Monday, June 30, 2008

Weaner to race in Olympic Trials today

Gettysburg's Tricia Weaner, a rising sophomore at Tennesee, will race in the US Olympic Swim Trials in Omaha today. Weaner is scheduled to race in heat 16 of 16 of the 100M backstroke, along with world record holder Natalie Coughlin.

The top 16 times from the heats advance to the semifinals tonight.

You can follow the races here or you can watch a live webcast at

The first heat today was at Noon EST, so Weaner should be in the pool somewhere between 12:20 and 12:35. Weaner finished in 40th in the 100M Backstroke, an event that saw three world records set. Just to show how competitive the US Trials are, two swimmers set World records in the Prelim. Of the two record setters only Natalie Coughlin, who set another new World record in the final, qualified for the Games.

Weaner has also qualified for the 200 M backstroke on Friday. We wish her the best of luck as she pursues her Olympic dream.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Saturday Baseball

The Fan Blog was part of the all-time largest crowd at Nationals Park last night. It never really had the feeling of a big crowd, a nice crowd yes, but not a big crowd. Ok, I take that back, waiting in line for my dinner it had the feeling of a big crowd. But I'd probably just pin that on some poor execution by the concession stands.

The Park itself is nice, but it doesn't have that great feel, that I've gotten elsewhere. The left field plaza seems to be the best attribute. The general sense was that it was a big park, but obviously its not real big.

There seemed to be lots of wasted space and lots of angles to just create angles. When I say wasted space, there seemed to be spots where there should be seats and sections of seats that weren't there. It did remind me a lot of PNC Park in Pittsburgh, only Pittsburgh has the great backdrop and the feeling that it is a small ballpark. At Nationals Park, you could be playing the game in the middle of a Kansas cornfield you wouldn't know the difference. This is no view of anything. Speaking with other folks, and FanBlog readers I might add, they had no view from their section of the Park either. Rather disappointing.

I also felt that there was a tremendous minor leaguish feel to everything as well with all the between the innings activities. And the Nats PR staff went a bit too far in trying to make the Orioles fans feel inferior. I liked Teddy beating the Bird in the Presidents race. That was funny, entertainment, but the beefcake in Nationals gear pounding out the pushups dressed in his Nationals gear humilating the less in shape fan in Orioles gear was unneccessary.

I am still trying to figure out one thing though. I've been to two Oriole games this year, a Yankee contest at Camden Yards and a Nationals game in DC. My question is, at which game were there more folks rooting against the Orioles?

Oh, and one other thing. I have never been to a baseball game where there were so many dresses and skirts worn by the female portion of the crowd. Never. I don't think I'm really complaining, but it just struck me as odd.

So anyhow, I'm the Orioles/baseball fan from the surrounding area that Peter Angelos has to be concerned will goto Nationals Park to watch baseball now that the option is there. And I've got to say that I really don't see it happening. At least not often. It's just a better all around experience at Camden Yards, and its about half the price. Truly half the price, for just about everything, tickets, parking, food, the whole works for one night costs me about half what it does at Nationals Park at Oriole Park.

Good win for the O's. They defeated John Lannan, who had really shut them down in May and this time the Orioles seemed determined not to get behind in the count. They were aggressive and it seemed to work. That's the thing I like best about this coaching staff. It seems that there is an offensive gameplan each night, and the team follows it. And the gameplan adjusts pitcher by pitcher. So that is refreshing.

Washington is flat out a bad, bad, bad baseball team right now. The lineup is pathetic. Truly pathetic. Minus Cristian Guzman, I'm not sure there is a player who would start for the Orioles. Obviously, Zimmerman would if healthy, but other than that, I'm not sure. The catcher Flores would have a chance, but Ramon has really done a decent job for the Birds since the atrocious start.

One more baseball note, congratulations to Josh Vittek on his first professional hit. The Mount grad went 1-for-5 in his debut as the designated hitter for the Burlington Royals. Vittek had a two-run single as part of the Royals 6-run seventh inning rally. However, Burlington came up short again in extra innings. We'll keep monitoring Vittek's progress and see what comes to be for the former Mount star.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Thinking Out Loud

Taking in a few different things on this Friday night....

Kyle Hudson has three hits for Aberdeen tonight. The Oriole draft pick was quite the collegiate athlete. Played center field and safety for the Illini. There was never any doubt that his future remained in baseball. Be interesting to watch him develop in the O's chain.

Another former Big Ten baseball player is starting to get hot for the Orioles minor league system as well. Matt Angle has really turned it on of late in Delmarva. I still have hopes for him to maybe someday be a major league outfielder. Angle picked up another 3 hits tonight, including two doubles.

Alexi Casilla injured his middle finger in the matchup between Milwaukee and Minnesota tonight. The Milwaukee announcer said it was fitting to have a middle finger injury in the border war.

The Brewers keep playing well. They keep winning ballgames and they might get another win tonight, as they lead the Twins 6-5 in the sixth. But the Twins have a man on and Joe Mauer at the plate. Mauer is still my vote for AL catcher. Back to Milwaukee, they sit in third in the NL Central, but you've got to think they are real contenders for at least the NL Wild Card.

Looks like the Yankees are going to get the split in the Subway Doubleheader. The Mets won the opener at Yankee Stadium 15-6, but the Yanks lead 6-0 at Shea tonight.

Great to see Jake Arrieta named to the US Futures Team yesterday. I hope he ends up on the Olympic squad later this summer. Arrieta has pitched well at High-A Frederick and seems to be a real prospect for the Birds. He may get a promotion to AA-Bowie later this summer. But I think for now the O's want to make sure he is fully recovered from the back injury that bothered him earlier this summer.

I still like Spain in the EURO Final on Sunday. The Spaniards were somewhere around 5 1/2 to 1 before the start of the tournament. Just saying.

Some good college hoops matchups became known this week. Syracuse plays at Memphis on December 20th, the Mount plays at Georgetown the same day. Texas and UCLA will hook up again this year, but this time in Austin. Meanwhile A&M will host Arizona, which has both Lute Olson and Chase Budinger coming back. USC plays at Oklahoma and Washington State travels to Baylor. Arizona will also face Kansas again this season.

Syracuse picked up a commitment for Iowa State transfer guard Wesley Johnson. The All-Big 12 rookie selection should help the Orange when he becomes eligible in November of 2009.

Awaiting the Flame

Lots been going on in the world of Olympic sports recently - and I've to say with six weeks until the Opening Ceremonies, I'm pretty well excited.

Still no official word from NBC on the specifics of its coverage. I think they've given us the numbers and told us we can expect to see coverage on MSNBC, CNBC, USA and Oxygen, along with the regular coverage on NBC. Total hours is supposed to be right around 2200 of coverage or something. That should keep you busy.

