Sunday, March 26, 2006

Speaking of Out West...

That's where I am right now. My kids are on spring break, so we're taking them to Sedona, Arizona, and the Grand Canyon. I will post some of the pictures that Mrs. Rhino takes upon my return.

I may not come back, but not just because it's beautiful out here. I'm ashamed to face the harassment I'm going to get about my NCAA pool picks. This weekend has seen not only the end of Texas, Boston College and Memphis' dreams of a national championship, but the end of my last vestige of NCAA pool respectability. In fact, one of my brackets ranks 210th out of 212 entries in our office pool--and that's an improvement from where I stood last week at this time. Until last night, however, I could save face by pointing out that Memphis was my pick in that bracket, and that I was one of only two guys in the pool who picked the Tigers.

Today, of course, thanks to one of the worst offensive performances since teams stopped wearing canvas Chuck Taylor's, Memphis has taken the pipe, and I have nothing but shame and ridicule to look forward to upon my return. So, if you don't see me back in Northeast Ohio, you know why. Whose idea was this stupid tournament anyway?

Weird Out West

Did anyone notice that our old '80's nemesis, the Denver Broncos, just signed two more defensive linemen from the Browns? This is really weird.
Last year, the Broncos raised some eyebrows amongst the cognoscenti when they acquired Courtney "the Quiet Storm" Brown, Gerard "Big Money" Warren, Ebenezer Ekuban and Michael Meyers from the Browns. Brown and Warren were first-round busts. Ekuban and Meyers were competent role players. As a group, they did okay in Denver mainly because they were backed by three very good linebackers and a stud safety. Apparently, they did well enough for Denver to go to the well again. So far this off season, the Broncos have picked up Kenard Lang and Amon Gordon. That brings the total of ex-Browns defensive linemen to six in the Mile High City.

I guess it's easier to stop the run at a higher altitude, because they did a piss poor job of it on the lakefront.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Credit where credit is due.

This is overdue, but let's tip our caps to the Japanese baseball team. With two major leaguers on its roster, the team won the inaugural WBC. Who would have thunk it? Not me. I would have picked the Dominican, the US, Venezuela, and Cuba to be better than Japan. They weren't.

It's a weird thing. We watched the Japanese celebrate their biggest victory on American territory since Pearl Harbor, but at least the damn commies didn't win it.

Japan now reigns as the king of the baseball world. As the English always said in situations like this one, "the king is dead, long live the king."

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Ding-Dong, Duke is Dead!

Ding Dong! Duke is dead. Which old Duke? The Wicked Duke!
Ding Dong! The Wicked Duke is dead.

Wake up - sleepy head, rub your eyes, get out of bed.
Wake up, the Wicked Duke is dead. They've gone where the goblins go,
Below - below - below. Yo-ho, let's open up and sing and ring the bells out.
Ding Dong' the merry-oh, sing it high, sing it low.
Let them know
The Wicked Duke is dead!

Hello, my name is Rhino, and I'm a Blue Jackets fan. It's been three days since my last game.

After watching yet another losing effort by the Cowopolis Blue Jackets on FSN Ohio the other night, two things dawned on me. The first thing was that I'd watched (not channel surfed, but actually watched) about 20 Blue Jackets games on TV this season. Soon thereafter came my second revelation-- I had somehow become a fan of this awful hockey team.

I grew up a Buffalo Sabres fan, and still consider myself one, but when I check the NHL standings, I find myself noting where the Jackets are as well. When the Sabres are on OLN, I make sure to tune in, but I watch the Blue Jackets three times a week. I even go to the Cowopolis Dispatch to read articles about the team.

Although they've been in a bit of a slump of late, the Buffalo Sabres are one of the NHL's best teams, and are a bona fide contender for the Stanley Cup. The Cowopolis Blue Jackets on the other hand, well, there's just no other way to put it--they suck. They've got some good, established players (like Bryan Berard and David Vyborny), a few rising stars like Rick Nash and Nikolai Zherdev, and one fading superstar in Sergei Federov. The rest of the roster is pretty mediocre, except for the goaltenders, Marc Denis, who stinks, and Pascal LeClaire , who is a kid.

The Sabres are currently 44-19-5 and guaranteed of a high seed in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Jackets are 26-40-3 and guaranteed a spot on the beach in Florida as soon as the playoffs start. Under the circumstances, my dalliance with the Blue Jackets is kind of like being married to Jessica Simpson and cheating on her with Janet Reno.

So, the bottom line is that the Blue Jackets are a terrible team in a city I've never lived in and don't even like to visit. Plus, with the possible exception of the Utah Jazz, the Jackets have the most staggeringly stupid name in pro sports. And yet, somehow I find myself a fan. Pathetic.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

How Bout Them Cavs?

Tonight the Cavs take on the Charlotte Bobcats at The Q. The Cavs are coming off a big win over the Lakers and are looking to solidify their hold on...awww, who the hell cares anyway?

Face it, one round in the playoffs and the Wine and Gold is deader than Disco. In all likelihood, they're either going to draw an experienced playoff team (the Indiana Pacers), or a team that they've beaten just once in their the last six meetings (the Washington Wizards). Sure, home court advantage means a lot in the NBA, but not enough to make up for the shortcomings of a team that has shown a real lack of physical and mental toughness during crunch time.

I know they haven't been to the playoffs since 1998, but I'll be damned if I'm going to get excited about what looks like a classic "one and done" scenario. I guess you can consider me immune from Cavs playoff fever for this season. The pieces for a long playoff run just aren't there.

The MLB Commissioner's Office: Where it's Always 1984

The official verdict on the World Baseball Classic is in! You can read all about it right here. According to Big Brother Bud and the Ministry of Truth:

  • It's good the U.S. didn't win.
  • It's good that attendance wasn't up to expectations.
  • You were won over, even if you weren't.
  • Hard core media critics were won over, even if they weren't.
  • March is a good time for the tournament.
  • There will be another one.

In other news, War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, and Ignorance is Strength.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Couldn't Happen to a Nicer Guy

Here's a day brightener--former Cleveland Cavalier and current jackass Carlos Boozer appears to be embroiled in a little landlord-tenant dispute. Apparently, he rented his L.A. crib to Prince (formerly known as "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince"), who allegedly purpled it up real good.

The Smoking Gun has all the details, including a copy of a complaint Boozer filed in an on-again, off-again lawsuit against his high profile tenant.

