Breath it in

Archive for March, 2010

Spring is in the Air

Posted by mvetack on March 29, 2010

This coming weekend (we are counting Monday this time) is like the Boondock Saints of the sporting calendar.  It is a very enjoyable three day stretch that does not get too much attention.  Boondock Saints is one of those movies that a lot of people have yet to see but once they do they realize how undervalued it is.  That is what this coming weekend is to me.

Saturday is the two final four match ups.  Duke taking on West Virginia and everyone’s tournament darling Butler taking on Michigan State.  This is five solid hours of great basketball.  Sparty vs Dogs, Dickie V’s Dukies vs the Mountaineers and their Beers,  whats not to be excited about.  After your fill of college basketball Sunday, like the good Lord intended, will be a day of rest.  That is until darkness falls upon us.

Thats right come nightfall the 2010 baseball season begins.  And what a way to kick off the season.  One of the longest and fiercest rivalries in baseball will take place at Fenway Park.  The Yankees will take on the Red Sox in their first action since celebrating their 27th world championship.  Of course this being a Red Sox Yankees game you know this one is going to carry us into Monday morning.  As the final pitch in Fenway is thrown and everyone gets their sleep, they wake to a glorious day of sport.

This is like Christmas morning and only comparable to the first two days of the Big Dance in March.  This is Baseball’s official opening day.  In parks across America gates will be opened and fans will flood them to catch a look at the team that will play with their emotions all season long.  Seeds will be spit, pine tar will be rubbed, strikes will be called, the lines will be chalked, and home runs will be slugged.  This my friends is opening day.

After getting your fix on April baseball don’t give up on this amazing stretch of sports.  For the nightcap we will crown the new College Basketball Champions.  The final game of the season will truly determine who has fought the hardest, played the best, survived the longest, and earned the right to cut down the nets and enjoy their one shining moment.

If have yet to experience this spectacular stretch of sport please take a seat, grab some grub, and enjoy.  And if you have time, watch Boondock Saints, it truly is a great movie.

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Butler Wins, Butler Wins!

Posted by mvetack on March 25, 2010

Butler came into the game riding by far the nations longest win streak at 22 games.  Despite this, they came in as under dogs to the high powered attack of Syracuse.  Butler got off to a hot start defensively while getting easy shots on the offensive end.  Just under four minutes in and Butler lead by 12.  Butler’s defense saved them in this game on their way to a four point victory.  Besides Butler’s defense, I though they played poorly (maybe thats an exaggeration).  They did do some things poorly.

At the onset of the game Butler showed us how they were going to attack the “best” zone in America.  Their strategy was working beautifully.  Two guards up top with the third guard/forward running the free throw line.  Howard posted just below the elbow, and Heyward ran th baseline and spotted up in the corners.  This allowed for two or three chances to pass into the interior of the zone.  As the game went on, Butler changed to having three guards up top just standing and swinging the ball, Howard posting in the paint, and Heyward running the base line.  The result was al lot of deep threes that did not fall.

Butler shot just under 40 percent for the game and this is a big reason why.  Rarely did they penetrate from the wing.  Which they had many times.  Every time a wing guard caught the ball on Rautin’s side there was a lane that Butler could at least penetrate to draw two defenders and, sorry do not remember his name, the short lefty would be open in the corner every time, or Howard would be able to get better position.  At the least this would allow for kick outs to threes from the arc not three feet behind.

There is no point really in breaking down how I, not a qualified coach by any means, would attack the Syracuse zone the way they played it tonight.  The Cuse are heading home and Butler played their style ball and are on to the elite 8.

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Onions, Dancing, and Shining Moments

Posted by mvetack on March 25, 2010

Well it has been a long three days since the last tournament game.  We have four games on the slate tonight starting at around 7 o’clock.  With a number of “Cinderellas” left in the tournament, there is much intrigue to whether the unknowns can continue their run at the big guns from the likes of Syracuse and Kentucky.

Butler at Syracuse – 7:07

Washington at West Virginia – 7:27

Xavier at Kansas St. – 9:37

Cornell at Kenucky – 9:57

My bracket says Butler, West Virginia, Kansas St. and Kentucky.  I would love to see Cornell, Xavier, and Butler win and I could care less for Washington and West Virginia.  West Virginia is with out their floor general for the rest of the tournament.  Besides having a sweet name, Truck Bryant, I never really noticed how big of an impact he had on the games I saw the Mountaineer play in this season.  It seemed to me that the backup Mazzulla was in in crunch time and seemed to run the floor with success.  He is not much of a scorer but plays solid defense and makes good decisions.  Truck is a little more versatile and gives another option to score but West Virginia should be able to play their game without him.

