Thursday, May 31, 2007

Gator Bait

"Do you believe in (the) Magic?"

Greetings again everyone. More news means more babbling from me. So now, it's Howdy Doody time:

The big story today was Billy Donovan reportedly agreeing to coach the Orlando Magic to the tune of five years and $27.5 million. Donovan, a Providence graduate (ya gotta do the New England plug), coached the Gators for 11 years, compiling a 261-103 record, including two national titles (2005 & 2006). Donovan's announcement came as no surprise to insiders, as Orlando had been hot on Donovan's trail once it became clear that Brian Hill would not be returning to coach the team. This announcement can be taken in a couple of ways in terms of why he did it, and what can be expected from him. Let me start off with the why, which, at least to me, is pretty obvious. I understand that Florida has enjoyed success in Donovan's tenure. In fact, it's blatantly clear by his career record, which amounts to a .717 winning percentage. However, the SEC simply is not what it used to be in terms of the amount of quality teams. On a regular basis, you're looking at Kentucky being the only real "solid" program. Others, like Alabama, LSU, and Arkansas can string together a few good teams, but nothing that is constant. So Florida has been able to capitalize on that to an extent. True, they did reach the title game three times, winning two of their appearances, but those teams were pretty special, including the team from the last two years. So, my estimation is that Donovan's record is a little inflated, but still, he won two consecutive championships, and last time that happened was when Duke won in '91 and '92, so really, what is left for Donovan to prove in college basketball? Also, I think he definitely kept in mind the fact that all of his starters from last year...all of them...are gone, with four declaring for the draft, and Humphrey graduating. So, basically, it will be another rebuilding process similar to the one he had to do during the early 2000s, when guys like Mike Miller and Donnell Harvey left the program for the NBA (both were first rounders). I'm sure after time, it's got to be hard on a coach to continually rebuild a program seemingly every year, especially when you have enjoyed success with the same group of guys. In the NBA, your star players don't really move around all that often (of course unless they throw a fit...and that happens on occasion), so you are able to build your team around a superstar on most occasions. Donovan will get the chance to do that in Orlando, where he will be coaching Dwight Howard, voted in a fan poll done by ESPN as the "next big thing." Howard is already in an elite class of big men in the league, and he's only 21...seriously, so Howard will be the center (pun intended) of the Magic universe for years to come. Also...well...the money ain't bad either huh? There is no way Donovan could ever expect those kind of funds to be rolling in through Gainesville. I mean, sure, he won another national title, but the guys on the gridiron did too, and guess who brings in more paper? You guessed it, so while Urban Meyer could possibly be hitting the kind of numbers Donovan is getting, Billy made the right move, from a monetary standpoint, to move on to the pros. So what can you expect from Donovan throughout his time in Orlando? Well, think of it like this: I wouldn't expect the hugeness of his salary to translate as big in the W column. The Magic have a nice core, with Howard and Jameer Nelson at the point, but after that, there remains a lot of question marks. The Magic have a total of six free agents, most notably Grant Hill, whose albatross of a contract finally expires this year (5 years, $55 million). With that being said, Hedo Turkoglu and Tony Battie make up the rest of the lineup. Is there any possible way they can win with those guys? Well, yes and no. Let me explain. With just Howard, you can book them for 30 wins easily, and when you throw in the other guys, you could conceivably turn out around 40 games, but once they hit the postseason, forget it. Perfect example was this year, where the Magic got destroyed by the Pistons in four straight. Despite what people say, the balance of power is not as great as it once was in terms of East vs. West. The West still has the better talent, but the East has really started to come along, especially in Detroit and with Shaq and Dwayne Wade's arrivals in Miami. So, it's going to take more than what the Magic have now to make any progress in the playoffs. They are basically in need at 2, 3, and 4. With a quick look around the league, it seems that Rashard Lewis is going to be the only "elite" player who the Magic may pursue (Mike Bibby and Chauncey Billups are both available, but with Nelson there, I can't see them going after a point guard). Lewis has already opted out of a 7-year, $60 million deal two years early from Seattle, and with their sights set squarely on both drafting Kevin Durant, and moving the team to either Oklahoma City or Kansas City, there is simply no way Lewis will be returning to the Sonics. Also, when you consider the amount of cap space that is about to open up for Orlando, I don't see how they don't make a very aggressive run at Lewis. If they were able to lock him up to a long-term deal (27 years old), you're looking at one of the better combination of frontcourt players in the NBA. The Magic do not have a first round pick in this year's Draft, as they traded it to Detroit in the Darko trade made last February, so all of their rebuilding would have to come via free agency, making the potential courtship of Lewis that much more important. Here's the last thing I'm going to say about this. It is inevitable that comparisons are going to be drawn between Donovan and Rick Pitino, who also went the same route as Donovan in coaching an SEC team (Kentucky) to great success for a number of years, then going after the big payday in Boston, where he not only failed, but made one of the greatest post-game speeches of all-time, and thanks to Wikipedia, we can relive those famous words:

"Larry Bird is not walking through that door, fans. Kevin McHale is not walking through that door, and Robert Parish is not walking through that door. And if you expect them to walk through that door, they're going to be gray and old. What we are is young, exciting, hard-working, and we're going to improve. People don't realize that, and as soon as they realize those three guys are not coming through that door, the better this town will be for all of us because there are young guys in that (locker) room playing their asses off. I wish we had $90 million under the salary cap. I wish we could buy the world. We can't; the only thing we can do is work hard, and all the negativity that's in this town sucks. I've been around when Jim Rice was booed. I've been around when (Carl) Yastrzemski was booed. And it stinks. It makes the greatest town, greatest city in the world, lousy. The only thing that will turn this around is being upbeat and positive like we are in that locker room... and if you think I'm going to succumb to negativity, you're wrong. You've got the wrong guy leading this team."

Anyway, I don't think things are going to go quite as bad as they did for Pitino, and here's why: Pitino simply had too much responsibility when he came into town. He went straight from college, and immediately, not only was he the coach, but the President as well, and although this is most likely a "figure-head" kind of position, I'm quite sure it entailed some responsibilities that added onto the already daunting task of turning around a bottom-dwelling team. Donovan will infuse his enthusiasm into his young team, which is perfect for him, because the last thing he needs is a team with a bunch of egos that refused to be coached by "the new guy." I don't see too much resistance coming Billy's way, so I really think he can make things work in the Association. Also, depending on what they do in terms of additions in the next few years, you're looking at a team that has a chance to be perennial playoff contenders for the future, and with one or two more guys, maybe even looking at making a deep run in the East.

Ok, so here's a curveball for you (too many intentional puns), but I'm going to do a preview of the MLB Draft. An NBA one is in the works, and as soon as we enter the Finals, the Finals and Draft preview will be in full swing. But for now, I really want to draw your attention to this. For the first time ever, the Major League Baseball First-Year Draft will be on TV (Thursday, June 7th, 2PM, ESPN2). I'm actually pretty excited about this. Of course the reason there hasn't been a huge demand for the draft to be televised is due to the fact that, in baseball, it takes a guy a lot longer to have an impact on the team that drafted them as compared to the NFL, NBA, and even the NHL. There is a very select list of players who have gone straight from being drafted to the pros. Here's a couple of names for you:
  • Jim Abbott
  • Ernie Banks
  • Bob Feller
  • Catfish Hunter
  • Al Kaline
  • Harmon Killebrew
  • Sandy Koufax
  • John Olerud
  • Mel Ott
  • George Sisler
  • Dave Winfield
So that's a pretty elite list, and although it remains to be seen if one of the guys drafted this year will hit the pros directly, it's highly unlikely. So, these are some of the guys that you will eventually be hearing from in the near future:

