Thursday, February 08, 2007

Thursday 02/08 A.M. Quickie:
Why UNC-Duke Doesn't Really Matter
(Plus: Signing Day, Amaechi and More)

UNC beats Duke at Duke (and it doesn't matter one way or the other): I went into last night's UNC-Duke game thinking that, for whatever reason, this year's game didn't have the juice of previous years.

Maybe it was because UNC isn't as dominant in the ACC this season as its ranking might suggest. And certainly because Duke isn't particularly great this year.

The game turned out to be mildly interesting, after all: Despite home-court advantage and an early lead, Duke's inferior talent finally caught up with them and UNC pulled off the win.

I'm not sure it legitimizes UNC as much as people might be saying this morning, because Duke is now merely a .500 ACC team. Winning at Cameron would seem to be big, but if Florida State can do it this season, how hard could it be?

I know Duke is young, but there are a LOT of young teams in college basketball, and they're not this underachieving. That's classic Coach K: Under-coaching some of the nation's best talent. (But how about my boy, Jon Scheyer? Keep gunning, kid!)

Speaking of young, I think UNC is a year away -- if everyone sticks around, which they won't -- from being a real national title contender. Right now, I don't think UNC could beat Florida, UCLA or Wisconsin, among others, in a Final Four game. We'll see how they look in a month: I'm obviously willing to revise.

By the way, I walked away without changing my overall impression: This year, Duke-UNC just isn't that special. And I suspect that the rivalry has always been overrated: Unless they are meeting in the NCAA Tournament, college basketball's playoff system has always mitigated rivalries.

I'm not disputing that it's a huge, wonderful rivalry. I'm just saying that they never truly play for ultimate stakes. (No, the ACC regular-season and/or conference-tournament title don't count, when both teams are locks for the NCAA Tournament.)

It's not like either UNC or Duke isn't making the NCAA Tournament field with a loss to the other. Compare that to, say, Ohio State and Michigan in football. (Or any top-tier CFB rivalry game, where a loss can knock your team out of the conference-title or national-title picture.)

College basketball's playoff system is the best in sports (there is nothing even close), but except for helping to determine who makes the tournament field, it diminishes the regular season. Including UNC-Duke, which is supposed to be the best rivalry in the sport.

National Signing Day: Florida came out No. 1 in the rankings, thanks to a last-second commitment from one of the top WRs in the country, giving the Gators the recruiting national championship.

No, wait: USC came out No. 1 in the rankings.

Hold on: Which rankings to believe? Let's use CSTV's Tom Lemming as the tie-breaker: He has Florida at No. 1 over USC.

Ah: It doesn't really matter anyway. The proof is in the number of national titles five years from now.

Meanwhile, Alabama closed fast, considering Nick Saban started just a few weeks ago. Illinois overachieved, as expected. And Butch Davis' first class at UNC was the big breakthrough, which should be a much bigger deal than UNC beating Duke in a virtually meaningless college hoops game. (Is it too early to start talking about spring practice?)

College Hoops Parity Watch: Oklahoma beat what-are-we-supposed-to-believe Oklahoma State. UCLA beat not-ready-for-prime-time USC.

John Amaechi Comes Out: Yes, it's a big deal, if only because he's the first NBA player to ever do it -- the NBA's hyper-heterosexual player culture (which, mind-bogglingly, has both homophobic AND racist undercurrents) makes the NFL's uber-manliness culture seem forgiving.

With the book release still a week away, the story is going to get burnt out, but that shouldn't diminish its overall impact. Over/under on the number of awkward blog references to "Not that there's anything wrong with that": 500.

UPDATE: You must read this post by TrueHoop's Henry Abbott. What he said. (Oh, and here's a smart post about it from FreeDarko. Sorry for the delay. I'm catching up on my blog-reading and RSS-feeding.)

