Monday, March 27, 2006

Daunte Culpepper

People (all right, nobody) have been asking me what I think of the whole Daunte situation. So here it is, very briefly.
I feel betrayed.
I've gone on record, twice, supporting Daunte. First, I said that he needed his chance to be a leader, and that Randy Moss had tainted his first half decade in the league. All of this, I still believe, is true. What I didn't know, was that he was irrevocably tainted. Then I defended him after his rough start. He faced tough teams, didn't have an offensive line and got arrested for alledgedly receiving a lap dance (ohmigod, he's a male in his 20's and he's acting like it!). Brad Johnson came in and won some games against really stout teams, like the Lions, and everyone said that Culpepper was done in Minnesota. Except me. But I was wrong.
Daunte Culpepper gave up. He snuck an e-mail to the press revealing that he had enough and wanted out. The fact that I believed in him, and he gave up on the Vikings and Minneapolis, I'm left feeling betrayed.
Now, by the way, that leaves three out of four teams in Minnesota with a star player vocalizing his displeasure. Culpepper with the Vikings (while fans circled the wagons around Brad Johnson), Torii Hunter with the Twins (while Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau are worshipped as though they are the second coming of Harmon Killebrew) and Kevin Garnett with the Timberwolves (who is eliciting a new round of sighs and 'not agains', while Wally Szcerbiak's departure almost caused a flood, what with all the weeping). But no, I'm sure there isn't a race problem in Minnesota. In any case, that's something for another post.

The Final Four

So, how's your bracket? Mine isn't doing so bad, considering I actually have two teams in the Final Four, which is better than almost everyone. LSU is this year's "team I picked to lose in the first round but made it to the Final Four". Other hall of fame TIPTLITFRBMITTFFs include Syracuse in '03 and Ohio State in 1999. The fact of the matter is, nobody picked George Mason, to get this far, and everyone picked either Duke, Connecticut or Villanova to win the tournament this year. Clearly, that's not going to happen.
The people that are in charge in their office pools right now are the ones who picked Florida or UCLA. Perhaps you should have listened to me then, no? Instead of flapping my gums about how my bracket has been ruined, or how George Mason is the greatest Cinderella of all time, why don't we look to the future?
LSU looks like the clearly superior team against UCLA. They have Glen Davis, who is clearly the Shaquille O'Neal, dominant center of the NCAA tournament. He can control a game from the paint. UCLA plays a smaller game, with more emphasis on their guard play and defense. Both teams play a slower pace and LSU is better equipped for that type of game. The only way I see UCLA pulling this game out is if they press and force the tempo. The Bruins are more athletic, but the Tigers are simply bigger. The first half will tell me who will pull it out, but if both teams play the way they have been, without changing their game plans, LSU will reach the finals.
In the other semifinal, you have Florida, who looks unstoppable right now. They have three things that I look for in a national title team. 1) Athleticism 2) Tenacity 3) A ridiculously ugly star player who I don't want to look at anymore. The Gators are getting by almost exclusively on hustle. You have to respect that out of a team. George Mason, on the other hand, is getting by on luck. They, to be fair, flat out dominated Michigan State, and beat up Wichita State, but against teams without a "State" in their name, they have struggled. They gave Connecticut all the chance in the world, and the young North Carolina team didn't really show up to play. Florida proved against Wisconsin-Milwaukee that they don't take teams lightly and will keep up their grit and dogged play for 40 minutes and put away the Patriots early.
In the title game, theoretically between LSU and Florida, I give Florida the edge. Joachim Noah posesses the athleticism to get around and over Davis. Think of him as the Tim Duncan (with worse hair and more energy) to Davis's O'Neal. Most importantly, LSU has been giving their opponents chances to win ever since they played Duke in the Sweet 16, and Florida has been taking advantage of their opponents' gaffes. If things continue as they have, I foresee the Florida Gators as the 2006 NCAA Champions. I would listen to me on this one...

Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Tale of Two Teams

So I had a couple of fantasy baseball drafts this past week. The first, ominously, was in an 18 team league, in which I had the last pick. The second was with my friends from school, whom I compete in fantasy sports with all year long. I'm famous for getting second place in everything. I had the 5th pick in that draft. Here's a sneak peak at my two teams.

The first, the one in the 18 team league, is with a bunch of Twins fans, 18 to be exact. I named the team "Gassner's All-stars" after the only player in the Twins' system (Dave Gassner), to my knowledge, that went to my alma mater, Purdue. Despite my status as the last picking team, I was able to secure Miguel Cabrera and Roy Halladay with my first two picks. From there, I built on offense, with picks of guys like Jimmy Rollins, Pat Burrell, Ken Griffey Jr., Grady Sizemore and Kevin Mench. I figure that in a league with so many teams, such as this, the pitching would be so thin that it would be hard to get more than one dominant starter, whereas there are 9 easy positions in which to draft offense and stack your team that way, which is what I did. The only pitchers I drafted before I had to leave and have Yahoo autodraft for me were Halladay and Derrick Turnbow. My team, then, had the following roster:
Jason Larue -C
Darin Erstad - 1b
Orlando Hudson - 2b
Rollins - SS
Cabrera - 3b
Sizemore, Burrell, Griffey - OF
Mench - DH
Garrett Atkins, David Dejesus, Preston Wilson, and Mark Kotsay - bench
Halladay, Shawn Chacon, Mike Mussina, David Wells, Jason Marquis, Adam Eaton - SP
Turnbow, Aaron Heilman, Ryan Madson - RP

Since I had about 15 outfielders and no backups anywhere else, I traded Kotsay and Wilson for less talent and more flexibility in Eric Hinske and Damian Miller. A roster spot was added, and curiously, I added another outfielder, Gary Matthews Jr., which gives me the league leade in Junior outfielders. The thing that worries me most is that I only had one pitcher with over 200 innings last season, and that was Marquis. Also, I'm missing a major opportunity by not having a 1b who can really mash. Otherwise, I'm in excellent shape given my draft position and size of the league.

Then there was the smaller league, which I had a higher draft pick. I named my team in this league "VictoriaTimes" since I am, in fact, a shameless self-promoter. The prize of this draft for me was Chone Figgins, since I grabbed him in the third round, after my boy Mark Teixeira and Bobby Abreu. I got my first pitcher in the 5th round (after picking Joe Mauer in the 4th to solidify a tough position to find production from) and he was Dontrelle Willis. I then picked up John Smoltz and Joe Nathan before returning to position players. My strategy here was similar as with GAS, although there were more dominant pitchers available that I wanted to grab, as ths is a 10X10 league. The final roster was this.
Mauer - C
Teixeira - 1b
Figgins - 2b
Garret Atkins (oh no!) - 3b
Julio Lugo - SS
Coco Crisp - LF
Willy Tavares - CF
Abreu - RF
Burrell - DH
Mark Loretta, Prince Fielder, and Brad Wilkerson - bench
Willis, Smoltz, John Lieber, Ervin Santana, Greg Maddux, Francisco Liriano - SP
Nathan, Keith Foulke, Jason Duchscherer, Aaron Heilman - RP

Some things stuck out at me right away. For example, how is a bench player on my team in a larger league starting on a team in a more talent rich league? Also, how did I get 4 lead off hitters on my team? If I lose stolen bases in any week, I've got a lot of thinking to do. I'm a big loser in the home runs department, but I win in singles, doubles, triples, and average, so I think the exchange is fair. Also, I like that Pat Burrell has made an appearance on both teams. I complained about him all season last year but he was surprisingly effective. I'd like to say I have some trades in the works on this team as well, perhaps for another SP or a 3b, but unfortunately, I can't. Unless I can trade Teixeira for Cabrera between Gassner's All-Stars and VictoriaTimes. -Ryan

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Minneapolis Region

I wish I could take odds on things like "how many times does CBS show the spoon and cherry from the Sculpture Garden?" I would guess 45 over the course of the two days of games. Anyways, on to my picks for the hometown region, with a little bit of prediction for the Final Four at the end.

(1)Villanova vs (16) Monmouth - Monmouth, right now, is the only team with a win in the tournament. Expect that to end as they play a Villanova team that plays a remarkably similar game, except faster and better.

