Posted by: Nate Fain | February 1, 2010

Phil Mickelson: cheater or not?

There has been a lot of talk this past week about Phil Mickelson’s use of a Ping Eye2 wedge made before March 31, 1990.

This wedge is an exception or a loop hole to the recent rule implemented by the USGA to ban irons and wedges that have certain grooves, especially square.

If you’re not a golfer or don’t know much about golf clubs, maybe this will clear it up.

Basically, these wedges and irons were banned by the USGA from elite competition (like tournaments on the PGA Tour) in an effort to make the game more difficult and to put an emphasis on accuracy. There are regulations on grooves now because the bigger, deeper, more defined and wider the grooves are, the more backspin can be created.

For players as good as those on the PGA Tour, the more backspin generated in a golf shot, the straighter it flies and the easier it is to control.

If you watch the U.S. Open, you probably can figure out that the last thing the USGA wants is for golf to be easier.

However, there is an exception to the rule.

Mickelson with his Ping Eye2 wedge.

Because of a lawsuit filed by Ping golf (a golf equipment manufacturer) any Ping Eye2 iron that was made before March 31, 1990 can still be used. Back in 1990, these clubs were going to be sanctioned by the USGA because the grooves were too wide. Ping filed a lawsuit for $100 million, and the USGA decided to settle out of court and deemed these clubs legal for competitive play.

Somehow, this lawsuit takes precedent over the current regulations on grooves of wedges and irons that the USGA started implementing this year. Phil Mickelson, along with a few other PGA Tour players have decided to wind back the clock twenty years and play with these old wedges. Technically, it’s legal, but how right is it ethically? That’s the debate.

Golf is known as the “gentleman’s sport.” It’s known for honesty (don’t tell Tiger), classiness (again…don’t tell Tiger), integrity (OK, I’m done picking on Tiger, but you get the idea) and sportsmanship. There are rules officials, but most of the time, it’s up to the players to call an infraction of the rules on themselves. You’re your own referee.

“Lefty” has continually denied that he is breaking the rules because the clubs are, in fact, legal. But he’s missing the point worse than he misses fairways in clutch situations.

This isn’t about the legality of using the clubs, it’s the idea of you discovering a loophole that goes against the general idea of the rule.

The PGA Tour has sent out a statement basically telling other players to hush up and quit complaining. Seems like a pathetic attempt to save their only star in golf while Tiger is rehabbing (although, this time it’s not his knee).

Is it cheating? Technically, no. But Lee Westwood agrees that this move is far from classy.

“It’s a very strong word to use, cheating. It wouldn’t be my choice to use them, but it’s obviously not against the rules or else he wouldn’t do it,” Westwood said. “I could do it more than anybody else because I’ve got thousands of Ping wedges. I have the opportunity to do it and I don’t.”

Good for you, Westwood. Shame on you, Phil.

Posted by: Nate Fain | February 1, 2010

Random notes from this weekend

What a busy weekend in sports, specifically college hoops!  

Due to the weather outside, I got to watch quite a bit of sports since Friday.  

Here are some moments, events, players, teams and plays that caught my eye:  

  • Awful officiating on the hardwood.

A lot of UK fans don’t want to talk about this because Louisville got robbed. I’m a little different because I’m a basketball fan first, then a UK fan.  

In case you missed it, in the final 30 seconds of the L’ville vs WVa game on Saturday was filled with terrible officiating. First, they missed the tripping of a WVa player, which has been a point of emphasis this year.  

Second, in the same sequence, a ball was called out-of-bounds incorrectly. It was clearly off a WVa player’s head and then hit the ref in the leg. I guess the missed foul call and bad call on the out-of-bounds play cancel each other out.  

Next, had to deal with the shot clock. Quick question: do the clock operators actually watch the game? If you watch the close of this game, the shot clock should have been dead on L’ville’s final possession, but instead it just kept ticking.  

Not many people are talking about this, but I can’t help but wonder if the Cards threw up a fast shot because they thought the shot clock, which should have been dead, was about to run out.  

The Cards missed the shot and there was a struggle for the rebound, which was right in front of a ref on the baseline. In hopes that he wouldn’t get hit in the face by the ball, he turned his back to the play and probably did what would make the home crowd happy as the ball went out-of-bounds: he awarded the ball to the Mountaineers.  

It should have been L’ville ball with about six seconds left. The officials went over to the monitor to check to see if the time was correct and probably saw that they blew the out of bounds call, but didn’t reverse it.  

So instead of having the ball under their own goal with a chance to win, the Cards were forced to foul and hope for a near miracle.  

The miracle never came much to the delight of West Virginia and UK fans.  

But I ask, why? If that had been your team would you want to have lost that way?  

Would you not be infuriated that some officials had that much influence on the outcome of a game?  

