Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I'M SURE??? by Tannen

I have no doubt the Lakers will be facing the Cavs in the NBA Finals. This was my thought on yesterday's show and well into the 2nd half of last night's eventual LA victory. Then Utah staged another huge comeback, albeit one that fell short. The lead had ballooned to 80-58 and it was garbage time but the Jazz went nuts. I guess no matter how much I think LA and Cleveland are the class of their respective conference, I remain unconvinced either is a great team. In game 2 the Lakers watched a 22 point lead dwindle to 6 with just over 5 minutes left before putting the thing on ice. In the 2nd game between the Cavaliers and Pistons, Cleveland had a 29 point advantage before the Detroit subs made a maniacal run to slice the deficit to 7 with just under 4 minutes left. The NBA is the comeback league for sure, but these are the top seeds against the #8 and true champions have that taste for the jugular. Certainly the early rounds of the post season are about finding that groove to carry you to the title, but we're not witnessing magnificence or a team for the ages.
This does not detract from how entertaining the first round has been. On Sunday when the Blazers lost that heartbreaking Game 4 in Houston, and Boston fell in Double OT at Chicago & the Magic won a tight one at Philly, it marked a milestone.
The first time since 1985 we had 3 NBA playoff games on the same day decided by 3 points or less. Yes, to coin the phrase from those magical times in the Association, the league is once again "Fan Tastic".
To survive and keep this series pulse beating, Portland must play smarter and with more poise. I know they're a young team, but even though the Rockets have a bit more experience with guys like Ron Artest, playoff success is pretty much a mystery to their roster. The Blazer execution at crunch time last game was downright awful at both ends of the floor & of course on the backboards where continued failure to secure defensive rebounds was their downfall.
At least the oddsmakers are on board making them a 5 point favorite. We get 4 games tonight with Houston & Dallas over San Antonio hoping to punch their ticket to round two. In the East, Chicago @ Boston plus Philly @ Orlando are all even at 2 games apiece.

Monday, April 27, 2009


Really frustrating loss in Game 4 of their West quarterfinal series for the Blazers. Is there anything more aggravating in basketball than playing rock solid defense, forcing the opponent into a tough shot but failing to secure the rebound. That more than anything, plus some knucklehead crunch time play, was the big downfall last night. Houston pulled down 10 offensive boards in the 4th quarter alone as they hurt Portland with 2nd chance points all night. Excellent game by Luis Scola who is key because as the Blazers try to help out on Yao Ming, he's finding open space and delivering points. Adding to the misery was some awful decisions and results down the stretch. With about 2 minutes left, Brandon Roy stole a pass, it ended up in the hands of Steve Blake who showed no clue about the situation & got pick pocketed from behind in transition. Then with :45 seconds left and trailing by 2, Joel Przybilla grabbed an offensive rebound and for some reason suffered from brain lock, and in a panic threw the ball over Blake's head into the backcourt for a horrible turnover. Then you had Mr. Control, Brandon Roy, completely out of control driving to the basket with no plan for an offensive foul. This was a brutal defeat as they blew a shot to regain home court edge and now must reel off 3 straight or it's golf season.
As for the NFL draft, was quite pleased with my Jets moving up to take the best QB in the draft, Mark Sanchez from USC, but let's focus on the Ducks chosen. Gotta be happy for Pat Chung going to one of the great organizations in American team sports, the Patriots. They've been lacking in the secondary for the past few years so he will get every opportunity to make an immediate impact. Later in the 2nd round center Max Unger was selected by the Seahawks. The Seattle offensive line has been in decline since winning the NFC during the 2005 season. They let guard Steve Hutchinson walk to Minny as a free agent, and this year, both starting center Chris Spencer and guard Mark Wahle ended the year on injured reserve. In the salary cap era, teams don't take guys in the 2nd round to groom, they want them to play immediately. We'll get caught up on the rest of the draft, NBA playoffs, baseball & more when it's showtime.

