Sunday, April 29

Feeling drafty

I'm no draft expert, so maybe you can help me out. Should I be concerned that 27% of our draft picks apparently have no position? This unnerves me a bit.

Thursday, April 26

Spring is in the air

There isn't a whole lot of Buckeye coverage to talk about when both the football and basketball squads are in the off-season, but last week's Ohio St Spring Game provides one of those opportunities. Not that you can accurately gauge how successful your team will be based solely on them playing each other, but watching guys in Scarlet and Gray uniforms hit each other gives me quite a jolt of excitement. There are a few individual performances in this game I'd like to touch on, but first I'll give you the one underlying impression I had of seeing our Buckeyes on the field for the first time since January - we have a new coach in Columbus. Yes, this is obvious, as we all know that Urban Meyer has taken the reins of the program. We also knew coming in that some changes would be made, and it should also be pointed out that this was only a Spring Game, the play-calling could be significantly different once the actual season starts. With all that being said, the offense that Coach Meyer ran last weekend was a complete 180 from what we've seen from Ohio St since...ever. While I'll once again mention that we probably shouldn't expect to see an offense exactly like this one in the coming season, I think it's safe to say that the "three yards and a cloud of dust" offense that has been the Buckeye staple since Woody was roaming the sidelines has officially been replaced. While he doesn't quite have the same playmakers on this team (yet), Meyer has implemented a similar offense that he ran in Florida, with lots of shotgun, no-huddle, quick passes, and letting his start player (Braxton Miller) loose while trusting him to make the right decisions. Whether Brax can correctly make those decisions will decide how effective this team can be. Another key for Meyer to run his offense is finding that Percy Harvin-type player with a ton of speed that can line up at running back or receiver. It seems Jordan Hall is the front-runner for that spot right now, but was unfortunately held out of the Spring Game for precautionary reasons.

But as of now, the Scarlet and Gray game provided fans with lots of fast-paced action, something we are not used to seeing. Miller threw the ball 31 times (which would certainly be a career high if he does this in a game that counts), completing 24 of them for 258 yards. He also had an incredible run on the last play of the game, giving the Buckeye faithful a glimpse of what he is truly capable of. He got around the outside before tiptoeing the sideline and diving into the endzone, but was stupidly ruled out of bounds and the touchdown didn't count (seriously?). But nonetheless. His counterpart for the Gray team, Kenny Guiton, was also slinging the rock, going 17 of 26 for 191 yards with each a passing and rushing touchdown.

The biggest individual performance came out of nowhere from freshman wideout Mike Thomas. Thomas grabbed 12 of Miller's tosses for 131 yards. For some perspective, three Buckeyes tied for the team lead in receptions last year with 14. Total. For the season. Meyer has no qualms playing youngsters over veterans, so if Thomas can continue to impress he will definitely see the field, possibly even starting opening day (128 days!). Barring injury or something crazy, the one starting WR position should be locked up by Philly Brown. Brown impressed last week as well, catching seven passes for 90 yards as Guiton's #1 target. After the game, Urban confirmed that suspicion by telling campus newspaper The Lantern, “Right now, him (Thomas) and Brown are kind of our top two (receivers).” Defensively, LBs Curtis Grant and Storm Klein were held out of the game with injuries, opening the door for Ryan Shazier to steal the show. Shazier had eight tackles, and just seemed to be all over the field. With last season's leader Andrew Sweat graduating, linebacker is a rare question mark heading into the 2012 campaign, and Shazier may have played his way into the starting lineup with this performance.

As for the game itself, Miller's Scarlet team rallied late for the 20-14 victory. After Guiton's TD run put Gray up 14-13, Brax led the game-winning drive that was capped off with a Rod Smith touchdown. Christian Bryant ended the hopes of a last-minute Gray drive by intercepting Guiton in the closing minutes.