Ultimately, the Cards should have just taken care of business. They were up 12 in the second half, and let the Mountaineers creep back into it.  

Between the L’ville game and the 500 fouls that were called in the Vandy vs UK game, I’ve become quite frustrated with college hoops officials.  

It was yet another game where both teams were called for nearly 30 fouls, which made the game unbearable to watch.  

Also, apparently one of the officials for that game, took the time to introduce himself to Lebron James during a TV timeout. I can’t  

It's no secret that Lebron and Cal know each other and are friends. James talked and met all the UK players. What a recruiting tool!

 think of something more tacky or unprofessional. These guys have access to him after the game and you know James was going to stick around, so do it then instead of during the game.  

Hopefully a fine or suspension is in order for these officials.  

  • Game of the weekend:

This one was hard to choose. In fact, waaaay too hard.  

  • GAMES of the weekend:

Just picking one game was too much pressure. In no particular order:  

L’ville vs WVa  

This game featured a great comeback by the Mountaineers, followed by last second drama/controversy. Anything else needed?  

Duke vs Georgetown  

This game was great because it, yet again, exposed how overrated Duke is. Get them out of home sweet home, and they are not a top-15 teams. The Hoyas rolled all game.  

Florida vs Tennessee  

The last three possessions had everyone sitting on the edge of their seat. However, Gus Johnson was doing the play-by-play, we were all jumping out of seats. I tweeted it earlier during the game, but I challenge anyone to find a better TV play-by-play guy that is better than Gus Johnson.  

Florida almost stole one on the road, but Tennessee got a great win. If the Vols hit threes against the Cats, Big Blue might have a hard time with them. Also, this is probably one of the most athletic teams UK will play in the regular season.  

Hornets vs Grizzlies  

I realize none of you probably watched this. I’ve got NBA League Pass broadband, so I get to watch almost NBA game I want. Since I’m a Hornets fan and love watching Rudy Gay play, you better believe I was tuned in.  

The game went into OT and the Hornets won thanks to a well-balanced scoring attack. Rookie Darren Collison filled in for an injured Chris Paul (we’ll get back to that later) and broke CP3’s rookie record with 18 assists. He also got the steal and dunk that sealed the game for the Bees.  

Rondo had 21 points and 12 assists and lived up to his All-Star tag. Bryant's 19 wasn't too impressive, but he was clutch.

Lakers vs Celtics  

The two biggest dynasties in the NBA squared-off in Boston. This game didn’t disappoint.  

Although most will say Rajon Rondo was the best performer of the game, I have a hard time not choosing Kobe Bryant.  

He only had 19, but they were some of the toughest 19 points I’ve seen recently. His fade away jumper for the win was next to impossible, yet most probably expected him to make it.  

Kansas vs Kansas St  

Can we all agree that the both of these teams have some home court advantage? Phogg Allen Fieldhouse and the “Octogon of Doom” are some of the best atmospheres in college basketball, especially this year.  

This game also went into overtime and featured good basketball, for the most part. I’m still not sure why KSU elected not to foul on KU’s last possession, but I won’t let that get in the way of realizing that this was a great game.  

With this win, Kansas will claim the No.1 spot in college basketball, and rightfully so. The Jayhawks have some of the best talent in the country. When you combine that with great coaching and experience, I still think they are the best team in the nation. Anything can happen during March Madness, but I have the Jayhawks penciled-in for the winner.  

  • Biggest injury news

Colts DE Dwight Freeney questionable for Super Bowl.  

It’s being described as a third-degree sprain, which is a tear of a ligament, medically speaking.  

Aside from Peyton Manning, there could not be a bigger injury for the Colts. Indianapolis must get to Drew Brees in hopes of containing him. Freeney is one of the best in the business at doing just that.  

Chris Paul out 1-2 months. Will undergo knee surgery.  

A huge hit for the Hornets. The All-Star guard was injured during the recent loss to the Chicago Bulls while trying to chase down an inbounds pass at the end of the game.  

I guess rookie point guard Darren Collison will get some experience, whether he’s ready for it or not.  

  •  Finally, it’s over…let’s move on

I’d be lying if I said I knew when the Winter X games were over, but they will be under this category when they are finished. Aside from the Spelling Bee that ESPN airs, I can’t think of anything I’m more uniterested in that gets so much air time.  

The Pro Bowl  

Thank goodness this is over. I’m tired of hearing about it…everything about it! This game is useless and just another way for the NFL to make money.  

I couldn’t help but laugh when the NFL was so arrogant earlier in the week when they forced players from the Saints and Colts to at least attend the Pro Bowl. Obviously none of these players were going to play in this game.  

But what was the NFL going to do if they didn’t show up? Suspend them for the Super Bowl? There’s no way the NFL would suspend Peyton Manning or Drew Brees from the Super Bowl.  