(8) Arizona vs (9) Wisconsin - Wisconsin lost to North Dakota St.

(5) Nevada vs (12) Montana - If Nevada was playing any of the other 12 seeds, I would say that they will definitely lose this game. But they are playing Montana who is definitely not as good as Texas A&M, Kent State or Utah State. In addition, Iona, Northwestern State, Xavier, Albany, Murray State, Winthrop, Monmouth, Pacific and South Alabama all should have been seeded higher than the Grizzlies. Yeah, I don't like Montana that much.

(4) Boston College vs (13) Pacific - Could Pacific win this? Maybe, but probably not. They are a younger team than last year, and don't have the same tournament experience as the two teams that upset their opponents in years past. Boston College is already tougher than they usually are after fighting their way through the ACC tournament to be the only non-North Carolina team to make it. Pacific's streak ends this year.

(6) Oklahoma vs (11) Wisconsin-Milwaukee - Milwaukee made a Sweet 16 trip last year, but don't expect that to happen again. While Oklahoma has stumbled down the stretch, they always show up come tournament time, just like their rivals in Stillwater.

(3) Florida vs (14) South Alabama - If you like defense, stay away from this game. I expect the loser to hit 80 points. In the end, I expect Floriday to get the ball rolling. In addition, I think that when a Billy Donovan coached team gets rolling, it's hard to stop them. I mean, after going to school in Gainesville, can anything really phase these guys?

(7) Georgetown vs (10) Northern Iowa - I'm not going to candy coat it. Northern Iowa will get whooped. Georgetown is a far better team, being hardened by the Big East, while Northern Iowa has been softened by the Missouri Valley. The 10 seeds in the tournament have been entirely appalling.

(2) Ohio St. vs (15) Davidson - Ohio State comes from the Big Ten, and while I usually avoid picking the Big Ten teams unless they are Illinois or Michigan State, I like the Buckeyes chances against Davidson.

Down the road, I see Villanova dropping their game against Boston College, who will in turn lose to a Florida team who will have picked up a healthy head of steam at that point.

In the Final Four, I have Texas over UCLA, as I really don't believe that UCLA has seen enough real pressure to handle the Big Dance. On the other side, UCONN will beat Florida, simply because the Huskies are a better team. The eventual champion, believe it or not, will be UCONN, the same team everyone else is picking. They're too good.

Washington D.C. Regional

I was having trouble with picking possible upsets in this region, so I read Joe Lunardi's column on how he thinks the Tournament will unfold. After a while, it occurred to me that Lunardi is good at projecting tournament fields, but not so much at filling them in, I suspect. Nevertheless, I don't see too many openings for a Cinderella in Washington.

(1) Connecticut vs (16) Albany - Albany can legitimately gripe. They won a conference tournament in historically one of the best small school conferences in the country, and they won it easily. Now they are being pitted against the class of college basketball in UCONN. Things don't look so good for those in upstate New York. Oh well, it's not like Albany was going to win it all anyways.

(8) Kentucky vs (9) Alabama-Birmingham - This is a phenomenal matchup. It features a pair of schools that met in the second round a couple of years back, with UAB pulling off the upset. Kentucky is underachieving, while UAB is achieving at right about where they should. UAB no longer plays with the frenetic style that led them deep into the Dance in 2004, and they won't beat Kentucky this time around.

(5) Washington vs (12) Utah St. - I would definitely pick Utah St. in this matchup, if it wasn't for the fact that they are a team that shouldn't be seeded a 12, and perhaps shouldn't be in the tournament at all. Washington will get to the second round despite themselves.

(4) Illinois vs (13) Air Force - To call them a sleeper team would imply that I thought Illinois would beat someone they were less talented than. In the end, they get an overmatched Air Force team in the first round and Washington, whom I previously lamented in the second round. They stand no chance against UCONN, unless Dee Brown scores 70 points.

(6) Michigan St. vs (11) George Mason - George Mason won the regular season title but didn't win the conference tournament, leaving that to UNC-Wilmington. In short, George Mason is a good team that can't get it done when it matters, and they are facing a mediocre team who only gets it done when it matters. Michigan St. pulls it off.

(3) North Carolina vs (14) Murray St. - If their nickname provides a clue, Murray St. will "race" home. A young athletic Tar Heels team should chase Murray State out of the tournament pretty quickly.

(7) Wichita St. vs (10) Seton Hall - I personally don't think mid-majors should EVER get 4 teams. Although, I'm not so sure the Big East should get 8 bids either. So I'm caught in a bind. Truth be told, I haven't seen Wichita St. play this year, but in the two games I've seen Seton Hall, they looked atrocious. Wichita St. all the way.

(2) Tennessee vs (15) Winthrop - I can't believe that everyone is picking Winthrop in this one. It blows my mind. They lucked into this tournament in a win over Coastal Carolina (go Chanticleers!) and I honestly believe they are getting much of their hype from the face that people know their name. Sure, the Volunteers aren't much of a 2 seed, but that doesn't mean a 15 seed is a shoe-in to beat them. Absurd.

In later rounds, Tennessee will get their comeuppances against Michigan State. Connecticut will reach the Final Four, and this stands to be one of the dullest regions in the history of the Dance.

Oakland Region

All right, on to the Oakland Region.

(1) Memphis vs (16) Oral Roberts - I'm not going to make the standard "Oral Roberts" joke. However, I do think ORU is the best bet as a 16 to win in the first round this year, because Memphis isn't as good as people seem to think they are.

(8) Arkansas vs (9) Bucknell - The Razorbacks are sitting at home right now thinking "how is it possible that everyone in the country thinks the Patriot League team is better than us?" Just because Bucknell beat Kansas last year doesn't automatically mean they can do the same this year. Now they are facing a pissed off Arkansas team that's waiting for them. The Razorbacks will win this one.

(5) Pittsburgh vs (12) Kent St. - This is another interesting 5-12 seed. The MAC teams are always better than anyone wants to believe, but I'm not sure they can beat a hot Pitt team. However, this looks like a prime possibility for an upset, if you don't take my advice on Iona.

(4) Kansas vs (13) Bradley - Last year, Kansas didn't choke, they just took the game to lightly. They were unprepared to face a conference tournament champion and it showed. Rest assured, Bill Self and the Jayhawks remember the upset last year and won't let it happen again. Whether or not they make it past the second round remains to be seen, but Kansas will definitely handle Bradley. Even besides the additional preparation, the 'Hawks are one of the hotter teams in the land right now, and they are just more athletic than Bradley.

(6) Indiana vs (11) San Diego St. - The Aztecs play in a Mountain West Conference that is vastly underappreciated. In the MWC tournament games I watched, I saw a style of play that Indiana should be familiar with in the Big Ten. Unfortunately for the Hoosiers, nobody in the MWC seems to blink when they are faced with adversity, while Indiana has had an extremely up and down season. I like SDSU to pull off the upset.

(3) Gonzaga vs (14) Xavier -
I absolutely hate Gonzaga. They have a team assembled with the guys nobody picked in gym class despite the fact they were really good. There is Adam Morrisson who looks like he hasn't seen a shower since Christmas. J.P. Batista who just looks like a bully who doesn't say anything while he's beating you. Then there is Derek Raivio who looks fresh out of the cancer ward from a local Spokane hospital. So you have this group of ugly basketball players who haven't played anyone since November and have still struggled. However, they have been fed a couple of teams that will get them back to playing shape in Xavier and in the second round Indiana or San Diego St. It seems like things are setting up nicely for the 'Zags. And that frustrates me.

(7) Marquette vs (10) Alabama - This game is a no-brainer. It's Marquette, the fourth place team in a solid conference versus Alabama, a perennial choker from a perennially choking conference. Marquette all the way.

(2) UCLA vs (15) Belmont - I have to give the Bruins the benefit of the doubt. The PAC-10 always has at least one solid tournament team, and its almost always the conference champ. The res of the conference is crap, but this might be UCLA's year. I honestly believe that the Bruins are the best team in the Oakland region. That doesn't speak well for Belmont's chances.

