Thursday, March 29, 2012

We know what the S in "U.S.A.!" doesn't stand for

The U.S. soccer team failed to qualify for this summer's Olympics, and you know what that means:

There goes another Olympic sport that we don't get to pretend we care about just because an American team is competing! Damn.

When I was a teenager growing up in Connecticut, the New York Cosmos signed Pele and several other international stars. For a year or two, the Cosmos sold out games at huge stadiums all around the country and garnered high TV ratings.

Soccerheads predicted that the Cosmos phenomenon, coupled with the rapid growth of youth soccer, would propel that sport past baseball, football and basketball on the national stage.

Even though Americans prefer games in which 2-0 isn't considered high-scoring, soccerheads back then were sure that by the turn of the century -- maybe sooner -- their beloved sport would be the new national pastime.

All I have to say about that now is ...

U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Today's High 5: Weekend Recap Edition

5. Kentucky, Kansas, Louisville, Ohio State reach the Final Four.

So nice to see these downtrodden programs finally succeed on the national stage. Everybody loves an underdog.

4. Family members, black leaders, athletes, entertainers and millions of regular folks seek justice in the killing of Trayvon Martin.

Come on, people ... lighten up. Had vigilante shooter George Zimmerman been black and had the innocent, unarmed victim been white, I'm sure Zimmerman still would be free today to calmly explain his actions as self-defense. Right? Right?

3. James Cameron takes his personal submarine to the Mariana Trench, traveling 35,756 feet below sea level in a plunge of historic proportions.

The Titanic director admits that the tremendous water pressure exerted on the sub "is in the back of your mind." No doubt. The Associated Press said the pressure was "the equivalent of having three SUVs sitting on your toe." Mitt Romney's summer-home valet certainly can attest to the discomfort of that situation.

2. Tiger Woods wins a tournament at long last.

Thank goodness. Now he'll be able to pay the rent.

1. Dick Cheney gets a new heart.

Insert your own punchline here.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Thanks for the fun season, Marquette

Sad it's over, but I really enjoyed this Marquette team. Very entertaining, hard-working guys who left it on the court every game.

My lads simply couldn't make enough shots against Florida; 30.8 percent isn't gonna get it done.

But as an adult, I don't derive self-worth from 20-year-old college kids. I remain proud to be a Marquette Warrior, and grateful for the five months of fun Buzz Williams' guys gave all of us alums and fans.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Bracket Mulligan

I'm trying to remember if I've ever had a bracket prediction in which only 7 of my Sweet 16 teams actually made it that far.

The only comfort in my abject failure is that I'm not alone. So many folks -- including high-paid "experts" -- had the likes of Missouri, Duke, Florida State and Vanderbilt in their Final Fours. So many people, like you and me, were wrong, wrong, wrong.

So what the heck ... I'm taking a do-over.


Regional Semifinals

Kentucky over Indiana. Flukes don't happen twice in one season.

Baylor over Xavier. X-Men blinded by Baylor's neon-yellow unis.

Regional Championship

Kentucky over Baylor. Tough to be beat a team of pros.


Regional Semifinals

Michigan State over Louisville. Sparty simply plays smarter.

Marquette over Florida. Those who stay up past normal bedtime will be rewarded with wildly entertaining game.

Regional Championship

Marquette over Michigan State. Crowder and Green cancel each other out; Johnson-Odom takes over.


Regional Semifinals

Wisconsin over Syracuse. Bo-Ball grinds Fab-less Cuse to a screeching halt.

Ohio State over Cincinnati. Jerry Lucas can't save Bearcats this time.

Regional Championship

Ohio State over Wisconsin. Buckeyes bounce Bucky again.


Regional Semifinals

North Carolina over Ohio. With point guard ailing, relative cupcake is treat for Heels.

Kansas over North Carolina State. Somewhere, Jimmy Valvano will be crying.

Regional Championship

Kansas over North Carolina. While Illini search for coach (again), Bill Self's in Final Four (again). Life ain't fair.


Marquette over Kentucky. No more preposterous than Marquette's tourney wins over Kentucky in 2003 and 1994.

Kansas over Ohio State. Thomas Robinson over Jared Sullinger.


Marquette over Kansas. Payback for 2003. What? You expected me to pick Kansas?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Manning or Tebow? You're kidding, right?

There are Broncos fans who actually are ticked off that the team is bringing in a first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback. Why? Because it means the end of the Tim Tebow Era before it ever really began.

How insane is that? If Peyton Manning is as healthy as he appeared to be in numerous workouts for numerous teams, this is the no-brainer to end all no-brainers.

