Conference Title Week

Well here’s the rest of college football’s big games.  Quite a few out there will impact the national title picture, so let’s start with the MAC Championship tomorrow.

MAC Championship

(21) N Illinois

(11-1, 8-0 MAC)

(17) Kent St

(11-1, 8-0 MAC)

This one’s a pleasant surprise.  If either of these team’s finishes above the Big East winner in the final BCS standings they automatically get to go to a bowl game.  Both these teams have impressive seasons, and stellar talent to boot as well.  Look for Kent State to make a few more plays though, as that win against Rutgers sticks inside my head.

My Pick:  Kent State

Pac-12 Championship

(16) UCLA

(9-3, 6-3 Pac-12)

(8) Stanford

(10-2, 8-1 Pac-12)

Different place, same result!

My Pick:  Stanford

SEC Championship

(2) Alabama

(11-1, 7-1 SEC)

(3) Georgia

(11-1, 7-1 SEC)

Georgia is a very worthy opponent for Alabama.  The thing is, you shouldn’t ever pick against the Tide, especially considering the way they’ve been playing this season.

My Pick:  Alabama

#18 Texas versus #6 Kansas State

(18) Texas

(8-3, 5-3 Big 12)

(6) Kansas St

(10-1, 7-1 Big 12)

With no thanks to Baylor, Kansas State is just about out of the national title picture.  I can give Kansas State a mulligan here, but this Texas team is so much better than Baylor.  It’s going to be close, but I think K-State wins in Manhattan.

My Pick:  Kansas State

Big Ten Championship

(12) Nebraska

(10-2, 7-1 Big Ten)

Wisconsin

(7-5, 4-4 Big Ten)

At this point I was thinking Wisconsin might be in the drivers seat for another trip to the Rose Bowl and Montee Ball would be on his trip to New York.  Instead the Badgers have lost to some less than stellar competition (Oregon State not included), while Nebraska has exceeded expectations.  This is another close one, but I think Nebraska finds a way to win this one considering all the momentum they have going into this game.

My Pick:  Nebraska

I’m not picking the ACC Title game because I know that Florida State will win.

My Record:  36-20

Let’s finish the year strong

HOHOHO!

 

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Previewing Tonight’s Big Games

Some stuff has come up so I will preview only a few big games tonight.  Here they are!

Rutgers versus Louisville

Louisville

(9-2, 4-2 Big East)

Rutgers

(9-2, 5-1 Big East)

Both these teams look pretty evenly matched.  I’m going to have to go with the Cardinals on this one though, because they have an elite quarterback and they’re definitely going to be mad coming off of a triple overtime loss to Connecticut.

My Pick:  Louisville

Saints versus Falcons

5-6-0
Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta
10-1-0
 
Looking past the records both teams are looking great.  New Orleans just came off a tough loss to San Francisco, but their offense is really clicking.  So is Atlanta’s though.  Call it a hunch, but I think going against a 10-1 team is a bad idea.
 
My Pick:  Atlanta
 
Well I was 6-0 last week in college football so wahoo!  Let’s start this week off well
 
CFB:  35-20 
NFL:  111-64
 
HOHOHO!

The Pac-12 Power Rankings For Week Fourteen

Rivalry weekend did not disappoint this weekend in the Pac-12 as there were upsets and exciting games for all to see! Two underdogs in the Pac-12 also had a chance at heavily influencing the final BCS standings and both of those underdogs flopped. Have you guys noticed how I like using the word and when I write? I’m guessing that this means that the intro is lame and boring so let us move on to the Pac-12 Power Rankings.

  1. Oregon:  The Ducks raced hard against the Beavers and steamrolled them early, only allowing the Beavers to really get back in the game against their back-ups.
  2. Stanford: They rolled the Bruins on the ground and defensively and they are looking forward to getting a chance at facing the folks in Powder Blue and Gold again next weeks.
  3. Oregon State: The Beavers became the first team to reliably score against the Duck back-ups and that should make Beaver fans excited about the future as they return a lot of starters from this season.
  4. UCLA: The Bruins got run over by a powerful rushing attack and are going to need to figure things out on the defensive side of the ball if they want to stuff Stefan Taylor, therefore stopping the Cardinal’s offense.
  5. Washington: Despite the epic fourth quarter choke job the Huskies clearly showed that they more talented team out there in the Apple Cup. Unfortunately for the Dawgs (and fortunately for the Cougs) talent clearly isn’t everything >:]
  6. Arizona State: The Sun Devils won in a shoot-out and upset their cross-state, Top-25, rivals and now the Pac-12 is probably going to lose two of its spots in the Top-25. But Sun Devils fan’s do not care they are in control of the Territorial Cup and that is all they need.
  7. USC: The Trojans looked off kilter and out of it against Notre Dame, which is surprising since it is rivalry weekend. Lane Kiffin made several stupid play calls in the red zone, which undid a superb defensive effort. As a result they Trojans take a drop in the Power Rankings.
  8. Arizona: The Wildcats had worked themselves into the Top-25 and then choked it away by losing a game that they should have one and as a result they get to take a drop the Power Rankings.
  9. Utah: The Utes almost lost to Colorado for the second year in a row, they would have become the second team to do so this season. They are lucky the won and it looks like we might have a real life rivalry brewing between the two new teams to the Pac-12.
  10. Washington State: The Cougs mounted the largest come back in Apple Cup history and Mike Leach won his first Pac-12 game, and earned his first Apple Cup victory. So yes, Go Cougs!
  11. Colorado: The Buffs put up one hell of a fight against the Utes and  it was impressive to see. We shall see if Embree gets another couple of years in Boulder.
  12. California: Their season is over.