I have Memphis losing to Kansas in the sweet 16, then, and losing to UCLA to get to the Final Four. Thus far, we have UCLA and Texas in my Final Four. Be back with the D.C. Region this afternoon.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Atlanta Region

So I'm sitting here watching the opening round game between Monmouth and Hampton and I thought that I should mention the Tournament, since that was my biggest regret from the last year over at IIS. So I'm going to get out 4 posts in the next couple of days, including this one. $ short posts. One on each bracket. And here we go.

(1)Duke vs (16) Southern - There isn't that much to say about this game, except never, ever pick a team called the Jaguars. They're 1 for the history of the Tournament.

(8) George Washington vs (9) UNC - Wilmington - This is the easiest 8-9 game in the history of basketball to pick. Wilmington looked dreadful in the little bit I've seen of them. They didn't even win the regular season title in their usually one bid conference. The regular seson champ, George Mason, actually did get in as an 11 seed, so Wilmington getting a 9 seems incredibly generous. GW has been a ranked team all season and went undefeated in their conference until the A-10 tournament. An 8 seed because they lost to Temple doesn't seem fair at all. GW should win this game easily.

(5) Syracuse vs (12) Texas A&M - This game scares me for a couple of reasons. First, you have Syracuse, one of the most difficult to predict teams in the NCAAs year in, year out. Second, they are playing a major conference foe who is playing extremely well right now. Lastly, this is an infamous 5-12 game, which always sees an upset. In one pool, I have Syracuse in the elite 8, but they could just as easily lose in the first round. There is no middle ground.

(4) LSU vs (13) Iona - As I watched the Gaels (yes, watched) dismantle the St. Peter's Peacocks, I said to myself, "that's a team that can make noise in the Big Dance". They run the court well and are excellent shooters, the two biggest keys to getting the upset, unless you are an Ivy League team. Then they drew the Tigers, one of the biggest locks to choke in the Tournament every year. Iona is my biggest upset pick.

(6) West Virginia vs (11) Southern Illinois - The thing about wanting respect, is it is given after you earn it. The Salukis have earned it through good play in the Dance over the years, so now, Southern Illinois, and for that matter, the Missouri Valley Conference, is given almost too much respect. Now they face the Mountaineers who are coming off a season as the underdogs. They still have that mindset and will be well prepared for the game and subsequent games. WVU should win this game, no problem.

(3) Iowa vs (13) Northwestern St. - Let's put it this way. Io_a teams are 2-0 in the first round of my bracket. Northwestern is bad. State is worse.

(7) California vs (10) North Carolina St. - This is another tough game to pick. Fortunately, the winner will take on a far superior Texas team. I'm inclined to pick NC State, as the ACC is a better conference than the Pac-10, although NC State has blown for the past month or so, and California has been playing better ball. I'm going to go with NC State, ultimately, because it means the CBS sportscasters will get to keep talking about Herb Sendek.

(2) Texas vs (15) Pennsylvania - As this is not the NCAA math league tournament, Texas should win easily.

Beyond those opening round games, I project Texas to move on to the Final Four, with the two biggest remaining upsets being Syracuse (if they beat A&M) over Duke and West Virginia beating Iowa. Be back with more later.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

NHL Deadline Deals

The NHL trade deadline passed on Thursday, otherwise known as my mom's birthday (Hi, mom!), with the typical flurry of deals. This years deals were notably mundane compared to years past, with the biggest deals being done earlier in the season, such as the Joe Thornton trade, or the Doug Weight deal. The three biggest deals at the deadline this year were headlined by David Aebischer, Jose Theodore, Sergei Samsonov and Mark Recchi, who will join Weight in Carolina. (Which begs the question, why aren't there any Carolina-specific teams out there? The Bobcats are Charlotte, but that doesn't really count, does it?)
The Aebischer to Theodore trade is the prototypical "let's shake things up" deal, especially for Montreal, as they are acquiring the hotter goalie, despite the two being at roughly the same level. Samsonov's arrival in Edmonton signals that the Oilers want to win now, and they happily gave up eternal prospect Marty Reasoner, as well as a pick and another prospect. Recchi, at this point in his career, especially with the 'Canes, will just be a role player, and not the centerpiece of a line, which he was in Pittsburgh.
Two interesting deals that I do think warrant discussion are the two that the Wild made. On Wednesday, they traded backup goalie Dwayne Roloson to the Oilers for a first round pick, and a conditional pick, pendant on whether or not the Oilers resign Roloson after the season. This was a great trade in which the Oilers certainly overpaid. Roloson is a great, consistent goalie to be sure, but they will only have him for 20 games and the playoffs, and they sacraficed a first rounder in order to get him. The Wild had their long term interests in mind, and they were able to bolster that future while getting rid of spare parts.
The second trade the Wild made was with the Dalls Stars, trading Willie Mitchell, an overrated defenseman, and a 2nd round pick for Martin Skoula and prospect Shawn Belle. Mitchell, who excelled in Jacques Lemaire's defensive system, is overvalued as a defender. He doesn't possess the skating or puck skills to carry a first line defensive unit outside of Minnesota. On the other hand, Skoula, who has Cup experience and is younger, will fit nicely into Lemaire's system. Lemaire has a history of bringing the best out of underachievers, and Skoula definitely fits that bill. The best part is that Skoula is an offensive minded defenseman, and Kurtis Foster has proved that they work well in the Minnesota sysem. As for Belle, scouts say he is a speed demon, and would be the fastest player with the Wild if he came up today. And he would be the first black player in the Wild's short history.
In short, if you look at the total additions and subtractions, the Wild definitely strenghtened themselves for the future. Essentially they swapped a 2nd round pick for a first, Willie Mitchell for Martin Skoula, and their backup goalie for a lightning fast prospect. I think that, if not next year, in a couple of years, the Wild will be a force to be reckoned with in the NHL. - Ryan

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Torii Hunter Quandary

Baseball is a different game in Minnesota than it was in the 80's. It's a different game than it was in the 90's. In the 80's and the early 90's, you had the two main guys, Puckett and Hrbek, and they were surrounded by some hired guns and role players, depending on the season, it could have been Steve Lombardozzi or Shane Mack or Tim Laudner or Chili Davis. It was always Kirby and Herbie at the center. Two characters that kept the game fun.
Then Hrbek and Puckett left the game, and we were left with a bunch of rubes. The Twins would go out and sign a Dave Winfield, or a Paul Molitor or Terry Steinbach to keep the fans interested. It would give them a local hero to cheer for, like when Hrbek was still playing. Although we knew in the back of our minds we could never replace Puck, we, the Twins and the Fans tried. We looked to Matt Lawton and Ron Coomer to provide the clutch, exuberant player that Kirby had been. Of course, they weren't.
Then something happened in 2001. We got a batch of youngsters that competed in 2001, made it to the playoffs 3 years in a row, including a trip to the ALCS in '02. The Twins were a fun team again, and this time around, it was the entire team that was fun. They were the sum of their parts, rather than the nucleus and it's satellites. The Twins were fun in a new way, one that didn't follow the previous mold.
But then some of those parts left. The Twins started to lose their swagger and eventually, last year, they lost out to the White Sox for the division pennant. The fun was gone. The Twins now are trying to rework the formula that was successful in the 80's and early 90's, since the lightning in a bottle that was the chemistry of a few years ago is gone forever. They already have their hometown hero headlining things in Joe Mauer. So are things looking up for the Twins?
For the past several years, the Twins and Minnesotans have tacitly been looking to Torii Hunter to be our new Kirby. He was a gifted, outspoken centerfielder, just like Puck. The problem was that Torii wasn't clutch. He didn't get hits in big spots, and very often, doesn't hit in small spots. Even worse, as the teammates he came up with, like Jacque Jones and Matt Lawton were being pared from the team, and Hunter was and is buckling under the pressure of being the life of the team.
Now that Puckett has passed, and you begin to read the reports of how he touched so many lives, and what calming influence he was, not to mention his ability to come through in big spots, you see the weight that is on Torii Hunter's shoulders. Whether or not anyone has said it, he knows that this is what Twins fans expect of him. Puckett was more than a friend to Hunter, more than a hero, he was a mentor, a father figure. It's difficult to foresee how Torii will react this year, whether he will "carry the Twins on his back" or if he will continue his emotional breakdown, and have more incidents like the one with Justin Morneau last season.
The damage is already done. If the fans realize that replacing Kirby Puckett is impossible, or that Johan Santana may be as close to a replacement as they get, Hunter will feel as though his support is gone, that he has failed his fans. If we still continue to pressure him, he may collapse under the weight. The best thing for Hunter may just be a trade out of Minnesota.
Or maybe not. As his mentor would have instructed him, maybe he should loosen up and go out there and have fun. - Ryan

