Friday, February 29, 2008

Big 12 Report Week 7

It's about time to start eating crow, I figured I'd get a head start this week...

1. Texas (24-4, 11-2) I've badmouthed Rick Barnes a lot this year, but he's closing in on a Big 12 Title, a #1 seed, and possibly Big 12 Coach of the Year. It's hard to imagine who else could win it now unless K- State or Baylor win out.

2. Kansas (25-3, 10-3) I still thinks a #1 seed is possible, but they'd have to win the last three, and three in the tourney. Possible? Sure...maybe not quite as probable as it once seemed. One thing is for sure, the Hawks need to show some heart in their revenge game Saturday vs....

3. Kansas State (18-9, 8-5) To clear one thing up. I was not predicting a Wildcat collapse earlier in the week. I was just stating that if they did lose 3 of their next 4 (including a first round loss in the Big 12 Tourney) then it would be the greatest collapse in Big 12 history...and I stand by that.

4. Baylor (19-8, 7-6) Bears deserve the jump in ranking after a gut check win over KSU at home and a road win (even if it was at Colorado). I picked this team to win 5 games this year...count me amongst those who are surprised by the Bears possible tournament run.

5. Texas A&M (21-7, 7-6) I'm worried about the Aggies. No way they should have lost to Nebraska on Saturday. Now they have road games against Baylor and OU before a season finale at home against KU. They may blow this thing yet.

6. Okalahoma State (15-12, 6-7) No one in the league is hotter than the Cowboys. Home games against Nebraska and Oklahoma mean by this time next week this team could be firmly on the bubble.

7. Nebraska (17-9, 6-7) I told you I hate this team right? Every time I write them off they throw up a couple of pretty W's...then I get back on the bandwagon. All I'm saying is, their tourney hopes are not lost yet...amazingly.

8. Oklahoma (18-10, 6-7) The Sooners putting up 45 in back to back blowout losses is inexplicable. Now they have to win out, which doesn't seem likely.

9. Texas Tech (15-12, 6-7) A 44 point loss to A&M? UT and KU next on the schedule? They're done.

10. Missouri (15-13, 5-8) All hope of a miraculous run now lives in Kansas City. Wouldn't that be fun? The first year in the Sprint Center, the Tigers making a run to the finals...stranger things have happened...probably.

11. Iowa State (14-14, 4-9) Done.

12. Colorado (10-17, 2-11) Iowa State, @ Kansas State, @ Nebraska...can they win one and avoid 20 losses? They might be able to win one, but unless they skip the Big 12 tournament they won't be able to avoid 20 losses.

I'd like to take this moment, with my mouth full of crow, to remind you that I did pick Michael Beasley as the unquestioned player of the year here. Coach of the Year? Well, we're 3 straight Nebraska wins away from that being a possibility...never say never.

Postseason Projections
Kansas #1 seed
Texas #2 seed
Kansas State #7 seed
Baylor, A&M #10 seed

Thursday, February 28, 2008

I'm lost

It's going to take me at least another 24 hours to figure out the Big 12 race after the last's ridiculous. Between that and the fact that it's Spring Play season at the Elementary school means the Big 12 Report won't be up until tomorrow...also pushing back my next Royals blog to week 2. How about Hochevar going 6 up 6 down yesterday though?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Starstruck 2/27

Lyons effort not enough in MU's loss to Oklahoma State

Leo Lyons was a monster last night, much like Mizzou fans wish he had been all year. With career highs in both points (27) and rebounds (18) Lyons tried to will the Tigers on to the bubble himself...but it wasn't enough. Don't fault Lyons or the Tigers, their opponent, Oklahoma State, is simply on fire....they've won 5 of 6 and it looks like maybe I was writing about the wrong team streaking on to the bubble. It's looking very possible that the Cowboys will be 17-12, 8-7 going into their season finale at Texas. Of course, the Longhorns will be(most likely) playing for the Big 12 Championship, so it won't be a cakewalk. As for the Tigers, they'll have to win 4 in a row in Kansas City if they want to go dancing....

K-State basketball wallowing in negativity

As usual Whitlock is over the top here, and scathing. The one thing I'll say about this K-State team? I'm not sure everyone realizes how close they are to a ginormous collapse...They were 17-5, 7-1 and in sole possession of first place just two and a half weeks ago. Since then they've lost to Texas Tech, Nebraska, Baylor, and Texas at home with their only win being a revenge pounding of Mizzou. The Wildcats must have one more win and may need two more to make the get two they'd have to win a road game which they haven't done in over a month. I'm not saying it will happen...just that it could...and if it does, it may rank as one of the biggest collapses in Big 12 history.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Believe it or not

Fine I'll say it. If Mizzou wins tonight, they've got a realistic shot at making the tournament. In fact, I'd say a better shot than Kansas would have of winning the Big 12. Seems absurd? With a win tonight the Tigers would be 16-12, 6-7 and a half game out of 4th place in the third or 4th best conference in the country. They'd have games left at Baylor, home against Iowa State at home and at Oklahoma. Missouri can win all three of those games and if they did they'd be all but in. If they won two of them they'd be 19-13, 8-8 with wins over the (likely) Big 12 Champs and (possible) Big 10 Co Champs. This is a HUGE game for the Tigers. Let's hope Mizzou Arena is rocking because if it is it's hard to see OSU winning tonight.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Finally, the lineup

All of the focus it seems is on the pitching with the Royals this year...

Who will win the last two spots in the rotation?
Will Meche and Bannister be as good as last year?
Will Greinke finally turn into the stud we think he can be?
Can Yasuhiko Yabuta be the next great Japanese set up man?
How will the sophomore season of closer Joakim Soria go?

