Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Let's Go Bowling

It is that time of year again, where teams that play average football get rewarded with postseason play. 35 bowl games are on the schedule this year, all with a wide variety of sponsors. There are the elaborate sponsors: Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, S.D. County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, Bridgeport Education Holiday Bowl. You have your food bowl games: Beef O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl, Little Caesars Bowl, Chick-fil-A Bowl, Outback Bowl, Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, Tostitos Bowl. There is even an automobile category: MAACO Las Vegas Bowl, Valero Bowl, Meineke Car Care Bowl, AutoZone Liberty Bowl, uDrove Humanitarian Bowl. An absurd amount of bowl games with ridiculous names. But they must be played and we have the teams to fill the slots, so here we go! Here it is, your rundown of all 35 bowl games, ranked from worst to first. Let's start it off with....

35. R & L Carriers New Orleans Bowl Ohio vs Troy
Here is a match-up of two teams that benefit from playing in weak conferences. These two teams have had little success in bowl play. Former Nebraska head man Frank Solich leads a good defensive Ohio team against an offensive-minded Troy squad. Who wins: Troy
34. Bowl Middle Tennessee vs Miami (Ohio)
It is a good year to be a football team from Ohio. The RedHawks take on Middle Tennessee in what use to be the...I forget, they change the names of these bowl games too often. Miami stole the MAC Championship from Northern Illinois to earn this trip. What a great was to celebrate a championship season, eh? Who wins: Miami (Ohio)
33. Little Caesars Bowl Florida International vs Toledo
The Little Caesars Bowl is played at Ford Field in Detroit. This game used to be known as the Motor City Bowl. I am going to say the name change was a bad idea. FIU played Michigan St earlier this season at Ford Field, that did not end well. Toledo has a high-powered offense that was expected to have a better finish. Who wins: Toledo
32. Beef 'O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl Southern Miss. vs Louisville
Possible the best (and worst) name for a bowl game. However, this game doesn't appear to be lots 'O' fun. Southern Miss is a post season veteran as of late. Louisville last bowl game?? The Orange bowl in 2007. It has been quite a fall from grace for them. Who wins: Southern Miss
31. TicketCity Bowl Northwestern vs Texas Tech
A match-up between two teams that seasons changed on a dime. Northwestern had Michigan St on the ropes late, before Sparty pulled it out. Texas Tech lost a tough home game to a sub-par Texas team. Both NW and TT struggled after their respective losses. NW could be without star quarterback Dan Persa. Who wins: Texas Tech
30. uDrove Humanitarian Bowl Northern Illinois vs Fresno State
N. Illinois lost their conference championship game in "upset" fashion. They can put up points in a hurry. Fresno St had a chance to knock off Boise St, but got thumped 51-0. They return to the blue turf looking for another win. Who wins: N. Illinois
29. S. D. County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl Navy vs San Diego State
A home game for the Aztecs. I doubt it will help. Navy is a beast on the ground. Who wins: Navy
28. Sheraton Hawaii Bowl Hawaii vs Tulsa
A home game for Hawaii. A vacation for Tulsa. Who wins: Hawaii
27. Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl Army vs SMU
Fitting that a military team is playing in the Armed Forces Bowl (could be required, I am not sure). Army is the only military academy that doesn't make their living on the ground. SMU is historically known to be a good running team (see: Pony Express). Army is having a charmed season. Who wins: Army
26. BBVA Compass Bowl Pittsburgh vs Kentucky
A battle between to under-achieving BCS teams. Pitts struggles came early with a loss in their opener to Utah. They never recovered. Kentucky was suppose to challenge in the SEC but made a bowl game anyway. This one is really a toss up. Who wins: Kentucky
25. Military Bowl East Carolina vs Maryland
Neither are military schools...??? Who wins: Maryland
24. Meineke Car Care Bowl South Florida vs Clemson
This should be called the George Foreman Bowl. South Florida is still fighting for respect against big brothers Florida, Florida State and Miami. Clemson was close to beating Auburn earlier this year. Tajh Boyd may get the start at QB for the Tigers, will it help? Who wins: Clemson
23. AutoZone Liberty Bowl Georgia vs UCF
Georgia struggled early. Started 0-3 in the SEC and also lost to Colorado. With A.J. Green in the line-up, UCF stands no chance. Who wins: Georgia
22. New Era Pinestripe Bowl Kansas St. vs Syracuse
Here is a sponsor that makes some sense! Good work, New Era. Syracuse is starting to turn it around, but the Big East isn't quality competition. Kansas St. started hot, then cooled off. Who wins: Kansas St.
21. Champs Sports Bowl West Virginia vs NC State
Dag nabit- NC State had a chance at the ACC title game, but blew it against Maryland in their final game. West Virginia is co-Big East champs, but settle for the non-BCS bowl game. NC State has a good passing game. Who wins: NC State
20. New Mexico Bowl BYU vs UTEP
No surprise where this game is being played. BYU is probably happy they aren't in the Las Vegas Bowl (Vegas probably isn't a hot destination for someone from BYU anyways). The Cougars had made five straight Las Vegas Bowl apperances, so New Mexico is a welcome change. UTEP got to a bowl game on their pre-season schedule. Who wins: BYU
19. Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl North Carolina vs Tennessee
This is a match-up of one team that is happy to still be playing (Tennessee) against a team that may wish it wasn't (North Carolina). Who wins: Tennessee
18. Bridgeport Education Holiday Bowl Nebraska vs Washington
How did Washington make a bowl game? These two will meet next year at Nebraska. The Holiday Bowl has been one of the more entertaining games of the bowl season in past years. That won't be the case this year. Who wins: Nebraska
17. Hyundai Sun Bowl Notre Dame vs Miami
This use to be a top-5 match-up. Two teams steep in tradition. Notre Dame is coming of a big win at USC. Miami has lost two straight. Notre Dame can turn a corner with a bowl win. Who wins: Notre Dame
16. Texas Bowl Illinois vs Baylor
Two teams that are just one or two wins away from playing in a New Years Day bowl. I look for Baylor to out-gun the Illini. Who wins: Baylor
15. Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl Nevada vs Boston College
B.C. was here last year, playing USC. Now they face the Giant Killers, Nevada. Expect Colin Kappernick to run and pass all over B.C. Who wins: Nevada
14. AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl Air Force vs Georgia Tech
May be one of the most underrated bowl match-ups this season. Don't expect the ball in the air a whole lot. Rushing yards per game: Air Force-317 ypg (2nd in FBS) Georgia Tech-327 ypg (1st in FBS). Who wins: Air Force
13. MAACO Las Vegas Utah vs Boise State
Two teams who did not imagine themselves in this bowl game three weeks ago will have to settle for Vegas. Utah's late season collapse (losses against TCU, Notre Dame) goes against BCS fraud Boise. Do the Broncos come out inspired or dejected? Who wins: Boise St
12. Gator Bowl Mississippi St. vs Michigan
Mississippi St is doing quite well under Dan Mullen. If he wins this bowl game he could be the hottest commodity in coaching. Michigan under-preforms again and Rich Rod may be the least valued coach in the country at the moment. Who wins: Mississippi State
11. Insight Bowl Missouri vs Iowa
Both teams had visions of vying for conference titles. Missouri knocked off Oklahoma, Iowa beat Michigan State. Both have good quarterbacks, so expect a shootout. Who wins: Missouri
10. Outback Bowl Florida vs Penn State
Next to the Vegas Bowl, no other match-up features two more disappointing teams. The firepower in this game won't even see the field. JoPa vs Urban will be the key match-up. Who wins: Florida
9. Chick-fil-A Bowl South Carolina vs Florida State
Formally known as the Peach Bowl, this is a good match-up between the SEC and ACC. Both losers of their respective conference championship games, these two want to prove they belong in the top-15 in the nation. Look for Alshon Jeffery, Marcus Lattimore and co. to overwhelm the 'Noles. Who wins: South Carolina
8. AT&T Cotton Bowl LSU vs Texas A&M
LSU pulled out some games they had no business winning. Texas A&M had a solid season and will feel somewhat at home in the Cotton Bowl. The LSU offense will hinge on the quarterback position. How well will Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee play? Who wins: LSU
7. Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Connecticut vs Oklahoma
I think the Fiesta Bowl feels bad for Oklahoma. Their last two trips to Arizona ended in losses (Boise St. and West Virginia). It would be a MAJOR upset if the Huskies pull this one out. It shouldn't even be close. Who wins: Oklahoma
6. Valero Alamo Bowl Oklahoma State vs Arizona
Arizona ended the season on a 4-game losing streak and apparently can't make an extra point. Nick Foles can throw the ball though, and so can Oklahoma State. The Pokes may have the best receiver in football with Justin Blackmon. Scoreboard operator, get some sleep before this one. Who wins: Oklahoma State
5. Capital One Bowl Alabama vs Michigan State
Sparty is the highest rated conference champ not going to a BCS bowl game. Alabama is looking to bounce back after choking away a 24-0 lead at home against Auburn. Alabama should break down Michigan State in the 2nd half. Who wins: Alabama
4. Allstate Sugar Bowl Ohio State vs Arkansas
Can Terrelle Pryor replicate his Rose Bowl performance of last year? If he can, the Buckeyes win. Arkansas can choke in big games (see: vs 1. Alabama, SEC champ game). Who wins: Ohio State
3. Discover Orange Bowl Stanford vs Virginia Tech
Here we have a pro-style offense (Stanford) vs a scrambling quarterback. Two-way player Owen Marecic will be a big key, as will Heisman Trophy candidate Andrew Luck. Stanford has to make the cross-country trip, too. Who wins: Stanford
2. Rose Bowl Wisconsin vs TCU
This is where I wish Stanford could replace TCU. Wisconsin has been running over everyone lately. TCU's defense will have to put up a near-flawless effort to handle the rushing attack of the Badgers. TCU finally gets the chance to prove itself in a BCS bowl against a true BCS opponent. Who wins: Wisconsin
1. BCS Championship Oregon vs Auburn
The two most consistent teams all season will face off in Glendale for it all. We all know about the offenses. This game comes down to defense, who can stop who first. The Ducks have the better defense on paper. Can the show up on the big stage? If the D shows, the Ducks win. Who wins: Oregon

