Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Arkansas 20, Florida 16, Refs 7....

Good morning all,

First up this week I want to give big ups to my man, Pedro Martinez, for his masterful performance in LA last week. As an avid Red Sox fan, I had the pleasure of watching most of Pedro's starts during his tenure in Beantown and he never ceases to dazzle. During his time in Boston, it was amazing to watch a 5'10", 160 pound dude blow hitters away with 98 mile an hour gas and then make them look stupid by yanking the chain with one of the best changeups the game has ever seen. His 1999 and 2000 seasons were probably the best in the modern era: 23-4 and 18-6, ERA 2.07 and 1.74, innings worked 213.1 and 217, hits allowed 160 and 128 (are you serious 128 hits in 217 innings???) and strikeouts 313 (yes that is no typo- 313 ks in 213 innings, Tim Lincecum struk out 265 in 227 innings last year and is heralded the best strikeout pitcher in the game today with 50ks less and 14 innings more and he pitches in the weak NL west with no DH and the pitcher hitting!) and 284. All this done while pitching in the AL East. Unfortunately injuries and age have taken its toll and Pedro is no longer the same guy who could've probably told hitters what was coming and still have gotten them out. But, to see him throw 88-90 with great movement, command the entire strikezone with all 3 pitches and still make the game's best hitters look foolish while waving at his changeup is awesome. It reminds me (though not on the same scale of course) of watching a 40 year old MJ score 20+ per game with the Wizards- no longer the athlete he once was but still finding a way. However, in Pedro's case, it unfortunate to once again see the all-to-familiar-to-Boston-fans way he pulled himself out of the game. After 7 innings of 2 hit ball and only 80 pitches, he pointed to the sky while walking off the mound; which as Grady Little and all Red Sox fans know, means that he is done and don't send him back out to the mound (and I apologize to all Sox fans for the flashbacks of the 2003 ALCS everyone is probably having right now)... So I guess my MJ comparison above seems a bit more foolish now...

