as the postseason goes, Marquette will be wildly unpredictable. Depending on the match-ups, I can see us making long runs in the Big East and NCAA Tournaments. You absolutely need strong guard play to win in March, and we definitely have that. However, an early exit is also a possibility if we are matched up against a team with solid guard and athletic bigs.

Whenever you have a flawed team, inconsistent results should not be surprising. That being said, we have already had two winning streaks of six games or longer, which you need to advance deep in March. We will be one of the most difficult teams to predict in March Madness, but I assure you we will be there with a respectable seed and the opportunity to do serious damage.

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Woooo! We suck! Yeah!

There are few things in sports that amuse me more than fans who unknowingly put down their own team. Or in this case, fans who knowingly acknowledge their team's suckiness but are too excited to care.

If you missed it, Arizona St., who had been 0-14 in Pac10 play entering last night's game against the Troyanites of USC, avoided the first ever winless season in the history of Pac10 play.

Of course, an occasion of this nature is bound to produce some ironic celebration. The ASU students did not disappoint, storming the court and holding out their index fingers--as in, "win #1," not "we're #1"--when the final buzzer sounded.

Adding insult to insult, the ASU fans had also been chanting "overrated" throughout the last minute of the game, a ritual that is illogical regardless of circumstance and even more degrading given ASU's record.

Speaking of which, I'd like to jump on the soapbox for a second. And I know I speak for all of YCS on this one. If you ever, ever, chant "overrated," you are a fool and deserve to be punched. Just think for a second about what you're saying. It diminishes your own team's accomplishment for crying out loud! People sometimes...I tell ya.

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Back, bay-beeeee?

>> Saturday

Scottie Pippen must really be hard up for child support money.

Having said that, I'm not one to tell Scottie whether or not he can still play. Oh wait--yes I am. I watched him in his second stint with the Bulls. And he looked washed-up.

Ok fine--I'm still not one to cast judgment because I'm not an NBA scout. I would suggest watching the video of Sir Charles in that link instead. (Sam Smith, however, disagrees.)

Pippen has been working out in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., during the winter, and he thinks the time is right to add his experience and defensive prowess to a contending club, perhaps in Miami or San Antonio.

Fort Lauderdale? No wonder he thinks he's good. He's been playing against old Jewish guys. But could you imagine him in Miami? Dwyane Wade can:

"I'm already playing with [Gary] Payton and Shaq, two guys I used to play with on video games," Wade said. "To add Scottie Pippen to the mix, that would be crazy."

Crazy. Yes. That's exactly what it would be. The Heat would be the San Francisco Giants of the NBA... even more so. Personally, I hope he goes back to Houston and plays along side Dikembe Mutombo.



In other, totally unrelated retirement news...

I guess we can't make anymore "queer as Foulke" puns. Well, we still could, but they wouldn't be nearly as effective.
Personally, I'm a little bummed to see Keith Foulke go. Not only is it unfortunate when injuries force a good player out too early, but I was always a huge Foulke fan. There's few sweeter sights in baseball than watching a guy mow down hitters with nothing but a fastball and a change.
I was always a huge defender of Foulke's awesomeness, especially when White Sox fans wanted to run his ass outta town for a few memorable blown saves in 2002. He never got enough credit here because, well, he didn't throw hard enough. And in one of Kenny Williams's few senseless trades with the Sox, Foulke was traded for Billy Koch. (Oops.)
And while I still think closers are overrated--and still loathe the "closer" concept in general--Foulke was one of the best, if not the best, for a few years. It's unfortunate that injuries are forcing him to retire because his pitching style could have made him effective well into his forties.
Anyway, no one gives a crap what I think about Keith Foulke. But hey, it's a slow news night. Right now the espn.com front page story is the rookies-sophomores All-Star Weekend game. Yeah.

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The Case Against the Sun-Times' Case Against the Tribune Co.

