Saturday, August 26, 2006

Coaching Changes Needed

by ShagOnSports

I really effort to stay away from negative things in my life… In the last five years I have stopped reading the newspaper except for the Sunday New York Times Sports Section and the Sunday Louisville Courier Journal Sports and I do not watch the local or national the news… Politics makes me gag so I do not even give it a second thought… I have found that removing all of this negativity that I focus on my issues, kill them, drag them home, dispose of them and move on… Life is Grand in my bubble that I have created!!! As David Byrne of the Talking Heads sang in the song No Compassion, “So many people, have their problems, I am not interested in their problems, I guess I have experienced some problems but now I have made some decisions, takes allot of time to push away the nonsense, take my compassion push it far as it goes, be a little more selfish it might do you some good…”

My passion is pretty obvious by what you read from me on my blog… Sports, Sports, Sports through keeping up with my teams and also my participation in these events… In this arena I get the shear entertainment of these events and my life or happiness does not center on whether my teams win or loose… I love the emotion that these events create in my life and I love to discuss them, debate them and disagree on them but never in a vicious way (at least most of the time)…

No matter how hard I try I cannot seem to stay away from this one negative thing for me… The University of Kentucky needs a new Football Coach… After my golf league the other night we were discussing the upcoming game between UK and U of L and how successful the U of L program by taking the model UK started and immensely improved it… I just cannot help but laugh at the optimism that people have about the UK football program this year… Don’t get my wrong I want UK to be successful or I would not be a season ticket holder and I would not be present at every home game but I cannot just get on board with Rich Brooks… I have only missed one home game in the Brooks era and only once I have seen this team fire on all cylinders and that was against IU in week 2 of Brooks second season… A bad IU team!!!

Whether Brooks wins four games, six games or eight games he is not the dynamic young coach that Kentucky needs to get its football moving in the right direction… He is a band-aid that was put on a deep gash… I see a possibility of five wins on this schedule, Texas State, Central Michigan, Southwest Louisiana and Vandy (Vandy lost Cutler but they will field a formidable team) account for four… The swing games are Ole Miss and Mississippi State and I do not see Kentucky beating both of these teams… Does four or five wins bring Rich back??? Who does Kentucky go after next??? UK has great facilities and a solid fan base, although season ticket sales are down so they should be able to do something… If he wins six does he get a contract extension???

My boy Mark Sheets is predicting a rousing victory over Louisville next weekend… That a boy Sheets… He says he has enough confidence for us all…


St Louis Cardinals

Speaking of coaching changes is it time for St Louis to look at a change with Tony Larussa???

If I was the GM for St Louis here is what my strategy would be for next year… Part ways with Jason Israughausen, Mark Mulder (bad trade two years ago giving up Dan Haren for this stiff) and Jason Marquis… My starting pitching staff would be made up of Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Anthony Reyes, Jeff Suppan and a name free agent signing like Barry Zito… There are some solid arms in the pin for middle relief but St Louis has to obtain a dominant closer… The infield is set and solid… The outfield is a big question mark…

Is Jim Edmonds worth $10 million for next year or do you let him go and free up that money to sign a big name free agent??? I would opt for a name free agent that could be signed to a three to five year deal…

Now for Tony Larussa… The knock on him is he cannot win the big one… He certainly has been successful in St Louis but he has failed to get this team over the hump ala Bobby Cox in Atlanta… Does this put him in the same position as Tubby Smith??? I think so… The Cards have a window in the next six years and it would be criminal in my opinion if this team does not win a World Series… There are three years including last year that Larussa’s style of overmanging in the playoffs has cost this team a shot at a World Championship… Can you run a guy that has been this successful???

Kentucky Football

Kentucky goes into this year with more depth on both offense and defense… The o line has ten people who have started games and you have to think that the o line coach knows what he is doing with the success he had at Florida State… The key is can this team pass block and give Andre Woodson time to throw???

The running backs are strong with Tony Dixon returning form injury and Little proving he is a solid producer last year… The key to their success however is whether or not UK can throw the ball successful… If they cannot then the opposing teams will line up eight in the box and UK will be toast…

With Kennon Burton and Jacob Tamme UK have two guys with lots of potential… Burton cannot get hurt… If he does then it will be a long season that begs the question why in the hell is Rich Brooks going to have him returning kick offs and punts???

