Friday, June 30, 2006

USA wins World Cup!!!

by ShagOnSports

For an incredible twelfth time in fifteen World Cups the Team USA was victorious in the tournament… The United States dominance of World Cup Soccer is apparently here to stay after the team man-handled every opponent it faced at this years tournament and was never threatened… The USA has played in and astonishing fourteen of the last fifteen World Cup finals… If not for the upset on the controversial penalty called during injury time in 1996 to England in the semi-finals Team USA would have been in fifteen of the last fifteen finals…

Team USA this year was led by Keeper (Goalie) Tashaun Prince, Forwards Vince Young, Reggie Bush and Duane Wade, Midfielders Lebron James, Matt Leinart, and Tiger Woods, Sweeper Derrick Jeter along with Defensemen Adam Dunn, Ben Wallace and David Wright… The team was made up of a solid number of both veteran and younger players with seasoned coach Pat Riley at the helm who was a controversial choice but without a doubt the right man for the job… Riley was also the coach of the winning 1992 team and the team in 1996 so this served as a redemption moment for him and secured his legacy…

Team USA managed to outscore opponents by an incredible margin of twenty-eight to three during this run which shows incredible offensive and defensive skills… “The Prince”, as he is called by the great Pele, demonstrated why he is the best goalie in the world only allowing two goals (one on a penalty kick) during the entire tournament… Formidable back up Keeper Tim Duncan allowed the only other goal scored against the USA in the last minute of a first round 5 to 1 annihilation of the Ukraine… Prince’s wing span and his incredible quickness make him the prototype goalie that the rest of the World is hoping to find and Duncan with his incredible 7’1 frame is the second best goalie in the world… The offense was lead by Vince Young (9 Goals), Duane Wade (8 goals) and Lebron James (5 goals) and the team play of veteran co captains Tiger Woods and Derrick Jeter… “The Prince” supporting defensive cast of Dunn, Wallace and Wright just completely out muscled their smaller opponents and in two of the matches only allowed one shot on goal…

The most anticipated final in World Cup history, USA vs. Brazil, was never much of a match as the powerful USA team only allowed Brazil three shots on goal during the game and Superstar in the making Vince Young scored two of the USA’s three goals in the first twenty minutes… Veteran midfielder Tiger Woods also scored his third goal of the tournament on a wonderful assist by the other USA midfielder Lebron James in the fifty-eighth minute of the final game… This teams no holds barred style of play just could not be duplicated by any of the other World Cup teams…

This USA Team has to be considered with the two greatest Soccer teams to ever play the game… The 1974 team led by Larry Csonka, Bob Greise, Jake Scott, Paul Warfield, Mercury Morris, Franco Harris and the Jacks of defense (Hamm and Tatum) along with Cliff Branch and Fred Blilnekoff and the 1982 team led by Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott, Michael Jordan, Dwight Clark, and the idol and the guy that Keeper “The Prince” molded himself after Sam Perkins… It was nice to see most of these two great teams in attendance for the final in Berlin last week cheering and the doing the patented chanting that has become popular with the crowds at American soccer events over the years…

The questions that are in front of us are how could the USA teams continue to dominate at this level??? What is it going to take for the rest of the world to get caught up???

Most of this dominance can be tied that the greatest athletes in Europe playing in the gladiator style of European Football where tackling and touchdowns are the celebrated events… The pool of European players, as in Asia, is also watered down by the popularity of Europe’s home grown game of baseball… Both of the European leagues with their 28 teams and expanded rosters, 25 for baseball and 60 for football, steal athletes that otherwise would make the talent pool larger and deeper for Soccer as in the USA and in Brazil… Baseball was made popular in Asia by all the European soldiers who were stationed in these areas after World War Two and Soccer plays second fiddle in this region…

Myself and most of my peers believe that as long as the best Athletes in Europe continue to play both European football and baseball and in Asia the focus continues to be on baseball then they will never catch up to the USA’s in the true form of Futbol…

One of my European counterparts told me over dinner after the World Cup Championship game the story of his high school and how Soccer has affected the schools once dominant football program… “Twenty years ago my high school was a dominant force in Football… We would have 60 kids on the team each year and that kind of depth and talent kept us at the top… When they started playing Soccer in the schools, not that that is a bad thing, it took away from Football and now we only have twenty-five to thirty kids each year out for the team and the talent pool is split so we can no longer compete at the top level with the larger high schools… If our best athletes only focus on one sport then we could probably be a dominate force in that Sport…”

The rest of the world will compete and win a few international competitions but the USA will continue to dominate…

Cardinals Suck!!! Cardinals Suck!!! Cardinals Suck!!!

First let me say that I hate inter-league play… The AL and NL should only play in exhibition games or when the two teams meet in the World Series… The only plan I would go for would be at the start of each year you give each team plays a team from the other league and you opened the season each year against that team with a two game home in home Series (a total of four games)…

I like that the leagues are different in the way the games are played… The American League is more a power game and the National League is more about small ball… Is one better then the other??? Looks like right now the American League is dominate but that cycle will flip at some point…

The way the season had shaken out I knew St Louis would show what they were made of with six road games in a row at the two best teams in Baseball... The result was the White Sox and Tigers both swept my Cards…

St Louis pitching has been awful the last month and Jason Isranhausen is no longer a dominate closer and Tony Larussa and Walt Jockety need to address this shortfall in the off season… I think the Cards should go ahead and trade Mark Mulder (he is damaged goods now) since he is a free agent, not resign Jason Marquis or Jeff Suppan and move Adam Wainwright and Anthony Reyes into the rotation now… Trade Marquis and Suppan or move them to the bullpen… Wainwright, for this year, or Brandon Looper should move to the closers role NOW!!!

