Sunday, January 30, 2011
And also definitely much thanks to our guests for the new guest live-chatting we did this year; Alex Tagliani, Tony Cotman and Ryan McGee; all 3 guys I'm sure have busy schedules, and we along with the fans here much appreciated the chats.
Thanks to all our participants in the "Ask a Blogger" chat, bloggers and fans both; and thanks for all of you who joined in for 5 great rounds of MarioKart, and 5 rounds of hating the blue turtle shell.
Most of all congrats to all the pit crews for all the cars in the race, those guys are the REAL warriors of the weekend, those guys do ALL the pit stops through the 24 hours, taking small short naps when they can, waking up at a moments notice as needed for emergency stops, and doing some wicked repairs on what these cars manage to break over 24 hours.
I'll close it out the way we opened it up; happy racing season everyone!
I'll be around with my usual nonsense.
Cheers for inviting all of us guest contributors!
Ganassi have this sewn up I think.? Right now I'm pulling for Brundle to get Barbosa, it would great to have that car on the podium.
In the big picture, the Suntrust car could go back to the lead lap with a caution, but not terribly likely. The big battle will be finding out if Barbosa or Pruett can catch Dixon, because he's not far ahead, but hes not losing his gap.
In GT, Dempsey have moved into a podium position now that the 109th Porsche has had issues and fallen out of the top three.
A shame that the Flying Lizard car literally went up in flames; they put down the fastest laps of the day, just a little bum luck on the track with contact. Time to sit down and watch all of this drama unfold.... between commercials for debt management, army, navy, air force and hovaround.... my gosh the Hovaround. for those of you out of the states, here is what you are missing in terms of amazing technology here:
Free to see the world!!
If you ask me, no product should be able to imply "hover" in its name without actually hovering.
Oh, and this is our 100th post of 2011!
Added for Andy:
Mom: Are you sure this is what you want to do with your life?
Kid: Yes, Mom, I've thought about it. I want to be a part of something bigger than myself.
Mom (with knowing smile): Well, OK. I just wanted you to be sure!
And you know, I've watched lots of college basketball this weekend without seeing this commercial. So they're targeting the Rolex 24 crowd?? Really?
And it's all branches of the military! Are they lining up outside the recruitment offices on the Monday after this race every year? "Let me guess... you were watching Speed TV this weekend! Welcome to the Army, son! You're just who Uncle Sam is looking for."
Stick around folks we don't know the winners yet.
But when it comes to NASCAR and IndyCar there's one thing that takes root that I kind of wish didn't. The champion always opts out of using his rightfully gained option for putting #1 on the car. Its done for sponsorship reasons, and I get that... but I'd think a sponsor would love that; make a shirt or sign or campaign that consists of people spray painting an X over the old number and then painting #1 next to it. What sponsor wouldn't want to be called #1?
But lets put that aside for a second... Chip Ganassi's IndyCars and Gran-Am cars have the same sponsor... yet he uses #1 in Grand-Am but not in IndyCar... or can someone clarify for me if his using #01 is technically not the champions number because of the 0 in it?
What are your thoughts on use of the champions #1 on a car?
Its a dang shame that Patrick Dempsey and his team lost the GT lead, because they more than earned it with their driving, including Patrick himself proving he's not just an actor jumping into a car. Plus I do love when anything but Porsche can win GT seeing as there's always like 117 of them entered. Dempsey for the time is 4 laps down, so cautions could get them there, but its not likely at this point anymore, not to mention the #40 is still having a few issues.
And definitely of note is Flying Lizard, repeatredly putting down the fastest laps in the race, but still stuck17 laps down because of their early incident... they WILL be the favorites to win this race for now on.
As for the contending DPs, I think we'd just like to see the two Ganassi cars go at it, its not like Montoya has been easy on anyone else and he's in the car now... just hoping to see things tighten up a little... because I'm greedy.
The Superbowl late on Sunday night (UK time) should be good, I know nothing at all of the teams but I watched my first last year and it was absolutely Superb. Didn't see any Owls. Even if you don't understand more than half of what is happening you can never misunderstand the scoreboard and the energy coming through the screen was unbelievable. Really looking forward to this year's edition.
Before that there are the opening three games of the 2011 RBS Six Nations, in which the component nations of the UK split up to fight themselves and others on the field. England, Scotland, Wales, a combined Ireland (North and South), France and Italy.
Three games per week for a month. It starts Friday at 7.45pm GMT (2.45pm ET) with Wales v England, followed on Saturday by Italy v Ireland (2.30pm GMT / 9.30am ET) and France v Scotland (5pm GMT / Midday ET). All are live on the BBC if you can catch a feed, not that I'm promising to watch all of them but I'll be tweeting during the ones I do (and the Superbowl).
There was a memorable finish to one game in particular last year. Scotland ran all over Wales for most of the game, not a spectacular hour - but that was until 10 minutes from time when a Scottish player was sent off the field (sin-binned).
What makes this is actually the commentary because the lead commentator is Scottish and the colour commentator Welsh - hear the passion! As the video starts Wales are 10 points down but have a man advantage, there are just 7 minutes remaining... can they do it or could the resilient Scottish hold on?
As they say, rugby is a game played by men with funny-shaped balls.
I think I'm heading out in half an hour, for about an hour. See you for the finish.
Also, I was thinking we need to just plan this out and do it right one year. GRAB BAG SPORTS ROAD TRIP. I love Daytona. I've been there like four times. Let's do it one year. I can't swing it next year and probably not 2013 either. But I do think it could be fun to invite all of you and see how many people could make it down there to hang out. Any thoughts?
(Go ahead and file this post under: Mike gets one hour of sleep, has severe wisdom tooth pain, and posts about his stupid ideas.)
1. Tiger Woods - I guess this story is far from over, but what a story it's been. To dominate his sport unlike anything we've really seen and then to fall so fast... I think it'd be interesting.
