Friday, December 19, 2008

One more video clip

Here is one more clip that I was able to get together. This is probably not one of my finer moments on the sideline. I honestly have no idea why I did it. I guess I was just pissed we let them score right before the half.


video

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Video by request

I was asked to put this clip up on the web so here it is. This is during the 2001 SFA game. Obviously at the time I thought this was a horrible call and reacted accordingly. Looking back on it I think the ref made the right call.


video

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Greatest Pitcher You'll Ever See

It was kind of sad the other day seeing Greg Maddux hang up his spikes for good. For so long Maddux was a big part of the Braves and one of the best pitchers to ever lace them up.

I always think back to the Sports Illustrated cover from 1995 saying Maddux was "the greatest pitcher you'll ever see." Being a Braves fan I got to see a lot of him, just about every fifth day.

Unlike some of the top pitchers in the past, Maddux didn't have the overpowering fast ball he could resort to if the other stuff wasn't working. Maddux wouldn't blow the ball past any one. Instead he had to out think the opposing hitters. More often than not, that is exactly what he did.

For that reason, he never had the huge strikeout numbers that some people use to judge a pitcher's career. He didn't have a no-hitter in his career either like some of the top throwers in baseball did. But he was about as efficient as a pitcher who ever took the hill.

Maddux went one season nearly having fewer walks than wins in the season, finishing the 1997 campaign with 19 wins and 20 walks. Two years earlier he put together one of the best single seasons for a pitcher going 19-2 with an ERA of 1.63 and an astonishing WHIP of 0.81. In fact, even with some down years at the end of has career, he still finished with a career WHIP of 1.14. Only Johan Santana has a better career WHIP (1.10) among active players.

His years with Atlanta were clearly his best, although he did win a Cy Young with Chicago. In 10 years he went 194-88 and twice had an ERA under 2.

I don't know how many times I saw Maddux pitch in person, but there is one game I remember specifically. It was two days after I graduated high school. Maddux went seven innings against the Astros without giving up a hit. Jeff Bagwell was leading off the 8th and I looked at my friend and said if he can get past Bagwell he has a good chance to throw the no-no. Bagwell then took him deep. Maddux then retired the next six hitters for a one-hitter. It is the closest he ever got.

Maddux will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer and that will be a speech I don't plan on missing. I figure I have seen more than 200 major league baseball games and have watched guys like Randy Johnson, Nolan Ryan, Dwight Godden, Roger Clemens, Kevin Brown, Andy Pettitte, John Smoltz and Tom Glavine toe the rubber and I still can't argue with SI, Maddux is the greatest pitcher I will ever see.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Don't give up ... Don't ever give up

It has been more than 15 years since Jim Valvano delivered his "Don't give up" speech at the ESPY's and to a crowd at NC State and it still gets me to this day.

ESPN can be accused of over hyping a lot of things. Every week on the network has some sort of corny tag like "Rivalry Week" or "Showdown Week" or the build up to the "Collision in the Coliseum."

Most of the time it is just some petty attempt to hype something that either A) doesn't need hype to begin with, or B) isn't really that big of a deal, but ESPN is trying to convince everyone it it. Usually it is the latter.

But with "Jimmy V Week," they have flat out nailed it. The cause aside, Jimmy V Week is such a special week because we get to relive the speech Jim Valvano gave on the podium at the ESPY's in 1993. I don't think I got choked up the first time I saw the speech, because I was a sophomore in high school and you just didn't do that.

But at the time, I had not had anyone in my life fight cancer. As a 31-year-old with a family, it is much different. I can relate more to what Jimmy V was saying on that night as his gestures and nods to his family really hits home.

Every year during the Jimmy V Classic I try to catch the speech between games. If I am not home I try to record it. By the time it is done, I always have a massive knot in my throat and usually a little moisture in the eyes.

I was talking to a group of students a few weeks ago, and I was amazed they have never seen the speech before. I have to remember they weren't born yet when Jimmy V was running around the court in 1983 after winning the national championship. When he was giving his speech in 1993 they were about eight years old and more concerned about a lot of other things on TV than some old coach wearing a tux and speaking to a group of people they had never heard of.

I told them all to google his speech and watch it. I don't know if any of them ever did. So if you are reading this, I have found a link to the speech and you now have no excuse for not watching it.

My brother knows how much I liked Jimmy V even before he passed away, and especially how much I have grown to like him in the years since. For my birthday he ordered a DVD of the ESPY speech from the V Foundation and with the DVD came a blue wrist band with "Don't give up ... Don't ever give up" written on it.

No matter what the situation, where I am or what the dress code is, I don't take that band off. In fact since I have had it, I have worn it more than my wedding band. Without really even thinking about it, not a week goes by I don't stop and look at it and think about the words written on it.

In Jimmy V's speech he has another part I think of quite a bit and repeat to other people at times:

"When people say to me how do you get through life or each day, it's the
same thing. To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should
do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day.
Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. Number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think
about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck
of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're going to have something
special."

Not a day goes by that I don't laugh and at least spend some time in thought. I probably don't cry enough for Jimmy V's liking, but I guess that is what his video is for. It is amazing how often at the end of the night that I have had a really bad day that I think back and realize I just blew through the day and didn't spend time doing any of the things Jimmy V talked about doing every day.

This turned into being much longer than I was anticipating it being. I really just wanted to get a link of the speech up. Now I am not really sure how I want to close it, so I guess I do it the same way Jimmy V did.

"I thank you and God bless you all."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

New teams added to the list

I will get to pick up two new teams to my NCAA basketball list beginning with tonight's game against Western Michigan. On Saturday, Wright State will come to Huntsville to take on the Bearkats.

This will put me up to 58 NCAA basketball teams I have seen play. I probably will not add to the list again this season (unless I got to Lafayette) since I will not be going to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in two years unless the Bearkats are involved.

I have to give it to SHSU head coach Bob Marlin. Over the last few years, he has done a great job of brining in some good Mid-Major programs to Johnson Coliseum. Just in the last three years, I have gotten the chance to see Loyola-Marymount, Central Florida, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Fresno State, Cal-Irvine, Texas Tech (not a mid-major but a great home game), Southern Miss and North Texas.

People around here always seem to get really excited when the Bearkats play host to Texas Tech or head on the road to Texas A&M and with good reason. I got excited to see Bob Knight patrol the sidelines here last season as well. I intentionally set up my seat on press row next to the Tech bench just so I could get a close look at a legend at work.

But the problem is, to a lot of people, our season ended last year with the home victory over Tech and it won't start this year until the Bearkats head over to College Station to take on the Aggies.

We are afforded a rare opportunity to watch some really good basketball not just in January and March when schools like SFA and Northwestern State come to Huntsville, but in November and December while the football diehards are waiting for the bowls to come around.

There was a time when a mid-major wouldn't come down to Huntsville. The non-conference slate was full on the Schreiner's and the Austin College's. While they are still on the slate, we do get treated with three or four good games a year as well. It is just a shame more people in the area don't realize what they have. Who knows how long we will continue to have this opportunity.

Friday, November 21, 2008

If a game is played but no one can watch it, did it really happen?

So the Mountain West wants everyone to take the league seriously. They say Utah should be a national championship contender. They say BYU is one of the top offenses in the country. TCU puts one of the best products out there each season.

All you have to do is give them a chance and watch a game and you will be convinced. Tonight is one of the biggest games of the season as Utah gets set to take on BYU. Great, I am ready to watch.

What channel is the game on?

How can a league expect anyone to take it seriously if the only network that is covering its biggest contest is The Mountain. That sounds more like a type of beer than it does a television network. I wouldn't even had known the network existed had the Bearkats not played a game on it last season. I remember a producer calling me telling me he was from The Mountain looking for video of our basketball. I guess he assumed I know what The Mountain was.

Utah is ranked No. 7 in the BCS and they can earn a bid to one of the four BCS games with a victory. There are people who are trying to argue a case for Utah to play in the national championship if things fall right.

I can't argue one way or another, because I haven't seen them play since they beat Michigan the first week of the season. That game is looking less impressive with every passing day. A few weeks ago TCU was playing Utah and it was being billed at the time as the biggest game in the Mountain West history.

