As you might've heard--since it's all over the sports blogosphere today--Bob Costas held a panel discussion on his TV show last night that included Will Leitch, Buzz Bissinger, and Braylon Edwards. The topic: the Internet, and more specifically, sports blogs. This video is courtesy Awful Announcing:
I admit I was (foolishly) hopeful about this, but man, what a complete waste of time. It becomes evident quickly that both Bissinger and Costas are ignorant of the blogging medium--Costas, for instance, has trouble differentiating posts from the comments that appear beneath them. It's hard to expect a productive dialogue, that being the case. And we didn't get one.
Bissinger just took the opportunity to vent, setting the tone with statements like, "I think that blogs are dedicated to cruelty; they're dedicated to journalistic dishonesty..." The only thing he knows about blogs is that he doesn't like them.
What an outrage. I'm almost compelled to get up from this couch in my mother's basement. (Just kidding; I actually blog from mom's bonus room. With windows and everything. So take that, deplorably-stupid-cliché-employing blog critics!)
York University (French: Université York), located in Toronto, Ontario, is Canada's third-largest university and has produced several of the country's top leaders in the fields of law, politics, literature, philosophy, journalism, management, meteorological, chemical, and space sciences, and fine arts including film, theatre, jazz and experimental music, dance, digital media, and cultural studies.
York supports a student population of approximately 50,000 and staff of 7,000, as well as 200,000 alumni worldwide.
The University is represented in Canadian Interuniversity Sport by the York Lions. Beginning in 1968 York's sporting teams were known as the "Yeomen", after the Yeomen Warders, the guardians of the fortress and palace at the Tower of London, otherwise known as Beefeaters. Later, the name "Yeowomen" was introduced to encourage women to participate in sports, as "Yeomen" was deemed to be gender-specific. Popular sentiment ran against this name scheme, however, as many students were fond of noting that a "Yeowoman" was fictitious, neither a real word nor having any historical merit. In 2003, after conducting an extensive internal study, the University replaced both names with the "Lions", as part of a larger re-branding effort, and a new logo, now a white and red lion, was brought into line with the university's new visual scheme.
N.C. State athletics director Lee Fowler preached one thing Thursday.
Really? We're eight years into this regime and that's the message?
"The NC State athletics department would like to thank you for your generous donations. As a token of our gratitude, please accept this kick in the junk. Thanks, and we'll see you next year!"
This is a great example of why I don't like talking about the Lee Fowler/state of the athletics dept. issue--it's incredibly frustrating. And just plain depressing.
I like to think I'm a patient person (it helps to have not been alive when we were actually winning stuff); I mean, I was about the most Herb-tolerant person I know. I'm willing to accept another difficult football season. I understand that rebuilding takes time. If you've got a good reason why I should wait, I'll wait. But that's the thing. I look around the athletics department and I don't see a lot of compelling reasons for WTNYin'. For example, look at what's going on with women's soccer:
Kerrigan's been here ten years and accomplished nothing. Less than nothing. And she still has a job because...? Because she was one of the best players in Wolfpack history? Because Method Road stadium was a hindrance to recruiting? Give her some time to run the program with the new facilities, Fowler would say. That's the excuses-for-doin'-nothin' climate that's been fostered here over the last decade. And it's bullshit.
You know what, Lee? You can preach on about your commitment to this job until you're blue in the face. I don't care. But I would like to know one thing: where's your pride?
‘Wes’ is nothing more the a middle aged mortgage broker; however, many consider him the most powerful man in sports. They say he works for no one so he can work for everyone. He’s involved with basketball players: prep kids, college kids and pros. Not to mention agents, shoes companies, owners and management. He can be routinely found at games across the country sitting courtside or in a luxury box.
Wesley is one of the more mysterious figures in sports. No one is quite sure exactly what he does or how he benefits from the numerous connections he's made, but his power and influence can't be denied.
"If you don't have a mentor, uncle, friend, cousin or AAU coach of some kind working for you with an elite prospect, you are just wasting your time recruiting," one high-major assistant told me recently.
