Blog Archives

Blue Sunday night (and Monday)

I’ve been singing the blues since 2200 last night, at least as far as sports goes.

The Blues choked in their attempt to win their first Stanley Cup last night, losing 5-1 at home to the Bruins. The series goes back to Boston for the winner-take-all game seven Wednesday.

St. Louis has performed very well away from the Enterprise Center in the playoffs, winning 9 of 12. However, no team in the Stanley Cup Finals has lost game six at home, then recovered to win game seven on the road since the Maple Leafs in 1945, who lost to the Red Wings in Toronto, but somehow got back up and took the Cup at Detroit’s venerable Olympia.

The Blues became the third team this millennium to lose game six of the finals on home ice. The Devils blew it in 2001 and the Flames did it three years later. New Jersey bowed to the Avalanche in Denver, and Calgary choked against the Lightning, subjecting us to the ridiculous spectacle of the Cup being skated in Tampa by the home team.

Three other times since 1995 have the finals have reached game seven:

2003–the Devils and (Mighty) Ducks each fail to break through on the road. New Jersey has the good fortune of home ice advantage.

2006–the Hurricanes lose twice to the Oilers after taking a 3-1 series lead, but recover to win the Cup in Raleigh

2011–the Canucks and Bruins split the first six games, with neither team able to win away from home. In the seventh game, that changes, with Boston rolling 4-0 in Vancouver, prompting lawlessness in the streets of British Columbia.

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Meanwhile, about 800 miles down the Mississippi River, LSU’s 2019 baseball season came to a sorrowful conclusion.

The Bayou Bengals were swept in their super regional by Florida State. LSU blew a 4-0 lead in the first game and lost 6-4, and in the second, it erased a 4-0 deficit, only to lose 5-4 in 12 innings.

LSU’s season ended 40-25. There were some highs, like winning a series in Starkville, but some real lows, like being swept in Austin by a mediocre Texas team which finished last in the Big 12 and losing a series for the first time to Missouri.

The Seminoles are going to the College World Series in coach Mike Martin’s 40th and final season. Martin has won the most career games of any baseball coach in NCAA Division I, surpassing 2,000 earlier this year.

The Seminoles will be in Omaha for the 17th time under Martin, who succeeded the late, great Dick Howser when the latter left Tallahassee in late 1979 to become manager of the. Yankees and later the Royals. FSU also played in Omaha six times prior to Martin’s ascension. The Seminoles’ baseball stadium is fittingly named Mike Martin Field at Dick Howser Stadium.

For all their success in the regular season and early rounds of the postseason, the Seminoles have yet to claim the brass ring. Their 22 previous CWS appearances without a title are the most. By comparison, LSU didn’t make its first CWS until 1986 and has six titles in 18 appearances.

Martin’s plight resembles that of longtime FSU football coach Bobby Bowden, who came close season after season in the 1980s and early 1990s before winning two titles in 1993 and ’99. Bowden and Martin are good friends, and I bet Bobby will be in Omaha rooting on his former school.

I’ll never forget the 1998 CWS. I went to Omaha for the first time. In the first game of that year’s series. FSU lost 11-10 to Arizona State in a game marked by numerous errors and wild plays.

A reporter came back to the Rosenblatt Stadium press box with audio from Martin’s postgame press conference. The first words out of Martin’s mouth: “We stunk the dadgum cotton picking ballyard up!”

The Seminoles were eliminated two days later by Long Beach State. Martin was much more subdued and conciliatory after losing to the 49ers (aka Dirtbags).

In 1999, FSU reached the championship game, but lost to archrival Miami (from 1988-2002, there was a single CWS championship game). In 2000, the Seminoles were ousted by LSU, which went on to win its fifth title under Skip Bertman.

Another school which has been to Omaha plenty with nothing to show for it, Mississippi State, is going back. Also in the field are Louisville, Texas Tech, Michigan (first time since 1984), Auburn (first time since 1997) and Vanderbilt. Arkansas looks like it will round out the field, as the Razorbacks lead Ole Miss 7-1 in the fourth at Fayetteville in the decisive game of that super regional.

I’ll take Vanderbilt and Arkansas in an all-SEC championship series. And I’ll take the Razorbacks to overcome their heartbreak from last year’s championship series loss to Oregon State, which would bring Arkansas its first baseball national championship and first major sports title since basketball in 1994.

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Once the Blues fell behind 3-0 last night, I turned off live television and switched back to The Brady Bunch DVD collection. I’m halfway through season four. I’m going to rewatch them once I get through the entire series.

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I need to get my car washed. The bugs are bugging me big time. It looks horrible.

