Sunday, July 31, 2011

Football Starts Up, Miffed At Martensdale, QuickTrip Des Moines Hot Spot?


We really will be full tilt into football this week.  Iowa and Iowa State hold their media days, and even high school football begins practice on Wednesday. 

Count me in on the boat that can't wait to get out and see some football games, though I gotta admit it's a little weird to think that summer has gone by so fast.  If there is one downside to football season, it means we're not too far from cold weather and winter.  Still, I'm a native Iowan who grew up in a family that couldn't afford tickets to Iowa or Iowa State games.  How much do you think I'm gonna dig my first experiences on the sidelines?

National expectations around both Iowa and Iowa State are low.  I think both will be in for better years than most outside the state are expecting.  Iowa always plays better when they don't have sky high expectations, and ISU always seems to find a way to pull a few rabbits out of their hat (Nebraska and Texas wins).

We got some calls on SoundOFF from viewers particularly miffed (to the point of obscenity) about the backflip celebration that Martensdale-St. Marys had after winning their 87th straight game and second consecutive 1A State Title.  Was it a little much?  Yeah.  But these are 15-18 year old kids, many of whom played their last high school game.  Boys will be boys, and I've seen worse even at the college level.  I'm not sure how much of these complaints are legit or sour grapes.  One thing I do know is that the Blue Devils knew a lot of people around the state rooted against them this year, and they fed off it.

Andy Fales was a bit ticked the Cardinals lost to the Cubs tonight.  Look, I get that his team is in a pennant race, but the Cards are now 7-2 against the Cubs and had a six game winning streak against Chicago snapped tonight.  You can throw the dog a bone every now and then Mr. Fales.

So last night I'm driving home after the show and grabbing a quick drink at the QuickTrip store on Ingersoll near the station.  It's between 12:30 and 1 AM, and this place is PACKED.  Everything from kids to 20 somethings to middle aged people were there as much to hang out as they were there for buying stuff or getting gas.  Heck, when I left I was stopped on the road just by the place because some drunk girl in a very nice black dress suddenly got out of the passenger seat and stumbled across the street and into the store.
Can't Say The Highlight Of My Saturday Night Out Is A Stop At QT

Not that I'm bragging about my swinging bachelor night life (which usually consists of me either-A. Staying way to late at the station or B. Playing video games because I don't have the money to go out),  nor am I taking a dig at QuickTrip or any convenience stores (I worked at a few back in high school/college after all).  I guess I just wonder how or when did the QT become the hip, now, with it and wow spot of Des Moines?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

87 & Counting, Sold Out, Football Season

I think Iowa really has something special with this state baseball tournament.  Early guess is there were about 30,000 total at the tournament.  After working in three states where baseball is an afterthought and your stuck with dull legion ball (North Dakota, Colorado, Minnesota) and another where there was no high school baseball season at all (Montana), I really enjoy a place where people get passionate for state baseball.
Martensdale-St. Marys saved their best for last in the state title game.  After winning their first two games against Coon Rapids-Bayard and English Valleys in their final seventh inning at-bat by one run, it looked like Kee, Lansing (one of the most storied programs in 1A) had a good shot to end the famed winning streak. 

No shot.  Down 3-2 after two the Blue Devils scored six unanswered and cruised to an 8-3 win.  It's their national record 87th straight win, second straight 1A title, and the first time in Iowa prep history that a baseball team has had back-to-back perfect seasons.

In other words they're pretty good.  They made some noise at the end with a bunch of players doing backflips after they won.  To quote Joakim Noah when he talked about the Miami Heat, "they're Hollywood as hell".  Difference is the Blue Devils actually back it up on the field.

There's been a lot of talk about recruiting and shady practices at Martensdale-St. Marys.  They've not been investigated officially, nor has anything come to light.  Until something does, it comes off as sour grapes.  Open enrollment ain't perfect, but unless you can prove something illegal, kids have a right to play where they want to.  And personally?  If I had a choice, I'd want to win.  Heck, I did have the choice when I was in school.  I played at a football power in Colorado where we won a state title, but I had to play behind two future FBS college players.  If I really want to play more I suppose I could have transferred to the cross town school (which went 0-10 my senior year), lord knows my play wouldn't have been missed too much.  But I loved playing with my friends, and I loved contributing and playing for a winning team, even if I didn't play as much as I could have elsewhere.
Whatever you think of the side issues, you have to respect what they've done, especially after this tournament.  They were not at their best against English Valleys and Coon Rapids-Bayard, but they found a way to win.  Great teams do that.  And then they blew the doors off a good Kee team.  All of this in the face of a constant media spotlight and while a lot of people across the state were rooting against them (much the same way many root against the Yankees or Red Sox because they are the front runners).
Throws 90 and is only a Junior
Martensdale-St. Marys may be the team of the tournament, but Calvin Matthews of Davis County in 2A was the player of the tournament.  The big horse (who's only a junior) of the Mustangs staff used his 90 MPH heat to strike out 31 batters in 15 and 1/3 innings in their three wins.  He also hit the heck out of the ball, clubbing a homer and driving in several runs.  He's already committed to Iowa, but had scouts from several major league teams watch him throw.  That's the beauty of these state tournaments-you always get one kid from a small school we seldom ever see emerge.

In 4A Dowling won their first state title since 2001, beating Mason City 6-1.  Hard to believe it's been that long since they last won a state baseball title.  They started the season with a football title in fall, had a boys soccer state title in the spring, and now baseball.  The hoopsters have to feel like they let down the whole school ;).

The allotment of general public tickets for the Big Ten title game in December went on sale at 9 AM this morning.  Within two hours they were gone.  So yeah, I think expanding to, in part, play a championship game was a good idea.

For some of you, football season started with Big Ten Media days (just a hint here but it's really not that interesting.  Coaches and players basically say the same thing every year.  "We've got a good team and gotta take em one game at a time", blah blah blah).  For others it starts with training camp opening, and for the high schoolers pretty much right after state baseball ends.  For me, it started at about 7 PM tonight.  That's when my favorite baseball team sent the best pitcher in franchise history (Ubaldo Jimenez) to Cleveland for four prospects and a case of Natty Lite.  I finally have a tiny idea of what it is like to be a Cubs fan (although I have seen my team play in the World Series in my lifetime.  So I got that going for me.).
Before 2007 I used to call the Rockies the "New Cubs".
Speaking of the Cubs, I've got a great charitable venture for you.  The MLB trade deadline is tomorrow.  If you want to give the Cubs the gift of getting rid of a ridiculous contract for an over the hill veteran (Alphonso Soriano anyone), you would be worthy of sainthood.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Heroes Game, Nebraska Media, Preggo Pictures


I don't know what to think about "The Heroes Game". It's intriguing, because it's unlike anything that's ever been done...but it seems strange that random people will have their name's and hometown's etched in the trophy. Either you're going to need a microscope to read the names, or the trophy is going to be the size of an armoire. 