The bricks are there to win a Series with Rolen and Puljos but Walt Jocketty is going to have to address the pitching shortcomings soon…

My Sister Jayne’s World Cup Report from Germany

The World Cup continues to be the experience of a lifetime. I'm totally sold on it -- I'd absolutely be willing to travel to another country to experience the madness again, even if the USA wasn't in the tourney. Being raised a men's college basketball fan, and being from Kentucky, have made it easy to appreciate all this wonderful madness. Even though it was the end I expected, even though the loud, festive Ghana fans surrounding me were incredibly gracious, Team USA's loss was hard. At the end, they were determined, they were persistent -- they just don't have the foot-and-pass poetry thing down. They play "soccer", instead of "the world's game."
I think it's time for a new generation of hungry, scrappy American footballers really ready to earn international acclaim, who truly understand what the World Cup means, and who are ready to make the SUPREME EFFORT in every World Cup match, and who have a coach to mold and lead them, if we're going to get to South Africa 2010 -- and stay there longer than three games. And we need to get two or three players with incredible personalities who really capture the press's -- and, therefore, the public's -- attention, two or three guys that the USA falls in love with and decides they want to follow through the tourney. Of course, we also need LETHAL strikers, and players that could crack the starting lineup for major local teams in Holland or England or Spain...
I watched the USA-Ghana game with my Hoosier friend Lis, with her five-month old baby "Squeak" in tow, at the Champs American sports bar in Cologne, since German TV didn't show the USA-Ghana game, nor did any of the big screens at the now *four* FIFA fan fests around the town. When we got there, an hour early, the bar was empty. By game time an hour later, we were surrounded by Africans, most of them from Ghana, and the place was packed. The other Americans were on the other side of the huge bar. We cheered and waved loudly at the USA's one goal (which, really, was their *only* goal of the tournament), but no way could we match the display of the Africans, who sang and danced and chanted and yelled for several minutes at their first goal, and then again at the second. (Squeak will be in therapy for years over the trauma).
I had a yellow and red card which I used to show my displeasure at various moments in the game, and then they borrowed them a few times to make their own critical points. When Beasley came on the screen, I started shouting, "That's my cousin! That's my cousin!" So, every time he was shown after that, a couple of the Ghana fans would should, "That's her cousin! That's her cousin!" When the game ended, the fans for Ghana sang and danced right out of the bar and onto the street, waving flags and shirts. We followed quickly, and one of the fans ran up and hugged me and said, "Don't worry. We see you in South Africa in four years." Geesh, I hope so. As we walked to the car, I high-fived some Americans, and then some more Ghana folks. The rest of Cologne was a filled with red, white and green for the victorious Italians.
Saturday, we decked out in homemade Germany gear and decided to schlep to Cologne again for the Germany-Sweden game at an official FIFA FanFest. I had originally thought we should get there two hours before game time, but then decided to relax, get there when we get there, blah blah -- by the time we got there, an hour before the game, every FIFA FanFest was closed, except for one across the Rhine, which can hold 30,000 fans, and the streets were packed with fans wondering where to go. After walking -- even running -- at times, and making a highly-illegal road and train-track crossing, we got to the massive viewing space, complete with two huge screens, and miracle of miracles, we got in.
Getting a beer -- THAT proved almost impossible... great game, great fans, and a really good time. Afterwards, we had a big laugh at the cars daring to try to drive through the swarms of fans -- it was an absolute sea of gold, red and black. I high-fived an American girl wearing her American flag as a cape -- most fans wear their home country colors, usually flags as capes, no matter who is playing, but not Americans, as we are constantly warned by the State Department web site to keep a low profile, particularly in crowds; I didn't wear any red, white and blue because I had some trouble at a train station days earlier, after the Ghana-USA game, for the first time ever, per being an American -- but that story will be on my own blog. Cologne was packed with happy fans, mostly Germans but peppered here and there with fans from many other countries.
The police were very low-key -- there, but never in riot gear, always looking relaxed, and happy to be approached by fans with questions. The train back was filled with fans -- in fact, if you aren't into the World Cup here, you really stick out amid the vast majority of people who are. It's going to be hard to top these games -- they've all been at least interesting, if not downright dramatic, and Germany has done an INCREDIBLE job as host, being as festive and welcoming as a country can be (yes, Germans are being festive outside of Carnival -- incredible), as well as having a top-notch mass-transit system and loads of information for foreigners to help them get whatever services or help they need. I can't see the enthusiasm waning here even if Germany gets knocked out in the next game, as many people are pulling for other countries in addition to their own, as the many, many flags from other countries on display in homes everywhere attest to.
Germany is the only previous winner I'm pulling for. Otherwise, I so want a new country to win it all. Spain has a really good chance, and has never won, and given how much time I've spent there, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for them. I'll refrain from making my list of the cutest footballers, as I'm not sure of all of their names...


ShagPlaysGolf

The Flying Balls are in first place with three weeks to go in the first half of the season in my golf league… I made my league debut last week and did not play well… The driver left me and I made a triple bogey on the seventh hole which caused me to loose my match… But hey, GO BALLS!!!