These are the final Power Rakings until after the National Championship Game. So thank you guys for reading these rankings; so feel free to tell me how stupid I am and you what not in the comments.

Week 13: College Football Rivalry Week

There are a lot of big rivalries going on in college football tomorrow, and with the exception of Notre Dame/USC (Since Matt Barkley is out), they should all shape out to be pretty great games.  Now if only I wasn’t going shopping in Westlake.  Anyways, starting with “The Game”, here’s Week 13.

#19 Michigan versus Ohio State

(19) Michigan

(8-3, 6-1 Big Ten)

Ohio St

(11-0, 7-0 Big Ten)

Ohio State deserves to be ranked based off of the season they’ve had.  A lot of these games have been classics like the #1 versus #2 game in 2006, and others have been romps (like in 2008, 2009, 2010).  Dernard is going to be out to finish a strong season, but without star rusher Fitzgerald Toussaint this might be difficult.  Especially since this is in Columbus.  Looks like I’m going to let my Dad down again.  I wanted them to win too.

My Pick:  Ohio State

#5 Oregon versus #15 Oregon State

(5) Oregon

(10-1, 7-1 Pac-12)

(15) Oregon St

(8-2, 6-2 Pac-12)

Well I certainly wasn’t expecting Stanford to beat Oregon, least of all in their house.  Oregon State has also been a pleasant surprise all season leading to them perhaps becoming a strong national title contender for next year if they play their cards right.  I know this is in Corvallis, but this is still Oregon we’re talking about.  The Ducks will quack to another BCS bowl, but Stanford took their spot in the Pac-12 Title game away from them.

My Pick:  Oregon

#21 Oklahoma State versus #13 Oklahoma

(21) Oklahoma St

(7-3, 5-2 Big 12)

(13) Oklahoma

(8-2, 6-1 Big 12)

I really don’t see Oklahoma State winning this game.  Especially facing Oklahoma’s offense in Norman.

My Pick:  Oklahoma

You never know though.  Look at the Apple Cup today.

#4 Florida versus #10 Florida State

(4) Florida

(10-1, 7-1 SEC)

(10) Florida St

(10-1, 7-1 ACC)

You can never tell with these two can you.  Both are good teams, but they win ugly in a lot of their games.  They’ve also surprisingly made a return to national prominence, which is great, but one of these two has to go down.  Look for Florida to make more plays, considering that they’ve faced much tougher teams in the SEC.

My Pick:  Florida

#8 Stanford versus #17 UCLA

(8) Stanford

(9-2, 7-1 Pac-12)

(17) UCLA

(9-2, 6-2 Pac-12)

This game has Pac-12, perhaps even national ramifications to it.  Both teams are coming off of strong wins, and it’s tough to go against either one.  Look for Stanford to get the victory here, as they show why they don’t need Andrew Luck to win Pac-12 Titles.

My Pick:  Stanford

#12 South Carolina versus #11 Clemson

(12) South Carolina

(9-2, 6-2 SEC)

(11) Clemson

(10-1, 7-1 ACC)

Sigh I remember when South Carolina was a national title contender.  Now barring a major collapse, a team they beat, Georgia, will be traveling to the SEC championship to play Alabama.  This is familiar, OH YAH IT HAPPENED LAST FREAKIN YEAR.  Sorry about that.  Anyways South Carolina may be down a Lattimore, but they can still find ways to exploit Clemson.  Call it blind faith, but I’m pulling for Spurrier to finish the season strong.

My Pick:  South Carolina

My Record:  29-20

Let’s see what happens, tune in next week for more picks!

HOHOHO! 

 

 

Fat Guy Pick Leads To Fat Guy Game Winning Field Goal As Cougs Win 2012 Apple Cup

Okay so I honestly don’t know how to start; that game was pretty awesome and I am mostly glad I drove back for it. That game had pretty much anything you could ask for, from penalties to ridiculous turnovers and a near fat guy pick-6. Both teams tried to gift wrap this game to the other and it happened in front of one of the biggest groups of recruits I have ever seen at Martin Stadium. From a fan perspective that game was absolutely the crazies thing in the world and it helps when you have great trolls like this;

I’ll say this several times throughout this post but that was the craziest game I’ve been at; it beats out the 2011 Dad’s Weekend Game versus ASU, and the 2006 Redskins at Seahawks Playoff game. This game honestly is best going to be best summed up by going to Bullet point form while it is still fresh in my mind.  And it will allow me to communicate my thoughts more crisply so let us jump to it;

