Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Panic on Lansdowne Street

I won't pretend to have been an ardent Tampa Bay Rays fan for years, because I haven't. It's my hometown's team, of course, but it was created eight years after I graduated high school. It plays in a dreary building that was outdated from the second it opened for baseball. Its owner for the first seven years was a bully who alienated everyone he dealt with, from business owners to media to fans. The original color scheme looked like the paint job on a 70s era stoner's Chevy van. Most importantly, the team was just awful. They drafted foolishly, signed past their prime malcontents as free agents, and never had any reliable pitching. Now, they go up 2-1 in the ALCS by thrashing the defending World Series champs in Fenway with their best pitcher on the mound. This is all taking place just three years after Stuart Sternberg took over control of the team. It should resolve the question of what is most important to succeed in pro sports once and for all - a good owner. Sternberg has put good people in place, doesn't micromanage, and spends some money when necessary. If your team has someone like that, they may win. If they have someone like William Clay Ford or Bill Bidwill, they won't.

There is no definitive word or not whether the Rays success has convinced Axl Rose the end times are upon us, but that's as good a reason as any to explain why the long awaited Guns n' Roses album Chinese Democracy will finally be released next month.

This is a good week for UF football to have a bye, in part because that means they can't get stuck with the Raycom game. Unfortunately we found out yesterday the Kentucky game will be yet another 12:30 Raycom extravaganza. That's four of seven games so far for UF being played at 12:30, which is awful. That link also notes Dicky Lyons Jr. is out for the year, which is terrible for Kentucky since no other receiver for them has more than 11 catches this season. UK will be a mess offensively coming into the Swamp.

Other quick thoughts from the college football weeekend: That OC firing during a game week really worked out well for Tuberville, huh? Vandy was going to lose soon, the only question was when. It made perfect sense that it was Mississippi State, because no one knows more about winning ugly games than Sylvester Croom. Now Bobby Johnson is making a QB change - interesting. Adams did a nice job off the bench against Auburn, but Chris Nickson is a lot more of a weapon than him when he's playing well. Georgia's offensive line situation is starting to get really bad. Remember, the Dogs are on the road against what should be a desperate LSU next weekend so they'll likely be even more beat up coming into Jacksonville.

Little known fact: John Madden's last flight he ever took left from Tampa. He had worked a Bucs game, and then had such a panic attack on the plane he thought he was dying of heart failure. Once he landed, that was it. Back then Madden took trains to games, and now it's the Madden Cruiser bus. It won't be pulling up to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa this weekend, though. For the first time in his broadcasting career, Madden is taking Sunday off. I can see how going Northern California-Jacksonville-San Diego-Tampa by bus in a three week span might be a little much for a 72 year old. Do you think Madden misses spending Thanksgivings in Dallas or Detroit since NBC only does Sunday games? This year the Jonas Brothers are playing the Dallas game - I hear John has all their CDs.

I've mentioned before how aggravated I get when people in my profession act like morons. It happens far more often than I'd prefer. Friday, a couple of budding Edward R. Murrows in Minneapolis decided to break the news to Minnesota listeners that Magic Johnson has faked having AIDS. The gist of their rationale: he's not dead yet and looks healthy, so he must have faked it. Exactly why someone who was a popular endorser and NBA star with the chance to play at least another half decade would have decided telling the world he was HIV-positive would be a good career move was not explained. Arrrgh.

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