All of these questions and more are important. Heck, I won't even debate that pitching wins championships. Nope, no questioning the importance of pitching but there is one other thing you can't debate; you have to score runs to win...especially in the American League. How is this team going to do that? Last year the Royals finished 27th in the majors in runs scored, no matter how good the pitching is, that won't cut it...but there's reason for hope:

- Jose Guillen. I should be able to stop at the period, but there are enough naysayers out there, I'll offer this: Guillen would have been the best bat on the Royals last year, there's no reason to expect anything different this year. He gives this lineup a sense of legitimacy it didn't have last year...much like Gil Meche did for the rotation last year. Guillen will make Gordon, Butler, and Teahan better.

- Billy Butler drove in 52 runs(5th on the team) in only 329 at bats. Not a great percentage, but assuming he's closer to 550 at bats this season he should be more productive than any bat the Royals had last year. I think .320/25 HRs/90 RBI is a very realistic projection of Butler's sophomore year.

- No way Alex Gordon starts as bad as he did last year. After the break he hit .264 with 9 homers and 32 RBI in 70 games. I think it's very possible that's we'll see him in the same 25 Homer 90 RBI ball park as Billy Butler.

- Trey Hillman has a new approach. I've heard this a lot, but I'm not sure exactly what it is. Regardless, it has to be better than Buddy Bell's approach...anything different is better. One thing I have heard is that he likes to manufacture runs and Joey Gathright could be a big part of that plan. Gathright's talent and speed is unquestionable, I just hope we've found someone who can hone it.

With that being said, here's the lineup I'd put out there 150 games a year:

CF Joey Gathright
LF David DeJesus
DH Billy Butler
RF Jose Guillen
3B Alex Gordon
C John Buck
1B Mark Teahan
2B Mark Grudzielanek
SS Tony Pena Jr

Now I know a lot of you are wondering why Teahan and Grudz are at the bottom...I think we know what we have in these guys, decent hitters...consistent...solid...but not legitimate 2 and 3 hitters. We're hoping that Gordon and Butler can develop into middle of the order guys right? Why not start them there with some protection? Won't they see a lot more fastballs there then if they're hitting in front of TPJ? My case for Gathright? He's the only legit leadoff hitter we have and he hit .307 last year. More important than that? He's a raw talent. Yeah, he still needs polishing, but so did Willie Wilson, we've got to take a chance on raw talents like this and give them a chance to turn into what they could.

Now here is the lineup I expect...(once Guillen's suspension is over)
CF David DeJesus
2B Mark Grudzielanek
LF Mark Teahan
RF Jose Guillen
DH Billy Butler
3B Alex Gordon
1B Ross Gload
C John Buck
SS Tony Pena Jr

To me, that lineup isn't near as exciting. But what would be exciting is if Hillman chose a lineup and stuck with it. I understand he may be a tinkerer, but Buddy Bell's 'experimenting' with the lineup got very old and in my opinion was a detriment to the team.

What do I expect either of those lineups to do? Score more runs than last year. It seems to me that top 20 would be a nice improvement, and with our pitching top 15 could get us into the playoff race. I think both of those are possible, with Gordon and Butler turning into borderline superstars.

Big 12 Shake up

Kansas and Kansas State are falling, and if Texas beats K-State tonight the race is all but over. But the other team in the area, the Missouri Tigers, find themselves just a game out of 4th... A week ago their game tomorrow night against Oklahoma State looks like it would be played solely for pride, now it's to stay within a game of the the last bye in the Big 12 Tournament...and maybe to stay in the hunt for an NCAA Tournament bid. That's almost as hard to believe as the fact that Kansas State lost to Baylor with Michael Beasley and Bill Walker combining for 75. The Wildcats are going to have to learn to guard someone...and fast.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Big 12 Report Week 6

It's that time of year to start talking about the Big Dance, the bubble and which teams are going where. All year long I've predicted where I thought the teams were going, but as we inch towards March, I thought I'd take a closer look at the postseason hopes of all of the teams in the race for the tourney, and at the same time try to figure out how many teams the Big 12 will land.

Number one and two in the power rankings, Kansas and Texas, are the only true locks I see for the conference. There are others that should be in, but not that I'm entirely certain could survive a collapse at the end of the year. Colorado, the season long bottom feeder of the league, is the only team I see that is completely eliminated (barring a Tournament Championship). With those three out of the equation, here's how I handicap the race:

(All predictions include Big 12 Tournament games)

In, Barring a Catastrophic Collapse

Kansas State (18-7, 8-3) A lot of people think they should be in the locks category, but they've proven they can lose to some of the worst teams in the conference and their remaining schedule is brutal. At Baylor, Texas, at Kansas, Colorado, at Iowa State. The way the Wildcats have played on the road I'd say only one of those games is a lock to be a win, and I'm not certain one more win gets them in. Prediction: 21-11, 10-6, 8 seed

Oklahoma (18-8, 6-5) The Sooners are the opposite side of the spectrum. Their resume may not be quite as impressive as KSU's now, but their remaining schedule includes Nebraska, Oklahoma State, and Missouri. Prediction: 22-11, 9-7, 9 seed

Texas A&M (20-6, 6-5) The Aggies had a bad week, but truthfully they may be the only team that can get in at 8-8 in conference because they were so good in the non-con. A loss to Nebraska this weekend would change everything though. Prediction: 24-9, 9-7, 8 seed

Stumbling Down the Stretch

Baylor (17-8, 5-6) Remember all of that talk about Scott Drew as coach of the year? He'll deserve it if he can right this ship enough to make the tourney. Bears can lose only once more in my estimation. Their remaining schedule? K-State, at Colorado, Missouri, A&M, at Tech. I don't think so. Prediction: 21-10, 8-8, NIT

