Tuesday, April 28, 2009

From the Weekend That Was (and Monday)

So I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I seem to be getting lazier and lazier (if that’s possible). Remember when I said I was going to crank out three updates a week? Well, how long did that last? A week? I’d go back and look, but again (pointing my finger at myself), lazy. In an effort to make up for my slacking, I give you an ├╝ber-lengthy update from the weekend and Monday. And yes, this blog is free of charge to you…

Michael Oher and Peria Jerry about to get paid. Oher was drafted 23rd overall by the Ravens and Jerry went at number 24 to the Falcons, which means they’ll soon have more money than most of us will ever see in our lifetimes. And I say good for them. They lived through three years of eating a giant, shit sandwich every single day while being “coached” by Ed Orgeron, survived with sanity intact, and became leaders and stars of one of my favorite Ole Miss teams ever (I feel bad for the guys who spent three years under the Shrimp Boat Captain and weren’t good enough to be drafted. Perhaps, Oher and Jerry can treat them to a steak dinner or something.).

I obviously enjoyed watching Michael Oher play (good college player, played hard, developed a nasty streak in the second half of last season, and I look forward to him reaching his full potential in the NFL), but I loved, LOVED watching Peria Jerry play. His last two years in the SEC, especially this past season, he was an absolute wrecking ball for opposing offenses. If teams tried to block him with one guy, that play wasn’t going to work. It just wasn’t. Even double teams had trouble slowing him down. I’m reminded of the quote from Rocky IV when the Russian general or scientist is talking about how strong and powerful Drago is and says, “Everything he hits, he destroys!” That’s the way I felt about Jerry’s play.

I think you’ll find about 10-12 NFL teams next year that, after watching Jerry play, will say, “Damnit. What the hell were we thinking? We immediately regret our decision.” Remember all the hype surrounding Glenn Dorsey? Jerry got none of that and to me was better than Dorsey. I’ll be sure to remind you of this in the fall. Now I need to take a short break so I can find the apartment Peria and I are going to get together.

Finally, proof that mock drafts are stupid. According to this article on the Wall Street Journal’s sports blog, NFL draft “experts” suck at their jobs. ESPN’s main guys, Todd McShay and Mel Kiper, only selected eight of 32 first-round picks correctly. Sports Illustrated’s Don Banks and Peter King correctly named seven and six picks, respectively, and Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer got only five right. So next year, just remember that when one of these guys is hyping a move up the board, his chances of being right are about the same as Curtis Granderson getting a hit at the plate.

NFL executives never cease to amaze with their tomfoolery. A few highlights:

-Tyson Jackson goes at number three. Does anyone remember Tyson Jackson this year? Anyone? Obviously, he’s got some talent, but I can’t remember watching one LSU game and thinking, “Wow, Tyson Jackson is unbelievable.”

-The Raiders draft a guy about 45 picks before he should have been picked. Well, maybe not 45, but Darrius Heyward-Bey surely should not have gone before Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin. Al Davis, possibly the king of the undead, liked his speed and his poor route running so his stable of below average quarterbacks would have someone to over- and underthrow.

-Josh Freeman in the first round. A classic example of an NFL team drafting a guy based on his physical abilities and ignoring his results. Granted, I didn’t follow Freeman or Kansas State very closely while he was there, but the few games I did see were filled with dumb decision after dumb decision. If a guy spends three years of college wallowing in inconsistency, how do you think it’s going to work out when everything at the next level is harder than where he’s been?

Ole Miss baseball team takes a big step toward hosting a regional. The Rebels took two of three from top-ranked (depending on what poll you use) Georgia and find themselves sitting at 13-8 in the SEC (33-11 overall) with six winnable games against Auburn and Mississippi State coming up. If they run through those six games like Scott Biddle runs through opposing batters, put a regional in Oxford down on your calendar. And if they hold it together against Arkansas and win a few games in the SEC Tournament, we might be talking national seed. Of course, this team could just as easily go 2-4 in its next six conference games, then get swept by Arkansas and be done. It’s Ole Miss – where anything amazing can happen.

Potential Mississippi State basketball commitment will attempt to tap his inner Dontae’ Jones. Renardo Sidney, a high school senior, is reportedly wavering on his commitment to Southern Cal and is considering Mississippi State. There’s just one small problem. With just about a month left in the school year, Sidney still needs to pass 16 core classes to meet NCAA eligibility requirements (allegedly, his SAT score is passing and all he needs to do is pass the remaining classes).

HOW IN THE HELL CAN YOU BE ONE MONTH FROM THE END OF HIGH SCHOOL AND STILL NEED TO PASS 16 CLASSES TO GRADUATE? IT’S LIKE YOU TRIED TO BE THAT DUMB. Seriously, this has to be some kind of record. At, let’s say, five classes a semester (if they use the semester system), he has the academic standing of a junior at Christmas break. Except he’s one month from the end of high school. I have a suspicion that Fairfax High School places the same amount of importance on academics as South Panola High School.

Normally, I’d say there’s not a chance in hell he makes it into school. But through the magic of online courses and a trail already blazed by Dontae’ Jones (36 hours of credit in one summer. ONE SUMMER!!!), I’d expect to see Sidney in college basketball next year. Absurd? Maybe. But if there’s anything we’ve learned over the years, it’s that education is just stupid when .07% of high school basketball players make it to the NBA.

The New Orleans Hornets are tired of the 2009 season. In last night’s game four of the Nuggets/Hornet series, the Nuggets got a stiff challenge from New Orleans and escaped with a 121-63 road win. That’s 121-63. The 58-point win tied the NBA record for largest margin of victory in playoff history and reminded the New Orleans’ fans what Saints game used to be like.

Is it even necessary to play game five? Can’t the Hornets just save the money for the travel and put it towards, say, keeping the franchise from bankruptcy? Plus, I’m sure most of the players have early flights out to the Bahamas the day after game five.

Damn you, Pete Prisco, damn you. Prisco wrote an article on Monday that said the top player in the 2010 NFL draft is none other than Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead. AAAUUUGHHHH!!! STOP BUILDING MY (AND EVERYONE ELSE’S) EXPECTATIONS. I CAN’T TAKE THIS MUCH LONGER. The more crap like this that gets written, the more painful the fall will be.

I’m not sure I’ve ever been more optimistic, yet so sure everything is going to fall apart before a football season begins. Ole Miss’ schedule is set up perfectly (toughest road game at South Carolina), the rest of the SEC West either stinks or has an unproven quarterback and 17 starters return. However, the best player on the team is gone (Peria Jerry), two offensive line spots have to be filled and people like Pete Prisco won’t stop hyping this team and its players.