2. The BCS - I guess ESPN could never really do this one though, right?
3. Duke basketball/Coach K - I'm biased here, but you could change it to something else. Penn State? Florida State? Any successful program and its longtime coach would be good to me.
4. OJ Simpson - Like his car chase and his court case... I'd probably watch it. (I guess the car chase was covered in that one episode though. I haven't watched it yet, so I don;t know how much it goes into the OJ stuff.)
5. New Orleans Saints and Hurricane Katrina - We wrote tons about this here on our site during last year's Super Bowl run. There's a definite story here.
Think about the impact this game has had on our society. This has been one of those constants within any junior high school, high school, or college over the past 10-12 years, in addition to the adults who play as well. I can remember friends entering tournaments at game stores years ago. In college, around 1999, I even hosted a tournament in my dorm.
This game is a part of our culture and has been for most of the 30 years covered in this ESPN series. I would love a history of the game, which you can read about in this USA Today article from a few years ago.
They could also explore the popular "Madden Curse." I'd like to see interviews with players and see how they react to such superstitions.
This could be lots of fun.
And with that brings up a Blogothon first. For the first time since we've been doing this thing, there is now a 2-1/2 hour gap without live sports on TV or accessible in the U.S. I'm at a loss for what to do really, for two years now I've stayed up for 25 hours straight commentating on whats happening in the world of sports, while keeping up with Daytona.
|there are cars in this picture|
So of the interesting is the predicament I'm in, just 2 short years ago I'd have none, because SPEED used to come back in for morning coverage of Daytona at 7pm. I'd simply be watching Djokovic getting his trophy and flipping over, but now I'm waiting till 9am for something... I guess I could find some things to ramble on about, or catch a quick rest, or maybe I'll just head over to the awesome TRG Pit-interview webcam they've done for all the race thus far...
Djokovic broke Scotsman Murray in the 8th game of the 3rd set to take a 5-3 lead, and served out the final game to seal his second grand slam title, the other being the Australian Open in 2008.
On that note, I'm outta here for Blogathon 2011. It's been great attempting to keep you awake. See you at the chequer.
Losses of wickets in bunches cost England, who strung handy partnerships together at times, but couldn't capitialise.
England fought to get to 20 runs for 0, before losing three for 2 runs. Then a tidy partnership between Pietersen and Bell got England to 95 for 3, but again wickets in bunches put England well and truly behind at 128 for 8.
A rear guard last wicket partnership from Anderson and Finn started to make Australia nervous before Finn was bowled by Shane Watson for 35 from 24 deliveries. Anderson finished 20 not out.
Both teams move to Sydney on 2 February, before finishing the series on 6 February in Perth (the series is finished even though the result is known).
The word verification for this post is scrothe, which sounds like something a cute girl would give me if I played my cards right at about this time of night. "So what did you do last night with Sarah?" "I got some Scrothe. It was awesome."
Then in cricket Australia is putting England away pretty handily, and should be done completing that soon. This means for the first time in blogathon history, there may actually be a gap in live sports available...
So what can I do... I guess we're generally a guy-centric site, and while it is 5:30am and my judgment is likely poor at this point, I guess we'll just try this; so ladies I'd like to introduce you to the man very likely to be your 2011 Australian Open champ. Novak Djokovic.
Murray looks not on tonight, and has been outclassed by Djokovic to date.
Could be an early night in both the cricket and the tennis, with England 145 for 9, and resigned to defeat against Australia in Brisbane.
Yes, this is out.
If you're not good enough to hit it, not only can you die, but you're out.
This is why Cricket is better than baseball.
Note the bowler not giving a damn about the Batsman's health, and the Batsman, rather than starting a fight, meekly realising that he is out, and looking for a scotch, because cricketers are tough, and don't need medical personnel.
And I've finally got word verification.
There was a 38 point rally to setup the set point for Djokovic, who won the set in 59 minutes.
Note that it is official Grab Bag Sports policy to describe Andy Murray as a Brit when he is equal or in-front, and a Scotsman when he is behind or losing. Reining Indycar champion British driver Dario Franchitti can deal with it until he falls off the lead lap, and we'll start describing him as a Scotsman again.
England are 100 for 5 out chasing 250 to win, after 24 overs of 50.
Pietersen and Bell batted solidly from 22 for 3, to 95 for 3, while keeping the scoring rate at the required number to reach the target within the 50 overs, but lost another two quick wickets which now have put them behind the 8-ball.
The weight now rests on the current pairing of Collingwood and Bell, and next batsman Woakes to carry England through to the total.
England have had a further blow with Shahzad suffering an injury while bowling during Australia's innings, meaning that he will only bat if required, keeping in mind the much more important World Cup starting next month.
Hey, where's Hobbson at? I wanted to tell him that the venomous caribou I sent for him got held up at the border, but he hasn't shown his face. Probably some BS line about how he's got a new baby or something.
And what about Tony Johns? Dude makes a post about not being drunk yet and then vanishes into the ether. I expected him to have resurfaced by now slurring nonsense about Dario reheating poutine underneath his kilt. Maybe we should send a search party.
I'm just glad no one invited that Flying Cocksman guy. He's nothing but trouble.
Why did the developers of Mario Kart think that blue shells were in any way fair or a good idea? It makes leading a race for anything but the last five seconds a major disadvantage. (Though I got caught more often tonight by the lightning-bolt-while-jumping-a-chasm trap.)
Speaking of racing, isn't there some really long, real-life race happening tonight? I vaguely recall hearing something about it. I wonder how it's going. Oh, well.. it can't be that important. According to SPEED, it's NONE OF OUR BUSINESS.
Anyway, back to dreamland. (Or, Back Home Agaaaaaaaaain in Indiaaaaaanaaaaaaaa...)
I want to see this in football! I want to see the guys all walk out of the same locker room, pose for pictures, and then toss the ball to each other to warm up.
Also, every sport needs a chair umpire.
Weather has cooled significantly for the clash between 3-Novak Djokovic and 5-Andy Murray, with a sea breeze taking the temperature down to 82 degrees as the players get ready for the start.
