Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Reds Cuts

The Reds made a new round of cuts this morning.

In summary, Jose Acevedo and Todd Coffey are gone, meaning Joe Valentine and Matt Belisle are battling for the last bullpen spot, and Jacob Cruz and Luis Lopez are battling for the last position spot.

So much for a third catcher. I was beginning to think Estrella was going to catch on. The best news is that Jason Romano is gone.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Baseball Passion

Where did the magic go?

I used to be a huge baseball fan. Beginning in about January, I used to--literally--count the days until Spring Training and Opening Day came. I was actually sad--physically sad and depressed--when the final out was made in the World Series. I read baseball books all winter to keep myself going. I had entire lineups sorted out and worked out.

During the summer, my evenings were spent by the radio (or TV, later) listening to the Reds on Radio. I have very warm, positive feelings from sitting on our front porch on a summer evening while Marty talked about his tomatoes...or in my bedroom with the radio REAL low when I listened past my bedtime. I was at Johnny Bench's Day. I relish days at Riverfront, Tiger Stadium, Wrigley, Fenway, Old Comiskey. The 1990 World Series is a treasured memory--as was seeing the Reds beat the Pirates in person in the NLCS. The summer of 1999, with its unexpected run, was a great year for me, as I listened to the games while I gave me 3-year old son his bath at night.

I'm trying. I really am. Maybe baseball should have worn a nightie to bed, but the magic is gone. I just don't feel it.

Today was the last chance I had given myself. I said, when the weather gets nice, I'll come around. Of course, it didn't used to be that way. Bad, snowy winters made me relish baseball more--not less.

I have been wondering why that is. I have been searching introspectively for what happened. Was it me? Was it baseball? Do we both share some blame? Was our passion too hot, did it burn itself out? Or did we just fail to work at it?

I'll drop the dopey romance metaphors, but they make a point. What changed?

Was it the game? I think its fair to say that the game has played a role.

Back in December, I linked this Paul Daughtery column that says you treat the ballpark like a movie. Enjoy the time there, don't make it a passion. That is increasingly how I feel...let me try to figure out why.

One reason that it is getting harder and harder to follow each baseball season is that it feels more and more like each season is, in essence, an exhibition season.

(I should define myself and say that, like most people, the word "baseball" manifests itself in the professional game. We go to Minor league games and love it. My son is starting real baseball, and it is fun. We sometimes see college games. But those are all just baseball games, and not invested with the mythology and operatic historic context of major league baseball).

Unlike other professional sports, in baseball, most teams start out the season with no chance of making post-season play. The czars of the game, in their unending desire to pull money from the pastime, have created a system where teams in smaller markets have no real chance to competing. This might be OK if it was from year to year. But fans in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Milwaukee, and other cities have no hope of winning anytime in the forseeable future.

The cost of winning talent simply exceeds the ability of these markets to pay, and there is no reason, short of a Falstaff Owner/savior (see Mark Cuban), to think that is going to be any different. You might steal a year here and there, but in a real way, the Baseball season for teams in small markets is a 162 game exhibition season.

Even Oakland's vaunted Moneyball approach has gotten them no serious championship run, and time will tell whether there truly was a new approach, or whether the A's just drew an inside straight with Mulder, Zito and Hudson.

I understand there are no unmitigated goods or evils, and that salary caps have their own downsides. Having said that, why can Minnesota content in the NFL? Why can the Tennessee (Nashville) Titans contend? What about the Kansas City Chiefs? The Indianapolis Colts? The Pittsburgh Steelers?

The salary cap system makes the system real, and creates the conditions for rapid turnarounds. It narrows the overall talent band, and creates parity, and with parity is some level of entertainment.

There's another thing football has that would help small-market baseball teams. That would be the end of the long-term contract. Let's not fool ourselves, long-term talent projection is hard, and some people might be better at it than others, but no one is very good at it and a lot of it is luck.

Problem is, a small-market team with a $60 million payroll makes a mistake on a long-term deal (Ken Griffey Jr, for example, or Bobby Higginson), and it is very difficult to take the remainder of their capital and turn it into a winning team. If the Yankees or the Red Sox or Cubs do the same thing, they have a better chance of absorbing the hit and moving on.