Like I said, it couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


Higinio Velez refers to his players as "men without names." He's the manager of the Cuban baseball team playing in the WBC. His men without names are going to the championship game against Japan.

Proud to Be Your Bud, Congressmen, Senators and the old owner of the Texas Rangers have to be puckering up at that one. Sure the Cubans have dominated most of the international competition since, well, forever. But, we were secure, or smug even, in knowing that they'd been beating up a bunch of second-rate countries to win medals and accolades. They'd never beaten major leaguers---not real baseball players. Those guys played here, in the good ol' United States, from April to October, not in some sissy tournament where there was no money on the line. The only times that the Cubans played American teams didn't really count. The Americans teams were peopled with up-and-coming college or minor league players, some career minor leaguers, and in one case, a few has-been major leaguers. The Cubans had never faced a team like the USA's inaugural WBC team: Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Johnny Damon, Derrek Lee, Roger Clemens, Dontrelle Willis, Jake Peavy, Michael Young, Jason Varitek, Ken Griffey, Jr., Vernon Wells, Mark Teixiera and Randy Winn. Didja ever hear of any of them? I think I may have---you know, in All-Star games, in the World Series, in Cy Young voting, in Silver Slugger awards, in Gold Glove awards, and in MVP voting.

Well, the Cubans won't get to play those Americans either. Those guys went 3-3 and were bounced from the tournament by Mexico. In Cuba, the Mexican team is generally known as "ramera." That means "bitch." I guess that means that the USA was knocked out of the first international baseball showcase by Cuba's bitch. That's so nice.

The funny thing is that this Administration tried to keep the Cubans out of the tournament by citing the embargo that has been in effect since 1962. The idea was that, while the Cuban team could play in purely amateur competitions, it could not participate in commerce. In this instance, there is prize money, and that was the basis the Administration used to exclude the Cubans. Fidel Castro showed some cojones and offered to donate the money the Cuban team would win for winning the tournament to the victims of Katrina. We all scoffed at his bravura. Well, as a friend of mine liked to say when we were younger, "Ain't so g-damn funny now."

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Hating Duke

Duke plays George Washington this afternoon. GW is Mrs. Rhino's alma mater, and I hope they take Duke apart. Why? First, I love Mrs. Rhino (even though she's currently kicking my ass in the NCAA pool), and second, I just hate Duke.

I'm hardly alone in my feelings toward Duke. In fact, I doubt that there's ever been a college team that inspires this kind of white-hot hatred. Sure, there are legions of Notre Dame haters, Michigan haters, Miami haters, and Florida State haters, but Duke's different. There is something so intensely grating about the arrogance and sense of entitlement of Mike Krzyzewski's teams that I think it's fair to say that Duke hoops ranks right up there with The New York Yankees in terms of loathsomeness.

There's also the snotty rich white boy factor. You know the kid I'm talking about--his name changes, but he's always there: from Mark Alarie to Danny Ferry to Christian Laettner to J.J. Redick. He's the sneering little preppie who gets every call, gets the cover of every sports magazine, and most of all, gets his talents grossly exaggerated by the legions of Duke apologists who populate the media. Of course, the most outrageous of these apologists is Dick "Dukie V" Vitale, who never met a Duke player that he didn't have a nationally televised verbal orgasm over.

Fortunately, Duke hatred has spawned some excellent websites. The premier haters' website is The Truth about Duke, although Deadspin lists a few others that are worth a visit.

Duke haters of the world, unite! GO COLONIALS!!

Friday, March 17, 2006

I'm Winning Something--Even though I'm the Wrong Species

My company is having a "pet photo" contest as a Harvest for Hunger fundraiser. People pay $10 to enter their pet, and the winner gets a gift certificate of some kind. Anyway, somebody entered a picture of me that was taken about 15 years ago after I consumed several (okay, a lot more than several) adult beverages during a Browns playoff game.

For the record, I am not an animal! I am a human being! Nevertheless, I am also currently in first place in the pet photo contest.

I'm philosophical about this. After all, there's no such thing as bad media, and I'm sure the news of my triumph would occupy a prominent place on our company intranet. God, I love attention. Not all pets do, you know--take this dog for example.

NCAA Tourney

One of the cool things about the NCAA tournament this year is the ability to access a live tv feed of the games on I did this for a little while yesterday afternoon, because I was freaking out when I returned from lunch to find Boston College getting pushed around by Pacific. I don't have any great love for BC, but I do have them winning it all in one of my pools.

Having your national champ go down in the round of 64 is a total bummer, so I had to see the end of the game. I went to the website, and when I tried to log on, found that I was number 125 in line. I thought I'd be there all afternoon, but managed to get on in about 90 seconds. The video's a little choppy, but it doesn't cost anything and the good folks at CBS have even included a boss key, which allows you to hide the video with the usual spreadsheet pop-up in case Mr. Dithers pokes his head in.

Much to my relief, BC survived in double OT. Maybe it's a good omen.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Coup de grace

That's the killing stroke. That's the final stroke or blow to put some poor wounded beast out of its misery and pain. Thankfully, Mexico administered the killing stroke to Team USA today. The Rhino has referred to the WBC as a "turd." Well, the turd finally swirled around the bowl and for all American intents and purposes, disappeared down the drain, not with a bang or even a whimper, but with the soft sound of swooshing water.

Team USA's bats remained on the rack as Oliver Perez and three relievers combined to pitch a three-hitter. Roger Clemens goes out a loser, and Team USA has to wonder what the hell happened. Each of the three losses came to second-rate powers. Thankfully Team USA never faced the Dominican, Venezuela or Cuba. Viewers would have learned t he meaning of a good old fashioned el golpear con el pie del asno. Roughly translated, that means "ass kicking."

Good luck to all our Latin friends. Almost no one from the continental US will watch, but have fun.

Kent State Ousted From Tourney

Looks like the Golden Flashes were once again no match for the Ohio National Guard.

If Fox News Had Been Around Throughout History

This is funny.

The Razor's Edge

South Korea, the baseball juggernaut that vanquished Team USA, just saved our bacon. Korea squeezed by Japan 2-1. In the arcane methodology that is the WBC, that means that the Americans survive to fight another day.

Hip hip...yeah. Whatever.

Later today, USA plays Mexico for a spot in the semi-finals. Clemens will take the hill.