But the other interesting announcement they made earlier this week is about their web coverage. Sounds like they are going to cater to those of us who want to watch things live, or ON Demand on the Internet. I don't think you'll be able to watch the media darling sports (gymnastics, track & field, swimming, beach volleyball) but I do think you'll have the opportunity to watch the rest on your schedule. One of the articles I read talked about downloading events and saving them for later viewing, and gave the example of the viewer watching the Games on their morning train commute. Supposedly the service is free. NBC has been saying this coverage will be available on 25 sports. Pretty cool stuff.

In the meantime, NBC and its cable affiliates have been showing lots of Olympic Trial action. Last weekend it was diving and gymnastics, highlighting the coverage on the main network with Wrestling and Judo getting some coverage on MSNBC. This weekend, Track and Field and Swimming kick off.

The US men's gymnastics team was selected after the trials in Philadelphia. There was a little bit of controversy. Both the Hamm brothers (Morgan and Paul) from the 2004 team are back on the team despite recent injuries, also making the team were Joe Hagerty, Jonathan Horton, Justin Spring, and Kevin Tan. Missing from selection were Raj Bhavsar and Alex Artemev, who were both named alternates along with David Durante. The team is constructed in an effort to maximize skills on the individual aparatus, and it will be interesting to see if Artemev's pommel horse routine is greatly missed. I did not believe that Morgan Hamm had done enough in his recovery from injury to deserve inclusion, and also questioned the naming of Spring to the team. Yet I think both of those athletes have the capabilities to dramatically increase the US chances at medaling. However, my concern is that the US team has too many injury question marks and not enough stability. But with that said, I'm certainly no expert, and I know that the decision was one that the committee put a lot of time and effort into, so we'll anxiously await the results.

The women's team won't be named for several more weeks. We do know that Shaun Johnson and Nastia Liukin have secured spots. Three other spots appear headed to Chelsie Memmel, Samantha Peszek, and Alicia Sacramone. The final spot will likely goto one of the trio of Jana Bieger, Bridget Sloan or Shayla Worley. Ivana Hong still has a chance, but the U.S. is likely to choose an uneven bars routine, and that category is not one of Hong's strongest. Chelsea Davis is also a favorite of the Karolyi's and could be a dark horse, however unlikely.

I did see one report this week, where there was a medals projection that had China winning more medals than the US at these games. Obviously, as the host nation, that has been a goal of the Chinese. But I'll be rooting for the Red, White and Blue to hold on.

Vittek signs Pro Contract

Josh Vittek, the first baseman-catcher from Mt. St. Mary's, has signed on with the Burlington Royals in the Appalachian (Rookie) League. Vittek set all sorts of Mount offensive records but was undrafted after his senior season. Now, he will get his chance to play professional baseball. He did not play in Burlington's 7-6 loss to Pulaski last night, but is likely to make his professional debut this weekend. Congratulations to Vittek, and we wish him well.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Asking for your Help

Many of you may have noticed the banner to the right hand side of the page about Caton and Jared's 3rd Annual Alex's Lemonade Stand.

This is a lemonade stand being held by my daughter and her friend Jared, with all the proceeds going towards research to cure childhood cancer. Through two years of hosting the stand, the two children (eight-year old's this summer) have raised over $7,000 in memory of Alex Scott, who died from nueroblastoma at the age of eight. But before she died, she started this lemonade stand to help raise money to help kids, like herself, who were struggling from the terrible disease.

My daugther heard the story during the Kentucky Derby, when Afleet Alex (named after Alex Scott) won the race. And a year later she reminded me that we needed to host a stand to help raise money for cancer victims. She asked her friend Jared to help, and the two of them have done a tremendous job in selling the lemonade and raising the money, one cup at a time.

This summer they will again host the stand on our front porch on July 4th and 5th. They figure that with the success of the last two summers, they should be able to eclipse $10,000 total raised for this great cause. They have set a 2008 goal of $4000. You can visit their website and help them in their quest to reach their goal. The amazing thing about the whole lemonade quest is that no donation is too small, and they all add up.

For more on the amazing story of Alex, you can visit the Foundation's website.

We hope that you'll join in helping two children, whose desire is to help children just like themselves, only those children have been stricken with cancer. And we hope that we'll see you on July 4th or 5th for a tall glass of lemonade.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Summer Hoops

Welcome to the Northeast Conference, Bryant University. By the statement you made by rousing up a coach from a respectable MAC school, we assume you wish to be a player. An eight-year deal for Tim O'Shea who had been doing a fairly nice job with the Ohio Bobcats. Seemed like he got a few interviews this spring, but didn't get a job, Providence, Bucknell seem to ring a bell. But it seems like a pretty nice get for all of you.

Incidentally, the Mount will play Bryant between Christmas and New Year's at Knott Arena this year. It will not be an NEC game.

Does anyone know if the NEC plans on going to a two-division 6-team per alignment when Bryant officially joins? It would seem to make sense. And maybe the teams could be broken down as follow:

Div A: Bryant, Central Connecticut, Sacred Heart, Quinnipiac, Long Island, St Fran NY. Div B: Mt. St. Mary's, Robert Morris, St. Fran PA, Monmouth, Wagner, Fairleigh Dickinson.

If this were done, teams could play home and home within their division, and three home games and three road games against the other division. Those games would rotate home-and-home on a yearly basis. It would give the teams 16 conference games, the ability to schedule two more non-conference games, and eliminate the need for those December conference games. In addition, all 12 teams could get into the tournament, with the top two from each division getting first round byes. Or you could stay with the eight team tourney, and eliminate the bottom two in each division.

Congrats to Dita Krumberga the former Mount womens hoops player. She's headed to Beijing with her Latvian teammates to play in the Olympics. Latvia barely defeated Angola 84-26 to advance to the main tournament. It is Latvia's first trip to the Olympic basketball tournament and they open with a game against neighboring Russia, at 10:15AM (Emmitsburg time on August 9th). Latvia is the pool opposite the US, so to see Krumberga play, you'll probably have to tune into NBC's online coverage. Although, I'm purely guessing and speculating at that.

Allen Griffin is back in the NEC. After losing his job at Providence when Tim Welsh was dismissed, the former Orange point guard returns to St. Francis NY to help the Terriers. Griffin, from NYC, was previously an assistant with the school but expect him to stick around a little longer this time.

One baseball note. Cito Gaston has returned to the Toronto Blue Jays. The Jays firing John Gibbons earlier today. Hey, when you're below the Orioles in the standings you make some moves.

