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Archive for May, 2007

I’m indulging my current obsession with college baseball in every way I can. In part, that means a triumphant return to If I Ran…, where I took on the aluminum bat, hot coeds, and Tony Gwynn.

A sample:

3. Introduce the Ladies… A kid who has the option to go pro will most likely do it. Even if he’s in the minors, he’s getting paid, sometimes handsomely. So what does college have over A-ball? Classy, intelligent, hot female fans. I’ve been to minor-league parks, and I’ve been to college parks, and there’s no comparison. I’d rather pick my future SI Swimsuit issue posing companion from the college ranks than the cut-rate groupies that follow the Toledo Mudhens.

Read the rest.

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LeBron: The Best 22-Year Old Ever

lebron-james-home1.gifBeware, I am about to venture into dangerous waters. I don’t follow the NBA. I’m not good with numbers. But while reading Mizzo’s interview with Dan LeBatard yesterday at The Starting Five, I was prompted to think about the immense pressure that is being placed on a kid of 22 years. When I was 22, I lived in a basement garden-level apartment with my brother and did the dishes once a week. I had the skills to do better, but nobody, not even my parents, got on me as hard as NBA fans are getting on LeBron.

I wanted to compare LeBron’s first four years with those of Michael Jordan, but Jordan had four years of college and a NCAA championship under his belt by the time he was 22, and it still took him some time to become MICHAEL.

So I’ll be comparing LBJ to his contemporary, Carmelo Anthony, and the most successful straight-out-of high school player to date, Kobe Bryant. I’m using per-game averages from Basketball-Reference.com:

Kobe Bryant

Season Age Games Minutes FG% 3PT% FT% TRB AST STL TO BLK PTS
96/97 18 71 15.5 .417 .375 .819 1.9 1.3 .7 1.6 .3 7.6
97/98 19 79 26.0 .428 .341 .794 3.1 2.5 0.9 2.0 0.5 15.4
98/99 20 50 37.9 .465 .267 .839 5.3 3.8 1.4 3.1 1.0 19.9
99/00 21 66 38.2 .468 .319 .821 6.3 4.9 1.6 2.8 .9 22.5

Carmelo Anthony

Season Age Games Minutes FG% 3PT% FT% TRB AST STL TO BLK PTS
03/04 19 82 36.5 .426 .322 .777 6.1 2.8 1.2 3.0 .5 21.0
04/05 20 75 34.8 .431 .266 .796 5.7 2.6 0.9 3.0 0.4 20.8
05/06 21 80 36.8 .481 .243 .808 4.9 2.7 1.1 2.7 0.5 26.5
06/07 22 65 38.2 .476 .268 .808 6.0 3.8 1.2 3.6 0.3 28.9

LeBron James

Season Age Games Minutes FG% 3PT% FT% TRB AST STL TO BLK PTS
03/04 19 79 39.5 .417 .290 .754 5.5 5.9 1.6 3.5 .7 20.9
04/05 20 80 42.4 .472 .351 .750 7.4 7.2 2.2 3.3 0.7 27.2
05/06 21 79 42.5 .480 .335 .738 7.0 6.6 1.6 3.3 0.8 31.4
06/07 22 78 40.9 .476 .319 .698 6.7 6.0 1.6 3.2 0.7 27.3

Um, do you see what I see? First of all, Kobe was allowed to grow into his role on a talented team, and finally began to look like the Kobe we know now by the fourth year of his NBA sojourn. ‘Melo and LeBron were putting up those numbers from the jump.

So let’s take Kobe out of the equation. Comparing Anthony and James, we see pretty much the same player, except for a whopping gap in assists going in LeBron’s favor, as well as a superior three point percentage.

melobroncut.jpgAdd to that the mpg measure, which has stayed north of 40 if averaged over LeBron’s entire career. The Cavaliers are riding this kid like a pony, and he’s responding like a man instead of a boy. I’m chewing my fingernails just writing this. And LeBron has never fallen prey to the dangers of a pro athlete’s life. Whether you think Kobe’s rape charges were trumped up or Carmelo’s suspension this season was warranted, you can’t deny that LeBron has never put himself in a position to face the music either in court or on the court.

Basically, we should be glad King James is this good already. For him to be on the cusp of the finals as the #1 option on his team is incredible. It’s not wrong for us to want more from him, but to expect it, and excoriate him when he fails to deliver is simply unrealistic. We’re basically punishing him for the league’s failure to be more interesting. Our hopes of caring about the finals rest on him getting there.

We should be yelling at David Stern, not LeBron.