The coolest part of the afternoon festivities came before kickoff, when Meyer had his players do one-on-one contact drills. The highlight of the clip is when the two QBs were thrown in there (resulting in Guiton absolutely truck-sticking Brax), showing that they aren't afraid of contact either. Also, John Simon is an absolute monster. There isn't much else for us Buckeye fans to do now for the next four months other than wait in anticipation of another successful season, watch the (first-place!) Tribe, and maybe watch the '02 National Championship a dozen or so times.


Friday, April 20

Downtown Report while affixed firmly to my Downtown Couch

You cannot imagine the size of the bandage on my knee right now.

It has roughly the same girth as a sequoia, and extends all the way from the bases of my toes up 2/3 of the way to my waist from the knee. It is MASSIVE. I find this at least slightly odd inasmuch as all I had were two small 1-cm incisions on my knee. You cannot possibly justify this ridiculous thing covering my foot, and as soon as someone shows up here who can reach said foot more easily than I can, such justification will no longer be necessary. (Editor's note: took care of this myself after writing the Tribe portion of this post. So much better.) The whole damn thing is supposed to stay on until Sunday evening...we'll see.

The take-home message is that FCF Racing is having a temporary setback, but I'm fully expecting to rock and roll before too long. I did a triathlon 72 days after a similar procedure on my opposite knee three years ago and started wrecking PR's all over the place - I'm already walking better today than I was back then, so there's cause for optimism.

So that's me. How about our favorite Ohio teams?

Fellas, really, as long as you need to stay on the road, by all means do so. Progressive Field wasn't too hospitable for the Tribe's opening series (series'? serieses?) against the Blue Jays and White Sox, as they couldn't hit their way out of a sack lunch (don't you want to know how they got in that sack?) and stumbled to a 1-4 mark.

FCF, for our part, represented with a 14-man crew at Game #2, the second straight extra-inning loss to the Azulejos. But whatevs - the real fireworks came postgame at the Clevelander, where we became embroiled in some hardcore contests of Pop-a-Shot against these asshole Blue Jay fans. I'm kidding, the BJ fans were really nice dudes, as Canadians typically are, and we enjoyed drinking American-style lager beer with them and wished them well against the far more nefarious yankees and red sox this season. They had good things to say about their annual visits to Cleveland, reinforcing my view that everyone who visits here likes it.

Cordiality and the world's longest peaceful border didn't stop me from looting their pockets, though - we all put $1 bills on the metal fence surrounding the hoop and I took home as many as seven extremely wrinkly bills after telling the Canucks in no uncertain terms that I would not tolerate them posting their silly "dollar" coins as collateral. Nick in particular ended up developing some real consistency by the end of our marathon shot-chucking session, routinely posting scores in the high 50's and low 60's. Then we repaired to my bungalow where I just straight wrecked shit at mini-cornhole.

After a chilly, abbreviated set against the ChiSox that I have completely erased from my memory (something I have not erased from my memory: the fact that they once lost the World Series on purpose) the Wahoos headed west, to which I say: Thank goodness for the Kansas City Royals! The Tribe rolled into Missouri last weekend and flat laid the lumber to the Reales, piling up 32 runs in sweeping a three-game set against the perennially awful Royals. They actually have some solid players on that team, and I think they'll score some runs, but oh that pitching staff. The offensive explosion for the Indians prompted all sorts of Media Guide reading, but I'll just go with this:

Runs per 9 at Progressive Field: 3.3
Runs per 9 at Kaufmann Stadium: 10.3

So there you have it. The Indians are now 2nd in the AL in runs per game, trailing only the juggernaut that is the Texas Rangers. I'm already feeling nauseous thinking about having to play them.

