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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Strike 2 for Tejada

So last season Rafael Palmeiro accuses Miguel Tejada of using steroids and Palmeiro is dismissed as a clown.

Now, a Los Angeles Times report has Jason Grimsley, he of the federal HGH raid, saying Tejada used anabolic steroids. Whether Grimsley has credibility is beside the point. This is twice Tejada has been named by someone who has been busted for steroids or HGH.

So, regardless of what happens with the report, Tejada is staring down an 0-2 count in the court of public opinion. Combine that with his waffling on whether he asked for a trade request and its clear no player in baseball wants the calendar to flip to 2007 quicker then Tejada, the 2002 AL MVP.

Saturday musings

Some random thoughts on college football Saturday:

If you're Georgia coach Mark Richt, you have to be wondering how long you can keep skating by against inferior competition?

If you're Alabama coach Mike Shula, you've got to find a way to score touchdowns and not field goals.

As long as USC keeps rolling along, the chances of John David Booty being in New York for the Heisman announcement grows. Remember, they usually invite five guys to New York. And as long as Booty plays well on a top-three team in the country, he'll get some Heisman recognition.

Ohio State may have just punched its ticket to the national championship game on Saturday night. The remaining Buckeyes' schedule: Bowling Green (Oct. 7), at Michigan State (Oct. 14), Indiana (Oct. 21), Minnesota (Oct.28), at Illinois (Nov. 4), at Northwestern (Nov. 11), Michigan (Nov. 18).

Nebraska may be the most fortunate team in America today. The Huskers blew a 17-point lead at home to Kansas and then had to win in overtime.

Matt Flynn meets the Sopranos

LSU was favored by 31.5 points against Mississippi State today. Now don't take the .5 so lightly ... just ask LSU quarterback Matt Flynn.
Flynn came in during the second half, with a 35-3 lead, and promptly threw a pick-6 to bring the Bulldogs within the point spread.
But never fear Tigers Boosters and purple and gold bettors. LSU scored in the waning moments of the contest at Tiger Stadium to apparently cover the spread.
However, Mr. Flynn dropped the snap on the extra point. FINAL SCORE: LSU 48, MISS ST. 17.
That's right, a 31-point victory.
Take my word, I stopped betting on college football, and didn't have a dollar on this game, but thousands of people down south would like a piece of No. 15 right now.


What an eventful night an hour east of here Friday night.
The Bastrop-Ruston tilt in Ruston was a showcase for several players who are likely to play at the next level.
Those who won't "play" at the next play include some folks who were in the press box. The action on the field was intense, but the verbal jabs and actions in the press box were just as intense.
There was jeering and cheering -- everything there is not supposed to be in a place of "working media."
The press box is not setup very well for a heated rivalry. The TV crew, home and visitor radio broadcasters are all in the same room. Add on the members of the print media and you have a virtual circus.
Thankfully, somewhat cooler heads prevailed and nothing came of the activity. Still, it was unfortunate.
On to the Bastrop Rams, who are clearly the class of Class 4A in North Louisiana -- if not the state.
However, what's up with Brad Bradshaw??? The Rams coach won't let his players be interviewed on the field after the game. Huh? You mean to tell me I can walk up to T.O. at Texas Stadium, but I can't talk to Jamal Recasner of Bastrop after a 193-yard performance.
Say what?
Bradshaw is obviously gun shy after the Rams' trouble with the LHSAA, but all you have to do is tell the kid not to talk about anything other than the game.
Seriously, that was a joke and therefore our readers were unable to get Recasner's view. Mr. Bradshaw needs to take a course on media relations.
Finally, LSU fans ... I think the jury is still out on DeAngelo Benton, Bastrop's star wide receiver who has verbally committed to the Tigers.
Benton didn't show me much Friday night. Three catches for 40 yards aren't going to get it done. He dropped a sure touchdown when he got a case of alligator arms. His most pressing problem seems to be going for passes aggressively. Several times Friday he had a defender beat, but didn't go after the ball, giving the defender that extra second to either make the play or tackle Benton for a short gain.
I'm sure Les Miles and the gang will work on Benton's aggressiveness.

Friday, September 29, 2006

What to watch on Saturday

I will be at work on Saturday, scuttling another chance to just sit around the house and watch college football.

If I had a chance to devote nothing but 12 or so hours to lying around and giving my remote control a workout, here's what's worth watching Saturday:

11 a.m. -- Tennessee goes to Memphis hoping it won't relive its 1996 loss to the Tigers. In case you were wondering, Peyton Manning indeed was the quarterback for the Vols in that game. And, to think, most think Manning chokes when the game matters.

1:30 -- Notre Dame welcomes Purdue and a host of viewers on Golden Dome TV, oops, I mean NBC.

2:30 p.m. -- Texas Tech at Texas A&M or Alabama at Florida. Hmm, let's see one delusional fan base with hopes of being relevant again or one delusional fan base who thinks its 1996 again? What's a fan to do?

6 p.m. -- Southern California at Washington State. Only because no one wants to watch Nebraska play Kansas and just so I can type John David Booty on this blog for the first time.

7 p.m. -- Ohio State at Iowa. It's the national game so it has to be good. Right? Right?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Ungrateful snobs

Apparently the Tulane coaches weren't thankful that Louisiana Tech provided a place for their team to live after Katrina wiped out their overpriced school. Tech bent over backwards to share facilities, coaches offices, dressing rooms ... pretty much whatever they needed they got. Tech didn't have to help, but it was the right thing to do.

But CBS SportsLine.com Senior Writer Dennis Dodd took a shot at Tech in his Thursday column by saying, "The team eventually relocated to Louisiana Tech, where the player dorms were deplorable." Then he quotes an unnamed coach as saying, "the rats were 'a good eight to 10 inches' long." The writer doesn't mention Tech's largesse and he doesn't say that the dorms were scheduled to be destroyed. They were kept open simply to provide housing for evacuees, including a contingent of athletes from Tulane.

The next time a hurricane comes calling across lovely New Orleans, maybe the Tulane snobs will find the Hilton to their liking.

The truth about Terrell Owens

I'd like to make up an interesting little tale to tell you about Terrell Owens but there's no way to top the truth as it continues to unfold.

Sadly, the man and his publicist have issues, and they're being played out on a national scale. It's a shame that God gave Owens so much athletic ability but negelected to give him the character to handle it. I'd much rather be poor with character than I would be rich with none. Easy for me to say, right?

Football fans tend to overlook the deficiencies of athletes who play for their team, which allows Owens to move from city to city and still maintain a following. If the NFL were run as it should be run, guys like Terrell Owens would have been out of a job long before this pill-popping fiasco.

NL wide open again

So much for the New York Mets being the runaway favorite to represent the National League in the World Series.

Thursday afternoon the Mets learned they likely will be without "ace" Pedro Martinez for the first round of postseason play.

True, New York won the East in a runaway with little statistical contribution from Martinez (9 wins, 4-plus ERA) but a healthy Martinez in October -- even at his advancing age and declining health -- would be a tone-setter for a short series. That, along with a proven No. 1 starter who's not eligible for AARP benefits, is something the Mets sorely need.

