Loophole? Where?

12/26/2010

We’ve all heard about Cam Newton by now. And if you haven’t here’s a little background.

He’s basically a tremendous football player. I won’t go into all the flowery descriptions of his play or wax poetic about his performance on the gridiron. He’s just a heck of a football player. He has also been in some trouble recently.

Here are the FACTS: A guy who played at Mississippi State 30 years ago received a call from another guy who played for the Bulldogs decades in the past who was soliciting money. This man claimed to have been told by Cam Newton’s father, Cecil, that Cam would play football at Mississippi State for almost $200,000.

These simple facts started a lot of rumors and brought instant judgment upon Cam Newton from the vulturous multitude out there who have nothing better to do with their lives than watch sensationalist news channels. Even if the allegations were unfounded, there had to be SOMETHING there. Right? I mean usually when someone’s accused of murder or rape for example, even if they are acquitted on lack of evidence, they were still getting drunk and brawling or committing adultery or SOMETHING. Right?

That’s the way the thinking goes. Even if that guy didn’t do everything he is accused of, he still probably did SOMETHING unsavory. We have proof that he’s not a perfect human being like our other sports idols. He is not a messianic Peyton Manning or Drew Brees, those immaculate paragons of morality who were conceived with an unnatural level of athletic ability in place of their original sin.

Recall the FACTS I have presented to you. Everything else available to the general public is rumor and innuendo. The NCAA, college athletics’ governing body, launched an investigation. What facts they uncovered we do not know. All we know is their conclusions. They determined that they had sufficient evidence to prove that Cam Newton’s father solicited money from Mississippi State in exchange for his son’s football services. They concluded that the evidence proved nothing beyond that. They could not prove that Cam Newton ever knew about these money-soliciting attempts. They cannot prove that Auburn University, where Newton ended up, ever knew about this pay-for-play scheme or ever payed money to anyone as an enticement for the Heisman winning quarterback. And it’s pretty much proved beyond a doubt that Mississippi State never paid money and furthermore immediately reported Cecil Newton’s antics to the NCAA.

Where does this leave us? Were we in Europe, perhaps we could condemn Cam Newton by plebiscite, strip him of his accolades, and parade him through the streets in shame. However, we live in America, where innocence until proven guilty is a noble cornerstone of our society, one of the bastions that elevates us to some degree of moral superiority over many other countries. We are supposed to be “enlightened”. If we believe any of this, if we really do have a higher moral standard, then why must we travel thousands of miles across the country to remove a speck from Cam Newton’s eye. Why not pull the proverbial plank from ours? Let’s not be blinded by assumption. Let not gossip, malice, or jealousy discolor our vision. Embrace innocence until proven guilty. Sure, Cecil seems like an unseemly character. Sure, Cam Newton is probably a spoiled young man. Guess what? He’s a blue-chip Division I college athlete. With the amount of pampering these kids get, they mostly are spoiled young men. We already knew this was a distinct possibility. We already knew that a 21-year-old might just happen to be unwise, immature, imprudent, etc. Nothing in the Cam Newton saga should have changed our perception of him.

Many were outraged when the NCAA ruled that Newton was eligible to continue playing this year for Auburn. They asked “How can he NOT be guilty?” Sure, you didn’t find “evidence” but who needs evidence when you can surmise? When the NCAA said Newton was eligible because he didn’t know about his father’s activities, many shouted “Loophole!” I ask “Where?” Where is the loophole? What loophole are you talking about? Anyone can go claim to represent a college prospect and ask for money? Should that non-participant be guilty by association? Can he really be held responsible for the actions of everyone else? The NCAA said that Auburn and Newton are both innocent in the matter. Or more precisely, not guilty. Sure, they weren’t able to prove innocence, but neither does our legal system. If “not guilty” is good enough for society as a whole, it should be good enough for college eligibility. If the athlete in question and his school are both found not to have done anything illicit, WHERE is the violation? Cam’s father isn’t playing anywhere. Mississippi State isn’t paying any money to anyone. Where is the violation? What transgression has been PROVEN by FACTS? None.

Let’s not assume. A bunch of kids at Duke had their college lacrosse careers ruined by the assumption that when a black woman accuses bratty rich white kids of sexual assault, it must be true. One of my favorite books is To Kill A Mockingbird (I’ve read it cover to cover multiple times and I HIGHLY recommend it). It amuses me to no end that black and white have flipped in modern society. As the book brilliantly illustrates, it used to be that a poor working black man was guilty until proven innocent. Now the rich white party boys are. These sorts of assumptions, which fly in the face of “innocent until proven guilty” and American standards in general, have the power to ruin innocent lives. Sure, you might catch more guilty people. But destroying the inculpable is not acceptable collateral damage. It’s not our right to immolate our chosen scapegoats on a pyre of self-righteousness, kindled by scandalous gossip.

