This is day nine for me in Omaha. I'm beginning to feel like Scott Bakula's character in Quantum Leap - circumstances out of my control dictate whether I can ever get home. He had "Ziggy" to make sense of his situation, while I have to try and do it on my own. Not sure what Ziggy would have calculated the chances of a relief pitcher who hadn't started all season and hadn't worked more than 3.1 innings in his career pitching a complete game during his first career start, but that's what happened. With South Carolina battling UCLA for the title tonight, I'm here for the duration. The consensus seems to be that the Bruins are the favorite, but who can possibly tell at this point? The Gamecock players are a good group of kids and Ray Tanner's a great guy. It'll be fun to see if they can bring the national title back to Columbia.
FIFA's World Cup continues to be an embarrassing fiasco when it comes to refereeing the games. The USA's final Cup game featured repeated, obvious stalling through faking of injuries by the Ghana squad, but that wasn't anywhere close to the biggest official related issue of the weekend. England got robbed of an incredibly obvious goal against Germany, and the mistake couldn't be corrected because FIFA opts not to use goal line technology which would show if the ball had crossed the goal line or not. This isn't comparable to baseball choosing not to expand replays beyond what they already are, something I agree with. The equivalent to this would be refusing to look at replay on the very occasional foul pole close call to check whether a ball was actually a home run. Between the bizarre issues with the ball for this World Cup and the huge problems with referees, FIFA should be ashamed of its performance.
The NCAA is looking to put an end to stunts like offering players a scholarship when they're 13, the way Lane Kiffin did with a QB from Delaware once he got to USC. Under a proposed rule, no formal offer could be made prior to July 1 before a kid's senior season in high school. There's no way this will keep schools from still doing it on a "wink wink" basis, but if it keeps kids from putting themselves in the kind of uncomfortable public spotlight Tamir Goodman did at Maryland, that would be a positive change.
If there turns out to be anything to the L.A. Times report that Showtime is considering giving Stephen A. Smith his own late night talk show, two things stand out for me. One is that there are literally hundreds of millions of Americans who have never hosted a late night TV show. Doing this would mean Showtime's intentionally seeking out one of the dozen or so who have done so and failed miserably. Maybe they never saw "Quite Frankly" - understandable, since no one else did either - but surely it appears on the man's resume. What would possibly lead anyone to think this guy needs another platform when he's been proven ratings death with everything he does? The other thing that stands out about this story is that whoever Smith's agent is, he must be absolutely incredible at his job.
Think you've heard every air travel horror story? How about an airline reacting to a girl having brought a 2 inch, caged pet turtle on board by refusing to let her fly unless the turtle was thrown away? Even doing something as basic as keeping the turtle long enough for the girl's father to show up was too much to ask of AirTran personnel in Atlanta. When did common sense become something to be avoided at all costs? It's hard to think of another business that has gone more out of its way to alienate customers than the airlines have.