Your Team is in the Championship? That’s a Riot!

As a spectator, I can understand the frustration and visceral angst fans invest and share with their beloved sport teams. More »

The Frat House Sports Show #135

It continues to be The Frat House “triage” as more of our regulars miss. Frat House Mike is BACK . . . Sidekick is OUT . . . Uncle Mark? He’s just More »

MLB: Just as it Begins, Let me Tell You How it Ends!

So, let me run down for you how I think this baseball-thing will all end up later in the year when we begin thinking about another upcoming winter season. More »

Vin Scully: The Voice Goes Down Under

The LA Dodgers are one of the teams synonymous with baseball around the world and one man who has been there since the Brooklyn Dodgers days is legendary American broadcaster Vincent ’Vin’ More »

Can NBA & NCAA Correct “One-and-Done” Without a Train Wreck?

At issue, is the age of players entering the NBA and the “one-and-done” rule which has dramatically affected the conduct of men’s basketball in the NCAA for the past eight years. More »

 

Your Team is in the Championship? That’s a Riot!

Mike Vecchione, Adam Wilcox

By: NHL Analyst, “Uncle Mark” McShane

Ralph Kramden, Jackie Gleason’s “Honeymooner’s” character, said it best to his television wife: “You’re a riot, Alice; a regular RIOT!” That line of scripted dialogue was comic TV “gold” 60-years ago when first uttered (I still laugh at it, too). Today however, the laughs have diminished as the riots have ramped up . . . real time.

Make no mistake, I understand now-a-days that should “my” team simply compete in a championship tourney I’d be wise to brace myself for mayhem that probably will exceed my kitchen on fire. See today; they win? Riot! They lose? Riot!! The pathology of random violence defies explanation beyond indulgence in voluntary insanity. Players at most levels are increasingly subject to “codes of player conduct.” Go one better; increasingly parents of players are, more and more, required compliant as well. Spectators? Wellllll . . . not so much.

The latest example of “fans” behaving badly was manifest in a small Minnesota town following the loss by the Minnesota Golden Gophers men’s hockey team to the Union College Dutchmen squad in the Division I NCAA Frozen Four Championship Final. In terms of serving up a heated rivalry between these two teams, this final was defined by a conspicuous absence of one. In fact, the Gophers were appearing for only their 12th Final since 1947-48, and the Dutchmen were in just their first.

Trashing Dinkytown, MN for the second time in a matter of just days, rowdy and intoxicated revelers expressed annoyance with the hockey team’s loss; an earlier semi-riot (the prior Thursday night) was in “joy” of the Gophers’ advance to the Final. No disrespect to Dinkytown which seems like a wonderfully bucolic hamlet but, (tongue squarely in cheek) how funny is it that a locale with that name would make national headlines for mass hysteria? The whole concept of incongruity got me to thinking about playoff games and fan participation in a whole new way.

I can’t see myself ever participating in a riot. In spite of my self-described pride of being “brick throwing Irish” and coupled with contempt for injustice, I actually find the notion of causing reckless destruction to my residential municipality as an outlet to be outlandish. Nonetheless, as a spectator, I can understand the frustration and visceral angst fans invest and share with their beloved sport teams. As a matter of fact, I can think of several hockey towns that probably ought to riot but they haven’t . . . at least not yet. Try on a couple of these fun facts for size and see if you don’t agree.

Toronto Maple Leafs player David Clarkson signed a lucrative contract with the team last summer for 7 years and $36.75 million. Clarkson had posted his most productive NHL season while still with the New Jersey Devils in 2011-12; he registered 30 goals and 16 assists (46 pts) in 80 games. The next year (his last in NJ) he scored 15 goals and 9 assists (26 pts) in 48 games during the lockout-shortened campaign. Okay, half of his previous output but 2012-13 was essentially half a season. This year? (*clears throat*) Clarkson’s number of suspended games (12) exceeded his total 11-point production (5 goals & 6 assists) in 60 games. By that calculation, he earned right around $409,091.00 per point. Add to that the perennial meltdown of the Maple Leafs which just proceeded to miss the playoffs for the eighth time in nine years, and I contend Toronto is a city that one could expect to see overrun bars and vehicles set ablaze. (Perhaps that explains why Brendan Shanahan, former NHL disciplinarian, signed up as this team’s president; to play policeman.)

Follow me 98 miles south to Buffalo for our next installment of fiscal fiasco. Those Buffalo Sabres have become so adjusted to losing that the team is now willing to pay dearly in order to continue failing the fan base in championship form. In 2011-12 Buffalo signed young forward Ville Leino to a jaw-dropping 6-year, $27 million deal. This kid must be the real deal, right? Oh you bet he is . . . with his banker. Over this past season, Leino tallied 0 goals and 15 assists over 58 games. (*raising eyebrows*) Calculating value ratio: . . . how about, $300,000 per point scored to a player from a team which had 1 more team point (52 – League worst) than team Loss (51 – League leader). Buffalo has now missed the playoffs for the third time in four years. If that town isn’t ready to topple street lights and rumble most nights, which one should be?