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voodoosabermetricsbanner1.PNGVoodoo Sabermetrics reminds us that our love for the team includes our love of individual players. We usually have a favorite superstar hitter or pitcher or both. But what about those guys that you just… like? Maybe someone who pinch hits or steals a base now and then. Maybe an aging vet who is like an extra coach in the dugout. Rather than judge everyone by their stats, we’re going to use unique categories and scoring methods to check out baseball’s characters.

Our High Voodoo Council are:

Jack Cobra from The Cobra Brigade Neighbor Quotient and Scrappiness
Texas Gal from Ladies… Hottness and Behavior
Sunil from Hurricanes Are For Drinking Atomic Mass and Exposure
Jon Pyle from Pyle of List Clutchness
Sooze from Babes Love Baseball Jollyness
TC from Mr. Thursday’s Curious Mechanism Appearance and Quotability
Extra P. from The Extrapolater Name Quality (including nicknames)

We decided to write about our next victim when we thought he was just on steroids. Halfway through our torturous and meticulously researched process, we discovered that perhaps he liked ye olde greenies as well. Add to that that he is the only person to even tangentially apologize or take responsibility for the drug problem in MLB, and he’s a pretty interesting cat.

Meet Jason Giambi

lolgiambi.jpg

Name: Jason Giambi. Jason…. Giambi. I got nuthin’. Except for that ancient dude who killed the Cyclops captured the Golden Fleece, guys named Jason are not usually that rough n’ ready. And yet Giambi has a real ring of organized crime, or better yet New York City politics about it. The problem is, the given name and surname don’t work together too well. And don’t even get me started on Jeremy.

Then there’s the nickname – “The Giambino”. Bad, bad choice, though it was levied upon him by a broadcaster. Since the rallying cry of the anti-steroids movement is “The Bambino did it on hot dogs and beer!”, this is what we call an ironic choice of nickname (look it up, Alanis). And not in a good way.

I cannot, in good conscience, award Jason “The Giambino” Giambi any points for name quality.

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sunil.jpgAtomic Number: I remember hearing stories about the Oakland A’s clubhouse back when Jason Giambi played there. The accounts all portrayed them as a fraternity, like the Deltas. I always thought that Giambi would be their Bluto. Except instead of booze, HGH was Giambi’s performance enhancer. Giambi’s stint with the Yankees, then, is a bit like Bluto goes to Corporate America, where his hard-partying, boozing, roid-shoting-ways are no longer acceptable.

biggiambi.jpgTo make matters worse, Giambi keeps apologizing for using steroids, which only serves to rile up a media that is foaming at their collective mouths with self-righteousness. Look, we all know Giambi used steroids. We also know that probably (conservatively) three hundred other players used them. Let’s try to see Giambi’s awkward attempts at making things right as a positive, as opposed to the alternatives, deceit (Rafael Palmeiro), self-aggrandizement (Jose Canseco), or blubbering (Mark McGwire). All of this has nothing to do with clubhouse chemistry (does it ever?), so lets just agree that Giambi’s atomic number is MVIV, a form of Roman alphanumeric code that may be translated to read “toga.”

Exposure: Remember the deoderant commercial that Giambi inked right when he moved to New York, how he ended it by flexing in front of the camera? Yeah, that wasn’t such a good idea. Giambi’s level of exposure is five out of ten. He’s a big name within the game, but the superficial sports fan has no idea who he is, and without any endorsements, they never will.

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jackcobra1.jpgNeighbor Quotient: After reading about Giambi the last week or so I figure he’d be the type of neighbor who would steal my morning paper for two years and then apologize for it as he was selling his house. Thanks buddy. On top of that, he’d probably steal my wireless internet, somehow piggyback off my cable tv and probably hit on my teenage daughter (if I had one, I’m only 28) while I was on travel for work. I would probably send him a Christmas card, yet never get one in return. My wife (I’m not married, I’m only 28) would probably make him some cookies on a very nice Christmas platter, only to never have it returned. My 10 yr old son (I don’t have kids, I’m only 28) would probably offer to cut his grass for $10 and Giambi more than likely wouldn’t pay up. Giambi as a neighbor would suck. -1000 out of 10.

Scrappiness: Let’s see, he had to cheat in order to make millions of dollars and is now hoping the fans feel sorry for him? On top of that, he’s a horrible fielder, he strikes out too much and his brother cost the A’s a trip to the World Series. He runs about as fast as a refrigerator, throws like Barney Rubble and watching him try to field a ground ball is like watching a pig on ice. He’s the DH now, so he sits in the dugout for 97% of the game trying to figure out where he’s going to drink at after the game. Giambi disrespected the game by cheating and by adding that on top of all of his other crapburger characteristics it gives him a -964 out of 10 on the scrappiness scale.

