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  • Golden Baseball Magazine
Long time in coming but well worth waiting for.
  • Most comprehensive recounting you'll find on the Internet of the 1958 NFL Championship Game, "The Greatest Game Ever Played."
  • Tiger Den: 1950 Sugar Bowl
  • Saints Saga: First Playoff Game
  • Seminoles Sidelines: Undefeated 1979 - Part I
  • Weekend in Time: November 25, 1950 - games played in blizzard condi­tions
  • Short Story: "Yoda of the Air Raid Offense"
  • How Well Do You Know the Rules?
  • Football Quiz

Read the May 14 edition ...

Disquieting LSU Victories
Friday, May 22

The Tigers have won their first two games in the SEC tournament, but the manner in which they did it raises questions about how far they can go in the NCAA tournament.

  • The Good: LSU socred 19 runs in the two victories.
  • The Bad: LSU gave up 13 runs.
  • The Ugly: The play of the opponents, especially Arkansas.

Seven of the ten runs scored against the Razorbacks were unearned. Take those away and LSU loses 5-3.

  • The Tigers will not make Omaha with two of their frontline starting pitchers throwing poorly.
  • Poche has given up 14 runs in his last 10 innings - three straight poor outings. His ERA is up to 3.35.
  • Austin Bain didn't make it through the second inning Thursday night. He must keep his pitches down to be effective and he couldn't do that.
  • In both games, the Tigers feasted on opposition pitching to overcome the poor performances by their own starters.
  • You can't rely on that happening in a Super Regional or even a Regional.

Poche going only an inning Thursday puts the Tigers in a good position for the weekend.

  • Manieri has his ace, Alex Lange, primed for the semifinal on Saturday against either Florida or Arkansas.
  • If Florida, they'll be playing their fourth game in the tournament. If UA, their fifth. So neither club will be able to throw a top-of-the-line pitcher.
  • If LSU makes the final, Paul can come back with Poche. He needs to pitch well before going into the regional.

All commentators agree that LSU has a Top Eight seed locked up and, with the two victories in the tournament, the #1 overall seed, which is not all that important and may just put needless pressure of a team.

  • But the Tigers can't keep relying on their bullpen and batting prowess to bail out poor starting pitching.
  • Remember last year's regional when the Tigers beat Houston 5-1 in the "marble game," then lost to the Cougars 5-4 in 11 and got clobbered 12-2 in the final when Manieri had to use Johnny Wholestaff.
Anti-Designated Hitter "Arguments"
Friday, May 22
Last week, Sports Illustrated published an article by baseball writer Michael Rosenberg recommending that the DH be adopted for both leagues.

This week SI published these three responses in its "Inbox" section.

Using Michael Rosenberg's logic about the virtues of the DH, slick-fielding but poor-hitting shortstops shouldn't have to bat, catchers should be allowed to have pinch runners, and teams should be able to use their best hitter every inning, because that's what fans want to see. Just not this fan.
John Bateson, Moraga, Calif.

Why stop at the DH? Why not open substitution? Do away with that silly rule that prevents players removed from games from coming back in. Teams could employ specialists in bunting and stealing. Think how much more exciting games would be, and nobody would have to worry about boring things like strategy.
Michael Keeran, Atlanta

What about that great defensive, weak-hitting shortstop? What about the catcher who is great with young pitchers but can't hit his weight? I enjoy the strategy of the game, the sacrifice bunts, double siwtches and managerial moves. Maybe we could even get the NBA to use designated free throw shooters.
Jerry Newberry, Alexander City, Ala.

All three letters employ the same strategy the NRA does every time a piece of legislation is proposed to, for example, close the loophole that allows a person to purchase a firearm at a gun show without a background check. "This is the first step to taking all our guns away!" The technique is called "Attacking a Straw Man." It consists of twisting and exaggerating the opponent's argument to make it ridiculous and therefore easy to knock down, like a defenseless straw man. And not to single out the NRA, politicians of both parties constantly use this strategy.

Each of the three letters exaggerates - and therefore ridicules - Rosenberg's proposal. He did not advocate a change to the substitution rule or allowing hitters for other positions besides pitcher or allowing your best hitter to bat every inning. The American League has had the DH for over 40 years and hasn't made any of the changes the letter writers fear. And the reference to the NBA is the height of absurdity.

I sent an email to SI stating what I just said in shorter form. I wondered whether the person selecting the letters for publication is anti-DH and thinks these are compelling arguments. I concluded by saying that, if these are the best responses the anti-DH people can come up with, Rosenberg's logic must be solid.
Baseball Isn't Only Sport Trying to Pick up the Pace
Thursday, May 21
I like the changes the NCAA men's basketball rules committee has proposed.
  • Shortening the shot clock from 35 to 30 seconds. Interestingly, women's basketball has always had a 30-second clock.
  • Increasing the restricted arc in front of the basket from 3' to 4'. This is intended to reduce the number of low-post collisions. It should also encour­age more drives to the basket.
  • A package of changes are aimed at decreasing the amount of stoppage in games:
    Reduce the timeouts for each team from five to four, with no more than three carrying over from the first to the second half;
    Faster resumption of play out of timeouts and player disqualifications;
    Disallowing coaches from calling timeouts in live-ball situations;
    Making a timeout called within 30 seconds of a media timeout stand for the media timeout.
  • Give officials the leeway to review shot-clock violations on made FGs at any point in the game.
  • Allow officials to penalize players for faking fouls or diving.

The proposal I like best is the one that prevents a coach from calling timeout during live play.