>> Friday

The Chicago Sun-Times has put "Tribune Co. on trial" for "ruining the Cubs." While this is a popular belief in Chicago, and who knows, it might even be true, this is the evidence the Sun-Times actually offered, taken apart here in classic YCS bold/not bold format.

Even though I haven't passed the bar yet, I have watched every episode of Boston Legal this season, thereby making me qualified to represent and defend the Tribune Company in this case before...ahem...the court.

It's the trial of the century in the Court of Public Opinion. Case No. 1908, the People of Chicago vs. Tribune Co. The charge: gross negligence and neglect in its ownership of the Chicago Cubs.

It's a slow news day! We need something to sell papers! That's the only reason this made it to page one! Or perhaps it's a hit job on our crosstown rivals in the publishing industry! Let's kick them while they're down! Yea!

The Sun-Times, representing Cubs fans everywhere, is filing a class-action suit and offers as evidence 98 consecutive years without a World Series victory, the last 26 under Tribune stewardship.

Yea! Those motherfuckers in Tribune Tower were not only responsible for the last 26 years the Cubs haven't won a title, but also the 72 years that preceded their purchase of the team in 1981! Fuck you!

The Sun-Times wants the team sold -- immediately. Tribune Co. has been derelict in its duty as custodian of one of the most cherished teams in American sports. Fans are suffering from emotional abuse and mental anguish. Four meager playoff appearances in more than a quarter-century of Tribune ownership are offered as proof. The Cubs have the longest World Series drought in baseball.

No shit I'll bet they want them sold. They're more or less the only part of Tribune company making a profit these days. And four meager playoff appearances in 26 years? Why that's just as many as the Cubs made in the previous 52 (1932, 1935, 1938,1945). So the Tribune has actually doubled the frequency of playoff appearances since taking control.

Some blame the Curse of the Billy Goat. Don't believe it.
Anyone with a brain? Anyone without a closet full of voodoo dolls?

Owning a baseball team, especially one as beloved as the Cubs, is a public trust. Current ownership has broken that trust. The only goat in this scenario, our complaint alleges, is Tribune Co.

Owning a baseball team apparently IS NOT a difficult business. Ignore that 12 other teams; some just as storied as the Cubs, have failed to win a World Series since Tribune took over (Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Texas, Seattle, Montreal/Washington, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Houston, Milwaukee, San Francisco, Colorado, San Diego) Of the 30 teams in Major League Baseball, only 7 teams have won multiple titles since Tribune purchased the Cubs.

Cubs fans are among the most loyal fans in any sport. They deserve better than a team synonymous with losing.
Objection! Speculation. While possibly true, there's no way to confirm that.

The Red Sox hadn't won a World Series since 1918 when they broke through in 2004. Long-suffering White Sox fans celebrated in 2005.

The Sox have made the playoffs just as many times ('83, '93, '00, '05) in the last 26 years as the Cubs ('84, '89, '98, '03). I'd like to cite precedence in the case of No one v. Jerry Reinsdorf (2007). Reinsdorf bought the White Sox in 1981, the same year as my client bought the Cubs. I don't see the Sun-Times arguing that Reinsdorf should sell the White Sox. Do 5 postseason victories really make the difference here? Or is being your cross-town rival in the newspaper business what really matters here?

The stars seemingly had aligned for the Cubs in 2006. It was their turn, and how did they respond? With a National League-worst 66 victories.

At this time, I'd like to enter defendant's Exhibit A-2006. A page from the Chicago Sun-Times 2006 Baseball Preview "The Cubs have no chance of winning that division. Injury-prone players don't suddenly become stable, and without Wood or Prior, that staff is below average. The division belongs to St. Louis, and Houston again will be strong." For once the Sun-Times is right.

The Cubs must be rescued from their own tortured history. Being a Cubs fan means bitter memories of the 1969 collapse, when the team was in first place for 155 days before falling apart down the stretch. At that time, the Cubs were owned by the Wrigley family.