There are the predictions. Obviously I will be back to recap the bowl season sometime after January 10th. Hopefully that one prediction comes true!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Hummm, Baby!

Let me start off by saying that this may be the most exciting week of the year.

There is pre-season NBA basketball. College football is approaching the "getting down to business" portion of the schedule. The puck is dropped on the NHL season as well. And nothing says October like post-season baseball!!

While I have vested interest in every one of the sports listed above, there is one team that my focus is on right now. The San Francisco Giants.

This does not mean that I care less about the other teams. How on earth could I when the Ducks are ranked third in the nation?? But the Giants have been my favorite sports team for the longest time. My Dad introduced me to them as a young kid. Because of that, the Giants mean so much to me. San Francisco was the first professional team I ever liked. Home Run King and long-time Giant Barry Bonds is my favorite player (save the steroid jokes, I've heard em all). I have been going to at least a game or two every season for the last 5 years or so, not bad for living outside of the Bay area. Heck, San Francisco is my favorite city! I love it down there. The Giants have had good years, including a World Series appearance in 2002. The Giants have had bad years, including four straight losing season from 2005-2008. Through and through, I have always stood by the Giants and will continue.

But what really makes this the team that I care about? The current team is something special. There comes a time when a fans can just tell that this is a good team. The 2010 NL West champion Giants lack some offense. They rank near the middle of the pack in most offensive categories. The bats will go quiet at times, scoring only a couple runs per series. But then, all of a sudden, they will get hot and pour the runs on. The G-men had several series where they produced double digit runs every game, only to follow it up the next series with single digit runs for the entire series. A Jekyll and Hyde offense. What makes this team stand out is the pitching staff and team chemistry. For starters, look at their starters: Tim Lincecum (two time NL Cy Young winner in three full seasons), Matt Cain (has been one of the most consistent but cursed pitcher in the majors), Jonathan Sanchez (has ranked in the top-13 in strikeouts the past two seasons), Barry Zito (one of the most lethal curveballs in the majors) and Madison Bumgarner (a promising young talent). This rotation is a top three rotation in the National League. Look at the bullpen. This is an area in which the Giants have struggled with in the past. Clearly the management was devoted to changing this. Jeremy Affeldt was a key signing a year ago and has paid huge dividends for the team despite not pitching a whole lot this year. Ramon Ramirez and Javier Lopez were key trade-deadline additions (more on this in a bit). Sergio Romo is a hard throwing set up man. To top it all off, the Giants have Brian Wilson closing games for them. Wilson is possibly the strangest bird in baseball, but he is no doubt the best closer in baseball right now (save Mariano Rivera of the Yanks). Wilson is a two time all-star and lead the Major Leagues in saves with 48 this season. Needless to say, the Giants have put together a nice pitching staff.

The roster is solid, but the chemistry between players is electric. The connection between youngsters (namely rookie sensation Buster Posey, Lincecum, Cain and Pablo Sandoval) and veterans (Zito, Wilson, Pat Burrell, Freddy Sanchez and Aubrey Huff) is amazing to watch. At times it appears as if the vets feed off the youngsters. Never before have I seen so many seasoned players get so excited over runs scored, but these veterans definitely know that something special is going on with this team. Aubrey Huff gets so excited, he looks as if he may punch Freddy Sanchez in the stomach after a clutch hit or he gives teammates "air love-taps" on the base paths. Pat Burrell smirks in the dugout after hitting a clutch home run to put the Giants ahead in the bottom of the 8th. Wilson always being animated on the mound. These kind of reactions really show that the 2010 Giants are for playing for keeps.

Several players who did not start on the 2010 Giants roster have made huge contributions. I mentioned earlier that Javier Lopez and Ramon Ramirez were two key additions to the Giants bullpen. That is a bullpen that at one point in September helped the pitching staff in holding opponents to three runs or fewer for 18 straight games! The Giants pitching staff finished first in team ERA and 1st in opponent batting average. No doubt acquiring Lopez and Ramirez were key in that stretch. Pat "The Bat" Burrell was a quiet but important roster move. Tampa Bay released Burrell in mid-May. Burrell was failing to replicate his run he had while in Philadelphia for several years. Apparently all he needed was a switch back to the National League. Burrell has added a huge veteran influence and a rejuvenated bat to the Giants lineup.

Add it all up: a fine pitching staff+ a mix of veterans and youngsters, clutch hitting lineup and the best team chemistry in the playoffs= a great chance at making a good run for the pennant. It may or may not happen, that remains to be seen. But I have a great feeling and win or lose, I couldn't be happier with the way the season turned out.

He's a Bum! Humm, Baby!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Rocky Top, Tennessee

I was lucky enough to be one of the 102,035 in attendance at last Saturday's Oregon/Tennessee football game. Only those in the sky boxes escaped a pure soaking. More on that in a bit, but my experience in Tennessee overall was quite pleasant. At one point I thought to myself, "I could see myself living here".

Knoxville does the southern hospitality to the "T". Sir's and Ma'mas were used a plenty. "Welcome to Rocky Top" was a common phrase. The Tennessee-ites seemed almost shocked that we came all the way from Oregon (at times it was Orygun) to watch the game. The next question was always, "Did you fly?" Maybe a lot of people who live in Tennessee have never been on a plane?? Tons of people were happy to see us there, despite the fact that we wore the green and yellow.

The weather was the big story, aside from the game. We started out game day with morning thunderstorms and a flood warning in Knox county. That ruined our plan to kick it on campus and check things out. We were forced to then take a shuttle from our hotel to the game. But it turned out that the shuttle was full and we were unable to use it. So we piled in a cab that dropped us off on Cumberland Avenue (think 13th Ave. in Eugene for all those who know what I am talking about). This street was jam packed with Vols fans and plenty of tailgating to go around. Fast food joints turned their parking lots into tailgating spots, same with gas stations. There are plenty of bars on Cumberland, just stop by one and pick up a beer. Beer was especially nice that afternoon as the sun came out and it really got warm and muggy in a hurry. While making our way to Neyland Stadium, we encountered the pre-game pep rally right outside the stadium with the band. "Rocky Top", the unofficial fight song of the Vols, was played about 15 times during the march. When "Rocky Top" is played, all people in orange sing along and it gives you chills! A really awesome experience that I wish Oregon had.

As we approached our entry gate, a quick glance behind us revealed the wall of dark clouds that would soon turn out to be one of the greatest storms I have ever seen. Once inside Neyland Stadium, you go silent as you are struck with the shear grandness of the stadium. I've been to Michigan Stadium (capacity 109,901) and it has nothing on Neyland (102,459 capacity). Michigan Stadium is dug in a hole, Neyland stands straight up. By far, Neyland trumps Michigan Stadium. Our seats had great views, not a bad seat in the house I would imagine. As the Pride of the Southland (marching band) took the stadium, the chills returned. Seeing a band march in perfect formation, working together to march out "UT" and various forms of their famous "T" logo. It leaves you breathless as the Vols enter the stadium through the spread "T".

