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The Book of Mike

"This is no junior college. This is the notorious University of Miami.” -- Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis, after getting knocked around for six runs in 2 1/3 innings by the Canes.

Updated: 2014-10-06T20:17:54.038-05:00


One Month Plus


It's been over a month since I last posted to the blog, but it's not that I've abandoned writing. Actually, I've been spending a lot of time at, where I've been writing on a daily basis. Truth be told, I've written over 50,000 words there in May alone.

There will be more to come on this site in the future, I promise. Yes, I know that at this point that's just a promise to myself. Whatever.

Check out 750Words. It's a cool site and it's free.

Old Seats


The other day I took my seats from Old Comiskey Park out of the house and onto the back porch. As part of their centennial celebration (which I alone am hosting), I thought it would be nice to sit in them under the bright blue sky like people used to do for decades when they were actually installed at Comiskey Park.

Now, I've sat in the seats plenty of times over the years. But in recent months, they've been fairly fixed in a particular location in our house. In moving them outside temporarily I noticed that the bases the seats are fixed to are in worse shape than the seats themselves. This struck me as odd -- or at least a little bit funny -- since the seats are affixed to bases that are less than 20 years old, while the seats themselves are at least a century old. Comiskey Park opened in April of 1910. And these seats may have been installed a few months before then.

(On the topic of "old" stadiums, can you guess which ballpark is the 3rd oldest in the big leagues? Most casual fans would quickly identify Fenway Park and the stadium on the North side of Chicago as the two oldest parks... but the third might not come to mind immediately. It's Dodger Stadium. Yes, the stadium that the Dodgers had to wait to see built post the move out West is currently the 3rd oldest park in the big leagues. My, how times have changed.)

Talking to Dogs


Whenever I make it to the after life (even if I don't make it to heaven), I hope that I get a chance to talk to the dogs I've known well in my life. In particular, I'd like to talk to Yogi, the deaf dog that we currently "own".

Now, I'm assuming that in heaven dogs are able to talk... or communicate directly with people somehow. That's what I'm hoping for at least. If that's possible, talking to all the dogs I've known well would be interesting. But talking to Yogi would be particularly so. I wonder if he knows he's deaf (I don't think he does - I don't think he feels that he's missing out on anything). And I'd like to talk to him about what he's thinking all through his current life.

One day, maybe.

The Library


If you know me personally, you probably know that I'm "into" technology. And if you don't know me personally but are reading this blog, you'd probably guess the same -- if only because this blog has been in existence since 2003.

Due to my borderline obsession with technology and reading, I'm a proud owner of Amazon's Kindle(image) . I haven't traded up yet to the Kindle 2 (but I am eagerly waiting for a 3rd version to be released). Since I first started using the Kindle, I've hardly read a "dead tree" book (which is, of course, how readers of e-books refer to traditional, printed books). In fact, I hardly even enter a bookstore anymore. I simply love the Kindle and the portability of my library.

What''s been even more rare than a visit to the bookstore is a trip to the library. This past weekend was probably my first trip to the library since I received my Kindle. And how much I missed the experience immediately struck me. Physically touching books and searching through racks containing books similar to what I was looking for was gratifying. While I've read a lot and enjoyed myself in my time with the Kindle, I had already started to forget how much I enjoy trips to the bookstore and the library.

I don't have any answers or deep thoughts about it (at least not yet). But it's an interesting place we find ourselves in. What will happen in the future? Will students be familiar with physical books or will they "read" everything on Kindle, iPad, and computer-like devices? Or will these e-readers and similar technologies simply augment our reading opportunities (similar to how radio, television, and the Internet have supplemented newspapers, magazines, and oral story telling)?

Time will tell.

Weekend Baseball


Despite taking a hearty break to watch the Miami - North Carolina college baseball game on Saturday night, I was able to watch a fair portion of Saturday afternoon, evening, and late night's game between the Cardinals and Mets. Fox probably didn't intend to sign up for a 20-inning marathon, but that's what they ended up with.

You could argue a lot about the game. Some called LaRussa's performance the "Mona Lisa" in his career of over managing. There were plenty of strategies to doubt and calls to dispute (like the should-have-been stolen base that wasn't, right before Albert Pujols' double off the wall in the 19th). Overall, it was a fun baseball game to watch.

As I watched it, I couldn't help but think of one of my all time favorite books, W.P. Kinsella's "The Iowa Baseball Confederacy(image) ". It's a book that I've read a handful of times over the years. If you like a good baseball story, you'll probably like it too. If you like a "real" life story, masquerading as a baseball story (a la "The Natural(image) "), you'll almost certainly like "The Iowa Baseball Confederacy(image) ".

In "The Iowa Baseball Confederacy(image) " there's a very long baseball game between a small town team and a big league club. The game goes on for day's and makes Saturday's Cardinals-Mets tilt look more like a sprint than a marathon. Plus the novel includes time travel and a love story. What could be better?

By the way, if the name W.P. Kinsella is familar to you in a baseball sense, it's probably because you're thinking of Ray Kinsella, the hero from "Field of Dreams(image) ". That movie was an adaptation of W.P. Kinsella's "Shoeless Joe(image) ".



Despite that the technology is infinitely easier for me to access, I'm finding it harder to blog regularly than ever before. I really want to blog regularly. I have plenty of things I want to talk about. But I'm just not making the effort so far.