Objection! Relevance. If the Cubs "Tortured History" happened under the Wrigley family, it's irrelevant to the current proceedings against Tribune Co.

Fans thought corporate ownership might be the answer after the franchise and ballpark had deteriorated the Wrigleys' rule. But it was evident after witnessing the horrors of the 1984 NL Championship Series that nothing had changed. The Cubs blew a 2-0 series lead, losing the final game when an easy ground ball inexplicably went through first baseman Leon Durham's legs.

It's the Tribune Company's fault that Leon Durham didn't field the ball?

That stunning series loss to the San Diego Padres set the tone for Tribune Co. ownership.

That and the renovation of the bleachers, increased capacity at Wrigley, the addition of lights and skyboxes, a revitalized North Side (largely due to people actually WANTING to go to Cubs games again), increased revenue streams and a level of popularity for the Cubs unseen in their history.

The biggest heartbreak of all came in 2003. The Cubs were five outs away from their first World Series appearance since 1945 when Steve Bartman reached to catch a foul ball in Game 6 of the NLCS and deflected it away from left fielder Moises Alou. The Cubs went on to lose their best chance to bring a title home to Wrigleyville.

It's Tribune Company's fault that Steve Bartman has long arms?

If that's not cruel and unusual punishment, what is?

Having to read this column? Oh wait...this isn't a column...THIS RAN ON THE FRONT PAGE!!!!!

The people have suffered enough. That's why this case will be tried in these pages over the coming days and weeks. We will present the case for the prosecution and the case for the defense, and then the Court of Public Opinion will render a verdict. Court is adjourned for a brief recess.

Indeed. They have. Recess? Good. Never come back, or at least never write again.

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Chief to say good bye...or is he?

It looks like this is it. Today, barring a judge's ruling, the University of Illinois will announce that the symbol of the university, Chief Illiniwek, will have his final dance at halftime of the Illinois-Michigan men's basketball game next week.

Opponents of the Chief have long claimed cultural misappropriation. Which of course never happens in college sports.

This isn't even a case of a blatantly offensive image. The costume was donated by a Native American tribe in the 1980s (that sounds like an endorsement to me), the Chief figure is represented with respect and for the most part (save a few jumps), sticks to authentic Native American dances, and the Peoria Indians' Chief (descendants of the original Illiniwek confederacy) has gone on record as saying that he was in support of the Chief as recently as 10 years ago. Now he's against it. What's changed since the mid-1990s?

I am totally lost on how there is this apparently pressing need to have more diversity in hiring minority coaches, athletic directors, and university presidents, in attracting a more diverse student body, yet when it comes time for visible symbols of the University on the athletic field, the time for diversity is over. Think about it. Can you think of any major university that uses a non-white logo or mascot/symbol/character/image? I know I can't think of any single one, can you recall any non-white college sports teams' mascots that would immediately come to mind?

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Kerry Wood Celebrity Hot Tub Party


Heeyyyyyah!


Sometimes, when you hate a team you really have to stretch to make up reasons why they suck to justify your hatred of them beyond pure and simple homerism. When you can't stand the Chicago Cubs, they make you feel almost bad for them. Really, sometimes, it's too easy.


The Chicago Cubs pitcher is not expected to throw off the mound for a few days after he slipped this week getting out of a hot tub at home. Wood landed on his stomach and chest.

So let's review. Cubs players have been injured getting out of a hot tub, typing on Instant Messanger and sneezing. How long until the last few years of the Cubs are written into Final Destination 3? Jason Marquis better watch his ass.

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Fighting (Chet Coppock) like Warriors!

>> Thursday

Wooo! Let's go War'iors! [clap clap cl-cl-clap]

As reported to me by Zuch and soon to be backed up by tomorrow's Chicago Sun Times, one of our fellow Marquette fans punched Chicago sports on-air personality Chet Coppock at last night's Marquette-DePaul game. Yeah, DePaul, that's what you get for playing well, suckas!