One of the things Ole Miss does better than almost any team is crapping the bed when expectations are set. And no previous expectations have come close to those being set going into this season. They’re absolutely terrifying. Yes, there is some legitimacy to them (Shut up, Gray!), but all this hype could be disaster in the making. I would appreciate it if everyone just shut up and forgot about Ole Miss for the next five months because that’s the only way we’re not going to experience the faceplant of faceplants.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Best, Worst and In Between of the Week: Video Edition

This week's recap is cleverly disguised as a video edition so one might think, "Wow, this is a different touch. Gray is really putting some thought into this." Well, let me let you on a little secret: It's happening because I'm lazy, and when faced with any sort of time management issues, I tend not to get anything done. So there. Now on to the recap...

THE BEST
I don't know how many of you know about this website called Xtranormal, but it allows you to create short 3D movies. They have scenes and characters from which to choose and all you have to do is provide the dialogue, which you create and type. It may seem a little childish, and it is to a certain degree, until something like this falls into the hands of cynical Ole Miss fans. Then the whole world benefits.

I present the video re-enactment of the Enrique Davis arrest via Red Cup Rebellion (I would embed these, but my lack of Interneting skills prevent me from doing so. Or maybe it's Xtranormal's fault).

Next, a conversation between Ole Miss Athletic Director Pete Boone and Chancellor Robert Khayat last spring on football scheduling (These next two links come from NAFOOM threads).

And finally, how it really went down when Mississippi State Athletic Director Greg Byrne fired Sylvester Croom (Language warning on this one).

THE WORST
If you watched any of game two of the Celtics/Bulls series on Monday night, you saw an out-of-action Kevin Garnett sitting on the Celtics' bench unleashing something close to 4,842 f-bombs throughout the course of the game, most notably at the end. It was a typical Garnett move, acting hard and gangster when he knows no one is going to challenge him. After all, who's going to go after a guy that's not even playing?

Garnett has gotten away with this act for years because no one would stand up to him. That is until a Russian named Zaza Puchulia came along in last year's playoffs. Puchulia showed the world that when confronted, Kevin Garnett is just as big of a bitch as every other NBA player (Except Charles Oakley. He really was crazy.).

THE IN BETWEEN
Normally, the video below would be under the best of the week, but I couldn't come up with anything that belonged here. This is an actual commercial that is airing in Memphis and is probably the best one of our time.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

From the Weekend That Was (and Monday)

Ole Miss dominates itself; manages to prevent major injuries. The 2009 version of spring practice concluded this weekend in Oxford with the playing of the Red and Blue game. To be honest, I can’t remember which color team won, but one of them won 55-28. Now you may say that’s a bit high (especially if you’re a State fan conditioned by the Sylvester Croom era), but Houston Nutt awarded the team consisting of mostly backup players seven points at the end of each quarter. So in reality, the backup team was demolished by the starters 55-0, which is still really high.

As I’ve said before, I only have one hope for spring practice and that is that no one gets hurt. I’d rather just have all the backups play or those competing (lookout, an Ed Orgeron buzzword!) for a starting job. Having your starters bust it in April only makes me nervous. Plus, there’s nothing more uninspiring or completely void of interest than an intra-squad scrimmage. I don’t need 60 minutes of scrimmage to let me know our second and third team defenses are no match for the first team offense. However, stepping away from my crotchety old man get-off-my-lawn fist shake, if it generates money and gets some national publicity, I’m all for it (Yes, I’m a whore and can easily be bought).

Mississippi State battles itself to the wire; manages to prevent major injuries. Here I can’t even remember the actual score (I know it was close), nor will I or did I put in the time to research which color team, maroon or white, won this game, but I did want to point out something interesting that new coach Dan Mullen incorporated in this game. At some point, either before the game or after the first quarter (again, lack of research is a common theme around here), Mullen had players from each team engage in a little contest of bull in the ring.

If you’re not familiar with bull in the ring, it’s essentially one player being put in the middle of a circle of other players who, when their number is called, try to destroy him. The attacking players can be in front of or behind the player in the middle so he’s got to be extremely alert or he’ll get abused more than he already will be. If you’ve watched Friday Night Lights, they provided an excellent example when Tim Riggins was placed in the middle of the ring after doing one of the many dumb things he did.

Anyway, Mullen took the results from bull in the ring and added them to the scores for each team in the game. Now this is an idea I can get behind. The spring game isn’t really a game so why not make it as gimmicky as possible? I can assure you I’d be more interested in watching bull in the ring for ten minutes than I would Billy Tapp lead a six-play, eleven yard drive that ends in a fumble. You can’t tell me you wouldn’t enjoy a game of keep away or having two offensive lines racing to see which one can drive the blocking sled 50 yards first? That would be entertainment gold. Someone with some authority needs to get on this.

Ole Miss baseball continues the tradition of Ole Miss owning Florida. The Rebels took two of three from the Gators over the weekend in Gainesville and are now currently tied with LSU for second in the SEC West with an 11-7 conference record (Currently, the Rebels are behind only Georgia for the conference’s best record at 28-11). Only the Gator basketball team has had any recent success against Ole Miss, winning three of the last four meetings (that could be a better record, but I only found results from the last four years). I said it during football season, but it’s only a matter of time before Ole Miss is forced to pay city taxes in Gainesville.

Andy Kennedy avoids the clink with guilty plea to lesser charge. Kennedy pled guilty to a disorderly conduct charge from his run-in with a cab driver in Cincinnati and was sentenced to 40 hours of community service and six months probation. Perhaps this will put an end to his desire to go to bars outside of Oxford. After all, not every bar offers the security and protection of The Library’s Road House wannabe bouncers.

Ole Miss running back Enrique Davis does not avoid the clink; familiarizes himself with the Lafayette County Detention Center. According to this fascinating report, Davis was arrested for disorderly conduct (apparently, it’s an Ole Miss thing) and for failure to comply. The arresting officer said in his report that Davis originally gave the officer a “shunning face” when asked to present his identification and, when asked several more times for his ID, Davis gave the officer a “crazy face” and walked away and was arrested. Oh, and this all took place at Jerrell Powe’s apartment.

First, the difference between a “shunning face” and a “crazy face.” Hmmm. Well, there is none. Only because no one knows WHAT THE HELL A “SHUNNING FACE” IS. I’ve seen people shunned before, but never have I heard a face described as “shunning.” I’m pretty sure this the first time in the history of the English language this has happened. So congratulations Officer Zachary White, your originality is to be commended.

