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Saturday, June 30, 2007

Concerned in Shreveport

Normally the news that a minor league basketball team wants to call Shreveport-Bossier City home would be a good thing.

So why am I more concerned than ecstatic?

Simple, that would give the cities four minor league sports teams -- the Battle Wings (football), Stallions (basketball), Sports (baseball) and Mudbugs (hockey).

There are teams struggling to get by right now with a three-team market. A fourth would split the pie even more.

Yes, Stallions CEO Rod Evans sounds like a guy who has done his research on the market - two-and-a-half years, he says - and is undeterred.

Hopefully he knows what he is talking about when it comes to sports in Shreveport-Bossier City.

Friday, June 29, 2007

The Port City Pounders are ready to rumble

We often get phone calls at The Times from parents and coaches looking for a little pub for their event and kids. I got a phone call earlier this week from Fox Rich, a mother whose children are active with the Port City Pounders boxing club.

The tiny gym is behind an auto body shop. Coaches open the garage door entrance, and it's still muggy in there. I went over to do a video story about the kids on Thursday. They've got a big boxing meet coming up for Saturday.

These kids are really cool, but to really appreciate their boxing skills check out the video.

You've got to hang around until the end to hear Matt Walpool, an 8-year-old, who already sounds like Muhammad Ali.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Centenary president misses the point

Centenary president Ken Schwab isn’t exactly been forthcoming about his athletic director search.

After securing a list of candidates for the position around 1 p.m. on Tuesday, we began calling the principals involved, including Schwab. We called the president's office and left a message for him. With no return call in a couple of hours, we tried again to no avail. By 6 p.m., we tried his cell phone twice during a two-hour span, leaving messages both times. We also called his home and left a pair of messages. In between the Schwab efforts, three of the candidates were willing to talk.

Since the candidates were being interviewed on Wednesday and Thursday, and since we still hadn’t heard from the prez, we called him on Thursday afternoon. He quickly said that he wasn’t happy with our Wednesday story that included interviews with three of the candidates. It seems Schwab wanted a more “low-key” approach to the hiring, despite the fact that an athletic director at a Division I school is regularly in the sports news.

Schwab said that he tried to call me back on Wednesday morning. But there were no messages on my cell phone or at The Times office, where I haven’t knowingly missed a message in about six years. Besides Wednesday morning was too late.

Apparently, Schwab didn’t feel up to returning multiple phone calls even to say he had no comment on a story that wasn't exactly controversial. Obviously Schwab doesn't appreciate someone working hard to bring Centenary fans the news. With multiple openings on campus, Schwab is probably a busy man, but is he so busy that he couldn’t spend a couple of minutes returning a call to a sports writer who covers multiple events on his campus every year?

That’s a strange way to run a college that is in need of all the publicity it can get.

Battle Wings could make history

The Bossier-Shreveport Battle Wings are on pace to make franchise history this weekend.

If the 7-year-old local af2 franchise wins its game on Friday night against Amarillo, and either Alabama or Lubbock lose on Saturday, the Battle Wings will clinch a playoff berth for the first time in their distorted history. Only in their second season (2002) did the team even come close to a postseason outing. They finished 9-7 that season and a 61-51 loss to Arkansas in their final home game eliminated them from playoff contention. Ironically, if they don't clinch this weekend, they'll have a great chance to do so at home next weekend against none other than the hated Twisters.

A win against Amarillo also gives them double-digit victories for the first time ever. Heady stuff for a team that usually isn't drawing much media attention this time of year.

The Wings are virtually assured of making the playoffs this season, even if it doesn't come this weekend. There is even a potential scenario where they could play at home all the way through to the ArenaCup, which will be played in the CenturyTel Center on August 25.

But first things first. Clinch a berth, then worry about home field advantage.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A lesson in marketing

Here is why the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs are the area's most popular minor league sports team.

The City Swim Meet, a two-day event, is going on at Southside Swim Club. There are hundreds of kids, thus hundreds of parents, at the event.