Can I interest you in my favorite Tom Hamilton moment of the weekend? Late in the Sunday game, a Royal hit a sharp ground ball that bounced off of 1B Casey Kotchman's glove and into right field. By Hamilton's description, it was pretty clearly a double, but the homer Royal scorer awarded the batter a double, much to Hamilton's bemusement. (By the way, what's the deal with scorers always fudging decisions to help the home club's stats? Why are we OK with this?) Later in the inning, with the Tribe comfortably on top, a Royal took second on Defensive Indifference; Hamilton opined that it would be DI, "although with the scorer here, he might end up with three stolen bases."

Regarding the beanball situation from the Saturday game...Nick correctly pointed out that Gomez could have waited longer to settle the score after KC pegged Choo, but the bullpen could have at least sort of stepped up once he exited. I'll give Gomez credit for throwing an appropriate retaliation ball - he didn't headhunt, just hit the guy in the butt where injury risk is minimal and let's move along. In fact, baseball's idiotic "warn both benches" rule made the whole situation much worse than it needed to be. Leave the players to their own devices, and Gomez's pitch ends everything and we get on with our lives. And the suspension MLB handed down to Jeanmar was totally lame.

As was the absurd $750 fine levied on Chris Perez for his relatively innocuous post-game twitter:

Huge team win tonight; time for a sweep to tell the Royals it's not 'Our Time', it's #TribeTime. P.S. You hit us, we hit you. Period.

MLB handed down the fine and admonished Perez for having "demonstrated a reckless disregard for the safety of the players on both clubs," a claim with no connection whatsoever to reality.

Cleveland kept things rolling in Seattle, rallying from a seven-run deficit to topple Los Marineros in Game 1, getting handled by Kel Varnsen and the M's in the middle game, and guaranteeing a winning roadie by stealing a rare win from Seattle in a game started by F-Her, thanks to Captain Jack's ninth-inning heroics. All of a sudden, you grab a couple of games in Oaktown behind Ubaldo, Masterpiece, and Gomez, and you're headed home with a 7-2 voyage in hand. Let's go get it.

It's way too early in the season to take anything meaningful away from the Indians' individual statistics...and that's why it's going to be fun to do just that.

- Shelley Duncan's OBP is .444. I joked on twitter a few days ago when it was .485 that it looked very much sustainable to me...and then he went out and pushed it above .500 for a day! I'd take .350 from Shelton, personally.

- Hafner is sitting at .314/.415/.542 (OPS+ 167). Keep those fingers crossed.

- Carlos Santana in 2011: .239/.351/.457. Currently: .256/.408/.539. I think this kid will be OK.

- Shin-Soo Choo is getting on base (.389) but not doing much else. I, for one, am ready for the old Choo to come back.

- Kipnis (76), Brantley (74), Kotchman (56) - season already started, guys.

- Starters' ERA: 4.68.
Relivers' ERA: 4.98

Justin Masterson has struggled early in ballgames and Tony Sipp just hasn't gotten anyone out, but they both have quality track records so I'm not as worried about our staff (11th/14 in the AL in ERA curently) as I might otherwise be. Go Tribe!

Whew. This is NOT a good team. Injuries, particularly to their two best players (Kyrie Irving and Anderson Varejão), have just crushed this team, as they have put together a 4-18 stretch of basketball to plummet from a season-high 16-23 to their current 20-41. But hey, they've dropped to the 5th-worst record in basketball, so bring on those ping-pong balls!

I am a little worried, however, at how non-competitive even a short-handed team like this has become, a situation epitomized by the comical 116-77 pasting handed them by the sub-mediocre Detroit Pistons earlier this week, a game in which Los Caballeros trailed 100-50 at one point. Yikes. Antawn Jamison posted a -47 for the game, which is (a) the worst single-game +/- in the NBA this year, (b) almost theoretically impossible, and (c) the only thing keeping Donald Sloan (-46 in the same game) from holding that mark.

