Thursday, August 30, 2007

BYU 2007 Season Preview

It's hard to put in words my feelings for BYU football. I know for some people it's nearly a religion, but I grew up in Washington so I don't have deep roots in BYU football.
I remember when Ty Detmer defeated No. 1 Miami and won the Heisman trophy. Everybody was talking about it in church and our deacons quorum got together and watched the game. I don't remember much.
I remember watching "The Pick" in the 1996 Cotton Bowl over K-State that clinched a 14-1 record and a Top 5 ranking, and thinking, I am going to school there next year!
But once I got there, we only really had one good season. We didn't make a bowl game in 1997, lost in bowls in 1998 and 1999 when I was on a mission. LaVell didn't make a bowl game in his final season in 2000, when Brandan Doman beat the Utes in an unforgettable game.
My first year in BYU sports information, Doman and RB Luke Staley led the Cougars to an improbable 12-0 start, including the amazing come-from-behind win against Utah, but we got spanked at Hawaii, and I didn't watch the bowl game.
In 2002, the Gary Crowton magic was lost with his graduating class and things went bleak. I actually like Crowton a lot. I just thought his players were undisciplined.
I want to forget 2003, because I only watched embarrassing Thursday night losses to Boise State and Colorado State when I was interning with the Baltimore Ravens.
In 2004, Crowton was fired after another losing season.
Bronco Mendenhall took charge in 2005, and I went to his opening loss to Boston College. But the Cougs rebounded and played in the Las Vegas Bowl and lost to Cal. I actually went to that game, but left frustrated.
Last year, after opening up the season with two painful road losses to Arizona and Boston College, John Beck finally learned how to become a football player and not imitate a robot quarterback. We went on to win 10 straight, including an amazing road win at TCU, the best road win ever against Utah! I think Harline is still open. That play brought as much joy to my sports-starved soul than when Stockton hit the winning shot over Charles Barkely. I didn't watch the Bowl win though.
I dunno, I never grew up with the Gifford Neilson, Jim McMahon, Steve Young, Robbie Bosco dynasty. I don't know Ty Detmer or Steve Sarkisian. All I know is Brandon Doman, who didn't throw a pretty ball, but he just won games! It took me four years to open up to John Beck.
Now we have Max Hall. With all the disappointment I have experienced since my first year at BYU in 1997. I've only had two great BYU moments. Doman and Staley over the Utes in 2001, and Beck-to-Harline in 2006. So since things are looking up, I'll just give out a simple prediction.
I won't break down each team, each position, the conference, home vs. away, nothing like that. I just figure we'll win the opener since it's at home. And we'll find some way to beat UCLA because the entire BYU team will have a vendetta out for the golden recruit who left, Mr. Ben Olson. He's not a traitor. Anyone in his shoes would have transferred so they didn't have to suffer what John Beck did for his first three and a half seasons.
So with Arizona, and UCLA taken care of, the rest of the season is very favorable to the Cougs. Let's just do it.
Undefeated, 12-0. We get the BCS bid and lose the bowl game, but hey, nobody expected us to get that far anyway.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The One Right Thing About Baseball

Q: Hey, i guess the Rangers beat the Orioles this past week 30-3. Is it bad sportsmanship to run up the score in baseball, or does baseball need it to make it exciting?

A: Yeah, it was Wednesday night... and it was in Baltimore which makes it even more embarrassing for O's fans. They are one of the stinkiest teams in baseball, but they are also in the toughest division...

I am not the biggest baseball guru, in fact John Edvalson would know more about this than I would. But in baseball, I don't think it's that bad to run up the score. Because batting average statistics are so vital to the individual, you don't want a team that is just ripping it up, as the Rangers did to the O's Wednesday, to have their batters get up to bat and strike out on purpose. As a manager, you would be asking your player to lower his batting average just because the opposing team can't hit or field.

Basically, I think the team that is getting throttled (in Wednesday night's epic case, the Orioles) just has to take the beating BECAUSE if you switch the situation around, if the O's were laying the smack down on the Rangers, you would want your batters to have that hot streak continue. Baseball is a game of momentum, and you don't want to take any momentum away from a team, even if it is at the stake of an opponent.

I believe that it is generally accepted to run up the score because you can't ask your batter to intentionally strike out. It does the batter a disservice and it even does the pitcher facing the batter and even bigger shame.

Softball, a bastardized version of baseball created for girls, has a mercy rule in effect that if the opposing team is leading by 10 or more runs after X amount of innings, then they just call the game to avoid embarrasment. This is good not to hurt girls feelings - or the girly men like myself who are so bad that we have to get embarrased by a bunch mullet-haired freaks at the local community league.

Football, yes, it's unsportsmanlike to run up the score. In basketball, it's somewhat considered unsportsmanlike to run up the score. What usually happens is once a team is up by at least 20 in the fourth quarter, then both teams send in the scrubs and whatever the score ends up being is ok. Last year, George Karl head coach of the Denver Nuggets forgot this rule against the Knicks and it started a brawl that got his star player suspended 15 games for a girly slap (In honesty, Karl had a vendetta out for Knicks coach Isiah Thomas, and Thomas' players fought back).

Hockey, it's ok, but it's not even a top 4 sport anymore. Golf doesn't count, and it's ok to run up any lead in any type of race in order to break records, etc.