The real good news is that, with the Korean victory, Bud stopped shitting blood. Now he can just go back to watching Barry Bonds hit monstrous spring training homers.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Bob Hallen

Lost in the shuffle of Browns' free agent signings (at least to me) was Mentor native and former Kent State Golden Flash Bob Hallen. Here's an article on the veteran from the Browns' official site. Hallen's signing didn't escape Ace Davis' attention, however, and he's got a good post analyzing its implications for the Browns in general and for Jeff Faine in particular.

Even though I'm a huge Notre Dame fan, I've never been real high on Jeff Faine. If the signing of LeCharles Bentley wasn't enough to signal that Faine's on the block, I think Hallen's signing seals the deal. The only position Faine can play is center, and his injury history and uninspiring performance makes him expendable.

Davis is much higher on Faine that I am, and is hopeful about using him to trade up in the 2nd or 3rd round. I hope he's right, but I don't think that's realistic. The Browns have telegraphed their dissatisfaction with Faine almost since the first day that Savage showed up for work. Given the history, I doubt very much they'd be able to command anything better than a 4th or 5th round pick for him at this point in his career.

By the way, Ace Davis has the best commentary on the differences between the Browns' free agent performance under the Butch Davis and Romeo Crennel regimes that I've seen so far. Savage has been getting a lot of credit for the moves that the team has made in the past few days, but guys like McGinest and Washington didn't come here because of him, they came here because of Crennel.

Now I Need Help

Vinny, I can finally answer your question--that's definitely Jessica Alba.

Now, I need some help. Could somebody explain to me, in 25 words or less, exactly what's Scoop Jackson is trying to say in this article? I think it's about how Bonds and MLB each are to blame for the steroid mess, but I've read it three times, and I'm still not sure.

It starts out like this:

Let's say everything we've read is truth.

Let's say everything in Sports Illustrated, everything Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams wrote that took over the sports world last week was truth. Let's say Barry Bonds did everything that was written. Let's say the story lived up to its name.

Where would that leave us?

Umm...I guess that would, uh, leave us with the, um, truth, right? Well, Scoop seems to think that while we may have the truth, we don't have the "roots." Anyway, whatever the roots are, they're apparently very important, because Jackson spends the next 1,000 or so words talking about MLB being the "roots" and having to "protect its roots" and us "living in a world of blind, rootless lumberjacks."


I have no idea whether Jackson is trying to make any point aside from the painfully obvious one that MLB turned a blind eye toward steroids for years. In fact, reading the article again, I can't rule out the possibility that he may have been stoned when he wrote it. If so, more power to him. definitely needs a replacement for the late Hunter S. Thompson, and if this is Scoop Jackson's application for the job, he's certainly shown that he can froth at the mouth with the best of them. On the other hand, his writing doesn't show any signs of Thompson's manic brilliance, which means that Jackson could wind up being a lot closer to Ali G than Hunter S.

McGinest's a Brown

Here's the official word from Berea. Like Washington, McGinest definitely has some mileage on him. So, it's fair to ask whether he will be as a Brown what he has been as a Patriot, but still--WOW!

The Ides of March

Caesar: Nor heaven nor earth have been at peace tonight: thrice hath Calpurnia in her sleep cried out, "Help, ho! They murder Caesar.!"

* * *

Calpurnia: Caesar, I never stood on ceremonies, yet now they frighten me. There is one within, besides the things that we have heard and seen, recounts the most horrible sights seen by the watch.

Caesar: What can be avoided, whose end is purpos'd by the mighty gods? Yet Caesar shall go forth; for these predictions are to the world in general as to Caesar.

Calpurnia: When beggars die there are no comets seen; the heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.

Caesar: Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once. Of all the wonders that I have yet heard, it seems to me most strange that men should fear seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Is that Jessica Alba?

I was told that it is. Can someone help a brother out?

Twilight of the Idols

South Korea 7, USA 3.