How quickly can we continue going south, you ask? Hop on a flight from Buffalo and you’re up-and-down in about 2 hours, 15 minutes arriving at beautiful Sunrise, Florida. While sunrise generally suggests the end of rioting, for Florida Panthers’ fans havoc might just commence almost any time now. Despite the beaucoup bucks dumped into the franchise by new owner Vincent Viola, this desperately deplorable club boasted team-leading scorer Nick Bjugstad’s 38 points (not goals . . . POINTS!) in 76 games as a new NHL record in futility. (The previous season-low team points total was held by Scott Pellerin in Minnesota Wild’s inaugural 2000-01 year when Pellerin tallied 39 points in 58 games.) Further, the 19,000+ seat facility recently installed enormous curtains across sections 307 through 312 at each end zone of the top tier, refusing to sell tickets there, while attempting to mask terrible attendance. I know that if I were a hockey fan in town I’d be embarrassed by (and angry at) the owner, staff, coaches and players. (*sigh*) Possibly the weather is just too hot down there to care. Rioting in seersucker suits and patent leather hardly conveys the impression of menace and being really fed up, I suppose. Even still, if a gang mobbed the BB&T Center, throwing eggs and pucks, I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

These are just three (there are many others) examples of cities that perhaps ought to be up-in-arms over their “professional” hockey teams but, . . . they aren’t. Instead, we learn of this hooliganism in conjunction with final games and championship matchups. I must confess I just don’t understand it. Maybe it must have something to do with “elimination” games? Or perhaps in this case, maybe Dinkytown was just trying to elevate its stature above rinky-dink?

Thankfully, we’ve not heard of players contributing to the destruction of cities and towns in riots yet. Perhaps though, that might be the logical next step. That of course flies in the face of society espousing that sports heroes be role-models and all. Shucks though, I can almost see a day when . . .

“Hey (insert name of athlete)! You just won the (insert championship title)! What are you going to do now?” “I’m going to Disney World Riot in my Team’s Home Town!”

The Frat House Sports Show #135

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It continues to be The Frat House “triage” as more of our regulars miss. Frat House Mike is BACK . . . Sidekick is OUT . . . Uncle Mark? He’s just steady! . . . and we’re steadily following it all including The NCAA Finals Championship; is Kentucky Wildcats John Calipari going ANY where; well . . . perhaps he ought to consider it before the NCAA completely implodes on itself; oh, and that “team guy” . . . you know DeSean Jackson over at the Washington Redskins . . . yeah, well he went on vacation . . without his team.

Uncle Mark jumps on the ice with an end-of-season analysis of some of the very best twin teams like the Florida Panthers and Vancouver Canucks. Oh, it’s comical. But, for real, the playoffs are set and we’re ready here. NASCAR moves to the “Lady in Black” out of order and we’ll try to forgive that but wow have things gotten confusing in the points . . . huh . . . I mean wins (I guess) standings.

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The Frat House Sports Show #134

Frat House 134 - 12

Weeeee’rrrrre baaaaccck! After unfortunately missing our VERY first show in over 2½-years, the boys are back with a very, very different Frat House Fools Show . . . and they bring in their fellow friendly fool from CLW83, Jim Williams to kick it off with the beginning of the baseball season and a look around the leagues. Then Sidekick & Uncle Mark run down their NFL-dominated Big Stories, including the saga of DeSean Jackson; the Eagles-Jets swapping QB’s; Mark Cuban predicting the demise of the NFL; and, might “Johnny Football” oversee its implosion? The NHL regular season is winding down and it won’t be long before we’re talking HOF candidates. NASCAR has seen six winners in six races. Will Texas bring a 7th? IT’S THE FRAT HOUSE AT ITS BEST! It’s another wonderful show you gotta’ pass around to all your friends & family!

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MLB: Just as it Begins, Let me Tell You How it Ends!

Atlanta Braves Winners

By: D.C. Lundberg, Sports Analyst CLW83

Forget whatever it was they were doing in Australia two weeks ago, with the Major League Baseball season beginning in earnest here in the U.S. on Monday, March 31 it ushered in two events. One is that has allowed us to turn our attentions away from one of the longest and harshest winter season’s we’ve experienced nationally in decades. Second is that means it’s prediction time!

So, let me run down for you how I think this baseball-thing will all end up later in the year when we begin thinking about another upcoming winter season.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST:
I don’t see a lot of turnover in terms of standings here. I think the Atlanta Braves were very smart in locking up many of their young players for varying amounts of time so all of those contracts don’t expire at the same time. I don’t see them winning 96 games again, but they’re clearly the top of the class in the East and should win the division quite handily. The only other team that could pose any sort of threat is the Washington Nationals, but I see far too many question marks on the offensive side there. Ian Desmond and Ryan Zimmerman are their most dependable bats, but Zimmerman also has a proclivity for landing on the disabled list. Washington’s rotation is solid, but it won’t be enough to catch the Braves. They should be in the Wild Card hunt, however. The New York Mets will again finish in third place and Philadelphia Phillies in fourth, though both teams will struggle more than they did last season. As for the Miami Marlins, the less said about them the better, but I’d brace myself for another 100 loss season if I were in South Florida.

NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL:
In my opinion, this division provided the most excitement among the six last season, with the top three teams all in contention. It’s not often that 90 wins fails to advance you to the post season (as happened in Cincy in last season). I think last year’s NL Central champ, the St. Louis Cardinals have regressed by trading David Freese to Los Angeles/Anaheim/California (or whatever they’re calling themselves this year) for Peter Bourjos, who is nothing more than a fourth outfielder/pinch runner in my book. That opens the door for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds to take a run at first place, both of whom pretty much stood pat this off season. Both teams have young, developing talent with some key veterans. I think both teams will most likely be in the 90+ win category once again. The Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs will once again be the NL Central also-rans.