Murray will become the first Brit to win a grand slam title since Stirling Moss was a teenager if he overcomes "the Joker" Djokovic tonight.
Well one things for sure, in addition to the green lotus painted car Viso tweeted earlier this month.. I think you can now safely put Viso down as driving a green Lotus sponsored car this year. See picture from Daytona via Marshall Pruett.
Chasing 250 to win, England are 27 for 3 after 7 overs.
England started off steadfastly despite quality 90mph bowling from Lee (remember in cricket, when you bowl you can't straighten your arm like when you pitch in Baseball), to reach 20 for no loss. But accurate bowling from Australia combined with some sloppy batting started a mini-collapse, with Prior, Strauss, and Trott disappearing in the space of eight deliveries.
England now need to steady the boat and stem the loss of wickets rather like Australia in their innings if they are to remain in contention.
I've learned that based on the NASCAR All-Star Shootout that started over 4 hours ago and still hasn't concluded, that the future of NASCAR is screwed if these are their drivers... 3 red flags, countless yellows at this point... and the fact that this race STILL is not over... how showing this live is better than 5 additional hours of Daytona 24 Hours coverage is beyond my comprehension.
I've learned that on the particular pitch of the Australia-England cricket match, that when the team batting first scores 249 or more, they win 9 out of 12 times. Australia just scored exactly 249, so we'll need to see how that goes.
I've learned that cricket is just as stats-crazy a sport as baseball is... no word yet on if Fantasy Cricket is a big deal...
I've learned, once again, that playing poker with strangers at a "play money" table sucks, because they all just hit the all-in button every hand, its no fun.
I've learned that endurance racing means never count anyone out. The Suntrust and Ganassi cars have gone back to the garages again and have since gained laps back and are still well within striking distance.
I learned Patrick Dempsey is starting to get the hang of GT, he led laps folks, huge for him and that team!
Only 40 minutes to the Australian Open Final between Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic!
While almost every Australian batsman got a start, the lack of a big innings hurt Australia and restricted the total to 249, with Australia losing all 10 batsman in the 50th and final over.
The exception on the Australian scorecard was Michael Clarke, who showed a glimmer of his former self in scoring a paitent 54.
England bowler Chris Woakes starred with the ball, dismissing six Australian batsman in only his second one day international match.
England's innings starts in 40 minutes.
Many ladies check him out regularly at a local dodgy nightspot or at www.shanerogers.com.au. He's much better looking online.
It's obviously very important to know the rules of cricket, but it's also very important to know the cues from the crowd, so you don't look like the idiot that doesn't know the words to "Take me out to the ball game".
So here's the three important ones you need to know:
Av a go ya mug
We would appreciate for the entertainment of the audience that you actually tried to lift the scoring rate.
You-are-a-wan-ker (chant, followed by clap in time with syllables)
I can't believe that you security staff would confiscate our beach ball that we were happily playing with in the crowd.
You're-goin-home-in-the-back-of-a-div-vy-van (chant, followed by clap in time with syllables)
I can't believe you're getting a free ride home from the police when we'll have to grab a cab and it'll cost us 30 bucks, when you're the one that's inebriated.
Australia limped to 113 for 4 after losing Marsh and Cameron White in quick succession, but have managed to come through the middle trimester (ask your wife) of the innings without any more losses.
The wicket appears in good condition, and as a result any score under 250 may not necessarily be enough tonight.
Jump into the Mario Kart Wii Showdown chat room if you want to have a chat about what's going on.
My username is "hubautoparts." You should be able to find me and the table by going to "requests" and the "find a player."
This beer is the best you could taste.
These donuts, they won't go to waste.
There's much food to be had,
So it's really too bad
That we can't really watch the cars race.
- Both Ganassi cars went laps down early, the #01 due to needing to change out gear ratios, the #02 due to cutting up tires like a guy at a retreading service on an episode of Dirty Jobs I once saw. However, at press time (um, as I type this), the Ganassi cars run 2nd and 3rd and within 10 seconds of the leader.
- The Michael Shank cars have all avoided catastrophe thus far and even ran 1-2-3 for a few glorious laps.
- The pole sitting Flying Lizard dominated the first hour with some crazy speed in the hands of Joerg Bergmeister, but have run into a few different problems (sorry, Mike).
- Oswaldo Negri hit nearly every car on the track at one point.
- The GT class has played bumper cars with each other and the DPs, but saying that is like saying "Saturday comes after Friday".
Meanwhile, there was some basketball that I completely ignored, I got beat at Mario Kart about 1,265 times, I just tuned into the NASCAR Not-An-All Star Showdown, only to see my guy German Quiroga get taken out along with Travis Pastrana in some other dude's wreck, Shane Rogers is updating us from moment to moment from the other side of the globe on a sport for which I understand about 0.01% of the rules (I hear that a ball is involved), and it feels like we're just getting started. Oh, and a Ganassi car now leads. What can I say? It's been a weird Saturday. I'm off to bed. See everybody in the morning.
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Watson and Haddin started well, putting on 48 until Watson was caught cutting behind point for 16.
After a whispy 37, including seven fours, Haddin was dismissed bowled in the 15th over.
Michael Clarke, Australian Captain comes in under pressure having not scored for than 36 in any of the games in the series so far, and was greeted by a mixture of cheers and jeers when he entered the stadium to start his innings.
In other news, Englands first match of the Cricket World Cup, will not be played at it's originally scheduled venue of Eden Gardens in Kolkata, India; after the ICC declined to give the organisers (sic) an extension of time to get the venue up to an acceptable standard. Embarassed organisers are now scrambling to find an alternate venue.
I hope you enjoy the Mario Kart. Who do I want to win? Clearly I back the Commonwealth, unless they play cricket, so I am rooting for Steph.
I am not seriously expecting to be sent a prize for the Pruett thing, I am just really happy to have won.
Back after these messages.