But as for the “crazy face,” how was it crazy? Like a clown or like a genuinely insane person? I’d like to know because if Enrique Davis is in fact genuinely insane, then I’d feel better about seeing his playing time slipping away. There’s no need to play insane people. However, if it was crazy like a clown, I’m a little concerned. Football needs more colorful people, especially those willing to give a police officer a non-threatening “crazy face.” Getting them out of football only hurts all of us.

As for the actual arrest, it sounds like Davis was arrested for being an idiot. If he simply had taken his ID out, we wouldn’t be talking about this. A little rule I’ve always stuck to in life is that whatever a police officer asks you to do, you do it and do so in the most cooperative manner possible. He’s looking to release some pent-up rage that was accumulated before he became cop and had authority given to him, and you don’t want to be the target of that release. Just a tip from me to you.

Finally, one of the best parts of the story:

“White asked if Powe would read the bottom of the citation and sign it to ensure he would show up in court, but Powe stated he could not read and would not sign, the report said.

The officer informed Powe that he did not need to sign and he would issue the citation regardless. Powe finally read the citation information and signed and was released afterwards.”

Jerrell Powe plays dumb, then realizes playing dumb was not a good idea, then actually does read the statement and even signs his own name. Powe’s decisions making and progression through that sequence has me excited he really might bring something to the table next season. Good for him.

Dan Mullen lied; Jackie Sherrill DID interact with players in a State practice. Well done, Dan Mullen, well done. Things are off to a great start in Starkville.

How the hell did I forget about this? According to ESPN’s Bruce Feldman, Ed Orgeron will play himself in the upcoming movie based on Michael Lewis’ The Blind Side. I present Exhibit A as to why this is THE GREATEST IDEA EVER CONCEIVED BY MAN:

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Best, Worst and In Between of the Week

THE BEST
Zeke Thomas will earn exactly what he should for coaching basketball. Which is absolutely nothing. Thomas, in an unlikely smart PR move from him, will donate his first year (and potentially only year) salary as head coach of Florida International to the school. Of course, he’s still owed $12 million by the New York Knicks, a team he cost hundreds of millions of dollars with amazing idiocy, so it’s not like he’ll be clipping coupons or buying the generic brand sleeping pills (Ohhhhhhh…..that’s right, I went there).

I’m really looking forward to the Isiah Thomas era at FIU. The players he’ll sign (midnight basketball league guys, FIU intramural stars, hobos), the bench coaching (mostly consisting of a blank stare), and, of course, the recruiting violations (calling a recruit 2500 times more than he’s allowed, paying a JUCO guy averaging three points a game in JUCO $47 million over four years) will all be FANTASTIC. And there’s always the chance the FIU crowd begins chanting just 10 games into the season, “Fire Isiah” just like they did in New York. I’m telling you, only good can come out of this situation.

The five-month NBA regular season comes to a close and the two-month long playoff process begins. What better way to reward worn-down teams than a two-month meat grinder that’s even more intense and more physical than the previous five months. When will the stupidity of a five-month season and two-months worth of playoffs finally be acknowledged by those in charge of the NBA? Maybe next season when season ticket sales are at an all-time low and teams come closer to folding, the league will take time to evaluate and not ignore what’s going on. And remember, when they switch to the World Cup playoff format, I want the credit.

THE WORST
Atlanta’s Yunel Escobar takes the lead in the race for the best baseball injury of 2009. Escobar, in yesterday’s game against the Marlins, strained an abdominal muscle while in the ON-DECK CIRCLE and is expected to miss a few games. If you’ve never seen him play, he has this goofy routine right before he goes up to bat. As soon as he’s announced as the next batter, he begins leaping as high as he can, pulling his knees up to his chest. He does this several times and then draws something abstract in the dirt behind home plate before finally getting in the batter’s box. Even he admits he doesn’t know what he draw, he just draws. Are all people from Cuba this weird?

So congratulations Yunel, you’re our early leader with a pretty strong effort. Not many people can injure themselves in the on-deck circle when contact with a ball or another bat is not involved. In order to be overtaken, Yunel will need someone to have a Jeff Kent-like washing-his-truck injury.

THE IN BETWEEN
Ole Miss baseball avenges previous Governor’s Cup losses with an 8-1 win over Mississippi State. Well, I doubt they really were out for revenge, but I’m sure it was nice to win. To me this is the ultimate “in between” story of the week. The game between the two schools doesn’t count in the SEC standings, but it is a game against your rival, which means you want to win, but eh, oh well if you don’t. Maybe if you’re at the game or care more about college baseball it’s different, but I did and do not fall into either category. In fact, this story is so neutral, I can’t even muster an attempt at humor here. I can almost feel your disappointment.

Enjoy the weekend and watch out for NBA playoffs round one fever. It’ll getcha.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Looking for a Midweek Pulse

If you’re not a regular reader, this gimmick is not a knock on ESPN, but a look at the top stories of today in a sporting world without football. And at the end, I determine if there is life in the world of sports at the midway point of this week. So from ESPN.com’s homepage, the top stories of the day…



De La Hoya retires. Boxing is still a sport? Seriously, when was the last time you watched a fight (of the professional variety, not two backwards-hat-wearing, drunken morons swinging wildly at each other over “disrespect.”)? Or better yet, even heard about a fight? Is Gary Bettman secretly running boxing? Can I write an entire paragraph of nothing but questions? Can I? Really?

When boxing shows up on Versus, I think we’ll know the answer to the Gary Bettman question. And speaking of fights, Spencer’s fight with his sister’s old boyfriend on The Hills has to go down as one of the best moments in the show’s history (of course, it’s pretty easy to beat out 1,000 different scenes in a club that are all really the same scene, but of the 10 or so most compelling scenes in the show’s history, this is tops). Spencer threw out the triumvirate of poser language (“homey”, “dog”, and “disrespect”) right before he sucker punched the other guy in the chin while he was looking away.

You really need to check it out if you missed it. And the unintentional comedy takes a significant jump when all the white kids in designer t-shirts who are trying to break it up keep saying, “Yo, yo, yo. Break it up.” One other thing I noticed was that there were either no bouncers in this bar or they just didn’t care about the fight. Every bar I’ve ever been in has bouncers that worship Road House and pray that a fight happens so they can practice their Dalton-esque moves on drunk guys. Los Angeles must be a weird place.

Beckett banned 6 games. Our first fracas of the young baseball season also results in our first suspensions of the season. But doesn’t the word “banned” make you think this was for steroids? You usually see the word “suspended” when it comes to fights. Although when someone gets tests positive for steroids, they’re usually “suspended” for however many games. What’s that? Yes, you are correct, I am splitting hairs over something stupid. But have you seen the rest of these stories? I just spent two paragraphs talking about The Hills, so it can only get worse.