Iowa State fans aren't too happy. Hy-Vee dumped the Cy-Hawk series for "The Heroes Game". Fareway and Dahl's may see a increase in traffic over the next few months.

The Iowa-Nebraska rivalry is off to a rather tame start. Kirk Ferentz had the perfect opportunity to light a fire between the borders at the Big Ten Kickoff, in Chicago, today. Some Nebraska media member (I think he's a TV guy) interrupted a Ferentz interview to ask the coach for his autograph. That's not the worst part of the story. The worst part is that Ferentz reportedly obliged!

You know it's football season when the calendar turns to August. I know it's football season when someone accuses me of being a Hawkeye homer.....and another accuses me of being a Cyclone apologist. Football is here!

The DJK fiasco is still alive and well. He still hasn't confirmed that he's signed with the Philadelphia Eagles. Or at least I don't think he are 3 of his latest tweets:
1. "Tonight's social performance is brought to you by & . Cy & Si"2. "1 of the koulest things Wayne ever said:"I see yo homies dressed in black like they finna ride- but that fashion statement telln ah lie" wow"
3. "HINT: When she txt me,I call back... She all that."

Dowling and Mason City will meet for the 4A baseball championship. Seems fitting considering the two teams have been jockeying for position atop the rankings all season long. If Dowling wins, they would begin the academic year with a championship on the football field, and end with a championship on the baseball diamond. Not too shabby.

Why must some preggo woman insist on posting pictures of their expanding midriff on facebook? That's not what I want to see when I wake up in the morning and check my feed.

I'm beginning to wonder if Bill Fennelly does any actual work in the summer (sarcasm). All the guy tweets about is Cardinals baseball --- and he tweets at least 5 times a day.

After a four-month hiatus, Keith Murphy returns to work on Sunday. I hope he remembers the parking lot code.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Devils Playing w/ Fire, Terrible Trade, Dandy Donut(burger)

Martensdale-St. Mary's does it again. Make it 86 straight after coming from behind, for the second straight game, and beating Coon Rapids-Bayard, 5-4. Games like these make the streak that much more impressive. The Blue Devils will go for back-to-back perfect seasons, Saturday at 2pm. Needless to say, that's never been done before.

The Cubs traded Kosuke Fukudome to the Indians. That's about 3 years too late.

Meanwhile, the Bears traded their best receiver (Greg Olsen) to the Panthers for a third round draft pick. What?!!?!?!?!?? A lot of people think the Bears are going to be as good as they were a year ago. As a Bears fan, I don't. They always have a breakout year every 4 or 5 years, and the next year is a total disappointment. It happened in 2001, 2006, and now 2010. Chicago was a combined 11-21 in the following season. I expect the Packers to run away with the division, and the Bears and Vikings to fight for a wildcard spot. I'm still not sold on the Lions.

How has Hamm's Beer not reached out to John Hamm? I'll tell you why....because not even Don Draper can top this:

Keith is still out on his private island in the tropics.We're told he's hired someone to hand-feed him grapes while he lays out in a hammock over the ocean.

It was a lot of fun talking college football on Murphy N Andy, today. I'm finally starting to get that feel that the season is right around the corner.

Add this to your State Fair wish lish

Flying Sausage, Osemele Impatient, DJK Denial

It's brat season. Most people grill them, others chuck them...

Kyle Orton looks like he's on his way out in Denver. The Broncos want to get rid of him before he becomes a free agent after the season. The Dolphins appear to be the front-runner for Orton's services. I'd say Miami sounds a little better in the winter than a mile high.

Cyclone fans aren't the only ones getting antsy about the ISU quarterback situation. Offensive lineman Keleche Osemele was asked what he would like to see heading into August practice. He answered, "I'd like to find a quarterback." Most ISU insiders believe it's going to be Steele Jantz.

Adrian Clayborn signed a 4-year, $8.2M deal with the Bucs --- and it's all guaranteed money. He's the first rookie to have his entire contract guaranteed since Rick Mirer, in 1993. I hope that's not a bad omen.

DJK still insists that he hasn't signed with the Eagles. That's contrary to what every NFL website in the world is saying. I honestly don't know what to believe. On Tuesday, he told me to call him back on Wednesday and he would tell me the whole story. When I called him, he answered --- and then hung up on me. DJK loooooves being an enigma.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

DJK Drama, Kinnick Trophy, Big Cuz

Where there's DJK, there's drama. On Tuesday, several outlets were reporting that Derrell Johnson-Koulianos signed a free agent deal with the Eagles. Even reported that he had signed. But according to the man himself, "It's just a sick joke." Yup, that's what DJK told me when I called him around 9:30pm. He said he hasn't signed with anyone, but he also said that if I called back tomorrow (Wednesday), he would have some news for me. We'll see, I guess.

I really hope DJK gets a chance, and I'm sure he will. I wish the Bears would sign him. It's really not a risk to pick him up, considering he'll be making chump change for his first contract. He has some up side. After all, the guy he supplanted as the all-time leading receiver in Iowa history had a pretty good NFL career of his own.

11 Hawkeyes from last years team are now on NFL rosters, and all 11 defensive starters in 2008 have been on an NFL roster at one time or another. Those are powerful numbers.

We'll find out, on Friday, what kind of trophy the Hawks and Huskers will be playing for. In an invitation the U of I sent out to the media, the word "hero" was defined, leading some to believe Nile Kinnick could be tied into the trophy. Kinnick went to high school in Nebraska, but no one thinks of him as a Nebraskan. He played at Iowa, won the Heisman Trophy at Iowa, and the stadium is named after him. There's no way Nebraska would agree to a Nile Kinnick trophy, in my opinion. We'll find out when Gary Barta and Tom Osborne unveil the plans over omelets and sausage biscuits on Friday.

I think the boys from ADM were happier when they left Principal Park after a loss, than Martensdale-St. Mary's after Monday's walk-off win. ADM hadn't been to state since 1983. It was truly a dream come true for the players.

Congrats to my big cousin, Ben Peters, who shot the low round of the day at the Iowa Amateur at Glen Oaks CC, Tuesday. He shot 4-under-par. Ben played multiple times in the Quad-City Classic (before it was called the John Deere Classic). One year my parents took me out of school to follow him around the course. My hope was that he would get a huge check and give me some of the money. That's the kind of kid I was.