Monday, March 06, 2006


Over at IIS, I wrote about my love and devotion to the Minnesota Twins, dating back to '87 and '91 a few months ago (read it here). At the centerpiece of those two teams was a jolly man who never took a picture where he wasn't laughing or hustling. #34 was the epitome of a popular athlete. Talented, enthusiastic and hard working.
Of course, there was some trouble after he retired. He retired due to glaucoma, then had allegations of sexual abuse and a troubled marriage, which ended ignominiously a few years ago. But Puck never shied away from the spotlight or the media, even when it was shining bright or hounding him. Even though he owed us nothing, he still felt he owed it to us not to shrink away when the going got tough. That was just Kirby's way.
Now, Kirby Puckett is fighting for his life, and according to most sources, hope is fading. I, in your spirit, will not shy away from the fact that you were my hero growing up, Kirby, despite the many faux pas you had since your baseball career ended. My best wishes go out to the Puckett family and all of the fans that still consider him the greatest Twin of all time.

EDIT: Kirby has passed away. I can't pontificate nearly as well as Bat-Girl.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

The Danny Tartabull Game

Originally posted on "Is It Sports?" this may be the most dorky fun we had making a post for this site, and unfortunately, it was the last for the old site. I relocated for work a few weeks after this was written, and by the time I got settled in to the new job and location, Ryan had gotten used to writing on the times, and I realized using this blogger site makes a lot more practical sense than geocities. We really enjoyed creating the old site, and I'm really glad we were able to capture all of our old posts here in the archives so they won't be forgotten.

This originally was going to be a post for the blog, but since it's 12 pages long on Word, I decided to make it its own post with pictures and stuff. If you have the patience and the same love for barely relevant mid 90's players as us, you'll enjoy this - Steve

Ryan: So, my buddy and eric have been playing this game where we go back and forth with some mediocre 90s baseball players
Steve: oh man that's like my specialty
Ryan: we call it the Danny Tartabull game
Ryan: I won with a Listasch/Jaha combo
Ryan: then I had to help him with Mickey Tettleton and Dean Palmer
Steve: yeah those guys were....decent
Ryan: not great, but you knew who they were
Steve: how about Shawon Dunston?
Ryan: nice
Ryan: I left him a note at the end of the day that said "Paul Sorrento says hi"
Steve: he was...decent...too
Ryan: I'm thinking him a message tonight saying that Delino Deshields is having a party in honor of Devon White
Ryan: brb
Steve: so many worthless baseball cards I have now.....
Steve: we should come up with a mediocre 90s players all-star team

Ryan: that would be an outstanding post
Steve: yeah
Steve: well right now I'm going to get a haircut, but maybe we can do that later
Ryan: haha... good luck with that
Steve: yeah I have to walk a whole 200 yards or so!
Steve: yeah haircuts are short

Ryan: Mike Greenwell
Steve: ooh that's a good one Steve: how about Darren Daulton
Ryan: haha... when I came back from lunch I had a note that said that Frank Viola had invited Darren Daulton and I to Jim Leyritz's house because they were having a surprise party for Allen Trammel
Steve: oh Frank Viola is good too
Steve: how about Tom Candiotti

Ryan: I said I would only go if Lenny Dykstra was there
Ryan: Candy Maldonado
Steve: Geronimo Berrora
Ryan: nice... I was about to go tere... its just berroa, i think
Ryan: Tony Tarasco
Steve: Paul Assenmacher
Ryan: stupendous... David Segui
Steve: the blonde haired one
Steve: Steve Sabo

Ryan: oh wow
Ryan: nice
Ryan: You would be great at this game
Ryan: I'm stealing these names and bringing them in tomorrow
Steve: haha
Steve: yeah I'm trying to think back to old video games and Sox scorecards

Ryan: well, if you want to think of Sox, think of Sax
Steve: oh its Chris Sabo, not Steve
Ryan: I wasnt sure about that one... Chris sounds right
Ryan: how about Wally Joyner
Steve: ooh that's a good one
Steve: Bret Barbarie

Ryan: oh man
Ryan: Brady Anderson
Steve: original Marlin baby!
Ryan: lol
Steve: Dante Bichette
Ryan: nice!
Ryan: Jay Buhner
Steve: ooh nice Steve: Glenallen Hill
Ryan: wow... wow.. nice
Steve: I'm checking out my Sox games spreadsheet
Ryan: lol
Steve: I still remember his Grand Slam
Ryan: Ruben Sierra would fit if he wasnt still playing
Ryan: surprisingly, so do i
Steve: yeah the bastard Steve: you remember Hill hitting a grand slam against the Sox in 1990?
Ryan: oh.. I remember him hitting one as a cub, i think
Steve: ooh Carlos Baerga
Ryan: yep,yep
Steve: ok that was one messed up game
Steve: Sox beat Cleveland 6-5

Steve: Baerga hit 2 HR

Steve: Robin Ventura hit a grand slam, the first ever in the new Comiskey Park
Steve: losing pitcher?

Steve: Tom Candiotti
Ryan: nice
Steve: how about Bobby Thigpen
Ryan: lol
Steve: Melido Perez
Ryan: lol
Steve: Chris Hoiles
Steve: these are all people that will be forever on my spreadsheet for either hitting a HR or getting a pitching decision

Ryan: !
Ryan: Chris Hoiles!
Steve: haha
Steve: Ricky Bones

Ryan: I just called and left Eric a message
Ryan: nice
Steve: remember him? Big Brewers prospect
Steve: what did you tell him?

Ryan: that I was going to play cards with Delino Deshields and Devon White and if he wanted to be a fourth. If not, we could always ask Tom Candiotti
Steve: lol
Steve: I did indeed see Paul Sorrento hit a HR too
Steve: he and Glenallen Hill for the same team in the same game actually

Steve: ooh how about Mark Langston

Ryan: eric called me back
Steve: haha
Ryan: butch huskey
Steve: lol
Steve: I love that name

Ryan: charles nagy
Ryan: actually, it was charles nagy that started this game
Ryan: Oh man.. .i just htought of someone who DEFINES this era
Ryan: Dave
Ryan: Justice
Ryan: Ryan: we just name as many mediocre baseball players from the nineties as we can
Jlenoky: haha
Jlenoky: butch husky
Steve: ok I'm back
Steve: wow butch husky was the first one

Ryan: yeah
Steve: how about Kevin Seitzer
Steve: Luis Sojo

Steve: ooh Damon Easley
Ryan: that is a dynamic trio
Ryan: i especially like seitzer
Steve: how about Luis Polonia
Ryan: outstanding work
Ryan: my brother came up with one that blew me away
Ryan: Greg Vaughn
Steve: oooooo
Ryan: because he couldnt think of any that didnt play for the twins
Ryan: then bam... greg vaughn
Steve: good recovery
Steve: how about famed closer Storm Davis

Ryan: Only if the game was started by john smiley
Steve: ooh that's a good one too
Steve: how about Gary Disarcina

Ryan: excellent work
Steve: Terry Steinbach
Ryan: another former twin
Steve: the funny part is basically all the guys I've mentioned before I saw hit a homer
Ryan: haha
Ryan: you say disarcina hit a homer?
Steve: yep
Ryan: I saw WILL CLARK hit a homer
Steve: how about this for a game
Steve: Angels 8, White Sox 6

Steve: Chicago HR: Tim Raines
Steve: California HR: Jim Edmonds, Gary Disarcina, Damon Easley
Steve: WP: Mike Bielecki
Steve: LP: Jason Bere
Steve: S: Lee Smith
Ryan: ooh
Steve: haha Jeffery Hammonds
Ryan: We should make that allstar team... we each get one team... all 9 positions and a relief pitcher
Steve: what are the guidelines?
Steve: lol

