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!