Archive for July, 2016

At Last, Big 12 Expansion

Posted: July 27, 2016 in Uncategorized

The most conservative of the Rigged Five (no more Power Fiver.  College football is a perfectly rigged system that would make William “Boss” Tweed blush) realizes they are woefully behind in the money race.  Why, of the Five, they are the last to expand is testament to their cautious nature that leads to resistance.  Now the Big 12 realizes change is not necessarily bad.  Especially after ESPN air drops bags of money for ACC broadcasting rights.

The process of their expansion is reflective of the pretentiousness of the Rigged Five.  The Big 12 will entertain, consider, review, appraise and decide who the lucky two or four schools will be offered invitations to join.  The Big 12 will not soil their collective hands by, God forbid, pursuing like a meth addicted prostitute schools that might be a good match.  This method of expansion again points to the conservative nature of the Big 12.  Do note that the ACC, SEC, Big 10 and PAC 12 had no hesitation engaging in salesmanship and promotion to successfully entice schools to join their respective conference.  And the Big 12 wonders why it finishes fifth in a five horse race?

The obvious question is expanding by two schools or four?  I’m predicting two.  Four seems  revolutionary for the Big 12.  Too much, too soon.  They sip their tea, they do not gulp. Thank you very much.

I’m not about to review all schools mentioned as candidates (I don’t have that kind of time.  You should be thankful), but I will take a look at schools that make above average expansion candidates.

Houston, Cincinnati, Central Florida and South Florida offer the best fit.  I’m doubtful about BYU and any MWC schools receiving invitations to join which I will address later.

Houston and Cincinnati offer geographic sense (not that geography matters to most expansion) that reflects the careful approach of the Big 12.  Houston secures the sizable population of southeast Texas while providing a relative short travel distance for Baylor, TCU and Texas.  Economically, a nice fit.  The Cougars also offer a football program that has won 13 games twice in recent years (2015 and 2011) along with a serviceable stadium capacity of 40,000.  Plus, nothing beats Texas based football.

Cincinnati, depending upon how the Big 12 partners the schools once expansion is complete, offers a possible travel buddy for far flung West Virginia.  As does Houston, they offer a stadium with 40,000 seats and plenty of local support.  The Cincinnati media market (#36 per Nielsen data, April, 2016) pales in comparison to Houston’s (#10), but the Big 12 would gently stretch their eastern reach by including the Bearcats and let’s toss in the obligatory Ohio recruiting benefit as well.

If, a big if, the Big 12 truly wants an east coast presence, then prepare for South Florida (#11 media market) and Central Florida (regardless of their horrid 0-12 record in 2015.  #19 media market) to receive invites.  Most mavens/experts overlook the immediate impact of the Big 12 entrenching themselves in the fourth most populous state in the nation.  The benefit is instant.  However, given the cautious past of the Big 12, I do not anticipate the 12 expanding to 14.

And now, the BYU question.  Over the last half-dozen years, BYU has inquired about Big 12 membership only to be denied, rejected and sent away.  Why would the Big 12 have a sudden change of heart now?  Sure, BYU brings a rabid fan base and half the state of Utah, but that is akin to bragging about bringing half a sandwich to a picnic.  If the Big 12 does look west, the media markets of reportedly considered schools (BYU, Boise and Colorado State) are small at best, trivial at worst.  Do not claim that BYU brings the Salt Lake City market for that belongs primarily to the Utes of Utah.  BYU brings Provo and surrounding small towns.  The school has always overestimated (hallucinated?) its perceived national appeal.  Ask the Cougars about the substantial aches and pains of their ill-planned journey into independent football status.  Not exactly what they thought.

To those wondering about the academic status of considered expansion schools, perceived or real, stop wondering.  Big 12 expansion is all about football revenue.  Certainly, once the winners are announced, the Big 12 will be quick to emphasize various academic accomplishments of the new members to the media, but in the end, football considerations rule the day and decision.

Expansion is messy and sometimes creates unintended consequences.  Assuming a smooth inclusion of two (or four) schools may be a tad optimistic.  Big 12 football is dominated by the presence of the University of Texas.  Yeah, those guys.  The school with a television channel devoted to all things Longhorn.  The school with an alumni base that can raise millions overnight.  The school with the bookstore that sells six-figures worth of UT gear every home game weekend.  In the end, who is to say that Texas finds agreeable the expansion invitees?  Maybe.  Which implies maybe not.  Would Texas make a call to the Big 10?  The PAC 12?  If Texas leaves the Big 12 does that action serve as removing the foundation of the Big 12?  Stay tuned.

