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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Derek Dooley makes garbage friends

I don't know if he practiced a lot in the off season, but Louisiana Tech football coach Derek Dooley came armed with some pretty good comments to the WAC Football Media Day recently. Here's an excerpt:

"I like the small town life. Ruston reminds me of Athens from my childhood. Hopefully my kids will have the same experience that I had. I’m kind of a small town guy. I enjoy the simpleness of life there. When we first got there, we needed an extra trash can to roll out to the street, so I called the mayor and he delivered one the same day. You don’t get that in Fort Lauderdale. I don’t even know who the mayor was there. Our utilities were turned on the same day. Has that ever happened to anyone in this room? There are some good things about small town living."

Those kinds of comments will win you a lot of friends in Ruston.

Garnett trade good for NBA

The Boston Celtics’ acquisition of Kevin Garnett today is an instant shot in the arm for the team that finished with the worst record (24-58) in the woeful Eastern Conference last season.

Garnett, a 10-time All-Star and 2003-2004 NBA MVP, will join stars Paul Pierce and Ray Allen to give the Celtics one of the most talented lineups in the NBA.

Not only will Garnett make the Celtics instant playoff contenders, he’ll also give the Eastern Conference another team talented enough to seriously compete for the conference title.

While that may concern the Detroit Pistons, Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat, it’s good news for the NBA. The qualitative gap (gulf) that separates the conferences is a bit smaller because of the trade.

The Western Conference, the better of the two, now has one less team in the East to kick around.

Monday, July 30, 2007

NFL loses a legend

The game of football -- and the NFL especially -- lost a legend earlier today when Bill Walsh died at 75.

Walsh may have been the single most innovative coach in the last 30-35 years. Without him, the NFL would be devoid of the West Coast offense or any of its variations.

Walsh always had the scholarly look and attitude during his career and that helped make the San Francisco 49ers one of the classiest, most successful organizations in pro sports during his tenure.

Now, somewhere in the afterlife, you can bet Walsh is teaching his perfectly precise passing offense and smiling while doing so.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

A quiet T.O.

Just about a year ago at this time, Bill Parcells and Terrell Owens were engaged in their own little training camp drama.

This year, T.O. is a happy camper - well, at least that's the way it seems.

There is a lot of talk of new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett gearing a lot of the passing game through T.O. So maybe that's why he is happy.

Or maybe T.O. realizes that all of the attention Michael Vick is getting right now isn't really the kind of attention you want.

Anyway, a happy T.O. could mean happy Cowboys fans this season.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

It's Astros' time of year

It’s that time of year again.

The Houston Astros’ time of year.

Forget what happened before the All-Star break. Watch what happens the rest of the way.

The Astros under Phil Garner EXPECT to win after the All-Star break.

Houston took two of three games from the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers before winning two of the first three (in a four-game series) from the San Diego Padres, who top the NL Wild Card standings.

The Astros have won six of their last nine.

Sure, Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte are gone. But the pitching staff is tied for No. 3 with Chicago and Atlanta in the National League with 54 quality starts. The Astros have more quality starts than Milwaukee (48) and St. Louis (40) – two teams ahead of them in the NL Central.

And someone will unexpectedly emerge in Hunter Pence’s absence to help Carlos Lee and Lance Berkman carry the offensive load.

Remember this: The Astros will win the NL Central this year. (The Cubs will overtake the Brewers in the wild-card race.)

I guarantee it.

Jason and Roy, my good friends, we’ll have a good time in Houston this October.

Basketball camp to run this week

If you have a youngster in need of some quality basketball coaching, there's still time to participate in Katie Hall's basketball camp through her Hall of Hoops Basketball Services.

It's slated for Monday through Wednesday at Byrd High School. Participants in grades three through seven will run from 9 a.m. until noon, while the high schoolers will go from 2-5 p.m. The high school group includes players from Byrd, Benton, St. Marks and Airline.

For more information, contact Hall at (318) 503-9345 or visit hallofhoops.com.

Friday, July 27, 2007


As if it wasn't bad enough for the NBA with referee Tim Donaghy's scandal, ESPN went and interviewed someone who should know about gambling, point shaving and fixing games - Henry Hill.

Hill is the former gangster that turned state's evidence against his mob bosses in the 1980s, taking down a list of mafia members. Ever see Goodfellas? That's Hill's story.

Hill also is the force behind the Boston College point shaving scandal from the late 1970s.