I get home that night to watch it on TV and can't find it. I start flipping through all the usual stations and I find World Series of Poker on ESPN2, some Division II game on ESPNU and none of the family of Fox networks had the game.

I see the score running on the bottom line so I know the game is on. I decide to get online to look it up and see The Mountain is carrying it. How can you expect people to take you serious if no one can see you play.

Right now I can make a better case for Ball State to be in the national championship picture than I can Utah because the Cardinals are on ESPN damn near every week. I know what we are getting with them because the MAC made it a point to get its games on national TV and get some exposure to the league's teams and players.

While the teams in the MAC may not be as good as the top teams in the Mountain West, I have a better feel for what they are capable of because the opportunity is there every week to watch them play. I come to work, and people stick their head in my office and say "Hey did you see that game in the fog last night."

Because it was on ESPN there were people watching. I don't think anyone all season long has asked, "Did you catch that Wyoming game last night?"

If you want to be a serious player on the national football landscape then you have to start acting like one. If that means some Tuesday and Wednesday night game, so be it. The big boys all play on ESPN. It is about time you did to.

Someone call me and let me know who wins this one.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

That is how you finish off a game

It took a long time for this game to come. I'm not just talking about having to wait for the last game of the day or even having to wait through a bye week.

We have been waiting for this game since Tony Romo first broke his finger at the end of the Arizona game. Things were starting to look bad for Dallas and then losing Romo really hurt. From the time we heard how long he was going to be out, the Redskin game was the one the was circled on the schedule.

The job was just to survive the three games without him. They salvaged a game against Tampa Bay, putting themselves in position to make a run at the playoffs. That is what made this game so big. Not only were the Cowboys essentially playing for their playoff lives, but it was against the Redskins.

It is a little early to be throwing out the "must win" label on a game, but this game was a must win. A loss to the Redskins probably would have marked the end of Wade Phillips' tenure as the head coach of the 'Boys. It would have also marked the end of the of the postseason hopes for a team that had high aspirations heading into the season (seems to be a theme with my teams this season).

No one wanted to commit either way during the pregame shows about what they thought would happen in this game. There seemed to be a wait-and-see attitude toward this game. There is no doubt the Cowboys can be good. The question that had to be answered was will they be good.

At times they were good, especially on the defensive side of the ball. They also had some areas that still need some work. They most impressive thing about the game was the Cowboys ability to finish off the game.

With a little more than six minutes to play Dallas got the ball and never gave it back to Washington. There is something to be said for a team that can do that. Too often you see teams lose games because they can't finish. Marion Barber made sure that was not going to be the case for the Cowboys.

In a place that has been hard to play, Dallas came up with a big win when they had to. There is still a lot of season left, but the most important thing is, there is a lot of season left to play for.

They have to avoid the let down game next week against San Francisco and see if they can get this thing back on a roll. Get hot, get into the playoffs and see what happens. It was a formula the Giants used successfully last season.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Recruiting in Texas

I get asked this a lot and have heard it twice in the last two weeks. People want to know why Sam Houston can't recruit a top quarterback straight out of high school.

With the exception of Brett Hicks, all the top quarterbacks at Sam Houston since 1999 have been transfers. Chris Chaloupka (Oklahoma State), Josh McCown (SMU), Dustin Long (Texas A&M) and Rhett Bomar (Oklahoma) were all transfers and all had or have had in the case of Rhett, great careers.

What people don't understand is truly how difficult it is to recruit a quarterback in the state of Texas. You are not just competing against the other Texas schools, you are competing against the nation when it comes to quarterbacks.

I was listening to Rivals Radio this morning and they had a recruiting expert on the show. The topic of quarterbacks came up and he started talking about Texas. He said there are 20 to 25 quarterbacks in the state of Texas who are going to get FBS scholarships this year and that number is only going to go up in the years to follow.

Take a look at the landscape of college football right now and everyone is going to the spread. One of the reasons Texas has become such a hotbed for quarterback recruiting is because so many high schools have switched to this offense. Also, because 7-on-7 has become so big in Texas and kids are learning how to sit back and play pitch and catch.

If you look at college football, there are countless numbers of quarterbacks who are from Texas. In fact, I decided to take a look. I pulled the list of the top 120 quarterbacks in the nation in terms of passing yards and here is the list of guys from Texas:

1. Graham Harrell, Texas Tech, Ennis Tx
3. Case Keenum, Houston Abilene, TX
4. Chase Daniel, Missouri, Southlake Carroll
6. Chase Clement, Rice, Alamo Heights
9. Todd Reesing, Kansas, Austin Westlake
10. Colt McCoy, Texas,Tuscola, TX
13. Matthew Stafford, Georgia, Highland Park, TX
15. Chase Holbrook, New Mexico St, Hurst TX
16. Bo Levi Mitchell, SMU, Katy TX
19. Casey Dick, Arkansas, Allen TX
21. Giovanni Vizza, N Texas , San Antonio, TX
26. Trevor Vittatoe, UTEP, Bedford, TX
27. Jerrod Johnson, Texas A&M, Humble, TX
34. Brian Johnson, Utah, Baytown Lee TX
51. Jevan Snead, Ole Miss, Stephenville, Tx
56. Robert Griffin, Baylor Copperas Cove, Tx
61. Andy Dalton, TCU Katy, TX
67. Kevin Moore, Tulane Highland Village, Tx
74. Jarrett Lee, LSU, Brenham Tx
80. Christian Ponder, Florida St, Colleyville, Tx
86. Daniel Raudabaugh, Miami (OH), Coppel, Tx
112. Nick Stephens, Tennessee Flower Mound


That is 22 guys in the top 112 who played high school ball in Texas, nearly 20 percent. The list is very top heavy with Texas guys, with six of the top 10 and 14 of the top 34.

That is why schools from across the nation are coming into Texas to recruit, which makes it increasingly more difficult to pull some of the top talent in Texas to Sam Houston State. Fact of the matter is, kids in Texas will almost always be drawn to the allure of "big-time college football."

Even if it is UNLV, Miami Ohio, Utah or New Mexico State, 18-year-olds are going to be more inclined to take a look at an FBS school even if they may be a better fit at Sam Houston, where the offense is tailored for a quarterback to shine. Part of it is ignorance and part of it is arrogance. They can tell their classmates they got a scholarship to play "Division I" football.

While I don't think the answer is to stop recruiting the best talent you can get to play quarterback, you have to always have your eye open for a transfer. Too many people make that to sound like a negative, like that is all you can get. However, what needs to be done is go after that talent and then hope after a year or two has passed those kids will realize they have made a mistake and opt to come back to a school that had been recruiting them all along.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Showdown at the Shoe

I am really surprised ESPN hasn't come up with a catchy name for this game. Ever since the "Collision at the Coliseum" proved to be more of a collapse, I think ESPN has gotten away from really over hyping a game like this.

Not that it hasn't gotten plenty of run with constant updates on the bottom line all week and Gameday showing up in Columbus, I am glad ESPN has sort of gone away from over-hyping a game.

It is No. 3 Penn State at No. 9 Ohio State, but is really has the feel of a top-5 matchup. For Penn State, this game is huge. Maybe the biggest game for this school since 2005 Michigan. Three years ago, the Lions stumbled once, and finished the year No. 3.

That same year, Texas went on to face an unbeaten USC team for the national championship. The Nittany Lions did work their way back to No. 3 in the BCS. As devastating as the Michigan loss was at the time, I was able to look back at the end of the year and see Penn State might not have played for the national championship even had they gone undefeated.

I don't think that is the case this year. Sitting at No. 3 in the BCS and facing the toughest team left on the schedule, I think Penn State can get into the National Championship with an undefeated season.

Once again Texas sits above them in the polls ahead of No. 2 Alabama this time around. I just don't see both of them going the rest of the way unbeaten. I thin one will fall before the end of the regular season potentially opening the door for Penn State if the Lions can take care of business.

It is not going to be an easy task. Ohio State is not the same team they were a month ago. Early in the year they looked vulnerable. Bennie Wells was hurt and a true freshman was stepping in at quarterback.

