STUFF

I'm not sure, but it seems to me that we have more drama at this point this year than last or any other I can recall with any accuracy. Actually, I can't remember beyond 40 minutes ago, but that just makes everything that much more fresh. As it is, even if 40 minutes later I'm going to forget what I just wrote, it still doesn't change the fact there's something interesting things going on.

Anyone got a needle? I'm getting ready for spring ball and I want to make sure I have my "A" game.

And I'm not even playing

The Barry Bonds fiasco continues, another book, another slew of steroid use and abuse, all with one of the most prolific home run hitters in the history of the game standing center field, so to speak, telling everyone to go screw themselves.

Well, at least he's consistent
This homer brought to you by Balco,
where your secret is safe


I don't know whether Bonds is so arrogant that he thinks he's above the rules or that he's so arrogant he thinks that regardless of how blatant his violations are said to be, he still thinks he'll coast through baseball, eventually out of it and right into the Hall of Fame.

He's right

First of all, don't think for a second that Bonds will ever and I do mean EVER say that he did indeed knowingly take steroids. Won't happen, even if you catch Bonds in a bathroom, holding the back of the syringe as he's throwing in a cocktail for a double-header.

If he ever did that, you could justify taking his records away, his lofty numbers away and Bonds himself would go from being hated for being an arrogant @#%$ to being hated for being an arrogant @#%$……..on steroids.

Bonds isn't about to do anything that will hurt Bonds.

Without that confession, though, what do you have? You have some books, which implicate him, ex-players who indict him and a fan base, that outside of the bay area, pretty much abhors everything the slugger is about.

And?

And nothing. That's it. You aren't going to get any resolution to this. Bonds is still going to be Bonds and he'll laugh all the way to the bank and into the Hall of Fame. Only Pete Rose was stupid enough to actually come out and admit he was wrong, but he couldn't sell any books if he didn't. Bonds doesn't need to sell any books, though. He's set for life, could retire right now and he's got the satisfaction of knowing what he knows and even if all the allegations are true, there's not a damn thing anyone can do about it.

For someone who has seemingly taken great satisfaction out of everyone else's dissatisfaction with him, this has to be almost funny. While everyone is up in arms about him, he's still getting paid and he'll more than likely still break one of sports' greatest records.

That's not justice to us, but that is justice in the world of professional sports and you can bet justice will be served.


When I hear about even the chance that the NFL might get rid of the salary cap, I actually shudder. Yeah, shudder. It's scary. I get this picture in my mind that George Steinbrenner will buy the Giants and go on a spending spree, trying to buy an NFL title.

That's what baseball is, though, you could argue that all the lack of a salary cap allows you is a shot at the playoffs, because when the playoffs hit, it really is anyone's game.

But the structure is what it is, small market teams having to rely on miracle years to pull it out and the rich get their pick of who they want and when.

What the NFL has is in my opinion the most perfect system around. It's the standard every other professional sport should follow. But there is just one problem.

"With the first pick in the
NFL Draft, I want............."
If I make the salary cap almost $100 million and only five or six teams in the league can actually afford to spend that much, how is that dramatically different from having no cap at all?

Sure, teams like the Cowboys, Giants and 49ers can afford it, but there are plenty of teams that can't. But even more than that, there are plenty of teams, even if they could, still wouldn't pay the money.

Cincinnati has been for years known as one of the more fickle teams in the league. Arizona has started to close the distance on that reputation, the frugal nature of their owners becoming almost legendary. Even in the day and age of revenue sharing, where all teams throw their money into a pot and split it equally, there are still plenty of organizations who evidently don't feel the need to use much of that pot to actually try and get some wins.

Listen, money doesn't buy championships. I don't like that argument – never have. Money can't buy continuity, the kind that the New England Patriots had when they were led by multi-Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady, who was a sixth round draft pick. Money can't buy heart, which you often see or hear about more with guys that don't make the big bucks. Is it because they don't make the big bucks they have heart? Doubtful, but regardless, in football, I'll give you T.O. and you can give me five overachievers making league minimum and who is closer to having a team?

The NFL needs the salary cap as does every other professional sport, but I would love to see them make some adjustments. First, lower it so that even the small market teams won't find themselves so far away, they can't even think of building a competitive team. And then make these teams spend the money, so they can't go 8-8 every year, knowing they will come out in the black, and that be good enough.

Much like anything, it's usually not the system that's screwed up, but the people running it. Well, this time I think it's a little of both.



How about Nebraska head coach Bill Callahan saying that Nebraska didn't want prim donnas and if you were one, you should just go to Kansas State?

Was that born of bitterness from the loss of quarterback Josh Freeman?

Probably

But I think there was a little more to it than just that.

If you want players to rally around you as a head coach, how do you do that beyond coaching them to wins? Well, one is that you are a presence to them off-the-field, available when someone might need that shoulder. Another is that in the midst of chaos, you are the defining voice of reason.

A big one, though, is when you go to bat for your players in the media or do something that would indicate you are defending one of your own.

There's nothing that gets respect quicker than someone willing to go to the mat for you.

There's all kinds of ways to do that, but as a head coach and as someone who had a crash course in media savvy with his time in the NFL, Bill Callahan is no dummy in how to relate to the masses.