I went to the game Wednesday with a buddy, and it was not a pretty thing. The game went from a 57-all tie to a 22-point deficit in 5:21 of game time, and for a fan a few Smithwicks deep into the evening, it felt like about 1:00. We decided to bolt shortly thereafter when I saw the Penguins (facing elimination from the hated Flyers) were up 4-3; they'd pushed the advantage to 7-3 by the time I made the 15-minute walk back to my home bar. Sweet. Not to make this entire post about my prowess at meaningless bar games, but I did claim my third straight punching game victory with a closely-contested victory over Bucko. I know he'll be back, though, and I'll be ready.

Jammin' Jalapenos

In the interest of providing some more positive basketball-related notes, can I interest you in a recap of the single most exciting basketball game I've ever seen, let alone played in? Great. As you see from the photo from right, my team is indeed the Jammin' Jalapeños, and we are named after a BW3 hot sauce. A coworker of mine from South Africa was visiting and we went out to trivia night at BW3 and he ordered said sauce for his wings. My team's captain, Fanuc, was registering our club via smartphone, needed a name, and I saw the hot sauce and presto, we're the Jammin' Jalapeños. None of us can dunk.

Now, about this game. We were already in the Elimination Bracket (aka the Loser's Bracket) of a double-elimination tourney, so you win or you're out, it's that simple. We were playing the Ballers, a team who, how shall I say this, I do not like. They had five players, three of whom were ringers - we had seven but were without a key guy as well. I got the pleasure of guarding this douchebag kid with semi-spiky hair - what a treat. You know how when people have amputations they experience "phantom pain" from the missing part even though it isn't there? Well I sometimes still feel him grabbing my jersey. So much jersey-grabbing. But onto the game...

We started pretty slow - as usual, we started in a 3-2 zone, found out that it wasn't working, and had better success when we switched to man-on-man defense. No one on our team really knows why we don't just start in man. Anyway, we were behind 10 before I even entered the game, but we closed to within 5 at the half and felt lucky to be there.

We scored the first 7 of the second (with me on the bench) to take our first lead, and it was back and forth from there. We kept a slim advantage into the late stages of the game - they were fouling when the clock got below 90 seconds, and we were struggling from the line (I was a mediocre 3-6 myself). Up by two with 20 seconds left, I got fouled and split a pair, so we're up 55-52. Come on, Francis, lock it down. In my defense, spiky-haired douche was clapping at me obnoxiously as I shot, which is supposed to be a lane violation but legality aside, is so incredibly bush league that I'm almost out of words to describe it.

The Ballers then take posession, down by three with 20 seconds on the clock...the longest 20 seconds of basketball I've ever experienced. It was very much Cavs-Pistons in Game 6 in 2006 - a flurry of shots, scrambles for loose balls, and such, and this time their best guy somehow got free with the ball. I was on the weak side and could see both him and the clock in my field of vision. He got it off with 0.4 on the clock...nothing but net, overtime. Ugh. You have to appreciate how deflating this is for a team that close to victory, to have to regroup and drag yourself back on the court for a game you already should have won.

The game played along those same lines in OT, with the Jalapeños struggling from the line, but still maintaining a narrow lead. We're up by two (again) and they have the ball (again) with limited time. One of the Ballers launches a three from straight on at the top of the key, BANKS it in, and we're down 62-61. You have got to be kidding me. We called a quick a timeout to figure out what to do with our last 2.9 seconds.

It's worth pointing out here, in case I haven't already, that this kid I was guarding was not an individual with whom I wish to spend much additional time.

One of our players draws up this awful play where Fanuc takes the ball at the baseline (yes, we still have to go the whole length of the court - it's not NBA rules), baseball-passes it to our tallest player Neal, near center court, and has a couple of other guys streak by our center to get a quick pass from him and put up a shot. I'm not in love with the plan, but it's reasonable considering our limited time.

I line up about halfway between the inbounds and halfcourt, in case Fanuc can't get it to center court and so I can start my attack run, and he indeed chucks it to midcourt. Our lanky big man Neal just Megatron-style outleaps three of their guys, and manages to corral the ball. Good so far.

