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Tom's Take on Sports

Posts from January 2014

The Monday musings
Random Monday thoughts from a sports broadcaster...

-- Great games Sunday.  I felt (since my Bengals made their usual playoff exit) Denver would win the Super Bowl, and I still do.  The most dangerous player in ANY sport is the one who has something to prove.  Also, isn't it ironic that there are parallels here to John Elway?  Elway needed a legacy win in a Super Bowl, and he got it-- late in his career.  Now, Manning won a Super Bowl earlier with the Colts, but he still has to one-up Tom Brady.  He did it Sunday; now, the Super Bowl looms in just under 2 weeks.

-- The 49'ers had a Super Bowl in their hands, and threw it away with a late interception.  But that doesn't take away from Colin Kapernick's contribution- he is introducing a new type of quarterback to the NFL.  (To think, he was the next pick behind a young man named Andy Dalton...)

--  Oh the joys of playing mainly freshmen.  Indiana defeats Wisconsin on Tuesday, and loses to Northwestern Saturday.  This team will get better-- but are probably a year away from a good NCAA seed.  They may be NIT bound this year, unless they can pick it up the next few weeks.

--  Great wins by North Knox and Rivet on Saturday night.  Warriors blow a good lead, and win a thriller at White River Valley.  This team needed a close win, and they have it.  After a 1-5 start, the Warriors are 4-2 in their last six-- and they are at home the bulk the rest of the season, and for the sectional.  The good news?  They have no seniors, and are playing much better.  The bad news for this year?  Sullivan has a lot of seniors and is the class of this Sectional field.  Anything that happens this year for North Knox is icing-- this is a team that is built for a potential deep run in 2015...

-- Equal time here... Rivet is a good team, but an inconsistent one at times.  Win and a good one over North Knox, lose and a bad one to Day School one day later.  Play strong with Vincennes Lincoln, throw out a disappointing effort at other times.  This team is good; if it gains consistency, it could be a surprise challenger in what is a slightly down sectional field.  Barr-Reeve is state ranked, but I feel Rivet may be the type of team that could take them in a one-game showdown.  For Rivet's aake, I hope it is in the sectional final...

-- Meanwhile, Lincoln does what Lincoln does.  Goes through the season, wins some it shouldn't, loses some it shouldn't, and rounds into shape as a decent threat at tournament time.  Don't put too much stock in the regular season... Lincoln's time is always playoff time.  If you see the Green in your tournatment pairings, prepare for tournament excellence.

-- South Knox is on the right track.  It took Mark Rohrer a year to put his Barr-Reeve lessons to good use, but he has now,  South Knox is quietly becoming the second best team in this sectional behind Sullivan.  The two teams played on Thanksgiving Eve in the opener for both teams; I would love to see what would happen if the two played now.  Sectional time is coming...

-- These are the dog days of basketball for boys and girls' teams.  These next 2 weeks are the hardest for any player-- and for broadcasters.  I have 4 games and a show this week, and 5 games and a show next week.  Teams are sharpening up for pusteason runs, but it can get tiring-- especially with make-up snow games.  Well at least players and broadcasters can round into postseason shape...

-- I had a great random sports thought, but I forgot it.  Must mean I am getting old...

                                  That's my take...I'm Tom Lee.

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Topics: Sports
Locations: DenverIndianaLincolnWisconsin
People: Andy DaltonColin KapernickJohn ElwayTom Brady

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Did Yogi's shot cause a "boo-boo" at Assembly Hall?
     Ok.  I am an Indiana fan and was excited at the Hoosiers' win over Number 3 Wisconsin at Assembly Hall.  It had been a long time coming.  But did Yogi Ferrell's 3 pointer cause a "boo-boo" in Bloomington?  Some analysts think so.  After the win,  students stormed the court in Bloomington to celebrate-- and there's the rub...
     Some commentators feel the court storming was out of place.  They feel it is beneath the Hoosiers' dignity to storm the court over a regular season win over a single-digit ranked team.  Others say, why not?  Indiana is not on top anymore like it once was.  (Wait... should I feel a loss of dignity over that comment?) 
      Mike Greenberg says you should act like you have been there before-- especially if you are Indiana.  Just like many thinking people, I have mixed feelings on the issue.  On one hand, the upset wasn't totally unexpected-- IU is probably a NCAA Tournament team on the 6-7 seed line-- but on the other, they hadn't beat Bo Ryan since early 2007.  That even predated the Hoosiers' "bad old days" of 2009-11.
        Did I agree with the court storming?  Not this early in the conference year.  Save it for a conference title... after all, it is Indiana we are talking about...