The rain started falling right about kickoff. Started light, but the drops were big which was not a good omen. Falling behind early was not a good omen, either. With each passing play, we could see more and more flashes of lightning off in the distance until it closed in enough that the teams were asked to leave the stadium. As soon as the teams hit the locker rooms, the wall of rain was visible at the opposite end of the stadium. It was a mad dash to throw on the poncho before that wall of rain made it to our end of the stadium, but eventually it would not matter. The rain was so soaking that the only comparisonn I have is to being sprayed in the face with a hose at a decent pressure. I struggled to catch my breath, the wind was howling so hard that my hat blew off. And it didn't just get knocked off, it blew away and I never found it. The lightning was more like a fireworks display, eventually crackling right over the stadium and the thunder rocked the walls. Finding any cover was almost impossible with 102,000 people trying to head for the exits at once. We waited out a good portion of the storm at our steats, which happened to be made of metal. Once the lightning was getting too close, we decided to seek shelter. I eventually ditched my poncho as my clothes were soaked: from my undershirt to my shoes.

Once in the tunnels, we could watch the storm pass. It was labeled as a severe thunderstorm, to no surprise. Such an awesome display of nature, it was so cool to watch the sky just light up. It took about 70 minuets to pass before the teams came back on the field. As we made our way back to our seats, we waded through about an inch of standing water in the tunnels. Just crazy how much rain fell in that time span. After the show in the sky, the Ducks finally put on a show on the ground. It really became a laugher in the second half, and in fact most of the Oregon section I was sitting in started using Vols chants for our own. All in all it couldn't have been a better way to finish the day.

It took 2 days for my shorts to dry out. I took a blow dryer to my shoes and I lost my hat. I ate at the famous Calhouns BBQ restaurant along the Tennessee River and saw the biggest storm of my life (although by South standards, that was probably run of the mill). And in the end, the Ducks showed the SEC how the west coast plays football.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Adios, Summer

Enjoy today and tomorrow, summer lovers. This is most likely the last extended taste of summer that we will see. Most of Oregon will be looking at temperatures above 80 degrees today, and here in the valley it will be closer to 90 degrees. Wednesday looks to be similar with plenty of sunshine. But then we hit a wall. Is it the Autumn wall? It very well could be. Our average temperatures are now on the decline. Portland topped its high average temp at 81 degrees earlier this month. By the end of August, we will only average 78 degrees. And looking at the 7-day forecast, we are aiming below that to close out August.

The extended outlook does not look promising for a return Summer. Here is the 500mb chart for this coming Sunday. This map looks halfway up the atmosphere and gives us a good indication of where storm systems are going, they usually follow the lines. The X's mark vorticity maxes that indicate areas of unstable atmosphere. Notice that big dip in the lines that point in our direction. This means that cooler weather from Canada will sag our direction and usher in clouds and below average temperatures.

Now, I am not calling for that grey, soggy winter weather. I am just pointing out that we have begun the transition out of summer. You will notice cooler mornings and crisper air. It really reminds me of football season. There could be nice, sunny days ahead. But those days won't be as warm. The sun angle is diminishing and thus not as powerful.
I have heard a lot of people complain about how our summer has "sucked". I only assume they think this because we had several cloudy mornings before the sun came out. They are right. Since 2000, Portland averages 13 days of cloudy starts from July 1st through August 5th. But in 2010, we have seen 20 out of 36 days begin cloudy (info courtesy of Rod Hill). We could add more to that total since the 5th of August, but that would already be adding insult to injury. But just because we start 55% of summer days cloudy does not mean that our summer has been a wash. Portland has had only 0.01" of measurable precipitation this month. That is 0.60" below average for August. We finished 0.13" below normal for July. So we have been relatively dry this summer, if you discount the fact that it took us something like six days to set the June rain record, we finished 2.68 ABOVE average in June. Personally, I have enjoyed the summer weather. Where do you fall?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

PGA heartbreak

Did you have a bad weekend? Dustin Johnson did, although he may not admit it. A 26-year old kid, who put himself in perfect position to win his first major after competing quite well in the year's previous majors, went from relief to devastation in five strokes, or was it seven?
A grounded club in a "bunker" cost young PGA sensation Dustin Johnson $1,079,167 and more importantly, a potential first career major. Johnson was no stranger to holding a lead in a major. He lead going into the final round of the US Open at Pebble Beach earlier this summer before going on to shoot an +11. Dustin appeared as though he was not quite ready for the spotlight.
Headed into the final hole on Sunday in Wisconsin, Dustin had birdied the previous two holes to get to -12 and a one-stroke lead on Bubba Watson, who was the leader in the clubhouse. As he teed off from the par-4 18th, his drive which he is known for, leaked right and fell about 10 to 20 rows deep into the gallery. The ball came to a rest in a sandy, matted down, straw-strewn pit. After a few practice swings, Johnson knocks the ball out of the pit and finishes up the hole with bogey and appeared to force a 3-way playoff with Watson and Martin Kaymer. Hold the phone. As Johnson and playing partner Nick Watney walked off the 18th green, they were approached by David Price who is the PGA rules official following the final group. Price asked Johnson if he remembered grounding his club on his second shot. In golf, when the ball lies in a sand trap (or bunker), the golfer is not allowed to place the face of the club in the sand prior to striking it. If the club is grounded, a 2-shot penalty stroke is assessed. Upon replay, it looked as if Johnson had placed the face of the club on the ground at least once before his swing. But was Johnson hitting out of a bunker?
Price says that, "There's no question it was a bunker. There are 1,200 of them out there (on the course)". Dustin tried to recall if he had grounded his club or not, "I don't remember, but I don't think I did". In fact, Price overheard Johnson telling Watney that he didn't even recognize he was in a bunker. And how could you? Johnson walked 10-20 people deep in order to get to his ball. As the fans scattered, trash was visible from the days vendors. There was no doubt that Johnson's ball was laying in sand, but the characteristics of the area it was sitting in did not hold true to that of a bunker. CBS golf analyst David Feherty was even back at the location after the ordeal was over and could not really identify the location of Johnson's shot as being in a bunker.
How could it be a bunker when there are spectators standing in the sand as the player hits out of it?? The PGA supplies a letter to the golfers before each tournament stating special rules and regulations. The first item on the PGA Championship list was that any sandy areas were to be played as bunkers and rules were enforced. Fair enough, but if the PGA is going to enforce those rules, all bunkers should be easily identifiable. The bunker along the 18th fairway that Johnson was in should be just as identifiable as the sand trap along the 4th green. That means keep spectators OUT of the bunkers and keep them properly maintained. That was not the case with Dustin's "Dustbin".
As it turns out, Johnson was shown several replays of his second shot from the gallery and apparently admitted that he grounded his club upon review. He assessed himself a two stroke penalty and signed his score card with a seven on the final hole, not a five. This little fact is critical as well.
Each golfer is required to sign their scorecard and their playing partner's scorecard. Had Johnson ignored the grounded club and signed his scorecard, he would have risked disqualification and not placed at all in the tournament. Nick Watney definitely felt bad for Dustin. "Honestly, I don't think anyone reads the sheet (that the PGA provided with rule stipulations)... I've never seen fans in a bunker with a player", says Watney. No matter the outcome, Dustin Johnson has become a new fan favorite on the PGA tour. Even other golfers are feeling for him. Ian Poulter tweeted, "Gutted for Dustin shocking rule, 900+ bunkers and probably only 100 rakes I don't get it, sorry Dustin you deserved to be in the playoff". Local golfer and Champions Tour stalwart Peter Jacobsen says, "Whistling Straits is an fantastic course but MUST rethink the bunkers out of play. Or manage crowd better. It shouldn't cost anyone a major". It sounds like Peter echos my thoughts. Despite the drama, there was still a champion to be crowned. Bubba Watson and Matrin Kaymer played a fantastic three-hole playoff, with the German Kaymer taking it on the final hole.
Amongst the confusion and fog at Whistling Straits, there are positives to take away from the 2010 PGA Championship. Men's golf is increasingly becoming more competitive. Tiger Woods finished well out of the top-10. At the beginning of the final round, it appeared that we would have a first time major winner and that is what we got. We also have the core of the U.S. Ryder Cup team set. And guess who's in?? Dustin Johnson. Runner-up Bubba Watson also solidified his spot. Bubba is elated to be playing for his country, "I made the Ryder Cup. So that's all I care about". He said this right after losing to Kaymer in the playoff. Watson is one guy I am stoked to have on the Ryder Cup squad for sure. He WANTS to be there. How about Tiger? He needed to have a top-five finish in the PGA in order to automatically qualify. But he finished tied for 28th and will have to rely on captain Corey Pavin's at-large selection. But would Tiger bolster the United States against Europe in Wales come October? Tough question but Tiger is not playing his best golf, and he knows it. I eagerly look forward to the Ryder Cup. It is some of the most intense golf between to fierce rivals. It should be a fun tournament.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Tiger (in)Effect(tive)

Time is winding down on the PGA "regular season". The last Major of the year, The PGA Championship, is this week at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. Before we look ahead, let's jump into the PGA Time Machine.

