As Pujols lays in his bed of millions, The Saint Louis Cardinals are once again in the NLCS. In fact, the last two World Champions are playing against each other in the NLCS.

It is amazing to me how many national sports writers and so called experts out there believed that the Cardinals were going to fall off the radar this year due to Pujols and Larussa being gone. In the same breath, they believed that the Angels were almost assuredly guaranteed a playoff spot. In a post at the beginning of the season, I reported the complete opposite. The Cardinals would go to the playoffs and the Angels would be testing their golf game early. Baseball, more than any sport is not just one man, nor one manager. This has been proven over and over and over again. When are the experts going to wise up to this simple fact?

The reason the Cardinals are so successful is because they are the best run organization in baseball top to bottom…period. The second best run organization isn”t even in the Cardinals rear view mirror. Call it arrogance, call it pompous, but it is the truth. Fans fill up the stadium, managers develop their players, and the front office doesn’t try to keep up with the Jones’ or the “Benjamins” like so many teams do.  The Cardinals have developed a culture of winning, a culture of respect, and a culture of “I want to be better, so that my team is better.” I liken it to a well run company whose margins keep growing because the employees have a will to win, a will to beat out the competition.

The Cardinals are not just one bloated contract after another. They have a balance of young and old, well paid and minimal contracts, high strung and calm personalities, but most of all a will to win more than any other team. That will to win  has been on display a lot in the past year or so. Carpenter taking the mound in game five against Hallady of the Phillies last year, being down to their last strike twice in game 6 of the World Series last year, and again being down to their last strike in game 5 against the Nationals this year. This team is resilient and never says die. Now I am not guaranteeing another World Series victory this year. Anything can happen in the playoffs, and there are some good teams left. However, what I am saying is that this team will fight to the death more than any other team, and they will be fun to watch for as long as they are in it. Hopefully, they will once again raise the trophy, but if not, there is always next year. The Cardinals aren’t going away, so haters you better just accept it.

I was going to write about  the PR nightmare that Xavier University has undergone the past twelve months, and also respond to the letter that Fr. Graham wrote in the Xavier Quarterly Magazine I received last week. However, after writing the entire entry, I realized it was just full of anger and resentment to my Alma Mater and how it has handled these past twelve months. So instead, I have decided to move forward and write about the current crop of Xavier basketball players and what we can expect from them this new school year

However, one point that I would like to make is that in the letter that Fr. Graham wrote, I wish that he would have talked more in depth about the Dez Wells case. I know that that is not possible for him to do so. However, if he would have outlined what rules Dez broke, and the process of what happened, then maybe Xavier as an institution would have earned back my trust. The letter that was written only angered me further, and made me even more confident that the current administration has a long way to go in terms of erasing this PR nightmare of the past year.

Now that that is off my chest, let’s talk about the current state of Xavier basketball. This year is going to be tough. There is just no spin that I can derive from my brain that is going to erase that. Xavier lost all five starting players..three to graduation, one to transferring, and one to being expelled. 

I will miss watching you play Dez

Further complicating the problem is that incoming freshmen Myles Davis and Jalen Reynolds were both deemed ineligible by the NCAA. The Myles Davis case I wrote about in a previous entry. So as you can see, Xavier’s cupboard is pretty bare. Not bare in the sense that there isn’t going to be some talent, but bare in experience on the D-1 level. The returnees include Redford, who is a marginal A-10 player with limited athletic ability, Travis Taylor who is an undersized Power forward and Jeff Robinson who flashes athletic ability but can’t put two good halves together let alone two good games. Dee Davis and Justin Martin also return to the lineup this year. However, Martin has not lived up to his recruiting ranking as of yet, and Dee Davis though he did show some improvement in last year’s NCAA tourney, still has a lot to prove.

The person that I believe everyone is excited about, myself included, is Semaj Christon. The kid seems to be a star in the making, a 6’3 point guard who can handle the ball and make his teammates better. However, we all have to remember that the kid will be a freshman and will go thru some growing pains. Finally, Isiah Philmore, a transfer from Towson that becomes eligible this year will man a power forward position. He played pretty well in the CAA, racking up 15 plus points and 7 boards in the 2010-11 campaign against decent competition. So there is some hope that his game will translate to the A-10 level.

So with all of this, what can Xavier expect? If Dee Davis, Justin Martin and Travis Taylor have improved considerably over the course of the summer; If Philmore is a 10-12 and 5-7 guy; and if Christon is as good as advertised, then I believe that Xavier could win 18-20 games this year. That would be a heckuva accomplishment with this group, and Mack should be given the Coach of the Year award in the A-10. It will be fun to watch these kids grow, but there are going to be a lot of games where we moan and groan and collectively scratch our heads. It is still Xavier basketball though, and I still hope and believe that the future will be bright, as long as the administration can get out of their own way.

The NCAA might possibly be the worst run organization in the United States, wait no check that, the entire world. So what did the NCAA do now?