  1. Matt Wieters, C, Georgia Tech
  2. Josh Vitters, 3B, Cypress (CA) HS
  3. Mike Moustakas, 3B/C, Chatsworth (CA) HS
  4. Matt Dominguez, 3B, Chatsworth (CA) HS
  5. Beau Mills, 3B/1B, Lewis-Clark (ID) St.
  6. Matt LaPorta, 1B, Florida
  7. J.P. Arecibia, C, Tennessee
  8. Nick Noonan, SS, Francis Parker (CA) HS
  9. Matt Mangini, 3B Oklahoma St.
  10. Mitch Canham, C, Oregon St.
  11. Kevin Ahrens, 3B, Memorial (TX) HS
  12. Devin Mesoraco, C, Punxsutawney (PA) HS
  13. Peter Kozma, SS, Owasso (OK) HS
  14. Yasmani Grandal, C, Miami Springs (FL) HS
  15. Zach Cozart, SS, Ole Miss
  16. Josh Donaldson, C, Auburn
  17. Christian Colon, SS, Canyon (CA) HS
  18. Ryan Dent, 2B, Wilson (CA) HS
  19. Danny Rams, C, Gulliver (FL) Prep
  20. Travis D'Arnaud, C, Lakewood (CA) HS
  1. Julio Borbon, Tennessee
  2. Jason Heyward, OF/1B, Henry County (GA) HS
  3. Michael Burgess, Hillsborough (FL) HS
  4. Corey Brown, Oklahoma St.
  5. Kentrail Davis, Theodore (AL) HS
  6. Kevin Keyes, Connally (TX)
  7. Eric Eiland, Lamar (TX) HS
  8. Matt Spencer, Arizona St.
  9. Todd Frazier, OF/SS, Rutgers
  10. Wendell Fairley, George County-Lucedale (MS) HS
  11. Hunter Morris, Grissom (AL) HS
  12. Danny Payne, Georgia Tech
  13. Chad Jones, Southern Lab (LA) HS
  14. Grant Desme, Cal Poly
  15. Kyle Russell, Texas
  16. Runey Davis, Georgetown (TX) HS
  17. Angel Morales, Caugus (PR)
  18. Brian Rike, Louisiana Tech
  19. Kellen Kulbacki, James Madison
  20. Colin DeLome, Louisiana Tech
Right-Handed Pitchers:
  1. Rick Porcello, Seton Hall (NJ) Prep
  2. Andrew Brackman, North Carolina St.
  3. Jarrod Parker, Norwell (IN) HS
  4. Phillippe Aumont, Gatineau (Quebec)
  5. Casey Weathers, Vanderbilt
  6. Blake Beaven, Irving (TX) HS
  7. Matt Harvey, Fitch (CT) HS
  8. Tim Alderson, Horizon (AZ) HS
  9. Jake Arrieta, Texas Christian
  10. Michael Main, Deland (FL) HS
  11. Chris Withrow, Midland Christian (TX) HS
  12. Neil Ramirez, Kempsville (VA) HS
  13. Josh Fields, Georgia
  14. Matt Latos, Broward County (FL) CC
  15. Nevin Griffith, Middleton (FL) HS
  16. James Simmons, UC Riverside
  17. Wes Roemer, Cal State Fulerton
  18. Eddie Kunz, Oregon St.
  19. Greg Peavey, Hudson's Bay (WA) HS
Left-Handed Pitchers:
  1. David Price, Vanderbilt
  2. Ross Detwiller, Missouri St.
  3. Daniel Moskos, Clemson
  4. Madison Bumgarner, South Caldwell (NC) HS
  5. Nick Schmidt, Arkansas
  6. Josh Smoker, Calhoun (GA) HS
  7. Jack McGeary, LHP/1B, Roxbury Latin (MA) HS
  8. Aaron Poreda, U. of San Francisco
  9. Brett Cecil, Maryland
  10. Joe Savery, Rice
  11. James Adkins, Tennessee
  12. Nathan Vineyard, Woodland (GA) HS
  13. David Newmann, Texas A&M
  14. Sean Doolittle, LHP/1B, Virginia
  15. Tanner Robles, Cottonwood (UT) HS
  16. Drake Britton, Tomball (TX) HS
  17. Cole Rohrbaugh, Western Nevada CC
  18. Tony Watson, Nebraska
  19. Nick Hagadone, Washington
  20. Dan Merklinger, Seton Hall
Ok, here's another thing I'm just going to go ahead and throw out there before I get into anything else: I was just reading some background on the Draft itself, and came across this table that was in an article written by Keith Law of The article itself goes into a team's preference when it comes to drafting high school or college players. Anyway, it's a very well-written article if you get a chance to read it, but for now, here's the table I was talking about:

Draft preferences: 2004-06
(first five rounds)



HS %

Blue Jays





















White Sox



Red Sox




























































Devil Rays






College+HS may not equal 100 percent because only four-year colleges were considered.

To me, it's astounding how many high school players Anaheim has drafted throughout the years. 85%? These are the guys who demand the big bonuses as well, and take longer to develop than guys coming out of college. To me, if you draft a couple of high schoolers with some high picks, then that's perfectly acceptable, but 85%? Wow. Ok, anyway, there are a few more things that you should know before the Draft preview is complete. First of all, we need to dive into the Draft order and compensation picks. With compensation picks, here's how they work: When a team loses a player to free agency, and the player signs with another team, his former team is owed compensation for losing that player. Now each player is given a certain grade, and their grade is determined by their two-year averages in comparison to others who play at their position. The Elias Sports Bureau determines this information, and the grading system goes as followed:

Type A Players: Ranks in the upper 30% of his respective position group
Type B Players: Ranks in the upper 50%, but not in the upper 30%, of his respective position group
Type C Players: Ranks in the upper 60%, but not in the upper 50%, of his respective position group

With that being said, here is the complete Draft order for the MLB Draft. Now, you may

notice that different classes of players have been designated as being worth different amounts of compensation. I'm not quite sure how this is determined, but it is interesting that two players of the same grade can receive different amounts of compensation. If I were to guess, they probably grade on a +/- system, like they do in school, where a guy like Soriano probably gets an A+, and a guy like Dave Roberts receives an A-. Anyway, here you go:

First Round
1. Tampa Bay Devil Rays
2. Kansas City Royals
3. Chicago Cubs
4. Pittsburgh Pirates
5. Baltimore Orioles
6. Washington Nationals
7. Milwaukee Brewers
8. Colorado Rockies
9. Arizona Diamondbacks
10. San Francisco Giants
11. Seattle Mariners
12. Florida Marlins
13. Cleveland Indians
14. Atlanta Braves
15. Cincinnati Reds
16. Toronto Blue Jays (from Rangers for type A Catalanotto)
17. Texas Rangers (from Astros for type A Lee)
18. St. Louis Cardinals
19. Philadelphia Phillies
20. Los Angeles Dodgers (from Red Sox for type A Lugo)
21. Toronto Blue Jays
22. San Francisco Giants (from Dodgers for type A Schmidt)
23. San Diego Padres
24. Texas Rangers (from Angels for type A Matthews)
25. Chicago White Sox
26. Oakland A's
27. Detroit Tigers
28. Minnesota Twins
29. San Francisco Giants (from Mets for type A Alou)
30. New York Yankees

Supplemental First Round
31. Washington Nationals (for type A Soriano)
32. San Francisco Giants (for type A Alou)
33. Atlanta Braves (for type A Baez)
34. Cincinnati Reds (for type A Aurilia)
35. Texas Rangers (for type A Lee)
36. St. Louis Cardinals (for type A Suppan)
37. Philadelphia Phillies (for type A Dellucci)
38. Toronto Blue Jays (for type A Speier)
39. Los Angeles Dodgers (for type A Lugo)
40. San Diego Padres (for type A Williams)
41. Oakland A's (for type A Zito)
42. New York Mets (for type A Hernandez)
43. San Francisco Giants (for type A Schmidt)
44. Texas Rangers (for type A Matthews)
45. Toronto Blue Jays (for type A Catalanotto)
46. San Diego Padres (for type A Roberts)
47. New York Mets (for type A Bradford)
48. Chicago Cubs (for type B Pierre)
49. Washington Nationals (for type B Guillen)
50. Arizona Diamondbacks (for type B Counsell)
51. San Francisco Giants (for type B Stanton)
52. Seattle Mariners (for type B Meche)
53. Cincinnati Reds (for type B Schoeneweis)
54. Texas Rangers (for type B DeRosa)
55. Boston Red Sox (for type B Gonzalez)
56. Toronto Blue Jays (for type B Lilly)
57. San Diego Padres (for type B Park)
58. Los Angels Angels (for type B Kennedy)
59. Oakland A's (for type B Thomas)
60. Detroit Tigers (for type B Walker)
61. Arizona Diamondbacks (for type B Batista)
62. Boston Red Sox (for type B Foulke)
63. San Diego Padres (for type B Embree)
64. San Diego Padres (for type B Klesko)

Second Round
65. Tampa Bay Devil Rays
66. Kansas City Royals
67. Washington Nationals (from Cubs for type A Soriano)
68. Pittsburgh Pirates
69. Atlanta Braves (from Orioles for type A Baez)
70. Washington Nationals
71. St. Louis Cardinals (from Brewers for type A Suppan)
72. Colorado Rockies
73. Arizona Diamondbacks
74. Oakland A's (from Giants for type A Zito)
75. Seattle Mariners
76. Florida Marlins
77. New York Mets (from Indians for type A Hernandez)
78. Atlanta Braves
79. Cincinnati Reds
80. Texas Rangers
81. San Diego Padres (from Astros for type A Williams)
82. St. Louis Cardinals
83. Philadelphia Phillies
84. Boston Red Sox
85. Toronto Blue Jays
86. Los Angeles Dodgers
87. San Diego Padres
88. Toronto Blue Jays (from Angels for type A Speier)
89. Chicago White Sox
90. Oakland A's
91. Detroit Tigers
92. Minnesota Twins
93. New York Mets
94. New York Yankees

Third Round
95. Tampa Bay Devil Rays
96. Kansas City Royals
97. Chicago Cubs
98. Pittsburgh Pirates
99. New York Mets (from Orioles for type A Bradford)
100. Washington Nationals
101. Milwaukee Brewers
102. Colorado Rockies
103. Arizona Diamondbacks
104. Cincinnati Reds (from Giants for type A Aurilia)
105. Seattle Mariners
106. Florida Marlins
107. Philadelphia Phillies (from Indians for type A Dellucci)
108. Atlanta Braves
109. Cincinnati Reds
110. Texas Rangers
111. Houston Astros
112. St. Louis Cardinals
113. Philadelphia Phillies
114. Boston Red Sox
115. Toronto Blue Jays
116. Los Angeles Dodgers
117. San Diego Padres
118. Los Angels Angels
119. Chicago White Sox
120. Oakland A's
121. Detroit Tigers
122. Minnesota Twins
123. New York Mets
124. New York Yankees