Texas Tech (14-11, 5-6) Golden opportunities have continually passed the Red Raiders by this season, but perhaps none more crucial that two two point losses to Oklahoma. That's also probably the biggest reason the Red Raiders postseason hopes seem so grim. Prediction: 17-14, 7-9

Working Without a Net

Oklahoma State (13-12, 4-7) Cowboys are the hottest of the teams left living on a prayer, but they face Kansas tomorrow, which may cool them off. After that, the rest of their games are at least winnable, save the season finale vs. Texas. Prediction: 17-15, 7-9

Missouri (14-12, 4-7) Last week I wrote about how the Tigers could still sneak into the postseason and they promptly got drilled by Kansas State. The funny thing is, they still can. The remaining schedule is very friendly (Colorado, Oklahoma St, at Baylor, Iowa St, at Oklahoma), but the Tigers must win out. Prediction: 16-16, 6-10

Nebraska (15-9, 4-7) I'm beginning to hate this team. We talk about what an enigma Kansas State is, but they are no more so than the Huskers. No one outside of the state of Kansas has beat them by more than 8 this year. With A&M, OU, and Texas on the schedule that's about to change. Prediction: 17-13, 6-10

Iowa State (14-12, 4-7) Only two home games left for the Clones, and they're against KU and KSU. A conference road win would be the first this year, odds do not look good. Prediction: 15-17, 5-11

As sad as it is it's looking like a 5 bid year for the Big 12. Sure, if Baylor could get to 22 wins and an 8-8 record they may have a would any of the other teams if they could run off 5 in a row...I just don't see it happening. As for the top dogs? Kansas still looks good for a #1 to me, but can probably only lose one more the rest of the way. Texas, with their win over A&M is a solid #3 with the chance to get into the discussion for a 2.


The Big 12 Report is already a day late, I'm gonne try to wrap it up by noon today. What's the problem? Well, it could be the two hour commute I've had the last two days due to Crashapalooza on 71 Highway, or the fact that I can't find any way to describe my feelings on a K-State team that beats Kansas but losses to Tech, Mizzou and Nebraska...either way, I'm aiming for a 12 noon release.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Starstruck 2/20

Guillen makes presence felt on first day in Royals’ camp

I can’t tell you how excited I was by this article. You all know, I’m a bit of a Royals homer (or at least the Kool Aid Drinker is)…but I spent the off-season defending Dayton and this move, just like I did last year with the Gil Meche signing. Here’s why I think this could work:

Kansas City needs a big shot and Jose Guillen needs somewhere that he can be the big shot. He can make his demands, go off on a tangent every once in a while…whatever. I think we have just the right mix of guys here to say “Okay, that’s just Jose being Jose” and laugh it off. I mean, Emil’s gone, someone has to make ridiculous statements.

From reading this article, and everything else I’ve read, it sounds like the team is really reaching out to Jose, maybe even coddling him a little…fantastic. There aren’t any egos too big on this team, which to me means there’s plenty of room for Guillen’s…kind of like how the Red Sox treat Man Ram…Yeah, I know, Guillen’s no Man Ram…the talent in our locker room isn’t the same as the Red Sox either…I really think this could work…

Progress in Allen negotiations may be problem with Peterson

Okay, a lot of you are probably thinking “Surprise, surprise another Whitlock Anti-Carl column”. Yeah, you’re right…and so is Whitlock. King Carl’s reign of terror is almost over, everyone knows that. Whether Carl decides to leave on his own or Clark Hunt finally fires him I doubt there’s anyone that expects Carl to be with the Chiefs in three years. So as a parting gift he’s going to chase off yet another great Chief? Shocking!

How much of Donnie Edwards prime did we miss? Think we’re getting ready think the same thing about Kawika Mitchell? How about John Tait? Think we could have used him this season? Now I know you can’t sign everyone, but Carl has made a habit of alienating players that we as fans really end up missing.

Bottom line, Jared Allen is bigger than Edwards, Mitchell or Tait…Jared Allen is the face of the Chiefs right now. You think fans relate to LJ? Please. Brodie? Most of them want him gone. It’s Jared Allen, and besides that, he’s a stud. If Carl blows this it’ll be a fitting black eye for him to leave on the organization.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Olivo disappointed that Buck enters camp as Royals’ starting catcher

I love reading this story. As long as Olivo isn't cancerous about this, it's exactly what we want. You really want someone on your team that's okay with being a backup? Did you see Jason LaBOOOOOO last year? I said earlier this year that Buck would be the starter, regardless of the Oliva acquisition, but the competition can't hurt.

Chiefs put franchise tag on defensive end Allen

I don't love reading this. Like so many things that have happened at Arrowhead...WHY?!?! Why didn't we get a long term deal done long before this? Why spend 8.9 million on Allen this year, when no one thinks we'll be competitive, if it pretty much assures that he won't be back next year? Allen is easily the most popular guy on the team, maybe in the city and everyone is going to take his side. Surely Carl has a better plan than this to keep him in KC, right?

Monday, February 18, 2008


Beasley making it difficult for teams to slow him down

Beasley's 40 and 17 against the Tigers this weekend was just another example of his amazing freshman season. All year last year we heard about how Kevin Durant's year would not be duplicated for a long time, if ever. Really? In the non-con all I heard was how Beasley's numbers weren't as impressive because K-State wasn't playing anyone, so I thought we'd look at conference stats only...Durant vs. Beasley...