Ratings would plummet and they’d get robbed of millions. Personally, I wanted them to skip it so they could stick it to the NFL. Get off your high horse, NFL, you’re nothing without the players or the fans. They’re the ones who have the real power.  

  • Looking forward

Both college basketball being televised Tuesday on ESPN should be dandies. Hopefully Ole Miss doesn’t come out flat after just one day of rest (their game against Arkansas was pushed back a day because of the snow). I’m also looking forward to Wisconsin vs. Michigan State.  

Also looking forward to Miss St vs Vandy on Wednesday. That game is Wednesday at 8 p.m.  

Thursday features a matchup in the NBA  between two of its biggest stars: Wade vs James; Heat vs Cavaliers. I’m pretty excited to watch this one. Both these players have me glued to the TV each time they play. That game is at 8 p.m. on TNT.  

There are too many games this weekend to name, but I’ll name the obvious one: the Super Bowl.  

It should be a great week in sports. I know I wouldn’t mind being snowed-in again!

Posted by: rubezing | January 27, 2010

8 Hours of Bliss

I thought I might share some random thoughts after spending 8 hours in front of the TV on a cold, rainy Sunday afternoon-evening.  The AFC and NFC Championship games were a football fan’s dream.  Were they fun to watch? You Betcha!

Has anyone seen Reggie Bush?

At the end of the movie, Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind, the mother space ship lands, opens a large ramp, and humans who had been abducted over decades disembark.  There are two scientists in white lab coats who notice that these people haven’t aged a day, even after they had disappeared many years earlier.  Einstein’s theory of general relativity claims that the closer to the speed of light, the slower time progresses, until it stops altogether.

One white lab coat says to the other,”Einstein was right!”  The other white lab coat replies, “Einstein was probably one of them!” (The Aliens)

Peyton Manning is an ALIEN.

You can't name many athletes that are as good in commercials as they are on the playing field. Again, an alien!

Payton Manning isn’t an alien because of his arm; although a 26/39, 377 yard, 3 TD, and 0 Int day would qualify as out-of-this-world.  It’s his brain.  Coaches spend hours studying film to put together a game plan.  Then coaches spend days to teach the game plan to the players.  Manning sat by himself on the side lines during the 1st half studying pictures of the Jets defense, talked to his offensive line, then his Offensive Coordinator, and went out and had a 4 play, 80 yard touchdown drive in 58 seconds.

Peyton had changed the game plan in the middle of the 2nd quarter.  No waiting for half-time to get everyone on the same page, he did it on the fly.  The Jets were taking away Clark and Wayne?  Manning went to Garcon and Collie!  Harris had sacked Manning twice?  Manning made the line adjustments and the Jets didn’t have another sack.

No more dink and dunk.  The Colts went to the big play.  How Manning has the ability to take grainy black-and-white photos from the sidelines to the end-zone is not of this planet.  How Manning can look at a defense’s alignment and see the play before it happens is what makes him an Alien.

Really. Has anyone seen Reggie Bush? I need to talk to him.

Did someone grease the footballs for the Viking-Saints game?  The Saints had 3 fumbles and lost one.  The Vikings had 6 fumbles and lost 3.  9 fumbles!  I thought I had gone to the “Catch the Greased Pig” contest at the county fair.  I don’t remember a clean catch by the receivers, either.  They were bobbling the ball seemingly every time.  I can only hope that they don’t ship these balls to the Super Bowl.

One quick note to the Saints; “FALL ON THE BALL”!  Geez, you would think these guys would have learned that in their Pop Warner years.

Fox showed a close-up of Bret Farve’s face early in the 4th quarter and Joe Buck said, “Brett Favre is still smiling!”  I hate to tell you Bucky-Boy, but that wasn’t a smile, that was a GRIMACE!  The man was in pain!  Favre had been knocked down 15 times and none of them had been light hits.

None of the hits were in the “Ouch, that will leave a mark” variety.  He was getting murdered out there.  He was assisted off the field one minute and returned to the field for the next series after taping up an ankle.  He would limp to the huddle and then throw the ball into a nine-inch square down the field to the only point that a reception could be made.  No one can question Favre’s courage and his willingness to play with pain.

I’m starting to get worried, I can’t find Reggie Bush.

Great form by Coach Smith of the Falcons. Full extension and concentration.

The NFL resisted the instant replay for years.  It would take too long to review calls on the field.  The referee’s would lose the respect of players and coaches if their rulings were overturned by a review.  No one wanted a game to be determined by a bad call on the field, but mistakes are only human after all.

I am glad the NFL relented and I like the system they use today.  The red flag system is great.  I like the risk-reward system with the time outs.  That is fair to both teams.

