Monday, September 19, 2005

MLB playoff races and how much UK football stinks.

It’s grab bag time. I have a few things I want to write about so in the immortal words of the greatest sports caster in history, Champ Kind, “Let’s Hunt.”

Baseball is heating up

Is it me or does this week seem like the last? In the game of baseball it does. Each of the last few weeks we seem to have teams taking the lead, and then giving it up, and back and forth. And that is just the battle for the wild card. This baseball season is becoming one of the most competitive in recent memory; although I’m sure I said the same thing last year at this time.

The way I see it, 4 of the 6 divisions are still up for grabs. The two that I think are sealed up? They are both in the National League, the St. Louis Cardinals had the Central sown up months ago and the Atlanta Braves, while they only have a 5 game lead, they win their division every year. It doesn’t pay to bet against a stone cold lead pipe lock.

The other divisions are up for grabs and I can see in my crystal ball that a couple of teams that are leading now, will not be in October. I have a bad, bad feeling that the Chicago White Sox are going to end up in the wild card battle in a week or so. The White Sox, as of this writing, have given up 10 games of their 13 game lead they had on the Cleveland Indians. The Indians are arguably the best team in the American League right now and they have a few games left with the White Sox. I believe that Cleveland will take that division by the end of the season and go into the playoffs as Central Division champs instead of the wild card.

While that will be the big collapse of the season, I have a feeling that the American League East will come down to the last weekend, but I see both the Yanks and the Red Sox making the playoffs. Both teams are just too good for one of them to not make the playoffs, but I do not see either winning the World Series.The Angels and A’s will have to fight it out for one playoff spot and I just feel in my gut that the Angels will pull this one out and send the A’s home. The Angels have got some decent pitching and with Vladimir Guerrero and Garret Anderson, they will have enough firepower to put some distance between them and the A’s.

In the National League things are pretty much set, except the horrendously horrible NL West. The Sand Diego Padres have a 5 game lead, but they are terrible and the San Francisco Giants have gotten Barry Bonds back. I am not sure if having Bonds can help the Giants make up 5 games in two weeks, but it can’t hurt. I see the Padres holding on and getting swept right out of the first round of the playoffs. Did I mention the NL West was not good?

As for the NL wild card? I am not sure, there are so many teams that deserve to win and could easily go to the World Series. The two teams I believe it will come down to are the Houston Astros and the Florida Marlins. Just because I like Roger Clemens and I would like to see him in the playoffs, I will go with the Astros to win the wild card.

I reserve the right to change my predictions in a week or so, but until then, that is how I see things heading into the playoffs.

UK football, what’s up with that?

The UK Wildcats took on hated rivals Indiana University this past Saturday and for some reason I had hope that UK would win the game. My hopes were quickly dashed as I saw one of the most unbelievable things I have ever seen in a football game.

At the end of the first half, UK had a first and goal opportunity with about a minute left. The Cats ran a play that was sniffed out pretty quickly and lost some yardage. UK had second and goal and they were on the 12 yard line. This is not an impossible mission.

What does UK do? Do they run it up the middle and score a TD? No. Do they throw a nice little twelve yard TD pass? No. Do they take a knee, TWICE, and let the time run out? YES! I turned into the late Joe Buck; I didn’t believe what I just saw. I couldn’t hear the announcers so I keep thinking there was a good reason for not even kicking a field goal, but for the life of me, I can’t think of one.

I can see now that that glimmer of hope that I saw in the UK vs. U of L game was fleeting and false. UK seems to still be UK and things will never change. The Cats will be lucky if they can win 2 more games this season.

If you are going to cheat, cheat well.

I read an article about the whole UK and Claude Bassett fiasco and I wonder who’s zooming who? Bassett was a former assistant coach for the UK football team and he apparently got caught up in a recruiting scandal and now is suing the university because he claims they encouraged cheating.

I am not sure who to believe on this one. My cynical side wants to take over and argue that every major athletic program, whether it is football or basketball, cheats. There are no clean universities, except those that do not win.

But it isn’t that easy. If the university encouraged cheating and payoffs, then why didn’t the Wildcats win any games? If it weren’t for Vanderbilt, UK would be the worst football program in SEC history. I find it hard to believe that the UK football program couldn’t buy better players than they were getting for free. It doesn’t make any sense.

We may never know the truth for sure, but I believe in the ineptness of the UK football program. I believe that the university may have known things were going on, but did not encourage it. You would think that a university that was encouraging payoffs could afford better players with all of that UK basketball money floating around.

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