This past Saturday I played Seneca again which is a very solid Metro Course in Louisville (it was written up in Golf Magazine a few months back)… I struggled from the start (off of the tee again), played OK in the middle and then on the 15th hole had to get up and down from about 40 yards to make a nine (9)… This was a hole the week before I got on the green in two (it is a par five)… How did I make a nine??? I missed the chip in for eight!!! Still managed to shoot 86…

On Sunday I played a new track for me called Wooded View… It is a classic old style course that plays 6700 yards from the gold tees… The front nine is a little tight and has some solid golf holes… The two par threes on the front are 190 plus (I doubled bogeyed both holes) and it has par five that has an unbelievable tee shot coming out of the woods… Two the par fours are over 400 yards and the greens are elevated and they pretty solid…

I will put the back nine at Wooded View up against any nine I have played… It is carved out through the trees and has elevation changes, dog legs, long holes, contoured fairways and a 215 yard par three and is just solid as a rock… The closing Par 5 is as tough a finishing hole as any that I have played… I found my driver once again, got up and down like a bandit and shot 41, 38 for my first time breaking 80 this year… The game is ready to roll!!!

ShagOnSports Random Thoughts

- I have had two people recently tell me that if Kentucky has another season in basketball like this year then they want Tubby out… These are two people who have backed him strongly from the start… Myself I give him two years before I make a decision… Is Tubby and St Louis Manager Tony Larussa in the same boat??? Great coaches who can just not take teams to the next level??? Do you include a guy like Bobby Cox in this Group???
- Speaking of Bobby Cox does it look like that Leo Mazzones departure from the Braves has had a huge impact of was the Braves run just done anyway???
- Get off of Phil!!! The man screwed up and he knows it… I have never been a big Phil fan but I hope this US Open spit up does not affect him in the next two majors… I would love to see Phil win them both and also battle Tiger in both…
- There are more Kentucky Football Season Tickets available on Ticket Master than I have ever seen prior to the season starting… There are also some really prime seats available… After this year my wife and I are going to move to the sideline somewhere around the 20 yard line behind the bench… The clock is running on Rich Brooks!!! I am excited to get the season started so we can put an end to this idiotic style of coaching… He is going to try to run the ball down the throats of the SEC… Who the hell is he kidding!!!
- The Scuffletown Mudcats are lingering in tenth place in my Fantasy Baseball League… This week I dropped Shawn Green and picked up the hot hitting Joe Crede… My team is not that bad but somehow I just cannot get over the top… I am going to shop Izzy around to see what I can get and I may package him with another player… I am looking for a starting pitcher even though I have AJ Burnett back off of the DL… GO MudCats!!!

Lyric of the Week (replacing what was in the CD player this week)

- The Smiths – “The pain was enough to make a shy bald Buddhist reflect and plan a mass murder”… From the song “Stop Me if You Heard this One Before”…

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Delayed Post

This weeks post will not be completed until Friday...

Stay Tuned...

Monday, June 19, 2006

Winged Foot Wins the US Open

by ShagOnSports

The finish to the US Open on Sunday was just unbelievable… First Jim Furyk double bogeys the last hole missing a short putt that would have put him in a playoff… Right behind him Colin Montgomerie just chokes from the middle of the fairway to make double bogey… Then Mickelson turns into the old Phil and just butchers the last hole on mistakes that rank right up they’re with Jon Van De Valde’s collapse at the British Open… Geoff Olvgivy is a nice player and played solid down the stretch but the true winner of the tournament was Winged Foot…

I enjoyed watching the players try to create shots out of the rough and scramble to make pars and bogeys… Many people to do not like this type of golf but I find it enjoyable watching these players grind it out which sometime you must do when you play a round… Play the ball down next time you play a round and you will get a sense of what playing this type of golf is like…

Winged Foot is a storied course including Bobby Jones Open win, Greg Normans long putt off of the green to force a playoff against Fuzzy, Billy Caspers famous four rounds of lay ups on one of the Par 3's and of course David Love (Best Player to win only one major) triumph in the PGA with the “Rainbow” finish… I can only imagine what it would be like to be a member of such a great golf facility designed by one of the masters of golf course design… The members and the USGA have to be proud of what they staged this week…

Phil said in his press conference that he is an idiot… I do not believe he is an idiot but one of the most important things I have learned about the game of golf is sometimes you have to take your medicine and make a bogey… Phil resorted back to the old Phil way of thinking and it cost him dearly… He was very gracious in his press conference and said it will take some time to recover from this disaster…

Many of you do not like Colin Montgomerie (The best player to never win a major) but you have to respect what he has done in Ryder Cup (Greatest Ryder Cup player ever) and what he has accomplished in Europe… Colin was very gracious and honest in his press conference and rather tongue in cheek admitted that after the drive on 18 he thought he had the tournament won, as did Johnny Miller…

Tiger came back and tried to play to soon… It is a shame that his cut streak was broken but it is ironic that it came during a week when Jay Haas broke Tom Kite’s record for consecutive cuts made… Tiger and Phil will be back but I think the gap they have over the other players closed a bit this weekend…