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST:
Compared to the other two NL races, this one should prove to be the least interesting. The Los Angeles Dodgers are in a bit of trouble, injury wise to begin the season as Matt Kemp remains a wild card. When he’s in the lineup, there are fewer in Major League Baseball you’d rather have hitting for you. Recently though, the injuries have taken their toll on him. Andre Ethier hasn’t been the same since his string of injuries as well a couple of years ago. The Arizona Diamondbacks are on the rise, however and could take a run at the division championship, but I think a Wild Card spot is more likely. I think the Colorado Rockies could make a little bit of noise as well, but I think they’ll be fighting with the San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres for the basement.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST:
Nobody expected the Boston Red Sox to do anything last year, and here they wind up winning the whole thing. I do think that they snuck up on some teams early in the season, so guaranteed there will be more teams gunning for them early on this time and not taking them lightly. As a result, I don’t expect another 97 win season. The Tampa Bay Rays are always solid and will challenge for the division title, if Evan Longoria can stay off the DL. The Baltimore Orioles seem like an outside shot at the Eastern Division with a Wild Card berth most likely. The New York Yankees are in a steep decline (thank goodness) and have a chance to finish in last place for the first time since 1990. The big budget Toronto Blue Jays didn’t do anything last year and I expect more of the same.

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL:
This one could get interesting. Both the Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals have been on the rise over the last couple of seasons. (Kansas City particularly came out of nowhere last season after years and years of futility.) Both teams have young, developing talent, with the Indians ahead of KC, in my view. I don’t think the Detroit Tigers will be as strong this year with a new manager who has almost zero professional managerial experience and the erasure of Doug Fister and the PED-infused Jhonny Peralta, who now play for the Nationals and Cardinals, respectively. Don’t get me wrong, Detroit will be in the mix, but I think their time has passed. It’s a three-team race this year, with the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins on the outside looking in.

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST:
As in the National League, the Western Division of the American League is the least interesting of the three. I think the Oakland Athletics should walk away with this one, as the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels don’t stack up to them. They’ll challenge Oakland, but I don’t think it’ll be enough. Texas’ offense, their annual strong point, has taken hits the last two off-seasons with the vacancy of Josh Hamilton and another PED All-Star, Nelson Cruz. (No, I’m never letting the steroid thing go.) Los Angeles is getting older in key spots and the loss of Mark Trumbo to the D-Backs certainly doesn’t help. This division could be won with 83 or 84 wins. Whoever wins the West though, I can’t see any of them being contenders in the postseason. Even with the signing of Robinson Cano, the Seattle Mariners will finish with fewer wins this year because of the addition of Lloyd McClendon as manager; the dumbest move any team made this offseason. (I could write a whole article on just that!) Fortunately for the M’s, the Houston Astros are in their division, meaning that Seattle will not finish in last place. Houston will challenge Miami for the worst record in baseball.

WILD CARD PLAY-INS:
NL: Cincinnati Red over Arizona Diamondbacks
AL: Boston Red Sox over Detroit Tigers

DIVISON SERIES:
NL: Cincinnati Reds over Los Angeles Dodgers / Atlanta Braves over Pittsburgh Pirates
AL: Tampa Bay Rays over Oakland A’s / Cleveland Indians over Boston Red Sox

LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES:
NL: Atlanta Braves over Cincinnati Reds
AL: Tampa Bay Rays over Cleveland Indians

WORLD SERIES:
Atlanta Braves over Tampa Bay Rays

Vin Scully: The Voice Goes Down Under

Vin Scully

By: Mick McGill
Special to Frat House Sports

The Major League Baseball juggernaut descended on Sydney, Australia on the 22nd and 23rd March for the Opening Series of the 2014 season. Australian sports fans had the privilege of witnessing the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks play in our backyard in this historic sporting moment at the Sydney Cricket Ground. While MLB has opened its season outside North America seven times since 1999, this was the first time “America’s pastime” season opener has been played in the Southern Hemisphere.

The LA Dodgers are one of the teams synonymous with baseball around the world and one man who has been there since the Brooklyn Dodgers days is legendary American broadcaster Vincent ’Vin’ Scully. He is an icon of the sport; considered by many to be baseball royalty; and, has been the play-by-play announcer for the Dodgers since 1950.

He is known for his dulcet tones and melodic voice. Scully calls the game with calm demure as though he is sitting there right next to you and telling you the story as it unfolds.

After the game on Sunday, I was lucky enough to catch up with him before he headed off to the airport to fly back home. Considering his importance to the game of baseball and the Los Angeles Dodgers it was refreshing and surprising to chat with a man so humble and down to earth.

Q: This will be your 65th year broadcasting for one club which is an amazing achievement. Did you ever imagine you would be in this position when you first started?

No, when I first started I was hoping to make it through the season and hoping to perhaps be picked up for the next year. I had no thought of a long career or anything like that.

Q: When you were a young boy growing up in the Bronx did you play the game?

I played. I played high school baseball, then I went to college and played varsity college ball. I was good in some areas; I could run, I could throw. I was not much of a hitter like so many of us; that was my short coming.

Q: When did you decide that you wanted to be a broadcaster?

Well, I actually started when I was eight years old thinking that I wanted to be a broadcaster. I used to crawl under a big old radio, a four legged monster, and lay underneath the speaker. It wasn’t the games so much as the roar of the crowd. That intrigued me, and as a child I used to think, ‘Gosh, I would like to be there’. And then later I thought, ‘Not only do I want to be there, I want to be the fellow announcing the game’.

Q: So you didn’t pick baseball; baseball picked you?

Kind of, in some ways yes.

Q: You have had an illustrious career to date. There have been a multitude of awards and numerous inductions into Halls of Fame alongside names like George Burns, Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. Not to mention a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Has there been a stand out highlight?

My highlights in my job have been the talking about the accomplishments of others. It is not really that I am the one doing anything, so the highlights for me are those great moments performed by other people that have given me the chance to describe it. It is nothing that I have done.