For those who live in a big city, you would be well advised to get an unlimited car wash plan. It will do wonders against the bugs in the summer and the snow, ice and grime in winter.

One good news for my car: my custom sunshade arrived today. It works great. The generic ones in Target (and Walmart, even though I no longer shop there) don’t fit my car. They are awful. No wonder they are #########################################################################

The United States plays its first match in the FIFA Women’s World Cup tomorrow in France. At least Hope Solo, Lauren Holliday and Sydney LeRoux are no longer on team. However, Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and Carli Lloyd are, and those are three big reasons I’m rooting against the Americans.

Morgan is nowhere near the caliber of player former teammate Abby Wambach was, and certainly not in the same league as past greats Mia Hamm, Michelle Akers, Julie Foudy, Brandi Chastain, Kristine Lilly and Cindy Parlow.

The only reason Morgan is getting attention? She’s a sexpot. She posed in a bikini for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. So what?

Rapinoe is association football’s version of Collin Kaepernick, taking a knee during the Star-Spangled Banner to protest pay inequality in association football and the poor treatment of LQBT athletes like Rapinoe (and Wambach). If she wants to protest on her own time, that’s her business. I don’t give a darn if she’s a lesbian. That’s her privilege. However, she should not protest her country’s national anthem representing that country on an international stage. Rapinoe needs to pipe down during the competition. Save it for later.

Lloyd is nowhere near Hamm. Give it up already.

Solo is a crybaby. And she’s stupid for marrying a man, former Seahawks tight end Jerramy Stevens, who beat the piss out of her days before their wedding. This weekend, Solo opened her mouth and inserted her foot by saying US manager Jill Ellis chokes in pressure situations.

Last I checked, Ellis was the team’s manager in 2015 when Solo and the US won the World Cup. Therefore, Hope(less) Solo should shut up.

Of the current players, Julie (Johnston) Ertz would crack the starting XI in any era. But that’s it.

Personally, I’d like to see France, Germany or England win the Women’s World Cup. The jingoism of American broadcasters is sickening. That’s why I loved the 2018 Men’s World Cup–the Americans were nowhere to be found, and Fox had to actually cover the matches as neutral journalists, not as surreptitious cheerleaders for Uncle Sam.

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Have I bored you? If I have, I’m sorry. That’s it. For now.

Wake up, Foots!

My God, I have gone way, way, WAY too long without posting. I am sorry. I am also very lazy.

There were some problems just before Thanksgiving, problems I do not wish to divulge, problems I do not wish to bore you, the good reader, with.

As for Thanksgiving itself, I didn’t eat upstairs with my parents, my paternal grandfather and his female companion. I did eat some turkey and fried cauliflower later, but no dressing, no mac and cheese, no sweet potatoes, and certainly no cranberry, which I have never eaten. Turkey sandwiches were just fine with me, thank you.

Kansas held its EIGHT high school football state championship games at SEVEN sites. Utterly ridiculous. I have ranted and raved about this for over a decade.

By comparison, Louisiana’s high school championships begin today. All nine games (too many) will be played in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

I’ll talk about that in another post.

It’s very cold this morning in Kansas City. THANK GOD. Last weekend, it was close to 70 degrees. Unacceptable in this part of the country in December. I hated it when it was 70 degrees in Louisiana in winter. I REALLY hate it in Kansas and Missouri.

The Chiefs suspended cornerback Marcus Peters for this Sunday’s game with the Raiders at Arrowhead.

Last week, Peters threw a penalty flag into the stands at MetLife Stadium last Sunday during Kansas City’s loss to the Jets. Thinking he was ejected, he went back to the locker room, only to return without his socks.

Andy Reid, who would rather go through a root canal without anesthesia than punish a player, finally got tough with Peters, a known malcontent.

My question: what took until Wednesday, Andy? It should have been done before the Chiefs’ plane departed Newark Liberty International Airport after the game. Bill Belichick would not put up with this shit. After Rob Gronkowski speared Bills safety Tre’Davius White following an interception Sunday, Gronk was done for the day. The NFL suspended him for one game, and I’m certain had it not, Belichick would have punished Gronk in his own way.

The college coaching carousel is in full spin mode.

Arkansas, which waited eight seconds after losing its season finale to Missouri on Black Friday to fire Bret Bielema, hired SMU coach Chad Morris. Morris is 14-22 with the Mustangs, but let’s face it, SMU has been a wasteland since the NCAA gave the program the death penalty in 1987, shutting down the Mustang football team for the ’87 and ’88 seasons. SMU has done next to nothing since, and for Morris to win 14 games in three years has to be considered a success. The Razorbacks are definitely betting on the come, given Morris tutored DeShaun Watson at Clemson for two seasons before leaving for the richy-rich school in the University Park section of Dallas.

