Friday, February 18, 2011

The Royals Off Season

Sunday, October 3- The last game of the 2010 season

I wasn't there. I can't remember if we had tickets or not and if we did, I'm not certain that they were even used. Some people love the last game of the season. It is after all, fan appreciation day at the K, an appropriate gesture to those that suffer annually through the repetitive carnage that is Royals baseball. I never go though; it's not for me. It's not that I lack loyalty, this much is for sure, or even that apathy has set in. But by then I'm finished. Burnt out.

I can't really say that it's the losing that wears on me. I'm used to that. My teams lose, that's what they do. I like to think that it builds character and while I'm not sure if such is the case, I do at least get a breath of fresh air every year, which does kind of help me to endure the pounding that I suffer year round from my other teams...primarily the Royals. And when it comes to the Royals...oh man...they really know how to lose.

Lately though, there have been whisperings of better things ahead. What does this mean to you? There are quite the variety of responses to this information, ranging from "duh, knew that already" all the way to "so, they're the Royals, they'll blow it." Now I'm not going to try to persuade you to simply dive into the same kind of self-defeating optimism that I've been corroding my own sense of reality with for say...twenty years now, but I believe that I can safely say this: the best collection of talent in any minor league system, not to mention the best in Royals' franchise history, is on it's way.

Now, do you really believe that? It's OK if you don't, but understand that building from the ground up within our own organization has been the primary objective from day one, or at least since General Manager Dayton Moore took over the reigns. There have been some hiccups in the GMDM regime, but they've primarily been at the Major League level, while the agenda to find and develop young talent and provide depth to the organization appears to working.

In the meantime however, some distrust clouds the sunshine and frosty malts of Royals baseball future and as we gradually eased into winter for another long off season, one was left to wonder what direction we were headed in the short term to help insure laugh and be merry time down the road. Another poor season in 2011 seemed inevitable, but the damage there should be minimal, as the fans lost were already firmly entrenched in some kind of hypnotic state long ago, and not only remain to this day unable to forgive and forget the passing of a few outrageously priced outfielders, but are unlikely to acknowledge progress until a perennial playoff threat returns to Kauffman Stadium.

So, as to my understanding, the road map for the cold Kansas City winter was really quite lucid:

A) Decide who on the current roster is to contribute to happy joy time and who is not likely to ever see the day.
B) Get optimum value at the optimum time for those that will not still be around long term.
C) If you have a fat kid on the team that can't really run, can't really field a position properly, but sure can hit...go ahead and throw the kid some money so that he might stick around for a while.
D) Don't do anything, PLEASE, to potentially block talent that might be ready to debut. This includes Hawaiians in need of a showcase season.
E) Go ahead and use free agency to fill in any holes that may be necessary to field an acceptable, albeit another losing one in all likelihood, Major League Baseball team in 2011.
F) Please bring back grilled onions and green peppers for the Sheboygan.

Wednesday, November 10- David DeJesus traded to Oakland for pitchers Vin Mazzaro and Justin Marks

I picked up my friend Geoff from the airport that day and it was an overdue reunion. Geoff, a friend from my time in California, was in town to visit and hit the road for a little college football in Lincoln, NE. As I was driving him around town, introducing him to Kansas City, this trade was announced on the radio. The timing was impeccable as Geoff is a devoted fan of his local baseball team: the Oakland A's.

I really have no idea how Geoff views this trade in retrospect, but it was striking to me that his initial response was somewhat apathetic, something like: great, another A's outfielder. Who will be left out? Geoff was right not to get too excited, David DeJesus does little to inspire visions of championship celebrations at Jack London Square, but then neither did either pitcher dealt to the Royals so it was lacking inspiration for emotion from whatever angle an A's fan might take.

But for a Royals fan, while the talent evaluation need not be dissimilar, it still meant much more somehow. DeJesus was OUR guy. We don't really get to say that about too many players. Granted, most teams in today's game do not get to stake claim to an entire player's career, but unlike most teams, the vast majority of our payroll usually gets distributed amongst has beens, reconstruction efforts, players with glaring yet somehow overlooked deficiencies and most significantly, our own "prospects" which generally fail to meet expectations, find injuries at every corner or never really had any talent in the first place. 

DeJesus was none of those things and in his time here, he offered not only solid performance, but also a very comforting familiarity. He was our guy and was not a failure. I wish that I could say that about even five Royals with more than three years service to our current club. But while I can't, it is also important to remember that he is not an all-star caliber player. He just isn't. And more than that, it was becoming clear that his time here in Kansas City was becoming more limited with every passing day. My suspicion is that Mazzaro and Marks will not be all-stars either, but they might help us, and if they can do that and offer it for a lot longer than DeJesus could have, then hey, it's a good trade. It is kind of sad to see him go, but let's be sure to not be overly sentimental about the loss. Otherwise, Geoff and his A's brethren would be a lot more excited about the gain.

Monday, December 6 through Thursday, December 9- The Baseball Winter Meetings- Orlando, FL

The dream is to actually be a part of these meetings. Can you imagine that? Wandering around a gigantic convention talking baseball, while the vast majority of the continental United States bundles up for their mundane, frost-bitten daily activities...I can't imagine anything better! Somehow though, I am yet to be invited. While this is unfortunate, I would recommend to any baseball/summer activities lover that at the very least, following closely to what's going on at the baseball winter meetings can be extraordinarily refreshing, a kind of reminder of warmer days to come.

As for the Royals, the DeJesus departure had left an immediate need in the outfield, and more significantly, that crazy Cy Young guy of ours was expressing discontent and thus dominating the talk of those chattering heads that are actually really invited to that special, special place. Discouraging. Yet, somehow not completely deflating...I'll get to that Zack guy in a minute. So what was accomplished during the meetings? Well, this and then this. Frenchy and Melky. Sigh. Oh well, even the biggest Royals optimist in the world would be better served to not expect much from the upcoming 2011 season anyway. I don't see much up-side to either signing, but then, neither cost much and neither locked us into any kind of long-term commitment, so it can't hurt to fill the positions while waiting on younger talent to emerge from below. At least this time that talent actually exists and we're not counting on either Melky Cabrera or Jeff Francoeur to finally realize their potential, if either of them actually ever had said potential in the first place.

Sunday, December 19- Zack Greinke and Yuniesky Betancourt traded to Milwaukee for shortstop Alcides Escobar, outfielder Lorenzo Cain and two pitchers- Jeremy Jefress and Jake Odorizzi

The day the Royals traded for Yuniesky Betancourt was almost as frustrating as actually having to see him start at shortstop for the Royals every day following. How could anything possibly spoil the joy of seeing him finally depart the organization? Well, this is about as close as one can come to that. But not entirely. Yuni is gone; this is good. Problem is, so is.

That Sunday morning followed a particularly enjoyable Christmas party the previous evening and while I was awake somewhat early that day, I can't quite remember the precise sequence of events that led to my full awareness of such unexpected Sunday news of this caliber. What remains clear to me now is sitting with my brothers, somewhat anticipating a pivotal noon-time football game, but mostly discussing the trade with our lap-tops open and our baseball prospect books sprawled out around us. Greinke. Cain. Greinke. Escobar. Greinke. Yuni. Greinke. Jefress. Greinke. Odorizzi. Greinke. That's about the closest I can do to offering some kind of stream of consciousness explanation to our analysis that day. Yet somehow, despite all that "Greinke," all three of us were pleased with the trade in the end. I would soon discover that we were very much in the minority.