Run or pass??? To me that is what you get with Pulley and Woodson… I am of the opinion that if UK wants to compete in the SEC they must pass to set up the run… Kentucky needs fun offense that will be exciting for the fans (we deserve it) and give them the ability to compete in the SEC and also attract recruits at the key skill positions on offense… You saw what Brooksy did to a high-powered offense led by Lorenzon and he blamed it on loosing Pinner and Probation…

Defense!!! Defense!!!

The UK defense will be much improved but they are lacking depth at the Corners and at Safety, which will bite them… UK will need linebackers to drop back in coverage allot so this will make them vulnerable against the run (See the Florida Game this year)… Can we stop the run??? We have not stopped anyone in the last three years… The defensive line should be much improved and there is allot of depth at linebacker… Back to the three four defense???

Bottom line is Kentucky will be an improved team but it is not hard to improve on the zero that this coaching staff dropped the last three years… There is depth and it is young depth playing in the SEC and to me that does not equal a winning campaign… My prediction is four and eight... If U of L and Florida put the thrashing on us that I think they will then it could be worse as this team is young vulnerable and will loose confidence quick…

Does Brooksy get another year at 4 and 8??? No bowl and he is out??? Stay tuned, as this will get interesting…

ShagOnSports Random Thoughts

- I am of the opinion that the National League is not as good as the American League… The best baseball is being played in the American League… What happened???

- I do not understand anyone that says that ESPN is exploiting the kids who are playing in the Little League World Series… This is great stuff… The games are fantastic and the displays of sportsmanship are refreshing…

- A few weeks ago there was some discussion on the radio about a Little League coach who walked a player who had hit a home earlier in the game with a runner at third and the championship game on the line… This player was also considered the best player in the league… The intentional walk was given so they could pitch to the weaker hitter who was coming up next… Good Baseball right??? Some people do not think so because the next kid up has cancer??? I am not one of those people… I think it is great that the kid is playing and how this story would be different if the kid had gotten a hit… He had the opportunity and that is what people are missing with this story… There is nothing wrong with winning!!!


- Tiger, Tiger, Tiger… He is back and built for the long haul… His performance last Sunday was masterful or pgaful I guess would be the term… Why do the other players just fold on him??? At this point Bob May is the only guy who went toe to toe with Tiger in a final round… Looks like he is going to do it again at Firestone…

- Nice to see that the entire Ryder Cup Team is flying over together next week to practice at the K club… Monty had it right when he said we (the Euros) are playing for each other and the US is playing for its country… I think Tom Lehman will have this group together on one page playing for each other… Even Tiger and Phil with their rivalry…

- Speaking of golf I am hitting it well and putting it well… Yes!!! I am putting it well… I had a smooth 78 at Sultan Run in Jasper last Saturday and shot a 39 in my league last night for a two up victory… My team, The Flying Balls, is in second place and if we can hang on we have a chance to clinch a bye to the championship if we can win the second half of the season… I want to play every day… No three putts in 54 holes for me!!!

ShagOnMusic

- Just purchased the new Sonic Youth and my nephew Matt picked up Panic At the Disco… New Chili Peppers is next… 34 days to the Stones…


Friday, August 18, 2006

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

by ShagOnSports

Things have been really crazy for me at work so I have had very little time to write… Also since I put so much time into my golf game during the summer months I do not have as much other time like the fall and winter months so summer postings will be limited…

Writing this Blog I have found is very therapeutic for me and I like the feedback I get from everyone… I love sports and I like to write about what I see and what I think so this is a great way to express myself… I love to tell stories also and there is no better place then a Blog for story telling…

I will try to get back to some consistency when I post and Friday’s will be the day…

Tribute

In the past week I have had some of my friends loose their mothers to Cancer… One was a brain tumor and the other was unfourtunatly Lung Cancer from Smoking… My wife’s uncle Jim is also battling for his life right now with Cancer… Please take a moment to think about people in your life who may be ill with this disease and contribute when you can to foundations who are doing wonderful things to treat this illness…
Matt and Brad Jarrett are two guys I grew up with and have been life long friends... Our familes spent some great times together as kids and we all grew up playing Sports with each other... My Mom and Nancy Jarret would always take us to Howard Johnson's after games where we would feast on the famous HoJo;s fried clams... Mom and Nancy played golf together for quite some time and took lessons together at one point...
I do not feel old but these types of events make me realize we are aging and that you should never take anything for granted...
My prayers go out to Brad and Matt and also to my friends from the Louisville Trinity Contention Paul and David Scinta on the loss of their mother...

