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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Vince Dooley irritates his wife

Louisiana Tech football coach Derek Dooley said on Thursday that his father, legendary Georgia coach Vince Dooley, is getting on his mother's nerves after his recent successful throat surgery.

"He couldn't talk for 10 days, so mom told all of his friends not to call. He has to write everything down on an erasable board," Dooley said. "Mom said 'that man wouldn't talk to me for 30 years and now all of a sudden he has plenty to say. He's driving me crazy with that board.'"

Maybe she should try an Etch-a-Sketch.

Dooley bans cell phones

Louisiana Tech football coach Derek Dooley has set about installing a disclipline program for his student-athletes, including a ban on cell telephones in the field house. The coach doesn't want any disruptions in team meetings and he wants his players to set a good example. He also plans to have an acceptable standard of dress.

"There is a certain level of discipline expected by the alums," Dooley said at the Willie Roaf Social on Thursday night. "These guys have to know that they don't just represent themselves. They also represent this university."

If only all college and high school coaches would follow that mantra.

Anybody watching the Stanley Cup finals?

I didn't think so.

Versus (the cable network broadcasting the finals) might as well televise tumbleweeds blowing across the ice.

Know how many people watched Game 1 between Anaheim and Ottawa? 523,000 households. That's a 0.72 cable rating. Unbelievably, it's a drop of 18 percent from last year's Game 1.

How in the world did hockey get to this place? Place the fault squarely on the shoulders of commissioner Gary Bettman. Instead of opting for maturing the sport and looking to the future, he handed out expansion rights for the quick, short-term financial gains.

Now, there's talk of Nashville moving, possibly to Winnipeg, though Bettman doesn't give any specifics. I wouldn't be surprised if Florida or Atlanta are next.

The owners won't move Bettman out because he's made them very rich men at the sake of the sport's future. Meanwhile teams in the largest hockey markets, Toronto, Chicago, Boston and the New York Rangers have won FOUR Stanley Cups since the 1966-67 season. Toronto's last cup was in 1967, Boston added a pair in 1970 and 1972 and the Rangers won in 1994. Chicago hasn't won since 1961.

No wonder the 1930s-1950s are referred to as the sports' Golden Age.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Mailman's next round

Kudos to Karl Malone for wanting to become more involved with Louisiana Tech athletics. It's good to see former star athletes not forgetting their roots.

Malone is also putting more than just his money into Tech athletics. He is also the Bulldogs' director of basketball promotion and assistant strength and conditioning coach.

It is here where things could get, shall we say, dicy for Tech. The school certainly doesn't want to do anything to offend Malone. So the hope is that Malone excels in his new positions. If not, then Tech will have to figure its way out of this situation without offending Malone to the point of losing his support.

Yet, it's a gamble worth taking. Malone's heart appears to be in the right place and if everything works out it could be remembered as a pivotal move that helped elevate the school's athletic programs.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Good to see Quincy back

Even though he didn't get on the field, the appearance of Quincy Carter at the CenturyTel Center on Tuesday night was a welcome sight for those who've been counting the days until his suspension was over.

Nothing against current starter Gary Cooper, who is a great kid and who is pouring his heart and soul into quarterbacking the Bossier-Shreveport Battle Wings, but "Q" is the man. He is the only quarterback in the af2 with NFL experience and that experience gives the Wings their best chance of making the playoffs.

It's doubtful Carter is back in camp in time to see action this week against Texas, especially with a short work week, but he could be back in uniform next week. That would be something no one thought they would ever see again.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Back from vacation

Ah, it's good to be back.

I spent last week on vacation on the East Coast. Caught a Red Sox game at Fenway (Go to the Talkin' Baseball blog for more on that one) and then went down to New York and D.C.

From a sports standpoint, the trip to D.C. was interesting. I'm accustomed to the softball games on The Mall. I wasn't even surprised to see some soccer games.

What I wasn't accustomed to was seeing adults playing kickball, kick soccer, whatever you want to call it, on The Mall. That's right, grown adults kicking a ball and then running to the bases. Wow.

All in all, though, a great time.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

UFC's parity something new fans will learn

The UFC couldn't have asked for a better 2007. In a very short period of time, it broke through several barriers -- with fans and media. The increased exposure likely led to more people that ever watching a UFC card -- Saturday's UFC: 71 with light heavyweight champ -- and the sport's most popular figure -- Chuck Liddell battling Quinton Jackson.
Jackson mowed through Liddell and knocked him out just 1:53 into the first round.
UFC newbies almost scoffed at the thought of a champion getting abused so rudely. And that the pay-per-view show must have been disappointing.
Not so much. Welcome to mixed-martial arts.
Unlike boxing, you never see someone with a 38-0 record and 36 knockouts. Literally, anyone can win on any night. And the matchmakers make good fights, too. They don't throw stiff out there for champs to run over.
Every championship in the UFC has changed hands recently. It's hard to consider anything a shocking upset anymore.
Saturday's fight card was great. It featured several quality matchups. Some decisions, some knocouts, some submissions. The main event was a main event in name only ... all the fights were action-packed.
In the end, this will be yet another reason UFC will reign supreme.