Monday, July 25, 2011

NFL (Un)Lockout, Martensdale Survives, Iceborg vs. Hazzle Dazzle

(Chris & Zach-We're trying this combo platter version of the blog since Chris forgot to hit send before leaving and IceBorg wanted to get a word in, his comments are in italics.)

The NFL lockout is over. Quite Frankly, I'm completely NFL-ed out. I don't want to hear anything about the NFL for a few weeks. If ESPN, and other media outlets, wouldn't have made this a nightly story for the past 4 months, we wouldn't have noticed a difference. The only thing we're missing is the Hall of Fame Game, which is pointless anyway.

I concur.  Anyone with half a brain knew the NFL wouldn't cancel the season.  Too much money in the preseason, much less regular season, to lose.  But lets be real here, if it wasn't the lockout, Ed Werder or Rachel Nichols would have done daily updates camped out on Brett Favre's lawn all summer....oh wait, there's already rumors he's coming back again?  DANG IT!!!!

A bunch of former Hawks and Cyclones will get picked up by NFL teams, Tuesday. We'll see more signings than usual since the rosters have been expanded to 90 players. Even Brad Banks is confident he'll get a shot in training camp.

Brad might but he won't last long.  All due respect, he was way to up and down for AFL to stick in the NFL.  Practice squad if he's lucky.  But what about DJK?
Shawn Johnson is letting her frustrations be known. Today she tweeted this: "The fact that people are comparing my scores between these classics & the 08 Olympics is amusing 2 me. Learn the sport." I like the fact that she's showing some fire. You don't have to put a smile on your face 24/7. She's motivated, and she wants to prove her doubters wrong. 

I would rather spend a week in jail than a week on RAGBRAI.

I'm a heavy set guy who played defensive line.  How do you think I feel about RAGBRAI?  And you're complaining?  

Martensdale St. Mary's is still alive --- barely. The teams' 85th consecutive victory was one of the hardest to come by. English Valleys, which had won 9 games all season, took a tie game into the bottom-of-the-7th, when the Blue Devils finally broke through for a 2-1 win. After the game, the players admitted they may have been overlooking their opponent.

We came REAL close to what would have been one of the biggest upsets in Iowa prep history.  Martensdale tied the game in the fourth, but only because a two out error by the English Valleys pitcher kept the inning alive.  The Blue Devils made some uncharacteristic mistakes, and if they play that way against Coon Rapids-Bayard the streak will end.

You do have to appreciate the streak though after a game like this.  I know there are critics who think this is a cheat and sham, but Martensdale has probably won plenty of games like this in the streak.  Today proved that even the best teams have bad days or run into a hot opponent.  It says quite a bit that they can win when that happens.

One other note, in the Coon Rapids game the Crusaders scored 12 runs in the 7th against Preston after the game was tied at 1.  Preston lost, by my count, five or six balls in the sun.  I was at a distance, but I don't think I saw any Preston players wearing sunglasses.  Makes sense, not like you would need them at 4 PM in the afternoon right?  Memo to high school coaches-if you play during the day, run by the dollar store and tell your players to take a page from ZZ Top-"go get yourself some cheap sunglasses". 

The Rangers lead the Twins 18-1, in the 5th inning. Stick a fork in the Twinkies --- they're done.

The Twins are always done.  Even if they make the playoffs they just get swept by the Yankees.  Sorry Emily Carlson.

Vegas has set the over/under for total wins for Iowa and ISU. I thought Iowa would be at 7, and ISU would be at 4...but I was wrong. The Hawks' over/under is 8, and the Clones' is 3. I'd be very surprised if ISU doesn't win 4 games.

The Big 12 Media Days have begun, in Dallas, and Iowa State is picked near the bottom of the Big 12. Only one team was picked below ISU --- Kansas. And Kansas is really, really bad. I've seen Iowa picked anywhere from third to fifth in the Legends Division of the Big Ten. No one thinks the Hawks will finish ahead of Nebraska, or Michigan State. Personally, I think Nebraska is overrated. They'll have a tough time adjusting to the Big Ten, especially with the toughest schedule in the conference on tap.

The thing that amazes me is about all the Nebraska hype is that people seem to think this is 1995.  People look at Nebraska's tradition and think they'll own the Big Ten.  Problem is Nebraska hasn't been Nebraska for about a decade (basically since they lost a national title game they had no business being in back in 2001).

Curb Your Enthusiasm is the best comedy on TV when it's right. Sunday night was one of those nights. Larry David is my hero, but the best character on the show might be Marty Funkhouser.

Entourage used to be pretty funny. Now, it's turned into a drama. The first episode of the final season wasn't bad, but I thought Vince's house burning to the ground was a bit much.

To quote Homer Simpson in one of my favorite shows: "What in the hell are you talking about?"

Sunday, July 24, 2011

State Tournaments Done Right , Lock It Up Lockout, Testify NASCAR Fans!


Nice to have a slow day between tournaments.  Softball wrapped up last week.  The folks in Fort Dodge put on a great tournament in a terrific facility.  Great atmosphere all around.  Wasn't their fault Mother Nature was such a witch with the heat and storms.

Now it's full tilt on to baseball.  Granted we've already had two days on Friday and Saturday.  Personally, I love this tourney.  I covered it as an intern in 2005 the first year they played it at Principal Park.  I know the grounds crew hates it since they have 40-50 some games on that field, but it's a lot of fun to see kids and fans get into it and play in the state's best baseball park.  Gilbert had 2-1 walkoff win on Friday.  The scene on the field and in the stands is what it's all about.

Which gets me to two things I REALLY like about these tournaments that usually don't happen in most state tournaments anywhere.  Personally, I've covered state tournaments in five states over the last five years.  First up, I like that we don't have a ton of consolation games (in fact there are none for baseball).  I get that parents and kids spend a lot of money to come here, but I can't tell you how many times I've been to a tournament where they play consolation games on the same field as the championship game and the title game gets pushed an hour or more back because of it.  From what I've seen Iowa does it right.  In softball consolation games were on other fields and actually (I believe) had a time limit.