Wesley is the ultimate mentor/uncle/friend/whatever. He's known Memphis coach John Calipari for two decades, and since Cal returned to the college game in 2000, Wesley has helped steer highly regarded prospects like Dajuan Wagner, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Derrick Rose, and Tyreke Evans to the Tigers:
At one point [GQ's Alex French] got Memphis coach John Calipari to acknowledge on record that Wesley is "a goodwill ambassador" for the University of Memphis program, which is common knowledge in basketball circles.
And there are a lot of good reasons why young talented players would go to Memphis -- the team is excellent, and more than almost any other, guards on that team get to create scoring opportunities off the dribble, and what top-notch guard wouldn't enjoy that?
The recent suspicion is that if Wesley befriends a young blue chip prospect, that player (like Dajuan Wagner, Chris Douglas-Roberts, and Derrick Rose) has a better than average shot at selecting Calipari's Memphis program.
Wesley is also close to plenty of players who go to other schools. But Memphis is the team he openly roots for, and the team Wesley reportedly inspired to build relations with China.
Unfortunately, as Brahsome pointed out, scuttlebutt has it that Wesley has gotten involved with John Wall and Lorenzo Brown--two elite prospects being courted by NC State and, naturally, Memphis. Which means we're likely screwed.
Somewhat related, here's an interesting tidbit regarding an assistant coaching vacancy at Memphis that I found while looking around the internets:
The other assistant position will likely be filled by a veteran recruiter. One name that could emerge is Oregon assistant Kenny Payne. A native of Laurel, Miss., Payne played on Louisville's 1986 NCAA championship team with Milt Wagner and has another common friend with Calipari in basketball powerbroker William Wesley.
Through that connection, Payne has brought several elite prospects to Oregon from Detroit, another metropolitan area Memphis covets.
And here's a fun read from Pat Forde on the Payne-Wesley-Oregon connection.
The boom is back in N.C. State's attack, led by Matt Payne (.356) and Pat Ferguson (.356). In the past 15 games, the Pack has hit .343, belted 22 home runs and scored 132 runs. Before that State was sluggish at the plate, batting .272.
Pack pitching hasn't been bad, either. The team ERA (3.16) ranks among the nation's top five, and the bullpen has been reliable from the get-go. Relievers are 13-4 with a 2.07 ERA and have converted 15 of 16 save opportunities, with Jimmy Gillhenney collecting nine of the saves.
See? They're sorry, everybody. Nothing but kind words from here on.
The article also brought my attention to FSU's Buster Posey, who is hitting .483/.586/.864 (BA/OBP/SLG) this season, .524/.625/.939 in conference play. I mean, that's just stupid ridiculous. And he's their everyday catcher. The man's clearly a robot.
The passing numbers from last spring's game compared to yesterday:
Comp Att Comp% Yds TD INT 2007 42 88 47.7 536 4 4 2008 38 65 58.5 410 2 0
A positive sign, maybe possibly?
Harrison Beck was pretty wild a year ago and completed just 7-of-26 attempts; he looked much more comfortable and under control yesterday. With Beck and Burke under center, the red team averaged more than 8.5 yards per passing attempt, and that's the kind of production we need this season.
-- The Astros can't catch a break with Miguel Tejada. First they acquire him the day before he's implicated in the Mitchell Report, and now they've learned that he's actually two years older than they'd thought. D'oh.
Maryland's signing of junior college guard Tyree Evans today got me thinking about just how much the Terrapins have leaned on the JUCO well to find spare parts (or more) in recent years.
It's quite a bit. And some extended research in my home library (and sifting through Al Gore's Invention) uncovered this score for junior college transfers coming into the ACC since the 2001-02 season:
Florida State: 6 Maryland: 5 (well, now 6 with Evans) Everybody else: 6
If you include the waning Big East years for Miami and Virginia Tech, those schools move up to five and four JUCO transfers, respectively.
Drew Taylor gave up a grand slam and Jimmy Gillheeney needed 32 pitches to get through the ninth inning, but the Wolfpack held on to beat ECU yesterday.