"This is a very simple game. You throw the ball. You catch the ball. You hit the ball. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. Sometimes it rains."

~~~ Nuke LaLoosh

It's easy for Nuke to wax philosophical. He may have thrown like a spastic high school girl in the movie, but at least his team hadn't just been beaten by the South Koreans.

I guess we all have to thank Proud to Be Your Bud Selig for the WBC. If nothing else, it laid to rest that baseball is the American pasttime and that everyone else is looking up at us. Not so. The Koreans and Canadians must be wondering what the hell happened to the Americans. The Cubans have to be worried that they'll never get to humiliate the capitalist pigs in this tournament (although they've had big troubles of their own---the good news is no one has defected yet).

What happened? Well, it starts with the pitching. Dontrelle Willis just hasn't been consistent. He's suffered both losses in the tourney, and he's not pitched well. In fact, he's sucked. Manager Buck Martinez said he hasn't lost faith in him and that he'll get another start. Good luck Buck. You have to win to get another game to let him pitch again, unless of course you're happy playing some consolation game for grins. Buck also contributed to the loss by making a number of questionable decisions about his lineup and his use of pitchers. Specifically, in addition to keeping Dontrelle in the game too long, he kept his best hitter, Derrek Lee, on the bench and didn't use Michael Young.

Before he manages another game in this tournament, he may want to give Hank Iba a call. He needs to understand how America treats its vanquished coaches.

Monday, March 13, 2006

March Madness: Is the Fix In?

College basketball has a long and sordid history of point shaving. While the Black Sox scandal still represents the high water mark in sports corruption, at least as far as we know, college basketball has a commanding lead in the sheer number of big time gambling-related scandals.

The most famous of these scandals came to light in 1951, and involved players from seven different colleges and two national championship teams. The New York area was particularly hard hit, and the basketball programs of most of the teams involved have never recovered. Former national powers, such as CCNY and LIU, faded into basketball oblivion. In fact, the only college program implicated in the scandals of the 1950s that remains a national power is Kentucky.

According to this recent New York Times article, the evidence suggests that point shaving remains a big part of college hoops. According to the article, point shaving appears to be involved in approximately 5% of all college basketball games.

The fact that basketball's old point shaving problem is surfacing again should come as no surprise to anyone. The NCAA's incredible hypocrisy in grabbing billions of dollars for schools while refusing to pay a dime to players creates an atmosphere that's ripe for this kind of scandal.

I've got an idea--let's apply a little Sarbanes-Oxley to the NCAA. How about the next time there's a gambling scandal, why not throw Myles Brand in the butt-hut for a few years? Hey, if Brand's going to get CEO coin, he ought to do CEO time when his organization breaks the law.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to fill out my bracket.

Sopranos Voice-over

Last night's strange voice-over on The Sopranos was the freakiest Beat writer of them all, William S. Burroughs, reading an excerpt from his book, The Western Lands. Here's a link to the passage from which he read.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Breaking News

I know the NCAA brackets were finalized an hour ago. I know the U.S. beat Japan in the World Baseball Classic with the help of a terrible call in the 8th inning on a sac fly that should've given Japan the lead. I know that NFL free agency is still going hot and heavy. But that's not why I'm posting.

I just got a look at Bartolo Colon in the Dominican Republic v. Puerto Rico World Baseball Classic game. Bart is listed at 5'11" and 250 lbs., but I'm telling you right now, he's at least 300 lbs. Colon must have put on no fewer than 25 lbs. since last season ended.

It looks like if he rears back and brings the kind of heat he's capable of, he may well explode. My God, I hope they've got a defibrillator ready and Johnny Gage and his cohorts at Squad 51 on standby.

More Browns' Signings

The Browns have had a busy weekend. Today, they announced two signings, veteran nose tackle Ted Washington and punter Dave Zastudil. Zastudil is the pride of Bay Village and Ohio University, and continues the Browns' homecoming theme.

Washington's old, but still better than what the Browns currently have at the nose tackle spot. He's huge and makes a lot of tackles for a lineman. Hard to ask for much more than that.

Zastudil has a great leg and is one of the league's top punters. More importantly, he isn't either Derrick Frost or Kyle Richardson. I also know that his signing makes Vinny--who is a proud Ohio U. alum--very happy.

Still, the best thing about both of these signings are that the Ravens wanted to sign Washington and keep Zastudil, and now they're left scrambling to sign their second choices. All Browns fans have got to love that aspect of the story.

Kind of helps take your mind off the Cadavers' nationally televised 4th quarter collapse, doesn't it?

Somebody Else Gets Jilted for a Change

After growing accustomed to being the stalking horse for a bunch of different free agents, it's nice to see that not only did LeCharles Bentley leave somebody else at the altar, but he also left one of that team's local papers with egg all over its face (via


Now that's what I'm talkin' about. The Browns just inked three free agents, and I've never seen anything like this in all my years of following the team. The offensive line just got a whole lot better because the Browns grabbed center, LaCharles Bentley, who was probably the best free agent offensive lineman available. He's young, tough and nasty. More importantly, he knows how to block for the run. His acquisition probably signals the end of Jeff Faine's tenure in Cleveland.

But, the Browns didn't stop with Bentley. They also added Kevin Shaffer to replace L.J. Shelton at tackle. Shaffer and Shelton are similar players, but Shaffer's more of a hitter and has the potential to grow into a much better player than Shelton could ever become. He's another guy who seems to love to run block. Reuben Droughns has to be the happiest guy in Ohio right about now.

Lastly, the Browns picked up another weapon in wide receiver, Joe Jurevicius. Jurevicius may have some of the most reliable hands in the NFL. Do you think this pick up had to do anything with the horrible dropsies that have plagued the team since its reincarnation in '99? Jurevicius won't take balls away from Edwards or Winslow, but he's a hell of a third option or safety valve.

The best thing about the new guys is that Bentley and Jurevicius are both from northeast Ohio. That means that, without question, you know they hate the Steelers.

I'm betting that our usually pessimistic hornless friend even has to be happy about this news.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Browns Free Agency News

Lots of Browns news this morning. First, Steve Doerschuk reports in this morning's Canton Repository that the Browns may ink a new nose tackle as soon as today. The Browns are reportedly talking with Sam Adams, Ted Washington and Grady Jackson, with Maake Kemoeatu waiting in the wings. Any of these guys would be a huge improvement at a key position in a 3-4 scheme. Doerschuk also mentions WR David Givens and DE Trevor Pryce as possible near-term signings.

The Akron Beacon-Journal's Pat McManamon has a column today discussing the implications of the Browns' failure to re-sign L.J. Shelton and the leading candidates to replace him. McManamon identifies Brad Hopkins as the best available LT, with Jon Runyan, Jason Fabini, Damion McIntosh, Kenyatta Walker, Tom Ashworth and Kevin Shaffer also in the mix. This makes for a pretty lean market in tackles. In contrast, this year's draft is fairly deep at this position, and I still think the Browns should look there for a long-term fix.

