The Sports Broadcast

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

Saturday, October 23, 2004

The End

I have no words for today's UF loss to Mississippi State. Actually, that's a lie. I have a lot of words for it. I will do my best to pick the most coherent ones. Just about all that is certain now is that we won't have to worry about Ron Zook anymore after this season. More on that later.

This loss was inexcusable. As far as I could tell, only two players showed up ready to play: RB Ciatrick Fason with 143 yards on just 16 carries and LB Channing Crowder who finished with 20 tackles. Chris Leak had a nice game statistically, but you couldn't tell by the way he was missing receivers on deep passes and telegraphed an interception that setup the Bulldogs' winning score. The Florida coaching staff was outcoached in every facet of the game. The players played with absolutely no enthusiasm. All you had to see was the Gators' run coverage to understand. MSU was doing run plays so basic they might have come out of Tecmo Bowl, but the Gators could not stop them. They made the wrong adjustment in the 4th quarter by moving linebackers up to the line of scrimmage in hopes of tackling the runner in the backfield, but Mississippi State RB Jerious Norwood was too quick for that. Since linebackers were blitzing, Norwood usually only had one linebacker to contend with over the middle of the field before he broke into the secondary. And God only knows why the Gators were playing nickle coverage when MSU was driving into the substantial wind that made passing extremely difficult. UF defensive coordinator Charlie Strong looked completely puzzled the entire second half.

This was an awful game to watch from the beginning. It was setup as a look-ahead game with Florida facing Georgia next Saturday, but if it was going to be close, the Gators should have snapped out of it enough to beat a team that lost to Div. I-AA Maine earlier this year. Yes, that's right, Maine, who held the Bulldogs to just 7 points. MSU was averaging paltry 12.5 points a game going into this one. I began to realize that as time went on, they weren't going to snap out of it. It was going to be close. I went from thinking "Uh oh, this isn't going to look good to the pollsters," to "Uh oh, they're hanging around way too long to roll over and die - we might actually lose this," to thinking nothing and feeling sick. It was the same feeling as during the 4th quarter of LSU - it wasn't a matter of when the opponent took the lead, but how much time would be left on the clock when it happened.

This brings me back to Coach Zook. As much as you can try to be apologetic for the loss at Tennessee (we really and truly got shafted by the refs) and against LSU (it's a young team, LSU was desperate, and so forth), there's absolutely no excuse for this game. You could stretch and say it was the bad karma of wearing the white jersey-white pants combo that the team wore in the Tennessee loss, but I think that's up to the coaching staff too. It's Zook's fault for arrogantly trying to come out and run over the Bulldogs after saying so in the media - even bad teams can stack the box, especially ones coached by guys that take the phrase "playing for pride" seriously (like Sylvester Croom). It's Larry Fedora's fault for calling a haphazard mix of plays instead of committing to a balanced offense that could get the players into a rhythm. It's Charlie Strong's fault for getting completely outcoached. It's not just Zook whose inadequacies were exposed, but the entire staff's shortcomings were on display. Barring some kind of miracle and wins over Georgia and FSU by an average of 50 points, UF may have its January bowl streak snapped (the streak being a particular point of pride for athletic director Jeremy Foley) and Zook and his staff will be out of their jobs. He has lost the fan support with this loss, and for proof you can look no further than the fact that www.fireronzook.com appears to have suffered the same effects as a Slashdotting and now is unavailable due to excessive traffic amounts.

Okay, the positives. A big congratulations to Sylvester Croom on his first conference win. You earned it big time, Sly, and I have no doubt that soon you will make your program into a national terror. Alabama will be wishing it hired you instead of Mike Shula, who can't actually coach. Also, it should be noted that the president of Utah who hired Urban Meyer happens to be one J. Bernard Machen, the recently-inducted president of UF. Oh please, oh please, oh please (please?).