Steve: I think I have a winner

Ryan: they had to have played in the 90's and you have to be reasonably sure that they won't ever be an all star
Steve: Heathcliff Slocumb
Ryan: i mean HOFer
Steve: but isn't it more fun if they were all-stars?
Steve: ahh ok

Ryan: well played
Ryan: And in the spirit of the game, we'll have a draft that starts.... now
Ryan: you go first
Steve: hold on, reviewing the conversation
Ryan: haha.. all right
Steve: ok I think I have to go with Glenallen Hill since I remember him so well and probably no one else does
Ryan: well, since pitching wins championships, I'm going with John Smiley
Steve: I'll take Chris Sabo to play 1st
Steve: oops he played 3rd

Ryan: I'm going to take this game's namesake.... Danny Tartabull for the outfield
Steve: let me see where Seitzer played
Steve: ahh he was mostly 3rd too

Ryan: i would pick seitzer for first
Steve: I'll take Mark Langston as my SP
Ryan: so seitzer is or is not still on the board?
Steve: he's on the board
Ryan: nevertheless, I'm going to take 1st baseman Will Clark
Steve: ok
Steve: I'm logging this in excel just so you know

Ryan: nice... I'll find their lifetime stats and put them into high heat 2003 and sim a game... best baseball sim ever, btw
Steve: haha
Steve: I'll go with Dante Bichette in LF
Ryan: I'm going to have to go with my favorite player ever... Tim Wallach at 3rd
Steve: haha ok Steve: here's a new one
Steve: Bobby Bonilla for CF

Ryan: oh no! thats AWESOME
Steve: I'll put Hill in CF, Bonilla in RF
Ryan: Well, since you don't have much more outfield to fill in, I'm going to work on my infield some more... Delino Deshields at 2b
Steve: hmm
Steve: I need 1B, 2B, SS, C, RP

Ryan: what do I need again?
Steve: SS, LF, CF, C, RP
Steve: I'll take Carlos Baerga at 2B

Ryan: Andy Van Slyke.. .where did he play again?
Ryan: what position?
Steve: I think he was CF
Steve: lol that's a great one too

Ryan: I'll take Van Slyke
Steve: haha ok
Steve: we didn't name too many 1B earlier

Ryan: we really didnt
Ryan: Wally Joyner
Ryan: David Segui
Ryan: well... in the sim, do we go with a DH or no?
Steve: lol Steve: haha I got a SS
Steve: Wil Cordero

Ryan: lol!
Steve: yeah we can pick a DH
Ryan: in that case I'm taking Maldonado
Steve: for DH?
Ryan: someone has to take Candy Maldonado
Steve: ooh Cordero still plays, does that count?
Steve: (I had no idea he did)

Ryan: ooh.. thats right... well, bichette still does too, so I'll let both slide
Steve: I'll go with Todd Hundley at catcher
Steve: no screw that I'm taking Tettleton

Ryan: lol
Ryan: nice
Steve: ok you need a SS, LF, C, RP
Ryan: I'll take Lou Whittaker at short
Steve: lol that's a good one too
Ryan: not gonna take him, thought of a good one
Ryan: former purdue boilermaker...
Ryan: Archi Cianfrocco
Steve: lol
Steve: ok I'll drop Baerga since he still plays

Steve: and I'll replace him with...
Steve: Mike "leggo my" Gallego

Ryan: lol
Steve: now I need to find a 1B
Ryan: yeah... still your turn to pick
Steve: oh many how can we forget so many good 2B?
Steve: Mickey Morandini

Ryan: yeah, thats a good one
Ryan: im surprised you let steve sax go
Steve: only because he was on the Sox
Steve: they've had lots of messed up guys like Mike LaVallliere

Steve: Lance Johnson

Steve: Ron Karkovice

Ryan: haha
Steve: remember Pete Incaviglia?
Ryan: uh, how can you forget pete incaviglia
Ryan: jim eisenreich?
Steve: haha
Steve: ok at 1B I'll go with Sid Bream

Steve: you need LF, C, RP
Ryan: I was looking at Tettletons stats... most similar by age? Ron Karkovice
Steve: lol
Steve: is that who you want?

Ryan: no
Steve: actually I only didn't take Jaha because you said it first
Steve: but I think he needs to be on one of these teams

Steve: and Bream played mostly in the 80s
Ryan: so you're taking jaha?
Steve: yeah I'll go with him
Ryan: My final outfielder is going to end up being Ray Lankford
Steve: lol Steve: he was very mediocre
Steve: I'll go with Storm Davis as my closer

Ryan: I'm so torn on this one... I don
Ryan: 't know enough good relievers
Ryan: I think I'll just go with Dan Plesac
Steve: haha that's good
Steve: I'll go with Seitzer as my DH
Steve: you need a catcher
Ryan: hmm...
Ryan: I'm inclined to go with Chris Hoiles
Ryan: oh my god... look at the mid nineties orioles... we named pretty much the whole team
Steve: I actually found a better one
Steve: I think it was like the 1994 Brewers
Steve: ooh....Jeff Reboulet

Ryan: Rico Brogna
Steve: lol
Ryan: oh shit... Nilssons my catcher
Steve: 96 Brewers
Steve: Matheny, Jaha, Vina, Cirillo, Valentin, Greg Vaughn, Listach, Mieske, Seitzer
Ryan: lol
Steve: Jeromy Burnitz, Kelly Stinnett, Dave Nilsson, Mark Loretta on the bench
Steve: I love the rotation too
Steve: Ben McDonald, Scott Karl, Ricky Bones, Jeff D'Amico, Cal Eldred, Steve Sparks

Ryan: that's just awful
Ryan: Have you got all your stats?
Ryan: its more fun not to look at the stats until you have your team
Ryan: like, your best power hitter is Mickey Tettleton
Steve: I kind of looked at them
Steve: see the ESPN Monday Night Football crew?

Ryan: Chris Sabo is your fastest player
Steve: Joe Theisman, Mike Tirico, Tony Kornheiser
Ryan: yeah no shit... what are michaels and madden doing?
Steve: going to NBC for Sunday Night
Ryan: oh...
Ryan: you have to get me a batting order sometime
Steve: oh man I don't even know
Steve: I should probably pick a different closer Steve: Davis only has 11 saves
Ryan: ill just leave him in.. I wouldnt worry about it
Steve: lol I have a good one
Steve: Ricky Bottalico

Ryan: lol
Ryan: I already have Davis
Ryan: 's stats... why don't I add Candiotti to my team and we'll each have three pitchers
Steve: haha ok
Steve: set up guy

Ryan: there you go
Ryan: Tartabull's full name is Danilo Tartabull Mora
Ryan: lol... the similar hitters is like a who's who of players for the next round of the Danny Tartabull game
Ryan: Ryan Klesko, Jeromy Burnitz
Ryan: he was traded to the A's for Ruben Sierra
Ryan: god... Tartabull is connected!
Steve: lol
Ryan: all right, ill be right back
Steve: ok got my lineup
Steve: 1. Seitzer

Steve: 2. Sabo
Steve: 3. Bichette
Steve: 4. Jaha
Steve: 5. Bonilla
Steve: 6. Hill
Steve: 7. Tettleton
Steve: 8. Cordero

Steve: 9. Gallego
Steve: I'm going to take that shower I wanted to take since coming home from my haircut
Ryan: Deshields was traded once in his career.... that trade was for Pedro Martinez
Steve: wow Steve: pretty bad trade
Ryan: indeed
Ryan: although Deshields was a lot better than i thought
Ryan: Really the ultimate leadoff hitter
Ryan: he averaged 46 stolen bases a year
Ryan: averaged
Steve: wow
Ryan: I randomly picked a pretty good team
Ryan: 162 game averages...
Ryan: Deshields BA .267 HR 8 SB 46
Ryan: Van Slyke
Ryan: .274 16 25
Steve: I just took a phone survey on beer
Ryan: Clark .303 23
Steve: ooh over .300
Ryan: Tartabull .272 30
Ryan: Lankford .272 23 25
Ryan: god... how do I bat those last 4... thats how I have them now, but I'm just not sure
Ryan: the one that blew me away...
Ryan: Nilsson .284 20
Ryan: Whitaker .277 17
Steve: wonder why he didn't play longer
Ryan: Wallach .258 19
Ryan: Maldonado .254 17
Ryan: yeah I dont know
Ryan: All right... I'm going to see about creating these teams
Ryan: I'm way to excited by this
Steve: haha go for it
Steve: too bad you can't do it on whatif sports