Friday, April 24, 2009


I was insistent. No way Utah was in this series. LA would simply suffocate them, take a 3 games to none lead and that was that. The Jazz Efense(no D) would rear it's ugly head and the Lakers would make a road statement. Still not sure if it was about LA being in an offensive coma or the home team having a rare solid defensive moment but it doesn't matter because instead of over it's kind of on. Kobe was 5 of 24. Trevor Ariza, so brilliant in game 2 couldn't throw it in the ocean. The guys in purple blew a golden opportunity to hit cruise control and instead must expend some energy they might need down the road.
How about the Celtics? We spoke earlier in the week about the heart of a lion, or defending that championship. Gotta put aside my personal anti-Boston sentiments and credit a veteran team for putting on a clinic about winning a meaningful game this time of year on the road.
Was reading about a couple of former Toledo players perhaps involved in point shaving surrounding the hoop and football program. What surprises me is this isn't more widespread. In this quickfix, gotta have it now society, you'd think college athletes with minimal financial resources would fall into that trap on a more consistent basis.
Look for a couple of Ducks to get their names called relatively early tomorrow in the NFL draft. These mock drafts are kind of laughable past the 5th or 6th pick, but in the event some rumours are true, it would be sweet to see Max Unger land in Pittsburgh. One of the true elite organizations in all of sports, they treasure their young talent. Plus with all Max meant to Oregon football as a 4 year starter and really good young guy, this would represent the ultimate payoff. I think Patrick Chung will go in the 2nd round. He's tabbed as one of the top safeties available. He seems like a perfect fit for a secondary with some established players who could use a versatile DB who can cover and play the run.
So? You want a shot at that Springfield Country Club golf certificate? Good for 2 free greens fees at a dynomite layout. No tricks. Just e-mail me your name to get in the drawing. stevetannen@live.com
Good luck.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Lot of talk about how nuts it is to own one of the top 4 or 5 picks in Saturday's NFL draft. For openers, a team picking that high probably stinks unless they got this selection via a past trade. Second, with the salary cap, the financial commitment could blow up in the face of the franchise. I'm sort of on board, but further research offers a mixed bag of results. If you take a peek at last year's 1st team All Pro team and see where those guys were picked....well draw your own conclusion.
Begin on offense.
QB/Peyton Manning: 1st overall in 1998
RB/Adrian Peterson-SD/Michael Turner-Atl: #7 overall in 2007/5th round by Chargers 04
WR/Andre Johnson-Hou/Larry Fitzgerald-AZ: #3 overall in 2003/#3 overall as well in 2004
TE/Tony Gonzalez-KC: #13 overall in 1997
OT/Jordan Gross-Car/Michael Roos-Tenn: #8 overall in 2003/2nd rnd #41 overall 2005
OG/Steve Hutchinson-Min/Chris Snee-NYG: #17 overall in 2001(sea)/2nd rnd 34th overall 04
C/Kevin Mawae-Tenn: 2nd rnd #36 overall/1994(sea)
We'll run the defense later but you see that of these 11 studs, 5 were taken with the 8 overall selection of their particular draft or higher. Of the 11, four started their careers with different teams. It certainly shoots down any blanket theories and simply furthers the one I believe in. It's a gamble and the best scouting and personnel people still win.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


We'll get to the huge win to save the season by the Blazers in a bit but first I must comment on a most intriguing story I read. The family of the first black heavyweight champion, Jack Johnson, is trying to clear his name. After winning the title he was arrested for taking a white woman across state lines for "immoral purposes". He would later marry this same woman. Back in the early 1900's this could have led to a prison sentence. For those of you just shaking your head at the amazing ignorance involved in this mentality, please understand the scary part. There are millions of Americans who likely would read this and not see the problem. The judge in the Johnson case was none other than Kennesaw Mountain Landis who would become baseball's first commissioner. In short, a racist, bigoted pr**k. He set the bail at a sky high for the period 30-grand and when a bail bondsman showed up with the cash, Landis jailed him. We will discuss this on today's program.
Once again I have to doff my cap to the Blazers. I think they did a nice job adjusting after the game one disaster to square this thing. Kudos to Lamarcus Aldridge who looked lost on Saturday but was a force last night. Brandon Roy continues to work his way up the charts as one of the league's elite players. The point total of 42 is sweet, but this guy is becoming can't miss hoop theater. The lone downer of the evening was the injury to Houston backup center Dikembe Mutumbo. He is one of sports true class acts with a charitable foundation that aids the poorest people in his homeland of the Congo. He has personally contributed at least 15-million dollars. Learn more by visiting www.dmf.org. Back to our fantasy world, we find a brand new series, but heed this Blazer fans, it's gonna be tough. This Rocket's team really matches up well with Portland. At least we know they'll be back at the Rose Garden for a game 5.