Speaking of the Birds. How many of their next 22 games (before the All-Star break) do they have to win to make you happy at the break? I'd really love to see a 13-9 stretch, but would settle for 12-10. And all things considered if they went 10-12 over the run, and went to the break one game above .500 - I'd probably be happy. But let's root for 13 wins - and see if the second half of the season can't get more exciting than the first.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tids and Bits

-- How long before we forget how great Rocco Mediate was at this US Open? Nobody remembers who finished second. And this simply will become Tiger's Open. And that's a shame because even with the physical ailments that Tiger was suffering from, Mediate extended Tiger to the limit that we've never seen from Tiger on a course that Tiger has dominated on. Remember Tiger hasn't dominated at the US Open, it had been since 2002 since he won, but this course is one that he dominates on. Had he not been hurt he might have won by 15.

-- Miguel Tejeda returns to Baltimore tonight. Don't be surprised if Miggy does something special tonight. A homerun wouldn't shock me. But I expect the Orioles to win. Maybe a new proud papa, Dennis Sarfate win in relief.

-- The Mount's out of conference schedule includes road games at Georgetown, Penn State, Loyola, Virginia Tech, Lasalle, George Mason, American and Lafayette. The home schedule features Boston University, Navy and Bryant. It would be nice if the Mount could still work its way into one of those exempt tourneys and squeeze some home games out of some of the new formats. Still it would be nice to win three of those road games and sweep the home games and head into the New Year, plus .500. And if this team ends up being as good as I think it might be, winning four or five of the road contests isn't out of the question.

-- Anybody with me in thinking that Italy might work its way through the EURO brackets? Now that they've avoided elimination, the Spaniards can't be thrilled to see the Italians in the first Knockout round.

-- I have no definitive word on whether Deandre Preaster will qualify and be with the Syracuse Orange this fall. However, the rumblings I'm hearing aren't good. Apparently, there is still some test that Preaster will take in late June and that could hold the results. Don't count on him.

-- Also, I think the Orange season is going to begin on ESPN2 versus Northwestern on noon in Chicago. But that is still open for question. It seems that the worldwide leader is debating whether or not to show the Orange and Wildcats or Akron and Wisconsin in that Noon Slot. I can't imagine you'd show Akron and Wisconsin, over two BCS schools from the Chicago and semi-New York market, but you never know. This is all assuming that Michigan/Utah is the other regional ABC game at 3:30 on that opening Saturday.

-- Don't expect Mike Williams to be catching passes for the Orange that day or any day this season. And frankly if the reports are accurate, and he in fact did cheat on an exam, I'm hoping he's never catching passing again for the Orange. As an alum, we don't need that, no matter how much we need to win some football games.

-- I guess I'm the only one who doesn't see the disgrace in firing Willie Randolph after the Mets game last night in Anaheim. I mean we knew it was coming. Certainly, the timing could have been different. And if they didn't fire Randolph after the doubleheader on Sunday in Queens, why do it after the win in LA on Monday night? I don't know those answers. But if the Mets management decided during the day on Monday or during the game Monday night, that enough was enough, then the proper time to let Randolph know was back at the team hotel afterwards. Even if it was 3 in the morning on the East Coast. I don't think it was done to deflect media attention. In this day and age, the media is a 24-hour operation, and maybe the outcry from the media is because they had to work through the night in LA and didn't get to sleep in and play a round of golf before coming to the stadium today and then writing the story after the Mets made the announcement at a 3pm newscast. I won't argue that the Mets aren't in total disarray. I really don't know if its Randolph's fault or not. But lots of guys get fired after games, most of the time not after wins, but after games. It just so happened that this game was on the west coast and until the team got back to the hotel it was the middle of the night on the east coast. The Mets could have waited til this morning, as the Orioles did when they fired their manager in Anaheim a few years ago, but ultimately it doesn't make a lot of difference. And I don't see what the big deal is.

Stuffing the ballot boxes

I voted again for the All-Star is what I did

National League
C - Geovanny Soto - Cubs - As we discussed last week, there are lots of choices here, and I went back to Soto, for now.
1B - Lance Berkman - Astros - The injury to Pujols has probably guaranteed him my selection
2B - Chase Utley - Phillies - It is so hard not to vote for Dan Uggla
3B - Chipper Jones - Braves - Still over .400
SS - Hanley Ramirez - Marlins - Other good options out there, but Ramirez wins out
OF - Nate McLouth - Pirates - Slowing down, slightly.
OF - Jason Bay - Pirates - Two Buccos still in the lineup
OF - Pat Burrell - Phillies - The beauty of the contract year
That's all you can vote for in the NL - if I could add one more, I'd still pick Pujols

American League
C - Joe Mauer - Twins - Pretty consistent
1B - Justin Morneau - Twins - Came down to him and Youkilis
2B - Ian Kinsler - Rangers - Are they any good in Texas?
SS - Michael Young - Rangers - Former Mid-Summer Classic MVP
3B - Alex Rodriguez - Yankees - Injury hasn't derailed his chances
OF - BJ Upton - Rays - I might make him the mid-season MVP
OF - Josh Hamilton - Rangers - Could you imagine if he was still in Tampa?
OF - Grady Sizemore - Indians - A top notch performer deserves to start
DH - Milton Bradley - Rangers - Not sure I can do this since he's on the ballot elsewhere, but I did

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Something Magic Happens

If you're trying to figure out if I'm talking about the US Open or the Orioles game, so am I.

The Orioles just won a wild one from the Pirates at the Yards tonight to move to one game above .500 finishing an 8-7 win with a Ramon Hernandez walk-off single to left-center. The O's trailed 7-6 entering the bottom of the night, but tied it up on Oscar Salazar's first Bird homer.

The Orioles had previously rallied from down 5-4 when Nick Markakis hit a two-run bomb in the seventh. The Orioles had trailed 2-1 early, so they came from behind three times in this one. There is no quit in this team.

Meanwhile, across the States at the US Open at Torrey Pines, Tiger Woods is gimping his way to a championship. The recently surgically repair left knee of the Woods started to obviously bother him just after he started missing fairways. But somehow, Woods kept making miraculous shots. After his incredible eagle on 13, see below, Woods chipped in on #17 for a birdie to get to one-under. The chip wasn't the best of shots. But took one bounce, hit the flagstick, ran up it a little bit, and fell straight down the flag to the bottom of the cup. Then Tiger hit two good shots on the par five 18th, each time wincing in what appeared to be serious pain. Then Tiger rolled in a big breaking putt for another eagle, and gave him the overnight lead headed to the final round of the US Open. Simply an amazing finish to a great day at Torrey Pines.

