"Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel"

My new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" is the follow-up to "Illegal Procedure" and "Roughing the Passer" and is now available in print and in e-formats at amazon.com, smashwords.com and iBooks. Follow me on twitter @kevinkrest.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

TUESDAY MUSINGS: WHINING AT THE US OPEN, DURANT TASTES A TITLE, FOOTBALL ON THE HORIZON

US Open Whiners, Not Winners: One hundred and fifty-six golfers, mostly so-called professionals will tee off Thursday morning at Erin Hills in Wisconsin for the 117th U.S. Open Golf Championship. They'll be gunning for a $2.1 million winners check, be pampered with courtesy cars, brand new practice golf balls, entourages of coaches and caddies, etc. etc. etc. But many of them have taken time out of their busy schedule to criticize the USGA on everything from the course setup to rules changes to  the color of head man Mike Davis' golf hat. Okay, maybe not the hat, but pretty much a wide array of topics. They even question what the USGA is doing with the $320 million the organization has in an investment fund. Don't get me wrong, the entity that rules the game in the United States needs to be held accountable for their actions, but it seems a bit extreme coming from a group that gets paid an insane amount of money for playing a game that most of spend a lot of our income in which to participate. The FedEx points winner takes home $10 million, and that's in addition to the over $1 million for winning the tournament and the $5 million plus that they are bound to have won during the season. I agree that the handling of the Dustin Johnson penalty at last year's tournament at Oakmont was atrocious. I've been critical of their decision to go with Fox as their broadcast partner. But last time I checked, deep rough, punitive sand traps and fast greens are part of the game. If you think you're the best, then shut up and prove it on the golf course. Whining and complaining is weak and unprofessional. The course conditions and setup apply to all 156 players. Unfair is an incorrect and ignorant categorization. Unfair is when something isn't applied consistently to all competitors. I don't see anyone with a weedeater lowering the rough for one player or creating an additional obstacle for another. So what if they can't break par? At the end of the day, it's totally irrelevant. The point is to get it around for four days in the least number of strokes. There aren't any bonuses for lower scores. For me, I'm very intrigued by how the potentially longest course in U.S. Open history will hold up to what is a truly great and compelling field. And I can't wait for the whine fest after Thursday's opening round.

Warriors' Kevin Durant Gets a Ring: We'll never know, but without Kevin Durant, the Golden State Warriors may very well have been watching Lebron James lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to another NBA championship. But when the former Oklahoma City Thunder star took his talents to the Bay Area, it set the stage for his first and probably not last title. The Warriors won the series in what will look like a dominant 4 - 1 edge, but if the Cavs don't tank in the final three minutes of Game 3, the result could have been very different. Even the outcome of Game 5 was in question until Durant took over in the fourth quarter. The question at this point is how long Golden State can sustain this run. Recent history would indicate that it won't be for very long, if only because it's difficult to keep three or four elite players together for four years or more. The Warriors have Klay Thompson on the block first, and he can be a key player for any franchise. That leaves Steph Curry and Draymond Green, then Durant for them to try to keep. Will Thompson give up max money to stay? Will the others? With the increased salary cap at the expense of ESPN, players can still make an unbelievable amount of money if they're willing to subordinate their egos in order to accumulate titles. I can't answer for the importance of the symbolism of the money versus the actual value for each individual player. But I can give my opinion on what could happen for the better part of a decade if the current Warriors collectively decide to stay where they are, and it doesn't bode well for Lebron James, unless he decides to to what Durant did, and join the party in Oakland.

Is It Football Season Yet? Not quite, but with the NBA and to a lesser extent, the NHL season's behind us, we can at least see it from here. Sure, we have the NBA draft, a couple of golf majors, tennis' Wimbledon and plenty of dog days major league games to fill our time, but most of the sports conversation will be around the upcoming college and professional football seasons. Can Clemson repeat with a new quarterback? Will Alabama be back for another run? Does Bob Stoops' surprising retirement derail Oklahoma's title chances? Is the fourth College Football Playoff committee going to be similar to last season or add more guess work for coaches and administrators? No, of course, probably, absolutely. Now I'll take them one at a time, starting with Clemson. It's hard enough to contend in consecutive seasons with the same team without having to incorporate a new player at a key position. Clemson will be good, but they have a tougher schedule in 2017, having to play at Virginia Tech and contend with Florida State and Louisville in the Atlantic Division. Alabama simply reloads and I'm sure the way Deshaun Watson shredded the Tide defense for the second year in a row won't sit well with head coach Nick Saban. The most stunning news of the college offseason was the retirement of Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops. He was replaced by 33 year old offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley, another surprise. The Sooners have a national title contending team, but the change at the top could have an impact, especially with a week two visit to Ohio State looming. I'm wondering if this is an Urban Meyer type move and we'll see Stoops emerge in a new locale in a year or two, but that's a question within an answer. Finally, with Frank Beamer and Jeff Bower, both former coaches, replacing Condoleeza Rice and Barry Alvarez on the committee, there can't help but be a change in how the committee acts. It will be interesting to see how having more of coaching perspective will affect the rankings and eventual makeup of the playoffs themselves.