Anyway, ESPN scored an interview with Hill, and here's what he had to say about the NBA situation and Donaghy:

"There's still a million ways to do it today," says Hill. "That's why [Donaghy] didn't get caught for so long." Plus, Hill adds, "the government works in strange ways. They'll let you go and go and go until they have a huge case against you, right when you think you won't get caught the feds reel you in and you're hanging from their fishing poles. Now, with this whole NBA thing? Forget it. Now that everyone is talking they have computer records, they have everything. It's going to get a whole lot bigger than this … you wait for the trial. This is going to be the tip of the iceberg. This guy Donaghy is in a lot of freakin' trouble."

He later tells a quick anecdote about his past interactions with athletes:

"Joe Namath used to fool around with my girlfriend's roommate back then," says Hill. "I used to see Joe over at the apartment every couple days. Before he left for Super Bowl III though, he told me to 'bet the f------ farm' on the Jets. I went down there and took the money line. Man, did I clean up."

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Techsters, LSU to play in Ruston

Although the Lady Techsters haven't yet released their 2007-08 schedule (it's been pending the approval of the Tech Athletic Council for about three weeks), it is a certainty that the LSU Lady Tigers will play in Ruston this fall.

There had been some speculation that since the teams played on a neutral court in New Orleans last season, that they would play in Shreveport on a neutral court this year. But that isn't the case. Former LSU coach Pokey Chatman chose to move her game from Baton Rouge to New Orleans for a Katrina Relief game.

Tech provided its own Katrina Relief by housing the Tulane football team for several weeks.

The game in Ruston should be a sellout, especially if it's played on a Sunday afternoon as expected.

Separated at birth?

Boston Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield (ignore the Simpson-ized version of him)...

and Times reporter Jimmy Watson

Deion Sanders' column drawing controversy

Deion Sanders wrote a column about Michael Vick's situation for the Fort Myers (Fla.) News-Press over the weekend. It got a tremendous response, largely negative. ESPN Radio read the column on the air this morning.

Here it is:

Don't be too quick to judge Vick
I would've never thought Mike Vick, one of the NFL's most exciting players — the man who makes the network execs smile every time he plays — would ever be indicted for crimes against man's best friend.

The potential impact could be devastating.

He could lose millions worth of endorsements. Nike has already suspended the release of his new shoe. He could lose millions he was supposed to get from the Atlanta Falcons, if the club decides to cut him. That's unlikely, but it could happen if he's convicted or makes a plea arrangement.

Or his reputation might wind up so stained that he's never forgiven in the court of public opinion. That would be too bad for the 27-year-old superstar.

This is all the result of perspective.

What a dog means to Vick might be a lot different than what he means to you or I. Hold on, don't start shaking your head just yet. Listen to me.

Some people kiss their dogs on the mouth. Some people let their dogs eat from their plate. Some people dress their dogs in suits more expensive than mine, if you can believe that.

And some people enjoy proving they have the biggest, toughest dog on the street. You're probably not going to believe this, but I bet Vick loves the dogs that were the biggest and the baddest. Maybe, he identified with them in some way.

You can still choose to condemn him, but I'm trying to take you inside his mind so you can understand where he might be coming from.

I'm sure all of the animal activists and Humane Society folks have a dart board with Vick's picture in the center of it. And if he plays this season, PETA is going to picket every stadium where he plays.

Still, I must ask the question: Where is all of this going?

By now you've read all of the accusations about the cruelty involving the dogs — and I'm not just talking about their duels to the death. All of that is enough to make me cringe because I have three highly-trained protection German shepherds, just in case someone wants to rob my family.

Believe me, you don't want to deal with them. With one German command, our dog Yascho turns into Cujo. And for the record, I live around the corner from the police station, so it won't take them long to show up and save you from the dogs.

Now back to Vick.

Why are we indicting him? Was he the ringleader? Is he the big fish? Or is there someone else? The fights allegedly occurred at a property that he purchased for a family member. They apparently found carcasses on the property, but I must ask you again, is he the ringleader?

This situation reminds me of a scene in the movie "New Jack City," when drug dealer Nino Brown is on the witness stand and eloquently says, "This thing is bigger than me."

Are we using Vick to get to the ringleader? Are we using him to bring an end to dogfighting in the United States?

The only thing I can gather from this situation is that we're using Vick.

Was he wrong? Absolutely. Was he stupid? Can't argue with that. Was he immature? No doubt. But is he the ringleader? I just can't see it.

I believe Vick had a passion for dogfighting. I know many athletes who share his passion. The allure is the intensity and the challenge of a dog fighting to the death. It's like ultimate fighting, but the dog doesn't tap out when he knows he can't win.

It reminds me of when I wore a lot of jewelry back in the day because I always wanted to have the biggest chain or the biggest, baddest car. It gives you status.

Can I pause for a moment to ask you a question?

