Category Archives: Baseball

Monday Afternoon PG: Another Game 7, Pucks, Russ’s Misdirection, Where’s J.B. & More

Speaking of point guards, Duke just got a commitment for next season from the highest rated ball handler left. Actually the highest rated PG committed or not.

Meaning Coach K and Coach Cal have once again corralled enough Golden Arches superüberduperstars with enough free burger coupons to sate every fan that will be in the Alamodome for next season’s Final Four.

The question of course is, will the Blue Devils and Wildcats actually be there to participate themselves?

I know stuff happens, kids don’t pan out like they’re supposed to, extraneous diversions affect team performances, etc, etc, but, given how they’ve harvested talent in the last decade, shouldn’t UK and Duke make it to the last weekend of the season every season? And win the dang thing more than they do?

 * * * * *

There’s a NBA Game 7 tonight. Boston and Washington shall battle to see which gets whipped by the Cleveland LeBrons in the Eastern Division finals.

It ought to be an exciting tilt. The squads are pretty even, if flawed.

My sense is the Wizards shall prevail, even though the game’s in Beantown. But that’s not why I bring it up.

Which is that I’m as mesmerized as the next hoopaholic about Celtic Isaiah Thomas’s offense. The guy can score. The guy can score at crunch time. From inside, despite his diminutive stature. From outside, even when closely checked by leaping bigs with a huge reach.

(We shan’t mention Thomas’s D. Because I could guard guys better than he does. And there are analytics to prove that. At least to provide evidence how bad he is. I haven’t seen any statisticians checking out my footwork recently.)

Now my point. When I see Isaiah Thomas play, I see Russ Smith.

(Except Smith knows how to play D.) Continue reading Monday Afternoon PG: Another Game 7, Pucks, Russ’s Misdirection, Where’s J.B. & More

Cardinal Nine on a Collision Course???

Since The Schnell pontificated that now infamous and iconic proclamation about his pigskinners — “We’re on a collision course with a national championship; the only variable is time” — several other U of L athletic programs have ascended further and faster than football.

Like, say, women’s hoops, men’s soccer, swimming. Of course, there’s that ’13 NCAA crown worn by the men’s basketball program.

And Dan McDonnell’s Cardinal baseball program, a once moribund sector of U of L sports, is now a perennial national contender. To which we tend to pay more attention than some of those other successful programs. Because baseball, ever unique, ever bucolic, remains the national pastime, if no longer America’s favorite sport.

A balmy night at the ballyard remains one of our nation’s treasures.

It is generally believed that one of these seasons, U of L will shake off the shackles and prevail in Omaha.

The Cards have made it to the Elite Eight thrice, ’07, ’13, and ’14, with a lone CWS victory over Mississippi State during that first appearance. And, truth be told, the team should have made it four straight years, meaning in both ’15 and ’16.

But, such are the vagaries of the game. Two seasons ago, the Cardinals’ ace reliever Zach Burdi couldn’t shut the door on Cal State Fullerton at The Jim. The Cards lost 4-3 in 11. Last season, when considered by many wags to be the nation’s best squad and title favorite, it was deja vu all over again. Burdi, regarded as the country’s premier closer, gave up a walk off tater at The Jim, and UC Santa Barbara prevailed by another 4-3 margin, then headed to Nebraska instead of the Cardinals.

But the Cards remain steadfast, continuing to reload as McDonnell works his dugout magic. Continue reading Cardinal Nine on a Collision Course???

Five Provocative Questions for Louisville Cardinal Fans

cardsOkay it’s a glorious time of year.

Bowl games. Conference play begins. NFL playoffs.

And the Holidaze, which means lots of parties, extra time for cookies in the coffee room at work, hanging out at night with pals.

Lots o’ time for sports talk.

And, bottom line, sports fans, even those who love the same team or school, love to argue over this or that.

The Louisville Cardinal faithful are no exception.

So, I got to thinking what could spur U of L fans, or even those who just observe Cardinal sports dispassionately, to some serious back and forth.

So, I came up with these five contemplations, looking to hear what my readers think? Continue reading Five Provocative Questions for Louisville Cardinal Fans

Forget Omaha, Cardinal Nine Down & Out

baseballHad baseball’s philosopher laureate Lawrence Peter Berra been sitting with the other dignitaries in U of L AD Tom Jurich’s box, he would have simply nodded knowingly at the decimating conclusion to the Cardinals’ baseball season.

“It ain’t over til it’s over.”