Neal passes it to me just after I cross the timeline - good patience and presence of mind not to give it up early and commit a backcourt violation. Finding myself surprisingly open, I toss up an off-balance 35-footer just before time expires and the buzzer sounds...

It's good.

We win, gym goes nuts. I can't believe no one had their camera phone out! I can only imagine what being a NBA player and hitting a game-winner must feel like - the reaction sounded deafening to me and there were maybe like 50 people there. It's still a bit of a blur to me - the shot felt good as I released it, and I thought I had a 1/3 chance of it dropping once it was in the air. The ball felt like it hung up forever and I didn't know what to do once it rattled in. I put one finger in the air for a second and put my head down and walked over towards my bench, all of whom I discovered were sprinting at me full speed. I managed not to jump around and punch the air like that jerkface for Chicago in '89.

Our season ended the next day, but we'll always have the Brunswick Bomb.

Will you look at these fucking things the steelers are going to wear for two games in the 2012 season? Unbelievable. Serves them right, having to wear those hideous things. Goodness.

My NFL Draft prediction remains as before: the Browns will pick some dudes, Mel Kiper will give us an utterly pointless "B" draft grade, and none of it will matter until games start.

As for the Browns schedule, I've cautioned readers in the past about reading the tea leaves of an NFL schedule given the league's yearly volatility in won-loss totals, so let's not fret over the clubs we see on the Browns' slate. If you're going to worry about one team on the sked, it should be the Browns, because we are not good. Not as bad as originally opined, but probably not good.

Lots of hard-hitting analysis from me there, I know. To summarize:
1) The NFL Draft is boring.
2) Don't bother trying to interpret the Browns' strength of schedule.

Not much going on in Buckeyeland with the cagers and and gridironers in off-season, though Figgs did inform me of a key lacrosse victory the Buckeyes posted over the weasels recently. I actually don't know if it was "key" or not, but it was over michigan, so I'll take it.

At trivia last night, I saw a couple of disconcerting things. One was a replay of last year's Game, and my hatred for that idiotic eating thing that can't-tie kept doing has only magnified over time. It is so stupid. I can't wait to see him eating turf and crow next year.

I also saw a michigan scrimmage, which is just horrible. michigan vs michigan? Who am I supposed to hate more? Shudder.

Tuesday, April 10

Breaking in the 2012 Season

The FCF extended team, representing at game #2.

Monday, April 9

AL East, current standings

This is fun:

Thursday, April 5

Downtown Report on Opening Day

"01 Days Until Opening Day!"

So says the banner hanging from Progressive Field today, and as always, I'm psyched for baseball season to begin. In case you haven't noticed, and judging by our stats, you haven't, my posting has been a bit lax around here. Well, Opening Day motivated me to crank out some serious content here today. I've gone dark on my phone for the night, I have a fat 40 of King Cobra in front of me, I'm sporting my white Indians #24 Sizemore jersey, and I'm ready to write. This jersey has more mustard/beer stains on it than you can imagine - bottles of mustard and beer have fewer mustard and beer marks than this thing. But thanks to the Tribe's weird signing of Grady for another year, it lives on another year. Let's do this.

Did I mention that it's Opening Day tomorrow?

For the first time since my arrival in C-Town for the '08 season (I didn't arrive specifically for the season, just a coincidence), I'm not attending the Tribe's home opener. Instead, this year I'm hitting up Game #2, Saturday at 1 pm. The opener is on a Thursday, and I got me some science work to do. The Saturday game is a lot easier to slot into my schedule for viewing and partying purposes. It must have been convenient for others too, because my crew is rolling 14 strong for the game. Granted, there are even odds that we're going to have to murder Nick for complaining about Ubaldo Jimenez, but we'll at least start with 14.