Since most of you aren't cricket followers naturally, I'm going to keep it simple here, if you want more detailed information, check out the live ball by ball text coverage at ESPN Cricinfo.
In a one-day international cricket match:
- Each team has one innings.
- Each team's innings is either a maximum of 50 overs (6 balls per over = 300 balls or "pitches"), or when all their batsman (10) are out. An innings usually lasts 3 hours 30 minutes, with a 45 minute break between innings
- A good score is in the 250-300 range, depending on the conditions.
The match is very important for both teams, as the game is one of the final lead in games before the Cricket World Cup, starting in the subcontinent on February 19.
It's hot in Melbourne. Right now (at 1:50pm local), it's 95'F. It's expected to get up to 105 by the end of the day, with a late change due around 8pm, just after the start of the Australian Open Men's final.
It's been unseasonally cool in Melbourne during the Australian Open this year, this will be the first test of the players during the tournament, especially if the scheduled cool change doesn't arrive on time.
The calls seem inconsistent too. The early yellow for the little bit of debris seemed silly, yet they didn't call one for all the dirt on the track by that autocrosser. Understandably the last two were very much needed, one for fluid and the other for a smash up. Need a long clean green run again.
All these mentions of Rolex has given me an earworm.
So... I'm off to Krispy Kreme! See you fools for Mario Kart.
Many ladies check him out regularly at a local dodgy nightspot or at www.shanerogers.com.au
Are you ready for the early hours?
Well, actually, I'm not.
I just rolled out of bed at 11am Australian Eastern Daylight Time to see fellow Antipodean Ryan Briscoe in P2, and just realised (sic) I have no bread, and no feed to speak of other than Ice Cream and Beer.
So while friends are having fun watching V8Supercar tests, or telling rally drivers where to go, and the significant other is doing her last day at work before moving more outback (I mean, seriously, how the heck am I meant to get flowers *there*?), I'll be hitting the supermarket to sort out supplies, before hitting the Grab Bag Sports deep deep deep deep South office in Melbourne, Australia to take you through the night at Daytona.
As well as the race, I'll be taking you through the 5th Cricket One Day International between 1-Australia and 5-England in Brisbane (Preview), as well as the Australian Open tennis final between 3-Novak Djokovic and 5-Andy Murray (details here) just up the road from me at Melbourne Park.
See you soon.
Then after they confiscated his bat in the middle of the game and put it in the umpires storage area, an unnamed teammate climbed through the ceiling falling down into the area, swapping the corked bat with a teammates normal one. Then the umps immediately knew because the 2nd bat belonged to another player, people got suspended, then both players involved went on to other controversy including steroids and fights with fans... you'd want to see that documentary right?
Whats so remarkable about Albert Belle's corked bat, and Jason Grimsley's not-so-covert mission-impossible to get the bat; is that they were dumb enough to use another player's easily recognizable bat (Because it had the other players name written on it!). Years later Omar Vizquel wrote in a book that they had to use a different player's to switch because ALL of Albert's bats were corked. Belle went from hero in Cleveland to bouncing around teams and out of the league, Grimsley didn't admit to his covert mission till years later, but even after that he later resurfaced in the steroid scandal (which is a whole other documentary in itself)...
I'd watch it anyways...
Well this year's game between the two teams is already out of control. The Jayhawks lead 15-2.
I'm pretty sure Ryan Leaf's story would be good for an hour-long documentary.
Topics to include:
- 1998 Draft: Chargers traded two 1st round picks, a 2nd round pick, and Eric Metcalf in order to move up one spot to get Leaf. Matt Hasselbeck was also available.
- Rookie season: Skipped rookie symposium. Completed 1-15 for 4 yards with 3 fumbles in his fourth game. Finished the season with 2 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
- Rest of his Chargers career: injuries, fines, suspensions.
- Attempted comebacks
- Coaching career: Hired in 2008 as West Texas A&M as a volunteer QB coach, but then was fired for asking players for pain pills. Was later arrested for burglary and drugs.
- Current: Has a deal to write three autobiographical books. (Three?! I want to watch a 30 For 30 episode for an hour. But THREE books??)
No matter what the article is about, or what people are saying in the comments, you never fail to get your statement in.
Regardless of an article about Simona de Silvestro getting new sponsorship... or people discussing her talents; or her career in relation to other female drivers, or even the accuracy of the facts in the article.. you don't care, you just make sure that we all know your most important opinion about Simona:
Indoor athletics in Glasgow... well you wouldn't want it to be outdoor in Glasgow in January would you? Anyway I didn't really pay attention, thought it would be something important but it seemed to be a relatively small meet. The BBC commentary did say a man who won the 60 metres in 6.65sec ran a very slow time. I'm sure he was positively jogging.
FA Cup Fourth Round, Southampton v Man Utd. I was writing a blog post during this so 'it was just on'. I'm not a huge fan of the game anyway.
You'd think Man Utd would put this game to bed early but it didn't happen, they weren't in gear, and then it happened - just on the cusp of half time, the Saints scored! Commentary says the man who scored is only at this team because of differences with the manager at Preston, and that manager just happens to be the son of Alex Ferguson.. I bet that felt good. Otherwise though, not a particularly entertaining half.
Michael Owen equalised 20 minutes into the second half, I had no idea he was even at Man Utd.
Then I got bored and stopped watching.
- The Saints reverting back to their original team strip of a white shirt with red diagonal stripe, rather than the usual red/white vertical stripes and forgoing the usual team shirt sponsor to celebrate their 125th anniversary. Great idea, not many teams would do that in this day and age.
- The crowd singing Agadoo for some reason.
- Realising I still don't care about footie unless it is an international, and even then I think I'd rather watch the rugby. Bring on the Six Nations!
Meanwhile, down in npower League One, Brentford 1 v Yeovil 2, my local team beat the team I believe is the local team of my sister's boyfriend. And the winner was scored by my namesake! Still in the relegation zone though, we don't want that.