Well, to make a long story short, The NCAA has decided that Sam Cassell Jr at Maryland and Myles Davis at Xavier are ineligible to participate on their respective basketball teams this year. Why? Well because the NCAA decided that they did not like the Prep School that Cassell and Davis went to. However, here is the real kicker. The NCAA just now decided they don’t like the Prep School. How about all of the other Div. 1 basketball players that came out of Notre Dame Prep a year ago, they have to be ineligible too right?

Well, as you can tell by the title of this story, that is not correct. Cassell and Davis sat in the same classroom as Angel Nunez (Louisville), Todd Mayo (Marquette), Khem Birch (UNLV) etc etc. yet because those three graduated a year before Cassell and Davis they are still ruled eligible. You see, those classes just became invalidated because Notre Dame Prep is now on the NCAA Watch list.

Look, Notre Dame Prep might be one of those basketball factories, and could be shut down eventually. That is fine. I am all for the NCAA stepping in and getting rid of these so called “basketball factory” schools.  However, the problem I have is that the same rules do not apply for different people. If Cassell and Davis are not eligible to play, then why is everyone else?? Just because they left the school a year earlier? They all took the same classes, why should it matter when they graduated?

The other f’d up thing is not only was Davis deemed not eligible to play, he can’t practice with the team, nor can he receive aid (scholarship) from Xavier this year. So now Myles’ dad had to step in and take a 30k loan out so his son could attend his freshman year. The NCAA took a bad situation, and made it worse. Why should a kid suffer because adults at the school screwed up? All the NCAA ever says is that they want to do everything right to help the student athlete. Yet, here they are screwing with two more kids, who went to the wrong school at the wrong time. Nothing more.

 However, why should I expect anything different from an organization that came up with the BCS Idea?

Georgia On My Mind

Posted: September 9, 2012 in NCAA
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“Light-headed and memorable. Gut-twisting and humbling. Saturday night at Faurot Field was the sort of gawdawful moment that epitomized the wildest dreams and most agonizing nightmares of Tiger lovers everywhere.” —Bryan Burwell St. Louis Post-Dispatch describing many Mizzou fans emotions during and after the game.

Here is the thing, I was wrong in my prediction for Missouri against Georgia. I can freely admit when I was wrong, and I was wrong there. However, I was not wrong in knowing that Missouri can compete and possibly beat teams in the SEC not named Alabama and LSU. That is different than what every national sports writer will have you believe. Well, on a Saturday night in Columbia, Missouri proved that they could do it.

Missouri had this game in hand for three quarters. The defense was sensational, Franklin was good enough, and the offesnive line was holding up well. Mizzzou is just as fast and nasty as these teams in the SEC on both sides of the ball. They proved that last night. Until the end of the third quarter, Missouri was leading the entire game, up 20-17 until about three minutes left in the 3rd.

Unfortunately, the incompetency of the coaching staff and mistake prone QB that kept Missouri from winning Big 12 championships, once again showed up in this game. 4th and 11, backed up at their own 35, Gary Pinkel callls a fake punt run with a tiny and slow white punter. Genius! Then, Franklin decides to throw a pick six right into the hands of the Georgia’s best defender…my brother from another mother, Jarvis Jones. That kid is really freaking impressive by the way.

Anywho, here is what I found out last night from the game. The talent is there. However, if Missouri is going to succeed this year in the SEC, the coacahes are going to have to stay out of their own way.

 

MIZZZZOUUURAHHH!

Posted: September 7, 2012 in NCAA

The SEC is overhyped, overexposed,   and full of redneck hillbillies. That’s right, I said it. You know why I said it? Because it is true. Case in point…

If one more writer talks about how Missouri is going to have to recruit better in order to even stay with the powerhouse that is the SEC, and will be lucky to win 6 games this year, I am going to cut someone. Yes it is true, the SEC has won the past six BCS non-championship, championships. Well whoopdeefreaking do. That doesn’t make the conference the best in land. All it proves is that the best team in the land the past six years came from the SEC, period.

I acknowledge that the Alabama’s, Florida’s and LSU’s have had the best team in the land the past six years. I don’t dispute that at all. However, that doesn’t make the SEC conference the best top to bottom in football. That doesn’t mean that a team like Missouri, who came from the Big 12, is not going to be able to compete with overrated teams like Georgia. Georgia is ranked sixth in the land..let me ask you a very important question…HOW? Based on what?? You think they would be  ranked that high if they were in the Big 12?

Are teams like South Carolina, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and Auburn really better than Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas State, West Virginia? No…and you know what else pisses me off about most SEC fans? If say they are an Auburn fan, and Alabama wins the Championship, somehow the Auburn fan takes great pride in that and will pump their chest and say something like “The SEC is the best…we are so freaking awesome” and then Alabama will come out with a stupid SEC banner to wave around to the crowd instead of oh I dunno maybe their own team’s banner?? So freaking annoying…as a Missouri fan and former member of the Big 12, I didn’t pump my chest out every time Oklahoma beat a great team or was in the BCS championship game. They are a rival, why the heck would I want them to win anything??

So screw the entire SEC sans Mizzou. Most writers say that Mizzou will be lucky to hang with Georgia tomorrow night forget that..Mizzou isn’t old time football. They actually make the game exciting by you know…getting into the endzone, which is a problem for most SEC teams. Mizzou by 14…out!