Monday, December 31, 2007


Especially for the Milwaukee Bucks in Miami tonight. This afternoon, they mailed one on against the Pistons in Detroit, getting smoked 114-69. The best thing ever: MTAC spies were in the locker room after the game and heard the following. First overall pick a few years ago Andrew Bogut, quoted after the game, essentially admitting the Bucks threw the game so they could get down to Miami tonight and party for New Years:

EDIT: per this morning's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal: After the game, the Bucks flew out of snowy Detroit to Miami, where they were to spend New Year's Eve and will play the Heat on Wednesday. Judging by their performance Monday, the Bucks were focused more on South Beach than they were the Pistons.

"I think the tone was set before the game," said Bucks center Andrew Bogut. "We came in here and, one through 12, just wanted to get out of Detroit. Be happy with a loss to get out of here and just go to Miami. That was the feeling before the game."

True story.

To quote the great Billy Ray Valentine - "Merry New Year."

Hitting a New Low - Tom Enlund, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal


The man finally got what he deserved. The most arrogant man in Pro sports not named Barry Bonds has gotten the ax. That's right people, the man I love to hate, Brian Billick has gotten his walking papers from owner Steve Bisciotti. He had been the coach of the Ravens for nine seasons. His act had worn thin with many veterans, including Ray Lewis, and his offenses never showed anything, even though Billick was an "offensive genius." "Sometimes the message can get repetitive after a while," 12-year offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden said. "I'm not saying I agree with it," kicker Matt Stover said of Billick's dismissal, "but sometimes things have to change."

All of the self-serving b.s. that came with the package Billick brought to the table was too much to deal with once the winning stopped. I love it. Steve Bisciotti has jumped to the top of my list of favorite people in sports. Anyone who watched the HBO 2002 season of Hard Knocks with the Baltimore Ravens, sat in on a press conference, or hung around the Ravens camp could tell you, this guy's massive ego makes him unbearable to be around unless the team is winning.

The Preening Schmo, as Tony Kornheiser dubbed him, is out of our hair finally. Its too bad on one level, it makes the Browns/Ravens rivalry less intense for me. I always wanted to beat Billick more than any other coach. Later bro!

Billick Fired After Nine Seasons with Ravens -

Confirmed Sighting - Bud Selig

Nothing like seeing the central figure in the game of Baseball sitting in Goldman's Deli in Scottsdale eating a hot dog and drinking a Coke on the lat day of the year. I'll say this, my man looked happy and rested. I will also say he is one of the goofiest looking people i've ever seen in person.

Just a Question

Is anyone watching this crap on TV today? Cal vs. Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl? Seriously, if you are watching this game, you are either a degenerate gambler or have way too much time on your hands. No Daseasn Jackson makes this game doubly unwatcheable.

What about the great Humatitarean Bowl matchup between Georgia Tech and Fresno State? That's some good action right there. The Sun Bowl would be great if Dennis Dixon didn't tear his ACL. Brady Leaf at the helm? Not so much.

Go out today and enjoy the ;ast day of 2007. Im going to the train park with my son.

Browns Link Recap

The season's over. The Browns are just the third team since 1992 to win 10 games and not make the playoffs. Is that acceptable to you? If you told me they'd win 10 games at the beginning of the year I'd say I'd take it in two seconds. But I'm a greedy. They were a 10 win team that should have won 12. Who is on the hook for this? Romeo? Defensive Coordinator Todd Grantham? Phil Savage for putting together this weak defense? I'm staying positive though (unlike my bitter brother who claims not making the playoffs in this bad league is unacceptable). Lets look at the links.

Browns Get 10th Win, but Tennessee is in - Tony Grossi, Cleveland Plain Dealer

The prevailing emotions as the players departed Cleveland Browns Stadium were helplessness, naturally, but also great satisfaction.

They insisted a win would be meaningful, even if it didn't secure a playoff spot. They wanted to reward their loyal fans with one last home win, and they did.

Plus, circumstances enabled the home fans to see rookie quarterback Brady Quinn perform for the first time in a regular-season game. It made for a fun time.

No Surprise as Fates Go Against Browns - Terry Pluto, Cleveland Plain Dealer

If you're a Browns fan, you knew this would happen. You knew you'd get your hopes up. You knew you'd be teased. You knew the 10-6 Browns season was too good, that something would go wrong.

You knew your team would miss the playoffs, which they did after Tennessee beat Indianapolis, 16-10, Sunday night. It didn't matter that Tennessee had the same 10-6 record as the Browns.

It didn't matter that the Browns beat San Francisco, 20-7, earlier in the day. It didn't matter that the NFL rules for this situation meant the Browns could have lost and still went to the playoffs with a 9-7 record.

All Tennessee had to do was lose. Which you knew would never happen.

Quinn's Cameo Can't Overshadow Anderson's Year - Bud Shaw, Cleveland Plain Dealer

Getting him out of harm's way and giving Quinn more snaps would've been a better use of everybody's time. In complimenting Quinn, Crennel made a point to say (jokingly, I think) that there isn't a quarterback controversy.

Of course not. Anderson is the starter. That's so obvious you wonder why he was so quick to react to a question during the week about Quinn getting some snaps.

The Browns went 10-6, winning seven games at home for the first time in their history.

If putting Anderson back in Sunday was to spare him uncomfortable feelings, he's going to need to get used to it.

Anderson and Quinn can't co-exist beyond next year. Quinn's contract may not be a drag on the cap unless he reaches starter incentives, but he won't be happy sitting and making the base in his deal for years to come.

Bittersweet Ending for the Browns - Patrick McManamon, Akron Beacon-Journal

Winslow's catch. To me, the one that stands out was the catch by Kellen Winslow on the last play of the game in Arizona.

Winslow made an amazing effort to come down with the pass, and it sure looked like he was knocked out of bounds by a Cardinals defender. ''If that's not a forceout, I don't know what is'' was a common lament of the Browns. Instead, the pass was ruled incomplete.

That play, that catch, would have won a game and would have lived in Browns lore forever. It almost seemed Winslow deserved that catch, just as it seems the Browns deserved to go to the playoffs. Winning 10 games and missing the playoffs is excruciating.

After that game in Arizona, Winslow asked about the Browns' remaining schedule. He then said, ''Eleven and five. That's what I've said we'll need.''

Turns out he was right.

Subdued Browns Lose Out, But Future Bright - John Clayton,

Still, Browns players were appreciative of the job Crennel did this season. Veteran linebacker and leader
Willie McGinest gave the coach a game ball as a symbol of what he means to this team. McGinest thanked Crennel for sticking with the players when no one else believed in them. McGinest said the Browns played this season for their coach.

"I told you back in training camp," Crennel told the team, "if you look good, I look good."

Monday Morning QB - Peter King,

Sunday night, clock ticking down on the Browns' dream season, reality setting in at the Braylon Edwards home on the west side of Cleveland, and the last story of the 2007 regular season is written. Tennessee's in. Cleveland's out in Sixth-seed-ville.

"I've been sitting here in agony,'' Edwards said, watching Andrea Kremer interview Kerry Collins, one of the heroes of the Tennessee playoff bid. "But it's our fault. We played horrible in Cincinnati last week [losing 19-14] when our fate was in our hands. We didn't take care of business, and so now we have to suffer because of it.''

Ten-and-six, though. Not bad. Pretty great, in fact, for a Cleveland team no one expected to even sniff .500 this year.

"This is just the beginning,'' Edwards said. "We'll be back.''

The Fine Fifteen: 13. Cleveland (10-6). Love the brains of the Browns fan. Banner in the stands at Cleveland's meaningless tilt versus Niners: "From the Office of the Commissioner -- Tony Dungy: Play Peyton or you'll be coaching Miami. Roger Goodell.'' And this one: "Sorgi Fan Club,'' in honor of the Colts' backup quarterback.

Special Teams Player of the Week: Cleveland KR/PR Josh Cribbs. Imagine having 129 punt-return yards at the end of the first quarter. His 74-yard touchdown on a punt return was the first punt return score of his career and cemented his status as the returner of the year in the NFL -- with all due respect given to Devin Hester. I'm not saying Cribbs is better than Hester, because he's not. But he had more opportunities, and he had 629 more return yards. And in this game, he had a 94-yard kickoff return for touchdown called back on a horrible holding call against wedge-man Lennie Friedman.

King's All Pro Team: T: Joe Thomas, Cleveland. Not that hard a pick. Played every snap, was better than Walter Jones, and was the biggest reason why a D-minus line in 2006 played like a B-plus line in '07.

