Friday, February 15, 2008

Longtime Plain Dealer sports reporter Chuck Heaton dies

Longtime Cleveland Plain Dealer sports writer Chuck Heaton died on Thursday...for those who are not from N.E. Ohio, they may know Heaton's daughter, Patricia, who starred on the television show "Everybody Loves Raymond"....

His son Michael, who works for The Plain Dealer, recalls coming into the kitchen of their Bay Village home and seeing his father listening to the radio to an Indians game, typing a story, a beer at his side...

When Heaton retired, he held the No.1 card in the Baseball Writers Association of America, meaning he had the longest working tenure of any baseball writer in the country....

Below are some links about Heaton...

  • Bob Dolgan

  • Mary Kay Cabot

  • Terry Pluto

  • Tony Grossi

  • Thursday, February 14, 2008

    Beers with bloggers: Interview with Girls Gone Sports

    Today I start a new feature of interviewing fellow bloggers...and I start off with two women who do the blog ...Girls Gone Sports ....Lauren (whose photo is on the left) is from Dallas writes that she is "a short girl, however, what I lack in height I make up for in breast."....her co-blogger is Mandy (below) who is 23-years-old and a native of Pittsburgh...Mandy now lives in Texas...

    Before I begin, I would like to thank Mandy and Lauren for taking the time to is much appreciated...

    Q1. First off, why did you ladies decide to start a blog that focuses on sports?
    Mandy - We just loved the sports humor blogs we read and decided that we wanted to do it too. That, and we have incredibly overinflated egos and we thought that everyone else would find us as funny and insightful as we find ourselves.

    Lauren – Yeah, we figured that we had just as much knowledge and opinions on stuff and our sex wasn't as represented in the blog world. Therefore we decided we'd scream until our blog was read.

    Q2.Before I go any further, I have to ask, whose chest is that on the top of your blog page? How did you choose between the two of you, whose chest to use for the photo?
    M - A lady never poses topless and tells.
    L – Where are your manners sir?

    Q3. This question is for Mandy. I read that even though you currently live in Texas, you are a native of Pittsburgh. What are your thoughts of the Steelers this past season under new head coach Mike Tomlin?
    M - I saw a lot of promising stuff under Mike Tomlin. The fact that as a rookie coach he managed to transform an 8-8 team plagued with injuries, an awful O-line and a dismal special teams unit into division champs was pretty darn impressive. The regime change certainly seemed to do Ben Roethlisberger good. However, I think Tomlin needs to gain better control over his players (we got killed by stupid penalties this season and he allowed that fracas with the Patriots to happen) and make some smarter play calling in high pressure situations (the 3 runs and out during the Steelers' final drive of the Jaguars playoff game is a good example of some of his not so great play calling).

    Q4. For you Lauren, you write that you are a fan of all Dallas teams. So, what is your opinion of Tony Romo? The guy gets all this publicity, but he has yet to win a playoff game. Is he the right quarterback to lead the Cowboys to a Super Bowl?
    L – Well, I don't know if he is the right guy but he's the guy we got. I support him and have all my eggs in his basket. A lot of people want to rag on him for his no winning playoff games, and the stupid mistakes he's made on the field. But he also seems to make miracles happen on there too (like the crazy "kick the bad snap" and still get away with the win during the Rams game). I do think he gets way to much publicity for his off the field antics and I think that there are other players on the team that should be given more of the spotlight.

    Q5. This is for both of you, both Pitt and Texas have good basketball teams this year who will make the Big Dance. Right now, who are your picks for the Final Four?
    M - Despite the fact that I came in 2nd in the Pittsburgh Celebrity NCAA Pool last year, I don't follow college hoops and I'm really awful at this stuff. So, umm... Memphis, UCLA, Kansas, Georgetown?

    L- In my Facebook pool I just picked teams that had the coolest mascots and/or hottest players.