                                That's my take...I'm Tom Lee
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Locations: IndianaWisconsin
People: Bo RyanMike Greenberg

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Monday's random thoughts...
-- The top 4 teams are in the NFL Final Four. Denver, New England, San Francisco, and Seattle were the best teams in the NFL, and are in the championship games. The NFL has got it (mainly) right this season, and it continues this postseason.

-- Two reasons for a cold-weather Super Bowl. 1. It is another part of New York's 9/11 recovery; and... 2. They are trying for a NHL Winter Classic-style setting. But will the elements make for a bad-weather Super Bowl? Well, the Polar Express has come and gone, and hopefully so has the worst of winter weather.

-- Vincennes University is 14-1... but where is the buzz? I feel the Blazers ar to Vincennes as the Pacers are to Indiana... noticed only when the posteason comes around. Indiana is a high-school and Big 10 college basketball state (with the exception of Butler in recent years), and southwest Indiana is a high school basketball area. V-U has had multitudes of success, and continues it this year, but it gets swallowed in the tide of other basketball. It's unfortunate, but it's just a fact of life-- right now...

-- Tennis? Already?? We just dropped the watermelons! Now the Aussie Open is happening? Am I the only one who feels this tournament is always a month too early... especially with the next tennis major (the French Open) held in May or June?

-- If professional golf didn't have Tiger Woods, they would have to invent him. The style, the charisma, the insulated demeanor... and a person of color breaking barriers. Rich, unbelievably talented, and flawed-- despite his public image. He was-- and is-- also needed. You can have your Mickelsons and McIlroys...your Zachs and golf course hacks... this sport needs Tiger to keep it from total obscurity. (By the way, I still think Tiger is only equal at best with Jack Nicklaus. As much as Jack wants Tiger to surpass him, I just don't thing it is happening now.)

-- On a similar vein, horse racing needs-- no, let me capitalize that, NEEDS-- a Triple Crown winner. The best shot was Big Brown a few years ago-- but now, with the difference in horse breeding and training, I am not sure it will ever happen. If it does, I want a great story with it-- on the lines of a Smarty Jones. In other words, a low-budget horse beating the big guys-- in other words, a Butler story. Smarty Jones almost did it by the way-- but there's that word... almost. Affirmed did it in 1978...ending a string of 3 Triple Crowns in 6 years (1973, 1977, 1978). That Belmont virtual match race with Alydar in 1978 was still the best horse race ever-- and left a large impact on an 11 year-old horse racing fan-- me. However, before Secretariat wowed the world in 1973, the last Triple was 26 years before-- when Citation won it in 1947. It ias been 35 years-plus since Affirmed-- and counting...

-- The recent Winter Classic was played in less than ideal condtions. Snow made it tough to move the puck, and kept the score down-- and made for great television. A snow globe setting for outdoor hockey, in front of over 100-thousand fans at Michigan's Big House. Even the players-- despite the bad ice-- loved it. To top it off, Detroit played Toronto-- two Original Six NHL teams. Other outdoor games are coming, but there is always room for the Winter Classic. Now, bring the thing to Busch Stadium in St. Louis...

-- Subway likes to call this "Janu-Any" for its sub sale. If you are a high school basketball fan, this is Janu-Any-- you can see any high school basketball game, practically ANY time during the month. Thank the weather for that one...