US Open Live Blog: Day Three at Torrey

6:12pm: All the leaders have now teed off as we get ready for some primetime Saturday night US Open coverage. Stuart Appleby just missed his par putt on the first and he and Rocco Mediate are tied at the top.

6:13pm: Davis Love had a great putt on the par-3 third. His effort had a chance to go in and get him even with the leaders. 2006 champ Geoff Ogilvy missed his putt at the fifth and he is now three behind.

6:16pm: Tiger Woods with a chance here to get back one of the two that he gave up with a first hole double at the second. He needs this to regain his swagger, and he didn't hit it hard enough and it stops on the left edge. Makes you think the Tiger we saw in the closing holes last night hasn't awakened yet. He's two behind.

6:18pm: Rocco Mediate is still a great story. He's tied for the lead. The thing I love about Rocco in this tourney is that it means something to him and he loves it. I love it. It's for the national championship. Guys should be excited to play it instead of whining about it. Sure the golf course is difficult. But it rewards good play.

6:21pm: The tough start has continued for Tiger. He's hit his tee shot on the third into the front bunker. Playing partner Robert Karlsson is into the hazard in the back. He actually got a very bad break hitting on the green, skipping through it and rolling down into the hazard.

6:22pm: Appleby hit a great approach at 2, but missed the birdie putt. Mediate follows with a similar birdie putt to try to take the lead outright. Rocco has made the putt and he's at three-under and the outright leader with 34 holes to play.

6:39pm: Over on Fox, Jon Papelbon has let the Reds tie the game in the ninth. Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run homer to tie it. Now Papelbon is just trying to get Paul Bako out with Joey Votto on first to get the game to extra innings. Bako has struck out, so they'll go extras. I'll go back to the golf.

6:42pm: Could the Thunderstorm warning logo be any bigger in the upper right hand corner of my screen? Everytime they put the player's info up there, it blocks it out. I know its raining, it is ruining my grilling opportunity. Tiger has bogeyed the fourth, he drops three behind.

6:45pm: Davis Love just made a par putt. He continues to be consistent and consistency is needed in the US Open. Appleby drove it into the rough at four and had to lay up. Will make a par tough. Mediate has hit it to the center of the green and a two-putt will probably give him the lead.

6:48pm: Appleby has hit it to about 25 feet. But he'll need that to save par. Phil Mickelson is at the finishing hole. His nine at the par-five thirteenth has pretty much ended his chances. Forget the pretty much, he has no chance. And he just missed a long birdie putt at 18. Tiger hit a good drive at 5, the only fairway he's hit today.

6:51pm: Tiger has hit the green, but a two-putt seems likely from the long distance he still has. Rocco has hit a decent putt on four, but not a good one, he has about six feet left for par. Mickelson actually just missed an eagle putt, and he follows with the four footer for birdie. Appleby missed his par attempt and for the moment, Mediate is again the lone leader at 2-under.

6:54pm: Rocco gets the lead with that par putt. I just don't see him holding up over the last 32 holes. I think the winner might be +1 or +2 when it is all said and done tomorrow. That might give Sergio Garcia a chance. He's lingering at +4 and playing well, since an opening round +6. He just missed on a birdie opp at 17, and is just about done today. He'll start a lot later in the day tomorrow, and my guess is a lot of people will go by him in the wrong direction, before he goes to bed tonight.

6:57pm: Tiger hit a great putt at six, but it did not find the bottom of the cup. Not much going right for him at the moment.

6:59pm: The leader in the clubhouse right now is Mike Weir. He's at +3, and tied for thirteenth. My guess is he'll be in the final five groups tomorrow and might have a chance late in the game.

7:01pm: Pink panted Camilio Villegas just rolled in a birdie putt at ten, he's within four at +2 for the championship and officially on the watch list. We'll keep our eyes there.

7:03pm: I've been impressed with DJ Trahan today. He looked like a scared kid on the first tee, and 77 seemed like a great possibility at that point. But he's kept it together to start the round, and has only that bogey at the first as the bad mark at this point. I don't know if he can win, but he isn't going away yet.

7:05pm: Of course if Rocco is going to keep rolling putts in, it might not matter what anyone else does. Mediate just made a quality birdie putt at five, and is showing some seperation at -3.

7:08pm: Stuart Appleby just made a six on the fifth. Four of those came on the putting surface, from about 18 feet. Not a good way to win a major championship. He's now +1, and that might be tough to recover from.

7:10pm: Peru and Colombia in a South American World Cup qualifier later tonight. You can watch that through the Thank Me Now link on the right hand side of the page we think. Greece was eliminated from the Euro today, in a 1-0 loss to Russia. Seemed to me like the Greeks were afraid to shoot.

7:12pm: Haven't said much about Lee Westwood here. (or anything for that matter) But he is the only guy other than the leader who is under par for the championship. He's one-under and a true threat to win it.

7:14pm: Remember a few moments ago, when I told you about Sergio and his chances. They were enhanced with a birdie at the last. He might end up playing with Weir tomorrow as they are both 3-over. I think one of those guys will make an appearance on the leaderboard at some point tomorrow evening.

7:16pm: Robert Karlsson, the Swede who I thought may have had a chance entering this round, is in trouble at the sixth and will fall further down the leaderboard. The curse of the FanBlog just struck Lee Westwood and DJ Trahan. I complemented them both, and they both followed it up with bogeys.

7:19pm: That potential pairing of Weir and Garcia tomorrow will not be the final one. Hunter Mahan has raced to the clubhouse after posting +2. Right now he's tied for eighth. I'm guessing he's better than that by the end of the day. Mediate is the only player in the last 17 pairings that is under par today. And its a simple formula. Hit fairways, hit greens, make a putt or two.

7:23pm: Stuart Appleby has made another bogey at #6. He's given up four shots in three holes, to go from the lead to five back. That was quick. Meanwhile, Tiger hit a good shot in at seven. Rocco burned the edge with a birdie putt on six. The qualifier who had to survive a playoff of 11 guys for seven spots, nearly got it to four under. Wouldn't it be something if it came down to two "old" guys, Rocco Mediate and Davis Love III tomorrow?

7:32pm: Tiger just made that birdie on seventh, to get back to even par again. His good play on the first two days came on the front nine, but maybe he's gearing up for a back nine charge today. If that ends up being the case he could be the leader by the end of the day.

7:35pm: Miguel Angel Jimenez just made a Saturday morning golfer birdie. He hit a good drive on the par-five ninth, then hooked ball badly, and hack to hack it out of the deep rough. He couldn't get it to the green. But not to worry he chipped it in for birdie to rack up a few specials.

7:37pm: Jimenez' birdie put him into a four-way tie for second. It is him, Love, Westwood and Woods. They are all chasing Rocco, who just hit a fabulous fairway bunker shot to the seventh green.