It was at this same tournament last year in which I attribute the "beginning of the end" of Tiger's reign. After 54 holes, Woods had a lead on the rest of the field at Hazeltine National GC. Who would have ever bet against him? He had never lost a 54-hole lead in a Major. Ever. Y.E. Yang changed all that when he shot the best round of the day to overcome Sunday Tiger. Yang silenced Woods and we really haven't heard him roar since then (at least not on the golf course). Tiger had missed the cut at The British Open and finished sixth at the Masters earlier last year. Before we jump off this time machine, let's take a look at Tiger's last Major win. Anyone remember when it was? Anyone? It was the 2008 U.S. Open in that epic against Rocco on one bad knee.

Now, back in real time, Tiger continues to struggle. Last week at the Bridgestone Invite, Tiger shot his worst round as a professional with a 298 (+18). The Tiger Effect that once made any man in his path wilt is no longer, well, effective. If you told Anthony Kim, that heading into Sunday you'd be paired with Tiger Woods and you would beat him by two strokes, Kim would say, "Sounds like I am winning the thing". Alas, that only meant that Kim finished tied for 76th. Woods isn't hitting the shots that made him untouchable in the past. Others are now beginning to catch up to his abilities. I recall a certain stretch of Sunday's round of The 2010 Masters where Phil Mickelson was on fire. Lefty was knocking down shots out of the trees, making eagles and charging his way to the top of the leader board in a "Tiger-esq" method.

Woods doesn't see, "how this kind of golf can be fun...especially since my handicap is suppose to be zero". Who could blame him?
Should Tiger have ever returned to the Tour after his admittance of betrayal? Some are questioning it, including myself. I have been outspoken on my thoughts about Tiger and his ability to succeed since he has returned.

Now we begin the final Major of the year Thursday. How will Woods bounce back from his worst tournament ever? In his previous worst round, Woods finished 53rd with a 293 (+5) in the 2005 Players Championship. His next tournament, the Masters, he finished first. In fact, most instances where Woods fires a plus-290 one week, he rebounds in his next 72 holes. So if history tells us anything, we can not discount Tiger this week at Whistling Straits. But then again, this isn't the same Tiger is it?

Friday, July 9, 2010

Hot, Hot, Heat

It has been some time since my last post, a variety of things going on. Let's take a quick look at the crazy weather we have been having.

The past two days, we have either set or approached a new record high at the Portland airport. On Wednesday, Portland topped out at 95 degrees, beating out the old record of 93. On Thursday, PDX got to 97, one degree shy of tying the all time record high for July 8th. Hard to imagine that about a month ago to date we set a new June total rain record! Wow! Still...we are below our average for warm days so far this year. Take a look at this graphic that sums up where we stand in regards to the heat. Credit goes to my boss, Mark Nelsen for the graphic.

As of right now, today stands to be the last 90 degree day in this "heat wave". It would definitely be a stretch to say we can match or top the 24 days of 90+ degree weather which was set just this past year. Out of those 24 days in 2009, 3 of them topped 100 degrees at the end of July (27,28,29). Looking at the maps right now, nothing is pointing towards any 100 degree days. In fact we are headed for a cool down beginning this weekend and on into next week. For several of us, that will be a welcome forecast.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

At A Glance: World Cup

It is day six in South Africa and each of the 32 teams have played their initial match. There have been plenty of surprises thus far. One reoccurring theme throughout the first matches is tentativeness. Only a few sides really came out and asserted their strength against their opponent. Those top teams were Germany (4-0 win over Australia), Argentina (1-0 over Nigeria, 4-1 over South Korea today), South Korea (2-0 over Greece, a loss to Argentina today) and Netherlands (2-0 victory over Denmark). Otherwise, it has been sub-par performances from the tournament favorites. Struggles by France (lost 2-0 today to Mexico), Mexico (awesome win against France today), Italy, England, Portugal, Cameroon, Spain and Brasil (to an extent amid their 2-1 victory over 105th ranked North Korea). It appeared that these teams were playing for 1 point rather than risking going for 3 and falling flat.
Delving deeper into the first set of matches: USA has to be satisfied with their overall performance against rival England, although the Americans had a few good chances to take the lead and with it, the match. It must be nice to know that USA will not wind up facing England for a shot at the round of 16. They should be able to handle Slovenia and Algeria to get into the knockout stage.
Bafana Bafana, the boys from South Africa are in serious jeopardy of being the first host nation to fail to make the Round of 16. After an emotional opening match against stronger Mexico, Bafana Bafana were dissected by Uruguay in a 3-nil outing.
Heavy Cup favorite Spain went down in shocking fashion to the Swiss. What actually happened here? Did the Swiss win the match, or did Spain loose it? One tends to think Spain will move on to the next round. This group (Group H, which includes Chile and Honduras) has added incentive to finish strongly due to the draw in the Round of 16 and a looming match up against the runner-up of the Group of Death.
Japan pulled the 2nd biggest stunner (next to Switzerland) by beating the most talented African side, Cameroon, 1-0. Cameroonian and Euro Treble winning-Inter Milan striker Samuel Eto'o was bottled up for the entire match. He will need to break out if they plan to advance.

Other noteworthy items: Style is
certainly front and center in South Africa. Case and point: Argentine head man and rookie coach Maradona. Take a look at this classy gent as he patrols the touch lines. That's like a $6,000 dollar suit. Com'on! And those rocks in his ear? Could explain why he is so short!
On the opposite end of the style spectrum, look at Slovenia's kits. Are you kidding me? Looks like something Charlie Brown would wear. But being honest, if I saw that at the store, I might be tempted to purchase one. Just sayin'.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

When will the rain end??

Tired of the rain yet? Chances are your ready for summer, it's June for crying out loud! It has been cold, it has been wet, and it has not been our usual June.
Yesterday, the entire state was hammered with rain. Records fell at almost every major station. Here is a look at the setup to yesterday's soaking rain.The big batch of moisture came from the tropical Philippines. With the system originating from such a warm source, it was able to hold much more in terms of moisture. Thus, many locations got drenched. Take a look at some of the numbers that fell.

Other records that were set were in Pendleton where they saw .84" of rain. That beat their previous record of .65" in 1971. Lebanon saw 1.27 inches of rain in 24 hours. Otter Rock, OR got just about that amount (1.26") in only half the time. Needless to say, this storm held some serious precipitation. To put this June in perspective: our .65" of rain at the PDX airport yesterday does not crack the top 10 wettest June days on record. So it HAS been worse, people. However, look at the big picture at it tells us something different. Only three days into June and our measurable precipitation at the PDX airport stands at .89". The monthly average for June is 1.59" of rain. Do the math and you'll find out that we are over halfway to the monthly average...only three days in!!
So, there is the overview on the precipitation end. How about the cool temperatures we have had this spring? May 2010 was the coldest in the last 11 years, and the third wettest on record. So far this year, we have hit 70 only a handful of times and we have yet to top the 80 degree mark. On average, PDX gets its first 80 degree day on May 8th. This year on May 8th, the temp got to 69 degrees. The earliest PDX has ever hit 80 degrees was on, get this...March 16th, 1947! And on the opposite end of the spectrum, the latest the airport has ever recorded its first 80 degree day was June 9th, 1991. So we are in danger of setting another record.
How are things looking in the near future?

Here is the latest model for Friday morning, showing a surface low pressure system making landfall on the north Washington coast. It will bring more rain and some breezy conditions to the Northwest again, but not as intense as Wednesday's soaker. Look up to the Gulf of Alaska and you can see another low pressure system, that is the main system that brought all the rain into the Northwest yesterday and will again feed the system for tomorrow. After tomorrow though, things begin to look up! Several partly to mostly sunny days with only a slight chance of rain on Sunday makes the 7-day forecast look much more like June. However, there appears to be no hope for an 80 degree day by the 9th, so look for another record to fall.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Hitting on a few things...

A few interesting things to cover today, considering it has been a while since my last post.

