Jun 25, 2008

NBA Draft Just Got Less Interesting

In the offseason, fans look forward to the two main ways NBA teams can improve themselves (besides trades): Free Agency and the Draft. Well, the NBA Draft just got less exciting for Hornets fans. The Hornets have traded their only pick in the draft, #27 overall, to Portland for cash considerations.

While the move is a good one for salary cap and the future possibilities of signing free agents and securing long-term deals with guys like Chris Paul, fans aren't going to be happy with trading a pick for cash. Cash can't shoot the 3 or grab 10 rebounds a game. Fans want to see an up-and-coming rookie selected on Thursday night.

This move may be the best in the long run for the team, especially with Coach Byron Scott's less than enthusiastic methods of playing rookies, but fans still get excited about the draft and the possibilities of finding the next gem for the team. Its going to be a little disappointing to see the entire draft go by without the Hornets being mentioned.

There is still a chance that the team trades back into the draft. They worked out about 40 players, many of which were 2nd round or free agent types. So if in the later portions of the draft they see someone who they worked out still sitting there, they may jump back in to secure his services. If not, I hope that they have an aggressive free agency plan with those cash considerations.

Jun 23, 2008

One Pitch

One pitch. That's all it took to end LSU's baseball season. The Tigers loss Friday night 7-3 to North Carolina at the College World Series. The game was one of the most exciting ones of the entire CWS...and that's saying a lot after the LSU-Rice 9th inning.

With a couple of rain delays, the anticipation for this game was great. After the first rain delay, the game restarted Friday with the bases loaded and one out for UNC. LSU's Jared Bradford force UNC into an inning ending double play to get out of the mess that Blake Martin had created the night before. Bradford shut down the Tar Heels for most of the game, allowing only one run until giving way to Louis Coleman in the 7th inning.

LSU struggled to hit the UNC pitchers, but Matt Clark hit a bomb in the bottom of the 6th inning that may have just landed to extend his national HR lead and tie the game at 3-3. Coleman was electrifying for LSU. He showed lots of emotion and seemed to cross up a number of UNC batters until the top of the 9th. With the bases loaded, Coleman threw one that he'd definately like to have back. LSU had chosen to walk Tim Fedroff, who had gone 4-4 in the game, and pitch to Tim Federowicz. Coleman threw one up and Federowicz deposited it in the left field bleachers. LSU was down 7-3 with only three outs left.

No more miracles for the LSU "Rally Cats." LSU wouldn't score again and would be sent home. While Coleman gave up the game-winning grand slam, LSU really loss the game in the bottom of the 8th. LSU had bases loaded with one out and failed to score a run. DJ LeMahieu popped out and Leon Landry grounded out to end the Tigers rally. If LSU had scored there, the 9th inning would have been a different story. LSU would have had the momentum and Coleman could have pitched that inning with a chance to win rather than trying not to give up the lead.

All-in-all it was a great season for the Tigers. This young team came from nowhere to make the CWS and the future looks bright for Paul Mainieri's group.

The CWS final series now features the Georgia Bulldogs vs. the Fresno State Bulldogs. Fresno State has been the Cinderella team all tournament, being the only 4-seed to ever make the CWS. What happened to them this year and how'd they get so hot in the NCAA Tournament? Georgia has yet to lose in the CWS, and I look for that to continue with a two-game sweep of Fresno, who had to play an extra game over the weekend to put away UNC.

Jun 19, 2008

Big Baby Enjoys the Spotlight

This picture of former LSU Tiger Glen "Big Baby" Davis is causing a little conversation message boards and on local sports talk radio. Anyone who has seen Big Baby off the court in the past few years, knows he's one of the biggest kidders around. Looks like nothing has changed since he's gone to the NBA.

Jun 18, 2008

New Title Town USA?

I just want to take this opportunity to thank the NY Giants once again for defeating the then undefeated Patriots in the Super Bowl. Oh yeah, congratulations to the Boston Celtics on winning their 17th championship too.

If the Giants hadn't defeated the Patriots, the Red Sox, Patriots and Celtics would hold championships in the three major sports at the same time. Give me a break Boston. We never want to hear another complaint from a Boston sports fan.

For years we heard about the Red Sox and the curse of Babe Ruth. For years, all the Pats had to hang their hat on was the 1985 Super Bowl where they were blasted by the Chicago Bears. For years, the Celtics had been trying to recapture the glory days of Bird, Parish and McHale. Well, you know what Boston, you're on top of the sports world now. No more complaints, no more here we go agains, no more tortured sports town. You are the new Title Town USA.

Enjoy it, everyone else around the country now despises you for all this winning.

Congrats to the Celtics. They were a bad team for years, but made a couple of bold moves (actually not too bold, I mean, who wouldn't want KG on their team?) and got themselves a championship. To take nothing away from them winning, I really enjoyed seeing Paul Pierce get the trophy along with Louisiana natives P.J. Brown and Glen "Big Baby" Davis, but I don't enjoy watching a team that's been together for one year win as much as I do a group of guys who have been playing together for years, climbing the mountain together and finally getting over that hump. Its almost like seeing the Florida Marlins put together their World Series teams. Yay, you did it, but you were supposed to.