    Q6. I have to get a girl's opinion, who do you think are the hottest female athletes out there today?
    M - The ladies of tennis - Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic, Maria Kirilenko, Daniela Hantuchova - kind of have a corner on the market, but I think Milene Domingues, Tanith Belbin and Missy Gibson need some love too.
    L – The ladies of American Gladiators.

    Q7. So Lauren, you write that Erin Andrews and you are from the sorority. Did you ever meet her? If so, tell all us men about her.
    L – Um no. I was a ZTA at a school in Texas, she was one in Florida. But we're all sisters. (GAG)

    Q8. Real quick - you have to choose just one for a hot date - Tom Brady, Tony Romo, or Jeremy Shockey?
    M - Hmmm...which is worse - an illegitimate child, an association with a Cowboy, or whatever V.D. Shockey's carrying? I guess I'll go with Tom Brady. Those are probably some pretty sweet child support checks.
    L – Can I choose none of the above?

    Q9. Growing up, did either of you play sports? How did you learn about sports - father or a brother?
    M - I had quite an illustrious basketball career in middle school/high school. They called me Mandy Jordan. True story. My entire family watched the Steelers growing up, so I couldn't really say who introduced me to sports, but football was definitely the first sport I was interested in. I'm the biggest sports fan in my family by far; my brothers could care less.

    L – This may be a shock to you but ladies don't really need that male influence in their life to learn about sports. Yes I have a father that loves football and a brother who played in high school, but I learned about sports on my own. We have fully functioning brains that are completely capable of forming sporting opinions just like the opposite sex. My grandmother loves baseball and she got me my first tennis racquet. I guess if anything my mom was the one who encouraged me to learn about sports when I was younger. I took dance for 9 years and got tired of it so she let me pick some other kind of activity to do seeing as how I had no desire to be a cheerleader like she was.

    Q10. Last question, what is the worst part about blogging?
    M - Well, we don't earn much money off the blog, so unfortunately it takes a backseat to our day jobs. It's hard for us to compete with the "pro" bloggers out there and keep up a readership when we can only post once or twice a day. But we try to keep posting regularly for the few loyal readers that we have. They rightfully berated us back into blogging when we took a hiatus at the end of last year.

    L- I agree with what Mandy said. The money thing is a problem and it's hard to balance school, work and the blog everyday. There are so many blogs out there so it's tough to compete. Staying fresh and coming up with new things that no one else is doing can also be challenging, mainly because we both read a ton of other witty and creative writers out there that are trying to be just as clever and attention grabbing as we are. Hopefully one day someone will discover how awesome we are pay us to this or something equally as cool.

    Once again, I would like to thank Mandy and Lauren for their time....and I encourage everyone to check out their blog...

    Wednesday, February 13, 2008

    Five Good Questions with Joe Rexrode about Michigan State Basketball

    Today's Five Good Questions is with Joe Rexrode of the Lansing State Journal.....Joe took the time to respond to some questions about Michigan State basketball.....

    Q1. How good is this Michigan State team compared to some of coach Tom Izzo's other great teams?
    A. This team is a cut below Izzo's best teams. It certainly doesn't compare with the 1999-2001 squads that went to three straight Final Fours and won the 2000 national title. That team was led by Mateen Cleaves, of course, and the 2001 team was Izzo's most talented, with Jason Richardson as a sophomore, Charlie Bell as a senior and Zach Randolph as a one-and-done freshman. This team could match up with the 2004-05 Final Four team (Shannon Brown, Maurice Ager, Paul Davis), but as of yet it does not deserve that comparison. The talent and depth are there, the chemistry is not.

    Q2. What areas must they improve upon?
    A. Turnovers have been a problem. It's never an Izzo strength because he prefers an up-tempo style of play, but this team has been especially sloppy at times. Other than that, the Spartans defend, rebound and shoot well, and they get assists on nearly 70 percent of their baskets, a very impressive number that suggest unselfishness. But this team has been inconsistent. Drew Neitzel's (photo) shot is there one game, gone the next. He's playing well overall -- near the lead nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio -- but MSU needs him to hit shots. Raymar Morgan was dominant in the nonleague season, but he has been erratic and foul-prone in Big Ten play. The big men are up and down. And the three freshman perimeter players are big helps on offense, liabilities too often on defense. The pieces are there, but a lot of things need to come together soon if this team is going to reach its potential.