More NBA: The Celtics' losing streak reaches 16, and you have to legitimately question if they're even trying anymore or if they are simply (and intentionally) playing for Lottery position. (Guess what: Neither Oden nor Durant will make this team THAT much better.)

Meanwhile, Chris Bosh scored 41 in a Raptors win over the Magic. And the Spurs clobbered the Wizards – let's all agree that Antawn Jamison was obviously pretty damn valuable.

Cowboys interview Jim Caldwell: But it looks like Wade Phillips is a new front-runner (via ProFootballTalk) because ol' Norv doesn't want heir apparent Jason Garrett to be his offensive coordinator.

Now, I'm quite sure that Garrett is as unready to be an offensive coordinator as he is to be a full-on head coach, but you don't actually tell that to Jerry Jones -- who wants Garrett to coach his team... if not now, then eventually.

UPDATE: Looks like Wade Phillips WILL be the new coach. I'll put the over-under on 2 seasons. I have no doubt he is a seat-warmer for Jason Garrett.

Soccer: USA beats Mexico. The US is 7-0-1 against Mexico since 2000 when playing them in the U.S., even though the "home" crowds in those games is decidedly pro-Mexico. (Soccer fans are going to have to explain to the rest of us why we should get too excited about "friendlies" that are essentially the equivalent of preseason NFL games: Meaningless.)

They love the NFL in England: 500,000 ticket requests in London for 90,000 spots at Wembley Stadium. I think they might be on to something there. Maybe the Jaguars can relocate to London.

(Is covering that game in person the biggest sports-media boondoggle of 2007? In any other year? Perhaps. But this year, it's a distant No. 2, behind the undeniable No. 1 of covering the NBA All-Star Game in Las Vegas.)

Note: I'll be offline all morning, so you might not see your comments posted until later today. I recognize that using comment moderation is annoying and breaks up the flow of any discussion about the topics above. I'm still figuring out how we're going to move forward on that. Thanks for your patience.

-- D.S.


Andrew (JUhS) said...

I'm American, but living in London (and being in HK for the World Cup) left me with no choice but to develop a love of soccer.

Tuesday's friendly between Brazil and Portugal was my first live match experience (in a sold-out Emirates stadium) ... and I have to say, for what is essentially an exhibition game, the atmosphere was exciting.

I think it's due to a mixture of 1) getting to see some of the world's best players (obviously, not all of the stars play) and 2) fans are always going to be interested in rooting for their national team. Try telling the heavily pro-Brazil crowd that the game didn't mean anything. This is particularly apparent in rivalry games like Brazil-Portugal and USA-Mexico, I would assume.

England just lost to Spain (not a rivalry, I don't think) last night. Even though the game meant nothing, England fans were notably livid.

And don't quote me on this, but the games may also have an effect on world rankings...

Unknown said...

On the Celtics.

Hate to break it to you DS but either Durant or Oden will make the Celtics as good as if not better then every other team in the Atlantic which immediately makes them contenders.

You have to remember it isn't just Oden or Durant but it'll be Paul Pierce as well.

You'll have Paul Pierce, Al Jefferson, Durant/Oden, Delonte West, Rajon Rondo, Ryan Gomes, Kendrick Perkins, Wally Sczerbiak

When you also factor in the fact that Wally's contract is up in two years, and they've got Theo Ratliff's contract on the books. You're looking at a team with a possible blue chip potential franchise player, plus the flexibility to trade for a seasoned vet, and bringing back one of the best scorers in franchise history.

So yeah - both Oden or Durant will have a huge impact on the Celtics.

Unknown said...

Friendlies are like preseason games in that they don't give points in standings. Remember, national teams aren't in 'leagues' or 'conferences' like professional leagues. National Teams only participate in tournaments.
Matches that are not in a tournament are then called 'friendlies'.
However, rivalries do exist and players cannot afford to not play at their best because they are constantly auditioning to become a permanent roster fixture for the next tournament. Unlike NFL preseason, all players have to prove their value to the team all the time. There are no contracts. Players are chosen.
Therefore, there's always intensity.