Thanks, Extra P. I feel better now.

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texasgal-96.jpgHottness: 1
Giambi, more than any other player, personifies the Yankees for me- in all his juiced up, greasy, tattooed, asshole, pug-nosed glory. His thuggy visage was made for wearing those Yankees pinstripes. He is not hot. He is so far from being in the realm of hot, he can’t even see the glimmer of hottness in the distance. Giambi would be a shoo-in on all All-Ugly Team for the MLB. However, he is more palatable than Boomer Wells- though only slightly- so he gets the minimum hottness level of 1.

Behavior: Orange (High) on the Terror Alert Scale
So there’s the assholish attitude. The boozing and womanizing. And, of course, the ‘roids. But the biggest danger Giambi poses isn’t what he does- it’s what he SAYS. Dude cannot keep his trap shut. But at least he admits (sort of) that he’s screwed up… so at least there’s that. In the wake of the MLB’s gag order, Jason gets a solid orange on the Terror Alert Scale- with the possibility of moving to red-alert level on a moment’s notice.

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mrthursday-96.jpgMy numerical scores will correlate to the alcohol contents of various beers. In case you care, here’s the scoring system.

Appearance. We should probably just start calling this section “Moustache?” Jason Giambi, once upon a time, looked like a cheesy biker guy, displaying baseball’s ubiquitous goatee, as well as some [sarcasm] totally rad [/sarcasm] tribal tattoos on his left shoulder. I mean, look at him in this picture. Look at him. You can just tell he’s saying to some puny, 8 year old, “Make that out to whom, motherfucker?!” The kid then micturates himself, because Jason Giambi is a scary fucking Bronson-esque kind of dude.

giambistache.jpgOf course, then The Great Giambino scored himself a mighty contract playing ball-whacker for the navy pinstripes. No more small town baseball for Oakland, no sir. Big city means big bucks, and big bucks mean Giambi had to shave his stupid goatee. While I applaud the removal of the goatee, a naked-faced Giambi looks like a goddamned naked mole rat. Yikes. There was hope for Giambi last year, though. In an effort to be more like beloved Yankee Donnie Baseball, this ugly fellow grew himself a moustache. Look at this moustache! It is power! It is the balls! Behold, it bristles in the wind as Bull Giambi scores.

Jason Giambi, I demand the regrowth of your once-proud glorystache. Grow it, and I offer you the Sam Adam’s Utopias. Grow it not, and I give you nothing, you disgusting bastard. Nothing at all.

Quotability. Is this category not why the Voodoo Council chooses the Giambinator for our considerable and varied wraths and kindnesses? Anyway, Giambi went off last week about how Major League Baseball should have apologized a long time ago, admitted their mistake, and tried to move forward openly, blah blah blah. Giambi is one slick-shit. He’s now apologized at least twice for doing steroids, without actually ever saying that he did steroids.

His most recent apology may have been more layered–that is, even more slick–than initially supposed, as there’s a rumor going ’round that Giambi failed a drug test for greenies last year. Peter Gammons says Giambi didn’t, and I’m inclined, generally, to always trust Gammons, even if he isn’t quite the dominating presence he once was. Regardless, amphetimines or not, Jason Giambi is an insurmountably humongous douche.

In the end, Giambi has a huge yap that blows hard as the wind. Of course, with all this jibber-jabber, he never, ever, says anything funny, or particularly memorable, unless you’re a big fan of ambiguous, shadowy, backdoor mea culpas. “Jason…” (breaks bottle of Guiness Kaliber over table, holds sharp, shattered bottle remnants toward Giambi), “you get off my property right now, fuck you very much.”

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suzyheadshot-1.jpgJollity

Jason Giambi can get pretty jolly, especially in the past year. Allegedly. However, considering his BALCO testimony, public apologies and semi-mean bat, I’m going to be forced to give the Giambino a Mark McGwire on the jollity scale: he’s festive when he’s not in major league trouble.

giambifaces1.png

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Speaking of Clutchness, I’m calling in a pinch hitter for today’s clutch measurement. Jon Pyle has volunteered to play hero or goat in the 9th inning today, as Gary GNU is being devoured by cicadas or something like that (I think that’s what the email said):

jonpyle-96.jpgHello! My name is Jon Pyle, you may remember me from such blogs as Pyle of List! I’ll be your guide today through the wonderful world of Clutch. Gary GNU is so clutch that he’s out living it, not stuck behind some desk writing about it like you or me.

Clutchability Factors:

Steroids
There is no scientific evidence that steroids or HGH can enhance someone’s ability to deliver when it matters. But, there’s also no evidence against it either. Touche! As C+C Music Factory would say: things that make you go “hmmmmmm”.