Q: Has there been a favorite Dodgers team or era?

Well I think my first team would be my kind of graduation class team. So the first few years these players meant a great deal. Then winning the only World Series in Brooklyn that was a great moment. Then of course in Los Angeles it has been a series of great moments and incredible individual moments as well.

Q: What do you think of this 2014 season team, any predictions?

No, I do not predict. The reason is there is the unseen enemy and no one knows who it is and when it will strike and that would be injuries. Last year the Dodgers started off very poorly. Finally they got themselves healthy, made one trade and won 42 out of 50, and that sent them away and they had a shot at the World Series, but Hanley Ramirez was hit by a pitch, fractured a rib and they came up two games short. You never know.

Q: During your career who have been your three favorite players?

That would be a tough question because there are so many over a period of 65 years. You can just imagine how many players I have known.

Q: Do you have one special player?

I have one player. I especially would like to see him get into the Hall of Fame and that would be Dodgers first baseman in Brooklyn by the name of Gil Hodges. He was a true wonderful human being, a very good player and managed the Mets to the World Series Championship. I would like to see Gil get in, however I do not know if that will happen.

Q: What are your thoughts on this Opening Series in Sydney? We have had 38,000 fans at each game. Is this something you would like to see happen in other parts of the world?

Oh absolutely. Those were two fine crowds. Yesterday they talked about a little rain before the game. They speculated there might be rain today yet the crowds came out. That in itself is testimony to the game and testimony to the sports fans here in Sydney. I would think it was a marvelous experience for all concerned.

Q: This is your second visit to Australia. Have you enjoyed yourself this time with your wife? Has there been much time for sightseeing?

We didn’t do a lot of sightseeing. We went to a couple of very nice restaurants and there was a baseball cocktail party for 200 people. We enjoyed that and the other night we had a boat ride with dinner served on the Sydney Harbour, and that was a lovely four hours. Then of course the two big games, so it has been a lovely week; and, then there is always the nice prospect of going home.

Q: Last question; while you were here in Australia did you get the opportunity to try Vegemite?

No I haven’t. Someone said it is not very good. But you know, I never thought about it, so I missed out. Maybe next time!

 

Editor’s Note: Mick McGill is a native and resident of New South Wales, Australia where he is a sports writer covering the PGA and Australian football for the “Sports News” web site out of Australia.

He is a fan and friend of Frat House Sports and has frequently contributed and shared his articles with us here, “stateside.” This interview has been reprinted with permission from Mick, and originally appeared on the Sports News web site.

You can follow Mick on Twitter @MickSportsNews

The Frat House Sports Show #133

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It’s the day we’ve all been waiting for . . . yearning for . . . talking about for weeks . . . and, it’s finally here! OPENING DAY OF THE NCAA TOURNAMENT . . . oh, and Spring! But there are even BIGGER stories that Frat House Mike, Sidekick & Uncle Mark are talking about like Indianapolis Colts’ owner Jim Irsay’s problems and how they may affect his team; the Patriots . . . but don’t worry about their injuries; and the SMU Mustangs get put down . . . the wrong way. Uncle Mark looks at how trades are working out and the Flyers on a tear in the NHL. NASCAR went Bristol stomping last week and an unlikely group came out on top and none of that was “human error.” Frat House Mike breaks down the NCAA regional brackets and thinks “Daytona” might be a contender. Ohhhh . . . this is ABSOLUTELY one you have to catch because . . . IT’S THE FRAT HOUSE AT ITS BEST! It’s another wonderful show you gotta’ pass around to all your friends & family!

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Can NBA & NCAA Correct “One-and-Done” Without a Train Wreck?

Mark Cuban

By: Mike McShane

Rather quietly, the NBA and NCAA are on a collision course yet it’s very possible they might not collide at all but end up driving together on the same path without any of us ever becoming aware. For that to happen however, there needs to be some very adroit “signal men” and spotters guiding the navigation of these two behemoth multi-car payloads.

At issue, is the age of players entering the NBA and the “one-and-done” rule which has dramatically affected the conduct of men’s basketball in the NCAA for the past eight years.

It didn’t take long for Adam Silver, the new Commissioner of the NBA to quietly show that he’s not a mere clone of David Stern, the former 30-year icon and “model” of sports management. In just the first six weeks of Silver’s reign, he has made it clear that he plans on putting his personal footprint on the League . . . HIS way.

Many did not notice that Silver hadn’t even warmed-up the big seat when he announced that one of his priorities was to increase the NBA entry age from 19 to 20 years-old:

“Increasing the minimum age from 19 to 20 remains high on my list . . . I believe it is in the interest of the players’ union and the league to raise the age minimum. I also believe college basketball would be better off. And [while] we don’t have ultimate responsibility for college basketball, I think even in terms of the self-interest of the NBA, we would be a better league. The so-called one-and-done is bad for college and is bad for the NBA.”

In a separate interview, Silver voiced his desire to be a true partner with the NCAA:

“I think the NCAA should have a seat at the table in all matters of NBA eligibility . . . College sports is a huge business in this country. Purely out of self-interest, strong college basketball, I believe, is helpful to the NBA.”

Not many may have taken note of Silver’s comments, or simply dismissed them as his “opening day wish list,” or with the reasoning that one year won’t make any difference at all. However, I perked up immediately because I have been opposed to the “one-and-done” and have been openly vocal against those in favor of it for years, and while I would prefer changes of this nature to go further, if Silver’s plan was implemented it would be a good start.