Here we go War'iors, here we go! [clap clap]

Whatever the reason, I'm sure old Chet Chit-Chat deserved it, and more importatnly, he learned a valuable lesson--You don't fuck with a Warrior! Yeah! MU represent!

Gooooooo... Gooooooo... Go! Mar-quette! Go! Go! Go! Go!

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Dear God, I promise I'll be good....

Next up in our YCS Microsoft Paint Series, rumors have been swirling over the last few days and have been coming from people inside MLS offices, indicating the Chicago Fire are making another play for former French international Zinedine Zidane. If the Forehead of Steel is chuffing up and down the field at Toyota Park anytime soon wearing Fire red, I will totally flip out.

Zidane apparently still wants to play, and thinks that America might be a good experience for him. He's 35, so he probably has 2 or 3 good years at most left in him before it's back to being cartoonized in butter billboards in India.

It's still in the rumor stage right now, but there's a lot of smoke, just enough to think that Zidane might be suiting up for the Fire.

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No News. No Analysis.

Just a hilarious compilation of Mike Tyson quotes through the years.

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Tim Hardaway Doesn't Want to Macrame a Pair of Jean Shorts With You

If you haven't heard/seen this yet, you will undoubtedly catch it ad nauseum for the next few days on SportsCenter. Cue former Heat (not the guy from Golden State and not Penny [big or little]) guard Tim Hardaway.

Former Miami Heat guard Tim Hardaway said on a radio show Wednesday afternoon that he would not want a gay player on his team.

"You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known," Hardaway said. "I don't like gay people and I don't like to be around gay people. I am homophobic. I don't like it. It shouldn't be in the world or in the United States."

"And second of all, if he was on my team, I would, you know, really distance myself from him because, uh, I don't think that's right. And you know I don't think he should be in the locker room while we're in the locker room. I wouldn't even be a part of that," he said.

All right. Slow down. Yes, what he said is insanely intolerant and archaic. Yes, he sounds like a clown for saying it. Yes, it's the kind of vitriol everyone could do without. But don't think for ONE minute that what Hardaway said isn't on the mind of 80% (or more) of NBA players.

People, if there is one simple truth about athletes, it's this: they're not statesmen for a reason. They are, by and large, testosterone pumping machines that are exceptionally athletically gifted. They're competitive, high-strung and desperately masculine (despite how often those traits coincide with homoeroticism [see the 1980s]).

It's always a shock to me when people hear athletes talk about social topics and are outraged when what they hear isn't the most progressive and enlightened discourse. Of course athletes are homophobes. Great. Pity for them and even more pity for the poor guys in each league that are forced to repress their natural urges. But come on, don't crucify a guy for being honest and not going with the cookie cutter-obviously holding back something-to be PC answer.

That said, Tim Hardaway is an idiot.

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I Was Wrong

DePaul played a very good game tonight and have proven to be a solid team. I'm still not a big fan of Jerry Wainwright, just because they would be knocking on the door of the top 25 if they played like this every night. For Marquette fans, I hope many of your asses get real sore from the jumping on and off of the bandwagon. We are still a very good team, even if being ranked 13 may be a tad bit too high. Also, for those knocking Dominic James, we are 15-11 right with DePaul if he's not at Marquette.

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Thank God for Michael Waltrip's rules violation

>> Wednesday

I don't even know what he did or how it's against NASCAR rules. All I know is that it gave us this hilarious picture of Waltrip, sans corporate sponsor racing cap:


If you'd like to understand the details of this sordid affair, you can read all about it in Rusty Wallace's latest edition of "Rusty Nails It."

Oh, NASCAR. We didn't even need a not-very-well-done Will Ferrell movie to make satire out of you. You're self-satirizing, and you don't even seem to know it.

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Sports World Nostalgia: Bobby Valentine

As bloggers--or writers (term used loosely) of any sort--it's sort of a minimal obligation that we do something hokey and festive on popular holidays. So to celebrate Valentine's Day, I thought I would pay tribute to a sports icon for whom the day is not named, but for whom it should be named: former MLB player and manager and Japanese League manager Bobby Valentine.