8:22pm: Took a little dinner break. There is no slowing Rocco down. He keeps making birdies. And speaking of birdies, DJ Trahan has made another one at 12 and he's in the group at even par, which is four shots behind the leader. The only guy between that grouping at even and Rocco is Lee Westwood who has gotten it back to -1.

8:25pm: The grouping at even has shrunk a little bit as Geoff Ogilvy just made a double bogey and Davis Love made a bogey. So now its just Trahan and Woods at even. Ogilvy's double came on the heels of back to back birdies.

8:31pm: Tiger Woods has a sand shot here. It looks difficult to me, but he's Tiger so let's see. He could not get it stopped, and he's got a long par putt. Rocco just made another par. Villegas for birdie at the seventeenth and he got it. Westwood for birdie and he moves to -2, so a little bit of pressure on Rocco.

8:38pm: Tiger just hit one so far right that he might be good. I mean so bad it's good. I've done that once or twice. But usually I can't hit it far enough to be hit it so far. Davis Love just had a chance at a birdie on the par-5 thirteenth. Trahan also missed a putt there, he had a real chance there. Ogilvy has made his third birdie in four holes, too bad there was a double in there. But he's one-over and in with a fighter's chance.

8:43pm: Phone report from the Big 33 football classic between Pennsylvania and Ohio, shows the Pennsylvania All-Stars ahead 24-0 as they near the half. Syracuse signee Mike Jones just scored from a yard out. Congratulations to Gettysburg head coach Sam Leedy for being named to the PA coaching staff.

8:49pm: Tiger hit a great shot out of that rough and is on the 13th with a huge downhill putt for eagle, putting out of the fringe. The NBC folks are saying he could putt it 50 yards off the green. He made it. He's Tiger. He's one under and three behind Rocco. I think Tiger liked it a whole bunch. The knee looked fine on the celebration. A huge roar from the huge gallery. How did you know it was going to go in?

9:01pm: DJ Trahan just made a nice par save at #14. He's really hanging in there. But that eagle from Tiger might be the best eagle in the history of the US Open. I really have nothing to compare it to, but I'm going to call it the best eagle in US Open history. Anybody want to argue with me?

9:04pm: Tiger has been hitting some errant tee shots lately. He got away with a real bad one on the last. Now he's right on the 14th. I'm guessing he doesn't get away with this one with an eagle.

9:07pm: Great commercial from NBC about the best moments in golf. They have one to add today. That eagle was incredible. The putt (which I doubt could have gone 50 yards down the fairway) was amazing. But so was the second shot. He has gotten another break here in the rough at 14. He's on the rough trampled down by the gallery with a good look at the green. But he pulled it left and he's in the bunker. Mediate hit a nice bunker shot out of the bunker at 13 and has a birdie putt, that just snakes by.

9:10pm: Mediate just three-putted from where he was and he's fallen to 3-under and Tiger picked up three on that hole. Mediate still has a two-shot lead on Tiger, one on Westwood and both of those guys are in some trouble. Tiger in more.

9:12pm: Woods is on the green but he'll have a long putt for par. Chances are he's going to give a shot back. But let's remember he's Tiger.

9:14pm: He just missed and he's back to even with Jimenez and Trahan, who just missed, so he's now +1. Ogilvy is on the back fringe at 18, with a chance to make birdie to get back to even. Jimenez has a bogey putt at 16, so he's going to give up at least one. Ogilvy, just chipped it through the green and he's now on the front fringe. He's actually lucky it didn't go into the water. Jimenez got the eight-foot bogey to stay at +1.

9:17pm: Lee Westwood made a nice sand save at 16, to stay at 2-under. Robert Allenby made a birdie at 17 to get back to 2-over. He has the par-5 18th to go, and might be a contender tomorrow.

I'm done for the day. Chances are we'll see you tomorrow.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Imagine the possibility

Turns out I goofed. Not exactly very proud of it. But turns out that the first round US Open leader named Justin Hicks, isn't the same Justin Hicks who played in the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines earlier this year and gives golf lessons of which you can register online and I posted the link to that schedule earlier today. No that Justin Hicks is now officially known as Justin B Hicks.

So I wholeheartedly apologize for the error. We're not big here at the Fan Blog. We're not really even striving to be big. We just want to put out quality stuff that other fans can enjoy. Getting the facts wrong is not quality stuff.

However, it does appear that I'm not the only guy who has ever made this mistake. Here's a story that ran earlier this week in the San Diego Tribune.

And even Jason Sobel's blog on today noted that the PGA or USGA was confusing the two players bios. You can check out the entry at 11:59 to see what I'm referring to.

Either way, a great story emerging in Justin Hicks. He played the round of his life on Thursday, and I for one hope it continues on Friday and through the weekend. Because I'd sure like this Justin Hicks to be known as Justin Hicks, US Open champion.

And that wouldn't be bad for business for Justin B Hicks, selling his golf lessons online now would it?

Schedule an Appointment

The US Open Leader Justin Hicks is a proven golf instructor. He posts his schedule online. Do you think he can still work me in on Sunday?

Or might he have other plans?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Cleaning Up

Just a couple of issues that haven't been addressed recently here....

Josh Vittek, the slugger from the Mount, was not selected in last week's Major League Baseball draft. That's a disappointment. He had such a great career, and a fine senior season for the Mounties leading them to their first ever NCAA tournament appearance. Lots of people have checked in here to check on his status but we really don't have much to report other than we don't have anything to report. We've tried to get in touch with his family (as his father once commented here), but I doubt they even realize it, to try to find out what the future may hold. Hopefully, he gets a chance to swing the big stick somewhere again soon, but whatever the future holds we're sure, he'll end up on his feet.

Just when you thought the Orioles were done (or I did) they have this road trip. Through eight games, they've won five times, winning the first two series in Toronto and Minnesota, and can win the third straight series tomorrow night in Boston. They stand 32-32, which is obviously just .500. But it must be a surprise to even the strongest of optimists. The difference recently to me has been the consistent hitting of Nick Markakis and Brian Roberts. If those guys hit the O's will stay above or around that 500 mark.

In addition, the O's minor leaguers continue to perform admirably and bring additional hope to the future. Tonight, Brandon Erbe threw seven hitless innings before he was lifted in the eighth. He did allow a run, but the Keys rallied for two in the bottom of the eighth to win it. The first two hitters reached base in the eighth bringing all-everything Matt Wieters to the plate. Wieters did what everyone expected him to do, he dropped the perfect sacrifice bunt moving two runners into scoring position. Brandon Snyder followed with a two-run single and the Keys won 3-1.

