Tuesday, November 30, 2004

You, uh, you didn't see that, did you?

So let's just say we didn't pick the best performance for our first national TV game.

But hey--we still won. Not much you can say about Purdue except that they're pretty mediocre. They've got a couple of solid players but the rest are role-playing filler. Gonna be a long year for the Boilers.

On the plus side, Gene Keady's comb over was in top shape.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

The Year of the Turnover has ended...

And I ain't talkin' about apple turnovers, although I wish I were. Mmm ... apple turnover. Hey, I think I just had an idea for a gameday giveaway...

Where's the number to NC State's athletic department? If we have to endure three interceptions/fumbles per game, I think we deserve some sort of culinary compensation. Or at least a personal apology from Jay Davis to each fan after every home game.
"Christ, I'm terrible. I'm really, really sorry, Mr. Jones."
"Hey, thanks for comin' out, Ms. Newell. I'll try not to look so puzzled by the zone defense next week."
"Thanks for your support, Mr. Jackson. Those boos were just what I needed."
"Sorry about the nose, Mr. Stansbury. They really should warn the people sitting that close to the field--I mean, it's the twelfth row; you're practically in the huddle."

Eleven games, 32 turnovers. That, friends, is how you squander the nation's best defense (according to total defense numbers). The offense spent the year stalling inside the 20 or giving the ball away. We had difficulty enough moving the ball, and when we did, we more often than not did something to screw it up.

{Very carefully) On to 2005.

A's deal for Jason Kendall

Over the weekend, Oakland traded SP Mark Redman and reliever Arthur Rhodes for catcher Jason Kendall.

Interesting note about the money involved (from this article from the team's site)...

According to several reports, the A's will send Pittsburgh $1 million in each
of the next two seasons, and the Pirates will send Oakland $5 million in 2007,
when Kendall, who waived a no-trade clause to join the A's, is scheduled to make $13 million.

If those numbers are accurate, the A's essentially added $6.4 million in
payroll over the next two seasons -- Kendall's $21 million, minus the $16.4 owed Redman and Rhodes, plus the extra $2 million to Pittsburgh -- and will be on the hook for $8 million for Kendall in 2007.

It appears as though the Athletics did a good job making sure Kendall's contract wouldn't significantly increase their payroll. A $6.4 million net increase for 2005 and 2006 isn't much for two seasons, and Kendall should be well worth it.

You need but look at Kendall's numbers to see why the A's--and other teams--were interested in his services. Kendall's career .306/.387/.418 mark is a rarity among major league catchers, and he plays solid defense as well. He won't give the Athletics much power, but he'll draw plenty of walks and should fit perfectly into the #2 spot in the batting order. That gives Oakland a 1-2-3 that looks like this (2004 numbers in parentheses):

1) Mark Kotsay (.314/.370/.459)
2) Jason Kendall (.319/.399/.390)
3) Eric Chavez (.276/.397/.501)

Not bad, eh?

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Kris Benson says ka-ching!

Okay, so this isn't exactly hot off the presses, but the Mets were able to re-sign Kris Benson to a 3 year/$22.5 million deal. That ain't making the Mets' trades with Pittsburgh/Tampa look much better, but at least they're able to hold on to the guys (which includes Zambrano, who wasn't an FA, so he'll be around in '05) who cost them so much.

The Mets seem well on their way to keeping that Marginal Dollar per Marginal Win figure high.

The more I look at that Cristian Guzman deal with Washington, the worse it seems. The poor Nats really overpaid for a guy who's going to have minimal impact at the plate. They'd better hope he has another good year in the field.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Say hello to the Nationals.

Washington baseball franchise officially named the Nationals; logo unveiled I thought Senators woulda been a much better nickname (for the retro value, if nothing else), but this isn't bad. The good news is that the team's use of traditional colors--red, white, and blue--should make it difficult for them to screw up the uniforms. The cap leaves a bit to be desired, though.

Nationals GM Jim Bowden has been pretty busy so far, with his most recent move being the acquisition of Jose Guillen. Bowden gave up Juan Rivera (.307/.364/.465 in 2004) and prospect Maicer Izturis (younger brother of Cesar) in the deal. Guillen, who hit .292/.352/.497 this season, probably gives the Nats a bit more punch in the middle of the lineup (sample size is small for Rivera, but his SLG wasn't much worse than Guillen's in 2004). Guillen is coming off of two pretty solid seasons in a row, and 2004 saw his walk rate increase. He's not going to be the most patient of hitters (we aren't talking about a significant increase in walk rate, and he's not going to make any dramatic sort of improvement here), but there's no question that Washington's offense can use his bat.

