Saturday, June 13, 2009

HISTORY ON DAWG'S SIDE - Huskies will turn tide on Cougars

With the signing of Nick Montana (Joe's son) by the Washington Husky football team and then the arrest of two Washington State football players last week, we once again see the Huskies sitting on top and the Cougars in the dawg house. The Huskies were the worst team in college football last year and the Cougars were a close second, but with this major signing and two major arrests we see one programing getting better and the other...well as Husky fans would put it, they are "Couging it". As we have seen throughout history, the Washington State football will always live in the shadow of the Huskies. Yeah they will have a few winning seasons but overall the Huskies will always prevail. The Huskies seem to tease Cougar fans like Lucy teases Charlie Brown, they think maybe this is our time. Yes, I know the cougars have won four of the last five Apple Cups but the tide is once again turning and history will once again repeat itself. Watch out cougars because you have had your 15 minutes of fame.

8 Historical Reasons Why Husky Football Will Once Again Outshine Cougar Football

1. 64 Apple Cup Wins
Cougar fans want to look at a piece of the pie as opposed to looking at the whole pie. The Huskies have dominated the Apple Cup series throughout history. In Fact in every decade the Huskies have won more Apple Cup games then the Cougars.

2. Streaks of 8 Consecutive Wins In The Apple Cup
The Huskies have won 8 consecutive Apple cups two times in history while the Cougars have never won more than two games in a row. So expect 2010 to be another Husky win and a Coug streak stopper.

3. Coaching History
The Huskies come from a long line of winning coaches. The late Jim Owens and Don James set a high standard for Husky football winning over 70 percent of their games. No Cougar football coach since 1950 has been over 55 percent. Winning is expected at Washington. In fact even the slickest Husky coach won games, tell that to Paul Wulff.

4. Lean Years Not That Lean
Even in the years since Don James (1992-present) retired, the Huskies have still won over 50 percent of their games. In these "lean years" the Huskies also won a National title and went 10-7 in Apple Cups. The cougar lean years...well...2009 was not unusual.

5. Recruiting
As the Nick Montana signing shows, the Huskies have always been able to out recruit the Cougars. Historically it was a no brainer where the top recruits would go on the West Coast, USC, UCLA and Washington. Washington State picked up the left overs and those from Eastern Washington. Even in the last 10 years the Huskies have out recruited the Cougs. According to since 2002, Washington's recruiting class has ranked 4.7 in the Pac-10 and WSU has ranked a measly 7.7. The Huskies in fact have ranked at least 3rd in the Pac-10 5 times over that period while WSU only once. Just face it Cougar fans you can't out recruit the Huskies unless of course if you somehow move out of Pullman.

6. Academics
The Huskies have set a high academic standard that ranks fourth in the PAC-10 in the APR (Academic Progress Rate). The Cougars on the other hand rank last and have had sanctions placed against them. This definitely has played into the off field troubles that the Cougars have gotten into in the last few years (at least 25 players have been arrested or charged with offenses that carry possible jail time, court records show). History shows that for the most part Huskies stay out of trouble and graduate.

7. Titles
Huskies have won 15 Pac-10 titles and 1 National Championship. The Cougars have won only 4 total titles. So the odds and history tell us that the Huskies will win another title before the Cougs.

8. Understanding Success
Even the best Cougar team could not beat the Huskies. The 3rd ranked Cougs of 2003 lost the Apple Cup to an average UW team. The Cougars just don't understand how to handle success like the Huskies do. For example the best Husky team of 1991 demolished the Cougars 56 to 21. The Huskies know how to win and are use to being on top, they have won 653 games, 200 more than the Cougars.

If history is any indication of future success then the Washington Huskies will once again be on top of the Pac-10 and the Cougars..well, just watch a few reruns of Charlie Brown.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

ESPN's ALL-TIME NBA FRANCHISES - A Statistical analysis

If you are a true Retro Sports Talk fan then you will love ESPN's John Hollinger and his All-time NBA Franchise Rankings. Talk about putting in some research, this article takes every NBA franchise and ranks them according to certain factors and accomplishments. He gives points for some factors and takes away points for others. Hollinger is known for his statistical analysis and it shows.

