Can Butler Do It?

April 4, 2011

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Last year, Butler came tantalizingly close to winning the national title when Gordon Hayward’s three point shot at the buzzer missed.  The Bulldogs lost 61-59, star Gordon Hayward left early for the NBA draft, and everyone thought that the chance for a mid-major to win a title had evaporated.

Butler came into this year’s tournament as a #8 seed.  In spite of the absence of Hayward, they have made their way through the jungle and into the NCAA Finals once again.  Is this the year that we can finally say the Butler did it?  I certainly hope so.

Butler coach Brad Stevens is a year younger than me … and is sure to be wooed by some bigger programs with fat pocketbooks.  Will Stevens be tempted by the money?  It’s worth noting that Stevens got his start in coaching when he quit his good paying job in the “real world” for an unpaid gig at Butler.  Bulldog for life?  Maybe.

The UConn men are the forgotten team in the final – the dynastic program led by an iconic coach.  How ironic would it be for Jim Calhoun to win another title the day after the dominant UConn women’s program tasted defeat for the second time this year?


On Saturday, India won their second ever World Cricket Cup and the first since 1983.  India beat Sri Lanka by 6 wickets, scoring 277 runs to Sri Lanka’s 274. I have a lot of friends of Indian descent, and really need to learn more about the sport, which has a slight resemblance to baseball.


Speaking of baseball … my Rockies faced some bad news on three consecutive days.  On Friday, Ubaldo Jimenez got roughed up and the Rockies lost in extra innings.  The culprit was a split cuticle which force Ubaldo to alter his grip on the ball.  On Saturday, Jorge de la Rose shut down the Diamondbacks, but developed a blister on his finger.  Both pitcher received an extra day to recover when Sunday’s game was snowed out, pushing their next start back by a day.

One of my favorite players is former Rockies star Matt Holliday, now with the Cardinals.  Happy, as I refer to him, wasn’t so happy on Friday.  Holliday was experiencing discomfort and went to the hospital – and came out missing an appendix.  The Cardinals are hoping to avoid placing Holliday on the disabled list.  It hasn’t been good few months for projected NL division leaders, with the Cardinals losing Adam Wainwright for the season and now Holliday for an unknown number of games and the Phillies starting the season without second baseball Chase Utley.  To make things even worse, Holliday is on my fantasy team.

A Giants fan is in critical condition after being savagely beaten by two men outside Dodger stadium following Thursday’s opening day game between the two teams.  Seriously … it’s a game.  Any time you’re thinking about slugging someone, take a step back and think about what you enjoyed about the game as a kid.

Sports Recap

April 7, 2010

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Butler – Duke

I was on the phone with DirecTV diagnosing why, exactly, my receivers were not picking up the MLB Extra Inning package (despite being signed up several weeks ago) and managed to miss much of the NCAA championship game.

I did manage to catch the last 12 minutes or so of the game.  I was pulling for underdog Butler.   When they missed a shot with less than 5 seconds remaining, I thought that they were finished.  I was stunned at how close Gordon Hayward’s desperation shot came.  Had he made the shot, I would have ranked it as the best moment in the history of the NCAA tournament.

It’s time to close the door on another basketball season and transition to baseball.

Is There an Editor in the House?

Earlier in the week, USA Today announced that their annual survey of baseball salaries indicated a 17% drop – saying that the average player’s salary dropped from $3.2 million in 2009 to $2.7 million in 2010.  A number of sites reported this news, only to later print news of a correction.  Player salaries actually ticked slightly upward (less than 1%).

I can understand some Mom and Pop sites believing this news, but struggle with how a big organization (ESPN, I’m looking at you) fell for it.

There are a number of ways to calculate this, but if we assume simply the 25 man rosters of each team, a $500,000 decrease per player would have been a $375 million decrease across baseball.

This really should have begged the question – where did this money come from?  Sure, there were some players taking pay cuts, but others signed contracts that paid them more money.  A few notable players retired, but they didn’t take hundreds of millions of dollars in salary with them.

I think one thing that may have made this believable was that the crop of free agents didn’t sign for as much money as last year’s crop.  However, that doesn’t mean that salaries declined – it’s a completely apples to oranges comparison.  The fact that Matt Holliday signed for less money this year than Mark Teixeira did last year doesn’t mean that this negatively impacted salaries.  Holliday isn’t making as much as Teixeira, but he is still exceeding his own 2009 salary.  That’s what we should be looking at.

Much of the blame should go to USA Today, of course.  They’ve been generating these reports for many years, and yet nobody realized that there was no basis for the reported decline.  The amount was large enough that it should have caused raised eyebrows and verification of the data.

The Resin Bag

I’m going to call this section – with short blurbs – The Resin Bag.  Welcome aboard, Resin Bag.

Tiger Woods fielded some questions from reporters and once again apologized for his actions.  OK, at this point, you either believe that he is contrite, or you don’t.  Is repetition going to change your mind?  Let’s move on.

Kurt Warner threw out the first pitch before the Diamondbacks game on Opening Day.  It was a bit to the third base side of the plate, but not a bad effort compared to the typical first pitches we see.

Marc Bulger – who replaced the “injured and washed-up” Warner as quarterback of the St. Louis Rams and was expected to lead them back to the Super Bowl – was cut loose by the team after a 1-15 season.  The consensus thought is that the Rams are paving the way to select Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford with the #1 pick in the draft.

Fantasy baseball heartburn began early this year, with the Youra Peeins third baseman Ian Stewart teeing off of Peeins teammate Yovani Gallardo.  It’s always a bittersweet moment when one fantasy player succeeds at the expense of someone else on your team.  In this case, Stewie is not only a Peein, but also a member of the real life Colorado Rockies – making it easier to cheer for him to succeed.

I also got roped into a “straight” league (as opposed to my Alphabet Soup League) as a last minute spot filler.  I haven’t even had a chance to take a close look at the rules, so the other teams will probably chew up Bats in the Belfry.  On the plus side, it’s an opportunity to compete in a CBS league – which I’ve heard good things about.