My wife is a winner

It is so great to have a wife that is a Sports Junkie like me… The only difference we have is she likes Pro Football and I could care less… Last week she correctly answered a trivia question on the Radio and won… The question was how many seams are on a baseball??? The answer is 108… I would have never gotten that answer… She won dinner for two; a Joe B Hall and Denny Crum bobble heads and an Evil Empire T Shirt (that would be a New York Yankees Shirt)…

Tiger Woods

I really like that Tiger is back sticking it in everyone’s face and I also like the fact that he does this in very subtle way… Tiger let’s his performance speak and it speaks loudly… There are allot of Pro Athletes how could learn allot from the way Tiger carriers himself on and off the golf course… He has enormous focus on golf but he also has great focus on family and community… Why is that???

I truly believe this has as much to do with Golf and participation in golf as a youth as does his family influence… Golf is a character building exercise and it also teaches a person proper etiquette, proper dress (some golfers could work on that one), respect for the grounds, competitive balance and promotes allot of good characteristics in most people… I can make a list of people who I did not care for at one time or another until I played a round of golf with them and then my view of that person changed… You have people who will talk and try to intimidate you when you play (Stanley Shields is a guy I used to play allot of golf with who used to do that but that was just part of his competitive Spirit) but that just creates another mental challenge to the game…

I believe that if Tiger played any other Sport he would however carry himself much the same way, as would the person he is most often compared with, Jack Nickalus... Tiger knows the history of the game and respects that history and that is one of the many reasons I am a fan of Tiger…

Tiger has been doubted by some since the beginning of his professional career… I have heard negative comments about how often he is shown on TV (he is not producing the events for TV) and the negative statement I here is that he does not have the challengers like Jack did with Arnie, Trevino, Watson and Player which I believe is also bogus… The depth of the talent pool is much greater today and I think Els and Mickelson have challenged him but not as often as people would like to see… Fact is when Tiger is on he is on there is not much any of the players can do… He is to me that good!!!

At The Open Tiger went back and did what he does best and that is hit it straight… He is the greatest long iron player of his era, that was also Jack’s strength, and when you can hit two irons stiff like he can then who cares if you drive the ball 320 yards…

Now that Tiger has won the Buick two weeks later then he has shut up the pundits on TV like Miller and Faldo who questioned his swing changes, etc… Tiger is back and he is better then ever and I truly believe the best is yet to come…

My game

I have finally gotten my game in order… I am driving the ball well, my iron play is the best it has ever been and my chipping is really come around through allot of effort on the practice greens… I CAN’T PUTT!!!

My putting has been awful and has stayed that way for quite some time… I have tried everything to improve… I have tried grip changes, posture changes and stance adjustments and nothing seems to work… Two weekends ago I shot 79 on Saturday with 35 putts and then 78 on Sunday with 30 putts so I thought I was on my way… Last Friday I played at Xmas Lake with Sammy Nation (he fired a smooth 76) and I show 84 with 37 putts (21 on the back)…

On Saturday I was at the golf store with my putter in hand ready to make a trade… I putted for about two hours and decided on a Ben Hogan putter that looks funny but feels great and the ball rolls well off the face… I practiced all week with the putter and then yesterday I fired a 78 with 32 putts, no three putts and several one putts… This putter is center shafted which seems to fit my putting stroke well… Putting has kept me out of the 70’s but now I have confidence so look out…

By the way did you know I Love Golf…

Fantasy Baseball Update

The MudCats just can’t seem to breakthrough… Puljos has cooled off, Griffey Jr never did much for me so I dropped and my other guys have been consistent but not overwhelming… I am in the middle of the pack on offense and I can gain some ground all the offensive categories except RBI’s so we will see where these guys take me through the end of the year… I could finish 7th at the highest in this league if my pitching continues to pick up and my offense steps it up… My lineup is listed below:

Offense:

AJ Pierzynski
Puljos
Felipe Lopez
Edgar Renteria
Scott Rolen
Mike Cameron
Eric Byrnes
Austin Kearns
Brad Hawpe
Joe Crede

Pitchers:

Nick Robertson
Jake Peavy
Jerrod Weaver
Chris Young
Justin Jennings
AJ Burnett
Jason Isranhausen
Joel Zumaya
Takashi Saito
Ramon Ramirez


Cardinals still Suck! Cardinals still Suck! Cardinals still Suck!