In the NFL, you'd just cut a guy like that, and take the dough and go looking for three new guys. Or, use it as leverage to extract a smaller deal. Either way, if baseball had it, it would even the playing field.

So, Opening Day is less than a week away, and I am only curious. I have no level of anticipation. Every empirical point says the Reds will be lucky to be .500, and that's not much to anticipate.

What else could it be--on baseball's side?

Steroids, you might say. Certainly, this winter's news, and the debacle over steroids before the US Congress have left a sour taste in my mouth. That can't be the whole thing, because all the strikes left a sour taste in my mouth, and I spit it out and went back to going overboard. It might contribute, but its not the whole thing.

How about the players? Candidly, whether they make money or not doesn't effect my enjoyment of the game. There are players I like (Sean Casey), but I do think I have less emotional attachment to the players now.

As the young people say, somewhere along the line, the game jumped the shark. Somewhere along the line, owners, players and commissioners began to act as if things that matter didn't matter.

It matters that the game has integrity on the field, but Don Fehr thinks its more important to defend the constitutional principles.

It matters that the "Championship Season" be a true measure of skill and that teams with a major league franchise be in the same league (metaphorically) as everyone else. To the players and owners alike, this is an abstraction behind the reality of playing the season through and having each team adjust its expenses to meet its revenues. It is an abstraction behind the reality where each player views the game as a series of transactions—deposits and withdrawals to be balanced.

It matters that baseball is not professional wrestling. It matters that it’s closer than it should be.

It matters that the magic and myth live on in its ballparks, but to the owners and players what matters is getting through the day in the black....prose has replaced poetry.

It matters that ballparks were cathedrals to our passion--for baseball, for architecture, for our cities. Today, they are Downtown Disney replicas built to reassure crowds, not inspire them.

It matters that the people who communicate the game have an appreciation and love for it. Today, sports broadcasting is an assignment, and at newspapers it is apparently not a coveted one. No one invests TV coverage with the sepia tone of history like the NBC game of the week used to.

Baseball is not a game of constant stimulation. Baseball asks the fans to fill in the blanks…with the narrative of the unfolding game, with the tension of a pitcher-batter battle, with the hope of a rookie making his first start, and with the intensity of a team playing for a title.

Problem is, baseball isn’t giving us very much to fill in the gaps with. Exhibition seasons, players that range from uninteresting to offensive, it is as if the baseball leaders have decided that it doesn’t matter what happens on the field. These intangible things—that can’t be created by marketing departments or ballpark architects, these intangible things that can’t be created at all, these things are gone from the game.

Have I changed? I’m not in my 20s anymore. If life isn’t hard, it’s harder. There are more responsibilities, less time, less energy.

Baseball is a game of relaxed passion, and I have a harder time relaxing than I used to. Its more crowded up there, and the temptation to think about other things is strong. And baseball is not putting up much of a fight.

Sometime after I arrive at the ballpark, I feel the needle slip off the record, and I become distracted. The game becomes a TV show that’s on while I am doing something else. Far from being sucked in, I am estranged. Am I…bored?

Those evenings with the radio are, to coin a phrase, long gone. It is rare that I can capture a game in the 1st inning, and baseball is a narrative game. Its parts add up. They are not discrete. For me, at least, it is not possible to pick the game up in the middle and sustain interest when you don’t know if the pitcher struggled with a lot of 3-2 counts in the first inning.

Maybe I expect too much. Or maybe my senses have been dulled by expecting too little from everything else.

The conclusion? Yes, I have changed, and my life has changed. But so has the game. And in the middle, somewhere, those two reached some critical mass.

I still watch. I still read. I still listen. But I can’t seem to care.

I feel a little bit like a disillusioned Charlie Brown looking for the meaning of Christmas, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. On one hand, isn’t this whole thing a little self-indulgent? Isn’t change and loss part of becoming an adult? Should I just grow up?

Or should I remember that Charlie Brown wouldn’t have found the meaning of Christmas if he hadn’t understood that it was lost in the first place? After all, the myth exists in the audience, not the play. Did baseball embody my dreams because I had dreams? Did baseball amplify time because I had time to fill? Did I engage the game actively because I had the intense desire to engage and understand and dissect those things I met? Did baseball look good when I was hopeful and bad when I became more cynical?