By the way, I didn't introduce myself but I'm sure you know me, I Watch Too Much Racing. Lovely.
You can check Paul out regularly at: More Front Wing
Time Out!!! We cut away from your regularly schedule Rolex 24 programming to get a little bit of something off my chest. You see, I cut my finger the other day and my blood was orange – as in Illini Orange. In other words, I might be what you would call a University of Illinois fanatic (insert my MFW comrade Steph Wallcraft here rolling her eyes about Americans and their fascination with college sports in only the way that a good Canadian can do). You see, whether it’s football or basketball, I want to see the Orange and Blue doing well. That’s why I am so pissed off lately.
It wasn’t too long ago that Illinois was on the verge of becoming a perennial powerhouse in men’s college basketball. In the early part of the last decade, Bell Self, now the head coach at Kansas, was piloting the ship. Self brought in a stunning group of talented players that made a second-weekend NCAA appearance seem routine. More importantly, Self made leaders out of his talented players and convinced them that no matter what was going on in the game, they ALWAYS should expect to win.
Unfortunately, following the 2003 NCAA tournament, a series of events unfolded that sent former Kansas coach and basketball legend Roy Williams to North Carolina and took Self from Illinois. His replacement was an up and coming protégée of former Purdue Basketball coach Gene Keady, Bruce Weber. Bruce had spent the previous few seasons at Southern Illinois University as their head coach.
Things went well for Weber and the Illini for the first couple years. A Big 10 Championship in 2004 led to high hopes in 2005. With a roster made mostly of former Self recruits and led by stars such as Deron Williams, Dee Brown, Luther Head, and James Augustine, Weber led the 2004-2005 Illini to the National Championship game, falling just short to North Carolina in a thrilling finale.
Since that tough defeat in April 2005, things have gone downhill in Champaign, and, sadly, they don’t seem to be turning around soon. You see, what that Illini team had in 2005 was what Weber has failed to recreate in the succeeding years – leadership.
Over the past several seasons, there has been a disturbing trend that has befallen Illinois basketball. Every season, Illinois is highly regarded in the pre-season polls – typically picked to finish in the top two or three in the Big 10 and somewhere between 10 and 15 in the national polls. That’s exciting, sure, but every year, sure as clockwork, Illinois narrowly escapes getting beat by a Division II or III teams – the proverbial “Sisters of the Poor.”
Generally, the players and media will proclaim this early-season scare to be “the wake-up call” and things will proceed nicely for a couple weeks. By mid-Decemeber, though, the team will once again become completely complacent and usually lose another game to another team they should be expected to beat by 20-some points. A good performance against Missouri in the annual Braggin’ Rights game, played always just days before Christmas, is generally when the team falls off a cliff and limps into the Big 10 schedule. By the end of January, talk has escalated that the Illini are already on the NCAA tournament bubble and need to start picking up quality wins to ensure they make the tournament.
In some circles, success every few years is acceptable and fans are appreciative of those rare occasions. That’s not the case with the Illini Nation. While most still hold Bruce Weber in high esteem for his work with the 2004-2005 team, the sheen has worn away and, justifiably, fans are realizing that it’s time for a change to break the annual cycle of Illini mediocrity.
There are years when good programs go bad. Look no further than the struggles at Michigan State this year. With six weeks remaining in the regular season, the Spartans have almost totaled their number of losses from last year already. The difference is that this year is an exception for MSU, not the rule. I have no doubts that Tom Izzo will get his program straightened out, and by next fall, MSU will once again be a Big 10 favorite and a national title contender.
At Illinois, it’s a more depressing trend. The high expectations and annual underachievement has become the norm, not the exception. Since the beginning of the 2005-2006 season (the post Deron Williams era), Illinois has played plenty of meager competition, and having watched nearly every game, I cannot recall more than two or three occasions where they have blown out their opponents by 20+ points. On the flip side of that coin, I can’t recall more than two or three games where Illinois has been blown out by a wide margin either. One could say that’s an even trade. I say it shows a lack of motivation and an attitude of invincibility, indifference, and complacency.
I’m not big into poor sportsmanship and running up scores. I thought it was pretty dirty pool when Penn State absolutely crushed my Illini football team in 2003 by 60-some points. It was made worse by the fact that they were leading by 50-some at halftime and then THREW for a touchdown to start the third quarter. (To his credit, coach Paterno chewed his offensive coordinator’s ass for the move right on the side line for all to see. Thumbs up, Joe!) However, I do believe that you need to take care of business and put up convincing victories over teams that are undoubtedly weaker than you.
A team that lacks motivation is a team that plays only good enough to be competitive. The hallmark of the Bruce Weber-led Illini is that they play always to the level of their competition. When they win, they win fairly close. When they lose, they lose fairly close. When you play a team like Ohio State, that’s really good. When you play a team like Indiana, that’s really bad.
You see, it’s easy to get hyped up for “the big game.” When you play against the #1 team in the country, like Illinois did last weekend against Ohio State, you’re always motivated. It’s easy to be excited and give it your all against those teams. A true sign of character emerges when you play the lesser teams – the UIC’s, the Indianas, the “Sisters of the Poor.” That is when motivation and leadership really show and Bruce Weber, since 2006, has been completely unable to produce that in any of his players. It’s an attitude problem and attitude, as they say, is a reflection of leadership.
Thursday night’s defeat at Indiana, a team that hasn’t won a game against a ranked team in almost three years, was the epitome of everything that is wrong with the Illinois basketball program. I mean no offense to my many friends that are Hoosier fans, but in all honestly, Illinois should have won that game by 15 points or more. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Illinois has a more talented group of players, and Indiana was missing their two best guards. Sadly, Illinois again just got out hearted and out coached. When it was time for an Illini to take charge and finish the game, nobody wanted the responsibility. Indiana, to their credit, stuck it to Illinois and absolutely, without a doubt deserved to win the game. I tip my hat to Tom Crean and his men for simply outplaying Illinois. But Illinois should have won the game.