The NBA Finals are set and take a guess who it features? Celtics vs Lakers is about the best match-up the NBA could hope for (still waiting for LeBron vs. Kobe final). The C's have 17 NBA titles, the Lakers with 15 championships. So it's no shocker that these two will face off again. What does the series have in store? Well these games should be ultra-competitive. The LakeShow and C's squared off twice this season each team winning on the other's court and each victory came by one point! So expect this series to go seven games. The Celtics have more experience than the Lakers (but with experience comes age). Boston also has arguably the hottest player right now in Rajon Rondo. He has elevated his game since the Cleveland series and has been unstoppable since. Now Kobe has also been on fire, with a slew of 30+ point games, but Rondo has been playing great basketball on both ends of the court. My prediction here is that the rest and experience that the Celtics have, and given their ability to steal a game or two away from home this playoffs give them the edge over Los Angles. Take Boston in 7.

On to Paris, where there will be an unfamiliar feeling heading into the French Open semifinals. For the first time in 23 consecutive Grand Slam events, Roger Federer will not make the semifinals. Federer's streak began in 2004 when he made the Wimbledon semis and lasted all the way until this year's Aussie Open. How impressive was his streak? 2nd place on the consecutive semis list is Ivan Lendl, with 10! So Federer will be unable to defend his first and only French Open title this year. His loss also will bump him out of the world's number one spot assuming Rafael Nadal wins the event (and let's be honest, who else dominates on clay like Rafa?). But with the Federer loss adds a new name to tennis' top echelon, Robin Soderling. Soderling unseated Roger yesterday with shear power. He hit the ball harder than Roger and forced Roger into key unforced errors. The Swede won the match the best way you can against Federer, win break points. Roger isn't going to make a whole lot of errors, so when he does it is crucial to take advantage and Soderling did. Was Soderling's win a surprise? Not really. Here is why: Soderling beat Nadal on the clay surface last year in the Open. Soderling has a nack for playing well on clay and beating the big boys. We know Robin can compete. Also, Soderling was due for a win against Roger. Before yesterday's match, the two faced each other 12 times with Roger winning all 12 matches. Soderling didn't even push Roger to extra sets until their match-up last year at the U.S. Open. So look for Soderling to become a factor in future Grand Slam events.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

See....I told ya!

This is pretty cool! My last post was all about the possibility of the Gulf oil spill being transported from the Gulf to the east coast via the Mexico Loop Current. thoughts are backed up by Jeff Masters, the Director of Meteorology for the ultimate weather-geek website, (I recommend this site, it is very good and has lots of cool features. Much better than

Here is the link to the Masters' blog...his graphics are better than mine, so no jokes.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Oil Spill

If it is not one thing, it's something else that is causing issues in the Gulf of Mexico. It was hurricanes a few years ago (with a lack of federal response that worsened the situation). Now it's an oil spill caused from a exploded rig owned by British Petroleum. BP is working around clock to find answers as to why the rig caught on fire and why the fail-safe mechanism failed to operate in order to avoid the exact disaster we are in currently. Several attempts to cut the oil flow have failed. Is enough being done to stop this oil leak? Polls say Americans do not consider the BP oil spill President Obama's "Katrina" in the Gulf. And with BP working on solution after solution, it has not swayed Americans opinion on oil drilling off seas.

However, as the spill continues to leak oil for the third week at around 5,000 barrels a day, ramifications will extend outside the Gulf. Here is why: The Mexico Loop Current.

The Mexico Loop Current is the dominant flow of water that moves in a clockwise rotation. It also feeds water to the infamous Gulf Stream along the east coast. As the water in the Gulf moves in the anti-cyclonic (or clockwise) motion, it runs along the west coast of Florida, funneling down between the Florida panhandle and Cuba and finally sweeps into the Gulf Stream. With all the working motions of the Mexico Loop Current, coupled with the fact that the Loop Current is the fastest moving current in the Atlantic, it makes it a prime candidate to transport lets say, oil, to different locations. So with 5,000 barrels of oil being injected into the Gulf per day mixed with one of the fastest moving currents on can see where this is going. The East coast is not clear from repercussions of the Gulf oil spill. I overheard that if the spill moves up the Atlantic coast into regions of the Northeast, the people who live in the Hampton's will definitely take the action required to extinguish this environmental disaster.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Hits and Misses

From time to time I have made some predictions in my posts. After a few months, I think it's time to review those statements:
Prediction #1: "Kurt (Warner) will stay retired, I am calling it."-- Well, so far so good on this call. Obviously not much time has passes but I am feeling good on this prediction. As far as Brett Favre goes, it was just announced that he would require surgery if he aims to play in 2010-11. Stay tuned on this one. I will refrain from making a call here, but I know what I would want him to do.

Prediction #2: " I'll go ahead and say it again: Tiger Woods will NOT win another major in his career."-- 1/1 so far on this front. I will admit, Tiger's Masters performance was much stronger than I thought. That good showing makes me nervous for future tournaments, however. Tiger also failed at this past weekend's tournament at Quail Hollow. By the way, I have a significant bet riding on the fact that Tiger won't win another Major in his career. Stay tuned.

Prediction #3: I wrote an entry on who was in the running to be Oregon's next basketball head coach. While I didn't make any predictions on who it would be, I focused in on 3 main targets: Tubby Smith, Dave Rose and Randy Bennett. NONE of which were hired and rumor as it that none of the three were even contacted by the University. I did not expect Dana Altman to be the next head coach. I had heard of his name before but never would have imagined that the search would wind up with him. All in all, I am pleased with the hire.

Prediction #4-12: NHL first-round predictions-- I could not have been more wrong with my East predictions and could not have been more spot-on in my west calls. Starting in the east: Washington, Buffalo and New Jersey KILLED me!!! All three favorites ran into hot goal tending and a more physical opponent which resulted in early exits for the top three teams during the regular season. Pittsburgh was the only top seed to advance and they saved me from the goose egg in the east. In the west, a totally different story. Everything happened as I saw it, including that wild and exciting Phoenix/Detroit series that was won on experience for sure. Many of my future predictions have been ruined by my failures in the first round, but this hasn't been a very good year for me making bracket calls anyways (you should have seen my March Madness bracket).

All in all, a decent start. I'll keep you updated should any of my predictions become fulfilled or ruined.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Spring Weather

On the heels of these past two days, I thought I would do a brief analysis of why we are seeing this type of sudden downpours-to-sunshine type weather. For starters, we know that in the Northern Hemisphere we are currently transitioning from winter to summer. This means that the dominating cooler air mass we had over the winter is slowly being replaced by the warmer summer air mass. The clash between the two air masses causes some pretty interesting weather (see: the past few days here in the NW, almost every spring in the Midwest and South).

To get a little more specific, here in Oregon we get a cool onshore flow from the coast that can sometimes gets mixed in with some warmer air that is being forced up from California due to a low that would be located off the Northern California coast. What that leaves us with are these spotty-type clouds which indicate cool, but unstable air. These spotty clouds allow for sun to shine through the clearer areas, and the sun heats the ground surface. As the warmth from the sun heats the ground, it causes the air at the ground to rise. This is called convection: heated air that is forced to rise because it becomes lighter than its surroundings. As that air is warmed and rises, it becomes condensed and clouds form--leading to rain and in our case, downpours. Just how unstable does the atmosphere become? Check out this model representation of yesterday around 5 p.m. This model represents CAPE or Convective Available Potential Energy and measures how unstable and volatile the atmosphere is. As far as CAPE goes, the values expressed are not that high, only in the 100-400 range. Areas in the Plains can see CAPE in the 2000-3000 range. But when mixed with that marine air, what we saw late yesterday afternoon was plenty to trigger some thunderstorms and heavy downpours with hail mixed in. In fact, at 4:50, our radar indicated at least 6 lightning strikes. So you may have noticed that by 7 p.m. last night the showers stopped and there was clearing and some sunshine out there. Why does that happen? We lose our heat source, the sun. With nothing to warm the air, the atmosphere cools. When it cools off, air sinks as it becomes dense and sinking air usually results in high pressure and fair weather. That is exactly what happened yesterday! Look for it to happen again today.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


I just typed a bunch of random letters, it just so happened to spell the name of that Icelandic volcano that is erupting like a mother as we speak. The "islandmountainglacier volcano" has been spewing for a day shy of a week and it has been hampering travel plans worldwide. But what sort of impact is it having on a climatic scale?