The problem is the “genie’s bottle” – “Pandora’s box” – the “slippery slope” that the NBA skidded down on its ass nearly a decade ago. It is rare that you ever see anything in society get reversed once it’s gone to an extreme.

Being the old, mistrustful, cantankerous-type that I am now, I began to wonder whether some of Silver’s comments were motivated by the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit against the NCAA that, incredibly has taken on a life of its own and, depending on the outcome, could change the face of all collegiate Division I sports as we know them. If O’Bannon’s lawsuit is successful, guaranteed there will be a lot more schools like Temple University dropping programs!

In the March 1 Yahoo Sports article I cited above, Silver alluded to a form of compensation the NBA may be able to engage in coordination with the NCAA for student athletes intending to go pro:

“Maybe the NBA could contribute to insurance policies to protect college basketball players while they wait out the age limit, for example. Or maybe the NBA and the NCAA could work out a system allowing NBA teams to draft collegians who stayed in school and retained eligibility, putting their paychecks in an escrow account that the players could receive upon moving from college to the pros.”

Regardless of your opinion on student / collegiate athlete compensation, the fact is the trains are at their respective stations running the same track in opposite directions scheduled for a head-on collision.

The issue has others attempting to make connections with one train or the other hoping to grab the controls and maneuver it in a different direction. One of those, not unexpectedly has been Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.

Despite Cuban’s outspoken nature, his concept is similar to Silver’s even to the extent of increasing the age to 21, a year greater than Silver’s proposal. Cuban genuinely has an eye toward the welfare of the young draftee professional, but he suggests a greater dependence on the Developmental League:

“The NCAA rules are so hypocritical, there’s absolutely no reason for a kid to go [to college], because he’s not going to class [and] he’s actually not even able to take advantage of all the fun because the first semester he starts playing basketball. So if the goal is just to graduate to the NBA or be an NBA player, go to the D-League.”

Of course, it’s in Cuban’s business owner’s best interest to promote the D-League of which his Mavericks are only one of 13 NBA teams that have their own exclusive developmental team, Texas Legends. At the same time, it is evident Cuban has no love for the NCAA and a Silver-type partnership is not what he desires:

“We can get rid of all the hypocrisy and improve the education. If the whole plan is just to go to college for one year maybe or just the first semester, that’s not a student-athlete. That’s ridiculous. You don’t have to pretend. We don’t have to pretend. A major college has to pretend that they’re treating them like a student-athlete, and it’s a big lie and we all know it’s a big lie. At least at most schools, not all . . . But we can put more of an emphasis on their education. We can plan it out, have tutors. We can do all kinds of things that the NCAA doesn’t allow schools to do that would really put the individual first.”

I’d like to believe that would be the case, but I’m more inclined to say that Cuban is simply spouting either (1) a very euphemistic and utopian vision of his Triple-A squad; or, (2) all the right rhetoric for a viable and, better yet, profitable minor league interest. Fact is, the D-League IS a business and once the kids enter “the business” I find it hard to believe that improved and emphasized “education” will be the main priority of coaches and general managers even at that level. How that makes the D-League “business” better than the NCAA “business,“ I’m not sure.

Meanwhile, over in the NCAA ”one-and-done” may add to the unexpected in the annual Field-of-64 NCAA Tournament, for many schools it can be a sustaining and recruiting nightmare. Many coaches and athletic directors would not mind an added year or two to their programs without the interference of the NBA’s D-League. Syracuse Orange head coach Jim Boeheim is one of them:

“I think most kids benefit from college. I don’t think you benefit from riding around in the D-League. I don’t think it’s anywhere near as good of a growth-experience as college. A three-hour practice and sit around in a hotel in Cedar Rapids or wherever you want to be versus going to college, meeting people, going through those experiences? . . . The practices, the games, the weight-training. Everything we do for a player is a way better experience.”

Before dismissing the collegiate ranks and NCAA, give them more time to groom the NBA professionals of tomorrow. University of Colorado Buffaloes head coach, Tad Boyle says he speaks for many across the collegiate ranks:

“It tarnishes what we’re trying to do as coaches; it tarnishes the idea that kids are here to get an education . . . I don’t know of any person I’ve ever talked to who says, ‘I like the one-and-done.’”

Really? Has Boyle had lunch recently with University of Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari to see if he’s boarded the right train?

Calipari has less-than coyly waffled and been criticized for the spineless lip-service he has bestowed his fellow anti-one-and-done compatriots while maximizing his school’s ability to overcome its inherent disadvantages.

Almost weekly you can find Calipari quoted on one sports web site after another claiming he is opposed to the “one-an-done.” Yet a year ago, Calipari responded to criticism stated that he did not feel it was his job or moral duty to talk his superior one-year players out of joining the NBA or staying with the collegiate program:

“I cannot morally tell a young man that he should stay in school – in the interests of the school, the program or me – when it’s in his best interests and his family’s best interests to go reach his dreams. I couldn’t tell (Bill) Gates, ‘Do you know what you did to the integrity of your school by coming out and starting Microsoft?’”

That’s it! There it is . . . the final departure; the looming head-on collision.

Calipari’s refusal to adopt that portion of his job description that insinuates “role model,” ‘teacher,” “counselor” is exactly why folks like Cuban are claiming that his business-driven D-League would be a better landing spot for the kids. The problem might be that certain NBA elements may try to paint the NCAA with the broad “Calipari brush,” thus ignoring folks like Duke Blue Devils Mike Krzyzewski, Louisville Cardinals Rick Pitino, or North Carolina Tar Heels Roy Williams to name a mere minority few.