  • The refs were inconsistently bad as their definition of holding and pass interference was hard to make out as it changed from play-to-play, flag-to-flag. This is an issue that needs to be addressed and addressed soon by the Pac-12 front office.
  • The narrative on the West Side is going to be that the Huskies cost themselves this game but before you honestly buy into that I would like to point out that the Cougs turned the ball over four times and that three of those resulted in Husky TDs in the third quarter. Around the same time that the Huskies put up 21-points and turned a three-point deceit to an 18-point lead.
  • Both quarterbacks spent a significant amount of time sitting on the turf as their offensive lines seemed unable to block the defense; both O-lines gave up a combined seven sacks (three sacks by the Cougs and four by the Huskies). This is clearly going to be an area of emphasis in the recruiting strategies of the Sark’s and Leach’s respective staffs.
  • The Husky defense looked much improved over last season; it helps to nab someone of the talent level like Shaq Thompson. It looks like the youngest Trufant has become the Huskies version of Casey Locker in the fact that he is going to draw a lot of flags even though most of them won’t be deserved.
  • Martin Stadium got really, really, really loud. And that wasn’t just at the end it was pretty loud all game long. Even the Husky section was pretty loud considering how small it was; I think the lower field, the metal bleachers, and the low field all add up to make some interesting dynamics for noise. The press box/luxury seats trap a bunch of noise and it’s only going to get louder on the field when the football operation building goes in the east end zone.

Now OT actually gets a written paragraphed part thingy because it was really impressive and I’m the person writing this post and I damn well get to say what gets this or not. The fact that this game got to OT is still surprising to me even though I witnessed it in person and stormed the field it still doesn’t make sense to me. For the Cougs to overcome that 18 point deficit in 15 minutes was going to require a turnover and Price gift-wrapped one when he fumbled a hand off. And it got better when the Cougs were gift-wrapped a second attempt at a two-point conversion via a pass interference call. Then Furney hit a game-tying field goal, which was immediately followed by a botched field goal by Coons lead to overtime.

Overtime was when Martin Stadium got really loud and pretty much everybody ended up standing on their feet. The one thing I really can’t wrap my head around is why Keith Price tried to dump that pass instead of taking the sack. What resulted was one of the most disturbingly, beautiful plays in college football that I have ever seen. Toni Pole’s long rumble is something that will forever be seared into my memory and it would have been so epic and probably the coolest thing ever if he actually had managed to return the pick for a TD. But instead he gave the Cougs the ball back and five plays later the Cougar faithful were storming the field and celebrating a come from behind-upset-win.

Rumble young man, rumble

Go Cougs!

It’s That Time of Year Again; The Apple Cup

Tomorrow is the Apple Cup and it is once again all Cougar fans are left looking forward too when it comes to the current season. For the Cougs this season has been an unmitigated disaster; for the Huskies it has been a season of unimaginable lows (41-3 LSU) to unimaginable highs (knocking off two Top-ten teams). The Huskies have somehow managed to get back into the Top-25 (how they managed to get there in the first place is still confuzling to me) and now they get to make the trek across the state to the City they’ve complained about playing at in the past (1913, 1954, 2006); from 1950-1980 the Huskies forced the Cougs to play at Joe Albi Stadium in Spokane for increased ticket revenue, the Huskies went 12-3 in games at Albi and are 8-6 in games at Martin.

There is irrationality to Cougar hatred of the Huskies but there are also historical reasons for it. From the beginning the UW has tried to screw over WSU; from the first game in 1900 to the first break in the series in 1905, the Dawgs only made the trek to Pullman once (the

The 1981 Apple Cup was a war for the Roses, the Winner was going to Pasadena as the Pac-10 Champion

Huskies only loss in the first five games came in that trip to Pullman). In fact in the first 20 years of the rivalry the Huskies only made the trek to Pullman twice, while the Cougs made the trip to Seattle ten times. When you extend it to the first 40 years of the rivalry the Huskies only made the hike over to Pullman seven times; while the Cougs made the trip to Seattle seventeen times. In other words the Huskies abused the fact that they played in a bigger market and it set into motion the hatred that you see today.

Today of course that hatred has manifested itself on the blogosphere and is still pretty one sided as in we Cougs hate the Huskies more than the Huskies hate us. The one thing that always makes me giggle is that the UW fans that went to Bellevue College or City Community College making fun of WSU’s academics, clearly you couldn’t make it at one of the four year universities so why try and attack someone who did make it? Oh and by the way don’t put too much cream into my coffee I’ve been having stomach issues lately.

See two can play at that game people.

The greatest upset in Apple Cup history?

Okay back to the original intent of this post. This post was supposed to be about one of the most underrated rivalries in the Country and I somehow managed to get completely off track…whoops. Right interesting moments in this rivalry. There is the 1981 game in which the winner would go to Pasadena and the loser would end up at some nameless bowl, the Huskies curbed stomped the Cougs. But a year later the Cougs got just deserts in the first home game at Martin in around 30 years; the #5 Huskies lost and WSU students stormed the field, tore down the goal post and dumped them into Paradise Creek.

