OTHER RECENT POSTS
  • Golden Football Magazine
I leave for retreat in Connecticut Saturday, June 25. Will be back Saturday, July 2.
I go through New York on both ends of the journey. Will be at the Mets-Cubs game the night of Friday, July 1.
All Big 12 Final?
The College World Series has reached its Final Four, and two Big 12 teams are in the drivers' seats.
  • In one half of the bracket, undefeated Oklahoma State is playing one-loss Arizona. In the other half, undefeated TCU meets one-loss Coastal Carolina. In each case, the one-loss team must beat the undefeated club twice to reach the finals.
  • To make matters worse, both undefeateds have had two days off before today's games. So both OSU and TCU can bring back their aces with full rest after they pitched last weekend. The one-loss teams will be playing their fourth games in seven days or less.
  • As I've said before, I'll be rooting for Coastal Carolina to take the crown. But the odds favor the two Big 12 squads meeting for the crown in a Best-of-Three that starts Monday, barring rain delays.
  • I give CCU a better chance of pulling the upset and winning two in a row than Arizona, mostly because Oklahoma State is undefeated in the post-season and just became the first team in CWS history to win back-to-back 1-0 games. Don't get me wrong. I wouldn't bet on CCU, but they might at least force TCU to play a second game to eliminate them. It's the difference between CCU having a lukewarm chance and Arizona having little chance.
Further SEC/ACC Misery
It was bad enough that only one SEC and one ACC team made the College World Series.
  • Guess who the first two teams eliminated from Omaha were? That's right. Miami and Florida, both oh-two and boo-hoo.
  • Meanwhile, the Big 12 had only three teams selected for the NCAA Tournament. And all three made it to Omaha. That's 100%.
  • TCU and Texas Tech had to play each other in the opening round. Tech lost but then edged Florida 3-2 in an elimination game. In the meantime, Oklahoma State has won two 1-0 games.

I lost interest in the College World Series when my two alma maters, LSU and Florida State, bit the dust in the Super Regionals.

  • While I'm loyal to the SEC and, to a much lesser extent, the ACC, it's impossible for me to root for Miami. So I was thrilled when they bit the dust.
  • I was torn about the Gators. Usually, I root for all SEC teams in post-season play in any spot except when they meet FSU. But Coastal Carolina impressed me when they beat LSU in the Baton Rouge Super Regional. Usually, sore loser that I am, the last team I root for is the one that beat my team. But UCC showed heart and determination that I admired. So I was happy they beat Florida and will root for them to go all the way.
NBA Finals Postscript
Finally, a great game in the Finals after six games with margins no less than 11.
  • As I said before the series, I rooted for Golden State but am not bent out of shape because Cleveland won. I like and admire LeBron James and I'm glad to see he completed his long apology to the people of NE Ohio for forsaking them for the Heat in 2010.
  • I'm also glad we won't have to hear any more whining about Cleveland not winning a pro championship since 1964, same as I hope the Cubs win in 2016 (since my Cards have no chance) to end all the moaning from the Windy City. (And to see how many fans who say they root for the Cubs because they're "Lovable Losers" quit rooting for them once they're winners.)

My biggest takeaway from the 2016 NBA Finals will be sorrow for Steph Curry.

  • He had a poor game when the chips were down: just 17 points on 6-of-19 shooting with four turnovers. Amazingly, he took only one FT.
  • Steph missed five 3-pointers in the last in the last 4:06. He scored his last points on a three with 6:57 to tie the game. When his team most needed him, he didn't respond.
  • I will long remember his careless behind the back pass that went out of bounds at the 5:16 mark with his team behind by one.
  • The Cavs also exploited the undersized Curry on defense, forcing switches to isolate him on LeBron, which is no contest since Steph is 6-3 185 and LeBron is 6-8 250.
  • At times, Steph looked like a high school who somehow had gotten caught up in the action of an NBA game. The "Baby-Faced Assassin" looked more like a "Baby-Faced Adolescent."
  • All that said, Curry never really recovered from his ankle and knee injuries suffered in the first round of the playoffs. He never regained the sustained level of excellence he showed all season after the two-week rehab - another reason why Cleveland fans can say the Basketball Fates finally smiled on them.
  • And add the fact that Leandro Barbosa, who had been guarding LeBron James, played only four minutes in Game 7.
  • And Andrew Bogut, who had average 10 blocks per 48 minutes of play, left late in Game 6 with a bum knee and didn't dress out for Game 7. Festus Ezili, the surprise starter at C in Game 7, didn't block a shot, scored only two points, and pulled down ony one rebound in 10:45 of action.
  • But Cleveland's victory was more than just luck, as I'll explain further down.