Cam Newton is not white and does not come from a rich family. But he is privileged, and the same general breed of assumption and possibly class envy which doomed the Duke lacrosse players almost doomed him. And it may doom future athletes, as the NCAA is considering closing the imaginary loophole through which Cam Newton supposedly writhed his way, as if it were just another narrow alley through the defense that he darted through on his way to the endzone. Maybe “To Kill A Mockingbird”, which is set in Alabama, close to the Auburn University campus, can teach us a lesson. Maybe the Duke lacrosse incident can teach us a lesson. Whatever the hated class at the time is, whether the poor black man, the rich white boy, or the pampered athlete, it must be treated on an equal footing to anyone else. We have to rid our mind of assumptions and make sure to give Tom Robinson, Duke lacrosse, and Cam Newton their fair shakes.

By the way, Dabo Swinney, if you’re reading this, give me $200,000 and I’ll make sure my boy Jadaveon Clowney plays football for Clemson next fall. I’m pretty tight with that freshman phenom. Pinky promise.

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Coaching Tree

12/14/2010

Miami’s hiring of Al Golden as their new head coach sparked the beginning of a very interesting train of thought for me. You see, Golden is one of my favorite up-and-coming coaches in college football because of his days as the defensive coordinator at UVA from 2001-2005. I always rooted for his Temple teams and he was my personal favorite to succeed Al Groh last year (although I am very happy with Mike London right now). I think he will be a good guy for Miami.

Anyways, when I heard of him getting hired I thought “There’s two former UVA assistants who are head coaches in the ACC now” (Golden and London). That is what led me to wonder “What other ACC coaches have ties with UVA”? I seemed to remember a couple names being tied in with us somehow so I checked up on these hunches and found a very interesting coaching tree emerging.

First off is the highly respected Tom O’Brien of N.C. State (and formerly of Boston College). He was part of Hall of Fame UVA coach George Welsh’s original staff in 1982 after coaching with him at Navy for seven years. He was the offensive coordinator until 1996 and under him UVA had some of the most explosive offenses in college football.

Then there is Frank Spaziani. He also was one of Welsh’s original staff members at UVA after coaching at Navy. From 1985-1991 he was the defensive coordinator at UVA before dashing off to the ranks of the Canadian Football League. Think about this. In 1990, when UVA was ranked number one in the country for three weeks, their head coach was George Welsh, who retired as the winningest coach in ACC history. Their offensive coordinator was Tom O’Brien, who has spent the past fourteen years as the head coach of Boston College and N.C. State. Their defensive coordinator was Frank Spaziani, who led Boston College to a bowl victory against Navy as interim head coach in 2006 and has made two bowl games in two seasons as the full time head man. Oh, and the UVA quarterback, Shawn Moore, is now the receivers coach at UVA. That’s one well-coached football team.

But wait, there’s more. Welsh and O’Brien both went to the Naval Academy. Welsh, O’Brien, and Spaziani all coached there before heading to UVA. Golden and Spaziani meanwhile both played for Joe Paterno at Penn State and returned as assistants. Guess who was coaching with Joe Pa in Happy Valley when Spaziani played there? George Welsh. Welsh went from Penn State to Navy a couple years after O’Brien graduated and picked him up as an assistant.

So Navy and Penn State are tied into this. So is Boston College. When O’Brien left Welsh and UVA to go to Boston College in 1997, Spaziani and Golden (who had GA’d at Virginia the past few years after a career as a standout tight end for Paterno) were original parts of his staff. Spaziani coached the running backs and Golden handled the linebackers. So who did O’Brien get to manage the defensive linemen? He hauled along a young defensive coach from the state of Virginia who had previously worked at Richmond and William and Mary. Mike London.