As a Coug Rick Neuheisel is a man I can never forgive, his 9-0 record against the Cougs included four straight victories over my beloved Cougs as the Husky Head Coach. Including the controversial ending in 2002 that caused nine-year old me to walk up to the TV and flip him the double bird during his on-field, post-game interview. Bill Doba kind of returned the favor by going 3-2 against the Huskies during his tenure as Head Coach at Wazzu. Then there was the gloriousness of the 2008 “Crapple” Cup when a Kevin Lopina threw the ball further than anyone knew he could on a 48-yard bomb to Jared Karstetter allowing the Cougs to kick the game-tying field goal and eventually winning in overtime, pushing the Huskies to 0-11 and all but guaranteeing that they would finish 0-12.

This year promises to be an interesting addition to the rich history of the Apple Cup as Coach Leach gets his first taste of this rivalry and Sark is looking for his fourth straight win. It should be typical Seattle winter weather (mid-forties and rainy) which helps the Huskies more then it helps the Cougs. The Huskies were 11 point favorites last time I checked and I only expect that number to grow as people put more money on the Dawgs to wipe the floor with the Cougs. This should be an interesting ball game and should go down as another interesting chapter in the rich history of the Apple Cup.

Week 12 NFL Picks!

Here are my Picks for Week 12 of the NFL Season!

Texans Over Lions

Cowboys over Redskins

Jets over Patriots

Bears over Vikings

Bengals Over Ravens

Steelers Over Browns

Colts over Bills

Broncos over Chiefs

Seahawks Over Dolphins

Falcons over Buccaneers

Titans over Jaguars

Ravens over Chargers

Niners over Saints

Rams Over Cardinals

Packers over Giants

Eagles over Panthers

My Record:  102-57

Would 3-0 be too much to ask for during Thanksgiving?!

HOHOHO!

Taking A Look At The Opposition To the Seattle Arena

Seattle Down Town, the Stadium District, and the Port of Seattle

Our coverage of the Seattle Arena is probably one of the most consistently viewed topics on this blog (what that says about our coverage of college football and other sports is not worth thinking about). It is the best Arena deal you could ask for because it offers all sorts of public protection and it pays back the construction bonds using an increase on the already existing Admissions Tax for the arena. In other words the people who attend events at the Arena are the ones who pay the city back for the construction bonds. And that is what makes the opposition to the Arena just so mind-boggling to me.

Chris Hansen’s original proposal faced all sorts of public opposition similar to the opposition that Clay Bennett’s faux arena proposals faced. Eventually this proposal won over the majority of the people skeptics by his over whelming willingness to compromise with the Seattle City Council on several issues regarding this deal. That is probably the reason Hansen’s arena plan has moved so quickly through a political scene that is known for slowing down public/private projects to a crawl.

Notice in the preceding paragraph how I used the poorly phrased term “people skeptics”; well believe it or not that was intentional. The reason for this is that a collaboration of private and public corporations has officially opposed the arena deal in the SODO area and for reasons that, at least to me; do not make a lot of sense. And that is the point of this post, to take a look at the objections raised by the Seattle Mariners, Port of Seattle and the Longshoremen Union; and then to point out some of the flaws I see in their logic.

The SODO Arena will greatly increase the traffic in the SODO area and therefore affect the Port’s ability to handle freight and get it in and out in a timely fashion.

  • Traffic is a HUGE issue in the SODO area; I-90 has its Western terminus there; I-5 has three exits there, the largest exit is by the stadium district; and Highway 99 also has one exit into the Port area from what used to be the Viaduct. And another thing to consider is that north of SODO I-5 narrows down to two-lanes, each way, as it heads through the downtown area and that causes traffic jams as cars switch lanes and make sure they still have a lane of travel in. Those traffic jams on the freeway will back up the city streets as cars are unable to get on to the freeway in a timely fashion.

The SODO Arena’s impact on traffic will prevent potential expansion of the Port AND impair the Port’s bottom line causing the Port to lay off workers [union members].

  • The first point of this argument, that the Arena will prevent potential Port expansion, is pretty dumb and just doesn’t make much sense if you have any idea about the geography of the area. From what I can tell on Google Maps the Port has very little waterfront space to expand too; it is boxed in on the north end by the Ferry Dock that allows people to go to their homes in Bremerton/Bainbridge Island. As for the South End the Port curves around with the land around the southern tip of Elliot Bay. So basically there isn’t much more waterfront that the Port could expand too. If they were to try expanding eastward and into the SODO area itself they would have issues getting past the Alaskan Way Viaduct (and eventually the tunnel). After that there are numerous businesses in their way that probably aren’t too eager to sell.  Traffic really isn’t going to be an issue that impacts the Port’s ability to expand.
  • For that second point, impairing the Port’s bottom line causing the Port to lay off workers; this is fear mongering. As I pointed out earlier the traffic issue of traffic is already a serious issue and will almost always be a serious issue in the SODO area. The Port is making a lot of money despite the fact that the Sounders constantly putting around 67,000 people into Century Link Field during the week (Safeco Field’s capacity is 45,000+New Arena will probably be around 18,500=63,500 on the rare event that the M’s and Sonics play on the same night). Basically their fear that the arena would significantly increase traffic is complete bull.

