Where our spout offs about sports are spot on!

Friday, August 05, 2011

Fresh Men for Auburn Football

Auburn Football: I was in Auburn a couple days ago and you can smell football in the air and feel it lurking just off College Street. The campus and the whole town is alive with alumni, and with a new generation of alumni-to-be moving into fresh apartments.

My own son is one of these switching from the Copper Beech complex to a condo south of campus. I'm also glad to report that the historic oak tree at Toomer's Corner is still living, but it was sad to see the barricades around it and the lack of leaves at the tips of the branches.

This is type of mean-spirited damage is not what college sports is all about. It's about that 50-something couple I saw in Wal-Mart holding hands, with his orange polo and her white "AU" T-shirt. It's about the giggly girl shopper at the Apple Computer specialist store, Graphicom, where my son now has a part time job, in her blue and orange; and soon it's going to be about a crop of freshmen that Coach Gene Chizik said this week will NOT be sitting on the bench.

Chizik said this week that they'll play until they show that they need to be red-shirted and not the other way around. That should make for some interesting games, even if Auburn can't live up to it's pre-season #19 national ranking. Two of the most important new Tigers will try to boost the defensive side of the line, Jonathan Rose at Corner Back and Gabe Wright on the Defensive Line. With Nick Fairley and a number of other D players gone, these freshmen will be needed; and will bring an element of the unknown to the team -- should make for some fun footbal!

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Serena Not Acting Like a Champion

I was enjoying Kim Clijsters performance against Serena Williams. Collected and measured with deep ground strokes, quick defense and at least one great offensive lob. Serena was managing to pump herself up at around 4 all in the second set, serving a number of aces and some tough play to fight off 3 break points to hold serve. It looked like a classic only-play-my-A-game-when-I-really-have-to display from Serena. She's done it many times and it's the biggest reason that I'm not a fan -- or it was.

She gave me another reason not to be in her corner tonight when, at 15-30, second serve, a line-person called her for a foot fault, giving Clijsters 2 match points. John McEnroe, doing commentary for CBS, said he saw no foot fault. The two replays we saw had inconclusive angles. The person with the best vantage point in the stadium made the call. Serena, you're down during a potential match game, you don't put your toes so close to the line that it might get called; they were definitely very close -- I suspect that more angles will appear in photos or other motion cameras. But the foot fault didn't cost her the match, what she did next is what cost her the match. She railed at the line judge. Shook a ball at her as she was cursing at her (we couldn't hear what she said, but we were told it was profane). Then she got even closer and shook her racket at the line judge. She walked back like she was going to serve, but went back again and yelled some more. One of the women commentators eventually said it was not how champions behave. John McEnroe, though, continued to blame the bad ending on a possibly errant foot fault call. Sorry, John, you're out of line, too. The lines person behaved 100% appropriately -- if she saw a foot fault she needs to call it; even if it had been match point. But the unsportsmanlike conduct was all on Serena Williams. And this was her second code violation of the match (the first was for racked abuse when she lost the first set). Second violation cost her one point -- in this case, match point.

S. Williams was out of line and deserved no special consideration. I do feel a bit bad for Kim Clijsters, not getting to win the match on her own racket. She had done the work, and was, at most 2 points from winning. I think she would have won, even if Serena hadn't lost it for herself.
Both the finalists seem like great sports. It'll be tough to root for one over the other. Go Kim Clijsters! Go Caroline Wozniacki!

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

Spread the 40-Love at the Tennis US Open

Hey! ESPN2! How about showing something a little more competetive than Andy Roddick thrashing M. Gicquel, 6-1, 6-4, 5-4 in tennis at the US Open's second round? There must be something a little closer and more interesting. Okay, so the third set is slightly closer than the first two, but it's 11:15 PM already, even here in the Central Time Zone, and you've wasted my prime time tennis viewing. Sheesh.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Big East Basketball Tournament Time: Over Time Times Six

I haven't been as big a fan of college basketball in recent years. The physicality and the rules changes have turned me off, but I got snared by the sextuple overtime (6 OT) basketball game last night: Connecticut and Syracuse in a marathon. I like that Syracuse plays zone and often extends it to a zone press. I didn't flip the TV on until about a minute into the first overtime, but I was hooked after that, staying up way passed my bed time; but it felt like watching a whole game. CT out rebounded Syracuse, especially on the offensive boards, at least in the OT's. But Syracuse stayed in it with some great free throw shooting from Paul Harris (13 of 14) and Jonny Flynn (a perfect 16 of 16) and Rautins' screened 3 pointers; that's a tough thing to do, come off a screen 20+ feet from the basket, catch the ball and shoot while still moving sideways; he had at least 3 of those that kept the Orange Men in the game. By the 5th OT CT had lost most of its tall timber and Paul Harris started taking over inside for Syracuse, although he missed numerous 2 foot and closer shots, including a wide open dunk when his exhausted legs wouldn't lift him 10 feet up to the rim -- he pulled his own rebound though and made the traditional lay-up off the glass.

For CT, AJ Price showed a lot of leadership, playing through 5 OTs with 4 fouls on him, not fouling out until CT was in desperation mode in the sixth overtime. But Price, CT's best free thrower, did miss one critical freebie at the end of one overtime (the 3rd? who can remember?) that would have put them up by 2 possessions, instead Rautins extended the game on the other end with another three. Nice to see some of the Syracuse benchwarmers get some minutes, Justin Thomas was doing jumping jacks in his zone defense while the rest of the 'cuse team were grabbing their shorts. They may not have much gas left to face West Virginia in the semi's tonight.

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

2008 NBA Finals First Game Wimper

I watched the end of the first game of the NBA finals tonight. I guess with a minute and one second left in the 4th quarter and down by six points that the Lakers decided to let the Celtics have game one and started thinking about game two. Kobe and company need to take a look at some archive film of another basketball team from their town, a college team, UCLA, who came back from 8 points down with 11 seconds left in a game (Can't remember the year, late 1960's?). Or Reggie Miller did it by himself in 1995 . Come on guys this is professional league, the finals. Geesh.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Yankee Billy Crystal

Reuters reported that actor/comedian Billy Crystal lived his dream to play baseball for the New York Yankees today. It was a spring training game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Hey, Billy, who couldn't play against the Pirates, eh?

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Friday, October 05, 2007

Gators Gall

Here's what I think should have happened. I think Florida Gators football coach Urban Meyer should have been called for unsportsmanlike conduct when he called timeout an instant before the Auburn Tigers kicked what would have been the winning field goal last Saturday. That could have done two things: nullified the timeout and given Auburn the choice to accept or decline the penalty. Obviously they would have declined, but if Wes Byrum had missed that first one, they would have had a second shot at it -- from 15 yards closer.

I'm no NCAA football official so I don't know how much latitude a referee has in assessing an unsportsmanlike penalty, but if its like other sports there is just enough. College sports don't need that crap. I know it's big business and that most of these kids are only student athletes in the broadest application of the term student but they are still more or less what I just said: kids -- and so are many of the fans.

Of course the stunt could have backfired; Byrum could easily have missed the first attempt and made the second attempt -- after all he would have just practiced it. Ask any basketball player, the second free throw is much easier than the first in a pressure spot. But Byrum banged both kicks clean through the uprights and I like what he said, "After the first kick, I really felt more relaxed. I felt like I was going to make it. It just doesn't get any better than that."

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