I also wonder what kids think of consolation games.  My high school sport was football, and there ain't no third place game.  Part of me would have loved one last chance to strap on the pads and go out a winner.  But for the most part, I and my teammates were so disappointed at not winning the title, that I don't think a consolation game would have made us feel better.  Sometimes there's a good life lesson in dealing with defeat.
Where A State Tournament Belongs

The other thing Iowa is doing right in this tourney is the venue.  I think state tournament championships belong in the best venue in the state.  I will admit to being a bit of a hypocrite here.  When my Loveland Indians won the state football title in 2000 we played at our home stadium (Colorado moved title games to Mile High Stadium in 2006).  Playing in a smaller venue made the crowd seem that much larger (we had about 5,000), as opposed to a large stadium where the crowd can get swallowed up by 80,000 seats.  That said, I'd have loved to play in a pro or college stadium.  I knew I wasn't going to play in the pros (or college for that matter), so I think it would have been fun to experience playing in a pro venue.  Same deal here.  All due respect to the UNI dome (and yes I know weather would come into play), if you're a prep football player, wouldn't you want to play just once at Kinnick or Jack Trice (depending on which college team was away the week of title games)?  Again, I think Iowa is doing it right here with track (Drake Stadium), baseball (Principal Park), and hoops/wrestling (Wells Fargo Arena) among others.  There are exceptions (Fort Dodge has a better and larger softball facility for example than any college in the state).  I do wish they'd work some kind of rotation between the UNI Dome and Kinnick and Jack Trice though.

Apparently the NFL lockout is ending tomorrow.  The best news in all of this is not that we'll have football, it's that the labor deal is believed to last for about ten years.  If there was one thing worse than the lockout, it was listening to the coverage and legal speak about the lockout.

Sure sign that the lockout is ending?  There's talk that Brett Favre wants to come out of retirement.
The Menace Maniac-An Good And Under-Appreciated Mascot (Albeit a knock off of Mr. Met)
 The Des Moines Menace qualified for the PDL soccer playoffs today with a 1-0 win at St. Louis.  Yes I know it's soccer (say, was there a World Cup recently?  Like most of America I can't remember) but two thoughts:  1.  Give dap to organization.  They get pretty good crowds and put out a good product with a sport that's not overly popular in the US.  2.  They beat a team from St. Louis.  It's a chance to bust on Andy Fales love of all things St. Louis.

The Chicago Cubs won their third straight game for the FIRST TIME all season.  If somebody kept a stat for that type of thing that has to be a record.

The NASCAR preacher had to be getting some money under the table from sponsors to throw out this prayer didn't he?   At least he remembered to score a few points with the wife.....

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Shawn Stumbles, Cy-onara, Stormy Ending


Shawn Johnson returned to competition for the first time in three years, Saturday --- and the rust was apparent. She nearly fell flat on her face while dismounting from the bars, and moments later, fell off the balance beam. Shawn finished 11th, and 16th, on the bars and beam, respectively. I can't say it's too surprising considering she took two fulls years off after her amazing performance in Beijing. Not only was she not competing, she wasn't training at all. Next month the competition is for real at the Visa Championships.

The Cy-Hawk trophy is no more --- hallelujah! Iowa and ISU have decided to retire the 35-year-old trophy. I'd like to think it's because it the schools knew they couldn't continue to play for the ugliest trophy in college football, but the real reason is likely $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. This has a sponsorship written all over it. I expect the Hawks and Cyclones to be playing for the Iowa Corn Trophy beginning this September. Iowa sports information says that the old trophy will be put on display in a prominent place in our state. If they know what's best for them, they'll throw it off the top of the Principal Building.

We got our first up-close-and-personal look at the new scoreboard at Jack Trice Stadium, tonight. The board wasn't operational for the high school Shrine Game, Saturday night, but it looked great. I was worried it would be so big, it would look out of place. I can't wait to see it in action, September 3rd against UNI.

It was a fitting end to the 2011 season for the Barnstormers. Iowa held a 4th quarter lead with under 1:00 to play, but a late score sent the Stormers to their 13th loss of the season. I'm not sure if J.T. Smith did enough to secure the head coaching position for next season.

I ran into Brad Banks before the game. He was held out of the final two games with a hand injury. I got the sense that he wasn't hurt as bad as his air-cast made it seem. When I asked him if he would be ready to try out for a team when the NFL lockout ends, and big grin came to his face. Banks said he thinks his hand/wrist will recover very quickly.

Diante Garrett was expecting to hear his name called in the NBA draft, instead he will hear his name called by some P.A. announcer with a Croatian accent. Garrett has signed on with KK Zagreb in Croatia. Garrett said on his Twitter page that he needed the money. This doesn't mean he won't eventually end up in the NBA, but with the lockout threatening to wipe out the 2011-12 season, this was the smart choice.

Keith is gone, this week, so I'll be with Andy for SoundOFF. I hope Fales wears his new plaid sports jacket. He likes it so much, he was wearing it while vacuuming his house last week.

Tough Call, Muggy Daze, Six Weeks From Heaven

Today was one of those great days in high school sports. We had walkoffs, shenanigans, and botched calls. That's what sports is all about.

The Home-plate umpire clearly missed the call in the Winterset-Clear Creek Amana game. The CCA runner never touched home but was called safe to end the game in the bottom of the 8th. It's an awful way for Winterset to lose the 3A championship, but human error is part of the game. It was a bang-bang call, and the umpire got it wrong. It happens. It's just too bad it happened in that situation.

It was 83-degrees when I went to Principal Park to shoot the 2A baseball quartfinals, and it felt like 105. It was hard to breathe. I don't ever remember a stretch where the heat index has been this high. The good news is, it's almost over.

Drake's Seth Van Deest will miss 4-6 months after undergoing shoulder surgery. Even in the off-season, Mark Phelps continues to lose.

The college football season begins six weeks from Saturday. Hallelujah!

A woman in front of me at Subway asked for a "bushel of pickels" today. When the sandwich artist gave her two huge handfuls, the woman demanded the entire container of pickles. Needless to say, I had a pickle-less chicken breast sandwich.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Big 12 By The Horns, Bob The Tomato, Captain America

It didn't take long for The Longhorn Network to rub people the wrong way. I can't imagine why anyone would be surprised that Texas is already showing it has even more of an advantage moving forward. The Big 12 needed Texas more than Texas needed the Big 12, so here we are. Still, Texas has a pretty good thing going. Keep peeing on Oklahoma and telling the Sooners it's raining, and see if OU doesn't try to break up the burnt orange supremacy party...

The NFL players may not have seen the owners last minute shenanigans coming, but they should have. It's the owners who have more leverage. Most of the players spend near what they make---even if it's millions---and when the money runs out, they'll go back to work. That day is nearing...

Martensdale-St. Mary's fans experienced something unfamiliar Thursday night: losing. The girls softball loss at state was the first for either the softball or baseball teams all summer. Incredible...

