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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Football season's here, hooray

I can't believe I'm typing this in, but thank goodness football season is here.

I went to a college (Louisiana-Lafayette) where football was an afterthought when I was there. The three years I was there, my "beloved" Cajuns won a total of five football games.

Anyway, I digress.

Now football season is here and it's actually something I'm excited about.

Go figure.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

NFL's best 500

Sports Illustrated's Peter King unveiled his top-500 NFL players on si.com, and the highest ranked Saints player may surprise you (hint: It wasn't Reggie Bush).

King has Drew Brees as the No. 8 best player in the NFL. After only one season in the NFL, Bush comes in at No. 19.

The highest Cowboys player? DeMarcus Ware at No. 62.

Check out the rest of the list here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Louisiana Tech defensive back Weldon Brown, who has been slowed in recent days by a slight muscle pull, should be a full strength on Saturday in Tech's home opener against Central Arkansas.

And Tech secondary coach Terry Joseph is glad of it.
"What sets Weldon apart of other defensive backs is his footwork, which is unbelievable," Joseph said. "It gets him in the right spot."

Monday, August 27, 2007

Astros look in the mirror

Any team in last place has to look itself in the mirror. The Astros did, and they didn't like what they saw.

Phil Garner and Tim Purpura are gone, casualties of a season so disappointing that the Astros are lumped these days with the likes of Kansas City and Tampa Bay. Actually, Kansas City (.263) and Tampa Bay (.266) are hitting better than the Astros (.256).

The 2005 season was a long, long time ago. Then, Garner guided the Astros to their first World Series appearance.

Garner did the best he could with what he had. He made a lot of questionable moves, but the roster he was given played a much lager role in the team's dismal season than anything Garner did or didn't do.

Who COULDN'T win with Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and Roy Oswalt? Who COULD win with the injuries, inconsistency and ineptitude that plagued this team?

Purpura was doomed from the time the Jason Jennings deal was consummated. That trade, as it stands, is certainly one of the worst in franchise history.

But here's the REAL reason Drayton McLane fired Garner and Purpura: They made me look bad!! I picked this team to win the division!!

Jason and Roy, there's still hope. If interim manager Cecil Cooper can go undefeated the rest of the way, the Astros are IN.

Don't let me down, Coop. Don't let me down.

That's some fight song

Few things in life come with as much excitement and expectation than the start of the football season. And, football's predecessor, rugby, celebrates one of its crowning competitions this year - World Cup.

Reading about the World Cup's breakdown on ESPN.com, I did some Googling and came across this.

It's the New Zealand team, the All Blacks, performing its haka (Maori war dance) before the start of a match with France. Forget marching bands and fight songs. This sends chills up your spine. I love how the other team faces it. The guys stand arms across shoulders and just stare them down.

I don't know if the Hawaii football team does something like this, but can you imagine if NFL teams, say the Steelers or the Raiders came out and did this?

UPDATE: It turns out the Hawaii football team does its own version of the haka. Amazing what you can find on the Internet.

OK, one more update...I found this one on YouTube too. It's New Zealand against Tonga, which happened to prepare something else as an answer to the All Blacks. Tell me you wouldn't get pumped up and the hair on your arms wouldn't start to tingle if the Saints and Cowboys squared off at the 40-yard lines after the coin toss and started doing this.

For better or worse, Vick will have a second act

From the very beginning, it was obvious that Michael Vick was elusive, dynamic and immodestly talented. No. 7 might have been one of the most electrifying players ever to slip on Nike cleats.

But from this point forward, we'll learn more about Vick than we did from anything he did on the field in three years at Virginia Tech and six with the Atlanta Falcons. F. Scott Fitzgerald once said that "there are no second acts in American lives." Vick should live long enough to prove him wrong. Or right.

"I will redeem myself," Vick said today during a solemn news conference minutes after pleading guilty to a dogfighting charge. "I have to."

It occurred to me that, standing at that podium, facing the tape recorders and camera lenses that transported his words to millions of people around the country, Vick was nervous. Maybe even scared.

He's only 27. Like all of us, he faces an uncertain future. But his future is almost certain to be a little quieter, a little darker and a lot smaller than his glorious past.