I don’t like the booth-review-only rule for overtime.  In the Vikings-Saints overtime there were 4 booth reviews during the first 9 plays.  Talk about slowing down the game.  It was a crawl.  Give each coach one challenge for the overtime and call it a day.

On a completely different note, I wish the NFL would keep stats on how often the announcers get the replay right.  I think Troy Aikman finished the year with about a 20% success rate.  In the Packers-Cowboys game he didn’t get one right that I can remember.  That’s something Troy might want to work on in the off-season.

Okay, I can’t find Reggie.

I last saw him when he fumbled the ball in the 2nd quarter of the Saints-Viking game.  DomiNate asked The Water Cooler Gang to predict the Super Bowl and I have the Saints over the Colts 31-21.

At this point, I’m the only one who has both of my picks in the Super Bowl.  TBudd and Nate have picked the Colts to win and Nate has promised me tickets to the big game if I win.  (Come to think of it, he didn’t say which big game)

All I know is if the Colts play at the very top of their ability and if the Saints play at the very top of their ability, the Colts will win 2 out of 3 games.  In order for the Saints to win I need them to play well and win the turnover battle.

After having his best game of the year against Arizona, Bush had 7 carries for 8 yards and 1 fumble, 2 receptions for 33 yards (One was for 28 yards), and 1 punt return for 0 yards, in the Vikings game. If Bush has that kind of day in Miami at the Super Bowl, I won’t be getting any tickets.

If any of you see Reggie Bush, tell him that I need for him to show up big in the Super Bowl.  Please.

Posted by: Nate Fain | January 27, 2010

Cats get Cocky, take first loss of season

Much like Rick Pitino did at Kentucky in 1993, coach John Calipari wanted to see how his young team would respond in their next game after being voted the top-ranked team in college basketball.

Much like 1993, the Cats went into an SEC opponent’s gym, but their game seemed to be back in Lexington and their heads were held a bit too high.

Muck like 1993, the Cats lost in a stunner, this time it was 68-62.

In ’93, it was the Vanderbilt Commodores, led by Bill McCaffrey’s 22, that knocked Big Blue off their perch. Eddie Fogler was the coach at the time. Yes, the same Eddie Fogler that coached South Carolina later in his career.

This year, it was South Carolina, led by Devan Downey, who scored 30 points or more for the second game in a row.

Sound familiar? It should.

Downey scored 23 and 21 last year in two wins by South Carolina. He owns the Cats.

The 5’9″ guard didn’t shoot particularly well, but continually got his shot off, which was enough to send the Cats home with a blemish on their previously perfect record.

UK was led by their freshman class, especially DeMarcus Cousins, who had 27 points and 12 rebounds in the losing effort. Patrick Patterson, one of UK’s most steady players, only had four shot attempts and did not look himself when crashing the boards.

“[Patterson] needs to be more agressive,” UK coach John Calipari said in his post game interview with Tom Leach. “This is a great lesson for us, we’re a young team.”

If you look at the box score, it’s easy to see how Cats lost. They got beat in numerous statistical categories: field goal attempts, three-pointers and free throws attempted and made, offensive rebounds and rebounds, steals, blocks, turnovers and fouls.

With Tuesday's loss, the Cats are 5-3 since South Carolina opened their new stadium in 2002.

One of the stats you can’t find in the box score is second chance points, which the Gamecocks dominated, 22-9, including 17 in the second half. The other is missed opportunities, which the Cats had plenty.

“They out-worked us,” said Calipari. “I can’t begin to tell you how many lay-ups we missed.”

Much like 1993, the home crowd was rockin’ as they could feel the upset.  

Much like 1993, the Cats will rebound and continue to win games.

The team in 1993? They made it all the way to the Final Four.

UK fans will find much to like about that!

Posted by: Nate Fain | January 25, 2010

New college basketball rankings out

After a trip to the NIT last year, Kentucky is now the unanimous No. 1 team in the nation in both AP and USA Today/ESPN polls.

Missing from the list? North Carolina, for the first time since January of 2006.

Speaking of the almighty ACC, where are they? The ACC trails only the Pac-10 in the category of “worst major basketball conferences of 2010.”

The ACC only boasts two teams in the AP top 25: Duke at No. 8 and Ga Tech at No. 22. ESPN, however, continues their obsession with the conference by keeping Clemson in the top 25 at No. 21.

Here’s the breakdown for the “BCS/major conferences” (AP poll only):

1. Big East- 6 teams: #3 Villanova, #4 Syracuse, #7 Georgetown, #9 West Virginia, #17 Pittsburgh, #19 UConn

The Big East has some great teams and is probably the best basketball conference this year. Although, how hard is that when they have 16 teams in the conference???