If you would like to see what the Port has to say about its potential expansion (which includes Sea/Tac International Airport) look no further then here. From what I can tell it looks like the Port is focused on becoming more efficient and more green while adding around 100,000 jobs. Adding that any people will greatly affect traffic in the area no matter how you slice it and dice it. There is no doubt that the Port is one of the most important employers in the region but citing potential (yet to be approved and/or really studied) expansion as a reason to hold up the creation of thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in tax revenue from tourist.

The Pac-12 Power Rankings For Week Thirteen

Problems?

Well…this weekend….It goes without saying this was a bad weekend in Pac-12 football but one hell of an entertaining weekend for the BCS. It also gives hope to an eighth straight National Title for the SECE and that is just a sad deal over all. So let us get on to the Power Rankings.

  1. Stanford: The Cardinal again knocked off a Top-10 team and again they abused the other team in the trenches to do it. They also became the first team this season to hold the Ducks below 40 points and in doing so forced Oregon into their style of play and that is how the Cards win (the UW game is THE exception).
  2. Oregon: If I’m not mistaken that loss knocks the Ducks out of the Pac-12 title race. And if that’s true it will be the first time in the Chip Kelly era the Ducks do not win the conference title. Ouch…
  3. Oregon State: They boat raced Cal and should give the Ducks a challenge in the Civil War next week. It’s going to be an interesting how this shakes out as the Beavers will more than likely take a sharp climb in the Top-25 especially heading into their match against Oregon.
  4. UCLA: The Bruins finally beat the Trojans and in doing so put themselves in the driver’s seat to face Stanford in the Pac-12 Title Game. It would be there second title game appearance.
  5. Washington: This was actually really hard for me, I was pretty tempted to put the Huskies into fourth but they only beat the Buffs by 35 while UCLA beat their rival (and avenged a 50-0 beat down) by 10.
  6. USC: LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL….who remembers me having the Trojans at number two in the Pre-Season Power Rankings? No one? Okay good.
  7. Arizona: They have the same record as USC and if they beat Arizona State they very well could find themselves sitting above USC in my final Pac-12 Power Rankings. What a joy that would be for me J
  8. Arizona State: It had been six years since the Cougs last scored in Tempe and their only score of the game shouldn’t have counted as it was in garbage time. Todd Graham has done a fantastic job of cleaning up the onfield issues for the Sun Devils and now all he needs to do is get some talent into his program to turn things completely around…that is if he stays.
  9. Utah: It’s a sad day for Utes fans as they are now sitting at the bottom of the Pac-12 South. What makes it even sadder is that they actually had hopes of making the Pac-12 Title Game this year.
  10. Colorado: They may have only scored three points against the Huskies but it was one of their better defensive efforts. Yay moral victories.
  11. California: Their winningest Coach EVAR is going to be going out messy becaue of how badly this season has turned out. This is a sad thing because by all accounts Tedford is a great person and you never root for a great person to be out of a job that he cares so much about.
  12. Washington State:  Go Cougs?

Week 12 College Football and Week 13 NFL Picks!

It’s Thanksgiving Break, and I’m tired and honestly don’t feel like posting anything.  Here you go.

College Football

#18 USC over #17 UCLA

#24 Oklahoma State over #23 Texas Tech

#2 Oregon over #13 Stanford

My Record:  28-18

NFL Football

For the first game I chose the Dolphins over the Bills and I lost so there.

Falcons over Cardinals

Cowboys over Browns

Packers over Lions

Bengals over Chiefs

Jets over Rams

Eagles over Redskins

Buccaneers over Panthers

Texans over Jaguars

Saints over Raiders

Broncos over Chargers

Colts over Patriots

Ravens over Steelers

Bears over Niners

My Record:  92-54

Let’s make this break awesome!

HOHOHO!

 

Taking A Look At The AL West’s Newest Member, The Houston Astros.

The Houston Astros were easily the worst team in baseball last season. Their 55-107 record is something to behold and I don’t mean that in a good way; after all how is it that a major league squad only manage to accumulate a +10 WAR with every single guy on its roster? For those of you who don’t understand how horrid that is you need to consider the fact that Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez had a +6.1 WAR all by himself this past season. That is 61% of the Astros’s WAR, ouch.

This season was one for the folk in Houston would like to forget as the offense, defense and pitching absolutely collapsed forcing one of the worst seasons in baseball history. And it has driven fans away from Minuet Maid Park as the club continues to lose and lose in epic fashion.  So how does a group of 25 guys, being paid major league wages, end up only winning ten more games than a Triple A squad would be expected to win at the highest level of baseball? Well taking a look at the clubs overall statistics in two parts is a pretty good start. The Astros offensive statistics tell you a pretty interesting story and to tell that story we will be taking a look at the club’s BA (batting average), BABIP (batting average on balls in play), OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage), RC/G (runs created per game), and SLG (slugging percentage).

2012 Season BA BABIP OPS RC/G SLG
Astros .236 .288 .673 3.8 .371
NL Average .254 .300 .718 4.5 .400
AL Average .255 .293 .731 4.6 .412

The question immediately that comes to mind is how the Astros only manage to score 3.8 runs a game while putting up a near league average BABIP compared to their current and future leagues? Looking at that above chart the number that immediately jumps out to me as a big contributor to the low RC/G would be the clubs .371 slugging percentage. Getting on base can only get a ball club so many runs, there has to be that guy in the middle who can consistently get the extra base hits and maybe even home runs (the Astros HR% was a pitiful 2.4% last season).

