Friday, April 27, 2012

Playoffs Are Here, by Casey Mitchell

This is Casey Mitchell guest blogging for ST today. As the NBA regular season came to a close yesterday, it's time to take a look at some of the match-ups in the first round. Let's start with the Heat-Knicks series. This season in the East, the difference between being a seven seed or being an eight seed is almost nonexistent. Some would even argue that it would be an easier task to play the Bulls rather than the Heat in the Playoffs.The Knicks are a good seven seed, and with a healthy Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony they have a shot at upsetting the Heat it the first round. I think it will be a good series, but the power of the Heat will win it in five or six games. I think the best series in the first round will be the Hawks and the Celtics. Even though they are old, they still know how to play basketball and they have the experience to win in the playoffs. The Hawks have a couple of very good players in Joe Johnson and Josh Smith. Johnson hasn't had the season he wanted to have so far, but he can still turn it around with a good postseason. Even though Atlanta has the home-court in the series, I think the experience of the Celtics will be too much for the Hawks and Boston wins in seven games. Finally, the most interesting series of the first round will be the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavericks are another team that have a lot of experience, especially when you compare them to the Thunder. Oklahoma City has a big three of their own with Durant, Westbrook, and sixth man of the year James Harden. Never discount the fact of sheer determination of Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks, because let's be real, did anyone expect them to even make it to the Finals last year. I think it will be a great series and it could go either way, but I think the Thunder will take it in six games.

Monday, April 23, 2012


Been hearing from some of you about members of the national media and commentators in other markets knocking the Ducks for the recent "whole lotta weed" story.  It's meaning less.  Those concerned about the hit Oregon or any other school in this place takes to reputation are wasting their time.  For openers that 17 to 22 age group is not a strong sports radio demographic.  Think about this.  A coach outside the U of O is trying to use that against them in recruiting.  But the kid loves the offense and visits Eugene on Game Day.  The place is packed and face it, for the most part Oregon rolls.  The attention is huge on ESPN.  It's big time college football.  Really concerned the young guy is worried about some dunderhead they don't know spewing idiotic numbers about pot?  Please!  Sure, the parents or guardians might ask a question or two but will they really conclude it's a serious problem here versus Tempe, Southern Cal or Columbus.  Each program has it's warts.  Unless the NCAA pulls schollies or issues sanctions, words don't damage a top flight program.
I'm almost ready to pity Ron Artest.  If he wasn't such a jack ass.  Seriously, at age 32 you have the exact same emotional control and maturity as you did in college?  At least when he helped ignite the Malice at the Palace in 2004 he was only 25.  What truly disturbs me about his flagrant elbow to the side of James Harden's head was it didn't follow his usual insanity.  Mostly his childish acting out is in retaliation or aimed at a player or fan who has drawn his wrath.  This was random.  The typical wack job who is so focused on their immediate emotional needs that everyone else is potential collateral damage.  Another level of idiocy exists in the timing.  So selfish & out of control he will cost his team the good things he brings to the table on the court during the playoffs.  Guys have busted butt all season to likely grab a 3 seed with a shot at the grand prize but because one ass hat put himself above the rest, their hard work suffers. 
Later this week as we approach the draft we'll shoot down some myths.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Out for the Season, by Casey Mitchell