If you aint first, you're last Ms. Patrick

Well, we know Danica Patrick didn't get her extreme competitive streak from her mother.
So the Indianapolis 500 is being plagued by rain. Consequently, every race fan feels cheated, because the race may not go the full distance. But don't tell that to the mother of Danica Patrick, one of three women in today's race.
As pit stops and a timely caution fell to place Danica in third place (she was well out of the top 10 before these events transpired) as the rain was moving in, Danica's mother began doing a ridiculous rain dance as to concede her daughter's third-place effort was the end-all be-all.
What? Ecstatic about finishing third? What would Ricky Bobby say about that.
If second place is the first loser, what is third. Apparently dollar signs or some unthinkable positive.
Credit Danica, however. She admited that it would be nice to finish third and to see her teammate Tony Kanaan win (he was ahead when the skies let loose), but if given a choice, she wanted the race to start again.
"I came here to win," Danica said.
Well she might want to speak with her mother about her embarrassing dance and wild movements as the rain moved in.
No one remembers who finishes third in the Indy 500.
Hopefully the rain clears and Danica, not her mother, gets her wish.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Don't count out Jazz

For those who think home-court advantage solely resides in college sports, I humbly present to you the Utah Jazz.

And prior to the Jazz, the Golden State Warriors.

On Saturday, the Jazz, losers of 18 straight games in San Antonio, whipped the Spurs by 26 points to climb back into the series.

The Jazz don't have homecourt advantage on paper. They are the lower seed and the decided underdog against the veteran, playoff-tested Spurs. But, if Utah can steal Game 5 in San Antonio, look out -- there stands a real chance we could see former Louisiana Tech star Paul Millsap and the Jazz in the NBA Finals.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Will the real Shreveport Sports please step forward?

It is still early in the season, but what in the world is going on with the Shreveport Sports?

Sports pitchers gave up 24 hits to Coastal Bend in their game Thursday night and lost 14-3. The Sports committed three errors too. They've committed 23 errors in 13 games. Only St. Joe (which has committed 34 errors is worse).

Wednesday night they were the ones clubbing the Aviators.

One night they look like '27 Yankees; the next night, they look like the Bad News Bears.

Manager Bob Flori is still waiting on some players to get their visas straightened out. Why it wasn't taken care of, say during the offseason, is beyond me.

Where was the whistle?

Before I get started, let me say I'm a native of Michigan. I've been to Pistons' games back when they used to play at the Silverdome. I watched the Pistons' two championships unfold in my grandmother's living room. While I'd like to see any hometown team of mine do well (thanks a lot Red Wings!), I'd like to think I'm unbiased enough to profess an opinion.

With that being said...

LeBron James got hacked. James got mugged. Rip Hamilton could have taken a chainsaw to him on the final play of Game 2 on Thursday, and I don't think the refs would have called it. Which is why they should be sitting out the rest of this series. The NBA needs to bring somebody in who isn't intimidated to blow a whistle and call a foul when it is so blatantly obvious as the one Hamilton dished out to James.

Cavs coach Mike Brown was professional in his post-game news conference, but if there was anybody who had a reason to gripe, it was Brown. And, he should have. He needed to stand up for his team and show that he's ready to take their back and fight for their cause.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

PETA has priorities misplaced

If I were an LSU athletic official, I would tell the PETA folks to take a long walk in the Amazon jungle without a map (warning them, of course, to watch out for wild animals who might want them for dinner. Pleeeeeese! Can these people get a real life and find something meaningful to protest. Heck, there are PEOPLE getting murdered on the streets of Shreveport virtually every night, but PETA is upset about a tiger, which is treated better than most of the people in the world.

Instead of fighting off starvation by murdering other animals in the wild (PETA should be protesting those deaths), fighting disease and the other vagaries of wild living, Mike gets three squares a day and gets to lie around without fear of a bigger tiger taking his life. All that's required of him is that he smile pleasantly when inebriated LSU fans gawk at him in his cage, and show up at a few football games looking fierce.

Other than that, he has the life of Riley. We should all be so lucky.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Perrilloux's days as Tiger numbered?