Hear my recent interview with legendary sports agent Leigh Steinberg, where we discussed his agency, concussions, franchise relocation and philanthropy at http://thechtonsports.com/cold-hard-truth-sports-radio-show-1242017/

Also listen to our conversation with author and sports journalist Mike Carey, as we discussed his latest book "Bad News" about Marvin Barnes and reminisced about Mike's coverage of the Boston Celtics during their glory years with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Danny Ainge and Robert Parish. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/golongmedia/2017/02/08/the-cold-hard-truth-on-sports-radio-show

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at  Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. Also check out www.thechtonsports.com for our podcasts and live broadcast on Tuesday's at 8:30 pm EST. I can also be reached via email at kevin@pkfrazier.com.






Tuesday, May 23, 2017

WARRIORS AND CAVS ON COLLISION COURSE FOR THIRD STRAIGHT SEASON: IS IT HISTORIC?

Despite a surprising last second loss to the Boston Celtics on Sunday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers are still overwhelming favorites to meet Western Conference champion Golden State in the NBA Finals. It would mark the third consecutive year that the two teams have met with the championship on the line. How rare a circumstance would it be, not just in the NBA, but in the Big Four professional sports leagues? Let's look back and see.

NFL: I went back only so far as the beginning of the Super Bowl era, but that's still over fifty years of championship games. Despite the dominance at times of the Packers, Steelers, Cowboys, 49er's and Patriots, there has only been one repeat match-up in Super Bowl history. That came in 1994 when Dallas dismantled Buffalo for the second consecutive year. Forget about two teams meeting for three years in a row. In fact, only two teams have made it to three or more Super Bowls in a row: Miami from 1972 - 1974 and Buffalo from 1991 - 1994. Granted, the NFL and NBA are drastically different leagues, with just a couple of basketball players capable of making a team dominant for a few years. But it still shows how difficult it is for two teams to meet each other for the title in consecutive seasons.

NHL: I went back to about the same time, the mid-1960's, to look for consecutive meetings in the Stanley Cup Final.  Prior to then, the NHL was a small league with just the original six members, producing a lot of teams meeting a couple of years in a row. Still, we have to go back to Detroit and Montreal in 1954 - 1956 to get three seasons in a row of the same teams in the final. Since 1965, there have been four repeat meetings for Lord Stanley's Cup, the last one in 2008 - 2009 between Pittsburgh and Detroit. This is despite the tendency for hockey teams to have significant runs of excellence, like the Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders, Edmonton Oilers and Detroit Red Wings.

Major League Baseball: You would think that with the Yankees and Cardinals combining for fifty-nine World Series appearances and thirty eight wins, they would have met in consecutive fall classics at some point in the last 50+ years, which comprises the expansion era of baseball. Well, it just hasn't happened. There has only been one repeat, that being the '78 series between the Yankees and the Dodgers. You would also think, given the ineptness of teams like Philadelphia, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and others, that we would have seen an extended run of repeat Series from 1920 - 1964. Well, you would be wrong. We have to go all the way back to 1923 to find the third Series in a row that pitted the aforementioned Yankees against the then-New York Giants.

NBA: Not surprisingly, the league with the most back-to-back Finals is the one with the fewest players on the roster. Ten times since 1963 the same teams have met two years in a row, twice in the last four seasons. But even with that total, the same teams have never, in the history of the NBA, played for the title three times in a row. What about Magic and Bird, you ask? Even though they combined for seven NBA titles, they only met twice in the Finals in non-consecutive seasons.