Cowboys get 6 national ’09 games. Were you aware that ESPN spent two hours last night, that’s HOURS, dissecting and discussing the 2009 NFL schedule? Two hours talking about games that are between five and eight months away. What can you even say about a game that far away? “I’ll tell you a game I like guys, New England and New Orleans. That should be an exciting, fast-paced shootout. Drew Brees. Tom Brady. It’s gonna be great. I can’t wait for football!”

When you don’t even know final rosters, what the game will mean at that point in the season and who is even healthy enough to play in the game, it’s idiotic to discuss the game further than saying, “Hey, the Saints and Patriots play this year. Cool.” I can’t imagine spending two hours watching ESPN’s NFL crew offer their opinions as to why the Texans/Colts game in November will be the best game of the month (or watching those guys in general for two hours).

DL candidate: Card’s Carpenter hurts rib cage. Still waiting for the best baseball injury of the year. My two all-time favorite injuries are Sammy Sosa straining his back from a bout of violent sneezing, and Richie Sexton straining his neck when he tried to put on a hat that was too small during team photo day at Brewers spring training.

Glavine: Retirement on radar. Glavine’s surgically repaired shoulder and elbow have become inflamed and require rest and treatment if he wants to continue pitching. Glavine said he’s tired of the rehab process and if his arm doesn’t improve within a couple of week, he’ll retire. You know why else he should retire? He’s 43.

As a Braves fan, the last way I want to remember Tom Glavine is watching him go out every five days, pitch five innings (if he’s lucky) and finish with a 4-11 record and a 5.32 ERA. Go out with some dignity. You gave it one last shot last year and it didn’t work out because YOU WERE 42. Besides, it would be much more exciting to see Jo-Jo Reyes go out there every five days, pitch seven fantastic innings, and pitch the eighth one like he’s never picked up a baseball before.

Kings co-owner blasts Martin for ‘thuggery.’ Co-owner Joe Maloof, probably from the hot tub of one of his casino suites, demanded that Kenyon Martin apologize for his flagrant foul on the Kings’ Spencer Hawes. Hawes was forced to leave the game and an MRI revealed he had a strained knee. Meanwhile, the Nuggets demanded an apology from Martin for being paid over $14 million this year while averaging 11.7 points and six rebounds a game.

Injured Derby challenger Old Fashioned retired. Not since Barbaro’s near-death, recovery, near-death, slight recovery, closer-to-death, much-closer-to-death, slight recovery, and eventual death that gripped the country for like two months has a horse racing story appeared on ESPN’s homepage. Let’s hope it’s another two years before we have another one.

F1 officials: Brawn can keep rear diffuser, wins. Sweet, merciful crap. Formula One is a top story. But you know what was a top story yesterday? Isiah Thomas will be paid to be in charge of a Division I basketball program. Florida International gave the world one of the all-time greatest “What the hell, why not?” hires when they named Thomas their new head coach yesterday.

Thomas, who isn’t qualified to run his own life (see: attempted suicide and claiming it was his teenage daughter who tried to kill herself), will now be in charge of not only a basketball program, but also molding the minds of 18 to 22 year-olds, which is going to go well to quite well. Let’s review some of Zeke’s post-NBA playing career highlights:

-Bought the CBA and in two years bankrupted the league.
-Took over the Pacers. who were one year removed from the NBA finals with most of their core young players still in tact. and went 131-115 in three years. And he lost in the first round of the playoffs each year.
-Took over as the Knicks’ president of basketball operations and single-handedly destroyed the team by sending it to salary cap hell until 2056 with an array of stupid signings and even worse trades.
-Took over as Knicks’ head coach and in two years put together a 56-108 record.
-Was responsible for Madison Square Garden paying a female employee $11.6 million in a sexual harassment judgment. Thomas said at trial it was okay for co-workers to hug and kiss one another.

So, the only real question is how soon will Florida International be on probation? Do you think for one second Isiah Thomas is going to read or even know a single NCAA recruiting rule? I wouldn’t be surprised if he disguises old Knicks’ castoffs as junior college recruits and attempts to have them play at FIU. But when he gets fired (or disappears into the Everglades), it will be his daughter’s fault.

Paulus works out for Packers, stops by Michigan. Amazingly, it’s not former Notre Dame quarterback Ron Powlus, but former Duke Blue Devils’ backup point guard Greg Paulus. I’m pretty sure this story is made up. I think Green Bay was having media withdrawals after last summer’s Favre fiasco and decided to create some news. Is there any other good reason?

Paulus last played football when he was a quarterback in high school, which coincidentally was the last time he really played basketball. However absurd this is, if you’re backup quarterbacks Brian Brohm and Matt Flynn, I think you should have a pretty good understanding of the Packers’ opinion of your quarterbacking skills.

Rumors: The next home of Pedro Martinez. Since I don’t have Insider, I’ll take a shot at this one. The next home of Pedro Martinez is either in the Dominican Republic as chairman of a cockfighting league or with the Nationals for three weeks until he realizes he’s 38 and can’t break 84 on the radar gun.

PULSE VERDICT: Dead.

Monday, April 13, 2009

From the Extended Weekend That Was

Don’t be fooled. Just because there was an extra day on the weekend doesn’t mean it was even more exciting than regular weekends. If not for the Masters, I would have…well, I don’t know. Been productive? Engaged my brain in some sort of active learning mode? But who wants that to happen? Thank you old white men of Augusta for saving me. On to what happened over the weekend…

Angel Cabrera survives the battle of incompetence to win The Masters. Receiving the benefit of Kenny Perry’s collapse over the final two holes, Cabrera stumbled into a sudden death playoff with Perry and Chad Campbell. The three exchanged bad shots for the first playoff hole, especially Cabrera who hit from behind a tree and actually hit another tree, and only Chad Campbell was not able to pull off at least one decent shot, which eliminated him from the playoff. Cabrera then only had to wait for Perry to shank another shot and not let himself hit another tree, which Perry did and he did not on the next hole, to wrap up his first Masters title.

Many of the Masters tournaments I remember watching usually involved someone making great shots down the stretch to seize the title (minus Greg Norman’s meltdown in 1996). This one involved a trio of chunky guys seemingly doing everything in their powers not to win the tournament (That’s not to say chunky guys can’t win the Masters and play well in doing so. We all remember Mark O’Meara and Phil Mickelson.). It’s very rare that dramatic sports moments can hold interest and excitement while such poor execution is taking place. So take heart Kenny Perry and Chad Campbell. You may have lost, but you were a part of one of the most exciting and yet poorly played final few holes in Masters history. And I imagine that few hundred thousand you pocketed probably wasn’t too bad either.