UNC/Duke wasn't a good game. Very sloppy play, both teams seemed out of it after Duke's initial shooting spree.

Recruiting? Doesn't matter in CFB until the games are played.

Unknown said...

Oh, as for the NFL in London. Ticket sales are huge because its a rarity...not because football is the missing link there.
If any person state-side thinks american football will ever replace soccer...FOOLS

NA said...

I'm sorry. I simply disagree with your assessment that the soccer game was akin to a preseason game. Unlike football or baseball, international soccer only has a few games a year. In this game Mexico had almost all of their starters involved and the US had most of their starters playing.
Furthermore the crowd of 90,000 sold out crowd cheering like mad is not the same as 45,000 people sitting in Giants Stadium rooting to see if the 7th Round QB from Louisiana-Lafayette is the next Jared Lorenzen. The US was playing hard, and the Mexicans were so mad about the result that the goalie tried to trip Donovan after he scored the goal. Also Mexican team considers this enough of a rivalry to refuse to shake the hand of the US players after the game.
Some friendlies don't matter at all. This one mattered, it's not the World Cup, it's not even the gold cup... but it mattered.

Unknown said...

C'mon Danny boy, do some research - the Spurs killed the Wiz back on 1/13 WITH Antawn. We realize the Wiz are your team du jour, but there's a simple reality - they cannot hang with the West.

Natsfan74 said...

Downplaying the value of the UNC-Duke basketball rivalry because of the NCAA tournament is further proof that football doesn't need a tourney! IF OSU-UM became "just another game" on the way to the tournament, it would devalue 100 years of tradition. Imagine if the UF/UGA game was meaningless? What would people do with all of those drinks formerly known as cocktails?

The recruiting bumps at ILL, UNC, and 'Bama are the typical first/ second year new coach phenomenon. Virginia put together 2 top 10 classes in Al Groh's first 2 years. The real challenge is to win with those classes in order to keep the quality talent coming. Virginia peeked at #5 when that first class was juniors, then lost to FSU and Miami, had 3-4 stars from that class go pro early, and now are back to relative mediocrity. New coaches have to win right away to keep the recruiting edge. If Spurrier doesn't start winning this year, I don't expect any more top 10 classes from that USC either.

Recruiting 4-5 star talent draws more talent, but winning is what's most important. One of the most interesting stats I heard a couple of years ago was that the Virginia team of 2004 was the first team to play at FSU in something like 10 years that had a single player on the team who received a scholarship offer from FSU. If you can't take the good players from top teams, you will never match up with top teams!

J Fitty said...

USA beating Mexico was big for the US and Mexico, but for different reasons. Most friendlies don't mean too much, especially this early in the World Cup cycle. They are a chance to look at new and younger players, and for the US determine if Bradley will be the coach. A friendly against Mexico is always a little different though because of the rivalry. The US team and the Mexican team just do not like each other. Even last night, the Mexican keeper tried to trip a US player 5 seconds AFTER the 2nd goal was scored late in the game. The Mexican team also walked off the field without shaking hands (again). This was also big because the US only had a few of their first team players, whereas the Mexican team had brought in all of their veterans from Europe and pretty much had all of their first team playing...and the US still beat them 2-0. Great for US confidence, and very disappointing for Mexico not being able to beat the US even with their supposed talent advantage.

In the grand scheme of things, the game meant little. But because it was Mexico, the stakes were raised.

The great thing is if you asked a Mexican fan today, they would say the game didn't matter. But if they had won, me thinks it would have.

Aitch said...

The reason you should care about soccer friendly is because unlike preseason NFL or anything else, the players still take it seriously. The mexican players refused to shake hands with the Americans after the match, as has become their classless tradition. Also, after the second goal was scored in stoppage time, the Mexican goalie tried to take a shot at an American player running by the net to go celebrate with his teammates. Yet another dirty move. Also, this win keeps the domination of Mexico on American soil going, while giving some the younger players confidence. And it also may have been a step towards solidifying Bob Bradley as the US team coach. All of these things matter, even if the game itself means nothing in any standings or qualifying.

