Friday, May 30, 2008

Jeff Conine Trades Glove For Running Shoes, Freestyle Stroke and Bicycle

If you've been wondering what former Major Leaguer Jeff Conine has been up to since retiring, then this post is for you! If you haven't, well I'm not sure how you ended up here but there are a variety of other topics for you to peruse. Pick one, and enjoy your stay.

After retiring in March, Conine decided to pursue something much less intense and a lot more relaxing. You know, something like a triathalon.

When Jeff Conine retired in March after a 17-year career in Major League Baseball, his athletic pursuits did not end.

They just took a different turn, which will lead Conine, 41, to the 2008 Ford Ironman World Championship triathlon on Oct. 11 in Hawaii.

"My goal is to cross the line in Kona under my own power," Conine said. "It's a lifetime achievement right there and I'll probably do some small [triathlons] after that, but that's going to be the feather and the cap right there."

In preparation for the Ironman's 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run, Conine competed in the St. Anthony's Triathlon in St. Petersburg last month and the Ford Ironman 70.3 Florida at Walt Disney World this past weekend.

Conine has always been a versatile athlete. It's what made him so successful as a Major League ballplayer. It's also why there's a good chance of him achieving his goal of crossing that finish line under his own power.

Keith Brumbaugh, Getting Closer To The NBA Everyday

I've covered the saga of Keith Brumbaugh on quite a few occasions. When that first post was written, almost two years ago, it seemed that Brumbaugh had become another talented basketball player that couldn't stay out of trouble off of the court. However, since that arrest he's gotten his life back on track, tallied good numbers while playing for Hillsborough Community College and declared for the NBA Draft. On Wednesday night he took another big step forward by participating in the NBA Pre-Draft Camp, and putting in a good showing.

This is the week Brumbaugh has been waiting for, the week he was supposed to have three years ago, when he was a can't-miss high school senior out of DeLand hoping to show pro scouts and general managers how much talent he had in his 6-foot-9 inch body.

The four-day 2008 NBA Pre-Draft Camp is going on here at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex, and Brumbaugh is finally getting his chance to go up against top talent.

Wednesday night, he looked terrific in his first game at the camp, hitting three of four shots and grabbing four rebounds in his 14 minutes of action.

Yes, Brumbaugh has made some mistakes, and some people will probably always hold those against him. However, there is something powerful about seeing someone make the most out of a second chance, and it appears that Brumbaugh is doing just that.
What stood out most was the happy-go-lucky, self-deprecating man who looked like he was having more fun than anybody else in the gym. Gone seems to be the truculent, scowling kid who was in trouble with the law for much of 2005-2007.

This Keith Brumbaugh couldn't be happier to be getting another chance.

"I mean, I look around here and I'm just so happy to be doing anything that's associated with the NBA, like playing in this camp," he said Wednesday night, smiling and laughing his way through a 20-minute interview. "Whether I make the NBA or not, I'm not worried about it. I just feel so lucky to be here with these great players, and get a chance to play."

Currently, he's projected as a second round pick, and is supposedly getting some serious looks from the San Antonio Spurs. Getting drafted, after everything he put himself through, would be a great accomplishment for Brumbaugh. Hopefully he makes the most of this opportunity, and can go on to become the player many people thought he would when he was selected as Florida's Mr. Basketball in 2005.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Rooting For "The Big Ticket"

I've always been a fan of Kevin Garnett. During his years in Minnesota, I saw him as an extremely talented player that never had a great ensemble cast. He was asked to do a lot, and seemingly left everything he had out on the court every night. Over time, it appeared that he would become another great player that never won a championship. However, when he was traded to Boston the prospects for that improved, and now here he is just one win away from his first NBA Finals appearance. Though, it's taken him 13 seasons to reach this point. However, in that time he has racked up some impressive statistics.

Garnett's been selected as an All-Star for 11 out of his 13 seasons. The only two seasons where he wasn't chosen as an All-Star were '95-'96, his rookie year, and '98-'99, when there was no All-Star game due to the lockout.

He was selected as the League MVP in '03-'04.

He's been ranked in the top 10 in defensive rebounds over the past 10 seasons, and is currently second among active players and eighth among all NBA players.