Who shot Darrant Williams? Remember the Denver Bronco cornerback? I'm just more concerned about bringing to justice someone who killed a human. Or finding out who broke into Miami Heat forward Antoine Walker's home, tied him up and robbed him at gunpoint.

We're attacking this dogfighting ring the same way a teenager attacks his MySpace page after school (by the way parents, make sure you monitor your kids). We should have the same passion for man that we have for man's best friend.

The reason this is turning into a three-ring circus is that baseball is boring, basketball is months away, football is around the corner and we in the media don't have a thing interesting to write about.

How will this end up? I have no idea. All I know is Falcons fans better pray because Vick's backup is Joey Harrington. Enough said.

God bless and God willing I'll hollah at you next week.

Wow. It escapes me how someone can have absolutely no grasp of the situation.

Save the money

As a Heisman Trophy voter, through the years I've been sent a Byron Leftwich bobblehead doll, a DeAngelo Williams die-cast race car, and countless DVDs, notepads and other, shall we say, junk.

I kept none of the above.

In fact, I would recommend college sports information directors save the money.

I say all of this because we received our first Heisman hype in the mail the other day, a notepad with Louisville's Brian Brohm on the cover.

Brian Brohm may win the Heisman. But history usually shows the Heisman winner as the guy who does it on the field and the SID doesn't have to spend a lot of money.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Hawaii might be overrated

The University of Hawaii's football arrogance has apparently spilled over into its local media coverage. A Honolulu Star Bulletin columnist lumped the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs into a cellar dweller trio of WAC teams that are supposed to hurt the Rainbow Warriors' chances of earning a BCS bowl bid this season.

"But what of the bottom third of the widespread WAC? Is there any hope for Louisiana Tech, Idaho and Utah State? These three teams were a combined 8-29 last fall, and they aren't expected by most to improve anytime soon," Dave Reardon said in his opinion piece.

Sure, Hawaii thumped the Bulldogs 61-17 in 2006 on the Big Island, but in 2005 the Warriors wandered into Joe Aillet Stadium and left with a 46-14 spanking. Tech's defense made the vaunted Colt Brennan look like a high school quarterback instead of a Heisman Trophy candidate. Granted, Brennan has come a long way since then, but he has to play in Ruston again this season.

No one's saying that the Bulldogs will have a repeat of the 2005 game on Sept. 8, but calling the Bulldogs bottom feeders when they're one year removed from a 7-4 campaign (and third place finish in the WAC) is ignorant.

What will hurt Hawaii's chances of earning a BCS bid the most is having 1-AA foes Northern Colorado and Charleston Southern, along with 2-10 UNLV on their 2007 schedule. We'll see if Hawaii remains among the WAC's top teams next season after Brennan is gone.

ESPN - the Worldwide Leader in what?

It seems I can't read a column/blog (SI's Peter King/New York Post Phil Mushnick/N.Y. radio host Mike Francesca/www.sportsbybrooks.com & www.awfulannouncing.com) without them espousing on the decline of ESPN.

The network and its latest promo "Who's Now?" is getting ripped constantly by bloggers. The network already was getting grief over its original programming "The Bronx is Burning," and its awards show, the ESPYs.

"Who's Now" features a panel dissecting a field of 32 athletes, trying to determine which athlete has more buzz or who's generating the most excitement a.k.a. "Who's Now". It's a disheartening scene to watch as Stuart Scott leads a discussion of former athletes and sportswriters.

I know the summer months are a slow time for sports media, but the network has become a parody of itself, especially when it thinks of items like "Who's Now". I can't remember the last time I watched a full episode of Sportscenter. Maybe back in college. I don't think the network can hire a sportscaster whose voice doesn't register above 100 dB.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Odd release from Louisiana Tech

Interesting note about Louisiana Tech men's basketball arose on Tuesday when the school sent out a release seeking basketball managers. I don't recall ever seeing a that request before.

Coach Kerry Rupp is supposed to be able to recruit some of the best talent in America and has already landed several top assistant coaches a lot of people would have thought he couldn't get ... but he's having trouble finding someone to hand out water bottles?

All he needs to do is walk over to one of the dorms, post a notice and he should have all the managers he needs. Maybe with the high salaries of the new coaching staff, Tech can't afford to offer a scholarship for the manager.

It just seems odd.

Dooley the entertainer

Louisiana Tech coach Derek Dooley appeared to be an entertaining interview for the media in the opening round of Monday's WAC Football Media Days in San Jose.

When asked about his short career as an attorney, he told the Idaho Statesman, "I won a couple of cases. I got my ass kicked a couple of times. It was like football."

When Dooley heard that Rustonites blamed Tech's inability to reach a bowl game in recent years on a lack of offense, Dooley noted a last place finish in NCAA defensive statistics.