OK, back to the blog title. So in this case, I am actually going to have to agree with Terrell Owens twitter posts (you have to scroll back several pages since T.O. apparently is trying to set the world record for most tweets per day) from the Arkansas-Florida game and bring up a bigger question- is college football rigged? I've always thought there have been some suspicious happenings over the years and given the ridiculous sum of money involved in getting a BCS bid ($19.3 million to the conference for each BCS bowl bid it receives), I started wondering about this a few years ago (we'll get back to that). So, after getting a text saying that Florida was in trouble against Arkansas this weekend, I flipped over from watching my Trojans trying to choke away a huge lead against the Irish to an upset in the making in the swamp. Right when I switched over, Ryan Mallet hit Greg Childs for a 75 yard TD to put Arkansas up 20-13 with about 9 minutes to go in the 4th quarter. At this point, Florida was in real trouble; they had 4 turnovers, about 250 yards of offense, 6 sacks allowed and looked absolutely awful. Then, led by questionable officiating and a missed FG by Arkansas, they came back to win. The questionable officiating involved 3 absolutely enormous calls, (well 2 calls and 1 non-call) all going against Arkansas on the final 2 drives. As T.O. tweeted,
Refs r str8 CHEATING n this florida/arkansas game!! A phantom P.I. call on #26, personal foul on #96 & no OPI call on UF's #11
The calls T.O. is talking (or tweeting as soome would say) about were beyond awful; in fact so bad the only recent thing I can think to compare them to (other than other college football calls I'm about to get to) was the phantom foul ball in the Yankee-Twins series the outfield umpire missed even though he was standing about 10 feet from it (worth reading just for Joe Nathan's quote). Instead of describing them; here are youtube links to the plays in question #1, #2, #3. Now- 1 of these calls by isolation would be bad; but all 3 of these in the last 7 minutes of the fourth quarter with the #1 team on the ropes at home, especially considering this is the same crew that famously screwed Georgia keeping LSU undefeated a few weeks ago. So what would the motivation be if this wasn't a coincidence? Think about the implications LSU losing to a bad Georgia team or Florida losing to Arkansas might have...the Orlando Sentinal agrees with me- it's $$$!! As of now, the SEC stands to get 3 BCS (LSU with 2 losses- one to #1 Florida, and #2 Bama, the loser of Bama/Florida) bids and a team in the BCS national championship game (winner of Bama/UF). So 3 teams at $19.3 million per team, not a bad end of season bonus... Now, what if Florida lost to Arkansas or LSU lost to Georgia (both would've been very very bad looking losses to unranked opponents); That would put a 1 loss UF team against Bama (yes, I said it- if you are following the theme of my blog- the Vikings could put on LSU uniforms in Bryant Denny in a few weeks and still not have a shot), leaving either 2 one loss SEC teams and a 2 loss team (LSU) or an undefeated team and 2 2-loss teams; and if LSU had lost at Georgia a 3-loss team. Also a problem, considering the weak non-conference schedule LSU and Florida play, they would have no good wins. So, there is no way 2 2-loss SEC teams with no quality wins or a 2-loss and a 3-loss SEC teams would get top-8 BCS bids with another school going to the national title. So an LSU lost at Georgia or a Florida loss at home vs Arkansas might have cost the conference $19 million. Pretty big deal really. And, justifies Michael Wilbon's opinion that "The calls will always protect the big market and big money teams." This is not a new trend- conferences protecting their teams most likely to go to huge bowl games. Anyone remember the Texas-Kansas game in 04- when Coach Mangino was hit with a massive fine for what he had to say after the game?? Texas went on to beat USC and win the national title that year. I could deatil many others- including the "Swindle in the Swamp" (when the Gators were on the other side of getting screwed), the 1999 UCF-Georgia debacle, the USF-UCF game from a few years ago; but I don't want to get the Auburn fans too worked up (especially before they have to play LSU again) but Sally Jenkins is right- what ref would want to be the one that costs their conference millions of dollars and themselves a bonus... Just some food for thought.

So, as you can see on the right, the Empire State Building went Tie-Dye on Monday in honour of the Grateful Dead. Bob Weir and Phil Lesh were in town for a charity fundraiser kick-off for the opening of the Exhibit The Greatful Dead: Now Playing at the New York Historical Society. The exhibit is an impressive compilation of multiple forms of media celebrating the bands numerous tours from 1965-1995 and even has a section honouring their fans, who we all know as the deadheads. Though I definitely can't compare with Bill Walton in terms of Dead fanhood, I have always loved the dead, mainly their early stuff. I like some a few of their 90s live sets with Hornsby (their 91 show in the Boston Garden was pretty awesome) but, to me, nothing can compare to their '78 3-day stop in Egypt. If you like the dead and haven't heard this show- think Nubian drummers, Phil playing old Egyptian folksongs and Egyptian percusionist joining in to play Fire on the Mountain to close it out. The Dead inspired millions for decades and, like them or not, it's always good to see some of the orginal members receive such a great honour.

Sir Elton and Billy are back!!!!! Their newest tour starts in Seattle on November 4th. Having been fortunate to have been to one of their concerts before, this duo is well worth the ticket.

Willie Nelson hits the road today to start a multi-city nationwide tour with multiple destinations in the southeast as well as the west coast...

The countdown is on till the Phish Festival which runs Oct 30-Nov 1 in Indio, California. This is Phish's first festival in 5 years and should be awesome...

Lady Gaga, who was supposed to tour with Kanye before it was cancelled, will instead kick-off her own solo tour Nov 27 in Montreal. The 22-date tour will land at several famed venues, including Radio City Music hall Jan 20-21, the Fox Theatre in Atlanta Dec 29 and the Chicago Theatre Jan 8-9.

As always, be sure to check the "near you" tab on our homepage, for tickets to games, concerts and shows around you. And, as always, please post all of your opinions, and any good shows you know of!!!

Till next week,

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