Klay Thompson has no excuse for his poor play in Game 7.

  • He scored only 14 points in Game 7 on 6-of-17 shooting. Klay was only 2-of-10 from 3-point range and shot nary a FT.
  • In fact, if Draymond Green doesn't drain six 3-pointers on his way to 32 points, Game 7 would have been an embarrassing blowout loss by the Warriors on their home court.
  • James and Irving, the Cavs' top scorers, roundly outplayed Curry and Thompson the last three games. Here's the stats.

      Steph Curry Klay
    Thompson
    LeBron James Kyrie Irving
    Game Pts. TO Pts. TO Pts. TO Pts. TO
    Five 25 4 37 1 41 2 41 4
    Six 30 4 25 4 41 1 23 3
    Seven 17 4 14 3 27 5 26 2
    Total 72 12 76 8 109 8 90 9

Remember when the Cavs fired Coach David Blatt at the midway point of the season despite having the best record (30-11) in the Eastern Conference?

  • LeBron denied that he was consulted before the shocking firing, and that may be true, but management definitely made the move to please their superstar.
  • Associate head coach Tyronn Lue was promoted and must have gotten along with LeBron well enough to win the championship. It was Lue's first head coaching job although he had served under Doc Rivers with the Clippers for a year.
  • That leads me to the main reason the Cavs upset the Warriors.

    CLEVELAND MADE BETTER STRATEGY ADJUSTMENTS AS THE SERIES WORE ON.

  • The Cavs started attacking the Warriors' weaknesses (such as Curry on defense) the last three games, and Steve Kerr and his staff didn't do a good enough job of adjusting to the new approach.
  • Starting with their first do-or-die challenge, Game 5, Cleveland played more aggressively on both offense and defense. They decided they couldn't just allow the Warriors to run the offense that led the league in scoring. They had to attack it and be relentless on defense.
  • The culmination of that effort was the last 4:39 of Game 7 when the high-powered Warriors went scoreless.
  • Enjoy your title, Cavs. You earned it.
NBA Finals Game 7 -with FOLLOW-UP
Who will win the ultimate game tonight?
  • I don't think it will be an upset either way although some might call Cleveland winning on the Warriors' home court an upset.
  • The last two games, including Game 5 in Oakland, the Cavs have gotten into the Warriors' heads and really taken them out of their game. THE WARRIORS DIDN'T SCORE A POINT THE LAST 4:39 OF THE GAME. TERRIFIC CLEVELAND DEFENSE, SURE, BUT STILL INEXCUSABLE FOR A TEAM THAT HAD THE HIGHEST SCORING AVERAGE IN THE LEAGUE BY 10.6 PPG OVER THE CAVS. THE WARRIORS SHOT ONLY 13 FTs TO 25 FOR CLEVELAND. WAS THAT BECAUSE THE OFFICIALS WERE BIASED TOWARD THE VISITORS? NO, IT WAS BECAUSE THE CAVS WERE MUCH MORE AGGRESSIVE ON OFFENSE, GOING STRONG TO THE HOLE AND FORCING DEFENDERS TO FOUL. LEBRON SHOT ALMOST AS MANY FTs (10) AS THE ENTIRE WARRIOR TEAM AND NINE MORE THAN GOLDEN STATE'S SUPERSTAR, STEPH CURRY.
  • Some writers are suggesting that Golden State should not have spent so much energy at the end of the regular season going for the record number of wins - which they got by finishing 73-9. Some commentators see a tired Warriors team struggling to close out the Cavs. But they've had two days off to prepare for Game 7. Fatigue will not be an excuse. WARRIORS' 2015-16 SEASON WILL NOW PROVIDE A PRIME EXAMPLE IN THE FUTURE FOR TEAMS THAT HAVE CLINCHED #1 SEED IN DIVISION TO REST THEIR STARTERS REGARDLESS OF WHAT REGULAR SEASON RECORDS THEY CAN ATTAIN.
  • Looking at the stats reveals these two facts.
    The team that had fewer turnovers won five of the first six games.
    The team that had more rebounds won five of the first six games.
    The Warriors won Game 1 despite being outrebounded 47-41 but prevailed in turnovers, 9-15.
    The victorious Warriors in Game 2 had more turnovers but won the rebounding battle by 12.
    IN GAME 7, CLEVELAND HAD MORE TURNOVERS (11-10) BUT NINE MORE REBOUNDS (48-39).
  • Golden State committed 31 turnovers in Games 5 and 6, which is more than they committed in Games 1&2 combined and Games 3&4 combined. Curry & Company tend to get sloppy at times, forcing passes or taking rushed shots. The Cavs have been making them pay for their mistakes the last two games.
  • Cleveland prevailed in Oakland in Game 5 when the Warriors played without Draymond Green. With him in the lineup, Golden State won Games 1 and 2 at home by a combined 48 points. He's back for tonight's game. So my prediction is ...
    WARRIORS WIN BUT IN THE CLOSEST GAME OF THE SERIES. (11 points is the smallest margin so far: Golden State 108 Cleveland 97 in Game 4.) WRONG WINNER BUT 93-89 MARGIN WAS SMALLEST OF SERIES BY SEVEN.
DiMaggio Spoiled Us
Tom Verducci has an article in this week's Sports Illustrated explaining why we may never see anyone break Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak.
  • Since Pete Rose's 44-game streak in 1978, only five players have made it past 30 games the past quarter century.
  • This year, Red Sox teammates Jackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Bogaerts made it to 29 and 26 games respectively before being stopped.