"Is everybody dyslexic in Ruston?" he thought.

It seems that Dooley will be an entertaining interview if he keeps those type comments coming.

Biggio going out on top

Houston Astros second baseman and franchise cornerstone Craig Biggio announced today that this season, his 20th, would be his last. On a day when the questionable judgment of sports figures occupies the headlines, Biggio’s announcement is a well-needed reminder that character and integrity are still firmly entrenched in sports.

“I love the game," Biggio said today. “I’m going to miss putting my feet in the spikes every day. I’m going to miss the dads coming up to you and thanking you for the way you played the game, the little kids coming up to you and asking for your autograph, seeing them smile and having a good time at the game. I’m going to miss all of that.”

And I’ll miss talking to Biggio, especially about football and his favorite team, the Washington Redskins. We had some interesting talks. If Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs is ever in need of advice, suffice it to say Biggio has plenty to offer.

The Astros’ clubhouse won’t be quite the same without No. 7.

The Astros’ clubhouse is the most family-friendly I’ve ever visited. I came to really appreciate that family-friendliness after I visited the clubhouse of a West Coast team a few years ago. As soon as the doors were opened to the media after the game, we were greeted with blaring music and vulgar lyrics. And that was after the team had LOST the game.

My first thought was “This would never happen in Houston.”

Not only has Biggio been a vital part of the organization, he has been selfless in giving to the community. He genuinely loves the fans and the city of Houston.

“To me, I'm going out on top,” Biggio said today. “It makes me feel great, being able to do it this way. And the fans can remember you on a positive note.”

Biggio’s career will quite likely earn him a spot in the Hall of Fame. As a person, he’s already there.

Not-so great expectations

The preseason football polls are trickling in from conference media days and, well, it's not all that encouraging around here.

Louisiana Tech was a seventh-place choice of coaches and media in the WAC. Northwestern State is picked fourth by the coaches and fifth by the SIDs in the Southland Conference. We'll hear more about Grambling later.

Still,it's hard for fans not be excited about the upcoming season. These polls, though, may add a dash of reality to the expectations for 2007.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Centenary women win the battle

Centenary deserves accolades for landing 73 student-athletes on the Mid-Con's 2006-07 Conference Commissioner’s List of Academic Excellence.

The Ladies and Gents had the fourth most athletes in the league, behind Valparaiso, which is leaving the league, Oakland and Western Illinois. Interestingly, the Ladies led the Gents 46-27 in the selections. Swimming led the way for Centenary with 16 selections, just ahead of soccer's 15.

In order for a student-athlete to be selected to the commissioner’s list, they must carry a 3.00 or better cumulative grade point average, achieve sophomore academic standing at the institution, have used a year of eligibility and be on the squad list in the sport in which they are nominated.

Dooley's easy questions out of the way

Louisiana Tech football coach Derek Dooley seemed to be having a good time when he called on Monday from the WAC Football Media Days going on in San Jose. It was his first effort at being "the man" will all the answers and he said that he was ready for the media.

"You, Buddy Davis and Scott Beder prepped me pretty well with your questions earlier this year," Dooley said. "They didn't ask me anything I hadn't already been asked, except what my favorite movie was."

Dooley will get to enjoy being an unbeaten, rookie coach for about another month, then the serious questions will start. He gets an easy beginning with Central Arkanas, but the Hawaii game on Sept. 8, followed by road games at California, Fresno and Ole Miss, has the potential to give him a very rocky start.

The questions won't be very easy during that span.

What is wrong with the Sports?

As I'm posting this blog, the Sports are on their way to their eighth straight defeat.

What in the world happened?

This club was missing just a few pieces in challenging for the second-half crown. Now, they'll be lucky to finish out of the South Division basement.

I still haven't made my mind up if this is the most underachieving ballclub, or if they really or this bad? My head tells me it is this bad, but my heart says its a group of underachievers.

The defense is supposed to be better, but they haven't shown it. The bullpen is the biggest Achilles' heel. There may be no remedy to right this sinking ship.

It's hard to drum up support for a new ballpark sitting at the bottom of the division.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Free agency, what free agency

I used to think Major League Baseball’s trade deadline had become worthless.

That is until I sat down and thought about NBA free agency.

Seriously, with the joke of a salary cap the league has, free agency has been almost worthless lately.

Other than Rashard Lewis moving from Seattle to Orlando via a sign-and-trade deal, who’s the big name that’s changed teams this offesason?