While Spaziani has stayed at Boston College ever since, Golden and London both ended up following in his footsteps and assuming the role of defensive coordinator at UVA under Al Groh. While Groh has no direct connections to Penn State, Navy, Boston College, or even George Welsh, he’s not entirely out of the coaching loop. A UVA alumnus just like current Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe, Groh was actually the head coach at Wake Forest himself. He was there in the 1980’s and was replaced by Virginia Tech coach Bill Dooley, clearing the way for Murray State headman Frank Beamer to take over the reins in Blacksburg. Then he rejoined former Air Force compadre Bill Parcells with the New York Giants, where he was the linebackers coach and current New England Patriots boss Bill Belichick was the defensive coordinator. They all won a Super Bowl together and ended up with the Cleveland Browns and New York Jets later on. The interesting thing here is that Bill Belichick’s dad was actually a longtime assistant coach and well-respected scout at the Naval Academy. Who was one of the head coaches at Navy during Steve Belichick’s days there? George Wlesh.

Can’t Beat the Spread

11/27/2010

After hundreds of hours watching college football, I have finally come to the conclusion that, at least on the college level, spread offenses are intrinsically superior to any others. Why? Because college football is played by 20-year-old males.

The Arizona-Oregon game I am watching is yet another example of how teams can hand other teams huge wins primarily through a failure to execute their game plan. And there are no more obvious examples of this than when i watch spread teams. Especially spread option teams. As a Navy fan, I have watched Paul Johnson’s spread option at Navy and Georgia Tech for nearly a decade now. This has made me concentrate on other option offenses as well. The thing I notice about defenses playing against these systems is how many mistakes they make and how costly these mistakes are.

The reason these mistakes are so costly comes from the nature of the spread. Spread offenses “spread” out the defense so that instead of having one team battle of “front sevens” you have a lot of individual battles. Just one individual mistake can allow a big play. When you have a run play up the gut, one missed block or tackle can be made up for by someone else. Out on the perimeter this is not always the case.

As for the reason these mistakes are so numerous, well, that comes down to the “20-year-old male” factor. I don’t know what the exact reason is (age, human nature, adrenaline) but so many college players can’t seem to stick to their simple assignment or remember the number one key they have on any given play. Specifically I am talking about spread option plays here.

Having played linebacker in high school, I have experience preparing for teams with option plays in their playbook and through that I learned that playing against the option is rather simple…in theory at least. Every team is going to have their own unique way to defense such an attack but most are going to use variations on a general theme. I’ll address a generic 4-3 defense here but other schemes base their approaches on similar concepts.

If the option has an inside look (as a triple option or Rich Rodriguez’s spread offense does) then the defensive tackles will have the job of driving back the wedge of interior linemen and thereby destroying any gaps that might otherwise appear. Inside linebackers will have to slide and plug any creases that do appear. There are some pretty nuanced details that go along with this but I wish to focus on the outside here, where the most damaging mistakes tend to happen.

Three key players factor into defending outside option plays involving a ballcarrier and a pitch back. These are the defensive end, outside linebacker, and cornerback on the play side. The first key is to be in the mindset that your side will always be the play side and to have confidence that players on the other side will carry out their assignments. If you go sprinting to the other sideline in a desperate quest for relevance when the play flows away from you, you are going to get embarrassed by a reverse eventually. Once we have this attitude ingrained, you will only have a few keys to read once the play starts. While perhaps acceptable once in a while to neglect the fourth or fifth key you have to reading a play, I am highlighting here the number one key for each position. These are the ones so often violated with so much harm.

The defensive end is looking to push back any lineman (a tackle or a pulling guard) coming his way to shut down inside holes while maintaining a position on that lineman’s outside shoulder to avoid getting knocked inside and allowing the offensive line to set up downfield blocking on the perimeter.

The outside linebacker generally has responsibility for the ballcarrier (usually the quarterback) and must try to stay outside the blockers. He wants to stay outside the outside man of the line and push the ballcarrier back inside. At no point should he crash inside pursuing a run and allow the quarterback to get outside of him. On the other hand, he can’t worry about jumping a pitch or going after the pitchman or else the quarterback can cut upfield for a big gain.

The cornerback has absolute outside contain and the responsibility for the pitchman. In other words, under no circumstances should any member of the opposing team ever be outside of him while the option play is developing. He should never worry about the quarterback but always stay on the pitchman. It’s not his fault if the quarterback beats the outside linebacker nor should he concern himself with pursuit of the quarterback until the option setup has disintegrated. His number one concern is to cover the pitchman.

Most times when a spread option generates a big play to the outside, it’s because one of these three players has violated one of these primary keys. At these times, it is not a case of one team being more athletic or more talented than the other. It’s a case of defensive players making major mental errors that cost their team. This is where critics of spread option attacks come from. They claim that as long as everyone covered their assignments the offense would be really easy to shut down. But that’s the trick, isn’t it?

