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Baseline Shorks

July 8, 2012 7:30 PM

Sports: Great Highs, Painful Crashes

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On a day when NBC Sports decided to broadcast extended coverage of the Tour de France vs. it's usual capsulizations and show Roger Federer's 7th Wimbledon championship later, I applauded the move. With due respect for the efforts of runner-up Andy Murray to become England's first champ since 1936, the spectacularly well-explained heroics of everything about Frenchman Thibaut Pinot's stage victory were classic, something even first time watchers of cycling could appreciate.

Murray's rough slip and tumble was a simple misfortune compared to the torture of Fredrik Kessiakoff, a relative dinosaur at 32 and competing in his first tour, being caught by Pinot (the Tour's youngest rider) just before the crest of the final 3.2km climb up Col de la Croix. The Swedish Kessiakoff had pushed himself to over a three minute lead over everyone for an astounding part of the race before succumbing to the combined efforts of the world's best riders, finishing :47 seconds back.

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June 27, 2012 4:26 PM

USC Baseball-Better than Dancing, Poker

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If you've followed South Carolina baseball the last three years, you probably haven't got a fingernail left worth gnawing on, because there's been drama dripping off every pitch of every elongated inning since they nearly stopped my monthly poker game while beating Oklahoma back in 2010. While giving props to Arizona's Wildcats for the 4-1 victory that ended USC's attempt to become first three-in-a-row champs since that west coast USC version of legend did it in the 1970s, this team staked an entire state to a ration of pride it probably didn't know was available.

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May 10, 2012 10:15 AM

Empathizing with Bobcats

Amidst the feverish massaging of prayer beads that will continue in the Queen City until the moment it's determined whether the Bobcats actually get to select Kentucky center Anthony Davis #1, I admit my last blog was the worst of some 50 blogs over last three years, perhaps my whole career. As departing coach Paul Silas noted, "I'm glad this didn't happen at the beginning of my career."

Charlotte will have 1:4 odds in getting the premier pick on May 30, but the truth is, there won't be anything close to the significant rise (2-14 to 6-10 and a couple defensive stops from maybe 8-8) in the teams fortunes that Cam Newton brought to the Carolina Panthers last year. They could get TWO Anthony Davis' and not accomplish the massive turnaround one Larry Bird did in his rookie season.

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March 29, 2012 1:30 PM

South Florida's '3 and done' Actually Sounds Pretty Good

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After watching the So. Florida Bulls in their season finale vs. West Virginia at the Ice Palace in Tampa several weeks ago, I told numerous people their defense definitely kept after you (WVU shot only 28.8%; USF games frequently in mid-40s for points), they could barely score themselves. I caught the game with cousin Frank as part of truly enjoyable vacation, and thirty years after a preview for an earlier ('81-82 season) Bulls team started this sportswriters published efforts, it was a valid moment for personal reflection.

I pull a copy of that analysis out periodically because except for another hoops article when the Hornets overhauled their team under new coach Dave Cowens, I was never prouder about calling a season so dead on after seeing one practice. The gist of things was no, USF wasn't riding the Lee Rose Jinx (Final Fours with UNCC and Purdue in second year at helm) and while they still possessed overwhelming height, Bradley or SOMEBODY needed to beome capable of hitting a 17-20 footer to loosen up the zones they'd see.

This years team looked more athletic than long ago version, except for the lack of a consistent shooter/scorer; top point getter Anderon got less than 10 ppg.

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February 9, 2012 2:14 PM

'Surgery' Makes Duke Better Immediately

Maybe yanking the combined hearts out of 20-thousand odd sky blue clad fans and the 5th ranked Tarheel basketball team doesn't technically count as surgery. On the other hand, the 85-84 victory in the DeanDome as a result of Austin Rivers' buzzer-beating sixth trey of the night (season high 29 points) over UNC's 7-foot center Tyler Zeller clearly makes a whole lot of Blue Devil worshippers breathe a whole lot better.

As powerful an addition as Kansas' 32-4 run while thumping Mizzou or Syracuse's OT victory over Georgetown might have been to ESPN's Rivalry Week, you won't convince too many highlight watchers that "another unbelievable finish!" in this Tobacco Road series didn't provide enough chest-pounding enthusiasm to give the recent Super Bowl a run for any 'Best Game of...' consideration.

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January 12, 2012 10:34 AM

$50 Better Championship was Possible

For those of us who waited a whoooooole extra week of the new year to FINALLY reach the BCS National Title game, I think it was a little disappointing that LSU didn't show up.

There, I said it. As the announcers reminded viewers many time, it was 44 days since teams last played (actually LSU in SEC title game vs. Arkansas), and despite that excess of potential prep time, the Bayou Bengals seemed to have no clue about cracking any part of 'Bama's defense.