People were already telling me the door was open for the Nittany Lions. I knew better. The game was a long way away and a lot of time for Ohio State to right the ship. They have played in the last two national championship games so I knew they Buckeyes were not going to just lay down.

I have avoided talking much about Penn State's chances of winning the title. I have been saying I'm not going to really start getting excited until after this game. I Penn State is undefeated at the end of the night, then I will start thinking about the possibilities.

Until then. I will just sit and wait.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Bomar is officially a Bearkat

I should have seen this coming, but I didn't. It never dawned on me this would come up this week. And that just goes to show how accustomed we have become to having Rhett Bomar at Sam Houston State.

Two years ago and even last season, I was on edge the week of the Texas-OU game, and not because of its annual national title implications. But because it would bring the national media out of the woodwork, clamoring to the "Piney Woods" to talk to the quarterback who was supposed to be playing in that game.

Oklahoma is in Rhett's past. He has said it on numerous occasions, and I believe him. I have come to believe it myself. That is why when I set up an interview this week with Rhett and Austin Murphy at Sports Illustrated, it never dawned on me he would want to talk about the Texas-OU game.

Rhett has moved past it. I guess I assumed everyone had too. I sat in the office and listened to Rhett talk to Murphy. The conversation started innocent enough. He was asked a little bit about the conference and the opponents he has faced.

It sounded like a question about the Kansas game came up and now he had Rhett talking about a Big 12 team. That is when he started asking about the game this weekend, and not the Bearkats' game against Central Arkansas. The Horns and the Sooners were the topic of the next few questions.

Rhett's posture changed. He was no longer sitting up in the chair but instead slumped over with his head on the desk. He had been here before with this line of questioning, but it had been a while. Rhett gave an answer to just about every question, giving Murphy just enough of a quote to tease him, before stopping short.

From there the questions moved to Rhett's situation at Oklahoma. While visibly put out by line of questions, Rhett kept talking. He answered the questions just like he always has, refusing to give out any information about anyone but himself.

Just as he has done time and time again, he took responsibility for his part of what happened at Oklahoma, and on more than one occasion, reminded Murphy he has moved on and is happy. Murphy is a pro. He could see he was not going to get any farther with those questions, so he changed topics.

That is when I realized Rhett truly is a Bearkat now and not a "former Oklahoma quarterback." Murphy started asking Rhett questions about the prisons. Anyone who has been in Huntsville for any amount of time has been asked about the prisons.

It is the favorite topic, and often a punch line by the national media, when talking about Sam Houston State. For people like me, who have been associated with this school as a student, alum, writer and now employee, we have heard the questions over and over. They are our "Oklahoma" questions if you will.

If a writer has nothing else to write, he writes about the prisons, and just like when Rhett gets asked about Oklahoma, it get old fast. But Rhett has handled everything better than could be imagined. I know he has to get frustrated. I do.

Nervously I have waited for the article to hit the web on SI.com. It could have been written any one of several directions, but I had a good idea of which way it would go. With everyone talking about Texas-OU, Rhett's past was bound to be more of a focus rather than his bright future at SHSU and later in the NFL.

The story was released Thursday, and it was pretty much what I expected. But the lead is what confirmed Rhett is now truly a Bearkat.

"One of the first things people told Rhett Bomar when he got to Huntsville,
Texas: Don't pick up hitchhikers. Situated in the Piney Woods, 70 miles north of
Houston, Huntsville is the location of Sam Houston State, Bomar's second
college. It's also home to eight prisons, including what was for many years the
nation's busiest execution chamber."


No mention of Oklahoma. This might be the first story about Rhett not written by the Huntsville Item to do this. A good chunk of the story was about the "Red River Rivalry" and about Rhett's past at Oklahoma. Murphy attempts to read between the lines to try to gain more of an understanding about what might have happened at that car dealership in Norman three years ago.

I have started to realized that no matter how much I or Rhett or his family or anyone else has moved on, Rhett's ties to Oklahoma will always be there. 20 years from now there will be people who remember Rhett for what happened at Oklahoma and nothing else. That is pretty much a given.

Just like people who worked at SMU in the 80's are still asked about the "Death Penalty" and Hall of Famer George Brett is still asked about the pine tar incident, Rhett will be asked about Oklahoma. It will always be a footnote to his career and life.

There are not many 19, 20 or 21-year olds who have had to go through what Rhett has endured the last three years of his life. He has handled it better than ever could have been expected.

Everyone does things in college that they regret and 10 years later sit around the poker table with friends and talk about how stupid they were and how lucky they are that nothing serious ever happened to them. They can laugh about it now. Difference is, 99 percent of those people never had a story written about what they did. ESPN wasn't looking for an interview to talk about. Sports Illustrated didn't call three years later still looking for more to the story.

While I thought this was just about over, I am starting to see that over the course of Rhett's life, this story may still be in the early stages.

In the three years I have gotten to know Rhett, one thing I have come to realize about him is his strength, and I am not talking about in the weight room. While he will always carry this around with him, I am confident it will become merely a footnote in his life and not the incident that defines him.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What a return to TV

OK, so I went 61 1/2 hours with no TV. I think the last time I had a stretch like that was Hurricane Alicia in 1983. I really can't think of another stretch of nothing. Not even a glance at a TV in passing.

Saturday afternoon I was able to get the XM radio going on battery power and listen to about three quarters of the Penn State game. Sunday night I caught the last inning of Carlos Zambrano's no-hitter on XM as well.

I was getting phone calls and text messages throughout the weekend giving me scores and updating me on my fantasy teams, but access was definitely limited.

So my first thing to watch was the Monday Night game with the Cowboys and Eagles. After a little pregame show it felt good to be watching sports again. This game didn't disappoint. I think I would have been excited with any Cowboy victory, but that game was something else.

The people we are staying with in Austin didn't really know what to expect. Meagan has been with me for Cowboy and Penn State games before, but her boyfriend Costa has only met me a handful of times and never when a game of any importance was on TV.

So right out of the gate I was up screaming. TO's long touchdown and Felix Jones' kickoff return for a touchdown. He also saw the other side of me when the Eagles took the lead in the second quarter. I was pissed and it showed. He ended up leaving the room for a while and I am not really sure why.

Everyone has to go to work in the morning and went to bed in the third quarter, so I had to do one of the hardest things imaginable, watch the game in near silence. I use near very loosely, because I did have some minor outbursts. Fortunately the Cowboys pulled it off and I had a very enjoyable return to TV.

Just saw the Fresno State/Wisconsin game from Saturday night is on ESPN2. I really have no idea what happens in this one, so I think I will watch a little while.

It is good to have you back old friend.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Post Ike

It feels good to just have air right now. I went 48 hours without TV but we have escaped to Austin so I have the Cowboys on a 48" TV with HD. There is no telling how long we are going to be without power.

Here is some video of the storm as it passed over my house. We caught the left edge of the eye while the storm was a Cat 1. The first clip is a little before sunrise around 6:30 a.m. We lost power about 4:30 and the winds really started getting bad about 5 a.m.

video

This next clip is about 7 in the morning. The only thing that saved the fence was the wind was blowing with it and not against it. The plank that is missing was gone early in the storm.


video

This last video is about 8 a.m.

video

After driving through the neighborhood the next day we really got lucky. There were at least two tornadoes that touched down within about half a mile from our house. As we drove around there were several houses with significant damage and there were at least 10 cars damaged, and we only drove though less than a quarter of the neighborhood.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hurricane Ike

Last Saturday was strange. I was actually home. My Saturdays are usually spent at Bowers Stadium getting ready for a Kats game. If I'm on the road it is a mix of hotels, buses and other stadiums.

I can usually grab a score here and there and maybe catch a highlight here and there. With the 11 a.m. kicks usually I can squeeze in the the first half, and if a press box has a TV I might catch a few moments of a game or two. Then I am relegated to the late-night Pac-10 game or maybe a Tivoed Penn State game.

Very rarely do I have a Saturday of just sitting around the living room watching football.

So even while I was on the couch watching the Nittany Lions, something felt weird, like there was something else I was supposed to be doing. I enjoyed the day, but there was just a different fell about it.