Ankeny vs East for the title. Just the way it should be...

Zach Borg and Chris Hassel worked long hours in scorching heat to bring us highlights and interviews from twenty softball games. I appreciate it. They both look like Bob the Tomato (and neither knows who that is)...

Harry Potter just passed Star Wars as the most lucrative franchise in movie history. I blame the Phantom Menace...

I'm in line for Captain America. It looks like an Indiana Jones movie---before Indy found that stupid Crystal Skull...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

State, Boswell, Alford

Hard to express how much it means to a team and its community of support when that team makes it to state. Congratulations to all the boys baseball teams that punched their tickets Wednesday night...

I hope all Big 12 athletic directors who don't work at Texas are protesting loudly about the Longhorn Network's plan to broadcast the high school football games of prospective recruits. The last thing Texas needs is an additional recruiting advantage, and this would be sizable one. The only reasons ADs would stay mute is they need Texas in the Big 12 and don't want to rock the boat...

How can you not think more of a Congressman Boswell after he went Eastwood on that home intruder?...

Steve Alford banned his players from tweeting. He won't be the last...

The NFL lockout has made me crave the season more, not less. I guess the thought of having something taken away from me that I love makes me appreciate it. When I was younger, I had to lose it first...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

84 Straight, Hot Wheels, The Hammer

84 straight wins!? I don't care if Martensdale St Mary's found more eligibility for the Boston Red Sox, that's an impressive run. It just shouldn't happen in baseball. Heck, it hasn't happened EVER until now. Congratulations to the Blue Devils. They're not done yet either...

Only 116 degrees (heat index) at state softball Tuesday. Chris Hassel says it actually felt cooler. Chris worked hard for two sweaty days, and now turns it over to the IceBorg. Maybe the nickname will help...

Bettendorf entered state undefeated. Didn't stop Ankeny from sending the Bulldogs packing after one game. State can be exhilarating, or cruel, like that...

The hottest spot in America Tuesday was Newton, Iowa. Ed Wilson tells me it felt 128 in Newton. The Iowa Speedway had enough AC to send out a news release that the grandstands for the August 6th NASCAR Nationwide race are already sold out. They're moving in the temp seating. Hopefully, it doesn't melt...

I asked followers on twitter to complete this sentence, with an Iowa hook: It's so hot, __________. My favorites include: "It's so hot, the butter cow had the runs." "It's so hot, Paul Rhoads refused to get off the air-conditioned bus." "It's so hot, I'm considering cutting my jeans into jorts." ...

Will this NFL lockout end already please! Partly because I love football, partly because I can't take much more coverage...

Talked to NL All-Star Joel Hanrahan. Hanrahan says he's agreed to let sell foam hammers because part of the proceeds go to help sick children. Joel seems like a really good guy. I know the Cardinals wish they had him about now. The Pirates---the Pirates!---are in first place.
The Hammer ©

Hot Softball, Ego Escort, Dean Whipple

Heat index of 120 at state softball. More than a few people wonder if these games shouldn't be postponed. The players seem fine, but three umpires had to tap out, leaving the IGHSAU to make the decision no umps will work back-to-back games...

The United States women's soccer team provided a great story during a month we needed one. There is no doubt the pressure got to the U-S in the championship game, but they handled the crushing disappointment with class. Japan made the plays at crunch time too.

Doesn't it seem like women flop a lot less than men?

Fun while it lasted, but most of us will go back to not watching soccer until the next Olympics or World Cup... or if one of our relatives is playing locally...

Still few clues in the Curious Case of Anthony Hubbard...

Washington Post columnist Norman Chad has an interesting column on stupidest things in sports. It didn't take him long to reach one I always blast: college football coaches running on and off the field with bodyguards. 99% of the time, unneeded and silly. It started long ago as a copycat ego trip, and now is just SOP...

The Miguel Jimenez workout during the Open Championship may have given Andy laugh-lock during SoundOff, but it shows one of the world's best golfers doesn't have to be in the world's best shape. Pro golfers have tremendous skill, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're all great athletes. As Carl Edwards said on SportsCenter Monday, some race car drivers are great athletes, some aren't, but all possess great skill. Agreed, and well put...

Screaming girls found their way to Iowa Speedway with Zac Efron in the house. Efron may be famous for his looks, but he has a shot at a career that outlives the screams. Dude has talent, and Saturday it was nice to see him treating people well. He's playing driver Dean Whipple in a movie tentatively titled, Heartland. Dennis Quaid plays Zac's dad, an Iowa farmer..

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Cup Classic, Broken Bat, Franny Mac Returns

What a day it was to sit in the air conditioning, and watch some TV. The World Cup final was fantastic. The Americans blew it, but you have to feel good for the folks in Japan. They needed it.

Across the English Channel, in England, we had another feel-good winner. Darren Clarke, who almost gave up the game of golf, won the Open Championship after a hard charge by Phil Mickelson. I gotta be honest, I didn't see a lick of action, this week. It was always over before I even woke up.

I've been at every I-Cubs game, this weekend, and today was by far the most ridiculous. The heat index was 112-degrees, and the seats were about 200-degrees. Fans needed to sit on wet towels to keep from burning their fanny's.

At Saturday night's game, I caught a broken bat that flew into the stands --- not really. Someone else caught it, and the usher took it away and let me see it. Luckily, I-Cubs owner, Michael Gartner was there and gave the usher the okay to give it back. The reason they take the bats away is because they're considered a deadly object.

When Anthony Hubbard left Iowa, on Thursday, he said he would like to play "perhaps" closer to home. Perhaps not. Hubbard is reportedly talking with Nebraska, which is located 300 miles farther away from his home state of Maryland. I doubt the Hawkeyes are going to let him transfer to a school within the Big Ten --- especially Nebraska.

The Martensdale-St. Marys baseball team has tied the national record for consecutive wins. They'll likely break the record, Tuesday night, in the substate final against Twin Cedars. I'm going to go ahead and put that one in the win column considering Twin Cedars is 12-21 on the year. 

State baseball begins later this week. State softball begins, Monday. I'll be in Fort Dodge for the first two days of the championships. I'm going to buy SPF-900 sunscreen. I usually like being out in the heat, but this isn't heat --- it's hell.

Fran McCaffery makes his return to SoundOFF, tonight.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Cost of Winning, Carver Revitalized, Nasty Nickels


What's the cost of a win? For the Hawkeye football program, it's over $1-million. The U of I is paying Louisiana-Monroe $1.05-million to come to Iowa City, and get its butt kicked. To put that into perspective, the U of I pays Fran McCaffery $1.1-million per-year. 