He's also been ranked in the top 10 in total rebounds over the past 10 seasons, and is currently third among active players and 25th among all NBA players.

He lead the league in total points during his MVP season in '03-'04, and is ranked fourth among active players with 20,378 points. That total is good enough to have him ranked 31st among all NBA players.

Garnett is currently eighth among active players with 1,665 blocks, and is ranked 23rd among career NBA players.

He's also averaged 49.4% shooting from the field, 78.1% from the free throw line and 37.9 minutes per game for his career.

All in all, Garnett has put up solid numbers year in and year out. Unfortunately, the biggest areas that are lacking are playoff games played, 66 as of right now, and championships, 0 as this entry is being posted. For comparison, one of Garnett's opponents in the Eastern Conference Finals, Tayshaun Prince, has tallied 113 playoff games and an NBA Championship in just 6 years. Hopefully, Garnett can pull even in the title category over the next few weeks.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

An SEC Network? Yes please!

College football spring meetings aren't always the most exciting events, though they can help bridge the void between spring practice and summer workouts. This year's SEC meetings, however have provided fans of the conference with something to think about regarding television coverage. That's right, they might be able to enjoy their very own TV network.

The league's contracts with its network partners expire in the next year, prompting SEC leadership to start preliminary negotiations as to whether to extend those deals or create a new plan for SEC sports on television.

"All that stuff is very much on the table right now," UF Athletic Director Jeremy Foley said. "Where it stands, how viable it is, time will tell."

League officials continue to study the feasibility of an SEC Network, which could launch as soon as the fall of 2009. The channel could be modeled upon similar endeavors by the NFL, the Big Ten and the Mountain West Conference.

Raycom Sports executive producer Jimmy Rayburn said Tuesday he expects the league to decide on a channel by the end of this calendar year. Regardless of that decision, Rayburn said he expects the SEC to maintain working deals with major national networks, likely CBS and ESPN. If an SEC Network becomes reality, Raycom could help produce and distribute games, as it does now for the league.

Obviously, making the decision on having the channel at all is a big first step, but that would surely be followed with lengthy discussions on how it's going to be carried. So far, the Big 10 Network hasn't had the easiest time with respect to carriage rights. Though, the SEC is probably a more widely popular conference, and would likely have an easier time being priced reasonably on a variety of broadcast companies' tiers. Or maybe the Big 10 has had a problem because their commissioner, Jim Delaney, is a jerk. Whatever the case may be, having a network fully devoted to SEC sports would be an awesome thing. Though, the cost of replacing TV's because of the channel's awesomeness destroying them could get up there.

SEC Network set to launch in 3...2...1...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Recreational Racers Feeling The Effects Of Higher Fuel Prices

At the present time, most of us are feeling the effects of higher fuel prices. Whether you're driving an economical four-banger, or a gas addicted SUV chances are you're paying more per fill-up than you did even a few months ago. However, some of us get hit twice, or more, because of the hobbies we enjoy. Such is the case with the people who engage in the various types of autoracing. Oftentimes, they use race fuel which at some tracks has moved up to $10 per gallon.

With the Memorial Day weekend right around the corner, many folks will be heading to local lakes and rivers.

The good news: Gas prices at various marinas are not that far out of step from what motorists pay at the pump. But if your hobby is car racing, that's a different story.

Weekend racers have to take a heavy gulp before they fill up these days, WLKY television in Louisville, Ky., reported.

Sunoco racing fuel at the Salem Speedway costs an eye-popping $7.75 a gallon.

"We've seen a pretty dramatic increase ourselves. Just in the last week we saw a 40-cent increase from our supplier," said Aaron Baum of Baum Racing Supply. "But we're still a reasonable priced gas compared to other race tracks across the country. We're seeing upwards of $10 at some race tracks."