The P.A. announcer for the event is the Mudbugs' play-by-play man Justin Scholtes. And at the event, is Mudbugs' goalie Ken Carroll.

Even if you're not a Mudbugs fan, you can't help but notice the involvement in the community.

Granted, the team's offseason - summer - fits conveniently with everyday Mom and Pop's summer, but still, the team is visible in the community.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

New Orleans FC?

Reggie Bush got a different look at the game of football earlier this week. That's the football known to the rest of the world.

David Beckham and Bush visited for a cool video (sorry about the commercial) on FoxSports.com where they got introduced to the other's version of the game. It's kind of funny to see Beckham learn how to throw a spiral. It's impressive to see him kick a soccer ball to Bush, who's running a fly pattern, and hit him right in stride.

Even with K.G., Lakers couldn’t win the West

According to published reports, the Los Angeles Lakers are trying to acquire All-Star forward Kevin Garnett from the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Lakers are said to be offering forward Lamar Odom and center Andrew Bynum.

If the Lakers can pull it off, the deal would give Kobe Bryant some big-time help. But the Lakers would still be the fifth- or sixth-best team in the Western Conference.

There’s no way Kobe and K.G. could overcome the San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns, Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets.

Kobe Bryant won’t win another championship unless he’s traded to one of the aforementioned teams. And he can forget that; they don’t need him, and they’re certainly not willing to give up what it would take to get him.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Toms must see positive

David Toms has had a great three weeks on the surface. He's finished 3-5-6 in the past three events and cashed in for more than $857,000. Who wouldn't take that?
Toms, that's who.
Toms held the lead in each of those events, but failed to capitilize on the weekend. The 12-time Tour winnner now plays the game for victories -- specifically majors -- not money. Despite the gaudy earnings, extending his consecutive cuts streak to 22 (second best on Tour, 6 ahead of Tiger) and putting himself in the lead on Tour in top-10 finishes this year (7), Toms was probably sick to his stomach to let all three opportunities to win get away.
However, he hasn't won since the Sony Open in January of 2006, so it's safe to say the pressure of winning -- and not being in the position often since the Sony Open -- was plenty to deal with. If Toms keep putting himself in these positions, big things are going to come quickly. If he wins soon, expect another to follow and don't be surprised if they are marquee events.
Toms quietly remains one of the best American golfers on the planet.

Rock-et, Rock-et

Whether you love or hate the New York Yankees, there is a great spoof on Roger Clemens' many comebacks.

You can check out the video here.

Sure to make you laugh - especially if you're a Red Sox fan.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Football feev-ah

Walking through Sci-Port today, I saw the museum's football exhibit.

It's nothing really special if you're looking for great memorabilia. But there is a cool interactive where you can throw the football to targets.

More than anything, though, it does get you ready for football season.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Hall coming soon

The Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame inducted eight more tonight.

The best news of all though is work on a building for the Hall of Fame is expected to begin within the next year.

With a building built, then the state's sports fans will begin to get a true appreciation both of the Hall and of the level of sports played in the state.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ty Moore headed to Poland

You have to give former Southwood and Lady Techsters basketball standout Ty Moore a lot of credit. She is making a huge sacrifice to continue her playing career post-graduation.

Currently playing in the Women's Blue-Chip Basketball League in Shreveport, the 6-foot-2 post will head to Poland in August to play in a league that doesn't exactly get a lot of media attention in the states. She'll make about $2,000 per month, tax free, and gets a free apartment that she'll share with a Polish player.

Moore will spend 6 to 8 months in the hinterland, depending on whether or not her team makes the playoffs. She'll leave her youngster at home under the charge of her parents and the youngster's father. She gets two, round-trip airline tickets, which means she can fly home at Christmas or she can let someone fly over to see her.

That's what you call sacrificing to pursue your dream.