Fourth Round
125. Tampa Bay Devil Rays
126. Kansas City Royals
127. Chicago Cubs
128. Pittsburgh Pirates
129. Baltimore Orioles
130. Washington Nationals
131. Milwaukee Brewers
132. Colorado Rockies
133. Arizona Diamondbacks
134. San Diego Padres (from Giants for type A Roberts)
135. Seattle Mariners
136. Florida Marlins
137. Cleveland Indians
138. Atlanta Braves
139. Cincinnati Reds
140. Texas Rangers
141. Houston Astros
142. St. Louis Cardinals
143. Philadelphia Phillies
144. Boston Red Sox
145. Toronto Blue Jays
146. Los Angeles Dodgers
147. San Diego Padres
148. Los Angels Angels
149. Chicago White Sox
150. Oakland A's
151. Detroit Tigers
152. Minnesota Twins
153. New York Mets
154. New York Yankees

Fifth Round and up
155. Tampa Bay Devil Rays
156. Kansas City Royals
157. Chicago Cubs
158. Pittsburgh Pirates
159. Baltimore Orioles
160. Washington Nationals
161. Milwaukee Brewers
162. Colorado Rockies
163. Arizona Diamondbacks
164. San Francisco Giants
165. Seattle Mariners
166. Florida Marlins
167. Cleveland Indians
168. Atlanta Braves
169. Cincinnati Reds
170. Texas Rangers
171. Houston Astros
172. St. Louis Cardinals
173. Philadelphia Phillies
174. Boston Red Sox
175. Toronto Blue Jays
176. Los Angeles Dodgers
177. San Diego Padres
178. Los Angels Angels
179. Chicago White Sox
180. Oakland A's
181. Detroit Tigers
182. Minnesota Twins
183. New York Mets
184. New York Yankees

After reading that, I'm really hoping Lugo will pan out for us, because he cost us not only $45

million over five years, but also, a first-round pick in what many have called on e of the deepest drafts, in terms of pitching, in recent memory. Ok, here's just one more thing for you: Unlike the other drafts, teams cannot trade picks, which I think is bizarre, but in any event, that's the rule, so basically, the same draft order that will run in the 5th round will run in the 50th round.

So, I hope I was able to give you a little bit of an education there, and not confuse you too much. Tampa will most likely be taking David Price #1. While I was at USC, I actually got a chance to see Price, and he is as good as he has been advertised. You're talking about a lefty who can consistently hit in the high 90s with his fastball. Again, hopefully he won't be a Brazelton for the Rays and have a great career at the Trop. Until next time, take it easy. Peace.


Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

"Did you ever have to make up your mind?
Pick up on one and leave the other behind
It's not often easy and not often kind
Did you ever have to make up your mind?"

Yesterday, in one of the most bizarre couple of hours you will ever see, Kobe Bryant confused me, and probably a majority of sports fans, by first coming out on Stephen A. Smith's ESPN radio show and asked to be traded:

"I would like to be traded, yeah. Tough as it is to come to that conclusion there's no other alternative, you know?"

Then he followed up by saying "no, I just want them to do the right thing" in terms of if there was anyway someone within the Laker organization could talk him out of it. So, ok, Kobe wants out, and the speculation begins about the potential landing spots for Bryant, who most have said is the best overall player in the league, and when you talk about Houston or Phoenix being potential suitors, you're talking about a move that could put a team over the top in terms of their title aspirations. Then, later on in the day, Bryant was on the Dan Patrick show, and seemed to back off of his demands a bit:

"It's tough. I always dreamed about retiring as a Laker. I just hope and hope that something can be resolved. Something can be figured out. Just something so I can stay here and be in this city and be with the team I love."

Apparently, he also talked to Phil Jackson within the few hours between his two radio spots, and Phil assured Kobe that he will be back and would like to remain for the rest of his career, a move Bryant felt was "very encouraging." So now, the Laker organization, as well as the general public, have come to a paradox on what to think about what exactly is going on in this guy's head. First of all, it is obvious that a part of him wants to be traded. I mean if he was so set on being a Laker, then the words "I want to be traded" would never be uttered. So, it's a question of how badly he wants to stay in L.A., or equally as tricky, how badly he wants to get a fresh start with someone else. It's clear that if Kobe does leave L.A., it will most likely be for a team who can contend now rather than later, because Kobe has already tried to be the guy who leads a group of young kids along, and that hasn't worked out too well, including this year, where, although the Lakers did make the playoffs, they were dispatched in a relatively easy fashion by the Suns in five games. Also, they only finished two games above .500 (42-40), so it was also lucky that L.A. even found their way to the playoffs. In getting back to guiding a group of young guys, it's not happening, so those theories of Bryant perhaps ending up in Boston, Philly, or Atlanta are out. If Kobe were traded, Chicago, Dallas, and Phoenix seem to be likely candidates...maybe even Houston. However, considering the pieces that each of those teams would have to give up to meet the Laker asking price, which you know will be astronomical, would leaving L.A., a place he has played his entire career, and an organization that backed him throughout all his troubles both on and off the field, be worth it? Personally, I don't believe it will be. As far as the Lakers not doing anything to improve the team, which is apparently what Kobe believes has happened, they really couldn't do anything after they traded Shaq, a move some consider was spear-headed by Kobe (although he has denied this, and said that Jerry Buss, the Lakers owner, was the one who wanted Shaq out). Since then, they were forced to take on Brian Grant's huge contract, and then, made one of the dumbest trades in the last few years in the NBA, trading Caron Butler, who was acquired for Shaq, and Chucky Atkins, for Kwame Brown and Laron Profit. However, when you look at need over value, the Lakers needed a big man, and they have had no luck in replacing Shaq to any degree. So now, you have to question Bryant's patience, as, although they have had no luck in really getting Kobe any kind of surrounding cast outside of Lamar Odom, at least they have tried. It's not as though they have stood idle and watched their team be relegated to barely making the playoffs, whereas before they dominated out in the West. I just think it would be a mistake for Kobe to want to opt out of L.A. It's not as though he hasn't won a championship before (he owns three), and although they didn't have the best season, you're still looking at a team that finished above .500 out West. If Kobe winds up on another team, barring just a few exceptions, the core of the team will most likely be Kobe, and maybe another guy who can kind of hang, like Odom, meaning that he will swap uniforms, but ultimately, wind up in the same situation he is already in. Here's another interesting tidbit I was reading in an AP report: Kobe has a no-trade clause, and has four years remaining on his existing contract, which will pay him $88.6 million over the next four years (this is what is remaining from the seven-year, $136 million contract he signed three years ago, the day after Shaq was traded to Miami). The key thing to note is the no-trade clause, because although that can be waived by Kobe, that would activate a $13 million option that will be added onto what Kobe is owed. So, if Kobe were to be traded, he would be owed $101.6 million over the next four years, an average salary of $25.4 million. With a soft salary cap in place (meaning that once a team goes over a certain salary figure, they are forced to pay what's called a "luxury tax" for every dollar they go over...the actual salary cap figure was $53.135 million last year, but because this is a "soft" cap, teams were allowed to spend up to $65.42 million before they were forced to pay a luxury tax...monies from the luxury taxes teams that go over have to pay are then divided up amongst other teams in the league), teams will be cautious about spending $25 million on a guy no matter how good he is. Also, when teams are trading in the NBA, they are forced to "match salaries, " meaning that there can be little to no difference in the amount of money in contracts that can be moved between two teams. This also causes a problem, because, although that extra $13 million will not count against a team trying to match salaries, they are still going to have to give up $20 million in salaries, and not all of those are going to be veterans with expiring contracts, which are an attractive commodity considering the team acquiring the player only has to pay them for one year. So, who will be willing to make this move anyway? There's even one more thing to consider. Say a team is enamored by Bryant, and knows he is not going to be happy in L.A., they could roll the dice and wait it out for a year, because Bryant has an option in his contract that would release him from his current deal, and effectively make him a free agent, meaning he would be available to every team, and not cost his new team any players or draft picks (in every potential deal, I have seen a first rounder being moved, so that's why I threw that clause in there). In any event, patience is going to be the key word. How patient will Bryant be in terms of the Lakers making an attempt to become an elite team again within the next four years of his deal, and how patient will other teams be in terms of giving up a truckload of players, draft picks, and money to acquire Kobe when they can wait a year and see if he will want to get out of his deal? We will eventually get an answer on this...just be patient.

