Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Week 1. The Arch Rivalry

Week 1 finds the Tigers once again meeting the fighting Illini in St Louis. This will be the 7th meeting between the schools in St Louis where Missouri currently leads the series 5-1. All time records Missouri again leads 15-7, and is currently on a 4 game winning streak. Last year Mizzou won 52-42, but the season was somewhat disappointing. Beginning the season ranked 5th in the nation, Missouri won the North Division of the Big XII for the 2nd year, but finished with a 10-4 record, 5-3 in conference and one of the worst pass defenses in the country. Illinois finished the season 5-7; 3-5 in the Big 10, err 11, no 10. Quite a drop from their Rose Bowl season the year before.

I've gone over the starters for the Tigers in a previous posting, so let's concentrate on Illinois. Returning at quarterback is Juice Williams. He has the ability to keep Illinois in any game. He also has the ability to run them out of any game. He's thrown for 44 touchdowns in his career and 37 interceptions. He has a good target in Arrelious Benn who caught 67 passes last year for 1055 yards, but only 3 touchdowns. If he doesn't improve on that this season, expect Illinois to be home for the holidays again. Daniel Dufrene would figure to be the starter at running back. He gained over 600 yards last year and averaged almost 6 yards per carry. They have a nice blend of youth and experience on the offensive line with 2 seniors, 1 junior and 2 sophomores. On the defensive side of the ball, they'll run a 4-3. The defensive line is a bit undersized, the linebackers are young and the defensive backs don't see a lot of passing attacks in the Big 10 that would compare to what the normal Big XII offense is. Frankly, I'd feel better about this game if it happened in week 2. At this point, Illinois is a 7 point favorite and probably should be. However, until the show they can beat Missouri, I'll go with the Tigers 31-23.

Other games around the conference this weekend and my predictions. Normally, Missouri/Illinois would be the game of the week for opening weekend, but both Oklahoma schools have scheduled tough, especially Okie State.
Baylor @ Wake Forest(-1 1/2) Baylor has a chance to make an early name for themselves. They'll play well but lose 34-27
Colorado State @ Colorado(-11) The Buffs continue to have problems this year. I think they win this week though and cover, 27-10
9/3 North Dakota State @ Iowa State (no line) One of the 4 barkers for the week. ISU will win, but it will be closer than it should be. ISU 23-14
Northern Colorado @ kansas (no line) Another dog game. KU wind 49-13 and the national championship talk begins in Lawrence.
Massachusetts @ Kansas State (no line) Bill Snyder returns to his scheduling wizardry. KSU wins 34-14.
Florida Atlantic @ Nebraska(-22) Nebraska wins but fails to cover. 34-17 The spread could be less by gametime.
BYU @ Oklahoma(-21 1/2) Not uncommon for the Sooners to fall early. I don't think it will be this week though. They cover 49-27
Oklahoma State(-5 1/2) @ Georgia Too much love for OSU. They lose 34-28
University of Louisiana Monroe @ Texas(-40) What in the world is Mack Brown thinking? This one is over shortly after the coin flip. Texas should be ashamed of their non con schedule.
New Mexico @ Texas A&M(-13 1/2) I don't believe A&M should be double digit favorites over anyone. They win 27-17, but I wouldn't be surprised if they lose.
North Dakota @ Texas Tech (no line) A new TT quarterback and another passing clinic. Tech wins 49-21.

Let's play some football!!!!!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

kansas, the first of the rectangle states!

I'm a Missouri guy. Never claimed to be anything else and am pretty straight up about my feelings about my state and my school. The University of Missouri in Columbia. We share a strong and binding hatred with our neighbors to the west. kansas and their flagship campus, the university of kansas community college and barber school.

I realize that there are some great sports rivalries in college football. Ohio State/Michigan, USC/UCLA and Texas/Oklahoma to name a few. Even some places that don't care about football have their rivals which is generally the only time they'll sell out their 39,000 seat stadium every year. I really don't know what caused these to be great rivalries, and don't much care.