K: Phil Dawson, Cleveland. This year's Vinatieri.

KR/PR: Josh Cribbs, Cleveland. Top five NFL punt- and kick-returner, and he was Steve Tasker all season as a pursuit man.

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Joe Thomas, T, Cleveland. No disrespect to Adrian Peterson, but for 16 games, Thomas was more impactful on the Browns than Peterson was on Minnesota.

It's Over Johnny...Over

It was Murphy's Law time once again for Cleveland. How many chances did the Browns blow this season? You can talk about last week in Cincinnati. Blowing a 21-6 lead in Pittsburgh. The Arizona debacle. Losing to the Raiders. It was all there for them, but a 10-6 record wasn't good enough. The Steelers also finished 10-6, as did San Diego ( OK, I made tha6t up, they went 11 -5). They are both in. The Browns aren't. They only have themselves to blame.

Lets talk about the game for a minute. I once again headed to Big Daddy's in Phoenix again to watch with my fellow Browns fans. Another solid crowd included the great Randy Rash, my father in law, and several westsiders who buried shots of Jameson Whiskey before noon. I had a solid ham, turkey, and cheese melt on grilled rye and a bloody mary in my dad's honor. Oh yeah, we are talking about the game. I'll break it down for you. I'm sure you want to talk Brady Quinn, so we'll indulge.

Finally we got to see the Brady Quinn debut. It came in the fashion it should have. Derek Anderson injured his hand in the second quarter, allowing the savior himself to enter the game. During his one drive, I thought he looked calmed, collected, and excited to be out there. If not for the butterfingers of Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow on back to back plays, Quinn would have led a touchdown drive. Instead, they had to settle for a 23 yard Philly the Groin Field Goal. I'm glad Brady got a taste. With the way Anderson struggled down the stretch, it should make for an interesting offseason and training camp at the QB position.

Speaking of Anderson...Did he really show us anything other than his one spot on pass to Edwards for the TD? The passing game sputtered most of the day in the red zone. He was 11-20 for 152 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT. Nothing spectacular. Though he was the victim of a dropped TD of his own by Jason Wright. That said, the Browns went 10-5 with DA as the starter and he showed the Browns brass and the rest of the leagues execs that he is a legitimate starting QB in this league. He still makes some questionable decisions and has little to no mobility, but I'd take DA over at least 50% of the bad QB's in this league.

Give Jamal Lewis a contract extension today. Again today, Jamal carried the load and wore down the 49ers to the tune of 128 yards on 26 carries. For the season, he rushed for 1304 yards and 11 TD's. In his last four games, he finished with 118, 163, 92, and 128 yards rushing. He was a model citizen and teammate and was a leader in the locker room. He earned a contract extension and is the perfect runner for the AFC North and the December weather in Cleveland. I'll be the first to admit I thought the Lewis signing was a complete joke. I'm glad to say I was way wrong.

Josh Cribbs is the friggin man. Let us give props to the man who was the MVP of this team. I love the national publicity he is finally getting because he deserves it. Again today he returned a punt for a TD and a kick for a TD, which was called back on a b.s. holding penalty by Lennie Friedman. Not only was he great on the returns, but he was all over the field on kick coverage, making for tackles. I don't know what his contract situation is, but lock him up long term now.

The Colts need a backup QB. Jim Sorgi? Are you serious with that guy? They better hope Peyton Manning never gets hurt because what I saw against the Titans was appalling. When we needed the Colts backups to do us a favor, they looked like a high school team on offense. I loved trying to count on Sorgi, Kenton "I can't block" Keith, Craphanso Thrope and Devan Aromashodu. We shouldn't blame them because the Browns had control of their own destiny and couldn't close the deal, but that was pathetic. The good news is we don't have to see the Browns get smoked in San Diego next Sunday.

So the season is over. If you told me at the beginning of the year the Browns would be 10-6 and would I take it, the answer would have been hell yes. Once again, the stars all aligned for one of my teams, and they couldn't close the deal. Just like the Indians. Next year won't be so easy without the fifth place schedule. They won't be able to fly under the radar again. The offense is something to build on, but the horrible defense needs a major makeover, especially the front seven.

p.s. Nice of Carson Palmer to show up for my fantasy playoffs the last two weeks, then throw for over 350 yards and three TD's this week when it meant nothing. Also, Week 17 is like the CFL. The league is such garbage too. Look at the records. 11 of the 32 teams went 7-9 or 8-8. Another two NFC teams went 9-7 and both Made the playoffs, yet the Browns at 10-6 didn't make it. Parity at it its best.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Coast to Tyus Edney against Mizzou

With so many games and so little time before I pass out, I will only give you the top tier games of the day.

#2 Memphis 76 #18 Arizona 63 - Here was the problem with my upset selection of Arizona, nobody knew until game time that stud PG Jerryd Bayless had sprained his knee and would be out for this game and potentially a few more. Without Bayless, the Cats had no shot. Surprisingly, it was Tigers reserve Shaun Taggert who controlled the paint, scoring 15 in 18 minutes. Robert Dozier added 18, and Chris Douglas-Roberts had 17. Memphis cleaned up on the glass, outrebounding Arizona 35-24.

Dayton 80 #5 Pittsburgh 55 - It was a bad night for the Panthers on several fronts. Not only did they get smoked on the road. Not only did they shoot just 3-25 from three point land. But they may have lost their emotional leader, PG Levance Fields to an anke injury. Dayton, on the other hand, should be ranked come Monday after this impressive performance. Brian Roberts again proved he can play with the big boys, leading all scorers with 31. Pitt big man Dejuan Blair was a non-factor all night long.

Wisconsin 67 #9 Texas 66 - The shocker of the day. Wisconsin played without G Trevon Hughes, its leading scorer, yet were hanging around in Austin all game. Trailing by two in the closing seconds, Michael Flowers drilled a game winning three with two seconds left, then stole the inbounds pass to seal the upset win. This is Texas' second straight loss and once again, they wore down towards the finish. They only got four points off the bench and four of the five starters played 36 minutes or more. I am starting to sound like a broken record. Props to the most underrated coach in America, Bo Ryan for pulling this one off.

#12 Tennessee 72 Gonzaga 62 - Is Tennessee underrated or is Gonzaga overrated? The Vols controlled this game from the opening tip and the Zags couldn't handle the Bruce Pearl full court pressure. 18 Gonzaga turnovers and 10 Tennessee three pointers were a recipe for disaster for Mark Few's club. Six Vols scored in double figures, led by Jajuan Smith's 18. Chris Lofton's season long shooting slump continued as he went 4-13.

Winthrop 76 #19 Miami 70 -I told you Miami was a fraud. Scheduling garbage always catches up to you.

Oklahoma 88 #23 West Virginia 82 Double OT - An excellent game nobody watched. Oklahoma is looking more and more like a tournament team with each game. Longar Longar led the way with 22. Blake Griffin and David Godbold had 18 each for a Sooner club who essentially lost this game before being saved by bad West Virginia ball handling down the stretch and a clutch, game tying three by Tony Crocker forcing double OT. "What a great college basketball game," Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel said. "West Virginia is a very good team. I think we are becoming a very good team. It was a heck of a win for us."

#3 Kansas 86 Yale 53 - The man crush Darnell Jackson had 20 and 5. That's all you need to know from me. For the rest:

Gary Bedore, Journal-World KU men’s basketball beat writer
“Nice pressure by the Jayhawks and Russell Robinson who was one off a school record with eight steals. It was a massacre from the start, now the Jayhawks get a whole week off to practice I guess.”

Tom Keegan, Journal-World sports editor
“Today’s world demands instant gratification. Consumers want the world and they want it now. That’s not what college basketball should be about, but too often it is. This year’s senior class of the Kansas University basketball team didn’t have an immediate impact, but it certainly has a chance to have a very lasting impact. Darnell Jackson and Russell Robinson, the team’s most consistent performers, again showed what maturity and confidence can do for young athletes. They play the game with such unrelenting intensity they are bound to continue to play well, even with the competition stiffening.”

Ryan Greene, editor
“Sherron Collins and Tyrel Reed are slowly cracking out of their injury shells, and Saturday’s game against Yale presented the perfect opportunity for both to do so. Both took advantage. Each scored eight, each hit a pair of three-pointers. For Collins, it was his acrobatic up-and-under layin that showed flashes of his old form, while Bill Self made it sound like seeing the ball go in for Reed was big in terms of rebuilding the freshman’s confidence following a pair of ankle tweaks.”