The principles of the discussion I just had about spread option attacks specifically also apply more generally to many spread offenses. The idea is that by stretching the defense out and creating a lot of individual assignments you can capitalize on just one mistake rather than having to overpower or outmaneuver an entire defensive front. And with the propensity of 20-year-old men who are inexperienced, hyped up on adrenaline, and suffering from a superhero complex to make mental errors or overstretch themselves, this can be a rather potent strategy. The example I had from the Oregon-Arizona game that I mentioned at the start came in the early third quarter. Oregon, down at halftime, regained the lead on an 85 yard touchdown run. Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas and running back Josh Huff ran out on an option play. While the defensive end was closing on Thomas, the linebacker decided to go after the ballcarrier as well. This allowed him to pitch to Huff, who ran for 85 yards and a touchdown. While my generic description listed the linebacker as the man to cover the quarterback and the corner as being responsible for the pitchman, Arizona had their defense a little shifted on the play. Therefore, it may be that Arizona’s specific defensive call had these responsibilities shifted to the defensive end and linebacker respectively, a fairly common occurrence. In any event, whenever you have two defenders against two offensive players, the outside defender should always take the pitchman and the inside defender should have the ballcarrier. Pretty simple stuff, much harder to execute than you might think.

For these reasons, spread offenses, especially when you can implement option elements, make the most prolific offenses. One more thing I like about them. On a fourth-and-one, do you want to try to block ten men in the box with eight or nine guys? Especially when they’re all diving for your blockers’ legs because they know where the play is coming? Or do you want to spread out the defense so they can’t pressure any one point and give yourself a nice little run-pass option? Easy choice for me.

The Keg Bowl

11/25/2010

So I have a pretty cool job. Here at UVA where I am a student I work as a cameraman for the football team. I attend practices and games and film the stuff that coaches look at to evaluate the team. We are distinct from the managers, which is often what people think I am when I tell them about my job. Every year we play a football game called the “Keg Bowl” because the trophy is a keg upon which the scores of the games are written. The Keg Bowl pits the video crew against the managers. The managers always seem to win, as they are probably former high school football players, whereas this is much less true about my video crew. But that doesn’t mean we don’t play our hearts out in our chance to perform on the field after a year of watching the football players performing on it.

This year’s turned out to be pretty memorable for me. Actually, I am pretty sure this will be one of those things I remember long past I have forgotten much of what my college professors are trying to teach me. In order to give us more of a chance, a graduate assistant and former all-state running back named Josh (we call him Jay-Z because of his initials) has played with us the last two years. And this year he brought in another of our graduate assistants, a guy named Brennan.

Brennan is in his first year as a “GA” at UVA. I met him in training camp at the athletes’ dining hall one day. He’s a pretty chill guy. Laid-back, nice, seems like a great guy.

He also happens to be one of the best players in recent UVA history. He started every game of his career. He was a freshman All-American. But his best attribute was his motor. When he played, he was known for his heart and his relentless style of play that helped a guy who was never really recruited in high school to start 51 games in the ACC. As a senior in 2005, he was a semifinalist for the Ronnie Lott Award. This award is given to the national defensive IMPACT player of the year, where IMPACT stands for “integrity, maturity, performance, academics, community, and tenacity.” It was this style of football which endeared him to me.

You see, Brennan also happens to be one of my childhood sports idols. When I first moved to Virginia in 2003, I was out of touch with college football after a decade of living in foreign countries. I quickly came to realize that there were two teams fighting for my loyalties…Virginia and Virginia Tech. And on those UVA teams of my eighth and ninth grade years there were two players who stood out…a strong-legged kicker named Connor…and Brennan. Brennan, a two time captain, was the heart of that team. I quickly fell in love with him and his tenacious playing style. It would not be too far of a stretch to say that Brennan is one of the reasons I became such a big UVA fan even before coming here as a student. And now I was playing football with him.

The sun is falling and we have been out here on the field for a while. The managers jump out quickly to leads of 13-0 and 19-7. While our team has to piece together long drives, the managers seem to get big plays that allow them to score quickly. But we aren’t going to give up. Even missing three of our most athletic guys, we hang in there. My boss, Luke, decides to go out there on his previously torn ACL and gives a shot at quarterbacking. BAM! Long bomb makes it 19-14. Next we get an interception. Suddenly, we have a chance to take the lead.