Body of Work (The SportsCenter Factor)
If you ran a highlight package of Giambi clutch moments it would be roughly 30 seconds long and not include the playoffs. You would need their best anchors and catchphrases to even make this one watchable. (My most recent favorite SC baseball catchphrase: “I got 99 problems but this pitch ain’t one.”) But he would have some of the sweetest walks in the business.

The Time Machine Test AKA What if?
If his brother Jeremy Giambi slides against the Yankees in the 2001 playoffs we might be having a different discussion. Maybe Oakland advances and even wins a World Series that year, giving Giambi a ring and a heralded playoff resume. Pretty freakin’ clutch. But, then we would be deprived of Jeter’s flip. And I don’t want to live in a world without that play. We’d probably be speaking Dutch by now if it never happened.

teenbeat0976fonz.jpgSideburns
Do you remember when the biggest controversy for Giambi was about whether or not he would have to get rid of his trademark sideburns? I’d bet he’d like those days back. It’s a fact that sideburns increase one’s propensity to be clutch, so shaving them off to adhere to a facial hair policy was a bad move. Plus he lost the boozing party boy mystique in the process. Double bad move.

Final Clutchability Rating: “Ay!”
Using the Arthur Fonzerelli Scale of Clutch, he’s on the first level. This means he could never start a jukebox by punching it and probably wouldn’t make it with either of the Tuscadero sisters. For those unfamiliar with the Arthur Fonzerelli Scale of Clutch it goes from “Ay!” to “Ayyyyy!”

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Jason Giambi’s wikipedia page has one of the top unintentional comedy lines of all time:

When Giambi entered the league he came under the wing of Mark McGwire, whom he credits for greatly improving his career.

Hey, I’m sure that’s true, but we here at Voodoo Sabermetrics aren’t here to talk about the past.

Maybe Giambi is not completely to blame for his role at the center of the steroids scandal. Can you really blame a kid, coming up on the mean streets of West Covina, for taking any advantage he can to get out? Walk a mile in another man’s size XXL warmup jacket before you judge him, OK?

I really get the sense that this would have all gone so much better for Jason if he had just stayed in Cali playing “crazy biker dude”.

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Read past issues of Voodoo Sabermetrics here.

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Read Part one here.

Yesterday I looked at the #1 seeds on the left-hand side of my official NCAA College World Series brackets.  Today I’m going to finish up by going down the right hand side, starting with:

ricebaseball.jpgRice Owls: (49-12) #2

Location:  Reckling Park in Houston, TX

Rice took the Conference USA title in a 16-8 beating of East Carolina (no slouches, ECU took the #2 slot in North Carolina’s regional).  They had an uncharacteristic pitchers’ duel in a Semifinal loss to Memphis on Saturday, but came roaring back to beat the Tigers 20-9 the same day.  Double-elimination is an interesting beast….  Side note: The Owls play in an all-Texas bracket, hosting Prairie View, Baylor, and Texas Christian.

MLB alums:  Lance Berkman, Bubba Crosby, and Jose Cruz, Jr.  The list

aggies.jpgTexas A&M Aggies:  (44-16) #11

Location: Olsen Field in College Station, TX

The Aggies took out the 300-lb burnt-orange gorilla on May 24th, during the second day of the Big 12 Tournament.  Then they tripped up Kansas State and topped Baylor in the final game to claim the title.  Sounds like they’re getting hot at the right time.

MLB alums: Chuck Knoblauch, Casey Fossum, Logan Kensing.  The list

mizzou.jpgMissouri Tigers:  (40-16) #17

Location:  Taylor Stadium in Columbia, MO

As a Kansas alum, it pains me to write this, but the Tigers were good this year.   They invested a lot of money in upgrading their facilities, and it paid off this year, as the team played well, and the tournament regional returned to central Missouri.  Dangerous Miami lurks as the #2 seed in this region, though, so Mizzou better look sharp.

MLB alums:  Nobody interesting, though Ian Kinsler apparently spent 2003 there before leaving town in a cloud of dust on his way to ASU.  Smart man.

razorback.jpgArkansas Razorbacks: (41-19) #13

Location: Baum Stadium in Fayetteville, AR

Another team that was ousted by the eventual #1 overall seed in Vanderbilt.  As we have seen throughout the brackets (Ole Miss, South Carolina, etc) teams that lose to the Commodores are not being penalized, as the SEC pulled in four regional #1 seeds overall.  Bad news for Albany, Oklahoma State, and Creighton – you’ll be hearing “Sooooey, Pig!” in your nightmares for the next few days.