If they can keep Nick Johnson healthy (who has an impressive .255/.372/.418 career mark in four injury-marred seasons), they'll be on their way to a pretty solid middle of the lineup.

Bowden has also added shortstop Cristian Guzman and old man Vinny Castilla. He's committed $23 million between the two (4yr/$16.8 mil for Guzman; 2yr/$6.2 mil for Vinny), and neither of these guys are particularly patient, either. Guzman's career .266/.303/.382 line is pretty ugly. Guzman's highest career OBP mark is .337, and that came in a year in which he hit .302.

Bowden has given his team a shortstop who will servicably fill the gap left by Orlando Cabrera, but not much else. Guzman was 10th among AL shortstops in VORP (but he was at least above the replacement level, and that's good news...), though he did have a career year defensively, setting career highs in range factor (RFg), runs above replacement (RAR) and runs above average (RAA). While 2004 was a defensive peak for him, it's safe to assume that the Nationals got themselves a reliable defensive SS.

Castilla put up some nice numbers at Coors Field in 2004, and it certainly wasn't for the first time. Unfortunately for Washington, Castilla hasn't proven that he can put up impressive numbers in a different uniform. And he's 37. It'll be interesting to see how RFK Stadium plays ... my baseless assumption (since I haven't seen any dimensions) leads me to think it'll be a cavernous pitcher's park, but who knows.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

College basketball is back.

Finally. Those exhibition games just didn't cut it. NC State opens the season in the BCA Classic (which we're hosting) against the University of New Orleans. UNO is coached by former Wolfpack great Monte Towe, who was a important piece of NC State's 1974 national championship team.

Here's a nice article on Towe from the Times-Picayune in New Orleans: Small Wonder

The BCA tourney is a wonderful collection of cupcakes, so the Wolfpack should have no trouble winning it and starting the year 3-0.

In related news, NCSU has sold 14,200 basketball season tickets for 2004-2005, which means they are sold out. Attendance has really lagged the last few years thanks mainly to a lack of excitement surrounding the program despite a few consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. It hasn't been that bad during conference home games, but games against OOC cupcakes have been horrible--10,000 fans or so on a good night. Hopefully the renewed faith in the team means more attendance at these OOC games. There's no excuse for empty seats.

Thank goodness for the preseason NIT ... I don't know what I'd be watching if not for college basketball. Wake Forest looked awfully good against a tough George Washington team ... they'll score a lot of points this year, but defense still appears to be an issue (in other words, it's the same old Wake Forest).

Sorry, Auburn

The Tigers have had a great season, but the SEC's down year is going to cost them a shot at a national title. The Sooners and the Trojans have just a couple of games left, and none of them are cause for much concern on their part...

Oklahoma Sooners (or, according to Bill Callahan, the "[]ing Hillbillies"):

@ Baylor
Big XII Championship (Probably against the likes of Nebraska, Colorado, or maybe even Mizzou)


vs. Notre Dame


The Big XII title game will be the most lopsided championship game in the history of the conference. The Big XII North (you know, the one without the TX and OK schools) is atrocious. The simple fact that Iowa State has a chance to win the division (though not a realistic one) tells you everything you need to know.

USC shouldn't have trouble with Notre Dame, but who knows. That's the only realistic upset possibility left on either OU's or USC's schedule.

For the record, I don't buy the arguments favoring Auburn's schedule over Oklahoma's (or USC's). I think the perceived strength of their opponents is a mirage, and by that I mean LSU and Tennessee ended up proving themselves unworthy of the rankings they had going into their respective games against Auburn. So while it sounds nice to say Auburn has beaten three top ten teams, that's really not the case. Georgia's the only true top ten team of the three. The SEC has maintained a strong reputation despite a down year, and that works in favor of the Tigers as well. In reality, the conference is pretty lame this year.

Just look at Auburn's division, the SEC West. Ole Miss and Mississippi State are complete chaff, while Arkansas and Alabama aren't much better (though the Tide would be very good with a healthy Brody Croyle). LSU has been the only other contender in that division all year. The Tigers played UL-Monroe, The Citadel, and La Tech outside of the conference.