Ryan Perrilloux just cannot stay out of trouble.

Perrilloux (LSU's backup quarterback) was busted trying to enter a Baton Rouge casino. You've got to be 21 to enter, and Perrilloux is only 20. He tried using his brother's ID. Casino officials caught him and called Baton Rouge Police.

Miles suspended him indefinitely from the team on Tuesday, but are Perrilloux's days numbered? He already is in warm waters with a counterfeiting investigation breathing down his neck. He passed a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store in November that drew federal investigators.

Perrilloux will likely face a fine, probably $250, for the casino incident. His attorney said the counterfeiting case was coming to a close, likely resulting in a dismissal with some community service tacked on.

Is it enough for Miles to dismiss Perrilloux? I doubt it. He already suspended three other players from the squad (and subsequently booted them). Those players were arrested however - two on breaking and entering and theft and the third on simple battery. Perrilloux wasn't arrested in either case.

It's a lot of negative publicity for the Tigers. You've got to believe Miles' patience is growing very thin with his quarterback. If I were Miles, I'd give Perrilloux one more chance to straighten his act before shipping him out.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Tech nets graduation honor

Louisiana Tech deseves kudos for a recent honor bestowed on it by the American Football Coaches Association. Tech was one of just 32 schools nationwide to graduate 70 percent of its football student-athletes last year.

Tech was the only WAC school and the lone Louisiana school to receive the honor. With all of the hoopla surrounding negative APR ratings and penalties for state schools recently, it's good to see one program is apparently doing things right.

"This confirms the importance that is placed on the graduation of our student athletes," Tech athletic director Jim Oakes said. "We’re constantly emphasizing that our student athletes are students first, and these high numbers show our university importance on our athletes gaining a degree."

The study involved the freshman class from the academic year of 2001-2002, including those who entered at that time but who did not receive financial aid until after their initial year, or who transferred from another institution and subsequently received a grant-in-aid.

Sports off to good start

Shreveport swept a four-game series from Pensacola and sit in second place in the American Association's South Division.

The Pensacola series may have been a rousing success (the Sports didn't play all that horrible, the crowds were lively), but Shreveport should have beaten Pensacola. The Pelicans are bad.

What really burned manager Bob Flori was the lack of good baseball play. Like Melvin Falu trying to steal third with two out during Friday's game.
Or, the Sports not executing a rundown with precision. Shreveport had Pensacola's Larry Bethea tied up between second and third. A baserunner on third broke for home, and despite the calls from the home crowd to throw home, there wasn't a throw to catcher Alex Entrekin.
The Sports still won the game by a comfortable margin, but it's the little things like those examples that can cost them down the road.

Flori has to get his roster down to 22 for Thursday's cutoff date. There may be some movement with players (Enohel Polanco, Mick Kurhan, Juan Infante and Gerson Mercedes) still awaiting visa clearance.

Falu and Bryan Cooksey (a Parkway and LSUS grad) could be the odd players out. The Sports sorely need a viable shortstop and that's where Polanco comes in.
Richie Benes and Cooksey have six errors between them. Cooksey would be a tough loss though. He's a very coachable player ready to work and improve on his game.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Thanks again, David Stern

I know we should let the Suns-Spurs suspension fiasco go and I will as soon as this post is up.

But thanks David Stern for taking the interest out of the NBA Playoffs -- at least on the court. After seeing Utah lose for the 17th straight time in San Antonio, it's clear the Spurs will be waltzing into another NBA Finals.

And if they face the Pistons in said Finals, woe be to the NBA. Look the concept of a team being more than one player is great. Unselfishness is great.

But you know what's fun to watch? The Phoenix Suns.

As someone who doesn't care about the NBA during the regular season, the Suns are one reason to watch even if the game is a midweek December matchup against the Bobcats. Now we don't know if the Suns would have won Game 5 at full strength. Or how they would have done in a hypothetical Game 7. All we know is David Stern and his power-hungry minions took the beautiful game the Suns play and replaced it something resembling football on hardwood.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Spurs beat Suns fair and square

The Phoenix Suns, playing WITH Amaré Stoudemire and Boris Diaw, who had been suspended for the previous game, had a chance to beat the San Antonio Spurs in Game 6 on Friday night.

But they didn’t.

Instead the Spurs put a 114-106 whipping on the Suns, who’ll advance to play the Utah Jazz in the Western Conference finals.

There were complaints about the suspensions and how the poor Suns were at a disadvantage. But they had a chance to knock off the Spurs and force Game 7 in Phoenix.

They couldn’t, even WITH Stoudemire and Diaw.

Two-time MVP Steve Nash blamed the Suns’ troubles on the suspensions in Game 5.