Jimbo Fisher traded Tallahassee for College Station. I don’t know of many coaches who would want to challenge Nick Saban every year, but Fisher has the ego. Texas A&M made it easy, giving Fisher a FULLY GUARANTEED 10-year, $75 million contract.

To replace Fisher, Florida State hired Willie Taggart, who went 7-5 in his first season at Oregon. Previously, Taggart coached at Western Kentucky and South Alabama. Florida State is in danger of becoming a distant third in its own state behind Miami and Florida, but the Seminoles also may become an afterthought in the ACC Atlantic, where Dabo Swinney has built a superpower at Clemson.

And it looks like Tennessee will have a coach today or tomorrow. It’s likely going to be Jeremy Pruitt, currently defensive coordinator at Alabama. Then again, being defensive coordinator at Alabama doesn’t carry much cachet, since everyone knows it’s Nick Saban’s defense.

The last time I posted, Butch Jones was still Tennessee’s football coach. He would not be three days later, fired after the Volunteers lost 50-17 at Missouri. It got no better for Tennessee under interim coach Brady Hoke, who lost to LSU and Vanderbilt, both in Knoxville.

The day after the loss to the Commodores, the Volunteers appeared to have found their man in former Rutgers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano, now the defensive coordinator at Ohio State under Urban Meyer.

My first thought? BAD HIRE. Schiano is an uptight prick. He alienated people across the NFL in his second game with the Bucs when he ordered his defense to attack Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who was kneeling down to run out the clock, which is standard operating procedure in football since the Miracle of the Meadowlands, the 1978 play which saw the Giants’ Joe Pisarcik botch an attempted handoff to Larry Csonka and fumble. Philadelphia Eagles safety Herm Edwards scooped up the fumble and scored in the game’s dying seconds, lifting his team to a 19-17 victory, and eventually, the Eagles’ first playoff berth since winning the 1960 NFL championship.

Schiano was even worse in his second year with the Bucs, covering up several cases of MRSA, a deadly infection which is resistant to antibiotics. Thousands of people have died from the infection. Kicker Lawrence Tynes contracted the infection, but instead of placing him on injured reserve, the Bucs screwed him royally by placing him on the non-football injury list, which meant he would not be paid, he would not have access to the Bucs’ doctors, he would lose his health insurance, and lose a year of service time for pension benefits.

What a piece of crap. What did Tennessee see in this guy?

People who defended Schiano said he won at Rutgers, which is usually pitiful. But I say he was ONE GAME over .500 (68-67) with the Scarlet Knights, and Rutgers did not win consistently until Boston College, Miami and Virginia Tech all left the Big East for the ACC.

Well, Volunteer fans let their displeasure know via social media. But it wasn’t over what happened with the Bucs, or his mediocre record at Rutgers. Rather, it was the fact he had allegedly covered up sexual abuse by Jerry Sandusky. Schiano had been an assistant at Penn State under Joe Paterno before leaving for Piscataway. I don’t know the full details, but the reaction in Knoxville was swift and overwhelmingly negative. Even state legislatures and U.S. Representatives took to Twitter to denounce Schiano.

Six hours after it first broke Schiano was heading to Knoxville, the offer was rescinded.

Athletic director John Currie went on the hunt for a new coach. Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy? Nope. Duke’s David Cutcliffe, who was offensive coordinator at Tennessee when Peyton Manning played there? No thanks. North Carolina State’s Dave Doeren? Nope.

Currie thought he had his man on the last day of November, flying to Los Angeles to meet with Washington State coach Mike Leach. Leach, who previously coached at Texas Tech, is as goofy as they come. Would he have fit in the SEC, which is as buttoned up as it comes in college football: I don’t know.

However, the next day, Currie was asked to return to Knoxville by Tennessee chancellor Beverly Davenport. The reason: Currie was given his pink slip. Fired after less than nine months in charge.

Philip Fulmer, who coached Tennessee to the 1998 national championship, was named as Currie’s successor. After rumors first leaked that Fulmer reached out to former LSU and Oklahoma State coach Les Miles about the position, Pruitt emerged as the front-runner, ahead of fellow SEC defensive coordinators Kevin Steele (Auburn) and Mel Tucker (Georgia).

That seems to be the new trend in the SEC: hire somebody who coached under Saban. Pruitt will become the third coach in the SEC East who was once a Saban assistant, joining Kirby Smart at Georgia and Will Muschamp at South Carolina. Muschamp was a teammate of Smart’s at Georgia and also coached Florida for four seasons before ending up in Gainesville.