Following the game, we in the Illini Nation had to endure the same talking head sound bites that we have to hear every time Illinois loses a game they shouldn’t. Weber inevitably comes on the radio and says that he needs to take responsibility as the coach for not preparing his players well enough. Demetri McCamey inevitably comes on the radio and says he needs to take responsibility as the senior point guard for not leading his team to victory on the court. Same old song and dance – rinse, lather, repeat.
College basketball is constantly changing. With eligibility rules and players constantly leaving for the NBA, no team is ever the same from year to year. If a team has a bad year, there is always hope that next year will be better. The fact is that in some years, a team just doesn’t gel. That happens in all sports. Sometimes when you change the cast of characters, you get undesired results. With the great coaches (and this is where I give mad love to Bo Ryan up at Wisconsin!!!!), you can change the players and the system remains the same – for the better. When team leaders depart, the great coaches create new leaders and the team continues their success.
Unfortunately, for weaker coaches, the inability to create leaders on your team is a fatal flaw. As has been the case for Weber and the Illini the past several seasons, the cast of characters has changed but the result has stayed the same – and not for the better. Whether you talk about 2006, 2009, or 2011, the results have been the same, regardless of who is on the floor. The same problem keeps showing through – a clear lack of motivation, a lack of leaderships, and an inability to perform at the top level 100% of the time. The only constant in those years has been the man calling the shots. It’s time to change that too.
NCAA Division I basketball is not a league where players get trophies for participating. This is the big boy league and as such, teams are expected to win. It’s not good enough to keep guys around because they are nice guys or because they do nice things off the court. These aren’t pick-up games at the Y where you congratulate the guy for playing well. This is the division where you had better produce results or someone will step into your place and get results for you. Weber has had his time. Weber has had his players. Weber has had plenty of opportunities to make his system work. It hasn’t worked yet. This season is ruined. Illinois has more great players coming over the next couple years, and without a new leader to steer the ship, those seasons will be ruined as well. In the meantime, the mediocrity of this season has those of us in the Illini Nation realizing that just making the NCAA, at this point, might be an achievement. Thankfully, few of us accept that as good enough. I hope Bruce Weber and his team don’t.
Ok, back to your regularly scheduled Rolex 24 programming!
I imagine if they did this to the real track ratings would go up 100-fold... but alas I guess we'll just have to live with that image we all had in our heads.
It tasted very much like bread... So because of that, I am now venturing out into a new brew from the area, will let you know how this goes.
Getting prepped to be joined by ESPN's Ryan McGee in a few minutes, be there!
But this year, I've already learned how I can own my own DVD kiosk! Guess I'll put it on my front porch so my neighbors can rent movies.
A few changes from what I mentioned in the podcast. Also, we're not snowed in this year, so I didn't really stock up on food this time.
Starting with one of those Virgil's root beers!
Everyone else, feel free to post your Blogathon supplies...
2. I will lose lots of fake money on Poker Stars tonight.
3. The Hornets will make up for all of this with an 11th straight win!
I've been to enough night racing to know that it would kick serious ass. Plus, it might give someone a chance to let fly with that wonderful bit of dialogue from Tron: Legacy: "You're messing with my Zen thing, man."
I also have always wondered - what exactly are the Daytona Prototypes a prototype for?
I'm not even drunk.
This gym is smaller than the high school gym we mentioned in our podcast when we were talking about Glory Road. And it's only half full. Maybe these are high schools? The feed itself is funny. No graphics, no score. They're using a picture-in-picture with another camera focused (at a quite terrible angle) on the scoreboard. I can't even make it out.
How many people will watch American LeMans Series races live on ESPN3 or on their X-boxes?
Will Charlie Kimball or Graham Rahal be the new star in Chip Ganassi's stable?
Will the new NASCAR Sprint Cup point system produce closer championships like they hope or make it any easier to understand?
Will Bryan Clauson shine in his first shot at Indy-style open wheel cars?
Will Paul Tracy finally get back into a full time ride?
Will anyone ever best Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus in Sprint Cup?
Will anyone actually be able to comprehend all the many different American LeMans classes?
Will we finally have one single team using the name Lotus?
Will there be 3 or more teams using Lotus?
Will this blog be renamed Grab Bag Lotus?
We don't have the answers to those questions, but its time to begin finding out, happy racing season everyone, its finally here!
Friday, January 28, 2011
Chip Ganassi Racing - The #01 car is being driven by factory BMW driver Joey Hand, IndyCar driver Graham Rahal, and winners of nine of last year's 12 GrandAm races, Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas. The #02 car is driven by some bundle of non-sports car driving stiffs. Ganassi's solid DP background ought to be enough to make up for most of what the driving crew in the #02 lacks, though. Oh, did I mention that Ganassi has won this race three times in the last five years and lost the other two by a combined 55 seconds?
Action Express Racing - The #5 car has David Donohue, Darren Law, Burt Frisselle and 2004 Indy 500 champion Buddy Rice. 'Nuff said there. The #9 car is the defending champion of the Daytona 24 Hours. More than 'nuff said there.
Sun Trust Racing - Max Angelelli and Ricky Taylor return in the #10 this year, and are joined by Ryan Briscoe and team owner (and Ricky's dad) Wayne Taylor. Not returning is last year's sometimes great, sometimes on the fritz Ford engine, now replaced by the Chevrolet V8.
Level 5 Motorsports - The #55 and the #95 are both being driven by Scott Tucker, for all 24 hours. I'm not sure how he's going to do that, but he did that a lot in the ALMS last year as well. What? Oh, I'm being told that he's actually got three other co-drivers in each car. Whatever. They're again also using last year's dominant BMW/Dinan V8, which inexplicably has been picked up by ZERO GrandAm teams for this year. Since they managed a podium finish last year, I'd say they ought to be in the running for that again this year.
Bob Stallings Racing - The #99 car is being driven by Jon Fogarty, Alex Gurney and a Jimmie Johnson. I've never heard of this last guy. Fogarty and Gurney should be able to carry him, though something seems to always go wrong for Stallings.