Jason Kapono? It’s a sad commentary when a one-tool player is your biggest mover and shaker.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Nothing tops Bleachers at Wrigley

Greetings from an energized Windy City. This place is abuzz over the Cubs. After spending two straight games in the bleachers at Wrigley Field this week, it wouldn't take much more than a twist of my arm to return to my home town.
Watching Barry Bonds hit 752 and 753 was incredible. I might have been the only Cubs jersey-wearing fool in the bleachers cheering for Bonds' accomplishments. How quickly the fans here forget about Sammy Sosa. If you're going to throw Bonds into a negative light, Sosa should spearhead the group. And then throw in a zillion others. No matter what, Barry Bonds is one of the, if not the, best hitter in baseball history.
No cream, injection or illegal substance changed the way teams approach this guy. He is definitely the most feared hitter in our lifetime. After watching a pathetic Giants squad this week, I almost feel sorry for him. San Francisco has to have the worst lineup in the majors. Take a look at it sometime. They're awful ... and they play like it, too.
Now to the Cubbies! Alfonso Soriano is the man. Major League Baseball needs more guys like this. He takes time during each half inning to point at engage with the fans in the stands. He picks out one young fan to throw a ball in the top half of every inning. After each batter, Soriano looks back to inform the Bleacher Bums how many outs there are. Sometimes, he'll look toward the crowd and ask them how many outs there are. There is never a dull moment with this fan favorite. If only all the superstar players in this league reached out like Soriano does.

This could get ugly

The AP is reporting an FBI investigation is under way concerning allegations that a veteran NBA referee, identifited by CBS Sportsline as Tim Donaghy, bet on NBA games including ones he officiated.

This isn't good.

Yes, I know he is presumed innocent the same way Michael Vick is.

But take a minute to ponder what this means. An NBA ref betting money on a game, having the power to make some calls go one way or ignore them the other.

Now we're talking about the integrity of the game. We're talking about the integrity of the event you just paid big money to see.

We all go to games presuming everything is on the up and up. Only the most cynical of us think what we're watching could be tainted.

Just a while back, former Ole Miss and Texas coach Bob Weltlich wrote a book called "Crooked Zebra.''

Check on the Amazon.com review of the book:

When a boy, his mentor and his mother's boyfriend become involved in a Mafia sponsored scheme to fix college's national championship basketball game, the reader realizes for the first time the real possibility of a referee's involvement in making such a plan become a reality. This book illustrates how officials can impact and alter the outcome of athletic events and the ending of the book will surprise and delight the reader. After reading the Crooked Zebra, no longer will referees or games be looked upon in the same light as the author illustrates how simply such a scenario can be carried out.

Sound familiar?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Fourcade resurfaces at Hooter's event

We caught up with former Bossier-Shreveport Battle Wings coach John Fourcade and fans of the amiable coach won't be surprised to learn that he was attending a Hooter's convention in Las Vegas.

"I just finished watching a swimsuit contest," Fourcade said. "I wasn't judging it ... I was just watching it."

Fourcade and his partners own a string of Hooter's Restaurants across the Gulf Coast and have plans to open more. He said that he'll also be the general manager and head coach of the Biloxi Headhunters, an af2 expansion team, next year. The team will play in a new arena in Biloxi that is supposed to open in October.

Meanwhile, Fourcade is enjoying the success of his former team.

"I'm really proud of the guys with the Battle Wings and the season they've had," Fourcade said. "Coach (Jon) Norris is an outstanding coach."

That's a lot of tickets

We in the South sometimes like to think we invented college football. If not invented, at least we're the home of college football.

Some places in the South are a little crazier about the game than others. Alabama had 92,000 people with nothing better to do on a spring Saturday in April than go to the Crimson Tide's spring football game.

But if that isn't topped, it's getting pushed. Penn State announced this week that it has sold 93,500 season tickets.

To put that number into perspective that would be selling out Tiger Stadium in just season tickets.

So there is fan passion outside of the South for college football. Sometimes we just need to look for it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

New day for Bugs fans

Now that Brad Treliving is leaving the CHL as president to become the assistant general manager of the Phoenix Coyotes and media relations guru Steve Cherwonak is leaving the league office to become the Bugs' GM, will Bugs fans still believe in a league conspiracy against them?

In all seriousness, this is a transition time in the league office. And by just about every measure - except for the playoff system last year -- the league has been a success with Treliving at the helm.

It will be interesting to see who sits in the president's chair. And it will be interesting to see the league office's relationship with those red hot Mudbugs fans.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Vick's shining moment

Don't you know mama Vick is proud of her two sons.

Mighty Michael gets indicted by a federal grand jury on Tuesday and faces possible jail time for allegedly holding death matches with pit bulls. The Atlanta Falcons quarterback is reported to have participated in killing eight dogs.