    Q3. How do you see the Spartans match-up against the likes of a Memphis or Duke?
    A. Those two teams, in particular, would be tough matchups because they're filled with big perimeter players who can drive to the basket. MSU would match up much better with top teams such as UCLA (which edged MSU in November after trailing by 13) and North Carolina. The Spartans are better off against teams with "two big" lineups because MSU has frontcourt depth. And although Raymar Morgan is an effective power forward in a small lineup, that lineup doesn't work unless the freshmen are playing well. Freshmen Chris Allen and Durrell Summers bring a lot of firepower off the bench. Their defensive progress in the next month will have a lot to say about how MSU does in March. In general, when this team is playing its best it can hang with anybody. The UCLA game and a convincing win over Texas in December are indications of that.

    Q4. Do the Spartans still have a shot at a number 1 seed? If not, how high do you see them being seeded?
    A. It's not likely at this point. The Spartans would have to win out, or close to it, and get some help. I think they're in the 3-4 range right now, although their schedule finishes with several tough road games, which is a chance to move up.

    Q5. Real quick, at this moment, who are your Final Four teams? And why?
    A. Kansas. The most talented team. You've got to get it done this year, Bill Self. Memphis. Against my better judgment, but the Tigers have the chops to get to San Antonio. UCLA. When it comes down to it, the Bruins will get there because they defend. Tennessee. Should have been there a year ago. This team has tons of weapons, and Tyler Smith makes the difference.

    I want to thank Joe once again for his is much appreciated.....

    Tuesday, February 12, 2008

    Five Good Questions with Jeff Walker about Bob Knight

    Today’s Five Good Questions is with Jeff Walker of the Lubbock Avalanche Journal....Jeff covers Texas Tech basketball and was kind enough to respond concerning former Red Raider head coach Bob Knight and his sudden retirement....

    Q1. What is the feeling down in Lubbock now that Coach Knight has retired?
    A. Honestly, I don't know because the team has been on the road for two games this week. I think the general sentiment was shock ... not that it happened this year, but that it happened before the season ended. I think Pat has said and done some things in this short time that has most fans willing to keep an open mind about him.

    Q2. Coach Knight has a bad reputation in dealing with the media. How was your relations with him?
    A. He hated me. No, I'm kidding. We got along well. He treated me fairly and I believe I did the same.

    Q3. What did it mean to Texas Tech and its basketball program to have Bob Knight as its coach?
    A. I have been saying for quite some time that Bob Knight and Mike Leach have brought more exposure, more attention, more publicity to Texas Tech than anyone has before. Knight took four teams to the NCAA Tournament, brought repeated nationally televised games, while Leach has taken Tech to eight consecutive bowls -- two on New Year's Day -- and has an offense that is appealing to most.

    Q4.When he took the job at Texas Tech, many believed that Coach Knight had one good run left in him. Why did he have a difficult time taking the Red Raiders deep into the NCAA Tournament?
    A. If you aren't Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, et al, how many times do you really take a team deep into the NCAA Tournament? His team went to the Sweet 16 three years ago and was close to going to the Elite Eight. If you look at the history of Tech's program, one other coach (AD Gerald Myers) took Tech to as many as four NCAA Tournaments and he coached here for 20 years. Knight did it in six.

    Q5. Some media people up north here are ripping Coach Knight for "quitting on his team." What are your thoughts?
    A. I've found there are people that either like him or don't and your opinion probably won't change on that no matter what he does ... good or bad. His players have said they don't feel he quit on them, so if they don't feel that way, why should anyone else?

    Once again I would like to thank Jeff for his is much appreciated.....

    Monday, February 11, 2008

    This week's big games

    Here are some of the big games this week in college basketball....(the ranking is the latest RPI)

    #5 Kansas (22-1) @ #10 Texas (18-4)
    The Jayhawks will need their A game in Austin if they want to beat B.J. Augustin and the Horns...this is the only regular season meeting between these two...