The visiting UCSB Gaucho’s, with a game in hand in the 2 of 3 series, could get nothing going against Card starter Drew Harrington. Scattered hits here and there, but no real threats until the bottom of the 8th, at which juncture they’d been shut out with the Cards’ line showing 3 runs. But they showed life and had men on 1st and 2d with no outs, after a lead off single and HBP.

Exit gritty Harrington, after striking out 12 and surrendering only one BB, but his shutout in jeopardy. Walking in from the bullpen came Louisville’s ace fireballing closer, Zack Burdi with his  triple digit heat, 11 saves, 2.20 ERA, and 7 to 1 strikeout ratio. Foes had hit but .155 against him this season.

Standing tall, Burdi quickly got the Cardinals out of the bottom of the 8th jam, inducing a double play and pop up on just a few pitches.

Then, after the Cards meekly failed to add insurance in the top of the last, he got the lead off hitter out in the bottom of the 9th. Continue reading Forget Omaha, Cardinal Nine Down & Out

Cardinal Nine Advances to Sweet Sixteen

baseballAn afterthought on the local sports scene a decade ago, the Louisville Cardinal baseball squad is now the most consistently successful contingent around.

In the NCAA tourney once again, hosting a Regional once again, heading for a Super Regional again, where it will be hosting again, looking to advance to the College World Series for the third year in the last four, and fourth time in the decade.

More important, with Coach Dan McDonnell here for awhile under a new contract, the whole scene remains fresh and exciting.

The future’s so bright, etc, etc.

And it’s all far from ho hum, as yesterday’s 3-1 W over Wright State proved, completing completing an undefeated Regional weekend. Continue reading Cardinal Nine Advances to Sweet Sixteen

MMPG: Back on the Scene with a Gangsta Lean

allsportsSo, you remember me, right?

Your resident point guard, Seedy K. Well, I’m back after the usual early spring hiatus.

Why the disappearance, you might wonder?

Well, first there was my annual bout of PMMSD (Post March Madness Stress Disorder). Then Jordan Spieth’s meltdown in Augusta, which had me wondering if anything meant anything anymore in the world of sports.

Then eight days in New Orleans for JazzFest, and too much great music and equally delicious eats.

Then the announcement that Dylan, the Stones, McCartney, Neil Young, the half the Who that’s left and whatisname from Pink Floyd will be gigging together in Cali come October for the Mother of All Oldies Shows. They’ll be more than glad to relieve you of the entirety of your IRA as a down payment on tickets, which can be purchased over time at low interest rates.

Then Derby, which is always everywhere in this burg, even when the Julep glasses are inferior, even if one tries to hide out in unusual nooks and crannies of Derbyplace USA. (Though, in honor of the namesake of the winner, I did wear my stylin’ Red Wings sweater to a blissfully laid back post race get together.)

But, the Cavs are on the cusp of dominating the NBA, while the Spurs are showing their age. Little Richie Farmer, who had the governorship by the short and curlies had he any sense and moxie at all, has filed bankruptcy post-prison term, and is getting by with help from his parents. Gulp.

Which is to say, it’s time for my triumphant return. I’m back, with the usually skewed perspective, droppin’ dimes for deuces. Continue reading MMPG: Back on the Scene with a Gangsta Lean

MMQB: Spieth, Story, Steph & The Real Big Story

stephindexThere are some monster stories this springtime.

Jordan Spieth’s meltdown at the 12th.

Steph Curry’s emergence as the best baller in hoops. Along with his Dubs emanation as one of the best pro outfits ever.

Trevor Story’s 25 or so homers for the Rockies in his first handful of games in the Bigs.

There are a couple of other trends, but they’re probably of interest only to me, a child of Motown. Those would be the Pistons making the NBA playoffs. And the Red Wings backing into the post season like Nicklas Lidstrom, covering a short-handed breakaway counterattack at the Joe.

And then there’s the story that really trumps them all, a fascinating bit of sporting history unfolding as never before. But I’ll save that one for last. Otherwise, you might click away for lack of interest.

 * * * * *

It has been argued by many that hitting a baseball off of major league pitching is the most difficult single task in sports.

Maybe so.

But anybody who has ever attempted golf knows it might be equally as hard to to swing at a ball with a golf club — off the tee, in a trap, out of the woods, or on the green — and have it end up where the swinger would for it to. Continue reading MMQB: Spieth, Story, Steph & The Real Big Story

Yogi’s Gone, So Too What He Represents

yogiindexWhere have you gone Yogi Berra/ A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

Oh that it were true.