Why the outrage? Well why not? This is what happens when the Royals staff league best type players. We trade them. That's the stigma anyway. But what my brothers and I see differs a little from such simplicity in protocol. The guy wanted out. A guy that was signed on for only two more seasons wanted out of town now. And the thing is, when it comes to Greinke, you don't just assume that he's merely posturing for something. When it comes to Greinke, you don't assume anything. What has bothered me for a while is how much flexibility he has had because of his social anxiety disorders. I get that these can be debilitating and should be treated with a certain degree of patience and understanding. But here's my question, at what point, taking into account the guy's likely very real social disorders, at what point are we allowed to say: nah, I don't care, the guy's a jerk? I don't know, you decide for yourself. But as for me, I had already resolved that I couldn't really care less about Zack Greinke, the man. Can I blame him for recognizing that his team might not be able to compete for a division in the time remaining on his contract? No, not really. But given that he signed the contract and was now attempting to force Dayton Moore's hands with ambiguous threats of how keeping him into spring training would not go well for the organization, couldn't he have at least opened up his no trade clause a little bit, and given us more teams to work a deal with? His whole disrespect for the organization that allotted him great patience in whatever it was that his stubborn, confused mind had to overcome...that bothered me. It bothered me a lot and frankly, I'm not so sad to see him go. And it seems that I wasn't alone.

Of course though, Zack Greinke is not the type of player that you dump just because he cares little for you and you don't really like the guy anyway. For Greinke, you must get value. And we got that. Did we get any one player that carries the all-world type of talent that Zack possesses? Likely not, and this point seems to be the emphasis of all criticism that I've read concerning the Royals end of the bargain. But it seems to me that the pieces just might add up. Cain and Escobar might give us more from the two positions of CF and SS than we've had in a long time and those are two positions that we don't seem to have an answer for in our ridiculously deep farm system. We filled holes there, and then we got pitching. Jefress hurls that little white ball at about 100 MPH on the gun. Odorizzi is still really young but is full of promise and adds to what is already the deepest minor league pitching depth in baseball, "While he was the top starting pitching prospect in the Brewers system, and will be in the Top 101 prospects, he's suddenly the fifth-best pitching prospect in a loaded Royals system. I'd slot him as the eighth-best prospect in an updated Royals Top 11, which is amazing considering that he'd be an easy top-three selection in most organizations."-Kevin Goldstein, Baseball Prospectus.  I like it, I like it, I like it. And oh yeah, let's not forget the cherry on top: Yuni is gone.

January 2011- Pitching staff reconstruction

So enough, for now, with this rich get richer theme. Because in terms of starting pitching, the Greinke trade means that without a doubt, the poor just got a whole lot poorer at the Major League level. With the retirement of Gil Meche and the release of Brian Bannister to make room for one of the earlier transactions, we were now looking at a staff that included Luke Hochevar, Kyle Davies, Sean O'Sullivan and the newly acquired Vin Mazzaro. And besides any unexpected early arrivals from one of our aforementioned stud prospects, that's about it. Oh boy, not good. Here comes the band-aid.

In Francis and Chen, I like both but I'm hardly overjoyed. Chen at times last year, particularly once Zack started doing his lack-luster can't get inspired pitching for a loser act, was our best pitcher. Resigning him to the staff of sorries that he outperformed last season just made sense. Now, it should be acknowledged that last season was his best Major League season and that most projections estimate his 2011 performance to be one of notable decline, I still don't see any problem bringing back a guy that performed more admirably than the rest in 2010, particularly at a decent price, which the Royals got.

Signing Francis is a bit more inspiring. After all, it was just 2007 when we watched him take down Cole Hamels and Brandon Webb en route to a World Series. But since then, he's never been the same because of injury. He's back now and at least appears to be healthy, which could be huge if he proves to be so and gives the Royals anywhere close to the same kind of production he once offered the Rockies. Nobody likes shoulder injuries though, which is one reason that the Royals acquired him at so little cost. But again, not spending much and filling a mean-time team, while waiting for the arms of Royals future to arrive, is only a good thing. I get a little tired of fan criticism being entirely based on payroll. You spend as needed, my friends, and just like any other smart consumer or investor, one does not just throw money out there for the sake of spending it alone.

Tuesday, January 23- Billy Butler signs on

He's our best hitter. Say what you like or perhaps at times, what you don't like about him, but the guy can hit and given his age, he very well might hit far more than he has so far. I have read and read and read about this guy since the Royals drafted him right out of high school and now I'm ready see what he can become. And if he does start mashing like we've been told he will for so long? Let's be sure to not see him go so easily. He's likely a future designated hitter, perhaps even spending more time away from first base this season with Kila Ka'aihue finally getting a look and almost assuredly finding less time there once Hosmer is ready, but DH, 1B...or whatever...if the guy can hit, that's where you spend some money. And the Royals did.

Right Now

They're in camp. Some young, some new and the departures are apparent. But they are, as we wait patiently back here in Kansas City, preparing for the 2011 season and beyond. Predicting baseball success is basically weighing how many what-ifs need to happen for a team to enjoy a winning season. Right now, at the Major League level, there are simply far too many what-ifs to assume anything grand in the upcoming season. But down below, in the minor leagues, the numbers game is a lot more favorable. How much immediate improvement we will start to see is somewhat questionable, but I suspect the signs will be clear, perhaps starting with the bullpen and gradually spreading to all parts of the roster over time. And that's exciting. I call it worth watching this season, but then I call it worth watching just about any time I hear the National Anthem preceding the event. Normal people will have to decide whether enduring yet another losing season (which is very, very likely) is worth it, just to bear witness to the emergence of a youthful foundation that could fill our city with overwhelming baseball joy in the not so distant future. Do you buy that? It's OK if you don't, but it's also just fine to still have hope.

I'm going to have to figure out a way to place dead-lines on myself to get these blogs out in a more timely manner! Anyway, once again, thanks for reading and here are the new subjects to vote on for the next post:

Book Report
Big 12 Basketball
Cookie Monster, Charcot Foot And The Congo

These are all based on reader suggestions, but I prefer not to explain too much, leaving all to be revealed should it be time to write the actual blog...sort of like a Jeopardy category I guess. The subjects from the last poll that received 0 votes have been removed and the new three have been added to the list. Please take the time to cast your vote and leave any new suggestions in the comments...thanks again and have a great week!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Blog Maintenance Day

One day, about a month or two ago, I was talking to my good friend Nate about my blog. Nate is one of my biggest supporters of this profitless endeavor, and just like any other profitless endeavor, support from friends is one of the few things that can keep an individual motivated to continue. What's more, for those of you that know me well enough to also know Nate, you might also be aware that he too enjoys writing, and he is good enough at it to always have my ear when it comes to assessing tasks such as this one.

And advice he gives well. Frankly, it's the kind of advice I wish we could all get on every aspect of life, the kind that is complementary of everything accomplished to date, but also loaded with constructive guidelines to aim for moving forward. Really good advice from a really good friend. Anyway, on that particular evening our conversation took an interesting turn to an episode of the show 60 Minutes, an episode about the show itself, more specifically it's creator, the late Don Hewitt. Nate started telling me about it, but he didn't have to; I too had seen the show and also remembered it vividly. And each of us were moved by one immortal slogan expressed by Don Hewitt that evening, one that in all it's simplicity, took the show to unquestioned greatness, captivating audiences and dominating the ratings. That slogan: "Tell me a story."