Oklahoma has had difficult games at Okie State, at Texas A&M, vs. Texas, and vs. Texas Tech. They played a much better out of conference schedule--Oregon, Bowling Green, Houston. The comparison between OU's schedule and Auburn's schedule is pretty much a wash ... and any way you want to look at it, there is no clear cut difference in the difficulty of the schedules, so I don't see a legitimate argument for Auburn as #2 in the country.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Goodbye To All That

You'll have to pardon my absense--I've been too busy sulking to post anything. You see, a lot of bad things happened last Thursday night. Not only did NC State lose its fourth straight game, it officially fell from bowl contention and ensured itself its first losing season since 1996. And it was raining. There is no joy in Mudville.

To top it all off, the Florida State/NC State game was my last home game as an undergraduate, and it capped a pathetic 2-4 home slate. This (and I mean both the season and the FSU game) wasn't how I had envisioned things would end.

We had to beat FSU if we wanted to go to a bowl, but it wasn't happening. I was optimistic before the game (we always play the Noles tough--well, under Amato, anyway), but it did not take long for reality to set in. Even though we were up 10-0 at halftime, our only TD had come via a punt return. The offense had done little to nothing (though nor had FSU's offense). In the second half, the field position battle flip-flopped, with FSU getting the ball around midfield the entire third quarter--and that was the difference. A crucial TA McLendon fumble (shocker) once again cost the Pack. FSU took a 17-10 lead and would never come close to losing it. The Pack managed one first down in the second half--and that thanks to a penalty. Compound the poor offensive showing with the cold and the rain, and it wasn't a particularly enjoyable last hurrah.

I think it was with about :10 seconds left in the game when it began to sink in that this was my last home game as a student ... I hadn't really thought about it up to that point, so it hit me all at once. I didn't want to leave my seat. And as unbearable as FSU's band was, that's sayin' something. I think I just kinda stared off into the rain as I started to remember moments from the last few years.


vs. Indiana -- My first home game as a student, and it remains one of my more vivid football memories despite being a rather unmemorable game (we beat the Hoosiers soundly. they were foolishly trying Antwaan Randle El at WR and had some lame white boy who couldn't hack it vainly attempting to get Randle El the ball at every opportunity.). It was a beautiful Thursday evening (a Thursday game, but NOT on ESPN ... go figure), there was excitement after the previous year's bowl campaign, and Philip Rivers was still near the beginning of his career. Willie Wright had a sick TD reception in the corner of the endzone ... I'll never forget it.

vs. Carolina -- Ugh. A loss to Bunting's only team worth noting--their defense was stifling on this day. Dovonte Edwards ran right into the goalpost after catching a TD pass, and he held on. Not many highlights aside from that one.

vs. Maryland -- It's a shame we oftentimes remember the anguish more than the joy. With a tenuous lead late in the fourth quarter, we got conservative on offense, punted to the Terps with a couple minutes left, and they drove for the winning score. They had a fourth down around midfield and Carter-Finley was as loud as I ever remember it being, but they converted. They scored with :40 left. It was just their year...


vs. ETSU -- Monsoon Bowl. It rained and it poured.

vs. Duke -- Had coke spilled all over me by some dude who was completely smashed. Duke played a hell of a game and we had to hold off a late rally to win by just a couple of points. That game took us to 6-0 or 7-0 or somethin' like that.

vs. Georgia Tech -- The first in a string of three consecutive losses to this mediocre program (they weren't mediocre in '01). Very perplexing ... we were 9-0 and these guys knocked us from the unbeatens?! I never saw it coming, and that made it painful.

vs. FSU -- Last game of the year, followed three consecutive losses. Dominant defensive performance. We got our tenth win on the season, which was the program's first 10-win season. My first and only opportunity to rush the field and tear down the goalposts


vs. Carolina -- First win against the Heels in Raleigh in a long time. Much too long. Felt good to hand it to 'em, as it always does.

vs. UVA -- One of the best games I've ever witnessed in person, and probably the highlight of the last three years. It was a score-fest, and fortunately we had the ball last. TA busted a draw play for about 45 yards to put us ahead for good with less than a minute to go. On the subsequent UVA possession, Matt Schaub threw a pick six right in front of the student section ... it was one hell of a celebration (and a release of tension).

vs. Maryland -- I cannot think about this game for too long ... it's quite possibly the most painful outcome I've endured in person. So let's move on.


Still too recent to truly reminisce with the proper perspective. Plus, I'd rather forget 2/3rds of our home games this year. WF game was the only highlight.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Well, I'm officially 0-for-1.

But coach says I showed good plate discipline.

Is it just me, or does it seem like there is an interminable amount of time between now and November 2008?

I would prefer to avoid politics here, but I must say that there are many aspects of this presidential election which have left me scratching my head...