So what do we make of this potential development? There are a couple of things, actually. One is, don't count the Celtics out of this series. Even with the Chicago Cubs breaking their jinx-provoked streak in the World Series, at least they'd won before. The Cavaliers advancing to play the Warriors erases the word "never" from the description of three consecutive finals with the same teams. Another is that all of the panic expressed by some members of the media over the lack of competitive balance in the league is probably misplaced and blown out of proportion. It can most likely be chalked up to a circumstance of these particular teams getting to the Finals at this point in time. But don't forget, it's still "never" happened. At least not yet.

Hear my recent interview with legendary sports agent Leigh Steinberg, where we discussed his agency, concussions, franchise relocation and philanthropy at http://thechtonsports.com/cold-hard-truth-sports-radio-show-1242017/

Also listen to our conversation with author and sports journalist Mike Carey, as we discussed his latest book "Bad News" about Marvin Barnes and reminisced about Mike's coverage of the Boston Celtics during their glory years with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Danny Ainge and Robert Parish. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/golongmedia/2017/02/08/the-cold-hard-truth-on-sports-radio-show

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at  Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. Also check out www.thechtonsports.com for our podcasts and live broadcast on Tuesday's at 8:30 pm EST. I can also be reached via email at kevin@pkfrazier.com.




Thursday, April 27, 2017

SERENA'S PREGNANCY, TIGER'S SURGERY, JUNIOR'S RETIREMENT

The last couple of weeks has brought us some varying news about three of the most compelling figures from the last twenty years in sports. It all demonstrates that even famous and accomplished athletes are not immune from age, injury or the realities of life.

Serena Williams is Expecting: In what I consider exciting news, twenty-three time singles Grand Slam tournament winner and thirty-five year old Serena Williams announced last week that she is pregnant and will miss the rest of the 2017 tennis season. I don't know her personally, but through the years I have come to have enormous respect for her in the way she graciously conducts herself off the court, as well as the way she performs on it. Her talent is immense, and along with Tiger Woods, I consider them the two greatest individual sport athletes this country has produced. Serena is arguably the greatest female athlete in history. I'm thrilled that she will be a parent, and am curious what her path will be over the next couple of years. Will she choose to return to competitive tennis, looking to eclipse Margaret Court's 24 Grand Slam singles titles? Or will her current open-era record be good enough to send her off into a period of parenthood and post-playing activities? Either way, up to this point, she's certainly earned the option to do whatever she pleases without criticism from any quarters. Many athletes of her gender have chosen to leave their sports behind, but several did not. Kerrie Walsh won an Olympic gold medal in beach volleyball, Evonne Goolagong won a tennis U.S. Open and Nancy Lopez continued to compete in golf following the birth of their children. Will she be as driven, be able to compete at the same high level and possibly get those two Grand Slams? I tend to believe that age, not her gender or childbearing, will be the biggest obstacle. But if she can take a year or so off and play at Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows in 2018, I won't be betting against her chances for victory.

Is Tiger Done? After a fourth surgery on his back, fourteen time major tournament winner Tiger Woods is again sidelined for an extensive period of time. Most experts agree that it will take about six months of recovery and rehabilitation for Woods to return to playing golf, competitive or otherwise. The big questions remain: Will he be able to compete and will he want to compete, even if he's able? Who really knows? At the age of 41, it's highly unlikely that we will see Woods add to his major victory total, making Nicklaus' record of eighteen safe for the foreseeable future. Of current players, only Rory McIlroy is probably in a position to challenge the record. Sorry Jordan Spieth fans, but I just don't see it happening. I haven't seen the singularity of focus on the golf course from any of the current top golfers that both Nicklaus and Woods displayed in their prime. It's unfortunate that we haven't seen much of Tiger since a great 2013 season. It's my suspicion that outside of assistant and eventual head captains' roles at Ryder and President Cups, we've likely seen the last of him in an active role at a competitive golf event. But if it is the end, it's the end of one of the greatest runs in sports history. Not only did Tiger Woods win in ridiculous and exciting fashion, he transformed the game in the process. Who else but Tiger Woods could have forced Augusta National to significantly alter their beloved golf course? No one, that's who.

Fan Fave, Link to the Past: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. never won a Winston/Sprint/Whatever the Cup is called now title in his over twenty years of NASCAR racing. But he carried the name of one of the greats of the sport. Since Sr.'s death at Daytona over sixteen years ago, Jimmy Johnson has dominated on the track, but Dale Jr. has dominated in the stands and on the various networks that have carried the sports' races. Earlier this week, Jr. announced that this season would be his last. He sat out most of last year with effects from concussions and came back this season looking to be competitive again for Hendrick Motorsports. However, a series of DNF's, disappointing finishes and concern for his long-term health prompted his decision to leave the driving to younger guys with a passion for racing. I can't help but speculate that his father's death behind the wheel at Daytona in 2001 and Junior's recent marriage had to play a part in his choice. After all, he's a car owner, so he won't be leaving the sport he loves and grew up on. The bigger question is, in a crowded sports landscape, can NASCAR withstand the retirement of yet another popular driver?