Young Marcus earlier pulled a gun on some teenagers in a McDonald's parking lot (it seems that's getting to be a dangerous place to be). The younger Vick was also kicked off the Virginia Tech football team for cumulative trangressions, including stomping on a player in the Gator Bowl.

These two guys had the world by the tail, but they've thrown it all away. You certainly can't put the blame for their actions on their mother, since they made their decisions to act like idiots as adults. Maybe mama should have allowed her boys to grow up to be cowboys.

But then they've already done enough horsing around to last a lifetime.

Bad boys, Bad boys

It won’t hurt anyone’s feelings if the bad boys from Rio Grande Valley don’t ever show up in the CenturyTel Center again.

The Dorados are the poster boys for a team lacking discipline.

If winning by demeaning a team’s fans, their owner, their coaches and their players is what the af2 is all about, then the league should give the Dorados some type of award. Otherwise, the team should be suspended from play before they embarrass the af2 any further.

If the 13-1 Dorados advance to the 2007 ArenaCup and return to the CenturyTel Center in August, it will be a black eye on the league. Even if Rio Grande were to play the Cuban Nationals for the title, knowledgeable Battle Wings, who will make up the bulk of the attendees, will be cheering vociferously for the team from south Texas to lose.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Saints odds

All right Saints fans, BetUS.com has set its odds on the Saints winning the Super Bowl and a variety of other bets.

Here is what you're looking at,with some commentary from yours truly:

Saints win the Super Bowl - 14/1 (That sounds about right)

Reggie Bush league MVP - 40/1 (A little high on the odds because Bush will alway get publicity)

Bush records over 1,000 yards rushing - 3/1 (Should be capable of doing that)

Bush breaks RB single season RB TD record - 500/1 (Long shot to do it)

Saints go undefeated at home - 50/1 (Maybe a tad bit hight but parity rules)

Saints move to San Antonio - 25/1 (Odds need to be higher, LA not SA would be likely place to land)

Sean Payton gets fired as head coach - 50/1 (Needs to be higher, Payton has earned good will with last year)

A NO player gets arrested - 1/2 (C'mon, it's the NFL, of course players get arrested)

Sunday, July 15, 2007


After the Shreveport Sports were swept in today's doubleheader, I went down to the clubhouse to talk to Sports manager Bob Flori.

Flori was in no mood to talk.

He announced,loud enough, for all of his players to hear, "“We’re playing (expletive deleted) baseball.We’re just not a good ballclub right now.’’

Flori is old school. If that ruffled some players' feelings, he likely doesn't care. Rather, he is trying to get his team to play better.

But you have to wonder sometimes if this motivational ploy doesn't backfire.

We may never know. This team may be just what Flori says, "not a good ballclub.''

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Busy weekend

Only the rain prevented the weekend - particularly Saturday - from being one of the biggest on the sports calendar this season.

Check out what all was going on today.

The Sickle Cell Softball Tournament was scheduled for the weekend, but the rain washed it out.

The Shreveport Sports were supposed to play St. Paul tonight, but were also rained out. The Sports and Saints will play a doubleheader on Sunday afternoon.

The Bossier-Shreveport Battle Wings played their final home game of the af2 season on Saturday night. The Wings lost to the Rio Grande Valley Dorados, 42-39.

The So Slimm Celebrity Basketball All-Star Game was Saturday night at Huntington. Stromile Swift was there. So was Ronnie Prude. Other NFL players included Seattle's Pete Hunter, Washington's Demetric Evans and more.

And there was an MMA show at Louisiana Downs on Saturday, the same track that was having a big stakes day.

Who says there is nothing to do around here?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Beckham's big moment

David Beckham finally arrived in L.A. Thursday night for his much-anticipated premiere with the L.A. Galaxy.

Here's all you need to know about how he'll do in the States:

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Soccer star David Beckham and his wife, Victoria, arrived Thursday night to begin their new lives in the United States.

The British power couple smiled and held hands as they walked out of a Los Angeles International Airport terminal shortly before 8:20 p.m. after arriving aboard a British Airways flight from London.

Dozens of reporters and photographers pushed and shoved behind barriers set up at the terminal before the duo, surrounded by security guards, left in a black sport utility vehicle without commenting.

The media swarm also attracted curious onlookers, though not everyone knew what the big deal was.

"Who's David Beckham?" asked Austin Baker, an 11-year-old California boy waiting for a connecting flight, before the world's biggest soccer star arrived.
Good luck Becks. If you're going to be the savior of soccer in the U.S., you're going to need it.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Here we go again

One of the great things about getting older is life sometimes repeats itself.

So if you're over 40, you're probably laughing at all of the coverage of David Beckham's arrival in the United States.

It's Beckham's turn to make soccer a real live major league sport in the United States.