A-Rod is back in the news, and again, it's something he did that has everyone either scratching their heads, wondering "who is this guy?"...or there are the others, who just exclaim pure outrage for anything this guy does. Last night against the Blue Jays, Jorge Posada hit a fly ball, one in which Jays third baseman Howie Clark seemed to have a pretty good read on. When A-Rod was heading to third (runners were in motion because there were two outs in the inning), he appeared to yell out something to distract Clark, as he it looked like he became spooked, and moved away from the ball as it dropped in. The play was ruled a hit, allowing the Yanks to score their eighth run, and, more importantly, keeping the inning alive with Jason Giambi coming up, with runners now on second and third (Giambi then proceeded to single in his at-bat, scoring both A-Rod and Posada, making it a 10-5 lead for the Yankees, a score that would ultimately turn into the final in the end). When asked about it, A-Rod commented that "sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't" when asked about why he did it, and also, he said he yelled "Hah!" to distract Clark. Ok, first of all, I've seen the play about twenty times today, and I'm convinced he yelled "Mine!"...but I mean that's just my opinion on that. I don't read lips, but I'm pretty sure that's what he actually said. In any event, dude, what are you doing? Why is it that A-Rod just can't fall into the Yankee system? Is this like another cry for help for him to get out of New York? Why can't he just try and play baseball and not do any of this other stuff? I just think he's trying too hard to fit in, and he's taking it too far in terms of trying to win to a point where it becomes unsportsmanlike. First the Arroyo play, then with Pedroia a week ago (although you could go either way on that), and now this...seriously, someone needs to sit this guy down and be like "the Yankee ways are innate, and they cannot be learned...if you're going to be pulling these antics, don't act like you're a Yankee, because you're not." Hey, I hate the Yankees as much as the next guy, but I respect the Yankees. I respect them enough to know that the current lead of 13 1/2 is going to shrink pretty soon, and I'm 100% sure of that. However, I do not respect a guy like A-Rod, who thinks that he has to do things besides playing the game to get his team a victory. I know there are ways you can go "above and beyond" in terms of helping your team, but those means are supposed to be within the standards of the game. Sure, there's probably not a rule against yelling at a player in an attempt to distract him, but that is just something you don't do. It shows no class, and I'm in full agreement with Jays manager John Gibbons when he called the play "bush league." Will you ever see a guy like Jeter or Posada do that? Absolutely not. Those guys have class. They are true Yankees because of the way they conduct themselves. A-Rod wants to be a Yankee, but he is doing things to drive his teammates away from him instead of bringing them together. Sure, he'll get a clutch hit and be a hero for a day, but that won't last. Yankee Stadium is already booing him even though he leads the majors in homers. They won't boo Jeter, Posada, or even Matsui if they make a mistake because, in my opinion, they are throwbacks to the dynasty of the late 90s, which, again, is one of my "keys" for turning the Yankees around. A-Rod should opt out of his deal, if for any other reason, to just escape the limelight of New York, because it's obvious that he was not ready to undergo this amount of am I glad we didn't end up with him.

Anaheim won Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals last night, and are on the brink of dominating this series. Again, I thought the series had a great chance of being split, and that offense would drive this series, but it appears that Ottawa left their game somewhere near Niagara Falls, because it's clear that they have brought little or nothing to the table in terms of offense. Last night, only 16 shots on Giguere. Come on now. This was not the team I saw play against Buffalo. Also, Ottawa has not been able to capitalize on one of the major weaknesses that has plagued the Ducks all year long, which are penalties against Anaheim. Ottawa is 1-11 on power plays (9.1%). The Ducks led the league in penalty minutes during the regular season, and rank 6th in terms of penalty kill in the playoffs. Ottawa, meanwhile, has scored 12 powerplay goals on the road, which consummates in an outstanding 27.9% of powerplays scored on away from Ottawa. The ultimate difference has been Anaheim's outstanding defense, with Pronger and Niedermayer patrolling the blue line, making it incredibly difficult for Ottawa to get shots off. Both are former Norris Trophy winners (Pronger also won the Hart Trophy for MVP of the league), and once Pronger was added from Edmonton, who reached the finals last year, their defense was solidified as one of the best in the league. However, I'm not so sure how long Anaheim can maintain this momentum. Playing in Anaheim, the crowd was of course going crazy, and there was a definite "home-ice" advantage that was favoring the Ducks. However, once those powerplays start cropping up while they are playing in Ottawa, there's not going to be any encouragement from the crowd when they are on the kill, and when even members of the team, including Giguere and coach Randy Carlyle, have publicly displayed their displeasure with the amount of penalty minutes, you know that this will eventually be a problem. I'm not going to change my prediction, and still am partial to Ottawa, but if you asked me again, right now, who I think would win, ultimately, I would probably lean towards Anaheim in seven, because it's apparent that, although the Ducks are shooting themselves in the foot, they are getting away with it at home, and if they are able to win just one game on the road, this series will be over. If Ottawa can somehow win every game at home, you're looking at the potential of a 3-3 going into Game 7, where it's anyone's guess.

For just the third time in the Open Era, no American man reached the second round of the French Open, and this to me, is a huge "red flag" in terms of the status of tennis in America. I'm not an "avid" tennis follower, but I definitely keep up with it, and it just seems like we have nothing going on out there, and that there is nothing coming down the pipe in terms of replenishing the talent. I mean outside of Andy Roddick, James Blake, and the occasional cinderella that comes around every so often, what else is there? I'm not really going to get into it too much here, but I just think that tennis' popularity is really going downhill, and it has been ever since Sampras and Aggassi retired. It experienced a slight increase when Roddick took down the U.S. Open a few years ago, but there hasn't been anything after that to really catch the public's eye. Another thing that has perhaps dropped tennis' popularity has been the ongoing dominance of Roger Federer. Although Federer has a rival in Rafael Nadal, especially on clay, the surface the French Open is being played on, Federer has won pretty much every major over the last three years, and has dominated the tennis world in general. In a way, this is almost like what Tiger Woods did around 2000, when Tiger just won everything he played in. Here's my take on this: Tennis will be in a stand-still unless someone comes along that fills the following requirements:
  1. American
  2. Rival of Federer
  3. Sex Symbol
  4. Charismatic
When Roddick won the U.S. Open, it was assumed that he would be the heir-apparent to Pete Sampras, and continue the American dominance of the majors that Sampras once had. Once Roddick began to falter, hope seemed lost in terms of someone knocking off Federer. Much like in golf, ratings started to rise once Phil Mickelson proved he could actually win a major, and stopped his string of "choke jobs" by winning the Masters. If Roddick, or some other American that I haven't heard of, wins a big match over Federer or Nadal, and can continue having success against them, I'm convinced that tennis will resurface on the landscape of American sports.

The recent allegations against Michael Vick have been shocking to me. He is accused of being "heavily involved" in a dog fighting ring back in his home state (commonwealth) of Virginia. With the evidence continuing to pile up against Vick, it's becoming clear that there is at least some truth to these rumors, or else, this is one of the biggest conspiracies in recent sports history. What is troubling to me is that Vick was supposedly a model citizen, but over the past few years, in terms of flipping off fans, issues with women, and dog fighting, it looks like we, or at least I, had this guy pegged all wrong. This makes me think about what happened at Virginia Tech a couple of years ago with his brother, Marcus, and how he was booted off the team "due to a cumulative effect of legal infractions and unsportsmanlike play." This included weapons and drug charges, and an incident in the Gator Bowl against Louisville, when he stomped on a Louisville player during the game. Through all of this, I was left wondering "wow, you would think he would look at his brother's example and try and tone some of this behavior around him." Well, it turns out, he was taking after his brother, but not in the way I perceived Michael Vick to be. It turns out, Vick definitely has the "thug" mentality, and although he is the face of the league, and the franchise QB in Atlanta, still, he cannot shake these things, which to me, seem to have become habitual. Although he never was convicted for weed...come on...who carries around a water bottle with a secret compartment? He said it was for his chains don't smell like weed though, which is reportedly what Miami officials smelled when he was taken in by security at the airport. I understand you not wanting to change your roots, but there has to be a line somewhere that you just can't cross. Vick supposedly has been involved in fighting rings since 2001 while he was still at Tech. The whole notion of this is completely ridiculous in my opinion. Are we really living in a country that this kind of animal cruelty goes on in? And the other thing is that we are finding out about this now. I mean who knows how long these fights and these groups have been going on for? Also, it seems to be incredibly co-ordinated, with bus shuttles to fights, and "pits" that are located below floorboards, so that if the fight was busted up, the ring could be covered quickly. Plus, the amount of money being thrown on these dogs is unbelievable. I mean we're talking 30, 40, $50,000 a fight. Still, the underlying message I'm throwing out there is that this kind of behavior, no matter if you're from the streets, or a guy with a 10-year, $130 million contract, this is sick. It's sick. I don't even know how else to describe this kind of behavior. There is no way to dumb that down. It's obscene, disgraceful, and what more...illegal. If Roger Goodell is going to continue to follow through on his stance to alleviate bad behavior from the NFL, then he is really going to have to step up to the plate with Vick, because although a guy like Pac-Man Jones is a "pro-bowl caliber" player, Michael Vick is one of the most popular players to have played the game in a long time. Like him or not, he is perhaps one of the most exciting players to have hit the NFL, maybe ever. So this is the ultimate test to see what Goodell does in this situation. He will definitely be ridiculed if he goes light on Vick, no matter if Vick is found to be guilty or not, because after suspending Pac-Man, basically just for "bad behavior," for an entire season, if Vick gets nothing, or even if he just gets a few games, it will be looked at as Goodell playing favorites, and going lighter on a more marketable guy (although I would think Vick's marketability has taken a hit since these charges surfaced) than he would on a non-superstar. If Goodell throws caution into the wind, and suspends Vick for a year, he will effectively be sending a message to the league, with that being "look, I don't care how much money you make, or how much you make for this league. If there is specific and concrete evidence that you are involved in illegal activities like what Vick, Jones, and Chris Henry were involved in, you're going down, and that's all there is to it." I hope Goodell makes the right choice on this one, because since he has been commissioner, he has really made a stance on cleaning up the league, and Vick is probably going to be the guy with the highest profile to come into this much trouble, so he needs to continue with this objectively, and not look at what the potential impact of the league will be if Vick isn't playing, because the league is healthy enough to sustain the kind of impact this could potentially have.