That we as a culture in this time of vitriol and vainglory would actually take a moment and consider the passing of a true superstar in the country’s national pastime of his era. Someone who excelled through hard work and talent yet remained self effacing. Someone who put his career aside to serve his country, was there at the Normandy Invasion in WWII.

I fear the lessons we can learn from the life of Lawrence Peter Berra will be fleeting, lost in a Kardashianian miasma of political diatribe, the whining of overpaid crybaby athletes, at a moment in time when glitz trumps grit.

That we will remember his indelible aphorisms, but gloss over his accomplishments and the American values he represents.

 * * * * *

It is the yin and yang of Yogi in that photo at the top, as iconic an image as exists in sports.

Yankee catcher Berra had just engineered the greatest game ever pitched in baseball, Don Larsen’s perfect game in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series.

After the final out, Yogi, consummate professional always, reacted with the joy of an adolescent, running toward the mound, jumping into the arms of his battery mate in celebration.

The visceral thrill of victory incarnate.

 * * * * *

His post season numbers alone are astounding.

He played on 10 World Champions. He’s in the World Series record book for most games played in the October Classic, most at bats, most hits and most doubles.

Multiple MVP awards, yada yada yada.

He’s easily in the argument as the greatest catcher ever.

He was a notorious bad ball hitter. He rarely struck out. One season, just a dozen times in 650 at bats.

 * * * * *

He also had a penchant for the quirky observation, succinctly stated.

Yogi-isms.

That he might not have been the actual originator of many quotes attributed to him matters not.

As Yogi himself said, “I really didn’t say everything I said.”

So he was beloved. For his talent. For his unassuming Everyman personality. For his lack of guile. For his sense of honor, his embodiment of the values of the Common Man.

He was many things which we Americans should aspire to.

 * * * * *

At the lede, I coopted the well known Paul Simon lyrics about another Yankee icon.

All things considered, we should probably lionize Berra more than DiMaggio. He represents the America that seems lost, long gone. No Marilyn in his life, he was married to his beloved throughout. She took care of the family budget.

He was a smart man. But a simple man of humble beginnings. A proud man. But not prideful.

He stayed in the game after his playing days were over.

But stood up to George Steinbrenner, when the latter didn’t respect Yogi’s sense of dignity. Then forgave the brash Yankee owner, when a heartfelt apology came.

After the rapprochement, he returned to Yankee Stadium for the first time in over a decade, to be feted on a day in his honor.

His perfect game battery mate Don Larsen joined him.

Yankee David Cone hurled a perfect game that day.

— Seedy K

 

Thursday Throwdown: Football, Fútbol & Eye Candy

sportsnewsThe hits just keep on coming for the State University of New Jersey.

The regime of Athletics AD Julie Hermann, formerly of U of L, can’t seem to move beyond beleaguered.

The latest imbroglio concerns football coach Kyle Flood.

It is reported that Flood sent an email from a personal account to the professor of one of his players, whose academic standing might have been, shall we say, precarious.

You know, it’s not like this doesn’t happen all the time. But the sly schools, the ones with a sense of how to take care of such matters, don’t leave a digital trail.

* * * * *

Speaking of coaches who want to run with the big boys, I gotta reiterate this question people are asking.

What did Baylor’s Art Briles know about the sordid past and present of Boise State transfer Sam Ukwuacho? And when did he know it? Continue reading Thursday Throwdown: Football, Fútbol & Eye Candy

Monday’s Sports Missive: Serena, Novak, Jordan, Roger & Wayne

sportsnewsNo Louisville Cardinal fan rooted harder for Wayne Blackshear to succeed, and become a major Double Arches AA-quality collegian, than I did.

Some have even used the word apologist.

Truth is he never met fans, coaches, or his expectations. It happens.

I happened upon a couple of his summer league games during the last week or so.

In the first, contested in Utah, he played about half the minutes, but contributed little. In the second, after the Spurs had moved on to the Vegas competition, it was all pine time. He never took off his warmup.

So, it is somewhat sad, how he’s expressed his views of his years on the Belknap Campus.

I agree with him. For most of his career, he did sublimate his game to the offensive sets run by The Rick. But . . . a lot of that had to do with the fact that he never displayed the eye of the tiger, the will to take charge, that it was believed he had in him. He never really showed he deserved to have sets run for him. Continue reading Monday’s Sports Missive: Serena, Novak, Jordan, Roger & Wayne