 

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The fact these guys lead the wild card race is impressive.  Much like the Angels, a lot went south during the first half, but unlike the Angels, the Dodgers more than survived the first 81 games.

Dave Roberts is adept at balancing what Andrew Friedman demands via his over analysis of the game with Mr. Roberts experience as player and coach.  A difficult task in these days of shifts, WAR and OPS.

The obvious second half challenge for the Dodgers is Clayton Kershaw’s visit to the d.l.  Will the 15 day stay become a 30 day stay?  Probably.  What then?  Panic at Dodger Stadium?  Hand wringing?  Cold sweats?  Why not.  Consider the top three starters leading the second half charge are 19-year-old Julio Urias, Scott Kazmir and Kenta Maeda.  Start sweating.

Is Yasiel Puig traded for starting pitching?  He still possesses value even as he makes his monthly bad decision.

Expect the Dodgers to reach deep for starting pitching in late July.  Who they dangle in trade is a challenge less Puig, but trade they must.  Most of their developed talent is found in AA and A+ ball.  Do you diminish the future for a starter or two?  Let’s watch.

 

 

Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.  With perfection.

First, the positive.  Mike Trout, Mike Trout, Mike Trout.  He will be the greatest baseball player you will see during your lifetime.

The starting pitching has been a disaster.  Matt Shoemaker is here today and in Salt Lake City tomorrow.  Hector Santiago is ineffective.  Jered Weaver, when on, is a pleasure to watch.  Off speed stuff in the sixties.  Unbelievable.  Yet, when he is off, he gets hammered.

The bullpen is as inconsistent as the starting pitching.  On behalf of both starters and relievers, the injuries have been as hurtful as a dog bite.  A junkyard dog bite.

The offense is missing after Kole Calhoun, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols.  Sure, Mr. Pujols will never see a .300 batting average again, but he does drive in runs.  Yunel Escobar enjoys his time off.  Come on.  You expect him to play everyday?  Please.   Left field has been a disaster.  C.J. Cron does what he can at first base.

Sixteen games under .500.  Ouch.  Time for change.  Billy Eppler needs a new manager.  Mike Scioscia had a good run.  But too long of a run.  Time to walk the beach.

Very little went well for the Padres during the first 81 games.  Sure, expectations were low, but meeting low expectations is not the goal.

While the second  half will not differ from the first half, do NOT trade a solid core of offense.  Keep Matt Kemp, Wil Myers and Jon Jay.  Conventional wisdom says to trade Mr. Kemp, but why?  He drives in runs and plays everyday.  Mr. Myers is beginning to realize his substantial capability.  Mr. Jay covers a great deal of ground in the outfield.

Christain Bethancourt is the catcher of the future.  Trade Derek Norris and begin the future.

Speaking of trades; Melvin Upton, Brett Wallace and Alexi Ramirez should move on.  Give the kids at El Paso and San Antonio a shot.  The kids can’t do any worse than their predecessors.

I advocate the same for the entire pitching staff less Drew Pomeranz and Colin Rea.  The bullpen walks far too many batters.  Their collective base on balls per nine innings is unimpressive to plain old bad.

Here’s to next year.  By the way, those of you who attend a Padres game from today forward, you are most kind.

Fire John Farrell.  Now.   Dave Dombrowski must do the deed.  Now.  Each day with Mr. Farrell as manager leads to additional slippage in the ultra-competitive A.L. East.  Torey Lovullo guides the Sox to success in the second half.

The offense has been consistent and perhaps the best in the A.L.  Change little to nothing. Granted, Christian Vazquez usually looks baffled with a bat in his hands, but he calls a good game and seems to enjoy the confidence of the pitching staff.  The base running has been exceptional.  This year, Sox runners take the extra base as never before.

Travis Shaw is not a third baseman.  He commits the cardinal sin of thinking before throwing.  A healthy Brock Holt, Chris Young and Blake Swihart makes for a steady left field.  Hanley Ramirez has played a serviceable first base to date.  A hoped for surprise.

Having 60% of a starting pitching staff does not survive the Dog Days of summer.  David Price, Rick Porcello and Steven Wright need company.  Why is Clay Buchholz allowed to wear a Red Sox uniform?  Mr. Buchholz needs to be released immediately, though late May would have been ideal.  Eduardo Rodriguez must find his former self for a successful Red Sox second half.

Koji Uehara is slipping.  Junichi Tazawa, Matt Barnes or Tommy Layne should handle the eighth in place of Mr. Uehara.

Raise a good beer to the second half.

