17 March 2008

CC on Sports

98/366 Taking Out the Trash
Originally uploaded by csquard

Hope everyone had a good weekend. Ours was a bit adventurous, with a tornado hitting downtown ATL Friday evening as well as another storm hitting around the city Saturday. Soccer rained out, and I had a make-up practice yesterday. No soccer this week (Easter shuts down the Methodist league), and we'll be sneaking up to the Cliffs north of G-Vegas for the weekend.

A recurring maybe edition this Monday for your scanning pleasure:

  • NCAA Tourney I agree with a few of the pundits that this is a year where no one can really be too upset about missing out on the event. Maybe Virginia Tech could argue their case, and they looked legit as they lost a squeeker to UNC. The rest of the bunch simply sucked for too long this season. I'll have my picks later, but my horse to win it all is the only team I've seen play in person this season: Memphis. They've gotten no respect all season and continue to do so, with few of the early prognosticators picking them to make it out of their regional. Calipari went way out on a limb by implementing an entirely new offensive philosophy, a free-form approach that puts more decision-making into the hands of his talented, athletic players and less in his play-calling. Their only real negative, which is a big one, is poor free-throw shooting. Look for them to overcome this.
  • Women's Hoops The women's version of March Madness will be finalized tonight, and they'll launch their tourney concurrently with the men's version. Moronic. How about start and end your season a month after the men's version? Fans would be hyped about hoops then get to roll right into conference tourneys and another NCAA tournament. Gamblers could chase their losses with a slew of new games. And the public could embrace personalities like Tennessee's Candace Parker vs UConn's (and Georgia's own) Maya Moore, the best freshman to hit the court in years.
  • NBA Seasons like these are why I hate American sports sometimes. In the Eastern Conference, the Nets and our own Hawks are battling for the final playoff berth, ten games under .500. The Western conference team currently in 9th? The Denver Nuggets, fourteen games over .500. If they were in the Eastern Conference, they would be solidly in 4th place. I still never understand why our sports leagues must have divisions in their conferences. The marketing reason is to provide more interest for more teams late in the season. Ridiculous. On another side note, why is the regular season best record in every American sport irrelevant, while in soccer around the world the regular season league winner is a Champion? To the best, journeyman Rafer Alston led the Rockets to their 22nd straight win by smashing the Lakers Sunday. Enough said (especially because I have nothing to say...).
  • Relegation Speaking of soccer, this is my time to have my semi-annual rant about another flaw in American sports, the lack of relegation of horrible teams from their respective leagues. In the English Premiership as an example, 19th place Fulham picked up three vital points off the head of American Brian McBride, their first win in over a month. 18th-20th place in the twenty-team league drop down to the Triple-A of English soccer, replace by three teams from that league. You can bet Fulham's contingent of Americans McBride, Carlos Bocanegra, Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson, and Kasey Keller aren't desperately fighting for survival, along with their teammates. The NBA? Pat Riley is planning to abandon his Heat to scout college players as the worst team in the league, rivaled only by the Grizzlies inept ownership mess and the T-Wolves. And the Knicks? They would have been so long gone from the league, Isiah Thomas may have led them into the Streetball League by now.
  • PGA Watching Bart Bryant shake his head after Tiger buried his birdie putt on the 18th to win a fifth straight tournament said it all. We all want a beautiful Mickelson or Garcia or Els to stand up to Woods, but it seems like the Bob May's or Bryant's of the Tour are the one's who have the gumption to battle him toe-to-toe when they happen to catch lightning in a bottle. Maybe that's what it takes to stare him down, a resolve hardened by the Mini-tours and life failures. Ironically, the Golf Channel was showing a made-for-TV event last night, a 1997 skins game in Latrobe that paired a 21-year old Tiger with Arnold Palmer against Davis Love, III and Tom Lehman. It was strange to see a giddy Tiger just emerging, yet to be polished and still with his greatness only really in the eyes of his father and probably himself. Over/under on PGA Tour victories for Tiger in his career: 120?
  • Poker Much like open-wheel racing in the US, professional poker is a fractured mess with three major tournaments going on concurrently in the US and Europe. The WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star ended over the weekend with another top Final Table. Jennifer Harman had her best showing in forever with a 3rd place, beaten out by Steve Sung (2nd) and Brandon Cantu. Add John Phan's 6th place finish and the TV bubble boys (JC Tran-7th, David Tran-8th, Lee Watkinson-9th), and it was a showcase event for the WPT. Only 376 players made it to the event, and they made the $1mil first place prize at the expense of those who just cashed (Isabelle Mercier, Erick Lindgren, Michael Binger, and Tuan Le were among those finishing 37th-45th--they received their buy-in back). On the other side of the continent, the WSOP Circuit series made its way to Atlantic City for what was its largest field at 277 entries ($4,900 buy-in). Eric Haber took the title for $431,136, his best previous cash being for $89k at the 2005 WPT Foxwoods. Runner-up Dan Hicks took home $237,124, adding this to the $107k he made by making a Final Table at last year's WSOP. The top big field went to the European Poker Tour with their Warsaw event. 359 players ponied up 29,000 zlotychs (which may sound funny, except that it was $12,876.72). It was the first cash for the top four finishers, with Germany's Michael Schultze taking home the top prize of $926,220. Norwegian Trond Eidsvig was trying to make his fourth six-figure payday in the last seven months (led by $896k at the '07 Amsterdam Master Classics of Poker), but he'll have to settle for $86,448 for his 8th place finish.
  • NASCAR Jeff Burton won Bristol, cars banged into each other (including Tony Stewart late), and it's still a wide-open season so far.
Off to work, but thanks for stopping by this morning.


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