P.S. kill the comment moderating. Negative comments are gonna happen. But ruinging the board for the rest of us is not cool either. We had multiple 100+ comment days over the last couple of weeks, now we're lucky to get 50...

phillipkscott said...

I think the UNC win WAS a big deal -- beating your rival at their place is always a big win. And using "Florida State won there, so how hard could it be" as an excuse is no good -- FSU did take down Florida earlier this year.

Mega said...

500 ticket requests?! Sheesh. I wonder how many of those requests are from other people around Europe. Hopefully no riots happen.

Travis said...

So while you all were obsessed with that little game on Tabacco, I was watching a real rivaly game.

Yes, the USA vs. Mexico game was technically a "friendly." However, using the word friendly is a very poor description. Basically, the game didn't count towards any competition. However, there is extreme dislike between these two National Team. A few years ago Mexican fans chanted "Osama, Osama" during a game at Azteca. At the 2002 World Cup, the USA knocked Mexico out of the World Cup. Mexico has not scored a goal on US soil since 1999. The US has never won at Azteca.

As for the significance of this particular game, there are a few things. Both teams have new coaches since last summer's World Cup. The USA's Bob Bradley is trying to prove himself so that they will remove the "interm" tag from his title. Mexico's Hugo Sanchez, one of the best ever Mexican players, has been lobbying for the job for years. He finally has it, and needs to prove himself. A win against the USA would greatly help, seeing as Mexico is clearly inferior to the USA when playing in the states (despite the "home field advantage.")

He wanted this game so badly, he filled his roster with veteran players, many who play in Europe (finally, Mexico has a poor history of players succeeding in Europe). This led to Bradley also calling in a few player from across the pond; though he did not bring in Cherundolo (WC starter), Beasley (2 WC's to his name), or Oneywu (best central defender).

More reasons to get excited for this game. Go to any soccer message board, and you will see the dislike the supporters have for each other. The Mexican supporters think they are better, basically, they are in denial. The two teams are pretty even, which makes for great games.

Watch the games between these two. They are always very hard fought, though as a result, not always beautiful. The Mexican team refuses to shake hands after a match against the US. There are always a few cheap shots, none more pathetic than Mexican GK Oswaldo Sanchez's swipe at Eddie Johnson well after Sanchez was beaten for the second goal last night.

I've typed way too much, and you've probably lost interst. But, hopefully you get the point. If the US is playing Mexico, it is a big deal, no matter what the stakes of the actual match are for.

Unknown said...

"...but if Florida State can do it this season, how hard could it be?"

The Noles did beat your Gators this year.

CMFost said...

The ACC is having a down year but the Players of theyear is going to come from BC - Jared Dudley is the sole reason BC is tied for first in the ACC

Travis said...


The Boston Celtics have some great young players such as Gerald Green, Rajon Rondo and Al Jefferson, what is wrong right now is no veteran presence with Paul Pierce out with an injury. When he went down they had a mildy respectable record considering how young the team is.

Next season you start games with Rondo, Pierce, Jefferson, Green and Durant and that will be a very impressive group.

Aside from losing there way into the lottery the other benefit of having Pierce miss so much time is that the young kids have more minutes to play and with the lost season they can let them grow quicker on the floor then you otherwise could if you were competitive.

AL Jefferson has blossomed into a average scored but a big presence on the boards where he's averaging 10.6 after taking down 16 against Miami last nite.

Add in a second legitimate scorer with Durant to compliment Pierce and this Celtics team will compete for the Atlantic title as soon as next season.