Ole Miss baseball knocked off its high horse. After winning eight in a row, the Ole Miss baseball team was informed that it was not as good as it once thought. South Carolina took two of three over the weekend, breaking the Rebels’ impressive streak of SEC series wins at one. Ole Miss, which in the previous SEC series against Kentucky allowed only six total runs, gave up 21 runs to the Gamecocks with 20 of those coming in the Friday and Saturday games. Only the unstoppable force that is Scott Biddle was able to shut down South Carolina’s offense (A special thanks goes out to the New York Yankees and their concern over an injury that may not be there. And also to their general stubbornness).

Next up for the Rebels is a Tuesday game in Jackson, errrr, Pearl against Mississippi State, then a weekend series against Florida. At the halfway point of the SEC season, Ole Miss sits 9-6 in conference play and 25-10 overall. With another 9-6 half of a season plus a good showing in the SEC Tournament, I think we should look for Ole Miss to host a regional. Anything less than that and I foresee a trip to someplace with a really good team as the one seed.

Ole Miss football team scrimmages; mercifully no one is injured. Well, except that one injury that sends me into a full body flex and makes me think about throwing up. Wide receiver Andrew Harris did not take part in Saturday’s scrimmage thanks to a RUPTURED TESTICLE!!!!

(Still in a full body flex and thinking of throwing up…)

(Not done yet...)

(Just got a visual of trying to walk with a ruptured testicle…)

(More nausea…)

(Shuddering…)

Spring practice just needs to be over.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are closing in on some kind of record. I would know more, but I’ve zoned out on the 82 game, six-month regular season and meaningless remaining games now that all the playoff spots are set. Whatever it is, I hope they do it.

The Ole Miss basketball team could take another hit unrelated to a knee injury. Allegedly, David Huertas is considering leaving school to begin playing in a professional league in Puerto Rico (his home country). People in the know seem to think Huertas has realized he’ll be getting squeezed out of some minutes next year with the return of Chris Warren and Eniel Polynice and the emergence of Terrico White, and wants to do what he can to improve his NBA stock.

Some also think another factor for leaving is his relationship with Andy Kennedy, which they perceive as a poor one. I don’t buy this thought at all. Both are extremely passionate and outward displayers of emotion who want to win, but their arguing with one another, which can get heated, never carries over outside of basketball. Kennedy is from the school of Bob Huggins (both on the court and off the court, you know, arrests and such) where a coach allows his players to talk back to a certain point. Huggins never shies away from a “discussion” with one of his players during a game and neither will Kennedy. It just so happens Huertas is willing to offer his point of view. If Huertas had ever crossed the line, he would have found himself on the bench and watching his minutes plummet.

As for the professional Puerto Rican team, the only reason I see behind that is as mentioned above, more minutes. I don’t necessarily agree with the potential move because I don’t think it really improves his stock that much (and selfishly I don’t want him to go), but if he’s convinced he can’t get what he needs at Ole Miss then he should leave. A sulking David Huertas is the last thing next year’s team needs. Well, that and a post combination of true freshman Reginald Buckner and senior DeAundre Cranston, which we are now facing.

*EDIT*
Huertas has officially left the team. In two weeks, we've gone from a deep, talented team to an ultra-thin (especially in the post), talented guard-oriented team. Losing Huertas hurts because he would have been a great offensive option to have behind Terrico White and Warren (I mean, that's three pretty good scorers right there, plus with those two and their abilities to drive and kick out would have created multiple open threes for Huertas), but his points and contributions can be picked up much more easily than Malcolm White's. That's the loss that I think will keep next year's team from being really good.

Jackie Sherrill manages to create potential NCAA violations while not actually employed by a school where he could secretly create NCAA violations. Sherrill attended a Mississippi State practice at the invitation of head coach Dan Mullen and, while at practice, appeared to interact with the kickers and punters after it began.

Buried in the minutia of the NCAA rulebook is a bylaw that limits coaching staffs to one head coach, nine assistants and two grad assistants. Consultants are allowed to train the staff but cannot interact with players unless they are considered part of the coaching staff.

Mullen denied that Sherrill interacted with players saying, “He was coaching me. I don't think there's any limitation of coaches that can coach your coaches.” Sherrill concurred with that statement saying, “I wasn't coaching them. I was trying to coach the coaches how to coach them.” That was a lot of coaching going on without actual coaching going on.

Since I wasn’t there, I can’t say what really happened. A couple of reporters obviously saw it all and wrote Sherrill did appear to interact with the players, which leads me to believe Jackie Wayne did yet something else wrong. Let this be a lesson to young grasshopper Dan Mullen. Jackie Sherrill’s presence around any football program always, ALWAYS results in bad news.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Looking for a Midweek Pulse

If you’re a regular reader, this gimmick is not a knock on ESPN, but a look at the top stories of today in a sporting world without football. And at the end, I determine if there is life in the world of sports at the midway point of this week. So from ESPN.com’s homepage, the top stories of the day…

Player of the year Griffin entering the NBA draft. Oklahoma’s Naismith Award winner decided not to return to school in favor of probably being the number one pick in the upcoming NBA draft and the fortunes that come with that. And the thought of returning to college where he most certainly would have averaged something like a 29-20 was most likely a little boring. This season, Griffin terrorized post players across the country and Midwest by putting up 30 double-doubles, averaging 22.7 points and 14.4 rebounds a game.

I was in attendance for his Sweet 16 game against Syracuse in Memphis and got to see this actually happen:


I suppose it’s only fair to the rest of college basketball players not playing at Oklahoma that he leaves, since he would probably unhinge his jaw and eat all of them, but I would have thoroughly enjoyed watching him dominate and destroy for another year. But as Red from Shawshank once said, “I have to remind myself that some birds aren't meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice. Still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they're gone.”

Aikman: Owen’s cut OK; Williams must step up. “Well, what you’ve got right here is a problem that needed to be solved. And you’re exactly right, Terrell needed to leave Dallas. He was really a problem that needed to be solved. And that’s what the Cowboys did, they solved a problem that needed to be solved and got rid of him, which is what they should have done for that problem.

Now, as for Roy Williams. He needs to step up. You’re exactly right when you say Roy didn’t perform well last season. He really didn’t. And he’s got to step up. Because if he doesn’t step up, then the trade for him really wasn’t a very good one. So Roy has to step up this year.”

Pedroia, Beckett lift BoSox by Rays. The Braves are now 2-0 after beating the defending World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies. Yes, there are 160 more games, countless pitching injuries and a dozen Chipper Jones oblique strains to go, but after last year’s 72-90 showing, I’m enjoying any signs of hope this early in the year.