I’m not buying into WVA, I think they’re a little overrated. I’m still unsure of Pitt, but I think they could be a great sleeper pick for an Elite 8 run this year. Keep tabs on UConn to see how they function without Calhoun’s hands on the wheel. Aside from his championship team in 2003, this year has to be Jim Boeheim’s best coaching job yet!

2. SEC – 4 teams: #1 Kentucky, #14 Tennessee, #18 Mississippi, #21 Vanderbilt

There is more than one conference with four teams in the top 25. Whichever conference had the highest-rated team was going to be listed next.

I think Tennessee will continually fall down the polls. They will probably be gone within the next two weeks. It’s hard to keep winning conference games with such a depleted line up.

Vandy will also be gone once mid-February is upon us. I like UK and Ole Miss to stay. The Rebels are the real deal. I know I wouldn’t want to play them in March!

Team to watch: Mississippi State. They were #23 last week and received 42 votes this week, but I think they will crack the top-25 again at about the same time Vandy and/or Tennessee falls out.

2. Big 12- 4 teams: #2 Kansas, #6 Texas, #11 Kansas State, #24 Baylor

Second best conference in the nation.

Kansas is definitely the best team in the conference, possibly in the nation. Texas, as usual, has some of the best talent, but I don’t see them making the Final Four in March.

Kansas State looks like a solid, but inexperienced team that might not know how to deal with their recent success. They’re the team I’m watching the most since I can’t quite figure them out.

I’d be lying if I said I had any knowledge whatsoever of Baylor basketball, so I won’t go there.

Call me a homer, but I think Travis Ford could lead his team to the top-25 for a week or two before the year is done.

2. Big 10- 4 teams: #5 Mich State, #10 Purdue, #16 Wisconsin, #20 Ohio State

These teams, besides maybe Minnesota and Michigan (if Manny Harris is playing) are the only good teams in the Big 10.

I’m not a huge fan of Purdue, I’ve said this from the first pre-season poll. Considered them Snuggied.

Michigan State will be tough in March, as usual, but will fly under the radar all season long.

Turner has missed six games this year due to injury, but has averaged 18.6 points and 9.8 rebounds in the games he has played.

My favorite team in the Big 10 is Ohio State with a healthy Evan Turner. He is the most underrated and under-hyped player in America. Look out for this guy and the Buckeyes.

5. ACC- two teams: #8 Duke, #22 Georgia Tech

I’m not buying Duke. They may have a decent record come March, but they will not contend for the title. Also, they only have ONE road win thus far.

Georgia Tech and Wake Forrest are both underachieving in my opinion, as is UNC at this point. All of those teams have way too much talent to be losing this much.

Hard to play the inexperience card when teams like Kentucky and Syracuse are atop the charts. However, I think Roy will have his Heels ready to play come March. They won’t make the trip to Indy, but they will be a scary 3-6 seed. I know I don’t want to play them!

For the record: the Pac-10 has ZERO teams in the AP top 25. California was the closest to cracking the list with a whopping two votes.

So there you have it! Agree or disagree with my assessments? Let me know by commenting below!

Posted by: Nate Fain | January 24, 2010

Super Bowl picks from the “experts”

After Sunday night, we will know who will make the trip to the 3-0-5 to play for the Lombardi trophy.

Time for some picks!

DawsonJ: Vikings over the Colts in “the greatest Super Bowl ever.” After this game, Favre retires once and for all. The only time the American public ever sees him is on NFL films or the occasional Wrangler Jeans commercial.

TBudd: Colts over the Vikings. Reason: “I don’t know why…I picked Chargers and Cowboys earlier.”

(For the record: when the playoffs started, I had the Chargers and Saints!)

Rubezing: After a large debate with himself, Rubezing sort of solidified his Super Bowl pick! Saints 31…Colts 21.

Whether he’s wrong or right, you have to give him credit for giving a score prediction! Now that takes some guts!

Here’s Rubezing’s analysis:

These were tough to pick. The Saints, Colts, and Vikings will all live or die by THE BIG PLAY.  The Jets will hope to live by avoiding the big play. The one pick that’s the toughest is how the Vikings defense will play.  I think they will be the defense that didn’t play as well on the road as they played at home. Peyton seemed a little rusty last week with the lay-off, but his receivers timing should be better the next 2 games. Momentum is so important to both Favre and Brees.  The Colts, Saints, and Vikings offenses are very capable of 4-6 scores per game. Will they be TD’s or FG’s?

See what I mean? These are tough!  Anyway,  GO SAINTS!

Couldn’t have said it better myself, Rubezing!

TGoble: Our fantasy sports/NFL mock draft writer has our first huge upset for a pick. Direct quote from the picker himself:

Call me Boomer! Gimme the J-E-T-S to take the Vikings!