“We just couldn’t find a way to close out (Game 5) with only six guys,” Nash said. “It’s tough not to think forever what might have happened if this stupid rule hadn’t gotten in the way.”


Steve, what happened in Game 6?

Here’s what happened: Nash disappeared in the third quarter. He had only ONE assist and DID NOT score in the third quarter when the Spurs jumped out to a 20-point lead.

And keep this in mind: the Suns are a dismal 6-15 against the Spurs since Nash returned to Phoenix. So, losing to the Spurs is nothing new to the Nash-led Suns.

If you still think the suspensions caused the Suns’ downfall, you should follow Stoudemire’s postgame advice.

“We have to get over this,” he said.

Friday, May 18, 2007

It’s time for Van Gundy to go

The Houston Rockets and head coach Jeff Van Gundy have officially parted ways.

The team announced today that Van Gundy had been relieved of his duties after four seasons in Houston.

It’s about time.

Van Gundy compiled a 182-146 record with the Rockets, but he was a flop in the postseason.

Under Van Gundy’s watch, the Rockets were 7-12 in three postseason appearances. And get this: they couldn’t get past the first round even though they were led by two of the game’s biggest stars.

If a team can’t get out of the first round with Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming, someone HAS to go. And it shouldn’t be T-Mac or Yao.

Van Gundy’s teams were among the NBA’s best, defensively, each season. Only the San Antonio Spurs (90.0) and Detroit Pistons (91.8), likely Finals participants, allowed fewer points per game than the Rockets (92.1) this season.

But defense, at least in Houston, doesn’t win championships. It can’t even buy a ticket to the second round.

Failing to progress in the postseason, however, can result in a one-way ticket out of town.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Quincy, Quincy

Well, I was wrong.

I was hoping Quincy Carter could make it through the season without incident. Then, I boldly predicted, the Battle Wings quarterback would get another shot at the NFL. There are NFL teams dying for quarterback help.

But Carter has been suspended for two games by Bossier-Shreveport coach Jon Norris. This is Norris' way of sending Carter a message for missing meetings and practice.

If this were the first time in Carter's life that he didn't show up where he was supposed to be, then it might be excused a little easier. It isn't. He had the same problem with the Dallas Cowboys according to published reports.

So let me amend my prediction. Even if Carter finishes out the year with the Battle Wings, I don't see him getting an NFL opportunity. I don't think teams want the headache.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Fair punishment meted out to Suns, Spurs

Robert Horry, Amaré Stoudemire and Boris Diaw got what they deserved.


The players were suspended for their part in Monday night’s fourth-quarter skirmish between the Phoenix Suns and San Antonio Spurs.

Horry received a two-game suspension for his flagrant foul on Steve Nash with 18 seconds left in the game. The foul warranted an equally flagrant response by the NBA.

Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, however, didn’t see any harm in Horry’s foul.

“I’ve seen harder fouls,” Popovich said. “(Horry) had to foul. Steve was running down the sideline. He was there. He gave him a shoulder. He just wanted to foul him. There was nothing hurtful or intentional at all. I didn’t think it was a very big deal.”

But the NBA did.

Suns head coach Mike D’Antoni, who’ll be without two key players tonight, thinks his team got the short end of the deal.

“We have the most powerful microscopes and telescopes in the world in Arizona, (and) you could use those instruments and not find a shred of fairness or common sense in that decision,” D’Antoni said.

Stoudemire and Diaw deserve their one-game suspension because they violated NBA policy by leaving the bench when they moved toward the commotion at midcourt.

Here’s what’s in the rulebook:

“Any player who leaves the bench during a fight is automatically suspended for a minimum of one game and fined a maximum of $20,000; in addition to losing 1/82nd of his salary for each game, he is suspended.”

Stoudemire and Diaw knew (or certainly SHOULD have known) that leaving the bench would result in suspension.

As it stands, the rule is unreasonably inflexible. The owners, however, have the power to change it.

“But,” said Stu Jackson, NBA’s executive vice president of basketball operations (disciplinarian), “the rule is what it is.”