This is Casey Mitchell guest blogging for ST today. With the playoffs right around the corner, Magic center Dwight Howard will miss the rest of the season due to a herniated disk in his back. Howard has been suffering from back problems since late March, but it wasn't until last week it was discovered that it was a serious issue. Just a few weeks after staying with the Magic, today Howard will undergo back surgery. Even though Orlando will be going into the postseason as a six seed, you have to think that they won't even put up a fight in the playoff let alone the first round. Howard is such a huge part of this team and without him, they are a below average team at best. This season he averaged a double double with 20 PPG and 14.5 RPG. It just shows you that even with all of the distractions that were surrounding Howard and the Magic this year, Orlando is nothing without him. Now with only one season remaining on his contract, they are going to have some of the same issues that they had earlier this year. If Howard decides not to come back after next year, I predict the Magic will turn into what the Cavs were without Lebron.
Speaking of Lebron and the Heat, yesterday's game against the Bulls had a great playoff atmosphere. It was a physical game that the Heat ended up winning by a score of 83 - 72. James had 27 points and 11 rebounds in the Heat win. This was the last meeting of the two teams this year unless they meet in the Eastern Conference Finals. Although Derrick Rose didn't play again due to a reoccurring issue of back spasms. The Heat are still fighting for the one seed in the East, but they still remain 1 1/2 games out but they are hot as winners of 5 straight. It  should be a great last couple of weeks of the season.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Gotta be honest, I caught the Pat Summitt press conference announcing her stepping down as head coach at Tennessee and had the box of kleenex at the ready. Turns out she was the pillar of strength and composure you'd expect from a true titan. Sports media, like it's bretheren tends to get caught up in the hysterics or hype story of the day. Nothing was more substantial than coach Summitt retiring. She's on that list with John Wooden, Vince Lombardi tell me.
I don't buy all of this Ducks on weed story. We know college students and athletes toke. The percentage is a tad sketchy. I can't imagine it's as high as the 60% the stoner reported or minimal. I love the fact random testing is out because of state law. If probable cause exists, grab the pee cup. Otherwise we fought and beat the Nazi's in the 1940's. We always hear about how awful math skills have become. So now all of a sudden some Stoner McGee blazing up is offering specific statistics? I bet a majority of students couldn't use the proper formula to even determine how many of their teammates equals 40 or 60%. I'd be very surprised if Oregon players were substantially different than the average D1 program.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


It's rare you'll direct someone from your website to another, but baseball fans must read the piece by Tom Verducci on the Sports Illustrated site. Just navigate to Inside Baseball. It's time to rethink an issue that's never sat right with me. The automatic 9th inning move to the closer. I used to scream at Lou Pinella from the right field bleachers during many a game at Yankee Stadium when he was the skipper. New York on the lead. Top of the 9th. In comes Dave Raghetti. I believe this mentality cost the Yanks the East title in 1985 & a shot to catch Boston in 1986. You do have exceptions. What Mariano Rivera is doing borders on insane for durability and productivity. Otherwise, it's rare you see lights out over anything more than a 3-4 year period, if that. The article I alluded to presents a great case using the massive data now available. I compared it to how we must now view football with the information available on concussions, head & neck injuries and related issues.
One of the funniest cracks I've heard in weeks came from a writer who covers the A.C.C. Says the conference hasn't had a legit Heisman contender in a decade. He blamed Midwest & West Coast media bias. I just loved that remark. Shine a light on how ridiculous it is to blame the media for your team or program's shortcomings.
I'm I the only one who responded "DUH" when word came down Saints coach Sean Payton was not permitted to have any kind of contact with any one in the NFL? Kind of the point of the suspension for this kind of action no??

Monday, April 16, 2012


Laughed pretty hard when I heard new Boston Red Sox skipper Bobby Valentine tear into Kevin Youklis for his attitude. Been saying since day one that Valentine is completely ridiculous in this posistion. Certain managing & coaching gigs require more than a knowledge of x's & o's. This is clearly one of them. Operating in this kind of fish bowl is a different deal. The manager of the Bosox must form a reflective shield for his players. Success will breed a good reputation for the manager, not throwing his best players in front of a bus to the media. Bobby V has always been about Bobby V. I've mentioned it before but no one in the solar system has a higher opinion of this guy than this guy. Calling out Yook for his work ethic or approach to the game is obscene. The guy brings a fire that is reminiscent of the all time greats. He takes outs and poor at bats personally. That hasn't changed, just the knucklehead putting his name in the lineup. They had the perfect guy in Terry Francona. He was to the Bosox what Joe Torre was to the South Bronx. He stood between the media, irrational fans and his guys. Let them do their thing. I get that Boston came unglued a bit last September, but much of that went to pitching. It's not like they rolled over and played dead. They remained in the playoff hunt until the final pitch of the regular season. I'm thinking the curse is back on. Yes, that's a really big smile on my face.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Week 1 Story Lines, by Casey Mitchell

