The Sports Broadcast

A blog about sports broadcasting from the great state of Florida. They report. I decide.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Midnight Madness

Tonight is Midnight Madness night all across the college basketball world. It's a nice way for schools to get people excited about the upcoming season, and make a few bucks on a night of selling concessions. The whole reason why it exists is that prior to the season there is a set amount of time that coaches and players are not allowed by the NCAA to be on the same basketball court at the same time to ensure everyone gets the same amout of preseason practice time. Tomorrow is the day where they officially can reunite on the hardwood, hence everyone going nuts at midnight. A few years back only the traditional big-time programs (like Kansas and Kentucky, among a few others) would put on these events, but now it's almost a requirement for any school that wants itself to be taken seriously to have one of these events. Just about everyone calls their event Midnight Madness, but some programs have their own special name like Kansas' Late Night In The Phog, North Carolina's Late Night With (Fill in Current Coach's Name Here), or Kentucky's Big Blue Madness.

I will be attending Florida's Midnight Madness tonight, with comments to come tomorrow after the football game. Unfortunately, they have included a gimmicky "Gator Idol" final to crown the best American Idol wannabe on campus, with a special guest appearance by a "real American Idol celebrity guest." I apologize now if I have nothing to write about tomorrow, because if this "celebrity guest" ends up being William Hung, I may just have to walk out.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Foiled Again

Once again, Miami falls behind big but stages an improbable 4th quarter comeback to win. Last year it was Florida, this year a scrappy Louisville team that just gained a lot of respect on the national stage. Louisville is ranked 17th this week, but based on their performance tonight the Cardinals really should move up in the polls. I don't know what it is about Brock Berlin, how he can throw for only 99 yards in a game earlier this year (against Houston, no less) and then 309 yards and 3 touchdowns tonight. I bet the Miami coaches wonder that too. Scratch one more team off of the potential "BCS buster" list and the potential unbeaten list, but not my potential unbeaten list as Louisville was left off of it due to this game. Hey, after the beating my predictions took last weekend, I'll take any moral victories I can get.

Speaking of Cardinals, the St. Louis - Houston game has been good tonight. The Astros jumped out to a 3-0 lead until the Cardinals' bats woke up against Pete Munro and allowed them to take a one-run lead. Houston tied it up against the immortal Kiko Calero, but now the new Murderers' Row has gotten back to being gruesome and so St. Louis is back on top. Thus far, all of the Red Birds' runs have come off of home runs, with Larry Walker and Phat Albert Pujols getting theirs and Scott Rolen putting two up and out. Hey, no one ever accused these Cardinals of playing small ball.

NOTE: Yesterday I commented on the Cardinals having a "Rivera-like closer," but I have since changed it to "a good-solid" closer. Somehow, I was thinking about the Astros' Brad Lidge while writing about St. Louis, which led to the comment. Lidge has shown some Rivera-like flashes, Jason Isringhausen has not. I have no good explanation for the error, so I'll just leave it at this: Oops.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Playoffs and Gators

Well, two nights of LCS baseball down, and the Yankees are enjoying a 2-0 lead with the Cardinals taking a 1-0 lead over the Astros. I didn't expect New York to win the first two games, mainly because I didn't think Schilling's ankle was in as bad of shape as it is. He's going to need surgery, and if it wasn't the playoffs he'd be headed to the DL. Not good news for Boston. Pedro Martinez did admirably against the Daddies, but the Red Sox really should score more than one run against Jon Lieber, unless Lieber is just better than anyone has ever thought or any of his past performances and career stats would indicate. Boston really needs to win three straight at Fenway to feel good about its chances for winning the series, and that's just not too likely to happen, sad to say.

St. Louis meanwhile bludgeoned the Astros tonight for a 10-7 victory. That will probably be the story for Game 2 as Houston will likely have to send Pete Munro to the mound to avoid pitching Roger Clemens and Roy Oswalt on short rest twice in the series. As I have stated before, I just don't think anyone will be able to stop the Cardinals' lineup. Larry Walker, one of the best hitters of this generation, bats second. Second! Combine that with starters who are good enough not to give up more runs than they score and an above-average bullpen with a good solid closer, it's over.

Speaking of baseball, the good citizens of Washington DC might not want baseball quite as much as the mayor thought. It seems they want a hospital within city limits and improved schools instead, imagine that. After all of the problems in Montreal, baseball performed a rush job to send the Expos to Washington even though the city and team probably wouldn't be ready for such a quick turnaround. Then, the mayor of DC allows himself to get the city into possibly the most fiscally irresponsible financing deal for a sports team ever which might cause the voters and/or Congress to veto the plan. The Expos just can't seem to get any breaks.