Monday, April 20, 2009


I got paid last week. Happens around here on the 1st & 15th. My wife gets her dough from some clients on the 1st, others every week, it varies with her dog walking business. We use what she makes to live on, buy groceries while my paychecks cover bills like mortgage, ect. I was wondering if those athletes pulling down the huge coin go through similar routines on payday, just on a higher scale. I imagine the Woods' household on the 1st of the month when that 8.5 million dollar check from Nike hit's the automatic deposit. Does Tiger wake up, log onto his banking website with the user name "ownearth" and his "19Majors" password to verify the cash has hit? Does he yell to his wife, "Elin, the money's in the bank, it's okay to order that new Space Shuttle"! During the regular season, Peyton Manning draws a gross of about 2.7 million per month. After he logs on with user name "rocketarm" and password "cutthatmeat" is there a conversation with wife Ashley about it being a good time to book that private yacht for their February cruise through the Mediterranean? In my house we get excited about the new $149 deal on my wife's new IPOD. Just a thought about how the truly rich live and deal with their financial situation.
As for winning those Monty Python Spamalot tickets. Here's the question. E-mail the correct answer to stevetannen@live.com to get in the drawing. We will likely see Ben Davis play the part of Sir Dennis whose character is described as "The most handsome knight once you clean all the S**T off him". In the original movie, "Monty Python & the Holy Grail", who played this role. Good Luck

Thursday, April 16, 2009


All the hopes, optimism and anticipation certainly paid off for the die hard Blazer fans. In the aftermath of the Game 7 West Final collapse against the Lakers things just got ugly under the mis-guidance of Bob "the boob" Whitsitt. We know the entire story of the Jailblazers ad-nauseum. They say the key step towards a cure is admitting or diagnosing a problem. Under Whitsitt and the blindness of owner Paul Allen, nothing was done but lipstick on a pig until fans stopped showing up and they bottomed out with just 21 wins during the 05-06 season. That was the first year under Nate McMillian and early in the tenure of Kevin Pritchard running the front office. The progress has been remarkable and paid off with fan enthusiasm absolutely exploding. This franchise was always a true gem and reflected the heartbeat of a great city like Portland. But slimeballs like Rasheed Wallace, Isiah Rider and other unappreciative pigs who feel it's their birthright to play in the NBA rather than a privilige tore it apart. Now it's time to rejoice in Rip City. Don't get me wrong, the Lakers are clearly the team to beat in the West. From my chair, I think the Trailblazers have as good a shot as anyone else among the 7 challengers to knock LA from it's perch. No one else has more depth, better defense and this team can rebound with anyone. Their 1st round opponent, the Rockets have a terrible post season resume. Last night they had a chance to climb all the way up and grab the #2 seed, but lost to Dallas, lost home court edge and now face Portland as a 5 seed. The series begins Saturday night at 7:30 and it's the ESPN game. Both teams had equal 20 & 21 road records while the Blazers recorded one more home victory and had a stellar 34 & 7 mark at the Rose Garden. Only the Cleveland Cavs, Celtics and Lakers were better. The oddsmakers have the Blazers as the 6th pick to win it all and many so-called experts are calling them a "tough out". I think they've already exceeded logical expectations by making the playoffs, pulling home court advantage and winning 54 games. The rest is gravy, but if they can solve Houston and make the NBA version of the Elite 8, watch out!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Once again Sergio Garcia came up light in a major tournament. Once again he whined like a spoiled child. This time it was "Augusta National is unfair". Cried about balls getting muddy in the middle of the fairway. For anyone who watched this event from Thursday through Sunday, did you hear any player or broadcaster mention this? Seemed to me the consensus was the course played to near perfection. Garcia also complained after losing to Padraig Harrington in a playoff at the 2007 British Open at Carnoustie. Felt the crowd was against him. When the US Open was held at Southern Hills a few years ago, he came up short and blamed bad breaks and bad bounces. When we first met Sergio, it was the 1999 PGA and he lost a gutty duel to Tiger Woods. He's lost all 37 majors since and will turn 30 in January. Might be time to grow up and accept responsibility for his failures and not just credit for when he's successful.
The NHL Playoffs begin on Wednesday night. I know we don't sit in a hockey hotbed, but the Stanley Cup Playoffs are as entertaining and intense as any mainstream sporting event I follow. Keep an eye on the Keystone State battle as the Penguins and Flyers square off. Pittsburgh is the defending East Champ who torched Philly in last year's Conference Finals before coming up light to the Detroit Red Wings for The Cup. The San Jose Sharks won the President's Cup for the best regular season record and look to shake a history of tanking in the playoffs. After 4 great regular season's but frustration in the playoffs, they canned their coach Ron Wilson in favor of Todd McLellan. He turned them into the 2nd best defensive team in the West & 3rd best in all the NHL behind the netminding of Evgeni Nabakov and his solid backup Brian Boucher. The question is, can they solve the Detroit Red Wings who remain the league's elite franchise.