This is Casey Mitchell guest blogging for ST today. The MLB season is underway and there have been some big story lines. Ozzie Guillen was suspended for 5 games after his comments on a very touchy subject in Miami. For the second straight year, Boston's struggles in April continue. Last season they started out 0-6 and this year 1-5. The way I am looking at it is, if they would have started out 1-5 last year, they would have made it into the Postseason. Theo Epstein would still be the GM and Terry Francona would still be there. A lot would be different. A team having different fortunes this year is the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers have started out 6-1 and they are riding a three game winning streak. Even though it is early, they are making a statement that they are going to be contenders in the NL West. Another contender in the West is the Giants. Usually known for their pitching, the Giants have the worst ERA in the National League. Two time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum looks like he forgot how to pitch. Lincecum has posted an ERA of 12.91 and suffered the shortest start of his career, after giving up 8 earned runs in 2 1/3 innings of work. The only thing keeping the Giants from a disaster is the hitting. They are averaging over 5.5 runs per game. So far, it's certainly not the Giants of the past couple of years.
The coaching situation for the Saints has been resolved, and Bill Parcells is not a part of it. For the first six games of the season, it will be offensive line coach Aaron Kromer. After Joe Vitt serves his suspension for those six games, he will be the new interim head coach.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


I really liked Ozzie Guillen's apology yesterday. I bought it. For openers, no script. Too often a celeb gets caught being an idiot and they read a prepared statement obviously put together by a lawyer or an agent. Guillen threw himself on the mercy of the court. The bottom line is what he said painting Fidel Castro in any kind of a positive light was inconceivable to the Cuban population of South Florida. You're talking about people with first hand knowledge of atrocities against friends and family from this dictator. Could you imagine the blowback if say around 2009 Phil Jackson said you have to admire Osama Bin Laden for his ability to elude capture since 9-1-1? What if Yankees manager Casey Stengel in 1950 called Hitler a brilliant strategist. How do you think those who lost loved ones in World War II, or the European Jews who survived the Holocaust would have reacted? While most of us have no personal connection to the Cuban population in America who escaped Castro's regime, imagine those circumstances. Ozzie is lucky to still have his job.
Bobby Petrino? Not so much. Well done by Arkansas A.D Jeff Long, though once the mountain of evidence presented itself, there was only one true path. What disturbs me is the support for the former coach. While the circumstances differ in the specifics and certianly the vile nature, there is one constant to be observed from the messes at Ohio State, Penn State and this one in Fayetteville. An element of fans who think only in terms of winning. None of the clown coaches who engaged in those cases of misplaced priority and deception in an effort to protect their jobs & program survived which is a good thing. The mindless, follower, puppet mentality still scares the crap out of me!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


You hear them in the form of proclamations. You shouldn't have to walk down the street fearing some nutbar will club you over the head for your cash. BUT YOU CAN'T! You should be able to express your opionion without some over sensitive group taking offense. BUT YOU CAN'T! Ozzie Guillen is certainly entitled to his thoughts on Cuban Dictator Fidel Castro. His employers can also decide it's no longer appropriate for him to keep his job. The fans in South Florida can also stay away from the new park! That whole freedom thing can be a 2 way street, and truth be told, not so free. We have freedoms, but for the most part someone paid a price. Public figures who say moronic things then are surprised when they get hammered are pretty ignorant. I thought Ozzie was a rarity. Got caught with his foot in his mouth and actually seemed to mean his apology. More importantly he did not offer up the token apology to put it behind him. He talked about SHOWING how sorry he was. Dealing with it. It was a stupid thing to say and because he owned it, Guillen will have a chance to get off the hook. I think!
This whole Bobby Petrino issue cracks me up. The circumstances are different. Certainly not in the same league from a horrific standpoint, but the mentality is eerily similar to Penn State. Lie. Hide. Obstruct. Protect. Never put safety first, but the football program. This idiot was really banged up but was unwilling to call 9-1-1 because he would be exposed as a philandering scumbag! I love the fact they held a rally for him today & 200 people showed up. One of the organizers, Matt Couch, even admitted most would not have offered their support if the team had been less successful last season. They won 11 games and landed at #5 in the country. I was pleased to see a good chunk of Hog fans & alum NOT favoring the coach which was kind of refreshing out of the SEC. Remember, Petrino is from this neck of the woods, Montana. Began his coaching career in the Big Sky conference. I think that absolutely is an issue. Be very curious to see how this whole thing plays out.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Due to injuries, a dip in dominance and other issues, I've heard the steroid accusations hurled in the direction of Tiger Woods in recent months and years. Obviously I don't trust this guy cause if he'd cheat on his wife and 2 babies, he's not worthy. I get the value of PED's or certain substances on healing, but making you a great golfer? I don't care what substance you ingest, it will not help you drop an 8 foot par putt up one shot on the 15th hole on Masters Sunday. Can't see it aiding that high cut 5 iron from 228 yards out that nestles 9 feet from the cup at the British Open on the back nine of the final round with the world watching. I'm always willing to play the skeptic card, but I'm not buying here.
About a decade ago Augusta National caught heat for not allowing women. Then chairman Hootie Johnson said someday it would be considered but the decision would be theirs and not at the end of a bayonet. He was responding to Martha Burke of the National Council of Women who had staged a protest and threatened to target tournament sponsors. Augusta then decided to put the event on themselves with no advertisers. End of problem. Then. Now the trouble is traditionally the CEO of IBM is a member. Has been since 1981. As of now, an invite has not been extended to the current CEO. Yup! It's a woman, Virginia Rometty. Here we go again!
Regardless of how this turns out, I can't wait to watch the tournament and I'm equally pumped for the official start of baseball season. Yippee!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