Now, I am not Don Hewitt and I don't pretend to be anywhere near as interesting as 60 Minutes. Nonetheless though, I found it to be incredibly fascinating that two friends, writers known only as such by their small circles of acquaintances, would have the exact same vision of the direction that this blog...should attempt to evolve to. And it's a great concept. After all, Nate and I both, above most other things, LOVE to be told a story. And we all have them. We come across them everyday, in almost every aspect of life. They might not be grand enough for a stage such as television, but my gut feeling is that almost any story, about anything, can be interesting if delivered properly. Actually, now that I think about, this holds true to television as well.

So I created this blog and started writing. I like writing about sports, so that's mostly what I've done so far, but more than that I just want to tell you a story. Sometimes a short story or a story within a story. A story within some analysis. Or some analysis within a story. And sports are full of stories, so I'll keep writing about them, but I'd very much like to write about other things too. My friend Rob, a sportswriter, has a blog entirely dedicated to sandwiches...and it's great! Great, because in his own way, Rob is telling a story. I intentionally gave my blog the name, Time You Will Not Get Back, not because I found it to be particularly clever, but primarily because it does not limit me to writing about anything specific. I can waste your time writing about anything at all!

But alas, wasting your time is not really my objective here. I would, in my own way, telling my own stories, actually like to entertain you with this whole ordeal. And thank you to all who have been reading, this I really appreciate. This blog site allows me to track, not who is reading, but how many of you are, and I've been greatly encouraged to see the results to date. And for those of you that have offered your thoughts to me, whether in person, on facebook, by email or most appreciated of all: the comments section of this blog, thank you for that as well!

Moving forward though, I have a new agenda regarding where I'd like this to go. First off, I'd like to see it become far more interactive between myself and my readers. Before my computer required service and the holiday season with all it's distractions happened, I wrote a blog that involved a poll. I really enjoyed seeing people vote in that poll and continue to be ecstatic to see any and all new comments at the bottom of each blog. Naturally, I would like to see much, much more of this involvement in the future, and I think I've come up with an approach that might allow for that.

What I've decided to do is allow you the reader to decide the subject matter that you'd enjoy reading about, or the topic that you'd most like me to weave my story with. I will merely nominate some subjects for you to vote on and you can nominate subjects as well in the comments section! And then using a poll...we decide the next blog subject. Sound good? I sure hope so, because your participation will be critical in order for this to work out!

And so I'll begin with some subjects for you to vote on right now. This particular poll will close Wednesday night, January 26 at 10:00. Hopefully, I'll get an early idea for which subject is likely to prevail, so I can begin to prepare it and have it out to you relatively quickly. As for those that do not win, well some might remain for the next poll, and hopefully with new ideas of my own, as well as suggestions from you, I will have a new poll for you to vote on along with my next blog. This could be fun, at least it sounds like a good idea to me anyway. Here are the topics for this time:

Zack Greinke
The Royals Off Season
A College Football Wrap-up
The College Football Tournament That Should Have Happened
Shin-Soo Choo
The Centenary Men's Basketball Team
Those Joke Telling Shows On National Public Radio

Thank you all for your participation to date and please take the time to cast your vote for my next blog!

Friday, November 26, 2010

College Football Week 13

I hope that all of you enjoyed the very best Thanksgiving imaginable yesterday! It's a great holiday as I can't think of much more to be thankful for than the opportunity itself, to gather with those that are closest to you, and be thankful for each other and all things wonderful in our lives...and then to eat more than one might think possible and come back for more at the slightest hint of digestion, only to pile on with the leftovers in the following days. Yes, in the end, I am mostly thankful for gluttony, but that other stuff is important too. And so is football.

I write this ongoing series of college football, partially because I love to do it, but also because I really want to see it through to the end. In the future though, I think I will limit the number of series type blogs that I take on, mainly because there are some weeks in which there is little time to write anything else and this week is a perfect example: The National Dog Show that we watched yesterday. Just in case you and your family thought it necessary to watch Tom Brady annihilate the Detroit Lions, I'll save you the suspense, the Irish Setter won...impressive performance. Ordinarily one might think it difficult to opt for the dog show over football, but our Mom LOVES the dog show, and to tell you the truth, that makes me really enjoy watching it with her. It's not like it's figure skating or something. Besides, I had a girlfriend once who told me that she would break up with me for Tom Brady and rather irrationally, I've been jealous ever since. It's not like I dislike the man, I rather enjoy watching his craft and he does start on my fantasy team, but let's face it, I'm yet to date a girl that would dump me for an Irish Setter, although I'm sure this is coming soon. Incidentally, should a girl I'm dating ever indicate that I would be on the outs for this guy, I would immediately spare her the suspense and break up with her on the spot. If you're keeping track at home, that makes the score: Tom Brady 1, Irish Setter 0, Justin Bieber -1.

Anyway, as I write this, the Auburn-Alabama game is already underway, so let's get on with the rankings for this week (games already played since last weekend not included):

1 Auburn (11-0)
2 Oregon (10-0)
3 LSU (10-1)
4 Boise State (10-0)
5 Stanford (10-1)
6 TCU (11-0)
7 Michigan State (10-1)
8 Wisconsin (10-1)
9 Ohio State (10-1)
10 Alabama (9-2)
11 Arkansas (9-2)
12 Virginia Tech (9-2)
13 Oklahoma State (10-1)
14 Texas A&M (8-3)
15 Nebraska (9-2)
16 Missouri (9-2)
17 Oklahoma (9-2)
18 South Carolina (8-3)
19 Nevada (10-1)
20 Mississippi State (7-4)
21 Florida (7-4)
22 Utah (9-2)
23 Iowa (7-4)
24 Penn State (7-4)
25 Michigan (7-4)

Obviously, the games today and tomorrow are very important, but this Iron Bowl going on as I write this might be most significant of all. And so far, Alabama is killing it, impressively already up 14-0. But with Cam Newton, it sure isn't over yet. Cam Newton, the likely Heisman winner, has made this Auburn team nearly unstoppable this year and while it may be all coming to an end right before my eyes, it's not the most unfortunate part of the run that Auburn has made in this 2010 season. This is.

So I had a poll about it, thanks for participating if you chose to. The results were about even between two of the options, one that simply receiving the scholarship for their efforts was plenty enough for the player to receive, and the other that the player should receive some additional compensation, but that there should be very strict guide-lines and regulations to the amount that a player could potentially be awarded. Those are fine options, I suppose, but it was interesting to me how little support my readers offered the options of the kind of compensation that might be more in line with the value that they might be bringing an institution.

Don't get me wrong, I understand all of the opinions offered, but here's what I can't seem to get past as I give this question more and more thought: the NCAA seems to be completely incompetent when it comes to regulating these restrictions in the first place. And it's infuriating. Take Cam Newton, or at least the best to my knowledge as to what is going on with his situation:

1) The NCAA has been aware of his possible violations since January of this year.
2) Nothing came out about them until deep into this fall, at a time in which Auburn was already something like (9-0) and Newton was very much atop the Heisman leaders.
(3) His "violations" seem to revolve around his father, a pastor, who's not so affluent church has recently undergone some pricey renovations.

By the way, Auburn is now in the process of not only losing their first game, but getting destroyed by Alabama, now 21-0 with Auburn punting, and a good punt it was not.