After looking at his rankings I have very few complaints. That being said I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't question some of them.

Here is his top 10 and my analysis:

No. 1: Los Angeles Lakers
The only problem I have with this is the fact that Celtics beat the Lakers so many times. Nine losses in the NBA finals to Boston just doesn't sit well with me. Overall, the Lakers deserve to be tabbed the best NBA franchise in a close decision.

No. 2: Boston Celtics
The Celtics are a close second but I do think Hollinger downplayed the Larry Bird factor. Bird was as good and as popular as any player not named Jordan. I grew up in the Bird/Magic era and that rivalry was as good as it gets. A close second is okay by me.

No. 3: San Antonio Spurs
After my post on Greg Popovich, I would say Hollinger is right on with this ranking. The Spurs were and still are one of the best franchises ever, especially if you include George Gervin and his finger roll.

No. 4: Chicago Bulls
The only reason the Bulls are this high is because of Michael Jordan, so how good is the franchise as a whole? Well, they had the greatest player ever so I think fourth on the list is about right.

No. 5: Phoenix Suns
No titles, that is the key here. Barkley put the Suns on the map and Nash gave them some life but they are the equivalent of the Buffalo Bills. Hollinger gives too much credit to being entertaining (remember this isn't the circus its the NBA). I do not see them this high.

No. 6: Philadelphia 76ers
Philadelphia could be the most underrated team in the top 10. Moses Malone doesn't get the credit he deserves and not many were more popular than Dr. J. Wilt was the greatest scorer of all-time and scored 100 which should earn the fanchice some extra credit.

No. 7: Utah Jazz
Use to love Stockton and Malone but what have they really done? A couple of title runs but other than that the Jazz are not what I would call a good franchise.

No. 8: Portland Trail Blazers
The Blazers sell out games which tells you that they are a franchise that people believe in. Portland has had two major runs at the title in different eras and I don't think it's fair to subtract point for the "Jail Blazer" tab.

No. 9: Indiana Pacers
All you got to say here is ABA and Miller.

No. 10: Houston Rockets
The Rockets are another underrated franchise. From Moses to the "Twin Towers" to Yao, Houston has been consistent and as powerful as many of the teams ranked above them. Their early history sets them back slightly.

The one franchise that Hollinger leaves out of the top 10 is the Detroit Pistons. How in the world can you leave the Pistons off the list? One of the most consistent teams of the 90's and current decade. Also the Sonics deserve more credit.

To see all the rankings click here

My Top 10 All-time NBA Franchises

1. Lakers
2. Celtics
3. Spurs
4. Bulls
5. 76ers
6. Trailblazers
7. Rockets
8. Suns
9. Pistons
10. Sonics (Thunder)

Honorable Mention: Jazz, Pacers

POPOVICH HALL OF FAME? - Pops not a household name

As Phil Jackson sets his sites on another NBA title and a Hall of Fame induction, Greg Popovich goes about his duties getting very little respect. If you asked 100 people on the street what Greg Popovich did for a living, I bet you less than 67 percent (Popovich's win percentage) of the people couldn't tell you. Why is Greg Popovich never mentioned amongst the all-time great coaches? Why is his name not etched in our mind like that of Phil Jackson? Now, he is by no means as great a coach as Jackson but he does deserve as Bill Murray says in Caddyshack, "a little something for the effort". Popovich is as good and has better numbers then many NBA coaches that are currently in the Hall of Fame. His numbers are better than the likes of Pat Riley, Lenny Wilkens, Jack Ramsey, Larry Brown and Jerry Sloan, all Hall of Famers. Let me prove my point:

Argument #1 - Just Win Baby

Popovich has a higher win percentage than all the coaches mentioned above. His .675 is amazing. Larry Brown (.527), Pat Riley (.636), Lenny Wilkens (.536) all pail in comparison. Popovich just wins games. In fact if you throw out the first of his 13 seasons he has never finished lower than 2nd in the division.

Argument #2 - Show Me The Ring

Popovich again outshines the other Hall of Fame coaches. In his 13 year career he has won four NBA titles. In Fact he has won three in a five year span. Compare this to Riley, Wilkens, Brown, Ramsey and Sloan who have only a COMBINED 8 titles in over 100 years of coaching. Give Popovich 10 more years and lets see how many titles he comes up with.