Their inability to turn hits into runs was only part of the Astros problems last season. The other part of the problem was a pitching staff that failed so often and so hard; to get an interesting look at the Astros’s pitching struggles we will take a look at their pitching staffs WHIP (BB+H/IP), SO/BB (Strike outs to walks ratio), and ERA (Earned Run Average, be aware this is a stupid stat but an interesting one as a point of comparison).

2012 Season WHIP SO/BB ERA
Astros 1.428 2.17 4.57
NL Average 1.311 2.50 3.94
AL Average 1.308 2.45 4.08

The Astros’s WHIP and ERA are ridiculously higher than either League’s average; meanwhile, their SO/BB ratio is ridiculously lower than either League’s average. What this indicates to me is that while the pitching staff wasn’t getting much help from the offense (3.8 RC/G is pretty freaking low) they weren’t even in a position to complain about a lack of offensive support as they often allowed the other team to get on base and score. Basically what ended up happening last season was that the Astros’s pitching staff would end up allowing guys to get on base and to score at a faster rate than their inefficient offense could produce runs. And as a result the Astros’s put together one of the worst baseball seasons in recent memory.

And now the Astros are bringing their struggling offense and pitching staff to the American League West. The AL West had a pretty damn good season in 2012 as three of its four teams reached the 90-win plateau, and its worst team was the Mariners and they finished with a 75-87 record. It doesn’t look like things will get any easier for the fan base down in Houston as they move into a division that put half of its clubs in the playoffs last season.

Best Buy Classic Treats Lady Cougs Like Best Buy Treats Its Customers

The Cougs trip to Land of 1000 Lakes did not end well as they went 0-2. But before all six of my Lady Coug Update readers flip out you should realize that today’s victors, South Dakota State, are a NCAA tournament staple over the last decade and even rose as high as the teens in the top-25 a couple of years ago (and Minnesota isn’t a slouch either). In their first game on Friday, the tenth of November, the Cougs took on the Golden Gophers; the Cougs fell behind quickly as they only shot 29.6% but luckily for them Minnesota didn’t shoot much better then they did (32%) and the half time score was 29-16 in favor of the Gophers.

 

The Cougs came out in the second half and did a lot better in shooting from the floor as they hit 53.1% of their shots and rapidly closed the 13 point deficit by going on a 5-0 run shortly after play resumed. What really helped the Cougs back in the game, and force overtime, was the fact that they hit 50% of their three pointers in the second half. The score at the end of regulation was 66 all. Eventually the Cougs ended up running out of gas and Minnesota managed to put them away late into the second overtime, Minnesota won 87-83.

 

Player of the Minnesota Game:

  • Lia Galdeira FR; The Freshmen guard from Hawaii scored a Lady Cougar record of 33-points and wound up with five steals. She also hit seven of eight free throws for an impressive 87.5% Free Throw percentage.

 

The second game of the week, and the second of the Best Buy Classic, was against South Dakota State on Veterans Day, November eleventh. This game was a lot more like your stereotypical women’s basketball team as both teams had okay field goal percentages (32.9% for WSU and 34.2% for St. Dakota) and high free throw percentages. For the second time in as many games the Cougs found themselves starting out sluggishly against the Jackrabbits. A horrid first half from beyond the arc, the Cougs only one three pointer all game long; but the Cougs still managed to carry a 26-22 advantage going into the half.

 

The second half was much of the same story as the Cougs and Jackrabbits struggled to find any kind of offensive consistency (the Cougs hit 33.3% from the field and the Jackrabbits from 31.4%). Unfortunately for the Cougs the Jackrabbits hit their three point stride, hitting five of their thirteen shots from beyond the arc and an overall second half field goal percentage of 31.4%. And it would get worse for the Cougs as the Jackrabbits drilled 71.4% of their shots in overtime; the final score was 65-56 in favor of the Jackrabbits.

 

Player of the South Dakota State Game:

  • Tia Presley: Her team high 13 points were only part of her contribution to the game versus the Jackrabbits as she also pulled down eight defensive rebounds (that also is a team high in rebounds).

 

Interesting Stats From The Week:

  • 45: The number of points that true Freshmen Lia Galderia put up in her first two games on her way to earning All-Tournament Honors.
  •  37.7%: WSU’s field goal percentage in the Best Buy Classic.
  • 80: The total rebounds the Cougs had.
  • 1: The number of minutes my preseason “Freshmen to watch” Whitney Tinjum played in the first two games.

Next Weeks Game:

  • November 16th: vs. Monmouth at Beasley Coliseum
  • November 18th: vs. Wisconsin at Beasley Coliseum

 

Weekend Review

The beauty of boxing and sports in general is when the unexpected happens. Although a few predictable things occurred regarding last weekend’s bouts, a few delightful surprises surfaced.

Starting at the heavyweight division, Wladimir Klitschko (59-3-1 51KO) defended his championship against fringe contender Mariusz Wach (27-1 15KO) by a unanimous decision. Klitschko was fighting without his trainer Emanuel Steward, who died on October 25th. The scorecards read 120-107 (twice) and 119-109 for the heavyweight champ.