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Blindly protecting young athletes not always a good option

I still searching for what the parents of high school athletes want?
Is it good solid coverage or is it publicity?
I'm really beginning to think it's publicity. And if that's the case, you may be looking in the wrong place.
One of the most common e-mails is "why don’t you write about Johnny or Julie."
Apparently covering "Johnny" or "Julie," or their schools, isn’t exactly what parents want.
Recent prep state championships have been exciting, especially for local squads. And I have to hand it to sports editor Scott Ferrell. He did a wonderful job managing out "work force" to cover every state tournament game (baseball and softball) -- despite the fact games were spread out all over the state. If you had a kid playing, we were there. Try that with two reporters and Scott. We not only provided a story (two, three or four stories in some cases), but live updates with virtually inning-by-inning action.
That was well and good -- until your team lost. Or in a few unbelievable cases, won.
Then the "why don't you write about Johnny and Julie" e-mails turned into "did you have to mention this error, or that base running mistake?"
The answer: Yes. That's our job.
Just like we write "Julie went 3-for-4 with a home run and 4 RBIs," we will put, "the game ended on an error" or whatever. It's called bringing the news to the people. Sometimes the mistake is more crucial to the outcome than the home run, that's just the way it is.
We are not a publicity machine. And if "Johnny" or "Julie" plan on advancing their academic or athletic career beyond high school, we will seem extremely nice compared to fans and some journalists at an SEC level for example.
Nothing is off limits in big-time college sports. And in life, too.
Blindly protecting and defending the kids isn't necessarily the best option -- hello Mrs. Mustain.Mistakes happen, and kids can learn from them, but only if they realize a mistake has been made. If others shield the kids from the truth, that's an injustice.
We'll be glad to write about your sons and daughters and teammates, in fact I think I can speak for my teammates in saying we love it. That's why we're in this business -- to write about sports; the personalities and the competitions.
Just don't blame us for doing so.

Coming to a comedy club near you...Van Chancellor

Four of LSU's head coaches visited the area as part of the Tiger Tour 2007. It's a fund-raiser of the Tiger Athletic Foundation and gives fans a chance to mingle with coaches.

Football coach Les Miles, basketball coach John Brady, women's basketball coach Van Chancellor and baseball coach Paul Maineri were all in town. Usually, it's just Miles, but this time it was a rare opportunity for fans.

Chancellor stole the show, at least with us media.

Chancellor played in the Hal Sutton and David Toms charity golf tournament with CBS sportscaster Tim Brando. Chancellor had a memorable afternoon with Brando.

"I've played a lot of golf with a lot of people in my time, but Tim Brando is the greatest legend in his own mind I've ever met," Chancellor joked.
"I can see how he makes his living talking because he never stops."

I was shooting a video for the Times Webs site, but Chancellor might as well have grabbed the mike from my hand and started his own stand-up routine. He had a particular "gripe" with Brando's selective scoring method on the golf course.

"It's amazing that a man that has a high profile job in major league television network can't count. Five is the highest number he knows, and you can quote me on that."

Monday, May 14, 2007

Always something

The WAC's awarding of the 2008 conference baseball tournament to Louisiana Tech was enthusiastically received in these parts.

In the rest of the conference, not so much.

One columnist said Tech's selection as the host was not a good choice. His main point was the travel in getting to Ruston is difficult for the teams in the tournament.

Gee, that would be the same travel Tech makes all year long.

Look, if anything the WAC should be applauded for trying to be inclusive, with a conference championship event in Ruston.

This Tech-WAC marriage isn't what it was in the beginning. The loss of regional schools to other conferences has left Tech on its own version of an island making it and Hawaii the most difficult schools to reach.

Until a better fit for both comes along, at least Tech and the WAC are trying to make the best of the situation.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Whiney Coach of the Year award

During their visit to Shreveport this week, the Mid-Con softball teams held a banquet where such awards as Coach, Player and Pitcher of the Year were passed out. One award that wasn't given, but should have been, was the Whiniest Coach of the Year. Oakland's Glenn MacDonald would have won hands down.

MacDonald spent much of his second round loser's bracket game with Centenary complaining to the umpires about four Centenary students sitting just beyond the left field fence and heckling his outfielders. When the game officials refused to do anything, MacDonald came over to the scorers table and began whining to Centenary Media Relations Director David Pratt.

"Are those normal seats out there?" MacDonald intoned. When informed that students regularly sit there when they come to games, the coach continued. "Well, that may be, but that's classless. Our outfielders can't hear each other making their calls."

When MacDonald didn't get any relief from Pratt, he stalked off, but kept whining to the umpires. Apparently ol' MacDonald has never been to an SEC baseball game, where the heckling by students is astronomical, compared to Centenary's fearsome foursome.

With about an inning left to be played, the home plate umpire finally sent a campus security officer down the line and had the students removed. Apparently the hecklers referred to one of the Oakland players by name, which overstepped the bounds of the umpire's propriety.

If MacDonald's crew can't stand a little heat, maybe they should submit a bid, put up the money and host the softball tournament at their place next year. They could ban fans from attendance so that the games could be played in quiet solitude.

Friday, May 11, 2007

What's up with Ricky Williams?