Marcus Coker is on the Doak Walker Award watch list. Really? He's started one game. Granted, it was a fantastic game, but I'm still surprised. 

The $47-million Carver Hawkeye Arena "revitalization" project is almost complete. It's a good thing the Hawkeyes aren't moving in until July 25th. If Franny Mac had been there, Thursday, he make have destroyed the entire building.

FYI - our spy inside the Iowa athletic offices tells us that he had a camera on McCaffery when he received the news that Anthony Hubbard was leaving. We're hoping to release it, Sunday night, on SoundOFF.

Newt Gingrich threw out the first pitch at the I-Cubs game, tonight (it was actually one of 86 first pitches). One fan, who was wearing a Steve Young jersey, asked me what Wade Phillips was doing here.

I witnessed a mother teaching her daughter the meaning of irony, at the ballpark. After the daughter hit her brother, Mom smacked her in the face and said, "We don't hit!"

When did the British Open become the "Open Championship"? Apparently we're not supposed to say "British Open", anymore. What the crap? We're going to have real problems when the folks at the United States Golf Association decide to take the "U.S." out of the U.S. Open. 

You know what I hate? Nickels. They're big, bulky, and they aren't worth the hassle. Why are nickels so much bigger than dimes? When I'm digging through my change jar, I always get all excited that I've found a quarter, until I realize it's just a worthless 5-penny piece.

The Curious Case of Anthony Hubbard

Anthony Hubbard left Fran McCaffery red-faced. It's not the end of the world, but it's embarrassing for all involved. The University of Iowa spent significant time and resources vetting Hubbard, a felon who spent nearly four years in prison for his role in the robbery and beating of an elderly man in 2003.

Many critics, including numerous Hawkeyes fans, did not think it was a good idea to give a scholarship to a 26-year old man with Hubbard's past, no matter how desperate Iowa was for a talent upgrade.  Head Coach McCaffery and Athletic Director Gary Barta realized and respected all the trepidation, which is why they made a move that would ultimately backfire.

Iowa called a news conference June 15th so McCaffery and Barta could vouch for Hubbard's character. Hubbard represented himself well, and sounded like a guy who learned from mistakes and deserved a second chance. McCaffery talked about the trust he had in Hubbard, and how the junior college transfer fully grasped what he was getting into.

Maybe not.

Hubbard now leaves, and no one saw it coming. Hubbard says he wants to transfer "perhaps closer to home", which leaves the door open to a move farther from home.

What went wrong? How did McCaffery misread Hubbbard? More questions than answers.

McCaffery is right when he said in a statement that at least Iowa found out in July, not September. Hubbard was expected to start, but Iowa's not going to the post-season either way, so it's a setback, not a deathblow.

The U of I news release intimates Hubbard was homesick. He's 26. And on its worst day, Iowa City is a heckuva lot nicer than prison. Something doesn't add up.

The curious case of Anthony Hubbard will likely be remembered as yet one more sign that the pursuit of winning often clouds the judgment of people who should know better. A wise man once said, you never have to talk yourself into a good decision.

-Keith Murphy

(photo courtesy of

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Hanrahan's Nerves, Ankeny's Walk-Off, Serena's Dress

Loved the story Joel Hanrahan's brother Mark told me about Joel's first all-star appearance. Mark says his little brother was so nervous on the mound, he confessed his legs were shaking. I love it when we hear a big leaguer acted as excited as we think we'd be...

Soccer won't ever be as popular in the USA as it is in most other countries, but there's no doubt it's gaining here. People are talking about the women's World Cup, and they should be after that comeback against Brazil, and Wednesday's win over France...

Ames thought it had its first trip to state softball locked up, but Ankeny found a way to win in dramatic, walk-off fashion...

The ESPY's take advantage of the slowest national sports day of the year---the day after the MLB All-Star Game---and provide athletes a chance to celebrate their awesomeness. Seth Meyers is a funny host, though no one will ever make the riach and famous audience squirm the way Norm Macdonald did.

The biggest misfire from the fits and starts I watched was the skit on the Kissing Canadian Rioters. The commerical for hiring NBA players during the lockout was a hit.

Serena Williams paid tribute to Billie Jean King and Title IX, though few paid attention to Serena's message because she was spilling out of her dress.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Hammer, The Trade, The Z

It took Norwalk's Joel Hanrahan a long time, and a lot of work, to pitch his way to the MLB All-Star game. I only know Joel through radio conversations, but those who know him well speak highly, and it was straight cool to see The Hammer on the mound in the 9th inning throwing smoke.

Padres closer Heath Bell made a great entrance---the sprint and slide. The Giants Brian Wilson has that crazy black beard. Hanrahan enters to Des Moines' Slipknot. All these guys owe a tip of the cap to Charlie Sheen's Wild Thing. He took all this to a different level didn't he?

Speaking of closers, the Brewers just traded for K-Rod. The Cardinals need to make a move NOW.

Back to the All-Star Game. I enjoyed it. Jose Bautista made a great catch. Adrian Gonzalez homered to give the American League an early lead. A lead taken away by the 3-run homer of MVP Prince Fielder. (National League won 5-1.) The game only lasted three hours too. It took less time than the Home Run Derby, which seems like it's still going.

More Mount Rushmores on The Murph  & Andy Show. For Cyclones, Andy and I chose Johnny Orr, Gary Thompson, Cael Sanderson, and Troy Davis. Listeners agreed with Orr, Thompson, and Sanderson, but opted for Fred Hoiberg, not Troy Davis.

For sportscasters/writers, we went with Jim Zabel, Pete Taylor, Ronald Reagan, Sec Taylor. The peoples choice: Zabel, Pete Taylor, Gary Dolphin, and John Walters.

Wednesday it's greatest female sports figures and the Mount Rushmore of Drake.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Home Run Hangover, Iowa's Mount Rushmore, 127 Hours

The All-Star Home Run Derby needs some tweaks. Monday night's slugfest lasted a mind-numbing three hours---longer than The Godfather---and proved that even towering home runs can become boring after a while. Furthermore, we had all this hype about National League captain Prince Fielder picking his team, and American League captain David Ortiz the other, and then in the finals we have... Robinson Cano vs Adrian Gonzalez. Yankees vs Red Sox. Wait, what? Even Chris Berman seemed to lose energy quickly, though that's not necessarily a bad thing.

The entire All-Star game needs fixing. You know there's a big problem when 25% of the players find ways to not show up.