And, apparently, now it's something they will be without.

Congrats to Evangel star

We rarely get contact with bigtime college softball programs in Shreveport, but Evangel's Tiffany Shaw gave us some this week by committing to LSU. The Lady Tigers have become one of the premier teams in the nation, and typically that's done by recruiting California, Arizona and some Texas. Louisiana doesn't produce many national softball stars, but Shaw has the potential to be a star on the national level because of her speed. She stole 59 of 60 bases last year, unheard of in this state.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

T.O. baby

I'm still trying to sort this whole Terrell Owens thing out. I mean somebody's not telling the truth here.

There's the Dallas police department, all too eager to leak a report to a Dallas-Fort Worth TV station.

There's T.O.'s publicist. I mean, if you drive the guy to the hospital yourself the chances of any of this ever going public would be minimal. As it is, there's a feeding frenzy around your guy.

There's T.O. himself. He says he didn't attempt suicide and the fact that he's standing in front of the assembled media suggests he may be telling the truth. Or it could be a nice front.

I don't know.

That's the whole problem with this story. It's not as simple as a game with a scoreboard telling who won and who lost.

The Cowboys have had some strange stories over the years. This one goes straight to the top.

Without more information, I'm afraid a lot of people are just like me - confused.

Of surging Astros and sinking Cardinals

They’re baaack.

After being given up for dead, counted out and overlooked more times than a penny in a pig pen, the Houston Astros are right back in the thick of the National League playoff race.

The Astros, who whipped the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-4 on Tuesday night to capture their seventh straight win, are only 1 ½ games behind the sinking Central Division-leading St. Louis Cardinals, who’ve LOST seven straight.

After the Astros had completed their four-game sweep of the Cardinals in Houston on Sunday night, I visited both clubhouses.

The Astros’ clubhouse was filled with a quiet confidence as players mingled about and conducted interviews, stopping occasionally to glance at the New England Patriots-Denver Broncos game being shown on the big screen TV.

It was business as usual for the Astros. You could hardly tell they had just knocked off of the division leaders. To a man, they expressed satisfaction at Sunday’s outcome, but they also acknowledged the difficulty of the task at hand.

The Cardinals’ clubhouse was quite a different place. A full 30 minutes after the final out, players were still sitting around. It was obvious the four-game sweep had taken a heavy toll. Some players had empty stares as they looked across the clubhouse. Others simply glared at the floor. No talking.

And THAT was when they still had a 3 ½-game lead over the Astros. I can only imagine how their clubhouse looked after Tuesday night’s loss.

While the shaken Cardinals are on the verge of a colossal collapse, the Astros continue to work within their comfort zone.

This is the Astros’ time of year. They know it, and the Cardinals know it.

But there’s nothing the Cardinals can do about it. This race was over on Sunday night.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Saints could get defined in next game

Now that all the hoopla is over about the Saints returning to the Super Dome, we're left to wonder if these Saints are for real. You had to believe they'd win Monday's game, even if Aaron Brooks had still been quarterbacking the team and Jim Haslett had been making the same dumb decisions. There was just too much emotion running on the New Orleans sideline and it lasted throughout the game.

Consipiracy theorists would say that the Saints were pre-ordained to win the game.

Monday's game was a defining one for the organization. Make no mistake about that. But the true measure of the team's progress is how they respond this week against a team that should beat them (Carolina) and next week against a team that they should beat (Tampa Bay).

The emotion of Monday's win could take its toll and leave the Saints without the energy to take another giant step forward. Go 2-0 and you're solid; go 1-1 and you're respectable; go 0-2 and you're rapidly returning to the same'o, same'o.

I pity the people at KMSS

Oh my goodness, I am so glad I won't be answering telephones at KMSS on Sunday.

You've got it - the dreaded Saints-Cowboys conflict.

According to KMSS, the station will televise this week's Cowboys at Titans game at noon instead of the Saints-Panthers game.

So you, dear Saints fans, will be headed to the local casinos and sports bars to watch your team if you are not a DirecTV person. (I am, but you can't come over to my house).

And you Cowboys fans, will enjoy your exalted spot in the community again.

This is why Saints fans here hate the Cowboys. And you know what, it's understandable.

I don't know how you resolve this issue. I just know somebody won't be happy. On Sunday, that would be Saints fans.

Professional football in Louisiana

As hard as this is to believe, the New Orleans Saints are, dare I say, professional.

I mean professional in the sense that they don't do dumb things. They don't have dumb penalties. They don't make dumb mistakes. They don't beat themselves. They don't do all of the things they have done for so many years making them what fans have come to know them for.

And for that I say Sean Payton has to be the NFL's Coach of the Month for the first month - if such a thing ever existed.

Payton has gotten rid of the malcontents. He has put together a team of hungry players, some with more talent than others. He has also instilled a discipline to this team that was sorely lacking in the Jim Haslett Era.

That, being said, it's only three games. But, .500 ball the rest of the way would put the Saints at 10-6 and probably in the playoffs.

The 3-0 start means 6-10 won't be the satisfactory improvement from 3-13 it would have been. Instead, it will be a disappointment. So let's up the satisfactory improvement standard to 8-8.

Monday, September 25, 2006

This evening truly emotional, amazing

For decades, the Saints and their fans have seen everything go wrong. Monday, everything went right. And it was something to see. I'll be the first to admit, I've never been a New Orleans Saints fan. Beside not being from here, I have always seen the Saints create most of their own bad luck. Monday, I was one of millions caught up in the moment of a spectacular night. I hope Monday was just the beginning. It may take a few years to solidify this team, and the franchise too, but it's clear how much the Saints mean to the Big Easy. They've gained another supporter here.

Friday matchups

I have had something happen to me this year that hasn't happened in the seven years I've worked at The Times. I've had several people ask me, in person or through e-mails, which high school football game to go see on the weekend.

So I'll get a head start this week. I'm planning to see Minden against Parkway at Parkway High School on Friday. It's the second week of District 1-4A play, and both teams are unbeaten. The winner sets itself up as the top competition to Captain Shreve, which plays on Thursday against Northwood.

If you're further east, go check out Bastrop at Ruston. The Bearcats are coming on, and the Rams should tell us whether Ruston is ready to challenge for the 1-5A title. A little north? Haynesville at Plain Dealing. The Tors started slowly but opened up 1-1A play with a win, while the Lions started well but lost their 1-1A opener.

Who's an idiot now?

Remember in baseball's offseason when Chicago White Sox general manager Kenny Williams called Frank Thomas "an idiot" and "selfish?"

You can bet a lot of White Sox and Oakland A's fans do.

With Monday's 14-1 loss to Cleveland, Chicago is one more loss or one more Minnesota win away from elimination, meaning baseball will go without a repeat World Series champion for the sixth straight season.

And as for Thomas? Yeah, he's driven in 100-plus runs -- 61 since the All-Star break -- and he's put the A's on the brink of the playoffs. More importantly, however, he's given A's GM Billy Beane one more reason to think he got the better of Williams, his personal punching bag in "Moneyball," again.