They probably wont be good enough to compete for the NBA title before Paul Pierce is on his way down so its important to keep building the young players and trade away talent that you can do without such as Delonte West whos decent but with Rondo expendable, perhaps you can deal him with a 2008 1st rounder and add another young scorer type who can be the replacement for Pierce in a couple years.

Ftrain said...

Make-up your mind Dan. Either Duke has inferior talent or Coach K isn't maximizing their talent. You can't have it both ways.

NA said...

I don't like Duke, but... I just think Duke is young. Shanoff makes the comment that everyone's young. But I think Duke specifically goes after talented players that they can develop whereas UNC and a lot of teams go after the best talent, regardless of A) if they are leaving after one yr B) Their attitude or C) whether they have hit their ceiling.

Also, this blogging system is horrendous this needs to be fixed fast, otherwise we will leave in droves (well... mini droves)

Dan Shanoff said...

Couple things in response to your comments...

-I shouldn't have been so harsh on USA-Mexico. I love you soccer fans' passion.

-FSU *did* beat the Gators, too, this year. At least they beat Florida in Tallahassee (and most people would say that FSU is having a pretty damn good year). Duke lost at home.

-I was off: With Oden or Durant and everyone else healthy, the Celtics would be near the top of the Atlantic. But given Pierce demands a lot of shots, they better hope they get Oden, who seems a better fit into a team scheme than Durant, who will need a superstar's volume of shots for a superstar's impact. Otherwise, he's Rashard Lewis playing alongside Ray Allen from a few years ago: Solid but not spectacular.

-I don't think I'm alone in arguing that Coach K is a great recruiter but not nearly equally skilled as a game coach. Frankly, in college hoops, there are very few great game coaches - certainly not as many as there are great recruiters. Even more than in football, great recruiting can cover a lot of problems with the actual coaching.

I don't think Roy Williams is a great game coach: He needed 4 NBA first-round picks to win a title. I don't think Billy Donovan is a great game coach: He needed at least 4 future NBA first-round picks to win HIS title.

So who do I think IS a good game coach? Most recently, Ben Howland at UCLA took very good talent, but implemented his system to turn them into a Final Four team. I'm sure you all can think of others. And as much as I dislike Bobby Knight, he regularly took talent that fit his system -- which wasn't necessarily the best talent -- and won with them.

verbal97 said...

As a fan of club (league) "soccer", I look at international friendly matches with a different prospective. Mainly, I just hope that the players from my favorite team don't get hurt. Friendlies mean nothing even if they count toward the completely useless ranking system. For the most part, it's just a way for national programs to make money.

There are exceptions like US/Mexico among other rivalries. However, most teams play their starters for a half and try out other people for the other half. It may sound like that would be useful, except that, unless injuries are concerned, there's no way starters are going to be displaced by the outsiders looking in.

Natsfan74 said...

I agree with your point about recruiter vs. game coach (Jim Boeheim is the ultimate example), but disagree that Coach K is of the recruiter mold. First, I hate Duke. Second, I am a moderate Coach K fan, but only because of his alma mater. So I am not writing this with any passion or loyalty, just an observation.

Duke doesn't have the big-name super talents that people believe they do. They have well-coached players who play in a system that helps them shine. How many Duke hoops players become big-time NBA stars? But they still get drafted high because they look like stars in college -- due to coaching. Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley, Grant Hill, JJ Reddick, etc. No hall of famers, and only one semi-perennial all-star in that group.

Natsfan74 said...

I understand the need for comment moderation, but it is disrupting the flow of the BLOG. We no longer have a flow of comments building off eachother, but rather a continuous stream of similar comments which becomes redundant and boring.

Is it possible to either: a) perform a regular scan and just delete the comments that are offensive or no-constructive to a good dialogue? or b) designate alternate moderators who can also review and approve posts in your absence (I nominate cmfrost and futurelegend -- you're both welcome)?

Brian said...

Watch the Celtics tank it and Oden and Durant decide to go back to school. How would that not be the funniest thing ever, plus it would save us Boston getting a new star to fellate.

