Sunday, February 22, 2015

SPORTS GUY — We're No. 1; oh-oh

COLLEGE BASKETBALL (MARCH 16): The University of Virginia has this thing about being one in college basketball. Years ago, No. 1 Virginia lost to unknown Chaminade, and that was considered the worst lost in history.

Then tonight, No. 1-ranked UVa lost to No. 16-seeded Maryland-Baltimore County 74-54 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Naturally, it was the worst loss in the history of the tournament.

Oh, well.

NFL (MARCH 11): I wasn't shocked that the Miami Dolphins traded Jarvis Landry to the Cleveland Browns for two draft picks. I just wish they'd gotten higher picks.

Another thing: One story I found online listed three Dolphins "legends" at receiver, including Mark Duper and Mark Clayton. I don't remember their third legend, but I wonder why Paul Warfield wasn't mentioned. I guess his time was too long ago.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL (DEC. 28): I just noticed that No. 12 Virginia (10-1) will play No. 6 Louisville (11-1) at the 22,000-seat KFC Yum! Center. Oh, JOY! Let's go play at the Yum.

PRO FOOTBALL (DEC. 11): The Miami Dolphins don't make it easy on themselves. When they win, they usually do it the hard way. Today, they let the Cardinals come back to tie the game at 23 after the Dolphins led 21-9 (of course, Tannehill's third-quarter knee injury didn't help). Then they kicked a field goal to win.

The Cleveland Browns lost today (to the Bengals) to fall to 0-13. I don't want the Browns to go 0-16, but can they beat either the Bills, Chargers or Steelers in their last three games? It'll be tough.

I just noticed receiver Travis Benjamin for the Chargers. They're playing the Panthers, who have wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin.

PRO FOOTBALL (NOV. 27): I think all of those NFL players with Jr., Sr., II, III or whatever on their jerseys is overdone. I realize they're getting their fathers, sons, grandfathers, etc., on there, too.

The announcer just said that Baltimore's kicker (Justin Tucker?) is automatic inside the 40-yard line. On Sunday, he was automatic (three for three) OUTSIDE the 50-yard line. And he added the 36-yard kick.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL (Oct. 1): Clemson was making Louisville's Lamar Jackson look like a normal quarterback, not all-world, in the first half. Jackson hasn't looked so ordinary in the second half; he's led the Cardinals down to the Tigers' 9-yard-line. It's fourth down, but he made a great play to avoid a sack.

It all comes down to one play on fourth-and-7. Oops; line moves. Now it's fourth-and-12. Jackson passes to someone in the flat, and he comes up a yard short. It looks like Clemson will win.

That was a great ending for the Tennessee-Georgia game. The Volunteers can't make it easy on themselves, but so far, they've managed to win every game.

That was a dumb play by the Tennessee receiver in the first half. He assumed he was about to score, and the Georgia player knocked the ball loose for a touchback. If he'd kept playing hard, he'd have scored.

Great win by Virginia over Duke. I missed most of it (too many good games on TV), but I was pleased. I've rooted for UVa since 1969.

I hate the black helmets for Ball State. They just don't go well with the red Cardinals logo.

I'm not keen on TCU's all-black uniforms, either.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL (Sept. 24): I wasn't surprised that Florida was leading Tennessee 21-3. The Vols seem to always struggle against the Gators.

Then Tennessee went on a great comeback to go up 38-21. Great team speed and good planning by the Vols.

The post-game celebration (after the 38-28 victory) almost looks like a pep rally.

I loved the way the Tennessee game ended. The Vols ran the ball to the Florida 1 as the clock ran out.

What's going on with Notre Dame? I might expect Duke to beat the Irish in basketball, but it looks like the Blue Devils are going to beat the Irish in football.

I was happy to see Virginia's 49-35 win over Central Michigan, but it's disturbing to see that they squandered a 28-0 lead.


Commercial brakes (Aug. 16): Today, I've been watching the Kevin Costner baseball movie "For the Love of the Game" on Crackle, and the commercials have been driving me crazy.

First, they'd show three BlueCross BlueShield commercials in a row. Then during the next commercial break, they'd do it again, and I was soon sick of BCBS.

Then, they switched to three Mountain Dew commercials in a row. Now, I'm sick of Dew, too.

What in heck are the folks at Crackle thinking?

(By the way, I DO know that it's spelled commercial breaks; I'd like to put the brakes to their commercial breaks.) 

J.J. left out (July 22): Yesterday, I was watching the NFL Network and some guy listed his top five defensive players in the NFL. He didn't include J.J. Watt, and he had some arbitrary reasoning that didn't make sense.

I think his No. 1 defender was Patrick Peterson of the Cardinals. He's a good player, but he's not in Watt's class.

By the way, I hear Watt had back surgery and will miss training camp. I guess that guy's right, until Watt returns. 

Grobe hired (May 30): I interviewed Jim Grobe a couple of times when he was Wake Forest's head football coach, and I liked him. He was patient, easy to interview and thoughtful.