He's charismatic, charming at times and the face he puts on for the Nebraska fans is one of being confident in what he's doing (sometimes too confident), but also someone very emotionally attached to the job.
Ron Prince - The greatest person
to come out of Omaha since Inga
Swenson.


That's quite a break from most of his predecessors over the last 30 years, interim head coach Bo Pelini notwithstanding. But if you recall one thing about Pelini, while he may not have had all that charm, he had one thing arguably more than any other coach on the team.

Loyalty

It was so much so, the rift in the locker room was enormous as Callahan came in, trying to segue from professional life to that of business-like amateurs. And a big reason for that was due to the fact that separation was when the chips were down and everyone was hacking on the team, Pelini was always the first to speak up and he did so emphatically.

Coach Callahan has done many of the same things, some of it vocally defending his kids, but another way of doing that is and this is more indirect in its psychology, but no less effective.

He picks fights

How about two years ago before the beginning of the season, when he talked about the new drill they would use, the "Oklahoma" drill and then quipped that it was named after his favorite team. And, of course, you can't forget the Hillbilly incident and while it's easy enough to explain as a sudden act of immaturity, he's got 18 to 22 year old kids looking at him like he did something they might do if they could.

And yes, the shot at Kansas State, which you KNOW he knew was going to be read all over this state, it would be pasted all over the internet and by today, it would probably be on the desk of Wildcat head coach Ron Prince himself, saying in no uncertain terms ‘bring it.'

You think players won't rally around that? You think fans won't rally around that? This is sports and while a fan would say if someone else did it, it was a classless act, which shows what kind of person they really are, the fans of that particular team rise up, are even more motivated and now everyone wants a little piece of purple, even before spring ball has begun.

The thing is now, you have to win.

I remember a line in "Bull Durham":, which illustrated the idea of perception and how it is fueled by not what and who you are, but instead what you do: "If you win 20 in the show, you can let the fungus grow back (on your shower shoes) and the press'll think you're colorful. Until you win 20 in the show, however, it means you are a slob."

That's the bottom line and no matter how colorful you are, creative in what you say or charismatic in your call-outs to teams across the country, you still have to put up a lot more wins than you do losses.

But based on the latest returns and Callahan's continuing show of moxie, it would seem he's well on his way.



Can someone please tell Roger Clemens to stay retired?

Which will come first, Clemens'
retirement or him being accepted
by the AARP?
Yeah, he's a great player and he could probably still win 15 games if he came back for his 124th year. But if there is one thing I don't like, it's one player after another, retiring, un-retiring, retiring again, only to come back and it's Sugar Ray Leonard all over again.

I'm a sports fan, damnit, and while I am not a huge Clemens' fan, I appreciate what he's done over his incredible career. I admire the man for how much he has had in the tank when most anyone else's tank has fallen off. He's a legend and a certain Hall of Famer.

All this retiring and re-retiring just takes some of the luster off, at least for me. No, he's not any worse, but most of the time, these players end up going out on a bad note. They come back one too many times and they pull a Muhammad Ali and go out on their back against Larry Holmes.

I don't want to see that. I don't want to see Lance Armstrong come back and go until he gets beat. I didn't want to see Michael Jordan come back and leave a legend, but with this asterisk, because he had the folly of playing for the Wizards.

I want to see the Rocky Marciano ending. I want to see a guy leave on top like Jim Brown did, in his prime, deciding to step away from the game.

Is that so bad?

I don't think so.

Roger, please stay retired.

Besides, your team sucks.



Speaking of basketball, it seems like only yesterday when the USA Olympic basketball team was humiliating the entire country with their lack of emotion, enthusiasm and apparent ability to shoot the
What is a nightmare was once actually a dream
come true.
basketball, as they took a dump in the Olympics, bowing out almost before it began.

To this day it's a black eye, because all these superstars got it handed to them by one team after another, laden with guys, who actually played like a team, thought like a team and didn't have to worry about which shoes they had on during the contest.

Now, we see the latest version of the Dream Team, led by none other than the ultimate dream, Kobe Bryant.

Yeah, I am feeling just giddy about this one.

I will give them credit for bringing in Chauncy Billups, though, because this guy actually WILL make you play like a team or whatever kind of team you have. Elton Brand was another good choice, as he is young enough to hopefully not be totally engrained with the professional way of thinking, but good enough, there probably isn't a team that can realistically match up.

But Kobe Bryant

Ironic, I think, that when the biggest complaint was about the last Olympic team was that they didn't play like a team, you bring in this guy, who IS his team and certainly acts like it.

Granted, he's one of the best players in the NBA, but the last time I checked, there weren't a bunch of doorstops playing in the games last time around.

Well, at least they got some guys that can actually make a three.



It's almost here. You can feel it, can't you? I know I am ready. I can't wait, actually. Last year, I was so close, my picks were only just so far away. I was almost in bracket nirvana.

It wasn't my fault, though. I mean, come on, some of the upsets last year, who would have thought those could have happened, even during this time of year? Nobody who isn't drinking predicts anything like that.

The good thing was, the good teams prevailed and while I butchered the first two rounds, I didn't finish too bad. So, spurned on from that success, I am beaming with confidence as I will make my prediction as to who will win it all this year:

Canisius

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