Believe it or not: Wie family makes a good decision

Miracles do happen. The Wies have come to their senses.
This week, Michelle Wie pulled out of the PGA Tour's John Deere Classic set for next month. Her ailing wrist was mentioned as a reason, but let's be honest, this had nothing to do with an injury.
Wie doesn't belong on the LPGA Tour, let alone the PGA Tour. Ninety nine of the exemptions this youngster has received in her short career haven't been earned. The LPGA Tour has changed the rules numerous times to get her in its championship and the USGA has always let Wie in for free.
The PGA Tour hasn't been much different. She's a given to receive exemptions from the Sony Open, John Deere and 84 Lumber.
Perhaps this has finally come to an end. Maybe Wie will have to earn her keep from now on.
Her poor performances of late -- she's gotten worse, not better since turning pro -- have finally called into question tournament directors and golf officials bending over backwards for Wie.
May I remind you: I blame Michelle for none of this. Dollar signs have caused her parents to butcher the poor girl's image.
The talent is there, and I'm sure Wie will eventually prove to be the golf powerhouse she's been touted to be. However, it will be much more satisfying for all involved when it happens -- because this time she will have earned it.

Best college football uniforms

Flipping around Sports Illustrated's Web site, I stumbled across its photo gallery for the best college football uniforms.

There were some good ones on there, like USC (No. 9) and Ohio State (No. 7), Notre Dame (No. 5), Auburn (No.3) and Michigan (No. 2).

SI's best college football uniform belonged to Texas, which surprised me. I figured either USC, Notre Dame or Michigan would have been No. 1, but Texas?

I've never thought Texas uniform was all that great to begin with. It's not as bold as the other teams' unis listed. Burnt orange and white aren't dynamic colors on a football field either.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

MLS nearly a teenager

I just read a story over at FoxSports.com that completely blew my mind. Guess how old Major League Soccer is? I was thinking seven, eight years...

The league is in its 12th season. 12?!

I thought the NHL had some bad publicity, but knowing MLS has been around for more than a decade is stunning.

8th grader pledges undying loyalty to USC

News out of Aurora, Ill., that an 8th grader has verbally committed to USC and Tim Floyd. I know kids are eager to get the whole recruiting thing, but this is ridiculous.

Ryan Boatwright is 5-foot-10, 145 pounds and has yet to decide which high school he's going to play at, but he pledged his commitment to USC. Boatwright participated in USC's camp last week, and Tim Floyd offered him a scholarship on the camp's final day.

He's the second 8th grader USC has a verbal commitment from. Last year, a 6-6 kid said he'd go to USC after his four years of high school.

It's one thing to try and recruit the best talent to your school, but reaching as far as junior high seems highly controversial. For one thing, how does Floyd know this kid is going to develop into what he needs after four years of high school?

Anybody remember Damon Bailey at Indiana? I can remember reading Sports Illustrated and they featured him as the next great player to head to Indiana. The kid was in the 8th grade when they did the story. He was a great college basketball player at Indiana, but that's way too much pressure and too high expectations to put on a 13-year-old.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Cabrera in the toilet

Was it just me or did it appear that U.S. Open officials housed Angel Cabrera in a restroom at the Oakmont Country Club after completing his round on Sunday?

You'd expect the leader in the clubhouse to watch the final few holes from an oak-paneled room replete with bookcases filled with the classics. Instead, the smiling Cabrera was sitting in a room with a handy toilet in the background.

Maybe it was the only room available. Maybe the "good" room was reserved for Tiger. The apparent slight didn't seem to bother the Argentine, who celebrated with friends in his bathroom after Tiger didn't birdie to tie him on the final hole.

Lady Techster assisntant coach involved in accident

Lady Techsters coach Chris Long is probably breathing a little easier these days. He came close to losing an assistant coach and his director of basketball operations recently in an automobile accident in Monroe.

The newly promoted assistant head coach Joni Crenshaw and Ericka Haney were traveling back from a luncheon with a school supporter when another vehicle changed lanes and slammed into Crenshaw's vehicle. The car spun around, hit a guard rail and came to rest in its original lane without another vehicle hitting it on top of the I-20 bridge.