That's my take...I'm Tom Lee.
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Taking a Dead Spin on the Hall Vote
     Of all the gall!  Noted columnist-- and Baseball Hall of Fame voter Dan LeBatard gives his vote to the voters of  What is the gall here?  The sanctimonious backlash from his action.
      Mike and Mike discussed this issue at length-- and agreed with LeBatard.  Tony and Michael-- of Pardon the Interruption-- disagreed vehemently with the action.  I admit-- as did Greeny and Golic-- it would have been worse if the LeBatard/Deadspin ballot wasn't very legit.  Those Deadspin selections were good picks-- and LeBatard had to sign his name to the ballot in the end.
      Will LeBatard lose his vote?  Almost certainly.  Will he worry much about it?  I don't think so.  LeBatard said his vote doesn't matter, due to differences over the steroid era exclusions to the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Is he right?  In some ways, yes!  The Hall vote is MUCH to parsimonious-- but the Baseball Hall of Fame IS the most hallowed of all the Halls.  Do the steroid-era players belong? Yes-- but with the passing of years.  Barry Bonds should be in anyway, from his play before the PED problems started.  Roger Clemens-- same case.  Mark McGwire?  Yes, but not for his numbers-- but for his impact on the game.  (See O'Neil, Buck-- who should go in for HIS impact on the game-- back when the only performance enhancer they knew was a good size T-bone steak.)  Oh, and yes, Pete Rose should go into the Hall of Fame-- but I think it won't happen until he passes away.  
       Bottom line-- Dan LeBatard was trying to prove a point.  He did-- and will will see the fallout from that point in the days to come.

                                          That's my take...I'm Tom Lee.
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In the Hall-way
     Today marks the national revival of the debate over performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball.  Oh yeah, it also is the day to reveal the men who will enter the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.
      Yesterday, I watched a special on the 40 greatest players not in the Hall of Fame.  A few were steroid-era players, like Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, and Barry Bonds.  However, many were players who competed before the steroid era, or early in that era-- like Tony Oliva, Minnie Minoso, and my personal favorite for the list-- Jack Morris.  One of the people they interviewed say Morris should get in falone or his performance in that remarkable Game 7 of the 1991 World Series.  In an era where the relief pitcher was established, Morris threw 10 innings of stellar baseball, before his team could win the game 7 battle over the Atlanta Braves.  Plus, Bonds deserves be in-- because he was a Hall of Fame caliber player for the Pirates before the PED's kicked in.
           Finally, one of the 40 names they mentioned was Buck O'Neil.  The Negro Leagues player and manager should be in-- but not for his contributions in the Negro Leagues.  Not to say he wasn't a quality player-- his records show he more than held his own for the Kansas City Monarchs in the 1930's, 40's and 50's-- but for his work after the Negro Leagues.  In an era of segregation, he was one of Major League Baseball's greatest scouts, and was the majors' first black bench coach, for the Chicago Cubs in 1962.  His memory was-- and is-- revered in his adopted hometown of Kansas City...and finally, he became an overnight star at 81, thanks to a little documentary called "Baseball."  He came up short in a 2008 special Hall of Fame vote.  But was he bitter?  Not outwardly.  Even though he wasn't elected, he has been honored by the Hall of Fame.  Who introduced the Negro Leaguers who WERE placed in the Hall of Fame at that Cooperstown ceremony?  Buck O'Neil.  Who has a Hall of Fame lifetime achievement award named after him?  Yep, good ol' Buck.  O'Neil passed away in 2009 at the age of 94...never knowing the ultimate honor of a later life that was filled with deserved accolades.  Do the right thing-- close the circle--and put ol' Buck in the actual Hall of Fame.  And while you are at it, look at Bonds, McGwire, and Clemens-- not for their steroid era numbers, but for contributions to the game-- especially BEFORE the steroid era began.  

                                          That's my take-- I'm Tom Lee. 
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A tale of 2 Andrews.....
To quote Charles Dickens, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."  This is a tale of two cities-- but also a tale of two Andrews.
In Indianapolis... Andrew Luck turned a 38-10 third quarter deficit into a 45-44 win.  In Cincinnati, Andrwe (Andy) Dalton turned a 10-7 lead into a 28-10 loss-- also in the third quarter. 
In Indianapoils, Andrew Luck is considered the next coming of John Elway.  (He even looks like Elway-- and they went to the same university... Stanford)... In Cincinnati... Andrew (Andy) Dalton is considered the anti-Elway... just waiting for things to go wrong-- as they did, late in the third quarter on into the fourth-- with a fumble and 2 interceptions.
In Indianapolis, they have talented T.Y. Hilton catching a game-winning touchdown pass.  In Cincinnati, they have talented receiver A.J. Green dropping a pass that would have given his team a fighting chance to come back against San Diego.
Finally, in Indianapolis, the Colts are preparing for a trip to where Cincinnati expected to go-- to Foxboro to play the New England Patriots.  The team that beat the Bengals-- the San Diego Chargers-- will go where Indianapolis expected to go... Denver.