Ryan: (and if this doesn't turn into a full length 86 page post, I' going to be sorely dissappointed.... the whole conversation.. the game recap... its going to be the coup d'gras of our site)
Steve: haha ok
Steve: I have writers block on my White Sox story....haha

Ryan: not a problem
Steve: so are you going to try to simulate this?
Ryan: yeah
Steve: coolness
Ryan: I say we get this lengthy conversation up, then I'll try to simulate it and see how it goes
Ryan: This is terribly amusing
Steve: haha
Steve: yeah sadly it is

Ryan: I can't wait until the game
Steve: lol
Ryan: im even putting in height, weight, and of course, handedness
Ryan: I'm trying to get the correct baserunning speed
Steve: haha ok
Ryan: you're supposed to be able to adjust the fielding skill, but that usually doesn't go so well
Steve: hmm
Ryan: like, Wallach won the gold glove several years in a row at third
Steve: not too bad
Ryan: Gallego was white, right?
Steve: I think so
Ryan: ugh... I should have picked Greenwell
Steve: well I'm going to eat and call home...I'll be back in a little bit
Ryan: all right
Ryan: I'll let you know how its going
Ryan: lol... the only left handed batter on your team is Ricky Bottalico
Ryan: Tettleton is a switch hitter, but still
Steve: Bottalico has a big bat
Ryan: I have DeShields and someone else as a southpaw
Ryan: Langston is a lefty
Ryan: Van Slyke
Ryan: Clark
Ryan: thats right, theres a couple
Steve: wow
Ryan: another name not mentioned.... Kevin Elster
Ryan: This has totally consumed my evening
Ryan: Candy Maldonado was traded to the Indians for one Glenallen Hill in 93
Ryan: Hill was also traded for Candiotti
Ryan: after long last... its game time
Ryan: Langston is having some control problems
Ryan: All right.. bottom of the first 1 out, your team is up 1-0 after Bichette drives in Kevin Seitzer on a single to left... first hit of the game
Ryan: 3 walks so far... ugly
Ryan: make that 4
Steve: Smiley isn't cutting it?
Ryan: well, there were 2 for each pitcher... but Van Slyke grounded into a DP and Tartabull struck out
Ryan: 1-0 after 1 after Hill grounds out to Deshields with 2 on
Ryan: and I'm on the board! Solo homer for Dave Nilsson
Ryan: I should note that this game is being played at 3 rivers
Steve: haha
Steve: that or Milwaukee County would be the best for this

Ryan: well, that's my home stadium
Ryan: and now after 1 and a half, its 1-1, but the bigger story is that Langston has already thrown 41 pitchers
Ryan: and your team goes down quietly in the bottom half
Steve: ooh
Steve: maybe I should have added Jim Abbott too

Ryan: haha
Ryan: ok, Maldonado singles, Deshields grounds into a FC (great play at 3rd by Sabo) and Langston throws away a pickoff throw that sneaks into the outfield and DeShields comes all the way around to score... 2-1 my team after 2 and a half... but LAngston has 5 K's
Ryan: and after 2 its 2-1
Ryan: Lankford walks, Nilsson doubles him home.. 3-1
Steve: ouch
Steve: damn Nilsson

Steve: did you give Sabo crazy goggles?


Steve: another guy we're missing: Pete Harnisch

Ryan: oh yeah
Ryan: Jaha on 2nd, Hill on 1st, Tettleton singles up the middle and jaha scores... 3-2
Steve: woo hoo
Steve: what inning is this?

Ryan: bottom 4
Ryan: ok, Hill on third, Tettleton on first, 2 out with Gallego up... routine grounder to DeShields who promptly throws it into the dugout.. Hill scores, its 3-3
Steve: haha I guess that's why he's not "ideal"
Ryan: yeah... well, Langston's first pitch of the 5th inning is his 76th of the game
Ryan: Ugh... Van Slyke grounds into his 2nd DP of the game
Ryan: Ooh, your boys blew a chance... first and second, nobody out, Jaha GIDPs, Bonilla grounds out
Ryan: two outs in the 6th... Langston throws his 100th pitch
Steve: washed up bastards
Ryan: a quiet 6th, still 3-3.. Storm Davis is up in the pen, but Langston is still toeing the rubber
Ryan: and after walking Lou Whitaker, Langston is pulled
Steve: old Stormy
Steve: I'm in trouble

Ryan: well, there's been a Tom Candiotti sighting... It's in the hands of the relievers now
Ryan: Gallego gets another gift as he pops it up to Candiotti who drops it
Ryan: the announcer says "if he breaks his glove, do they call a welder?"
Steve: haha
Steve: leggo my gallego

Ryan: well, nothing comes of it.. Seitzer GIDPS (Wallach to Deshields to Clark) and the Whitaker makes a great play to rob Sabo of a hit
Steve: damn
Ryan: Van Slyke walks, Clark flies out, Tartabull singles, Lankford walks, loading the bases for DAve Nilsson...
Ryan: who strikes out! now with two outs, they bring in Bottalico
Steve: what inning is this?
Ryan: 8th
Ryan: and Whitaker grounds out to 2nd! no!
Ryan: it looks like they just woke Smokey Robinson up
Ryan: no.. thats otis redding
Ryan: lol... so, they wouldnt let me just go with the 9 players for the batting order, they wanted 10... anyways, Steve is pinch running for Bichette
Steve: well I had a brief little league stint with the Angels in the 90s
Ryan: nice
Ryan: 9th inning...
Steve: uh oh
Ryan: and Ryan pinch hits for Candy Maldonado and triples... bullshnikies
Steve: is this top or bottom?
Ryan: top
Ryan: you're the home team
Steve: I hope this gets over with quick, I need to get to bed
Ryan: haha... well, I got caught steeling home and DeShields struck out
Steve: nice job
Ryan: and Gallego comes through again with a 2 out double!
Ryan: in comes Plesac
Steve: haha its all up to Seitzer
Steve: well regardless of what happens, at least we made some even teams

Ryan: Seitzer walks
Ryan: its up to Sabo
Ryan: long fly deep to left and..... FOUL
Ryan: then he grounded out... extra innings
Steve: crap I want to get to bed
Ryan: first batter of the tenth, van slyke
Ryan: Clark sends a foul over the fence, then grounds out
Ryan: and Tartabull hits a HOMERUN!
Ryan: 5-3
Steve: damn you Bottalico
Ryan: and now its Plesac versus Steve
Steve: great
Ryan: it all comes down to this.. Plesac
Ryan: Bonilla
Ryan: and Bonilla strikes out.. Team Ryan WINS!
Steve: haha alrighty

The Box Score
FINAL IN 10 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 R H E

Ryans 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 5 8 2
Steves 1 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 9 1


Delino DeShields 2b 4 1 1 0 1 1 3 .250
Andy Van Slyke lf 4 1 1 1 1 1 2 .250
Will Clark 1b 4 0 0 0 1 1 1 .000
Danny Tartabull cf 5 1 2 1 0 2 0 .400
Ray Lankford rf 2 1 0 0 3 1 0 .000
Dave Nilsson c 5 1 2 2 0 1 1 .400
Lou Whitaker ss 3 0 0 0 1 1 4 .000
Tim Wallach 3b 4 0 0 0 0 1 2 .000
Candy Maldonado dh 3 0 1 0 0 1 1 .333
Ryan ph-dh 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1.000

TOTALS: 35 5 8 4 7 10 14

2B: Nilsson (1, Langston). 3B: (1, Bottalico). HR: Nilsson (1, 2nd
inning off Langston, 0 on, 1 out); Van Slyke (1, 10th inning off Bottalico, 0
on, 0 out); Tartabull (1, 10th inning off Bottalico, 0 on, 1 out). RBI:
Nilsson 2 (2); Van Slyke (1); Tartabull (1). Runners left in scoring position,
2 outs: Wallach; DeShields; Whitaker. GIDP: Van Slyke 2. Team LOB: 7.