MLB alums: Eric Hinske, Kit Pellow, Cliff Lee.  The list

fsumient.jpgFlorida State Seminoles: (47-11) #6

Location: Dick Howser Stadium in Tallahassee, FL (what do they call it, The Big Athletic Supporter?)

The Seminoles had a marvelous regular season, coming out on top of the Atlantic Division of the ACC without ever suffering two losses in a row all season.  That streak came to an end in the ACC tourney, when they lost to Miami and then national #15 Clemson, leaving the championship game in the hands of Wake Forest and UNC.  I’ve seen them play in person, however, and I would never count them out.  What I said about Arkansas’ “Sooey!” goes double for the goddamn hellspawn Tomahawk Chop. The best thing at FSU? The Bat Girls.

MLB alums: Dick Howser, Tony LaRussa, Deion Sanders, J.D. and Stephen Drew, Doug Mientkiewicz.  The list

chanticleercatcher.jpgCoastal Carolina Chanticleers:  (48-11) #10

Location: Coastal Federal Field in Myrtle Beach, SC, home of the Carolina League’s Pelicans.

The Chanticleers have my favorite mascot of any #1 seed.  It’s some kind of militant chicken out of Chaucer.  Awesome stuff.  They are also one of the #1 seeds playing in a “neutral site” – presumably because Myrtle Beach can handle more fans than Charles L. Watson stadium in little ol’ Conway.  I’d be lying if I didn’t say I hope these guys make it to Omaha.  I’d have to break out the “One Shining Moment” of college baseball if that happened.

MLB alums:  None that I can find.  I get the feeling this year is one in a million.

southcarolina.jpgSouth Carolina Gamecocks:  (42-18) #9

Location: Sarge Frye Field in Columbia, SC

This should be a marvelous sendoff for Frye Field, which is making way for an as-yet unnamed shiny bauble of a new stadium.  I’m a little bummed that it will take a near-miracle for us to see a Chanticleers/Cocks matchup in Omaha.  And that’s the only way I’m going to see it, because South Carolina is waaay too humid for me this time of year.

MLB alums: Mookie Wilson, Brian Roberts, Adam Everett (Roberts and Everett also attended other schools).  The list

tarheel.jpgNorth Carolina Tarheels: (48-12) #3

Location: Boshamer Stadium in Chapel Hill, NC

The ACC champs won a close tournament final and earned a home game in the regional.  They showed that they were ready for the host role by selling out Boshamer in one day.  The only other school to manage that was the #1 overall seed Vanderbilt.  Carolina is the cradle of minor-league baseball, and nothing could be finer than Carolina blue on the field of green, with a raucous crowd behind them.  The Tarheels share their region with Western Carolina, East Carolina, and…. Jacksonville.  Damn, that’s anti-climactic.

MLB alums: Moonlight Graham, B.J. Surhoff, Brian Roberts (also went to South Carolina), Andrew Miller.  The list

toreros.jpgSan Diego Toreros:  (43-16) #8

Location: Tony Gwynn Stadium in San Diego, CA

How galling this must be for the Toreros.  Casual baseball fans already confuse USD with SDSU, but now the lesser-known school has to play a crucial regional in the stadium of their overshadowers.  I actually should have posted the San Diego profile yesterday, but I skipped right over their seed in the 2 1/2 pt type the NCAA favors for brackets.  I am ashamed, because Toreros comes in a close second to Chanticleers on my nickname list.  It won’t happen again.  Just remember, don’t look for Tony Gwynn – San Diego State didn’t even make the field of 64.

MLB alums: A very short list.  John Wathan and Brady Clark, with Yankees prospect Kevin Reese hoping to rise to the occasion soon.  The list

There’s a nice blend of traditional powers and programs on the rise in this year’s tournament, and of course there’s a strong southern flavor to the proceedings.  I believe this is the sort of thing ESPNU was made for (if it wasn’t, well, it should be), so hopefully we’ll get to see a few games on the tube.  If not, drop by the nearest host stadium and see what the fuss is all about – you’ll be glad you did.

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frankpic1.jpgIf you’ve never traveled to Omaha and don’t really want to, I suppose that’s fine. You can watch the final rounds of the College World Series on the ESPN of your choice when the time comes. However, prior to the main event, college baseball brings the action to us via the Regionals and Super Regionals.

The NCAA baseball championship bracket looks similar to the basketball version, with 64 teams (and no play-in!). However, each region sports four teams, seeded one through four, and the Regional is double-elimination, so the drama is not quite as intense. Generally speaking, the 1 seeds in each region host the games at their home stadium, though sometimes nearby neutral sites are chosen for various reasons.