Best wishes for tonight

The hype for tonight's Monday Night Football game between Atlanta and New Orleans is huge for all the right reasons. It's great to see NFL football back in the Superdome following the Katrina catastrophe.

Remarkably, the hype actually has little to do with what could be an incredible three-ring circus performance by both Michael Vick and Reggie Bush.

With Vick we come to expect the spectacular, even when it gets mixed in with some play that costs his team the game. For Bush, there most likely will not be a bigger stage this season for him to have that breakout performance. Sure, he's only two games into his rookie season, we're asking a lot here. However, this is why Bush was THE MAN at the NFL Draft. This is why everyone has hung on his every carry and catch since preseason practice. If Bush has a Superman cape, it's time to pick it up from the dry cleaners.

I don't have a rooting interest tonight, but I would love to see a show similar to what we all got to enjoy in the Rose Bowl ... with Vick playing the part perfected by Vince Young.

On top of everything else, New Orleans deserves a night like that!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Nomar's back and so is L.A.

Not 20 minutes ago, a co-worker and I were discussing who should be the National League Comeback Player of the Year. We both drew a blank.

Two minutes after sitting back down at my desk, it hit me. Nomar Garciaparra.

For the second time this season, the former all-everything shortstop and Boston sporting icon launched a game-winning grand slam. This time, though, it came in yet another must-win game for the Dodgers.

That makes twice in a week Garciaparra, now a first baseman, has saved L.A. On Monday, he capped possibly the most exciting single-game comeback in baseball history with a walkoff homer. Six days later, he may have saved the Dodgers' season.

The 2 1/2-game deficit the Dodgers would have faced if they had not defeated Arizona would have been almost insurmountable with only six or seven games to play. Instead, L.A. remains in the thick of the NL West and NL wild-card races.

All thanks to a castoff All-Star shortstop who has been reborn in the City of Angels.

Welcome back, Saints

Has a team in the history of the NFL ever received more publicity for its home opener than the New Orleans Saints this season?

More than 1,000 media credentials issued for Monday's Saints-Falcons game in the Superdome. Coverage in national publications and national broadcast outlets.

It's hard to believe this is the same Saints team that gets bumped off Shreveport TV when there is a conflict with the Dallas Cowboys.

That being said, the coverage is warranted as the team returns to New Orleans for the first time since Katrina struck last year. Hopefully the coverage will keep the spotlight on the needs in the rebuilding of New Orleans, south Louisiana and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

Otherwise, if it is just blabbering about a football game then it is much ado about nothing.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Send LPGA players to Ryder Cup

The U.S. Ryder Cup team needs to pack up their skirts and head home -- they're done in embarrassing fashion. Maybe we should send an LPGA team to the next Ryder Cup -- at least they will play with some passion, which is sorely missing from this year's squad.

The best golfer in the world didn't show up for this event -- maybe because there was pride instead of money on the line. And Phil Mickelson -- don't get me started. Big Phil hit the ball about as well Bill Murray on a bad day.

At least they have the opportunity for some redemption on Sunday. Look for them to make a mini-comeback to save face and to give Americans undue hope that we will fare better next time around.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Did Tom Lehman watch the same Ryder Cup I did?

United States Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman has left Shreveport's David Toms off the roster for Saturday's morning matches. No one, on either team, putted better than Toms today. He earned just a half point, but was dragged down by rookie Brett Wetterich on Friday morning. The United States trails 5-3 after one day, and sending guys like Zach Johnson out there Saturday morning isn't going to help the Americans. What was Tom thinking?

The Teflon Bonds

San Francisco Chronicle reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams are headed to jail for their roles in the Barry Bonds-BALCO steroid case.

Bonds' personal trainer, Greg Anderson, practically lives in the federal penal system now because of his loyalty to Bonds.

So why is Bonds the one walking free, trying to keep his team in the NL wild-card race and why can't the U.S. judicial system find a way to bring him to trial? If not on steroids, than why not take a chance at the reported tax evasion that was made public in one of the two books written about Bonds in the past year.

This guy has more judicial lives than John Gotti. Throw anything up against Bonds' armor-covered body and watch it slide off like pancakes off a griddle. It's enough to make any baseball fan -- and student of the U.S. judicial system -- sick.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

USA women embarrass the country

The failures by the USA men's basketball teams and the Ryder Cup team in international competition fell to the women's basketball team on Thursday, when the USA was dismantled by the Russians. Although the final score (75-68) doesn't look bad, the US team trailed by as many as 20 points in the contest.

Maybe if the team had used it's Louisiana flavor a little more, they might have made it to the FIBA championship game. Shreveport's Alana Beard played just over 10 minutes and didn't score, while Summerfield's Cheryl Ford and Baton Rouge's Seimone Augustus did not play.

It was an embarrassing defeat for a team that featured the best pros in the world. Particularly unimpressive were former UConn players Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi, who played 23 and 26 minutes apiece and were a combined 4 of 15 on 2-point attempts.

Those crazy Irish

For anybody who caught the Ryder Cup's opening ceremonies on The Golf Channel this morning - were you as puzzled as I was about what in the world was going on?

There was a traditional Irish band on stage that looked like extras out of Braveheart (I know, that's about the Scots). Then there were actors dressed up like Lord of the Rings geeks towering over the crowd on risers. They weren't just standing there stoic either. They were selling their moment to the crowd, many of whom had the same quizzical look on their face as I did.

I think there was a Druid ceremony on stage at one point.

I know the Irish like to knock back a few pints in their pubs, but was someone coming off a week-long bender of bad Guinness to come up with that?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Don't be so sure of B.J.

I've found B.J. Guzzardo mentioned as the frontrunner for the LHSAA president job in three spots now. To be fair, I think the second two got it from the first, a newspaper in the southern part of the state.

I think all three are wrong. People are going to vote on the next commissioner, and Guzzardo is not a people person. He knows the rules, has done his time enforcing them, but he doesn't meet many of the other desires the principals on the LHSAA executive committee have, chief among them an ability to schmooze the media, legislature and corporate sponsors.

There are two frontrunners in this thing, and I'll have a column on it next week, likely on Tuesday's Area Preps page, 2C.

See you then.

Buy Kleenex stock fast

Stock of Kimberly-Clark, the makers of Kleenex tissues, rose 73 cents on Tuesday.

I got a feeling much of their sales have skyrocketed in Oklahoma from Sooners fans still crying.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

USC needs a dose of reality

First, USC asks members of the media not to refer to the school as Southern Cal anymore. Their logic equates it to people calling San Francisco, just Frisco, or North Carolina, just North Car. It's not right to do it, says USC.
OK, a) people do call San Francisco, just Frisco and b) I've ever heard North Carolina called North Car.

You don't hear Cal-Berkeley getting all self-righteous. Heck, it says Cal right on the side of their helmets for crying out loud.

The latest case of self-importance came Tuesday when USC formally complained to ESPN about Brent Musburger's revelation of signals the Trojans use. See it's typical for schools to meet with a TV crew a day or two before the game for background information.
So, John David Booty reveals to his royal blowhardiness Musburger that his signal to his receiver that there's one-on-one coverage is to flash the "Hang Ten" sign. Musburger, sensing what an great insight into the game Booty has provided, talks about it during the USC-Nebraska game. USC goes nuts.