That Matt Schaub trade is looking like a bit of a mistake now huh?

Alright, well, that's all from the lab. Keep checking, because the updates are going to be pretty rampant now that I have some time on my hands. Take care everyone. Thanks for reading. Peace.


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Train Kept-A-Rollin'

"She must have thought I was a real cool jerk."

Greetings from the Queen City. It's been an interesting couple of days since I've been home. The job situation is still effectively in limbo, and unfortunately, the bill collectors do not really have much sympathy. So, I'm kind of a bum in a nice apartment. However, because I just graduated like three days ago, I'm just gonna go ahead and mark this up under the "I earned it" column. I don't even know where to begin...wait, yeah I do.

This is probably the easiest time, possibly ever, to be a Sox fan. Seriously, how can you not be loving this right now? I know that there is pretty much no chance that things will stay the way they are right now, but still, I'm taking time out to really cherish this, because this does not happen every day. The Sox are simply dominating right now, having won five in a row coming off losing two of three to the Bombers. Things are going to be rough for the opposition when Julian Tavarez is arguably the guy with the best stuff right now. Also, when you consider that this team is only going to get better the rest of the year, the pipe dream of dominating the East and the AL is now turning into a reality. With all the talk about Roger coming back to the Yanks, you don't get to hear too much about the resurgence of one Jon Lester, who is eying a return to the lineup possibly sometime in June. Lester has looked terrific so far, and reportedly hit 95 on the gun in his last appearance. If the Sox can get Lester to pitch the way he is right now and stretch it out for the rest of the year, forget it. You can absolutely forget about catching us. I don't care what the Yankees do. Also, I know that this has happened before, and the Yanks have overcome it ('78), but this time around, we just have too much going for us. Also coming back soon will be Mike Timlin, who will add to what is already the best bullpen in baseball (actually, by the numbers, they're second to San Diego...still not backing off of what I said though).

So I'm watching YES right now, and, as usual, the Yankee fans are theorizing what George and Co. should do to right the ship on "Mike and the Maddog." I'm not sure if people really understand how baseball works. Just because they're the Yankees, they can't perform the kind of magic these people are suggesting. Here's the dumbest things I've heard so far:
  1. A trade involving Bobby Abreu, who is having a terrible year, for Ichiro
  2. Melky Cabrera and a couple of the "young guns" for Roy Oswalt
  3. "The Yankees need a Theo Epstein-like guy, you know, one that works with a small budget."
  4. "Billy Beane keeps winning with a $30 million payroll." (2007 Oakland payroll: $79,938,369)
I'm not saying all of them are like this, but I've only been watching for like ten minutes, and these people are just frustrating the hell out of me. I have to say that there are a lot of people up in Boston that call up "The Big Show" and say some of the most moronic things you'll ever hear in terms of what the Sox should do (this of course was before we started setting the world on fire). I can't believe I'm actually doing this, but here's what I would do if I were running the Yankees:
  1. Fire Brian Cashman. Not right now, but as soon as the last pitch is thrown for the Yankees this season, they should give him a handshake, a pink slip, and say "thanks for the memories." It's not as though he has said anything to make him look arrogant, but it's more like the things he has done (and hasn't done) that have spoken to the kind of GM he has been, basically just throwing money at problems instead of analytically breaking down what the team needs. The Yankees have too many egos in the clubhouse now, and have diverted from what made them great. Also, they have taken too many risks in terms of starting pitching. Getting Pettite is obviously working out, but there are only so many times you can take chances on a guy who has previous injuries. When you look at Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright, these were guys who were good. This was the pitfall that ultimately claimed Dan Duquette's job in Boston, and should spell the end of Cashman in New York.
  2. Trade Robinson Cano for pitching. I say pitching because they need everything. Cano is basically the one guy who has trade value right now. Everyone else is either old, hurt, bad, or has so much baggage that no one wants to deal with them. Cano represents a valuable commodity because he is young and hits for average. He represents a guy who would be a nice leadoff hitter for another team. To go after a superstar pitcher like the aforementioned Oswalt, you're probably looking at Cano and a couple of top prospects to even get people to answer the phone. To me, that's a little pricey, so I would go after a guy who is heading out the door next year, like a Bartolo Calon (I know he's had some injury troubles which makes that sound a little hypocritical on my part in terms of getting guys who are banged up, but keep in mind the fact that he won the Cy Young two years ago...he's worth the risk in my estimation) or even Carlos Zambrano (that's a stretch). Or, if they went the reliever route, which they definitely need because I think Proctor's arm is going to fall off by August, a guy like Scott Linebrink would be a welcome addition, and represent a much smoother bridge to get the ball to #42. Obviously, when you trade Cano, a void will open up at second, which I would fill by:
  3. Trading for Jeff Kent. Ok, he's old...I know this (40 for those of you scoring at home), but he represents the kind of pop from a second baseman that is rare in today's game. Also, he brings a positive presence in the clubhouse, which is something that is definitely lacking right now. This will be a short-term solution, so if you're looking at the future, I think Juan Uribe would be a good pick-up in the offseason. It doesn't look like the Yanks have too much in terms of infielders in the minors that can play everyday at "The Stadium," and also, Uribe can play short and third, so if you need to give Jeter or A-Rod (assuming he's still there) a day off, you can plug Uribe in there, and then use a utility guy, like Miguel Cairo, to fill in at second.
  4. Be a bigger player next offseason. Again, yes, they need some revitalization in the minors, but when you're playing in New York, it's a results-first kind of atmosphere. There are going to be some major players hitting the market next year, including Joe Nathan, Zambrano, and yes, Curt Schilling. Also, when you talk about free agents, you do have to realize the Yanks will have to deal with some of their own people with contracts ending this year, including Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera. Personally, I don't know if you can get rid of either, and more so, I think both really don't want to leave, since both have been staples on this team for a decade or so. So, I would say sign those two, and definitely make a run at Zambrano, because it appears like he's heading out of Chicago. They took it relatively easy in terms of getting free agents, and their lack of depth has cost them big time this year. So, they need to go out, add some quality arms, and perhaps most importantly, get a first baseman with power, because that has been a huge hole in the lineup for them this year. I know that he plays primarily in left, but there was a time not too long ago that Adam Dunn played first. This guy is 28 years old. You know what? I know he strikes out a ton, but when you have 40 homer power, and have the kind of lineup protection he would have in New York, Dunn could be the player that changes the fortunes of the Yankees from an offensive standpoint.
  5. Revert back to the old days. Don't bring in guys just because they have great stats. Bring players in that are quality not only on the field, but off it as well. The "Yankee mystique" is all but gone. If you bring in veterans who are hungry to win, and are not just out for themselves (like their strip club frequenter down at the hot corner), then the change will be immediate and drastic. The Sox have guys like Youk and Pap who are incredibly hungry to win, and don't get complacent even when they have a huge division lead like they do now. I just don't see the Yanks having any of that going on. Sure, they have their moments, but it's just not the same.
Ok, enough Yankee talk...this is making me sick that I'm actually laying out a blueprint for the Yankees to get better...ugh!

(note: the following may end up in the "Daily Gamecock"...I'm still trying to work it all out, but you never know)

The Duke lacrosse program had their season ended on Monday, as Johns Hopkins won their ninth national title in lacrosse with a 12-11 victory at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. Just one year after a scandal that rocked the very core of not only collegiate sports, but the entire country, there were the Blue Devils, who came in as the #1 team in the country, playing in the national championship game. What was ironic was that the flow of the game closely resembled how the actual case itself went. Hopkins jumped out to a 10-4 lead at halftime, and again, Duke, and its players, were backed up against a wall in a seemingly insurmountable deficit to come back from. As the allegations against the three former Duke lacrosse players came out, the public perception was immediately thrust against them without knowing all of the facts. It was a knee-jerk reaction for people to assume that the three were guilty, just as it was easy to assume that Duke was finished in that game. Then, as the accuser's questionable background surfaced, and more and more evidence came out proving the three men were innocent, the point of view changed about those players, much like the perception that the Duke team was "finished" on Monday started to change once the Dukies mounted a huge rally, capped off by a Max Quinzani goal with 4:37 left in the game, tying the score at 11. Ultimately, Duke did lose the game, but their resolve was put on display again, just like it has been for the last year and two months. With their entire 2006 season being canceled, and a black cloud hanging over their lacrosse program, Duke came up just one goal short of pulling off one of the most miraculous comebacks in sports history. For them to even reach the finals was miraculous in itself though, and when you consider they were playing for a new coach, and lost the three accused players and a few others who transferred once the program went under siege, Duke had a tremendous season, and should be commended as such. This is an encouraging sign for the future of Duke lacrosse. After a finals appearance, there stands reason to believe that they will be a major player in recruiting, and are positioned in what has become an up-and-coming region for lacrosse, a sport that has lacked exposure for some time, but now, has seen its popularity grow to enormous heights and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Well, that's all for now. I just need to recharge my batteries (figuratively), and then, more will probably come to me. Take care. Peace.