The double hit comes when the racers trailer the car to track because they're paying to get it there and back, and also to run it at the event. Eventhough the prices seem high, they've increased in line with the way regular fuel has for the most part. Five years ago those same racers were probably paying between $3-$4 per gallon for race fuel, and $1.60-$2.00 for non-race gas. And to think that racing used to be considered an expensive hobby. Now it's become an extravagant one.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Why Every NBA Fan Should Be Rooting For The Hornets Over The Spurs

I'm not the biggest fan of NBA basketball. For the most part, I find it tedious to watch and not all that exciting. To me, college basketball is a lot more entertaining. However, I usually try to catch some of the NBA playoffs and the Finals. That is, if they're worth watching. Last year's was somewhat worth it to me because of LeBron, but this year's won't be if the Spurs make a repeat trip.

Don't get me wrong, the Spurs are a good team. They're seemingly a "nice" team. If you wanted your kid to idolize an athlete(and who doesn't?!?), the Spurs have a few on their roster. However, they are boring as hell to watch. Sure, they're fundamentally sound. Bring the ball over halfcourt, set up the offense, pass it into Duncan. Either he shoots it, or kicks it out to someone else for a jumpshot. They run it like clockwork on just about every trip down the floor. And you know what? It bores me to death. I actually feel like I have to work to watch them play a basketball game. And sports are supposed to be an enjoyable distraction. Not another job. Fortunately, there is still hope for this year's NBA Finals. It comes in the form of the New Orleans Hornets.

Granted, if they make the Finals we're going to hear a billion stories about the rebuilding of New Orleans, and how the basketball team's success is such an inspiration. Yes, it would be a great thing for the city, though I'm sure there are quite a few other people in New Orleans that inspire just as much, if not more, and they never get any media coverage. But I would welcome those stories if it meant that I got to see Chris Paul, David West and their teammates running the floor instead of Parker, Duncan, Ginobli, etc. setting up their vanilla offense over and over again. Boring.

Seriously, if NBA fans thought last year's TV ratings for the Finals were low, all they will have to do is wait for this year's matchup to feature San Antonio and a team other than the Celtics(Garnett in the Finals will draw viewers). It's no secret that the NBA struggles in TV viewership when compared with the NFL. And another "boring" NBA Finals featuring the San Antonio Spurs isn't going to help. So, if you really want the league to put out the most exciting, watchable product you'll be rooting for the New Orleans Hornets on Monday night.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Detroit Watches As Orlando Eliminates Themselves

For the most part, the Orlando Magic did not look like they really wanted to win Game 5 against the Detroit Pistons last night. Sure, they held a 9 point lead heading into the fourth quarter and had battled back after falling behind several times, but they always countered those positives with bonehead plays. Take these two statistics for example:

21 turnovers. 16-28(57.1%) free throw shooting.

Alone, those are pretty horrendous numbers. When you compare them against Detroit's they look even worse.

3 turnovers. 28-32(87.5%) free throw shooting.

The worst part is that Detroit didn't shoot the ball extremely well, 36.1% field goal percentage(Orlando shot 48.4%), and they were significantly less accurate behind the three point line than Orlando, 21.4% versus 36.4%. Many times the Pistons didn't even have to play tough defense against Orlando because the Magic were content to move the ball across halfcourt then fire it out of bounds. And it seemed only fitting that Hedo Turkoglu, one of the most careless ballhandlers of the night, would get blocked in posterizing fashion as he drove the lane for a dunk in the waning seconds. Yeah, that's a great way to end the season. You're only going to see that replayed about a billion times.

In the end, Coach Van Gundy was right when he told the team at halftime that they were beating themselves. They couldn't make the easiest shot on the court(they're free!), and refused to protect the ball. Honestly, Detroit probably could have missed the entire game, and Orlando still would have found a way to hand them the game and ultimately the series.

Monday, May 12, 2008

SEC Football, A Great Icebreaker

I would like to think that there are a number of topics that I could conversate on fairly well. However, being that I'm a sportsfan anything related to sports is obviously much more in my comfort zone. And seeing as how I'm a college football fan, especially SEC football, anything falling within that realm is pretty easy for me to talk about. Which is a good thing when you meet someone(read: someone whose opinion of you is important) for the first time who is also an SEC football fan.

Going into the situation I knew that the other person was an Auburn graduate, and figured that they were probably a fan of Auburn Tigers football. So, I decided that the best thing to do was to let them know that I was a graduate of the University of Florida. Of course, the first thing I got in response was a reminder that the Tigers had defeated the Gators the past two seasons. Though, it was obviously good-natured. Just two SEC football fans interacting the way we do.