Hornets win, in playoffs. This win over the Heat also ended my five-game winning streak on ESPN’s “Streak for the Cash,” which everyone should be playing if you aren’t. It’s free, highly enjoyable and could possibly give you a reason to care when Real Madrid and Juventus face each other the in the UEFA Cup. Look for it on ESPN’s homepage.

Flyers clinch; Panthers fall. Someone in the NHL office just woke Gary Bettman up from his nap to let him know his league made it on ESPN’s homepage. The commissioner responded by calling Versus to demand more money from their TV deal and also checked in with Kansas City, Little Rock and Topeka to see if they were interested in expansion NHL franchises.

Yao, Rockets edge Magic as Landry returns. Bettman also tried to provoke a dispute between the player’s union and owners to see if a strike or lockout would do anything positive for the league. And he called Montreal to see if the Canadiens were interested in moving to Battle Creek, Michigan, as the mayor of Battle Creek confirmed they would support an NHL team.

Coach: Cousins decides to follow Calipari to UK. Well, it seems as if Calipari’s recruitment of Memphis players to Kentucky while he was still “deciding” between the two schools has paid off here. Remember when he spent a day and a half considering his options? He wasn’t considering anything. He was calling all his Memphis recruits and convincing them Kentucky was the new place to be. But remember, he loves Memphis so much.

Woods to tee off Masters with Cink, J. Singh. In honor of Masters week, I present a sign that is acceptable to hold up since it is full of well-crafted mockery and/or spite. This is from the year Martha Burke (I think that was her name) led a protest for women’s rights at The Masters. She apparently didn’t monitor her protest group too closely.


Joba pokes fun at N.Y. drivers, Berra in video. Yes, the video from his DUI arrest last October. He rambled about some other things and told the arresting state trooper that he really loved him. No, like really loved him, man. Such a good guy. Doing a great job. He loved him. You don’t understand. He loved him. Like really.

Rumors: McNabb to Ocho Cinco in 2009. How irrelevant has Chad Johnson become? It wasn’t until the third time I read this I remembered the whole Ocho Cinco thing. I’m not sure what I thought Ocho Cinco was (perhaps an upstart Mexican football league), but it wasn’t Chad Johnson.

PULSE VERDICT: Dead.

Monday, April 06, 2009

From the Weekend That Was

Michigan State, North Carolina to put Ford Field to good use tonight. After the 2008 Fall of neglect from the Lions’ 0-8 home effort, Ford Field will see actual competition for the second time in three days when tonight’s national championship game takes place. Michigan State earned a spot in the game with a win over Connecticut and Jim Calhoun’s innovative, disciplined offense, which mostly consisted of A.J. Price driving recklessly at the basket in hopes that a foul might be called. Price finished with a stellar 5 of 20 from the floor (And I was lamenting the end of Allen Iverson shooting performances. Thank you, A.J.).

North Carolina dismantled a Villanova team that pulled an A.J. Price and shot 5 of 27 from behind the three-point line, while Carolina went 11 of 22. The Wildcats attempted to make things interesting early in the second half, but North Carolina just had way too much on offense. And thanks to Scottie Reynolds for his Iverson-like shooting as he threw up a 6 of 18 from the floor.

Tonight’s game should be one of the better games of the Tournament. Both teams are well coached, have excellent athleticism and rely on more than one person to do their scoring. In the interest of looking smarter than everyone who didn’t pick North Carolina to win it all, my loyalties will lie with the Tar Heels. Well, that and although I really like Tom Izzo, the thought of a 275-pound Magic Johnson being interviewed on the floor after Michigan State wins, stealing the moment from the players and coaches who deserve it, makes me want to vomit.

Over/under on how many times CBS shows Magic in the crowd: 14. I’ll take the over.

Ole Miss baseball team inhales Kentucky to earn first SEC series sweep. Outscoring the Wildcats 22-6 over the weekend, the Rebels finally broke through in a third game of a series. I haven’t made it to a weekend series game, but from everything I’ve read, starting pitching and timely hitting are this team’s strongest attributes. Since Scott Biddle (has he dropped the Scottie and is going for a more professional name? I say boo to that if so) has joined the weekend rotation, the Rebels have given up just 18 runs in six SEC games. If they can get any offense with that kind of pitching, they’ll be in every game. And although Kentucky may apparently suck, this is what you do to bad teams.

Mississippi State baseball coach John Cohen’s anger is our entertainment. After being ejected and forced to listen on the radio to his team’s collapse in Sunday’s game against Auburn, who won 2 of 3 in Starkville, Cohen unleashed a cluster bomb of rage against his team, most notably his bullpen.

“It's a good thing we have the best radio guy in the country because at the very least, you get to listen to something of quality associated with Mississippi State baseball on the radio - because there's nothing of quality happening on the field there for a while."

But he wasn’t finished. What about that bullpen?

“It's personnel that just walks people. And there's not much we can do about that. In the future, we will have pitchers who have a background of throwing strikes. These guys do not, and it's that simple."

FAN-tastic. Here’s to hoping Cohen continues to get opportunities to top these quotes.

For the next 210-ish days, baseball will be played. The Braves’ 4-1 win over the Phillies last night kicked off the 2009 version of Major League Baseball, which will end sometime in early November. So seriously, from now until November, baseball will be on a television near you. That’s seven months from now.

Now, I like baseball. It’s an excellent filler from the end of college basketball to the start of college football. But a seven-month season is just stupid. There’s no reason to drag something out that long. People lose interest and a fan emotionally investing himself for 162 games (plus playoff games) isn’t going to happen, especially when football gets cranked up (both NFL and college).

End the World Series in early October, which means the regular season is done in early September, and people might stick around while football hasn’t reached its high gear. But rest assured, whatever the most logical move to improve baseball is, those in charge will do the exact opposite.

Plaxico Burress continues to meet police officers. The recently released wide receiver told a deputy sheriff during a March 18th traffic stop, “F--- you. You can’t open my f------ door.” Well then. Apparently, Plaxico does not enjoy the company of law enforcement officers. I was wrong.

Burress was pulled over for speeding (according to the police report, he was driving like “he was going to kill somebody”) on I-95 near Fort Lauderdale. His cooperation, or perhaps lack thereof, was described as “violent and aggressive” and earned him a $150 ticket, his fifth in Florida in the past month.

This should do wonders for his future employment in the NFL…err, National Football League (my apologies Mark Schlareth) and for his gun charge that still stands in New York (you know, when he shot himself, maybe you heard about it).