My Golf Weekend

I finally got rounds in on consecutive days for the first time this year… I practiced hard this week and worked on my chipping allot… On Saturday I hit the ball as great but could not make a putt (finished with 36 putts) in route to an 81… I hit 11 of 14 fairways and 11 of 18 greens… I had a rarity for me on Saturday when I hit a 300 plus yard drive and reached a Par five in two that I have never reached before and then promptly three putted the damn thing… I finished with an 81 which is one over par for me as I figure even par on any day for me is 80…

On Sunday I hit the ball awful… I hit 6 of 14 fairways and 5 of 18 greens but thanks to nine one putts and only 27 putts total I shot an 81 again… I also had two putts lip out on holes that would have given me putt total of 25… Drive for show and putt for dough…

This week I will play in my golf league for the first time all year and continue to work on my short game…

World Cup

Lets face the fact… The rest of the world sends their best athletes to the World Cup and the US sends it’s best Soccer players… I do not think the USA will ever be a threat in the World Cup for this reason… There is no disrespect to our players but our best athletes are playing American Football, Baseball and Basketball (especially the big guys who would make great physical defensive players)… I watched a little bit of the US match yesterday and bits and pieces of a few others but I will tune in once they get to the next round more often…

My sister Jayne who lives in Germany has provided me with some interesting input on World Cup last week and here is her recap of the events thus far…

Jayne’s World Cup recap

My World Cup 2006 experience started when we bought a chocolate World
Cup football selling for 6.66, the sign of the beast, at the local
grocery store. And we ate all of it over the long European Labor Day
Weekend, long before the tourney actually started. And it was good.
Next experience came the day I got back from San Francisco, at the
Bonn/Cologne airport, where a group of white fans devoted to the
Ivory Coast football team stood on the curb side, drinking beer and
singing while waiting for their ride.

After the had tourney started, I ran into some delightful English
fans outside the Koblenz train station, on their way to catch a train
for Frankfurt and the England/Paraguay game later that day. They were
admiring the strawberries for sale near the station entrance. I took
their picture with the strawberries, then Albi and I had our picture
taken with one of the guys, and then I firmly corrected one of the
guys who made the oft-repeated mistake made here in Europe about Jack
Daniels being from Kentucky (it is most certainly NOT. Yuck).

Team USA looked downright embarrassing in their opener with the Czech
Republic, like they had just gotten out of bed and hadn't had their
coffee yet and weren't really sure what this whole soccer thing was
really all about. It's one thing to lose to a superior team -- it's
another thing to look like you aren't even really trying. So I guess
the coach gave them quite a come-to-Jesus talking' to, as they were a
completely different team the following Saturday against Italy, one I
felt great cheering for.

Germany's opener win was a huge relief of its citizens, but many were
upset that they still allowed Costa Rica two goals. All was forgiven
at their second game against Poland, though strike after strike after
strike by the Germans with no goal sent me cussing in three languages
and scared my dog enough that she hid in the bedroom for the rest of
the night. Once Germany *finally* scored, almost at the end of the
game, there was great rejoicing all around the neighborhood. Germans
are having fun being allowed to be a bit nationalistic at long last,
putting up flags and painting their faces in black, yellow and red.
And from what I've seen of their behavior to visiting fans, I'd say
the world has nothing to worry about.

Now that I'm following a World Cup tourney so closely, I at last
understand how a tie game in football can be exciting
(Trinidad-Tobago against Sweden was a blast to watch in particular).
It's great to see teams that are supposed to get wiped out hang on
for the draw.

I really don't want to see Brazil repeat -- I don't like how their
players (and those of Argentina) writhe in pain on the pitch over the
slightest tap, nor how they only play when they really want to, nor
how they rough house it but then complain like little girls when
someone taps them. That said, if you want the best fan party in
Germany: go where the Brazilians are.

Stefan and I decided to watch the US-Italy game at an official Fan
Fest, which are official FIFA parties around big screen TVs set up in
ALL the towns where games will be played, no matter which city is
actually hosting the game being played. We got to Cologne and were
greeted by an incredible mural on the ceiling of the Cologne train
station in honor of the World Cup (it's like Michalangelo meets
football). We were passing the Fan Fest at the cathedral just as
Ghana made their second goal, and you haven't lived until you've
followed a group of Ghanaians down a packed street, getting
congratulated by Mexicans, Iranians, Dutch, and, ofcourse, the
Germans. It was football mania everywhere, with groups of people
singing and dancing everywhere. I asked one of the kiosk workers if
all of the fans had been nice, and she said, "Oh, yes. Except the
English, ages 18 to 35. They are... are... what's the word? Too
aggressive." We got into a mass of people trying to get into the Fan
Fest at HeuMarkt, and security closed the line *just* behind us. It
wasn't too crowded at all inside -- very glad they are closing sites
before it gets too crazy inside. I stayed near the back of the crowd,
where some boisterous German, Swiss and Dutch fans were pulling for
Team USA -- the majority of the crowd was for Italia, and the
Italians were all down in the front and middle of the crowd. A lot of
people were just there to be a part of it and weren't pulling for
anyone at this particular match. That I was truly the only American
in our part of the crowd became apparent when Pope was carded, and I
alone started chanting, "Bullsh*t" at the top of my lungs. Stefan and
I were both stunned at *this* Team USA -- they were amazing. But
officially, they still have NOT scored a goal in the World Cup. As we
headed to the train station, I high-fived a group of women Ghanian
fans. And then thought, oh, shoot, we play them next, and I had
intended to pull for Ghana to make it to the final... No country
appreciates a World Cup game win like the Africans, and I would love
to see an African team pull it off at long last.