"We were very lucky," Crenshaw said.

Haney, a former Notre Dame student-athlete, was playing with the Shreveport Sting in the Women's Blue-Chip Basketbll League before the injury, but has since gone on injured reserve. Both women were in their Thomas Assembly Center office working on Tuesday, however.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Turn down the music!

While a lot is certainly going right for the Bossier-Shreveport Battle Wings, some people have expressed unhappiness inside the CenturyTel Center with the overly loud and sometimes poor choice of music.

I've had two friends, who've recently attended games, one with young children, say they won't be back due to the sounds, which often drowns out conversation between plays. We know the arena atmosphere is geared to create excitement, but people want to be able to hear themselves talk. And playing music geared toward the players isn't the right thing to do. The players aren't buying the tickets. And if you play music that offends ticket holders, you're asking for trouble.

Look around the arena and choose music that the majority of the paying customers might like. Then tone it down a couple of notches and you might keep people coming back.

XM takes the lead

Is it just me or does it appear XM is winning the satellite radio wars, particularly in college athletics?

First, XM landed the SEC contract. (Then LSU hopped aboard earlier this month).

Last week came the news that the Big 12 was moving to XM. And now word comes that Texas and Oklahoma State football will be on XM this fall as well.

XM already had the Pac-10 (minus USC) and the Big Ten (minus Michigan and Ohio State) and the ACC and Big East.

With the addition of the SEC and Big 12, that wraps up the BCS for XM.

Boy, am I glad I got XM instead of Sirius a few years back.

Friday, June 15, 2007

It's too early to count teams out

Less than a month ago, the New York Yankees had been given up for dead.

On May 29 they were 21-29, 14 ½ games behind the Boston Red Sox and the critics were calling for Joe Torre’s job. Since May 29, however, the Yankees have gone 12-2, strung together a nine straight wins and gained seven games on the Red Sox.

It’s much too early to count teams out of the playoffs. (Yes, and that includes the Astros.) There are still 3 ½ months left in the season.

Peaks and valleys are inevitable during Major League Baseball's 162-game season. One week a team is up; the next week its down.

The Red Sox have lost six of their last ten.

“It just shows you how remarkably fast things can turn around,” said Fox baseball analyst Tim McCarver. “You can see now how good the Yankees feel about themselves. We’re all reminded how long the season really is.”

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a dynasty

We shouldn't care what the San Antonio Spurs players and coaches think about being a dynasty or not.

While the Spurs showed humility and restraint in not labeling themselves as such, they're wrong. Four titles in nine years, especially in this day and age, makes a dynasty.

No. 4 came in a sweep that wasn't quite a tour de force, but was good enough to send the O'Brien Trophy back down to the Riverwalk.

These Spurs are not exciting. They are meticulous and methodical and, oh yeah, they win.

That's all a dynasty needs to do.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Centenary wins coveted award

Kudos to Centenary for putting an end to Southern Utah's 4-year stranglehold on the Mid-Con's Sportsmanship Award.

In closing out their final year under Athletic Director Taylor Moore and getting direction for most of the year from Glenn Evans, the Gents and Ladies earned perhaps the league's most treasured award.

“To be given this award is a tremendous honor for our athletics department,” Centenary Assistant Athletic Director David Pratt said. “It speaks volumes about the kind of people we have working at Centenary and validates the family atmosphere we promote to our student-athletes.”

The Sportsmanship Award is given annually to the league institution that is judged by its peers to be the best in the conference in living up to the ideals of sportsmanship. Areas for evaluation include student-athlete conduct, staff/administrator conduct, coaches’ conduct and event management.

Centenary didn't bring home a lot of trophies this past year for athletic endeavors in the Mid-Con, now officially The Summit League, which makes this award just a little more sweet.

Former Bulldog delivers spiritual message

A blast from Louisiana Tech's past appeared on Wednesday night prior to the rules meeting for this week's Bassmaster Central Open on the Red River.