Mega said...

natsfan- Grant Hill would have been a hall of famer if he didn't get so injured after he joined Orlando.

Also, JJ Reddick is only playing like what 5 minutes a game? I too doubt him as HOF material, but heck you never know.

Oh, and the Bulls have a couple of Duke players, one of which could eventually turn into a HOF caliber player.

And for anyone that thinks Coach K is a great coach need to watch reruns of the games he coached for USA Basketball.

ToddTheJackass said...

Well, I hate Duke with a passion, so I admit I'm not that objective in the matter, but here are some observations I have on the matter:

1) Duke v. UNC still meant something, as people will always care when Duke is involved, as they have the Yankees' love 'em or absolutely hate 'em thing.

2) Coach K isn't a great in game coach, at least not in the 2nd half. I can't tell you how many times I've seen them have 15-20 point leads at half-time, and then seemingly milk the clock down and have the lead dwindle.

3) Duke fans can't hide behind the "we're young" excuse, as UNC is arguably younger. Also, Duke has signed how many White, McDonald's All Americans in the past few years? Seriously, there is no sympathy in that... if you make excuses, find a bridge, jump, and get eaten by something with sharp teeth.

It gives me great pleasure that BC is tied for 1st in the ACC, while Duke is at .500. And that Jared Dudley is the player of the year in the ACC as of right now (though I'm a big fan of Thornton).

Mega said...

Additionally, touching on what natsfan just posted, I think he has some good ideas.

Most of us here are able to just skip the offensive and spam posts, knowing that you'll eventually delete them.

And if we're going to nominate someone to be a sort of "admin" for the Shanoff site, I nominate "Big D". How you could you not, with that shirt he wears? =)

NA said...

Daddy Rosee:

IF it was the Knicks, Isiah would have already traded the pick for Nick Collison.

Dan Shanoff said...

I appreciate all of your comments you're sending in ABOUT the comments. I'm currently planning out a solution that I think will satisfy most of you, based on some advice and insight I got from some of the leading sports bloggers out there. Hopefully, I can get it together by tomorrow.

solomonrex said...

As for college coaches, you're leaving some pretty major stuff out.

There's recruiting, game coaching AND TEACHING the game. And the coaches with great longevity do the last bit.

After the last couple decades, Duke and UNC have built-in advantages for recruiting. Clearly Coach K finds specific types of players and personalities more than he collects blue-chippers. Then he teaches very specific things on offense that are tailored to his usual group of unathletic shooters. They always play very cleanly in terms of contact.

Boeheim has a seemingly horrible recruiting situation (upstate NY, I love you, but...) yet identifies and gets great players and teaches them a complicated zone scheme every year - playing schlubs from around upstate NY to give the players time to learn. By the time the tournament rolls around, his zone will give teams an advantage against bad shooting.

That dynamic doesn't play out as often in the NBA, I'd argue because there's less to learn, but mostly in how the game is called. With soooo many games to call, the refs bias for certain players' moves (some people always look guilty and some always look innocent) just becomes magnified. Then talent makes a huge difference and it's less important to be a good game coach, though the Rileys and Jacksons will contend more often than the Rivers and Nellies of the world.

Unknown said...

Cincy gives Arroyo and extension.

I must say..I'm pleased with the new leadership with the Reds. Re-signing our best pitchers is great.
I honestly think that if the whole team puts it together, they are Series' contenders.

of course..with Cincy..that's a ridiculously huge 'If'.

Brian in Oxford said...

About the comments...

It does seem like I'm only just now realizing the error message I got 4 hours ago means my comment didn't take.

And I don't really remember what it was....probably something Celtics-related. Oh yeah, the '86 team lost only 15 games all year. Now it's 16 games in a row this year?

And the Amaechi story. The obvious smart-ass comment is that, he's less likely to have been one of the players in SI's story years ago on NBAers having tons of kids out of wedlock and not supporting them.