Wait a minute. What's the big deal? USC can't change their signs? Is there a Pac-10 by-law that prohibits teams from changing signals? John David is a big boy. He is handling the pressure of being USC's quarterback. Switching hand signals shouldn't be too complicated.

Saints' season ticket waiting list

Somewhere Tom Benson is wondering why he hadn't thought of this earlier. You know, move the team for a season to whet the appetite of his fans, draft a Heisman Trophy winner, win a couple of road games.

The Saints, in the post-Katrina world, announced Tuesday they had sold all of their season tickets - a first in franchise history. Now, hard as this is to write, they are beginning a waiting list for season tickets.

Who knows how long this will last? But let's just say this, the future of the NFL in Louisiana is a whole lot better when Drew Brees, Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush are in the news and Tom Benson is not.

Dodgers' incredible rally

Anybody who wants to see a terrific finish to a baseball game, check out the end to the Dodgers-Padres game.

The Dodgers hit back-to-back-to-back-to-back home runs to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth....that's right, four straight homers with no outs.

Then, No-mah launches a two-run blast in the bottom of the 10th to win it! It was an amazing ending. The video clips are on at MLB.com and you really have to watch it more than once to believe what you're seeing.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Reggie Bush is overrated and here's why...

I have this long-running, usually daily, debate with Scott as to whether or not Reggie Bush is worth the hype.

He thinks Reggie is the new Marshall Faulk. I think he's Leeland McElroy or Dante Hall. Some sort of Aggie anyway. Maybe with a little Trung Canidate thrown in there.

Here's something new I was thinking of the other day, when I saw Reggie run 30 yards backward, sideways for what ultimately was a 5-yard punt return against Green Bay on Sunday: what college running back who relied mostly on his speed and moves - a home-run hitter, so to speak - truly became an every-down, successful back in the NFL?

I struggled for one beyond Faulk (1994, No. 2 overall pick to Indy). So, here's what I came up with, going all the way back to the 1990 draft: Warrick Dunn, No. 12 pick in 1997, and Garrison Hearst, No. 3 pick in 1993.

You know what those three all had in common? None of them stayed with the team that originally drafted them, meaning they were all something less than franchise building blocks. I wouldn't waste a No. 1 pick on any of them - with the exception of Faulk.

Speed is valuable asset to have, especially for a RB, but not that valuable when its essentially your best one. NFL teams work best with guys who grind out the tough yards in the 4th quarter, ones who can burn off the clock and crush the will of arm-tackling linebackers.

Reggie, of course, is none of those things.

Tell me, have I overlooked anyone in my previous list? Where am I wrong here?

Demons have some bugs to work out

NSU head coach Scott Stoker is happy his team got the win over Delaware State on Saturday, but I don't think he was happy with the way they got it done.

The Demons played with no fire against Delaware State. That has got to change for the Southland season. The Demons aren't going to fare very well if there's no intensity. Saturday's game was devoid of any flow. This was NSU's home opener and the game was, well, boring.

Random NFL thoughts

OK after covering the Cowboys-Redskins on Sunday night here are some NFL thoughts:

1) Nobody is paying to watch the officials. So somebody in the league office might want to remind the refs of this little tidibt . A combined 20 penalties in the Cowboys-Skins game makes it hard to watch.

2) Guess all of the Tony Romo fans can pipe down now?

3) The Washington Redskins look like a truly bad football team. Of course, that may have as much to do with the play of Mark Brunell at quarterback as anything else. But three points from your offense in the NFL isn't going to cut it.

4) While we're at it, props to Sean Payton and the Saints. Two games. Two road wins.
Now don't go thinking the Saints are going to the Super Bowl, however, they are ahead of schedule.

5) Are the Houston Texans the New Orleans Saints of this century?

6) Nick Saban is 9-9 since leaving LSU for the Miami Dolphins. In case anyone cares.

Evangel thin at QB

Evangel suffered a heartbreaking loss Thursday against Southlake Carroll -- the best team in the country the past two seasons.
Quarterbacks Dez Duron (concussion) and Jordan Powell (lower leg) were knocked out of the game and the Eagles had to go to star running back CerDerrick Tyson behind center.
It looks bad for the Eagles, but Texas 5A football is way different than Louisiana Class A. The Eagles could not throw another pass the rest of the season and still have a chance to go undefeated. Evangel is down, but not enough to lose its edge in A ball. At 0-2, they dropped to No. 2 in the state. That will likely change in December.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Hoffman could save Smith and Walker, too

Padres pitcher Trevor Hoffman has saved 475 games in his career and become an icon in San Diego.

His next couple of saves may make Hoffman a bit of a hero here.

By closing out four more San Diego victories, Hoffman will become the all-time leader in that category, surpassing Lee Smith of Castor.

That could be a good thing for Smith, who has been on the Hall of Fame ballot for a handful of years now. Smith needs all the attention he can get if he is going to increase his vote tally and reach Cooperstown. And Hoffman's push toward the record can only help the spotlight shine on Smith.

Smith wouldn't be Hoffman's only local save. Former Airline High and LSU star Todd Walker was traded to San Diego on July 31 and is looking at returning to the postseason for the first time since 2003 when he was with Boston.

And with the way Walker performed that October, he more than likely can't wait to return to baseball's promised land.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

When will they learn?

I guess the Miami Hurricanes didn't hear about or see what happened to the Arizona Wildcats last Saturday.

Arizona stomped on the LSU logo at midfield and proceeded to lose 45-3.

So what does Miami do before its game against Louisville? Stomps on the Cardinals logo at midfield.

And what does Louisville do? It gets fired up and thumps Miami 31-7.

The moral of the story: He who stomps first gets stomped last.

The Mighty Quinn? I don't think so.

Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn can forget about winning the Heisman Trophy after his woeful game against Michigan.

I didn't think Michigan's defense had it in them seeing as all the hype was that ND coach Charlie Weis was the second coming of Knute Rockne ready to restore Notre Dame to national promience where they belong and Brady Quinn was George Gipp reincarnated.

Quinn tossed three picks and had a fumble on the final drive that looked like the Marx Bros. diagramed it. Michigan scooped it up and returned it 54 yards for a TD sealing the game.

Quinn was rattled against Michigan, hardly the quality you look for in a Heisman Trophy candidate. He averaged 4.8 yard per pass. A game as huge as the UM rivalry and he comes up with less than five yards per pass? Credit Michigan's defense for coming up as big as it ever has.

Can the national beatification of Quinn now stop? Actually, I wouldn't put it past Notre Dame to put the kid up for sainthood IF he had won the Heisman Trophy. Nope, that ain't happening now.

Quinn suffered a severe case of Manning Syndrome - folding when the game was on the line. Peyton Manning couldn't beat Florida and it cost him the Heisman...Quinn will suffer the same fate.

War Eagle!