Oh well. Here's a half-hearted effort anyway.

A few of thoughts before I go:

I love Jackie Robinson Day. It's great to see Mr. Robinson's legacy celebrated. In some sense, it's a shame that it's an off day for some teams. But at least the Dodgers are playing tonight.

Speaking of the Dodgers, I caught my first Vin Scully broadcast on Wednesday night. While Vin may look a little older, he still sounds the same. His ability to broadcast a game as a one-man show never ceases to amaze me. He's simply the best.

And although it's still extremely early, I love that Vlad Guerrero is hitting .500 at home. Sure, the Rangers have had only one homestand so far this season. But I'm hoping that Vlad continues to hit like a mad man in Arlington. Over the past three seasons Vlad hit .358 in Arlington. Should he keep up at that pace (and stay with the Rangers), maybe Vlad will reach 3,000 hits.

Jason Heyward is my favorite rookie of the young season. I heard him interviewed during a spring training game and I found myself really impressed with the young man. Plus, he "looks" like a ballplayer. And on Jackie Robinson day, I got a kick out of watching him wear #42 while wearing a throwback jersey that's from a time well before he was born.

That concludes today's Larry King style entry. If you've read this far, I apologize for putting you through it.

Where's the Offense?


One home stand and two intra-division series are in the books for the White Sox and the results are simply disappointing. At the conclusion of week 1 of the 2010 season the White Sox find themselves in last place in the AL Central. Sure, it's only 6 games out of 162, but taking only 1 of 3 games from both the Indians and Twins isn't a good way to start the 2010 campaign. What's most disappointing about it is how poor the offense performed.

Sure, there was the outburst on Opening Day which now looks like an anomaly. But since then there's just been a lot of ineptness. White Sox fans shouldn't be surprised. Disappointed, maybe. But not surprised.

Heading into Spring Training "everyone" knew that the White Sox biggest weakness was offense. The starting pitching and bullpen look to be solid (or better) and the defense is adequate. But the lineup is riddled with guys who are past their primes, lack power, and/or don't get on base very often. Now, it's not a lineup without redeeming qualities -- there are good players -- but there are plenty of holes.

Those holes have contributed to a team batting average that's under .200. Well under .200. Certainly that will improve, but it's frustrating to see the week one DH's include Juan Pierre and Mark Kostay.

Maybe the Sox will make a trade. Realistically, that's unlikely this early. And by the time a trade is a reasonable possibility, the Sox may be on their way to being sellers instead of buyers.

Instead of a trade, maybe the Sox can pursue a free agent. While there's a lot of history and ill will involved in such a move, maybe the Sox should consider Jermaine Dye. Even a duplication of his horrific second half performance last season would be an upgrade over what the Sox are getting now. Or maybe the Sox should go after Hank Blalock. Maybe it's time to bring back Minnie Minoso.

Make or Break Games


Given that the regular season is 162 games long, it's hard to say that any single game determines a team's course for the season or decides a team's playoff chances. But when the end of the season rolls around, you can often look back and think "what if" about a game here or there.

The White Sox and Marlins had games like those in their second game in the season. The White Sox lost a game they should have won, blowing a three run lead in the cold, while the Marlins managed to win a back-and-forth game that was wild until the finish.

When I think back on the 2003 Marlins and 2005 White Sox, they have more than World Series championships in common. Both of those teams won games that they seemingly should have lost. The most memorable example of that, of course, was the Marlins improbable come from behind win over the Cubs in game 6 of the NLCS. But winning games that are only won by a "team of destiny" was a theme for those clubs.

So what does it all mean? Well, time will tell. But it seems like a good omen for the Marlins to have found a way to win a game that they could have lost any of a dozen ways. For the White Sox, it's not so rosy. The loss in game two reminds Sox fans that the offense is still suspect and that even a solid pitching staff will go through rough stretches.

Calvin and Hobbes Explain a Slice of Life


Granted, this isn't an official Calvin and Hobbes cartoon, but I got a kick out of it:




In the opening day broadcast, someone on the Sox broadcast team made mention of the White Sox playing small ball this season. It was probably Ed Farmer. It's an interesting point.

Over the past few years -- the past decade really -- the White Sox have relied on a power game. Sure, much of baseball did, but the Sox were particularly reliant on the long ball. The Sox stadium was homer friendly and the lineup was full of boppers.

Now the power hitters are gone or are on the decline. With the addition of players like Juan Pierre, it doesn't seem like the Sox offense will be carried by homers any time soon. Sure there will be surges like in the opener, where the team hit a few homers. But over the long haul, Sox fans will have to get used to station-to-station baseball, stolen bases, and bunts.

Sure, it's not the most statistically sound strategy. But it can be a lot of fun to watch. The 2010 White Sox will likely rely on pitching, defense, and "headiness" on the base paths.

As a fan of the college game, I get the importance of those things. Having watched plenty of Hurricanes games over the years, I've seen plenty of games won via the bunt (well executed, mis-handled, or both) and via stolen bases that set up game winning hits. It would be kind of fun to see that type of baseball work at the Major League level. The Angels have been doing that -- to some extent -- for years. Maybe this is the year the White Sox do it too.

(Re) Opening Day


We've been dormant here for awhile, but it's time to bring the blog back to life. And what better day to do it than Opening Day? Exactly. So here we go... just a short entry today, but there will be more.