Aside from a column from Tony Grossi rehashing how much money the Browns have to spend, The Plain Dealer has nothing of interest. The Plain Dealer sucks.

Meanwhile, in the Browns blogosphere, Ace Davis discusses players that the Browns will likely lose to free agency, while talks about free agent and draft alternatives at the defensive tackle position.

The Cavs don't Care

How do you lose by 29 points to a team that has lost 18 out of its last 20 games? The answer is that you don't give a damn, which is exactly how the Cadavers played last night. It's pretty obvious that the Cavs have looked at the standings, and realize that they can limp into the playoffs by hovering around the .500 mark the rest of the way.

I guess they think that a couple of home playoff games and a quick exit will be enough to satisfy their fans, as long as the WiFi connection at The Q remains strong. You know what? Sports fans in this town have such low expectations for our franchises that they're probably right.

I became even more depressed about this team while listening to the Cavs post-game show on WTAM. In the course of discussing the fact that the Cadavers have been unable to find and keep a decent point guard since Mark Price left, a caller reminded everyone that they could have taken Jameer Nelson in the 2004 draft, but instead opted for Luke Jackson. Even after being fired, Jim Paxson is the gift that keeps on giving, isn't he?

Friday, March 10, 2006

Bonds Wags the Dog; Tribe Inks Peralta

In a baseball version of Wag the Dog, embattled slugger Barry Bonds appears to have decided to try to divert fans' attention from allegations of steroid use by trying to wrap himself in the flag. According to ESPN, Bonds told Rick Sutcliffe that he had decided to play for the U.S. in the World Baseball Classic, if the team makes it past South Africa and advances to the next round. This comes as news to U.S. manager Buck Martinez, who has enough problems to deal with without adding this three ring circus to the mix.

Whatever challenges Bonds faces, points out that he can count on the support of former Oakland A's executive vice president Stanley Burrell, better know as MC Hammer. Read all about it on Hammer's blog. No word yet from Vanilla Ice on the Bonds situation.

Back on planet Earth, the Tribe signed a deal with Jhonny Peralta to extend his contract through 2010, with a club option for 2011. Let's Go Tribe has an in-depth analysis of the Peralta deal. Hats off to Shapiro again. There's risk in these long-term deals for young players (think Carlos Baerga), but they're the only way a team like Cleveland can hope to stay competitive.

A lot of fans think these "Blueprint for Success" deals with young players are designed to protect the Tribe from free agency, but that's not the case. Peralta's deal will expire--except for the club option--the year that he will become eligible for free agency. As the Let's Go Tribe piece does a good job of explaining, the real reason for them is to avoid the unpredictability of salary arbitration, for which players are generally eligible after three years in the major leagues.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Playing the Race Card's Bomani Jones has an article in which he essentially argues that there is moral equivalence between the taint on Barry Bonds' records arising out of his alleged steroid use and the taint on Babe Ruth's records arising out of the systematic exclusion of African-Americans from baseball until 1947.

This is a preposterous argument. I'm sorry, Mr. Jones, but you neglect one important fact: Babe Ruth wasn't responsible for racism, segregation, and Jim Crow. In contrast, if the accusations about Bonds' steroid use are true, he's entirely responsible for the predicament in which he finds himself. Bonds made the decision to have somebody shoot steroids into his ass for seven years. Last time I checked, Babe Ruth didn't cast a vote on either the Dred Scott decision or Plessy v. Ferguson.

Oh, I know that Barry Bonds has elevated hatin' Whitey to an art form. Fine. We're all racist pigs who can't stand to see a black man break Babe Ruth's record--even though a black man already did that a generation ago. Whatever gets Barry through the night is fine with me. But in the end, Barry Bonds is lying in the bed he made, while you're trying to hold Babe Ruth responsible for America's original sin.

That's just stupid.

Shoppach's Role

Cleveland Sports Perspective raises the possibility that when all is said and done, Kelly Shoppach may end up being trade bait if the Indians are looking to make a move at the deadline. That's a possibility that Anthony Castrovince of also mentioned at the time the Crisp deal went down.

Assuming that Shoppach makes the club (which I think is likely for the reasons Vinny cited in his Spring Training post), I hope that's not his fate. Victor Martinez is a legitimate star, but let's face it, his biggest value to the team lies in his bat. Like everybody else, I worry about what the wear and tear of catching every day is going to do to his offensive numbers.

Martinez caught 142 games last season and 132 games the year before that. That's 85% of the games the Indians played over the past two years, and that's a ton of catching. To give you some perspective, the highest career percentage for games caught belongs to Pudge Rodriguez, with 78.52%. (More information on iron men catchers is available here.)

I'd really like to see Martinez catch fewer than 120 games this season. Shoppach's the only guy on the roster with the defensive tools and offensive potential to allow him to do that. The guy's defense is supposedly first rate, and he's got a little pop in his bat. If Vinny's correct in his projection about Shoppach's offensive numbers, we could live with him catching 40-60 games.

Of course, there's one big problem in my brilliant plan: Martinez needs to be able to play some first base if the Indians want to keep his bat in the lineup, but he's played only 14 games at first base, none of them in the majors. Still, Shoppach has the potential to give the Indians options that other backup catchers on the roster don't, so if he comes through, I'd kind of like to see him hang around.

Buzzer Beater

A couple of months ago, I gave Damon Jones a hard time for his stupid comments about his shooting prowess. It's only fair that I give him some love for the buzzer beater. Clutch, Damon, clutch! His performance was made even more impressive by the serious off-court stuff he's confronting.

That's four in a row for the Cavs, who show signs of righting the ship. The need to get a win against the very beatable Orlando Magic on Friday, because they close out this road trip against two of the NBA's powerhouse teams, the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks.

NFL Proves Its Still Sane

Well, the NFL passed its sanity test last night. The owners and players apparently decided not to kill the goose that laid the golden egg, so there will be no World Football Classic for the foreseeable future.

This is going to be perceived as a victory for the NFLPA, and may reflect a little bit of a shift in the balance of power. However, in the long-term, avoiding the end of the salary cap is a big win for the owners and fans. I'm not sure I completely understand how revenue sharing works, but 30-2 is a pretty strong endorsement, with only truly cheap (Mike Brown) and particularly curmudgeonly (Ralph Wilson) owners dissenting.

Now, the question I hope the media is asking: does this agreement take better care of the retired players who made the NFL what it is?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Sure, Bud, it's a Classic

U.S. loses to Canada in baseball. Yup, it's a classic alright. Good idea Bud. Think Dontrelle Willis might have done a little better with a little Spring Training?