Here’s what I am certain. The showdown is set. We have the current NBA Commissioner on record. NCAA coaches have been weighing-in for years now. Ed O’Bannon sits out there waiting for a day in court that could change much if something doesn’t give before then. All the right ingredients are present for some sort of major announcement about “kids” and the NBA.

Many of us are holding our breath hoping there’s no derailment . . . or worse a crash of epic proportion that might shred both trains into nothing but pieces left behind on the sidelines. If navigated correctly it could mean a better product for both the NBA and NCAA.

The Frat House Sports Show #132

Frat House 132 (06)

St. Patrick’s Day brings out the “Mad Irishman Rants” in all of us . . . and Frat House Mike is at his best going at the New York Knicks & Phil Jackson and followed quickly by the San Francisco Giants and Barry Bonds. Lots and lots of moves in just the first few days of NFL free agency and the Denver Broncos are “all in.” Uncle Mark tells us about possible NHL teams in Seattle . . . and yes, Las Vegas (that might just be a sin) as well as John Tortorella’s sinking Canucks. As usual NASCAR with Sidekick’s Bristol stomping picks and our (first of the season) NHRA update. Madness has hit the courts of NCAA basketball . . . oh, and there’s a little thing called an MMA UFC 171 event coming up this weekend. IT’S THE FRAT HOUSE AT ITS BEST! It’s another wonderful show you gotta’ pass around to all your friends & family!

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RACE #3: Five Things We Didn’t Lose at Las Vegas

Keselowski Wins Las Vegas 2014

By: Mike McShane

And, just like that . . . Race #3 is in the books for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.

The Kobalt 400 from Las Vegas Motor Speedway was a thriller that came down to the final lap between Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brad Keselowski . . . and, according to Junior all he needed was one 16-ounce Mountain Dew of Sunoco Racing Fuel to win his second in three races. Instead he settles for his second second in-a-row and three Top-2’s to start the NASCAR season, only the fourth driver to boast that accomplishment since 1972.

Earnhardt ran out of fuel in the final turn allowing Keselowski to roar ahead and take the checkered and ensure the Miller Lite #2’s appearance in the 2014 Chase after missing it last season and a chance to defend his 2012 Championship.

Okay, those are the things we know because we watched the race and it has already been reported everywhere.

At Frat House Sports though, we took copious notes (as we always do during the race) and here are five observations (perhaps previously unreported) we gleaned from Las Vegas:

5. New “Knock-Out” qualifying makes starting line-up’s more interesting: With Race #3 we saw the new qualifying format in place for just its second race (it was not in play at the Daytona 500). The new scheme is much more fan-friendly and compelling as true race enthusiasts that even watch qualifying find themselves tracking packs of cars drive in multiple timed laps in diminishing knock-out rounds versus the previous single car two-lap qualifying with fastest speeds determining pole positions. The results have been interesting . . . and mixed.

From a fan perspective, it’s a hit! Previously, watching single cars run a track in circles and observing the pole position leaderboard fill was about as exciting as watching snow melt. The new format can have your favorite driver in the top-12 in one round to be positioned at 25th by the next . . . and, that’s been exactly what we’ve seen in race-time line-up’s from both Phoenix and Las Vegas. Drivers who would have previously been up front suddenly find themselves mid or rear pack, and others . . . well you get the idea.

Just check how the Las Vegas race started: Jamie McMurray – 7th; Aric Almirola – 8th; Brian Vickers – 9th; Ryan Newman – 10th; while you had Kyle Busch – 20th; Tony Stewart – 24th; Greg Biffle – 25th; Denny Hamlin – 27th; and, Matt Kenseth – 29th . Fact is though, while some of the drivers might be in reverse starting positions from what we might have been accustomed, it has yet to result in upside-down race results. Many near the front at the start seem to quickly fall mid-pack or near the rear as races begin.

Driver’s perspective on the new format were mixed coming out of Las Vegas with Brian Vickers it’s most outspoken critic:

“Riding around the bottom – we’ve got to do it, it’s the only way to keep the engine cool – but that has got to be the most dangerous thing I’ve ever done in racing. (Reed Sorenson) went by me at 170 mph faster than I was going. Had he slipped or hit me, I’d be done. It would be so bad.”

More than likely, it’s just a matter of NASCAR tweaking the actual conduct and performance of the qualifying, which based upon the league’s reaction to change will happen pretty quickly. The qualifying fun has just begun for this season.

* Just this evening, NASCAR announced modifications to the qualifying format that will take effect immediately at this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

4. “Sorry ma’am; your Furniture (Row) is back-ordered.”: It’s been a tough go of it early for Martin Truex Jr. and it’s hard not to feel for him.

Truex was a shrapnel victim of last season’s Chase-fixing mess at Richmond International Raceway perpetrated by Clint Bowyer’s Michael Waltrip Racing. When NAPA pulled their sponsorship of the car, that left Truex at the curb. Then, the #78 Furniture Row Racing seat became available when Kurt Busch hooked-up with Stewart-Haas Racing.

With 11 Top-5’s, 16 Top-10’s, and 10th in Owner Points the one-car Furniture Row Racing team had its best season in their nine-year existence in 2013. Winning is addictive and Truex was the perfect fix. But, it hasn’t exactly been an eye-popping start . . . yet.

Truex started #2 at the Daytona 500 but found himself out of the race with a blown engine at Lap 30 and finished dead last. I don’t think we even heard the #78 called out during the broadcast at Phoenix where Truex started 27th and finished 22nd. Things went slightly better at Las Vegas. Truex ran the #78 in the Top-10 for a good portion of the race, but finished 14th as a result of questionable strategy with the team’s Lap 222 pit stop.