Your assignment, if you read this in time: watch Texas at Texas Tech, at 7 on TBS. In Mack Brown's tenure, he has only lost one regular-season game following an Oklahoma loss, and that was two years ago in the last time they visited the Red Raiders in Lubbock. Your other assignment is to watch Fresno State - Boise State at 10:15 on ESPN 2. Not only to you get to watch a game on the priceless "Smurf Turf" in Boise, but you get to see what is likely the Broncos' last chance at losing this year. Also, it's your second-to-last chance to see the Broncos play on national TV before bowl season, and they're a fun team to watch. QB Jared Zabransky is highly talented, and with the way the BSU defense has been playing recently, Fresno has a chance to score almost anytime they line up on offense. Plus, Boise puts the nation's longest winning streak (17 games) and home winning streak (22 games) on the line, so there's that intrigue too. You also just might see a team in orange and blue win today, which would be a welcome change.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Draft Dodger

Congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals for winning the NLCS and getting to face the Boston This-Is-Our-Years in the World Series. Their slumbering bats woke up, and their three MVP candidates came up big with Jim Edmonds' walk-off in Game 6, Scott Rolen's big homer in Game 7, and Albert Pujols winning the series MVP. Despite the momentum behind the Red Sox right now, the Cardinals still have an excellent chance at winning the series as they have a better overall pitching staff and a lineup that might even be more dangerous than the Boston lineup. In addition, the Sox will be without Kevin Millar or David Ortiz when they visit St. Louis, a noticeable blow when the Cards will be at full power regardless. With the Red Birds and Red Sox matching up, all of the "Red October" puns have started, and I don't expect them to end anytime soon.

Next Friday is the draft for the fantasy basketball league I joined with some friends, but unfortunately I can't be there for it. That means I get to live with whatever AutoDraft gives me. Hopefully by doing my custom rankings of players I made it a little more intelligent, but depending on how other people draft and since I might end up towards the end of the drafting rotation, I still could end up with Marcus Camby and Samuel Dalembert as my two centers, and that's a scary proposition. The hardest thing to remember was that I was picking players I think will be stat machines, not what I think would be a winning team (the difference being as visible as the dichotomy of the Mavericks and Pistons). I put seven players on the exclude list: Eddie Curry, Tyson Chandler, and Michael Olowokandi for being generally useless; Chris Webber, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and Vince Carter for being injuries waiting to happen (that would cause mid-season crises and desperate waiver wire searching); and Keith Van Horn just because I've never liked him as a pro, and though he is generally useless, he does have a nice ppg (but nothing else). I can do better with players who have lower default rankings than he has, so I won't even bother with the possibility of getting stuck with him. This is my first shot at a fantasy league, so here's hoping for the best. I'll post what my team turned out to be next Saturday. I'm kind of hoping to get Cuttino Mobley since if the preseason is any indication (and it isn't always), then he's going to be the top scorer for the Magic this season, who are going to be a great team as long as they get used to each other (probable) and Hedo Turkoglu is not in front of Pat Garrity in the rotation (doubtful).

EDIT: I erroneously reported that the draft was today, but it is in fact next Friday. I still can't be there for it, so it changes nothing. I have no good explanation as to why I wrote that it was today.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

BoSux No More

On a chilled night in late October, on the grandest stage of stage of them all, the Boston Red Sox overcame precedent, predictions, and history itself in vanquishing the New York Yankees in decisive manner, 10-3. Boston has turned into Bedlam. The Sons of Sam Horn can barely contain themselves. The Red Sox win the pennant. Over the Yankees. In Yankee Stadium. After going down 3-0 for the series. With Derek Lowe starting. Even the greediest of Boston fans would never have written that script.

In the end, the Yankees' downfall was exactly what everyone had thought it would be before the season: a lack of pitching. Especially once Javier Vazquez lost it after the break (even more especially after starting the 22-0 game), it was only a matter of time before their thin rotation came back to bite them. Orlando Hernandez's Return from Nowhere patched the hole for a while, but for as little as he had been pitching before the Yankees found him again, getting dead arm was almost to be expected. Kevin Brown has always been injury-prone, Mike Mussina is cursed, Vazquez had never felt real pressure in Montréal, and Jon Lieber has been up and down his whole career. Combine that with the fact that Joe Torre used three relievers (Paul Quantrill, Tom Gordon, Mariano Rivera) in their 30s almost exclusively during the regular season, and that's big trouble. Just like with this past season's Lakers, a lack of depth behind the regulars cost the Yankees a title. When your take on depth is Tony Clark, Tanyon Sturtze, and Felix Heredia, you can't expect to win a title.