Is the whole thing nothing but a cruel mirror?

Monday, March 28, 2005

Reds News

Its almost Opening Day, and I'm feeling less interest in baseball than I have in, oh, probably 30 years. Really. I'm going to try and synthesize my thoughts on this, but in the meantime, I can't generate any real anticipation. I keep trying.

Weather was finally nice today, but I don't think that was it. Usually bad weather makes it worse.

Well, the news from camp is that Danny Graves is having a good spring. This is important for the club. If he has recovered from the ill-advised journey into starting, and can be a lock down closer, that helps this team reach .500 A LOT. Time will tell. I still content he doesn't K enough, but he certainly needs a whole shit load of groundball outs to make up for it.

The Enquirer also has the info on the position battles.

I think I noted here very early that the non-pitching roster slots were pretty sewn up. They went like this:

C--LaRue, Valentin.
SS-Aurilia, Lopez
OF--Dunn, Griffey, Pena, and Kearns
RES: Freel

The only question was who would be the 13th position player. The Enquirer has this to say:

As far as position players are concerned, the Reds really only have one decision. They have to decide whether to keep a third catcher or Jacob Cruz as the 25th man.

General manager Dan O'Brien wouldn't go that far, saying infielder Luis Lopez and outfielder Jason Romano are still in the running.

With Ryan Freel and Felipe Lopez on the roster, Luis Lopez wouldn't get much playing time. Romano, a .193 career hitter with one home run in 161 at-bats, doesn't offer much as a pinch-hitting threat.

For my money, a third catcher is more valuable than Cruz, but then again, with such a short bench, you don't have much room to manuver your catchers anyway.

Danny Graves, Ben Weber, David Weathers, Kent Mercker and Ryan Wagner are in....

Whoever loses out on the fifth starter spot - Josh Hancock or Brandon Claussen - will likely take the sixth bullpen spot. Both are out of options, so the Reds can't send them to the minors without risking losing them on waivers.

Again, O'Brien wouldn't commit beyond the four veterans.

"(Wagner) has pitched well," he said. "But no final decisions have been made regarding any of those individuals."

But it stands to reason that Jose Acevedo, Todd Coffey, Joe Valentine, Jeriome Robertson and Matt Belisle are competing for one spot.

Robertson, a 28-year-old left-hander, is the only one with good overall numbers. He's 3-1 with a 3.46 ERA, but he's been a starter most of his career.

Acevedo and Valentine have pitched well after horrible starts.

Acevedo, 0-1 with an 11.70 ERA, has allowed only one run and three hits over his last five innings.

Valentine, 1-0 with a 5.10 ERA overall, had his sixth scoreless outing in a row Sunday.

Belisle and Coffey, both 24, are interesting cases. Both came into camp as long shots. But they have impressed the brain trust with their stuff.

Each has had good results, save for one awful outing.

Belisle gave up five earned runs on sevens hits in 11/3 innings in his one start. In his five relief appearances since, he's retired 15 of the 16 hitters he's faced.

Coffey was racked for five runs in one outing against Pittsburgh. In his other five outings, he has a 1.93 ERA.

I like to see this. It looks like some depth. Essentially, this guy is the long man. With that in mind, Acevedo would seem like the logical choice. I'd like Coffey to keep closing in Louisville becaue if Graves is having a good year we might be able to move him.

If Ryan Wagner comes around, this team is much more formidable.

OK, I'm a little more in the mood.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Falcon Year In Review

I think for many of us, the Falcons exceeded expectations--at least those we had when Ron Lewis left in August. At the time, I feared a single digit win season. But Josh Almanson responded with an All-MAC season (never before had he averaged in double figures), and John Reimold proved to be a consistent scoring threat. As you know, I did pick a 17 win regular season, and that's where we ended up. A couple key plays in clutch situations, and we could have won the West.

Having said that, sometimes stats like that are an illusion. People can make up their own mind, but no empirical analysis of our performance would lead someone to think that we were anything other a middle MAC team. We shot well, but didn't score well, and we did some other things OK, but not great. If you show anyone these rankings with the teams removed, and they'd say, hey, that's about a .500 team in that conference. As we were.

So it goes. Let's look at how we fared in the MAC.