It's much easier to quantify what he stands to lose: his freedom, for roughly a year; his status as one of the NFL's most popular players; and, according to ESPN, approximately $100 million in salary and endorsements as a result of his conviction.

How does someone recover from tremendous ruination? How does someone live a life with severely lowered expectations and boundaries? Michael Vick could do worse than to look to Michael Irvin or former NBA coach John Lucas or even one of our local examples, City Councilman Joe Shyne.

I called Councilman Shyne today, pretty much knowing where he would fall on this topic. As many local folks know, Shyne's time on the council was interrupted only when he served a year in prison after a guilty plea for accepting a bribe in 1994. The trouble he had regaining his seat has nothing to do with the voters and everything to do with that conviction.

Not surprisingly, Shyne believes Vick should get a second chance at the NFL, among other things, after he's served his time.

"Vick is entitled to make mistakes like anybody else," he said. "None of us are perfect. If you look through the Bible, God never used perfect people. If he’d been looking for perfect people to use, he wouldn’t have been able to use anybody. ... The American way is about giving you a second chance."

Indeed. Vick will have a lot to prove - to himself, to his family, to his friends, to his critics - when he emerges from this mess. If he's fortunate, the second act of his life will last a lot longer than his first.

Time will only tell if it will be better.

Vick's apology

For the first time in some time, I viewed an celebrity's/athlete's apology sincere.
Somehow Michael Vick's lawyers allowed him to speak without written notes. Usually, the "I'm sorry" is very cold and obviously prepared.
Monday, Michael Vick spoke from his heart. He is clearly embarrassed/apologetic for what he has done. You can tell that letting down the youth of America actually meant something to him. His view has a role model has been altered forever, and he realizes that.
This doesn't take away from what he was behind in the first place, however, we all make mistakes. He will do his time (at home or in prison) and that will be that.
Most importantly, it appears he understands what he's done and already has his mind set on making things good again. With his family, his former teammates and every kid who wears a No. 7 Falcons jersey.
That's a step many convicted felons never take.
Here's to hoping Vick is serious about making good on his mistakes.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Saints going national

I'm an XM guy, so this doesn't really apply to me.

But Saints fans, if you have Sirius satellite radio you can catch Reggie Bush as part of the network's NFL coverage.

There was a time, oh about a year and a half ago, when no national media outlet would be caught dead with the Saints associated to their product. That changed last year and it's something Saints fans should enjoy.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Cup runneth over

The ArenaCup is tonight. It probably would have been a much bigger deal here locally had the Battle Wings won last week in Tulsa.

Alas, they didn't. Instead, Tulsa and Wilkes-Barre Scranton will meet for the championship tonight.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton was the best team in the league through much of the season and would likely have been the favorite.

While there will be some local support to go along with some busloads of Tulsa fans, it would have been interesting to see the turnout for the Wings in a title game.

Maybe next year.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Dooley to skip local Tech QB Club meetings

Members of the Shreveport-Bossier City Louisiana Tech Quarterback Club won't receive the same treat this fall that they've become accustomed to over the last several years.

New head football coach Derek Dooley will not be attending Friday luncheons at Ralph & Kacoo's before each home game, as did former coach Jack Bicknell. Dooley also won't be sending over an assistant coach, so the club won't be meeting, according to director Benny Thornell.

That must be disappointing news for Tech fans in northwest Louisiana who love to hear a re-cap of the previous week's game and hear a scouting report on an upcoming opponent by their coach.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Up-to-date on Wes Day

College football needs more student-athletes like Louisiana Tech's Wes Day. But the former Captain Shreve Gator is an unusual person.

While participating in Division 1A football, Day carries a 4.0 GPA in biology with an emphasis on pre-med. He's on track to graduate with his undergraduate degree midway through his junior season.

He's personable, likeable and a great interview. He's what most people would want their son to be like. He even has a penchant for quoting the classics. He's gonna be a doctor and may become one of the most intense doctors on the planet. Surely, no one will question his diagnosis.

Every football player can't be like Wes Day, but there is a lot that everyone can learn from him. He's a credit to his parents, Captain Shreve, Louisiana Tech and college football as a whole.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Let kids be kids

If you aren't getting your fill of watching professional baseball on television, you can tune in to ESPN or ESPN2 and see what appears to be 24-hour coverage of the Little League World Series.