From there, the conversation lead to Tebow, Tray Blackmon, spread offenses, Al Borges' departure and Auburn's quarterback situation. Topics that, to other people, probably seem mundane, but are of the utmost importance to the two fans of those respective teams. Eventually, the conversation moved along to other topics, but that shared enthusiasm for SEC football definitely got it off to a good start.

You see, finding someone to discuss any aspect of college football with during the offseason is a very welcome thing, but when it's with someone whose opinion you value it's great to have that as a lead-in to other, more important(yes SEC football fans, there are more important things...gasp), topics.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Tim Montgomery Could Be Waiting In The Blocks For A Long, Long Time

A couple of years ago, Tim Montgomery was on top of the world as far as running track is concerned. He had won some medals participating in relay events, and had broken Maurice Greene's 100m world record. Thereby earning the title of the "Fastest Man on Earth". Due to that success he was eventually cast in a Nike commercial.

Ah, but if the Ben Jonson's, Marion Joneses, and Katerina Thanou's of the world have taught us anything it's that the life of a track and field star isn't always great. Unfortunately, Montgomery has shown that to be the case more than once.

The first big incident came in December of 2005 when Montgomery was hit with a two year ban for doping, and had all of his records since March 31, 2001 nullified. That included his 100m world record.

Less than a year later, he was arrested for cashing fradulent checks as part of a money laundering scheme. He plead guily to those charges, and is waiting to be sentenced.

Then, this past Monday Montgomery appeared in court to answer the accusations that he sold a confidential informant 111 grams of heroin. Montgomery entered a plea of not guilty, and his trial has been set for July 9. Allegedly, Montgomery made four seperate transactions with the informant while authorities recorded audio and videotaped.

Whether or not Montgomery really did deal heroin remains to be seen, but I imagine that he wishes he could throw on a pair of Nikes and haul ass like he did in his commercial.

Barry Bonds' Agent Surprised By Lack Of Offers

Apparently, Barry Bonds and the players association feel strongly enough about the lack of interest in his skills that the issue of collusion has come up. It's been inferred that the San Francisco Giants front office may have made a concerted effort to keep Bonds from playing this season.

The players' association has expressed concern to the baseball commissioner's office over the lack of offers to Barry Bonds, asking for additional information about the offseason's free-agent market.

The union did not go as far as to file a collusion grievance on behalf of the 43-year-old outfielder, who remains unsigned since the San Francisco Giants decided not to make him an offer last year and he became a free agent.

"We've raised both general concerns and some player specific concerns," Michael Weiner, the union's general counsel, said Tuesday.

Weiner said the only player the union specifically brought up in its discussions with the commissioner's office was Bonds, who repeatedly has said he wants to play a 23rd major league season.

"I haven't received any offers on Barry since he became a free agent," said Bonds' agent, Jeff Borris.

Management has repeatedly said there has been no concerted effort against Bonds.

"The union notified us that it was investigating potential collusion regarding Barry Bonds and asked for information, and we told them that there was absolutely no collusion with respect to Barry Bonds or any other free agent," said Dan Halem, MLB senior vice president and general labor counsel. "We are aware of no facts which would support a collusion claim regarding Bonds or any other free agents."

Collusion? What about BALCO? Or that Bonds is a player that many feel has put together a tainted record? Certainly, those have nothing to do with it.

Actually, while I would love to believe that the other MLB franchises are freezing Bonds out because of his past actions, I'm also smart enough to realize that at the end of the day professional baseball is a business. Eventually, some team will come calling whether it's because of his power hitting, or because he will draw some fans to the stadium. Bonds will sign on the dotted line, and continue adding to his legacy, for better or worse.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Kid Removes Favre Jersey, Immediately Considers Donning New One

How this kid made it four years without succumbing to ridicule and asskickings I'll never know, but somehow he did. And what does he have to show for it? A tattered Brett Favre jersey, and the knowledge that people everywhere think he's weird.

Finally, David Witthoft shunned his Brett Favre jersey for the first time in 1,581 days.