Through five days of action EURO 2008 hasn't provided too many surprises. The big one of course was The Netherlands downing Italy 3-0. Giovanni Van Bronckhorst played a great match for the Dutch and was rewarded late with a goal. He also kept an Italian shot out with a great play on a corner kick and he fired up the field to help set up the second goal.

From my viewpoint, the Dutch, Spanish and Portugeese have been the most impressive. But don't count out the French or Germans, and possibly even the Italians who might excel once the group play is over.

Five names for the U.S. Open: Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Padraig Harrington, Luke Donald and Aaron Baddeley. I'm guessing the winner comes from that group.

Another Ballot

Filled out another online All-Star Ballot last night. Tell me where I went wrong

American League
C Joe Mauer
1B Justin Mourneau
2B Ian Kinsler
SS Michael Young
3B Casey Blake
OF BJ Upton
OF Josh Hamilton
OF Carlos Quentin
DH Milton Bradley (actually I couldn't vote for him - but I wanted to)

National League
C Brian McCann
1B Lance Berkman
2B Chase Utley
SS Christian Guzman
3B Chipper Jones
OF Nate McLouth
OF Jason Bay
OF Carlos Beltran
DH Albert Pujols - (don't get to vote for a DH in the NL - but I would have)

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Fight Night: Live Blog: Pavlik v Lockett & DeLeon vs Lopez

This has already been a great day of sports action. Now we've got two fights on television to close out the day.

Juan Manuel Lopez and Daniel Ponce DeLeon fight in the opener. They are headed to the ring right now. It's a junior featherweight championship bout. DeLeon, the former Mexican Olympian is 34-1 with 30 KO's, while Lopez from Puerto Rico is unbeaten in 21 fights with 19 KO's.

Round one: They are underway in Round One and Deleon seems to have the early control

10:23 Down goes DeLeon, his legs are gone - Lopez has a chance here
10:23 Lopez is all over him right now :53 left in ther round and Deleon is down again and it's over

10:24 Wow - What a possibility this kid has

10:24 He was super - DeLeon was better early but a big right hook hurt him - and he never recovered.
10:25 That was quick and explosive
10:26 2:25 of Round One - when the referee stopped the bout after the second knockout to give Juan Manuel Lopez the WBO Super Bantamweight title
10:28 Now we will wait for Lockett and Pavlik to start.....we'll be back when they do

10:43 Lockett is in the ring and Pavlik is headed there

10:45 Michael Buffer has the introductions as Pavlik is now in the ring

10:45 You can almost hear him, can't you?
10:46 I don't think this is going to last very long -- Lockett has a great record but I don't really believe it

10:46 I think he's in over his head
10:46 But Big Brown lost, so there is definitely no sure thing on this day
10:47 Lockett is 30-1 with 21 KO's and is trained by Enzo Calzaghe

10:48 Pavlik is the undefeated Middleweight champion of the world at 33-0 with 29 KO's

10:49 The bell sounds and the fight is underway

10:49 feeling out process not much going on in the first minute

10:50 Lockett has landed a few punches

10:50 Pavlik landed a hard right

10:51 the punch bothered Lockett but he's regained himself now

10:52 If the first round is any indication, we may have more a fight that I anticipated

10:52 Lockett landed a few strong punches, looking for the counter

10:52 But I score the round to Pavlik

10:53 They don't seemed concerned in the Pavlik corner
Maybe the first round of the last fight had me expecting too much

10:54 Pavlik in control through the middle of the second - and now he's knocked Lockett down

10:54 Lockett went to one knee

10:54 Pavlik has hit hard to the body several times this round

10:55 Pavlik landing many combos and pounding Lockett - a big right hand and Lockett is down again

10:55 he's now been down more in this round than he had been in all his previous fights

10:56 It ends and its a 10-7 round on my card - and might have been 10-6

10:56 The knockdowns didn't really knock Lockett off his feet. He just stepped back went to his knees and took the eight count

10:58 Lockett is trying to counter with a big punch but Pavlik is dominanting this...but Lockett has shown some guts

10:58 However Pavlik has put him down again, nothing special again and Calzaghe has thrown in the towel

10:58 3rd round knockout for Kelly Pavlik

10:59 he continues to earn my respect each time out -- he didn't letdown against a lesser fighter after beating Taylor twice

11:00 So two early knockouts tonight - one an upset and the birth of a star - the other just a domination by a huge favorite - who continues to see his star grow

Portugal moves to Top of Group A

A good solid win for the Portugeese in their opening game with Turkey. They sure looked like a team that could challenge for the title.

Czech Republic gets things started at the EURO

This was the only goal in the opener as the Czechs downed host Switzerland 1-0.

Sad, Sad News

Word came this morning that legendary sportscaster Jim McKay had passed away at the age of 86.

Best known for his work on ABC's coverage of the Olympics, McKay was a broadcaster who simply told the story, set the stage for the viewer. He was the old-school broadcaster who wasn't about catchy phrases, wasn't about his analysis, wasn't about his opinion. He simply told the story. And what a story he told.

For those of who grew up hoping to one day replace him, McKay was an icon. He was everything we aspired to be.

I will never forget sitting across the aisle from Mr. McKay at an Oriole game a few years ago. At that time, I had put behind my aspirations to one day replace McKay. But I was still in awe that night. My lasting impression of that game, where Mike Mussina carried a perfect game into the eighth inning will always be of Jim McKay, the legendary broadcaster, simply sitting there as a fan taking in everything around him. I wondered how he would tell the story that night. Whether he would harken back on Mussina's other near no-hit misses, or whether he'd talk about the line drive that had hit struck Mussina in the face a few years earlier. Or whether, he'd focus on Frank Catalanotto and the single to right that broke up the mastery.

I'm not sure what story he would have told that night. Only that I know the stories he told through the years on ABC were some of the most inspirational sportscasting I've ever witnessed.

I'm proud to say I was a fan of Jim McKay. Proud to say that in some way he probably influences everything that I've written on this blog. Because it always seemed to me that Jim McKay was a fan first and a broadcaster trying to share the story with other fans out there.

My deepest and sincerest sympathies are extended to the McKay family today. We hope that the memories of your loved one comfort you in this difficult time.

But one final thank you to Mr. McKay for all the tremendous reporting through the years. You will be missed. God Bless

Friday, June 06, 2008

Did you give up on them?

The Orioles have scored six runs in the top of the eighth to overcome the Toronto Blue Jays. The Birds have cracked three home runs in the inning to come from down 4-0.

For the second day in a row, Adam Jones has hit a late inning tie-breaking homer for the Birds. Jones two-run homer scored Luke Scott who had reached on an error.