Good luck, Becks, you're going to need it. Pele couldn't do it. Mia Hamm and the U.S. women's soccer team couldn't do it. Maybe Becks can.


Just like the metric system, soccer never caught on here on a professional stage. Nothing wrong with that. It's just the way it is on this side of the pond.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Sports are fading fast

Sports manager Bob Flori has got a major problem on his hands. His Sports club is too good to be floundering like they are.

In two of their three games with El Paso, the Sports played horribly. Errors, a struggling bullpen and an inconsistent offense have all arisen within the last three weeks. This isn't something that's materialized during the second half. The signs were there at the end of the first half when they blew the first-half title.

Flori made some moves, acquiring Wade Robinson and Jack Joffrion who were supposed to strengthen the heart of the defense. But, Robinson's made some errors at key points this year. That's not supposed to happen for a guy who was playing at the Triple-A level last season.

It doesn't help that one of their biggest offensive players - J.P. Schmidt - is enduring a horrible slump. He was hitting under .230 prior to the El Paso series.

Flori's got to something to right the ship, or this season maybe finished before it ends.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Chilly San Francisco

Someone once said "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco."


Every player I talked to at yesterday's All-Star Media session admires Barry Bonds as a great player and is willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

I got comments from players like Roy Oswalt, Torii Hunter, Brad Penny, Ben Sheets and Dimitri Young.

Greetings from San Francisco

Greetings from ATT Park in San Francisco, site of the 78th Major League All-Star Game. I love coming to the West Coast this time of year. It's in the upper 50s, and I'm actually wearing a jacket in July!!

I'm looking out over McCovey Cove as the American League All-Stars take batting practice. Barry Bonds received a hearty welcome from the growing crowd as he stepped into the cage for batting practice.

Don't wear Los Angeles Dodgers clothing here! As I was leaving the park last night, Giants fans booed and shouted at anybody wearing Dodgers caps or jerseys.

Dodgers fans don't even get a break during the All-Star break!!!!

Not only does Barry Bonds have a lot of fans in the Bay area, he's also got a lot of admirers on both All-Star teams. More on that later.

I just looked in my media lunch box and found a giant Kit Kat bar hidden under my chicken sandwich. I've got a feeling this is going to be a GREAT game.

What we miss without Double-A basebll

OK, here is Exhibit B of what we miss without Double-A baseball.

A couple of weeks ago, the New York Mets were playing the Phillies in Philadelphia.

The discussion among Sports Channel New York broadcasters Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez was how things had changed in the draft regarding college pitchers. Once, major league teams wanted high school pitchers, now the trend was more toward college.

Then Darling told the story about his first start in the minor leagues as a college pitcher turning pro. His first start was in Shreveport. And he said when he first got to the visiting clubhouse all of his equipment was on a table in the middle of the clubhouse.

Darling's Shreveport story prompted Hernandez to ask a question, "Did you ever go to Bossier City?''

Darling's answer was no that Bossier City was off-limits at the time. Both players recalled Bossier City's wild reputation of that bygone era.

The point is this: On a Sunday, fans of the New York Mets in New York and around the world, heard discussion of Shreveport and Bossier City and bygone days. That won't happen without affiliated baseball.

We miss more than you might think.

Monday, July 09, 2007

My new favorite player

We miss more than you might think without having affiliated baseball in town.

I'll have Exhibit A today and Exhibit B tomorrow.

Exhibit A happened last week while I was on vacation. I had taken my 8-year-old daughter to Jackson, Miss., to see her grandmother.

While in Jackson, we took in a Mississippi Braves game. For $8 we had seats on the front row, ground level, by the Chattanooga Lookouts dugout.

The first inning ended with a Braves player flying out to deep center field.

As the Lookouts were coming in and the Braves were going out to the field, we saw the center fielder ambling toward us. He had the baseball he caught for the third out in his hand and gave it to my daughter.

Now all I knew about the Chattanooga center fielder was what I saw in a first-inning at-bat when he hit a rocket off Matt Harrison, one of the Braves' better pitching prospects.

So I remembered his name from his first at-bat - Jay Bruce.

Well, if you follow baseball closely, you know Jay Bruce as a first-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Reds. You know him as a participant in the Futures Game.

For my daughter and myself, we know him as a class/nice guy who is our new favorite player.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Bad time to break in Texas

Two teams who probably don't want to see the All-Star break right about now reside in the state immediately to the west.

Texas and Houston are probably out of the playoff races as of today. Yes, Houston plays in the NL Central, but the Astros are at least AS tragically flawed as any other NL team if not more.

That brings us to the Rangers. After two-plus months of complete ineptitude, the Rangers have turned it around, going 6-0-1 in their last seven series. It's probably too late for them to make a move, but it does give Rangers' fans hope for the coming months.