Durant '07- 28.9 points(1st), 12.5 rebounds(1st), 50.5 FG%(4th), 2.06 steals(2nd, 1.6 blocks(1st)
Beasley '08- 27.7 points(1st), 11.7 rebounds(1st), 53.3 FG%(2nd), 1.9 steals(3rd), 1.1 blocks(10th)

So across the board it looks like Durant is just a little bit better right? Remember this: Durant played on a team that's currently ranked #7 in the country without him and they didn't win the conference last year. No disrespect to Jacob Pullen and Bill Walker, but how much would this year's Texas team be favored by over K-State without Beasley? 15? Yet these Wildcats are 8-2 and control their own destiny in the Big 12 race... I guess what I'm saying is Durant may have a had a slightly better statistical season than Beasley (so far) but Beasley has been much more valuable to his team.

Also consider this, Durant's Horns went 25-10, 12-4 last year with a loss in the Big 12 Finals and a 19 point second round loss to USC...not even a Sweet 16? Michael Beasley has a great opportunity to best him in those areas...and what really matters more?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Not so fast

The Kool Aid Drinker was ready for a quick write up on what should be the most stable part of the Royals in 2008, the bullpen. Read that again "What should be the most stable part of the Royals in 2008, the bullpen." Yeah, and I meant it. Joakim "The Warria" Soria closing out games, being set up by the import Yasuhiko "Smooth Like" Yabuta, "The First Joel" Peralta and Himmy Hobble. Sure, we'd fill in a couple places, Ron Mahay would be another lefty, maybe John Bale would too...Luke Hudson and Leo Nunez my fill out the bullpen...and then this article...Luke Hochevar in the bullpen? Brilliant! Okay, maybe not that brilliant, but this quote from Trey Hillman was:
"What we want to do for our Major League club now is provide it with the best 12 pitchers that we can -- period. It's as simple as that -- period."

That's exactly what we need to do, in fact I'd say it should just be the plan to put Hochevar in the bullpen, at least until the All Star Break. For one thing it keeps his innings down, something that's always a concern with young arms. For another, it keeps him getting exposed too early. It's much harder for teams to develop a book on a young reliever who's throwing roughly 1/3rd as many innings as he would be as a starter. Yes, I love the Hochevar to the pen idea. That being said, if he earns it we're left with 6 spots in the pen...

- Soria will be our closer barring catastrophe
- Yabuta and Mahay are probably as guaranteed as anyone in the discussion
- Hard to see Peralta and Gobble not breaking camp with the team

That's leaves one spot for a ridiculous amount of candidates....
Ryan Braun, Bale, Hudson, Nunez, no to mention guys like Jorge De La Rosa, Brian Lawrence, Hideo Nomo that are vying for the rotation but expected (by the Kool Aid Drinker at least) to fall short. My vote goes to Nunez as long as he stays healthy, it's hard to imagine he will with that frame. No matter who wins the spot you have to praise Dayton Moore for the job he's done putting together this stable of arms. We've never had a competition like this with so many seasoned veterans and young arms vying for so few spots. It's hard to imagine that Trey Hillman wouldn't put together one of the best bullpens in all of baseball with many read that again.

Where in the World has the Sports Report been?

Sorry guys, I took a two day hiatus to the Snorty Horse. What's the Snorty Horse you ask? Only about the classiest roadhouse in all of Missouri. I was there to see Johnny Cooper, who was least on this night. Kid is only 19, but his talent is obvious.

Regardless, the Kool Aid Drinker will be back this afternoon with his look at the bullpen...kind of hard to think about baseball with this weather.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Big 12 Report Week 5

I'm in a time crunch (which is fitting since so many Big 12 teams find themselves in the same position) so I'm skipping the snazzy intro and getting straight to the Power Poll:

1. Kansas (8-2) A three point road loss to the 11th ranked team in the country is no reason for alarm. Jayhawks still look like league champs and a #1 seed to me.

2. Texas (7-2) They almost pulled it off. Last week I half-joked that they might lose to Iowa State and beat KU. They beat the Cyclones in OT instead. Longhorns control their own destiny and winning out may get them a 1 seed.

3. Texas A&M (6-3) Road win at Mizzou may not look like a big deal, but try telling that to the team above and below them.

4. Kansas State (7-2) Every bit the enigma we imagined them to be, but still control their own destiny in the Big 12 race. Did they really deserve to fall to 4? Not as much as Texas deserved to move up to 2.

5. Baylor (5-4) Looking more like the team I forecasted and less like their flash-in-the-pan start every day. I like Scott Drew a lot, but they're in a brutal stretch of schedule right now and this tailspin may be hard to stop.

6. Texas Tech (4-5) Win over K-State could have been a season saver. Battle with OU on Saturday to determine who has a realistic chance at the dance.

7. Oklahoma (4-5) Longar Longar was missed, but losing by 14 to Colorado? Tournament teams don't do that.

8. Missouri (4-6) Suddenly there's a quiet clamoring that the Tigers could finish 5th or 6th in this league, maybe even sneak in the back door for an NCAA bid...really? You expect Jim Mora to come storming out "Playoffs? Playoffs?" but it isn't that farfetched. They only have two games left against teams above .500 in the conference. They have to win out at home (OSU, Colorado, Iowa State) and steal two of three on the road (KSU, Baylor, OU). Stranger things have happened...

9. Iowa State/Oklahoma State (3-7) Two mediocre teams with much less than mediocre luck.

11. Nebraska (3-6) We all thought it was going to be Texas Tech or Baylor that really made me look like a fool. Nope, it's the Huskers. How did I ever think this team was going to be good? Doc Sadler Big 12 Coach of the Year? Seriously?