Perhaps for revenge for what happened with their Game 5, the Cardinals and Astros decided to have their own 12-inning classic in Game 6 to bleed over into the ALCS time slot. While the Astros do have Roger Clemens starting Game 7, three innings of Brad Lidge this evening may come back to bite them. By starting Pete Munro, Houston was basically saying it didn't care much about winning this game, so why ensure that Lidge won't be available for the game they're actually going to try to win? That will be huge if tomorrow's game is close late, especially since Clemens just can't finish games anymore like he could when he was younger.

As for now though, savor history being made. I am not a Boston fan. I am a Baltimore fan when it comes to the AL. While watching tonight's game I really thought to myself a couple times, "Man, if only the Orioles would get some good pitching..." Still, seeing the Yankees lose is priceless to an Orioles fan, and seeing a 3-0 series lead erased is even more priceless as it has never happened in baseball history. You remember these moments, because if it took over a century for it to happen once, asking for it again in your lifetime is a bit much, don't you think?

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Seven

It's not enough that the Yankees and Red Sox are rematching last year. It's not enough the history that the teams share. They each must make everything dramatic. They just can't make things easy. Yankees race out to a 3-0 lead despite all predictions and common sense, then two games for 26 innings, two consecutive blown saves by Rivera for the first time ever in the playoffs, Keith Foulke walking the tying run on base, and on and on.

Some want to call David Ortiz "Señor October" now (though Señor Octubre would be more appropriate, I suppose). He is the first person ever to have more than one walk-off home run in a playoff series, and he notched a walk-off single in Game 5. Game 6 was more typical for playoff baseball as blown saves and five-hour marathons are decidedly not the norm. Two hockey teams have come back from a 3-0 deficit (1942 Maple Leafs and 1972 Islanders, if you wanted to know), but no baseball teams ever have. The longest-tenured Red Sox player, Tim Wakefield (since 1995), takes the mound tomorrow for Game 7, which promises a million clips of Aaron Bleeping Boone hitting a walk-off homer off of Wakefield in last year's Game 7. While most predictions of intstant history never stand up, tomorrow's game already is instant history. Watch it if you can, even if you don't like baseball.

This all reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, which doubles as evidence as to why I can't stand Jim Gray at all, which is approximately: "Kobe, would you say you're now at do-or-die time?" -Gray, to Kobe Bryant before Game 7 of a recent Lakers-Kings playoff series

Meanwhile, the Astros and Cardinals are playing for the World Series too. Jayson Stark wrote a fantastic piece on Game 5 of the NLCS, now one of the all-time classic pitching duels. While Brandon Backe and Woody Williams may not sound like Ghosts of October, they sure pitched like them last night. Backe is a late-season call-up find for the Astros, who have won 9 of his 12 starts, and Woody Williams is a solid journeyman pitcher who is unhittable when he's on. Each left the game having given up just one hit through 8, with Jeff Kent hitting a walk-off home run off of Cards closer Jason Isringhausen. It was one for the ages, but due to the ALCS game going to 14 innings, only the 9th inning of that game was televised nationally, and that's a real shame. The St. Louis - Houston series is almost every bit as classic as the Boston - New York series (except for the 1918 angle and the 3-0 deficit erasing part). It's a old school classic, with each team taking shots at each other and staging incredible pitching duels. Its only chance at being remembered, due to the ALCS' drama, is for the winner to win the World Series, forcing people to look back at how they got there. There's a very good shot at that happening too, so stay tuned, and watch the NLCS too, if you can.