As a player, Valentine lasted eleven seasons in the bigs, appearing with five teams. After breaking in at the age of 19, "the Heartbreak Kid," as he should've been called, blossomed into a semi-regular player by the age of 22. As a member of the Dodgers in 1972, the versatile Valentine enjoyed his finest season, hitting .274 with 3 HR in 391 ABs while splitting time between 2B, 3B, SS, and OF.

Like most of us, Valentine had already seen his best days by the time he turned 23. By the mid-'70s, he'd been relegated to a sparingly-used utility man, a role he would continue to play until his retirement after the 1979 season.

During his playing career, Valentine garnered a reputation for being cagey, heady, and, above all, fond of watching games from the bench. So it was no surprise that baseballpeople quickly pegged the young Valentine as a future managerial candidate. By 1985, Valentine fulfilled this prophecy, becoming the interim manager of the Texas Rangers at the age of 35.

Valentine stuck with the Rangers, where he would oversee a string of 80ish-win seasons. His finest moment as Rangers manager came on June 11, 1990 when--just moments before the Rangers' game against the A's that evening--he told starting pitcher Nolan Ryan, "Hey, throw a good one tonight." Ryan obliged by pitching a no-hitter. It was undoubtedly Valentine's best single-game managerial perfomance of his young career. Never a one-trick pony, Valentine repeated the feat on May 1, 1991 when he told Ryan to no-hit the Blue Jays.

Valentine would remain with the Rangers until 1992 when he got his ass cahizzanned 86 games into the season.

By 1995, Valentine found himself itching to manage again, and, more principally, itching to earn a paycheck. That winter, Valentine accepted a job managing the Chiba Lotte Marines of the Japanese Pacific League. Despite the Marines' second-place finish that season, Valentine was fired due to personality conflicts and an admission that he picked his lineups from a hat when he gave up trying to learn his players' names.

The next season, Valentine was back in the majors as a coach with the Mets. He would find himself managing again before the 1996 finished when the Mets dumped manager Dallas Green with 31 games left. During his time with the Mets, Valentine's teams won back-to-back NL Wild Cards in 1999 and 2000, making the World Series the latter season and losing to the cross-town Yankees in front of lots of celebrities. What people will remember most about Valentine's Mets tenure, however, was his incognito appearance in the Mets' dugout after being ejected during a 1999 game (photo, top of page).

By 2002, the Mets had grown tired of not firing someone, and Valentine was released from his exile in Flushing Meadows. With nowhere else to turn, Valentine followed his heart back home to Japan, accepting his old job with Chiba Lotte for the 2003 season. He would win the Pacific League title with the Marines in 2005 and continues to manage there today.

Since going back to Japan, Valentine has crusaded for international competition among MLB teams and other countries' professional teams. Valentine was validated in his oft pooh-poohed assertions that Japanese League players could compete with MLB players when Japan won the inaugural World Baseball Classic last year on the strength of their calculated, stoic, Samurai-like, good-at-math, seaweed-digesting style, just as Valentine had predicted.

Whether or not Valentine ever makes it back to the majors, his legacy as a champion for the WBC and as a hilarious disguise artist is forever cemented in baseball lore. Also, his legacy as the inventor of the wrap is forever cemented in deli sandwich lore. But if you ask me, he's making that up. The filthy liar.

Anyway, we at YCS hope all of you had a wonderful Valentine's Day, and we hope when you curl up with that special someone tonight, you think of the man we honor on this day--former MLB manager Bobby Valentine. If not, we hope you think of Bobby the next time you're making love. And every time after that.

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Mama said knock you out!