12. Colorado (2-7) Big win over OU, momentum building, now they head to Lawrence. So much for momentum. Kansas should win this game by 30...

Postseason Predictions
Kansas #1 seed
Texas/Texas A&M #3 seed
Kansas State #5 seed.
Baylor #11 seed

Oklahoma/ Texas Tech NIT


Only one thought:

If McNamee had even an iota of credibility Clemens' boat would be sank. As it is, they both look like liars. My point though? Everyone seems to think that Clemens being mad is some kind of proof that he's being wrongly accused. Sure, that would make a guy mad, but wouldn't getting ratted out by a lowlife like McNamee and then hearing that everyone believes him over you? In fact, I think the latter would make me madder.
It's always big news when the Tigers win a conference road game. This game adds to the logjam at the bottom of the conference and assures that Oklahoma and Texas Tech are the only hope the Big 12 has for getting 6 teams in the tournament...and they look like long shots. From the Tigers perspective, it's good to see this team is still giving good effort, I think it says a lot about the job Mike Anderson is doing.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Pitchers and Catchers Report!

Today it all, not the Roger Clemens (alleged) perjury debacle...although that is a developing story that the Kool Aid Drinker is following closely, and you can too here. Nope, as big as the congressional hearing is, it's small potatoes compared to what starts today (officially) in Surprise, Arizona:

The Resurrection of the Royals... Led by Trey Hillman, orchestrated by Dayton Moore and brought to life by the likes of Awesome Alex Gordon and Bad Ass Billy Butler, this is finally the year that Kansas City returns to the baseball glory of the 70s and 80s. How? With pitching of course. That being said, the Kool Aid Drinker opens Spring Training with his look at the pitching staff...

(ed. note- This was originally going to be about the entire staff, but I wrote way too much on the starting rotation, and decided to save the Bullpen for Sunday.)


There are three locks here; Gil Meche, Brian Bannister, and Zack Greinke. What I'm hoping is that Greinke and Bannister both out-perform Meche who is a pretty good bet to be between a 3.75 and 4.25 ERA. I'd assume that conventional wisdom indicates that Bannister has a slight dropoff as the league now has a book on him, but by the same token I think it's possible that Greinke has a breakout season, and if he gets run support and stays healthy he may approach 20 wins. In last week's blog I wrote that I expected Brett Tomko and De La Rosa to take the last two spots and I still think they're the favorites. Tomko, because that's what the Royals signed him for and I think he'd have to lose the job, De La Rosa because the Royals want a lefty starter and I think John Bale is better served as a reliever. But there are other candidates...

Kyle Davies- Probably has the best stuff, and I predicted earlier that he'd take Tomko's spot in May...Billy Butler said Davies looked really good at Winter Ball.

Luke Hochevar- This is best case scenario, he's 24 and a former first round pick...I think it's a bad sign if we don't see him in the majors at some point this season, but more likely it will be after the All Star Break.

Tyler Lumsden- Another guy battling with De La Rosa and Bale for the lefty spot...also 24 years old...also probably starts in Omaha.

Leo Nunez- Leave this guy in the bullpen.

Hideo "Nomo Mr. Nice Guy"- This is where things get interesting, the non-roster invitees. Noma was terrible (9-19, 7+ ERA) in 2004 and 2005 and then took 2 years off. This would be a national story if he makes the rotation.

Brian Lawrence- Lawrence also missed 2006, and was terrible in six games in 2007. But he was above average at one point and is only 31. I'd say his odds are much better than Nomo's and if given a chance he could challenge for a spot.

Ben Hendrickson- Okay, this is a stretch. He's a 27 year old righty with a 7.41 ERA in 12 career starts.

and the official Kool Aid Drinker Dark Horse Award goes to...

Mike Maroth- Yes, that Mike Maroth. If you didn't pay attention last year you'd probably wonder how the Royals signed Maroth to a minor league deal. Hop into the Kool Aid Drinker Time Machine and we'll take you back to 2006....

Maroth entered 2006 (his 5th in the majors) having won more games in each of his first four major league seasons, he was 28, he was ready to "Gil Meche" if you will. He started hot before hurting his elbow, having surgery and missing 3 months of the season. Still, he came back in 2007 and started 5-2 (albeit with a 5.06 ERA) before being traded to the hated Cardinals. Well, Maroth did what any self respecting heterosexual man would do upon being traded to St. Louis, he bombed...and when I say bombed I mean 0-5 with a 10.66 ERA... He went 2006 Joe Mays on them. So why is he my dark horse? He's a lefty with good enough stuff that he was once a great prospect, who had an injury, bombed for the most hated team this side of the Yankees and now Dayton Moore has picked him up off the scrap heap. What's not to like? Add to that that Bob McClure is already fixing his delivery and he has his own blog...Yep, that seals it, the Kool Aid Drinker is a member of the Mike Maroth fan I just need a nickname for him...

Projected Opening Day Rotation
Gil Meche
Brian Bannister
Zack Greinke
Brett Tomko
Mike Maroth

In line...

Brian Lawrence
Kyle Davies
Luke Hochevar
Tyler Lumsden

(ed. note- Someone asked "You state De La Rose is a favorite, but then don't mention him here?" Well, yeah. I think he is the favorite for the lefty spot coming into camp but I think his control issues dictate he'll either end up in the bullpen or out of the equation altogether...I hope I'm wrong but he was bad at the end of last year, his ERA rising from 4.65 to 5.82 after June 5.)