The best way to describe the crowds I've seen both first hand and on
TV so far, and heard about from others, would be good-natured, loud,
and just happy to be here -- or, in the case of Germans, enjoying the
spotlight for all the right reasons. Even the weather has been on
their side, and almost all of the games really have been highly
entertaining. I love seeing two groups of fans from different
countries with no common language trying to congratulate each other
for wins. I really do hope that Germany benefits, tourism-wise, from
all this exposure. My favorite image from the World Cup so far: a
Saudi woman, covered except for her face, sitting and talking
casually with a German guy in full Bavarian dress. I got a lump in my
throat... of course, I also have to note that such a conversation
couldn't actually happen in Saudi Arabia.

If you want a really good idea of the spirit of the World Cup, check
out the CNN Fan Zone, where fans are uploading photos, films and
songs from their World Cup experiences.

And, one final note: the Associated Press is reporting that fans in
southwestern Bangledesh, wielding bamboo sticks, attacked an
electricity office after multiple power failures interrupted coverage
of two World Cup matches. Ah, that's the kind of World Cup news we're
all used to.

Shag On Spots Random Thoughts

- I have completed my collection of Kentucky Colonels Topps ABA Basketball Cards from the 74-75 Championship Season… There were two action cards that were put out for the semi finals and finals and have yet to purchase the finals card (one sold the other day on Ebay for $25 and that is to high)… I also just purchased some authentic Kentucky Colonels bumper stickers from ABA Pinky (the former Kentucky Colonels trainer)… Cool Stuff…

- St Louis Cardinals are managing to stay ahead in the NL Central without Albert… Puljos will make a return after the All Star Break or sooner so they just need to hold on until then… Stupid interleague play is back in full swing the next couple of weeks and St Louis has to play both the White Sox and Tigers on the road… I read an article this week that said for the first time since 1953 that St Louis has not black ballplayers on their roster but the article also pointed out that on eight percent of major league players are black compared to three decades ago when thirty percent were…
- The Scuffletown Mudcats have moved up to tenth place after Saturday in Fantasy Baseball… AJ Burnett will return from the DL and if he is healthy then I can make some moves in both Wins and Strikeouts, which are two important statistical categories… Casey Blake went on the DL this week so I dropped him and picked up Brian Giles from San Diego… Why do people play fantasy sports??? I will touch on this in the near future…
- I saw the replay and Dwayne Wade was not fouled last night… The foul that got Jerry Stackhouse suspended was just a hard foul and not a flagrant foul… Josh Howard on the replays never looked at the referee and was asking the bench about calling a timeout at the end of last nights game… BULLSHIT!!! Something is not right about what is going on here… I really did not care who won but now I am for the Mavericks…

What is in the CD Player this Week

- The channel on XM called “The Loft” and allot of baseball games…

Monday, June 12, 2006

Bud Selig for President or Not

by ShagOnSports

Several weeks ago I heard some dialogue exchanged on ESPN Radio about the performance rating of Bud Selig during his tenure as Commissioner of Baseball… One person gave him a B plus rating and the other gave him a C minus… Now you are going to get my rating and opinions of what I would do if I were Commish…

The first mark against Selig to me is a minus because he is one of the owners even though he gave away his interest in the team he owned (the Brewers) to his daughter… Whether he would admit it or not is opinions and decisions are influenced by the fact that he used to own a team… Look at the strike in 94… To me there was little effort put forth to save the season and prevent the cancellation of the season and the World Series and that is what the Commish should have done… I still do not follow baseball to the level I did before the 94 strike and I am truly a fanatic… I take him down another minus for allowing the 94 season to get away… Current Grade is A minus…

The next thing I look at is what has he done to protect the welfare of the game and the future history for players, owners and baseball support staffs… Both Commissioner Selig and the Players Association are not focused on the long-term future of the welfare of the game or it’s players… To me they only look in the short-term, which to me is damaging… There needs to be a better effort made to control salaries and the revenue stream where money is moved forward in the forms of pensions, etc… not only for the players but all the support personal that go along with a Professional Baseball Team…

The starting point for this is to first expand the rosters to twenty-eight players… This would give the players union three more paid positions on each team… Once this is in place then a salary cap needs to be established… A cap would be the starting point to create competitive balance and give teams more flexibility to field better teams… It is not fair year after year that the teams with the most money to spend are the most consistently competitive team…

Once the Salary Cap is in place then a percentage of each teams revenue is devoted to a pension fund for the players and for the baseball support staffs based on years of service… This would be both the players and the owners taking care of their own in a joint manner that displays a partnership…

The next item would be merchandise sales… This bucket of money should be tracked by the league and money distributed back to the teams for merchandise sold outside of the stadium (through retail outlets) based on the percentage of sales… There would also be a percent of the licensing fees collected by MLB that would go to the players and baseball support staff pension funds… If there is more Yankees merchandise sold then the Yankees have a better profit… All sales at the ballparks and spring training facilities should be kept by each individual team minus a percentage that goes to the players and support staff pension funds so if one team does a better job of marketing then another then they reap the rewards… If you field a competitive team and have good attendance then you will sale more merchandise…