For unblinding hatred and passion, try topping Missouri/kansas. The first people died in armed conflict between these 2 states in 1854, or 7 years before the Civil War began, and the bodycount by the end was in the thousands. Can your rivalry match that? I didn't think so. The mascots of both universities began during that conflict. The Tigers were a militia that protected Columbia from both federal and confederate attacks. The jayhawks, aside from being a mythical bird, were a group of terrorist wearing red leggings and operating under the guise of freeing slaves when they actually were more interested in acquiring other's property for themselves. To this day, kansas teams will wear red socks when playing the university of Missouri, unless of course the game is on national television. Can't have the rest of the country realize what they really hold dear. One of the original leaders of kansas forces was a charmer named John Brown, who was known to hack unarmed prisoners to death with his sword in order to save ammunition.

kansans are quite proud of their flagship university, going so far to coin the phrase "Harvard on the Kaw". Well, Harvard "west" is currently on probabion for academic fraud, and their football coach was caught cheating on tests given to all D1 coaches to make sure they have some idea about what they are doing. The funny thing about that is, regardless of your score, if a university wants to hire someone, they of course can. There was absolutely NO reason to cheat. Mangino was just getting a little practice in. I honestly think he's a decent coach, but I'm constantly amazed every morning when I wake up and see he hasn't died of a heart attack.

Now kansas prepares for the upcoming football season with the most experienced team in the Big XII north. They should be poised to finally win their first division title. You'd naturally expect their players to be concentrating on football. Unfortunately for them, their team leader and quarterback has been making regular appearances on the internet in various degrees of intoxication. I'm all for kids having fun, but with his senior season approaching, I'd think he'd be making a little more effort. Oh well, better for us. kansas football is like watching nascar. You don't know where the next wreck is coming from, but you know it's coming, and it's probably going to be good.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

My favorite sports movies of all time

Generally, you're going to see me talking about sports here. That's my passion. Mostly college sports since the escalating salaries and ticket prices combined with work stoppages has soured me on the pros. But on one of the message boards I frequent, we got into a discussion of great sports movies. I'm not sure that any of mine would be termed "great", but they had something in them that made them unforgettable to me.

For starters, I'd have to go with "The Sandlot". It cuts back to when we were kids and always had a pickup game going on. We moved to the town I grew up in when I was 7 or 8 and playing baseball was the way I made friends, so naturally I could identify with it. A simple time in a small town. The team full of nerdy kids that became good ball players through osmosis simply by hanging around Benny. He was a soft hearted kid that couldn't bring himself to toss away a stray. Squints was an evil genius. Figured out how to get his kiss from the lifeguard and play a mean second base despite being legally blind as near as I can tell. Benny's scene with Babe Ruth was fabulous, and the Great Hambino behind the plate was classic. Still one of my favorite lines of all time is "Your killing me Smalls". Toss in James Earl Jones and Dennis O'Leary and it was an instant classic. All it needed was Kevin Costner.

Another favorite of mine was "Varsity Blues". Jon Voight was a huge prick as Coach Kilmer. And no one plays a better prick than Jon Voight. Remember him trying to feed Jennifer Lopez to the snake in Anaconda? Actually, I kind of agreed with that one. The character of Tweeter was my high school dream. I would have been him if I could have. Stealing the police car and winding up with 3 freshman girls naked was something I could only dream of. Paul Walker did some of his best work here as Lance, which sadly isn't saying much. Likewise James Van Der Beek , as the career backup "Mox" forced into the starting quarterback after Walker's character suffers a knee injury. I just ached for Billy Bob, the unfortunate right tackle who's best friend was his pet pig, but in the end, he was the hero. And if the movie had nothing else, Ari Larter in her whipped cream bikini would make it worth watching. Cherries anyone?

For number 3, (and if you read long enough, you'll realize I always try to post in 3's. I'll tell you about that sometime) I'd have to go with "Eight Men Out". The White Sox scandal always fascinated me to begin with. Toss in a cast of John Cusack, Charlie Sheen, John Mahoney as Kid Gleason, their manager and it's pure gold. D.B. Sweeney spent a year training with a minor league team preparing for his role as "Shoeless" Joe Jackson. I also enjoyed Michael Lerner in his role as the unscrupulous gambler Arnold Rothstein.

Like I said, these are just my favorites. I could have added such notables as "Field of Dreams", "Cobb" or "Brian's Song". Ok, I was just shitting you about Brian's Song.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

You have to give her her due

I'll go on record as saying I don't care much for Paris Hilton. She's a tribute to excess and living proof that you can succeed in America with zero talent or looks as long as you were born into money.

According to the New York Daily News, her former manager, Jason Moore is now shopping a book around titled "Controlling Chaos" about how he turned the socialite he describes as a "blonde piece of clay" into a star. He describes how he saved her career despite her making sex tapes with boyfriends, suffering from hangovers during photo shoots and numerous arrests for driving citations. According to the book, if Jason hadn't been pulling strings she would have faded into oblivion. Thanks a bunch Jason.