We're going to aim for a daily entry, Monday through Friday. We'll see how that goes. The topics will be a little varied this time around. Sure, there will be baseball -- both White Sox and Marlins. The content won't be as narrowly focused as on FishStripes. We'll also talk about football (college and pro). But there will be a lot of non-sports stuff too. There will definitely be technology talk, maybe some astronomy, and a little music. We may even get into personal stuff. We'll see. Time will tell.

But on to a few thoughts to kick off the baseball season:

  • The White Sox, among a few other teams, wore alternate jerseys for opening day. I hate that. Yes, we get the merchandising need for these things (even if they are more like softball jerseys than actual, traditional jerseys). Heck, I even own an alternate jersey (of the White Sox and Marlins variety). But save them for a day other than opening day. (And yes, get off my lawn! Old man rant over)
  • Sports Illustrated (in print at least) picked the Yankees to win the AL East and the Rays to win the AL Wild Card. No issues with that here. That's a reasonable pick. But the folks at the mag got cute and have predicted the Rays to represent the AL in the World Series. Really? Why's that? Apparently SI thinks the Yankees are better over the course of a 162 game season but that the Rays are better equipped for a short series.
  • Take a look at this list. What jumps out at you from the top 10? For us it was Johnny Damon (#8 with 2,425 hits). Granted, he's 36. But he's got a shot at 3,000 hits. Reaching the big leagues at 21 and sticking around helps. He probably needs 4 solid seasons to get to 3,000. It's a stretch, but possible. Does this mean Johnny Damon is a Hall of Famer? I wouldn't have ever thought it until I saw his hit total. But it's definitely possible. And with two World Series ring (1 Red Sox and 1 Yankees) , Damon will probably get a little extra consideration.
That's it for today. Not an epic entry, to be sure. But we're back.

Hopefully this will stick. The Book of Mike has been a lot of fun over the years.

Bringing the Blog Back, Again


We couldn't go a week without updating the blog, so here's an entry. Like was said in a recent post, we know nothing. Given all of the travel this week, that's particularly true. I was surprised to learn yesterday that the Broncos are 4-0. I nearly missed all of last weekend's NFL slate.

The Canes host FAMU on Saturday. The Rattlers are Miami's first unranked opponent. Hopefully the Canes come out strong and win big.

The Cardinals host the Texans and Larry Fitzgerald is hoping for a pinkout (at the stadium some thought would be named the Pink Taco). Hopefully the Cards come out strong and take advantage of what should be a weak Texans secondary.

Other than that, we don't know much here. So that's all for this week's weak entry.

Random Friday Thoughts


It's been a busy week and I have a bunch of thoughts. Since none of them are coherent or linked to each other, I'll make a bulleted list (which will be numbered, since I haven't fixed the bulleting issue yet):The host of the 2016 Summer Olympics will be announced today. As you could surely guess, we here at The Book of Mike are hoping Chicago gets the games. Whether they do or not, Chicago has surely pulled out all of the big guns for their bid. A host of American Olympic champions are in Copenhagen to help demonstrate Chicago and the US's sincere interest in the bid. But more than that, Chicago / the US sent the most recognizable and influential African-American (and possibly the most well known American in the world currently) to help push for the bid. How will this work out? Will it be the final push that puts Chicago over the top? If it is, will Rio and Tokyo feel that the US simply outmuscled the rest of the world to get these games? If Chicago doesn't get the games, what will we make of the late push by our national icon? No, I'm not talking about President Obama. I'm talking about Oprah Winfrey. I hope we didn't overplay our Oprah card here.The Hurricanes take on the Oklahoma Sooners this weekend. It's a home game for the Canes, which is good news. There should be a big crowd too (70-75k), which is great too. A night game at the Orange Bowl with a big crowd like this was usually good news for the Canes. Will it be Saturday night? No idea. The Canes get two defensive linemen back and one top wide receiver (all of whom missed the Virginia Tech debacle last week), but they'll be without a starting safety. Hopefully the Canes at least represent themselves well, even if they're not able to win the game.The Cardinals have a bye week this week. Yes, it's unfortunately early. As seems to be the case for the Cardinals. It's probably a conspiracy by the powers that be from within the league to annually give the Cards a way-too-early bye week so that they can struggle through the middle and latter parts of the season. I'd look into it to confirm it, but I'm too lazy.Despite the bye week and the crushing loss the Cards suffered heading into it, the Cardinals are talking big today. It's amazing, isn't it? The Cardinals are trash talking about a franchise weakness during their 1-2 start.Reports came out this week that the University of Florida is prepared for a flesh-eating zombie attack. While this may sound like non-sense, or -- as the university is now saying -- an attempt at leviy on their part, I can assure you it's serious. I have been to Gainesville and I can definitely see how a zombie attack is a possibility. All those freaks can't be mouth breathing hillbillies. The odds are that at least some of them are actually zombies.In other news from the University of Florida this week, it was reported that due to concussion symptoms, Tim Tebow was not able to watch television or read. Actually, it was reported that Tebow "can't watch television or read." What this left unclear was whether Tim Tebow can read when he is not suffering from symptoms of a concussion or not. Maybe he can't read. And maybe the inspiration for his locker room speeches really is Varsity Blues. Staying in bizzaro world, David Letterman admitted to affairs and an extortion attempt on his show last night. If talk radio and Twitter are indicative of public opinion on the matter, Letterman is being lauded for the situation. Frankly, this amazes us. While we've always been fans of Letterman, talk of affairs is hardly praise or applause worthy. That's all we've got for today. Pathetic, we know, but we're still getting back into this regular blogging thing.[...]