EDIT: It has come out that Derek Lowe will be starting Game 7 for the Sox, not Wakefield. Terry Francona said before Game 6 that Wakefield would start game seven, but Wakefield said after the game that Lowe would start. Expect to see Timmy as well as Bronson Arroyo, however, as the rest of the Sox pen is spent, especially Foulke (with Mike Myers being the exception as he is useful for pitching to exactly one lefty batter a game). Schilling going 7 innings tonight was huge as they only needed one inning from Arroyo and one from Foulke to win. Still, Boston has to be hoping for a latge lead going into the 9th, not only because big leads are better than small leads, ties, and trailing, but also so they would not have to send Foulke to the mound for the fourth straight game.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Quick update

I now have a contact link on the sidebar becuase I now have an e-mail account especially for this blog now: spbroadcast@gmail.com. Many thanks to the Spread Firefox people for getting me the GMail account. Please continue to leave comments about posts using the commenting form, but to contact me specifically, to request me linking to you, or anything else along those lines, please use the e-mail. A real post on sports stuff will probably come late tonight once stuff has actually happened today.

Monday, October 18, 2004

This Just In

In a trade that looks perfect for both sides, the Seattle Seahawks have traded for Oakland Raiders WR Jerry Rice. The Raiders get only a conditional 7th round pick, but get to unload an unhappy living legend and a bad PR situation. While Rice is well past his peak, he still can be useful in the NFL, especially on a team like Seattle that has receivers who have trouble with dropping balls. While he won't outrun anyone anymore and may be just a possession receiver, however many catches by Jerry Rice they get are that fewer potential Koren Robinson drops.

In addition, Seattle WR Bobby Engram may have to miss a couple of weeks with an ankle sprain, and the afforementioned Robinson is facing a possible four-game suspension for violation of the the league substance abuse policy. This trade is huge for the struggling Seahawks since the scenario of being without Engram and Robinson makes RB Shaun Alexander, who doesn't have a LaDanian Tomlinson-like propensity for catching passes, their third-leading receiver.

My Man

Once again, Daunte Culpepper has proven himself the dominant quarterback in the NFL. Granted, I could probably throw for at least 100 yards on the Saints defense, but then again, no one else in the league has put up 425 yards and 5 TDs on them this season. Half of the game was without Randy Moss too, showing that Daunte is the straw that stirs the purple Kool Aid, and the runaway front-runner for MVP.

It's possible that this year's late-season disappointment concerning the Dolphins will actually be related to them winning a game, not losing as normal.

I love it when I see sports columnists try to use big words that they don't know how to use. The latest offender is Alan Grant, who in ESPN.com's weekly column about quarterbacks called some of Seattle's early opponents "circumspect, at best, and soft at worst." I believe "suspect" was the word he was looking for. Courtesy of Dictionary.com, observe:

circumspect \Cir"cum*spect\, a. Attentive to all the circumstances of a case or the probable consequences of an action; cautious; prudent; wary.

While that may describe Baltimore's offense, it isn't really fit to describe entire football teams, especially when you are making disparaging remarks about them.

I think it's about time to put the myth about quarterbacks from non-BCS leagues needing more time to learn than those from BCS leagues. A good start would be comparing Ben Roethlisberger and Carson Palmer, for instance, but also take a look at Byron Leftwich. A lot of people are surprised at how mobile Big Ben is, but if you paid attention to college football last year and made the effort to watch Miami (OH) play on TV, then his performances would not be a shock at all. I thought on draft day that the Steelers getting Roethlisberger was a steal along the lines of the Vikings getting Randy Moss and the Spurs getting Tim Duncan (lucking out that the one season David Robinson misses for injury just happened to be the one before Duncan graduated).

My Bucs are hanging in there on MNF against the Rams, and actually leading 17-14 at the half. When they signed Brian Griese, it evoked the same kind of feeling I got when I saw them sign Rob Johnson and Ryan Leaf: "Oh great, another washed up QB designed to replace Brad Johnson who will only sit the bench and end up not replacing Brad Johnson." He won last week, somehow, which is encouraging I guess. Anything is better than Chris Simms in my opinion (which drastically differes from a lot of people's opinions) as he has been tainted with the Mack Brown can't-win-anything-that-really-matters curse. Just keep feeding Michael Clayton, and eveything will be okay Brian.