It will surprise no one we were 9th in scoring offense at 69.8. This is telling for a team that didn't lose any games when it scored more than 70.

It might surprise people to know that we were 7th in scoring defense (68.6). DD's reputation for lock-down defense simply doesn't bear out in numbers, for reasons we will explore, but primarily because we are a little slow. Our scoring margin was (+1.1).

As a team, we shot well. We were 2nd in FT% (.748), 1st in FG% (.488) and second in 3fg (.379).

There are some other stories inside that. For example, our 3FG is very good. But, we didn't really try very many (17/game), which is 12th in the conference. We made 6.4/game, which is 11th in the conference. So while we were accurate in 3FG, and didn't waste as many possessions with missed 3's as some teams, you could also argue that we didn't make as much of our 3FG as we could have. Had we shot more, we might have upped our scoring average. That depends on whether good shots were available, but on the other hand, they could have been created.

Put another way, we were 8th in 3FG% Defense. Teams only shot .354 against us. Still, we lost the battle of 3's 196-187. That's one point a game.

Because we shot so well, and other teams shot pretty well against us, there weren't as many rebounds to be had as normal. We wwere last in rebounding (31.1), but second in rebounds allowed (30.7), leaving us +.4, and sixth in the conference. We were dead last in offensive boards (8.76). Don't get me wrong--we weren't very good rebounders, but its probably not as bad as it seems because we did have a postiive margin.

We lead the league in assist with 16.83/game. I'll go on about this some other time, but assists is so subjective its almost useless. And this probably proves it.

I know there was a great deal of concern about our turnovers. Rightfully so. We were 9th in turnovers (15.0/game), with only Buffalo, EMU, and CMU (17.5) worse. We were also 9th in creating turnovers (13.6), and with a -1.38 margin, that's 12th in the conference.

As mentioned, we were also in the middle of the pack in scoring D. Teams shot .445 against us, which was also 7th, or about in the middle of the conference.

On the matter of fouls. The MAC doesn't keep this officially, but here is what is shows. The difference top to bottom isn't necessarily huge, but we were 11th with over 21 fouls a game. 19 was in the middle, and about 18 was really good. Bottom line, there is not much variance in our conference in fouls.

OU 17.8
WMU 17.9
Ball 18.3
KS 18.4
NIU 18.5
Akron 18.8
Marsh. 19.3
EMU 19.4
Miami 19.4
UT 20.4
BG 21.3
Buff 21.5
CMU 22.0

If you are curious, the MAC also doesn't publish individual foul leaders, but here they are.

1 Bowler 3.97
2 Williams 3.22
3 Patton 3.21
4 Harbut 3.13
5 Anderson 3.11
6 Wright 3.10
7 St. Clair 3.10
8 Jordan 3.09
9 Rost 3.03
10 Warzyinski 3.00

Our opponents shot 658 FTs, and we only shot 535. Even allowing for a higher shooting percentage, we were 56 FTS behind (456-400) for the season. That's about two points for each game on a team that only outscored its opposition by one point.

We were 12th in the MAC in attendance (2452/game). Only CMU (2,263) was worse. BSU led with a 5,641 average.

We'll compare this to the year before, but there isn't much different. What was different this year was that we had two team-oriented scorers coming to the fore, and not fighting Ron Lewis for shots.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Rumors are Austin Montgomery is Leaving

Rumors are that Austin Montgomery is leaving the program after two seasons of low playing time and low productivity. He represents the coup de grace of the two "lost classes" of Falcon basketball recruits, and underlines the problems facing the program. It is perhaps not coincidential that these were the first two classes after the West Virginia I said, perhaps not coincidential.

Here are the classes:

Stephen Wright--Productive player, still in program.
Ron Lewis--Two productive seasons, no junior year.
Raheem Moss--26 games, two starts, 66 career points, left program.

Chris Hobson, 28 games, 51 points, left program.
Austin Montgomery 56 games, 189 points, rumored to be leaving after two seasons.
Reggie Harwell--Nada.
Matt Lefeld--45 games, 52 points. Still in program.
Isaac Rosefelt--24 minutes, two points. Left Program.