The Curse of the Cardinals


Talk of curses is fairly commonplace in sports. One curser, however, doesn't get much publicity and that's because it is rarely invoked. But as an Arizona Cardinals fan, I feel obliged to discuss The Curse of the Cardinals and to apologize to fans of the Carolina Panthers fans.

First of all, what exactly is this curse?

Well, history has proven to us that any team that loses to the Chicago / St. Louis / Phoenix / Arizona Cardinals on its home turf is set to suffer a trying future.

Do you doubt it? You shouldn't. The facts are inarguable.

In 1998 the "wild card" (how appropriate!) Arizona Cardinals travelled to Irving, Texas and defeated the Dallas Cowboys at (old) Texas Stadium. What have the Cowboys accomplished since then? In a word, nothing. The Cowboys haven't won a single playoff game. Immediately prior to that, the Cowboys had been dominant. Arguably, they were the team of the 90s - winning three Super Bowls under two different coaches. While the Cowboys did manage to reach the playoffs in 1999, they were eliminated in the first round and did not return to the playoffs until 2003. To date, the Cowboys have still not won a playoff game since their loss to the Cardinals in the 1998 playoffs. The Cowboys current playoff drought is longer than any other in the team's history. Who's to blame? The Cardinals.

Now it seems that the Carolina Panthers may be suffering a worse fate. Last season the Panthers were dominant. At least in the regular season. When the playoffs came around, they were nearly the opposite. The Panthers were soundly beaten by the Cardinals, and it all happened on the Panthers home turf. Since then the Panthers have imploded (to some degree). They are winless on the current campaign, despite returning nearly all of last year's team. It's worth noting that one significant change for the Panthers this season was the addition of Chuck Cecil as defensive coordinator; Cecil, of course, spent part of his career with the Cardinals.

Will the Panthers suffer the same maladies as the Cowboys? How strong is The Curse of the Cardinals?

Only time will tell.

N.B. There are only two known examples of the curse of the Cardinals. Despite the teams long history, it is decidely not storied. The Cardinals have only two road playoff victories in their near century of existence.

Interesting Concept / Partial Redemption


Despite last week's rant, I'm still reading the Wall Street Journal's sports page (but only because it shows up -- gratis -- on my front lawn each day). Today, the WSJ partially redeemed itself with an interesting, yet highly incomplete, article about a new "trend" in sports stadium financing.Here's a summarized version (although you're welcome to read the entire article here): to help finance new stadium projects (or wholesale refurbishments of existing stadiums), some teams (colleges) are selling "seat mortgages" to fans who are willing to make a long term committment. This is entirely different from a personal seat license (PSL), which has been common for at least a decade. PSL's give fans the right to buy tickets. They're simply a money grab.These seat mortgages are very different. While they're still a money grab, they work very differently from PSLs. Fans who pay up front for their seat mortgage are guaranteed rights to their particular seat for a long term (30, 40, or 50 years). Cal-Berkeley has sold a few thousand such seats for $175,000 to $220,000 each.While that obviously sounds like a lot (plus you're paying interest -- or as the school likes to call it, an "administrative fee"), it may not be such a bad investment. If you're a lifelong fan (or planning to be one), you can guarantee yourself tickets for a long time. By paying today, you protect yourself against future price increases (leaving you to assume that football tickets continue to increase in price as they have over the past 10-20 years -- which is a big assumption).Should your team do well and should prices increase over the years, you could theoretically profit from reselling your seats (possibly even at the prevailing "face" value) for a tidy profit.What's not clear is how this works for the school/team in the long run. They're guaranteeing a lot for money up front (details here). This is great in terms of the facility enhancements it permits. But what happens to alumni giving and ticket revenue in the long run?Cal is selling their best / highest price seats (between the 30's on the home sideline) for the next few decades. Today those seats require a $1,200 annual donation per seat, plus the purchase of season tickets. In the future, that annual revenue stream is gone. So Cal has to be sure that their $200,000 price tag is worth it.Should the school need money in 2035 from football revenue to help fund women's basketball or men's baseball, will they be able to raise that money? Today they likely can, from football related donations and ticket sales. That becomes tougher in the future when the prime donatable seats are pre-sold and no longer require an ongoing donation.Granted, I haven't done all the math here. And surely the folks at a school as prestigous as Cal have. But Cal has clearly placed their bets on facility enhancement and has put future revenue streams at risk in order to do so. Is that the right risk to take? Time will tell.Interestingly, the WSJ article doesn't explore this angle at all. They simple laud the concept and the creativity of financing projects. This is interesting. Again, not to blame the WSJ for the current financial situation in the USA / world. But as with numerous other dubious financial schemes that have developed over the past few decades, the WSJ lauds the short term upside and completely ignores the potential long term implications.It's fine for the paper to be so short-sighted (being as such will likely cause them to not exist in a few more years). But the rest of us should keep our eyes open and think things through a little farther down the line.[...]