This whole Ryan Leaf saga is a bit unnerving. Sure the guy was a classless lowlife as a professional athlete. Treated people like garbage, played like crap and got run out of the league. Is generally viewed as one of the biggest high level draft busts in NFL or NBA history. Now he's been arrested in almost back to back fashion for breaking and entering in search of prescription painkillers. It's easy to dump on the guy. My take is as a rule when a celeb, be it Limbaugh or Lohan is exposed as an addict and needs rehab I get suspicious. I think far too often they hire big ticket lawyers to use that as an excuse to tap dance around the legal system and keep their sorry butts out of jail. In this case you get a sense Leaf is just weak & succombed to the demons. Doesn't excuse his lack of character as a member of the Chargers, but he's in trouble and might do best behind bars or in some kind of treatment facility to save his life.
All hail the Kentucky Wildcats. It's one of those cases where the best team all season, capped it off with a championship. Their fans don't deserve it. From the moronic fight at a dialysis clinic to the destruction they inflicted on the city of Lexington Saturday night after beating Louisville to last night's horror where a man was shot. I sent out a tweet earlier congratulating them. Celebrating with guns is exactly what Mid-East terrorist do. Impressive no?
MLB season gets rolling tomorrow night, then by Saturday, it's go time. This is going to be a terrific season. I love the Matt Cain signing by the Giants. Today on SportsTalk, I'll explain why it sets up the franchise for years to come.

Monday, April 2, 2012


Just read that Phil Knight was being inducted into the 2012 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Really? I can think of many halls he's worthy of including generosity, progressive and the like, but hoops? Aside from posthumously naming the new facility after his son, I was unable to even come up with a connection. I get the whole Nike/Jordan/commercials deal, but had you even considered Uncle Phil until this surfaced? I thought the selection of Don Nelson was interesting. Really good head coach. In 2007 engineered one of those rare #8 seeds taking out a #1 with his Warriors small balling their way past Dallas. Career playoff record of 75 & 91. Never even took a team to the league finals. Maybe if you incorporate his contribution as a long time player with the Celtics? Bridged the gap between the Bill Russell led dynasty and was part of 3 NBA Champs, then won a couple in the mid-70's with Dave Cowens. I'll call this decision "debatable".
Love the pick of Reggie Miller. With Ray Allen, one of the premiere snipers of all time. Did not get the brass ring but won a ton of playoff games and of course with UCLA a terrific college player. Bruins didn't do much, though they won the NIT when he was a sophmore then made the Dance his last year, the 1st of the 3 point shot and won a game before getting run by Wyoming.
Major kudos to LeMichael James for tweeting out a couple of times this weekend his stance against the Ducks closing spring practice. Nice to see a former player with a very solid reputation not follow this seemingly unecessary measure.