Now all of a sudden I find myself with a second consecutive Saturday off. I was supposed to be getting ready for Prairie View A&M, and now I am getting ready for Ike. Going into this morning, the option was still open to playing this weekend. Saturday looked out, but we thought the game might get moved to Friday or Sunday.

But when the university closed for Friday that was out and when Prairie View called and said they couldn't get a bus to bring them to Huntsville, Sunday was out as well.

So here I am again, looking over the TV listings for Saturday wondering if I am going to get my Nittany Lions again. I actually had it planned right if Ike would have just stayed on course and gone to Corpus. With a 6 p.m. kickoff for the Bearkats and a 2:30 start for Penn State I was going to get to work and set up the video equipment early and just watch the game in my office on ESPN360.

Now I don't know what I am going to do. I don't have 360 at my house so that option is out. The game is an ABC regional game so there is a glimmer of hope. With the Texas/Arkansas game postponed, that opens up the schedule for the 2:30 time-slot. I will just have to wait and see which game they decide to show.

Of course if I lose power on Saturday, none of that really matters.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Bob Costas....

Bob Costas has a tough job. He has to basically direct traffic so to speak on the NBC broadcast keep people up-to-date on all the happenings in Beijing. The hard part is he is having to bounce between live events and stuff that happened the night before in Beijing.

And while we pretty much know what happens, Costas' job is to keep you interested and attempt to hold the suspense before they show an event that might be more than 12 hours old.

In a society that has become results in real-time and on-demand, Costas is facing the challenge of reporting half-day old news as if it is fresh. It is a job I don't envy. Not to mention he had to sit next to Bela Karolyi and pretend to understand what Bela was saying.

You could see him at times just shaking his head in agreement and you knew damn good and well he didn't understand a word that was being said.

We sometimes criticize sports broadcasters for hyperbole and getting caught up in the heat of the moment. If they had time to digest everything that happened and then talk about it, the thinking is they might be able to lend a little bit better commentary to the event.

Costas however might be proving that may not be true. He has had a few interesting one-liners the past few nights, but tonight was the worst. I don't know if Costas has a bad pun writer or if he just sits up at night thinking this stuff up himself.

After showing the replays of the two US sprint teams drop the baton in the relay, Costas drops this gem on the American viewers, "So the American men's and women's teams go out and lay an egg at the Birds Nest."

Really Bob? That is the best you can do?

Al Michaels gets "Do you believe in miracles?" and that is what you are coming with?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hits and misses with the Olympics

There are a few things every two years that always seem to grab my attention when it comes to the Olympics. The first is just the novelty of the sports. We don't get to see swimming that often, so when it is on I naturally tune in just because it is something different.

The second is I am a sucker for live sporting events. There is just something about not knowing what is about to happen and getting to see it at the same time as everyone else. I have found myself sitting up a 2 in the morning watching Champions League soccer from Russia simply because it was live.

That is where the biggest hits and misses of this year's Olympics come into play.

I think NBC hit a home run this year by getting the swimming finals early in the morning Beijing time allowing us to watch them live in prime time. I was glued to the TV watching not just Michael Phelps but all of the finals as the Americans dominated the pool.

I am also not a big gymnastics fan, but have found myself sitting and watching the events, simply because it was live. Had the gymnastics been taped like the individual events were, I probably would not watch, or at the very least not stay tuned in 100 percent.

But it seems my undivided attention to NBC in prime time ends there. The track and field has been very hard to watch because the results start moving across the wire at 9 a.m. It is hard to go the day with out know the results all day. Between constant work on the computer and 45 minutes of talk radio on the way home, there was no way to avoid hearing about Bolt obliterating the field in the 100.

I had NBC on that night just to see the race but it obviously didn't hold the same excitement as it would have seeing it live. Because there are just certain events that can't be held in the morning, a good bit of the Olympics has been hard to watch because it it taking place at 4 in the morning.

The exception has been in soccer where I had to set the alarm clock to watch the US play just because I am a huge soccer fan. I got up at 4 a.m. to watch the US and Japan play and the other two matches fortunately came on mornings I didn't have to go to work so I recorded them and watched in the morning.

Soccer has been the only "mainstream" sport I have really watched however (I know soccer isn't considered a mainstream sport by most, but on a world stage it is). Baseball, basketball and tennis, sports I generally watch on a regular basis has seen very little time on my TV. Part of it is because of the time it is on, but the other part goes back to the novelty of the sports in the Olympics.

The baseball is just not that great to watch from what I have seen and I really have no interest in the USA basketball team. As for the tennis, I don't think the players even care about the Olympics, so why should we? Federer lost to Blake and just shrugged his shoulders and congratulated his opponent. It barely even got a mention on the bottom line. If this were Wimbledon or the US Open, it would be huge news.

So the interest level in some of these sports is already down, and putting them on TV at 3, 4 and 5 in the morning definitely kills the buzz.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

You don't leave games early

I don't leave games early. I just don't do it. When you pay for a ticket, you pay for the game, not the first three-fourths of a game. It is like going to the movies. If you pay for a ticket, you watch the whole movie.

The same applies to sports. When you buy that ticket, you should stay to see how it ends. I hate the argument people make about wanting to beat the traffic. What a load of crap. If that is all you are concerned about, then stay home.

It always kills me to see people getting up to leave a game, especially baseball, in the seventh or eighth inning. That is the best thing about baseball is it doesn't have a clock. A team can be down by nine and down to their last out, and still come back to win.

That is why you don't leave, you never know what you might miss. Not that I needed any reinforcement of this, but I got it two weeks ago at the Astros game. They were playing the Pirates on a Monday night.

Houston was up 3-2 heading into the ninth and they brought in Jose Valverde to close out the game. Some people must have thought he was a lock and started to head out before the ninth even started. Are you kidding me?

After he got an out to start the inning, Jason Bay hit a solo shot to tie the game. A single by Xavier Nady followed by a home run by Adam LaRoche put the Pirates up 5-3 -- and the exodus began. Over the next five minutes an announced crowd of 34,624 had dwindled to about 4,000 people.

What the other 30,000 people missed was something that doesn't happen very often in baseball. Freddy Sanchez hit a ball off the right field wall angle of the Astros' bull pen, just out of the reach of Hunter Pence. The ball then kicked back toward the right field line, rolling along the warning track. Sanchez never broke stride and beat the relay throw home for an inside-the-park home run.

I have been to more than 200 MLB games and seen one other inside-the-park home run. Even if you consider the all the games I played in and the countless high school and college games I have watched over the years, I have seen just a handful of true inside-the-park home runs (mine being one of them).

The Pirates went on to win the game 9-3 and the shame of it is, most of the people who left probably saw the final score and are glad they left when they did. Which means they won't hesitate to do it again.

So I will continue to go watch a baseball game while everyone else will just be there to see some baseball, and next time when something else special happens in the ninth, I'll be in even more select company than when the game started.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Another milestone night

Friday night proved to be a good one for me. I have waited a long time for this, but with the Boston Red Sox in Houston this weekend, I was able to finish off my list of every major league team seen.

The thing about the Red Sox, is it has been down to just them for several years. In 2000 I got to see the Mariners and Angels on my honeymoondwindling the list to two. I had Baltimore and Boston left to see.

I picked up Baltimore a few years ago when they came to Houston leaving just the Red Sox. Every year I would try to plan on going up to Arlington to see them play, but it seemed everytime they were in town, it was a bad weekend for me.

So I have waited. Finally the time came, but it wasn't easy. The Astros jacked up the ticket prices and then made you register and the only way to purchase the tickets was if you won a lottery. I registered with both mine and Patty's e-mail and neither one was chosen the first time around.

I had to wait a few weeks later before getting an e-mail that I was selected on the second chance drawing. Without hesitating I picked up two tickets.

Finally the game came, and it turned out to another milestone for me. During batting practice I caught my 21st ball. It was a homerun hit by Mark Loretta. I was in the Crawford Box when I made the grab. It was also my second straight batting practice to get a ball. The nice thing about this one was it was a home run I caught on the fly. It has been two years since catching a homer during batting practice.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

MLS is just bad soccer

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy watching the MLS from time-to-time. I'll usually turn the Dynamo on if they are on TV and watch, but the more I watch, the more I realize it is just bad soccer.