Dang, I have to admit, the tradition of the Eagle flying around Jordan-Hare Stadium prior to the game is quite incredible.
If seeing a symbol of America playing around a place packed with more than 80,000 people, then landing at midfield, doesn't get your blood pumping, you must not have a pulse.
First time here, and so far, that will be the most memorable moment.

LIVE, from Jordan-Hare ...

I have driven more than 1,000 miles in the past two days (trust me I'm not complaining, traveling to big games is what my job is all about and couldn't be any more fun).
From Shreveport, I hit Dallas on Thursaday, where I watched the Lone Star State had out the opening chapter of a double dose of whoopins to Louisiana high school football teams.
Thursday, a severely undermanned and overmatched Evangel Christian Academy was blasted by Southlake Carroll, the best team in the country in each of the past two seasons. Friday, Shreveport's Byrd High was blitzed by Marshall, the runner-up in Texas Class 4A the past two seasons.
The combined score: Texas 90, Louisiana 19.
Today, I am in Auburn, Alabama, to see if the LSU Tigers can uphold the state's honor in college football. The No. 6 Tigers take on the No. 3 Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
On the Bayou Bengals Blog, I predicted an upset, 24-17 going Tigers' way. The LSU Tigers that is.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Don't jump the gun

Sure, Evangel got plastered by Southlake Carroll of Texas. But don't think that means Calvary or anyone else in Class 1A is going to jump up and beat the Eagles just yet.
There was quite a bit of distance between the Cavs and Eagles last year, and it may be too soon to think the teams are suddenly even or even close to it. Look for Calvary to make a much better impression against Evangel this season -- even though the game is on Broadacres -- but don't expect a new District 1-1A champ.
As for the playoffs? Evangel had a tough enough time last year, but meeting up with Southern Lab in the second round isn't guaranteed. The postseason is still the luck of the draw. Evangel could win every playoff game by 40 points or lose in the second round.
The difference is that losing is a possibility these days as opposed to a near impossibility in years past.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

When is too early indeed too early?

Evangel played a football game on national television Thursday night.

Unfortunately that has become a ho-hum, run-of-the-mill kinda thing for the Eagles. And that's not necessarily a good thing for anyone involved.

High school football is becoming increasingly national in scope and that is taking away from what the game should be about. High school athletics is supposed to be about sportsmanship and teaching lessons players can use in life not about turning your local high school into a nationally known entity.

The same thing goes for events like the Little League World Series. There comes a point when we should just let kids be kids.

Sure it's a great thing for Evangel and Southlake Carroll and the dozens of other high school football teams who will play on national television this season. It's just a shame those same networks who broadcast those games are sending such mixed messages.

They ain't catchin' fish

The CITGO Bassmaster folks have set the competitors on the Women's Bassmster Tour up for failure this weekend by setting the competition on Arkansas' Bull Shoals Lake.

In an effort to get the women's tour more publicity, they've put the womens' events up on a fishery near a men's event, so that their weigh-ins can take place on the same stage. That means that the women have had to compete on secondary fisheries all season.

The fifth and final event of the season is set on an Arkansas lake that isn't noted for giving up big stringers of bass. The first-day leader, Tammy Richardson, had a 6 lb., 5 oz. stringer. That's not bad if you're the fifth place finisher in your local club tournament, but for an event that has a $50,000 first place prize, that amount is horrible.

Worse, none of the 190 pros and co-anglers had a 5-fish limit, and only 37 of the pros (15 co-anglers) brought a fish to the scales.

The BASS folks should be commended for starting the women's tour, but they need to look at placing the women on more productive venues next season.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Baseball should shorten its season

Has anyone noticed that baseball is still being played? Since the football season began a couple of weeks ago, it doesn't seem like anyone cares. I talk to a lot of people every day and I haven't had one person in the past month ask me how Nolan Ryan's pitching, Steve Garvey's hitting or how many bases Lou Brock has stolen.

Maybe years ago, when baseball was actually America's pasttime, people still cared about baseball in September. That's no longer the case, unless you live in or near a town with a major league franchise.

Baseball should look at shortening a season that is far too long and wrapping up the playoffs/World Series before Labor Day.

History in the making

Anyone looking for a real taste of North Louisiana should check out the Homer-Haynesville high school football game on Friday. It's the oldest series in North Louisiana, and the two schools do NOT like each other.
There will be good football, bands, should be somewhere nice to get a small town meal. Get there early, but the kickoff is 7:30.
Have fun.

Worst case of Shreveport-itis...ever.

The Times ran a Letter to the Editor on Sunday and it stunned me. No, it didn't compare president Bush to Hitler or deride mayor Hightower's administration.

The author attended the Bossier-Southwood football game at Independence Stadium on Sept. 1 and complained about the high cost of attending a high school football game...yeah, no fooling.

"It used to be you could bring a sandwich, water, pizza, whatever. Not anymore. Talk about price gouging," he writes. "I'm all for making a fair profit, but these prices were outrages [sic]."

He continues to rant about how soda and bottled water costs $3. A small box of popcorn cost $2. That's what he considers price gouging! A box of popcorn costing $2!
And since when could you bring pizza to a high school football game. In my 12 years of covering high school football, I've ever seen anyone whip out a Domino's box with a 14" cheese pizza inside.

What does this guy do for entertainment? Does he go to the movie theater? I find it unfathomable that someone can complain over the price to a high school football game. Is that the reason most games aren't packed with more fans?

No wonder the Saints and Cowboys game had a hard time selling out. If people moan about attending a high school game, what chance does the NFL have?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Arkansas is a Trojan horse

If you're an Arkansas fan and you're strutting your stuff after last week's 20-0 win over mighty Utah State, you should find a trough of hog slop and stick your head in it. Arkansas' season should be considered over after the pasting they took from USC two weeks ago.

If the Razorbacks beat or play well against any of the better SEC teams this season, that's an embarrassment for the SEC. For two consecutive seasons, Arkansas has shown that it is closer to being a Sun Belt team, than an SEC powerhouse. Actually, several SBC teams looked better than the pigs last weekend.

If anyone offers, take the bet against USC showing up on a future Razorback schedule. You can bet that Houston Nutt doesn't want to see any more Trojans in his sleep.

Texas football got what it deserved

Billing the Ohio State/Texas matchup last weekend as a battle of the best two teams in the country was an over-hyped joke. The Shorties derserved to be playing for No. 1 about as much as Paris Hilton deserves to be singing in St. Mark's Cathedral.

Getting embarrassed on their home field and on national TV was just what they deserved for being arrogant enough to think that they're still a title contender. Texas may well go on to win the Big 12 South, but they shouldn't be considered a national title contender again this year, regardless of how they finish.

Cowboys just fine?

"Amateur fantasy football players?" Is there any other kind? Is there a professional fantasy football players league? I didn't realize there was a league where I get paid to pick players no matter how I finish. Where is this league and sign me up.

As for Bledsoe being just fine...even if he didn't throw the three picks, just at look at the incompletions he threw. There's a reason two other NFL teams got rid of him. The guy is 34 freaking years old. How many starting quarterbacks are older than him? Two, three? Brett Favre and Mark Brunell? Anyone else? They're not in the best shape of their careers either.
If his back is bothering him, his days on the field could be numbered.