Anyway, I thought it might be nice to take a look at the #1 seeds in each region, just to get a feel for who they are and where they play. Some college stadiums are nicer than minor league parks, so I’ll dig up photos whenever I can. Here they are, your #1 Regional seeds for the NCAA baseball tournament:

vandy1.jpgVanderbilt Commodores: (51-11) Poll rank #1

Location: Hawkins Field in Nashville, TN.

The SEC champs dominated the regular-season rankings and come into the tournament hot. They also have a dancing hotdog who performs with Commander Ketchup and Musta Rhymes at games. Let’s hope he travels with the team, because that is going to kill in Omaha. Kill.

Some Major Leaguers from Vandy: Joey Cora, Mark Prior, Matt Kata. The Full List

virginia_usa.jpgVirginia Cavaliers: (43-14) Poll Rank #7

Location: Davenport Field in Charlottesville, VA.

I live in Charlottesville, and have been to many a UVA baseball game, so I’m obviously biased in hoping they do well. It doesn’t bode well that the Cavs had problems with the top of the ACC, however. Florida schools tend to give them fits, and they lost out to North Carolina in the ACC tournament. Davenport field should give them an advantage in the short term, at least. Fun fact: Davenport was built with the aid of a hefty donation from novelist John Grisham during his son Ty’s undistinguished tenure with the team.

MLB Alums: Most notably, Ryan Zimmerman. Also some made-up sounding names like Buck Rogers and Mul Holland. see list

longbeach1.jpgLong Beach State: (37-18) #19

Location: Blair Field in Long Beach, CA.

Officially named the 49ers, Long Beach prefers to be known as the Dirtbags. Their regional field includes other notable warm-weather schools such as UCLA, Pepperdine, and… Illinois-Chicago? Well, I guess the shores of Lake Michigan are technically a beach.

MLB alums: Many. See Steve Trachsel, Jason Giambi, Jered Weaver and Troy Tulowitzki just to name a few. the list

pedroia1.jpgArizona State: (43-13) #5

Location: Brock Ballpark in Tempe, AZ.

The Sun Devils crank out ballplayers like nobody’s business. And who can blame a guy for wanting to play in the warm climate of Tempe in February? It pretty much rules. ASU has won it all 5 times, lagging behind only Texas and USC.

MLB alums: The Sun Devils are the straw that stirs the MLB drink. They produced Reggie Jackson and Barry Bonds, as well as current major leaguers like Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler, and Paul Lo Duca. Throw in OMDQ favorite Kevin Romine, and The list is truly impressive

olemis.jpgOle Miss: (37-23) #21

Location: Swayze Field in Oxford, MS.

Swayze Field is named after former Ole Miss coach Tom Swayze, not Patrick Swayze, as is commonly believed. Ole Miss ran into the Vanderbilt buzzsaw in the conference tournament, but rode a strong season and a national ranking into their fourth straight selection as a regional host.

MLB alums: Currently, David Delucci and Bobby Kielty. Historically, guys named Skeeter, Hub, and Laddie. The list

shockers.jpgWichita State: (49-19) #14

Location: Eck Stadium in Wichita, KS

Giggle about “The Shockers” if you must. But baseball is a big deal in Wichita. I spent many of my formative years there, and I’m pretty sure the Shocks could beat the Royals’ AA farm team the Wichita Wranglers in a best-of-seven series. The ballpark is super nice, too. Much like the other black and gold team (Vandy), they have a championship-caliber bowling team as well.

MLB alums: Joe Carter, Doug Mirabelli, Braden Looper, and Casey Blake. The list

longhorns.jpgTexas Longhorns: (44-15) #4

Location: Round Rock Stadium, home of the AAA Round Rock Express.

The Longhorns have won this thing six times, and strike a dashing figure in their burnt orange unis. If you make it to Austin for the games, you’ll have your choice of great BBQ and music galore as well. Sounds like a done deal to me.

MLB alums: Ron Gardenhire (manager of the Twins), Roger Clemens, Huston Street. The list

That’s just the left side of my brackets, but the post is getting a bit long, so the rest will come in tomorrow, most likely. If you get a chance to attend a regional, you’ll get to see a lot of great baseball. After one winner comes out of the regional, they move into the super-regional round of 16 for a three-game series against the winner of the adjacent regional. The remaining eight go on to Omaha.

Read part 2, featuring all the Carolinas you can shake a stick at.

Games begin over the weekend of June 1-4, so be on the lookout for games near you!

And, as usual, if you want to read someone who actually knows college baseball, allow me to recommend the College Baseball Blog. All records and rankings pulled from the NCBWA poll.