But the point of this isn't to rake Paris over the coals. That's already been done to death. I actually have a fair amount of grudging respect for her. She's the Keith Richards of her generation, minus the talent of course. Let's take a look at some of her friends that have attempted to keep up with Hollywood's version of the energizer bunny.

We can start with Tara Reid. She was on her way to a nice career as a supporting actress in films. Remember that she played the virginal girlfriend in the American Pie series. She was also in Van Wilder with Ryan Reynolds. She became well known for both her movies and her party girl lifestyle. After a series of failures which included having her character written out of the sitcom Scrubs, after 11 episodes her only income came from making appearances in nightclubs. At the height of her popularity she was reportedly commanding a $60,000 fee for these appearances. By late 2008 that was reportedly down to $1,500.00 and she is alledgedly suffering from liver failure.

Another starlet that tried to keep up with Paris was Lindsay Lohan. If you remember, her movie career began at age 11 in the Disney movie, "The Parent Trap". She continued in Herbie:Fully Loaded. She was moving on to more serious films when the problems started. She received a scathing letter from a studio executive during the filming of Georgia Rule criticizing her party lifestyle and lack of professionalism. She entered rehab for the first time in January of 2007 and received DUI's in May and July of the same year. Her fame now consists of screaming fights with her on again/off again girlfriend Samantha Ronson.

I imagine you remember what happened to Britney Spears after spending a week with Paris in Las Vegas. First she lost the ability to remember if she was wearing underwear, followed by shaving her head and winding up in a psycho ward. The Olsen twins have pretty much been on suicide watch for the last 5 years and Nicole Richie lost about 40% of her body weight simply trying to keep up with Paris.

But for all these problems, Paris continues to roll along, despite destroying everyone she comes in contact with. Needless to say I wasn't auditioning for a part in her series to pick a new BFF. I can admire her resilience, but I prefer to do it from a distance.

I got into a discussion on a message board I frequent a couple of days ago about favorite sports movies. I was thinking about mine and will talk about it some next week. Have a great weekend!

It's always hard when you lose your first love

No, I'm not talking about some girl I dated 40 years ago. I mean baseball. Or at least baseball where I felt my team had a chance to compete. My first love was the Kansas City A's. Every spring I'd feel we finally had a chance to compete. This would be the year where Rocky Colavito, Jim Gentile or Rick Monday would become the next Mickey Mantle. Of course they didn't. It was mostly a string of 9th or last place finishes, but they were my team. Finally we saw some light at the end of the tunnel as they began to draft players such as Jim "Catfish" Hunter, "Blue Moon" Odom and Reggie Jackson.

Then after the 1967 season, they took it all away from us and the team moved to Oakland. They went on to play in multiple world series and ruled the Western Division of the American League for years. Meanwhile, we were given another chance and the Kansas City Royals were born. We watched players like George Brett, Hal McRae and Amos Otis grow into stardom and the team improved. Finally, in 1976 we won our first Division title and met the Yankees in the playoffs. We lost that year as well as the following 2 season. Adding insult to injury, the Yankees were led by Catfish Hunter and Reggie Jackson. After missing the playoff in 1979, we were rewarded in '80 by finally sweeping the Yanks and qualifying for our first world series, which we promptly lost. Then came the drug scandals and it seemed we'd sink back to obscurity. But then came a new manager in Dick Howser and a magical run in 1985. Coming back from 3-1 down against the Blue Jays in the playoffs and the Cardinals in the series. The pitching staff was young and the future looked bright. It was our last playoff appearance. We had a little run going in 1994, but the strike finished those hopes.

Now baseball is dominated by the big money teams and our heroes put up gaudy numbers fueled by steroids. The most we can hope for is to catch lightning in a bottle like Tampa Bay did and make the playoffs. I'm certainly not saying that the Glass family hasn't been partly to blame for this with their reluctance to spend money, but let's remember what's happened when they did fork over the cash. Mike Sweeney, Juan Gonzalez and Mike Jacobs to name three. But I'll still make a couple more trips out to the K this summer and I'm sure I'll be full of hope next April when we start out 10-5 and are in 1st place.
Damn you major league baseball!

Random thoughts.

I have really no idea what this is going to be about yet. I do that that I'd like to write about some things that interest me. I just don't know what will interest me tomorrow. I feel like talking about baseball, college football, the economy, divorce, raising kids. I'll probably do something about any and all of them. I'll start this later this week, and we'll see where it goes. I actually think the first thing I'd like to talk about is my 45 year love affair with major league baseball, despite the way it's abused and humiliated me along with millions of other fans.