The guy started off hot and it just went downhill from there. It'd be one thing if he got better as the day progressed, but he got worse. OK, some of those interceptions you can blame on defensive pressure, but he was missing wide-open guys and trying to thread passes through some tricky passing lanes.

Read the Dallas and Fort Worth papers. It's not just us amateur fantasy football players that are concerned.

Cowboys just fine ...

I had posted this as a comment to another post, but this definitely needs to be a post itself. The amateur fantasy football players -- and NFL fans -- often freak out unnecessarily at the proceedings of Week 1 in the NFL. Drew Bledsoe -- and the Cowboys -- are going to be just fine. It's not like they lost to the Houston Texans. They played a extremely tough Jacksonville Jaguars squad, on the road no less. Hey, the Jags went 12-4 last season!! They were supposed to win this game!The Cowboys' offense will be A-OK. Terrell Owens is obviously healthy. Terry Glenn looks good and so did Julius Jones. Don't give up on Bledsoe. He had a rough game against a great team on the road -- he's not the first to do so. On the other hand, folks in Oakland might as well pack it in. The Saints saw this forever with Aaron Brooks. He stinks. And believe it or not, his offensive line is WORSE in Oakland. The Raiders won't be quite as bad as their 27-0 pasting last night at the hands of the Chargers, but there is no reason whatsoever to believe they will be decent. Note to Jimmy Watson: I will expect a retraction of the Kellen Winslow won't be a good NFL player comment after his Hurricanes came to Shreveport three years ago. Yes, he had a terrible injury in his rookie year and a stupid decision on a motorcycle the next, but now he's healthy and is beginning to look like the player many said was the most talented of any in the 2004 draft.

Monday, September 11, 2006

'Invincible' is worth seeing

If you're looking for an entertaining, yet unheralded, sports movie, it's worth the ticket price to see "Invincible" starring Mark Wahlberg as Vince Papale, the Philadelphia bartender who attempts to make the Philadelphia Eagles roster after Dick Vermeil takes over.

While you know what the ending will be before the movie starts, the show offers a few twists that you might not be expecting. Wahlberg is believable as Papale and Greg Kinnear looks as much like a young Vermeil as Vermeil did when he was a rookie coach.

The movie could have become cheesy, but it stopped short of that. While some of the components were changed from the life of the real Papale, it shouldn't be a distraction, unless you're a Vince Papale historian.

See it yourself and see what you think.

Beverage departure leaves questions unanswered

Here's betting that former Airline star Chad Beverage, who left the Louisiana Tech football team this past weekend, will never play another down of Division 1A football.

Although Beverage said on Monday that he hoped to transfer to LSU, Arkansas or USC, we don't believe his heart is in the game. Playing baseball at Bossier Parish Community College seems to be a more likely landing spot. Part of Tech's heralded 2005 recruiting class, Beverage played in eight games last season, then was listed as a starter this season. His future was in front of him and it was bright.

He said that back problems were limiting his ability against large offensive lineman as an inside linebacker and that he wanted a move to safety. But he also said that even if Tech had moved him to safety, he wouldn't have stayed in Ruston.

Talking with Beverage, it was clear that he had a lot of issues with Ruston. On the surface, many of them seemed small-time. But if they meant a lot to him, that's what is important. One of the issues was his struggle with grades. Although he said he had a 2.7 GPA, his mother said that he passed just 25 of 35 attempted credit hours. That will make tranferring to another D-1A school that much more difficult. Plus, he won't be eligible until the 2008 football season. That's a lot of time off from football.

When a young player quits or seeks a transfer due to lack of playing time, it's understandable. But Beverage was getting a lot of playing time as a young sophomore, which brings up some questions that only he can answer.

Mario facing the heat in Houston

While Reggie Bush was basking in the glow of the New Orleans Saints’ season-opening victory over Cleveland Browns on Sunday, Houston Texans rookie Mario Williams was sweating bullets under the glare of the media spotlight in the locker room as he tried to explain his less-than-spectacular performance in the Texans’ 24-10 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

“It was a different intensity level (from the preseason), as far as them blocking…everything was just different,” Williams said.

Welcome to the NFL, rookie.

Williams finished the day with two tackles, one assist and immeasurable frustration. Not exactly what the Texans had in mind when they bypassed Mr. Bush to make Williams the No.1 pick in the 2006 NFL Draft.

Texans rookie linebacker DeMeco Ryans looked more like the draft’s top pick. He recorded a game-high 12 tackles and roamed the field like an established veteran.

It’s still early. Williams may well end up with his bust enshrined in Canton, Ohio one of these days. But on Sunday, he was a bust.

He rarely got close to Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, and he often looked lost and out of place.

But give Williams credit. Despite his obvious frustration, he faced the media and politely answered each question posed to him.

Texans defensive coordinator Richard Smith, however, was nowhere to be found after the game.

The Texans’ running game was also conspicuously absent on Sunday. Wali Lundy and Vernand Morency rushed for a combined 55 yards on 16 carries. Bush rushed for more yards (61) on fewer carries (14).

The Texans sure could have used Reggie Bush on Sunday.

They could have used Mario Williams, too.

WWDBD? Throw an interception.

Wow. I sure am glad that I picked up Drew Bledsoe in the local media's fantasy football league (sarcasm font).

I'm sinking like a 10-ton chunk of granite in Caddo Lake and the league is not even past week one. I had some big hopes for him with Terry Glenn, Terrell Owens, Julius Jones and Jason Witten at his disposal. Not too shabby, right? Plenty of weapons to throw to, right? That's what I'm thinking.

Unfortunately, I forgot Bledsoe has all the mobility of a redwood. This is not shaping up to be a great season...Oh and I forgot to mention that my backup is Jake Plummer...I appreciate your condolences.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Random NFL thoughts

The first Sunday of NFL games is complete. A couple of thoughts while channel surfing:

That Bush guy with the Saints is pretty good and it's a good bet his approval rating in Louisiana is much higher than the Bush guy in the White House.

Drew Brees' shoulder isn't completely healthy but he's making the adjustments to play through it. Give him a few more weeks and watch the Saints' offense really start to click.

How many three-interception games will it take for Drew Bledsoe to meet the bench in Dallas? For that matter, how many three-interception games will it take for T.O. to get in Bledsoe's face?

Carson Palmer's rehab apparently went very well, but it's hard to tell against a soft Kansas City defense.

Finally, could we see a little more of the Mannings? I don't think between Sunday night's game and the television commercials, I caught enough of Eli ... Peyton ... and Archie this weekend.

SEC fans, you were right...

Ever since I moved to Louisiana seven years ago, I've constantly had to defend two items - Charles Woodson deserved to win the Heisman Trophy and the Big Ten is just as good as the SEC when it comes to football.

I'll stick by the former until my dying day, but the latter is just the delusional ramblings of a Big Ten grad. This weekend only proves the Big Ten stinks...

Yes, SEC fans, your conference is stronger top to bottom and you need look no further than Saturday's games. New Hampshire beats Northwestern?! Rutgers beats Illinois?! Iowa needs overtime to beat Syracuse?! Purdue needs overtime to beat Miami (Ohio)?! Indiana squeaks past Ball State?! Ugh. Not a pretty weekend.