I Know Nothing


Going into the football weekend, my hopes were high. Both the Canes and Cardinals had "big" games against well respected opponents.Despite that the Canes were on the road against Virginia Tech, I thought Jacory Harris, Mark Whipple, and the boys would find a way to win. To be honest, I thought the Canes would win big. It turned out to be pretty much the opposite of that. If there was a silver lining in Saturday's loss, it was how true sophomore QB Jacory Harris handled himself in the post-game press conference. It would have been easy for Harris to blame receivers (notably TE Jimmy Graham) for dropped passes, just as it would have been easy for Harris to blame his struggles on the weather. He did neither. Harris held himself accountable. Hopefully that mentality helps him to turn it around this coming weekend against Oklahoma.Don't get me wrong though: not every cloud has a silver lining. Go stand outside the next time it's raining. Let me know if any silver drops in your yard.The lack of a silver lining brings me to the Cardinals game. Which was just horrific. The Cardinals offense piled up some decent stats (300+ yards in the air). But much of that was meaningless. Not only did the Colts generate more yards of offense, they scored far more points too. Points are what count, obviously.Now the Cardinals find themselves at 1-2. On a positive note, the Super Bowl champion Steelers are also 1-2 and the Cardinals are only 1 game out of the division lead. But in reality, the Cardinals have looked pretty awful through three games. In the opener, they were sluggish. Talk to a Jaguars fan about game two and you'll hear that the Cardinals caught a break with a missed pass interference call (which is probably true), soon after which came the blocked FG/TD return, and then the rout was on. Jags fans would say it was more of a momentum change and everything falling apart after that. Based on how the Jags played yesterday, maybe that's plausible. Time will tell... Then, last night, the Cardinals were simply out played. If the Cards and Colts faced off ten more times, I'm not convinced the Colts would win each meeting (better execution on the Cardinals part -- not fumbling, completing some open passes, etc -- could lead to beter results). But the Colts would win the majority of the rematches.Now the Cardinals have a bye week. While it's exceedingly early, it comes at a good time. The Cardinals need to regroup. A lot needs to be fixed. Hopefully the Cardinals rediscover themselves in the coming two weeks. Otherwise the Football Outsiders pre-season prediction of doom and gloom is probably right.Other thoughts from the weekend:TO deserves some credit for handling himself well in yesterday's post-game press conference. It was the first game in memory where TO didn't catch a pass. The media battered him with questions about his happiness with the playcalling and the like. TO didn't bite. He kept it professional.Possibly the only prediction (thought) that I had right about the weekend was picking the Bengals to beat the Steelers. The Bengals are better than people think and the Steelers are worse.I'm not sure what to make of the Jaguars (who looked awful against the Cardinals) or the Texans (who continue to confuse people). I'm out of my survival pool league after failing to understand either of these teams (I had the Texans).College football is wide open this season. Miami blew their chance at earning a national title birth with the loss against Virginia Tech. However, the Hokies blew a door open and are now officially in the hunt. If/when Florida or Texas slips up, my guess is that VT finds themselves in the BCS title game picture.Alth[...]

Thoughts Heading Into the Weekend


With the White Sox having tanked and the Marlins having fallen out of the race, my sporting attention has nearly fully turned to football at this point. Here are some thoughts heading into the weekend:Hurricanes / College FootballI can't remember the last time the media was so high on the Canes. It likely was in 2002 or 2003 when the Canes were still dominant. But even then it felt like the media was more likely to find fault with the Canes than they are now. That makes me uneasy. Yes, the Canes have done a lot well in their first two games. They've been impressive. But, as I've said before, Miami could have easily lost the opener to Florida State. And last week against Georgia Tech, the 'Canes didn't display a killer instinct late in the game. While Georgia Tech didn't do anything to put themselves back into the game, the Canes left the door open for the Yellow Jackets to do so. Can the Canes get away with that again this weekend? As a Miami fan, I hope we don't have to find out. Hopefully Mark Whipple and Jacory Harris have found some holes in Virginia Tech's offense to exploit.Other thoughts:Florida faces a pedestrian Kentucky team. The Gators need to dominate or doubts will start to surface about their alleged dominance. Yes, they are the defending national champions. But that was last season.Notre Dame suffered a key injury to a star wide receiver last week and Jimmy Clausen is banged up heading into Saturday night's showdown with Purdue. But to re-insert themselves into the BCS discussion, ND needs to dominate Purdue. While Purdue is surely more talented than they displayed last week against Northern Illinois, this weekend's game is one that Notre Dame needs to dominate.How will USC fare this weekend? They'll surely win. Washington State is simply inferior. But will the Trojans dominate? They're favored by 40+ points. Sure, the Trojans beat Wazoo by more than 40 last year. But that was last year. Mark Sanchez is gone. And 40 points is more than USC has scored in the past two games combined.Cardinals / NFLI'm uncharacteristically optimistic about the Cardinals chances this weekend in prime time against the Colts. It's odd to see the Cards listed as favorites in this game, even if it is a Cardinals home game. The Colts are the Colts. Even without Tony Dungy, Marvin Harrison, and (for the time being) Bob Sanders, the Colts are a quality football team that seemingly wins 12 games every year. The Cardinals won 12 games once... sort of. Last season they won 9 games in the regular season and three in the playoffs. That's 12 in one season (over parts of two calendar years). They've never won 12 regular season games in a single season. Heck, there have been stretches of two and even three seasons when the Cardinals didn't win 12 games.Yet I feel confident that the Cardinals will win on Sunday night. Yes, I know they're facing a defense that hardly ever gives up a passing touchdown, but that is susceptible to a rushing attack. And yes, I know that's nearly the opposite of what fits best for the Cardinals offense. This, my friends, is the life as a Cardinals fan. Delusion is the only way to get yourself through.Other thoughts:I'm excited about Mike Vick's debut for the Eagles this weekend. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a Vick supporter (but I do believe he's entitled to have a job -- even a high paying one like he has). That the Eagles gave Vick a home gives me all the more reason to dislike the team. So that's great. And don't buy the talk that Andy Reid doesn't know what he's going to do with Vick this weekend. That's an outright lie. He knows. Vick will play. The real storyline here is how he's t[...]