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Diary: Goin' Home

Saturday, May 26

“Everybody move to the back of the bus.”

Well, I was able to charge up my battery, and now, I’m going to attempt to wrap up my little trip here. Last stop was in the ATL at Turner Field, watching the second consecutive “Game of the Week” of the trip (last Saturday it was at Shea) between the Braves and Phillies. Once again, the home team faltered. Amazing how saying a little thing out loud can kill the chances of basically every home team remaining on the trip (Tampa Bay fortunately survived a Mariner onslaught in the late innings to win). So, to recap, the home team went into Bowie, MD a perfect 7-0, and after that, went 1-5. Oh well. Anyway, the Braves, outside of Edgar Renteria (yeah, apparently he’s good in the NL, but the AL is his kryptonite or something), looked dismal, as they grounded into a bunch of double plays and could not get any timely hitting from their big guns. Speaking of big guns, Chipper Jones was nowhere in sight today. I don’t know if he’s hurt, or he was getting the day off, or what the deal was with that, but even in a pinch-hit situation, Chipper’s name was not called, so I found that incredibly peculiar. Andruw Jones has been a shell of his former self, which really hurts not only the Braves right now, but Jones for the future, as he is about to hit the market, and perhaps sign the last deal of his professional career, so if there was a year where he really needed to perform, it was this one, and so far, he has not fit the billing of a guy in a “contract year.” Of course, because he’s on my fantasy team (yeah I said it), I have been following his progress all season long, and have compared him to Torii Hunter, who is also in a contract year with the Twins. Hunter has been hitting over .300 all season long, and is still showing why he is a very marketable commodity as a five-tool centerfielder. While Andruw does now have the kind of speed Hunter does, he makes up for that by playing an equally good center, and hitting close to 45 homers a year. You have to hope for the Braves’, and my, sake that Jones can turn it around at some point this year, because although the Braves do have a fairly good lineup, it doesn’t work as well if there is no offense coming in that cleanup hole, where he is sandwiched between Chipper and Jeff Francoeur.

Speaking of the game, Antonio Alfonseca came on in the ninth and shut the door on the Braves to earn the save. It is so important that the Phillies attempt to fill the void that was first left by Tom Gordon, and is now being left by Brett Myers, both of whom were outstanding. Alfonseca, best known for his six fingers on each hand (you heard right), has bounced around from club to club after losing his closer job in Florida a few years back. He has mainly been used as a set-up man since then, but the guy still has tremendous stuff and good velocity. It was an outstanding pickup by the Phils to go out and get him, basically for this exact reason. Yes, it is great to have a set-up man who used to close, but that’s a luxury few teams have, and when the main guy goes down, if you are able to say “well, if we give the ball to this guy, he is just as capable of getting those three outs as our #1,” then you have it made. The Phillies definitely have lucked out in this situation, but still, you have to wonder how strong the rest of the bullpen is now that everyone has been bumped up one spot and now have to pitch more innings than they may have been expecting. Not quite sure of the severity of Gordon or Myers’ injuries, but if Alfonseca is able to hold down the fort for the time being, then the Phillies can, at the very least, hang around in the NL East, because it doesn’t appear that the Mets are about to run away with it just yet.

So, I guess that's it. The trip, college, it's all over. If you're in the Carolinas, come by on August 11th, everyone is welcome, and it's going to be one of the better days of my life for sure. Again, I really want to thank everyone for keeping up with this. I assure you that just because college is done for me, the blog will definitely continue, and I'll be trying different things to try and keep this a positive experience for you guys, and I hope you'll stick with me here. Next entry will be from the villa in Charlotte. Take care now, and try to stay safe. Peace.


The Diary: On The Way To Atlanta

Saturday, May 26

“This is the end, my only friend, the end.”

So I’m a little sad that today will conclude what will probably go down as one of the better road trips I will ever take, and man have I taken some road trips, but it wasn’t like I saw a game every single day. Also, this is the official end of my time at USC, so really, the whole college thing is over…for now. Again, I kind of like doing this little thing here, and if I went back to school and studied journalism, who knows? Maybe I could make some coin writing you know? Of course, I probably have horrendous grammar and don’t use words properly or anything, but I’ve had really great feedback, so I’m definitely going to continue doing this because you guys seem to enjoy whatever it is that I’m trying to get through…trust me, sometimes, even I don’t know. Anyway, let me do what it does for the last time on this trip.

Oh, and if you ever want to attempt this, I got the directions for you...good luck. All I can say is that you may want to invest in things that will make the trip a little less painful. Not so much "National Lampoon's Vacation," but more "Fear and Loathing" kind of know:

Trip Itinerary

1. Columbia, SC

2. Greenville, SC

3. Charleston, SC

4. Richmond, VA

5. Philadelphia, PA

6. New York, NY

7. Washington, D.C.

8. Baltimore, MD

9. Myrtle Beach, SC

10. Tampa, FL

11. Atlanta, GA

12. Columbia, SC


Columbia, South Carolina to Greenville, South Carolina


103.4 miles (166.4km)


Start out heading NORTH on MAIN STREET towards LAUREL STREET. Drive for 0.1 miles.


Turn LEFT onto LAUREL STREET. Drive for 0.1 miles.


Turn RIGHT onto ASSEMBLY STREET. Drive for 0.3 miles.


Turn LEFT onto ELMWOOD AVENUE. Drive for 0.5 miles.


Go STRAIGHT to get on I-126 W. Drive for 3.7 miles.


Go STRAIGHT on I-26 W. Drive for 55.4 miles.


Take LEFT I-385 N towards I-385 / LAURENS / GREENVILLE. Drive for 41.7 miles.


Go STRAIGHT on E NORTH STREET. Drive for 0.3 miles.


Turn SLIGHT RIGHT onto BEATTIE PLACE. Drive for 0.4 miles.


Turn LEFT onto N MAIN STREET. Drive for 0.2 miles.


Go STRAIGHT on S MAIN STREET. Drive for 0.2 miles.


You have reached Greenville, South Carolina


Greenville, South Carolina to Charleston, South Carolina


213.1 miles (342.9km)


Start out heading NORTHEAST on S MAIN STREET towards W COURT STREET. Drive for 0.2 miles.


Go STRAIGHT on N MAIN STREET. Drive for 0.1 miles.


Turn RIGHT onto E NORTH STREET. Drive for 0.7 miles.


Go STRAIGHT to get on I-385 S. Drive for 41.6 miles.


Go STRAIGHT on I-26 E. Drive for 167.8 miles.


Take exit number 221B towards MEETING ST. Drive for 0.3 miles.


Turn RIGHT onto MEETING STREET. Drive for 1.5 miles.


You have reached Charleston, South Carolina


Charleston, South Carolina to Richmond, Virginia


423.0 miles (680.7km)


Start out heading NORTH on MEETING STREET towards COURT HOUSE SQUARE. Drive for 2 miles.


Turn LEFT to get on I-26 W towards NORTH CHARLESTON / COLUMBIA / COLUMIBA. Drive for 51 miles.


Take exit number 169B to get on I-95 N towards FLORENCE. Drive for 368.2 miles.


Take exit number 74C towards BROAD ST / US-33 / US-250. Drive for 0.1 miles.


Keep SLIGHT LEFT at the fork towards ramp towards BROAD ST / US-33 W / US-250 W / STATE CAPITOL / COLISEUM. Drive for 0.1 miles.


Keep SLIGHT RIGHT at the fork towards ramp. Drive for 0.2 miles.


Go STRAIGHT on E BROAD STREET. Drive for 0.3 miles.


Turn RIGHT onto N 9TH STREET. Drive for a short distance.


You have reached Richmond, Virginia


Richmond, Virginia to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


256.4 miles (412.6km)


Start out heading NORTHEAST on N 9TH STREET towards E MARSHALL STREET. Drive for 0.1 miles.


Turn RIGHT onto E MARSHALL STREET. Drive for a short distance.


Turn RIGHT onto N 10TH STREET. Drive for 0.1 miles.


Turn LEFT onto E BROAD STREET. Drive for 0.3 miles.


Turn SHARP LEFT onto ramp towards I-95 / I-64. Drive for 0.1 miles.


Keep SLIGHT LEFT at the fork towards ramp. Drive for 0.2 miles.


Turn SLIGHT RIGHT to get on I-95 N. Drive for 94.6 miles.


Stay SLIGHT RIGHT on I-95 N heading towards I-95 N / I-495 E / BALTIMORE. Drive for 127.1 miles.


Take exit number 5D to get on I-495 N towards I-495 / PORT OF WILM / PHILADELPHIA. Drive for 11.2 miles.


Take I-95 N. Drive for 16.7 miles.


Take exit number 17 towards PA-611 N / BROAD STREET / PATTISON AVE. Drive for 0.4 miles.