My 8th grade team could have performed against New Hampshire and Rutgers...we were conference champs by the way.

I thought Penn State had a shot at beating Notre Dame, but I didn't expect them to get blown out by the Irish, who looked lost last weekend against Georgia Tech. It's amazing what Touchdown Jesus can do for you.

Yes, SEC fans, you rule in football...I hope most of you can savor that as you're scooping the fries out of the fryer for my No. 3 combo meal.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

U.S. women's national team has strong state flavor

Next week the U.S. women's national team begins its quest for the world basketball title in Brazil. Fully one-fourth of the team is from Louisiana, including two from the Shreveport-Bossier City area -- former Southwood star and former Summerfield and Louisiana Tech standout Cheryl Ford.

Baton Rouge's Seimone Augustus is the other player from the state on the 12-woman squad.

Having two players from the Shreveport-Bossier City area on the U.S. national team might not be quite on par with having two on a Ryder Cup team, but it ain't bad.

And two years from now, Shreveport may have its own Olympian in Beard. Of course, a lot can happen between now and 2008. Beard was one of three late additions to the national team this year. How well she plays her role on this year's team could go a long way toward determining her Olympic future. Then there's the matter of staying healty.

But if she makes it, it won't be as a long shot.

As far as I know, no athlete who grew up and went to high school in Shreveport has ever won Olympic gold. Former Fair Park star Hollis Conway won a silver and a bronze in the high jump, and Olympic sprint champion Evelyn Ashford was born in Shreveport but did not grow up here.
2008 is a long way off, but this is something definitely worth watching.

Saturday musings

Some random thoughts watching college football this Saturday:

Can we drop the hype about Ole Miss quarterback Brent Schaeffer? He's not the next Eli Manning. Two games into the season, he doesn't appear to be the next Romaro Miller. Let him play and earn some hype.

Will Mississippi State ever score? State's offense may have as few playmakers as any team in the SEC in recent years. The loss of Jerious Norwood is huge.

What ever happened to North Carolina football? The Tar Heels had a nice run during the Mack Brown era -- after a slow beginning -- but now, things aren't looking so good.

Watching the Alabama-Vanderbilt game, it just hit me -- Is the SEC overrated this year? I realize Alabama isn't what it was last year. But struggling at home with Vandy? That's not a good sign.

Of course, how do Miami Hurricanes fans feel watching Troy hang with Florida State?

Friday, September 08, 2006

Ready for the NFL

All right helmet heads, the Sunday you've been waiting for since February is about to arrive - the first weekend of the NFL.

If you're a New Orleans Saints fan, there is probably a mixture of anticipation and anxiety. The Saints certainly did little in the preseason to give you hope for an incredible turnaround. I'm guessing the turnaround will be more gradual - like jumping from three wins to five.

But the Dallas Cowboys, now, that's a different matter. They looked good in the preseason. They probably should have been a playoff team last year. And the NFC has probably never looked so wide open.

It'll be interesting to see. And yes, that's another reason to have DirecTv. Although memo to the NFL: you're about to outprice your fans if the Sunday Ticket price keeps rising.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Green Oaks victory?

Coach Steve Dennis and his team had a great pregame on Thursday. Before ever taking the field against Haughton, the Giants may have picked up a victory with a Woodlawn forfeit. The Knights allegedly used an ineligible player in the 12-6 season-opening win over Green Oaks last week.
The main problem with that is that former Byrd player Willie King, now a Knight, scored a touchdown and was apparently shown doing so on television just as it was documented in The Times. Hard to deny he played.
We will keep an eye on this.
As for tonight's game, Haughton leads, 14-0, as the first quarter draws to a close. The Bucs are showing a powerful running game tonight.
UPDATE: Through the middle of the third period, Haughton has a 28-0 lead.

Cheryl Ford could open up a little

Kudos to former Lady Techsters star Cheryl Ford for being selected to the 2006 FIBA World Championship team. Ford had a stellar year by leading the WNBA in rebounding and has her Detroit Shock on the verge of their second title.

But Ford could stand to be a little more media friendly. Ford was "unable to make the teleconference" announcing her selection, although a quote from her was included in a news release. We've tried to contact her several times through the Shock Media Relations Department for various WNBA stories and have yet to be granted an interview.

In contrast, Alana Beard, who was also selected to the FIBA team, always returns calls in a timely fashion. We've also had success cornering Tamicha Jackson, Vickie Johnson and Betty Lennox.

Some might argue that Ford is media-shy, but she performed very well in postgame interviews while she was a Lady Techster.

Tech needs to thrash Nicholls State

It seems that many in the Louisiana Tech camp weren't all that surprised nor disappointed in the Bulldogs' performance last week in the 49-10 thrashing by Nebraska. We thought that coach Jack Bicknell's club had progressed far enough that they wouldn't get embarassed by BCS teams, paticularly teams from the Big 12 north. But it doesn't appear so.

Sure, the Bulldogs had a bunch of new starters, especially on defense, but many of those players saw significant playing time last year. Apparently the No. 22 Cornhuskers were a lot better than the No. 23-ranked Fresno Bulldogs, who Tech beat last year in the season finale. Either that, or Tech has gotten a lot worse.

If the Bulldogs hope to have any fun this season, they'd better beat Nicholls State next weekend by a significant margin. Otherwise, it's going to be a long year in Ruston. If Tech squeaks by or, heaven forbid, loses to the 1-AA Colonels, quarterback Zac Champion should be benched and replaced by one of the two freshman. Consider this a rebuilding year and move on.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Death, taxes and Evangel football

There are three certainties about life in Shreveport. Death will come to us all. Taxes will be paid by us all. And all will complain to The Times about either too little or too much Evangel football coverage.

Please people, give it a rest.

Complaints this week begin with, "Why are we writing about Dennis Dunn?'' Gee, I don't know, maybe it's the 10 state championships won at Evangel? Love him or hate him, the guy won at an incredible rate. And when a coach from a school with 10 state titles leaves for an NCAA Division III job, well, that's a story.

Then, there is the, "Why are you writing about John David Booty? camp. Again, maybe it has something to do with somebody from Shreveport taking over a position that has produced two Heisman Trophy winners from its last two starters. Maybe it's the fact he's the quarterback on a top-10 team in the country.

Of course, we hear the ridiculous argument that, "We're LSU fans, we don't want to read about USC.'' News flash: You're reading about a local kid who happens to play quarterback there. The day you start getting USC practice reports, then feel free to start complaining about USC coverage.

Evangel, for what it's worth, still brings out the worst in people nearly 20 years after it started playing football. Somehow, I don't think that was the plan.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Where is the money coming from?

Call me a bit confused.

Here we are in good ol' No. 49 - you know No. 49 in everything good when it comes to state rankings - and yet BOTH LSU and the Saints have sold more than 65,000 season tickets for the 2006 football season.


Where is the money coming from? FEMA?