The Worst Sports Page in the Universe


For some reason The Wall Street Journal has seen fit to add a sports page to their newspaper. They did this about a year ago. It's literally a page -- a single page. In many ways, it's fortunate that their sports coverage is simply a page and not a section. That's because their coverage is awful. Simply awful.

Last week they ran an article about how left-handed quarterbacks aren't very common in the NFL and when they play in the league they're infrequently successful. The point of this story was to talk about how it was unlikely that Tim Tebow would be successful in the NFL because he's lefthanded. While I agree that Tebow's collegiate success is unlikely to translate into NFL stardom, the hand that he uses to throw the ball is not the reason. Somewhat amazingly, this lengthy article failed to mention one of the most successful left-handed college quarterbacks of all-time: Matt Leinart. How they managed to talk about college stardom and a lack of NFL success or opportunity without even mentioning Leinart baffles me.

Fundamentally flawed analysis in other sections of the WSJ probably helped lead to the ongoing financial meltdown that the WSJ itself regularly reports on.

Today's feature story talked about instances of cheating in sports. Here's a direct quote from the print version of the article (most of which consisted of photo captions, which this quote comes from):

Spanish Switcheroo: In 2000, the Spanish basketball team, playing in the intellectually disabled category, took the gold in the Sydney Paralympic Games. Turns out, 10 of the 12 players weren't disabled at all. The players were reportedly instructed to act dumb and slow their scoring when they played too well. When reporters back in Spain and were encouraged to grow beards and wear hats after the games were over to disguise themselves back in Spain when reporters became suspicious.

There are no errors in my transciption of the text that ran in today's edition of the paper. The online version has seemingly been corrected.

It's time for the WSJ to end its foray into sports. Originally adding a sports page was probably a gimmick to increase readership. For the gimmick to work, they need to deliver quality. That's not what they're doing. They rarely, if ever, do. It's time to kill the sports page in the WSJ.

Where did this come from?


Generally speaking, Miami fans tend to feel that they are disrespected by the media. As a small, private school with a controversial history (in football terms at least), fans of The U tend to think that the media is quick to speak ill of the program.

But since the Canes started out 2-0 this season, it's becoming difficult to make that argument. First case in point, one ESPN writer ranked the Canes #1 in his ballot this week. That comes on the heels of Miami ascending to 9th in one poll and 13th in another this week (both big gains likely mean that at least some voters have the Canes in top 5 territory).

Why all the love and why all the love this quickly?

What do we really know about the Canes?

Yes, they went on the road and beat what now looks to be a good Florida State team. But that same FSU team could have easily won the opener, had their last pass as time expired been only a little bit higher. Had that pass from Christian Ponder been completed, FSU would be this season's "it" team. But it wasn't, so they're not.

In their second game, Miami dismantled a Georgia Tech team that was a pre-season favorite to win the ACC. While the win was impressive, it needs to be put into context: Georgia Tech was playing its 3rd game (this one on the road) in twelve days; Miami was playing its first game in 10.

At this point, I'm not sure what to think. Normally I'd expect to be the first to be on the Canes bandwagon. But I don't think we know what this Canes team is yet. We'll know more in another week and a half (after the Virginia Tech and Oklahoma games). But even then we won't still really know. We'll need to see how this Canes team handles games against teams that they're supposed to beat. They haven't faced that yet.

What do I expect to see the Canes do this weekend? I don't know. But I think SI's Stewart Mandel summed up my perspective best:

Miami at Virginia Tech, Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET): I've given up trying to figure out the Hokies. They had been outgained by Nebraska 343-190 before producing a game-winning 88-yard drive. Either they'll intercept Harris three times, run back a punt and win 19-17, or they'll suffer a fate worse than Georgia Tech.

And that's what makes college football so fun. The season is short. Every game counts. The players are young and (for the most part) inexperienced. Small things can change a game, a season, and a career. It's stressful, unpleasant, and exhilirating all at the same time.