The Ridgefield, Conn. boy, 12, wore the No. 4 jersey every day since receiving it as a gift for Christmas in 2003. David's father, Chuck Witthoft, said Monday that his son's last day wearing the jersey was April 23 — his 12th birthday.

Witthoft conceded his son was starting to become more concerned about his appearance after the jersey barely came down to his belt line.

Witthoft first gained national attention three years ago, and attended his first Packers game in December. He's also planning to attend the Sept. 8 game when the Packers retire Favre's No. 4.

His mother, Carolyn, had washed the jersey every other day and mended it when needed.

Do you hear that Brett? You have to come back! The kids and their wardrobes need you! Oh, you were planning on it already? Nevermind then.

The Orlando Magic Just Can't Catch A Break

As if the weird clock management by the officials in Game 2 against the Detroit Pistons wasn't bad enough, the Orlando Magic's plane had to make an emergency landing due to mechanical problems.

The Orlando Magic lost Monday night to the Detroit Pistons 100-93 in the NBA playoffs but they had a bigger scare after that.

As they flew back to Orlando late Monday, the Magic's corporate jet -- a Boeing 737-300 that holds 42 passengers -- had mechanical problems and an engine oil indicator light came on.

"We encountered a mechanical problem after departing from Detroit, and as a precautionary measure we landed in Cincinnati where we spent the night," said Joel Glass, vice president of communications for the Magic. "Everyone is safe and we look forward to returning home this morning."

While everything is seemingly fine with their plane, everything is not fine with respect to their play against the Pistons.

Game 1, in which the Magic were blown out by 18 points, featured Orlando shooting a woeful 13% from 3-point range. They also committed 13 turnovers, and shot just 50% from the free throw line.

In their second game of the series, the Magic improved their 3-point and free throw shooting, making 42% and 78% respectively. However, they still committed 19 turnovers.

So far, Orlando has turned the ball over 32 times, while Detroit has committed just 14 turnovers.

If they're unable to hold on to the ball against a talented team like the Pistons, then they won't have to worry about jet problems since it will be grounded for a few months anyway.

Friday, May 02, 2008

It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere - Raconteurs Edition

Since it's Friday, and the end of the workweek for most people, we think that you should be provided with a post that takes the edge off so to speak. Because it's going to be random and hopefully humorous, that means that it won't always be sports related. It will also pop up at any time on Friday.

The new Raconteurs is pretty good, and it's been in heavy rotation on my iPod. So, I figured that they should get their own "It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere" post since some of the blogs posted this week were done with them rocking out in the background.

First, we get the live version of "Consolers of the Lonely". My favorite track off of the new cd:

Sweet guitar riffs + kickass drum work + well flowing lyrics = Awesome!

But if you really want to kickstart your weekend might I suggest their cover of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy"? You'll be smashing the phone, and hurling your Rolodex in no time!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Ron Zook, Overvalued Again

You think gas is expensive? What about NCAA rugs? Well, not all of them, but two in particular. Two that are tied together by one individual.
Yes, most of the rugs pictured are on sale starting at a mere $10.50. Except for Arkansas of course because they have to cover that Petrino contract somehow. However, the Illinois and Florida rugs are $105.00. Though, that's a steal because they originally cost $299.99! With that type of price cut you can afford to buy two. One for the front door, and one for the room that was going to be your kid's but changed after your wife tired of your college football obession and hauled ass. Otherwise known as the "common area" of your new studio apartment.

So who is blame for this obvious overvaluing of rugs? Why Coach Ron Zook of course!

Oh sure, he'll dazzle you with talk of quality construction, and how this year's model is so much improved over last year's. He'll let you know that this a high quality, durable item, and that he stands behind it 100%. And The Zooker will ask you to be patient with the shipping because these things take time. But after a few weeks you'll notice that the edges are beginning to fray, and that it's really not all that different from the previous models. In fact, it's almost worse because he really got your hopes up that this time it would be different. In the end, you'll be pissed because after dropping some serious coin on what should have been a badass rug for your midlife crisis bachelor pad you're stuck with an overvalued piece of shit that everyone makes fun of.

So, save yourself the heartache and buy something else. Might I suggest the Syracuse rug? At least the expectations are low when you buy that model.