The Jets certainly do have one of the best defenses out of any of these teams. Thanks for the pick, TGoble.

Nate Fain: Finally, yours truly. I’ve made it known that I’m a Saints fan. However, I just don’t think they have what it takes to deny Brett Favre and Jared Allen. Look for Allen to bother Brees from the beginning, and Favre to seal the game with at least three TD’s against an inconsistent Saints secondary. Hope the Saints prove me wrong, though!

As for the AFC, I’ll take the Colts. There’s no way Peyton will take it easy on the Jets. He may throw a pick or two, but he will also throw for at least three TD’s. Also, look for the Colts D to step up like a Super Bowl winner should. Colts win by at least 14.

Final matchup: Vikings vs. Colts. Two of the premier quarterbacks of my lifetime. I like the Colts in this one, and for Favre to retire and unretire at least twice before summer camps.

So what do you think?

Will the Saints come marching down Bourbon Street with a trophy?

Maybe Favre has one more trick up his sleeve.

Perhaps you like a rookie quarterback and coach to win the Super Bowl…

Or do you like Manning and the Colts to take care of business like they did in 2006?

Let us know what you think by commenting below.

Also, you may vote in our poll below. Thanks for playing!


Posted by: rubezing | January 18, 2010

Giddy-Up and…Whoa IV

Bush finally looked like the player that the Saints thought they were getting when they used their second overall pick to move him to The Big Easy.

Giddy-Up. 

The New Orleans Saints beat the Arizona Cardinals 45-14.  The Saints had rested players the last 2 games after a disappointing loss to Dallas ended their attempt at a perfect season. 

It appears that a well-rested Reggie Bush and Jeremy Shockey isn’t a good thing. It’s a great thing!  Drew Brees threw 3 TD’s.  Reggie Bush had a 46 yard TD run and a 83 yard TD on a punt return.  The Saint’s defense did a great job of bend-but-don’t-break while forcing two turnovers.  

The Saints will host the NFC Championship Game for the first time in franchise history.           

Whoa.  The Cardinals give up 45 points to the Green Bay Packers in their 1st round game and 45 points to the Saints in the 2nd round game. Which is more amazing?  The Cards give up 90 points in two games, or that the Cards go 1-1 in the play-offs while giving up 90 points?           

Giddy-Up.  The Indianapolis Colts beat the Baltimore Ravens 20-3.  Indianapolis has won eight straight games against Baltimore, the city the Colts used to call home. The game might have been closer if the 2nd quarter had ended three minutes early.  The Colts scored two TD’s in the last two minutes to end the half with a 17-3 lead, and never looked back.  Indianapolis will host the AFC Championship Game for the first time in three years.             

Whoa.  For years, the Ravens have fielded one of the best defenses in all of football.  Why they cannot put together a balanced offense is beyond me.  Even during the year they won the Super Bowl, the big question mark was the offense.  Until the front office can figure that out, the Ravens will always be the bride’s maid, not the bride.             

Giddy-Up.  The Minnesota Vikings beat the Dallas Cowboys 34-3. Brett Favre had 234 passing yards and 4 TD’s. Sidney Rice had 6 receptions for 141 yards and 3 TD’s.  The Viking defense dominated the Cowboys, sacking Tony Romo 6 times.  The Vikings finish the year undefeated at home and will play the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship Game.      

Whoa.  Jerry Jones did not have a happy look on his face as he paced the sidelines at the end of the game.  This usually does not bode well for anyone employed by the Cowboys.  Or could it be the last TD the Vikings scored on 4th and 2 after the two-minute warning?  Was it poor sportsmanship on the Vikings or just part of the game in the NFL?  I’ll let you decide.      

Giddy-Up.  The New York Jets beat the San Diego Chargers,17-14, in the best game of the weekend.  The Chargers had more 1st downs, 18-14, and more total yards of offense, 344-262, than the Jets. 

The most telling stat?  The Chargers had a total of 19 yards of offense in the 2nd half with 7 minutes left in the contest.  The Jets defense was that dominate.  

That gave the Jets offense the opportunity to score 2 TD’s in the 4th quarter, one a Sanchez pass to Keller, the other a game winning 53 yard run by Shonn Greene.  The New York Jets will play the Colts in the AFC Championship Game.       

You might remember Nate Kaeding missing a field goal in a playoff game against the Jets in 2005. This one was a 40-yarder in OT.

 Whoa.  Once again, the Chargers play better football in December than in January.   I can’t explain it, and I’m sure you Charger fans can’t either.  

The Chargers have had great football teams the last few seasons. Maybe next year will be the year.  It is only fair to point out that this is the 1st time that a Norv Turner lead team has lost a playoff game when they were the favored team, and the usually dependable Nate Kaeding missed 3 field goals.        