Legends know how to seize the big moment. Derek Jeter is a legend. (But if he can go 5 for 5 on Saturday, he should show up at the All-Star game on Tuesday.)

Steve Stricker is not a legend, but he would be if he played the John Deere Classic weekly. Wow.

Most of us don't watch a lot of soccer, but we would if every game had the thrills of the World Cup Quarterfinal between the United States and Brazil. The way the U-S tied and then won had me and millions of others celebrating in front of our televisions. Awesome.

Best finish I remember was the Dodgers' Kirk Gibson's going Roy Hobbs in the '88 World Series with Jack Buck yelling, "I don't believe what I just saw!". Gibson dragged his bad leg to the plate and won game 1 by somehow wristing a walk-off home run that crushed the A's spirit. Gibson had only one-at-bat, but they might as well have named him MVP. (It was Orel Hershiser.)

The Murph & Andy Show listeners agreed with our Mount Rushmore of Iowa sports figures: Nile Kinnick, Bob Feller, Dan Gable, and Kurt Warner (in that order). Iowa entertainers: John Wayne, Johnny Carson, Ashton Kutcher (really), Donna Reed (in that order).

I saw Zookeeper, and it exceeded my expectations, which couldn't have been much lower. Reviews were bad, and I've seen so many talking animal movies, I'm starting to hear voices while walking my dog. I'll give Zookeeper a B- if you're taking your kids, a C- if you're not.

I finally worked up my nerve, at Andy's urging, to watch 127 hours. I'm glad I did. It's the true story of the climber who has to cut off his own arm with a dull knife to survive, but that's actually only a few minutes of the movie. It's more about the human spirit, and the lessons learned when facing your own death. James Franco is terrific. I'll grade 127 hours an A-.

I liked the movie Cedar Rapids too, though I wasn't expecting it to be as raunchy as it is. Ed Helms is likeable as the square insurance agent who learns to party in the big city (of Cedar Rapids!). John C. Reilly is crude and funny. I'll go with a B.

Perhaps even more perplexing than the number of talking animal movies greenlighted in Hollywood is the growing group of body-switching tales. I don't think this happens much in real life either. As I typed, I just saw an ad for another one: Change-Up. At least it has the promise of Justin Bateman. He's great.

Goal USA, Putt For Dough, Find Keith Murphy's Pants


As the boss man (who shall be mentioned again in a few paragraphs) said on Twitter earlier today, what looked to be a dud of a sports week turned exciting real fast.

I'm not a fan of soccer, but I usually get into the World Cup.  I hadn't seen hardly any of this year's Women's World Cup until I flipped it on at noon.  While I don't think it has the impact that the "Soccer will be major sport in the USA" folks probably believe it has, it was a transcendent moment.  Partially because USA had to fight such an uphill battle (frankly they got screwed on a number of calls).  But it was the drama of it all that captivated, and to think it came 12 years to the day of the other notable moment in women's soccer history in this country, the 1999 World Cup win.

I think the nationalism, not the soccer, is what makes people tune into the World Cup (and subsequently why soccer never again retains the heights in this country that it reaches during World Cups).  Heck, same thing is true for Olympic hockey.  Most of the time, soccer and hockey may not draw the casual viewer.  But if you put stars and stripes on the uniform for anything, it gets the juices flowing.
Erika lost the game and any chance at an Emmy
As much as the goal and shootout are remembered, the moment that really sticks out to me is Brazil's Erika faking her injury.  You could tell it was an attempt to run time and an act (bad acting at that), and to see her hop right off the stretcher and back into the game was pretty low.  That kind of "gamesmanship" is one reason I think soccer suffers here.  Fortunately, she was not rewarded with the win.  In fact, it was likely the extra stoppage time from her act that gave USA the last minute it needed to score a goal.  Not to revel in someone's failure, but that's EXACTLY what both Erika and Brazil deserved to have happen after that some of the other stunts they pulled.

The John Deere Classic finish was no slouch.  Golf fans in Iowa have seen some amazing pressure putts this year.  In the Principal Classic it was Bob Gilder's 39-footer on 18 for then win.  Then today Steve Stricker's ridiculous putt.  Drive for show, putt for dough.  Year after year it proves true. 

As of now, welcome to the worst week on the sports calendar.  There is NOTHING worse than the week of the All-Star break.  Other than the game (which can also disappoint), there's next to nothing happening.  It's why ESPN made up the ESPY's, and I want to hurl a brick at my TV every time it comes on.

In order to combat this, I'll be taking a brief vacation in my second home of Colorado.  It's annual thing for me to go back at about this time of the year.  It's mostly about visiting family (Mom, grandmother) and friends.  It's also to recharge the batteries.  But in the back of my mind, there's always one other thing-when I come back, football season is right around the corner.  Can football season come soon enough by the way?
Watch the video below and get the guy on the left a pair of pants

I leave you with a little vintage Keith Murphy.  Amazing the stuff you find on YouTube.  This promo must be from the mid-90's since Keith had hair (and in my opinion kind of looks like Chris), but it is hilarious.  Kind of a spoof on some Michael Jordan commercials back in the day.  Further proof of something I learned interning (and now working) here.  A lot of people in TV try to be funny.  Few actually, naturally, are:

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Mr. 3,000, November 25th, Big Ten Stadiums


I don't like Derek Jeter, but I love how he got to 3,000 hits.

The John Deere Classic has been fighting an uphill battle since its inception. Any tournament positioned one week before The Open Championship is going to struggle to get big names, but no one is going to want to come if Steve Stricker is in the field. The guy is one round away from winning his third straight JDC title.

The Barnstormers have won more games in July than they had won the previous 3 months combined.

I love the idea of having Netflix on my iPhone, but I have never used it.

Not only is chicken half as good as steak, it takes twice as long to cook. I try to be healthy, but sometimes it's just too hard.

Only 138 days until Iowa visits Nebraska. I don't care if the Hawks are 3-8 when they head to Lincoln, that game is going to be intense.

Jake Christensen is the worst Iowa quarterback I've ever seen. The BTN keeps replaying the Iowa-Indiana game from 2007. In my opinion, that was the worst game in the Ferentz era. Even worse than the loss to Western Michigan.

I've been to every Big Ten Stadium except for PSU, Indiana, and Purdue. Here's how I would rank the 9 I've experienced:

1. Ohio State (by far)
2. Iowa
3. Michigan
4. Nebraska
5. Wisconsin
6. Michigan State
7. Illinois
8. Minnesota
9. Northwestern

I can't believe people complain about this hot weather. We get it two months a year. Enjoy it.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Daly Double, Watch-Lists, Caught Stealing


The only thing uglier than John Daly's outfit, was his scorecard. The poor guy took a 13 on the par-4, 4th. I've played Deere Run dozens of times and I can proudly say, I've never carded a 13.