  • I've never liked this rule from the beginning.
  • A coach often calls the timeout when players are fighting for a loose ball and his man gains possession briefly.
  • I'd prefer that the committee go further and require players who wish to call timeout to have both feet on the floor inbounds. None of this calling timeout while in midair going out of bounds. Or calling timeout while lying on the floor after a scramble for the ball.
  • While we're on this topic, I'd like to see football adopt a similar rule. No more coach running down the sidelines to call timeout to bail out his of­fense as the play clock runs down or "freeze" a FG kicker. Go back to the old rule that only a player on the field can call timeout. Sure, coaches can signal the offensive or defensive captain to take time, but a player on the field must actually call it.

I also like reducing the number of timeouts. (I wish the NBA would adopt that one, too.)

  • The last minute of a game can take forever.
  • If you're not going to implement the NBA rule and allow a team that has just allowed a basket or FT to throw the ball in from midcourt after a time­out, then why do coaches need all the timeouts they save for the end of the game? You get to set an offense for the next possession, but the de­fense has a chance to make its adjustments also.
  • And, many times, combining a team timeout with the TV timeout that would occur less than a half-minute later will also decrease the time of games.

Another change the committee discussed at length was raising the limit of fouls for disqualification from five to six, as in the NBA.

  • They punted on this one and called for experimentation in the "lesser" postseason tournaments: NIT, College Basketball Invitational, and College­Insider.com Tournament. That follows the plan used this past year for the 30-second clock.
  • I think this rule is motivated in part by the yearly exodus of talented fresh­men and sophomores to the NBA.
  • Teams have less depth. So play suffers when starters go to the bench with two fouls in the first half or three early in the second half.
  • Another motivation for the proposal is to cut down on physical play since officials can call fouls early to set the tone for the game with less fear of sending top players to the bench early.
  • The head of the rules committee stated that this proposal is strongly favor­ed by the coaches. Tom Izzo of Michigan State: "Nobody else except Ken­tucky has any depth. Consequently, there's a big dropoff from your starters to your subs." Tim Cluess of Iona: "Guys can get two fouls pretty quickly, especially with new rules implemented, with hand-checking and everything. You want more scoring? Have your best players on the court."
Pelicans' Coach Search
Wednesday, May 20
Any flirtation between the Pels and John Calipari seems to be over.
  • Despite John's protestations of how happy he is in his present post, the reason the talks didn't go very far is that N.O. wasn't willing to equal or better the salary he makes at Kentucky.
  • Meanwhile, we haven't heard much from the first hot name that was ban­died about right after Monty Williams got the boot. I'm talking about Tom Thibodeau, coach of the Bulls.
  • "Friction" between Tom and the front office impelled many writers to predict a parting of the ways. Many, apparently including Thibodeau, believe that friction led to the downfall of the Bulls in the playoff series with Cleveland.
  • Tom is willing to come back next year if a mea culpa meeting would be held where both sides clear the air and agree to work together for 2015-16. Reportedly, though, Thibodeau doesn't expect that to happen.
  • So Pels' GM Dell Demps faces a tricky situation. If Thibodeau is the man he wants (and it's not at all clear that's the case), he has to wait for the Chi­cago drama to play out.
  • In the meantime, he may lose out on the next best candidate and end up with someone who is at best #3.
  • The Bulls, of course, have no reason to rush, especially if the man they covet to replace Thibodeau is still involved in the playoffs. (If they eyed Scott Brooks, the desposed OKC coach, indications are he'll sit out 2015-16.)
  • So the Pels dangle while the Bulls fiddle.
Kraft and Goodell
Wednesday, May 20
Greg Bedard had some interesting thoughts about the relationship between Patriots owner Robert Kraft and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
  • Kraft was a strong proponent of Goodell for the league's top position in 2006. He also persuaded the players, who despised Goodell, that they could trust Roger in negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement five years later.
  • Robert pushed for Goodell's salary increase from $11.5M before the 2011 lockout to an average of $37M over the last two years.
  • After the Ray Rice debacle, Kraft defended Goodell in public and pushed the owners behind the scenes to stand behind their embattled commish.
  • Goodell has relied on Kraft's advice so much that some call him the "assistant commissioner."

Many commentators felt Goodell let the Pats off easy in the Spygate scandal.

  • Also, through 2010, New England had been the target of the most com­plaints to the Competition Committee.
  • Many team executives felt the issues raised were swept under the rug.

Now comes the Wells Report, commissioned by Goodell, and its indictment of Tom Brady and others in the Patriots' organization.

  • Some close to Kraft revealed that he considered the report an act of disloyalty - the worst sin.
  • The Pats owner thought the league came after his star QB over a minor issue that's not worthy of the time, money, and effort poured into it.
  • While Kraft has stated that he will not appeal the team's penalties, the report has probably ended his cushy relationship with Roger.
  • Kraft could resign from his position as chairman of the NFL's broadcasting committee, an action that may have a ripple effect with the other owners, some of whom may be itching to take down Goodell a peg.

Deflategate put Goodell in a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't position.

  1. If he gave the Patriots just a slap on the wrist, he would provide more ammunition to those owners who are looking for a way to cut into Goo­dell's power.
  2. But by coming down hard, and particularly on Golden Boy Tom Brady, Goodell risked alienating his #1 defender among the owners.

The question is: By doing #2 (punishing Kraft's favorite player), did he still not achieve #1 (win back at least some of his opposition among the owners)? Does Roger have to stand firm on Brady's suspension to keep the opposition bloc off his case?

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About This Site
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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