 

The Pepper Hamilton report damns Baylor.  Baylor, at last, discovers worshiping at the altar of football is akin to heresy.  But, the money is so sweet, tempting and incredibly irrational.  The Pepper Hamilton report rejects any claim from Baylor regents and administration regarding lack of knowledge, surprise, presence of rogues or general mystery about the crime of rape committed by their students who play football.  Baylor created a land of rape and chaos from 2009 to the present.

Ken Starr (still employed at Baylor as a law professor.  Sweet irony) claims that he was unaware of the crimes of rape and sexual assault committed multiple times by various football players.  Mr. Starr is hard pressed to prove this lack of knowledge.  His claim is ludicrous and a complete lie.  What university president and chancellor (Mr. Starr served as both during the time frame covered by the Pepper Hamilton review) remains detached from his Power Five football program?  All that revenue, profit and river of green generated by any Power Five football school always receives the dearest attention from the man or woman in charge of that university.  He fully embraced his football program.  He protected his football program.  He chose to ignore sexual assault because the pursuit of that crime would have led to a decline in Baylor revenue.  Presidents and chancellors either prevent or create a lack of institutional control.  Given Mr. Starr’s bowed posture at the altar of football, he, along with the board of regents, fellow worshipers of football generated revenue, created a climate of crime and fear.  Institutional control was as foreign as Latin.

Pepper Hamilton’s findings include, “University administrators . . . directly discouraged complainants from reporting or participating in student conduct processes”.  Fancy language for administration did not want to consider much less acknowledge the crime of rape or offer rape victims access to pursuing investigation of their sexual assault.  The act of daily administration begins with the president/chancellor’s office.

Additionally, Pepper Hamilton interviewed “witnesses” from the president’s office, executive council and office of general counsel.  Is Mr. Starr’s claim of ignorance to be believed given his daily interaction with his own immediate employees, executive council and legal arm of Baylor resulted in years long conversation void of the crime of rape committed by Baylor football players?  No whispers?  No hushed conversations?  Complete and utter ignorance since 2009?

“Administrators engaged in conduct that could be perceived as victim blaming . . .”  Baylor’s culture is established by the board of regents and Mr. Starr.  The board of regents is as culpable of this crime and acceptance of sexual assault as Mr. Starr.  After all, the Baylor board of regents engaged Pepper Hamilton to review all things rape centered at Baylor.  Ironic that concerns about Title IX implementation leads to the public confirmation of a private school’s crime.  Their collective and individual hands are as bruised and filthy as Mr. Starr’s.

Art Briles is a worthless man.  He crawls from the same stagnant, repulsive slim as his players who engaged in sexual assault and physical assault (Baylor football coaches recruit well-rounded football players.  They commit two types of assault, not just one).  I trust that Mr. Briles will be the recipient of multiple lawsuits from the Baylor students who were sexually and physically assaulted by his football players.  Perhaps a new application of law will be established.  Subject matter for one of Mr. Starr’s law classes.

The same words apply to Ian McCaw, the athletic director during Mr. Briles reign.

Mr. McCaw and Mr. Briles, candidly the entire football coaching staff, should publicly respond to Pepper Hamilton’s statement, ” . . . the University and Athletics Department failed to take effective action in response to allegations involving misconduct by football staff.”

Address, “Baylor failed to take appropriate action to respond to reports of sexual assault and dating violence reportedly committed by football players.  The choices made by football staff and athletics leadership, in some instances, posed a risk to campus safety and the integrity of the University.”

Two words that damn Mr. Briles and Mr. McCaw:  choices and integrity.  These two enablers made abhorrent choices.  They are empty of integrity.

Comment on, “In those instances (reports of sexual assault committed by football players), football coaches or staff met directly with a complainant and/or a parent of a complainant and did not report the misconduct.”

Expand on, “. . . some football coaches and staff took improper steps in response to disclosures of sexual assault and dating violence . . .”

Illuminate, “The football program also operates an internal system of discipline . . . relies heavily upon individual judgement in lieu of clear standards for discipline . . . ad hoc internal system of discipline lacks protocols for consistency with University policy . . . improperly insulates football players from appropriate disciplinary consequences . . . puts students . . . and the institution at risk of future misconduct.”

Respond, “. . . created a cultural perception that football was above the rules.”

Indeed.

The perfect cherry on top of this stench of university generated deceit is the consideration by the Baylor board of regents to suspend Mr. Briles for one year, then allow him to resume his coaching duties as penance for his considerable sin.  Ludicrous.  Ridiculous.  Franz Kafka and Joseph Heller would blush at the bottomless farce of the Baylor regents.

Parents everywhere, do not send, enroll, permit, consider your daughter as a Baylor student.  Her physical safety is of no concern.  Ask the board of regents.