Mizzou kicks Hannah off team

I think most Mizzou fans think this was a long time coming. Stefhon Hannah had to go, if not for the Athena incident then certainly after he stopped attending class. It's too bad when a kid like Hannah gets every opportunity in the world, multiple second chances in life, and does nothing. I'm sure there are a lot of 20 somethings out there that wish they'd been given one of Hannah's many opportunities.

I don't really see how this has much of an effect on the current Tigers, I don't think anyone really expected Hannah to play again this year anyways. But I wonder how it effects the future Tigers? How many moms of potential recruits are going to hear about all of these 'incidents'? I know this stuff happens in a lot of places but in Columbia, Missouri? Not the Columbia I remember. In other words, I don't know that this is so much damaging to the team or to the reputation of Coach Anderson, but maybe to the city of Columbia itself, which in turn could have a negative impact on recruiting. The last thing Anderson needs are more hinderances to recruiting.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Big Blog News

Making the rest of us look like what we are (amateurs), Rany Jazayerli as started a new blog Rany on the Royals. Why is this significant?

Rany is a Royals fan whose optimism comes as close to the Kool Aid Drinker's as any legitimate journalist does. It used to be I could only find his opinions on Rob Neyer's site which was updated far too infrequently. He's also a regular guy with a regular job which means he's much more entertaining than someone who has to muzzle his opinion to keep his paycheck. Finally, if you're like me and you love stats, Rany was one of the original founders of the Baseball Prospectus. It's only the most comprehensive baseball book on the planet.

I became a bigger fan of Rany's when I heard him on 810 today telling Kevin Keitzman how much he expected Trey Hillman to use Joey Gathright. The Kool Aid Drinker loves Joey Gathright, and likes Hillman more already.

So welcome, Rany to the world blogging, we're lucky to have you.


Whitlock has fix for the Jayhawks

According to Jason Whitlock, the Kansas loss last night to Texas (and the loss in Bramlage earlier this year) are attributed to Darrell Arthur and Darnell Jackson not getting enough touches. Whitlock claims that the Jayhawks need to feed the ball to Arthur and Jackson relentlessly and forget that their strength is in their guards. I think Whitlock is right about touches, I just disagree with what the source of those touches should be...

Darrel Arthur and D-Jack need to go get the ball...both demanding it in the post as well as crashing the boards. Kansas lost last night's game because Arthur and Jackson stopped blocking out, stopped rebounding, not because the guards stopped feeding them. Arthur may have scored 45 points the last two games, but he still looks like a freshman out there at times, and to quote Bill Self he got "outmanned" last night. That was excusable last year, but 50 games into his college career it's time for Arthur to dominate like his talent suggests he should.

I'll stick by my prediction that Kansas wins the Big 12, and I think they'll run the table from here on but they won't make the Final Four unless Darrel Arthur stops playing like a kid and starts playing like a man.

Dolphins Release Trent Green

Trent, please, for your future....QUIT! You've got nothing left, it's painful to watch, and one more concussion could have lifelong effects. Can anyone explain why he would do anything other than retire? He seemed like a really intelligent, well rounded guy when he was here in KC. The only well rounded, intelligent decision is retirement, and he should thank the Dolphins for helping him make a decision he should have made 3 months ago.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Mea Culpa

KC Sports Report got a little blah there for a while, and that's my bad. Sometimes it seems like the topic is too narrow, sometimes it feels like it's too vague....KC Sports Report...what is it? Then it hit me: Just because it's a sports report doesn't make me a sports reporter...I'm not breaking any news here and as long as I have a job I won't be. What I'm giving is opinion, and not near enough of it. Almost universally, everyone enjoys reading the Kool Aid Drinker, because he says what he thinks...not canned comments trying not to sound know what? I'm biased, and sometimes I have an agenda. Furthermore, I'm pretty damn boring when I try to hide those facts. So, from now on the Sports Report pledges more opinion, starting with Starstruck, which is a new blog entry each day analyzing one (or more) articles in the Star...and what I think about them. One other change? The links on the left have grown stale. If you guys are reading this blog, you already know the results of games, or the latest headlines on space will immediately be changed to "In Case You Missed It" and will feature more obscure news from Kansas City and beyond. Also, if there's a national story I have an opinion on, you're going to get it. For now that's it, if you have more ideas feel free to offer suggestions below.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

KC Sports Report TV

I told you this weekend was dedicated to Knight, and that includes KC Sports TV...

First, the ESPN Top Ten Knight Soundbites.

Then, Knight upset after a loss to Mizzou.

Finally, the funniest Bob Knight video available anywhere. Bob Knight's golf instructional video.

As always, this is Bob Knight, so if you don't like foul language, you won't like this. But if you don't mind it, the golf video is hilarious. I didn't really even need to put the other videos on here, because that one is worth a blog posting all by itself.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Friday Funnies

You don't think of Bobby Knight as a funny man. Tyrranical? certainly... Hysterical? Notsomuch. But at times his temper tantrums and antics have been nothing short of hysterical, and you already know how much I think of Knight, so we're dedicating the weekend to Knight, today with the funnies...and then even funnier on Sunday with videos. I shouldn't have to say this, but just to be safe; if you're offended by crude language you probably won't find him funny:

Bobby Knight on the media...
"All of us learn to write in the second grade. Most of us go on to greater things. "

On himself...
"I don't think I have ever been out of control."

“I don't have to wait until the next morning to regret something I did that was kinda dumb.”


"When my time on earth is gone, and my activities here are passed, I want them to bury me upside down, and my critics can kiss my ass!"

“If I were in charge I'd drug test all you son's of b*tches, not just the athletes.”

“If my primary purpose here at Indiana is to go out and win ballgames, I can probably do that as well as anybody can. I would just cheat, get some money from alot of people around Indianapolis who want to run the operation that way, and just go out and get the best basketball players I can. Then we'd beat everybody.”