Maybe it is a rivalry

OK so Rafael Nadal didn't defeat Roger Federer in Sunday's Wimbledon men's final.

What he did, however, was give Federer his biggest challenge since he began his run of dominance at the All-England Club.

Nadal served notice that he may be worthy of being Federer's chief rival regardless of the surface. Mixing different styles of play for the first time allowed him to take Federer to five sets despite Nadal's injured knee.

So while a loss is still a loss, Nadal came out ahead this Sunday as opposed to Wimbledons past.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Bad News Sports

The Sports can't buy a break lately. Mother Nature wiped out Friday's game and has a chance of doing the same for Saturday's doubleheader.

Independent ball is hard enough as it is, but losing home dates to weather is a cruel fact of minor league baseball. The organization loses a ton of income with each rainout. For a club like the Sports, that's trying to rebuild a fan base, rainouts are lethal.

Friday's rainout was No. 5 this season. At least the Sports can take solace of the fact that they haven't had to deal with Fort Worth's woes. The Cats have had 11 rainouts this season already.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Biggio in the Hall of Fame?

The topic came up during our weekly podcast whether or not Craig Biggio will be a Hall of Famer.

If Biggio isn't a Hall of Famer, I'd love to know what would qualify him as one.

Originally brought into the league as a catcher, he's been a second baseman for the majority of his career. Consider that for a moment. Most times catchers get moved to first base (Johnny Bench, Mike Piazza, Gary Carter), but Biggio switched to a harder position.

Let's compare him to some of the other second baseman in the Hall:

Bobby Doerr - . 288 average, 2,042 hits, 223 home runs.

Bill Mazeroski - . 260 average, 2,016 hits, 138 home runs (one of which won the World Series for the Pirates).

Ryne Sandberg (whom one Times staffer considers the best second baseman) - .285 average, 2,386 hits, 282 HR, 76.2% of voters

Biggio's numbers? .282 average, 3,009 hits and 286 HR.

Those seem like HoF-worthy numbers, especially when compared against the best second basemen of all time.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Mr. Underappreciated

Each year, the sports staff talks about doing the 10 most influential sports figures in Shreveport-Bossier City. Up near the top of the list are the big names like Hal Sutton, David Toms, Dan Wildfong, Scott Muscutt, Johnny Booty, etc.

But one who gets overlooked in the matter is Matt Brown from Sportspectrum. What he does on an yearly basis is truly remarkable. His part as race director for virtually every premier triathlon or 10K/5K in the area is instrumental.

The Firecracker 5K held on Wednesday had 3,000 participants running, jogging, walking or strolling through south Highlands.

The residents near Mall St. Vincent probably didn't care for the patriotic music blaring over the sound system at 7 a.m., or the 5-minute rap-rap-rap-rap of the enormous chain of firecrackers at 8 a.m. to start the race, but it can be overlooked for the tremendous impact the race has for the running community.

His big events like the River Cities Triathlon and the Red River Triathlon draw competitors from across the South. The River Cities is one of the largest, if not the largest, in the South.

This area's athletic reach would look much different if not for Matt.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Centenary AD announcement is strange

Centenary's announcement of a new athletic director on Tuesday, while school president Ken Schwab was in Florida, says all that needs to be said about the president's commitment to athletics.

A story that would have attracted media attention from this newspaper and all three local television stations, had a news conference been held, instead was handled as if Schwab were announcing a new English professor. Not that there's anything wrong with English professors getting hired. But the athletic director controls the only area at the school that regularly draws attention.

Were it not for athletics, a lot of people in Shreveport-Bossier City wouldn't even know the Kings Highway school existed, let alone send their prodigy there.

The other surprising thing about the announcement is that Schwab didn't even bother to personally to call two long-time staff members, who had applied for the job, to inform them that they didn't get it. That's a strange way to handle business.

Tom Tallach, who is the new AD, will probably prove to be a good hire for the Centenary athletic department. He certainly has the education, the experience and desire to move all Centenary sports forward ... unless he gets held back by a president that lacks sports commitment.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Sports have only themselves to blame

A spot in the playoffs was within reach, but the Sports blew it.

They got swept by El Paso and, poof, there goes a postseason spot. Now, they've got to get it together for the second half.

This is a good club. Good, not great. Manager Bob Flori made some changes on Sunday that should shore up the infield's defense, which needed some help.

The Sports' road trip has been a disaster. Besides getting swept by El Paso, they had a game with Coastal Bend suspended because of a power outage at the stadium in the ninth. Driving back to El Paso for three more games, the team bus got a flat tire.

If they can get some help in the bullpen, the Sports can win the second half.