  Giddy-Up.  On November 2. I made several predictions on the rest of the college football season.  I hit on 1) Alabama would beat Florida in the SEC Championship Game, 2) Alabama would win the National Championship, and 3) Mark Ingram would win the Heisman Trophy.  I also said we will never see a national play-off for NCAA football. For the sake of argument, we’ll call that a tie.   

Whoa.  The predictions I missed? Texas would lose to Nebraska and Tennessee would lose to Kentucky.  I came very close on the Texas game, Nebraska’s defense was outstanding.  As for the Kentucky game, I would have gladly been wrong on all my predictions to change the outcome of this game.  It still has me a little miffed!    

 
 Giddy-Up.  UK Coach John Calipari and WLKY-TV and Radio hosted a “Hoops for Haiti” fundraiser this past Sunday afternoon.  This was a brainchild of Coach’s on Friday morning, and by Sunday evening they had raised over $1 million to help the American Red Cross’ relief efforts in this devastated country. 
Kentuckians and, for that matter, all Americans are always willing to open our hearts and our wallets to help those in need.  Thank you, John Calipari, the UK athletic department, players, volunteers, WLKY-TV and Radio and to each and every one of you who helped make this a success. By the way, there’s no Whoa on this one, it’s all Giddy-Up!
Posted by: Nate Fain | January 16, 2010

Tiger’s Ryder Cup bid in question?

Despite his dominance in every other event, Tiger doesn't have the best Ryder Cup record. This year's Cup will be played October 1-3 in Wales.

Here’s an article about Tiger’s chances of making the Ryder Cup squad.

The part that caught my attention and made me laugh was when the team captain, Corey Pavin even hinted that he might leave Woods off the team.

Then again, Pavin is allowed four captain’s picks. Does he leave out the world’s No. 1 player?

“A lot of it depends on his level of play,” Pavin said. “I’m going to treat Tiger like any other player. If he’s playing poorly, or he’s not playing at all or comes back late, I’d have to think about it.”

Pavin isn’t kidding me. Even if Tiger hasn’t returned to competition by the time he has to make his captain’s picks, does he really expect me to believe he won’t send an invitation Tiger’s way?

Even if he hasn’t played a competitive tournament all year, Tiger will still probably be the best player on the globe. His return from knee surgery proves that he doesn’t miss much despite missing a lot of time.

In his first stroke play event since his knee surgery, Tiger earned a top-10 in a tough field at the 2009 WGC-CA Championship.

Tiger will get an invite regardless of whether he’s played in competition or not. Let him decide whether he wants to play in it or not.

Woods may prove me wrong, but I can’t see him sitting out for any majors.

Also, it’s been a month since there were reports that Woods and Elin were getting a divorce. They sure are taking their time if they choose to split…

He may not make a great husband, but he will at least get an invitation to make the Ryder Cup team.

Posted by: Nate Fain | January 16, 2010

Today in sports

Arenas on his way to court. This one wasn't made of hardwood!

Gilbert Arenas pleads guilty to felony gun possession.

He is supposed to be sentenced March 26th.

This article does a great job of telling the story.

Derek Dooley hired as Tennessee football coach.  

Some argue that Mitch Barnhart panicked in 2007 after Billy Donovan and Rick Barnes rejected his offer to become UK’s next coach after Tubby Smith left. The result: Billy Gillispie.

To say that Mike Hamilton (UT AD) panicked after Lane Kiffin left is an understatement. Dooley is 17-20 as a head coach. Less than impressive, especially by UT’s standards.

Dooley may be a young coach with a lot of potential, but that’s not what Tennesee needs or wants.

His contract is reportedly for five years. I give him two…

Cheers, Phillip Fulmer!

Southern Indiana basketball player may have died from a heart condition.

There are still some tests to be done, but it looks as if the cause of his death may have been due to an enlarged heart.

It sounds like Lewis will really be missed.

—Quick shout out to Natalie Novosel, who plays basketball for Notre Dame.

You might remember her from her days at Lexington Catholic. 

Today will be the first ever ESPN College Gameday that features a match-up of two women’s teams. Novosel’s Fighting Irish will take on the UConn Huskies. Both teams are undefeated.

Congrats and good luck to Novosel!  

On this date in…

1974- Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford are elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Again, no steroids.

1988- The St. Louis Cardinals of the NFL announce their move to Phoenix.

Happy Birthday to…

Dizzy Dean- MLB player (1910)

Roy Jones Jr.- Boxer (1969) from Pensacola, Fla.

Albert Pujols- current first basemen for St. Louis Cardinals (1980)

Joe Flacco- current QB of Baltimore Ravens (1985)…wonder what he wants for his birthday???

I hope everyone enjoys this weekend of sports!