I think it becomes so apparent after watching the Euro 2008 for three weeks on TV. Then I turn on the Dynamo and FC Dallas and really see how bad it is. I have been out to see the Dynamo play twice and thoroughly enjoyed it. But you just have to take it for what it is.

The MLS is a second-rate league. It is probably the equivalent of AA baseball. The guys are good players and they have the potential to be good, they are just not there yet.

You just really see the difference after watching the European Championships and then the MLS. The play is very choppy and the pace never gets going. There is a bad pass or bad touch around every corner, and I am not sure anyone knows how to play defense. In the 30 minutes of the Dynamo and FC Dallas game tonight, I saw three separate shanks on attempts to clear the ball. Two of the sailed several rows into the seats.

On defense, there is a bunch of grabbing and late tackles. I guess because it happens all the time, half the stuff never gets called. There were several that could possibly draw a card on the international stage that didn't even get a whistle. Good runs never came to fruition and free kicks sailed 10 feet over the crossbar.

Now none if this will really keep me from going to see the Dynamo play. The games are still fun, especially in person. But I am going to have to stop watching on the same day as I watch a good international match.

It really goes to show how far behind the US is compared to the rest of the world. If this is what we have to offer, then some work still needs to be done. Granted more-and-more players are now going overseas to play and that is a good sign. More just need to start breaking through with some of the top level teams.

I think that is one of the reasons I detest Landon Donovan so much. He was playing at the top level in Germany and decided to come back and play in the MLS. He had a chance to prove that US players can play with the best in the world but gave it up. I think it says a lot about Donovan as well and his inability to consistently compete at a high level. You see flashes of greatness from him, and then he disappears for a stretch.

A big part of that is because he does not compete against the best in the world on a regular basis, so when he does, he chokes. The MLS does nothing to prepare Donovan or any other US player to compete on the world stage.

I used to think the MLS was coming along, and if more players would just stay here and play, it would help legitimize the league. As much as I would love for that to happen and get to the point where top players from other countries are coming to play here, it doesn't look like it will happen anytime in the next 10 years.

In the meantime, the US team is suffering because many of the players are not going against top level competition. It is kind of a catch 22 situation because the MLS needs the players here to continue to develop the league, but the US needs them overseas and playing to help develop them as world-class athletes.

BTW - I picked Spain before Euro started, so I am looking good going into the final. I really don't want Germany to win.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

MLB Draft final count

Here is the final count of everyone I have seen play who was drafted this year. I am sure there are a few that I missed with some of them coming from the Stan Musial World Series and then a name or two that just slipped past me.

But the count right now is 69 players who I saw in either high school or college or and some cases, both. Also, there are two other players I know, but never saw play who were drafted, Hunter Cervenka who is Patty's cousin and Kirkland Rivers who's parents are a long-time family friend with my family.

Here is the list:

19 from Chicago Cubs – Andrew Cashner, Conroe HS
39 from St. Louis – Lance Lynn, Ole Miss
43 from Arizona – Wade Miley, Southeastern Louisiana
45 from Boston – Bryan Price, Rice
67 from Detroit – Cody Satterwhite, Ole Miss
75 from NY Yankees – Scott Bittle, Ole Miss
93 from LA Dodgers – Kyle Russell, Texas
188 from Milwaukee – Jose Duran, Texas A&M
210 from Chicago White Sox – Jordan Danks, Texas
217 from LA Dodgers – Cole St. Clair, Rice
225 from Padres – Adam Zornes, Rice
237 from SF – Scott Barnes, St. Johns
244 from Oakland – Jeremy Barfield, Klein HS
275 from St. Louis – Aaron Luna, Rice
285 from San Diego – Kyle Thebeau, Texas A&M
286 from Philidelphia – Cody Overbeck, Ole Miss
306 from Minnesota – Evan Bigley, Dallas Baptist
345 from San Diego – Tyson Bagley, Dallas Baptist
347 from Colorado – Kyle Walker, The Woodlands HS
351 from Cleveland – Matt Langwell, Sam Houston State
372 from Seattle – Ken Kasparek, Texas
391 from Washington – Blake Stouffer, Texas A&M
403 from Detroit – Jared Gayhart, Rice
427 from LA Dodgers – Clay Calfee, Conroe HS
432 from Seattle - Luke Burnett, La Tech
433 from Detroit – Tyler Conn, Southern Miss
446 from Baltimore – Jason Gurka, Brenham HS
457 from Dodgers - Albie Goulder, La Tech
468 from Arizona – Bobby Stone, Montgomery HS
500 from NY Yankees – Luke Anders, Texas A&M
549 from Toronto – Bobby Bell, Rice
574 from Oakland – Michael Hart, Texas State
581 from Chicago Cubs – David Macias, The Woodlands HS
588 from Arizona – Joseph Gautier – Bayomon Vaqueros (Stan Musial)
611 from Chicago Cubs - Jericho Jones, La Tech
619 from LA Angles – Beau Brooks, Troy
637 from LA Dodgers – David Sever, Saint Louis
638 from Milwaukee – Lucas Letuge, Rice
670 from Atlanta – Bryan Carter, Texas A&M
697 from LA Dodgers – Brian Ruggiano, Texas A&M
721 from Washington – Chris Kelley, Rice
723 from Texas - Adam Cobb, La Tech
737 from Colorado – Thomas Field, Texas State
739 from LA Angles – Taylor Jungmann, Georgetown HS
765 from San Diego – Logan Power, Ole Miss
777 from SF – Ryan Lormand, Houston
879 from Toronto – Justin Cryer, Ole Miss
883 from Detroit – Keith Stein, Sam Houston State
885 from San Diego – Omar Gutierrez, A&M Corpus Christi
915 from San Diego – Bobby Verbick, Sam Houston State
995 from St. Louis - Kevin Thomas, SFA
1033 from Detroit - Bryan Pounds, Houston
1043 from Tampa Bay - James Bagley, Huffman
1079 from Cincinnati - Erik Greggerson, SFA
1108 from Florida - Drew Clothier, Army
1124 From NY Mets - Tim Erickson, Lamar
1171 From Washington - James Kiethly, UTSA
1215 From San Diego - Colin Lynch, St. Johns
1221 From Cleveland - Tim Palincsar, UTSA
1222 from Boston - Sam Stafford, Klein Collins
1224 from Pittsburg - Chris Simmons, Army
1229 from Cincinnati - Justin Walker, Lamar
1254 from Pittsburgh - Cole White, Army
1264 from Oakland - Kent Walton, BYU
1321 from Washington - JP Padron, Rice
1391 from Colorado - Jimmy Cesario, Houston
1440 from Chicago - Dylan Mosley, Louisiana Tech
1442 from Detroit - Casey Moore, Saint Louis
1479 from Pittsburgh - Craig Parry, South Dakota State

Saturday, June 14, 2008

My 20th BP ball and a 12th Street recognition

I went to the Astros-Yankees game last night and had a bit of a milestone moment for me.

I was in the Crawford Boxes during batting practice, and it was a pretty uneventful day. Not much was getting hit our way. A few balls rung off the back wall but nothing of note close to me. I had my usual spot standing in the steps about halfway up in the Crawford Boxes.

It is a spot I have stood in for years and never had a problem there. In the middle of the Yankees' batting practice, an usher came down and told me I had to stand in the seating area. I didn't argue. I moved down to a spot on the second row.

I was only there about 10 minutes when a ball came my way. It wasn't off a bat however. The ball was tossed into the seats by a Yankee bullpen pitcher. The ball sailed over the front row and was heading directly over my head.

It was headed for the kids standing behind me until I jumped an was able to pull the ball in. It was the 20th ball I have gotten during batting practice. I am not sure who tossed the ball in the seats, though. Since players now wear the batting practice pullover jackets, it make it hard to tell who is who if you don't know the players.