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Joe Mauer’s Millions

Posted by mvetack on March 23, 2010

Joe Mauer is now a very rich man.  Over the weekend Joe Mauer and the Twins finalized a deal that will keep Mauer, the hometown boy, in Minny for the next 8 seasons.  Mauer’s deal, 8 years 184 million, is the fourth largest baseball contract of all time and the largest for a catcher.  Mauer’s young, a multiple gold glover, a three time batting champ, and defending MVP.  Some say that it is too long of a contract for that much money because the catcher will eventually break down and then the Twins will be paying 23 million a year to a DH.  Well, Jorge Posada is just now breaking down at the age of 38, going on 39 in August.  Mauer will be 34 going on 35 in his final year of this contract.  Even if he starts breaking down as a catcher a couple of seasons earlier than Posada, it will be about when his contract is up.

Mauer is an excellent athlete and could switch to half the games at first base if they truly are concerned with him breaking down.  Having an Elite player at catcher for 5-6 more years and then 2 years at first base is probably still worth the contract he has been given.  What the Twins did not want to see was the greatest sports figure since Kirby Puckett, leave town for Boston, or New York and win multiple MVPs on his way to becoming the greatest catcher of all time.

Lets have a little fun now.  Here are a couple of things you could buy with Joe Mauer’s contract…

6,143,572 Joe Mauer Rookie Cards

2,300,287 Rawlings Wooden Bats

3,067,177 Copies of MLB the Show 10 featuring cover boy Joe Mauer

The Minnesota Twins, twice

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Urban Liar?

Posted by mvetack on March 18, 2010

Florida Coach Urban Meyer shocked the nation when he announced early this year that he was stepping down as Head Coach of the Florida Gators.   This statement did not last long as soon it was changed to taking a leave of absents from the football program due to health and stress reasons.  After hearing of the toll that coaching at the big time college level was taking on his health and family time, this seemed like a noble thing to do for a guy that high up in the coaching ranks.  This guy was putting his life in perspective and thinking about his health and long term relationship with his friends and family.

But yet again, another change in the schedule.  This time he was going to wait untill after his teams Bowl game for his leave of absence.  Ok so maybe he will not do as much preparation now that a National Title was out of the picture and hand some duties over to his assistant coaches.  The bowl game came and went and again Coach Meyer changed his leave of absence schedule.

Now Urban was going to wait till after National Signing day to stop working so hard and think about his health and family.  Ok Coach, now your just pushing this leave of absence thing a little.  So your going to wait till after all the hard stressful work of recruiting players to your team is over then when I would imagine most coaches take a little break you will take your so called leave of absence.  Well I guess he will get the hard work out of the way and take a long break until early August when practices start up and its time to get ready to make a run at an undefeated season.

Wait, what coach? Your back already?  That is true.  Coach Urban Meyer has ended his “leave of absence” in time to return for spring practice in Gatorville.  A review, National Signing day was early February and it is now mid March.  So Coach took off a total of a Month and a half between the end of signing players and the first possible practice.  This seems to be the one stretch during the year that a coach has little to do.  I’m not saying that Urban Meyer had to take any time off at all,  why would he, no other coach does.  But when you make it public that your health and possibly your family life is being hindered and the fix after talking to family and doctors is to take a break from the stressful job of being a head coach, I am starting to see that your priorities are in the wrong place.   Yes college football, especially in Florida, is important to so many people.  But at what cost.  Take care of yourself man.  Be good on your word.  Take 6 months off, Florida is a school that wont drop off the map because you took a leave of absence.

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Nearly a year later, your 2009 National Champs

Posted by mvetack on March 17, 2010

On year ago the North Carolina Tar Heels were on the eve of their dominate run at winning the 2009 National Championship.  Many of the major players involved in that championship season went on due to graduation or the lifestyle and step up in competition that is the NBA.  Here is a look the rookie seasons of Ty Lawson, Tyler Hansbrough, Wayne Ellington, and Danny Green.

Ty Lawson has enjoyed early success for one of the top teams in the Western conference.  Backing up Chauncey Billups in Denver, Lawson has averaged 9 points 3.3 assists 2.1 rebounds in just 21 minutes of play.  Off the bench, Lawson likes to push the pace and create plays for the likes of the Birdman and JR Smith.  Besides giving the Nuggets depth at the all important PG position, Lawson gives the Nuggets a future beyond Chauncey at point guard.