Anyway, there is undoubtedly more to the whole Cam Newton situation than I've listed here, but those 3 elements alone should be enough to really make you scratch your head. First off, the religion thing...uh...yeah think of that what you like...but I think for the purpose of this blog, I'll just move on. More importantly, two questions, one, what is taking the NCAA so infuriatingly long to sort through this mess? This is the top Heisman hopeful on a leading national championship contender (although, it's now 24-0 Alabama, a party in Tuscaloosa) we are talking about, one would think that a situation such as this would be a heavy portion on the plate of investigations to made. Secondly though, at what point should we accept that these are kids, and not always financially stable kids at that, surrounded by greedy individuals more than willing to toss good intentions to the wind in order to exploit their athletic talents for their own financial gain?

It seems to me, that the only people, families, institutions, agents and NCAA alike, who are prohibited from seeking financial stability in the first place, are the kids themselves. What if Cam Newton's father got together with an agent and worked this deal out on his own? Will the father be punished? No. The agent? No. Cam Newton? Hell yes, take away his trophy, his national championship and bury him in the press. Auburn might suffer, but honestly, how much? Will they still make money? Of course they will! This was well worth the attempt for them; they're in the SEC, atop the college football world, and that isn't likely to change, violations and penalties or not.

Just accept it. Is it really all about the kid's education anymore? Is it at all about that? Do you care about Cam Newton's Geology class? Do people google "Cam Newton" "Geology class"? Do people like me write blogs about it? No, it's about M-O-N-E-Y, money that we make possible every time we go to a game, every time that we watch a game on TV, every time that we argue about who is best and who is awful. We all sit here in our smug little educated worlds and suppose that what we value in our lives is what these kids should value as well. Except most of us can't play football like Cam Newton. Most of us don't have greedy jackals surrounding us, looking to take any opportunity possible to get their unearned share of our accomplishments. And even if we did, it's clear that the NCAA or any other institution wouldn't be able to protect us anyway.

I say pay the kids...not necessarily the schools, but if outside entities want to provide the kids their proper share, then why attempt to regulate what has already been shown to be too difficult to regulate anyway? It does seem to me that an unfair playing field would be inevitable, that the kids would undoubtedly go where the money is. But isn't that what we have already anyway? Are USC and Iowa State really on an even playing field as it is? No and it's ridiculous to think otherwise. Really, in the end, there are the greedy surrounded by the greedy, with heavy influence from the greedy to help the greedy make greedy decisions. At least the greedy few that actually have to put in the hard work to accomplish their goals should be the individuals benefiting the most from it. And this just isn't happening.

Anyway, give it some thought, and as always, your comments are more than appreciated. Be back next week with more...have a great holiday weekend!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

College Football Resumed- Week 12

For anyone of you that actually waits anxiously to read what I have to say about the subject matter at hand, I must apologize for my brief hiatus. In skipping week 11, I realize that the continuity of these posts has suffered a bit, but let me assure you that it was for a worthy enough cause. I spent much of last week, including all of the weekend with some old friends, good friends at that, in which I had not seen in over ten years. The plan was simple: they fly in from their respective home cities and together we take a small road trip to Lincoln, Nebraska for what very well might be the last of a very long series between the two schools. The reunion meant more to me than any football game could compete with, and it came at a time in my life that I could use something like this, so please forgive me for my brief departure and let me just assure you that the occasion was a joyous one.

So with that, I now attempt to resume in what very well could end up being a fairly lengthy post. The game I attended on Saturday night, a rather pathetic one that was very much representative of the lack of splendor the series has taken on over the years, marked one important occasion for the purposes of this blog: Kansas' seventh loss. Not that anyone cares, nor should they, given the disaster that this season has been for the Jayhawk football program, but I make this statement with only the intention of maintaining that with seven losses, a team can no longer really receive much credit for defeating Kansas or any of the following schools that have suffered big loss number seven in the last two weeks:

Buffalo, Colorado State, Duke, Louisiana-Lafayette, New Mexico State, North Texas, Rice, UAB, Vanderbilt, and Wake Forest.

Ordinarily, of course, I would write some statement of inadequacies regarding each of these epic losers, but I have bigger fish to fry this week, and I think it's enough to just inform you that all of these teams, Kansas included, are really, really bad. Now, I only start with this list for one reason, it's time to finally break down for you how I come up with the order in which I designate my top 25 teams, and to do so I need to present my sequence of win significance, so to speak. Let's put them into tiers:

Tier 1: Wins over 1 loss BCS programs-This is to say that the team being recognized for a victory such as this, is obviously the only team that has defeated this opponent. I should note here that I also include Notre Dame, as would the BCS, should they ever regain relevance. While I would love to see Notre Dame drop their selfish incentives and finally join a proper BCS conference, for now it's enough for me that they at least play over half their games against teams from BCS conferences, and usually good ones at that.

Tier 2: Wins over 1 loss non-BCS programs, as well as 2 loss BCS programs- I suppose it just seems about equal to me, but I'm fairly systematic in keeping to this kind of 2 for 1 program from here out, so I figure that I'm at the very least consistent in this format.

Tier 3: Wins over 3 loss BCS

Tier 4: Wins over 2 loss non-BCS and 4 loss BCS

Tier 5: Wins over 5 loss BCS

Tier 6: Wins over 3 loss non-BCS and 6 loss BCS

Tier 7: Wins over 4 loss non-BCS

Tier 8: Wins over 5 loss non-BCS

Tier 9: Wins over 6 loss non-BCS

It seldom ever becomes necessary to even consider Tiers 7-9, but they can, if necessary, be used as tie-breakers for teams with remarkably similar schedules to date. And as I've already stated, there is no credit whatsoever for beating teams with 7 losses or more, or teams that are below division 1 FBS. So with this format in place, instead of just listing this week's top 25, let's present each team with their credentials to date.

1) Auburn (11-0)
Undefeated is the first thing to recognize, but also beat Tier 1 LSU, Tier 2 Arkansas as well as Tier 3 South Carolina and Mississippi State. Nobody even comes close to this list of accomplishments.

2) Oregon (10-0)
Also undefeated with wins over Tier 1 Stanford and Tier 3 USC.

3) LSU (9-1)
Only loss is to Auburn, which means that they are undefeated against the field of which they are being compared. And their wins, Tier 2 Alabama, Tier 3 West Virginia and Mississippi State are significant enough to trump that field.

4) Boise State (9-0)
Oregon State hit the tank but lucky for them, Virginia Tech has stuck around to allow Boise a Tier 2 victory. Their whole status depends on this, but so far, they are very fortunate.

5) Stanford (9-1)
Only loss to Oregon, so undefeated against the rest of this field, and Tier 3 wins over USC and Arizona are good enough for now.

6) TCU (11-0)
About to fade fast. Tier 4 wins against Baylor and Utah will barely do for now, but should those start slipping to Tier 5, 6 or worse, Nebraska and friends are going to move on ahead of them.

7) Nebraska (9-1)
The one loss to Texas is a rough one to justify, but there are no longer any teams that are undefeated against the rest of the field, so their wins against Tier 1 Oklahoma State, Tier 2 Missouri and Tier 4 Kansas State are plenty good enough to be the best of the rest.

8) Oklahoma State (9-1)
Only loss is to Nebraska, so now they are undefeated against the rest of the field and wins over Tier 3 Texas A&M as well as Tier 4 Kansas State and Baylor will suffice for now.

