Sunday, December 21, 2014

Jonathan Toews All Star Promo Video is Pure 80's Awesomeness

((ht: foxsports.com))

Oh boy....this is pure cheese and we love it.

Check out this promo video touting Chicago Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews for this years NHL All-Star team.

Words cannot describe this one...so just watch in awe. Oh, and note teammate Patrick Kane on an elliptical trainer wearing a Loverboy style headband.

Morning Wrap: Bowling Green Wins Bowl Game on 78 Yard TD Pass

((ht: espn.com))

And we are off and running with College Bowl season.

Five bowl games were played on Saturday, the best most likely being in the newest game the Camellia Bowl where Bowling Green squared off with South Alabama.

The game was uneventful for the most part. Until the end of the game.

The Jaguars scored with just 1:20 left in the game to take their first lead 28-27. After kicking off to Bowling Green, it took just one play for that to change.

Falcons QB James Knapke hit WR Roger Lewis in stride near the sideline and Lewis was off to the races, 78 yards later, he scored giving Bowling Green the 34-27 win.

Knapke, the games MVP was 25-39 with 368 yards passing and 2 TD's. Lewis caught 4 of those passes for 137 yards and both of the touchdowns.

The win ended Bowling Green's season at 8-6, South Alabama finished 6-7.

Highlights from ESPN.com:

Morning Wrap: Kentucky Embarrasses UCLA in Hoops

((ht: cbssports.com))

The game was over after UCLA could manage only 7 points in the first half.

Yes...seven...

Twenty minutes into their CBS Classic (made for TV) game vs. top ranked Kentucky, the Bruins trailed 41-7.

Did we mention it was 24-0 before UCLA finally got on the scoreboard?

Kentucky's long line of 6-10 plus athletes tormented UCLA, holding the Bruins to 3 for 37 shooting in the first half. After Wildcats coach John Calipari called off the dogs in the second half, UCLA managed to make the game a little closer.

The final score 83-44.

Devin Booker had 19 points and Aaron Harrison chipped in 15 for Kentucky who was able to empty the bench and shot 50 percent as a team on the night.

The Wildcats, at least early in season are proving to be the best team in all the land. And while there are still three months to go, nobody else looks to be even close.

Your highlights from CBSSports.com:

Morning Wrap: Calgary Flames With Worst Own Goal Ever This Week

((ht: nhl.com))

It's never good to put the puck in your own net, but in hockey and a few other sports it happens from time to time.

But you are not likely to see an "Own Goal" like this one.

Saturday night, the Calgary Flames put one in between the pipes when goalie Jonas Hiller left the net unattended after a delayed penalty call.

Which in hockey happens quite frequently. When you know a penalty is coming, you try to run an extra attacker out there until the whistle blows.

Here's the problem: A Flames defender got the puck and launched it back towards the blue line.

Nobody was there.

The puck kept sliding down the ice and yup, it goes in the net. Vancouver Canucks defender Yannick Weber, the last Canuck to touch the puck gets credit for the goal and all Flames coach Bob Hartley can do is shake his head.

Morning Wrap: Texas A and M Blows Up Kyle Field

Let the renovations begin.

Texas A and M took the big step in renovating their football stadium Sunday morning by imploding a large chunk of the west end seats.

The school has already kicked off the $450 million renovation of Kyle Field which will increase the capacity to over 102,000 seats.

In addition, the new west side of the stadium will include a "Hall of Champions", premium seating and suites and upgraded TV facilities.

All that and it's expected to be done in time for the beginning of the 2015 season.

Good luck, that's a pretty tight timeline.

Here's video of the implosion from the Aggies their ownselves...

A video posted by Aggie Athletics (@12thman) on

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Bearcats Coach Mick Cronin Sits Out With Aneurysm

University of Cincinnati's head basketball coach Mick Cronin missed his teams game on Saturday and is likely to miss a few more while being treated at the school's hospital for what was termed an "Unruptured Aneurysm".

The 43-year old Cronin had been complaining the past few weeks about headaches and got a series of tests early in the week.

That's when doctors noticed the Aneurysm. Thankfully, it had not yet done anything other than cause discomfort. Cronin is resting comfortably at the hospital and is keeping track of his team.

He also tweeted out his thanks to Bearcat fans and other for their support.



BASTA: Brian Sabean Quietly Having A Solid Offseason

((HT: BASTA/Ben Leonard))

Clearly, the Giants have not had the most flashy off-season. They missed out on re-signing Pablo Sandoval and picking up Yasmany Tomas and Jon Lester, while the Padres went out and acquired practically every outfielder on the market. However, standing relatively pat may not be the worst thing for the Giants. They have made three financially sound moves this winter, the first being re-signing reliever Sergio Romo to a two-year, fifteen million dollar contract. Sabean followed by signing Jake Peavy to a two-year, twenty-four million dollar deal, and then went out and acquired Casey McGehee from Miami to man the hot corner. In acquiring McGehee, the Giants gave up merely pitching prospects Kendry Flores and Luis Castillo, who apparently play baseball. Giants fans may bemoan Sabean’s seeming lack of action, but his moves may prove to be shrewd when it is all said and done.