Toronto starter Shawn Marcum carried a shutout into the eighth, but was lifted after Brian Roberts doubled. Nick Markakis singled home Roberts, before Melvin Mora's homer started the trifecta and drew the Orioles within 4-3.

Kevin Millar homered off of Armando Benitez to tie the score at 4 setting the stage for Jones.

Brian Burres started for the Orioles and struggled for the third straight start. He lasted into the fifth and left trailing 3-0. For the most part Lance Cormier and Dennis Sarfate minimized the damage and kept the Orioles in it. Chad Bradford has been summoned for the O's, so let's hold our breath.

And yes, I did sort of give up on the them tonight. When it got to 4-0, I tuned in the Tides, who at last check have never trailed but are tied with the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees at 12 in the seventh. Thankfully, I kept the score online, and when I saw it got to 4-1 I tuned it back in and saw most of the fireworks.

Bradford has issued a leadoff walk to Barajas. Let's make sure this doesn't get away.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

No shortstop for the Orioles

Tampa Bay has confirmed they will make Tim Beckham the top pick in the MLB Entry Draft later today. So, he won't be slipping and falling to Baltimore.

Keep in mind the Orioles have never drafted ahead of the Rays. Or the Devil Rays for that matter. Never. No wonder Tampa is so good.

I still think the Orioles will take Brian Matusz, a lefthander from San Diego, in the four slot. But there is some who believe that Aaron Crow will be the pick. said so in their final draft projection last night, but sometime changed it before I just looked again. So I'm thinking there might have been some information leaked to those folks that Crow was the guy. But now I think that might have been some posturing to ensure that Matusz got there. Ahh, the beauty of the Major League draft.

I don't think the Orioles would pass on Gordon Alvarez, the third baseman out of Vanderbilt. Unfortunately, neither will the Pirates and they pick ahead of the Orioles.

So I think it comes down to Justin Smoak, a switchitting first baseman or Matusz. I think the O's think Matusz is the bpa (best player available) and will take him. I like the bpa strategy and don't think the major league draft should be a need based draft especially early, as these players are still years away in development.

But it will be interesting to see if any patterns develop with the Orioles through this draft. I wouldn't be shocked to see them try to snatch up some college position players after round one, in hopes of getting them to the Bigs quicker than the H.S. players.

I also wouldn't be shocked to see Josh Vittek go from Emmitsburg to the O's. But that won't happen until tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

This, That, and the Other

Is anyone else confused by the white out in Pittsburgh? Aren't the Penguins wearing black and the opponent white? Is anyone else just confused by the game?

I know a lot of people are thinking Josh Vittek from the Mount may get drafted tomorrow. Well, actually, I don't know if anyone thinks he'll get drafted tomorrow. But sometime during the MLB's two day event. I hope it happens, but I'm not so sure. He's a big kid, who may be a bit of defensive liability and he doesn't show up in the MLB database of potential draftees. That can't be a good sign.

Is Dustin Pedroia just a little too big for his britches? The guy is a decent second baseman. Maybe he'll have a real good career. But he acts as if he's a superstar. I'm just about sick of it.

Rain on the east coast has wiped out three of the four Oriole minor league affiliate games tonight. Frederick needs the break, as the Keys have lost a franchise record 12 in a row. Norfolk is the only team in action tonight, it trails Scranton Wilkes-Barre in the fourth inning, 2-1. Zach Clark is on the mound for the Tides and Adam Stern has driven in the run for the Tides.

I'm on the record as picking the Lakers in the NBA Finals. But I have no real basis for that pick, other than I've never liked Larry Bird.

Hold on....Erin Andrews in on TV. She said some good things about Erin Longoria. And Rick Sutcliffe is making fun of her and how she's looking. He's saying her hair looks bad. If I get real adventurous, I'll try to find some video of how bad it looks. EA on a bad day = pretty nice. It's that whole thing that she knows what she's talking about when she's talking about Evan Longoria. I love my wife - a lot - in case she happens to read this. But any mention of Evan Longoria and she immediately starts talking about Desperate Housewives. And she still calls the Rays the Devil Rays.

Oh yeah back to the NBA Finals. Bird isn't playing. But I was a Sixers fan and the Doctor growing up, so I couldn't like the Celtics, so I still don't. Plus we really don't want Boston to win something else do we?

That Syracuse - Penn State game will be at 3:30 and available on ABC regional television on college football's third week of the season. The rivalry game is the first time the school's have met in 20 years or so. At least since '91 when I was a freshman. The good thought for tonight about the game is that the Orange can't be eliminated from bowl consideration that weekend.

Talking LizNess

Count me among those who believe last night's winning pitcher's future is in the bullpen. Radhames Liz threw a great five innings last night and earned the win in his 2008 debut. But I still believe that he'll be better served out of the bullpen in the future, where his stuff can be maximized. I can see him as a top-notch setup guy or maybe even a closer. Although, I haven't seen enough of his makeup to know whether or not he can fill that role. Still, the Orioles are correct to try him in the rotation right now. Because he does have the type of stuff that could develop into a top of the rotation type. I just think he's better off going with his one or two best pitches and getting 3 outs that way.

Speaking of fine pitching performances, the Shorebirds got one last night from Luis Noel. The 20-year old, (21 in September) is now 6-1 with a sub-3.00 ERA in A-ball. He has won his last four starts, and has surrendered just 12 hits in those 17 innings. He isn't tremendously overpowering (46 K, 57+ innings), but he gets guys out (opponents hitting just .208 against him.) Last night, he beat Ryan Miller who was 7-0 entering for Lake County of the Indians Chain. Noel spent most of the season in rookie league Florida last year, before surrendering 10 runs in 3 appearances for Aberdeen late in the year, but has made a nice transition to Delmarva this season. We think he's one to watch as the season develops.

So you over the shock that Syracuse won't have its top returning receiver next year? Just in case you were holding out hope that he might return, don't count on it. Kevin Maher of the CBS affiliate in Syracuse, reported yesterday that Williams was dismissed for cheating in one class on several occasions. Sounds to me like the door to return is closed. Just remember, that all Syracuse needs to do to improve on last season is win 3 games. Start looking at the schedule and try to find where those three wins are going to come from.

Could one be the opener at Northwestern? A few days ago the hope was a little higher. Not so much now. The game is likely to be played at Noon on the season's opening Saturday and be an ESPN2 broadcast. A month ago or so, I really thought it would be the nighttime primetime Big Ten Network game, but as the schedule is rounding into shape it appears Noon is the best bet. (Thanks to Matt Sarz for his help with this analysis).