9) Michigan State (9-1)
The loss was to Iowa, which is not exactly looking golden right now, but the wins over Tier 1 Wisconsin, as well as Tier 3 Michigan and Northwestern are.

10) Wisconsin (9-1)
Now undefeated against the rest of the field, plus wins over Tier 1 Ohio State and Tier 3 Iowa.

11) Ohio State (9-1)
See a trend here? Now Ohio State is undefeated against the rest of the field and the wins over Tier 3 Miami (FL) plus Tier 4 Penn State get it done just enough.

12) Alabama (8-2)
The first 2 loss team, with 1 of the losses being against LSU, so only has 1 loss against this field. The wins over Tier 2 Arkansas, Tier 3 Mississippi State, plus Tier 4 Penn State and Florida easily top teams of this variety of losses.

13) Arkansas (8-2)
Losses against Auburn and Alabama make them, say it with me, undefeated against the rest of the field. The wins are fine against Tier 3 Texas A&M and South Carolina.

14) Mississippi State (7-3)
This is the first time that it's become necessary for this week's rankings, but I will allow a team to jump one Tier from their own if their wins and losses dictate it feasible. Mississippi State, with their only losses being against Auburn, LSU and Alabama, are undefeated against the remaining field, but it should be noted that their one win against Tier 4 Florida makes their standing here tedious at best without further improvement.

15) Missouri (8-2)
One bad loss against Texas Tech, but then every team from here out in the qualifying Tiers has a game lost that cannot be overlooked. And the wins over Tier 2 Oklahoma, Tier 3 Texas A&M and Tier 4 Kansas State makes Missouri the best of these teams.

16) Texas A&M (7-3)
Add Missouri to their losses against Oklahoma State plus Arkansas, and yup, undefeated from here out. Wins over Tier 2 Oklahoma and Tier 4 Baylor are plenty good to qualify here.

17) Oklahoma (8-2)
#15 and # 16 went well for Oklahoma because those are their 2 losses. Consider that plus their Tier 3 victory over Florida State, and they are sitting comfortably enough for now right here.

18) South Carolina (7-3)
The only bad loss is to Kentucky, but wins over Tier 2 Alabama and Tier 4 Florida beats out a field that is starting to look weaker and weaker.

19) Virginia Tech (8-2)
Remember that loss to James Madison? Well the Hokies haven't lost since. Good thing for Boise State that they haven't. Part of the steady Virginia Tech recovery includes wins over Tier 3 NC State and Tier 4 North Carolina...good enough for this spot.

20) USC (7-3)
The bad loss is Washington, the one win is Tier 3 Arizona, good enough for right here.

21) Arizona (7-3)
USC getting in means their only bad loss from here out is Oregon State. Beating Tier 3 Iowa makes for a very similar scenario as the team that just made this possible, right ahead of them.

22) Iowa (7-3)
Very similarly, Arizona's clearance leaves the only remaining Iowa defeat against this field as being Northwestern. This time their selection is even more clear with nice wins over Tier 1 Michigan State, Tier 3 Michigan and Tier 4 Penn State.

23) Michigan (7-3)
Once again, Iowa clears the way with Michigan's only bad loss remaining being Penn State, and that doesn't seem so bad, but neither does their one decent win seem that good, against Tier 4 Connecticut. This might be short lived.

24) Nevada (9-1)
Might have come up earlier had they presented us with anything better than Tier 5 California in the win column. But they didn't.

25) Florida (6-4)
Really running out of better options. Florida only has a Tier 3 victory against South Florida, but at least their 4 losses are against Alabama, LSU, Mississippi State and South Carolina, making them undefeated against the rest of the field.

Hopefully, you can now at least see some method to my madness. Thank you for taking the time to sort through it, as from here out, I can answer any questions and at least feel like I've attempted to give it proper representation at least one time.

Also, please vote in my poll if you haven't yet; I've got something coming about all that!

Friday, November 5, 2010

College Football Week 10

So here I was this week, typing away about the Auburn Tigers and their undefeated season to date. I thought it might be time to clearly define, as opposed to merely dropping indicators in segments, the system of which I use to define which team gets ranked where. I had plenty to write about. Auburn's fiercest rivalry, one I have always inexplicably been fascinated with, their mutual hatred for the Alabama Crimson Tide, a team that was and for some still is the apple of the college football nation's eye, will culminate in two or three weeks with what maybe the biggest match up of the season. Yet to this date, Auburn gets repeatedly under-credited for a distinguished set of accomplishments this season, and Alabama seems set to be given every opportunity to win a national championship on reputation alone, as if we predetermined that Alabama should play Boise State for the title, it's the game everyone wants to see, so let's just make it happen, regardless of how their accomplishments stack up against the rest of the nation.

Boise State then, as well as TCU and Utah would deserve some mention. Boise, I have droned on about a little on this blog, but TCU and Utah play each other this weekend and by the end of it, two of these three non-BCS teams will remain undefeated, a misfortune for those wanting a clear cut champion from the current system, a gift from God for those who cry out against an imperfect system and beg for a tournament. Perhaps this subject is better left for a future week anyway.

The last comparison to be discussed would be the obvious, the Oregon Ducks, the only other undefeated BCS conference team. This seems to be the consensus team of teams to date, with the only general criticism I've heard about Oregon so far, seems to be their uniforms. Yet if you compare their schedule to Auburn, I think you would come to same conclusion I did that....and hold on...STOP THE BLOG. Delete. Delete. Delete. This popped up on our radar last night. Read it if you have the time.

Cam Newton. The Heisman to be. The best player on the best team. Cash. We've seen this before but I can't remember a time in which it came up mid-season, particularly with a player/team that is so deeply entrenched in a season, with so much already having been accomplished. What will happen from here? Who knows. It could be nothing and even if there is something to it, we could be waiting a while before anything about this ugliness gets resolved. I'm currently awaiting a similar kind of decision on a key player, Josh Selby, concerning KU's upcoming basketball season. So perhaps I can't help but to allow bias enter the arena of my "big picture" concerning the subject matter. Therefore I've decided that this week, instead of rambling on about this Auburn player and this Auburn team, let's ask you. What do you think? The poll I have come up with is on the right of this column.

I'd like to get back to this question in the future, after I've seen your response to the poll. But for now, let's just get on with my top 25:

1 Auburn (9-0)
2 Oregon (8-0)
3 LSU (7-1)
4 TCU (9-0)
5 Boise State (7-0)
6 Utah (8-0)
7 Stanford (7-1)
8 Mississippi State (7-2)
9 Nebraska (7-1)
10 Missouri (7-1)
11 Oklahoma (7-1)
12 Oklahoma State (7-1)
13 Michigan State (8-1)
14 Wisconsin (7-1)
15 Ohio State (8-1)
16 Iowa (6-2)
17 South Carolina (6-2)
18 Alabama (7-1)
19 Arkansas (6-2)
20 Arizona (7-1)
21 Illinois (5-3)
22 Penn State (5-3)
23 Florida (5-3)
24 Texas A&M (5-3)
25 Oregon State (4-3)

Most noticeable is that the conferences are all starting to take their toll on each other, thus resulting in the teams of some conferences being ranked in bunches. While it may look a bit unsightly, I don't see anything wrong with this, given that it is merely representative of how a team's performance might affect those that seek recognition based on an opponent's presence on their schedule alone.