My excitement for pulling back the curtain on the 2012 campaign is tempered a little bit by my view that, unfortunately, I think we're going to suck. I don't want us to suck, that's just my view of the club - too many things have to break right for us to be competitive. Our rotation is anchored by Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez, who both have relatively brief track records. Masterson was tremendous in 2011 (ERA+ of 124) while Ubaldo put up ERA+ numbers of 118, 136, and 164 in 2008-10 before crashing back down with a 92 (78 with the Wahoos) last season. Both of these cats need to be on point for this club to succeed.

The rest of the rotation...can I interest you in Derek Lowe, David Huff, Kevin Slowey, Josh Tomlin, Jeanmar Gomez, and maybe...Roberto Hernandez? I don't know, you guys, I'm not sure we can get enough quality starts out of our staff this year to stay in a division race.

The bullpen was a strength of the club last year, and according to our recent history, that portends disaster. Look it up: our bullpen excels in odd-numbered years and blows in even-numbered ones. We're the Bret Saberhagen of bullpens. We had a ridiculous crew in 2005 (SIX relievers over 170 in ERA+), seven dudes with gas cans and matches in 2006, the Rafael video game 'pen in 2007, a year where Jensen Lewis apparently closed in '08, whatever in 09-10, and a really strong year last year I don't want to read too many entrails here, but I believe the word Mr. Shapiro has used is "volatility." Let's hope the Perezes and Messrs Pestano, Sipp, and Smith can buck the trend.

I just listened to "Talkin' Tribe." Nobody plays harder than the Tribe.

Our lineup is similarly thin, I'm afraid, particularly in the outfield. Nick hyperbolically said that we have "one Major League OF," but he's not that far off, as we break camp with Michael Brantley, Shin-Soo Choo, Aaron Cunningham, and D. Shelley Duncan patrolling the greens of Progressive Field. Choo was a turkey last year, posting only a 105 OPS+ and .344 OBP after three years of cumulative 143 OPS+ and .397 on-base. The guy has to be better - let's not spend all day here as I cue up Girl Talk's All Day. Brantley has flashed potential, but an improvement upon last year's .318 on-base and 96 OPS+ will need to happen for the soon-to-be 25-year-old Brantley. For what it's worth, the various projections on Fangraphs have him at .270/.328/.703, which I can accept.

We're good at catcher, thanks.

How many games will Travis Hafner play? The guy posted a .280/361/.811 last year in 94 games, virtually identical to his past two seasons of 94 and 118 games - that's what the guy is at this point, and I'll take another 100 games with an OPS+ of 125 and the merciful end of his contract.

I like our infield! New first baseman Casey Kotchman can get on base (.378 a year ago, up from a .280 on-base in 2010 before his eye surgery). Jason Kipnis at second base has the makings of a star (OPS+ of 131 in 36 games) and Asdrubal Cabrera at short already is one. I like our 3B situation too - Jack Hannahan is the best-fielding third baseman I can ever recall seeing and Lonnie Chisenhall is waiting in the wings.

Some things will break right, some will break wrong, and the Tribe will win 75 games in 2012. And I will love baseball, as usual.

This might seem like a strange thing to say coing from someone who is sitting directly in front of a turned-off television during a Cavaliers game, but hasn't this been kind of an ideal rebuild year for the Cavs? Hear me out.

There was a lot of angst early in the year as the Cavaliers posted a respectable 16-23 mark by mid-March and remained within striking distance of a postseason berth. There were those who argued that Cleveland should be losing as many games as possible, and others, like me, who root for their goddamned team to win. I was enjoying watching the young guys play, the career year for Anderson Varejão, the emergence of Kyrie Irving as a top-line player and legitimate closer, Alonzo "Gordon" Gee's breakout year, and Antawn Jamison's quest to become the first player to average 17 a game without shooting any overhand shots. I understand losing for draft slot, but I also understand winning to build chemistry and confidence, and I enjoyed watching the undermanned Cavs post some great wins: the frantic comeback at Boston, the fantastic effort to dispatch Oklahoma City on the road, a home win against defending champion Dallas, and victories over solid playoff squads Indiana and the LA Clippers.