It’s second or third down now and we have nearly twenty yards to go for the score (in this game first downs occur every twenty yards). I start running upfield, covered by Billy, the manager I roomed with during training camp. I make a sharp cut to the left and Jay-Z fires an absolute bullet in my direction. The pass is low but I dive on the turf and trap it against my body for a 15 yard gain. The entire team gets fired up by that and my subsequent slamming of the ball against the ground. On the next play, my coworker Smooth goes over the middle and catches a quick short pass for the three yard touchdown. 20-19. We have the lead and I am fired up for putting us on the goal line. Now we go for the extra point, accomplished by scoring from five yards out of the endzone. I run a short out pattern to the right sideline. The pass is high and in front of me, slightly overthrown. I stretch out for the ball while trying to stay inbounds. Once again, I end up diving for the ball. My body lands squarely out of bounds, but not before I secure the football to my chest and tap the big toe of a fully extended foot just inside the field of play. Our team goes nuts. I go nuts. I start yelling and emphatically spike the ball. High fives, hugs, and chest bumps ensue but the thing that sticks out to me is Brennan. He comes over with the biggest grin on his face and is pumped up. So pumped up…by that sick play I just made. I spent years watching him on television making sacks and big tackles in front of the whole nation. I watched with rapt attention as he repped UVA in major college bowl games. I even watched him play a little professional ball in Europe on the NFL Network. And now here I am paying him back. Here I just made a play for one of the heroes of my youth. In true fanboy form, I felt so cool.

We would end up losing 39-28 after leading 28-25 close to the end of the game. I was mad at myself. Sure I had a few nice catches (including two extra points) and made a handful of special teams tackles. And sure I shut down Billy for most of the day. But he had two of their six touchdown catches, including the one that put the game on ice. And that was my man to cover. Maybe if I had played better defense, we would have won. And maybe if I had run better routes I could have made more catches. But nobody seemed to notice those mistakes that were so glaring to me. All I heard about were the catches I made and the energy that I brought to our team. At the end of the day, I had gotten to play football with Brennan. He had been there to celebrate my successes with me. That was cool.

And hey, if some of my teammates were calling me the team MVP afterwards, I couldn’t have played THAT badly, could I?

THE Third Best Team in a Mediocre Conference

11/24/2010

The New Sun Belt

11/19/2010

Hawaii is considering following Boise State, Fresno State, and Nevada to the Mountain West Conference. That would leave the Western Athletic Conference with these football schools: San Jose State, Idaho, New Mexico State, Louisiana Tech, Utah State, Texas-San Antonio, and Texas State. The last two are moving up to Division 1-A over the next couple years. Denver would also be a member, but would not field a 1-A level team. This conference doesn’t look much better than the Sun Belt and losing Fresno State could hurt the conference’s attempts to recruit California prospects. The WAC could be in for a rough future.

ReVickulous

11/16/2010

Ok, first off, I need to admit that I stole the title of this post from ESPN. So unfortunately I can’t take credit for it. If you live in a shell and haven’t heard by this point, Michael Vick absolutely embarrassed the Washington Redskins on Monday Night football. The way he did it was awesome too. Redskins safety LaRon Landry had been jawing with DeSean Jackson and apparently made some pretty classless personal remarks, starting an altercation between the two teams before kickoff. How did the Eagles respond? On their first play of the game, Desean Jackson beat — who else — LaRon Landry and caught an 88 yard touchdown pass from Michael Vick for the longest first play in Philadelphia history. One play into the second quarter it was 35-0 and the Eagles won 59-28. Vick had five first half touchdowns and ended the game with over 330 passing yards, 80 rushing yards, four passing touchdowns and two more on the ground.

None of this should be news to people who follow the NFL. Which is the point of this post — none of this should be news. I noticed how pundits were lauding Vick’s performance in their usual inflated style. Some of these guys are the same pundits who decried him after he was unable to keep taking the Atlanta Falcons to the NFC Championship every year. Before you succumb to the temptation to start saying that Vick suddenly matured and took his game two levels higher while he was sitting in prison, think back and remember why he was such a big deal in the first place. The country has known since high school that he is ridiculously talented. Virginia Tech went 22-2 when he played there. In 2002, as a second year NFL player, he handed the Green Bay Packers their first playoff loss at Lambeau Field, and after breaking his leg in 2003, he led the Falcons to the NFC Championship Game, where Donovan McNabb and the Philadelphia Eagles beat them for the right to lose to New England in the Super Bowl. And yet people always criticized him because he didn’t fit their narrow-minded view of what an NFL quarterback should be.