He was just hired as Baylor's interim head football coach, replacing embattled former coach Art Briles. I don't know how his team will do this fall, but his sterling reputation and calm demeanor are just what the Bears need.

And I wish I could play for him.

Berman leaving (May 27): I just saw that Chris Berman may be leaving ESPN, and I had to write something about it. Berman's been there since ESPN opened (around 1979), and I've enjoyed his nicknames for athletes and coaches. (Some people don't like his schtick, but that's a different story.)

I thought of Andre "Bad Moon" Rison — a reference to Creedence Clearwater Revival's song "Bad Moon Rising" — before Berman coined it. But Eric "Sleeping With" Bieniemy and Jim "Two Silhouettes On" Deshaies are his alone. The other one I remember best is Darryl Mötley "Crüe," a reference to a baseball player named Darryl Motley and an '80s band named Mötley Crüe.

Youngsters won't get the reference, but I think of him as Chris "You Sing Like Ethel" Berman, a reference to loud actress/singer Ethel Merman from long, long ago. If you have a better one, I'd like to hear it.

The reference to Ethel Merman IS appropriate; he IS Boomer, after all. So was she.


NFL Draft aftermath (May 8): The best thing is that the NFL Draft is over, and we won't have to read (or ignore) the hundreds of mock drafts that were pretty much all wrong.

The worst thing is that now we have to read or listen to all of the conjecture about which teams had the best or worst drafts, which individual picks were great or stupid.

Me? I'm just looking forward to real football, not talk.


Old logo (May 3): I miss the Miami Dolphins' old logo with the angry-looking dolphin wearing a helmet. The new logo is too stylized for me, and the uniform is lacking in color (orange, for one thing).

Who's next? (April 29): I have to admit I had never heard of the Dolphins' second-round pick, cornerback Xavien Howard of Baylor. I'll have to withhold judgment, although says he's uneven on tape. We'll see.

I HAD heard of their third-round draft pick, Alabama running back Kenyan Drake. He's a dynamic runner, and should pair well with Jay Ajayi, and he might return kicks.


Picking No. 13 (April 28): At first, I was shocked when the Miami Dolphins took Laremy Tunsil No. 13 in the NFL Draft on Thursday. I'd seen his photo wearing the bong and gas mask.

On the other hand, if they can keep him on the straight and narrow, that may be the best selection of round one.


Plummet? (April 28): I thought it was funny when TV announcers kept talking about Tunsil "plummeting" in the NFL Draft. Sure, he was picked to go as high as third overall (first before two teams traded to get up front to pick QBs). But Tunsil didn't plummet; if he'd been picked in the fifth round, THAT would have been a plummet.

Birthday boys (April 28): Early happy birthday to Dale Earnhardt Sr. (65 tomorrow) and Willie Nelson (83 tomorrow). They share April 29 as their birthday. Dale was born April 29, 1951 in Kannapolis, N.C., and died Feb. 18, 2001 in Daytona Beach, Fla. Willie was born April 29, 1933 in Abbott, Texas.

Kobe's sendoff (April 14): I was amazed that Kobe Bryant scored 60 points in his final NBA game, but, conversely, I wasn't surprised that Bryant put up 50 shots. Kobe's not a born passer, for one thing. Two, it's all about Kobe, and this was his special night.

And I'm a fan of the Lakers.

I was happier with the win over the Jazz than the point outburst, but it wasn't the worst thing that could happen.


Next year's Super Bowl (Feb. 16): If they go back to Roman numerals, next year's Super Bowl will be LI (51).

That makes me think of actress Lucy Liu. Lucy LI?

Spring training ahead (Jan. 28): It just occurred to me that baseball is almost upon us. The Arizona Diamondbacks and St. Louis Cardinals (and a few other teams) will bring in pitchers and catchers on Feb. 17, with workouts the next day.

The top team (to me, anyway), the Baltimore Orioles, will assemble pitchers and catchers on Feb. 18 and open workouts on Feb. 19.

More Super Bowl 50 (Feb. 8): Eli Manning didn't look too happy when his family was shown celebrating late in the Super Bowl. He looked like he'd been punched in the stomach.

Super Bowl 50 (Feb. 7): Congrats to Peyton Manning. I wonder if he'll retire this offseason. It would be a great way to go out.

I think Von Miller ought to be Super Bowl MVP. (He was.)

It looked to me that No. 82 (Jerricho Cotchery) of the Panthers made the catch in the first quarter. Even after instant replay, they got it wrong.

Looking ahead to the Super Bowl (Jan. 26): I haven't had much luck with the NFL this year. The Dolphins didn't make the playoffs; the Packers got beat fairly early in the playoffs, and then the Cardinals, the only team left I could possibly root for, got hammered on Sunday.

I live in North Carolina, but I don't root for the Panthers. But then again I don't like the Broncos, either.