I was shutout last season during batting practice, so this is my first ball in two years since the "Twin Killing" when I caught two balls hit into the Crawford Boxes by the Minnesota Twins.

I was hoping No. 20 would come off the bat, but it is nice to get the milestone ball out of the way. I don't think I'll do BP at the Braves/Rangers game on Wednesday, so I'll get my chance at No. 21 in two weeks when the Red Sox come to town.

That game will also be a personal milestone for me as it will complete the list for MLB teams for me. I have been waiting to add the Red Sox for quite some time.

Another funny thing happened at the game last night. During batting practice, I noticed the guy standing next to me kept looking at me and occasionally whispering something to his friend. This went on for about 30 minutes before he finally said something to me.

He first asked if I worked as Sam Houston and when I said yes he asked if I was on TV. When I said yes he told me he is a freshman at Sam and he watches the 12th Street Sports Bar every night.

It was my first recognition from the TV show outside of Huntsville.

Friday, June 6, 2008

MLB Draft Day 2

Scanning through the draft on day two, more names are coming up that I have seen play. After eight the first day I expect a bunch here in the final 44 rounds.

Texas' Jordan Danks was taken with the 210th pick in the seventh round. I saw Danks play last week at Rice.

Another guys I saw last week at Rice was Cole St. Clair. The Owl hurler was taken at 217 by the Dodgers. I have seen St. Clair throw several times in his career.

At 225 another Rice Owl was plucked off the board when Adam Zornes was take by the Padres.

The Houston regional is starting to get popular here in the draft. Scott Barnes, the hurler from St. John's was taken at 237 by San Francisco. Barns tossed a gem in the opening game of the regional shutting down Texas 2-1.

At 244 Jeremy Barfield was selected by the A's. I saw Barfield as a sophomore at Klein High School against Huntsville.

Back to the Rice guys, as Aaron Luna was taken at 275 by St. Louis.

Back-to-back picks at 285 and 286. Kyle Thebeau from Texas A&M first went to the Padres followed by Cody Overbeck from Mississippi to the Phillies. Overbeck played against the Kats in the Oxford Regional last season.

In the 10th round at 306 Evan Bigley from Dallas Baptist was pulled off the board by the Twins. The Patriots are regular visitors to Huntsville each season.

They are really starting to roll in. With pick 345 The Padres took Tyson Bagley a pitcher from DBU who threw against the Kats this season. Two picks later, Kyle Walker, a pitcher from Texas was selected. I actually didn't see Walker last week in Houston (edit to add I did, he just didn't last very long). I saw Walker pitcher several times when he was at The Woodlands.

At 351 the first Bearkat is off the board, sort of. Matt Langwell, from Rice, spent his freshman season at SHSU before getting hurt and then transferring to Rice.

At 372, Seattle took Ken Kasparek in the 12th round. Kasparek threw the opening game last week against St. John's and was the tough-luck loser in that game losing to Barns and St. Johns.

Another Aggie in the 13th with Blake Stouffer going to the Nationals at 391.

Jared Gayhart from Rice goes at 403 to Detroit. He surrendered a run late in the game in the Kats win over the Owls in Huntsville this year.

In the 14th round at pick No. 427, the Dodgers took Clay Calfee from Angelo State. I saw Calfee play three years ago at Conroe High School against the Hornets.

Just a few picks later at No. 433, Tyler Conn from Southern Miss was taken by the Tigers. Conn was one of the top closers this past season. Last year against Sam Houston he blew a lead in that thrilling 11 inning game. The Kats got to Conn in the 9th and 10th before winning it in the 11th.

At 446, Baltimore selected Jason Gurka from Angelina CC. Gurka pitched a couple of times in the playoffs at Don Sanders for Brenham.

Bearkat signee and Montgomery product Bobby Stone was selected in the 15th round, 468 overall by the Diamondbacks. I have seen Stone play once against Barbers Hill in the playoffs last season.

With pick 500, Luke Anders from Texas A&M goes to the Yankees. He homered last month against the Bearkats in Huntsville.

Another vet of the Houston Regional, Robert Bell of Rice was taken at 549 by Toronto. Bell came in the game against the Bearkats with a 3-2 lead and shut down the SHSU lineup for three straight innings.

It has been a while, but the second SLC played has finally been taken. Michael Hart from Texas State was selected in the 19th round by Oakland with the 574th overall pick.

Another Woodlands product, at pick 581 by the Cubs, David Macias was taken. Macias, out of Vanderbilt was once considered one of the top middle infield prospects in the country out of high school.

Back to the Oxford Regional from last year. Beau Brooks from Troy entered the game late as a pinch hitter and singled in the Kats's 5-4 win to eliminate Troy from the postseason. Brooks was selected No. 619 overall by the Angels.

Another set of back-to-back picks. First David Sever from St. Louis pitched in Huntsville at the beginning of the season against South Dakota State and got roughed up, allowing 8 runs on 10 hits. He was taken 637 overall by the Dodgers.

With the next pick of the 21st round, Lucas Letuge from Rice was selected by the Brewers. Letuge was one of the many Owls to pitch in that 13-12 game in March.

The Braves take the first player I have seen play with Byran Carter, from Texas A&M going with the 670th pick. Another Aggie goes 27 picks later to the Dodgers when they selected Brian Ruggiano.

Back to rice, I think their entire pitching staff has now been drafted. Chris Kelley, who started the St. John's game was taken at 721 by the Nationals.

Another Bobcat is selected when Texas State's Thomas Field goes 737 overall to Colorado. Two picks later, Georgetown High School's Taylor Jungmann is taken by the Angels. Jungmann played a playoff game at Don Sanders Stadium.

Another Oxford Regional guy from Ole Miss with the selection of Logan Power. He was taken in the 25th round, No. 765 overall by the Padres.

A Houston Cougar goes at pick 777 by the Giants. Saw him play last season when Houston visited Huntsville.

Finally some Bearkats are on the board. I skipping ahead a bit, but Keith Stein and Bobby Verbock were just selected. Stein goes in the 29th round by the Tigers and Verbick was a 30th round pick by the Padres.

Great to see these two guys go. They have both been a huge part of the Bearkats' turn around the last two seasons, and both are great guys as well. It will be nice to have a few extra guys to follow in the minors as well. Now we wait for Sebek to see is he will get taken.

Now back to the draft.

Justin Cryer, from Ole Miss goes in the 29th round No. 879 to Toronto. Cryer tossed the final three innings against the Bearkats in the Oxford Regional opener.

Two picks after Stein, another SLC guy gets selected. Omar Gutierrez from A&M Corpus Christi goes to the Padres. Gutierrez pitched a gem to open the SLC tournament to beat No. 1-seed UTSA.

Going back a little bit, one of the guys I saw play last summer in the Stan Musial World Series was selected. Joseph Gautier from Bethune-Cookman was taken No. 588 by Arizona. He pitched for the Puerto Rican team. I'm sure there are more from the SMWS, but I don't know how I'll find all of that out.

Back to the draft. 20 rounds to go, and I think I will just try to get a qucik rundown of just the names from here on. I'll also go back and pick up some names I missed.

432 from Seattle - Luke Burnett, La Tech
457 from Dodgers - Albie Goulder, La Tech
611 from Chicago Cubs - Jericho Jones, La Tech
723 from Texas - Adam Cobb, La Tech
995 from St. Louis - Kevin Thomas, SFA
1033 from Detroit - Bryan Pounds, Houston
1043 from Tampa Bay - James Bagley, Huffman
1079 from Cincinnati - Erik Greggerson, SFA
1108 from Florida - Drew Clothier, Army
1124 From NY Mets - Tim Erickson, Lamar
1171 From Washington - James Kiethly, UTSA
1215 From San Diego - Colin Lynch, St. Johns
1221 From Cleveland - Tim Palincsar, UTSA
1222 from Boston - Sam Stafford, Klein Collins
1224 from Pittsburg - Chris Simmons, Army
1229 from Cincinnati - Justin Walker, Lamar
1254 from Pittsburgh - Cole White, Army
1264 from Oakland - Kent Walton, BYU
1321 from Washington - JP Padron, Rice
1391 from Colorado - Jimmy Cesario, Houston
1440 from Chicago - Dylan Mosley, Louisiana Tech
1442 from Detroit - Casey Moore, Saint Louis
1479 from Pittsburgh - Craig Parry, South Dakota State

Thursday, June 5, 2008

First day of baseball draft

I don't know why, but I always look forward to the baseball draft. Not like football where I love sitting for two days and just watching the draft, with baseball I like reading through the list after each day is done to see who I have seen play.