Despite the wide spread impacts, this volcano is not really going to have a long-term impact on the climatologyy of the world. In the past, large eruptions have altered global temperatures by 1-2 degrees Celsius. While this is a pretty good sized eruption, its composition is not one that would alter global temperatures. Take a look at the picture to the left, you can see the grey stream of ash that is pointed like a fire hose to Europe. Many eruptions have Sulfur Dioxide comprised in them and the sulfur acts as a reflecting agent that sends incoming solar radiation from the sun back into space. Large scale eruptions (Vesuvius, St. Helens, Santorini, Etna) spew great amounts of this sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere. That tends to linger and gets dispersed by the global winds and results in the lowering of global temperatures. But Eyjafallajokull is not emitting that much dioxide, so scientists are not expecting any climatic impacts from this eruption. Clearly there will be smaller scale impacts but they will not linger as long as a world wide impact could.

One of those small scale repercussions are thunderstorms. The heat released by the volcano mixes with cold air as well as ice particles colliding cause electrical discharges that result in these awesome lightning displays. These are often refered to as "dirty thunderstorms".

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Second Season Time!

The end of the Masters always signals the beginning of the Second Season. It is the best time of year, the NHL Playoffs are upon us. It's like the holidays with family, but this time you get to actually punch someone. Let's take a look at the big story lines of this year's playoffs before I get to predictions.

Starting in the East, the big story line is the Washington Capitals. They dominated the regular season with 121 points and the President's Trophy for best record in the NHL. If Ovie and the Caps have ever wanted to win a Cup, now is the year. Everything is in place, but can the goal tending keep pace with the offense? Jose Theodore has a bad history of flubbing it in the playoffs and the young Varlamov was strong last post season, but can he come in cold if needed? It wouldn't surprise me if Theodore and the Caps struggle early. Another thing to watch in the east is Buffalo and their injury roster. Thomas Vanek came back strong from injury in the final two games of the season, scoring 5 goals in three games. Key players Tim Connelly and Jochen Hecht did not play in Buffalo's final weeks worth of games but both have recently practiced. Buffalo will need them both if they want to contend past the opening round.

Way out west, plenty of surprises blessed the top 8. Detroit struggles early cost them a top three seed but they are still the most dangerous team I think in the west. Colorado turned it around after a league-worst finish last year so that is good for them. Phoenix nabbed their first playoff spot in 10 years amid turmoil of ownership. The biggest story is the San Jose Sharks. They have dominated the west for the last two seasons, yet they have failed to make it past the second round in the playoffs. "Jumbo Joe" Thornton is the leader of this team but always seems to flop in the playoffs. He, along with Russian goalie Evgeni Nabokov, will need to step up for the Sharks. Nabokov was picked apart by the Canadians in the Olympics and he can not afford to struggle on a big stage again. Prediction time:
1. San Jose vs. 8. Colorado
San Jose HAS to win a 1st round series eventually. Colorado faded toward the end. Sharks in 5.
2. Chicago vs. 7. Nashville
Blackhawks are loaded with young talent. Nashville is scrappy. Hawks win on home ice in 7.
3. Vancouver vs. 6. Los Angeles
Remember that guy who won a gold medal between the pipes. Luongo is too good. 'Nucks in 6.
4. Phoenix vs. 5. Detroit
The Red Wings are the scariest team in the playoffs. Phoenix is good but inexperienced. Experience wins out. Detroit in 6.
1. Washington vs. 8. Montreal
No brainer. Caps too talented and Montreal can't score. Caps in 5.
2. New Jersey vs. 7. Philadelphia
The Devils defense will win out over physical Philly. Devils in 6.
3. Buffalo vs. 6. Boston
Miller is America's boy. He wants to get a silver cup to match is medal. Buffalo in 6.
4. Pittsburgh vs. 5. Ottawa
Barry Melrose says if Ottawa wins, it proves God is a Canadian. But God isn't Canadian. Pens in 6.
1. San Jose vs. 5. Detroit
Uh oh. Red hot Detroit runs into San Jose. Wings steal one in San Jose and win the series in 6.
2. Chicago vs. 3. Vancouver
This series boils down to if the Hawks can stop Henrik Sedin and get the puck past Luongo. I see an upset here. 'Couve in 6.
1. Washington vs. 4. Pittsburgh
The match up every NHL fan wants to see. Sid the Kid versus The Great 8. Ovie and the Caps took all four games in the season series, and they take this one. Caps in 5.
2. New Jersey vs. 3. Buffalo
This is speed versus defense. Buffalo can slow it down if needed. Two outstanding goaltenders in this one. Buffalo has more firepower and pull it out in 7.
Conference Finals
3. Vancouver vs. 5. Detroit
Vancouver back with home ice is tough to beat. The offense will overwhelm Detroit who has to cool off at some point. Canucks will win in 7.
1. Washington vs. 3. Buffalo
Ovie never played Miller in the Olympics. It would have been an great game. Two high-octane offenses here, Caps outscore the Sabres. Caps in 6.
Stanley Cup Finals
Washington Capitals vs. Vancouver Canucks
An awesome final. These two teams are capable of winning the cup. Washington can put shots on net like no other team in the league. That will be key for the Caps if they want to win, the more shots at Luongo the more likely they find holes in his armor. Capitals will win Lord Stanley's Cup in 6 games and Ovechkin will be the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Finals MVP.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Forecast FAIL!

For the first time in six months, I failed at my job. I completely botched yesterday's forecast.

Showing up to work and already having a general idea of what the day will bring is pretty standard for me. I walked into work yesterday morning anticipating a break from all the rain and wind and cold (you probably are in the same boat). I may have just relied on what I looked at the previous day, as Tuesday's model runs were showing some ridging (high pressure) settling in. I took that to the bank. Wednesday morning came, and things looked pretty much the same. That ridge in the 500mb chart (left), which is basically a map that shows where the greatest amount of energy half way in the atmosphere, was still there. But the forecast did not hold up. So what happened?

A large cloud shield was up near Vancouver Island yesterday morning, here is the snapshot of that. The sharp edge on the back side of the shield indicates the location of the jet stream, or the direction in which the storm SHOULD have gone. It looked as though it would push north, leaving us with pleasant weather. But as the day progressed, the clouds pushed eastward instead of north. The ridge that I was counting on had failed me and it was game over. Instead of the decent, dry weather, those clouds brought cooler and a bit more showery conditions.

It was really the first time I had been completely incorrect with a forecast. I have missed temps in the past, but never temps AND conditions. But hey, luckily I work in a field where you can still get paid to be wrong (but I don't support being wrong).

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sitting and Waiting

Uggggh! This coaching search is KILLING me! The first nation-wide coaching search for the University in a long while is underway and should be wrapping up here within the next week, according to Pat Kilkenny who is leading the search. Soooo many names have been tossed around, so let's break 'em down:
1) Mark Few, Gonzaga- When in the past 3-5 years has his name NOT been mentioned as the next Oregon head basketball coach? The long time Zags coach is an alum and native of Creswell. Why wouldn't he want to coach here? Pac-10 school, incredible facilities, Nike?? Or is his comfy little thing he has up in Spokane working just fine for him? 10 straight WCC regular season championships and 8 out of the last 10 WCC tourney champs. It sounds like he is doing alright. If Few doesn't take the Oregon job now...he will never leave Spokane.

2) Jamie Dixon, Pitt- This guy is good, he's young and he has west coast ties. A former assistant of Ben Howland and predecessor of him at Pitt, Dixon is one of the best young coaches in the game today. He has kept Pitt competitive in the super conference Big East. Dixon is a Nike guy and would be an awesome fit at Oregon. Rumors of Pat Kilkenny in NYC have him interviewing Dixon. This is my number one choice.

3) Mark Turgeon, Texas A&M- This could have been a good get as well for the Ducks. Rumors are that Turgeon has agreed to a contract extension to remain in Aggie land. Turgeon has ties to the Oregon program, he was an assistant under Jerry Green, the man who Kent took over for. Turgeon's name seems to be fading in this search.

4) Tubby Smith, Minnesota- A surprise name, but would not be a bad hire at all. Obviously a Nike guy, he has had undeniable success as a head coach in college basketball. Only once has he failed to achieve 20 wins in a season, which was his first season as a head coach. It is rumored that Oregon has already offered him a $2 million contract, more than what he makes for the Golden Gophers. Also key, Smith was guaranteed a new practice facility upon agreeing to take the Minnesota job 4 years ago. Yet there has been no significant movements to make sure that occurs by the university. With Oregon just months away from opening a fantastic $200 million arena outfitted with TWO practice facilities. Many factors here to watch, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if Smith accepts the offer.