It's one thing for a major network to televise the final series of the year, between the best American team and the best non-American team, as was done in past years. But showing four games per day over a several day period is ridiculous. These kids are far too young for that kind of exposure.

That promotes over inflated egos from both the parents and the kids, along with raising the potential for cheating. Enough is enough. Let's just let kids be kids playing a kids' game.

Sad day in college football: The O.B. on its way out

It won't even cause many to take a second thought. Some may even laugh. But for most in South Florida, or for anyone who attended a big football game -- pro or college -- there, losing the Orange Bowl is tough.
The University of Miami made a tough decision this week. It opted to play its football games in Dolphin Stadium begining in 2008. They will say goodbye to the Orange Bowl with the home finale against Virginia this year.
I can't properly describe the atmosphere the O.B. (thanks, Lamar Thomas) created for a football game. Yes, it was barely standing. Sometimes it wasn't near full enough. It was old. It had long said goodbye to its good days.
But that place was magical.
As a kid, I attended every Orange Bowl Classic with my father. Billy Sims, Brian Bosworth, Michael Irvin; Oklahoma, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Miami; Lou Holtz, Tom Osborne, Barry Switzer -- the names and teams who played there are historic.
The Hurricanes were my team ever since their shocking 1984 Orange Bowl victory -- and resulting national championship -- over Nebraska. What a crazy night. I was 13, and I knew that's where I wanted to go to school. For several reasons, I never attended Miami, but cheer for them as hard as anyone who did.
And the Miami Dolphins. I can remember an AFC playoff comeback against Cleveland .. it had to be around 1984, too. And a Monday Night loss to New England. They used to actually have a dolphin in the end zone.
I hated when they went north of town nearly two decades ago, too.
But losing the Orange Bowl, reminds me of some special times with my father. He's gone, too. As I said, it's a sad, sad day. For those who share in some of sports' special moments there -- with special people -- we'll have to cherish the memories.

Vick issue in perspective

I'm sick and tired of all the animal rights activists coming out against Michael Vick. The guy shouldn't have bet on dogs and he certainly shouldn't have killed them. But I don't need to hear one more peep from PETA about how bad a guy he is.

I'm more concerned about the growing number of sexual predators in northwest Louisiana and the number of robberies, rapes and murders in Shreveport and Bossier City than I am about dog fighting in Virginia. I love dogs as much as the next person, but they ain't people. There are bad dogs that need to be put to sleep, just like there are bad people who need to be put to sleep.

Hang me if you want, but some entities, especially the media, have blown this Vick issue way out of proportion.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Down the stretch they come

This probably should be on the Baseball Blog but I'll put it here anyway.

You see there is nothing better than when your team is in a pennant race.

Just the other night I was at a social function when a Chicago Cubs fan was asking about a couple of scores. His team was in the playoff chase so he needed to know.

There are eight teams within five games of first place in late August.

OK, so it's not NFL parity. But it does keep fans hanging around.

Last year, a lot of the teams people around here follow weren't in the hunt in August. Only a late run by the Astros made the pennant chase remotely interesting.

Things are different this year. And it makes August and September great.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

It's only preseason

It's only preseason but the Dallas Cowboys are unbeaten. The New Orleans Saints won their first preseason game on Saturday, but really, should be 2-1 if you look at the way the first unit has played.

Of course, this is the problem with preseason.

Last year, it would have been next to impossible to be worse than the Saints were in their preseason game against the Cowboys here.

So what happens? The Saints make some moves, put together a different team, defeat Dallas in the regular season and reach the NFC Championship Game.

It's hard to tell what will happen in the regular season because of the way a team plays in the preseason.

But it's OK for area fans to dream.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The I-Bowl matters

The Sporting News' college football issue hits the stand this week.

In the issues, the magazine lists "Five bowls you think don't matter but really do.''

One of those listed is the PetroSun Independence Bowl.

The magazine predicts a return of the Oklahoma State Cowboys to Shreveport to face Kentucky.

If that is indeed the case, it would be quite a matchup between quarterbacks Bobby Reid (OSU) and Andre Woodson (UK).