Argument #3 - Win or Go Home

Nothing says good coaching then winning when it counts and Popovich does this with the best of them. 102 playoff wins and a .618 playoff winning percentage is nothing to sneeze at. Hall of Famers Jack Ramsey and Jerry Sloan are both under 50% while Larry Brown (.529) and Pat Riley (.608) still don't top Popovich.

Argument #4 - Loyalty

My favorite player of all-time was the Ice Man (followed closely by David Robinson...he was a fantasy basketball monster), my favorite team was the Spurs so how about some love for my favorite Spurs coach. I have to be loyal to my team and therefore he deserves to be in the Hall.

Now Popovich is not the best coach of all-time nor is he the best active coach but I can tell you that he is the most underrated coach around. Too many of us look at the total number of wins that a coach has to determine his worth. We focus on longevity instead of the actual production. Popovich many not have the total wins but he does deserve serious consideration for the NBA Hall of Fame. So the next time you talk to someone about the NBA don't forget to mention Greg Popovich.

Top 5 Most Underrated NBA Coaches of All-Time

1.Greg Popovich (San Antonio Spurs)

2.Billy Cunningham (Philadelphia 76ers)

3. K.C. Jones (Washington, Boston, Seattle)

4. Don Nelson (Millwaukee, Golden State, New York, Dallas)

5. Rudy Tomjanovich (Houston, Los Angeles Lakers

Honorable Mention: Bill Russell, Flip Saunders, George Karl, Stan Van Gundy

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

OLD SCHOOL SPORTS HOBBIES - Kids today are missing out

I have never been more angry at my sister then when she (without my permission mind you) took and opened a sealed pack of 1981 TOPPS Football Cards just to eat the gum. Can you believe that? She was only four at the time but who cares, that pack could have contained a Joe Montana rookie card worth well over $250? Didn't she know that an unopened pack is worth way more than an open pack? What if she bent one of the corners of card or drooled on Montana's face? I would never be able trade a card that my sister had slobbered on(and boy did she slobber).

So, I yelled at her and get this...she began to cry and guess who got in trouble? Didn't my parents know that someday I would be able to sell all these cards and pay them back for my student loans? They should have praised my entrepreneurship and put my sister in timeout. I probably scarred my sister for life but I had to make sure that my 1981 TOPPS cards and any future cards would never again be in harms way. I still have those vintage cards and I will one day pass them down to my son. But I doubt he will appreciate it. Kids today don't collect cards like they did back in my day. They play video games instead. They will never know what is like to make a block buster trade of two 1985 football commons, four pieces of that horribly hard gum and a beat up Franco Harris card for that mint condition 1981 Joe Montana rookie card. My son will be getting all my sports cards, including my 1981 Montana, my 1966 Gale Sayers card, a 1966 Joe Namath card, a 1964 Merlin Olsen card, and my 1983 Elway and Marino rookie cards. He will have cards from over 5 decades and with them all my old school memories. I may have yelled and messed with my sister's Psyche that day but I can tell you this, it was well worth it.

Top 10 Old School Sport Hobbies Kids are Missing Out On

1. Collecting Sports Cards

2. Playing APBA, Strat-O-Matic and Statis Pro Board Games

3. Pulling a Wooden Hydroplane Behind a Bike

4. Collecting Mini Football Helmets

5. Electric Football

Honorable Mention: Table Hockey

Monday, June 8, 2009

OMAR VISQUEL INTO HALL? - Not on my watch

I ran across an interesting article on the merits of Omar Visquel being inducted into the Hall of Fame. The author makes a case for Visquel comparing him to other shortstops that have made the Hall. I will agree that Visquel is as good, if not better, than most of the shortstops that have made the Hall of Fame and that he is one of the best in the field but that does not mean he should be inducted.