Don't listen to any of your critics in the media. Forget what Steinbrenner says. Ignore David Wells' comments too. You're right, Bud. You're always right. They'll put it on your tombstone. If you hang around as commissioner much longer, they may put it on baseball's too.

Which MLB Video Game Should I Buy?

Here's a true confession: I love sports video games. I'm the proud owner of a Playstation 2, and can kick my kids' butts in Madden, NCAA Football and March Madness. I also like baseball video games, with EA Sports MVP Baseball being my traditional game of choice.

I buy a new baseball game every spring. A few years ago, the realism of the games left much to be desired. Every hitter would jack 600 foot dingers, and the games would end up with scores like 30-28. This was fun for a while, but the arcade stuff gets old faster than you might think. Over the past three or four years, however, EA Sports improved its baseball game dramatically, and last year's MVP Baseball 2005 was just awesome.

Unfortunately, EA's major league game isn't an option this year. MLB signed a semi-exclusive deal with Take-Two Interactive, making that company the sole third-party provider of an MLB licensed video game for the next several years. That means EA Sports is out of the baseball picture, and I'm in a bit of a quandry about which game to buy.

Take-Two's 2K Sports division is coming out with MLB 2K 6, which is going to be released in a couple of weeks. However, because Sony makes the PS2, it is considered a "first party" provider and has its own MLB licensed game, MLB 06: The Show. That game's been out for a month or so, but the reviews I've read on it have been mixed. I've looked at videos of the two games, however, and Sony's graphics seem much nicer than the ones I've seen for MLB 2K6. On the other hand, if the game play sucks, good graphics aren't enough to make a game worthwhile.

Of course, EA Sports hasn't abandoned baseball completely. If I want their software engine, I can buy MVP 06 NCAA Baseball. I've got nothing against college baseball, but it doesn't have the same appeal to me that college football does, so I don't want to buy two games.

I'm not sure how much longer I can stand the stress of this potentially life altering decision. Sure, I keep a brave front, but having a decision of this magnitude hanging over my head is definitely wearing me down.

Barry Bonds

Sports Illustrated has posted the whole steroids story on its website. You can read it here. The article suggests that it was jealousy of that creep McGwire that drove Bonds to use steroids for the first time in 1998.

It's almost impossible to measure the damage that Mark McGwire's self-centered pursuit of Roger Maris' record has done to baseball. The same goes for Bonds and Sosa, but as I've already said, McGwire's the bigger devil in my book. I'm no Pete Rose fan, but there's no way his trailer trash gambling and tax evasion antics harmed the game anywhere near as much as what McGwire, Sosa and Bonds have done.

If any of these guys get into Cooperstown, baseball should not only apologize to Pete Rose for its 18 year long moral orgasm over his gambling, but give him a ticker tape parade down Main Street and carry him into the Hall of Fame through the front door.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

What the hell...

That's pretty much what Heath Ledger had to say to himself on Sunday night. After all, he kissed a boy for the sake of his art. What do you think he thought when he first read the script? Surely, he was thinking something like, "Well, I'm straight, but this could be the role of a lifetime, an Academy Award winner." Anyway, we all know he kissed a boy, but a funny thing happened. He didn't win the award.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman won it, and even though he played a gay man, I don't think he had to kiss any boys.

Some times life is funny.

Kirby Puckett

Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett died last night at the age of 45. He was the victim of a stroke, and is the second youngest member of the HOF to die (Lou Gehrig was the youngest). Puckett is the classic example how the media likes only one thing more than building someone into a larger than life hero, and that's tearing that person down.

If you read anything written about Puckett before 2003, you'd think you were reading about baseball's answer to Mother Teresa. Here's a 1987 puff piece from Sports Illustrated that's pretty indicative of how the media thought of him for his entire career as a player. Then there's this 1996 weeper from The Sporting News on the occasion of Puckett's untimely retirement from the game.

Puckett's good media vibe came to a screeching halt in 2003. That's when he was accused of sexual assault, and made the cover of Sports Illustrated as the subject of a scathing expose by Frank Deford. Deford's article laid bare Puckett's alleged marital infidelities, penchant for violence, and general nastiness, and concluded that he'd played all of us for fools.

The story did a lot of damage to Puckett. Although he was acquitted of the sexual assault charges, Puckett never returned to the limelight, and even moved away from Minnesota, where he was once a king.

Of course, any experienced PR guy will tell you that dying is an excellent career move for a celebrity, and that's sure turning out to be the case with Kirby Puckett. He's a pariah no longer, and while his past indiscretions get a mention on the jump page, they don't make page 1 of this morning's sports pages.

The prize for the most cynical obituary goes to Sports Illustrated. Not wanting to remind readers of its role in destroying Puckett's reputation at this particular moment in time, the magazine that did him in writes a generally fawning obit, and tucks in a single sentence referring to the accusations that landed him on its cover three years ago--without mentioning one word about its own cover story.

Maybe the most thoughtful and balanced thing ever written about Kirby Puckett and the media came from the late Ralph Wiley. It's available here, and is worth reading much more than any of the hollow, mass produced obituaries that are popping up everywhere this morning.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Geez, is this Lame!

Looks like the Indians' marketing efforts have officially crossed the line from "innovative" to "pathetic." Check out this post from, and go to the Grady's Ladies site, if you dare.

I guess I finally found a Cleveland sports site to which I won't add a link.

Off the Record, On the QT, and Very Hush Hush

I want to apologize to all of our loyal readers (well, to both of them anyway). Why? Because I'm so clueless that I didn't stumble across this site until five minutes ago. On the DL is a gossip site devoted exclusively to the extracurricular activities of MLB players--all of whom, I'm happy to say, easily outdistance Big Ben Roethlisberger in terms of the quality of their drinking companions.

You're guaranteed to have fun with this one, gang.

Update on Jason McElwain

A couple of weeks ago, we (and every other internet and traditional media outlet on the planet) told you about Jason McElwain of Greece Athena High School in Rochester, New York. The autistic team manager's 20 point performance against Spencerport High School was a really inspirational story that captured the attention of the whole country.

Here's an update from the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle on what happened next. Since his team beat my alma mater in the semi-final of the Class AA sectional championship, I find this part of the story much less inspiring.

Sure, that's petty. But I'm all about petty.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Mrs. Kirilenko and the ESPN Guys

The wife of Utah Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko created a bit of a buzz when she told ESPN Magazine that she allows her husband to have sex with another woman once per season. As you can see from this article in the Salt Lake Tribune, noted ESPN stud muffins Tony Kornheiser, Michael Wilbon and Mike Greenberg were lavish in their praise of Mrs. Kirilenko.