I had a recurring thought over the weekend: it's time to bring the blog back. Now, this isn't like reuniting The Blues Brothers. There's no need to track down Jake, Elwood, and the rest of the boys. It's just me. To bring the blog back I'd simply have to start writing once in awhile.So let's start now.I'm a bit torn about it... well, at least about where to start. Maybe I should start by looking for the Royal We, which is apparently already lost. Or maybe I should start with a recap of what's gone on in my life over the past few years since this blog was actually active. There's been a lot, obviously. But that's quite a bit to get into, so I'll leave the for later.Instead I'll start where I spent much of the past focus of this blog: on sports.First, the NFL and more specifically the Cardinals: Yesterday's win over (a probably not very good team in) the Jaguars was impressive. Yes, there was plenty of room for improvement (notably on punt returns, where Antrel Rolle was horrific and with Beanie Wells ability to hold onto the ball). But overall it was a dominating win. And not just that, but a dominating win on the East Coast (with an early start for a team that must have felt like it was an AM kickoff). Even if the Jaguars turn out to be a bad team, the Cardinals proved another point: they beat a bad team soundly. That's what good teams are supposed to do.On the quarterback front, I will admit that I was one (of many) who was worried about Kurt Warner after the loss in the opening game. Kurt looked downright awful and that came on the heels of a pretty dreadful preseason. But he sure looked a lot better (that's an understatement) yesterday. Maybe the health of Steve Breaston (and Anquan Boldin) had something to do with that. Time will tell. Hopefully Warner found the fountain of youth (maybe he did, having been in Florida and so near St. Augustine).In yesterday's game I found a new respect for Steve Breaston. The Cardinals offense operated completely differently with him in the lineup (and Boldin at or near 100% health). Without him last week the Cardinals offense looked slow and rusty. Yes, Breaston's the Cards number 3 receiver. But he probably wouldn't be on any other team in the league; on some teams Steve would probably be the #1 option.Next week's game against the Colts looms large. After it, the Cards head into their bye week. A win will be very important to an up and down team. The Colts may not be what they once were (that's unknown at the moment and we'll probably have a better idea after tonight's tilt). But even if they're not, the game will be a nice measuring stick for the Cardinals.The biggest positive for the Cardinals from yesterday's game was that they proved they're still capable of playing excellent, top level football. What remains to be seen is whether they can sustain it. Until they put together a stretch of solid games, the doubt about the team and the fear of the up-and-down rollercoaster ride (on defense, special teams and even on offense) the team can provide will remain. Playing well against the Colts -- actually, winning not just playing well -- will help to dispel some of those fears. This Cardinals team does not need to be 1-2 heading into the bye week. If they are, their season is likely done. I don't think the sea change in the locker room has taken hold enough to overcome that.NFL CommentsIf you ever doubted the existence of an East Coast media bias, you only need to see the hype surrounding the Jets-Pats game from this weekend to prove that it exists. Some called this a "Super B[...]

I Fear for Our Country


Yes, that she's in Gator gear makes it that much worse for me, but it really wouldn't be any better if she was in the colors of any other school or team.

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Life as a Cardinals' Fan: As Told by Charlie Brown and Lucy


Just as I had started to move on with my life and accept that the Cardinals lost the Super Bowl, in last-minute, heart-breaking fashion at the "hands" of admitted drug dealer and rabbit killer from Ohio State (who, despite his un-Disney past, managed to get a parade down Disney's Main Street in his honor), the Cardinals as we knew them began to fall apart.Here's an animated interpretation of what's transpired between the Cardinals and their fans since the end of the Super Bowl:Charlie Brown plays the role of the loyal, but constantly burned Cardinals fan.Lucy plays the Arizona Cardinals, specifically their front office.The "signed document" represents the implied contract between the Cardinals and their fans. In real life this is represented by the Cardinals new stadium, their better record (of late) in the draft, and recent dedication to actually fielding a competitive team.What is not seen in the interpretative short is what happens as Charlie Brown approaches the football held by Lucy. Here's a run down:1. Free agent Karlos Dansby says the team has not approached him about a new contract. That was earlier in the week. Since then the two sides have talked. Dansby says he'd like to stay with the team, but wants to see what happens with Kurt Warner, Anquan Boldin, Edgerrin James, and others before making a decision.2. Kurt Warner says his decision to return to the Cardinals or to retire hinges on what happens with the team, including offensive coordinator Todd Haley.3. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley is hired by the Kansas City Chiefs as their new head coach (good for him).4. Anquan Boldin says his relationship with the Cardinals is irreperably damaged. It seems like he's on his way out of town.5. Defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast has been relieved of his duties (this is good news for the team, but it's more turnover).The apocalyptic scene at the end of the film likely represents the fate that awaits the Arizona Cardinals as they likely return to being the team they've been so frequently.[...]