It began on July 11th with teams that you've probably never heard of. (My apologies to all the Linfield FC and NK Široki Brijeg fans who read YCS. Your teams' 2006 Northern Irish and Bosnian league titles were well-earned.) Now it's February, and it's time for the knockout rounds of the UEFA Champions League to begin on Tuesday (Where I will be taking a day off work for an unrelated reason, and as such will be unable to post my preview then).
Likewise, since no one else on this staff would be able to show any analysis beyond that dumb secretary in the March Madness office pools who picks her winners based on how cute their mascots are, the job of handicapping the Round of 16 falls to me I guess (12-4 in the group stage). All matchups are on a two-game, home-and-home, total goals basis. In case of a tie, away goals are the first tiebreaker. Let's keep the discussion above the table.
The matchups
Liverpool FC vs. FC Barcelona
In a matchup of the last two Champions League winners, I like the Blaugrana. While Barcelona has been rocked by controversy after Samuel Eto’o refused to enter a Spanish League game over complaints of lack of playing time (How ironic.), they have at least maintained a somewhat consistent form in the rough-and-tumble Spanish League this season. Liverpool on the other hand have been maddeningly inconsistent.

Since the new year, the Reds have crushed Bolton 3-0, then followed that up with two losses to Arsenal at Anfield by scores of 3-1 and 6-3 respectively to be bounced from the League Cup and the FA Cup. They responded to that disastrous week by pasting Watford 3-0, knocking off defending champions Chelsea 2-0, then barely squeaking by relegation-bound West Ham United, a lackluster scoreless draw with crosstown rivals Everton, and a humiliating 2-1 loss to Newcastle United.

Barca: 2-1 on aggregate
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Celtic FC vs. AC Milan
Celtic is arguably one of the weaker teams still in the Champions League, and one of only three from outside the Big Five Leagues. The Bhoys have a near-insurmountable lead against weaker competition domestically, they went 3-3 in the group stage, never got a point away from Celtic Park, and had little offense to speak of (They only scored 6 goals in 6 matches). However, they are powered by Japanese international Shunsuke Nakamura, and backed by Polish international keeper Artur Boruc, who stopped a PK against Manchester United to put the Hoops through to the knockout stages.

If Celtic had a dream draw of the teams they could play in the 1/8-finals, it would have had to be AC Milan. The Rossoneri were rocked over the summer by the Italian matchfixing scandal and were initially banned from the Champions League before appeal. The uncertainty this brought to the team’s finances meant that they couldn’t spend any money in the summer transfer window. What follows is more or less the same team that lost the 2005 Champions League Final, only two years older. Milan has struggled domestically this season, currently sitting in 7th in the Italian top flight, 30 points behind rivals Inter Milan. Take away their point penalty to start the season, and they’re still only in fourth and 22 points behind Inter.Milan’s only notable Winter transfer pickup was Brazilian star Ronaldo from Real Madrid, who is more or less washed-up, slow, and overweight. He won't be able to play anyway since his play in the group stages leaves him cup-tied to Madrid.

Upset Special: Celtic: 1-0 on aggregate
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Manchester United FC vs. LOSC Lille
Manchester United. End of discussion. Lille is above and beyond the weakest team in the competition, currently 10-5-9 in the French top flight, 15 points off the leaders. The Red Devils are stocked with star power including Wayne Rooney and Christiano Ronaldo, who despite being a serial diver, is arguably one of the best players in the competition. United are en route to their first English Premier League title since 2001 domestically.

Man United: 4-1 on aggregate
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PSV Eindhoven vs. Arsenal FC
PSV is currently on top of the Dutch league, and Arsenal is 4th in the EPL. Arsenal definitely has more talent than PSV, and the Gunners are presently in a stretch of great form. Thierry Henry is lighting it up, and Jens Lehmann appears to have discovered his winning touch. Thomas Rosicky has proven to be a valuable pickup for the Gunners.