How about this...Dan gives out subscriptions (or charges $$$) to some of the regulars not to require approval on their comments. Others get moderated, and Dan can approve appropriate comments, with commenters able to get "promoted" if Dan notices substantial input to the comment roll over the course of several comments.

At least then any blog warfare would have to consist of earning Dan's trust over a couple of weeks before unleashing an attack, and then Dan pulls the plug on the "subscription" for the guy if he turns out to be a spy/terrorist.

ToddTheJackass said...

A big nay on having to pay for anything. Honestly, while I like the commenting, I wouldn't do it if I had to pay for it.

Dan, do you make money off of this blog at all?

Dan Shanoff said...

Before this goes any further: I would NEVER ask you to pay to be a part of this blog or for me to do this blog. Payoffs?! Payoffs?!?!

Brian in Oxford said...

hey, that was pretty good, Dan.

Now find a way to play off the phrase "diddly poo" in the blog!

Jen said...

Hey Dan, I like the fact that you have commented quite a bit!

ToddTheJackass said...

Arroyo isn't a bad re-sign, (I love the guy, don't get me wrong), but I'm surprised considering they already had him signed for this season and next. Considering last year was a career year for him, I'm pretty surprised they signed him at current (or a little below) market price, considering he could easily revert back to a solid, back end of the rotation innings eater.

What Reds fans should be excited about is watching Homer Bailey next year. That guy throws some serious heat.

Man baseball can't come soon enough!

mark said...

I'm surprised no one's talking about Amaechi. Or, actually, no I'm not. I'd never heard of the guy until yesterday.

Let's see here--so far, openly gay athletes include a retired NBAer who had a brief, non-spectacular career, a retired journeyman baseball player (Billy Bean), who also had a brief, non-spectacular career, and a couple retired football people whose names I don't remember. Then there's Greg Louganis--an Olympian in a who-cares sport whose fame was actually prolonged by coming out. These are all people who are at the margins to begin with--and they all waited to come out until it could not possibly do their careers any harm.

The lone exception to the above is Martina Navratilova (since Sheryl Swoopes doesn't count). But then, our culture has always had an easier time accepting lesbians for some reason. And anyway, it only plays into what the bigots are thinking to begin with, right? To wit, if you're female and athletic, you must be lesbian--isn't that the thought process?

(Also in the category of not counting: Bill Tilden. Never heard of him? Look it up.)

When someone who is still playing the game, and still playing it well, comes out, I think then it will be a sign of progress.

What IS progress is that these stories are being reported matter-of-factly, and without fanfare, and with a full sense of proportion. And then, more wonderfully, are the stories that the WWL and others run about nobodies--high school football players, college lacrosse players, and so on--who come out and, more importantly, a whole lot of nothing happens as a result. It's those people that are changing things.

I honestly think that when some guy comes out while still at the heart of his sport, and that will be sooner rather than later, that we're finally ready for it--it will still be a huge big deal, but it won't be a crucifixion.

Unknown said...

Bailey still only has one pitch. I hope they keep him in the minors til he develops at least another.

ToddTheJackass said...

While I haven't seen Bailey pitch in person, I think he does have more than just the fastball. Here's a quote from the BA scouting report on Bailey:

His curveball is also a plus pitch. He can throw a 12-to-6 hammer or as a slower, loopier version with 11-to-5 break. It's effective both as a knee-buckler for righthanders and as a backdoor pitch that sneaks over against lefties. While it will always be his third best offering, Bailey's changeup has improved and shows some potential.

He might not start the year off in the majors, but with the Reds rotation, I can't imagine that if he has success in AAA that he won't be up by at the latest the All-Star break.

IkeKrizzule said...

College basketball is different than college football, but you don't seem to be able to rap your head around it. UNC is a national championship contender, Duke is a contender, almost everyone who gets into the tournament in a contender.