Inside the numbers

8: Teammates gushed over Russell Robinson’s career-high eight steals, and Bill Self was sure to credit the senior guard for helping set the defensive tone in the blowout win. KU forced 27 Yale turnovers, and an impressive stat of note is that through 13 games, Robinson and Mario Chalmers have combined for 75 steals.

48: Bill Self said after the game one of his team’s new year’s resolutions needs to be shooting free throws better. The Jayhawks shot just 48 percent on Saturday, connecting on 12 of their 25 looks from the stripe.

20: Darnell Jackson hit the 20-point plateau for the second time this season, scoring exactly that many, including an impressive five-point run to start the second half. The first three came on what will go down as one of the better plays of his KU career. He stole a ball at midcourt, executed a spin move, leapt over a lying Yale player, then went up-and-under for a layup with a foul tacked on it. He hit the free throw, too, but so caught up in the crowd’s standing ovation, forgot to conduct his signature three taps to the chest.

5: The Holmes twins - Caleb and Nick - of Olathe, who entered Saturday’s game averaging a combined 17.5 points per game for the Bulldogs connected for just five total on two-of-10 shooting. The duo also collaborated to turn it over seven times on a rough night.

1,000: Mario Chalmers became the 50th member of the KU 1,000-point club. The junior guard joined fellow classmate Brandon Rush in joining the club this season. His night was highlighted by a 3-of-5 showing from three-point range in the first half, finishing with 11 points.
Just in case you missed it...
Darnell Jackson’s 20 points were impressive, but more eye-popping has been his overall efficiency on the offensive end this season. With his 9-of-12 performance tonight, Jackson is now 62-of-92 from the floor this year, and his 67.4 percent floor efficiency is second on the team behind Sasha Kaun’s 72.5, though Kaun has attempted 41 fewer shots.

Hopefully you didn’t miss it...

Mario Chalmers usually gets tagged as KU’s ‘steals guy’ because of his knack for taking risks. Russell Robinson usually doesn’t have as many chances to take, well, chances because he is needed as KU’s on-ball glue defender in the backcourt. But Saturday he could show what his strength and stickiness as an on-ball defender can do, registering a career-high eight steals. His 35 steals this season give him 203 for his career, ranking him sixth on KU’s all-time list. Mario Chalmers has 40 this year, bringing his career mark to 226 and ranks fourth. Robinson is only three behind Kirk Hinrich’s 206 swipes for fifth place.

They said it...

Mario Chalmers on Russell Robinson’s defensive ability: “Russ is just so strong that he can body defenders, and once he does that, they get kinda loose with the ball and he just takes it. I mean, Russ is just strong like that. I think he’s one of the best on-ball defenders I’ve ever seen.”

Mario Chalmers on preparing for Boston College next Saturday: “We know they run a lot of flex, so we’ve got to guard the flex and I think that’s going to be the main emphasis this week in practice. If we can do that and stop Tyrese Rice and all the other good players, I think we have a good chance of beating them.”

Darnell Jackson on his highlight play to start the second half scoring: “That was great. I got the little spin move, and the crowd...I just got goosebumps...That’ll probably be the last spin move I do. I don’t want to get carried away.”

Russell Robinson on the eight steals leading to transition points: “That’s the best part about it, because we’ve got so many athletic guys, you can get out, get some good athletic plays in transition and easy baskets, which gives us momentum, gets the crowd into it.”

Russell Robinson on coming close to Aaron Miles’ record: “He might need to be worried. It felt kinda good. I’m gonna try for it again. I didn’t know it was that many, but I’m gonna definitely to do it again.”

Bill Self on Darnell Jackson: “He’s confident. He’s playing with a free mind. The play he made in the second half was about as good a play I’ve seen in awhile, for a guy that size to be that agile and steal it, kick it, run it down, fall down, dribble it, and do a spin move and finish, that was pretty good. And you could tell by his smile he was pretty proud of himself after he did it, too.”

Bill Self on his backcourt’s knack for getting steals: “To be real honest with you, Mario’s the guy that is probably as good at taking a guy’s ball as I’ve been around. But Russell, I wouldn’t want him guarding me. You can take advantage of our guards, too, with speed and things like that, because you can’t gamble on those type of players, but tonight they were able to gamble a little bit and then recover, and Russell and Mario are just as dangerous after you beat ‘em as they are when you know where he is. Because when you beat ‘em, they’re pretty good at coming from behind and tipping the ball when you get past ‘em.”

Bill Self on his team’s new year’s resolutions: “Well, I think most KU fans would agree that we will shoot better free throws. It’s brutal. You can’t put it on one or two guys, it’s the whole team. I think everybody on our team, with the exception of Sasha, that plays major minutes is shooting between 60 and 70, and that’s not good enough. We’ve got to rebound better. Sasha, Darnell, Brandon and Shady don’t go after the ball like they should. We’ve got to get where we rebound the ball better. And just become a little more consistent. And we can’t be happy where we’re at. The new year’s resolution for the team would be stay hungry.”

Saturday, December 29, 2007

What to Watch

The holiday season is upon us and judging by the lack of quality games and coverage by me, you know this is a lull in the action before the conference season begins. The man to the right is Tate George of buzzer beating fame. Loved his game. A few notable things have happened. #1 North Carolina lost versatile backup PG Bobby Frasor for the season with a torn ACL suffered in their win over Nevada Thursday. Tobacco Road rival N.C. State lost its starting point guard Farnold Degand to a torn ACL of his own in their win Sunday over Cincinnati. Louisville received good news as 5th year Senior Center David Padgett, who was feared to be lost for the season could be back next month according to Rick Pitino. San Francisco all of a sudden has Eddie Sutton coaching their team after the strange "leave of absence" being taken by coach Jesse Evans. Worst of all, Sutton admits he is taking the job to get his two wins he needs to get to 800 for his career. Did anyone know that Rhode Island is 11-1 and now ranked 25th? Neither did I. Lastly, the already vagabond career of Freshman Alex Legion will take him from Kentucky to Illinois, where Bruce "Wooden" Weber will welcome him to his talentless team with open arms. We are going to look at many of these teams by their strength or weakness of their pre-conference schedules.

#9 Texas (11-1) vs. Wisconsin (9-2), noon EST, ESPN - This is the Longhorns second straight game against the Big Ten. Something tells me the result of this one will turn out differently. Texas was physically beaten down by Michigan State last weekend and will look to rebound. Keep your eye on the D.J. Augustine/Trevon Hughes matchup at the point. Hughes has the quicks to stay in front of Augustine. The difference his he isn't playing next to A.J. Abrams. Texas 82 Wisconsin 68

#8 Georgetown (8-1) vs. American (7-5), 1 PM - Why does this game even get a mention? American beat Maryland last week. But then again, Little Sisters of the Poor would have a shot against Gary Williams team these days. G'Town coming off a loss? Sorry AU, not a chance. Georgetown 75 American 59

#15 Vanderbilt (11-0) vs. Tennessee-Martin (5-7), 1 PM - Tennessee-Martin? Come on Kevin Stallings, you can do better than that. Their schedule has been dogshit thus far. No wonder they are 11-0.

#11 Texas A&M (11-1) vs. Florida A&M (3-7), 2 PM - Next.

#13 Marquette (9-1) vs. Savannah State (7-10), 2 PM - I could have sworn these two just played, but my eyes deceived me. It was Sacramento State the Golden Eagles played. Nothing prepares you for the Big East gauntlet like a four game stretch of Sacramento State, IPFW, Coppin State, and Savannah State.