Meanwhile, things just keep getting worse for Ron Zook. Aside from not being able to sleep or eat well since the loss to LSU, some buried news has just surfaced. Apparently days before the Tennessee game, Athletic Director Jeremy Foley sent Zook to a frat house to break up a fight involving football players and ended up leveling some threats towards frat members. Now, this brings up some important questions:

-Why do UF football players seem to get into fights at every party they go to?
-What was Jeremy Foley doing sending Zook to break up a fight instead of the police? Is he afraid of more players getting arrested? Isn't this worse than if the police had been the only ones who had shown up?
-He allegedly said "
I'm not going to let you take the [expletive] football team down." Did Zook actually think that frat guys, who are generally some of the most devoted football fans around Gainesville, want to take the program down?
-What does this mean if Zook can't beat Georgia and/or FSU?

In the end, there's no possible way to spin this. Foley should not have sent Zook to a frat party fight, and Zook should not have acted like he belonged in one. Ultimately his job comes down to wins and losses, and regardless of the reasons, his teams have immense amounts of trouble beating good teams. It's a bit premature, but certainly I wouldn't be the first to offer a list of possible replacements, all of which are contingent that Foley doesn't do another must-be-from-the-Florida-family thing:

-Urban Meyer, head coach, Utah. He has turned Utah into a BCS contender, and earlier this year the Utes not only manhandled a fairly good Texas A&M team, but *gasp* closed them out too. He also has turned QB Alex Smith into a Heisman candidate. It might be difficult to get him to leave, though.

Rich Rodriguez, head coach, West Virginia. The fact that people talked about the Mountaineers going undefeated is as much a sign of respect for him as it is an indictment of the new Big East. He seldom if ever gets outcoached. Once again, getting him to leave West Virginia might be tough.

-Mike Leach, head coach, Texas Tech. If anything, it would end Florida fans' griping about the team not passing enough. Seriously though, his team this year looks like it's turning the corner as the defense might actually be legit for once.

Frank Solich, unemployed. This would just confuse everyone. Still, he has coached in a national title game, but we're talking huge long shot. I don't see Foley wanting to put Chris Leak in Solich's hands.

Steve Spurrier, unemployed. Not a chance in the world. I only mention him to kill the notion right now. When he said he was done coaching the Gators, he meant it. Solich has a better chance of coaching the Gators than Stevearino returning. Foley knows enough not to expect Spurrier to come back, but if he ever got desperate enough to seriously call him about the job, I can imagine how it would go:

Jeremy Foley: Hi Steve, how are you doing?
Steve Spurrier: Just dandy, Jeremy. How 'bout you?
JF: I've been better. I'm sure you heard about Ron.
SS: Yeah I did. You know what, it's just a shame how that worked out.
JF: It was. That means we have a head coaching vacancy, you know.
SS: I noticed. Listen, I got to go catch a plane for a job interview out in Austin. I hear Texas is nice this time of year.
JF: That's what they tell me. Good talking to you, and good luck. You know if things don't work out maybe...
SS: Thanks, you too. (click)

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Finishing the Job

As noted, the Braves lost in the postseason again, confirming once again how they are one of the weakest dynasties in sports. So many division titles in a row, so little to show for it. The streak should have ended in 1994 when the Expos had the best record in baseball, but the strike killed that year (and a good portion of the love for baseball in Montréal) and allowed the Braves streak to continue. It's surpassed in the useless-streak department only by the St. Louis Blues' streak of making the playoffs 24 straight years without even a single title to show for it. Atlanta at least won it all in 1995.

And how about Tom Gordon and that cork? He's been around long enough that he should know how to celebrate correctly. Perhaps he needs to look into some personal celebration protection like Pedro Martinez did.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Unfortunate News

Sad news struck the baseball world today with the passing of Ken Caminiti at the too-young age of 41 due to a heart attack. He was one of the best players of the '90s, with his best season coming in 1998 for the Padres in which he was named MVP and led the team to the World Series.

He was plagued by substance abuse problems however, and regardless of the autopsy results it can only be concluded that those problems led to his untimely end. He battled with alcoholism and cocaine abuse, and admitted to taking steroids in his 1998 MVP season. His is an especially sad story since he seemed to embody everything you want young people to aspire to: he gave his all on the field and was a popular clubhouse leader off it. Instead, his life stands as a tragic example of what getting into drugs can do to you.

Two of his former teams are finishing up Game 5 of the NLDS with the Astros pulling away from the Braves late to wrap up their first postseason series win in club history. I want to make some kind of sarcastic remark about the Braves postseason futility, or bring in a tangent and make fun of Yankees' reliever Tom Gordon having blurred vision in his left eye after having it get hit with a champagne cork, but not right now. We'll see about tomorrow.