I know you just want to make it black and white so you can annoint Florida the champion and move on, but it doesn't work like that in basketball. In college baskeball, with a short 3 point line and a 35 second clock, any decent quality team can beat any team on any night.

That Duke/UNC game might not have meant much standings wise, but it meant something to the rivalry. It meant something to the people going crazy in the stands, and it clearly meant something to the players who put on an all-out crazy effort in a pretty good game.

Dan Shanoff said...

Of course it meant something to the fans of the two teams and the players involved. I'm not disputing that. You're right about that. It meant a lot less to most college hoops fans, because it was simply a "rivalry game," which -- while fun in mid-February -- really doesn't have any bearing on the national championship.

Almost everyone in the NCAA Tournament is a contender? Hardly. While you can make a good case than anything can happen in a one-game situation, to string together six wins in a row allows us to shed the number of truly legit contenders to... what... 12? 16 max.

And even the "upsets" usually end up being explainable in hindsight: Inevitably, the favored team that loses runs into a team that they match up particularly horribly with. (Before you say it, there are obvious exceptions: Most recently, there was no great explanation for George Mason to make the 4-game run it did, which is partially why it was so amazing.)

Finally, I hardly think it's crazy of me to say that Florida is the top favorite to win the national title. They won last year and return the exact same team. They are ranked unanimous No. 1 right now (so obviously there are at least a unanimous poll of media and coaching experts who agree that Florida is the team to beat).

Would you like me to offer up teams I think can beat Florida in a one-game situation? No problem. In no particular order: UCLA, Kansas, Texas A&M, Wisconsin, UNC, B.C., Pitt, Georgetown. But I guarantee you that fans of those teams can provide a lot of reasons why their teams would get beat by Florida.

ToddTheJackass said...

Dan, I love the expanded comments by you. I also love that you put BC on that list.

And like you said, I could provide about 99 reasons why we couldn't beat Florida, but if FSU could beat Florida, I guess we theoretically could on a given night where Jared Dudley could not be stopped.

I do think that it's a slightly down year for Duke/UNC only because Duke aren't legit title contenders this year, whereas usually both squads have reasonable national championship hopes. That being said, I know I watched, (mostly due to aforementioned Duke hatred).

And sadly, I also agree that it's not exhibiting bias to call Florida the favorites in the tourney, but I too admit that I do get a little irritated with the Florida fandom by Dan.

Where are the Northwestern posts? How was their national signing day? Where's the photo of Baby Gabe in the Northwestern uni?

chipp said...

Who called the "Wade Phillips" rebound coach? Looks like he is going to Big D (no, the other Bid D). Good call!

Jeff said...

I wanted to add my perspective on the USA v Mexico friendly. I was lucking enough to have tickets 7 rows off the endline. The game may not have mattered to most people but it was evident that it mattered to everyone in the stadium (fans and players). After the USA scored near the start of the second half the intesity on the field and the stands racheted upward and really burst with the second goal (as was evident with the keepers actions and the hundreds of fans that started throwing things onto the field).

I have never been to an sporting event where the atmosphere was that loud and charged the complete time. My wife who doesn't understand soccer or really like it commented on what a fun experiance it was because of the atmosphere of the stadium.

Brian in Oxford said...

Oh yeah, one other question I had...

How many straight years has ESPN (and / or Dick Vitale) broadcast at least ONE UNC-Duke game?

Jennifer said...

I apologize for the repeat of others, but maybe there is strength in numbers:

#4 Florida vs UR FSU

Stop dissing the Noles until you are ready to put Florida in their place.

IkeKrizzule said...

I think the sentence I objected to was this one, "I don't think UNC could beat Florida, UCLA or Wisconsin, among others, in a Final Four Game." You make it seem like a guarantee, when to me none of the contenders is more than a 60-40 or maybe 70-30 (in terms of times they'd win out of 100) against any other team.

College basketball (and really basketball as a whole) provides frequent opportunities for the less talented team to win.