Monday, April 13, 2009

RIP HARRY by Tannen

The news came down today that longtime Philly broadcaster Harry Kalas passed away today at age 73. Many in the sports world might recognize him more for his work as the voice of NFL films replacing the legendary John Facenda upon his passing in 1984. Kalas was to the Philadelphia sports scene what guys like Vin Scully meant to Dodger's fans. On SportsTalk we'll try to figure out those voices who carry us through a season in each respective city. I lived in a suburb of Philly for just over 2 years from mid 1987 until my arrival in Eugene on April 5th, 1990. Kalas had that inviting voice and magical set of pipes that added an element of drama to his call of the Phillies or Eagles on the radio. He did TV work, but it was his ability to paint that mental picture on the radio that carved out his legacy. Kalas was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as the recipient of the Ford Frick Award for his contributions to the game. He will be missed, but never forgotten.
I was going to talk Masters here, but in honor of Harry's passing will ask just one question. Why did Kenny Perry hit his driver off that 18th tee?

Friday, April 10, 2009


What is usually your first thought upon waking up in the morning? I like to do a mental security check. Wife, dogs, house. All okay? Great! Time to start the day. Well this morning(Fri) the first thought that popped into my head when I arose prior to my alarm was "what time does Tiger tee off"? Kind of scary, but I've really come to look forward to watching this guy operate in the majors. I don't get those who whine about being tired of Woods winning all the time. Really? Excellence bores you? I would have loved to have witnessed the brilliance of Joe Louis, Bobby Jones, Joe Dimaggio, or Jimmy Brown. Those from my generation(born 1960) have been fortunate to follow the all timers like Wayne Gretzky, Jordan or Martina Navratilova. Don't we need these masters to set the bar for future performers to aim at?
Had a great talk with Rob Mosely who does a terrific job keeping all of us clued in on Oregon football. I was kind of pleased with the state of the offensive line. While young and having lost some studs like center Max Unger, and starters like Mark Lewis and Fenuki Toupou plus the versatile Jeff Kendall, it appeared they have lot's of talent & depth. He pointed out that statement was only accurate based on health and right now projected starters Bo Thran & CE Keiser are sidelined with injuries.
Mosely made an excellent observation that perhaps next year, when these youngsters with so much upside have more seasoning, it could be a powerhouse unit. I stand corrected....for now!

