Friday, July 27, 2007

TSE ArenaBowl Preview - San Jose vs. Columbus

It all comes down to this.

ArenaBowl XXI will begin in just about 48 hours from posting and will pair two teams with one another that, given the AFL playoff landscape four weeks ago, shouldn't have had anything to do with one another. The first team, the mighty San Jose SaberCats, advanced to the league's championship with little in the way of opposition. The 63-49 beating of Chicago in the conference finals two weeks ago was just another of their impressive 12-game winning streak heading into Sunday's contest. They are led by Mark Grieb, the veteran ball thrower who has thrown for over 4000 yards and is one TD shy of 100 for the season. Wowzers. One would think that San Jose's dominance over the last two thirds of their AFL season would all but wrap up an AFL title for the SaberCats. But there are three opponents in the National Conference who would beg to differ.

Tampa Bay. Dallas. Georgia.

All three teams were decided favorites in their AFL playoff games. And each succumbed to a confident, underrated and downright awe inspiring underdog from the capital city of Ohio. For three straight weeks, the Columbus Destroyers did what no one thought possible; beating the overdogs and advancing to ArenaBowl XXI. They've looked better and better in their three wins this postseason, much more so than during their five-game losing streak which was snapped in the season's final week, securing Columbus their spot in the playoffs and sparking this remarkable run.

The major story of this game is between two very different veteran QBs. Grieb has been leading the 'Cats for nine years. Elements of his receiving corps has been intact for longer than Columbus has been in the league. Grieb's been around in this league, winning championships in 2002 and 2004. The nucleus of the SaberCats hasn't changed much since he began throwing passes for San Jose and it's that stability and experience in mind that San Jose will put it's hopes in the 33 year old QB.

And then there's Nagy. He has led the Destroyers through these playoffs with ease and grace, doing much more than anyone asked or ever expected of him. He has WR Damien Groce to thank for some of his success but most can be attributed to Nagy's growth as a QB. He was sandbagged in Georgia for ineptness late in games and that cost him the starters job there. With Columbus, he's hit his stride and looks poised, both on and off the field to lead his team.

So who wins? San Jose is (again) the better team on paper. Defensively and offensively, they outmatch the Destroyers. San Jose is still riding an impressive 12-game winning streak and has played each game tougher than the next. This is a talented team that looks more than good enough to bring San Jose a third title in six years.

But I'm keeping my faith in the Destroyers. Like the Cardinals in the World Series last year, even great teams can fall victim to good teams in their stride. Columbus is in just that. And if there's one team that can break Ohio out of it's recent sports funk (OSU football, OSU basketball, Cleveland Cavs basketball, Cincinnati Bengals arrest records) it's the Destroyers.

Final Score: Destroyers win 56-49.

The Morning After on TSE - 7.27.2007

Before you know it, the Big-10 may need a new name. Not because there are eleven teams in the league right now, but because The league's commissioner of the conference says it may be time to add another team to the mix in order to boost the viewership for the new flagship station of the conference: The Big-10 Network. Adding a team to the current Big 10 would bring the total to 12 teams. And that means playoff, something that not only gets rid of recent situations where there have been co-champions in the Big-10 (2000, 2002, 2004 and 2005) but also would be quite lucrative for the upstart new network.

"I think we need to look at it in the next year," [Big-10 Commissioner Jim
Delany] told the Des Moines Register on Wednesday. He offered no specific
candidates. "The broader (the network) is distributed, the more value
(expansion) has. We have eight states. With expansion, you could have nine," he
The story continues here.

So who could come into the league as a result of this change? There are several options but each has their individual flaw. Here, in contender order, are my top-3.

1. Notre Dame
Pros: Notre Dame's tradition, fanbase and the fact that they typically line up against two or more Big-10 teams each year wouldn't all make sense for the school to join the league. Surely there would be benefits for each party - the Big-10 could claim another national powerhouse to their conference and ND would be able to capitalize on their status of being associated with a conference instead of as an independent. The parties were close in 1999 to joining up, maybe this time it actually happens

Cons: Money. ND has their own television contract, clothing license and auto-ticket into the BCS if they get 9 wins. A move to the Big-10 would only hurt the school in that regard.

2. Pittsburgh
Pros: Geographically, the move makes sense. Pitt is the team furthest to the West in their league, the Big East. The Panthers have some of the nicest home facilities in the country (Heinz Field for football, the Petersen Events Center for basketball, and the move would also help facilitate the natural rivalry with Penn State.