The reality is that more often than not in I-Bowl history the game has mattered because it's caught programs on the way up. Here is guessing that Oklahoma State won't make the trip back to Shreveport.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Shreveporters featured in Sports Illustrated

Sports Illustrated's Aug. 20 College Football preview issue features a couple of Shreveporters -- former Captain Shreve star Scott Baker, a pitcher for the Minnesota Twins, and former Evangel star Jacob Hester, a running back for the LSU Tigers.

Baker is included in the magazine's weekly feature, The Pop Culture Grid, where athletes are asked -- you guessed it -- questions about pop culture. Baker is included with Rockies right fielder Brad Hawpe, Diamondbacks pitcher Brandon Webb and NASCAR driver Mark Martin.

For the record, here are the questions with Baker's answers in parentheses:
James Bond or Jason Bourne (Jason Bourne), Word that's totally out of style (bogus), Favorite piece of clothing (shoes), When I'm bored, I like to ... (watch a movie), TV show I'm dying to appear on (Lost), and People say I look like (an average white guy)

Hester is pictured in a less flattering light in a two-page photo spread at the beginning of the preview of the top 20 college football teams. He is shown being pummeled by three Florida Gators in last year's loss.

But SI has Hester and LSU ranked No. 2 behind USC in its preseason rankings. The magazine predicts the Tigers and the Trojans to both go 12-0 and meet in the BCS title game, not exactly going out on a limb.

Oh, by the way, Louisiana Tech is ranked 111th out of 119 teams, and SI predict the Bulldogs will finish second-to-last in the WAC with a conference record of 1-7 and overall record of 2-10. The Bulldogs can use that for a little motivation.

There is more LSU in the issue, too. Last week, The Times' Roy Lang III wrote about Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontentot, Tigers who now play for the Chicago Cubs. Above The Pop Culture Gride there is a mini-feature about the duo entitled "Changing Their Stripes: Two LSU Tigers turning DPs for the Cubs" with the same photo The Times used.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Area's last chance

With the Shreveport Sports being eliminated from the American Association playoffs earlier this week and the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs losing to Memphis in the second round of the CHL playoffs earlier this year, the area's last hope for a title this year is the Bossier-Shreveport Battle Wings.

All right, raise your hand if on Jan. 1 you though the Battle Wings would be Shreveport-Bossier's best chance at winning a title?

Unless you're part of the Newman family, you're probably lying if you raised your hand.

But the Wings are two wins away from a title and one win away from playing in the ArenaCup at home.

It's been an incredible season. It would be even more incredible if the Wings raise the city's only league championship banner this year.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Dooley is becoming more likeable

Louisiana Tech football coach Derek Dooley is starting to grow on me, and I haven't yet decided whether or not to have the lump removed.

Dooley didn't get off to a good start with the media by imposing new regulations on how approachable he and his players would be during practices and during the season. But the affable coach has started to lighten up on some fronts.

Last Sunday evening, Dooley was at his approachable best. He could have done one interview with all the media in attendance and was even encouraged to do so by the Tech Media Relations Department. Instead, Dooley did one-on-ones with everyone there and stayed as long as requested.

Dooley was funny, entertaining and tossed out some valuable information. He had specific comments about each one of the Shreveport and Bossier City area Bulldogs who will be contributing to the team this year. Watch The Times for upcoming stories on Weldon Brown (Bossier), Brian White (Springhill), Dennis Morris (Woodlawn), Ramone Randle (BTW) and Wes Day (Captain Shreve). Freshmen were off limits, so we won't hear from the Shreve, Evangel and Northwood players who signed in February.

Want to live like an NFL star?

Now you can! Shell out $5 million and this home can be yours...

Whose is it? None other than Reggie Bush's.

Bush paid $4.7 mill for it to serve as his offseason home.

Monday, August 13, 2007

A story that should make you sick

This story from the Associated Press should just about make one sick.

Federal money for Hurricane Katrina aid being used to build condos in Tuscaloosa near Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Good grief, what is Tuscaloosa doing getting Katrina money anyway? Mobile? Sure. Biloxi-Gulfport-Miss. Gulf Coast? Amen. New Orleans-Slidell? Amen again.

What a freaking joke.

Sorry Sports...

You're done like a rotisserie chicken. Your season is kaput.

Manager Bob Flori can harp on the fact that his owner let him down all he wants, but the simple matter is the Sports couldn't get it done in the second half. They now face a long, long offseason.