Not winning the championship would have been more of a story, but at least we didn't have to watch Kobe Bryant raise the trophy. One good thing to come out of this NBA Finals (of which I made have watched a total of 30 minutes, mostly during Game 6), is that the Kobe/Michael Jordan comparisons will be put to bed. Anyone who brings that comparison up again will be ridiculed instead of opening up a series discussion about Kobe's merits. Jordan always won on the biggest stage. Kobe's team's have now lost the last two NBA Finals that he's been in. Case closed.

Live to play another day

Once again the LSU Tigers rallied in the 9th inning to pull off an improbable victory. This has been the M.O. for the past few weeks.

In the SEC tournament, they did it to South Carolina. In the Super Regionals, they snatched a victory from UC-Irvine. Now Rice has felt the taste of having a victory taken away from you in the final innings.

LSU could get nothing going against Rice. They were down 5-0 late in the game and finally got the game within three runs in the 9th. With one out, the Tigers got a little help from the baseball gods as the Rice shortstop booted a ball that was possibly a double-play (depending on who you ask, many believe Jarrod Mitchell would have beat the throw to first. Regardless, it still would have been two men on and two outs when Blake Dean came up).

With the bases loaded and only one out, Dean hit a laser shot to left field that went off the wall. There wasn't even a need for the Rice outfielder to throw the ball in, as Mitchell could have passed up the other LSU baserunners as he was running from first (good thing he didn't because that's an out). LSU pulled out another victory and LSU Coach Paul Mainieri was able to provide his wife with the victory birthday present she asked him for.

Now LSU gets a rematch with #2 seed North Carolina. The Tar Heels defeated LSU in their first game of the College World Series, so it will be interesting to see if LSU learned anything from that defeat.

Jun 13, 2008

Mike the Tiger Top Choice

The Sporting News has ranked the top mascots you'd want on your side in a bar fight. Guess who's the top choice...Mike the Tiger. No, not the costumed mascot, the 300+ pound live Bengal tiger.

It would be tough to get him out of his habitat, but Mike is definitely someone you want on your side if trouble starts.

For the other side, here are the top 10 mascots you wouldn't want on your side in a bar fight.

Jun 11, 2008

One Down

According to the Times Picayune, the Saints have signed DE Will Smith to a contract extension. The deal is reportedly worth up to $70 million. This leaves Marques Colston and Jahri Evans as the last two "building block" players who need long term deals.

Fans can no longer complain that Tom Benson doesn't open his check book to keep good players in New Orleans. Recent deals with former Saints Joe Horn, Deuce McAllister, Drew Brees, Charles Grant and now Will Smith show that the Saints are serious about contending with the nucleus they have.

Congrats to Will Smith. The deal is deserved. Now get to work on improving that defense.

Addition: Smith becomes the league's 3rd highest paid DE

Omaha Bound!

Congratulations to the LSU baseball team for making it back to Omaha after destroying UC-Irvine in the final game of the Super Regionals. LSU is swinging some hot bats right now and has as good a chance as anyone to come out of the College World Series victorious.

The road won't be easy for the Tigers this year. This is one of the toughest College World Series in recent memory. With powerhouse teams throughout the bracket -- Rice, Florida State, Miami, North Carolina, Stanford, Georgia -- there will be no easy games. LSU faces two-time national runner-up North Carolina in game one and then is paired up with Rice/Fresno State. Fresno is the Cinderella team of the World Series, being the first 4th seed to make the championship, so they'll have the sentimental fan support.

LSU is no stranger to Omaha and the Omaha residents love the Tigers. Good luck to LSU, regardless of the World Series outcome, you guys have brought back the magic and made LSU baseball the top topic in Baton Rouge again.

Jun 10, 2008

Show Them the Money

Saints WR Marques Colston skipped Monday's OTA practices, his first miss since the sessions began. Speculation is that his absence was related to his desire for a new contract, and I don't see why the Saints haven't stepped up and resigned him yet.

Last year, the Saints placed the franchise tag on Charles Grant before signing him to a big contract. This year, they have three key players entering the last year of their deals: Colston, Will Smith and Jahri Evans. The Saints would be wise to lock all three up sooner, rather than later.

Will Smith had been the most vocal about his contract situation, but now Colston enters the mix with his OTA absence.

Colston deserves to be paid like one of the top WRs in the league. Right now he's one of the lowest paid WRs on his own team and that's a slap in the face for someone who has 168 receptions for 2,240 yards and 19 TDs in just two seasons in the league. Colston was a 7th round pick, so his contract was one of the lowest in the league for rookies. He has way outplayed that deal and the Saints need to do the right thing soon.

With Will Smith, the situation is a little different. Sure, he's probably the best defender on the Saints and he has made the Pro Bowl, but with all his potential for greatness, he falls short in execution. Sure he's put together some nice seasons with a career high 10.5 sacks in 2006, but Smith is the type of player who should get double-digit sacks every season no matter what.