What really came across in their comments, however, was the fact that these three handsome devils seem to have actually deluded themselves into believing that, should their wives be as accomodating as Mrs. Kirilenko, they might actually be able to get another woman to sleep with them.

No offense, fellas, but you ain't professional athletes. Your wives could give you carte blanche, and I'd still bet that you couldn't get any if you were wandering around a cathouse with $100 bills hanging out of your pockets.

New Links

In my obsessive quest to have links to every active Cleveland sports blog, I've added four new sites.

Dawgs by Nature is a new Browns' blog that looks promising. Papa Cass is a Cleveland sports blog from Medina Gazette reporter and writer Eric Cassano. The Ohio LeBlog is a Cleveland sports blog from a displaced Clevelander named Matt Burgoon, who currently lives in Northern Virginia. The Id and I is a sports blog written by free-lance writer and Second City comedy writing alum Chris McVetta. Not only is McVetta's stuff funny, but he even answered the question "Which college team is your favorite?" correctly.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Spring Training

This should be a pretty boring spring for the Tribe. If you project the likely 25-man roster from the current 40-man roster, it becomes apparent that the battles for spots will be few.

Sabbathia, Westbrook, Lee, Byrd and Johnson will be the starters. It's a solid group.

Wickman, Mota (if healthy), Betancourt, Cabrera, Sauerbeck (the only lefty), and Miller are pretty good bets to be in the bullpen. This, too, is a solid group but lacks another lefty.

The infielders should be Martinez, Broussard, Perez, Hafner, Belliard, Boone and Peralta. With the exception of Boone and Perez, who will platoon with Broussard, they're young and should be fine.

The outfielders will be Sizemore, Hollandsworth, Blake and Michaels. Other than Sizemore, they don't get you excited, but they should be solid.

That's 22 guys. To fill out the roster, the Tribe needs another bullpen arm, a back-up catcher, and a utility infielder.

So, the three battles for spots come down to:

1. Jason Davis vs all the other pitchers who have question marks. Failed first round pick, Jeremy Guthrie, is hanging around. So is Jason Stanford. Neither will likely get the last spot unless Guthrie has a great spring. He has great stuff but apparently forgot how to pitch during the last two years. A few young guys also have a shot. Kaz Tadano (gay porn star), Tony Sipp and Andrew Brown all are interesting and have really nice arsenals of pitches. The problem is that managers tend to be conservative in making roster moves. That way it's harder to second guess them. My guess is Davis gets the nod, but Brown gets the job and explodes later in the year.

2. Kelly Shoppach vs. Einar Diaz. They're not too dissimilar. Both are pretty good catch and throw guys who know how to handle a staff. My guess is that Shoppach gets the job. I know this flies in the face of what I just wrote above, but it's a little bit different. The Tribe has to show something for trading a very popular player in Coco Crisp because I don't think Andy Marte makes the team unless he pulls a Sizemore in spring training. Even then, I still don't think he breaks with the team. Plus, Shoppach has the potential to be a very nice hitter. I had run a projection in an earlier post based upon his minor league performance and put his numbers at .242/.320/.419 with 18 homers and around 18 doubles if he were to get 450 at bats. I'd start Shoppach. He'll control the running game better than Diaz would.

3. Ramon Vazquez vs. Brandon Phillips. What the hell happened to Brandon Phillips? He was supposed to be the key piece of the Colon deal (along with Lee and Sizemore). He had been compared to some of the better shortstops in the game based upon his potential. The fault dear Brutus lies not in his stars but in his inability to control the strike zone. Phillips still has the defensive skills that make managers drool, but the guy just refuses to be more selective at the plate. He doesn't see enough pitches, which means that he doesn't see enough good pitches. That also means he's often hitting down in the count when a pitcher is throwing his pitch. Another result of that is that Phillips at times gets defensive at the plate. That has eroded his power. In other words, the kid's screwed himself up big time. The good news is that he'll only be 24 to start the season. There's time, but the Tribe seems to be losing patience with him. I think Vazquez gets the job. He's a bum, but he's happy to sit on the end of the bench, yuk it up with the other guys, and spit sunflower seeds. You need a few guys like that.

The one guy I haven't mentioned yet is Ryan Garko. Everyone wants him to succeed, but I think he's ticketed for Buffalo to get at bats while Eduardo Perez serves as the right handed platoon for Broussard. Of course, all of this could change with a trade (unlikely) or one of the guys I mentioned playing himself into consideration.

Boo hoo hoo, Lawrence Phillips Went Psycho Again

I'm sure Dick Vermeil is distraught to learn that the football world's biggest waste of DNA, Lawrence Phillips, has allegedly screwed up yet again. This time, Phillips was in a snit over his performance in a pick-up football game, and decided that the way to handle it was to plow his car into a bunch of kids. A California judge has decided that he needs to stand trial for his conduct. If convicted, Phillips could get 13 years in prison, but you know he won't.

To Phillips' credit, it appears that he at least decided to attack men--well, teenage boys-- this time. Usually, he likes to smack around the ladies. Although Phillips has hit a number of women, his most famous incident occured when he was at Nebraska. There, as you may recall, he was accused of breaking into his ex-girlfriend's room, dragging her by the hair down several flights of stairs, and slamming her head into a mailbox. Tom Osborne suspended Phillips, but made sure to reinstate him in time for the 1996 Fiesta Bowl.

I guess his two foremost apologists, Tom Osborne and Dick Vermeil, would suggest that Phillips' decision to attack teenage boys instead of women shows that he's learning from his mistakes.

Osborne, by the way, is now a Congressman from Nebraska and a sanctimonious ass. While he never met a sexual assault by one of his players that he couldn't overlook (remember Christian Peter?), Janet Jackson's Super Bowl boobie flash created such a sense of moral outrage in Osborne that he was prompted to co-found something called the Sex and Violence in the Media Caucus. Truly a great American.

Is it just me?

I know I'm real late in posting, but work intruded upon my ability to write.

Anyway, is it just me or did it seem like the USA was spanked in the Winter Olympics? I'm not talking about the typical boorish behavior of our athletes. That's become commonplace. Let's face it. As a general rule, our athletes lack the "Olympic spirit." Maybe it disappeared after the Cold War ended. Before that, our guys pulled together to beat the Soviet-bloc athletes. Otherwise, they were pretty gracious to our NATO allies and the athletes from the third world, except Cuba.

Since the wall came down, American Olympic athletes have lost their collective way.

I think that also sadly has spilled over into performance. Although the US racked up an impressive bunch of medals, it appeared like our athletes just slipped by in most of the events. The events where Americans dominated were the made up ones like snowboarding. I mean, what the hell is that and who the hell is the Flying Tomato? In case you didn't notice, and most people didn't (American Idol had better ratings.), the US Hockey teams looked like crap. The ski teams were embarassed. And, the men's speed skating team showed off its dysfunction for all the world to see.

It will be hard for the Americans to be more embarassing in Vancouver than they were in Torino, but I believe they'll do it. After all, "Citius, Altius, Fortius."

"The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well."