Thursday, April 9, 2009


We did a segment yesterday(Wed), on some of the bright young arms to keep an eye out for in 2009. I chatted up the Angels Nick Adenhart and how his manager Mike Scocia thought he was special. Just 22 years old, he made his 3rd career start last night against Oakland, then was killed after the game when a minivan ran a red light and crashed into the vehicle taking the lives of all 3 in the car. It's the ultimate tragedy. A young person living a dream that morphs into a nightmare a few hours later. No words exist that could possibly make sense of this to the family, in this case, his mom and dad. Beaming with pride early in the evening as their son realizes the goal of becoming a starting pitcher in the major leagues to planning a funeral. Obviously I have no connection to the Angels or this young guy, but I can't get this sick feeling to go away.
Eventually later we'll get to the show and The Masters, rest of MLB, NBA playoffs and all that good stuff, but for now let's send our best thoughts to those devastated by this miserable event.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


I've made a huge discovery. You can gain a ton of insight about a situation based on who takes a particular side. I read that Troy Aikman was heavily in favor of the Cowboys cutting Terrel Owens. I've heard others who've expressed dissatisfaction with the move. I have a ton of respect for Aikman's opinion. This was a guy who made the Hall of Fame despite some pedesetrian statistics because he was a winner, a leader, a class act and the consummate team first quarterback. He was greatness walking. Owens is a selfish, crybaby D-bag who has the maturity level of a 9 year old. Hooray for Troy Aikman.
What a huge win for the Trailblazers last night! Brandon Roy is the man. Remember, he, Alridge, Oden, pretty much the entire roster are playing their most important games of their careers. Brandon saw his team on the brink of losing a critical game and simply willed Portland to victory. He uses his quickness & physicality to get to the bucket at crunch time as well as anyone in the league, except maybe Lebron or Kobe. One of the reasons the Spurs won't make a big move in the playoffs is because Manu Ginnobli is done for the year. As great as Tim Duncan and Tony Parker are, Manu is their Brandon Roy. The guy capable of creating his own big shot. So with Houston winning a big one last night against the Magic, the Blazers remain a half game behind in that race for the critical 4th seed in the West, heading for San Antonio this evening. I've said it a bunch of times, but this race for playoff positioning followed by the playoffs is going to be a heck of a ride for NBA fans. Enjoy it!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Talk about anti-climatic. North Carolina began the season as the consensus number one team in America. An injury here and there made them look mortal, but when Ty Law, their spectacular point guard healed up, no one could touch this team. They win their 2nd National Title under Roy Williams which upgrades his status in the games history. Now only UCLA and Kentucky have more more championships. I thought Williams was brilliant sticking with his key starters as the first half drew down to avoid any late Michigan State run. The Heels ended the first 20 minutes setting a record for both points scored in the 1st half of a title game and biggest lead at the break as well. Not a very exciting tournament overall. We had the Gonzaga late bucket to beat Western Kentucky followed by Villanova's last second hoop taking down Pitt & sending the Cats to the Final Four. Otherwise it did not provide those magical moments CBS sets to music.
Loving the start of the baseball season even if it saw the Yankee's zillion dollar man, CC Sabathia get lit up. Taking into account the time of year and length of the season, nothing offers up the hope of Spring quite like MLB's opening day. I still insist it's the Red Sox everyone in the big leagues should be gunning for. With Josh Beckett, Dicekay Matzuzaka and Jon Lester, they have the equivalent of a trio of aces. Jonathan Papelpon is an elite closer and with David Ortiz healthy, the offense should click again. The Angels will contend nearly by default because no one in the West is capable of winning more than 85 games. I think the Twins win the race to the wire in the Central. The Wild Card comes down to New York, the White Sox, Indians and maybe the A's. Health and consistency in those respective rotations will be the difference maker. Both the Yanks & Chisox are hoping some older bats can remain productive. We'll hit the NL tomorrow and some on SportsTalk today.
Looks like George Horton was somewhat prophetic leading up to the season. Felt his team would really have to scrape out runs, rely on pitching and avoid defensive lapses to win games. Their 2 victories in the series against the Beavers and Stanford were 3-2 & 2-1. The defense has not been air tight and the offense is small balling it's way to the runs it's able to produce. The key fact is this. Oregon was the consensus last place team in the Pac 10. Kind of a duh considering the program didn't exist until opening day. Yet, they're currently running ahead of Washington and Arizona. I think they've already earned a certain level of respectability and credibility setting a terrific foundation for the immediate future.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Let's call it the college hardwood domino effect. When North Carolina fired Matt Doherty following the 2003 season they lured former Dean Smith assistant Roy Williams to Chapel Hill. Williams was king of the campus in Lawrence at Kansas University. This opened the door for Bill Self to move from Illinois to take over the Jayhawk program and in turn, Bruce Weber upgraded from Southern Illinois to the Illini in the Big 10. Keep an eye out on what happens now that Tim Floyd has left USC to take the Arizona gig. There is a very real possibility Jamie Dixon will bolt Pitt for the Southern Cal job. He was born in North Hollywood, went to high school in Sherman Oaks and began his coaching career in that neck of the woods. Should Dixon be lured by the shot to return home, I could see Sean Miller taking the reigns at Pitt. He's done a terrific job with Xavier in recent years including an Elite 8 last year and the recent run to the Sweet 16, ironically falling to Pitt. FYI, he was born in Western Pennsylvania and played collegiately for the Panthers.
I'm on board with not only Ernie Kent remaining as Duck coach, but the decision to bring in a fundamental giant like Mike Dunlap who also has a great rep as a game strategist. Something had to change. This seems like the right move albeit a tad late as far as making the announcement for my taste.
Major League Baseball season begins for real on Sunday night with the World Champion Phillies taking on the Braves. I think the Phils remain the team to beat in the NL. Looks like their ace Cole Hamels will only miss one start with the elbow issue that threw a scare into the organization. He's okay, looked sharp in his most recent outing and will throw his final tune-up Saturday in anticipation of his 2009 regular season debut a week from tomorrow(FRI). They have a really nice rotation and just announced Chan Ho Park will be their #5 starter. Was out of baseball most of 2007, resurfaced with the Dodgers in a relief role last year and pitched exceptionally well. Guy has always been the consummate pro. I like their offense with a healthy Chase Utley, bringing in Raul Ibanez from Seattle to go with horses Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins. Obviously with his magnificent 2008, having Brad Lidge at the back end of the bullpen keeps the blood pressure a bit lower. I like the Red Sox as the top gun in the American League. More on this the next couple days on SportsTalk.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