Bud’s answer to competitive balance is the luxury tax that basically does nothing to create competitive balance… Teams who collect this tax are not forced to spend the money on players and can just pocket the money… I give Bud two more negative marks for doing nothing to create competitive balance and protect the future welfare of the game… He is down to a B…

Bud gets two minus points from me for the steroid fiasco… One for ignoring it when it was at it’s height because the fans had finally came back after the 94 strike and one for how he is handling the investigation now… You cannot change the past so just move forward… You cannot go back and do anything about players who used steroids because baseball had no rule against their use… There is countless stories out there about usage of steroids from the players, owners, managers and people in these locker rooms on a daily basis of how they knew which players were using them and which players were not… Bud should just end this chapter and move on… He is down to a C+…

The next deduction occurs for how he had handled the Pete Rose fiasco… I am not one who believes that Pete should be reinstated because he did gamble on baseball whether he bet against the Reds or not… Pete should however be made eligible for the Hall and let the electorate decide whether he gets in or not… If the writers do not elect him then it would be up to the Players committee at that point… I do not believe Pete bet on baseball as a player so he should not be punished as a player… Bud is now at a C…

Talk of contraction that came out of the Commissioners office (where teams would be disbanded) was some kind of scheme that we will never no what the details or motivation was behind the talk… All I do is contract another point off of Bud’s score so now he is at a C-… There is not need to contract teams and there are other cities that could support a professional baseball team if given the opportunity…

Baseball needs a strong leader in that chair now more then ever who can make some of the hard decisions that need to be made… Jim Bunning would have been a good choice for this post ten years ago being a former player and a person whose political affiliations means he could see both sides of the issues… Jim is past the age where I think he could be effective… Bud does get a passing grade but only by a hair…

Baseball needs a good strong commish!!!

Girls State Softball Tournament

I attended my first girl’s high school softball game on Friday morning… Some friends of mine in Henderson’s daughter Taylor “Bug” McMillan is the starting first basemen and clean up hitter for the Henderson County Lady Colonels who were playing in the State Tournament… She was first team all regional also (just a sophomore)… Henderson had a strong pitcher, which is a key, and their offense looks solid… Taylor Bug went one for four and played a solid game in the field in the first round… In the second round the Lady Colonels came out and beat the defending state champs Owensboro Catholic 1 – 0… Taylor played a great game in the field and made a great play on a popped up bunt that she was unable to catch but slid to field the ball then wheeled to throw to first on her knees and collapsed in agonizing pain from the slide… She had a huge strawberry on her leg and after some medical attention played on…

On Saturday the Lady Colonels met Rile High School in another pitchers dual… Henderson pitcher ended up breaking a bone in her hand during and at bat… An at bat where the opposing pitcher through in on her hands twice nailing her on the second attempt… She tried to pitch the next inning (she had a no hitter going at the time) but was unable to go and they lost 1 – 0 in the last half of the inning… Without their star pitcher they lost the next game 8 – 1 to finish fifth in the state… Rile high ended up winning the championship…

If you have not been to a girl’s high school softball game then I encourage you to attend… Each teams has chants they do while they are batting to encourage their player and rag on the other team a little… The game is about pitching and defense and the teams are all very fundamentally sound… Count me a new fan!!!

World Cup

My sister Jayne who lives in Germany is taking in all the World Cup activities… She sent me some random tidbits about the event and I am going to run one part each week… Part 1 is listed below… I also will be getting some first hand information from a guy I work with that traveled to Germany for the United States first two games…

Here is Jayne’s spin:

I pulled the following together from various online news sources, and threw in a couple of my own comments -- grab what you want (I don't expect you to use even most of it). And I'm calling it football because THAT'S WHAT IT IS. And, btw -- I knew who Pele was when I was a kid only because of you and Darrell (our brother). I was probably the only girl in the USA under 25 who knew such.
THE WORLD CUP Germany 2006… The biggest sporting event on the planet… No, really…
Part 1: Religion and Football (this week)
Part II: Football and Politics (next week)
Part III: Random Notes (in two weeks)
Part 1: Religion and Football
Ecuador has officially cut short the workday for the nation's opening World Cup match against Poland on Friday. Some Ecuadorian fans traveling with their team in Bad Kissingen, Germany briefly took over the town to perform what he describes as a "deer-hunting" ceremony. From the photo of an observer, such a ceremony would appear to consist primarily of a couple of Ecuadorian men carrying a barely clad Ecuadorian woman upside down on a pole through a medieval town square. Precisely the sort of fresh thinking needed for the tournament's opening ceremony, some might say.
In Germany, parishes across the country are planning to install massive television screens inside churches to allow the football faithful and the religious faithful to follow matches side by side. Father Hans-Gerd Schutt, the man in charge of sport issues at the German bishops' conference, told a Catholic news service the big screens would allow the church to capitalize on the national honor of hosting the event. He said neighboring parishes would be invited to join together to watch matches - although how the delicate issue of home church advantage would be worked out was unclear. As well as the screens, church leaders in Germany have issued guidelines on how to incorporate soccer themes into sermons, including a reminder to remain tolerant of those who choose not to accept soccer into their lives.
The Church of England has placed two World Cup prayers on its Website, bestowing special blessings on England's team. It has already attracted 4000 hits and may even be already helping: news of the seemingly miraculous recovery of England striker Wayne Rooney from injury led one London tabloid to boldly declare it proved there was a God. A church spokesman expected many more English fans to jump on board over the next few weeks. "After all, you don't find many atheists during penalty shoot-outs," he said.
In Mexico, as in years past, fans have covered the likeness of a child enclosed in a church in the Mexico City district of Tacuba with a green-red-and-white national team jersey, shorts and a gold chain. A miniature soccer ball now rests near his tiny foot, which has been clad with a soccer sneaker. Church officials have also placed his arms in an outstretched fashion, and painted white lines nearby to simulate a soccer field. Dressing the saint in a soccer jersey and bringing gifts for him during the World Cup has been a tradition in Mexico's capital since the 1990 World Cup. "We're looking for ways to bring a miracle," said Ignacio Diviana, who prayed in front of the saint Tuesday. "Maybe being champion is a lot to ask him, but we'd sure like to get to the final at least." Dozens of faithful paid visits to the saint Tuesday, some crossing themselves as they shuffled past or knelt down to pray.
While some supporters seek help through religion or ritual, both, according to Brendon Hanley at journals.aol.com, bolster the team from Togo. Togo's chief voodoo priest issued a bold prediction last week: that the African nation with the lowest world ranking of all the finalists was destined for glory in Germany. He has already been proven right. At a Miss World Cup pageant held soon after, Miss Togo Edwige Madze Badakou was crowned champion. Eric Akoto, a tall defender who plays his club football in Austria, can hardly wait for Togo's first appearance at the tournament. "We appreciate a lot that we're going to the World Cup. Everyone's happy in Togo. I think they all pray for us, that we're going to make a surprise in the World Cup.” Brazil may have a galaxy of stars on the field and tens of thousands of supporters in Germany cheering them on, but they will need at least two voodoo priests amongst them to counter that. Jordan’s
King Abdullah II has ordered that 23 television screens be set up across his kingdom to give low-income citizens free access to upcoming World Cup games. Abdullah also donated 300 satellite receivers to the Jordanian Armed Forces to allow the military to enjoy free access to the Cup, the Royal Palace announced in a statement Wednesday. A miniskirt stopped Costa Rica's last practice in Walldorf, Germany, on Wednesday. Former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, in a tight miniskirt and high heels, walked onto the practice field blowing kisses to players and journalists alike. "Klinsmann sent her," joked some of the Costa Rica players, referring to German coach Juergen Klinsmann. Costa Rica faces Germany on Friday in the World Cup's opening match. "Baby, don't ask me that," Machado answered in English, when a German reporter asked her about her favorite team. Machado, who is from Venezuela, is in Germany working for the Mexican television channel Televisa Deportes. She will select a "Mr. Pierna" (Mr. Legs), for the football player with the best legs in the World Cup.
In South Texas, if you're looking to watch the World Cup opener on a big screen, the Valley Fellowship Church in Mission will be showing the opening game at 11 a.m. Friday on its 20-by-16 foot screen. "We're inviting the public to come out," Pastor Ingo Tophoven said. "They can show their colors in kind of a smoke-free, family friendly environment. We're not going to preach to them, just show them video clip of things going on in the church.

ShagOnSports Random Thoughts
- As I predicted about two mintues after the Kentucky Derby was over Jazil won the Belmont...

- US Open Golf this week… Should be a good tournament… Davis Love wrote a great article in the special US Open SI issue… He touched on allot of things and his perpestive on life is similar to mine and I think that is due to our ages… No doubt Davis can be a bit pompus at times but I believe overall he is a good guy and the players like him… Best player in my opinion to only win one major!!! I like Jim Furyk this week since he drives it straight and putts well…

- I slept through game one and two of the finals… Glad to see the Mavs get two wins…

- My Redbirds are in big trouble without Puljos unless the pitching staff can straighten up… The Reds are rolling which is good for my wife the Reds Fan… Cards are in first by 1.5 games after the weekend…

- Tigers have come back to the ground a little… They are playing the tough teams right now… Red Sox, Yankees, Mets, The Entire NL West, The White Sox, Phillies, Braves, Rangers, Angels and Astros are all still holding their own right now although I think the Braves and Phillies will be done shortly after All Star break…

- Roger is back… Astros can and probably will make a run… Roger bought all new lounge furniture for the Lexington team (Leather couches and Big Screen TV’s) during his short stint there… I talked to two guys who were there last week for the game and they both said it was pretty awesome to see him pitching in the minor leagues…

- Lot of moves in Fantasy this week for my MudCats… I gave Duaner Sanchez the boot and picked up Ramon Ramirez… I also made my first trade swapping Jose Contreras for Austin Kearns… I shopped him and this was the best I could get for Contreras… I have to have something while Puljos is out and I was heavy one starting pitcher… If Puljos can come back strong in three or four weeks and AJ Burnett comes back healthy I could salvage the season… As of the end of the day on Sunday I am tenth place...