#7 Michigan State (11-1) vs. Wisconsin Green-Bay (7-4), 4 PM - Even Tom Izzo's easy games seem like good scheduling. The Horizon league's fighting Phoenix are no easy out, though the Spartans should handle them. MSU is playing inspired ball of late and seem nothing close to resembling the team that lost to Grand Valley State in the preseason. Raymar Morgan is turning into a budding star on the college level. Watch out for Green Bay's Mike Schnatner. The Junior Forward can score on anyone. Michigan State 75 Wisconsin-Green Bay 58

#12 Tennessee (11-1) vs. Gonzaga (9-3) in Seattle, 4PM, ESPN2 - In what should be the game of the day, a high scoring tilt is expected. MTAC loves the Vols style of play and the energetic and sweaty coach Bruce Pearl. Mark Few is the second best scheduler in the country next to Tom Izzo and getting Tennessee to come to the Pacific Northwest is a solid move. Watching Gonzaga PG Jeremy Pargo face Tennessee's Ramar Smith will be something else. These two athletes can get up and down the floor with the best of them. This game is also suited for the Zags Micah Downs. The 6'8 gunner loves a fast paced, three point chuck-fest, which is what this could turn into. Having Josh Heyfeldt back in the post makes Gonzaga significantly better, but it won't be enough to stop the Vols. Post men Brian Williams and Wayne Chism will have something to say about that. Tennessee 95 Gonzaga 89

#19 Miami (12-0) vs. Winthrop (6-5), 4 PM - Tournament darlings the Winthrop Eagles are not the same veteran team they were in the past few years. Coach Gregg Marshall is gone. So too is the under the radar status they previously enjoyed. Meanwhile, the Canes keep winning, but the jury is still way out on them. Perusing their schedule and you won't find one win over a NCAA tournament caliber team. Miami 71 Winthrop 65

#22 Stanford (10-1) vs. Fresno State (7-5), 5 PM - With both Robin and Brook Lopez together on the floor with Lawrence Hill and Anthony Goods, the Cardinal are back playing the ball we expected to see when the season started. Don't expect much from Fresno State; this isn't Jerry Tarkanian's club of talented misfits anymore. Bring back Chris Herren. Stanford 72 Fresno State 55

#23 West Virginia (10-1) vs. Oklahoma (9-3), 6 PM, ESPN2 - Good scheduling here by both clubs. Bob Huggins in his first year has the Mountaineers ranked and playing well. OK, the schedule has been soft, but they did win at Auburn by 29 and lost to Tennessee by just two. Alex Ruoff and Joe Alexander average over 30 points between them. Meanwhile, the Sooners have rebounded nicely since the strange home loss to Stephen F. Austin at home. A win here would be huge for their tournament resume; both for them and for the Big 12's RPI. Freshman Blake Griffin is getting better and better. I just don't see the Sooners winning on the road though. West Virginia 80 Oklahoma 77

#14 Indiana (10-1) vs. Chicago State (4-11), 7 PM - Other than at Southern Illinois and at a neutral site against Xavier (where they were blown out), who have the Hoosiers played exactly? Kentucky doesn't count. This game is another in the long line of stinkers. That said, we'll pay to watch Eric Gordon and Jordan Crawford play against an eighth grade team. Which is what Chicago State essentially is. Indiana 95 Chicago State 65

#16 Villanova (9-1) vs. Lasalle (4-6), 7 PM, ESPNU - I know this is a Big Five matchup, but Nova is another team who's pre-conference schedule is softer than my pillows. To say they have a quality win would be giving a bad LSU too much credit. Here is a team who won't be in the top 25 team by the end of January. You'll see. Villanova 78 Lasalle 71

#5 UCLA (11-1) UC-Davis (5-6), 7:30 PM - After meeting Texas, Michigan State, Davidson, Maryland (they are weak), and Michigan (weaker), they are entitled to a cupcake or two. See this game. UCLA 81 UC-Davis 47

#6 Pittsburgh (11-0) at Dayton (10-1), 8 PM, ESPN2 - This has great game written all over it, but nobody will be paying attention. The Panthers are still riding high off of the win over Duke in New York. As great as that win was for Pittsburgh, it came at a price as starting guard Mike Cook was lost for the year with a torn ACL. He started 48 consecutive games. This is the fourth game of a brutal stretch that includes Washington, Oklahoma State, Duke, and now Dayton. The Flyers look like a strong NCAA win and a much improved A-10 conference. They have won nine straight, including wins over Lousiville and Miami-Ohio on the road. This will be a tough matchup for Pittsburgh, especially with the stellar play of Dayton Guard Brian Roberts. The difference in this game will be Pittsburgh's Freshman PF Dejuan Blair. In the last three games, he has delivered double doubles. He will again today. Pittsburgh 65 Dayton 62

#3 Kansas (12-0) vs. Yale (3-6), 8 PM - My Hawks are coming off a week long break after their thrashing of Miami-Ohio. While they have played quality games (at USC, Arizona, at Georgia Tech), their also have had their fair share of "why did they schedule this team" type games. This is one of them. But with the injuries to Brandon Rush and Sherron Collins, every game like is a chance to get in sync. Especially in the case of Collins. He is the key to KU going all the way to San Antonio. Kansas 90 Yale 61

#21 BYU (10-2) vs. Boise State (8-3), 9 PM - This will be a tough road test for the underrated Cougars, who have already knocked off Louisville and played close games with Michigan State and North Carolina. Trent Plaisted is the best player in the country nobody knows about. BYU 85 Boise State 75

#18 Arizona (9-2) at Memphis (10-0), 10 PM, ESPN2 - How did John Calipari create this unbelievable schedule. He gets Gonzaga, Tennessee, Arizona, USC, and Georgetown to come to the FedEx Forum plays UConn and Oklahoma at neutral sites, and goes to Cincinnati. That's impressive. Arizona meanwhile is no slouch. Virginia, Texas A&M, and San Diego State all came to McKale already and the Cats have travelled to Kansas, UNLV, played Illinois in Chicago, and no go to Memphis. Viewers of this game will be treated to a backcourt matchup of two of the best Freshman in the country, Memphis' Derrick Rose and Arizona's Jerryd Bayless. Both continue to get better each game. The key matchup of the game however is how Arizona's fastly improving PF Jordan Hill matches up with Joey Dorsey in the paint. Whoever gets the better of that will win the game. Is it time for Memphis to lose? I'm going to go out on a major limb and say so. Arizona 85 Memphis 84

Friday, December 28, 2007

Damon Jones = Great Guy

It's time to cut bait with this clown. The self proclaimed "greatest shooter in the world" and prettiest man in the NBA" Damon Jones is at it again. After seeing his playing time significantly reduced, he was quoted in the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel saying a return to Miami would be "icing on the cake." Later that night, he was refusing to get off the bench.

According to the Plain Dealer's Branson Wright reported
both Jones and Ira Newble refused to come into the game with a minute left in the Christmas day win over the Heat. Newble claimed "Regardless on how much time is on the clock, I'm going 100 percent every time I step on the court," Newble said. "Not being loose enough, you could possibly pull something." Jones of course refused to comment. His actions speak louder than words.

There is a reason that for the first 10 years of his career, he was on a one year contract 10 times. Its because you can't keep him happy and his game doesn't match his diva-like behavior. Only Danny Ferry would be dumb enough to have given this guy a FOUR YEAR DEAL. Other than an occasional big three point shot, Jones is worthless. He can't run the point, he couldn't guard my 93 year old grandmother, and unless he plays 30 minutes a night, he is a whiny bitch who loves to hear himself talk.

Enough is enough. Either buy him out or trade him. His act is so tired.

Romeo to Miami Rumors Won't Go Away

Here's one I don't get. Browns coach Romeo Crennel was a lame duck in waiting before hiring Rob Chudzinski to run the offense stumbling into Derek Anderson. Yet, all of a sudden he is a hot commodity to Bill Parcells in Miami? I know they worked together in New York, but this just seems strange to me. While Romeo is well liked by his players and by the media, I just cannot fathom him being poached away by another club. 12 months ago he looked like a buffoon who was in over his head. Now this?


As Bill Parcells officially takes the reins as the chief cook and butt kicker in Miami, rumors persist that he wants Browns coach Romeo Crennel to replace Cam Cameron."Believe the talk that Bill Parcells is interested in bringing in Cleveland coach Romeo Crennel to coach the Dolphins," writes Bill Williamson of the Denver Post.Crennel tried to dismiss the rumors on Wednesday, but never said unequivocally that he won't be the coach of the Dolphins in 2008.The Browns will make the playoffs if the Titans lose to the Colts on Sunday; if the Titans win, the Browns are out. And once the Browns are done, look for the talk of Crennel leaving Cleveland to intensify. As to G.M. Randy Mueller, we recently heard that Parcells might find a way to throw him a bone. Even if Mueller is out, we don't expect Mueller to leave until May 2008. If Mueller goes in the short term, he carries with him all of the work that he has done in preparation for free agency and the draft.

The Good and the Bad of 2007 - Bill Williamson, Denver Post

Wait Until Mushnick Hears This One

Could you imagine being a Mariners fan in Seattle and tuning in to a TV game during the season and seeing Ken "Hawk" Harrelson? What about Chick Hearn back in the day filling in on a Dallas Mavs telecast? Well it looks like something like this will take place tonight in Detroit as Knicks play-by-play man and blogosphere legend Gus Johnson will pinch hit for George Blaha on Pistons TV.