As much as the front office would love for The Times to cover the team more, I don't see how this team would warrant any more coverage than we already give them.

We've done several centerpiece stories on the team, an occasional weekly notebook and game stories. Attendance is only slightly better than in previous seasons.

Instead of a story saying how they still can't attract people to the ballpark, I did a story saying how their attendance was up at the beginning of the season, which it was. It's tapered off considerably over the summer.

And, the Sports and the front office may not want to hear it, but the quality of baseball in the league isn't all that great. One of The Times writers wrote that about the team last year and had a player come after him.

The organization and the league need to make a lot of gains to get people out to the ballpark again. I don't think the Sports are the franchise to get people interested in baseball again.

Good news Saints fans

The New Orleans Saints are 0-2 in the preseason.

It doesn't mean a thing.

Here is some good news to cheer you up, Saints fans.

The Sporting News ranks the Saints' running back tandem of Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush as the best in the NFL.

Writes Vinny Iyer, "There's no doubt Michael Turner - the Chargers' insurance policy for league MVP LaDainian Tomlinson - is the best pure backup running back in the league. But the complementary talents of Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush have become the lifeblood of the Saints' high-powered offense.''

And this.

"If either of them goes down, New Orleans' offensive machine is bound to sputter - the special symbiosis of McAllister and Bush gives the Saints the NFL's best backfield duo.''

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Lafayette's Walker still at a loss

Denver Broncos wide receiver Javon Walker, a product of Lafayette's St. Thomas More High School, should be among those who can't wait for the NFL season to start.

But there's a part of him that won't let go, that can't forget. And it all stems from New Year's Eve.

That's when his teammate, Darrent Williams, died in his arms, holding onto Walker after being shot while the two rode away from a Denver club in a Hummer limousine.

Walker spoke publicly about Williams' shooting for the first time in an interview with Andrea Kremer that will air Tuesday on HBO's "Real Sports."

One of the more interesting facts to surface in the interview include Walker's decision to keep -- and not wash -- the blood-stained clothes he wore that night. The former Florida State Seminole said it helps remind him of Williams and the fragility of life.

Hopefully by speaking about the incident, Walker can keep another situation like this from happening.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Canton can wait

So I pick up my copy of this week's Sporting News and there staring at me is Tony Romo.

Excuse me, but has any player in the history of the NFL ever gotten more pub for doing less in his career?

(OK, Joel, maybe Reggie Bush).

Tony Romo may one day be a great quarterback. But right now, he's a guy who played HALF A SEASON.

I'm sure someone will tell me how made the Pro Bowl last year. But that just shows how bad the quarterback play in the NFC was a year ago when a guy who plays half a season makes the Pro Bowl.

Maybe Tony Romo will be great this year. Maybe he'll lead the Cowboys to the Super Bowl and I'll jump on the Tony Romo bandwagon.

But as someone who covered Troy Aikman, he's no Troy Aikman at this stage of his career.

And that's just it -- it's this stage in his career.

Let's hold off on the Hall of Fame speech and let him play for a year or two to see what he's really got.

Texans Take the Lead

Texans have grabbed a 19-7 lead with 4:14 left in the third quarter.
Texans quarterback Sage Rosenfels just completed a 7-yard TD pass to tight end Jeb Putzier.

It's Football Time

Greetings from Reliant Stadium, where the defending NFC champion Chicago Bears lead the Houston Texans 7-6 in the second quarter. Could this be a Super Bowl preview? Don't bet the farm on it, but it is an interesting game. Stay tuned for updates.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Hart leads Brewers' attack

Corey Hart's two-out triple in the 11th scored Southern University's Rickie Weeks from first and the Brewers won 5-4.

The Astros are kicking themselves for not taking advantage of a golden scoring opportunity in the second, when they had the bases loaded and no outs.

Brewers battle back

The Brewers aren't about to throw in the towel. Behind Bill Hall's two-run double in the sixth, the Brewers have battled back to tie the score. With Ty Wiggington batting in the bottom of the seventh with two outs, it's 4-4.

The force is with Luke

Right fielder Luke Scott just one-uppped Prince.

Scott just blasted a three-run homer, his 14th, to give the Astros a 4-2 lead. If I'm Phil Garner, Scott starts every game from here on out.