The only thing I can possibly root for is a great game in Super Bowl 50. And I don't expect that to happen; I figure the Panthers will run away with it, similar to the Seattle-Denver game of a couple of years ago (43-8, I believe). (NOTE: I obviously got THAT prediction wrong.)

Bengals' meltdown (Jan. 10): The back-to-back penalties against the Cincinnati Bengals gave the Pittsburgh Steelers an easy winning field goal Saturday night. Defensive coach Joey Porter getting pushed was the key occurrence, but what was Porter doing on the field in the first place (since you never see assistant coaches on the field)?

As far as I could tell, the only reason he was there was to start something with the Bengals.

The late penalty that doomed the Bengals was provoked by a Steelers coach illegally on the field


He's gone (Nov. 29): It seems like the Miami Dolphins are running out of coaches. The Dolphins lost to the Jets, and head coach Joe Philbin got fired. Defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle later got fired, and offensive coordinator Bill Lazor got fired (after another loss to the Jets).

They keep firing people and promoting assistants. I wonder if they have enough coaches left.


Brett's back (Nov. 26): Brett Favre's return to Lambeau Field on Thanksgiving night was poignant because an ill Bart Starr went out of his way to be there. Strangely, Starr (and wife Cherry) showing up in a golf cart reminded me of Ted Williams showing up at a baseball all-star game.

I liked all of the hugs, particularly those between Favre and Starr and Favre and Aaron Rodgers. I hated Brett's hat, though.

Other than the hat, the worst part of the night was the Pack losing to the Bears.

Favre's night becomes Starr's night — to No. 4's delight

Philbin firing (Oct. 6): Part of me was happy with the firing of Joe Philbin as coach of the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins have shown no toughness and little resilience during Philbin's three-plus-year tenure. It's time to turn the page.

Still, it's tough to watch a good man get fired.

Game-saving poke (Oct. 6): I was impressed with Cam Chancellor's play on Calvin Johnson at the end of the Seahawks-Lions Monday Night game. Johnson was about to score the potential game-winning touchdown, and Chancellor poked the ball out (and it rolled out of bounds for a touchback; Seahawks ball).

I did feel bad for Johnson, though. He may worry about that the rest of his life.

NFL helmets (March 28): I admit that several NFL teams could use new helmet designs, and I was impressed with an artist's concept helmet redesigns for all 32 teams.

Some of them are terrific, and even the misses were good. I liked the Miami Dolphins' helmet, which looked like a stylized dolphin swimming in a pool of water. Unfortunately, the dolphin was aquamarine, and the "water" was orange. I might reverse that.

The Detroit Lions' helmet didn't seem changed to me, and I wouldn't change the Dallas Cowboys' and Green Bay Packers' helmets. They're perfect. Same with the 49ers.

That's what I think ... What do YOU think?

Joey Logano (Feb. 24): I just read a headline that says that Joey Logano's superstar evolution is complete. That headline stems, of course, from Logano winning the Daytona 500 on Sunday.

I doubt you can call Logano a superstar yet. NASCAR has maybe five superstars, and Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon are three of them. You might call Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski superstars, since they've won recent NASCAR championships, but I doubt it.

But are nine Cup victories and one Daytona 500 win enough to make Logano a superstar? Probably not. Trevor Bayne won the Daytona 500 in 2011, and Jamie McMurray did it in 2010. They're not stars, much less superstars.

I'd say that Joey is a star, not a superstar. And that's OK.

What do YOU think?

2015 Daytona 500 (Feb. 22): I just watched the end of the 2015 Daytona 500, with Joey Logano getting his ninth Sprint Cup win. I had never heard of Joey before he won a 2008 ARCA race at Rockingham Speedway, the track that they'd once called North Carolina Motor Speedway.

I realize it's been more than six and a half years since Logano won at The Rock, but it seems like he's come a long way in a short time.

I wasn't rooting for the winner, though; my favorite was in the last-lap wreck.

Super Bowl 49 (Feb. 1, 2015): I didn't know how to take the ending to Super Bowl 49; almost anything but what happened. I was expecting the Seattle Seahawks to run Marshawn Lynch (going Beast Mode) or fake to Lynch and run quarterback Russell Wilson outside.

After all, they were only a yard from the goal line.

Instead, they threw an interception in a 28-24 Seattle loss.

It was an abrupt ending, and it reminded me a bit of a Dallas Cowboys game in 2007. Tony Romo was holding for a 19-yard field-goal kick, and he bobbled the ball. He was tackled, and the wild-card game was over.

Abruptly. And, as it was with the Super Bowl, I wasn't expecting it.

Incidentally, the Seattle Seahawks beat the Cowboys, 21-20, on Romo's bobble.


More blog entries by Tom Gillispie
• Advice for be and would-be novelists

Anecdotes by Tom Gillispie

EDITOR@WORK blog entries

Entries from The Dog Blog

Blog entries from The Auto Racing Journal
(a book of great stories about the Intimidator)
(the book of great NASCAR stories)

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