SB: DeShields (1, home plate off Langston/Tettleton). CS: (1, home
plate by Bottalico/Tettleton).

E: DeShields (1, throw); Candiotti (1, fly ball). DP: 3
(Whitaker-DeShields-Clark; Wallach-DeShields-Clark-DeShields;


Kevin Seitzer dh 3 1 0 0 2 1 3 .000
Chris Sabo 3b 5 0 1 0 0 0 3 .200
Dante Bichette lf 4 0 3 1 0 0 0 .750
Steve pr-lf 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
John Jaha 1b 5 1 1 0 0 1 3 .200
Bobby Bonilla rf 4 0 1 0 1 2 1 .250
Glenallen Hill cf 4 1 1 0 0 1 4 .250
Micky Tettleton c 4 0 1 1 0 1 0 .250
Wil Cordero ss 4 0 0 0 0 1 0 .000
Mike Gallego 2b 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 .250

TOTALS: 38 3 9 2 3 7 14

2B: Gallego (1, Candiotti). RBI: Bichette (1); Tettleton (1). Runners left in
scoring position, 2 outs: Hill 2; Seitzer; Bonilla; Sabo. GIDP: Jaha; Seitzer;
Hill. Team LOB: 8.

E: Langston (1, throw). DP: 2 (Sabo-Gallego-Jaha-Gallego-Cordero;


John Smiley 6 6 3 2 2 5 0 3.00
Tom Candiotti 2 2/3 3 0 0 0 1 0 0.00
Dan Plesac (W, 1-0) 1 1/3 0 0 0 1 1 0 0.00


Mark Langston 6 4 3 2 5 7 1 3.00
Storm Davis 1 2/3 1 0 0 2 1 0 0.00
Ricky Bottalico (L, 0-1) 2 1/3 3 2 2 0 2 2 7.72

Langston pitched to 1 batter in the 7th.

WP: Smiley; Davis. Pitches-Strikes: Langston 108-66; Davis 38-21; Bottalico
27-18; Smiley 79-50; Candiotti 36-24; Plesac 23-13. Ground balls-Fly balls:
Langston 9-4; Davis 0-5; Bottalico 3-4; Smiley 12-7; Candiotti 7-2; Plesac
2-1. Batters faced: Langston 25; Davis 8; Bottalico 9; Smiley 26; Candiotti
10; Plesac 5.

Umpires: HP: Tony Ragano. 1B: Sam Sheth. 2B: James Coliz, Jr. 3B: Alice
Qiao. T: 3:39. Att: 47,971. Weather: 76 degrees, clear. Wind: 1 mph, in
from left.

High Heat Baseball Player of the Game: Andy Van Slyke


Top of the 1st inning: Ryans batting

Delino DeShields walked.
Andy Van Slyke grounded into double play to third.
Will Clark walked.
Danny Tartabull struck out swinging.

0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors
Ryans 0, Steves 0

Bottom of the 1st inning: Steves batting

Kevin Seitzer walked.
Chris Sabo grounded out to first, Seitzer to second.
Dante Bichette singled, Seitzer SCORED.
John Jaha flied out to right.
Wild pitch by John Smiley, Bichette to second.
Bobby Bonilla walked.
Glenallen Hill grounded out to second.

1 Run, 1 Hit, 0 Errors
Ryans 0, Steves 1

Top of the 2nd inning: Ryans batting

Ray Lankford grounded out to second.
Dave Nilsson HOMERED.
Lou Whitaker struck out swinging.
Tim Wallach struck out swinging.

1 Run, 1 Hit, 0 Errors
Ryans 1, Steves 1

Bottom of the 2nd inning: Steves batting

Micky Tettleton flied out to center.
Wil Cordero grounded out to second.
Mike Gallego flied out to left.

0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors
Ryans 1, Steves 1

Top of the 3rd inning: Ryans batting

Candy Maldonado singled.
Delino DeShields grounded into fielder's choice to third.
Mark Langston committed a throwing error on a pickoff attempt, DeShields stole
home plate, DeShields SCORED.
Andy Van Slyke struck out swinging.
Will Clark struck out looking.

1 Run, 1 Hit, 1 Error
Ryans 2, Steves 1

Bottom of the 3rd inning: Steves batting

Kevin Seitzer struck out swinging.
Chris Sabo grounded out to second.
Dante Bichette flied out to center.

0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors
Ryans 2, Steves 1

Top of the 4th inning: Ryans batting

Danny Tartabull grounded out to second.
Ray Lankford walked.
Dave Nilsson doubled, Lankford SCORED, Nilsson to second.
Lou Whitaker grounded out to third.
Tim Wallach flied out to center.

1 Run, 1 Hit, 0 Errors
Ryans 3, Steves 1

Bottom of the 4th inning: Steves batting

John Jaha singled.
Bobby Bonilla struck out looking.
Glenallen Hill singled, Jaha to second.
Micky Tettleton singled, Jaha SCORED, Hill to third.
Wil Cordero struck out looking.
Mike Gallego was safe after Delino DeShields committed a throwing error, Hill
SCORED, Tettleton to third.
Kevin Seitzer flied out to right.

2 Runs, 3 Hits, 1 Error
Ryans 3, Steves 3

Top of the 5th inning: Ryans batting

Candy Maldonado struck out looking.
Delino DeShields singled.
Andy Van Slyke grounded into double play to pitcher.

0 Runs, 1 Hit, 0 Errors
Ryans 3, Steves 3

Bottom of the 5th inning: Steves batting

Chris Sabo singled.
Dante Bichette singled, Sabo to second.
John Jaha grounded into double play to shortstop, Sabo to third.
Bobby Bonilla grounded out to shortstop.

0 Runs, 2 Hits, 0 Errors
Ryans 3, Steves 3

Top of the 6th inning: Ryans batting

Will Clark grounded out to shortstop.
Danny Tartabull struck out looking.
Ray Lankford walked.
Dave Nilsson flied out to center.

0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors
Ryans 3, Steves 3

Bottom of the 6th inning: Steves batting

Glenallen Hill struck out looking.
Micky Tettleton struck out looking.
Wil Cordero fouled out to catcher.

0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors
Ryans 3, Steves 3

Top of the 7th inning: Ryans batting

Lou Whitaker walked.
Storm Davis relieved Mark Langston.
Tim Wallach popped out to catcher.
Wild pitch by Storm Davis, Whitaker to second.
Candy Maldonado flied out to left.
Delino DeShields fouled out to catcher.

0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors
Ryans 3, Steves 3

Bottom of the 7th inning: Steves batting

Tom Candiotti relieved John Smiley.
Mike Gallego was safe after Tom Candiotti committed a fielding error.
Kevin Seitzer grounded into double play to third.
Chris Sabo grounded out to shortstop.

0 Runs, 0 Hits, 1 Error
Ryans 3, Steves 3

Top of the 8th inning: Ryans batting

Andy Van Slyke walked.
Will Clark flied out to center.
Danny Tartabull singled, Van Slyke to second.
Ray Lankford walked, Tartabull to second, Van Slyke to third.
Dave Nilsson struck out looking.
Ricky Bottalico relieved Storm Davis.
Lou Whitaker grounded out to second.

0 Runs, 1 Hit, 0 Errors
Ryans 3, Steves 3

Bottom of the 8th inning: Steves batting

Dante Bichette singled.
Steve ran for Dante Bichette.
John Jaha struck out swinging.
Bobby Bonilla singled, Singleton to second.
Glenallen Hill grounded into double play to shortstop.

0 Runs, 2 Hits, 0 Errors
Ryans 3, Steves 3

Top of the 9th inning: Ryans batting

Tim Wallach grounded out to shortstop.
Ryan hit for Candy Maldonado.
Ryan tripled, to third.
Robertson caught stealing home plate, Ryan out at home plate.
Delino DeShields struck out looking.

0 Runs, 1 Hit, 0 Errors
Ryans 3, Steves 3

Bottom of the 9th inning: Steves batting

Micky Tettleton grounded out to second.
Wil Cordero grounded out to shortstop.
Mike Gallego doubled, Gallego to second.
Dan Plesac relieved Tom Candiotti.
Kevin Seitzer walked.
Chris Sabo grounded out to first.