The IRONY is football is supposed to be the manliest sport of all, and they are the ones that cry the most about running up the score. If the team that is up wants to run up the score, that's fine with me. Let's pad the stats. If the QB gets sacked and breaks his leg, then it's the coaches fault for trying to run up the score, but there is nothing unsportmanlike about it. NOTE: It's not ok at the pee-wee and high school level (where the biggest talent swings occur), but at the collegiate and pro level - it's fine by me. Go ahead: Break those records! But if your starters get injured, then that's the risk you take.

Big, tough football players, such whiners..... at least baseball got it right.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Vick the Quick - More like Vick the Sick

Michael Vick, the fastest quarterback to ever play football is going to go to jail after accepting a plea bargain this upcoming Monday. It appears as though it is going to be at least two or three years before he plays in the NFL again, IF he ever gets a second chance in the league.

It's crazy to think that in 2003, he was the most popular player in the NFL. His jersey was the number one selling jersey. He was the cover boy for Madden, which gave him the sickest video game rating since Bo Jackson in Tecmo Bowl . He was THE most martketable face in the league, even more so than everybody's mama's boy Peyton Manning...

I have personally seen Michael Vick play twice. Once in the infamous game of the 2003 pre-season game in Hotlanta when my Baltimore boy LB Adalius Thomas broke his leg during a routine tackle when Vick scrambled out of the pocket.

TANGENT ALERT: That was the first time I ever traveled with an NFL team, and let me tell you, NFL teams spare no expense. We received a police escort to the airport, and we were rushed right past security where we boarded the plane almost instantly with lobster tail waiting for us for the pre-flight meal. Once getting there we stayed at the Four Seasons hotel, had a monstrous breakfast, and an incredible per diem.

Last year, I flew out to Baltimore to watch Vick the Quick play in the regular season. The Ravens sacked Vick a lot that game (including a nice WWE suplex sack by my Oklahoma boy DT Kelly Gregg), but let me tell you, I have never seen anybody race around the end to avoid trouble in the pocket and pick up 10-20 yards before the defense could react . He is lightning fast and thus the player rating on Madden was accurately given.

Vick the Sick has had many knocks on his character recently with getting busted with pot at the Miami airport, flipping off a home crowd after struggling in a loss, and of course the recent gruesome dogfighting allegations with the subsequent plea bargain . But Vick was also a great philanthropist and was one of the first to step up and contribute when his alma mater Virginia Tech was shot up by a crazed student last fall.

He has always been under the microscope, but I don't think he ever really understood how big he was. Or maybe his problem was that he was so big he thought he was above the law. He should have learned how quickly the great can fall, even at their athletic peak with examples of Mike Tyson and Maurice Clarett. This is probably the fastest non-injury related incident of a superstar falling from grace.

Heck, it was so fast, even his team the Atlanta Falcons didn't see this one coming. They traded their highly sought after backup Matt Schaub just before the draft (a move they definitely would have avoided had they known about the FBI investigation of Vick). They didn't go after a free agent quarterback nor pick on up in the draft. Now they are stuck with piano boy Joey Harrington and Chris Redman as his backup. Special note that Chris Redman hasn't even played in the NFL since 2003, when Vick was on the Madden Cover.

Shoot, the Chargers look magnificent trading down and getting 2006 NFL MVP running back LaDanian Tomlinsen in a draft day trade when everybody thought they were crazy for trading the number one pick with a franchise quarterback in the draft. I guess they had been so spooked with the Ryan Leaf/Peyton Manning fiasco of 1998.

Ironically, I think Planet Earth is upside down when O. J. Simpson didn't go to jail for double murder after a mountain of evidence (including a bloody glove and fleeing from the cops in a white Ford Bronco). Kobe didn't go to jail for going backdoor on a teenager, and was even able to play regular season games on the same days as his trial dates. Now Vick's career is over for doing something that is not that uncommon in the backwoods of Mississippi - Clinton Portis quote.

I am not saying that dog fighting is ok. It it sick, inhuman, saddening, bloodthirsty and disgusting. I just think that murder and rape are worse crimes because they involve other human beings. If this had been cockfighting (I've always wanted to type that), then he would get a slap on the wrist and pay a fine.

My fellow Ravens intern Jason and I would joke (we worked together during the Kobe trial) everytime Kobe's name was on ESPN in the summer of 2003, we would blurt "Kobe - Going to Jail" in high-pitched mocking voices. But we did NOT see this coming when we were running for touchdowns later in the evenings playing as the coverboy Vick on the Play Station 2.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Why the Utes Suck

Q: Alright name some things on your list.

A: Bandwagon: You're right about that. Every college has their bandwagon fans (including BYU - remember 2001 with Staley) but the Utes jump off their bandwagon so fast. These last few years with the basketball team going down the toilet is a perfect example. The Huntsman Center used to be rated as one of top places to play in the Nation. Now it's a joke on game day. Same with football, most of our arguments come from knowing Paul. He jumped on the Urban bandwagon so fast. He did travel with the crazies this past year even when then Utes are going downhill fast, but I don't see him being a die hard in 3 years when Kyle W. gets fired.

Mixing the church in the rivalry: It's so ignorant. When they come to Cougar stadium wearing a t-shirt "My Testimony is Bigger than Yours". That's great. We never said we had a bigger testimony... I mean Wyoming and other schools can make fun of the Mormon influence at BYU, but when over half your school is LDS, why make fun of it. It's lame. I know I used to think that the Utes were all jack, but now I know better after living here for a few years. But still: it's gets old. Find something new. Remember when someone held up the mug shot at the BYU/Utah game for Spivey, or whatever point guard got busted at the U. That's original. It's good stuff.