Speaking of scheduling recognition, here are this week's newest members to my "no credit" list:

Wyoming (2-7)- As much as they've lost, one has to recognize the difficulty of the Wyoming Cowboys' schedule. Part of this is merely misfortune, as their conference schedule is about as top heavy as I've ever seen a team have to endure, relative to the conference they play in, of course. Now they get to finish with the weaker teams that their league offers, but unfortunately, the damage is done. I will say this, should Wyoming ever build a legitimate national contender with a schedule such as this, then nobody needs to even attempt to try and deny them their right to play in any bowl they want to. For now though, no bowl, and no credit for beating Wyoming.

Central Michigan (2-7) The Chippewas probably felt that they'd set their schedule up adequately enough, taking on non-conference opponents such as Virginia Tech, Northwestern and in a couple weeks, Navy. The lesson to be learned here is simply that you do actually have to win once in a while, particularly if you play in one of the weaker conferences, such as the MAC. This team has not won much, and usually hasn't come close to doing so...I'm not going to give anyone credit for beating them.

Memphis (1-7) Given their basketball successes, for a couple years there, Memphis entered the football postseason with and appearance in one bowl game or another and used these appearances to present the argument that they would be a perfect fit for the Big East Conference. Of course, now we have evidence to the contrary. Not a good season, Memphis, but best of luck against Tennessee this weekend!

UNLV (1-7) Vegas baby! Want another cliche'? OK, try this one: what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, including beating them. This team is awful.

Western Kentucky (1-7) The Hilltoppers finally won a game!!! And came back the next week and lost again, for the seventh time this season. Baby steps. They are not good, and nobody should be recognized for beating them, but for the first time since moving to the top division, one could actually make the argument that they aren't the worst team in FBS. Congrats fellas!

Ball State (2-7) Well, a friend of mine saw them play this game. After that though, there isn't much more to say about this team, unless you want me to tell you, just like everyone else already has, that David Letterman and Jason Whitlock both went to school there. They must be doing something right, and they were actually pretty good at football a couple of years ago. But those days are long gone now.

Last week I felt awful for posting so close to the weekend, but not so much this week, given the priority that the World Series offered me. I apologize if you've been wondering about this post's tardiness, but I just had to jump on the opportunity that the Giants offered me to tell that story. And thank you all for your kind responses to that post, I really appreciate the gestures and also the fact that you read my ramblings at all in the first place. Please participate in the poll this week and have a great weekend!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The World Series

Have you ever written a love letter to someone whose love in return may be in question? I can't imagine a more awkward endeavor and I assume most people, at most times in their lives, would consider themselves incapable of doing so...right up until that point that they go crazy over some other person and they simply can't stop themselves. Or at least that's how I imagine it. And then they get on a roll, pouring out all of their most private thoughts and emotions...and before they know it, their masterpiece of heartfelt sweetness is signed, sealed and delivered. And then, almost immediately, the embarrassment upon re-reading the 1000 words saved on their word processor, frankly makes them ill to even consider the unseen response of the desired.

This isn't exactly how I feel about writing on the subject of baseball, but it's close. People who read this blog ask me all the time, why don't I write about baseball? After all, I am a baseball guy...I get season tickets...I play and win fantasy baseball...I analyze statistics...I read all I can about the game, baseball in literature and baseball theory...most of my favorite links on THIS blog page are other baseball blogs...I love the history...I love baseball movies above most other movies... It just doesn't make any sense that I have not been writing about baseball!

Top of the first:
Cliff Lee strikes out Andres Torres. Then he shatters the bat of Freddy Sanchez, out first to third, but just before that we get to see highlights of Lee's baffling the Yankees in last year's World Series...pretty cool. Buster Posey temporarily spoils the Cliff Lee love fest with a single to right, but then Cody Ross pops out to left and is not happy about it.
Giants 0, Rangers coming up

My love for the game makes it hard to even consider not writing about it. And I do from time to time and intend to far more on this site, but there's been a problem so far every time I've attempted it: why does it always seem so damned cheesy? Is it just me being hard on myself? Am I afraid of the unseen response to my impassioned thoughts of a game that maintains as much splendor to me as this one?

Bottom of the first:
Timothy LeRoy "The Freak" Lincecum takes the mound for the Giants. He makes a nice play on Elvis Andrus on a one-hopper back to the mound. Michael Young gives a ball a bit of a ride to right field, but nothing comes of it, two outs. And then a quick Tim Lincecum promo...the song: "Here Comes the Freak!" The highlights show him beating Derek Lowe, beating Roy Halladay, and then of course, beating Cliff Lee in game 1 of this series. We return to the game and he gets Josh Hamilton to ground out to first.
Giants 0, Rangers 0

Does baseball not love me back? Is that it? Is that the problem? I am a Royals fan. And I hate the Yankees. I couldn't fathom the strike in 1994 and the steroids era infuriated me. It seems intent on driving away fans, leaving me and a small circle of my friends all alone to grow ever angrier at the game I continue to love more and more nonetheless. Does baseball not love me back? It's possible.

Top of the second:
Cliff Lee strikes out Juan Uribe. Aubrey Huff grounds out to Kinsler at second and Pat Burrell flies out hard to left. That was quick.
Giants 0, Rangers 0

I will always have 1985. I was ten. The Royals were World Series Championships. We made signs and had a parade at school. It was so much fun! So much love! Baseball loved me then. But what happened? It seems like we've been fighting ever since.

Bottom of the second:
Vladimir Guerrero swung at the first pitch (big surprise) and flies out to right. So does Nelson Cruz, who grounds out to second. Two pitches, two outs. Ian Kinsler grounds out to third and we've got a pitcher's duel.
Giants 0, Rangers 0

I think it's because of 1985 that the St. Louis Cardinals might be the only team I've never pulled for at any given time, although I can't recall the specific instance that I pulled for the Chicago White Sox either. The Cardinals were so unprofessional in that series. They cried about "the call," never acknowledging all the other circumstances. They threw temper tantrems on and off the field. They destroyed dugouts and locker rooms, even injuring themselves in the process. This is what happens when your team forgets how to act. They lost. And I loved every moment of it.

Top of the third:
Edgar Renteria pops out to first. Aaron Rowand lines out to left. Then Torres singles! He's fast so there could be something to this, but you don't get the feeling that there is. Cliff Lee is really rolling. Cliff Lee is really good. And Cliff Lee can play defense too, as he snags a line-drive off the bat of Sanchez.
Giants 0, Rangers 0

I've even pulled for the Yankees now...albeit only once. It was the last time that they played the Red Sox in the postseason. I've pretty much had it with the Boston Red Sox. They just became too trendy for my taste, I suppose, and I got sick of them. But really, really sick of them. I wonder what would happen if the Red Sox or the Yankees played the Cardinals in the World Series again. Who would I pull for? One can never predict these things. I probably wouldn't watch. OK...yeah...I'd watch.

Bottom of the third:
Timmy Lincecum strikes out David Murphy. And then Benji Molina too. The announcers are telling us now that Lincecum was singing and dancing to Mexican music in the locker room with Pablo Sandoval before the game. And he wears a bow tie. Who couldn't possibly like this kid? But he did just walk Mitch Moreland. No problem though as he strikes out Andrus. Yep, struck out the side. Stud.
Giants 0, Rangers 0

I have to hand it to the Red Sox though, Fenway Park is quite awe inspiring. I've been to a lot of ballparks in my life, finally made it to Wrigley Field last year...twice. And I think that Fenway might be my favorite, well, my favorite out of town ballpark anyway. Kauffman Stadium is like a second home to me. And there's no place like home.