Detroit is hosting Indiana and the Knicks are off, so Gus, a detroit native, is free to do the game. Has something like this ever happened? How much does Johnson really know about the Pistons? Seeing as he has spent the last few years calling Knicks games on the radio and on tv. The Pistons say this is a great opportunity for them to go out and get Gus for a night but did they get clearance from the Knicks on this?

So is Gus just supposed to go crazy like the Pistons are his team? We all know he screams and goes overboard anyway, this is just strange. If Blaha filled in on Knicks TV, I'd think that the Phil Mushnick's and the Neil Best's of the world would be asking who the hell he is?

Johnson Subs for Blaha, Who is Busy with MSU - Joanne Gerstner, Detroit News

Coast to Tyus Edney against Mizzou

We will get to the college game tomorrow when their are more matchups. The slate has been extremely limited. So pop culture starts us off. Wow, celebs and their mug shots. Is there anything better? Look at the O.C.'s Mischa Barton in this picture. She looks like a lion. I guess this is what happens after you get arrested for DUI at 2:46 am. We were always more of a Summer fan more than a Marissa fan and that hasn't changed. How's Mischa's career acting career these days besides non-existent?

In the other story that I can't get enough of, Jamie Lynn Spears pregnancy may not be what we think. Everyone said the father was her longtime boyfriend Casey Aldridge (no relation to David). According to that reputable beacon of journalism, The Star Magazine,
Aldridge is not the father, and the Spears Family has paid him off to keep quiet. A source told the Star: "Casey is being paid off to be the family's fall guy while the real father remains unidentified. "The man many suspect is the father, however, would face rape charges and probably prison time if he were to come forward and admit he had sex with Jamie Lynn." It just keeps getting better and better.

Meanwhile, the
assassination of Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto is a sad, horrible display of violence. If current President Pervaz Musharraf is indeed behind this, who knows what we could be in for.

Back to sports, bitter two time losers West Virginia is
suing former coach and new Michigan man Rich Rodriguez for $4 million to recover his buyout from his WVU contract. Let it go, Mountaineers. He's gone and he ain't coming back. Plus, your job is second tier to Michigan. Who can blame him for leaving?

I know this story is a day old, but Jason Williams calling his fellow NBA players
"high-paid prostitutes" may be the line of the year.

Within that same article, Cavs Guard Damon Jones said he would love to be traded back to the place where he made his four year deal, Miami: With one year left on his deal, at $4.5 million for next season, Jones said he would embrace a South Florida reunion."That would be the icing on the cake for me," said Jones, who did not get off the bench Tuesday, "especially with the group of guys that they have now, still, some of the key guys that were there when I spent the best year of my career. It would be special."I'm very comfortable with the system. I don't know if I could really say what I want to say, but I would definitely enjoy being back in that system and trying to get back that success we had some years ago."

Saw Charlie Wilson's War on Christmas Day. We'd give it a solid B. Seriously though, there may be no better actor today than Phillip Seymour Hoffman. The guy made the movie. He was brilliant yet again. I rank my top three actors right now:

1. Leonardo Dicaprio
2. Phillip Seymour Hoffman
3. Edward Norton

These guys never put out bad movies. I'm no fan of Spike Lee movies, but if you get the chance, rent
25th Hour with Norton and Hoffman. It is brilliant and one of the most underrated flicks of all time. Sure, it's got some of the usual Spike Lee bullshit, but overall, it's a great movie.

My son got his first haircut two days ago. Life is good.

The thing I'm looking forward to the most during this week of bowl game action is watching the Pac 10 outside of USC get exposed. It started tonight. Texas, the fourth best team in the Big 12, literally took apart Arizona State. Only the
stupidity of Mack Brown's stepson Chris kept ASU from another turnover and another texas touchdown. Make sure you watch that youtube video. Things got so bad, the Texas bench chanted "RUUUU-DAYYYY. RUUU-DAYYYY" over and over again on the sidelines as they chased him all night long.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The 12 Days of Christmas - Old School Browns Fashion

This is so good. I feel like I'm four years old again.

Pour Some Out, Spicoli

The man who interviewed the great Jeff Spicoli in his dream and got his jacket "from the network," Stu Nahan, passed away at his home at the age of 81. He was a Los Angeles sportscaster legend who appeared in the Rocky movies as well. But to me, he will always be known as the man who asked Spicoli about Mark "cutback" Davis and Bob "jungledeath" Gerrard, to which Spiccoli replied "Those guys are fags!"

RIP Stu Nahan

Longtime Los Angeles Sportscaster Nahan Dies at 81 -

Studio Analysis from the MTAC Crew

Here's one for you: Yesterday we were at Scottsdale's Fashion Square Mall (don't ask). In the Nordstrom Men's department working is none other than Fred Goldman. As in Ron Goldman's father. He of the handle-bar mustache who you've seen on TV a million times. He has been working there for years and I see him every time I am out here. Nice guy. But you see him there and you just want to go up and say something like "That Motherf'er is walking the streets and playing golf, he owes you like $30 million and you are still working here? That sucks. Anyways, Random Musings from MTAC correspondents in a PTI style format. The topics: The Cavaliers and the Browns going forward.

STAT GURU: I think that Terry Pluto is wrong about
criticizing the move to bring Gibson off the bench. The Cavs need his scoring then and I think that they are much better defensively with Hughes at the 1 (I did not say PG because he isn't one, but he can dribble up the court) even though Hughes' play is slightly more disgraceful than Pavlovic's. We also have a lot more size with that lineup, and it was a lineup that got us to the NBA Finals. Bottom line is that IF the Cavs play hard, they can win 45-48 games. Despite that comment, they really need to make a move. They need to get Andre Miller or trade Hughes and then get Boykins to plug in after Gibson would become the starter again.

RESIDENT PIMP: If Cavs win 45 games...what seed would that be in playoffs, potentially? This team is looking like a first round wash out to me. They need a lot of help. Sasha is a joke and Hughes is not much better...I guess the Celtics show that you can turn things around in 1 year...hopefully LBJ understands that and is not counting the days until he can leave...I want Jason Kidd!!

MTAC: Bottom line, this team is devoid of talent and loaded with terrible, immovable contracts. With the steely veteran play of the Pistons and the sheer talent and savvy of the Celtics and the PGA Tour, does anyone think the Cavs have a chance with this current roster? Whether Boobie Gibson starts is immaterial. Sasha Pavlovic's game is about as fresh as a Kiss concert. They are going nowhere fast unless a major move is made. Whether that is for Andre Miller (realistic) or Jason Kidd (not realistic), something has to be done fast because this ship is sinking.

STAT GURU: Sunday's Browns game against SF will say a lot about the coaching and character of the Browns. While virtually meaningless from a W-L perspective unless Tennessee ties, it could be a tuneup for our playoff game if Tennessee does in fact lose (which they won't). We are also playing a crappy team that has nothing to play for and is traveling east. Nothing short of a convincing win will be very disappointing.

DA really needs to have a strong game to get an endorsement from me going into next year. While he definitely has some positive attributes and has had some good games, we only beat one team with a winning record this year (Seattle in OT) and he made costly mistakes or played poorly in each of our losses this year, excluding the first Pittsburgh game. Yet, he is only 24 years old. It's just that he is playing like he has throughout his college and pro career - flashes of "brilliance", marred by inconsistency, which is not an ingredient for NFL success. PIMP has convinced (sort of) that having two QBs is better than having one, but QB controversies are never a good thing.

RESIDENT PIMP: As for QB's...I only think 2 QBs are the right thing for the Browns in 2008 only. By the end of 08 they need to settle on the guy that is going to be their future. At this point, I don't know who that is, but it does seem that they are in pretty good shape at that position. Give me a defense that consistently stops the run and puts pressure on the QB, and I can win with either is a list of QB's that I'd rather have than


Romo (isn't he just DA in a glamour market)

I would put on par with DA at this point in time... So, i guess the question is if DA is the 8-10th best QB in the league, is that good enough to win a championship? Also, would Quinn be among the elite QBs in the league if given a chance? Hopefully we will know for sure one way or another by the end of 08.

MTAC: I concur about this game not being so meaningless. You want to finish strong and stay in sync for the playoffs, especially offensively. The Guru is also right about this game being important for DA. He wants to finish strong and leave a good taste in the organization's mouth. But in the meantime, as Terry Pluto said today
it is imperative to get Anderson back on the field Sunday to erase the memory of the Bengals game. One bad game should not spoil what was an improbable and pro-bowl alternate season.