    #12 Michigan State (20-3) @ #40 Purdue (19-5)
    Purdue has real quietly become a solid team in the Big 10...Sparty beat the Boilermakers 78-75 in early January...

    #20 Wisconsin (19-4) @ #35 Indiana (20-3)
    These two faced off on January 31st and the Badgers smoked Indiana 62-49...the Hoosiers are 20-3, but the strength of schedule (SOS) (ranked 131st) is what is holding them back in the RPI...this is the first of three straight big home games for IU...following the Badgers, Michigan State and Purdue come to Assembly Hall...

    #54 Maryland (16-8) @ #2 Duke (21-1)
    It doesn't matter what the records are when these two play each other...Maryland hates Duke with a passion...the Terps lost to Duke 93-84 a few weeks back in a game in which they led most of the way...a win here for Maryland would ease a lot of concerns they may have come Selection Sunday...and remember, the Terps went into Chapel Hill and beat UNC earlier this season....

    Sunday, February 10, 2008

    Kansas Jayhawks - 20 years ago

    It has been 20 years since head coach Larry Brown and All-American Danny Manning led the Kansas Jayhawks to the National Title in basketball.....the Lawrence (Kan) Journal World did a special anniversary feature on that title team....
  • Mark Fagan
  • Sunday Stories

    New York Times reporter John Branch writes how former N.Y. Giants general manager never stopped believing in Eli Manning..... "Accorsi paced in a tiny circle in front of his seat. Manning lurched the Giants forward in fits and starts. A fourth-down conversion moved the chains once. They moved again on the game's most memorable play, when Manning escaped the clutches of two pass rushers, then lobbed a wobbly pass that David Tyree caught 32 yards downfield by momentarily wedging the ball against his helmet with one hand." ....
  • John Branch

  • New York Times reporter Jack Curry writes how new Yankees manager Joe Girardi is dealing with his ailing father..... "As Girardi raved about embarking on a new beginning with the Yankees, he meandered into an emotional discussion about a possible ending. After Girardi drives to Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday for spring training, he is not sure when or if he will see his ailing father again." ....
  • Jack Curry

  • Los Angeles Times sports columnist Bill Plaschke writes that the time is right for the Dodgers to leave Dodgertown... "The Dodgers had 51 wonderful years in Dodgertown. The problem is, they've been there 61 years. Those good old days are long gone, and it only makes sense that the Dodgers disappear with them. Like an aging Brooklyn snowbird exchanging blank stares with a kid Los Angeles outfielder, the Dodgers and Vero Beach no longer fit. The Dodgers don't have many fans there. Their players no longer feel a connection there. Those 10-a.m.-back-home game broadcasts feel alien from there. Dodgertown has become less a "town" than a museum." ......
  • Bill Plaschke

  • Los Angeles Times reporter Chuck Culpepper travels to Barcelona, Spail to get the lowdown on the newest Laker - Pau Gasol..... "That's the fairy-tale name of the industrial, 80,000-strong suburb where Gasol's hands began their two-decade love affair with the basketball. That's where the fenced-in schoolyard of his childhood sits in a back corner of town, beyond the streets with local shops and the bus stops with "Juno" ads." ....
  • Chuck Culpepper

  • Washington Post reporter Daniel LeDuc writes how 2,500 people applied for jobs at the new Washington Nationals ballpark.... "Applicants began lining up more than three hours before the doors opened, stretching around the block; many people wore Nationals caps or shirts." ....
  • Daniel LeDuc

  • Washington Post reporter Les Carpenter writes about the late Sean Taylor - off the field.... "To those who knew him, Taylor's appearance at his great-grandmother's house was Sean: impulsive, mysterious and yet sincerely heartfelt." ....
  • Les Carpenter

  • Wonder whatever happened to Tonya Harding?.....well last night she was in Louisville....
  • Louisville Courier-Journal