Tuesday, March 13, 2012

"Fanny" of the week: Heather Vandeven

This week's "Fanny" of the week is Heather Vandeven

Monday, March 12, 2012

TJ Ford retiring from the NBA

Today San Antonio Spurs point guard TJ Ford decided that it was time to throw in the towel on his NBA career. By no means am I calling Ford a quitter. He succeeded in beating the odds for sticking around this long but sometimes enough is enough.

Ford told reporters that lying motionless March 7 on the court against the New York Knicks wasn’t the first time it had happened, and he decided to walk away while he still had a chance. He was playing just his 14th game in an injury-prone season when Knicks guard Baron Davis elbowed him in the back, knocking him to the ground.

“If it’s anybody else, it’s just a regular play,” Ford said at a Spurs practice before Monday’s game against Washington. “But because of me and my condition, a simple elbow in the back has a different outcome than hitting someone else in the back.”

Due to a surgically repaired spine, Ford never became the big star that may thought he would be when he came out of Texas after his sophomore year. There were flashes of the talent that made Ford a collegiate star, where he transformed Texas into a legitimate basketball school. But he was often injured which include a year on the sidelines after undergoing spinal fusion surgery.

The ever positive Ford doesn't look at his exit negatively. That's just the kind of person he is. He knows he played against doctor's advice and seems to look back fondly on his career.

“I think I succeeded at beating the odds, of being the little guy, making it to the NBA and lasting as long as I did,” Ford said. “I think I achieved a lot. I know I didn’t have the career I anticipated and everyone anticipated, me having been the player of the year (at Texas). But I think I still had a successful career.”      

It's sad to see that Ford will not leave the game on his own terms. The Ford I remember was a dazzling point guard leading the Texas Longhorns to the Final Four in a thriller of a game against the Carmelo Anthony led Syracuse team. I would like to see him stay around the game because I feel that Ford could make a smooth transition to the coaching ranks.

Good luck in the future TJ.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Mike Tyson has thoughts on Mayweather and Pacquiao

Now days it seems that everyone has a take on the stalemate between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather.
Everyone wants to know what's the hold up that's holding up the biggest fight yet to be made.

Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson put in his two cents about Mayweather and Pacquiao and came up with a pretty extreme solution to their problem.

"I would throw them in jail if they didn’t fight. I’d have them arrested," Tyson said. "You can’t do that but that’s what I would try to do. These guys need to get locked up and find a new profession until they get their heads clear."

I think that's a bit much, but at this pace in negotiations that might be what it takes to finally get these two into the ring.

Verlander wonders about free agency

Will Justin Verlander be a Tiger for life?

The reigning AL Cy Young Award Winner and AL MVP spoke with Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via MLBTradeRumors.com) where he (Verlander) discussed his newfound celebrity status and his future with the team. Verlander expressed his love for Detroit but admitted that he wondered what it would be like playing in a bigger market and what it would take for him to remain a Tiger.

Verlander acknowledged that, sure, he’s thought about what it would be like to play in a bigger market.

“It would be fun, but hopefully I help turn Detroit into a major market,” he said. “Other teams are major markets not just because of their fan base but because of the national fan base. That comes from winning. They’re always on the news because they win.

“We may not have the biggest city in the world, but if we go out there every year and we’re in the playoffs and win some World Series titles, then our national fan base grows. My goal is to help make Detroit and their fan base a major market. I want to be a key piece in that.”

The key is owner Mike Illitch. Illitch desperately wants to add a World Series trophy to his collection of Stanley Cups. Illitch is willing to make the committment to win na dthat means spending money. He proved it by signing Prince Fielder to a megadeal this offseason.

“That’s one of the conversations I had with the Tigers right before I signed,” Verlander said, in reference to the five-year, $80 million extension to which he agreed before the 2010 season. “We talked about money and all that stuff. I wanted reassurances that I’m going to be part of a winning team. They said, ‘We’re going to do what it takes.’ That’s all I needed to hear. I want to win a World Series. And some of the other things I want to do in this game involve being on winning teams.”

I'm pretty sure that Verlander will be a lifetime Tiger, but nothing is certain in the world of sports. Just ask Peyton Manning about that.

Izzo blasts Illinois for firing Weber

Bruce Weber was fired from the head coaching job at Illinois earlier today. That really was no surprise since the Illini struggled mightily down the stretch and Weber ultimately paid the price.

Michigan State coach, Tom Izzo didn't like the way things went down in Champaign and let everyone know about it at his press conference. Izzo blasted the Illinois administration for firing Weber and said that he'll help Weber get a new job if he needs it.

"I'm sick about it. I'm sick about it. And I'm sick about it -- and make sure you understand the reason why.

"They beat us early in January, and I beat Ohio State, and so I have three problems. Bruce is a friend of mine. He's been here since the Gene Keady days. He's done it the right way. He doesn't cheat. He mans up to his own responsibilities. Incredible, incredible person. I've recruited against him and lost, and I've recruited against him and won, and (it) hasn't changed things.

"Number two, we have to understand that we blame kids for a lot of things. Kids have changed. Now we have administrators that are pulling the rug under ourselves in the middle of January, when you're 16 and 6 or 7 or whatever it was, and we publicly talk about -- we'll make decisions at the end of the year.

"I don't know what you guys think of kids, because they haven't changed much, but if there's one place they've changed, they're a little more fragile. Not as many two-parent homes. Not as good of school systems that are holding kids accountable and demanding. And so now we put that on those poor kids? And then we're surprised that they lose nine out of 10?

"I don't know who's beaten me the worst, probably Bo (Ryan), but second on that list -- and I'm canonized as something some of the time ... .

"I think it was ridiculous the way that thing was handled. And if I take abuse for that, I really don't care, because I'm also the president of our association. This isn't about a friendship. This is about a profession.