Mike's Super Bowl XLIII Experience: Part 3


I already wrote over 2,000 words about the Super Bowl and I haven't even touched on the game itself. Super Bowl XLIII is most likely (in terms of games of importance to me) the most memorable sporting event of my life (past or future).I will go to my grave with memories of this game. Some are truly glorious (Fitzgerald's second touchdown in particular). Others will likely haunt me permanently (like Harrison's 100-yard interception return for a game changing touchdown).If you'd rather skip my ramblings, but you'd still like a Cardinals fan's take on the game, go here and read Will's writeup. It's perfect.My take on it will not be as concise. If you want the short version, here's my best shot at it:After the Cardinals narrowed the deficit to 20-16 with a safety, Laura turned to me and said, "I don't know if I can be a Cardinals fan. This is too stressful." And she was 100% right. Super Bowl XLIII summed up a lifetime of being a Cardinals fan, all in one game. Being a Cardinals fan starts with having hope, then having your hopes quickly dashed. But somehow they find a way to re-ignite your hope (usually increasing it to a point higher than where it was before). In the end, they crush you; a little piece of you dies inside each time the Cardinals let you down again after they pick you back up.The Cardinals did that in Super Bowl XLIII. Twice. Once in each half.Prior to the game there was hope and excitement, although the experts were likely to tell you there was no cause for it. Then the game started and the Cardinals sputtered. They were dominated in the first quarter and didn't look like themselves. Suddenly there was a burst of hope in the second quarter. Things looked much better... until the unthinkable happened - a sure touchdown which would result in a halftime lead turned into the longest play in Super Bowl history, and a lead for the Steelers.Now it's halftime and we've already gone through the hope, the dashing of hope, the re-ignition of hope, and the crushing. During the long halftime intermission, it was tough to envision what to expect.But the Cardinals were receiving the ball to start the 3rd quarter. And their offense had been excellent coming out of the lockerroom of late. But as the second half began the Cardinals continued to sputter. So our hopes were already being dashed. At this point one could only think a blowout was inevitable. But then the Cardinals sparked hope again by striking back: the comeback was glorious. A touchdown drive. A goal line stand times two. A sputtered drive followed by a perfect punt and a safety. Then the back breaking touchdown... except that it didn't break the Steelers' back. Instead they came back. And we were left crushed... again. Twice in one game.So that's the short version of my take on the Super Bowl. Here is an abbreviated list on some of the things that will haunt me for the rest of my life about this game:The coin toss. Yes, I'm going there. While I love Coach Whisenhunt, I didn't like the decision to defer. The Cardinals should have received the kick and come out aggressively on offense.The challenge of the TD call on the Steelers first drive was huge. That the Steelers kicked a field goal instead of going for it on 4th was equally huge. That short sequence could have decided the outcome of the game.Starting out on offense by establishing the run. This failed so it's easy to second guess. But I think a team should lead with its strength, especially in a game of this magnitude[...]

Mike's Super Bowl XLIII Experience: Part 2


Two things I forgot in the last post: seat cushions and post game t-shirt sales.

I've seen Super Bowl seat cushions from time to time and I always wondered about them. Sometimes people have them at a Marlins game or a Canes game. Well, we got them. Everyone at the Super Bowl gets a soft, souvenir seat cushion to take home. I guess that's why the face value of the tickets is $800.

After the game we walked past a guy selling Steelers Super Bowl champions shirts. Since we happened to be walking with a group of Cardinals fans, someone asked "do you have any for the other team?" The guy said that he did and that he'd sell them to us for $10 each. They were knockoffs though. Had they been real, I probably would have bought one or two. Then I could cry every time I looked at it.

Mike's Super Bowl XLIII Experience: Part 1


On Sunday I attended my very first Super Bowl (as you know if you've been reading the recent entries). While the Cardinals lost, it was a heck of an experience. Before the details start to get fuzzy for me, I thought I should write down the highlights. So that's what this is. At first I thought I could bang it all out in one sitting, but there's a lot. This is the first part. It doesn't deal with any of the on-the-field stuff. Just the experience of getting to and from the stadium and what it was like for me aside from the game.While I haven't been to too many major sporting events, I think I've been to my fair share. I've been to the World Series, the BCS Championship game, other bowl games that were de-facto championship games, the NLCS (in 1987, 1997, and 2003), the NLDS, and plenty of playoff games (NFL and mostly NBA). But none of those compare to the Super Bowl. Laura and I left for the stadium around 1:15. Yes, more than 5 hours before kick off. And we did this under the assumption that we wouldn't be able to tailgate in our assigned parking lot. Traffic on the way to the stadium wasn't bad. We made our way smoothly. What was odd were the road closures and freeway exits. Signs were posted on the freeway indicating which exit to take (depending on the color code for your assigned parking lot). Fortunately this was all indicated on our parking pass. Still, it was odd to see standard street signs covered up (apparently to hide the actual location of Raymond James Stadium). All told we probably had to go 7 – 10 extra miles to arrive at our assigned parking lot. Once we arrived we found that we could have tailgated if we had wanted (but we didn't have any supplies, since we were informed that we couldn't). We didn't though as the lot was crawling with Steelers fans. Also, despite being told that parking would be limited to fans with game tickets, we found no check point for that. This was the lone hole in security that we saw during the day. So we left the car and headed towards the stadium, hoping to visit the NFL Experience again, as we optimistically hoped that the store would be restocked with Cardinals gear. Approaching the stadium was no easy task. The four streets that surround the perimeter of the stadium (and/or its parking lots) were blocked. There were fences and concrete barracades everywhere. Surprisingly, fans were not allowed to walk down the blocked off streets. Instead we were only allowed to cross at designated barriers. This made for very lengthy walks to and from the stadium (not to worry though – NFL VIPs, like Mike Singletary – who we saw, received escorts in golf carts; I'm not sure what happened to folks in wheelchairs or who were otherwise disabled). Eventually we made it near the stadium (near the pirate ship end) and received conflicting information as to whether we could walk through the stadium to the NFL Experience. Since we weren't sure, we figured we'd walk around the stadium and enter through the NFL Experience. I'd talk about the state of the port-a-potties we encountered, but that would make me throw up in my mouth... a lot. It was disgusting. You'd think that they could bring in nicer set ups like you see at golf tournaments and tennis tournaments. I know that's a little frou-frou, but this is a high priced event and there are long lines everywhere. They could provide decent bathroom facilities. End of rant on [...]