Cons: The move would have to be football only, and I doubt Pitt would want to do that. Over the last 10 years, Pitt has become a mainstay on the basketball scene, winning the Big East basketball tournament in 2003 as well as winning three straight Big East regular season crowns. For a state (and a region) obsessed with football, Pitt is transforming into a basketball school and their interests are better served acquiescing to the round ball.

3. Missouri
Pros: If the Big-10 is looking to get into a new state, Delany's primary goal, then Mizzou is probably the best choice. They are a good draw in the area and have strong basketball and football programs that would only help the Big 10 expand into the new area. Leaving the Big-12 would allow that league to absorb TCU, the college that was left out of the equation when the Big-12 formed. It's a win-win for everyone...

Cons: ...Except the Big-10. Right now, Mizzou is a second-tier team in the Big-12 in football and basketball. Does the Big-10 really need to add another also-ran to their ranks?

Rounding out the top-6 are Syracuse (Pros: good location; Cons: shitty football team, too close of ties to the Big East); Iowa State (Pros: good rivalry with Iowa; Cons: see Mizzou list of cons); Northern Michigan (Pros: ...; Cons: close to Canada, will soon be covered locally by JTBI).

Thursday, July 26, 2007

What's eating Baby Dustin?

In the interest of equal time, I really couldn't figure out Dustin Pedroia's behavior last night...

Maybe someone stole his bib and sippy cup.

Dustin, please calm down; if you start yelling at pitchers whenever they come in high and tight or scream at the umpire every time a nasty two-strike curveball catches you looking, you may earn the nickname "Ivan Rodriguez." Just trying to help, dude. more...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Morning After on TSE - 7.25.2007

I didn't get a chance to comment on the return of Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester yesterday, which seems like the first feel good story in sports in a long time, but by now we all know the rub: Last year when the injury bug bit pretty much every player on Boston's lineup (Ortiz: knee; Beckett: arm; Manny: brain (probably)) it was reported that rookie pitcher (7-3 at the time, to boot) was also going on the DL. I saw this as just another in a series of miserable luck for the Sox. But then I heard why he was going on the DL.

He had cancer.

Baseball players break wrists, get hit in the head, pull ligaments. These things go away after a season and very rarely mean anything more than a missed season. In the worst cases, maybe a career is over. But Jon Lester was forced to miss his season in an attempt to save his life, undergoing several sessions of chemotherapy to fight anaplastic large cell lymphoma.

Two nights ago, when Boston needing a win from Lester in the worst way, they got just that, as the 23-year old cancer survivor beat the best home team in baseball in their backyard. It was emotional, it was triumphant and it was finally some good news that the sports world was deeply in need of.

The top stories in sports are about dogfights and indictments, gambling and the mafia, steroids and pettiness. And here comes this kid from Puyallup, Washington, a cancer survivor who has had to go through more to get on a Major League pitcher's mound than most players twice his age. Forget the fact that the Sox are winning the East, have one of the best bullpens in baseball and finally have a strong southpaw in their rotation. The game wasn't about any of it. It was about the return of player who was struck with a lifetime's worth of bad luck, all before the age of 25.

The sports world has clamoured over this story for the past 36 hours and rightfully so. It is an inspiration to sports fans and cancer patients alike. But that doesn't mean that some sportscasters (and I use the term very loosely) have not embraced the story the way the crowd has. Bruce Drennan is a Cleveland-area television host, former Indians color analyst, co-worker of The Seaward at STC and prisoner number 25413*. He was convicted of filing false tax returns in 2004 and spent a number on months in the clink. His property was also the subject of a government raid investigating illegal gambling.

On his show last night, (aptly titled "All Bets are Off", a glorious pun I'm sure Bruce paid someone lots of money to come up with) after another Tribe loss to the Red Sox (Andrew Dice-K with the 4-hitter), a caller made a point that the Indians were giving away runs by not hitting in run-scoring situations. Bruce agreed and said that the same was the case in Lester's start. Arguable but not totally out there. His next statement was a bit more interesting.

"That Lester kid didn't deserve to win, we practically gave it to him!"

Look, Bruce, I'm all about blaming others for my mistakes (just ask JTBI or Seaward) but get real, pal. Your team got out-pitched and out-played by a better team. Your team didn't give him anything other than the opportunity. If this blog has taught us nothing, it's that there is Karma in the sports world. Siding against the cancer survivor may end up hurting more than showering back in prison.