One quick baseball note: for all the hype, the Yankees going up 3-0 on the Sox is wholly unsurprising as the Sox can be emotional wrecks but the Yanks have the cold, calculating stoicism of an assassin. Kind of like their fans, really. However, if you're going to Reverse the Curse, why not do it in style? I mean, it's not like teams recover from a deficit like that all the time or anything. Twelve innings for a win last night and 14 tonight, and scoring with Mariano Rivera on the mound in both to boot.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

College Wrapup

No broadcast yesterday as my Internet was inexplicably down all day. I don't know why it is gone or when it will return, so updates may be intermittent until TSB World Headquarters is back up and running.

Beating Middle Tennessee State 52-16 realistically does nothing for Florida as far as regaining some respect nationally or getting back in the SEC East race, but it was exactly what the team needed. After a bad week on the field and in the press, having a game where it was never in doubt was just what the doctor ordered. The crowd was at least 11,000 under capacity, but as this was supposed to be an off-week (thanks, Frances) and considering the opponent, that's not unexpected. Chris Leak was excellent, Chad Jackson was spectacular, and Deshawn Wynn took home 3 TDs. All around, it was a good day.

The rest of college football has quite an exciting day. Some teams had close calls (Miami, Oklahoma, Texas), some untested teams were exposed (Arizona State, Virginia, Purdue, Michigan, Tennessee, Oklahoma State), and a few others were simply KOed (Ohio State, Minnesota). Boise State and Southern Miss showed how dicey it is when comparing non-BCS conference teams with the BCS leagues as Boise State, who may go undefeated, beat lowly Tulsa on a last-second field goal and Southern Miss was dominated by Alabama 27-3. Utah, however, keeps looking better and better, not only because of a thoroughly impressive win over North Carolina, but also due to Texas A&M's victory over Oklahoma State. TAMU looks like a very strong team, and Utah ran it up on them 41-21 the first game of the season. Texas needs to figure out how to throw as its QBs managed just 56 yards with two INTs in their close win over Missouri. If they can't, then Texas Tech, who definitely knows how to throw the ball, is going to kill the Longhorns' BCS hopes in Lubbock on Saturday.

Updated Probable Unbeatens List:
Auburn
Boise State
Miami
Oklahoma
USC
Utah
Wisconsin

Wisconsin made me look good for putting them on the list last week, and Virginia made me look bad for having them on it at all as Ohio State has done the past two weeks. The Big East is the only conference without a candidate, though no conference has more than one.

What happened to the ACC? Wasn't it supposed to be one of the best conferences in football? It's the same old story as ever, with FSU and, predictably, newcomer Miami being the only legitamate teams followed by a large group of pretenders. Virginia looks like it has turned in Maryland - they can rack up a lot of wins over other mediocre ACC teams, but when it comes to the elite, they simply fold. Miami and FSU aside, every ACC team has at least one loss it shouldn't have and the conference overall has an underwhelming non-conference record. So much for the preseason hype. It's a joke of a football conference as it always has been. Call me back during basketball season.

Speaking of basketball, Florida's Midnight Madness was mixed bag. It kicked off with a straight-games win over LSU in volleyball. It showed how much confidence the school has in the volleyball team as the entire night's schedule would have been thrown off had the volleyball match gone longer than the minimum three games. It was also interesting to be there with basketball fans making up the largest portion of the audience as they are quite different than the normal volleyball crowd. The special guest was indeed William Hung, inciting some in the crowd to jingle their keys at him while performing as they would at the opposing fans during the 4th quarter of a blowout basketball or football game. He even received his own personalized black #23 jersey, causing the program to reach a new low. If there's anything that says "jinx on the season" more than giving a no-talent hack an honorary jersey, I'd like to know. I'm sure he's a nice guy, but that doesn't make his singing more on key and plus, the joke died a long time ago. The teams came out and ran layup drills and sloppy scrimmages like normal, with turnovers on about every other play as a result of trying to show off (as normal). The slam dunk contest was won by a guest from the track team, Mike Morrison, who is the SEC long jump champion and clinched the deal with a through-the-legs dunk in the first round and a free throw line dunk in the finals. Freshman Joakim Noah from New York is going to end up a fan favorite if he can play well enough to get consistent minutes.