Michael Vick is a winner. He has proven this in the past and continues to prove it. The statistic that really stood out to me in the game last night was the fact that he passed Steve Young for second place in career rushing yards by a quarterback, where he now trails only Randall Cunningham. He didn’t get all those rushing yards last night. He established himself as a great quarterback long ago and didn’t need validation from the experts. I’m glad to see that the Eagles are now starting the man who should have started the season at quarterback for them. I’m not surprised that he is playing well. And I’m not surprised that they are 4-0 in games that he has started and finished.

Strasburg

06/09/2010

So I have lots of baseball talk to catch up on and, yes, there are league championships in the realms of professional basketball and hockey going on. Right now, I want to talk about Stephen Strasburg. I watched every one of the 94 pitches he threw in his debut yesterday and I feel like a man who just discovered the true meaning of beauty through intensive meditation. I just woke up from my daze and feel lucid enough to break down his debut.

The first thing to talk about are the stats. 65 strikes in 94 pitches. 4 hits, 2 runs, no walks, and 14 strikeouts in seven innings of work. Since 1920, only two pitchers have thrown more than 14 strikeouts in a Major League debut. Those were in 1954 and 1971.

Next come the records. Guess who is tied with Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers for the most strikeouts in a Major League game this year. That’s right: Stephen Strasburg. Guess who owns the Washington Nationals’ single-game record for strikeouts. That’s right: Stephen Strasburg. (He also looks capable of eventually matching the franchise record of 18 strikeouts, set by former Montreal Expo Bill Gullickson in 1980).

That doesn’t even tell the story though. That’s a great start. Everyone has thouse. So is Stephen Strasburg really as good as he is hyped up to be or is he just another talented pitcher who had a great game. His performance from yesterday suggests the latter.

I say this for a couple reasons. First, he had more movement on his 101 mph fastball, his low 80s curve, and his 89 mph changeup than I have seen from most pitchers that I have ever watched. He would throw a curveball that would magically drop two feet on a dime. He wasn’t throwing parabolas: he was throwing step graphs. The thing I liked the most though is how he attacked the strike zone. In an era of highly over-conservative managers, pitching coaches, catchers, and pitchers who look scared to be playing baseball, Strasburg threw every 3-ball-count pitch square in the strike zone. And he didn’t get to three balls often because after his first two batters he was mostly just hitting the strike zone all the time. He was attacking batters. The one mistake he made, a two run home run to Delwyn Young, came when he was trying to finesse off-speed stuff around the number five hitter for a 23-35 ball club.
That was the only time he gave too much stock to the Pirates.

After giving up that home run, Strasburg did not allow another baserunner. He retired the last ten batters he faced. I thought the six consecutive strikeouts he got from the first inning to the third was going to be his longest such streak of the game. Oops. From the fifth inning through the seventh he punched out the last SEVEN batters he faced. This means that between the time Jason Jaramillo ground out to Adam Dunn for the second out of the fifth and Ronny Cedeno led off the eighth with a single off of Tyler Clippard the Nationals could have neglected to send out their defense to the field and it wouldn’t have mattered. Think about that for a second. This guy was a one man wrecking crew. He dominated this game and made the Pirates look very bad in the process.

Curt Schilling said a few days ago that Strasburg might be the best pitcher in major league baseball from the very moment he mounts the pitchers’ mound. I thought that it was obviously an exaggeration even if Strasburg turned out to be everything everyone said he was. I still think it’s probably an exaggeration but the mere fact that I am considering it and straining to think of counter-examples says something. I finally decided today that Roy Halladay is better but I’m even starting to wonder if that’s true. That’s how powerful Strasburg’s debut was.

The Greatest Laker

06/03/2010

Here is a link to a fantastic article by Rick Reilly about the ramifications that the upcoming NBA Finals will have on Kobe Bryant’s legacy. In my opinion, Reilly is the best active sportswriter out there. I also totally agree with his pick of the current “Best Laker” .

A Big First

05/30/2010

Virginia finally got their first national championship in rowing today! After winning one of the three “Grand Final” races, they finished fourth in the second one and found themselves in i virtual tie with Stanford and Cal atop the leaderboard. The championship was now a three-horse race that was coming down to the last boat race of the Championships. Virginia had to beat both Stanford and Cal in the last six-boat race would win the overall championship. It was that simple. In an epic race, Virginia surged ahead from a four boat pack consisting of the Cavaliers, Princeton, Cal, and Stanford to finish second only to Yale in the final race and secured the overall team championship. Like I said in last night’s post, the rowing team was overshadowed by several powerful men’s teams all year but they finally showed up the boys! Congratulations to them for giving UVA it’s second team national championship this year.