To the Pimp's point, there is no reason Anderson cannot be Mark Bulger. There is such a shortage of decent QB's in this league that the Browns have a luxury at this point. How would you like to be KC right now? Brody Croyle and Damon Huard? What about the Falcons? Joey Harrington, Byron Leftwich, and Chris Redman? The Dolphins? Cleo Lemon and John Beck? The Ravens have a washed up Steve McNair, scrub dog Kyle Boller and Troy Smith. I could go on and on.

It's a no-brainer. Tender DA and give him one more year to see if he is the real deal. Then you make your decision. If a team wants to give the Browns a first and a third round pick for him, then so long DA. But every team needs two QB's these days and at least half the league has none. Oh, p.s. Roethilisberger is going to be a thorn in our side for years if he can stay upright. He is the most underrated QB in the NFL.

Rejoice! Billy's Back

Today is a beautiful day. You know why? Because its 60 degrees and sunny where I am and Billy Thomas is back in the NBA. That's right, Billy was signed by the New Jersey Nets on his 32nd birthday Monday. "Best birthday gift I ever had," Thomas said.

Before there was Darnell Jackson, the original man crush was on Billy T. He was a Freshman at KU the same year I was. He played the type of game I wish I could play. He camped out at the three point line and buried triples. After three years as a key bench performer for Roy Williams, he moved into the starting two guard role as a Senior. He became KU's all time three point king, scored over 1,000 points in his career, and had a career-high 31 against Texas in Austin.

The teams he played on had a ton of NBA talent. Paul Pierce, Jacque Vaughn, Scot Pollard, Raef Lafrentz, and Greg Ostertag were all first round picks. Ryan Robertson was a second rounder. Billy went undrafted. But through hard work, dedication to his craft, and his smooth jump shot, Billy found his way through Europe, and the minor leagues to end up in the NBA. He has spent parts of three seasons in the NBA with Washington and New Jersey. Both organizations have shown love for him and his work ethic.

A couple of years back, the Washington Post's Ivan Carter wrote a great article about his journey. At the time, Wizards guard Antonio Daniels said of Thomas "The thing about Billy is he understands his role. He doesn't try and be someone he's not. He comes in and he knows he's in there to get open and knock shots down. "

I'm so proud of my boy. Props to you Bill for getting back to "The League."

Forward Signed "Off the Street" - NY Post

Journeyman Making Most of Extended Stay - Ivan Carter, Washington Post (June 2006)

The List: MTAC's Top 5 Moments of 2007

5 tie. ALDS Game 2 - The Swarm Surrounds The Yankees - Forever known in Cleveland history as "The Bug Game," this was the night, I truly believed the Baseball Gods were on our side for once. For eight innings, Andy Pettitte and Fausto Carmona were locked in a pitching duel for the ages. The only run between the two teams was a third inning solo homer by Yankees OF Melky Cabrera.

In the seventh, Joe Torre went to his stud set up man Joba Chamberlain with Indians at first and second with one out. He easily disposed of Franklyn Gutierrez and Casey Blake. That looked like the best chance the Tribe would get.

But fate intervened.

Three Carmona groundout specials and the Tribe had another shot at Chamberlain. But as the Yankees came out for the home half of the eighth, it was as though someone opened a giant gnat cage on the field of play. Thousands of what we now know are called "Midges" swarmed the Yankees. The everlasting image of this game was the upclose shots in HD of Chamberlain with bugs crawling all over his neck while trying to look in for the sign.

The unshakeable kid was rattled. He had allowed just one earned run in just iver 22 innings during the regular season. He walked Grady Sizemore. Uncorked a wild pitch moving Grady to second. Watched as Asdrubal Cabrera sacrificed him to third. Uncorked a second wild pitch, allowing Sizemore to score and tie the game. Hit Victor Martinez with a pitch. Walked Ryan Garko, then finally got out of it by striking out Jhonny Peralta.

The damage was done. Carmona on the other hand, acted as if the bugs didn't exist in the ninth. He K'd Alex Rodriguez on his 115th and last pitch of the game and moved the game into extras. Amazingly, the bugs dissapeared.

Fast forward to the 11th, where Travis Hafner was singling home Kenny Lofton to give the Tribe a 2-1 win and a 2-0 series lead. As for those bugs. "I'd never seen anything like it," Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said. "It's like somebody let them loose ... just when you think you've seen it all." "There's not much you can do about it," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "He was having trouble seeing out there. I'll tell you one thing about the kid he never lost his composure. Unfortunately it was at a bad time." But the timing couldn't have been better if you were a Tribe fan.

5 tie. Finally, The Tribe Takes Back the Central - It seemed like decades ago, but it wasn't. This was the sweetest division title since 95 was clinched at the Jake on a sunny Sunday afternoon against Oakland. They did it their way. Timely hitting, excellent starting pitching, and a nails bullpen. Jake Westbrook struck out nine and allowed just two runs in seven innings. A four run fourth, capped by Grady Sizemore triple was all they needed. Raffy Left pitched two thirds, Raffy Right pitched and inning and a third to close it out and the AL Central was theirs.

"Somewhere among the snow and the craziness of the schedule and the injuries, this team became a family," pitcher Paul Byrd said amid the delirium and flying liquid in the locker room celebration. "Everybody chipped in. I've never been on a team where everybody has been included in the victories as much as we have."

"This is just as special as the first time for me," OF Kenny Lofton said. "I think to the young kids, being their first time through this, it lets them know how special this team really is. When I got the chance to come back to Cleveland, I knew this team had a chance, but I don't think some of the guys here really understood how good they were. Said GM Mark Shapiro: ''The great part of this is doing it with the guys I always wanted to do it with. They are all good people. And they stand for all the right things.''

4. Eastern Finals Game 6 - The Cavs are going to Finals - Another in the long list of games MTAC attended this year, the scene outside in Gateway Plaza was not to be believed. The Indians had just finished a game with the Tigers and The Cavaliers had set up big screens so people could be a part of the magic going on inside the Q. The building shook. It rocked like I had never heard it before.

One Boobie Gibson three after another rained down on the Pistons. The kid who averaged just 4.6 points per game in the regular season blossomed into a playoff hero before our very eyes. Lebron was Lebron, dominating the game in all phases, but he couldn't have done it this night without his trusted gunner, who had a career-high 31 including 19 in the decisive fourth quarter. People forget this was a one point game heading to the fourth.

Lebron finished with 20 points, 14 rebounds, and eight assists. He was doubled and triple teamed all night. That's when Boobie took over. "If I'm dreaming, please don't wake me up," Gibson said. "This was perfect, to win it for Cleveland."

"Boobie is a guy with a lot of poise and a lot of heart," Cavs coach Mike Brown said of Gibson during the trophy presentation. "He's a scorer and a shooter. You leave him alone you better watch out, because it's Boobie for 3." "This is like a dream," Lebron said, shaking his head. "This is probably the best feeling that I've ever had in my life." It was pretty sweet for the long suffering fans of Cleveland as well.

3. ALDS Game 4 - Eliminating the Yankees tastes so sweet - There was a ton of drama involving this game. Manager Eric Wedge's decision to go with Paul Byrd over C.C. Sabathia on four days rest seemed like a gamble. Starting Byrd also put his personal catcher, Kelly Shoppach in the lineup, putting Ryan Garko's bat on the bench in the process. In the end, he stood by his guys and it paid off in spades.

All we asked the Byrd man to do was give us five good innings and get us to the pen with a lead. Well how did a 6-2 lead and pitching into the sixth work for you? You just had a feeling things were going to work in the Tribe's favor when Grady Sizemore led the game off with a Solo Pizza. Even the Shoppach move paid dividends. He was 2-3 and was hit by a pitch. But it was a total team effort. The Tribe had 13 hits. The bullpen pitched four innings to close out the series in Yankees Stadium and they cracked Champagne in the home of team they went 0-6 against during the regular season.

Said Kenny Lofton after the game: This team hasn't had a championship in Cleveland for a long time. This is just an unbelievable feeling to be able just to start this process again." But the night was about Byrd, Wedge, and vindication. "I'm sure the networks wanted Red Sox and Yankees,'' said Trot Nixon. "You've got two marquee teams, so many big names and big payrolls. But if you're a baseball fan, this is what it's all about. The game is decided on the field, not by all that other stuff.''