*probably not 100% accurate. more...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

And in other sports-related trial news...

I don't want to make fun of obesity or surgery, doctors or football coaches, but from time to time, a situation presents itself when you get to hit all four with one post. Now is that time. A Suffolk County jury came back with a verdict against Notre Dame football coach Charlie Weis in his malpractice claim against two Massachusetts General Hospital surgeons, both of whom Weis blamed for botching a gastric bypass surgery for the planet-sized Notre Dame coach in 2002. The Details:

The jury deliberated almost three hours before finding Massachusetts General
Hospital surgeons Charles Ferguson and Richard Hodin were not negligent.

Weis, 51, who won three Super Bowls as offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots, accused the surgeons of negligence for allowing him to bleed internally for 30 hours before performing a second surgery to correct the complication.

Weis became gravely ill after the 2002 surgery and nearly died. He testified he still has numbness and pain in his feet and sometimes has to use a motorized cart. Seated next to the surgeons on the front row of a courtroom bench, he was stoic as the verdict was read and left the courtroom without comment.
Now I'm not condoning medical malpractice, egregious lawsuits or obesity at all here, and I understand why Weis would want to sue these doctors; it's the unfortunate state of medicine that law and insurance dictates what doctors will and won't do, but that's another post. But you had to think the odds were against Weis when the first trial ended after it was ruled a mistrial. Well, more like how the first trial ended:

This was the second time the case had gone to trial. The first ended in a
mistrial in February after Ferguson and Hodin rushed to the aid of a juror who
collapsed in the courtroom.

Guess what, Coach Weis? You're probably not going to win any trial when the docs you say screwed up have no problem saving a juror RIGHT THERE DURING THE TRIAL! They could have done your surgery shit-faced drunk and you could have presented evidence proving that. Bottom line: if they save my life right then and there, I'm siding with the M.D.s.

But this whole thing begs the question: does this sign hang on Weis's office door?

How to deal with Michael Vick

It has occurred to me how to best deal with this Vick business: a mock trial!

My name is Judge!

The Morning After on TSE - 7.24.2007

Let the shitstorm begin for former Atlanta Falcons QB Michael Vick. You would think the guy has enough kibble on his plate but yesterday, Der Kommissar Roger Goodell decided to add even more. Right after the quarterback's handlers announced that Vick would be taking a leave of absence from the team, the NFL commissioner made sure Vick knew that even if he decided to prematurely end his leave he would do best not to head to Falcons training camp. From

Michael Vick was ordered by commissioner Roger Goodell
on Monday to stay away from the Atlanta Falcons' training camp until the league reviews the dogfighting charges against him.

"While it is for the criminal justice system to determine your guilt or innocence, it is my responsibility as commissioner of the National Football League to determine whether your conduct, even if not criminal, nonetheless violated league policies, including the Personal Conduct Policy," Goodell said in a letter to the quarterback.

For those of you who thought the NFL's new behavioral policy was bogus and only applied to B-team league underlings (see: West Virginia attendees) then this is the first dose of shut-the-hell-up juice for you. Michael Vick is the face of the Falcons and has been one of the league's faces since he came into the league in 2001. Now, he's not even allowed to go near his training camp, bared by the NFL. Goodell also ordered that the Falcons postpone any disciplinary action until they have seen through their investigation and handed down their own punishment. Which should be pretty severe, seeing as they've already suspended players for a year when they haven't even been arrested.

Not that Vick would want to even show up at the camp. So far the thing has been protested by adults children and, of course, dogs (most are on leashes and not thinking for themselves). You get the idea that Arthur Blank, the team owner, is going to have to do something to put these fires out because now it's getting ugly for the franchise, not just the franchise player.

Vick has been all quiet on the defense front since May (and who can blame him) but will have to make a public appearance on Thursday when he goes in for his arraignment in Virginia. It really seems like the the stars are lining up against Vick: he gets his case on the "

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Something After on TSE - 7.23.2007

Sorry, again for the lack of posting in the morning. I was off computers and, thus couldn't post. Seaward was probably doing his radio show and JTBI was likely being talked off the ledge after taking Tiger in this week's Open (Choi, my pick, did okay but fell apart on the scoring holes on the back nine over the weekend). Anyway, expect much more from TSE this week including our newest feature:

More later this week.