5) Tom Izzo, Michigan State- Talk about surprise name! There is no way that Tom Izzo leaves East Lansing. 6 final fours in the last 12 years?! That is crazy good. Izzo is a staple at Michigan State and in the Big 10. Even if Oregon's offer of the largest contract in college basketball were true, I don't see him leaving. He has too much going on there to just drop it all. No chance here.

6) Brad Stevens, Butler- You want a young coach? How about 33 years old and just earned a trip to the Final Four. Butler is THE hottest team in the nation, they are on a 24 game win streak. Stevens has potential but not out here in the west. No ties with recruiting out here and he just seems like a better fit for a team like Iowa, who is looking to make a splash in the Big 10 again since they lost Alford (another Duck candidate). Don't expect Stevens to come to Oregon, or anywhere else for that matter as he, much like Few, has something really nice going at Butler.

7) Randy Bennett, Saint Mary's- He has had recent success in Moraga, giving the biggest challenge to the dominant Gonzaga Bulldogs by winning the WCC tourney this year and making a good run to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA's. He doesn't have the name that the other candidates do, but his track record speaks for itself and many would commend Oregon on hiring him. Positives to bringing him in? He will be cheaper than a Few or Dixon or Izzo. He can recruit from unusual places really well (Australia-- but do we want another Ian Crosswhite?). What is going against Bennett? How about the fact that he is coaching at Saint Mary's, which was where Ernie Kent was plucked from when came to Oregon. Does the university want to go back to the well? If Tubby Smith or Jamie Dixon don't pan out, look for Bennett to be the fall back guy.

7) Dave Rose, BYU- He isn't high on a lot of fans wish lists. Rose relatively came from nowhere this year and lead BYU to a top-10 ranking and a very exciting NCAA appearance that ended in the second round. Still, Rose runs a very up-tempo style offense that would be conducive to the current Oregon roster, and like Bennett, he would come cheaper. He is option number three for the Ducks.

7 names to think about, probably only three realistic names out of the bunch: Smith, Bennett and Rose. I still retain hope that Jamie Dixon comes out here, but again would be pleased with Tubby Smith. Oregon definitely wants to make a splash with this hire and Smith would do just that. The program has already taken a lot of flack for even being rumored at offering jobs to the likes of Izzo, Billy Donovan and Dixon. Would it be a failure if Oregon winds up with Bennett or Rose or have the Ducks already won by getting rid of Kent?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Eugene Experience

I finally utilized the power of being part of the 'media' this past Friday as I spent the day down in Eugene, covering the court appearances of LaMichael James and Jeremiah Masoli. It was all volunteered, no O.T. pay but a chance to be behind the scenes, to witness the sentencing of those two was a life-time experience.

It wasn't the best story to cover and I had to still come into work at my normal time (2 a.m.) and then left for Eugene around five. Arrived in Eugene at about seven and then James was due in court at 8:10 a.m. There were three of us, our reporter Mark Ross, photographer James "Sparky" Sparks and myself. Mark and Sparky drove down in the satellite truck, while I tagged along in my Honda. The Lane County Courthouse was swarming. Plenty of media setting up and camera men running around. ESPN was there, Shelly Smith was reporting on the case (no one is a fan of Shelly Smith). With tripod and cables in hand, the three of us marched up to the third floor and court room 305. Sparks plugged into the Pool feed, only one camera is allowed in the courtroom so all the stations plug into a box to get the feed into the camera. Everyone was anxiously awaiting for LaMichaels' arrival, cameras pointed right at the elevators. Eventually James just appeared in the courtroom, so he must have came in the side door. 8:10--showtime!

The audio was terrible, very hard to hear what was going on in the court room but I was able to make out a key phrase: 10-day sentence. James would leave the court room through a side door once again, much to the shigrin of the camera men. Once Mark Ross came out of the court room, he confirmed it: a 10-day jail sentence with credit for days served, 24 month probation. All in all, a fitting punishment for what LaMichael pleaded guilty to, that being harassment (his former girlfriend, Heidi, pleaded guilty to the same charge). Upon retiring back to the satellite truck, I was reading the court documents that stated exactly what occurred that night between James and his girlfriend. The documents have been made readily available (but cost us $2.75 at the court house), and many of you probably have read it. But it was sobering to read what actually happened and to compare the story to the rumors swirling around the internet.

The time between the James and Masoli hearing was rather uneventful, a failed attempt to get lunch at Papa Soul Food was rather disappointing. After ingesting the video from the James hearing and helping out KGW (yes, we do aide rival stations), I found out that I would be going on campus to get student reactions from the court hearings. As in, I would be 'asking the tough questions'! But...first things first, Masoli.

As we sauntered back up to the court room, room 305 again (same judge too), we caught up to some family friends of the Masolis'. They said they did not know what kind of punishment Jeremiah should receive, but they were there for support no matter what. And the support didn't stop there. As I sat in the back of the court room, several football players entered the room, one of which was Simi Toeaina. Masoli sure had a lot of support. As soon as they sat down, the judge entered and the hearing began.

We quickly gathered that this was going to be more than just an arraignment. Garrett Embry was also present in the court room. He and his attorney did a majority of the talking. Embry's attorney asked that a sentencing occur on the same day. The most surreal moment of the day occurred shortly thereafter when Masoli stood in front of the judge and openly admitted that he intended to steal property from the SAE fraternity house, his only response to the judge being, "yes". Masoli's expression did not change once in the court room. He had a deadpanned stare the entire time. That definitely differs from his happy-go-lucky, easy-going attitude that he normally sports when on the football field. This difference in appearance will be the lasting image for me.

As with LaMichael James, Embry and Masoli disappeared from the media's view after the hearing. Everyone and their grandmas knew that Chip Kelly was going to have a press conference on the matter, so every media member booked it to Autzen Stadium and the Casanova Center to prepare. My job was to follow a second photog who came down before the second hearing and go to campus to get reaction about the sentencing from students. Mark Ross had given me some tips as to how to be a good 'interviewer'. Luckily I had Tad, the second photog, there to help me out as well. Tad, an Oregon alum, asked me if my major at U of O was in journalism. Heh, not quite. So he stepped in and helped out some, and made it easier to get the good sound bites. We got four or five interviews and then rushed back to Autzen to ingest the video so we could use it on our 4 and 5 o'clock hits. That's where everything went wrong.

Operating a satellite truck requires three people: the reporter for the live shot, the photog to shoot and edit video and a satellite operator to solely operator the satellite truck. We had: the reporter, the photog....and me. So that left Sparks, our initial photog, to run the the sat truck and edit video. That doesn't work, so that is why Tad came down, to edit video that Sparky shot. That also doesn't work because Tad doesn't really know what Sparky shot. See the problems?

We eventually got our shot, a half hour late. I definitely got the crazy end of how live shots work, but it was a ton of fun and I have to thank Mark Ross, James Sparks and Tad for allowing me to help and learn.

As for my take on the Chip punishments: overall, I am content. I think he did the right thing with LaMichael but I do think that Masoli should have been kicked off the team given his prior history and that he also lied to Kelly about his involvement in the theft. I think if Jeremiah comes back in 2011, it will just cause problems for the entire program once again. As for who will be the next starter...I support Darren Thomas but I do think Nate Costa will get the first shot.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Improving Professional Sports

Whew. Midterms are over... time to get back at it.

I was approached by a co-worker and asked how I could make the NHL more appealing to Americans. Interest in hockey around the United States spiked during the 2-week period of the Olympic hockey tournament. But how can that interest continue to thrive?

Names like Ryan Miller, Zach Parise and Brian Rafalski have become household now in the States and that is a start. In order for more interest among Americans to grow, Americans must get to know their players! The NHL does a good job at promoting its young talent. Most people would recognize names like Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin and that is due to the NHL (over)promoting them. Now it's time for the NHL or USA Hockey to promote their players, familiarize the public with their country's stars. Obviously people have really taken to Miller and Parise, and there are plenty of other great American players out there.

So there is the player aspect, how about the game aspect? How great was that Gold medal game? Huge numbers watched the game. It was tabbed as the biggest and most important hockey game ever played in North America. Bob Costas said it was one of the most exciting sporting events he has ever witnessed. But how does Olympic hockey compare to NHL competition?
Overall... the NHL is a better brand of hockey compared to the pool play of the Olympics. Now, nothing beats playoff hockey where desperation is at its highest (FYI--playoffs begin in April!) So if you were into Olympic hockey, why not try out the NHL? Some rules are different (fighting IS allowed) and the quality of play is better. The best of the best who play hockey, play in the NHL. You don't see these mismatches like Canada/Norway or Russia/Belarus... each NHL team has talent that is worth watching. Also, just one night, watch SportsCenter's top 10 plays of the day... I guarantee you will see a play or two from the rink that will be the prettiest thing you've seen on ice since Sasha Cohen.