“Everyone wants to be on a winning team, but no one wants to come to practice”

Bottom line, even when he was being funny Knight was usually right. Some people think he's done for good, I kind of expect him to come back in a couple of years and chase 1000 wins...not for the prestige of it, just to give a big middle finger to all the people who dislike him.

Thanks to and for the quotes.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Big 12 Report Week 4

It was a busy week in Big 12 country, but not necessarily a happy one for a lot Big 12 fans...

- Texas Tech fans had to deal with the sudden departure of Bobby Knight. Even the fans that didn't like him(if there were any) have to recognize that this hurts their chances for a postseason birth this season.
- Tiger fans don't seem thrilled with the reinstatement of Jason Horton and Darryl Butterfield, and on top of that had to deal with the pounding from KU. No matter how expected, that still has to sting.
- K-State fans went from undefeated and atop the Big 12 to questioning how their team could lose to a shorthanded Missouri squad. Granted, they're still tied for first but they have to feel like any game is losable now.
- Oklahoma was 3-2 last week and giddy over the early return of Blake Griffin. Now they're 3-4 and hoping a road game at Colorado can get them back to .500 in conference.

Sure the Aggies, Longhorns and Jayhawks are happy, but we expected that from the beginning, right?

1. Kansas (7-1) I'm sure there are KSU fans out there who think they should be #1 based on their head to head victory. To them I say, the #1 team in the conference doesn't lose to a 2-5 squad missing three of their players. The Jayhawks have one heck of a tough weekend coming up with Baylor at home on Saturday followed by a Big Monday matchup at Texas. Another chance for this team to prove their toughness, let's hope it goes better than Manhatten did.

2. Kansas State (6-1) The loss to Mizzou was enough to knock them out of the top spot, but really not devastating in terms of the long haul. Michael Beasely had a monster night putting up 35 and 13 against Nebraska and tying a K- State record with his 18th double double of the season. The Wildcats may not be the number one team in the conference, but he's without a doubt the #1 player.

3. Texas A&M (5-3) Things are starting to look a little more like we expected for Turgeon's Aggies. Saturday's Blackout at Mizzou could be trouble if they overlook it, but I think this team is done overlooking teams after 3 early losses.

4. Texas (5-2) So they won two games they were supposed to, whoopee. Would it surprise me if they lost at Iowa State on Saturday then turned around and beat Kansas on Big Monday? Not entirely...

5. Baylor (5-2) Are the Bears starting to come back to earth? I think it's posssible. Their next 5 are brutal: @ KU, @ OSU, UT, @ OU, KSU. I'll be impressed if they win two of those.

6. Oklahoma (3-4) Sooners need to start winning and fast. Lucky for them, Colorado is up next.

7. Texas Tech (3-4) This spot has been a revolving door, and with Bobby Knight out I don't believe the Red Raiders will be able to hold on to it. Need to win Saturday at Nebraska to preserve any chance of me saving face.

8. Iowa State (3-5) Roller coaster season for the Cyclones is probably going mostly down from here on out.

9. Missouri (3-5) I told you I only put them at the bottom because of the term 'indefinite' although in the case of Horton and Butterfield we all thought that term should have meant longer than it did. Tigers have already shocked two ranked teams at home this year, will A&M make three?

10. Nebraska (2-5) Biggest...disappointment...of... the... year...

11. Oklahoma State (2-6) I hope Sean Sutton makes it through this year with his health. He doesn't seem to handle losing very well and they've done a lot of it.

12. Colorado (1-7) 1 point loss last night at Stillwater begs the question: How many winnable games are left for the Buffs? Not many at all.

We're really close to the midway point, my awards so far:

Player of the Year- Michael Beasley
Freshman of the Year- Michael Beasley
Coach of the Year- Frank Martin/Scott Drew

All Big 12 Team
Michael Beasley
DJ Augustin
Bill Walker
Brandon Rush
Richard Roby

To see how those compare to my preseason picks, click here.

The postseason outlook looks pretty similiar to last week:
Kansas- #1 seed
A&M, Texas- #4 seed
KSU- #5 seed
Baylor- #7 seed
Oklahoma- #12 seed

Texas Tech- NIT

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

8 days left

Okay, technically there are 8 days left until Spring Training, but according to the Royals website, we're getting a head start. The most exciting part of that article for the Kool Aid Drinker? The big three (Gil Meche, Brian Bannister, and Zack Greinke) are all expected in early. It's one thing for the guys trying to earn a spot in the rotation to get there early, quite another for the aces of the staff to do it.

Yeah, I said aces...plural...that's what this team will need if we're going to compete this year, three aces, 45 wins out of the Big 3, a sub 4.00 don't go writing that down as a prediction, the Kool Aid Drinker will wait until late March for the official predictions. Okay, okay I'll give you one...Meche(9), Bannister(12) and Greinke(7) will all win more games than they did last can write that pen.

So, the head start got me excited, but not near as excited as the email I recieved today telling me that I need to register for the right to buy Opening Day tickets...Two months and two days until the Evil Empire invades the K and gets shut down by Gil Meche...until Bad Ass Billy Butler and Awesome Alex Gordon begin their assault on the 22 year old home run record of Steve "Bye Bye" Balboni...until chili cheese fries and beer...short of MU/KU at Arrowhead this will be the hottest ticket in a long time in Kansas City, a hey day for scalpers and... okay, prediction #2- Royals 7, Yankees 2.

Other musings before the Boys in Blue get started...

