Just 1 week to go before the start of the regular baseball season. Woo Hoo! On with the bag...
Brackets: Wow, did Kentucky suck, or what? I have never seen a #1 play that bad of offense for 2 straight games. Had they been playing anyone but Cornell, they would've gotten their ass kicked before the weekend even started. As it is, I am relatively happy with the Final Four. Duke swept through their easy region, West Virginia showed why everyone feared them this year, Butler makes for a nice story, and Michigan St. wins the "we're not Kansas" derby. I actually had WVU and Duke, along with Michigan St. making the Elite 8; If only Kansas had not choked, I'd be looking real well in my office pool.... WAIT A SECOND! I still have a chance to win! If Duke makes it to the championship, but loses to Michigan St., I'll win the cash! C'mon Sparty!
(Don't cry yet Tom, you've got a title to win! -link)
New Bball Practice Facility: Thursday afternoon, CU's athletic department (finally) broke ground on the new combination basketball and volleyball practice facility. It's being built as an attachment to the CEC, and looks frickin' awesome. As Neil Woelk pointed out in his column in the BDC, it's the largest facility upgrade for the basketball program since the CEC itself was built in 1979. It's been long overdue. Prior to Coach Bz's arrival, CU had basketball facilities that would've been antiquated in the late 80's, let alone the middle-aughts. Since he stepped foot on campus CU has continually upgraded their facilities; first with new operations centers actually at the arena the teams play in, then with new locker rooms and weight centers, and culminating with the new practice facility. This facility will be $11 million well spent, and I can't wait to get a look inside.
(Seriously, it's gonna be awesome. Congrats to the entire athletic department for getting the funding together.)
K-Mac is not a referendum on Bohn: Notably absent from the practice facility festivities was Women's coach Kathy McConnell-Miller. Apparently, she is about to be released from her coaching duties; it's about time. What Mike Bohn couldn't do with Dan Hawkins, he is about to do with K-Mac: get rid of a coach who can't get the job done. After 5 years of little results, and even less fanfare, K-Mac has had more than ample opportunity to show weather or not she could win in the Big XII, and she can't. It's almost the same story as Hawk, just with a different result. Now there's rumors that K-Mac may try to sue the school to keep her job. WTF?! Talk about not keeping you dignity in a rough situation. Obviously, no one wants to lose their job, but when you've had 5 straight years of losing in-conference records (and 4 years overall... wow that really is just like Hawk), you really have no leg to stand on. Combine that with the lawsuit that K-Mac got the school involved in when she revoked a verbally proffered scholarship, and her tenure has nothing good to show. Don't let the door hit you on the way out, K-Mac.
Many people, since K-Mac was Bohn's first hire, are taking this opportunity to whack Mike for being a "poor athletic director," or something. Mike can't force coaches to coach well. When he hired Hawk and K-Mac, most everybody applauded the deals as good hires. Hind-sight is a cruel mistress, but unfairly applied in this instance. Yes, Bohn can be held ultimately responsible for on-field performance, but in his position, all you can do is hire the right coach and hope. Mike's number 1 job is to fund raise and do everything he can to keep the department financially viable (an extension of which is selling the brand). He does an exemplary job at this. (Former AD)Dick Tharp (who some people liked for some reason) can't hold a candle to Bohn's fund-raising ability (or affable personality), and in Bohn's tenure CU has drastically changed (for the better) its marketing operatus. Because of this, I still believe that Bohn is the right man for the job, and roll my eyes whenever anyone tries to convince me otherwise.
(Great form Mike! I never saw Tharp toss a ball into the stands, or even smile for that matter. From: The BDC)
Spring Practice Returns: After 10 days off, the football team is back on the practice fields to finish off spring ball. Just to make myself clear: I don't care, and I'm not going to the spring game. Seeing Cody Hawkins slowly get forced into the starting QB role will only make my stomach upset. I don't necessarily find spring practice all that exciting anyways, and I usually find myself nodding off during the spring game, so I don't I'm going to regret missing it.
OH NO, WE SUCK AGAIN: The Blackhawks continue to stumble out of the Olympics Break.
This is beginning to become worrisome. "Suck" is obviously too strong a word, but when you lose 7 of 10, it does cause a prickling sensation at the base of the skull. In the last two games, they've looked terrible against lowly Columbus! The Hawks have only 12 pts after the break, and are slowly losing their grip on the division. The Hawks have guaranteed themselves a playoff spot, but momentum may be key. They need to find their 2nd gear, and do it quickly... it'd be terrible to waste a team this good. (see the early '90s Hawks)
(Commit to the Indian-head boys! From: the Trib)
Unlucky 13: There have been rumblings in Sox camp that the South-Siders may roll north with 13 pitchers. Sergio Santos has locked up the 12th spot in the bullpen mostly because he is out of options (the mechanism by which teams send players to the minors), and would most likely get picked up by another team if the Sox tried to send him to Charlotte. Greg Aquino, however, has proven to be the real deal, and probably earned a spot on the roster that he's not going to get. Shame for Aquino, but a 13th pitcher is not the answer. In the linked article, Jim Margalus talks about the relative benefit of keeping platoon expert Jayson Nix (Thanks Rockies!) on the ball club as opposed to an extra pitcher. In addition, pitching is the kind of commodity that is not necessairly improved with volume. That Santos will "head north" over Aquino is a shame; Aquino is a former closer prospect with the D-Backs, and has stellar stuff (when accurate). But, Aquino should stick in the minors until realistic room is found at the major league level (Linebrink gets "lost" on a road trip perhaps?). With the starting rotation that the Sox posses, its stupid to bring along an extra-extra reliever.
Mark Buehrle is an iron horse: I play trivia games on Sporcle.com often. They're quick, fun, and you can find one for almost any topic you can imagine; plus they update often. One I found to my liking last week was the players with the most pitching starts for each team during the past decade; basically a who's who of pitching during the aughts. I was surprised to find out that the South Side's own Mark Buehrle leads all of baseball for starts during the period for one team (with 300). While he doesn't have the most overall during that period, the stat does show that Mark is like Novocaine for the Sox fans soul. As a Sox fan, I know that every 5th day, Mark will be there, without fail; he's done it for a damn decade. Mark may never reach 300 wins, or any of the other Hall-of-Fame benchmarks, but his career has been impressive non-the-less; he's just another case of the individual being more than the sum of his parts.