Seriously, can anyone figure out Ricky Williams?

Williams, the erstwhile Heisman Trophy winner and apparent proponent of pot, failed another drug test Friday, meaning his return to the NFL is delayed -- again.

After being banned from the NFL for last season, Williams went to play in the Canadian Football League and had a decent season. Williams long has had issues with the media and seems to want to live an out-of-the-box lifestyle away from the field.

That's OK as long as you don't turn your back on your teammates or people who have invested millions of dollars in you. Williams needs to make up his mind once and for all whether he wants to play the game or not.

If he does, good for him. If he doesn't, eh, good riddance.


So the Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki is the NBA's MVP.

Has there ever been a more tainted MVP than this one?

It's not that Dirk's performance in the 82-game regular season didn't merit the award.

It's just that his woeful showing in the postseason this year makes you wonder how anyone could have voted for him.

In fact, you've got to wonder just how much this award means to Nowitzki after the flameout in the playoffs.

(Quick aside, nice year for the Metroplex. Tony Romo can't catch a snap. Dirk disappears. And if anyone cares, the Stars got bounced early as well.)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Vick must avoid trouble like a pass rush

For a guy who has extensive interests in breeding pit bulls and Rottweilers, Michael Vick got an ominous - yet appropriate - warning from his boss.

"He is in essence on a short leash," Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank told SI.com.

And with that, the gauntlet has been thrown down. Vick, the tremendously gifted and troubled Falcons QB, is running out of time to prove he's worth the bad press to his old owner and new coach, Bobby Petrino.

Over the years, I've been an unabashed apologist for Vick. My judgment was probably obscured by his considerable talent, his giving life to the nickname "Ron Mexico" (can't say why. This is a family news organization) and that his success with a usually pathetic franchise like the one in Atlanta flew in the face of conventional NFL perceptions of what a QB should be - or look like.

But I'm tiring of him and the negative headlines he's generated in recent months. This latest incident, which connects him to illegal dog fighting at a home he owns in Virginia, has tested the patience of his fans and employers. And it's even tested the loyalty of the people he calls "friends."

Two of them recently told SI.com that they are convinced he's been involved in dog fighting and that he has a longtime "affinity" for the culture surrounding dog fighting.

"He knows what's going on in that house in Virginia," one told SI.com. "There's not a doubt in my mind he's involved with it."

With friends like those ... well, you know the rest. The next set of decisions Vick must make are much easier than reading a Cover 2 defense or figuring out how to avoid Julius Peppers: he needs a new set of friends and almost certainly a different hobby.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Pilots in a hole

LSUS got an awfully tough draw for a third seed winning the GCAC baseball tournament last week.

The Pilots played - and lost - their first game today against a Southern Poly team that was ranked No. 14 nationally in NAIA.

LSUS's punishment for losing is a 3:30 p.m. matchup today against an Auburn-Montgomery team that is ranked No. 4 nationally.


This has been a really good LSUS team. One that was good enough to score a midweek win at ULM earlier in the year.

But this is one tough draw.

There is one good thing, though. At least we had a Shreveport college team playing postseason baseball.

Crenshaw promotion shows moxie

Lady Techsters coach Chris Long made the right move on Monday by naming Joni Crenshaw his associate head coach. She's a person who area basketball fans will see at the helm of Arkansas, Kentucky, Kansas or some other major college basketball school at some point in the near future.

Techsters fans love Crenshaw, the players love her, the other coaches love her and apparently high profile recruits love her.

When she walks into a room, she's a commanding presence. Part of that is due to her 6-foot-2 height, part to her beauty, but mostly it's due to an air that lets you know she's not just another assistant basketball coach. Like a baseball player with great vision, or a football player with great speed, that's something that can't be taught.

Long and the Techsters family want to hold onto Crenshaw for as long as they can, which makes Monday's announcement one with a lot of foresight.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Rookie rantings

The NBA, at least to me, is by far the most difficult professional sports league to judge which players will make it and which won't.

Take Paul Millsap for example. I figured his rebounding would warrant him a roster spot. I never figured he would have the impact he has had on the Utah Jazz this season.

On the other hand, I could have seen Tyrus Thomas being a bust. His college career was strikingly similar to Stromile Swift. But it appears now that Thomas is on a better career track than Swift.

That's two rookies from Louisiana schools. Both are doing well. And me, call me surprised.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Good riddance, Rocket

So, the Rocket’s heading back to the Big Apple, huh?

Good riddance, Rocket.

Now the Houston Astros can move on without the distraction that accompanied Roger Clemens’ annual hide-and-seek show.

Clemens might sign with the Astros. Or could it be the New York Yankees? The Boston Red Sox?