And now they've lost eight straight and sit ahead of only three clubs in the ping-pong ball derby on the precipice of what is highly regarded as the deepest draft in years and holding roughly 46 picks over the next two seasons. To the extent that a fan of a 17-34 team can have his cake and eat it too...that's what we're doing. Kyrie can play, Tristan is getting minutes, Gee is a baller, and the cavalry is coming directly. Go Cavs.

Frankly, I don't have much to say about the Browns, because I don't give a flying fuck about the NFL Draft until the players hit the field, and by hit the field I mean lose the opener. Thus, I'll fill this space with enough miscellany so the Browns and Buckeyes logos don't overlap.

I just downloaded the song "Liquid Swords" by the GZA. Look, either you like this jam or something is wrong with the way your brain processes rap. I don't know what else to tell you. When I swing my sword, they all choppable.

You're not going to believe this, but I actually did not spill tomato sauce on my jersey while typing this. I would have laid (-250) on my doing so.

Have you ever noticed how much people overuse the word "myself"? It's unreal. Unless you've already used "I" in the sentence, don't do this. "Hey, you can call Rob, Dave, and myself whenever you get a chance." No! It's "me!" It's a reflexive noun - it needs a subject pronoun upon which to reflect itself. Sports!

I'm going down for a while because of my knee surgery on April 20, but mark my words - I'll be back racing my ass off in the second half of 2012.

Figgs has single-handedly kept this enterprise going with Buckeyes coverage during the tournament, though I did contribute a few potshots at michigan. Whatever, I'm the editor, I can do whatever I want. Back when I was an editor at Carnegie Mellon, I used to write half my section's stories, lay out the whole section, and one magical Sunday, listen to the Browns' win over the steelers in '00 where the inbreds ran out of time and couldn't kick a FG. But I digress.

The loss to Kansas sucked, we all know that. I was Twitter-following a guy who usually writes about Ohio and Cleveland sports but who is also a fanatic Jayhawk fan and kept posting about them, and I finally had to drop him. I got no beef with Kansas - my Mom was born right near campus, represent - but stop cluttering my Twitter feed! I suppose I can re-follow now.

As Figgs pointed out, Kentucky would have rolled us in the title game. Too good.

I'm going to get a bit political here, with an open letter to the President of the United States.

Dear Mr. President Barack Obama,

I know you have faced attacks from the political Left and Right and been through much while leading this nation over the past three years. It is not an easy job that you hold. I hate to pile on.

But couldn't you have put that OSU hat on when Clark Kellogg was interviewing you? It would have been awesome, and we're totally a battleground state, and I voted for you in the general even though I voted Hillary in the primary.

It's cool that you play b-ball. Rock on,


Wednesday, April 4

Buckeyes choke down the stretch, Sully turns to the NBA

I write this in a much more somber mood than the last time I was here. Ohio St’s bid for a National Championship ended last Saturday when they let a game that they should have had slip away. The Buckeyes lead Kansas by nine at halftime and by as many as 13 on multiple occasions, but poor second-half shooting and Deshaun Thomas’ foul trouble lead to the Bucks’ demise.

There isn’t a whole lot I can say about this game, because I still can’t quite figure out exactly how we lost. Sure, you could be quick to point out Jared Sullinger’s pedestrian 13 points on 5/19 shooting, or the fact that Tank spent a significant period of time on the pine with foul trouble, but I still thought that Ohio St was clearly the better team and had no business losing this game - and that’s what really grinds my gears.

Being ousted in the Final Four is always going to be depressing, but losing to what in my opinion was an inferior team is frustrating to no end. As much as I tried to talk myself into Ohio St standing a chance against Kentucky in the finals, the fact is they probably would have had their asses handed to them (just as Kansas did). That lessens the sting of this Jayhawk loss a bit, but I would have been much more comfortable losing to a team like Kentucky than one I thought we were truly better than.

