Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The Week That Was—Sports Edition

Sorry, sports fans, but my duties to the college I work for, which includes both teaching five classes and graphic design work, have prevented me from posting regularly in the past week, so I hope I can make up for it with this quick recap.

I was going to start off the blog by eviscerating the Cardinals for their three-game losing streak until I woke up to find out that the Birds rallied for seven (!) runs in the top of the ninth against the napalmed remains of the Cincinnati bullpen to win the game 10 to 9. I guess Yogi was right when he said "It's not over 'till it's over." This is especially true with Tony LaRussa's Cardinals teams of the past four years, all of whom have shown the gritty determination to play nine full innings regardless of the score.

That's what made the series loss in Atlanta—one in which they should have swept the light-hitting Braves—especially frustrating: the Cardinals are not driving in runs when they have the opportunity, and none of their Big Four—Walker, Pujols, Edmonds, Rolen—are producing at a sufficient level. Last year, Scott Rolen carried this team singlehandedly on his bat until the others game around to hitting consistently. All four sluggers will hit their strides, of that I have no doubt, but right now, it's discouraging to see them fail consistently to drive in runs, especially when there are less than two outs. It will come around in time, but until then, we'll have to keep gritting our teeth through low-scoring one-run games.

On the bright side of a down game, props have to get shouted out to LaRussa for taking one for the team against one of the most incompetent home plate umpires in recent memory in Saturday night's game. Al Reyes should have gotten a call that resulted in a strike-out/thrown-out double play. Instead, the umpire called ball four, bases loaded. The ball was knee-high over the middle of the plate. Fool me once, shame on you... So Randy Flores comes in and gets the same call on ball four that should have been strike three, in comes the tying run, here comes Tony. Fool me twice...uhh...won't get fooled again (G.W. Bush). For those of you who don't read lips, he said, "That was bulls***. That was f***ing bulls***." Sure, he got tossed, but it was worth it to see him tell the umpire what the rest of us were thinking.

Couple of interesting notes from Rams and Vikings rookie minicamps. First from St. Louis, Mike Martz said of couple of interesting things. First, he named first-round pick Alex Barron the team's starting right tackle. The Rams have a history of breaking down rookies mentally and physically, especially on the defensive side, and they haven't always bounced back to succeed in the NFL. Will Barron undergo the same harsh initiation, or will Mad Mike treat him with softer gloves because of the Rams' glaring needs at RT? Probably a little of both, I would imagine. He'll need to toughen up just because the game is tougher at the pro level, but the Rams HAVE to enable Barron to succeed if their offense has any hope this year.

Martz also had high praise for their seventh-round QB pick, Ryan Fitzpatrick from Harvard (great Ivy League name, huh? Does he talk with a Hyannisport accent?). It's common knowledge that the Rams' playbook is the largest and most complex in the league, so it's no surprise that a QB with a degree in economics (!) from Harvard would appeal to the mad scientist who sometimes resembles a football coach. To be honest, I would bet more on this guy's future success than either of the QBs picked in the first round (Tom Brady, anyone?).

Second, a great little tidbid from Vikings camp taken from the Star-Tribune website (linked here as "The Purple Page"). New cornerback Fred Smoot, who has succeeded Randy Moss as the team's motormouth on the field, was taunting first-round pick Troy Williamson, the speedy wideout from S. Carolina. The rookie ran straight at Smoot, deked, then shot off away from him, leaving the cornerback in the dust as Williamson snagged a 60-yard TD strike from Daunte Culpepper. NFC North teams better bring fire extinguishers this fall, because the Vikings offense is going to smoke them all. Bet on it.

I'm not an NBA fan at all, but I usually pay attention during playoff time. Having said that, I'm disappointed with most of these first-round matchups, most of which aren't even competitive. The league makes too much money off of their TV contracts to reduce the number of playoff teams or return these first-round series to best-of-five, but is anyone watching? Is anyone excited? Let's get on to the next round; I want to see Shaq throw down when it counts, not when he's not even really needed on the floor. BORRR-RIIIING!!!

"You want fries with that?"
"Haven't I seen you on TV before?"
"I don't know what you're talking aboot, eh!"

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