Go STRAIGHT on S BROAD STREET. Drive for 3.3 miles.


Turn RIGHT onto S PENN SQUARE. Drive for 0.1 miles.


Keep LEFT to stay on S PENN SQUARE. Drive for 0.1 miles.


Turn LEFT onto JOHN F KENNEDY BOULEVARD. Drive for 0.1 miles.


You have reached Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to New York, New York


94.1 miles (151.4km)


Start out heading WEST on JOHN F KENNEDY BOULEVARD towards N 15TH STREET. Drive for 0.1 miles.


Turn RIGHT onto N 16TH STREET. Drive for 0.3 miles.


Turn RIGHT onto VINE STREET. Drive for 0.2 miles.


Go STRAIGHT to get on I-676 E towards I-676 E / US-30 E / I-95. Drive for 0.5 miles.


Take exit towards I-676 E / BEN FRANKLIN BR / US-30 E. Drive for 0.2 miles.


Go STRAIGHT on N 6TH STREET. Drive for a short distance.


Turn SLIGHT LEFT to get on I-676 E towards I-676 E / US-30 E / I-95. Drive for 1.8 miles.


Keep SLIGHT LEFT at the fork towards US-30 E. Drive for 2.1 miles.


Go STRAIGHT on KAIGHN AVENUE. Drive for 5.2 miles.


Turn SLIGHT RIGHT onto ramp towards RT-73 S / NEW JERSEY TURNPIKE / MARLTON. Drive for 0.2 miles.


Go STRAIGHT on RT-73 S. Drive for 1.1 miles.


Turn SLIGHT RIGHT onto ramp towards NEW JERSEY TURNPIKE. Drive for 0.4 miles.




Keep SLIGHT LEFT at the fork towards I-95 N. Drive for 31.2 miles.


Take exit number 14 towards I-78 / 14-14A-14B-14C / NEWARK AIRPORT / US-1 / HOLLAND TUNNEL / US-9 / US-22. Drive for 0.4 miles.


Go STRAIGHT to get on I-78 E towards EXITS 14A-14B-14C / BAYONNE / JERSEY CITY / HOLLAND TUNNEL. Drive for 7.9 miles.


Go STRAIGHT on 12TH STREET. Drive for 0.3 miles.


Go STRAIGHT on BOYLE PLAZA. Drive for a short distance.


Go STRAIGHT on HOLLAND TUNNEL. Drive for 2 miles.


Go STRAIGHT on LAIGHT STREET. Drive for a short distance.


Turn RIGHT onto CANAL STREET. Drive for 0.2 miles.


Turn RIGHT onto BROADWAY. Drive for 0.4 miles.


You have reached New York, New York


New York, New York to Washington, District Of Columbia


233.5 miles (375.8km)


Start out heading SOUTHWEST on BROADWAY towards CHAMBERS STREET. Drive for a short distance.


Turn RIGHT onto CHAMBERS STREET. Drive for 0.2 miles.


Turn RIGHT onto HUDSON STREET. Drive for 0.6 miles.


Go STRAIGHT to get on HOLLAND TUNNEL heading NORTH. Drive for 1.8 miles.


Go STRAIGHT on 14TH STREET. Drive for 0.2 miles.


Go STRAIGHT on I-78 W. Drive for 7.9 miles.


Take exit towards TURNPIKE SOUTH / I-95 S. Drive for 0.6 miles.


Go STRAIGHT to get on I-95 S towards CARS ONLY. Drive for 35.4 miles.


I-95 S becomes NEW JERSEY TURNPIKE S. Drive for 68 miles.


Go STRAIGHT on I-295 S. Drive for 5.5 miles.


Take exit towards I-95. Drive for 0.3 miles.


Turn SLIGHT LEFT to get on I-95 S. Drive for 97.7 miles.


Take exit number 22B to get on MD-295 S towards BALT / WASH PKWY SOUTH / WASHINGTON. Drive for 5.5 miles.


Take US-50 W towards WASHINGTON. Drive for 4.8 miles.


Turn LEFT to get on I-395 S. Drive for 2 miles.


Take exit towards MAINE AVE / 12TH ST / DOWNTOWN. Drive for 0.2 miles.


Keep SLIGHT RIGHT at the fork towards ramp towards 12TH ST / DOWNTOWN. Drive for 0.2 miles.


Keep SLIGHT LEFT at the fork towards ramp towards D ST. Drive for 0.1 miles.


Go STRAIGHT on D STREET SW. Drive for 0.2 miles.


Turn RIGHT onto 14TH STREET SW. Drive for 0.3 miles.


You have reached Washington, District Of Columbia


Washington, District Of Columbia to Baltimore, Maryland


39.1 miles (62.9km)


Start out heading NORTH on US-1 towards MADISON DRIVE NW. Drive for 0.2 miles.


Keep RIGHT to stay on US-1. Drive for 0.6 miles.




Turn RIGHT onto PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE NW. Drive for 0.1 miles.


Turn LEFT onto CONSTITUTION AVENUE NW. Drive for 0.2 miles.


Turn SLIGHT LEFT onto LOUISIANA AVENUE NW. Drive for 0.3 miles.


Turn LEFT onto N CAPITOL STREET NW. Drive for 0.8 miles.


Turn RIGHT onto NEW YORK AVENUE NE. Drive for 3.9 miles.


Take LEFT MD-295 N towards BALTIMORE. Drive for 31.4 miles.


Turn RIGHT onto W PRATT STREET. Drive for 0.4 miles.


Go STRAIGHT on E PRATT STREET. Drive for 0.2 miles.


Turn LEFT onto COMMERCE STREET. Drive for 0.2 miles.


Go STRAIGHT on N HOLLIDAY STREET. Drive for a short distance.


Turn LEFT onto E FAYETTE STREET. Drive for a short distance.


You have reached Baltimore, Maryland


Baltimore, Maryland to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina


498.5 miles (802.2km)


Start out heading WEST on E FAYETTE STREET towards GUILFORD AVENUE. Drive for 0.2 miles.


Turn LEFT onto ST PAUL STREET. Drive for a short distance.


Go STRAIGHT on LIGHT STREET. Drive for 0.1 miles.


Turn RIGHT onto E LOMBARD STREET. Drive for 0.1 miles.


Go STRAIGHT on W LOMBARD STREET. Drive for 0.2 miles.


Turn LEFT onto S HOWARD STREET. Drive for 0.2 miles.


Go STRAIGHT to get on I-395 S. Drive for 0.7 miles.


Take I-95 S towards WASHINGTON. Drive for 57.8 miles.


Stay SLIGHT LEFT on I-95 S heading towards I-95 / I-95 S / RICHMOND. Drive for 85.6 miles.


Take exit number 84A to get on I-295 S towards ROCKY MT NC. Drive for 42.9 miles.


Take I-95 S towards I-295 S / EMPORIA / I-95 SOUTH / ROCKY MOUNT NC. Drive for 244.9 miles.


Take exit number 181 towards SC-38 / LATTA / SC-917 / MARION. Drive for 0.2 miles.


Turn LEFT to get on SC-38 heading SOUTHEAST. Drive for 7.2 miles.


Turn RIGHT onto US-501. Drive for 12.4 miles.


Take exit towards US-501-BR S. Drive for 0.3 miles.


Go STRAIGHT to get on US-501 S. Drive for 42.6 miles.


Turn LEFT onto BROADWAY STREET. Drive for 0.3 miles.


You have reached Myrtle Beach, South Carolina


Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to Tampa, Florida


530.5 miles (853.7km)


Start out heading WEST on BROADWAY STREET towards 9TH AVENUE N. Drive for 0.3 miles.


Turn SLIGHT RIGHT onto US-501. Drive for 0.9 miles.


Turn SLIGHT RIGHT to get on US-501 heading NORTH. Drive for 1 mile.


Take US-17 S. Drive for 155 miles.


Take I-95 S. Drive for 164.7 miles.


Take exit number 362B to get on I-295 S. Drive for 14.2 miles.


Take exit number 21B to get on I-10 W towards LAKE CITY / TALLAHASSEE. Drive for 13 miles.


Take exit number 343 towards US-301 / BALDWIN / STARKE. Drive for 0.2 miles.


Go STRAIGHT to get on US-301 S towards LAWTEY / STARKE. Drive for 79 miles.


Turn RIGHT onto US-27 N. Drive for 2.7 miles.


Take LEFT I-75 S. Drive for 78.4 miles.


Take exit number 274 to get on I-275 S towards TAMPA / ST PETERSBURG. Drive for 16.7 miles.


Take exit number 44 towards DOWNTOWN-WEST. Drive for 0.4 miles.


Go STRAIGHT on N ASHLEY DRIVE. Drive for 0.6 miles.


Make a U-turn at E WASHINGTON STREET. Drive for a short distance.


You have reached Tampa, Florida


Tampa, Florida to Atlanta, Georgia


455.1 miles (732.4km)


Start out heading NORTHWEST on N ASHLEY DRIVE towards E JOHN F KENNEDY BOULEVARD. Drive for 0.6 miles.


Go STRAIGHT to get on I-275 N towards I-4. Drive for 15.7 miles.