Prince reigns

Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder just hit a monster shot, his 35th homer, estimated to be 446 feet.


I've never seen a ball hit harder. I can only imagine how Astros pitcher Jason Jennings felt after serving it up.

It was the 10th longest homer in the history of Minute Maid. I can't imagine nine homers traveling farther than that!!!

If Fielder stays healthy, the sky's the limit.

The Brewers lead 2-1 in the fifth.

Greetings from Minute Maid Park

Greetings from Minute Maid Park, where tonight the Houston Astros host the Central Division-leading Milwaukee Brewers in the opener of a three-game series.

Minute Maid is abuzz because the Astros, whose three-game winning streak is tied for the Major League's longest (with Seattle), have a chance to gain ground on the reeling Brewers, losers of four straight.

The Astros are in fourth place, 8 1/2 games behind Milwaukee. For the first time since June 17, Houston is less than nine games out of first.

If the Astros sweep the Brewers, they'll be a mere 5 1/2 games behind Milwaukee and in the thick of the pennant race.

So far, so good for the Astros.

Carlos Lee just singled to left, driving in Craig Biggio to give the Astros a 1-0 lead in the first.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Robin Roberts battles breast cancer

Sad news was reported on the Louisiana sports scene recently when ABC "Good Morning America" anchor Robin Roberts announced that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

The former Southeastern Louisiana basketball Hall of Famer, Roberts is one of the most recognizable television personalities from the state. As a former ESPN personality, Roberts is can be mentioned in the same breath with Shreveport's Tim Brando and Terry Bradshaw.

Roberts discovered the cancer during a self-examination and had successful surgery last Friday. More than 250,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. Roberts can now count herself as one of the lucky survivors.

Maybe the local Susan G. Komen RACE for the Cure folks can secure a visit from Roberts for their annual race on Sept. 15 starting at Mall St. Vincent.

No QB controversy at Louisiana Tech

One of the positive things about the Louisiana Tech football team heading into the 2007 slate is that there apparently isn't a quarterback controversy.

It seemed like every season during the final few years of the Jack Bicknell reign, no one knew who the quarterback would be until moments before the first game. Bicknell often left it up in the air until after the first few games.

Not so with Derek Dooley. Zac Champion has been The Man from day one, which may have contributed to Joe Danna's departure on Wednesday.

Having a clear cut quarterback, should bode well for a team heading into a daunting schedule with a first-year head coach.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Congratulations, Barry Bonds

Congratulations, Barry. You’re No. 1. You’re the greatest home run-hitter of all time; it’s official. No major leaguer has EVER hit more home runs.



That’s a tremendous accomplishment. Just think of all of the great players that have come before you.

Your quest for the home run title energized fans and helped Major League Baseball to prosper.

The ballparks that you’ve consistently packed across the country have helped MLB close in on a new attendance record. MLB is on track to break its record average attendance of 31,632, which was set in 1994.


Congratulations, Barry. You’ve been GREAT for the game.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Bonds puts black eye on baseball

Now that Barry has cranked out 756 homers he can go back to injecting his steriods and being the clubhouse piranha that he is.

Bonds is an embarrassment to baseball and is a reason why a lot of people don't have respect for the sport. The media is equally at fault for celebrating a feat that should have been reserved for someone with more respect for his body and for his teammates.

He can join Mark McGuire as alleged juicers who should have moved Hank Aaron's wonderful legacy out of the limelight.

"Ray-Ray" on "Reggie! Reggie!"

Here's an interesting tidbit from none other than Ravens' middle linebacker and heart-taker Ray Lewis about the Saints' star sophomore, Reggie Bush:

"You can be the most athletic person in the world, you can be good or you can be great. Great are the ones who go beyond. That's the thing these kids don't care about these days. Why would they care about it? The business of football isn't set up like that. Why would they go and say let me go push myself. When we got ready to go play Reggie Bush last year I was like, 'Cute kid. Love him but he isn't ready for this because he isn't built for this yet.'

"It's not supposed to be pretty but everyone today wants to be the fastest, the quickest, the prettiest. It should be, there's one football and I'll find that football by any means necessary."

Lewis was going on this old-school diatribe to Fox Sports' Jay Glazer recently. You can read more about it here at http://msn.foxsports.com/nfl/story/7095056.