Michael Shank Racing - The #6 and the #60 always seem to run well for about 16 hours at Daytona. Then, things go wrong. Ford engines expire, anvils fall out of the sky and roadrunners manage to just scoot out of their reach in a cloud of dust. In light of this, I can't give them very favorable odds.
Flying Lizard Racing - In our first GrabBagSports.com podcast, I called this team my "dark horse" pick to win. Then, Joerg Bergmeister went and screwed all that "under the radar" stuff by going and putting the car on the pole. Damn you, Joerg. Well, I still think that this team is less likely to win than all of the teams up in the first tier up there, but don't be surprised if they're still hanging around in the top-5 when the sun comes up.
Everybody else is lacking something important to win. The United Autosport car is missing a driver lineup who has raced more than a handful of times in the last five years. The Krohn, Doran and Spirit of Daytona teams are all running oddball chassis which have had limited success at Daytona. The Starworks team is missing any prior results that would lead me to believe that they can beat every other team I've already listed, though apparently they've now added a #2 car in the last few days, and also added EJ Viso to its driver lineup. That addition alone might nullify every single word I've already written.
The Racers Group - Kevin Buckler is back running roughly 82 Porsches. One of them will probably win, since it looks like the Mazda RX-8s just aren't as quick as they used to be, comparatively speaking. Of all the TRG Porsches, though, I'd put my money on the #67. Yes, I know they're on the pole, so this is not exactly going out on a limb, but there you go. I'm a big wuss.
Turner Motorsports - The BMW M6 was fast last year, and it's thought that the car, now that it's been reskinned as an M3, may have even better aerodynamics and better agility through the infield. I'll say that this car, even though it's the only M3 in the field, will be up near the TRG Porsches on Sunday afternoon.
SpeedSource - The defending champs of the race. I don't think the RX-8 is where it was this time last year, but if all the Porsches hit a common mechanical fault (not likely, but still), the Speedsource Mazdas will probably be the ones there to pick up the pieces.
Brumos Racing - This team is back in the GT ranks after years in the DP class. In light of that, even though they've got a fast Porsche and a quality driver lineup (including multi-multi-multi time Daytona 24 champion Hurley Haywood), their unfamiliarity with running the slower class might be their undoing.
Banner Racing / Stevenson Motorsports / Autohaus Motorsports - The Camaros, while improved vastly since this time last year, are possibly not quite there for a 24 hour race.
Magnus Racing - They've got a Porsche, and they scored a bundle of top-5s last year. That's about all I got there.
The rest of the field is chock full of interesting stories like oddball cars (a BMW M6, a couple of Ferrari F430s, a Mustang) movie stars (Patrick Dempsey) some fantastic drivers (Dandy Randy Pobst, for one, Memo Gidley, for another), but no real winning threats. You're better off to look above for your winner.
All right. We're about 14 hours away from the green flag and even less than that away from the beginning of the Blogathon madness. Time to get some sleep, everybody!
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
While each year thus far has been a blast we want to continue evolving this event to bring even more to all of you out there, so we’re stepping it up a notch in 2011.
What is New and What is Returning to Blogathon for 2011?
Fan-Chat Q/A with IndyCar’s Tony Cotman, driver Alex Tagliani and ESPN’s Ryan McGee
First, to kick things off at 4pm Saturday, we'll be joined by IndyCar driver of the #77 FAZZT Racing car, Alex Tagliani. Ask Alex about his outlook on 2011, his thoughts on Daytona, the direction of FAZZT or if he prefers "Tag" or "Tags."
Guest Posts from the Realm of Sport
As is Blogathon tradition, we’ll be giving the keys for GBS to some of the many writers out there to get their insights, humor, nonsense, whatever. Will you see Roy Hobbson wax poetic about how awesome motorsports fans are, see haikus about Chip Ganassi’s Daytona Prototype, frankly we have no idea, you’ll just have to see. This year’s guest list includes (but is not limited to) More Front Wing’s Paul Dalbey and Steph Wallcraft, Too Much Racing’s Pat Wotton, Pop Off Valve’s Tony Johns, 16th & Georgetown’s James Black and Australia’s very own Shane Rodgers.
Mario Kart Wii Showdown (with chat room)
Wedge = 2192-8881-7770
Furious = 2665-3459-4828
Then after you do, send us your friend code via twitter, commenting here, or email (we both have to know each other’s codes for it to work). Then we’ll be starting GrandPrix 4-race sessions. Last year we got close to hitting the GP limits. Should that happen again this year, we’ll split into two groups, and then take the top drivers from both and pit them against each other for a finale.
Late Night Poker with Furious and Wedge (free)
While racing goes off the TV and as we await the Australian Open championship match, we’re inviting all to put on your best sunglasses and pull down the brim of your hat and join us at 1a.m. as we take over a freeroll table on PokerStars (free to download and play for anyone) and we’ll be kicking up some late night Texas Hold’em; complete with a chat are for some trashtalk.
“Ask a Blogger?” Fan-chat.
Ever wanted to know what Roy Hobbson’s spatula logo symbolizes, wanted to know is “More Front Wing” means more downforce or if they want to have larger wings on the cars? Ever wondering if there can in fact be too much racing? Here’s your chance to chat up the many guest bloggers from around the realm. It’ll also be a place to commentate on developments of all the current sporting events as SPEED closes out its Daytona coverage for Saturday. Anything sports related goes.
So many posts that Blogger will start to send us hatemail in the form of word verification. It’ll be 24-1/2 hours of fresh content about anything sports related, from interesting insights, to in depth analysis, to short and quick notes on the race… I really hope no one RSS feeds this site into their phone.