With a tough early-season conference slate behind us, things are setting up nicely down the stretch, as the Pack will play three of the league's weaker clubs: Virginia Tech, Boston College, and Maryland.
Let's take a really general look at how the teams are shaping up in conference play. Bearing the uneven schedules in mind...
N.C. State's injury report for Saturday's annual spring game has enough players to fill an 11-man roster. At the top: tailback Andre Brown, who has re-injured the foot he fractured last season that kept him out of four games and limited him in the last two.
Brown injured the foot during spring drills. Among those who also will miss the spring game are: tailbacks Toney Baker (knee) and Curtis Underwoood (ankle); quarterback Daniel Evans (shoulder); safety Javon Walker (knee) and tight end Anthony Hill (knee).
Anyone know if all of these guys are on track to be ready for the South Carolina game?
Update: Nevermind; TOB answered that question today:
What is Baker's prognosis? Everybody is supposed to be cleared and able to practice in August.
That still hasn't changed as far as I know. The only individual is Milinicick, the walk on, who had a knee injury. He's the only one that doesn't project to start with us in the fall.
The man standing in the horrible photograph above is Cozell McQueen, who pretty much took the discussion over at around the midway point. Quite an entertaining guy.
Tim Peeler kept the discussion moving chronologically; the guys talked about Dereck Whittenburg's great first half performance in Reynolds against UVA, his subsequent injury and its effects, the win over Carolina, the ACC tournament run, the yawnfest that is a trip to Corvallis, Oregon, and, of course, the championship game.
The offensive slump is over for NC State. The Wolfpack, which scored 39 runs on 49 hits in sweeping a three-game series from Wake Forest this past weekend, pounded out another 15 hits Tuesday evening at Doak Field at Dail Park and laid a 12-5 defeat on 24th-ranked UNC Wilmington.
TSW has a rundown of the Pack's excellent NCAA tournament resume.
-- Dustyball is already providing plenty of hilarity in Cincinnati. With two men on in the ninth and his team down two runs, Baker asked Edwin Encarnacion to lay down a sac bunt to get the runners over. Encarnacion has zero successful sac bunts in his career. He failed spectacularly, which fueled a Jeff Brantley rant about his unclutchiness. Encarnacion then promptly hit a walk-off three-run homer. Bases unclogged! Check out the video.
Join us at the Raleigh City Museum to look back at the 1983 “Cardiac Pack” and their legendary run through the NCAA tournament. Author Tim Peeler will moderate as special guests Ernie Myers, Lorenzo Charles, Cozell McQueen, Alvin Battle, Mike Warren, Walt Densmore, and others reminisce about the team. Afterwards, everyone is invited to join us at the nearby Pit Barbecue Restaurant, where we will watch the 1983 NCAA Championship game between Houston and NCSU.
Classic hoops and barbecue. Good deal.
-- An NC State student tried to sell her vote for the democratic party candidate on eBay (as a joke, of course).
NC State: Don't kid yourself, Tom O'Brien is one of the top five coaches in the game. (SN colleague Tom Dienhart ranked him 4th in the ACC) It took him awhile to weed out the malcontents last year, but by November, the Wolfpack were playing as well as anyone in the ACC (insert your joke here).
This is how Tom O. works: First, he makes the team smarter, then tougher -- and once he finds a quarterback, the winning begins. The question: Can junior Harrison Beck become that leader?
With Michael Barrett on the DL, former Wolfpack catcher Colt Morton is getting the chance to play for the big club in a reserve role:
Colt Morton was promoted from Double-A San Antonio to join the Padres in San Francisco today. Matt Stocco is going from Single-A Lake Elsinore to San Antonio. And Aeden McQueary-Ennis, the Padres' eighth-round pick last June, is going from extended spring training in Peoria, Ariz., to Lake Elsinore. McQueary finished last season with the Storm, going 9-for-31 with a homer.