DO WE CARE? by Tannen

So John Calipari bolts his kingdom in Memphis for Lexington. Really doesn't mean much to fans outside of Kentucky or the SEC, but it's certainly newsworthy. My angle is the prestige of being the Wildcat coach. Where does the UK head hooper rank on the landscape of American sports? The Duke gig really didn't carry much significance until Coach K made it relevant. UCLA, Kansas, and North Carolina are the only schools I put in this category. As for college football, Notre Dame, USC, Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Michigan, Ohio State and Nebraska. I don't count Miami or Florida State because they're pretty much new to the elite scene. At the professional level you have the Yankee or Dodger manager, maybe St. Louis in baseball. I'd say the prestige in the NBA lies with the Celtics, Lakers and even though they've become a laughingstock, everyone knows who the Knicks coach is. As for the NFL, definitely the Packers, Bears, Cowboys and Giants. The Raiders or Niners are certainly high profile, but don't pack that tradition and the recent revolving door has watered down the significance of the position. Your thoughts?
Quick NFL note. The Broncos have decided to try to accomodate QB Jay Cutler with a trade. As a Jets fan, I'm saying take our 1st round pick this year, a 2nd next and any quarterback on the roster. Someone has to take Cutler behind a closed door, smack him in the head and tell him to grow up, but the guy can play!