If Austin leaves, this means we spent two recruiting classes--8 players--and only netted two who played beyond their sophomore season. The hole we are seeing in next year's roster is the lack of seniors and juniors on the team, and that's because Ron and Raheem would have been seniors had they stayed and ready to carry the load.

For the long-term health of our program, the success of each member of this year's class is vital, or we're in for a long funk.

Even, Not Deep

Its not fair to say that we're deep at fifth started. What we have is five guys who stink about equally. Here, some of them are injured, but we still can run Brandon Claussen out there. Let's hope Ortiz is better than I predicted a couple days ago.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Lions Sign One, Lose One

Stephen Alexander has determined that the signing of Marcus Pollard is a signal to him to find other work. Which he did.

Marcus Bell was re-signed. He was a valuable player in the rotation after he was released from the Cardinals. Can you believe it? A Cardinal cast-off contributes.

Millen says he might draft Braylon Edwards. That wouldn't be PR, would it?

Stop Me if You've Heard This One Before

Ramon Ortiz has a bad hammy. No one thinks its serious, and he's day to day.

Or, he is out until the middle of May, and his 5.88 ERA when he is "shut down" at Labor Day is attributed to a "nagging hamstring injury that didn't heal."

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Reds News

Peter Gammons is happy to have his little man-buddy Jim Bowden back in the game. Both make me sick...Gammons passes off more gossip as news than anyone else in the media. With that in mind, he had this to say about WMP going to the Nats.

Marc Lancaster has the cuts from Florida for the Reds.

The latest round of cuts sent five players out, a couple of them surprising -- Rob Stratton and Ricky Stone. Because of Stratton's production and Stone's experience, I had expected both of them to at least make it to the last cut. But both were reassigned to minor league camp, along with LHP Randy Keisler. Optioned to Louisville were Edwin Encarnacion and Dane Sardinha.

That means some guys on the bubble survived at least for a while -- Jose Acevedo, Matt Belisle, Todd Coffey and Joe Valentine most notable among them.

I don't believe any of those guys will make the team. Further, notwithstanding some prodiguous blasts this spring, I don't think Stratton is that surprising. He is this year's Roberto Petagine. He's going to be 28 this year with no ML at bats. Guys like that rarely turn into anything.

Finally, if, as rumored, we can move Griffey to the Stros for four prospects, we should do it right away. There's no long-term upside to keeping Junior around. There might be for this season, but not for the long-term.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

WVU to the Sweet 16

I wonder how it makes Coach Dakich feel.....

Ball State Dismisses MAC Freshmen of the Year

Brady Hoke is going to win at Ball State. The courage to do this is only one reason.

Big News from Cole's Pro Day

Here's a web report on Pro Day at BG.

BOWLING GREEN (March 15th) senior wide receiver COLE MAGNER ran between 4.55 and 4.58 in the 40... 3.82/4.08 short shuttle... 6.42/6.49 three-cone... 10.95 60-yard... 31" vertical... 9'8" broad jump... weighed in at 6010, 195 pounds... when compared to the results of WR's at the Combine his three-cone times are amazing, as only Indiana's Courtney Roby was the closest at 6.61, plus no one over 190 pounds even broke below 6.9, and there were only seven total WR's at the Combine that broke 7.0... a total of 11 teams were represented at this workout.

AZZ commentary has analyzed this as follows. Being measure at a real 6'1 really helps him get drafted. His cone time (which is supposedly why he is so good at getting open with a little burst of speed) is an absolute revelation. I believe he will be drafted.


Wily Mo is off to a very cold start this Spring. At the same time, Austin Kearns is on fire, and is the better prospect.

Then, the news on Red Reporter that Jim Bowden covets WMP in DC. What to do?

You can certainly argue that given the health of our OF, we don't have any choice but to keep him because he will get ABs.

But is he worth a 4OF? What if we did get a pitching prospect him. Why not exploit Jimbo's addiction to 5 toolers? Freel can fill in in the OF. The meter on WMP is running out--he might have no value soon.

Choice is clear--unload him!

Thursday, March 17, 2005

"Gully thinks he sees something"

How many times did we bring in some shell-shocked has been (or never was) and hear Reds management say this? The Great American Reds Blog has a great post looking at the numbers behind the Gullett myth.