Arsenal: 3-2 on aggregate
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Real Madrid CF vs. FC Bayern Munich
If teams were as good as their histories, then this tie would be one for the ages. Madrid, the most successful team in Spain against Bayern, the most successful in Germany battling it out for European glory. However, both teams are shadows of their former selves. Oliver Kahn is still a great netminder for Bayern, but is not the Kahn that won the Champions League in 2001. Madrid likewise is a shadow of their “Galacticos” team. Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, and Ronaldo have all left for greener pastures or retirement. David Beckham is on his way to the United States, and Madrid frankly isn’t very good this year. However, they still have enough talent to eke past a Michael Ballack-less Bayern squad who is falling rapidly in the Bundesliga standings, but probably not enough talent to make it to the Semifinals.

Real Madrid: 2-2 on aggregate (Madrid advances on away goals)
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FC Porto vs. Chelsea FC
Yea, I guess there’s kind of a storyline here as Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho returns to play the club he led to a UEFA Cup title in 2003 and a UEFA Champions League title in 2004, but that’s really it. Chelsea has too much firepower to let Porto through. The Blues’ goalkeeping woes could provide enough room for an upset by the Dragons, but I wouldn’t count on it. Chelsea likewise has a lackluster record in this competition, but both years they lost to the eventual champion (Liverpool 2005, Barcelona 2006). I can assure you, FC Porto is not going to win the Champions League this season. Smart money’s on Chelsea.

Chelsea: 3-1 on aggregate

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Internazionale vs. Valencia CF
Inter is running away with the Italian title. Valencia is currently sitting in fourth place in a parity-driven Spanish League. While Valencia has made it this far, they also emerged from one of the easiest groups in the Group Stage. They also have failed to beat Getafe in domestic play three times since the New Year (0-2-1). Inter will run away with this one.

Inter 3-0 on aggregate
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AS Roma vs. Olympique Lyonnais
Lyon has been the story of the French top flight for the past five years. Roma wouldn’t even be here had they not been paired in the weakest group, and Juventus not been punished for fixing matches last year. I really don’t care who wins here, but Lyon has a better track record in the competition so I’ll pick them.

Lyon 2-1 on aggregate
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So there you have it. The "1/8th-Finals" For no soccer analysis posts since the Beckham post, I'd say it's looking like an interesting last three months to the competition before the final in Athens. If nothing else, I'll bet this gets the rest of the YCS staff to post something.

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Lock of the Week

Making a brief cameo here during basketball season, it is my obligation to alert the great readers of YCS of a sure way to make a few greenbacks. Currently, Marquette would be 2.5 point UNDERDOGS to 14-11 DePaul. The same DePaul team who Marquette has beaten 8 out of the last ten times. The same DePaul team that would be coached by Principal Vernon, whose coaching strategy resembles that of Fat Pat Kennedy. When the talent is relatively equal, a Tom Crean coached team will beat Jerry Wainwright 9 out of 10 times. Other than Wilson Chandler, the talent is not equal. DePaul cannot match the Three Amigos and Ousmane Barro should be a handful down low. A double digit Marquette victory is much more likely than the good guys not covering. While you blow a wad of money on your significant other tonight, you can recoup your money by taking Marquette and 2.5 points straight to the bank.

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Holy crap. I believe Sammy Sosa now.

I believe him when he said he injured his back sneezing that one time. A couple seconds ago I sneezed really hard, and now my back really hurts. Then again, I'm a 135-pound, horrendously out-of-shape desk jockey and not a big hulking pro athlete.

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I love this kind of game account

because it reads like a discarded script to a cliched sports movie.

Buffalo 98, Bowling Green 90 (OT)


Here, the good team is dejected, the bad team is jubilant in their smiting of our heroes, and celebrates prematurely (probably not in a classy way, nor in any sort of fashion that implies that any team regardless of talent can win if they just "play together.")

They leave the floor, the ref says, "Well....now that I look closer....it appears that there IS more time left," with a little wink towards the coach. Stressful free throws attempted to tie the game, (probably by either the foreign exchange student-athlete or the kid who always got picked last at recess.) and the team triumphantly carries him off on their shoulders after the victory. Grown men cry. David Anspaugh runs away with sacks of money. End Scene.

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