"And whenever you're in an organization, whether it be yours, whether it be mine, or whether it be a business one, the only way you can be successful is if, top to bottom, from the president to the trainer, we're all on the same page, and that in five, six months, you can determine something.

"I feel bad for the Illini nation, because somebody's -- somebody pulled the rug out from under them. I feel bad for those players that have been there that, in my estimation, weren't given a fair chance back about the middle of January, whenever that famous statement was made.

"But if you look at that team from that statement, it went directly down. And I feel worse for Bruce, because we lost a good soldier. And yeah, friendship is some of it, but it's not all of it. We lost a good coach. We got a coach that beat me and my team more often than not, and I just -- I can't figure that out.

"I can't figure out how you guys allow it. You guys are always figuring out the negatives of things. I can't figure out how you guys allow it.

"And my wife and I shed a tear this morning over it, and it was half for Bruce and half for my profession.

"But unless there's things -- and I will publicly state this -- that I don't know, but when I heard those comments back in January, it made me sick, and I said there's a problem.

"And so I hope the administrators that made those statements have a good game plan, but you guys lost a good guy, we lost a good guy, and I think -- I just hope he gets another job. And I'm going to do everything in my power to help him.

"And I guess that's all I'll say, because I'll probably put my foot in my mouth, because if it was HBO, we could get at it right now, and I'd really be fired up about it, because I just think -- I can't believe -- I can't believe nobody's looked at when those comments were made and where that team went.

"I mean, this guy has won more games than anybody -- percentage than anybody that's been at the school. And he's done it the right way, and that's not easy to do. And it's not an easy job there. And when a big-time recruit’s father, I think -- watch what I say here -- comes out and makes statements, I mean, you better have a good idea the guy you're dealing with.

"And I know this. I've known Bruce Weber since the day I was a grad assistant. There's not a classier, better guy -- and I don't want to just hear he's a nice guy -- better coach. He's had some things thrown at him, too, with injuries and guys leaving early and stuff like that.

"So I'm sad, more sad for my profession than I am for Bruce, because he's a man. I've seen him in his press conference. He'll man up, and he'll get it done.

"So sorry I had to get on a soapbox, but I'll leave it at that."

Izzo is safe at Michigan State but it's good to see him take up for his fellow man. By the way, the "mystery' administrator Izzo spoke of would be Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

TCU and Baylor combine for 13 hit batsmen

In college baseball normally there are scores of hits in any given game. Unless there is a truly special pitcher on the mound, games usually result in a 12-10 slugfest. Ok, not all games are like that but it's pretty close.

TCU and Baylor put on the hits Tuesday night but in a different way. The two teams combined to plunk 13 batters in the game. The 13 hit batsmen were more than the hit total which was 12. 10 Baylor batters were hit and three TCU hitters were hit.

"It was ugly, it was just an ugly game," Baylor head coach Steve Smith said in a report on the school's website. "It's hard to watch some of what we do, particularly on the mound. This was not a hard game to pitch, the wind is blowing in the batters' faces, and it's just not that hard."  

There were more batters hit by pitches than hits (12).

There were also a combined 11 walks in the game that took 3 hours, 53 minutes to play.

Baylor leadoff batter Nathan Orf was hit by three different pitchers.

TCU starter Brandon Finnegan threw 4-2/3 innings of no-hit ball, but hit six batters.  

Surprisingly this didn't result in a brawl, but I wonder if there's any bad blood behind it or will it affect future meetings between the two teams.

Josh Smith wants out of Atlanta

The Atlanta Hawks have watched Josh Smith grow from a teenage headache to a reliable player. Smith is having his best season as a pro and should've been recognized as an All-Star this season. Despite all the good the team has done this year, with injuries to Al Horford and Joe Johnson, Smith wants out of Atlanta. If not by the March 15 trade deadline then he could possibly walk in free agency.

That puts the Hawks in the unenviable position of trying to find themselves the best deal or just outright losing Smith for nothing. The reasons Smith wants to be traded are that he thinks he needs a fresh start elsewhere and believes the Hawks aren't committed to winning a championship. I would have to agree with Smith on the latter opinion. Smith also has said that he could reach his potential on and off the court by playing for another team.

Let me translate that last sentence. I want to play for a winning franchise and get some of the endorsement money being handed out.

Smith has been the subject of trade rumors before and he brushes all of it aside when asked about it.

“I really don’t pay any attention to it,” he said. “I just go out there and play the way I play and not worry about anything else. I know this is a business. Whatever happens, happens in the long run. But I know as long as I’m with the Hawks, I have to put my best foot forward.”  

If Smith is unhappy, he's not showing it and is giving his best effort which should help him on the open market if he doesn't sign an extension.

Teammate Jerry Stackhouse believes it would be a mistake if the Hawks trade Smith.

“His talent, that’s what you can’t give up on with Josh,” Stackhouse said. “It’s easy to say, ‘All right, let’s just move him.’ And then he goes and clicks at the next stop and you’ve got to look at that every night and you had it in house. That’s kind of the dilemma with Josh. You know you are going to get some uneasy moments from time to time but, for the most part, he’s really about winning. He wants to win. He’s competitive. I relate to that.

“How he handles his emotions and frustrations, sometimes he rubs people the wrong way and bruises them. But I think he’s happy-go-lucky. He thinks, ‘It was just heat of the moment’ and we can move on from it but he can bruise people. I think he’s learning that. He is learning to control his emotions a little better and it’s good for our team. The better Josh Smith is, the better the Atlanta Hawks are.”

If Smith is traded it would hurt the Hawks in the short term. It all depends on who they get in return. If they can get a good haul for Smith they might be better off for it, but all in all this is a risk that I think Hawks management doesn't really want to take.