Top of the fourth:
OH, Buster Posey just missed extra bases! Foul ball though and he grounds out to Young at third on the next pitch. Ross strikes out. Uribe musters a high, too high, pop fly to center. Nobody is even getting in scoring position. For either team.
Giants 0, Rangers 0

One stadium I've been to is the venue in which the game I'm watching now is happening, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Oddly enough though, it wasn't for a game. I was with my family in Dallas for some kind of weekend getaway, a while back in the month of the season hadn't started yet. But after our arrival, we somehow figured out that the brand new stadium was having an open house, open to the public for viewing, so we did just that. Nice place.

Bottom of the fourth:
Michael Young just got the Rangers first hit to leadoff the inning. Oh-oh. One question though, where has Josh Hamilton been this series? He just struck out. Guerrero, first ball swinging again, grounds to short and Young is out at second. And then Cruz strikes out. Nice start to the inning, but Lincecum has control of this lineup tonight.
Giants 0, Rangers 0

Kauffman Stadium may be my second home as far as buildings go, but really, my second home is the San Fransisco Bay Area. I lived there and loved it for six years. Still think about it often and miss it sometimes. And while there, at some point along the way, maybe after a year or two, I became a Giants fan. Being on the road a lot, I listened to a lot of their radio broadcasts, and seldom missed them on television when I was home. I caught a Barry Bonds homerun ball at Candlestick Park, and showed up for their first game in the new stadium. I was really enjoying this team and they were starting to play pretty well. Maybe baseball did love me!

Top of the fifth:
Wow, Kinsler just made a great bare-handed play at second but Moreland dropped it at first. Error and Huff is on. Burrell strikes out; he gets a lot of those. Cliff Lee does too. Renteria grounds into a double play. The error is erased, the crowd is amped and so is Lee.
Giants 0, Rangers 0

But then I realized something. Baseball didn't love me at all. It had pulled maybe its most crooked, cruel, unusually painful trick on me yet. The Giants had never won since they had moved to San Fransisco. The franchise itself had not won since 1954, when they were in New York. At least I had 1985 to think back on! My new friends in "The City" had no idea what it was like to have a parade for their baseball team. And I had jumped on board without any consideration for my well-being.

Bottom of the fifth:
Lincecum gets Kinsler to hit one off the end of his bat. Nice play by Sanchez at second and one down.
Murphy strikes out and looks stupid doing it. Another one off the end of the bat, this time Molina's and Lincecum makes the play to finish another easy inning.
Giants 0, Rangers 0

And still a Giants fan, always to be a Giants fan, second only to my beloved Royals, I had to call an end to my time there. On my last day/night out in the city, a couple of my friends took me to a Giants game. One of my friends bought me a Giants hat and I would wear it proudly in Kansas City for years to come.

Top of the Sixth:
Rowand strikes out. Torres grounds to short. Cruz misses while diving for a shallow bloop to right, but keeps it in front of him and limits Sanchez to a single. Then as if making amends, Cruz tracks down a ball crushed by Posey to the warning track. Nice catch.
Giants 0, Rangers 0

Just looked up to notice a commercial in which there are robots fighting each other in some guy's kitchen...and the guy is just watching...and eating breakfast or something. Anyway. Where was I? Oh yes, upon moving back, I immediately resumed my attention to the Royals that I had left behind. It had been a rough six years for my boys in blue. In a time of economic riches elsewhere, inside and outside of baseball, the franchise had been left behind, without any true ownership, squandering whatever few resources they had and failing to develop new. To say that the fan base had been cut in half would probably be an understatement.

Bottom of the sixth:
Moreland got a hit to lead off. This is a good Rangers lineup that has been asleep for most of this series. Is this where they break out against Lincecum? Andrus flies to center. There was a hit and run in the works...good idea, I felt that aggressive baserunning was key in the Rangers beating the Yankees. Young flies to center on yet another first pitch. Man, Lincecum could probably do this for 15 innings if this keeps up. Hamilton breaks his bat and Sanchez takes care of him. Where have you gone, Josh Hamilton? The Yankee Nation would like to know.
Giants 0, Rangers 0

So as I settled in to attend memorable back to back Royal losses in 9 hour, 100 degree heat doubleheaders at the K, I couldn't help but notice that something special was going on back on the other home front. Bonds was killing it; his splash hits were a nightly feature on the highlight reels, and more importantly, the Giants were winning. This looked like fun and I wished that I could still be there. The fruition of course, was a World Series in 2002. They had made it!

Top of the seventh:
Cody Ross is up again. Talk about a revelation, this guy has been incredible this postseason. I for one, have enjoyed watching the terror he and Uribe have gifted otherwise great pitching. He singles up the middle. And then so does Uribe. I've got a really good feeling about this. Nice bunt by Huff, nice play by Lee, one out, runners on second and third. Pat Burrell now, not my favorite Giant. This is taking some time. He strikes out. Cliff Lee being Cliff Lee and yes, Pat Burrell is still Pat Burrell. Renteria is the last hope for the lead. Remember his big hit to win for the Marlins? Who doesn't? But that was only a single and I would have never expected this. What is your favorite World Series home run? Gibson? Carter? Fisk? Well, I think that for my friends in San Fransisco, their answer from now until eternity, just might be a resounding: Renteria. Deep left center, 3-0 Giants. I have chills. Rowand flies to right, nice play by Cruz
Time for God Bless America. Giants 3, Rangers 0

To this day, that 2002 World Series is something of a blur to me. There were a lot of runs. There was a dancing monkey. KRod was born. Troy Glaus went off. And the Giants lost. As they should, I suppose. This kind of thing just doesn't happen for Giants fans in San Fransisco. They don't get to have parades for baseball...only parades of...other sorts. I remember scrambling to a bar to catch the end of that series. Had a burger and a beer just like I would have had if I had been at Red's Java House, just down the street from Pac Bell Park. By myself that night, I watched the Giants lose and then had another beer to watch the Angels celebrate. I was saddened. It was a two beer night.

Bottom of the Seventh:
Lincecum strikes out Guerrero. They're getting closer and closer. But wait. Cruz just went yard, and crushed it, 3-1. Please, let's not let this go. Oh no, Kinsler works the walk and Dave Righetti makes his trip to the mound. One out, one on, and a crowd that is starting to get pretty loud again. Lincecum strikes out Murphy. Huge. One more kid, get out of this. Done. Molina strikes out as well.
Giants 3, Rangers 1

Things would get worse before getting better for Royals fans and Giants fans alike. The Royals had a new owner, but he didn't want to spend any money. Their GM was trying, I believe really trying, but he was spinning his wheels. And for the Giants, who had recently come so close, things may have been worse. The steroids thing had put the spot-light on the Bay area. Barry Bonds, their favorite son, had become the poster child. All very sad.