Former Bulldog baseball player Bobby Brasher, one of the fastest and best outfielders to play for coach Gravy Patterson during the early 1970's, gave his personal testimony to the 400-plus anglers during a pre-tournament dinner at the Summer Grove Baptist Church.

Brasher, subbing for buddy and Elite angler Jay Yelas, used a Noah analogy in talking to the competitors. Brasher attends the same Sunday School class in Tyler that Yelas attends.

"My wife and I would love to move back to Louisiana one day," Brasher said. Brasher retired as a high school coach recently and now works with troubled youth in Tyler.

Ageless wonders

A group of athletes creeping up on their mid-life crisis are redefining what professional athletes can do.

Barry Bonds, age 42, is closing in on Hank Aaron's home run record.

Roger Clemens, age 44, is back with the Yankees.

Chris Chelios, age 45, just signed a one-year deal with the Red Wings.

Dominik Hasek, age 42, will likely return to the Red Wings for another season.

I'm in my mid-30s, and I have problems getting out of bed in the morning. Strike that. I have problems rolling out of bed in the morning.

This group is an unbelievable group of athletes and leaves you awe at what they can accomplish in their athletic venues. If you had a chance to see the Red Wings play this season, Chelios was doing stuff on the ice few 25-year-old hockey players can do. Here's the kicker: He'll turn 46 midway through next season.

Bonds is undoubtedly the best power hitter who ever lived. Clemens may be the the best pitcher who ever lived. Chelios is the best American-born defenseman to ever play the game. Hasek will probably go down as one of the best goalies ever.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

New ballpark debate

Scott Berry, owner of the Shreveport Sports, says he's interested in building a new stadium for his club.

Is Fair Grounds Field ready to be cast aside though? The stadium and clubhouse need more than a new coat of paint, but for an independent ballclub like the Sports, it's not bad.

The problem with FGF is its location. It's in an isolated part of Shreveport with little retail options surrounding it. In today's market of professional sports, even at the minor league level, stadium projects are linked to downtown rejuvenations or retail/residential developments.

If Berry can finance his project himself or through the Sports' ownership group, like what the United League is doing in expansion city Brownsville, Texas, then more power to him.
A 5,000-seat ballpark with luxury boxes can be build for around $7 million, like the one scheduled for Brownsville. Shreveport voters will balk at any idea of public money being used for a new stadium, especially after the convention's center opening.

Bossier City may hold the key.

The Louisiana Boardwalk area would be the ideal spot for a new stadium. There's plenty of restaurants and retail for fans, plus a hotel is in the works for the area. Another great location could be the new Villaggio development going up adjacent to Bossier Parish Community College. That'd be a great setting, combining retail/residential complex with a new stadium.

Monday, June 11, 2007

NCAA wants to control everything

A reporter for the Louisville Courier-Journal was kicked out of the press box while covering Sunday's super regional between Louisville and Oklahoma State for blogging.

The reporter, Brian Bennett, was providing updates of the game, something we at The Times occasionally do as well (Mudbugs games, Independence Bowl). An NCAA official approached him and said that blogging from an NCAA Championship event is against NCAA policies.

The rep revoked Bennett's credential and booted him from the press box.

The NCAA didn't say a word about blogging when Bennett did it for the regional or the super regional's other games. And, he wasn't the only one blogging in the press box. Other reporters were doing it. I know, that defense runs into the whole "If your friends jumped off a bridge..." but the fact remains they weren't kicked out for their actions.

The NCAA's justification is that blogs are considered a “live representation of the game” and any blogs containing action photos or game reports are prohibited until the game is over.

Huh? If the game is televised, how current is a blog going to be anyway? If TV has exclusive rights to a game, then how is posting a blog or photo on a blog several minutes after the event occurred considered live representation of the game?