In their late October matchup last season, by the way, the Ravens knocked Bush from the game in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury. The rookie star finished the game with 16 yards rushing on 5 carries and 5 yards receiving on 4 receptions.

Guess Ray wasn't all that impressed, was he? Sounds like he still isn't.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Arkansas attendance was lacking

While the accommodations were great and the fans were enthusiastic on Saturday night in Little Rock, the attendance was disappointing for an af2 playoff game.

We've heard a lot about the Arkansas Twisters' great crowds over the years and were expecting a 5-digit crowd for the game against the Bossier-Shreveport Battle Wings. The Twisters averaged over 5,300 fans during the regular season but just 4,516 showed up for the first-round playoff game.

In other low lights, Manchester had 3,481 fans, Tulsa managed just 3,151 and Quad City drew a playoff low 2,562 fans for their home playoff game. Spokane, which was eliminated from the playoffs by Louisville, was the shining star of the week with 8,272 fans.

Tiger Cubs have added pressure in Chicago

Greetings from Minute Maid Park, where Chicago Cubs infielders and former championship teammates at LSU Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot will need to step up their games after superstar teammate Alfonso Soriano went down with a quad injury Sunday.

"The Riot" was moved to the leadoff spot here tonight and is looking forward to the challenge. Look for an in-depth story later this week in The Times on how a pair of league-minimum former LSU Tigers are helping the Cubs in their search for a pennant.
In addition to the stories in the paper, shreveporttimes will have audio from Theriot, Fontenot and Cubs' GM Jim Hendry.

Also read about how Theriot acquired the nickname "The Riot" from the Cubs' broadcasters and what he thinks about his moniker. Also, The Times talked to Theriot's grandparents in attendance tonight and found out how the nickname goes back more than half a century.

Prior to tonight's game, Theriot told The Times that he'd be even more aggressive in the leadoff spot. Before, when he was batting No. 2, he had Derrick Lee behind him so he didn't want to get throw out on the base paths with one of the league's best run producers at the plate.
After doubling in his second at bat, the Baton Rouge native practiced what he preached when he stole third base. Ronny Cedeno then struck out and Lee lined out sharply to center field. The Cubs didn't get on the board in this instance, but if Theriot continues to get on base, and then procedes to cause havoc, it could help minimize the loss of Soriano.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Earth to Rory: Lock it up

Rory Sabbatini probably still doesn't get it. After a second thrashing at the hands of Tiger Woods since saying Tiger was "beatable," the South African golfer still can't find a grasp on reality.
Excerpt from Sunday's news conference after Woods rallied from a one-shot deficit to win by EIGHT:
Q. You've always been confident in yourself. Do you think maybe in the future you would just keep that to yourself when you're playing against Tiger?
Q. Well, it could serve as a motivation for him. He seems to play really well
RORY SABBATINI: Well, good, I hope I inspire him. I hope I inspire him and play well enough that I can give him a good challenge.
Rory, SHUT UP! Just say, 'Listen guys, I'm not sure what I was thinking when I said what I said, but I definitely shouldn't have said it.'
You can think you can beat Tiger all you want -- pipe dreams at this point -- but keep it to yourself. Tiger has proven that any added motivation proves to be deadly for the competition, even moreso than usual.
Tiger's response, of course, was classic:
"Well, the whole idea is just -- everyone knows how Rory is, and I just go out there and just let my clubs do the talking."
What's worse is that Sabbatini had a guy booted for the golf course Sunday for asking a simple question as he walked off the ninth green.
"Still think Tiger is beatable," a fireman from Ohio asked.
Being the stand-up guy Sabbatini is, he had him kicked out.
If you're going to talk trash ... you have to live with the consequences. What the guy said was a heck of a lot nice than most would utter.
Get a clue Rory.
It appears the three golden rules have evolved into four:
No. 1: You never tug on Superman's cape.
No. 2: Never pee into the wind.
No. 3: Never bet against Michael Jordan.
No. 4: Don't agitate the Tiger.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

River Cities Triathlon

One of the largest triathlons in the South - the River Cities Triathlon - will send 1,300 racing across Cypress Lake Park on Sunday morning. In its 27th year, the race continues to impress and attract some of the top triathletes in the nation.