Take I-75 N. Drive for 354.1 miles.


Take LEFT exit number 156 to get on I-475 N towards ATLANTA. Drive for 15.4 miles.


Take I-75 N towards I-75 N / GA-401 N. Drive for 67.8 miles.


Take exit number 246 towards FULTON ST / CENTRAL AVE / DOWNTOWN. Drive for 0.2 miles.


Keep SLIGHT LEFT at the fork towards ramp towards CENTRAL AVE. / DOWNTOWN / GA. DOME. Drive for 0.4 miles.


Go STRAIGHT on CENTRAL AVENUE SW. Drive for 0.6 miles.


Turn RIGHT onto TRINITY AVENUE SW. Drive for a short distance.


You have reached Atlanta, Georgia


Atlanta, Georgia to Columbia, South Carolina


213.8 miles (344.1km)


Start out heading SOUTHEAST on TRINITY AVENUE SW towards WASHINGTON STREET SW. Drive for 0.1 miles.


Go STRAIGHT on MEMORIAL DRIVE SW. Drive for a short distance.


Turn RIGHT onto CAPITOL AVENUE SE. Drive for 0.3 miles.


Turn LEFT to get on I-20 E towards AUGUSTA. Drive for 207.1 miles.


Take exit number 64A to get on I-26 E towards I-26 E / US-76 E / COLUMBIA. Drive for 0.8 miles.


Keep SLIGHT LEFT at the fork towards I-126 E. Drive for 3.6 miles.


Go STRAIGHT on ELMWOOD AVENUE. Drive for 0.5 miles.


Turn SHARP RIGHT onto ASSEMBLY STREET. Drive for 0.3 miles.


Turn LEFT onto LAUREL STREET. Drive for 0.1 miles.


Turn RIGHT onto MAIN STREET. Drive for 0.1 miles.


You have reached Columbia, South Carolina

Yesterday, we went to the offices of Minor League Baseball to get some information on how things are run in the minors. Everyone there was very cool, and most of them looked like they were in their 30s, so now you know who’s running the show. It’s not like the majors, where a bunch of old guys sit at a round table and relegate everything. These guys actually know their fans, and it shows because the minors have seen an attendance increase in each of the past five years. Also, when you find out how they got there, it’s very encouraging, because basically, they went the intern route, and then, through word of mouth, they got hooked up with a full-time job in beautiful Bradenton, FL working for the head office. You would think that these people have MBAs and PhDs (or at least that’s what I thought), but it turns out, if you want to be successful, basically, you need to be passionate, and have a fairly decent swing of good luck and timing. So, this is route #2 for me. Hey, I finally narrowed down what I want to do, which is nice, because that would be a first in my young life. I guess school wasn’t a big waste of time either. Also, comboing finance and sports and entertainment management was actually a really good idea, because right now, there’s not a whole lot of people in the country that can say that…sorry, had to give myself some dap on that.

Also, yesterday, we went to Dunedin (about 15-20 minutes outside of Tampa) to watch the Jays take on the St. Lucie Mets. I swear to you, I could hear everyone’s conversation in the entire park, it was that empty…and you know what? That was a good night for them. I’m serious, they turned out about 600-700 people, and that was good for them. Yowsah. However, we did provide pretty good in-game entertainment (including yours truly) much like we did in Myrtle Beach, and ok, maybe a bit of heckling to boot. We still managed to have a really good time with everything despite the lack of overall energy. Again, the home team faltered, and I’m officially blaming my teacher who said to the GM of Bowie that “the home team has won every game on the trip.” Oh yeah, great idea Dr. Brown! Since those fateful words were uttered, 1-4 for the home team…nice going! Well, today, the Bravos are playing the Phils. Unfortunately, we missed out on both Smoltzsy and Hudson, but hey, it’s baseball man. It’s the last day of college for me, so I’m going to have as much fun as is humanly possible.

Hey, NASCAR update! Actually, it’s going to be more like a Denny Hamlin update. Denny has had a great season so far. He sits in 4th in the standings, and trails only Jeff Gordon for the most laps led this season, which brings me to my next point: Denny’s crew needs a massive overhaul. Seriously, this is kind of getting ridiculous, and maybe this is me being too over the top, but Denny should have at least two wins right now, but his crew has been a complete let down this year. It’s the same script every race. Denny makes a run to the front, stays there for a huge portion of the race, then has one incredibly awful pit stop, pushing him back to like 15th or so, and then, he makes his way back to the front only to come up about a few laps short in his comeback. There was an announcement made about a crew change, and hopefully, the #11 FedEx crew can take a step in a positive direction this week in Charlotte, starting on the outside of Row 3. I also have to applaud how well Denny has qualified this year, especially his performance at Martinsville, where he captured his fourth career pole (he also won the Busch race that weekend). He has started well in basically every race, and if he can find a formula to stay there, then we may have the beginnings of something great here.

The NCAA just came back with the decision to move the three point line back in an attempt to make the three-point shot a little less appetizing. Here’s the thing: If the NCAA moved the line back to where the NBA’s line is, or even further, on the whole, it wouldn’t really matter. I mean, sure, the total amount of threes taken over the course of the season may go down some, but when you get down to it, guys are still going to be jacking threes like it’s no one’s business. However, what I will say is that this definitely will make the adjustment to the pros a lot easier for perimeter players. You wouldn’t think it, but those few inches of difference between the college and pro line make a lot of difference. So, the NCAA’s real intention to lower the amount of threes taken will probably not be accomplished, but, they unknowingly (or knowingly, who knows?) have helped future professionals become more comfortable with their range.

So the Stanley Cup’s ratings could be the worst in its history, and there have been a lot of people to come out and say something to that extent. Does this mean I won’t watch it? Hell no. In fact, now that I have DVR, count on that being in my playlist. Look it, being from New England, I really don’t even care who is out on the ice (although the Bruins would have been wicked intense, but I digress), I absolutely love hockey. I don’t really understand the public’s perception on this one. Luckily, there have been some positive signs, as the NHL is about to clear about $2.2 billion, an increase of $100-150 million from last year (that was obtained through Sports Business Journal…if you’ve never checked that out, it’s about time you did; I know, the subscription rate is pretty high, but still, the information you get in these is ridiculous; and when you get a free copy, well, that never hurts). With Reebok coming in and introducing their uniforms next year, there is still hope left for hockey to rise up. Anyway, onto the actual series itself: Ottawa cruised through what had been the best team in the league all season long, beating Buffalo in five games. Most of this, again, was due to their front lines, particularly Heatley and Alfredson. On the other side, Anaheim just finished a dog fight of a series against the heavily favored Red Wings. The Game 5 OT goal by Selanne was the death nail for Detroit. I don’t care how good you are, there is simply no recovering from a crushing loss like that. First, the game gets tied up with under a minute left in regulation, then, an unforced error in their own zone produces a win for the Ducks, and gave them their first advantage in the series. This is almost like when Dave Henderson hit his homer in ’86 against the California Angels in the ALCS (so nice to say California Angels…nostalgia trip!). The Halos had a 3-1 advantage in the series, but when Donny Moore (R.I.P.) gave up that homer to Henderson, you might as well have just given the series to the Sox, as they went back to Fenway and took the final two games with relative ease (I could also parallel the ’86 World Series here, but you know what…not gonna happen…not now, not never). Anyway, getting back to the ice, here’s how I see the series unfolding. First of all, since I’m on a bus, I have no clue who’s hosting Game 1, so I’m just going to assume Anaheim because I believe they had the better regular season record. Anyway, the Ducks are going to be almost impossible to beat at home. I mean it’s going to take one incredible effort to pull that off, and with that being said, I believe the Sens can split the first two games and send the series off to Ottawa at 1-1. From there, you’re looking at this factor: A team in Anaheim that has experience in this situation, especially when you consider there are still a few hangovers from the team that went seven games with the Devils a couple of years ago, which was one of the most riveting playoff series I’ve ever seen, and a team in Ottawa, who’s franchise has not been this far in a long, long time (for some reason, I keep thinking that they may have been to the finals in the mid-to-late 90s, but if they didn’t, consider that Ottawa, before these Senators, did not have a hockey team since right around the construction of the league happened). Ultimately though, I’m going to have to side with Ottawa purely based on the fact that they have more pure goal scorers than Anaheim has. If it came down to defense and goaltending, I would almost be inclined to side with the Ducks. However, I think that offense is going to drive this series, and when you can put out the kind of lines that the Sens can, I don’t see the Ducks being able to overcome it. If you’re still skeptical, at least watch a few minutes of Game 1, and be objective about the whole thing. I know some of you out there can’t stand hockey, but still, this is for the whole shebang, so keep that in mind, and also, the emotion of the crowd should at least hold you in there for a little while. Playoff hockey is some kind of amazing.

Well that’s all from the road, but think about it like this: Once I get home, I may actually have some factual information with me. Next report will be from the new digs in Charlotte, and I can’t wait because I’ve only been there for a week, and I’m starting to already feel like it’s home…it doesn’t hurt that I’ve already set up my mini-Tom Brady shrine, and am about to buy a crapload of Sox stuff for the season. I LOVE BASEBALL SEASON! GO SOX! Yessah! Alright, take care now. Peace.