Top of the eighth:
Neftali Feliz is pitching for the Rangers now. Goodnight, Cliff Lee, let's not go and do something stupid like becoming a Yankee this offseason, please. Torres pops out behind the plate. The crowd likes it, but you can almost hear their concern. Yeah, they need Giant outs, but more than that, they need Ranger runs and they know it. Sanchez flies out to left. Posey gets nothing of the ball, but gets on anyway, another hit, of the infield variety this time. The Rangers can't let this get any worse and Cody Ross is up again. He grounds out to Young at third.
Giants 3, Rangers 1

So in some way, not entirely, but to at least a certain extent, the Giants left my consciousness. Now focused on the Royals, I was determined not to get too frustrated. Baseball might not love me anymore, but this stuff builds character. I keep telling myself that. After a glimmer of hope in 2003, the Royals went back to losing again...and by that I mean, really losing. Whoever your team is, trust me, you likely haven't experienced the kind of losing we have had in Kansas City between then and now.

Bottom of the eighth:
Lincecum returns. And promptly strikes out Moreland. Ten strikeouts. I love this kid. Andrus hits one back to him and he takes care of it. 4 outs remaining for the Giants. Make that 3 as Young bounces out to Uribe.
Giants 3, Rangers 1

And then something funny happened. I moved in with my brothers and shortly after, we purchased the baseball package on cable. We had every game, every broadcast! Being a bit of a late night guy, I started watching West coast games after everyone else was in bed. And naturally, I was watching the Giants.

Top of the ninth:
Uribe strikes out. Feliz is dealing but it just might be too late. Huff grounds out to Kinsler. Burrell strikes out again.
Giants 3, Rangers 1

The Giants weren't good yet, but one thing was very apparent: they had a very young, but very talented pitching staff. And they seemed to be having a lot of fun, as was I. I had been reunited with the familiar voices of my Giants broadcasts of old. It took me back and caught me up, all at the same time. A small piece of heaven.

Bottom of the ninth:
Lincecum or Wilson? Wilson or Lincecum? Wilson. Good choice, I think. He is their closer; this is his job. And this postseason, he's yet to give up a run. Hamilton strikes out. 2-20 in this series, wow. Guerrero grounds out to Renteria, not a good series in his own right. One more out, and it's Nelson Cruz at the plate. The ball never gets put into play, strike three.
Giants 3, Rangers 1

It wasn't really supposed to happen this year. They didn't score a lot of runs, the whole country knew this. Their fans called it "torture."  But the momentum was also noticeable. I could go on about the celebration, tell you how it makes me feel, or how I think it makes my friends in the Bay area feel, but I won't. I think I'll wait for my friends, life long Giants fans, names like Barnhart, Carbone, Baldini, Concannon and many more to tell this story. After all, it turns out that baseball does love them, and maybe before too long, in a very Royal blue way, we'll find out that it, in fact, loves me too. Have a great parade, my friends!

Friday, October 29, 2010

College Football Week 9

Not a good week for this blog.

First of all, Boise just had to play on Tuesday night, didn't they? That's annoying but I'll survive. Occasionally a game will happen way too early in the week, before I'm finished writing everything I have to say about the previous weekend, but generally the teams in that game are of little consequence and I can have all the time I need before any potentially ranked team shows up to play on Thursday night, at the earliest. But no, not Boise St. Fortunately though, Louisiana Tech is not much of a difference maker, ever since this guy left campus, and Boise State's beating them is not really going to add or subtract to their positioning in my rankings...just so long as they don't lose, of course, which they didn't. That said, just for the record, the Boise State/Louisiana Tech game will not be included in this week's accounting; you're just going to have to wait until next week for that game not to matter.

And regrettably, neither will this one. You see, even as I had already completed some of what you are about to read, my Internet connection inexplicably went out last night, and never came back, well, at least not to my knowledge anyway...I kind of got wrapped up in a book and fell asleep after multiple attempts at resuming connection. Now in theory, I could have written the whole thing on my phone, but this would have been most tedious, similar it would seem to working through something like this on an abacus, and is not a journey I want to delve into. The problem this time is that, yeah, Florida State losing really does make something of a difference. But nonetheless, please, just for the sake of giving me some leeway, let's just ignore the fact that these two games have already happened and rightfully assume that they will be considered fully in next week's post.

So many plans for this week too, but given the trials and misfortunes, let's just move on to the rankings and work from there:

1 Auburn (8-0)
2 Michigan State (8-0)
3 Wisconsin (7-1)
4 Missouri (7-0)
5 Oklahoma (6-1)
6 Oregon (7-0)
7 LSU (7-1)
8 Ohio State (7-1)
9 TCU (8-0)
10 Boise State (6-0)
11 Stanford (6-1)
12 Florida State (6-1)
13 Utah (7-0)
14 Miami (FL) (5-2)
15 Mississippi State (6-2)
16 Nebraska (6-1)
17 Oklahoma State (6-1)
18 South Carolina (5-2)
19 Alabama (7-1)
20 Arkansas (5-2)
21 Arizona (6-1)
22 Iowa (5-2)
23 Illinois (4-3)
24 Michigan (5-2)
25 Florida (4-3)

Oh how beautiful my plan this week, I had it all figured out. This was to be the week, the one where I allowed 3 loss teams into my top 25, where I was to explain each team, one by one, and how I come to these numbers that they find themselves. Well, given the mishaps that have occurred, most of no fault but my own, it will have to wait one more blog...but yes it's coming. Not yet however, as I am quite clearly beyond the time one should be allotted for a blog such as this. So instead, let's reveal what was mostly already written, and just get it over with. Behold...this week's teams that have utterly failed this season and shall warrant no credit whatsoever for any team that has beaten them:

Washington State Cougars (1-7)

Grrrrrrrr! Besides the Montana State coach, everybody said they were really, really bad...and they were absolutely right. That said, this article seems to give them hope, coach speak taken way too literally, I suspect, but hey, it's the nicest thing I've read yet about this pathetic, pathetic team.

Bowling Green Falcons (1-7)

Well, not much to say here. They are a bad team, in a bad conference, that has lost very, very badly this season. They did have their one win against the Marshall Thundering Herd...WE ARE MARSHALL...but other than that, not many bright spots to a terrible season that was, and should continue to be.

Eastern Michigan Eagles (1-7)

Check out these scores. The overtime win against Ball State appears to be something of a fluke, given the other results available...and it's not like Ball State won't be soon to find this loser-ville segment either. Eastern Michigan is bad, if not for Western Kentucky and Akron, maybe the worst in all of FBS.

New Mexico Lobos (0-7)

Oh yeah, speaking of teams that may be the worst in all the land, well let us not forget this one. Truly, and I mean really, I wish that we all could have seen this game, if for nothing else, just to enjoy the ineptness that one American State can provide. I heard on the radio before the Kansas/New Mexico State game that my Jayhawks' opponent was not the inferior team in their own State, and while I figured it meant little, I'm not sure I realized how little that statement entailed. Yeah, I get it now.

Minnesota Golden Gophers (1-7)

Really? After 2 bowl seasons, back to losing everything? Well, yes, but when considering that each of the last two seasons this team was barely bowl eligible, and the season before that, they won exactly this many games that they have now, I guess it's not that surprising. They should continue to lose, I guess, but who knows what is going on up there...maybe Morneau is hurt or something.

San Jose State Spartans (1-7)

Wow, every time I think that I've seen BAD, well, check this out. Need more? No, didn't think so.

Well, if you just happen to be a big fan of one of these teams, let me offer my sincerest apologies. Yet, please understand that, no matter the severity of your team's misfortunes, I insure you that mine is soon to follow so by all means, do not let it drag you down too much. That's it then, easy does it this week. Next week a fresh, more timely presentation that should put some questions you may have to my system to rest. And before that, hopefully something baseball...