Tyler Hansbrough – Hansbrough has struggled to stay on the floor because of nagging injuries and will have to fight Roy Hibbert for some playing time next season.  In his limited 17 minutes per game, Tyler is averaging 8.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1 assist per game.  Hansbrough has continued his hard work ethic in the NBA and it shows with his hustle on the court.  Hopefully Hansbrough can get on a role health wise so he can get in a flow for once to see what he is really capable of in the NBA.

Wayne Ellington – Wayne Ellington was the guy with the silky smooth jump shot you saw on a nightly basis in Carolina last season.  Ellington started the season with very limited chances to show off the silk but has earned more playing time in the latter half of the season.  Wayne is averaging 6.6 points, 2.2 rebounds, and .9 assists per game.  His jumper has not lost anything in the NBA as he shoots 38% from beyond the arch, 43% from the field, and 89% from the stripe.  Ellington on the right team and with the right role could play a key role in a playoff team.

Danny Green – Danny was the 4th, 5th, or even 6th option in Carolina.  His athleticism was his biggest asset to the championship run from a year ago.  Whether it was blocking shots, getting well timed steals, knocking down deep threes, or throwing down a slam that erupted the arena, Danny Green definitely contributed.  In the NBA, Danny Green can be seen dancing in the corner of the bench along with teammates and LeBron James more than you will find him on the court.  Green has averaged only 5.9 minutes per game and just 2.4 points a game.  Green is on a permier team and only gets to prove himself in garbage time.  As of now, he seems to enjoy his role as cheer leader and backup dancer to LeBron.

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MLB Pocket Profile – Angels

Posted by mvetack on March 17, 2010

Out of possible 5, total of 30

Starting Rotation – 2.5
Bullpen – 3
Power – 4
Hitting – 4.5
Speed – 3.5
Defense – 3

Total – 20.5

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MLB Pocket Profile – Mariners

Posted by mvetack on March 16, 2010

Out of possible 5, total of 30

Starting Rotation – 4
Bullpen – 3.5
Power – 2
Hitting – 3
Speed – 4
Defense – 4.5

Total – 21

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MLB Pocket Profile – Braves

Posted by mvetack on March 16, 2010

Out of possible 5, total of 30

Starting Rotation – 3.5
Bullpen – 3.5
Power – 3
Hitting – 3.5
Speed – 2.5
Defense – 3.5

Total – 19.5

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Bracket of Integrity

Posted by mvetack on March 16, 2010

Mike and Mike made famous the term on their daily radio station,  but it is a practice that is dwindling each and every year.

Every March the 64 (65 with play in game) team tournament bracket is released and people across the country fill in what they beleive will be the correct winners.  Now that just about every website turns it into a contest with room for multiple entries per person, the Bracket of Integrity is very uncommon.

Ask someone who they have in their final four and they will tell you, “Well I have Kansas winning it all in this one.  In this one I have  Temple coming out on top” and so on.  While ESPN’s Mike and Mike are adamant about the single bracket per person, ESPN itself guides people towards the multi bracket concept.  One of their very own commercials shows a guy with filled in brackets posted all over the walls of an office.  One being his gut, one with research, one with under dogs, and another with over dogs.  Once you fill out another bracket all credibilty you have and your rights to bragging to friends is gone like a 16 seed.  Bragging about how you called the 13 over 4 seed upset on one of your 8 brackets means nothing to me.  Thats like predicting at the beginning of the NFL playoffs that the Colts will win the Super Bowl and then predict again that the Saints will, and again that the Vikings will win it.  You can not seriously think that it is impressive if any of those teams wins it all.  Just like the multibracketeer, this means nothing.

Stick to one bracket.  It is good for you and those around you.  If you finish watching the Richmond Spiders take down Villanova in the second round and quickly look through your booklet of brackets like a 92 year old playing BINGO, your not truly enjoying the NCAA tournament.  Watching a number 3 seed that you have going to the Final Four on your Bracket of Integrity struggle in the second round adds so much to the NCAA Tournament experience.  Although it sucks, it is fun to worry through moments where your bracket can blow up as a 10 seed throws up a prayer from half court.

The joy that comes out of a semi successful Bracket of Integrity is so much more than having one near perfect bracket out of the 15 you filled out.  If I see you in late March and you try telling me that you chose three of the four Final Four teams correctly, you better pull out that Bracket of Integrity and not a filing cabinet of your brackets.

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