But so it goes in the world of sports - another season, another disappointing end for one of my teams. As expected, Sullinger added to the pain of the Buckeye fan base this afternoon by officially announcing that he’s headed to the Association. I was actually shocked when Sully turned down lottery pick-money last season to return to the Bucks, so this came as no surprise and I certainly don’t blame him. He put his future on hold for one year in attempt to win a National Championship; I wouldn’t expect him to do it again after falling just shy of that goal and absolutely wish him the best at the next level.

All eyes in Columbus now turn to Deshaun Thomas, as we await his decision to either follow his teammate to the big time or return to the Scarlet and Gray. I have felt all year that Thomas was probably not ready for the NBA but would decide to go anyway because well, he just seems like that kind of guy. After his explosion in the NCAA tournament his draft stock has surely skyrocketed and chances of him coming back are most likely slim.

This would be devastating for the Buckeyes, as this team really only had three scorers, and Tank joining Sully in the pros coupled with Will Buford’s graduation would leave OSU with none next season. Surely other guys could step up to fill the void (I’m looking at you, Sam Thompson and Amir Williams), but without a strong freshman class coming in the Buckeyes will take a huge step back. Speaking of Buford, I just want to quickly point out the irony of Willy Buckets having his best game in over a month (19 points on 6/10 shooting) in their loss, after shooting abysmally in the teams previous seven postseason games - all victories. I guess I was slightly off in my prediction of him having to shoot well in order for the Buckeyes to be successful.

So after turning the page on another Buckeye season, I guess there’s only thing left to do - break out the Wahoo gear. Less than 24 hours ‘till Opening Day!



Oh my, Joe Flacco, what have you done?

Made some comical remarks about his own abilities, is what. I mean, this is some classic inflation of self-worth, especially from a guy who Nick accurately described as "good enough that [the Ravens] have to stick with him, not good enough to scare me." Flacco's radio remarks were:

I assume everybody thinks they're a top-five quarterback. I mean, I think I'm the best. I don't think I'm top five, I think I'm the best. I don't think I'd be very successful at my job if I didn't feel that way. I mean, c'mon? That's not really too tough of a question. That doesn't mean that things are going to work out that way. It just means that's the way it is -- that's the way I feel that it is and that's the way I feel it should be.

Forget for a second the mumbo-jumbo at the end there. Does Joe Flacco really think he's the best QB in the NFL? Because he quite clearly isn't. I mean, it's not even close. He was 18th in Passer Rating in 2011. There had to be a better way to answer this question. I mean, I understand that he's trying to appear confident, but that could be accomplished without sounding delusional.

Flacco also provided some penetrating insight into his contract situation (he has one year remaining on his rookie deal):

It's not about the money. It's about what you feel you deserve.

???? So...not money? It's about what you deserve in terms of hugs? Of course it's about the money, please.

Oddly, ESPN columnist Jamison Hensley offered support for Flacco's statements.

Some argue that Joe Flacco is among the most underrated quarterbacks in the NFL. Others see him as one of the top quarterbacks under 30.
Who are these people?

Flacco was right to say [[that he's the best QB in the league]. No matter what you or I think, Flacco should believe he's the best quarterback in the league.
Stop right there. He was not right - it's factually inaccurate. Why would one argue that someone should believe something that is patently untrue? Should he believe that he can fly or has magic too? Hensley points out later that Flacco isn't even the best QB in his own division. Wouldn't it be better for Flacco to honestly and correctly assess his strengths and weaknesses? A QB who believes that he is the best, all evidence to the contrary, is a guy who probably won't make the decisions to maximize his skill set, like an NBA player who jacks up all manner of ill-advised shots because of an over-inflated sense of his own ability.

So it's not a matter of whether Flacco is the best quarterback in the NFL. He's obviously not. What's important is that he believes it.
What's important is self-delusion, is what we're saying. Also, the Ravens suck.