The Saints gave a big deal to Charles Grant, and Smith, who is the better DE, is looking for his money as well. From all the reports I've read, Smith's deal should get done in the near future. The Saints would be wise to do so too with Grant's pending legal issues.

Jahri Evans has been the quietest of the three. He's been one of the NFL's better young guards since coming into the league. I'm not sure what the Saints plan to do with him and his contract situation. They have young guards like Andy Alleman and Carl Nicks waiting in the wings, so Evans deal might not be as pressing.

Cohesiveness on the offensive line is a key to success in the NFL, and the Saints should do whatever they can to keep Evans. If Colston and Smith get their deals this year, Evans may get the franchise tag next season.

Jun 9, 2008

Sending the Box out in Style

After all hopes seemed to be lost and the Tigers season looked to be over, LSU and the Alex Box Stadium fans rallied for a historic comeback victory in Game 2 of the Super Regionals, setting up a do-or-die final game tonight versus the UC-Irvine Anteaters.

UC-Irvine is a great team and they have played some of the most fundamentally sound baseball I've ever seen. In Game 1, they capitalized on LSU mistakes and turned just about ever base on balls into a run. LSU played great defense throughout the weekend, but the Anteaters have been just as good.

Yesterday's Game 2 looked to be more of the same as Game 1, with UC-Irvine taking a nice lead early. LSU seemed to be out of it, but a couple of runs in the 8th and a huge 9th inning (the magic of the Box?) gave the Tigers life to play one more time. I didn't get to watch the improbable rally late in the game, but many have said it was one of the best games they've ever witnessed. LSU radio's Jim Hawthorne said it was the best 9th inning he's ever witnessed.

Was this the best game ever at the Box? You decide:

Jun 6, 2008

Last Series for The Box

This weekend marks the true end for an LSU landmark. With the Tigers hosting UC Irvine in the Super Regionals, it's one last go for Alex Box Stadium. Sure the regular season series with Mississippi State was officially the last series for the box, but LSU's unreal season ending winning streak ensured the Tigers as Regional hosts and sweeping through the SEC tournament gave them a Top 8 National Seed and the right to host the Super Regional round.

Its been a remarkable end for the stadium. The Tigers struggled early this year, but have since put together a 20+ game winning streak, which they take with them to play UC Irvine. Is it the magic of the box? Are the Tigers channeling the gold jerseys into the 1996 "miracle" team with Warren Morris giving the Tigers the World Series title with one swing of the bat? The current Tiger team has watched the 1996 team's motivational video and have used those gold jersey wearing players as inspiration.

So what's in store for Alex Box's last series? The UC Irvine Anteaters come in with a dominant pitcher and a West Coast style of baseball. They grind out games and are more likely to score runs on bunts and hit-and-runs than with the long ball. They work station-to-station and liked to slow the game down.

If LSU can rough up their ACE in game 1, it could be a short series. LSU hasn't lost a game in months and don't want to start a losing streak now. Two wins and a trip to Omaha await LSU fans.

Prediction: LSU in two games.

Jun 4, 2008

Top Chef Final 4

The final four for Top Chef have been chosen -- Stephanie, Richard, Antonia and Lisa -- and tonight they make their anticipated journey to the finals in Puerto Rico. I've been a Top Chef fan ever since season 2 and have really enjoyed this season.

There's been some funny characters (Richard, Andrew & Spike), a couple of forgettable ones (Nemma & Valerie), few you want to leave early (Lisa) and some really all around good chefs. The guest judges haven't become too big a part of the show, and there hasn't been much controversy this season (unless you count the internet uproar about Dale's departure over unlikable Lisa).

With the final four in place, here's my predicted order of finish:
  1. Stephanie (won 1/12 Quickfires and 4/12 Elimination Challenges): She's been the best chef all season long. While she was in the bottom once or twice, she has impressed the judges more than any other. She was the strongest chef from the start and has been consistent throughout.
  2. Richard (won 3/12 Quickfires and 3/12 Elimination Challenges): At first Richard seemed cocky, but after the audience got to know him, he's become a fan favorite. He always takes risks and seems to jump on the toughest aspect of each challenge in the team competitions. I would not be surprised to see him pull out the victory with some off-the-wall methods in the finale. He's actually won the most combined challenges.
  3. Antonia (won 4/12 Quickfires and 1/12 Elimination Challenges): She has come the farthest on the show. At first she seemed like someone in the background, but a few wins later and she's one of the top cooks on the show. She prepares meals as she would at home and the audience can relate to her style more than the other "classic" chefs. She's the darkhorse, but don't count her out. It was a tough call for second place with her and Richard.
  4. Lisa (won 1/12 Quickfires and 0/12 Elimination Challenges): I would be flabbergasted if Lisa won. She has been one of the weaker chefs all season and consistently appeared in the bottom. She kept skirting by because one chef always seemed to mess up more than her. Her attitude is bad and she has an "I don't care" look on her face when she gets critiqued. I would have prefered Spike to go on to the Final Four...at least there would have been more humor.
There you have it. Enjoy the finale.