Between Sam Houston and then the high school baseball I watch each year, I probably see about 50 games a year. Since we didn't host any playoff games this past season, I didn't get to see as many high school games as I normally do, in fact, I didn't see one single HS game this year.

But even with that said, there are still quite a few guys who were taken on the first day of the draft that I got to see play at some point in their high school or college careers.

The first guy to come off the board that I saw play was Andrew Cashner. Cashner is a pitcher from TCU who I saw play when he was at Conroe High School. He wasn't that impressive at Conroe, earning honorable-mention all-district. He went to Angelina Community College before going to TCU. The Cubs took Cashner 19th overall.

Twenty picks later, Lance Lynn from Ole Miss was selected by St. Louis Cardinals. I saw Lynn play last season in the Oxford Regional against Southern Miss. He took a no-hitter into the sixth of that game going the distance allowing just two hits. I actually saw him for the first time two nights earlier at the Library.

It only took four more picks for the next guy I have seen play get selected. With the 43rd pick, Arizona selected Wade Miley from Southeastern Louisiana. I saw Miley throw two weeks ago at The Don in the SLC baseball tournament.

The next pick came even faster when the Boston Red Sox took Bryan Price out of Rice with the 45th pick. I saw Price on March 4 this year when the Owls visited The Don. Price came in the game in the 9th and gave up the winning run in a 13-12 Bearkat victory.

Another product of the Oxford Regional, Cody Satterwhite was taken with the 67th pick by the Detroit Tigers. Satterwhite pitched an inning of relief in the regional final against the Bearkats.

Eight picks later, the third pitcher from a very good Ole Miss pitching staff was selected when Scott Bittle was taken with the 75th pick by the Yankees. Bittle got the start in that regional final game against the Kats and was touched up pretty good. SHSU tagged him for eight runs on 10 hits in just 3 2/3 innings of work. Ole Miss of course won the game 21-13.

With the 93rd pick, the Dodgers selected Kyle Russell out of Texas. The last time I saw Russell was a week ago in Houston at the Houston Regional. He hit a ball in the first inning of the game against the Bearkats that I'm not sure has landed yet.

It took a while, but the next player I had seen play was selected at 188 when the Brewers took Jose Duran out of Texas A&M. Duran had a pretty good game at The Don, tagging the Kats for three hits.

So seven of the top 93 players selected I had seen play and a total of eight on the first day with 6 rounds in the book. The draft concludes Friday, and there should be quite a few more names added to the list.

It really wasn't a strong year for Texas prospects and not many guys from high school were taken on Day 1.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

My directorial debut

I had to wait awhile before I could do anything with this, but I have been told I can now release this. I made my directorial debut this past winter, and I must say, I did a bang up job.

Greg Hinze, my Associate AD had visions of getting on Big Brother. He needed to do a 2 minute audition video and wanted to use the interview room downstairs for the video. We decided to go with the Coors Light theme with the coaches press conferences.

The shooting took about 30 minutes and we shot each scene about four or five times each. We tried to keep with the theme of the commercials where we were cutting back and forth from him to the reporters. I wanted to keep the look of them not necessarily in the same room as him.

The one thing I changed at the end was when he was going off on his "Mike Gundy" impression and comes walking out from behind the podium. I placed Lance at the edge of the backdrop, because in the Gundy rant, there is a girl just standing there watching as well.

After the video was sent in he got a call back saying the video was one of the most unique they have ever received. The cast for Big Brother 9 was already set, but they would keep him in mind for Big Brother 10.

He had to be secret about a lot of the developments, but come to find out he got a semifinal interview and went down to Houston in late April. They said they would get back in touch with him by the end of May to fly him out to LA for a final interview if he was selected.

It is now June and he hasn't heard anything, so I have been given the freedom to release the video to the world.

So here it is, the Greg Hinze Big Brother audition video.


video

Monday, June 2, 2008

I could never be a hockey goalie

I love playoff hockey. It is funny because I can't watch it during the regular season (actually do they even show it on TV during the regular season?) The games just don't get me excited from November to May (is that how long the season runs?)

The best part about it is when the games go to overtime. It is sudden death and one shot ends the game. Unlike the NFL's sudden death OT, you can't see this one coming. In the NFL, unless there is a long pass or run or an interception for a TD, you pretty much see the buildup to the finish.

In hockey, the game can swing so fast. One team can take three shots on goal and 10 seconds later there is a counter attack the other way and a shot on the other goal.

The first time I remember staying glued to the TV during a hockey game was in 1996 during the Red Wings and Blues playoff game. I was supposed to go out with some friends, but couldn't leave the TV as a scoreless game went into the fifth overtime.

The game was scoreless into the fifth period, when an innocent-looking giveaway by Wayne Gretzky at center ice turned into a magical moment by the Wings' captain. Steve Yzerman ripped a slap shot from just inside the blue line over the shoulder of a stunned Jon Casey. The game ended with Yzerman's first career overtime playoff goal and arguably the most memorable of his 70 career postseason goals. (Thanks to espn.com for that, I couldn't remember the year).

As I sit and watch the Penguins and Red Wings play in second OT in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals, this is shaping up to be another classic. The Wings looked to be 30 seconds from winning the Cup before the Penguins scored to tie the game at 3. The Detroit fans were ready to celebrate a championship until the arena went silent.

Which brings me to what I love the most about overtime hockey, the reaction of the crowd on the game-winning goal. I go back and fourth on this one as to what I am rooting for. Hearing the arena erupt when the home team scores is pretty cool, but then again, hearing a dead silence with the exception of the horn in the arena is pretty cool as well. Since I am a Penguins fan (I love the jersey's if anyone is thinking about a birthday present. July 14 is right around the corner) I am pulling for dead silence.

Speaking of arena sounds, I don't know if there is a more excruciating sound in all of sports (other than the sound of Joe Theismann's leg breaking) than the clang of a puck hitting the post in OT. On both sides, for a split second, breaths are held waiting to see if the game is over or if they will continue to skate.

If the Penguins can win this, I'm rooting for this to go to a Game 7 for the Cup and then I'm rooting for overtime.

UPDATE: 11:20 p.m. - The Penguins just held off a power play in the closing seconds of the second OT to force a third. I'm in this for the long haul.

UPDATE: 11:48 p.m. - SILENCE!!! Just before midnight, the Pens get one in to force Game 6 back in Pittsburgh.

Monday, May 26, 2008

"Get out of here baby!"

video

OK, I am just now starting to recover from this past weekends Southland Conference Baseball Tournament. The Kats completed a sweep through the field winning four straight games to advance to the NCAA tournament.

A year ago we were shipped to Oxford for the regional, and that weekend was a blast. I called all four games on the radio for that. It was the first time I had done play-by-play for baseball in over a year, and I remembered how much I loved calling baseball.

The third game of the tournament was an 11-inning game against Southern Mississippi. The Kats trailed 7-1 going into the bottom of the seventh and put four runs on the board to cut the lead to 7-5. They then scored two in the 8th to tie the game up.

In the top of the ninth, Southern Miss put two on the board to go back up, only to watch as the Kats put two on the board to force extra innings. After the Eagles scored in the top of the 10th the Kats had to rally again.

In the top of the 11th, the number 9 hitter for the Eagles, who had a .100 something batting average hit a solo shot to center and you just started wandering if it was going to be the Kats' day. But just like they had done the previous four innings, the Kats rallied. This time they scored two in the bottom of the 11th to win the game and advance to the regional final against Ole Miss.

That was the most nerve-racking and exciting game to call and I get chills when I think about that game. I never thought I would experience anything like that again.

Well it took less than a year to get that feeling again. Friday night's semifinal against A&M-Corpus Christi may not have been on the same level as the Southern Miss game in term of the constant comebacks, but it was close, and the excitement level was certainly about on par.

