Weekend sports

Watching baseballl playoff games is intense, especially if you have a horse in the race. I was following every pitch and, due to time zones and having to record games, staying up until 1:00 a.m. But what games they were! The Milwaukee Brewers, whose games I used to attend faithfully when we lived in Wisconsin, beat the Arizona Diamondbacks to get into the championship series and then beat the St. Louis Cardinals–who themselves heroically defeated the Philadelphia Phillies, ostensibly the best team in baseball.

And the Sooners, from one of my alma maters, just demolished our arch-rivals the Texas Longhorns, beating up on the #11 team in the country as easily as they beat Ball State the previous week.

The Sooners were rated #1 in the AP pre-season poll, as they still are in the Coaches’ poll. But now they have slipped to #3, getting based by LSU (#1) and Alabama (#2). Why? Oklahoma defeated two nationally-ranked teams. What did LSU and Alabama do that is more impressive than what Oklahoma has done?

Wisconsin’s big weekend

This was being called the biggest sports weekend in the history of Wisconsin, my former state.  And in each contest, Wisconsin was victorious.  The Milwaukee Brewers won two playoff games over the Arizona Diamondbacks.  The Wisconsin Badgers welcomed Nebraska to the Big Ten by demolishing the nationally-ranked Cornhuskers.   The Packers pounded the Denver Broncos.  And the Milwaukee Marathon was won by a guy from Marquette.

For a brief, shining moment, Wisconsin teachers and Congressmen, tea partiers and Occupy Wall Streeters will be united in a feeling of common sports euphoria.

We’re #1

My alma mater, the University of Oklahoma, is rated #1 in all four of the major preseason polls for NCAA football.  I’m realizing that I’d better brag now, before the games actually start, since, if history is a guide, the Sooners’ pre-eminence is likely to fade once they actually start to play some games.  Still, I am proud.   The four polls also agree in ranking Alabama #2.  After that, opinions differ.

Check out the polls:  2011 NCAA College Football Polls and Rankings for Week 1 – ESPN.  Where do you think the prognosticators get it right and where do they get it wrong?  And before the games actually begin is the right time for predictions:  Who do you think will end the season as th #1 team?

Prosecuting Roger Clemens

The great pitcher Roger Clemens testified before a Congressional hearing that he had not used steroids.  But then came evidence that he had.   So he was brought to trial for perjury.   The prosecution used hearsay evidence that the judge told them not to use, resulting in a mistrial.   So do you think Clemons should be retried?

Notice that steroid use was not illegal, nor was it then a violation of the rules of baseball.   I don’t see why steroid use back then should keep a Mark McGwire, a Sammy Sosa, or a Barry Bonds out of the record books, even with an asterisk.  It wasn’t cheating, since it didn’t violate any rules.  Now it does, so it’s a different story.  As my cousin Mark observed, there have been different eras in baseball–such as the dead ball era and the juiced ball era–so we just need to realize there was a steroid era.  Perhaps we should ban all of the vitamins players take these days.  Other sports such as cycling are outlawing “doping,” including practices such as injecting one’s own blood, so as to increase stamina by increasing the number of red blood cells.  And yet our whole Olympic team trains in Mark’s home of Colorado Springs at an altitude that increases red blood cells.  Yet one is OK, because labeled “natural,” and the other is banned because labeled artificial, even though the effect is the same.

Clemens was hauled before a court for lying to Congress, not for using steroids.  He was speaking out against steroids, probably also trying to protect his reputation so he could get into the Hall of Fame.  Once again, it isn’t the action but the lying, or, better yet, the hypocrisy, that gets people into trouble.

Is it worth the expense and the time of our court system to once again try to convict a baseball player?

Oklahoma City Thunder

Oklahoma finally has a professional sports team–the Oklahoma Sooner don’t count–and, within just a few years, it’s in the championship hunt!  The Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Memphis Grizzlies, 105-90, to win the seventh game playoff, putting them up against the Dallas Mavericks for the Western Division championship in the NBA.  The winner will play the Eastern champion, either the formerly always dominant Chicago Bulls or the superstar team of today the Miami Heat.   Wouldn’t it be something if the Thunder could beat either of those teams?  At any rate, the performance of the Thunder this year, with its great player Kevin Durant, is great for Oklahoma City and for all of my fellow Okies, including those of us in the post-Dust Bowl diaspora.

via Thunder top Grizzlies 105-90 to reach West finals – dailytribune.com.

Final Four?

Well, none of you predicted the Final Four.  I suspect no one in the country predicted the Final Four!  It seems like in every NCAA tournament some little college comes out of nowhere and does really well.  But this year two such underdogs made the Final Four!  The basketball superpowers, including my alma mater Kansas Jayhawks, were all shot down.  So the national champion will be either Virginia Commonwealth, Butler, Connecticut, or Kentucky.  The two big state schools will play each other, and the two little schools will play each other.  So one of the latter will be in the final two.

Predictions?  Are you pulling for the underdogs?  Is anyone for the overdogs, on principle?  I think I will be for Virginia Commonwealth, now that they beat Kansas and now that I live in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  (Not a state, mind you, but a commonwealth.)

2011 Bracket – NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament History – The Washington Post.


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