Plain Dealer video
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"Bob Petrino joined the groups "Abusing Defenses" and "Looking for Jobs." -- Jet, simulating a certain someone's Facebook feed
My friend Evan, Press-Register ace and Cleveland native, sent along this cool video from The Plain Dealer. It's a time-lapse thing that shows how Cleveland and Seattle struggled to play baseball Friday at the Jake.
Plain Dealer video
As many of you all know, I am a University of Kentucky graduate. I also have a degree from Transylvania University, a small four-year school down the street from UK, though the Pioneers aren't in the SEC. The Wildcats are. So I claim UK when it comes to sports.
I tell this story because people in the community know me either as a UK guy or a Transy guy depending on my mood or topic of conversation.
I met my lovely and patient wife at Transy. So that's good, too.
Anyway, I think UK did the right thing by signing former TAMU coach Billy Gillispie to a 7-year contract worth $2.3 million per year. Florida's Billy Donovan was at the top of the list -- both for UK and yours truly -- but he elected to stay at Florida. Gillispie turned around programs at both UTEP and TAMU in short order. Kentucky isn't really down, but it needs to be more aggressive on the recruiting market. Gillispie can make that happen.
Some will rag Donovan for staying at Florida. Look, he's won back-to-back titles there. He makes good money. His job security is basically unparalleled now. And he's working for the most innovative and forward-looking athletic director around in Jeremy Foley.
Everyone here wins.
ON THE AUBURN TIP: Freshman starter Taylor Thompson, he of the one SEC start, has been moved into the No. 2 spot in the rotation. Sophomore Justin Bristow, he of NO conference starts, now is in the No. 3 hole.
I still think Auburn has a chance to get back into the postseason picture. There are enough leaders, bats and arms (though they're scattered all over the place) to make this an above-average team. Tiger fans oughtn't give up too quickly here.
ON THE NON-AUBURN TIP: I love Allen Iverson. He's been my favorite NBA player since he left Georgetown early for the draft. His classic rant about practice remains one of my favorite moments in sports history.
I even captured the footage from YouTube, turned it into an MP3 file and listen to it while I work out each morning. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you definitely want to check this.
ON THE BASEBALL TIP: Some of you all recall the days when I wrote a fantasy baseball column on Sundays during the season. I enjoyed it quite a bit. Unfortunately, some readers who enjoyed my information were guys in my various leagues. I ceased the column after the 2003 season.
I'm still totally into baseball. I cannot muffle my enthusiasm much longer.
So as a release, let me go through a few things that have piqued my interest through the first five days of the season:
Back in the swing
Hey everyone. It's been a pretty bust few weeks for me personally, which has precluded me from blogging much. I plan to change that now.
A couple things we need to discuss up front:
*Our sports editor, Ben Thomas, recently announced plans to leave for the (Mobile) Press-Register. That's a sad thing for me and for the readers. Ben is a cool dude, a calm leader and someone who made our section better during his three or four years as SE. He also is an Auburn guy. I know you AU fans keep an eye on that kind of thing. I'm guessing Ben's former assistant SE, L.C. Johnson, will be the next guy in line. You all will like L.C. because he values college coverage. That means more Auburn stuff in the paper.
*I'm coaching a mini soccer team two nights per week. We don't keep records. We're 1-2, though both losses were by one goal. We won 6-1 in our last game, though, which I believe is a sign of things to come. I'm supposed to be chronicling the coaching experience in the paper, but things haven't yet come together. We're still in the process of building a new recreational sports page.
*What is wrong with the baseball team? Nothing really. They lost their first eight SEC games before taking a game from Ole Miss last Sunday. Former St. James ace Taylor Thompson was the first Auburn pitcher to earn an SEC win since April 2006.
I think the team has enough talent to finish 5th or 6th in the league. I want to say coach Tommy Slater is safe -- he's a real asset to that athletic department, in my opinion -- but another miserable SEC record might be the final straw. It's too early to speculate. If Auburn finishes 14-16 in the league, it'll probably qualify for Hoover and everything will be fine.
*Expectations for the football team are too high -- based on some things I've heard from AU fans lately. This is not a particularly powerful team. Guys like Lee Ziemba, Michael McNeil and Chris Slaughter will have to be significant contributors for this team to contend in the SEC West. Relying on freshmen is generally a bad sign. Nine wins is a reasonable goal. Eleven? Seems unlikely to me.
*Jeff Lebo signed a 7-foot guy the other day, junior Boubacar Sylla from Simi Valley, Calif. He's averaging 2 points and 3 rebounds per game right now as a backup. The starter is headed to Rutgers. Lebo said he was dead-set on getting a big man and, well, Sylla is big. Not sure how good he is. He's tall.
*It'll be interesting (to me) to see who all returns for coach Nell Fortner's fourth season. There's talk that PG Whitney Boddie, whom I consider the team's best player, may be pushed to either take her responsibilities more seriously or leave the program. She's been suspended a few times for relatively minor off-the-court issues.
Boddie has shortcomings. Her shot selection isn't the best. Her inability to stay out of trouble is a concern.
Here's the upside: Boddie hates losing. I can't say that for every player on the roster. At least Boddie gives consistent effort on the floor, and plays every game like it's her last night. I think that's critical.
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