Manning simply is one of the 10 best quarterbacks ever. He has plenty left in the tank, he will be ultra-motivated after having to sit out last year and he instantly will give the Broncos a chance to win big.

Now contrast that to Tebow, who is not an NFL quarterback and never will be.


The best landing spot for Timmy Terrific would be Jacksonville, where the Jaguars are having trouble selling tickets and where local hero Tebow would be a public-relations dream.

Until he has to start throwing passes, anyway.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Baldy's Bracket

No time to go into my thought processes. Then again, delving too deep inside my brain is dangerous for man or beast, so let's get right to my NCAA hoops predictions now that the play-in preliminaries have been played. (Legitimate upset picks are in italics.)


Kentucky over Western Kentucky
UConn over Iowa St.
Wichita St. over VCU
Indiana over New Mexico St.
Colorado over UNLV (11-6 upset)
Baylor over S. Dakota St.
Xavier over Notre Dame
Duke over Lehigh

Kentucky over UConn
Wichita St. over Indiana
Baylor over Colorado
Duke over Xavier

Kentucky over Wichita St.
Baylor over Duke

Kentucky over Baylor


Michigan St. over Long Island
Memphis over St. Louis
Long Beach St. over New Mexico (12-5 upset)
Louisville over Davidson
Colorado St. over Murray St. (11-6 upset)
Marquette over BYU
Florida over Virginia
Missouri over Norfolk St.

Memphis over Michigan St. (8-1 upset)
Long Beach St. over Louisville (12-4 upset)
Marquette over Colorado St.
Missouri over Florida

Memphis over Long Beach St.
Marquette over Missouri

Marquette over Memphis


Syracuse over UNC-Asheville
Kansas St. over S. Mississippi
Vanderbilt over Harvard
Wisconsin over Montana
Cincinnati over Texas
Florida St. over St. Bonaventure
West Virginia over Gonzaga
Ohio St. over Loyola Md.

Syracuse over Kansas St.
Vanderbilt over Wisconsin
Florida St. over Cincinnati
Ohio St. over West Virginia

Vanderbilt over Syracuse (5-1 upset)
Florida St. over Ohio St.

Vanderbilt over Florida State


North Carolina over Vermont
Creighton over Alabama
Temple over S. Florida
Michigan over Ohio
N.C. State over San Diego St. (11-6 upset)
Georgetown over Belmont
St. Mary's over Purdue
Kansas over Detroit

North Carolina over Creighton
Temple over Michigan
Georgetown over N.C. State
Kansas over St. Mary's

North Carolina over Temple
Kansas over Georgetown

Kansas over North Carolina


Marquette over Kentucky
Kansas over Vanderbilt


Marquette over Kansas

I didn't start out meaning to sound like the Marquette alum and fan that I am. But as I went along, I legitimately believed my Golden Warriors were good enough to win every game ... so what am I supposed to do? Pick against them?

The last time I picked them to reach the Final Four was 2003, and they did.

Ipso fatso, cash in those 401ks and IRAs and bet it all on Marquette, kiddies!

(Having said that, I hope my lads don't lose their first game to BYU!!!!)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Snubbed by NCAAs? Tough nuggies!

My Marquette Golden Warriors emerged as 3 seeds, tying their highest since seeding began more than 3 decades ago. So that's good.

If they advance, their second opponent probably will be Murray State. That's bad.

Not because Marquette will be overmatched but because it doesn't seem fair that the No. 3 seed has to play a team from Kentucky in Louisville.

Then again, all my lads had to do was win a couple of games in the Big East tournament. If they had, they would have moved up to a 2 seed (or a slightly higher status among 3 seeds) and they would have received a more favorable draw. Instead, they played poorly, got crushed by Louisville, and now face a potentially difficult challenge.

Frankly, I have little sympathy for teams that get "snubbed" by the NCAA tournament selection committee.

Don't want to get left out of the field? Win your conference tournament. Beat a ranked team or two.

Don't want to get "jobbed" on seeding? Don't bow out early in your conference tourney. Play a tougher non-league schedule.

It's pretty simple, really: Win more and you won't have to whine. That goes for me and my boys, too.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Rush Limbaugh eats babies?

So my many advertisers don't abandon me, I'd like to apologize in advance.

See, I'm about to call Rush Limbaugh a disgusting, fat, vile slob who rapes little children and then eats their hearts, livers and kidneys. He washes down those internal organs (along with a half-dozen Oxycontin pills, of course) with human blood.