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First off, big thanx to Extra-P for letting me put my virtual soapbox on someone else’s property for a change. I hope everyone enjoyed their Holiday Weekend as much as I did. A little Beerdie, a little food and alot of sports.

Did anyone else notice the eerie voice of Darth Vader on Outside the Lines all weekend snitchin’ on Michael Vick and his passion for dog-fighting? I felt like every-time I turned my head I heard “He’s one of the heavyweights.”

Well, all this got me thinking about voices in sports. Nice segue? OK, maybe not so much, but here we go. For my first ever post here on The Extrapolater I figured I’d take the best of both worlds from Awful Announcing & Pyle of List (two blogs which I’ve recently discovered and now read religiously) and create the top three sports broadcasters of my lifetime. Enjoy!

1. Vin Scully — To me personally, Vin Scully is the end all, be all of sports broadcasting. He is a legendary announcer known primarily as the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Scully has been a part of some of the most memorable plays and games in Major League Baseball history and his calls of the 1986 & 1988 World Series could have put him into the Hall of Fame by themselves. I think I would donate a testicle if it meant I could hear Vin Scully announce one more World Series instead of having to sit through Joe Buck’s stand-up comedy routine…

“Little roller up along first . . . behind the bag! It gets through Buckner! Here comes Knight and the Mets win it!”


“And look who’s coming up… you talk about a roll of the dice…this is it. High fly ball into right field, she i-i-i-is… gone!!!”

2. Al Michaels — The current voice of NBC’s Sunday Night Football is one of the best to ever grab a microphone. He is well respected and well versed in announcing major events in multiple sports including the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals and World Championship Boxing. Michaels is best known for his amazing call of the 1980 US Hockey team’s stunning upset over the Soviet Union in what is now simply referred to as the Miracle on Ice…


“Do you believe in miracles? YES!”

3. Bob CostasWhen I was a youngster, my dream was to become a sports announcer. The biggest reason for this was Bob Costas. His complete control of the english language has helped him establish a well deserved respect from viewers and his peers. His love & knowledge of baseball is so in depth that he has even been recommended as a possible future commissioner. In recent years Costas has done more studio work than anything else, specifically on NBC and on his own HBO series…

Mickey Mantle Eulogy

*Props also go out to Dick Enberg and Jim Nantz who would have finished fourth and fifth respectively had this list continued…



Shorty is creator and lead writer of Milk Was a Bad Choice

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Hopefully, by now, you’ve noticed that I’m not writing this whole site singlehandedly. I mean, obviously, I’m fucking brilliant, but I just don’t have that kind of time on my hands. Ted Bauer writes the weekly column “What We Learned” – sort of like our local version of The Wide World of Sports, except without the ski crashes. Give him a warm round of applause, and don’t forget to tip your waitstaff.

danicasmaller.jpgPac Man Jones and the Indy 500 don’t mix
Someone made it rain for the 91st running of the gradually-declining-in-relevance race, and the results weren’t pretty towards that latter column. Dario Franchitti won a rain-shortened version of The Great Race, and because it wasn’t Danica Patrick, most of America probably ceased to care. The way for Indy to again become something that people focus on every Memorial Day Weekend – I think I might have been more fascinated by Tigers vs. Indians, honestly – is for Patrick to actually win one of ’em. That would be a seminal moment for the sports world across the board, and it’s exactly what the lesser brand of Indy car needs to snatch headlines from NASCAR.

Michael Vick and Barry Bonds have a lot in common
Do you find it funny that Vick and Bonds, both headline-grabbing and league-shaping personalities, have gradually fallen into the same boat? To recap: both are excellent at their vocation; both purportedly did something really bad (and illegal) on the side; there are people saying they can prove these things did, in fact, happen – but nothing is “official” yet; both athletes continue to participate in their day job, all the while with their fans assuming guilt. Oh, and there’s that whole “neither one has really won anything of true significance despite all the attention they receive” element as well.

Cleveland may well be cursed
Cleveland’s sports history is so depressing that if you just say certain things – “The Drive” or “The Fumble” or “The Shot” – you know damn well what we’re talking about, and you almost feel sorry for the Mistake by the Lake. Well, to John Elway going 98 yards and Earnest Byner coughing up the pigskin and Michael Jordan over Craig Ehlo, we add the following: “The No Call.” In Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals ’07 – the second straight game that Cleveland could have won – LeBron got mauled going to the rack late and no foul was called. It should be noted Larry Hughes had a clear look at the basket right after LeBron’s miss, and he also tanked it. But, while “The No Call” won’t ever rank up there with “The Fumble” (we assume), if this series does go 7, it could become another depressing element of Cleveland’s sports history.

pavano_carl050410.jpgThe Yankees are, in fact, cursed
Let’s recap the last few series for the Bombers, all of them important in many ways: lose 2 out of 3 to the Mets; take 2 of 3 from the Red Sox; and then get swept by the Angels at home. They are now 21-27, and almost 13 games back of those aforementioned Red Sox in the AL East as June begins; oh, and their next few games? DeSalvo on Monday (a rookie), then a 3-3 Andy Pettite on Tuesday. Things ain’t lookin’ up in the Bronx. Cue Mattingly entrance, stage left.