2. Eastern Finals Game 5 - Lebron's Signature Performance - MTAC readers know the Cavs are a distant fourth for me, but what Lebron James did on this night was the greatest single-game performance of any Cleveland athlete of all time. Other than what Michael Jordan had done during his many great playoff performances, this ranked up in the annals of NBA playoff history.

With his teammates seemingly unable to do anything in the fourth quarter, Lebron took over. With 7:48 left, Zydrunas Illgauskas made a layup to give the Cavs a 79-76 lead. That would be the last field goal any other Cav not named Lebron would score. With 2:48 left, a Drew Gooden free throw would be the last point any other Cav not named Lebron would score. I'm talking about a double overtime game here.

Lebron went unconscious, scoring the team's last 25 points and 29 of their last 30. So many of them were ridiculously clutch. With 31 seconds left, a Lebron dunk put the Cavs up 89-88. After Chauncey Billups his what seemed to be a dagger three with 22 seconds left, the Cavs trailed by two. Everyone in the building knew who was getting the ball. Lebron didn't dissapoint, driving right past two defenders for a sick throw down to force OT.

In double OT, every time the Pistons had a lead, Lebron came back with a jumper. down 104-102, Lebron hit a fadeaway J to tie the game with 1:51 left. Chris Webber hit a basket and one to go up three and the Cavs looked like they were in trouble. At 107-104, Lebron was forced left and hit a fall-away three point shot in the face of three Pistons to tie the game. It was an incredible shot. But he wasn't done.The Cavs had one last shot to win it. Tied at 107, Lebron went into a 1-4 low set, drove straight past two Pistons defenders and hit a scoop layup with two seconds left for the win.

In the end, he finished with 48 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, and one sensational performance that will never be forgotten.

1. ALCS Game 2 - Trot's season officially forgotten with one swing - If you are a dedicated reader of MTAC, you know the Tribe ranks #1 in our hearts. This game had it all. It was seemingly a must win wiht the Tribe losing game one in Boston 10-3. The Tribe jumped out 1-0 on a Victor Martinez double, but then Fausto Carmona turned into someone we hadn't seen all year. He gave three right back and Boston led 3-1 after three.

My mood swings were just about to begin. Jhonny Peralta 's two run pizza and Grady Sizemore's solo shot put the Tribe back on top 5-3. I was high again. Then Fausto imploded for a second time in two innings. Manny Ramirez hit a two run shot to tie it at five followed by Mike Lowell's solo pizza to give the Sox the lead again. Fausto's night was done, and depression was beginning to set in.

However, in the sixth, The Indians put two on with nobody out. Franklyn Gutierrez tied the game with a groundout, but with the bases loaded and two out, Travis Hafner lined out. We were now tied 6-6 in the sixth. As I was busy cursing Travis Hafner for the first of many missed opportunities to come up big in the clutch during this series, little did I know the next two and a half hours of my life were going to turn into a gut-wrenching, nail biting, experience I will never forget.

First, Jensen Lewis pitched a one-two-three bottom of the sixth for the Tribe. Hideki Okajima countered for the Sox in the top if the seventh. Lewis got the first two out in the bottom half, only to be relieved by Rafael Betancourt, who struck out Manny Ramirez swinging in one of the great at bats of the evening. Mike Timlin got the Indians in order in the eighth. Betancourt countered in the home half. Each half inning seemed to go on forever. The at bats were brutally long. I couldn't take it. I had no nails left.

Then we reached the ninth inning. The best closer in the game, Jonathon Papelbon entered and it seemed as though the Indians had no shot. He quickly disposed of Sizemore and Asdrubal Cabrera, but Hafner singled. Manager Eric Wedge pulled the move he has done so many times this year which i cannot stand, pinch running for Hafner with Josh Barfield. Essentially taking one of your best bats out of the lineup in a tie game and may come back around to haunt you. It was foreshadowing at its best. Barfield stole second, Victor Martinez was intentionally walked, and Ryan Garko grounded out to end the inning.

The bottom of the ninth had its own fireworks. Like Papelbon, Betancourt got the first two guys with ease, but Dustin Pedroia singled to bring up the uber-clutch Kevin Youkilis. In an at bat I will never forget, Youkilis fouled off six straight two strike pitches before lining one into Center. I thought we were done, but Grady Sizemore raced to his right and snagged it. Crisis avoided. On to extras we went.

The drama wouldn't stop. Because Wedge went to Raffy Perez to stop Carmona's bleeding in the fifth, Lewis had pitched two, and Betancourt had gone two and a third, the bullpen was down to the the guys you didn't want pitching in these types of situations. But the same thing had happened to the Red Sox who had already gone through Manny Delcarmen, Timlin, Okajima, and Papelbon.

Coming up for the Red Sox in the bottom of the 10th was the murderer's row 3-4-5 of David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, and Mike Lowell. The Tribe had no choice but to go to the man, the myth, the legend, Tom Mastny. I thought the game was over and our boys were dead. The man we dubbed "Thomas Nasty" had gone from the 7th inning guy before Betancourt, to mop up man was suddenly thrust into a seemingly impossible situation. Don't forget about the fact that he hadn't pitched in over two weeks. After falling behind Ortiz 2-0 and with the crowd at a fever pitch, Mastny calmly set down Big Papi on a weak grounder, Ramirez on a lazy fly to right, and Lowell on a pop out.

Then came the inning that had to be seen to be believed. It was 1 AM EST. The Sox turned to their resident gas can Eric Gagne. The inning started with Casey Blake striking out (big shocker). Then it all happened. Sizemore singled and Cabrera walked. The Travis Hafner spot came back up again. Wedge the pulled the string that he waited to pull all game long. Josh Barfield was called back. The much maligned Trot Nixon was called upon to face lefty gas can Javier Lopez. Trot, who I have killed all year, erased his entire miserable season with one swing of the bat. He laced a single back up the middle scoring Sizemore and putting the Indians ahead for good. "I think we all know how a player can cross over to the dark side, but I fully expect that I'm the enemy coming in here," Nixon said. "I was excited to finally get in there at 1:30 in the morning."

But the flood gates were about to open.

A Lopez wild pitch scored Cabrera and moved pinch runner Jason Michaels to second, so Martinez was intentionally walked. Garko ripped a single scoring J Mike. Lopez out. Jon Lester in. Peralta greeted him with a double and I woke up Mrs. MTAC from a deep sleep, not that I cared. After a Kenny Lofton fly out, Franky G crushed a titanic three-run blast over the Monster and it was 13-6. The inning ended as it had begun, with a Blake strike out.

The damage ended at 1:45 AM.

Indians 13 Red Sox 6. Series tied 1-1. Momentum = Indians. The game had so much. The joys of taking the lead. The agony of losing those leads. It had unbelievable at bats from Ramirez, Lowell, and Youkilis against Betancourt. It had perfect relief pitching from Lewis, Betancourt, and Mastny. It had the most unlikely hero, Nixon. Games like this are why there is nothing like playoff baseball, especially when it involves my beloved Indians. Said Red Sox Manager Terry Francona "That was one of the better played games I've ever been a part of."

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Wow, is That Weak

Drunken, disgraced coach Eddie Sutton has resurfaced again after his retirement just two years ago. He left the college game just two wins shy of 800 for his career. Well, seemingly in a quest to get to 800, Sutton has taken over the program at San Francisco, where coach Jesse Evans resigned earlier today.

If this isn't a blatant act of self-promotion, than I don't know what is. You think he is taking this job if he has 805 career wins? Not a chance in hell. Eddie has been accused of a lot of dirty tactics over the years in recruiting (at Kentucky in particular) and had a knack for taking on transfers nobody else would take at "Second Chance State" (Oklahoma State), but this move takes the cake.

Sutton to Replace Evans at San Francisco for the Rest of the Year -

The Roger Clemens Denial

So Roger Clemens put out his denial the day befor christmas on his foundation's website. He adamantly denies ever using Steroids or HGH. Check out his body language. Do you believe him or is this O.J. Simpson all over again - you tell your self you didn't do something enough times that you start to believe its actually the truth. My opinion? This guy is a liar.

Merry Christmas From Rasheed and Company

This is too good.