The NCAA is one giant bureaucracy that has become too money-hungry and needs to focus its priorities on what it claims to do - protect student-athletes.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Quite a week for local golfers

We should have known David Toms would be in contention for his THIRD title in Memphis. This week has signaled the beginning of golf season on the local level.
Former Byrd and LSU golfer Meredith Duncan makes the cut at the LPGA Championship -- she's currently 9 strokes ahead of Michelle Wie.
Jason Kuperman, another former Byrd star, is in the hunt for the State Am near New Orleans heading into tomorrow's final round. He won the event last year.
Emlyn Aubrey, a former LSU golfer and current Bossier City resident, made his first start in the Nationwide Tour on Thursday.
Kyndall Ardoin, the 15-year-old phenom from Gibsland, finished birdie-eagle-birdie to win a major junior tournament early in the week.
And finally, Toms stands three back of Adam Scott entering Sunday's final round at the Stanford St. Jude Championship. Toms won the event in 2003 and 2004. Considering his history in Memphis, a three-stroke deficit doesn't look bad at all. No matter the outcome tomorrow, it looks like his game is in good shape entering next week's U.S. Open at Oakmont.
Don't forget, the Shreveport City Am is next week at venerable Querbes.

Spurs a royal pain for King James, Cavaliers

Within the next four or five games, the San Antonio Spurs will hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy and claim their fourth NBA title since 1998.

But no matter how many games it takes, the Spurs WILL win this series.

Here’s why: while Cleveland has arguably the NBA’s best player, the Spurs have undoubtedly the league’s best team. And even LeBron James can’t overcome that one-on-five thing.

When you think of the Cleveland Cavaliers, who instantly comes to mind?

See, I told you.

But when you think of the Spurs, Tim Duncan isn’t the only player occupying your thoughts.

Tony Parker’s there.

So is Manu Ginobili.

And Bruce Bowen.

A team.

LeBron and the Cavaliers will undoubtedly make adjustments. But James, even with his new sidekick, Daniel Gibson, is no match for the Spurs.

The Cavaliers simply don’t have the offensive (or defensive) firepower to overcome the Spurs on the NBA’s biggest stage.

LeBron will dazzle fans and leave them with lasting memories. But the Spurs will leave with something much more important.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Hornets still don't get it

Just a couple of days after stories came out of New Orleans about how the Hornets are trying to win back fans in south Louisiana with an open house comes this bit of news.

The Hornets worked out a possible draft pick, Thaddeus Young of Georgia Tech - in Oklahoma.

Do these people with the Hornets not understand they are playing their games in New Orleans next year? Do they not realize the New Orleans Saints have been embraced by the region for doing the very thing they Hornets haven't done which is return on a full-time basis and become leaders in the community?

This is hard to say as someone who has watched the Saints through the years, but the Saints, not the Hornets, are the model franchise in that town.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Mowatt to get new arm next week?

The good thing about the Arizona softball team winning the NCAA title on Wednesday is that it kept the SEC from winning yet another national title this year.

A lot of people, Centenary softball coach Mark Montgomery included, where pulling against the Wildcats because they believe they've won too many NCAA titles. Arizona took home the crown for the second consecutive season and for the eighth time overall.

But this time they earned it. The Wildcats lost their first-round game against Tennessee, so they played eight games in six days to win it all. Winning pitcher Taryne Mowatt pitched every inning of UA's 13 postseason games and in the last six days tossed eight complete games, 60 innings and more than 1,000 pitches. Talk about stamina! Mowatt is getting new arm installed next week.

Say what you want about their program, despise them for winning too much, but the Arizona Wildcats have a good thing going on.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Things that are more popular than the NHL

We all know that the NHL is, at best, the fourth "major'' professional sports league in this country.

I'm here to tell you that it may not even be fourth.

Here are some sports that are more popular on TV than the NHL.


-- MMA

-- Anything that logs a 1.0 rating or better on TV.

The point here isn't to pile on hockey. The point is that the sport has become a niche one in the United States.

Hockey has way more die-hard fans than baseball. But there are way more people that follow baseball and go to baseball games than hockey games.

The trick for the NHL is to either figure out a way to reach a broader audience, or build that core of die-hard fans to a larger number.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

What happened to that SEC superiority? Oops.