See, I already realize I didn't choose the best words to describe Mr. Limbaugh, the conscience and spokesman of today's GOP. What happened is that I got caught up with the vitriol spewed by those on the right, and I followed their lead. I should have been better than that.

Republican leaders -- men and women we entrust to run our country and take on our enemies abroad -- live in fear of Mr. Limbaugh, who could crush them by uttering one word about them on his radio show (not to mention by sitting on them). It's one of the many problems with our country today, but that doesn't mean I should be using insults and other incendiary language when describing him.

So believe me ... when I said that Mr. Limbaugh puts firecrackers into the anuses of puppies and then lights the fuses, what I really meant to say is that he merely is a drug-abusing hypocrite jerk who wants to play God.

Phew. I feel better already. And I'm sure my sponsors do, too.


And speaking of idiocy bordering on evil ...

NFL commish Roger Goodell can't possibly come down hard enough on the Saints for giving their players financial incentives to injure opposing players during their title-winning 2009 season and other years.

Fines to the GM and the coach should reach into seven digits, the former defensive coordinator should be suspended for a year and every player involved should be suspended without pay for a minimum of four games. The franchise should lose at least two first-round draft picks and should be banned from next year's postseason.

The NFL should keep investigating to see if other teams from the recent past -- especially those that employed defensive coordinator Gregg Williams -- also engaged in the "bounty pool" practice and should punish them accordingly.

With Williams egging them on, Saints players pooled their money to create a bounty system that rewarded players with $1,000 for "cart-offs" and $1,500 for "knockouts." The Saints targeted specific opponents, among them Kurt Warner and Brett Favre.


Football is violent enough. (And we love that about it, don't we?) But to reward players with money for purposely injuring opponents is as immoral an act as anything that has taken place in recent sports history. It is significantly worse than Spygate -- and that was pretty bad.

Goodell has made a name for himself as the toughest sheriff around, doling out significant punishment for relatively minor infractions. If he's willing to fine a player $10,000 for celebrating in the end zone, he certainly should be willing to fine a player 10 or even 100 times that for aiming to deliberately hurt fellow players.

Here is Goodell's chance to show his disciplinary program is for real and not just for show.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Wilt's 100 was amazing, but I'll take his 50.4

Today is the 50th anniversary of Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game. It was an amazing feat and it's a beautifully round number. Still, I don't think it's his most impressive statistical accomplishment.

And no, I'm not talking about the 20,o00 ladies he claimed to have boinked. (Though that is incredible. I mean, it's almost three times my career total!)

In 1961-62, the same season in which he had that 100-point game, Chamberlain averaged -- AVERAGED! -- 50.4 points.

As stupendous as his 100-point game was, it also was something of a fluke. For one thing, Wilt was 28-of-32 from the free-throw line. A notoriously bad foul shooter, he shot them granny-style in that and many other games that season. The opponent that day, the Knicks, didn't bother to play defense in a 169-147 game that Wilt's Warriors led big from start to finish.

In many respects, Kobe Bryant's 81 points in a relatively low-scoring 2006 game (122-104) that was close until midway through the fourth quarter was at least as impressive. It's not Wilt's fault that he was taller than just about everybody else back in his era, but it is a fact. Kobe had no such advantage. And Bryant didn't score mostly on dunks and layups. (Then again, Kobe did benefit from seven 3-pointers.)

Averaging 50.4 points over an 80-game season? There's nothing even remotely fluky about that. It's an astounding display of consistent excellence, even moreso when you factor in his 25.7 rebounds per game.

Michael Jordan, generally considered the greatest player ever, topped out at 37.1 points -- which is only 73.6 percent of Wilt's standard. (By comparison, Kobe's 81-point game represented 81 percent of Wilt's 100.)

That 37.1 average by Jordan in 1986-87 was the sixth-highest ever recorded. Four of the five averages ahead of him were posted by, of course, Wilt Chamberlain. (The other was Elgin Baylor's 38.3.)

Yes, 100 points in a game is amazing, incredible, astounding, you pick the adjective. But you know what? It wasn't even double Wilt's average that season.

Bloviating bully Limbaugh & other non-surprises

Kentucky rolls. Illinois loses. Infamous druggie hypocrite Rush Limbaugh says something bombastic, insensitive and idiotic. Grady Sizemore has back surgery and will be sidelined for months. Tiger Woods laments his lousy putting. GOP voters voice displeasure with their presidential-candidate choices. SI reports that a college basketball coach, UCLA's Ben Howland, looked the other way while the inmates ran the asylum. European Union leaders are arguing. Cubbie fans express hope.

If you were looking for the first day of March to yield unexpected treasures, you shoulda stayed in bed.