- John "Don't give a Buck" if you bring in Johnny Bench, he's the starting catcher and that's not going to change

- The last two spots in the rotation have Jorge De La Rosa and Brett Tomko pencilled in. The Kool Aid Drinker likes Kyle Davies to replace Tomko spot by May.

- Joey Gathright should start on Opening Day...and make it hard to yank him when Guillen's suspension is over.

- I'm saving the official prediction for later, but right now I'm thinking between 85-95 wins sounds about right

- does 2 million in attendance for the year

That's all for now, I don't want to get too carried away in February...

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

As expected...for the most part

Most people expected the Jayhawks handle last night's Border War pretty easily. But I'm not sure anyone expected Jason Horton and Darryl Butterfield to play. Why did they play? It doesn't make sense at all, not for the integrity of the program, and and maybe not for the sake of winning. They played a combined 13 minutes, went 0-4 from the floor with one rebound and one assist. You'd be hard-pressed to find a less productive 13 minutes of basketball.

Maybe Anderson feels like they've served their time, maybe he was trying to pull off the upset and thought they'd provide energy off the bench, either way it seems to me he was wrong. Taking out all of the things that have happened with these two, I'm not sure that Missouri didn't look like a better team without them.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Border War, Part 2

As crazy as it seems I think Tiger fans may head into tonight's game higher than Jayhawk fans. Sure, Mizzou is 3-4 in the conference compared to Kansas 6-1 record. Yes, Mizzou's postseason prospects look bleak while the Jayhawks seem positioned for a #1 seed....And of course the Tigers still have three suspended players on their roster who may not be coming back anytime soon....

But they've got a team they can be proud of. The same team that played Nebraska very close with only six scholarship players then got two of those players back and upset a ranked K-State team. They've got the Big 12 Player of the Week in JT Tiller. They're led by Mike Anderson, a coach that it seems the Tiger fans can stand behind. So they've got less talent, lots of heart, a coach the fans and players respect and trust...sound familiar? Sounds like maybe the Tigers are on track to get back the pre Quin era. Sounds like a lot of the Tiger teams that have upset Kansas.

Meanwhile, I'd say the feeling amongst Jayhawk fans in more nervous than anything. The team looked soft against K-State and Self got outcoached by (arguably) the worst game coach in the conference. Then came Saturday in Boulder. Honestly, I'd like to know if the team drove to the game. If not the scenery in western Kansas, I'd like to know what it was that put the team to sleep because they were not ready. Like so many other years in Lawrence, this is supposed to be the year; understandably, Jayhawk fans now get nervous at any sign of a hiccup. Add to that angst the fact that a feisty Mizzou team is coming in for Big Monday? They'd better just hope the players aren't this nervous.

As for the game itself, on paper there's no reason to believe it will be close. This could be a 30 point route and no one would be surprised. That may be the only thing that would change the mood of fans on either side. Kansas should dominate down low...Tiller should have a hard time dealing with the Kansas guards... Missouri may turn it over a ton.... I'm going to have to stick with conventional wisdom and predict the blowout: Kansas 84, Mizzou 61

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Quick hits

It's Super Bowl Sunday, which changes everything, including the schedule at KCSR, but a few quick thoughts...

Is there a KC bias in the Hall of Fames? Derrick Thomas? Frank White? How long it took Buck O'Neil to get in? Andre Tippett got in before DT? Really!?!? Good work Gretz...

If the Pats really did cheat to beat the Rams in the Super Bowl, kudos...I hope they cheated to beat the Raiders in the AFC Championship the year of the tuck too... Couldn't happen to nicer fans.

So Mizzou has beaten Texas and K-State but lost to Iowa St and Nebraska? Weird...

KU's win over Colorado was gross for about 30 minutes...they better shake off the cobwebs by Monday night.

The Giants are the worst World Champion since the Cardinals won the World Series...

Border War tomorrow!!!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

A little bit of everything

This is a little bit of everything, and I'm going to jump around a little...hope you can keep up. First off, it was hard to think of Friday Funnies yesterday with surprising news of Jason Horton's arrest and still being shocked over the KU loss to KSU. But thinking about that, I just want to say this.
Frank Martin...

Nick Turturro...

Not a perfect match, but when Martin goes crazy on the sideline I think of Turturro's role in The Longest Yard...minus the affair with the cross-dressing cheerleader of course...

In more serious news, Jason Horton's arrest caps a terribly disappointing career in Columbia. I remember when Horton was recruited and everyone thought he was the savior at point guard. If anyone is, Jason Horton is a poster child for the Quin Snyder era at Mizzou. The Mizzou website states that "Stats don't tell the whole story" of Horton's junior year and then goes on to talk about his statistical contributions, which are above average. Above average is far from what Jason Horton was supposed to be, and now as a senior he's standing out for all the wrong reasons. Tiger basketball fans could use a break right now.

State of the Blog got derailed, but here's a reflection of our January goals and January performance:

Goal: 1,000 unique visitors
Result: 1,489 unique visitors
This was by far my biggest success, spurred by links from Tigerboard and Bring on the Cats

Goal: 100 comments
Result: Closer to 20
I don't know how to get people to comment, maybe I should say something ridiculous like this guy...he gets lots of comments.

Goal: 55 blog postings
Result: 38
I noticed most of the blogs that have more than this have more than one blogger, I need that...or I need shorter postings.

Goal: Mailer up to 50 members
Result: Mailer at 22 members
I failed on this one, I forgot it was even a goal until now.

Goal: 10 return links
Result: Links from exactly 10 sites
What's more exciting than meeting this goal? 53 people found the website through search engines....WOW! Mizzou just beat K-State! WOW!

Sorry, lost focus there for a second....but WOW!