Carlos Zambrano wants Cubs fans to hate him. Why else would he suggest that Chicago should build a new stadium for the Cubs? I’m not a Cubs fan or emotionally attached to Wrigley Field like many Cubs fans, who, since their team cannot win a World Series, have nothing to hold onto but Wrigley, but even I know you don’t speak ill of or want to see the end of Wrigley Field. As the great Ricky Bobby once said, “That’s just dumb.”

Broncos owner Pat Bowlen tries to get fans excited about the Kyle Orton era. Bowlen sent a letter to all season ticket holders that explained that the Broncos had no choice but to trade Jay Cutler and his 17-20 career record. I guess he failed to mention they did have a choice in trading for Kyle Orton.

But allegedly, the Bears gave the Broncos the best offer, which included two first-round draft picks and a third-round pick, so Denver almost had to take Orton and the picks. I hope for Denver’s sake that those picks turn into a player who can throw the ball forward with a high degree of accuracy because currently, the Broncos have Orton, Darrell Hackney and Chris Simms listed as their quarterbacks. Good times.

Friday, April 03, 2009

The Best, Worst and In Between of the Week

THE BEST
John Calipari leaves Memphis for Kentucky; mentions it was dangerous for Italians to live in Memphis. I covered the insanity that took place on Tuesday, but failed to mention Calipari’s farewell press conference of sorts that took place in the front yard of his house. The smooth-talking salesman rambled on about how everything in Memphis would be fine, that it was a great job to have and that he will miss it. And of course, while answering questions, he tried to paint himself as some kind of victim by his decision to leave. It was pretty amazing how he had actually convinced himself of this.

But the whole thing really jumped up a notch when he was talking about taking risks with all the jobs he’s had. When he mentioned taking the UMass job, he talked about it being a dead program and a dead end for coaches. He talked about his jump to the NBA being a giant career risk. But when he mentioned Memphis, he said something along the lines of “an Italian guy coming to the mid-South? Come on. That’s a huge risk.”

What an absolutely fantastic schmuck. It’s not that we here in the South don’t like Italians, it’s that we get annoyed with that tingly feeling when someone is blowing smoke up our asses.

On a slightly related note: Can we stop all these claims of people saying, “I’m Italian” or whatever nationality they think they are but aren’t. If you’re not originally from that country, nor are your parents, guess what, YOU’RE NOT FROM THERE. You’re just a plain, old American. To me, your parents are the cutoff for claiming another country. If they didn’t come through immigration, then you lose the right to say something stupid like, “I’m Italian.”

Yeah, this is splitting hairs to a degree, but it annoys the hell out of me. “I’m Irish, so you know I like to drink!” No, you like to drink because you like booze. I’ve never heard someone in a bar say, “I’m glad I’m Irish, otherwise I wouldn’t be here.” Idiots.

Jay Cutler traded to the Bears and continues his stranglehold on the 2009 Elian Gonzalez Award. Yes, this story will be in the news for the next week as “analysts” try to offer fresh takes on this trade (“Jay Cutler will love Chicago. The fans, the city. Just a great place to play football in the National Football League.”), but the trade signals the beginning of the end of Jay Cutler dominating NFL talk.

In a way, it will be sad to see the end of the junior high drama between Cutler and the Broncos (mainly because of all the material it provided), but I’m sure everyone could use a break from breaking ESPN stories that tell us Cutler did not respond to text messages from the Broncos when they asked him if he wanted to go to the mall.

Houston Nutt displays his raw athleticism. Go to the 2:05 mark.


THE WORST
The top Pittsburgh Pirates minor leaguers have their confidence obliterated. By a junior college. Manatee Community College to be exact. The Lancers scored two runs in the sixth and held the Pirates off for three more innings before winning 6-4. Perhaps this might explain why the Major League Pirates are so awful.

Allen Iverson remains confused and frightened after removal from starting lineup. Since returning from a back injury, Iverson has yet to start a game and is spending most of the Pistons’ games sitting on the bench. Obviously this isn’t making The Answer very happy. He went as far to say that he would “rather retire” before doing bench duty again.

I’ve always been a fan of Iverson because I’m fascinated by someone who, in good conscience, can shoot 30 times a game and make only like seven shots. And not just a once or twice a month, but nearly every night. Granted, many of those nights came when his team’s second best offensive option was Aaron McKie, but you would think maybe once or twice he would feel guilty about shooting so much and making so few. But of course he never did, which is probably why I liked watching him so much. He ignored the rules most basketball players abided.

So enjoy the occasional 6 for 23 he might throw up because his shooting percentage nightmares will be few and far between from now on.

THE IN BETWEEN
I went to the Ole Miss/Memphis game on Wednesday night at AutoZone Park here in Memphis. Ole Miss rallied to defeat the 10-15 Tigers in 10 innings in front of a majority Ole Miss crowd (but to be fair, this was just one day after the school lost its basketball coach and I assume most people were at home gently sobbing).

I can’t think of too many things more enjoyable at a baseball game that to yell “balk” when a pitcher clearly does not balk, and it’s dead quiet in the crowd. This immediately gets people energized and also causes some to believe that a balk has taken place and that every throw over to first after that is actually a balk. Soon there’s disorder and confusion in the stands because 20 or 30 people are now yelling balk (even though one isn’t happening), those who aren’t sure what a balk is are completely confused, and among those who know what a balk is, a debate breaks out whether or not a balk is really taking place. And all of this happens every time the pitcher throws over to first. Good times.

And congratulations to you, you’ve just read the most pointless paragraph of your week, perhaps month.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Looking for a Midweek Pulse

After a one-week break, the midweek gimmick makes its triumphant return to the blog. I, for one, am celebrating because its return meant I had one less creative idea over which I could labor. Well, not really labor over, more like I didn’t have to think of a blog post today during the 10 minutes I was in the shower. One thing that I can always assure you of is less than 100% effort around here.

Again, this gimmick is not a knock on ESPN, but a look at the top stories in a sporting world without football. And at the end, I determine if there is life in the world of sports at the midway point of this week. Sorry if you’ve never read and thought this was going to be something really cool. You’ll get used to the disappointment.



Calipari ‘humbled, excited’ to arrive at Kentucky. Living in Memphis, I was able to experience first hand the insanity of yesterday’s “Calipari Watch.” One of the local news stations set up a camera at the back door of the Memphis basketball offices and one outside the gate of Calipari’s home, both of which provided live video on the station’s website. What exciting footage were viewers treated to? Literally footage of a door and a gate with the occasional person wandering into the picture, unaware that their crotch scratching, nose picking and general dumb looks were being broadcast to unproductive office workers across the city.