The basic conclusion is this. You can't blame him for the sucky pitching--he was given sucky pitchers. But he isn't a miracle worker, either. Its GIGO, with Gully.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Lions continue free agent spree

Killer says there is an agreement in principle with G Rick DeMulling. Heard this on Stoney and Wojo, and Killer said he's not a power guard, but a mobile pulling guard.

This helps the line a lot, and if it works out, is a nice deal for the club. David Loverne never worked out--I assume he will be axed. DeMulling joins Woody, Raiola, and Backus on the line--much improved.

On the other front, Stockar McDougle signed with Miami. So it goes.

At this point, my guess is we draft Alex Barron out of Fla State, although Killer did hint that Kelly Butler and Vic Rogers are both well thought of in the Lions camp.

Wilson to go on Opening Day, Reds make first cuts

No surprises here at all. The Reds made their first round of cuts. Bubba Nelson and AJ Zapp are the only two even remotely known names.

And, Paul Wilson will start Opening Day, despite being absolutely LIT UP this Spring.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Dakich Recruiting

The LA Times mentions in a story on General Knight that Coach Dakich was in Boston recruiting. posters have mentioned that he has two scholarships to give and is looking JC. With the 5/8 rule repealed, we could be in for six new faces in orange and brown next season. The freshmen look good, and let's hope we can get two guys who can put the ball in the hoop a lot. Combined with Wright, Floyd-Robinson, and Vandermeer, and the freshmen with Austin, we may be able to bounce back.

The second scholarship is a bit of a mystery. We knew we had one left to give, but the assumption is that the second scholarship is Germaine Fitch's. Coach has clearly indicated he was heartbroken by this (Germaine was arrested for possession of marijuana, which happened while we were out of the country). Germaine was one of his real favorites, and I think he was really disappointed. He indicated on the radio Monday that the incident might have effected the team near the end of the year, which wouldn't surprise me. Fitch was a team leader.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Hudson MRI negative

But Hal reports injury healing will be a set back for Luke Hudson.

This remains something to keep an eye on.

In other news, Todd Coffey probably killed his long-shot bid to make the team by getting LIT UP yesterday. He's still worth keeping an eye on.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

I don't like to brag, but let's review what I saw for the Falcons hoops team

My prediction, in this very space, before the season started was a 17-10 record (regular season). And we did, in fact, finish 17-10. I saw us 12-7 in the MAC, so I was two games over at tht level, but I correctly called a third place finish in the west, home court, and an advance to the Gund.

So there. I think its pretty good.

I didn't get it all right. I pictured a slow start, with a strong MAC season. I didn't picture us winning on the road as often as we did. Mostly, I predicted a strong finish. That was wrongest of all. This team doesn't seem to have any strong finishes in it.

Well, I said we had to get used to it...

On February 15, I wrote that we might as well get used to Jeff Garcia coming to Detroit. Well, in what has been the worst kept secret, we finally "landed" Garcia over the NFL's other west coast sucker, the Seahawks.

McMahon is going to Philly to be with his buddy Marty Morningwood. Let the QB controversey begin! I just can't believe that this results in anything but Garcia starting for this team. And wait...he stunk last year, right? Right. His rating was 76.7. Furthermore, it has steadily declined since 2000, when it was a high of 96.7 And he's 35.

I will grant that Cleveland was a horrible situation last year. But I don't think this is the guy to lead us to the next level, but I am afraid Mooch has a blind spot and that he's going into the lineup, ready or not.

In other news, our C wants to be here.

Saturday, March 12, 2005


Go Women!

I don't write much about the women's team--or at all. I should, but I don't have the time to follow another team that closely. Having said that, Curt Miller's Falcons are in the MAC final today against #2 Kent. Go BG! Miller was a great Krebs hire....

Spring Training Notes

From Plant City, a couple things of note.

*Luke Hudson is having MRI and shoulder problems. We should keep an eye on this, but it is the kind of things that looks very, very bad. This would be a real shame, would it not?

*Rich Aurilia appears to be the starting SS. Which is OK, as long as Lopez gets more playing time than the normal back up. He's the future, he's batting .333, and he needs to be in the games.

Other than that, things aren't looking too bad. Pitchers are getting lit up, but that's not an unusual experience. I'm still pulling for .500, as noted below, but who can tell?