Verducci illustrates his point by comparing their careers to DiMaggio's.

  • Pitchers are throwing harder. Average fastball velocity is 92.1 mph, up from 90.5 just 10 years ago.
  • Managers use relief pitchers much more prolifically today. In their four-year careers, Bradley and Bogaerts have already faced more pitchers (349 and 403 respectively) than the 317 DiMaggio saw in more than 6,000 plate appearances in his entire career.
  • Today's relievers strike out 23% of the batters they face and hold them to a .244 average. During his streak, Joe D hit .407 against relievers.
  • In Joltin' Joe's era, managers expected their starters to go the distance. He batted 1,053 times against a starting P for the fourth time or more in a game. Bradley and Bogaerts combined have done so only 20 times.
  • The American League had eight teams throughout Joe's career with no franchise further west than St. Louis. Bradley has played in 24 stadiums and Bogaerts 25. They travel from coast to coast to play their games.

Tom argues that we should appreciate 30+-game hitting streaks much more than we do.

  • 13 franchises have never seen a streak longer than 30 games. The Pirates' record is 27 games set 117 years ago by Jimmy Williams. Bill Lamar crafted the Athletics' top streak of 29 games 91 years ago.
  • "We just don't appreciate (30+-game) streaks as much as we should because DiMaggio put the record so far out of reach."
  • Verducci points out that Cy Young's record of 511 career wins has been so far out of reach for so long that we've made 300 wins the magic number that almost automatically assures a pitcher entrance into the Hall of Fame.
  • "But because it's the legendary DiMaggio, we don't recalibrate hitting streaks."
Five years ago, on the 70th anniversary of DiMaggio's streak, I followed it day-by-day on this site. I'm enamored of the streak because I was born during it.

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This site is devoted primarily but not exclusively to college and pro football. The unique feature of this site is the publication each fall of the author's rankings of all FBS college football teams and similar rankings for the NFL. I live in New Orleans and am a graduate of LSU and FSU. So I present a Southern and particularly an SEC point of view but one that is reasonably objective. I also publish a monthly Football Magazine with stories from the past and a monthly Baseball Magazine with a similar format. During the winter and spring, there's a monthly Basketball Magazine.

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