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November 29, 2011 11:32 AM

Newton as Superman? Not just yet

Like Aaron Rodgers championship belt routine, Cam Newton has been showcasing a "ripping open the shirt to reveal a big red S" bit after scoring a touchdown. His scoring has contributed greatly to the teams overall excitement factor, and discussion of the three-headed running attack, albeit at cost of DeAngelo Williams and Jon Stewart's stats, comes up frequently with the professional football analysts. His passing has been terrific, but he's still a very tough guy to get on the ground at 6'5" and 250. How he stretches/falls for first down yardage on a regular basis is amazing.

I had the opportunity to lay a little of my own very positive analysis on him when he was shopping in the Big & Tall area at a local Belk store recently. He didn't say anything back, but I let him know he'd made Believers of those analysts and hard core fans of all in Charlotte. He, Coach Rivera, and tight end Greg Olsen have put it on the line about W's being the only thing that counts in many interviews, and that's cool with everyone I've talked to. There really isn't anything uplifting about "most losses by 5 points or less" as Olsen articulated, and Cam has taken the blame without shrinking, even if many (including myself) still believe the defense gave up three games when Newton had driven the Panthers to go-ahead scores late.

Three wins is more than Charlotte had in 2010, and while they didn't get to draft Andrew Luck of Stanford, its pretty obvious they have a QB who is cool and capable of leading the team to a more promising future, even if that open shirt should only reveal an Auburn logo. Giving Newton a year to grow into a Superman and produce .500 plus performance on those Ws seems legit.

Speaking of Luck: the Colts will undoubtedly draft him #1 unless there is an absolutely glowing report about Peyton Manning's neck problems. While it would be an ultimate sadness to see Manning shoved to the back of the stove, the financial aspect of situation (Colts will owe him a couple tons of cash in March) makes keeping both beyond unlikely. That Luck's Heisman stock somehow went down so dramatically because Oregon scored 50+ on Stanford shows that some voters are sheep, and that in no way denigrates Richardson's efforts for Alabama.

Oh--LSU beats 'Bama in the rematch for national title, and Luuuuv how the bowl bigwigs are going to be sweating things after last two weeks of applecart upsetting games.

Glenn S.

October 17, 2011 9:19 AM

Oh, is that NBA thingie happening?

Wall Street and various venues throughout the WORLD are seeing large crowds protesting the unfairness of economic disparity, and that doesn't leave much room (if any) for sympathy regarding the strike/lockout of National Basketball Association players. I won't try quoting an 'average' salary or the modified Veterans Exemption or rationalizing how many teams might be losing money operationally. "A pox on both your houses!" is a legitimate thought to lay out there, as might be NC State player Tom Guggliotta's comments at the time of the NBA's *last* strike--"Where I'm from, they don't care whether the NBA plays or not."

While owners and players splitting up billions can be accepted by ticket buyers or TV watchers, we can also take advantage of all the other alternatives available between November and April. Tom G. played in the ACC, and although I only get basic cable, there are usually two games a week on, and Carolina hoops is pretty much religion around here. No sense ranting about the NBA situation, and if it works out and a shortened season happens, fine. If, like the NHL found out, people are willing to let highly paid athletes experience having less, that might be worth while too.

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September 12, 2011 8:08 AM

Heckuva SportsFest, Can't Ignore Cam's 422 Though

From the time LSU dropped the hammer on Oregon last Thursday until the Jets finsihed off their amazing comeback against the Cowboys amid the national focus on 9/11 and specifically New York, I was an unapolegetic sports glutton for four days. That Serena Williams got nasty again over a code violation during a 6-2, 6-3 kicking by Samantha Stosur at the U.S. Open was super surprising, and the Cowboys, historically perfect (241-0-1) with 14 point leads in the fourth quarter might not recover from this loss is kind of joyous, but Carolina Panther QB Cam Newton hanging up 422 yards passing his first game, THAT'S working.

Sure, sure, sure Michigan's Denard Robinson throwing a TD pass with :02 left for a 35-31 win, the third straight time they've stabbed rival Notre Dame in the heart in the series means a lot. Oh, and Djokovic coming back from two sets down and beating Roger Federer 6-7, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 at the Open pretty much sealed the notion of 2011 being his career year. All those events were obviously major reasons we watch sports, but the gaudy 24/37, 422 yards, 3 TD (one running) line that Newton announced his presence with, that is exactly the sort of soul-soothing greatness that fans who watched last years 2-14 team stumble to were praying for out of the #1 draft pick.

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August 23, 2011 10:27 AM

Mortality is Relative

I struggled a little the last week, trying to put the concept of mortality into perspective, and I believe I have the balance between long time Carolina kicker John Kasay's being put out to pasture and the passing of my Uncle Howard.

It's not specious to say I am the mid-point.

Kasay had a fine 21 year career in the NFL, and after 16 years with the Panthers, mortality for him means "shelf life of a professional athlete." John had a fine final year in 2010--25/29 FGs (86.2%), 17/17 XPs--and that extra point total is as telling as anything about the state of the Panthers. When your season is 16 games and your kicker only attempts 17 tries after a touchdown, you probably aren't going to win many games, and the Panthers were 2-14.

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