Michigan 4, Vanderbilt 3.

The Wolverines, you know that school from up north where they only play baseball during the five weeks there isn't snow on the ground, took 2 of 3 from the No. 1 team in the nation - on Vandy's home field. Michigan's headed to the Super Regional after Monday's 4-3 win.

Michigan plays in the Big Ten by the way. You SEC fans remember the Big Ten, right? The conference everyone south of Ohio and east of the Mississippi River said was overrated athletically.

Even a Midwesterner like myself is stunned at Michigan's win. I knew the Wolverines had a good team, but they didn't even win the Big Ten tournament. Ouch, bet that hurts too, knowing the Wolverines couldn't beat Penn State (which got swept by Oral Roberts and lost 1 of 2 to Centenary!) in the Big Ten tourney, yet beat Vanderbilt, the SEC's best.

Just a few weeks ago, The Times (more specifically, yours truly) did a story on how this appeared to be the SEC's Golden Era. Florida had national titles in football and basketball and the Commodores were riding high in baseball. Michigan brought the biggest needle to the NCAA Regional and popped that balloon.

Even a previous blog of mine lamented, but gave props to the SEC for their athletic dominance. I should have shown more faith in the Big Ten and my alma mater.

I'm not much of a college baseball fan, but even I have to relish the fact that a Big Ten school just ended the season of the SEC's best club.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Things turning wrong way for Saints?

Remember an offseason ago, every move the New Orleans Saints made turned that shade of gold on their helmets.

Now? Not so much.

First-round draft pick Robert Meachem has a knee that has to be examined after he missed practice Sunday and Monday. The Saints admit they knew about a potential problem with Meachem's right meniscus, yet they drafted him in the first round.

New Orleans was on such a roll and was such a feel-good story a year ago. Here's hoping the Saints don't start testing to see how much good karma they still have left.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Humility, please

New Saints cornerback Jason David isn't lacking for confidence.

Check out what David told The Associated Press today.

"I've heard that (fans thought he was key to helping the team get to the Super Bowl) a little bit, just being the missing link, and of course, with me going to the Super Bowl the year before, everybody's looking at it as: 'This guy was a star on a Super Bowl team, he must be a great player.'

"No doubt I'm a great player, but at the same time, I'm going to just come here to do what I can to help the team succeed, whether it's special teams, whether it's starting cornerback.''

Confidence is great, but let someone else tell everyone how great you are. A little humility will go a long way.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Lee, Pence boosting Astros

The Astros are on the move in the bottom of the sixth inning. Carlos Lee just popped a double to deep center field, scoring Hunter Pence, who had singled and stolen second base.

It's 1-1 in the top of the seventh.

Pence is 2-for-3, and he's hitting .356. Lee, who entered the game with a National League-leading 48 RBIs, added another one to his collection.

Roy Oswalt has been brilliant, giving up only four hits over six innings. Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright has been just as impressive, giving up only three hits.

Greetings from Minute Maid Park

Greetings from cool, comfortable (the roof is closed) Minute Maid Park in downtown Houston, where the Astros are hosting the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Astros, as you know, ended their 10-game slide with a 10-2 victory last night over the visiting Cincinnati Reds.

If you're ready to write the Astros off, DON'T. This team showed the baseball world last night just what it's capable of.

This team is better than last year's.

Mark Loretta was 4-for-5 and Carlos Lee, Hunter Pence and Luke Scott were 2-for-4 as the Astros exploded for 16 hits last night.

Oh, and Lance Berkman homered and drove in three runs. (You don't REALLY think Berkman's going to finish the season hitting .244, do you?)

Early-season slumps are nothing new for the Astros. Under Phil Garner, a bad start means a fantastic finish. Remember 2004, 2005 and last year???

There's a LOT of baseball left -109 games, to be exact.

Here are two guarantees: The Astros WILL WIN the National League Central Division this year, AND Berkman will finish the season above .300.

Remember, you read it here first.