The Delta Center lives on
Over time, the name has changed – it’s now the Energy Solutions Center – but the place that NBA on NBC used to call “the loudest arena in basketball” still holds a lil’ magic for the Jazz. With their newfound Stockton (D-Will) and Malone (C-Booz) holding court, the Jazz utterly routed the Spurs in Game 3 of the Western Finals to improve to 7-0 at home this postseason. We fully believe the Spurs are going to win this series – and, right now, the NBA Title – but there is something to be said (a smidge) for the whole “Utah ran Houston to 7, then won the deciding game at their place” logic. The difference is, Duncan knows a lot more about being successful in Game 7s than Yao does.

The NHL needs new top brass
Can someone explain to us why the NHL’s latter conference final – the West – ends on Tuesday night, yet the Stanley Cup Finals don’t start until the following Monday? Meanwhile, on this past Friday night, there was no NBA playoff game. That woulda been the absolute perfect time to drop the puck. The only Sunday NBA game was a night tilt between the Cavs and Pistons – so the NHL could have gone Friday Game 1, Sunday afternoon Game 2 on NBC (to be pre-empted by a rerun of Facts of Life, no doubt), and then move forward from there. Making us wait a week for a sport no one really gives a crap about anyway is bad business.

kingcarl.pngThe Chiefs aren’t very nice people
For anyone that has ever felt trapped in their job or general life situation – I feel that way all the time – Trent Green flows withcha. He’s basically held hostage in Kansas City presently, as he tries to negotiate some type of deal with Miami or another joint. Green’s no slouch: the guy hasn’t done jack in the playoffs, but we could have said that about Peyton Manning until this past year. He’s thrown for 4,000 yards, he’s guided some 13-3 and 12-4 teams, and he overall knows what he’s doing. The fact that he isn’t allowed to pursue another opportunity when he has given the best part of his career to KC already is preposterous on their behalf.

Maybe speed does kill
For all the talk about the decline of the stolen base as a weapon over the past few years – and the numbers do agree with that, in general – check this out: the leading team in the AL in that category (Angels) and the leading team in the NL (Mets) are among the four best teams in all of baseball. The Angels are running wild in a year in which Chone hasn’t even cracked double digits yet, and while the Mets are greatly aided by Jose, JO-SE, JO-SE, they seem to understand it’s a weapon to be used whenever appropriate. If we see these two teams in the World Series, I’m hopin’ Lou Brock gets to sit with Buck and McCarver for a few innings of Game 3.

teixeira_gcl1psa5d_1.jpgThe Royals are NOT the worst team in baseball
KC actually went 8-2 in a recent 10 game stretch, including pasting the Indians 11-7 once. They’re terrible – 19-32 as of Sunday night – but they aren’t the worst team on the diamond. That honor belongs to the Texas Rangers and Mr. Ron Washington, whom – despite bombs of an epic nature from Mark Teixeira – are 18-32 on the season, which is also worse than the Nationals. I’m not sure if this makes a broad statement on the Rangers organization, the value of good pitching, the fact that you shouldn’t build around also-rans like Lofton and Gagne, “The Curse of Sammy Sosa,” or any number of factors, but I’ll tell you this: KC GM Dayton Moore has achieved something here. It’s almost June, and someone is worse off than him.

The Entourage Curse is born
So, check this out. Chuck Liddell goes on Entourage, then promptly gets his ass pounded by “The Rampage” in the most hyped UFC fight of the last year or so. Brett Ratner goes on Entourage, and his f*ck buddy Lindsay Lohan is photographed doing coke, then gets a DUI on Saturday night – uh, didn’t she stop drinking? Pauly Shore goes on Entourage, and, well – his career was a joke way before that (anyone see Jury Duty?). Message to Tracey Ullman: the guest cameo they’re dangling may seem cool, and could be the thing to resuscitate your career beyond the whole “That’s the show The Simpsons started on, right?” line of questioning, but don’t do it. As soon as you snuggle up with Turtle, you’ll be busted for dealing heroin in Burbank.

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