First, induction to the Hall of Fame needs to be for the best players of their era. You must compare Visquel to other players at his position from the era that he played. For example it is not fair to compare Cy Young's and Walter Johnson's accomplishments as pitchers with pitchers from this decade. No pitcher would make the Hall of Fame because their numbers don't match up, (see records that will never be broken) as the game has changed so much. So we must compare Visquel with the likes of Ripken, Jeter, Rodriguez and Nomar...the players that played when he did. After doing this, we can see that Visquel is not considered one of the best players of his era at shortstop. He only has made 3 All-Star games in 21 years and was even traded in 93' by the Seattle Mariners for Felix Fermin and Reggie Jefferson (Seattle must not have considered him a Hall of Famer if they are willing to trade him for those two washouts).

Now, to Visquel's credit he did get better once traded to Cleveland but still he only batted over .300 once in his career and for his first 7 years he batted an average of .255. Not really Hall of Fame numbers. So what that tells me is that his longevity is the reason his numbers compare to some of the Hall of Fame shortstops.
But even if you throw out his first 7 years, his numbers are not great compared to most players of his era. In his last 13 years he has failed to bat better than .275 six of those years (batting .222, .246 and .241 in 3 of those). He is one of the best fielding shortstops but you also have to do something with the bat, especially when your colleagues are hitting for average, power and have also great gloves.

Lets compare Visquel to Jeter and Ripken (we will not even include Alex Rodriguez):

Visquel   .271 BA;   77 Hrs;   11 Gold Gloves;   3 All-Star Games
Jeter   .316 BA;   213 Hrs;   3 Gold Gloves;   9 All-Star Games
Ripken   .276 BA;   431 Hrs;   2 Gold Gloves;   19 All-Star Games

Visquel's numbers are okay but if you take out his Gold Glove awards you would see that he is nowhere near the best of his era.

Lastly, if your numbers don't match up you had better win a championship or two. Visquel lost 2 World Series while each of the other players in comparison won titles. Ozzie Smith won a title with St. Louis, Derek Jeter won many titles with New York, Cal Ripken won a title with Baltimore and even Nomar Garciaparra won a title. You could say Visquel is the Fran Tarkenton of baseball, good but just can't win a title. Not saying that a Hall of Famer has to win a title but if he doesn't then he better have the numbers to prove his worth. Omar Visquel is a quality shortstop that deserves to be considered one of the best fielding shortstops ever but should not be inducted into prestigious Hall of Fame.

What do you think?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

RECORD NEVER TO BE BROKEN - completing a game is a lost art

After watching a high school pitcher in Washington pitch 10 innings and then recently reading in Sports Illustrated about the University of Texas pitcher Austin Wood pitching 12 innings it made wonder why we don't see complete games in the majors anymore. The starter is one of your best pitchers and with all the technology and training available, you can't tell me that pitchers today are not in condition to pitch 9 innings. The true test of a pitcher use to be if they could complete the game without relief. The old school starter was tough, gritty and wanted to finish what he started. They worked hard on the mound and didn't let a few hits discourage them. Today, pitchers get pulled after 5,6 or if they are lucky 7 innings. What kind of accomplishment is that? It is like the quarterback in football playing only 3 quarters because he is "fatigued" and having a special closer quarterback finish the game. This is not a good thing for baseball.

The complete game is a thing of the past. Complete games have steadily dropped since the 60's and the only active major leaguer with more than 60 complete games in his career is Randy Johnson with only 100. To compare, hall of famer Cy Young pitched an amazing 749 complete games in his career and Jack Chesbro holds the modern era record for a season with 49 complete games. These record will never be broken as the trend steadily shows:

Decade Leaders in Complete Games in a Season

1970's Catfish Hunter 30
1980's Rick Langford 28
1990's Jack McDowell 13
2000's Roy Halladay 9

Top 5 Baseball Records That Will NEVER Be Broken

1. Complete games in a career (Cy Young 749)
Randy Johnson's 100 tops the list of active players.

2. Complete game shut-outs (Walter Johnson 100)
Randy Johnson has only 100 CAREER complete games let alone shutouts.

3. Wins in a Season (Jack Chesbro 41)
20 wins is good for a pitcher these days since they only pitch every 5 days.

4. Lifetime Batting Average (Ty Cobb .366)
Albert Pujols is the active leader with a .334 average. Still a long ways to go.

5. Most Triples in a Career (Sam Crawford 309)
The current leader is Johnny Damon with just over 90 and he is on the later stages of his career. The most in a career since 1963 is 147...I think this one is safe.