First and foremost, McGehee will never replace Sandoval in the clubhouse or on the field. He does have a very similar portly frame, but has much less power. He was about an average major league hitter in 2014, becoming the National League’s Comeback Player of the Year and posting a wRC+ of 102. For those looking for a masher, McGehee has never been one in any resemblance, although he did launch twenty-three homers in 2011, albeit fueled in part by relatively hitter-neutral Miller Park. He also brings championship experience to the table, as he won a title in Japan with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in 2013. Perhaps Sabean values his experience winning in odd years.

Lacking power, his success is fueled by average, a statistic that can largely be dictated by luck, as hit placement fluctuates from season to season. However, despite his inflated .335 BABIP, way above his career averages, McGehee’s line drive rate spiked almost three percent in 2014. Harder contact makes it easier for hits to fall in. Hence, McGehee’s increase in hard hits balls was likely due to an adjustment he successfully made, not luck.

In addition, McGehee has proven to be an slightly-below average defender at the big league level. He has lost twenty-four DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) in his six years in the big leagues, a serviceable number. He is no Manny Machado, but he certainly isn’t the Matt Kemp of the infield. Once more, McGehee comes at virtually no cost in prospects or money, and likewise risk, commanding a salary of just over one million dollars in 2015. He is under club control for just one year, and is likely a stop-gap type piece until Sabean can find a free agent or trading partner to solidify the position for good. Essentially, the Giants gave up next to nothing for a reliable rental at third base, a player who posted a sold 2.0 WAR in 2014.

The Giants didn’t just save money at third base: they also bought from the bargain bin at starting pitcher in signing Peavy. Peavy pitched very well with the Giants in 2014, posting a 2.17 ERA after coming to the Bay Area from Boston. However, this success was largely fueled by an insanely low 3.2 HR/FB%, well below his career average of 9.5%. For this reason, Steamer pegs Peavy for a 3.67 ERA in 2015, a solid number for a bottom-of-the-rotation starter, about market value for twelve million. Bochy has a special bond with Peavy that started in their days in San Diego; he just pitches better under Bochy.

For these reasons, Peavy likely represents insurance for the Giants if they don’t sign James Shields or Max Scherzer, and could fit in nicely in the fourth spot in the rotation behind Bumgarner, Cain, and Hudson. If they do sign Shields or Scherzer, Tim Lincecum would be forced out of the rotation, leaving the Giants with considerable depth at starting pitcher, coupled with Yusmiero Petit. In either scenario, the Giants are set for 2015 with their rotation; Shields or Scherzer would just be icing on the cake. Economic savings on Peavy and McGehee give the Giants the flexibility to win a bidding war with any team competing for Scherzer or Shields’ services, namely the Detroit Tigers. The Giants are currently the favorites for Shields, with no other team clearly in the running. Shields would be markedly cheaper, and is much more likely to sign with San Francisco.

Sergio Romo’s deal was probably the worst financially for the Giants, but fifteen million over two years isn’t much of a risk in this era of baseball. However, as I mentioned in my offseason preview, Romo has been in decline every year since 2011.

Year/xFIP/WAR

2011 1.49/2.0
2012 2.61/1.0
2013 3.20/1/1
2014 3.40/-.3

Romo’s slider didn’t break as tightly in 2014, especially during a rough June stretch. However, he picked it up as the season dragged on in the setup role. Hitters seem to have adjusted to his increasingly hittable slider. However, with righty reliever Pat Neshek signing a very similar deal with Houston, the Giants did not over-spend, at least too much. Romo projects to be somewhat better in 2015, as Steamer sees him posting a 2.95 ERA.

In all, Sabean spent around twenty million on three players. Giants fans may decry Sabean as frugal, but his strategy of signing his homegrown players has certainly paid off in the last five years. Sabean has shown he was willing to spend big in offering competitive deals to Lester and Sandoval, and these smaller deals allow him to spend big on a right-handed horse. Casey McGehee and Jake Peavy aren’t quite Sandoval and Lester, but they aren’t quite Joaquin Arias and Tim Lincecum, either. This mid-tier moves may not seem significant, but they solidify two very shaky spots on the Giants’ roster. Whether Sabean uses his surplus money on a left fielder AND a top-of-the-line starter remains to be seen, but the Giants would be fine starting off 2015 with Lincecum in the fifth starter role and Blanco in left. Blanco is a perfectly competent major league left fielder, one who can handle cavernous AT&T Park very well. As I alluded to in my off-season preview in November:

Unless Sabean becomes infatuated with another veteran outfielder (See Derosa, Mark), there is no reason to believe that anyone but Gregor Blanco will be the Opening Day left fielder.

Blanco is cheap and reliable, and can handle the bat more than well enough, posting a 107 wRC+ in 2014. Sabean quietly has had a great offseason, although not moving at quite the same pace as the A’s or the Padres. His apparent frugality allows him to spend big on those who deserve the big bucks, Nick Markakis not being one of them.