0 Runs, 1 Hit, 0 Errors
Ryans 3, Steves 3

Top of the 10th inning: Ryans batting

Andy Van Slyke HOMERED.
Will Clark grounded out to second.
Danny Tartabull HOMERED.
Ray Lankford struck out looking.
Dave Nilsson flied out to right.

2 Runs, 2 Hits, 0 Errors
Ryans 5, Steves 3

Bottom of the 10th inning: Steves batting

Steve grounded out to first.
John Jaha flied out to right.
Bobby Bonilla struck out swinging.

0 Runs, 0 Hits, 0 Errors
Ryans 5, Steves 3

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Friday, March 03, 2006

Down With WBC? Yeah, You Know Me!

I don't know if there is anything I like more than tournaments. The NCAA's, the NFL playoffs. The schedulers don't dictate matchups, anything can happen. It's a controlled chaos. It's brilliant! Is there any doubt, then, that I would like the idea of the World Baseball Classic?

It's underway, in case you hadn't heard, with the Japanese destroying China, which may provoke a nuclear retaliation, and Korea, featuring a lineup with only 5 surnames (4 Lees and 2 Kims, and a Kim pinch hitting for a Kim), defeated Chinese T'aipei, also known as Taiwan, also known as Formosa. I have no idea why these games were on ESPN Deportes.

Nevertheless, the Classic has started in Asia and will start over here within the week. Sure there are a lot of people backing out of it, which is only natural, since these are millionaires who don't want to have to volunteer for anything. It's the nature of events like this. But in the end, you end up with guys who are really there to compete for their country. Pride is a much better motivation than money, and it will lead, I think, to better and smarter baseball.

Of course, there are a couple problems with this. First off is the scheduling, which disrupts the spring training schedules of Major League Baseball. Nobody has actually made the point that players in these live action, meaningful games will more than likely be fresher at the beginning of the season, particularly position players who will have already dealt with live pitching. Sure cohesion and team unity may be a little down, but all of the top teams in the league will be at the same disadvantage in that regard.

Also, people talk about guys getting hurt, which leads me to believe people have never followed baseball before. Sure, guys will get hurt, but guys get hurt during spring training too! I'm not sure I follow the logic. What's the difference?

The biggest problem I see is that it appears that there are really only three teams with a legitimate chance to win this. All of Pool A is screwed. They don't have a lot of baseball history, aside from Japan, which has been stunted by a lack of serious competition. In Pool B, The U.S. looks to be the only real powerhouse, with Canada and Mexico being a distant, very distant second. South Africa may as well stay in Pretoria.

Pool C is full of teams that will get destroyed in the second round, but all the teams are very interesting. You have Panama, with guys I had no idea were Panamanian, like Carlos Lee or Bruce Chen. Then there are the Netherlands (using Andruw Jones from Curacao and probably Sidney Ponson from Aruba) and Puerto Rico who is the class of Pool C, as they have more than one player on there team. Cuba is a wild card, since they really don't have much international recognition, and they haven't competed at a level like this before.

Pool D has the only other teams with a chance outside of the United States, with the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, two hotbeds for international baseball. Italy and Australia were really thrown in there because, well, I think Bud Selig was drunk. Overall, I would suspect a final between the U.S. and the D.R., with Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Japan as the three dark horses.

I'd like to see something like this in the future, perhaps instead played during the winter to avoid the scheduling conflicts. Also, it would be nice to see a little more competition to get into the classic, and to see it run by a different international governing body as opposed to MLB. It's a good idea, and I'm sure some flaws will get worked out to turn this into a great idea. Now, as for tonight's game between Korea and China, I'm guessing that someone named Lee will get at least one hit. - Ryan

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


In the comments last month I was called a hoser. Libel! Anyways, rather than coming back with a witty rejoinder of my own, I thought I would respond with a clarification, a further explanation of myself.

The line in question was my 5 best things in sports. Now (moving past the NCAA tournament, which I love for some reasons mentioned in the previous post), allow me to be brief. The Olympics and the World Cup are amazing because they bring together all the people of the world to compete athletically. It's the best way for someone from, say, Azerbaijan to make a name for themselves by beating the Russians on the parallel bars. It gives the Senegalese a sense of pride to watch the National soccer team take on a power house like Italy. Basically, you have all of the best parts of competition wrapped up into one event. You have the ferocious rivalries, like the Soviets and Americans, or China and Japan, and then you have the natural underdog stories when a smaller, poorer nation takes on a larger nation.

Then, of course, you have the Super Bowl which is the most riveting three hours of wall to wall television of the year. It's such a spectacle it's hard to turn away from, and there is always a party for it. So, you have enjoyable television AND beer. What's not to love?

Then there are some other things in sports that are great because of the tradition they carry with them, like the World Series or the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But the problem with the World Series is that you can practically buy a ring these days. Only 8 or 9 teams have a legitimate shot going into the season, and often, the Series itself is anticlimactic. The Stanley Cup is cursed with being the prize in an ill league. Some seasons it seems like the players are the only ones who care about the trophy. They live for it. They grow beards for it. But at this point, the Cup seems to have lost some of it's luster. What they should have done was had a Stanley Cup playoff for the AHL or something last year. Make it like the Champions Cup for European Soccer. MAke the Cup transcend the game. But that's another post.

And now I'm done making my point. - Ryan

I am most definitely not insane.

You know what I miss most about college? The free time. I miss being able to sit down and crank out articles for a website, or spending hours in front of the TV or enjoying a drink or several with friends. I miss being able to spend my time following college sports.

Well, it doesn't help my cause that my two favorite college teams, Purdue and Minnesota, have been brutal in both of the major sports, football and basketball. The only highlights were a misguided letter from a third string tight end and watching Laurence Moroney's value plummet between now and draft day. There were no basketball highlights.

But that's the thing about college basketball, and college basketball fans. Tonight, the Boilermakers take the hated Indiana Hoosiers, whom I hated even before I knew I was supposed to as a Boiler. And the fans will stop lamenting the fact that Purdue sucks and start remembering how much the Hoosiers do. Mackey Arena will be loud, and many things will be said about Mike Davis' family, particularly the female members. And that passion, which never seems to fully go away no matter how beleaguered the home team is, is why I usually always enjoy following and appreciating college sports. And basketball has always been my favorite.

So now that I have some time on my hands, imagine my surprise when I took a look at the current rankings. Memphis is ranked number three? I thought Conference USA was supposed to be weak this year! Didn't anyone take that into account when making their votes? Who's even in C-USA anymore anyways? Central Florida? Rice? Then the next three, Villanova, Gonzaga, George Washington. When did 1989 roll around? Well, I suppose that doesn't make any sense because Gonzaga was nothing until about seven or eight years ago. But seriously. 'Nova? GW? (How many more schools can I put in front of question marks in this post... Read on!)

Seven through nine, Texas, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, makes me think I see the problem with the polls. This is actually the football poll. That makes more sense! Wait. No. Illinois is number 10. This is still certainly basketball. The rest of the rankings make a little more sense, save for West Virginia at 18 (Kevin Pittsnogle?) and Georgetown sneaking in at 20. Never mind the fact that Nevada is in the top 25 in the AP poll and Bucknell is prepared to sneak in to the top 25 in both polls at any minute.

So what's going on? Have I been asleep at the wheel here? Has the face of college basketball changed so dramatically that schools like George Washington are among the elite basketball powerhouses in the country? Should everyone invite me to be in there pools because I am so far out of the loop? Well, after a little bit of research I can say that the answer is a resounding "NO". Memphis DOES play in a terrible conference, and so do Gonzaga and George Washington. I was right! Villanova is, as there always is, the hot team going into the tournament that will lose in the Sweet 16 to Michigan State. (Michigan State? Iowa?!) Everything is still the same as it has always been, except there is a new superconference (The Big East) that, instead of separating the wheat from the chaff, just muddles all the wheat together. The Big Ten appears to be in the same situation. So I have successfully figured out the situation. I was right. The polls are insane.

Well, maybe not that insane. Duke and UCONN are still 1 - 2. - Ryan