Both quarterbacks will be back with their teams next year, if all goes to plan.  But while Andrew Luck is considered a miracle-worker, Andrew (Andy) Dalton is considered a zookeeper.  As the San Diego announcer said, Dalton doesn't have a monkey on his back, he has a whole zoo there. 

It is the best of times, it is the worst of times.  A tale of two cities, only 125 miles apart... Indianapolis and Cincinnati.  The Colts go on, the Bengals stay home-- for the fifth time in 5 playoff appearances.  I am a Bengal fan-- and like many of my ilk, I wonder if things will ever get better.

                                           That's my take...I'm Tom Lee.
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2013 in review
2013 is over... and memories are all that remain about the year that just ended.  Many people want to forget the year that just passed-- but in sports, there were some good memories to help wash away what to many was a forgettable year.

-- Top 2013 memory:  Rivet to State Championship (again)
     It wasn't so long ago, that Rivet had six varsity players-- total.  Six.  That was back in the ,mid to late 2000's... and it wasn't much farther back that Rivet was on a lonsing streak.  Talk about a total transformation-- Rivet's 2013 included its fourth state finals game in five years.  Only one state title came from it-- in 2011-- but you cah't sneeze at four Semi-State championships over that span... especially when you consider where they were before.

-- Sticking with Rivet, another baseball state championship appearance.  This team came within an inning of winning their first State Baseball title-- and within 2 inches of losing it to Shoals.  I called that game-- and it still amazes me that an errant last out throw that pulled the Shoals first baseman off the bag led directly to a state title game.  Talk about being opportunistic...

-- Linton's charge to the 2A state championship game in basketball.  An ironic end to the career of Austin Karaszia.  Many-- including me-- thought his football career would end in Lucas Oil Stadium-- but that didn't happen.  Instead, his basketball career ended across town-- at Bankers' Life Fieldhouse.  However, half of that state runner-up award should be shipped about 20 miles away, to Clay City-- a late loss to the Eels cleansed this talented team, and they were unstoppable after that loss.  Meanwhile, the Linton Miners continue being the Red Sox of high school football-- getting to the semistate level again and again and AGAIN-- but always falling short of the final step to the State Final.  Eastern Hancock did the trick this year-- but kudos to a Linton team who exceeded expectations in getting that far this year.

-- Best use of a Players' Only meeting:  North Knox Warriors.  North Knox started 1-4, with bad third quarters hampering them in all four losses.  After a loss just before Christmas at Mitchell, the players called a players-only meeting to clear the air.  It worked, at least to this point-- the Warriors went 3-1 at Alice Arena in the McDonalds Tourhament, and have come to within a game of .500.  The good news?  2014 is a giant homestand for the Warriors, with 80 percent of their remaining games-- including the tournament-- at home. 

-- Worst sports news of 2013:  The loss of Union High School at Dugger.  It is a long way from 2000, when Brody Boyd led an iron five to the state title game against Lafayette Central Catholic.  The school was hanging by a thread then, with around 150 students.  The thread was cut-- against the wishes of Dugger residents-- on December second, 2013.  Dugger was part of the Northeast Sullivan School Coporation, and the majority came from the other high school's district-- North Central.  The closing may have been penny-wise, but pound foolish.  If they hope many of the Dugger people will travel 20 miles to school, I think they will be mistaken.  Linton, Sullivan, North Knox, Shakamak, and even White River Valley schools are closer to Dugger than North Central.  Given the bad feelings between Dugger and the district, the students at Dugger may be scattered to the four winds...

-- Finally, in the NFL, good to see Midwestern football alive and well.  The Indianapolis Colts, the Cincinnati Bengals, the Green Bay Packers, and Kansas City Chiefs are all in the playoffs this year-- with Chicago and Detroit in the hunt until the final week.  The one caveat? None of them got byes-- so this is a Midwestern weekend for football across the area.  Enjoy and embrace it...

I hope your 2014 is a great one!! Enjoy the New Year!!

                               That's my take...I'm Tom Lee.

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Topics: Sports
Locations: ChicagoDetroit
People: Austin KarasziaBrody BoydKnox Warriors

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