Again, it’s a long season but it’s obvious that Furniture Row, “the little team that could”, will most likely be making some modifications under the hood and in-race.

3. Joe Gibbs Racing off to slow start: By last season at this time, Matt Kenseth already had a win, a Top-5, and two Top-10’s, and both Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch had a Top-5. Kenseth ended last season with seven wins, more than any other driver and just 19 points behind Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson. So far, only one driver, Denny Hamlin has a Top-5. Busch and Kenseth have Top-10’s.

Joe Gibbs Racing drivers have run and passed well. They just haven’t yet found the finish. The proof is in the numbers. Hamlin started 27th at Las Vegas and finished 12th; Kenseth started 29th and closed at 10th. Busch’s performance at Las Vegas was positively incredible beginning at 20th and finishing 11th. What was truly unbelievable about it was the way he maneuvered to that point. Busch was penalized to 41st following Lap 22, but by Lap 54 he had worked his way to 4th and took over the lead at Lap 81 where he held the top spot for the next 52 laps.

You got to know that this talented trio won’t be kept out of the winner’s circle too long, and it might just be at Bristol Motor Speedway where both Busch and Kenseth have historically run well. JGR drivers have 9 wins at Bristol in the last 17 races there.

2. Word is, watch Paul Menard . . . do, what?: When selecting “Fantasy” drivers, most of us here at Frat House Sports do not generally put too much stock in Paul Menard. That’s a reasonable assessment considering that in 258 Sprint Cup races, Menard has managed just 1 win, 11 Top-5’s, and 35 Top-10’s. From our perspective, Menard is viewed like a “bottom feeder” (our term for lower-rung drivers). For this week’s Bristol race however, NASCAR Fantasy Live has Menard valued just below Martin Truex Jr. and the exact same as Tony Stewart! Seriously? How can a guy with his career numbers be at the same value as Tony Stewart, a probable Hall of Famer? Someone’s evaluation is wrong here, and I don’t think it’s Frat House Sports.

His 3rd place finish (from a 21st starting position) at Las Vegas this past weekend was his best run since 2012, and run well he did in the Richard Childress Racing #27. But, his career performance is so consistently mediocre it’s difficult to even guess when he might be a contending force.

One thing I’ve found with race car drivers however is that they are more momentum-based than any other sports competitor. If Menard can capitalize on his strong finish it may carry over for a race or two . . . or three. Menard’s career stats however, would not necessarily bear that out with an average starting position in his Cup Series career of 21st, and an average finish of . . . 21st. But, buck-up Menard fans; at Bristol he does have one Top-5 in 2011 and five Top-10’s.

What’s your guess? Will Menard Top-5 or Top-10 this weekend? Well based on the “momentum factor,” if there ever was a weekend to do so, it’s this week.

1. Is Ford back, and are they the new Toyota?: With Brad Keselowski winning at Las Vegas, a Ford was driven to Victory Lane for the first time this season. In fact Ford’s took three of the Top-5 spots at Las Vegas with Joey Logano and Carl Edwards getting 4th and 5th respectively.

As normal, Chevy’s have continued to dominate this season with three Top-5’s at Daytona and Phoenix and two at Las Vegas. Ford’s had one at Daytona and two at Phoenix.

The bigger question is, where are and what happened to the Toyota’s with just one Top-5 so far this season, Denny Hamlin’s 2nd place finish at Daytona? A Toyota has never won a Cup Championship but, with recent season performances particularly from some of the Joe Gibbs and Michael Waltrip Racing drivers, you have to think that is going to change shortly.

While a Ford has not won a Cup Championship since Tony Stewart did in 2002, with the impressive performance so far this season you have to wonder whether the Ford’s may be this year’s Toyota. It’s a storyline worth continuing to follow, track, and trend.

2-Point Court Jesters: King James & Emperor Phil

Phil Jackson - Jester

By: Mike McShane

I love the “March Madness” time of year. The Conference tourneys. The “Field of 64.” The “Sweet 16.” The NCAA Tournament . . . the greatest multi-week sports event ever conceived by man . . . and, yes, it IS better than the Stanley Cup playoffs. I love it because it’s unexpected. I love it because it’s one-and-done. I love it because it IS an “on any given day” mentality. And, I personally love it for a few other very basic reasons.

First, I graduated from an NCAA Division I Basketball school. We didn’t have a football team but, being a city school we had basketball . . . and for a couple of my years there, we had good basketball.

Second though, and even more basic . . . I love college (a.k.a. “amateur”) basketball. I love college basketball because it IS a team sport. I love college basketball because it’s played the right way and without ego. I love college basketball because it is pure. I love college basketball because it’s NOT that crap they serve us over in the “pro-fessional” NBA . . . that “me”-centered; most egotistical & over-rated league of the four majors.

Mind you, I don’t want it to be that way. I want to like the NBA, and I have flirted with a few teams here and there over recent seasons. But really, I want it the way it was back in the late 70’s and 80’s. It was great then. Today . . . it just sucks!

Let the “hate” mail fly!

Alright . . . hold on, hold on. Don’t hit “Send” just yet. . . I’ll make a deal with you.

Over the next few months, occasionally I will come to you here with examples of how horrible; how ridiculous; and, how egotistical and me-centered the NBA is compared to the others. IF, by the NBA Championship, I have not proven my point I will encourage you to send me as much “hate” mail as you can muster . . . and, I’ll sweeten the pot. I’m going to throw two great example to you right here; right now.

Deal? Good . . . I thought so.