Posted by: rubezing | January 15, 2010

Rich Maris has it Right

It was during the summer of 1961 that I discovered baseball.  Oh, I was aware of baseball, as any of us who has sat on the livingroom couch as Dad watched a baseball game on TV, but it was the first year that I would purposely turn on the TV and watch baseball with no one else in the room. Sure, I would throw the ball around the back yard with my brothers, but as a nine-year-old boy it wasn’t until I truly watched it on TV that it became more than a backyard game.       

In the summer of 1961 the only games on TV was the CBS Game of the Week on Saturday afternoons.  Until the NFL season began in September, we would get a Sunday game as well.   

The number one broadcast team was Dizzy Dean and Pewee Reese.  The back-up team was Jack Whitaker and Frankie Frisch.   I wasn’t aware at this young age that the NY Yankees were the most loved and the most hated team in all of baseball, I just knew that I wanted to become a pitcher in little league and I loved Whitey Ford.   

Ford went 25-4 that year with a 3.21 ERA and three shutouts, and this was his 12th season of his major league career.  He had 39 starts and 11….ELEVEN….complete games.  I became a Yankee Fan.     

As happens so often in life, I watched the games for one thing and found myself in the middle of something more special than I would ever imagine.   

Schweet Swing!

  

  1961 was the year that Roger Maris hit 61 home runs to break Babe Ruth’s record.  Most of the season, Maris and his teammate Mickey Mantle battled  for the home run title.  Mantle, then Maris, then Mantle, then Maris would have the lead.  Both were on a pace to break the record and they were on the same team!      

 It was McGwire vs Sosa without having to watch two games to see who was ahead. I started the season periodically checking Ford’s stats in the newspaper and finished the season checking Maris and Mantle’s stats daily.  I watched every game my Mom would let me watch when it was on TV. (With four kids in the house, Mom’s favorite saying was “Go Outside And Play!”)  Mantle had an allergic reaction to a cortisone shot in his bad knees and had to drop out of the race in September.       

I watched Roger Maris hit home runs 58, 60, and on the last day of the baseball season, number 61.  He had broken Babe Ruth’s record.  The Record that no one thought could be broken.  A record that “The Babe” had set in 1927.      

I had read and heard Dizzy and Pewee refer to the fact that a lot of Yankee fans weren’t happy that Maris was chasing the record.  I couldn’t understand why.  How can Yankee fans be mad that Roger Maris, one of their own, has the chance to break Ruth’s record?   

I can remember watching games where Mantle would get standing ovations for a home run and Maris would get applause, not as loud or as long, for his home runs.  I was young and could not understand it at the time.      

Mantle had been a Yankee his entire career.  The “true” Yankee fans wanted Mantle to be the one to break Ruth’s record.  Maris, who had played for Cleveland and Kansas City before he was traded to the Yankees, wasn’t a “true” Yankee.  As if this thinking wasn’t petty enough, Maris had hit his 61 home runs in 162 games, while Ruth hit his 60 in 154 games.  How can this be a record when Maris had played eight more games than Ruth?   

To add insult to injury, the Commissioner of Baseball, Ford C. Frick, agreed with this convoluted thinking and decided that the only logical thing to do was place an * in the record books by Maris’s 61 home runs.   

No one cared that Frick was a former ghost writer for Ruth and had more than a passing interest in Ruth keeping the record.  The only way for justice to be served was to diminish Maris’s record.  That would allow Ruth to continue to be the greatest home run hitter in history.  

Maris’s comments at that time were commendable.  He claimed that baseball is a team sport, that it was more important that the team won 109 games that year and beat the Cincinnati Reds 4-1 in the World Series.  Although he had received hate mail and death threats during the 1961 season, Maris never complained.   

  Only at the 1980 All-Star game did we get a glimpse of the pain he felt when he admitted, “They acted as though I was doing something wrong, poisoning the record books or something. Do you know what I have to show for 61 home runs? Nothing, exactly nothing.”   

Maris, Berra and Mantle.

  

It was 1985 before the Yankees retired his number 9 at the old-timers game.  Baseball didn’t have to remove the *, it is an urban legend started by New York sportswriters, but the official record did show the 8 game difference for many years.   

There has been a lot of talk about a return to the infamous * the last week, after Mark McGwire admitted to steroid use during his 70 home run record year. 

 When asked about McGwire’s admission Rich Maris, Roger’s Son, praised McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds for their home run records. But then he said, ” Obviously, I think my Dad still holds the record.”  

Roger Maris said during the 1961 season, “I’m not trying to be Babe Ruth, I’m trying to hit 61 home runs and be Roger Maris.”   

With Major League Baseball struggling  how to address the steroid era, the nine-year-old boy in me wants to say to Number Nine, “Being Roger Maris was just fine and your son, Rich, has it right”.

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