Error Corrected

One error that I have just corrected is that somehow on the Full Disclosure page I left off that I tend to root for Texas Tech football. I have ever since the Kliff Kingsbury days, and I even attended their Tangerine Bowl win over Clemson two years ago. Basically, the Red Raiders take the pass-first offense that I grew up watching the Gators run, and they take it a step further. It makes for some exciting football and gaudy statistics. Plus, they're the pesky underdog of the Big XII - just good enough to scare the top teams, but not good enough to win the conference. They actually look legit this year, as they lost by a close margin to Oklahoma instead of getting blown out, and as I mentioned before they killed Nebraska 70-10.

I bring this up because Wes Welker, who just graduated from Tech and is in the NFL now, has made an interesting name for himself. He's a receiver/kick returner, and broke the NCAA record for career punt returns for a TD. In Sunday's Dolphins-Patriots game, Miami kicker Olindo Mare went down injured, and Welker stepped in and kicked both an extra point and a 29-yard field goal. This not only made many NFL pundits actually find out who Wes Welker is, but also ponder if he could play QB for the winless Fins.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

A Little Baseball

Unfortunately, the Braves won again, forcing a Game 5 agains the Astros. Hopefully, Houston can close it out and have a nice moment celebrating its first-ever postseason series win before getting annihilated by the Cardinals, who closed out the Dodgers today. Or, as ESPN.com's front page sidebar says at time of posting, "The winner [of the Houston-Atlanta series] gets the Cardinals, who are finished off the Dodgers in four games, winning 6-2." Apparently, all the Dodgers' base are belong to Cardinals too. I'm terrible.

More Football

The polls are out and Florida is consensus #22. That's about right, I think.

Updated list of possible unbeatens:
Auburn
Boise State
Oklahoma
USC
Utah
Wisconsin
the Virginia-Miami winner

Wisconsin moves on earlier than I thought it would due to how impressive the win over Ohio State was. There are other teams that are currently undefeated that aren't on the list because it's not probable that they will go unbeaten due to tough upcoming games, including Southern Miss (will probably run the table until Dec. 4 vs. Cal), Arizona State (still must play USC and Cal), Louisville (though everything changes if they can upset Miami), Purdue (still must play Ohio State, Michigan, and Wisconsin) and Oklahoma State (which still must play Oklahoma and Texas Tech). Also, honorable mention goes to Stetson University, which not only is undefeated this season, but has never lost a football game in its history.

The worst off-season move in college football from how things look right now was Nebraska firing Frank Solich. Was Solich's 9-3 record last year really that bad? Husker fans can gripe all they want about his teams, but they never lost to anyone like the 70-10 score Texas Tech just hung up on them, officially the worst loss in Husker history. I still can't figure out how the Red Raiders lost to New Mexico, other than that it was on the road. If Oklahoma somehow loses to Kansas State again (not likely, as K-State just lost to Kansas) and then to Oklahoma State (entirely possible, given the track record) then Tech might go to the Big XII title game if they can beat Texas in two weeks. Things are starting to get desperate on Nebraska message boards (and strange - what is a UCF fan doing posting on a Nebraska board for over a year?).

Kyle Orton finally threw an interception (two, in fact) in Purdue's close win over Penn State, proving he is actually human this year. I still think the Heisman is his to lose because despite the miscues, his team still won and after all, that's only two INTs on the season.

The NFL has been much kinder to me than college football was yesterday. My Bucs finally won a game over the New Orleans Saints 20-17 behind the leadership of former third-string QB Brian Griese. I think Brad Johnson got a bit of a raw deal with the team's lack of receivers leading to many of his struggles, but at this point I'll take wins however they come.

Congrats to Daunte Culpepper once again, throwing for 396 yards and 5 TD in an OT win over the Texans, with one of the five being the game-winner in overtime. It appears the so-called Madden curse from 2002 has completely worn off and he is back to being unstoppable, bringing up memories of the 1998 Vikings that went 15-1 (the one loss being to the Bucs, by the way). How did Peyton Manning do in comparison to Daunte? Well, there's really no comparison, but he threw for 198 yards with 3 TD and 1 INT. Why do I bring up Manning? Mainly because I don't like him and will take any excuse to rag on him, but also because many people, including Dan Marino, seem to think he's the best QB in the NFL. I couldn't disagree more.

I'll say it again:
maybe Kurt Warner's injury affected him a lot more than people thought.

Finally, congratulations also to the Detroit Lions who moved to 3-1 on the season by becoming the first team to defeat the Falcons, the Rams who defied many prognosticators and became the first team to defeat the Seahawks this year, and the Chargers who improved to 3-2 with a win over the Jaguars. Did any of those "Surprise Team of the Year" pundits who anointed Jacksonville this year predict that through five games the Jags and Chargers would have the same record?