Wach predictably ran into the same problems that many Klitschko opponents have had. He couldn’t get past the jab of Wladimir and the powerful right hands that Klitschko was able to land kept Wach on the defensive and he was never able to get close enough to be effective.

This is the 17th straight victory for Klitschko. It is unclear who he should fight next considering virtually no one in the division has any reasonable chance of beating him. The prospects are too young and inexperienced and the veterans simply lack talent.

On the Showtime network, Leo Santa Cruz (22-0-1 13KO) scored a dominant ninth round KO over unranked challenger Victor Zaleta (20-3-1 10KO). The fight was mainly an exhibition of Santa Cruz’s talents.

Santa Cruz scored knockdowns in the fourth, seventh, and ninth round. The body shots were the main thing that weakened Zaleta and he was finally taken out by a right hand from Santa Cruz.

Because Santa Cruz looked so impressive, fans want to see him step up in competition by fighting the likes of Koki Kameda, Anselmo Moreno, Abner Mares, etc. Santa Cruz has stated that he would like to get one more fight before stepping up to the elite level in order to gain more experience. Fans should keep an eye on this entertaining yet talented fighter. It will be interesting to see Santa Cruz challenged and not just displaying his skills in the ring.

In the junior featherweight (122 Ibs.) division, Abner Mares (25-0-1 13KO) achieved an impressive unanimous decision victory over slick Anselmo Moreno (33-2-1 12KO). The judges scored it 116-110 (twice) and a questionable 120-106. Some would argue the fight was closer than the scorecards indicate but almost everyone agrees Mares won the fight.

Mares cut off the ring and land many eye-catching shots to the head and body. He made Moreno uncomfortable through pressure and some questionable tactics. Mares landed a fair share of low blows but some of them were caused by Moreno pulling Mares’ head down.

Moreno was effective at times when he was able to put distance between himself and Mares. He landed good shots and made Mares miss many punches. However, Mares was able to jump on him enough times to win most of the rounds.

The fact that Mares was able to control most of the fight against Moreno is extremely impressive. Some experts had Moreno on their pound-for-pound lists so it’s interesting to see if they will add Mares to the list of the ten best fighters in the world. Although Moreno lost this fight, he is still the champion of the bantamweight division and he’ll likely go back to that weight and defend his championship against the top contenders. For Mares, the sky is the limit for him. He has expressed interest in fighting Nonito Donaire, a fight that suddenly looks more competitive.

On the HBO broadcast, featherweight (126 Ibs.) contender Mikey Garcia (30-0 26KO) kept his title shot opportunity against Orlando Salido by stopping Jonathan Barros (34-4-1 18KO) in the 8th round.

Garcia controlled most of the bout but Barros was able to land a good left hook on Garcia that gained his attention in the 7th round. Garcia responded with his own left hook in the eighth and it finished off Barros.

Garcia and Salido are expected to fight sometime in early 2013.

In the junior middleweight (154 Ibs.) division, Erislandy Lara (17-1-2 11KO) and Vanes Martiroysan (30-0-1 20KO) fought to a somewhat disappointing draw. Although the fight had some intense moments, the lack of sustained action made the fight dull.

The pattern of the fight was Lara landing the more effective shots and Martiroysan landing more shots. Martiroysan was able to cut Lara with an overhand right but Lara was able to land several head-snapping left hands on the Armenian fighter.

In the ninth round, a clash of heads opened a nasty cut on Martiroysan and the fight was stopped. The scorecards read 86-85 for Martiroysan, 87-84 for Lara, and 86-86 even. Martiroysan proved some doubters wrong by putting a good effort against Lara, considered to be one the best fighters in the 154 Ibs. in the division. Lara might not be as good as the boxing world previously thought, however. He appeared to tire at certain points in the fight and the fact that he didn’t throw in combination shows a certain lack of experience.

 

 

 

The Pac-12 Power Rankings For Week Twelve

The Pac-12 season has been pretty awesome so far this season. There isn’t a whole lot of movement since week eleven and the top team in the conference pretty much solidified itself. In other words it was another SEC-esque (although the SEC had a very Pac-10-esque week) week for the conference that dominates the West Coast.

  1. Oregon: The Ducks put the Injurygate episode from 2010 behind them as they steamrolled the Golden Bears and probably put the final nail in Jeff Tedford’s coffin.
  2. Stanford: The Cards played a tight game against the Beavers and they out defened and out offensed the team from Corvallis. Their four point victor was pretty good sign that Hogan is the QB of the future for the Cardinal.
  3. USC: The Trojans beat-up the Sun Devils and did it on both sides of the ball. After getting destroyed by the Ducks offense as they finally stood up to a spread offense and in doing so earned their seventh win of the season.
  4. Oregon State: After going on the road and playing a close game in the conference’s best defenses you would think that they wouldn’t drop that much, but after USC’s impressive performance against the Sun Devils they dropped two spots.
  5. Washington: The Dawgs wrapped up their stay at the Clink with a 6-1 record (and upset wins over two at the time top-10 teams). It should be interesting how this squad responds now on the road, which has been their Achilles heel the last decade.
  6. UCLA: You score 30 points in the second quarter and only beat the Cougs by eight….need I say more?
  7. Arizona: The Wildcats became the second team to allow the hapless Buffalo to reach the 30 point marker. They also became the first team to allow the Buffs to reach 30 and still win.
  8. Utah: So much for the momentum of blowing out two bottom feeders at home. The Utes went up to the Clink and got blown out leaving a bowl game as a tenuous goal.
  9. Arizona State: They got beat up in the Coliseum and they need to win one of their next two games to become bowl eligible.
  10. California: They played the Ducks, that’s all you need to know.
  11. Washington State: I was ready to drop the Cougs beneath the Buffalo after the first half, especially when you consider all the drama around the program recently. But something happened and they fought back and well they stay in the 11-hole.
  12. Colorado: At least the Buffs scored 30.