Stay tuned to the Roger Clemens Show.

Forget the drama.

Dim the spotlights.

Clemens’ act had clearly worn thin within the organization.

“Disappointing, but we’ve gone through this for three years,” Astros owner Drayton McLane said in describing Clemens’ decision to return to the Yankees.

Clemens had an outstanding run with the Astros, but stars like Roy Oswalt and talented youngsters like Matt Albers represent the team’s future.

Clemens once told me how much he enjoyed playing before passionate fans in Boston, New York and Toronto.

“They love their baseball,” he said.

And obviously their drama.

Boxing gets black eye during a special night

Floyd Mayweather Jr. was one round on a scorecard away from being robbed, and thus, give boxing another black eye during what should have been one of its finest hours.

Mayweather managed to retained his unofficial title of the world's best fighter pound-for-pound Saturday with a split decision victory over the "Golden Boy" Oscar De La Hoya on Saturday night.

Problem was, the fight wasn't that close - no matter what the crowd or Mayweather Sr. thought of the decision. Had the younger Mayweather walked out of MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas with anything other than a title belt, there might have been enough call for reform in a sport that so badly needs it.

So, even though Mayweather won, boxing almost lost in a big way. Get it?

Judge Chuck Giampa scored it 116-112 and Jerry Roth had it 115-113, both for Mayweather, while judge Tommy Kaczmarek had it 115-113 for De La Hoya. Had Roth judged the 12th round for De La Hoya, the fight would have ended in a draw.

This despite the fact that Mayweather connected much more frequently, was never really hurt by De La Hoya and controlled much of the action in the final rounds as the Golden Boy noticeably grew weary.

I don't know what fight Kaczmarek was watching but it couldn't have been the one right in front of him. The only surprise about his sketchy scorecard was that Don King didn't have something to do with it.

But, alas, the Pretty Boy beat the Golden Boy, and people will fool themselves into believing boxing can somehow ride the momentum of a special night into a brighter future. The truth, however, is that those people are as delusional as Kaczmarek.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Third-quarter update

Utah holds a comfortable eight-point lead (75-67) over the Rockets at the end of the third quarter. But it AIN'T over!!!

First-half observations

Utah leads Houston 53-43 at halftime.

The Rockets are going to HAVE to get more production from Yao Ming if they hope to play after tonight. Yao, who entered tonight's game averaging 24.5 points and 11 rebounds in the 2007 playoffs, has been limited to eight points and two rebounds - hardly intimidating numbers.

Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams have pumped in 17 and 15 points respectively to lead the Jazz.

Tracy Mc Grady's 13 points and Shane Battier's 12 (4-of-6 from 3-point range) have helped to keep the game as close as it is.

McGrady has a game-high nine assists.

First-quarter update

At the end of the first quarter, Utah holds a 29-22 lead. Carlos Boozer led all first quarter scorers with eight points.

Tracy Mc Grady leads the Rockets with seven points and an impressive three assists.

Greetings from Toyota Center

Greetings from Toyota Center in downtown Houston, the site of Game 7 of the Western Conference playoffs matchup between the Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz.

It's just as festive outside as a sea of red-clad Rockets supporters converge on Toyota Center.

I'm picking the Rockets to take this one and move on to play the Golden State Warriors.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Better late than never

The St. Louis Cardinals announced today they would no longer have beer in the clubhouse for their players.

The move comes on the same day that authorities said the late Josh Hancock was legally drunk when he was involved in a fatal accident.

I guess it's better late than never. As it is, only the Cardinals, Oakland A's, New York Yankees and New York Mets aren't offering suds to the players.

Pardon me, but is there another profession where you get done with the day there's beer in the workplace?

OK, maybe a bar. But for the rest of us, there is a huge disconnect between MLB clubhouses and reality.

Nothing compares to hockey

Yeah, hockey gets lower TV ratings than bowling...women's college bowling, but there is no sport I'd rather watch in person or on TV. In fact, I'll go so far as to say in terms of excitement, drama and pure athleticism, hockey is the best sport out there.

It's better than football, better than baseball and better than basketball. It's better than NASCAR, better than boxing, better than soccer/football.

How can I say such a remark that could be considered heresy in the heart of SEC football country? Anybody watch the Game 4 of the Detroit-San Jose series?

The Red Wings are trailing 2-1 with less than a minute remaining when they tie it up with 33 seconds on a quick strike. Early into the overtime, bam, they score the game-winner and head back to Detroit with the series tied at 2-2.

In no other sport can a game change so quickly. In football, baseball and basketball, you can see a rally coming.