~~~The Olympic Creed

Yeah. Right.

Reuben Droughns

The Browns signed Reuben Droughns to a three-year deal yesterday. Droughns is the kind of hard-nosed football player that it's easy to like. Although he's only 5'11 and 215 lbs., he plays a lot bigger than that. Droughns is a tough, physical runner who always looks to end his runs by delivering a hit to the guys trying to tackle him. But Droughns has also shown that he has the ability to break a big run (like the 75 yarder he ripped off against the Dolphins).

The physical style of Droughns' play wore him down towards the end of the season, and finding a reliable back to give him some snaps off should be one of the team's priorities this offseason. Still, Reuben Droughns looks damn good in a orange helmet, and it's nice to know he'll be around next year.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Listen Up

Coach Jim Tressel (no, not him, the real one) has posted an appeal to Buckeye fans on his website to support Operation Helmet. You should do that right away.

The helmets American troops wear are designed to protect against bullets and shrapnel, not against the explosive blast waves and large fragments associated with the IED weapons that they are confronting in Iraq. Why the incompetent a-holes in our government haven't addressed this situation in the almost three years we've been in Iraq is a question only they can answer, but we can do something to protect our soldiers even if our government won't.

Click on this link and help our troops upgrade their helmets so that they provide better protection against IEDs. One helmet upgrade kit costs less than $100. As cheap as I am, I even gave money to them, and I hope you do the same.

If you're interested in donating, you may want to look into the deal that Coach Tressel's offering. Coach Tressel will donate the proceeds received from fans who sign up for membership on his website during the month of March to Operation Helmet. If you do this, you'll also get to attend a closed spring practice scrimmage at the Horseshoe on Saturday, April 8th. This sounds way cool and seems like a pretty good deal for $49.95. I may even sign up myself. I wonder if he'd autograph my toy hovercraft?

Spring Training News

The Tribe beat the Astros 5-2 in their first exhibition game yesterday. Terry Pluto's got a column on it this morning. I want his job.

Meanwhile, five Indians packed their bags and headed out for the Non-Classic. Catcher Victor Martinez (Venezuela), pitchers Rafael Betancourt (Venezuela) and Fernando Cabrera (Puerto Rico), second baseman Ronnie Belliard (Dominican Republic), and first baseman Eduardo Perez (Puerto Rico) could be gone for as much as three weeks.

The departure of these five players isn't likely to help the Indians address their April woes, which are the subject of this article at Tribe Skipper Eric Wedge is trying to look on the bright side of this, telling Burt Graeff of the PD that this will allow the team to get a better look at guys like Shoppach, Marte, Gutierrez, Garko and Snyder.

The Indians take on the Astros again today at Chain o' Lakes Park in Winterhaven. Don't you wish you were there?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Oscar Screw-ups

In honor of the upcoming Academy Awards®, I thought it might be fun to point out just how frequently the Oscar® voters screw up the award for Best Picture. So, here's a by no-means comprehensive list of blown calls by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences:

1963 -- The winner was Tom Jones; the other nominees were America, America, Cleopatra, How the West Was Won, and Lilies of the Field. Notice anything missing? Well, how about the best film made that year -- The Great Escape.

1967 -- Bonnie and Clyde or The Graduate should have gotten the nod over In the Heat of the Night, but the real outrage is the fact that Cool Hand Luke wasn't nominated.

1976-- Sylvester Stallone's Rocky, a very good movie that spawned five increasingly putrid sequels, beat out Network and Taxi Driver, which are both great films.

1979 -- One of the most absurd choices of all time: Kramer v. Kramer. It becomes even more ridiculous when you consider that Apocalypse Now was another nominee. Woody Allen's Manhattan wasn't nominated.

1980 -- Ordinary People beat Raging Bull. Wow.

1981 -- Oscar completes a craptacular three years by giving the nod to Chariots of Fire over Atlantic City and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

1983 -- The hateful Terms of Endearment beat out the wonderful Tender Mercies. Local Hero wasn't nominated.

1987 -- The very boring The Last Emperor beat out the very entertaining Moonstruck.

1990 -- Dances with Wolves beat out Goodfellas. No, seriously, it really did.

1994 -- Forrest Gump beat out Pulp Fiction. Forrest Gump beat out Pulp Fiction. Forrest friggin' Gump beat out Pulp Fiction?!

1996 -- The coma inducing English Patient got the nod over Fargo.

1997 -- Can we now agree that Titanic sucked? L.A. Confidential sure as hell didn't though, and should have gotten the Oscar for Best Picture.

1998 -- Shakespeare in Love beat Saving Private Ryan. American History X didn't get nominated.

Other notable omissions that I discovered include The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, which wasn't nominated in 1962, and Crimes and Misdemeanors , which didn't make the cut in 1989. In 1999, the Academy seems to have decided that the first rule of Fight Club is that you don't nominate Fight Club (although 1999's winner, American Beauty, was a classic).

The Matrix films weren't nominated either, although I have a theory that this might be because they were all pretentious crap and because Keanu Reeves is the worst actor of all time (except for his memorable performance as Ted Logan.).

What's all this mean for this year's Oscars? Bet on the Gay cowboy movie, just don't be surprised if you can't believe they picked it five years from now.

CSU Hoops is a Joke

God Hates Cleveland Sports fires a well-deserved broadside into the Cleveland State basketball program. Last night's 92-58 season-ending bitch-slapping at the hands of Detroit Mercy exemplifies the ineptitude that the Vikings have displayed for the past five years.

How can a Division I team not score a point for the first eight minutes of a game?

I don't want to hear about how hard it is to recruit, although I will point out that one of the big reasons Garland was hired was that he was supposedly a whiz at it. I know that CSU plays in the crappy Horizon League and they have no campus, but other schools face those obstacles too, and don't have the first rate athletic facilities that CSU enjoys. In fact, the Convocation Center is as a nice a facility as any mid-major basketball program could hope to play in, and one that the infinitely more successful Kent State and Akron U programs would give their eye-teeth to have.

There's just no excuse for the track record of futility that the basketball program has built over the years. Sure, there's been some improvement during Garland's tenure, but going from 4-25 to 10-18 over a three year stretch doesn't exactly put your turnaround in the same category as the 1999 St. Louis Rams. Next year, Garland will have three full recruiting classes under his belt. Fans have a right to expect a little more than another sub .500 season and the annual beating by Detroit Mercy.

World Baseball Non-Classic

C.C. Sabathia just pulled out of the World Baseball Classic, and so did Billy Wagner. They were replaced by old goat Al Leiter and the immortal Gary Majewski. Manny Ramirez showed up at the Red Sox camp and promptly announced that he won't play either. Luis Castillo says he probably won't play.

Yeah, it's a classic alright. By the way, in order to find out all the latest info on the guys who won't play in the tournament, all you need to do is visit the front page of the website that Major League Baseball put up to promote it. They're a marketing juggernaut, aren't they? I swear that MLB couldn't spell "cat" if you spotted them the "c" and the "t."

Here's the best news of all: Those of you who loved the 2002 All-Star Game will be delighted to learn that the World Baseball Classic will allow tie games! Just amazing.

Will I watch it? Of course, but bear in mind that I watch Arena Football and the NHL too.