So how those Yankee fans feeling about Joba Chamberlain in the rotation now? Kinda makes you think he isn't the savior, doesn't it? Maybe Kei Igawa wasn't such a bad solution. Look on the bright side, you still have LaTroy Hawkins in the bullpen.

Got into a little discussion, ok maybe debate, as to whether or not Chase Utley is the best player in the game this morning. It is hard to argue against him. But that is what i tried to do. Truly, I think that Lance Berkman has had a better year thus far, but do think that Utley has been better over a 3 year period or so. I also think that Dan Uggla has been better over the last month than Utley at the same position. But that is certainly a small sample. The other individual believed its either Utley or ARod. Utley has certainly outperformed him this season, but I'd probably take ARod if I was picking sides for a seven-game series right now. (As long as ARod didn't get wind that the seven-game series was anything more than a regular season series).

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Covering the Bases

A couple of different topics to tackle this evening....

First off, congratulations to Randy Johnson. He's moved past Roger Clemens on the all-time strikeout leader list tonight. He's now into second. Anyone who outdoes Clemens is celebrated by us.

The NBA has gone full circle with the matchup of the Lakers and Celtics in the finals. That's the way I recall it from my childhood. These days I don't even bother. But I think I may try to watch game one of this series and see if I can get interested. If not I watch the Mystics and Mercury.

Delmarva had only 2 players named to the South Atlantic League All-Star game. Joe Nowicki was picked for his prowess in the outfield. He's hitting .316 and has driven in 34 runs with 8 homers. Sean Gleason, who has pitched masterfully since moving from the bullpen to the rotation will also make the trip to Greensboro.

Hard to believe that the college softball season could actually come to an end tonight. Just wanted to make sure you were reading. But we do know that the Sun Devils of Arizona State are counting outs at the moment, trying to record the final nine to win the crown over Texas A&M.

Some interesting stuff going on with the Orioles roster. In order to get Radhames Liz to the majors they had to designate Luis Hernandez for assigment. Chances are he will clear waivers and make it to Norfolk. But once again the Orioles have 13 pitchers and only 3 bench players. So it wouldn't be surprising to see them replace a pitcher soon. Especially as inter-league play is upcoming. You've got to think they want to try to move Steve Trachsel. The veteran starter likely saved his job with just his second career relief appearance. But if the young starters continue to perform (and Radhames Liz seems to be a favorite of Dave Trembley) you've got to think Trachsel's days in Baltimore are numbered.

The other factors to consider are that Adam Loewen should return from injury within the next month, Randor Bierd could be back by the All-Star break, Fernando Cabrera is on a rehab assignment, so those three guys could need spots on the roster sometime soon. Trachsel seems the most likely to go, but don't count out the Orioles possibly getting rid of Chad Bradford - who hasn't pitched well, but his 3 million dollars owed over the next two seasons may make him difficult to move. Jamie Walker could also be moved, and don't count out the possibility of sending George Sherrill to another team if the offer is right. I'm also not sold on Brian Burres and think that he could be the next Oriole to be moved out of the rotation, if it comes to that.

However it falls, it could be an interesting few months with the Orioles pitching staff for the next few months.

And the Hits just keep on coming

You may have sensed by now, that even though I'm a Syracuse University grad and big football fan, I don't have very much confidence in the program right now. I don't believe in the leadership. The Athletic Director is on his best days a fool, and the head coach is a guy whom I like and has been a tremendous football coach over the years, but he seems overmatched in his role as head football coach at a Division I college.

Well things went from whatever poor state they are in now, to somewhere far beyond that yesterday when it was announced that Mike Williams was suspended from the University for academic reasons. Williams, the wide receiver from Buffalo, had as good as a sophomore season as possible for a player on a 2-10 team and was expected to spearhead an offense that has already seen three of its top four running backs, miss practice or be limited in spring practice due to injury.

And I don't think Williams is coming back. Academic issues affect college athletics all the time. If grades were the only issue in this case (and I have no knowledge that they aren't), it would certainly be something that we've seen before. But in those cases, the path that the player is taking to return to the Hill is usually known. None of that information was given this time. Consequently, I think Mike Williams' days as an Orangeman are over.

It leaves the Orange with a depth chart full of six returning wide receivers, who have combined to catch 26 passes in their careers. Lavar Lobdell is now the leading returning receiver with 8 catches. Donte Davis did catch 9 balls in a shortened freshman season, and then missed all of last year with an injury. Perhaps he (all 5-9 of him, listed at 6-0) is the new goto guy.

Bottomline what this does?

It takes a team that at might have been looking at six wins maximum and backs them up a few potential wins. Six would have charitable to begin with. This team might not get out of the shadow of last year's two win season. But thankfully, Northeastern is on the schedule.

And most significantly, it makes the heat on the seat that Greg Robinson is sitting, all the warmer.

Gonna be a fun fall isn't it?

Monday, June 02, 2008

Awaiting the Flame

I'm a big Olympic fan.

I guess that's what happens when you are young and impressionable and the US is beating the Soviet Union in one of the greatest sporting events ever played.

Or maybe it was the 1984 LA Games that really sealed it for me. With Mary Lou Retton and all of that greatness going on Southern California. I was still too young to realize at the time the US domination at those games had so much to do with Communist Boycott. That after all was really the first Summer Olympics I recall as the boycott of the Moscow games kept me from being too excited about that.

Now, I anxiously await this year's games in Beijing. I'm ready to get the TiVo fired up and watch all the action. Ok, maybe I won't be able to watch it all. But come September, I'll still be watching badminton - or some other sport I generally wouldn't care about if there was no gold medal attached to it.

Beijing brings an interesting viewing challenge. With the 12 hour difference, some events will actually be shown live on the prime time NBC coverage as they occur live (the next day) in China. Meanwhile, NBC will use its cable arms (USA, MSNBC, CNBC, and one other network) to bring near round the clock coverage. In addition, for the first time, the games will be streamed over the internet.

All of this truly excites me. I know that the by the time the Friday night Opening Ceremonies are shown here in the states, there will be Saturday morning activity taking place in such events as Equestrian, Badminton, Team Handball, Shooting, Women's Hoops, Beach Volleyball and women's team volleyball. So you can bet I'll be streaming the video as the Parade of Nations occurs on the TV.

And so it was with interest that I watched a taped game between the US and Argentina on MSNBC over the weekend. The game was played before this weekend, as the Argentines are now off in Japan competing for one of the remaining slots in the 12-team field. The US has secured its spot, and is expected to contend for a medal.

In the first two sets and a half, the US played like the team still in need of securing the spot, either that or Argentina played like the team ready to contend for a medal. I wasn't impressed with the US's effort, and hopefully this isn't a sign of what is to come in China, for the both the volleyball team and the US in general.