It started in the 7th once again, with the Kats down 2-1. Seth Hammock hit a solo shot to left to tie the game back up. However, the Islanders answered back with a two-out, three-run homer in the top of the eighth.

While a lot of teams would have been done by a crushing blow like that, the Kats seemed undaunted by it. They put together a rally in the bottom of the 8th, scoring three, two of those with two outs.

After a 1-2-3 ninth, the bottom of the frame, and a trip to the SLC Championship game was set up for a dramatic finish. During the break, I looked at the three other guys in the booth with me and told them I have never called a walkoff on the radio before. I then told them Keith Stein was going to do it.

Ryan Weber drew a walk to start in inning and then Todd Sebek moved him to second, to bring Stein to the plate. The senior wasted no time. On the first pitch he saw, a curveball, Stein sent a shot over the wall in right-center to put the Kats in the championship.

Afterwards, I couldn't even remember what the call was when the ball left the yard. I have to go back after the press conference to listen to me yelling "Get out of here baby!" as the ball sailed over the wall. It was pure emotion that had been building as the game progressed. The call on Hammock's blast was the same way, but the Stein call was complete raw emotion.

I don't think I could have asked for a better game, a better situation or a better team to have my first walkoff call.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Bearkat Minor League update

Here is an update on the Bearkats playing minor league ball.

Dustin Martin is off to a good start playing for the New Britain Rock Cats. Martin was not projected to be a starter for the AA Twins affiliate, but he made an immediate impact and has been a regular ever since.

Martin made his Double-A debut on April 5, when he went 1-for-3 with a double. He went on to hammer out 13 hits in his first six games. That included a four-hit performance on the road in Portland on April 12 that put his then league leading average at the time at .619 (13-21).

In 32 games with the Rock Cats Martin is hitting .315 which is second on the team among Rock Cat regulars. He is third on the team in RBIs (26), hits (40) and runs (23).

Jordan Tata is still attempting to recover from a broken hand suffered during spring training. Tata, who aw time with the Tigers last season is currently playing for the Class A affiliate Lakeland Flying Tigers.

He has made just two appearances this season, getting touched up pretty good in his first outing. On April 22, he worked just 1/3 of an inning walking 4 and allowing four earned runs. He worked again May 14 and went two innings, picking up the win,

Robert Manuel has gotten the call up to AA ball in the Cincinnati Reds organization playing now for the Chattanooga Lookouts.

He has made 13 appearances this season, all out of the bullpen and has been nearly lights out. Manuel has worked 18 innings this season, allowing just two earned runs giving him a 1.00 ERA.

One of the things that made Manuel a strong prospect causing the Reds to trade for him was his strikeout-to-walk ratio and once again that mark is solid. He has fanned 22 batters this season while allowing just three walks.

Manuel has also picked up a win this season as well. He worked three scoreless innings on April 28 to get the win.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Mets need to stop whining like little softball girls

I am so sick of the Mets. Every thing they do has to be a story. I really wish they would just fall apart and go away. Of course they would probably make themselves the story then.

What got me started was Nelson Figueroa, the New York pitcher. He was a little miffed last night for what he perceived to be excessive cheering from the Washington Nationals.

Said Figueroa after he was tagged for six runs and allowed five walks:

"They were cheering in the dugout like a bunch of softball girls," he said. "I
am a professional, I take great offense to that. ... They won tonight, but in
the long run, look who they are, a last-place team."

Maybe Figueroa needs to look at who he really is, a 33-year-old journey man pitcher who carries a career 9-20 record and a 4.17 ERA. In his last seven outings, Figueroa has an ERA over 8. Oh and guess what Figgy, professionals don't call other players a "bunch of softball girls."

You just got your ass beat by a last-place team. Maybe if you worried about your pitching and not what the other team was doing in the dugout, you might have been able to at least escape with a no decision. Instead, you fall to 2-3 on the season and your ERA is up over five.

You may be a professional for now, but if you keep getting spanked by a "bunch of softball girls" the next time your name makes it on the bottom line will be in the transactions when you are designated for assignment.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Final Four

In case you haven't heard, I was at the Final Four.

It was my fifth trip to the NCAA Tournament, and I have been in several different capacities. I attened my first in 1997 when Brian and I went to San Antonio for the regional the Minnesota ended up winning.

I was back in 2001, once again as a fan this time in New Orleans for the first and second round. In 2003 I got the chance to go as a member of the media, covering my Bearkats as they took on Florida in Tampa.

It was my first time on press row for an NCAA tournament game and the experience was unreal. I had sat courtside for plenty of games, but being right there for the Dance was something completely different.

In 2007 I worked the Regional in San Antonio as a member of the media services. Once again I was courtside and once again, it was an unreal experience.

But none of that compared to the thrill of being on the floor of the Final Four. The energy in the building was like nothing else I had ever felt. After the first day of games, I got a text message from a friend of mine that read "What a shitty ass Final Four." The thing was on TV it may have felt like that, but in the arena I never felt that way.

The first game of the night was the Memphis and UCLA game. Kevin Love and Derrick Rose were all that we expected to see. Both made some plays that freshmen aren't supposed to be able to make. The thing that stood out the most was the quickness of Rose.

I had seen him play on TV several time this season and knew he was good, but damn. When you are siting 30 feet from the court, you see just how quick he really is. Westbrook is one of the top defenders in basketball, and Rose ran past him on a couple of plays like he was a practice walk-on.

While Memphis pretty much controlled the game, sitting there and watching it, you never felt like it was a bad game, because it was well played.

The second game of the night was the UNC-Kansas game. Once again, two of the top teams in the country squaring off. No Cinderellas in this match up either. North Carolina was the top over all seed and a lot of people's pick to win the whole thing.

That is what made the first 15 minutes so unbelievable. Kansas was shooting lights out and as the lead built, I just sat there wondering how big the lead could get before the Heels woke up. Kansas got it to 28 and had three good chances to get it to 30. Kansas wasn't supposed to be doing this.

Everyone knew UNC was going to make a run, but it was just a matter of when they were going to get started and how close they are going to get. As it turned out, they cut the lead to four and had a 3-pointer go in and out that would have cut it to one. From that point on, the air was sucked out of the UNC players and crowd.

Kansas ended up running away with it making the final minutes of the game a throw-away, but that didn't take away from the first 33 that was really captivating to watch.

The championship game was something else all together. The Kansas fans were the strongest contingent, but Memphis brought a great group as well. That just added to the atmosphere and gave exactly what you want in a championship game.

It only took about 10 minutes to realize this was going to go down to the wire. I'll fast forward to the end of the game. A lot of people are harping on the mistakes that Memphis made down the stretch, but to be honest, Kansas just made more plays.

Everyone is pointing at the missed free throws, and that was a big part of it, but it is not like they were a great free-throw shooting team that choked in the clutch. They can't shoot free-throws and everyone knew, so I don't know that was a big of a factor as it has been made out to be.

There is even the argument that Calipari lost the game because he didn't call a time out after the free throw by Rose or foul. I don't buy either one of those arguments either. There are strong arguments against doing either. I have seen team call a time out and let the opponent set up an offensive play to win the game.

A few weeks earlier, Sam Houston was in the same situation against McNeese, and they fouled in the final second up by three. Problem was, the other player was able to get a shot attempt up from 40 feet away and was awarded three free throws. Fortunately for the Kats, he missed two of the shots and SHSU won.

The spot where I thought Coach Cal cost his team, was by not calling a timeout after Chalmers tied the game with 2.1 second left. Some of the most memorable moments in NCAA Tournament history have happened with less than two seconds to play. Tate George anyone?

He had the time out, and could have drawn up a play that would have given them a better effort than that mid-court heave by Dozier. I think everyone in the building could sense the change in momentum, so it was no surprise when Kansas ran away with the game in OT.

Before the game started, I really didn't have a rooting interest. I sent a text before it started saying I just wanted to see one of the greatest championship games of all time, and I think I got it.

BTW - "One Shining Moment" on the big screen in the arena was awesome.