And so it ends

The Falcon season came to a screeching, and not unexpected halt on Thursday night, as they lost to a clearly superior--but not unbeatable--Miami team.

When a team that plays defense as well as Miami does shoots 57%, that's not a hard outcome to predict. They aren't going to lose that game. We even managed 65 points against them, but they can't shoot 57% and lose. In fact, its the best any team shot against us all season.

It was never really much of a game. They bolted into a big, quick lead, and you could sense problems. We got it back to 4 down a couple times, but they just shot back out into the lead. I didn't see the game, but the radio descriptions indicated we came out completely flat and uninspired. We had no creativity with the ball, and Miami's D is good enough that Reimold can't just carry the team on his back like he did against Ball State.

I always hate the end of the season. I wish it could go on. It was a good year for our team--I will review in most detail next week. I am very worried about next season--the recruiting class coming in had better kick some butt, or we are in serious trouble.

The OU came showed that Miami was beatable, and we beat OU at AA. Still, the MAC was very balanced this year, and OU has a great young team, the kind that's dangerous at tournament time. We beat Buffalo, too, (the other finalists), also at AA. They are also a good, quick team.

MAC basketball is one of the best sports anywhere, I believe. Its balanced, its fiercely competitive, and you have to win at the Gund to move on. There are (very likely) no at-large bids for our conference.

Back to our game, we just didn't have anything left in the tank against Miami, we still aren't talented enough at guard to win in College basketball, which is a guard's game. Miami is a very solid team.

So, its on to next year. Check back later for updates.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Almanson All-MAC, Reimold 2nd Team

Congrats to them both for their well-deserved award. I am not sure about Turner Battle as POY, but certainly there's a case there. Charlie Coles as Coach of Year is a great pick and well deserved.

Here's the story...

Beat Miami!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Lions move on Free Agent Market

Whoa! After getting jilted and embarassed by Kurt Warner and other free agents, the Lions finally struck.

They signed Kenoy Kennedy, who is reported to be a hard-hitting strong safety from the Broncos. He fills a big hole, in my opinion. I think our corners are solid, as are the linebackers and the line. I wrote in my year-end review that I felt the Lions defense was underrated and pretty good on a play by play basis, and if they offense kept the other team off the field more and we added a safety and Boss Bailey, they were good enough to win. I think this addition helps a lot.

The Lions also signed Marcus Pollard, a guy I really like in our offense. You now look at Joey with a running threat, Williams, Rogers, and Pollard to throw to, and this team should be able to stay on the field. Things could be looking up.

Killer has his take. Don't miss the end of the article where he talks about getting a guard, a 3WR, and a 2QB yet.

One last thing. All the mock drafts have focused on a Safety and a TE for the Lions, both of which are plainly out of the picture for us now. What could the next draft priority be? O-Line?

Monday, March 07, 2005

Hiatus over...we're back, Falcons win

Its good to be home, something else the Falcons might say tonight. Thank goodness for the tiebreaker. I don't think we win this game anywhere else. As it was, we blew a 15 point lead against a team that is playing without its #2 scorer, and lost its leading scorer to a serious lookig knee injury in the first half.

Don't have much energy to post a full account. It was a good one. We were up 2, and had the ball with about 42 second left. We decided to run it down, and Ball State decided to let us. Cory got an open look and missed, and then BSU grabbed the board and raced all the way down the court for a close in look with about a second left. Cory was there to harass, and the shot fell off the rim, and we held on for the win. Tight one.

Having said that, the real story tonight was this.

In his last game at Anderson, John Reimold was absolutely heroic. He carried our team today--of that there should be no doubt. Without him, BSU is heading to Cleveland and it isn't close.

He scored 38 points, the second highest ever in a MAC tourney game. He simply took over the team, racing around the court around double teams and hitting shots when he had to.

It was an exciting game. Falcon fans should keep it in perspective. Yes, this team worked hard to make the Gund, and they deserve credit. Yes, many of us thought they would win single digits, and they now have 18 wins and that's a good year. Its also true that tonight we barely beat a team on our floor that played all of the game without their second best scorer and most of the game without their #1 scorer. And they still had a chance to tie it at the end.

Having said that, the best memory tonight is the one John Reimold left us with. What a performance for him.