The List: MTAC's Moments 10-6 of 2007

You may think I am going to list the Mitchell Report, or the Kobe "trade me/keep me/trade me" saga from the summer, or even the Colorado Rockies winning 21 of 22 on their way to the improbable World Series run. Not happening. This list is dedicated to my teams. The moments that moved me to happiness, anger, bitterness, and pure unadulterated joy. Things that just missed this list were Jamal Lewis' 31 yard TD run to ice the Jets game where he carried five tacklers on his way to paydirt. Casey Blake's unbelievable week ending with his 11th inning walkoff HR to essentially put the nail in the coffin of the Tigers. Josh Cribbs tip-toe kick return against the Steelers. Ben Francisco's unlikely walkoff Home Run against the Devil Rays in July, and Darnell Jackson's tip jam against UCLA in the West Regional Final. Why is that significant? My son was about three weeks old and I jumped out of my seat and yelled "ughhhhhhhhh" so loud it scared him into tears. So here we go, the MTAC top 10 moments of 2007 starting with 10-6.

10 tie. The Shopp-Vack Sends Us Home Happy - Of all of the players you would expect to hit a walkoff home run in a big spot pinch-hitting, would you ever think it would be backup catcher Kelly Shoppach? Me neither. But it happened on June 26th.

The Tribe trailed 5-3 going into the ninth against interim A's closer and former Indian Alan Embree. There was two down with a man on when the rally took shape. Victor Martinez walked. Travis Hafner doubled to tie the game at five. With first base open, Jhonny Peralta was intentionally walked, bringing up Mike Rouse's spot in the order. We all know how great Rouse is with the stick, especially against lefties. Eric Wedge had one right handed bat left; Shoppach. He deposited a 1-0 pitch into the left-field bleachers for the 8-5 win.

"It was do or die," the catcher said. "I knew he'd go with his bread and butter and not let a young guy beat him on his second or third pitch."

10 tie. Fun in the Snow down at the Lake Front - Maybe the best time I had at any Browns game since I was a kid happened just a few short weeks ago. I described it
in this blog entry, but being at the Browns 8-0 win over the Bills was an experience I will never forget.

The cold, the blowing snow, Phil Dawson's unbelievable 49 yard Field Goal, my seemingly endless layers of clothing. What a day. The Browns won. I nearly killed myself falling twice trying to walk up a hill to my car. Getting into the Stadium was like a mosh pit. But it was all worth it. Props to my aunt and uncle for being there as well.

9. KU Takes the Big 12 title in Hoops...Again - The Kansas/Texas game of 2006 both had major significance. The first was on the last day of the regular season. The teams met in Lawrence with KU winning 90-86 and taking home the Big 12 regular season title outright. That was the first game was son was alive for. We brought him home from the hospital the day before and he took in that game with his daddy.

Eight days later, the same two teams met in Dallas for the Big 12 tournament title. Texas featured the country's best player, Kevin Durant. On this day, his 37 points in regulation weren't enough. Trailing by three with 15 seconds left, Mario Chalmers, with ice water in his veins, nailed the game tying three, forcing OT.

From there, the Jayhawks talent took over. Freshman Guard Sherron Collins was magnificent, scoring 20 off the bench to lead KU. Julian Wright and Brandon Rush each had 19 and Chalmers had 17. "That's one of the best games I've ever been a part of. That comeback in Lawrence paled in comparison," said KU coach Bill Self, whose team erased a 16-point deficit to beat Texas a week earlier.

8. Derek Who? The Browns Offense Comes Alive - It was the second week of the NFL season. One week after the Browns were disgraced 34-7 at home by the Steelers and looking like the worst team in the NFL. Six days earlier QB Charlie Frye had been dealt to Seattle. Things looked bleak. Then the Cincinnati Bengals came to town and everything changed.

I took my father in law to this game who hadn't been to a Browns game since Red Right 88. What he witnessed was something none of us had seen in the new Browns era. The team had it's new QB. Derek Anderson, the man who couldn't beat out the pathetic Frye in preseason, looked like the second coming of Tom Brady, throwing for 328 yards and a Browns record-tying five TD passes. Jamal Lewis looked like the 2002 version, running for 216 yards including a 66 yard TD run in the Browns 51-45 victory.

This game was a foreshadowing of the season to come. An exciting, upstart offense with a rocket-armed QB and his talented pass catchers Braylon Edwards (8 catches for 146, 2 TD's), Kellen Winslow (6 for 100 and 1), and Joe Jurevicius (4 for 44, and 2) to go with a defense as bad as their is in the NFL. They allowed Carson Palmer (my fantasy QB) to throw for 401 yards and six TD passes. Yet the Browns still won this shootout after CB Leigh Bodden picked off a Palmer pass, ending the attempt at a Bengals comeback.

Said GM Phil Savage after the tumultuous week: "We live close to Cedar Point," referring to the popular amusement park. "It has been a rollercoaster. We won a game that nobody expected us to win." At the time, I said this was the most exciting game in the new Stadium's short history.

7. The Tiger Comeback - One for the Ages - In the interest of full disclosure, I was at this game, but when Detroit took a 9-5 lead in the eighth, the MTAC crew was outta there. The Tribe cut it to 9-7 with back to back singles in the eighth by Trot Nixon and Josh Barfield, but gas can Fernando Cabrera came in and the flames got hotter.

Before you can say "this guy will be cut tomorrow," it was 11-7. But then the rally began. With Tiger closer and Joe Borowski clone Todd Jones on the mound, pitching his fourth game in five nights, Casey Blake singled and Travis Hafner walked with one down. Victor Martinez had one of his many big hits in the 07 season, a three run shot to cut the lead to 11-10. I was home at the palatial MTAC estate at this point watching the end.

Jhonny Peralta doubled to right. Wedge used Mike "the worst played in the majors" Rouse as a pinch runner and Jones intentionally walked Trot Nixon (do you believe that?). With two down, Josh Barfield tied the game with a single, bringing up David Dellucci. The offseason signing which was a colossal mistake only paid off once. On this night. He delivered his only big hit of the season, a game winning single up the middle scoring Nixon. It was a five run comeback in the final two innings against the team the Tribe would be fighting with, and eventually beat, for the AL Central division crown.

6. Dawson doinks it in - The man we dubbed "Philly the Groin" booted home one of the most memorable kicks in Browns history. Previous to this, you'd have to say Rich Karlis' "did it go in or not?" kick in OT of the 1986 AFC title game ranked #1.

You all know what happened. On the last play of regulation with a stiff wind in his face, on the road against the hated Baltimore Ravens, Dawson drilled a shot the hit off of the support which kicked back into the field if play and ruled no good. After the referees conferred on the field, referee Pete Morelli went under the hood to look at something. That something was not reviewable.

What happened under that hood we will never know, but the call was corrected. Dawson's kick was good, and the Browns went to overtime where they eventually won. The beauty of it all was being able to stick it to the preening schmo himself, Brian Billick.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Please, Tell me this is True

The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Branson Wright reported today that the Cavaliers are on the verge of dealing G Larry Hughes. Branson "Wrong" has less sources than we do, trust us on this, and he has been known to stray from the truth from time to time (like the dearly departed Roger Brown), but I cannot imagine GM Danny Ferry not trying to dump the overpaid combo guard.

According to "Wrong's" source "Hughes will be gone way before" the February 21st trading deadline. In an unrelated (or possibly related) news, the Akron Beacon-Journal's Brian Windhorst, a Cavs beat writer with real sources, says
The Cavs have spoken to the Sixers about Point Guard Andre Miller.

Per Windhorst: Cavs General Manager Danny Ferry and Miller were teammates with the Cavs in the 1999-2000 season and have a good relationship. According to sources, new 76ers General Manager Ed Stefanski has hinted he is willing to trade Miller, perhaps packaged with another player, for expiring contracts and a draft pick. The 76ers are in position to have salary-cap space next summer and may want more. The Cavs have some expiring contracts, but would probably need to put together a multiplayer deal to acquire Miller.

Whatever happens, something must change. The Cavs again were bounced at home last night by Golden State. The angry crowd booed. In Windhorst's game wrap, he said the booing sent one message; some silence sent another. After the game, for the first time in his career, LeBron James did not address the media. He took his clothes out of the locker room, dressed in the training room and left through a back door.

There was nothing for him to say that hasn't been said already.

All of the common symptoms of the Cavs' monthlong malaise were prevalent: the shoddy defense, the glazed looks, the slumping shoulders.

The roster needs a shakeup as this team is not jelling the way they did last year and the defense is non-existent. Windhorst wrote a great column discussing the team's poor performance of late on Sunday. Its's a great read:

Cavs Just Aren't Clicking Like Last Season - Brian Windhorst, Akron Beacon-Journal

Cavs Lose Big; Fans Just Boo - Brian Windhorst, Akron Beacon-Journal