LeBron “Joker” James: The “face” of the NBA; the off-again, on-again, off-again (?) villain of Cleveland, LeBron James has made the news quite a few times in the past week. At the top of the week, it was a noble and well-deserved 61-point performance against the Charlotte Bobcats. Yes, I know it’s been done before . . . multiple times. But, I refuse to be as pointedly sarcastic (yet dead-on accurate) as Keith Olbermann was last week. I believe that a performance of that caliber deserve its recognition.

No, no . . . I bring up “Joker James” more for his 19-point performance in the Miami Heat’s 111-87 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on March 6th. In that game, James was 33% from the field (6-18) and 0-3 from 3-point territory. Following the game, James wasn’t waxing a personal comparative analysis of the two uniquely different performances separated by a mere three days as, perhaps one would have thought, he should have presented.

Nope . . . this “Joker” was giving us personal preference fashion tips:

“I’m not making excuses, but I’m not a big fan of the jerseys; not a big fan of them. I have to figure something out the next time I have to wear the short-sleeved jerseys. . . Every time I shoot, it pulled. It feels like it’s just pulling every time I shoot, right underneath my arm. I already don’t have much room for error on my jump-shot anyway, so it’s definitely not a good thing.”

I don’t care who it is. I don’t care if it’s any elected official; an entertainment celebrity; your auto mechanic or electrician working in your house; your wife, girlfriend, son or daughter; ANY time someone begins a sentence with “I’m not making excuses . . . “, what’s sure to follow will be an excuse. What makes it worse, it WILL be a whine disguised as an excuse.

ESPN came to LeBron’s rescue and did their level best to enable his comments. They went so far as to bring in folks with degrees in physics and math to display and demonstrate how the NBA’s dally with the T-shirt sleeved uniform shirts restrict movement and how that can affect the degree of arc on a shot (I’m not joking). They brought in statisticians who broke the numbers down on LeBron “wit” and “wit out.” PLLLLEEEASE!

What they failed to bring to the fore were known pathological whiners of sports because what “Joker James” was doing was whining. They should have had Joe Namath testify; there’s a guy that should be able to identify a fellow whiner. How about Sid-the-Kid” Crosby; Barry Bonds who just today declared “without a doubt” he should be in the Hall of Fame; Terrell Owens needing to feed his family, or his teammate Donovan McNabb who’s been lobbying for his own Hall of Fame induction just to name a few . . . and, many others could be contacted.

So the NBA decided to try T-shirt sleeved jerseys. More than likely, they’ll be gone after this season or next. For the freaking few times you have to wear them, suck it up “King Joke.” By the way, I noticed this evening that the Miami Heat lost to the Chicago Bulls (Sunday, March 9) 95-88. Lebron’s line? 17 points; 8-23 from the field; 1 of 3 in 3-point range; wearing regular traditional jersey; post-game presser 0!

I’d say, that’s a perfect example of the “all about me” mentality of the NBA. How about . . .

Phil “Jester” Jackson: We’ve passed the mid-point of the NBA season which means it’s time once again boys and girls for the annual . . . “Where’s Phil Jackson going to be next season” dog-and-pony show!

So, the hot rumors are the “Zen Master” of “professional” basketball Phil Jackson is entertaining the possibility of going to work for the New York Knicks (shallow clap followed by a weak “yay”). Who cares, . . . Phil??? The last I checked . . . Phil . . . the NBA was still annually crowning championships WITHOUT you . . . Phil!

Look, I take nothing away from Phil Jackson. In fact, I was a big fan of his . . . back in the day! No NBA coach will probably ever match his 11 Championships over two teams in a 20 year span and a career 70% win percentage. I got it.

But . . . he also inherited two of the greatest teams in NBA history with the Chicago Bulls and later, Los Angeles Lakers. So, has anyone wondered, like I have, why the “Zen Master” hasn’t rushed back? Might it be because he can’t walk into a custom-fit Championship team? (Might require a bit more magic than he has available in his zen fingertips.)

Rumors flew at the beginning of the 2012-13 season that the Lakers reached out to Jackson pre-Mike D’Antoni. Reports also were that 68-year-old Jackson might consider a return with numerous conditions . . . one of them being he would only attend a handful of road games! That’s exactly what I want; a coach that’s not on the bench for half the season. “We’re talkin’ about games! Not practice. Not practice. Not practicing the game I love. We’re talkin’ about games!”

“Ahhh . . . ahhh . . . ahhh . . . don’t leave . . . Phil . . . how much do you want?”

This guy is so full of himself, he truly thinks that he just simply needs to show up on the roster of a team’s management and they’ll automatically be rewarded with success. The New York Knicks attempted to lure him to the sidelines. When he said “no,” they quickly changed their offer to a front office personnel position. Yeah, now that sounds like a team with a direction; a real handle on their needs and who would best correct their deficiencies.

“You want to be coach . . . Phil? . . . No? Well how about President of Player Personnel . . . Phil? . . . No? How about Vice-President of Media & PR . . . Phil? . . . No? Well, can you supervise our stadium maintenance crew?”

Last year alone, Jackson’s name was rumored to be tied to the Lakers; a new Seattle team if the Sacramento Kings had moved there; and, the Detroit Pistons; NOW, the New York Knicks.

In a nutshell, Phil Jackson has become the Jon Gruden of the NBA and . . . Phil . . . I for one have become so bored of your self-righteous shtick! As much as I used to appreciate you . . . Phil . . . I now recoil at your “Zen Master” “Luke, I AM Your Savior” nose-in-air attitude and demeanor. If I were a team owner or GM, I would purposefully stay away from Jackson and insolate my team from his infiltration just to prove that we can be successful without his egotistical me-centered presence on our management web page.

Check back again soon for another in my continuing series here on the people and players that make the NBA so likable.