St Louis has gone to shit!!! Swept by the Pirates!!! I knew starting out the year that the pitching was weak but I never imagined in getting this bad… Last Tuesday night I ventured up to Cincy for the Cards and Reds expecting to see a pitchers dual… Carpenter did not pitch well and gave up six runs, three on solo home runs for the night…

It was an exciting game… Edmonds started it off with a grand slam but Puljos missed two opportunities with the bases loaded to bust the game open and the Reds just kept hanging around… In the eighth with one out Larussa brought in Izzy with one out… I told the guy I was with that spelled the end for St Louis if the he was also going to pitch the ninth inning… He made it out of the eighth, gave up a walk in the ninth and then a pinch hit walk off two run homer to end the game…

Walking out was really fun for me in my St Louis Cardinal attire… I reminded everyone that had a comment to pick up the paper on Wednesday and see who was in first place… Most of the jabs I took were friendly but a few were hostile… It was an exciting ending to the game and I was glad I got to see it but it still sucked!!!

I think next year is a big year for St Louis and Tony Larussa… The Cards should have won it all last year and they did not… Larussa, much like UK Basketball Coach Tubby Smith, has a great overall record but is failure to get the team to the World Series (final four in Tubby’s case) could be his downfall… I think the pieces are in place next year if St Louis goes out and gets another top quality starting pitcher…

The Cards did manage to take two of three from the Reds this week and if, big if, they get quality starts from Carpenter and one other pitcher this year they still could win the division…

If the Cards cannot pull it off this year then of course I will be rooting for the Reds… I did pick up a Dave Concepcion Bobble head at the game last week for free…


ShagOnSports Random Thoughts

- I think that this years Ryder Cup will be interesting since the USA will have maybe three Rookies… Whether or not this is a good thing or a bad thing time will tell… I predict it will be a good thing but I do think that the points system for getting on the team needs to be changed… My captain’s picks would be Freddie Couples and Davis Love...

- Allot of people are predicting good things for Kentucky Football this year… I think there will be some good things but I do not see more then four wins because as my friend Chuck Shipley stated Rich Brooks is still the coach (throw out his first ten years at UO and he is a little better then .500 at 62 & 57) and Joker Phillips is still the O Fensive Coordinator… I want the Cats to win but I will truly celebrate the day that Brooksy is gone… Kentucky needs a young coach or innovative coach like Mike Leach at Texas Tech… Kentucky is just to young on defense and will rely too much on freshman and they have one wide receiver so the offense will be easy to defend this year… Everyone is talking about the linebackers and ignoring the defensive backfield… Brian Brohm will shred the UK Secondary in September…

- U of L Football continues to reload… They picked up a solid QB with the Simms kid last week and they are already listed with several other top prospects… Tom Jurich has the right program for football and has the right coach in Petrino… Remember U of L looked at what Kentucky was doing under Mumme (throw, throw and throw) and the national coverage they were commanding (UK was on ESPN every week and even was the national game on CBS several times) and moved forward… How many ESPN games does UK have this year??? One that I know of at U of L… Next year Brooksy pussed out and will not play U of L to kick off the year… Another reason I do not care for the guy…

- What the hell is the UK President doing making such idiotic comments about U of L Football… BOOOOOOOOO!!! I am practicing my boos for his end of the 1st quarter appearance at the first home game…

- I am starting to hear more rumblings that if Tubby has another year like last year that he has got to go… I will admit he has started to have some issues recruiting the last two years but deserves the chance to straighten things out… I give him two years but his leash may be shorter…

- Valhalla but NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! One of the guys I work with has a free foursome at Valhalla, which has hosted two PGA Championships, Senior PGA Championship and will host Ryder Cup in 2008… We were all set to play and then found out the course is closed until next April for renovations in prep for Ryder Cup… UGH!!!


Musical Footnote

My wife was able to get the pre sale password for the Rolling Stones Concert that will be at Churchill Downs in September so we got tickets before the sellout… 50,000 people and the Stones… Should be a kewl time… "This town is full of money grabbers, go ahead bite the Big Apple but don't mind the maggots" from the song Shattered which is a tribute to New York City...