Of course, Saban assistants aren’t always successful. Jim McElwain, the Crimson Tide’s offensive coordinator on their national championship teams of 2009 and ’11, bombed in three seasons at Florida. He was replaced by Dan Mullen, the winningest football coach in Mississippi State history. The Bulldogs were ranked #1 for several weeks in 2014, thanks to the exploits of Dak Prescott, now the Dallas Cowboys’ starting QB.

I’ve got to do better at posting. Much better. I will reflect on this in the time between posts, which hopefully will be very short.

Thursday thoughts

I am back in Russell. I am done driving in 2015.The only question left is whether I will stay awake to greet 2016 in my basement in Russell, or will I fall asleep and skip it. Either way I am not watching Ryan Seacrest. I never watched the show when Dick Clark hosted it, so why should I bother now?

Prior to December 31, 1972, the only New Year’s Eve show was Guy Lombardo and his big band orchestra on CBS. Clark started his in 1972, and Lombardo died in November 1977, so there really hasn’t been crap except what has been on ABC. Johnny Carson, and Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Fallon after him, showed reruns on New Year’s Eve, and same thing with David Letterman on CBS. Between Lombardo and Letterman (1977-1992), CBS had reruns or else let the local affiliates program the time around midnight.

Of course, nothing on TV tonight could ever be worse than the 2011 film New Year’s Eve. I saw trailer after trailer for the movie when I watched The Help, Horrible Bosses and Crazy. Stupid. Love. in theaters that summer. It  appeared to be nothing more than a bunch of big names thrown together at various places across New York City.

The cast included Jessica Biel, Sofia Vergara, Lea Michelle, Jon Bon Jovi, Hilary Swank and Seth Meyers, just to name a few. It also had appearances from–surprise, surprise–Ryan Seacrest and then-New York mayor Michael Bloomberg.

I stayed away from watching it in a theater, and I have had no inclination to watch it on HBO, Showtime, or on Blu-Ray. And from what most critics have wrote, it was beyond bad. One critic from Great Britain called it the worst movie ever.

The University of Houston has just won its first major bowl game since 1979. The Cougars defeated Florida State 38-24 in the Peach Bowl, allowing Houston to finish 13-1, the best record in school history.

The Cougars have become the standard bearer for the so-called Group of Five under coach Tom Herman, who had no head coaching experience exactly one year ago. After the Cougars fired Tony Levine, they hired Herman from Ohio State, where he was offensive coordinator for Urban Meyer’s national championship team.

Houston has been beyond irrelevant for the last 30 years. Obviously, the Cougars are greatly overshadowed by the Astros, Rockets and the NFL (the Oilers, then the Texans), and in the college pecking order, UH is far, far, far behind Texas and Texas A&M, and with the recent success of Baylor and TCU, the Cougars are behind them, and probably LSU, too.

The Cougars’ most recent major bowl game until today was the Cotton Bowl following the 1984 season, when Bill Yeoman’s club lost 45-28 to Boston College, led by 1984 Heisman Trophy winner Doug Flutie. Houston won two Cotton Bowls previously, ousting Maryland 30-21 in 1976 and Nebraska 17-14 in 1979.

Houston’s program has committed major NCAA rules violations on several occasions throughout its history, first under Yeoman, then under his successor, former Redskins linebacker and head coach Jack Pardee. It was this sordid history that led both the Big 12 and the Western Athletic Conference to say no thanks to Houston when the Southwest Conference dissolved. Even SMU, less than a decade removed from the death penalty due to egregious football recruiting violations, was taken into the WAC, along with TCU and Rice, UH’s city neighbor.

Instead, Houston was exiled to Conference USA, a new league which was built more on basketball success (Cincinnati, Memphis, Louisville) than football. In fact, several schools–Saint Louis, DePaul, Charlotte–did not play football.

Houston got into the American Athletic Conference in 2013, but it is itching for a spot in the Big 12. The Cougars are going to have trouble convincing Texas and Texas Tech they are worthy, and TCU and Baylor might not be any more receptive. And Houston can forget about ever sniffing the SEC. Not good enough, and no way Texas A&M and LSU will share the fertile recruiting ground that is southeast Texas with another league school.

Today, Houston came up against a Florida State team that probably could have cared less. The Seminoles were not going to be jacked to face a team from a lesser conference, not after wining the national championship in 2013 and playing in last year’s playoff. Sure, this year’s Houston team may have been able to be competitive with Auburn in 2013 and Oregon in 2014, but Houston is a major step down from the Tigers of the Plains and the Ducks.

Oklahoma and Clemson are about to kick off. I’ll check in later.