Why was Morton promoted rather than Nick Hundley from Triple-A Portland? Morton is already on the Padres' 40-man roster. Plus, the Padres want Hundley, 24, who many consider to be the organization's top catching prospect, playing every day in Portland.
Morton is a career .248/.345/.473 hitter in the minors. B-Pro's projection system thinks he'll hit .216/.308/.398 in San Diego.
A big tip of the cap to reader Andrew, who sent me this piece by George Will about a new book that examines the psychological ramifications of rooting for a team with a history of futility: Your Brain on Cubs. NC State fans are in much the same predicament these days. Why do people eschew the bandwagon in favor of routine disappointment? How does that disappointment affect their mental states? Will writes:
Kelli Whitlock Burton, a science writer, and Hillary R. Rodman, an associate professor of psychology at Emory University, cite studies of activities in the portion of the brain that registers depression, sadness, grief and euphoria, three of which are pertinent to Cub fans. Burton and Rodman note that drug addiction can cause changes in neural sensitivity and structure, and they wonder whether a Cub fan "has subtle and long-lasting changes in his or her brain reward circuitry, comparable to a kind of addiction."
Back on selection Sunday, in regards to the CBI, I wrote, "I'm sure we won't be in, and for some reason I feel a little disappointed about this. Which means there's a part of me that apparently still wants to watch this team play basketball...and that makes no sense whatsoever." This was a mere three days after a lame and frustrating effort ended our lame and frustrating season. This Wolfpack team was not only unbearable, it was unlikable. It being probable that an additional NCSU basketball game would mean far more anguish than satisfaction, what rational reason could there possibly be for me wanting to see that game happen? I couldn't come up with one. I'm just addicted, and I can't help it.
Every year, it seems, there's a message board thread in which someone says, "I can't do this anymore." I say that sort of thing too--I said as much in that Hurricanes post--but I don't for a second mean it, and I don't think anyone else really does, either. It's hard enough for me just to reach a point where I can watch the games but remain emotionally detached; how long I'm able to maintain that state, though, I am never sure. The 87-86 loss to Duke on March 1st, for example, was the worst I'd felt after a game all season. And I was totally checked out when that thing tipped off.
Okay, so many of us are addicted to our sports teams, terrible though they may be. I didn't need no fancypants book to tell me that. Here's where it gets more interesting:
The sometimes terrible truth is that being a sports fan is a physical phenomenon as well as a psychological condition: It involves observable (with imaging technology) alterations of brain matter. Jordan Grafman, a senior investigator at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, was born and raised in Chicago, so he knows whereof he speaks when he speaks, politely, about the "paradox" of being a Cub fan even though baseball is supposed to provide relief from life's problems. Grafman has been to a pleasant purgatory, Wrigley Field, and returned with good news: Yes, rooting for the Cubs is a minority taste because it is an interminable tutorial in delayed gratification, but "there is some evidence that being in the majority (everyone loves a winner) reduces reflective thinking."
Rooting for a loser makes one thoughtful, or perhaps neurotic, which on Chicago's North Side may be a distinction without a difference. "The scientific literature," Grafman says, "suggests that fans of losing teams turn out to be better decision-makers and deal better with divergent thought, as opposed to the unreflective fans of winning teams."
As Andrew summarized in his email to me:
So, we that must constantly suffer in athletics, in turn tend to be more thoughtful, analytical and, yes, neurotic. We do not see the world through rosy eyes and thus confront situations, even the ones that have nothing to do with sports, in different ways.
Not that the other, far happier fans would notice. Their brain is pumped up with higher levels of the pleasure-causing dopamine, thanks to the successful fortunes of their team, and they are too euphoric to bother with reflection or deeper thoughts.
Thus it is that we State fans diverge from the Tar Heel faithful. "Live in the now, man," they say, then return to enjoying their stupid awesome basketball team. "Wait 'til next year," we lament, then return to weeping quietly.
But! A bonus: the next time your significant other complains about you watching the NC State game, you can just be all like, "baby, I'm sharpening my mental faculties! And could you make me some nachos?"