First Ever Blogathon Giveaway Contest
The contest is simple. Daytona 24 coverage starts at 3pm Saturday. There is 14 hours of live TV coverage this year.. and all you have to do is guess when in that timeframe Scott Pruett will say hello to his family back home. We know he’ll do it, but will he do it in a pre-race interview, or will he hold it till the race is over…? Just guess a time of day ET (post in the comment section of this article) that you think he’ll do it: 00:00 ET Saturday/Sunday, and the closest to it is our winner. The winner will get the first ever Grab Bag Sports T-shirt, a copy of the new Death to the BCS book, and some other cool swag
More Sports Than You Can Shake a Stick At; Here’s is this year’s entire slate of festivities:
All times Eastern, all TV listings U.S.A., live-events only
3:00pm-10:00pm - SPEED – 24 Hours of Daytona
3:00pm - NBC – Figure Skating, US Championships
3:00pm - CBS – PGA Golf: Farmers Insurance Open
3:00pm - ESPNU – NCAA Basketball: Syracuse/Marquette
4:00pm - GrabBagSports – Fan Chat with Alex Tagliani, IndyCar driver
4:00pm - ESPN – NCAA Basketball: Georgia/Kentucky
4:00pm - ESPN2 – Winter X-Games – snowboarding and skiing
4:00pm - VERSUS – NCAA Basketball: BYU/New Mexico
4:00pm - ESPN3 – Soccer/Futbol LaLiga
6:00pm - GrabBagSports – Fan Chat with Ryan McGee, ESPN
6:00pm - ESPN2 – NCAA Basketball: OhioSt./Northwestern
7:00pm - ESPN – NCAA Basketball: Kansas/KansasSt.
7:00pm - ESPNU – NCAA Basketball: St. Mary’s/Portland
7:00pm - VERSUS – NHL All Star Game Super Skills Competition
8:00pm - GrabBagSports – “Ask a blogger” fan-chat
8:00pm - ESPN2 – NCAA Basketball: Pitt/Rutgers
8:00pm - WGN – NBA Basketball: Pacers/Bulls
8:00pm - Telemundo – Futbol Mexicano: Tigres vs. Toluca
9:00pm - NBC - Figure Skating, US Championships finals
9:00pm - ESPNU – NCAA Basketball: Missouri/Texas
9:30pm - VERSUS – Professional Bull Riders. Indianapolis
10:00pm - SPEED – NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown
10:20pm - ONLINE-Only – Australia vs. England cricket match
10:30pm - GrabBagSports – Mario Kart Wii Throwdown
12:30am - TENNIS & ESPN3 - Australian Open: Mens Doubles Final
1:00am - GrabBagSports – GBS late-night Poker
8:55am - ESPN3 – 3 different soccer matches from Serie A
9:00am - 4pm - SPEED - 24 Hours of Daytona
10:00am - GrabBagSports - Fan Chat with Tony Cotman, 2012 IndyCar project manager
12:30pm - ESPN – Winter X-Games: snowboarding finals
1:00pm - ABC – NBA Basketball: Heat/Thunder
1:00pm - CBS – NCAA Basketball: Duke/St. Johns
2:00pm - ESPN2 – PBA Bowling
3:30pm - ABC – NBA Basketball: Celtics/Lakers
If you can’t find something you like in that list… you’re simply just on the wrong web-site then.
Post Blogathon Bonus Sports
4:00pm - VERSUS – NHL All-Star Game
7:00pm - FOX – NFL Pro-Bowl
Are we missing something? Let us know. Otherwise, we’ll see you on Saturday!
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Here it is! The first episode of our new podcast. In this episode Allen, Andy, and Mike discuss the 2011 Blogathon and all the events that will take place this weekend (January 29-30). We also discuss basketball movies, the upcoming Super Bowl and Pro Bowl, ESPN's 30 For 30 series, and Caroline Wozniacki. "Sponsors" include Doritos and Burnin' Key Cars.
Please feel free to comment or e-mail us with any feedback, suggestions, or your opinion on the topics we discussed. We're going to attempt to record an episode each month. Please share this with your friends if you think they would like it! Also, you can bookmark our podcast site here.
Over the next few days we will be posting lots of Blogathon info, including a schedule of events, our Wii info for Mario Kart, and our Poker Stars info.
Links from this episode:
Dwayne C. Nelson's Top 5 underrated basketball movies of all time - link
Caroline Wozniacki Australian Open press conference - link
Mark Sanchez wiping a booger on Mark Brunell - YouTube video
Sunday, January 23, 2011
But I'm here to tell you that I think this terrible trend's decline is near. Just take a look at this year's regular season and postseason for proof.
First, of the top 10 rushing teams in the NFL, six of them (Raiders, Jags, Giants, Texans, Bucs, Vikings) did not make the postseason. Granted, the Vikings were the only team on that list to be out of contention the last couple of weeks and the other five were fairly close. The fact remains, however, that teams like the Bears, Packers, Saints, and Seahawks were in the bottom half of the league and still made the playoffs.
Of the regular season's top 10 rushing teams, only the Jets remain. It will be very interesting to see how that rushing game performs against the Steelers today. In fact, other than a couple of long runs, this entire postseason has been about the passing games and the defenses. Of the four teams playing today, I personally think of a quarterback and/or a coach before associating a running back with the team's success.
Here are a few facts:
- The Bears and Packers finished 22nd and 24th in rushing yards respectively during the season and are now playing for a Super Bowl berth.
- The Falcons ranked 12th in regular season rushing yards per game and, as of today, now rank 12th in the postseason (out of 12).
- The postseason's leading rusher, GB's James Starks (94.5 ypg), was nowhere near NFL.com's Top 15 pre-ranked fantasy running backs. In fact, you can look through their Top 80, which is as far as they ranked. No James Starks. (Of their Top 15, four are in the top fifteen for the postseason: Ray Rice, Rashard Mendenhall, Shonn Greene, Jamaal Charles.)
So will the NFL finally start to change? Will team execs notice the trend and stop placing so much emphasis on rushing during the regular season? As fantasy players, will we finally be able to draft QBs and WRs in the 1st round without having chicken wings thrown at us?
I hope so!