Several member of Team USA Triathlon will compete alongside average joes competing in their first triathlon. Which is one of the reasons why the triathlon is such a big hit. It appeals to veterans and newcomers alike.

It's a true testament to race director Matt Brown that he can continue to organize a race like this.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Best Sports City

The Sporting News released its annual "Best Of" issue on Wednesday, and topping the list of Best Sports City? Detroit. It was the second time the Motor City took the top spot. It won the honor in 1998.

Detroit won this year's honor despite not one of its four major sports having won a league title. Still, the postseason runs of the Tigers, Red Wings and Pistons was enough to put them at No. 1.

The top-10 reads: Detroit, New York, Dallas-Fort Worth, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, Denver, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Minneapolis.

On the heels of a pair of national championships, Gainesville finished No. 12.

Baton Rouge had a respectable placing at No. 26 on this year's list. It was the second-highest ranking for a college town.

New Orleans came in at No. 35 behind Buffalo, but ahead of Knoxville.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Enjoy the old guard while you can

Roger Clemens. Brett Favre. Shaquille O'Neal.

All three at one point were the pre-eminent players at their positions in their respective sports. Now they are either perennially retiring and unretiring or trying to save the gas in their tanks for one last playoff/championship run.

Which is why we should enjoy them while we can.

Why bring this up? I just read a story on ESPN.com about Favre, who said something to the effect of another 4-12 or 8-8 season and it may be time to give it up.

Surprising to hear that? At first glance, coming from Favre, you bet it is. This is a guy who may need to have a limb cut off to miss a start. But, in a way, it shouldn't be that much of a surprise.

The older he gets, the less fun Favre seems to be having. And Favre, in his prime, enjoyed the game as much if not more than anyone in the NFL.

So if this is indeed Favre's last rodeo, let's hope he hangs in there for the full eight seconds.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


The Chicago Cubs, nearly double-digits behind first not long ago, moved into first place in the National League's Central Division with an exciting ninth-inning victory at Wrigley Field.

Aug. 1 could be the date talked about forever. The Cubs move into a tie with the Brewers and continue their stellar play since the beginning of June.
Could this be the year? With a couple of Louisiana products up the middle? And Kerry Wood out of the bullpen when all was thought lost?
Who knows, but Major League Baseball is a heck of a lot more exciting when the North Siders are in the hunt. Yes, folks, there are teams in the league beside the Yankees and Red Sox despite what ESPN may tell you.
Larry, you were right, I am coming to see a contender Monday in the Juice Box in Houston. However, hopefully now you can admit it's the boys in blue that are worth talking about.
Go Cubs Go. Go Cubs Go. Hey Chicago whatdaya say? The Cubs are going to win today!

A little Karl Malone

Louisiana Tech men's basketball coach Kerry Rupp may not be faithful about returning telephone calls, but apparently he and his staff can recruit pretty well.

The new Bulldog boss announced on Wednesday the signing of 6-6 guard Olu Ashaolu to a national letter of intent. The Top 30 national recruit said that he had offers from Texas, Clemson, West Virginia, UConn, St. John's Georgia Tech, Baylor and Arizona. He chose Tech for several reasons, including his relationship with Tech assistant coach Nakita Johnson.

When you combine the Ashaolu signing with 6-7 wing D.J. Wright, the Bulldogs will have some significant scoring ability from the perimeter next season. When 6-11 power forward (and LSU transfer) Magnum Rolle, becomes eligible next season, you have to figure the Bulldogs will be serious contenders for the WAC title.

Apparently a little Karl Malone goes a long way.

This list is far from a slam dunk

I know no one cares about basketball anymore - as my esteemed colleague Roy Lang just informed me minutes ago - but here's an interesting attempt at ranking the best dunkers in the NBA, by position.


Notable omissions: Darryl Dawkins, Shawn Kemp (aka The Reign Man), Tom Chambers and Kevin Johnson, who threw down a particularly nasty one over one of my childhood heroes, Hakeem Olajuwon.

Also, though few people can remember what the NBA was like back in the early '90s, another name I'd like to add is Robert Horry. Back in his more youthful days with the Houston Rockets, "Big Shot Rob" had plenty of hops and wasn't shy about cramming it on folks.

Oh well. Feel free to offer your own suggestions.