So there you have it. Get to know your American players and sit down and watch a game, learn some rules and it will grasp you in some way!

What other sport can we improve?? How about the NFL! America's most popular sport, hands down, is undergoing some revamping. Their overtime rules have been the worst thing about the sport. First to score works in the NHL (5 minute 4-on-4 session) but due to the flow of the game, each team gets shots at the victory in hockey. That is not the case in the NFL where often times, if you win the coin-toss, the results favor that team. Around 52% of teams that win the toss, win the game.
The new proposed overtime rules would guarantee each team a possession unless the first team puts 6 on the board. Then, its game over. This is a slight improvement but not a solution. So what is a solution? Glad you asked. How about a "kick-off". This would work much like a shoot-out does in the NHL to end a scoreless O.T. period. We begin by starting at the 15-yard line and much like the Kansas Plan in college football, each kicker gets a crack at that distance. After each successful round, the ball is placed 5-yards back. Kickers continue to attempt these field goals until one misses and giving us a winner! Perfect.
It is fair, it is high drama and it ends any possibility of ties. Plus it will eliminate any sort of confusion with overtime rules (ahem...Donovan?)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A False Spring

This ain't just a sports blog! I'm a weather geek at heart too!

Remember how nice last weekend was? The sun and warm temperatures extended into this past Monday, teasing us with what could be a a preview of Spring. We quickly returned to that winter weather, rain and chilly temperatures on Tuesday. Just how much of a difference was Monday's temperature from Tuesday's? Take a look.

Plenty of double-digit differences in high temps in a 24 hour period! Newport went from a high of 63 degrees on Monday to only 48 on Tuesday! These drastic temp changes are unusual for this time of year, as we pretty much average about a 5 degree fluctuation at max in February.

What's in store for the Spring? We are possibly transitioning out of an El Nino phase, which has given us this mild winter (for the most part). What usually transpires with an El Nino Spring is that we see pretty normal spring-like conditions and then a wetter than normal Summer. Often times we see a number of strong thunderstorms as well.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

We call dibs!

Some of you may have heard about the biggest get of this year's recruiting season, but for those of you who haven't, let me fill you in. USC received a verbal commitment from David Sills out of Delaware on signing day. There are folks out there who see this kid as a top recruit. The problem is...he isn't a top recruit for this years class. He is suppose to be the best recruit of the class of 2015! I'll do the math for you: David Sills is 13-years-old.

Several problems arise from the recruiting of a 13-year-old. The first being "over-diagnosing" the kid's talent. He is only in middle school. Sills has yet to play at the high school level, let alone the college level. There is plenty of time for Sills to regress in skills. And what if Sills decides to drop football and take part in the drama club's rendition of "Guys and Dolls" and find his calling on the stage?

A second problem: David Sills has a personal coach that marketed the 13-year-old quarterback to Lane Kiffin and the USC athletic department. Steve Clarkson is the personal coach and has mentored other USC quarterbacks such as Matt Leinart and Matt Barkley. So there is a connection between Clarkson and USC/Kiffin. Personal coaches have been problems in the past (see Bryce Brown's trainer/advisor Brian Butler). There easily could be something fishy going on down the road with this story, plus, Kiffin isn't known for following the recruiting rules very closely anyways.

A final problem: What is wrong with this kid's parents?? They are exploiting their kid for national attention (Richard Heene, anyone?). Along with Clarkson and Kiffin, father Sills is taking a lot of heat for this recruitment. Don't subject your child to the pressure of being in the national spotlight before he can even drive a car. What if he fails, this whole story will become a joke and David Sills will become a flop.

In the long run, nothing is official. Sills cannot sign an official Letter Of Intent until 2015 so until then he remains available for any school to snatch him up. I just don't see this as a smart move by USC or David Sills. There is bound to be a better rated quarterback in the 2015 class. We will definitely learn more once Sills is crowned homecoming king.

What can we take away from all this?? First and foremost, recruitments of pre-prep athletes are a waste of time. It's risky and embarrassing when it doesn't pan out. Also, with making 13-year-olds available to make verbal commitments, what is to stop parents from giving up their newborn child to a program? (Joey Harrington actually signed a fake L.O.I. for Len Cassanova to play at Oregon, look how that worked out!)

Friday, January 29, 2010

Retirements, Criminals and Tiger

Starting a blog, all sorts of topics to discuss

The end of the road came for the Minnesota Vikings two weekends ago and with it, we begin the Brett Favre watch. He will have the sports world holding their collective breaths as we await his announcement to stay or leave the NFL. Media coverage will be more concerned with Brett than the Super Bowl, as he teases us by using phrases like "highly unlikely" during interviews. The bottom line is no one knows what he will do...not even Brett it seems.

It would be great if Brett takes a page from Kurt Warner, who just announced his retirement from the NFL.

Kurt will stay retired, I am calling it. Kurt has given all he can, and he also realizes that the Cardinal franchise drafted Matt Leinart for a reason (much like Green Bay did with Aaron Rodgers--the Packers knowing Favre was coming to the end of his time). Look at each team Brett has gone to since G.B.: New York Jets where he ousted slated starter Kellen Clemens. Minnesota Vikings where Tarvaris Jackson was an up-and-commer and when Favre signed with the Viks Jackson and fellow QB Sage Rosenfels had mentioned they wanted to be traded. What has Kurt done, you ask? Well he was the main man in St. Louis during his hay-day. He went to the Giants briefly until Eli Manning was drafted, for a reason, and was put into the starting slot. Kurt then went to Arizona where he was successful for a few seasons while mentoring Leinart. Now it's time to give Leinart that chance. Kudos to Warner for stepping down...hopefully for the first and final time.

Guns are for Agent 007... not Agent 0. What a fool Gilbert Arenas is! Just suspended for the season by the NBA (smart move Stern), Gilbert Arenas has put the future of his professional career in serious jeopardy by pulling a gun on his teammate in the locker room. That's right, I said pulled a gun. On a teammate. In the LOCKER ROOM! Sheesh Gilbert, learn from Plaxico Burress and keep the guns out of the arena at least! Now Plax is in jail and Gilbert isn't, probably because Plaxico's gun went off. But what kind of ego does Arenas have? Did Arenas think someone was going to pop him at work? Seriously. Who brings a gun to work, outside of a police officer?

I am sure Arenas will come back next year and play in the NBA again, but does he deserve to? I hardly think so. He has had issues with following the rules set forth by the NBA front office before and now an incident that involved the FBI should be the last straw for the former Arizona Wildcat. Some education he got. Speaking of colleges, what happened in Eugene 2 weekends ago??

Star Oregon QB Jeremiah Masoli was accused of stealing from a fraternity party, a very serious crime considering the value of the stolen items. A lot of speculation as to if Masoli was even involved in the theft or not, but the longer that he remains not a suspect, the better it is for the team. Imagine what next season would look like if Masoli is/was found guilty of this crime: He would almost certainly be kicked off the team. At the very least he would be suspended for several games. That would thrust Nate Costa or Darren Thomas (the latter of which I think would be best) into starting duty. Oregon would fall out of the national championship talk and even drop out as the front runner for the Pac-10. The Ducks would lose their next possible Heisman trophy candidate as well. So, for the sake of all the Duck fans out there, let's hope we don't hear anything surrounding Masoli for a while.

The final topic today: Tiger Woods. I have made some pretty bold statements regarding Tiger Woods and his ability to be an effective golfer on the PGA when (and IF) he returns to the links. I'll go ahead and say it again: Tiger Woods will NOT win another major in his career. There, I feel better. Let me start by saying that I hope Tiger DOES win again, he is a great player and a lot of fun to watch when he is on his game. However, I do not see him being able to regain enough focus to keep up 72 holes of golf. Every reporter and their dog is going to ask Tiger about "the situation", his relationship with his wife and his reported sex rehab stint. Not a single question will be about his game, for a long time! Some of my critics (yes, I have a critic or two) say that if Tiger has been living this double life for so long all while winning major after major, why would anything be different after this?

The paramount difference is this: more people know what is going on now than a year ago. There was no need to ask him about his personal life because he kept it well hidden. Now that the scandal has become the business of every gossiper in America, he will have many more questions to answer and less time to focus on golf. More media outlets will be drawn towards Tiger when he returns, putting more pressure on him. But when has pressure ever gotten to Tiger Woods?