Don't get me wrong, it's great that both the Saints and LSU are doing well. But for the life of me, I don't know where people are getting the money to do this. Obviously, some are season-ticket holders for both LSU and the Saints.

For all of the gloom and doom in the state since Katrina, these numbers are downright shocking.

Tiger better deliver a Ryder Cup win

Tiger Woods may be stockpiling PGA and major wins but he's got an albatross hanging around his neck...some Ryder Cup success.

He's played in three Ryder Cups and the U.S. has won only once. His record 7-11-2 in matches. Yes, he's got a partner in most of those losses, but shouldn't the greatest golfer in the last 20 years be able to transcend his partner's play and be at least .500? He's 2-1-1 in singles matches but 2-5-1 in foursomes.

Some of his losses have come at the hands of Padraig Harrington, Colin Montgomerie, Darren Clarke, Lee Westwood, Paul Lawrie and Constantino Rocca.
Tiger has 12 major victories; the six Europeans combined have one (Lawrie winning the 1999 British Open).

Tiger's very anxious for this year's Ryder Cup in Ireland and ready to seize a leadership role with the U.S. team. Time to get rid of that albatross.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Tiger, are you kidding me??

We all know he's the best front-runner sports has ever seen. But Tiger Woods showed us all his relentless, intimidating will to win works pretty well when trailing, too. Woods smoked the unflappable Vijay Singh with a dazzling 63 on Monday in Boston to capture his fifth straight PGA Tour title. We are lucky to have the opportunity to see this.
So many have tried to minimize Woods' accomplishments by saying no one else makes anything happen to challenge him. Singh was under par Monday on one of the toughest golf courses the guys play all season.
Woods was 6 under after 7 holes. ABC commentator Paul Azinger said many of the players and caddies he talked to expressed to him that the front side may have been set up unfairly. Guess not.
Woods will be off until the Ryder Cup, which begins two weeks from Friday. Due to the tragedy of 9/11, the United States team team did not have Woods during his run of 2000-2001 (the Matches were postponed until 2002). The Europeans won't be that lucky this time around.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Agassi's successor nowhere to be found

Andre Agassi's career came to an end Sunday -- tearfully, painfully and extremely disappointingly. It's not so much that he lost to B. Becker -- not that B. Becker -- to end his U.S. Open, it's that Sunday's loss leaves a tremendous gap in American tennis and the world of professional sports.

I grew up watching every move of athletes such as Michael Jordan and Andre Agassi. I have an obscene number of Air Jordans and even purchased those cool shorts with the neon spandex attached. Those were the days.

Agassi's career was remarkable -- even after you take away his multiple Grand Slam titles. He came onto the scene as a punky, cocky and flashy kid from Las Vegas, whose flowing locks and unshaven face symbolized his personality and lifestyle.

His return of serve was the best the game has ever seen.

As he matured, so did his tennis -- and his hairline. His work ethic became just as admirable as his celebrity. Pete Sampras won more titles, but everyone still followed Agassi, and the progression of his career was arguably more impressive.

There was just something about him, even with a bald head and mainstream outfits. A personality helped, of course. Not taking anything away from Sampras, who exacted victories from his opponents with unmistakable precision. But Agassi was a different breed.

He was as professional as they come. And fans should appreciate how he grew up, how he upheld the tradition of the game. How now, with his tennis career over, is left to be a proud father and husband -- just like so many of the fans he garnered throughout his 21-year run.

The most disappointing part of all this is that no one appears anywhere near available or willing to take the reins -- not in tennis anyway.

Who in sports could be considered a role model in the same regard as Jordan and Agassi?

Tiger Woods is the only figure who comes to mind. His success is obvious, and with the recent marriage and loss of his father, we've been privy to see the inner-workings of Woods unlike any time before.

He, like Jordan and Agassi, is a true professional. Again, nothing against Tiger, I just don't think he has the personality to captivate people the way his fellow Nike icons did. His appeal is more about his outlandish talent than his person. But again, that may be different as time goes on.

True professionals, at ANY level in any sport, are so hard to come by these days. On days when we lose some of the old guard, it's cause for concern, disappointment, and a whole bunch of tears.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Random thoughts from college football Week 1

Give some kudos to USC for the way they handled John David Booty on Saturday. The Trojans began the game with Arkansas conservatively enough and then opened up the offense as the game went along. Booty thrived throwing for more than 250 yards with three touchdowns and no intereceptions. Sorry LSU and Texas fans, USC isn't going away.

Louisiana Tech hung with Nebraska for a half. But Tech quarterback Zac Champion needs to develop consistency with his accuracy to lift the Bulldogs against an opponent like Nebraska.

Why is Texas-North Texas on TV?

Arkansas quarterback Robert Johnson still looks like Robert Johnson to me.

What are we to make of Tennesssee? Yes, the Vols looked like world beaters. But exactly what has Cal won in recent years to make this a bellcow game for Tennessee?

Tech looks good

Despite the score, I thought Louisiana Tech was impressive today much of the time. The Bulldogs went toe-to-toe with a returning national power in a way North Texas was not able to do in Austin. North Texas was never in the game; Tech was.

It was especially nice to see some local kids not only on the roster but starting for Tech. Weldon Brown from Bossier, Wes Day from Captain Shreve and Chad Beverage from Parkway/Airline were all on the field getting television exposure. Weldon had a nice kickoff return to open the game, showing he still has the running back moves he had at Bossier High.

It's odd to say it considering all the college football players picked out of Louisiana, but I think this area is even stronger than given credit for by recruiters. To me, there are players missed every year who can play Division I-A ball.

Good luck to the Bulldogs the rest of the year, and best of luck to the local kids there and elsewhere.

Scott Baker, Yankee killer

Captain Shreve ex Scott Baker has had plenty of up and down moments as he bounced between Triple-A and the majors this year, but Saturday had to rank as one of his best.

Baker, mired in a roller-coaster season, beat the New York Yankees for the second time in as many starts this year, but this one certainly meant more to him and the Twins.

His first win was in April, when teams are still finding out about themselves. Saturday's came in the heat of a playoff race. With the Twins a half-game back in the AL wild card, Baker's start couldn't have come at a better time for him or the team.

When last seen in the big leagues, Baker was getting bounced around the Metrodome by the Texas Rangers. On Saturday, he silenced the AL's deepest lineup on one of baseball's biggest stages.

After winning the fifth starter's job coming out of spring training, Baker was inconsistent. Now, he has put himself back on the map and kept the Twins within striking distance of the world champion White Sox.

Friday, September 01, 2006

US basketball down in flames AGAIN

Jerry Colangelo, the man in charge of putting together the recent version of basketball's Dream Team, was forced into making excuses for the bunch who experienced yet another nightmare.

The United States lost to Greece in the semifinals of the World Championships on Friday, despite the fact Greece had NO NBA players.

Coangelo spoke on ESPN's Cold Pizza this morning, saying the internation game is so much more physical than the Americans are used to and blah blah blah.

Jerry, the United States is stock full of the best basketball players on the planet. I don't care whether they play on a playground, an NBA arena or a alley near the Parthenon, there is no excuse for the Americans' latest pathetic performance.