Seriously, there were hours of footage of a door and a gate. And even more amazingly, the door actually has its own Facebook group now (Too bad for the gate though, but if it weren’t so damn pretentious it might have gotten its own group too). Those were just a small taste of the insanity surrounding the potential loss of a coach who managed to coach a team out of a victory when it led by nine with two minutes left in last year’s national championship game.

Residents were also treated to a helicopter hovering over Calipari’s house, a police blockade of his street and a group of about 40 losers who had nothing better to do on a Tuesday afternoon than to stand outside his house with signs that begged him to stay (Small aside: Anyone over the age of 12 should never be permitted to make a sign. EVER. Actually, I take that back. If the sign is full of well-crafted mockery and/or spite, then I think it’s acceptable. Otherwise, NEVER. Signs alert the rest of the world that you’re either an idiot or predicting the end of the world, which are often the same thing).

Anyway, as for Calipari heading to Kentucky, it should be interesting to see him operate in what is considered part of college basketball’s establishment. Will some of the schmucky things he does and says translate well to Kentucky fans, who believe there’s no excuse for Kentucky not winning every single game they play (since basketball was invented in Kentucky, you know)? What Calipari did at Memphis, while often in the foggily gray area, worked, and if he can keep the same formula (and keep the NCAA away), I think you’ll see Kentucky back to the obnoxious levels they achieved under Pitino (minus closing out important games).

Yanks’ Chamberlain pleads guilty to DUI charge. Ah, life in Nebraska. Corn whiskey and grain.

Broncos decide to try to trade Cutler. It’s the story that won’t die. In fact, it’s the early leader for the 2009 winner of the Elian Gonzalez Award, which is handed out by me each year to the one story that drags out so painfully that I want to headbutt my TV or computer every time I see or hear about it. Again, this entire story is over Jay Cutler, who has a career record of 17-20, a career quarterback rating of 87.1, has never been to a playoff game and never even went to a bowl game in college. If there is such a thing as sports justice, Cutler will spend the next 10 years in Detroit.

Just for a refresher, here’s a list of career winning percentages among active quarterbacks that are close to Jay Culter’s:

Jay Cutler .459
Marc Bulger .460
Charlie Batch .440
Jason Campbell .444
Derek Anderson .481
Kyle Boller .476

Rivers: Celtics to shut down injured Garnett. Since the playoffs are just a couple of weeks away, it’s time to introduce my idea for changing the NBA playoffs and regular season. First, the season has to get shorter. 82 games from November to April can’t keep people’s attention at a high degree. Knock it down to 60-ish and get cranking in late December. This will keep players fresher and ideally make them stronger at the end of the season and in the playoffs, plus not bore America for six months.

And second, the playoff format needs to change. These marathon seven game series that last two weeks need to stop, especially the not playing in back-to-back nights even though the next game is in the same place as the previous game was. That’s just stupid. Because Americans are getting dumber by the minute, their attention spans are also shrinking. We want things now and even then it’s late. Shaking up the playoff format to match this growing age of “I need it now” would add an excitement along the lines of the NCAA Tournament.

I would like to see a format where every team makes the playoffs and is ranked based on record from 1 to 32 (or you could rank them 1 to 16 in each conference and do my format that way). Then, the World Cup format takes over. Teams would be grouped into eight pools of four with each pool having one of the top eight teams in the league. The remaining 24 teams would be divided into groups of eight (based on record) and the worst team in each of those groups would be in Pool A with the #1 team and so on down the line.

For example, Pool A would consist of the #1, #16 (worst of the second group of eight), #24 (worst of the third group) and #32 (worst of the last group). Pool B would have the #2, #15, #23 and #31 teams. Each pool would have round-robin play and the top two teams from each pool advance to a single-elimination round of 16. Bam. Now you have something compelling and rich. Much like the NCAA Tournament, I think you’d find people who don’t care about basketball tuning in to watch. If this ever happens, I demand full credit for changing the NBA.

Undefeated UConn into Final Four. I assume this is about women’s basketball. If ESPN listened to me, none of you would be subjected to this nonsense. And if you wanted to find out about women’s hoops, it could be found on the new ESPNWomen page (Damnit, ESPN, make this happen!).

Anderson gets new 7-year deal, stays at Mizzou. This news created a rare, perhaps unprecedented triple whammy for a single team. Last week, Memphis lost to Missouri, then yesterday lost their coach, and then one of the favorites to replace Calipari locks into Mizzou for the next seven years. Actually, this could be a quadruple whammy if you consider the highly touted recruiting class that was coming to Memphis next year is no longer coming. Good times indeed in the Bluff City (What a poor nickname for a city. Or maybe nothing can match the power of my hometown, Jackson, MS, which gave us “The Bold New City.”).

LeBron, Cavs evade Pistons for 13th straight. Is “evade” the right word here? Doesn’t that imply the Cavs were running from or trying to duck the Pistons? I guess technically the Pistons are chasing the Cavs in the Eastern Conference standings, but perhaps “hold off”, “defeat”, “edge” or “finish off” would have worked better.

Yeah, I know. This is what happens when I have nothing left to say about the NBA.

McCain supporting pardon for Jack Johnson. I’m sure there’s a Rick Reilly-esque joke here involving the singer Jack Johnson or maybe something about McCain being alive to actually see Jack Johnson the boxer fight, but it escapes me at the moment.

Anyway, John McCain, like any good politician, is attaching himself to a winning public relations story that he can use whenever he’s up for election again. 2012, anyone? Or maybe just when he’s up for re-election in the Senate (it could be the same year, but I did absolutely no research to find out).

I’m not sure of the need for a pardon of someone who died 63 years ago and actually only spent one year in jail, but I suppose bringing attention to guys who showed morons that black people could do things white people could do (and in his case better than whites) can’t be bad. And people could learn that Johnson, like all good boxers, enjoyed beating women and sleeping with as many of them as possible.

Also, it should be noted that when Johnson lost his heavyweight title in 1915, he was knocked out in the 26TH ROUND OF A SCHEDULED 45-ROUND FIGHT.

New UVa coach Bennett to get $1.7M annually. I think I can honestly say that I have not seen a part of or even a highlight of a Virginia basketball game in like three years. Maybe more. That means I’ve seen more clips of the NHL in that time than Virginia basketball. This may explain why Virginia is paying a new coach $1.3 million.

Rumors: The futures of Bosh and Iverson. ESPN and their damn Insider! However, I’ll give you a free forecast on their futures. Bosh’s won’t be in Toronto and Iverson’s won’t be in Detroit. Done and done.

PULSE VERDICT: Alive, but critical.