- No golf this weekend… On Saturday we went to Lexington for a 40th birthday party for one of my UK Football tailgating buddies… He turned me on to a new Margarita that is one can of thawed limejuice, one can of ginger ale, one can of tequila and one bottle of Corona, which makes an interesting drink… Won’t be to many weekends off from here on out for sure…

In the CD Player this Week

- Satellite Radio… Get it you will love it!!! Between this and my MP3 player my CD’s are collecting dust…

Monday, June 05, 2006

Golf in my Kingdom


By ShagOnSports

Took a week off of the Blog last week due to travel and the three day weekend… My buddy Coop came in from Florida and we played golf at Cambridge north of Evansville, Indiana last weekend… It is a true Scottish Links style course and I played well in spurts… Lynx style golf is different game… Allot of bump and run shots and you have to always fight the wind…

On Saturday I made par on six straight holes on the front and ended up with an 85… Not to good but better then the day before 97 at Quail Chase… I cannot putt with any consistency and my shoulder injury, although better, has gotten me behind on where I would like to be with my game… I hit some really good shots and some really, really bad ones but still won a little cash (we never play for much)…

I did not play on Sunday or Monday but met Coop and my buddy Boots at Christmas Lake in Santa Claus, Indiana (Home of Jay Cutler) one of my favorite tracks on Tuesday… It is a great course that I usually play well… The course is an hour west of Louisville and does not get allot of play and that is another thing I like about the place… The course is one of the nicest groomed public courses I play (6700 yards, par 72) in the area…

I played really well on the front but a faulty putter cost me again!!! I shot 41 on the front and then faltered to 44 on the bag finishing, bogey, bogey, bogey, double, bogey, bogey to shoot 85… Boots took twelve dollars from me and Coop and I ended up even from the Saturday before…

On Sunday I played Old Capitol in Corydon, Indiana for the last time (maybe)… It has some really Mickey Mouse holes on it (10 and 11) that I do not care for and it sits down low so it is always wet… The greens however are always in great shape and roll well so I putted like shit again… This time I shot 41, 47 after starting the back triple, double, double, double and finished par, bogey, bogey (three putt), par and par… I ended up winning nine skins even though I played so bad on the back…

The highlight of the day on Sunday was two young ladies who were serving beer for a scramble that was behind us… They were riding around in a cart that had one word written in black electrical tape on the windshield… We laughed our ass off on that one…

I have no stamina and my swing is weak due to my lack of exercise… I have got to get back in a routine for exercise and build my strength back up… This week will be my first week to play in my league and I should be good for the nine-hole format… More practice will also help… I am about two weeks away I think from playing well…

Puljos Out

Bad news for the Cardinals with Puljos now out four to six weeks with an oblique muscle strain… The Cards managed a win today without him in the lineup… With Edmunds and Carpenter hurt also things are looking bleak… They need to play 500 ball the next month and get these guys back to maintain a shot at the playoffs… These injuries are also killing my fantasy team… Edmunds did play first base on Sunday and went three for three…

Scuffletown Mudcats Update

As of the end of the day Saturday my fantasy baseball team is in dead last… My team is not that bad!!! I had to drop Jim Edmunds, Mike Lamb and Encarcian from the Reds from my team due their lack of performance (Edmund the injury mainly)… I picked up Shawn Green and Brad Wilkerson this week and I have loaded the pitching staff up with six starters by picking up Aaron Sele and Nick Robertson in an effort to make something happen… I have six guys on my team that I have had all year that are batting better then 300 yet my team average is in the 270’s… Pitching wins and Strikeouts are killer categories for me right now… I have added Joel Zumaya to the bullpen after tinkering around with a couple of other relive pitchers the last two weeks… I will NOT finish last!!!


ShagOnSports Random Thoughts

- Detroit Tigers are for real I think… They play a tough schedule the next couple of weeks so we will see how they fare… St Louis will play an Interleague Series in Detroit this season (I hate interleague play!!!)…

- My wife tried to get tickets to see Roger Clemens pitch in Lexington next week but could not get through… I saw Roger pitch for the Stros a few years back against the Reds… Which lead me to the question of how many hall of famers have I seen play… Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Steve Carlton, Tom Seaver, Roberto Clemente, Pete Rose (will be one day), Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, Ryne Sandberg, Andre Dawson (should be in the hall), Ken Griffey Jr, Barry Bonds, John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, Ozzie Smith and Bruce Sutter…

- I do not think Tiger Woods can lay off this long and win the US Open but he is certainly capable… Tiger is his own man but his Dad meant allot to him… I am glad Earl Woods was able to build such an athlete who has been fun to watch come up for me…

- Michele Wie is trying to qualify for the men’s US Open… I do not have any issue with her earning a spot...

- Wish all the Pistons would have played as well as T Prince… The Pistons are a great team but they obviously have a few internal issues… Trade Rasheed!!! He is not my favorite for sure…

- Go Mavs!!!

- The Louisville Bats (Triple A for the Reds) are on a roll and have moved out of last place with seven wins in a row… Go Bats!!!

- What happened to the Louisville Arena???

- Bat Cats bowed out of the NCAA Baseball Tournament yesterday with a loss to College of Charleston… They finished 67 and 15 for the year!!!

- Early line on UK Football is four and eight which will get Brooks a one way ticket back to Oregon… I want us to win but if we loose then the Brooks ride is over… I want a wide-open game and Brooksy is going to try to run it down the SEC’s throat…

- On Friday my high school will be in Louisville playing in the Girls State Softball Tournament… A buddy of mines daughter plays first base for the team and she made all regional and is just a sophomore… Another one of my buddies has a daughter that is one hell of a soccer player… Both parents of these young ladies were (are) very athletic and both girls have good shots at scholarships in two years if they stick with their sports…

In the CD Player this week


- Satellite Radio… It is really awesome… I like XM because you get NBA, MLB and the PGA Tour… I bought a home unit last week so I can listen to the games at home…