When will then be now? Soon, we can only hope.
There is some bad news, however:
Burton and Rodman report that scientists are identifying "the chemical bases of long-lasting brain changes after social defeat, with the neurotransmitter serotonin—also heavily implicated in clinical depression—among the substances most clearly involved." In fans, as in players, a team's success or failure can cause hormonal changes, particularly in the production of testosterone. Does that mean Cub fans, in a kind of Darwinian "natural deselection," have trouble reproducing?
There's the usual talk of an up-tempo offense at N.C. State. "In the fall I always say we're going to play faster. I even drive my car faster and eat faster," says coach Jim Valvano. "Then by the end of the year we're playing half court."
The morning of the Louisville game, N.C. State's board of trustees had bestowed on Valvano a second hat—that of athletic director, effective July 1. "First thing I have to do," said Valvano, "is a quick evaluation of the basketball program."
How nerve-racking was N.C. State's 80-73 upset of UNLV in the Chaminade Classic in Hawaii? When things heated up late in the game, coach Jim Valvano stood up too suddenly—and fainted. Valvano, who says he has swooned before, was revived almost immediately and stayed on the bench. Even in fainting he apparently maintained his presence of mind. He said later, "I was worried about landing outside the coach's box and getting a technical."
There's also a gem from Manhattan's coach at that link.
Valvano had never been away from home, and it was a dramatic experience. "The first fair-skinned girl I saw, I married," he says. Valvano did, in fact, marry a knockout blonde with green eyes named Pamela Susan Levine. "She saw my big nose and thought I was Jewish," Valvano says. "I saw her last name and thought it was Levini. It was three years before we figured out we had a mixed marriage."
And there's this entertaining item from 1984 about the recruiting process and, more specifically, all the full-of-shit notes that a few high profile prospects received from recruiters.
Detroit: "First run movies are in abundance in the city's modern theatres."
Tennessee Tech: "Cookeville is a fast-growing, scenic city of 20,000 basketball fanatics."
Phillips University: "Enthusiassm [sic], exictement [sic] and anticipation abound in Enid, Oklahoma each year during the basketball season."
Way to sell it, Phillips. You may be stunned to learn that the school went bankrupt in 1998 and shut down. It's sports teams were called the Haymakers, though, which is awesome.
In addition to various goodies like those excerpted above, there's a heavy focus on NC State's recruitment of Chris Washburn. Thanks to the prolific Tom Abatemarco, who probably should have stuck to the spoken word, State sent Washburn 278 messages over a 31-month span. No word as to how much money was included with each letter.
(How could you, Torry?! How am I supposed to look at the "Making His-Torry" poster I've got hanging in the bedroom? "All-America character," it lauds. Uh huh, yeah, sure. You are dead to me, sir. Dead to me.)
Jaguars defensive back Brian Williams went off on a sexual, racist and profane rant aimed at Jacksonville police during his 2006 drunken driving arrest, according to recently obtained documents from his ongoing prosecution.
According to the report, Williams said he would rather flip burgers than be a police officer and bragged that he went to a "name college" while the (expletive deleted) officer "went to public college, probably junior college." Williams attended North Carolina State University.
Asked if he wanted his female passenger to take his car, Williams replied, "I ain't letting that ho take my car," Bridges wrote. Advised that a tow truck was the only alternative, Bridges said Williams responded: "Let the [expletive deleted] take it."
Ahh, the lovely world of Wolfpack athletics. Where the off-field shamings are as frequent as the on-field ones, and the only person winning awards is Lee fucking Fowler.
Duke's down a cracker, as Taylor King has decided to take his fuck-it-I'm-goin'-deep stylings elsewhere.
When King was on the floor, he took nearly 30% of Duke's shots--a figure significantly higher than those of Duke's primary scoring options (Singler, Nelson, Henderson). In 330 minutes, he took 152 shots, and 114 of those were threes. Which works out to 18+ FGAs per 40 minutes (13.8 threes/40!). I won't go so far as to call him selfish, but he probably should have been a tad more deferential.