A Tribute to Carmen Basilio

The boxing world mourns the death of another icon of the sport in the form of former welterweight and middleweight champion of the world Carmen Basilio (56-16-7 27KO) on November 7th, in Rochester General Hospital.

Basilio was one of those guys who proved that true hard work and determination can lead to extraordinary things.  Though he would start his career with a dismal 28-10-4 in his first 42 fights, he learned from his mistakes and developed underrated boxing ability to go with his great will and toughness.

Basilio would finally win the welterweight title by beating Billy Graham by decision. A draw with Graham in a rematch and a close decision loss to legendary Kid Gavilon sealed Basilio’s place among the elite fighters of his era.

Basilio would get his second chance at a world title against equally tough Tony DeMarco. In an action packed affair, Basilio would stop DeMarco in the 12th round to secure the welterweight title again. Their rematch five months later would end up being voted as the Fight of the Year according to Ring Magazine.

Late in the seventh round, DeMarco slammed Basilio with his signature left hook, yet Basilio weathered the storm and was able to survive to the end of the round. Ultimately, Basilio would prevail against DeMarco.

Basilio would lose the title to Johnny Saxton in a fight where most viewers felt that Basilio was robbed. But, Basilio would get his revenge by knocking out Saxton in the ninth round. The fight earned Fight of the Year honors from Ring Magazine, the second such honor Basilio was awarded with.

Basilio crushed Saxton in the rubbermatch within two rounds and Harold Jones in four. Showing his tremendous belief in himself, he challenged middleweight champion Sugar Ray Robinson. Most experts considered this to be an act of suicide considering Robinson was four-and-a-half inches taller, had a much longer reach and possessed otherworldly skills compared to Basilio.

Basilio rose to the challenge by putting extreme pressure on Robinson. At one point in the 11th round, Basilio landed almost three dozen punches against the fighter deemed “The Greatest of all Time”. Through hard work, hard punches, and underrated skills, Basilio beat Robinson by split decision and won the middleweight championship of the world. The fight was named the best of 1957 according to Ring Magazine.

The rematch was equally violent and competitive. Robinson would rupture a blood vessel over Basilio’s left eye in the sixth round. In spite of the obvious pain and lack of vision that Basilio possessed, he managed to remain competitive throughout the bout and nearly kept his title. The scorecards would read 69-66 for Basilio and 71-64 and 72-64 for Robinson. Once again, Basilio was part of the Fight of the Year.

Basilio would next challenge Utah native Gene Fullmer for the vacant NBA middleweight title. Fullmer was a pressure fighter like Basilio and many people, including Basilio, expected Fullmer to put pressure on his opponent and to try to impose his will on Basilio.

To the surprise of virtually every observer, Fullmer employed a stick-and-move strategy against Basilio with effectiveness. Basilio was never able to catch Fullmer but the effort he showed made this fight the Fight of the Year for 1959, Basilio’s fifth consecutive participation in the most exciting fight of the year according to experts.

Basilio lost the rematch by a 12th round TKO and lost a lopsided decision to Paul Pender in his final title shot. He announced his retirement shortly after the fight. However, retirement would not stop Basilio from utilizing his work ethic.

He taught physical education at Le Moyne College in Syracuse for 21 years and helped his nephew Billy Backus upset the odds by beating legendary Jose Napoles for the welterweight title. When the International Boxing Hall of Fame was formed, Basilio was part of the initial class that included the likes of Muhammad Ali, Henry Armstrong, Joe Louis, Carlos Monzon, Sugar Ray Robinson, Ike Williams, Kid Gavilan, Jose Napoles, Sandy Saddler, Willie Pep, Rocky Marciano, and Archie Moore.

In spite of all the fame and respect that Basilio received, he still maintained his common touch. He would sign autographs at the annual IBHOF induction ceremony until the very last person was satisfied and interacted with the people who showed up to the event.

Although Basilio’s death is a reminder of the passing of a generation and the frailty of life itself, one should take comfort in the fact that he lived a meaningful life and produced some of the most exciting fights in the history of boxing. By all accounts, he was a wonderful human being as well. One example of this was when Tony DeMarco’s son died in1975, Basilio traveled all the way to Boston to attend the funeral and give support to his former rival. This is just one of many stories that show the immense heart and kindness that he truly possessed. He will be missed but not forgotten.

Rest in peace champ.