Your team is down a run in the bottom of the ninth? They've got to have runners on the bases before you have a shot at winning.

Your team has got to drive 93 yards with less than two minutes for the winning touchdown? They've got to string together some first downs before they can come close to the endzone.

Your team is down a goal in the closing moments of the final period? All it takes is a bounce of the puck or an odd-man rush, and you could be looking at a tied game. You don't see a rally coming in hockey. You can hope for it, you can pray for it, you can dismiss your team's chances, but a game-tying/game-winning goal can happen out of nothing.

Plus, I don't think there's another sport where emotions can change in the blink of an eye. The Sharks were ready to go up 3-1 in the series, but with the Wings' quick goal, San Jose was a different team. And when Detroit scored in OT, the Sharks were a dejected, heartbroken team.

Detroit skated off the ice a confident, enthusiastic team ready for Game 5. Moments earlier, they were staring at two-game deficit.

What other sport can match all that?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

It doesn’t get much better than this

If you’re not excited about tonight’s NBA playoff games, you’d better check your pulse. This is what the postseason is all about: do-or-die, back-against-the-wall, nail-biting excitement.

In tonight’s undercard, Tracy McGrady and the Houston Rockets, holding a 3-2 edge over the Utah Jazz, will try to put the finishing touches on their first-round opponents. If they succeed, McGrady will advance to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in his career.

In the main event, the No. 1-seeded Dallas Mavericks, down 2-3 to the No. 8 Golden State Warriors, will try to stave off elimination and force a Game 7 in Dallas on Saturday.

The Warriors and 20,000 of their best friends, who’ll be on hand to lend a few words of encouragement, have other ideas.

Lead changes. Momentum swings. Incredible plays.

If tonight's games don’t get you going, nothing will.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Best show on TV

Is there a better sports-related show on TV than "Pardon the Interruption"?

For as much heat as ESPN takes for some of its ethics and hyping of stories, the powers-that-be got it right with PtI.

Tony Kornheiser may rub some people the wrong way, but he's one of the best sports personalities out there. Michael Wilbon is a must-read columnist at the Washigton Post.

They are perfect in this element, firing responses back at the other.

Watch any other similar show on ESPN, and it's not quite the same. "Around the Horn" is tiresome because you've got up to four reporters barking at each other, and none is more annoying than Woody Paige.

"The Sports Reporters" on Sunday mornings used to be a terrific show under former host Dick Schaap. But with his death a few years ago, the show has practically ground to a halt. It's still an entertaining show, but it's nowhere near PtI.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Heat’s on the Warriors

The Golden State Warriors hold a commanding 3-1 lead over the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference playoffs, but they’re feeling the heat.

Pressure is all about expectations, and just about everyone expects the Warriors to put the Mavericks away tonight. Up until now, there's been little pressure on the 42-40 Warriors. They could relax; they weren’t supposed to win. Heck, they even qualified for a playoff spot on the last day of the regular season.

What did THEY have to lose?

The Mavericks (67-15) strutted into the playoffs as the NBA’s best team after posting one of the best records in league history. Now, they’re underdogs and they’ll take great pleasure tonight in watching the Warriors sweat.

In Dallas.

Before 20,000 not-so-friendly faces.

In a game the Warriors HAVE to win.

“We’re going to go out and approach this game like it’s Game 7, like they’re up 3-1, because we need it more than they do,” said Warriors forward Stephen Jackson.

He’s right. They NEED tonight’s game.

If Golden State loses, they’ll play in an even bigger game in Oakland on Thursday night. A loss Thursday would mean a return to Dallas for Game 7 on Saturday.

Think the Warriors want that?

Expect the more relaxed Mavericks to take it to the Warriors tonight.

I picked the Mavericks to win the series. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Beating the odds

I am not a gambler, but I do find the various odds put out to be fairly interesting.

Consider the Super Bowl odds put out by BetUS.com.

According to BetUS.com the 2007 season's Super Bowl champion will be ... the New England Patriots.

The Patriots have 3-1 odds of winning the Super Bowl.

OK, I understand the Patriots could have won last year's Super Bowl minus a meltdown against the Colts in the AFC title game. And I understand the Pats have added Randy Moss. But I still don't know if that will get them over the hump.

Of local interest, the New Orleans Saints face 20-1 odds of winning the Super Bowl.

The Saints have upgraded their defense somewhat through free agency and Robert Meachem should be an adequate replacement for Joe Horn. I understand the Saints' history but 20-1 seems a little steep.

The Cowboys are at 25-1 odds. Hey, if the Saints are at 20-1 this is probably about right. I'm still not sold on Tony Romo.

Again, these are great for debate. But I wouldn't put money on any of them.