Some guy named Chez is leading the John Deere Classic. Outside of Chez's 14 family members, that won't get anyone excited. The good news (for the JDC) is, two-time defending champion, Steve Stricker, is only two strokes off the pace. No golfer has won back-to-back-to-back tournaments since some guy named Tiger won his third straight WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in 2007.

Is the JDC the easiest tournament on the PGA Tour? Chez is on pace to shoot 28-under. That's just ridiculous. This is why I love to watch the US Open. It's usually the one time a year when the pro's look like the Joe's.

There are few things less interesting than pre-season watch lists, but at least it gives us a chance to talk college football. Iowa's Shaun Prater and ISU's Jake Knott are up for the Nagurski award, givin to the nation's top defensive player. The Outland watch list names Iowa's Riley Rieff, and ISU's Kelechi Osemele.

Kirk Ferentz's sheriff, Ron Stewart, has been named to the Barney Fife pre-season watch list.

I somehow lost by lob wedge at an Iowa golf course, this month. If anyone finds a Titleist 60-degree with a yellow grip, please send it to the TV station. My short game has gone to hell in a golf bag.

So we'll never again see a space shuttle lift off from Cape Canaveral? That's kind of sad. Although, I would like to know what all we've accomplished by sending men and women into space.

I'm watching Dateline NBC (as I do every Friday during the summer because I'm too lazy to change the channel), and they're interviewing a few jurors from the Casey Anthony trial. One of them looks like he's been on a Florida beach for the past month. This thing is starting to make sense to me.

Anthony has reportedly already been offered a part in a porn flick. Experts also say that she could make several million dollars by selling her story. The good news (for her) is, 12 people have already bought it.

Does anyone care about the Women's World Cup? The only person I've heard talk about it is our intern, Mel. It just so happens that she's a member of the Drake soccer team.

Yao Ming retired today. He becomes the first player in NBA history to retire before actually playing a meaningful game.

There's nothing better than stumbling upon a good show that's been on TV for years, and having the ability to watch episode-after-episode on DVD. 'The Wire' is that show, this summer. I just finished season one, and I love it. If only I had never watched a single Seinfeld episode before.

Check out the reaction by Red Sox announcers after a fan gets caught stealing 2nd base.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

2998, 10-9, 42

  • 2998 for Derek Jeter. He'll try to pick up two hits Friday... against Des Moines' Jeremy Hellickson. I think Hellickson stays out of highlights played through infinity, but if he gives up the magic number, he'll raise his profile considerably.
  • Horrible Bosses looks funny, and provides an opportunity for almost anyone to tell a story.
  • I'll get stuck with Zookeeper. Haven't we seen this movie before when it was called Dr. Doolittle?
  • The Cubs rallied from an 8-0 hole to beat the Nats 10-9 Thursday night. I can't believe I just typed that.
  • A Rangers fan died after leaning over the railing and falling twenty feet. The fan was trying to catch a ball tossed up by all-star Josh Hamilton. Just a sad story. I can't imagine how distraught Hamilton must feel, though he was clearly just being a good guy.
  • The Energy is now affiliated with the Bulls, Wizards, and Hornets. That's a busy team.
  • My glorious 42" HDTV just turned to a bunch of green squiggly lines. I tried all connections, and they seem solid. Can a Sony TV crap out after just a few years?

Hansen's Back, 77 Straight, Lowe's High

I'm really happy to learn Marc Hansen will return as sports columnist for the Des Moines Register. I loved reading Marc's takes in the Big Peach era, and post-Peach as well (I miss the Big Peach. Who doesn't?). Hansen is insightful, thoughful, and critical without ever being mean-spirited...

I wish there were a way we could have Hansen back in sports without losing the talented Sean Keeler to cutbacks, but it's 2011...

Martensdale-St. Mary's fell behind 5-2 at Carlisle, but came back to win, 8-5. That's 77 straight and counting. It's not like the Blue Devils are playing an easy schedule either. Carlisle is a good 3-A team. (Martensdale-St. Mary's is 1-A)...

Hard to believe no Yankee has ever had 3000 hits. Derek Jeter is now just three away...

Most surprising read of the year to me is Rob Lowe's book, "Stories I Only Tell My Friends". It's everything you hope for in an autobiography: fascinating behind-the-scene stories, reflections and perspective on lessons learned, and a better understanding of not only the author, but many of the pop culture touchstones of a bygone era. Highly recommended for anyone who lived or loved the 80s...

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Not Guilty, Tebow Statue, Major League

The Casey Anthony verdict felt a lot like the OJ "not guilty" gut-punch. No one's blaming this one on race relations. If Casey Anthony is guilty, and the only people who think she's not were on the jury, then justice will have to wait, but it always seems to catch up. Ask OJ...

I didn't know much about the "Tot Mom" until I spent several days in the University of Florida hospital waiting rooms. If you think people in this state got caught up, Florida was 24/7. I haven't seen my dad so hooked on television since Johnny Carson retired...

I'm happy to report my mom has exceeded all expectations. She's already out of the hospital. I doubt anyone reads this who hasn't had cancer impact their life in some way. My mother is now in her second fight, and she's still standing. I sincerely thank all those who passed along their thoughts and prayers...

Even though we were at the University of Florida hospital, Tim Tebow did not perform the surgery. We did visit his statue though. Really...

More surprising: the Pope on Twitter or Andy Fales on Twitter?...

I was wrong about Albert Pujols; he's back before expected. However, why not wait until after the all-star break?...

I don't think we'll notice any immediate changes at the Iowa Speedway, but long term, it will only help to have the Clements in charge. Most importantly, they're local, but they're also passionate about racing...

76 wins in a row? Martensdale-St. Mary's now has the second longest streak in United States high school history. 76... in baseball? Impossible. Sooner or later you run into a hot pitcher...

Love the quote from British Open champ Louis Oosthuisen at the John Deere Classic: "I believe if you've got a tractor, it's got to be green"...

I finally saw the Hangover 2. With lowered expectations, I thought it was funny. It is the same movie again, though not as good, and the ending is absolutely ridiculous, but some crude laughs...

The Sports Illustrated issue "Where Are They Now" is my favorite of the year. I immediately skipped ahead to the story on Major League. Yes, Charlie Sheen talks about doing 'roids to get his fastball into the mid-80's, but there are many other enjoyable nuggets...