Hear my recent interview with legendary sports agent Leigh Steinberg, where we discussed his agency, concussions, franchise relocation and philanthropy at http://thechtonsports.com/cold-hard-truth-sports-radio-show-1242017/

Also listen to our conversation with author and sports journalist Mike Carey, as we discussed his latest book "Bad News" about Marvin Barnes and reminisced about Mike's coverage of the Boston Celtics during their glory years with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Danny Ainge and Robert Parish. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/golongmedia/2017/02/08/the-cold-hard-truth-on-sports-radio-show

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at  Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. Also check out www.thechtonsports.com for our podcasts and live broadcast on Tuesday's at 8:30 pm EST. I can also be reached via email at kevin@pkfrazier.com.






Thursday, April 13, 2017

THURSDAY HOMER REPORT: HOKIES, REDSKINS, CAPITALS AND RAZORBACKS

As many readers of this blog know, I am a fan of the Virginia Tech Hokies, Washington Redskins, Washington Capitals and the Arkansas Razorbacks. I rarely take the opportunity to comment on them as a whole, but with a recent scheduling announcement, the NFL draft a couple of weeks away, the NHL playoffs just beginning and the NCAA baseball season in full swing, I thought I'd take a little time to review some current news.

Hokies to Open 2018 Against The 'Noles: In the prior four seasons, the Virginia Tech regular season football schedule has been absent of both the Florida State Seminoles and Clemson Tigers, the top two programs in the ACC Atlantic Division during that time frame. That changes this season, as the Hokies will follow up a close loss to Clemson in the ACC Championship game with a meeting in Blacksburg on September 30. In 2018, a schedule change announced this week will pit the Hokies against Florida State in Tallahassee to open the season on Memorial Day weekend. It's a shrewd move by the ACC, especially if Virginia Tech continues to make progress after last season's surprising performance under first year head coach Justin Fuente and transfer QB Jerod Evans, who is headed to the NFL. Given the recent success of Florida State and their last couple of recruiting classes, it's unlikely that the 'Noles won't be in the national championship mix for years to come. The advantage of having what could arguably be two of the top four teams in the league face off in week one is that early losses are much easier from which to recover than those incurred later in the season. It's unlikely that more than a team or two will go undefeated for the season, so a setback against a quality team to open the season can easily be forgotten by the time the playoff committee makes their final four announcement in December. Remember the Ohio State Buckeyes, the inaugural playoff champion? They lost to Virginia Tech at home in week two in 2014, but went on to run the table and lift the championship trophy. The ACC, with two of the last four national champions, is trying to oust the SEC as the top conference in college football, and opening season matchups like they'll put on display in 2018 can't help give them a boost in the court of public opinion, no matter how finicky that can be.

What Are The Redskins Thinking? It's been twenty-five years since the Super Bowl Trophy has resided inside the nation's capital. Given the way owner Daniel Snyder is handling things, it might be another quarter of a century until they see another one. Really? Another year of a franchise tag for Kirk Cousins? A mysterious firing of the General Manager? So that means no long-term deal for a quarterback that is easily capable of leading the 'Skins for the next five to eight years and a lack of football acumen in the front office. It's actually hard to believe that the NFC East, which recorded ten wins in sixteen Super Bowl appearances with every team in the division represented from 1971 - 1996, has just two wins in four appearances in the twenty years since. My point here is that unless things change quickly in Washington, I doubt they'll be among the division's teams other than New York to break through anytime soon. After drafting Kirk Cousins in the same draft where they took RGIII with the top pick, they've seemingly treated him as an afterthought, even though his play on the field has been stellar. I can understand the rationale for tagging Cousins and they can do it again in 2018 if they want to throw away a lot of money for a quarterback who will almost surely be playing elsewhere in 2019. Why not lock up the guy for a few years, especially since he is just entering what most experts consider to be a quarterback's prime? I don't get it, and apparently they don't either.

League Has Caps Right Where They Want Them: The easiest time to beat the Washington Capitals is in the playoffs. Despite sporting the best record in the league for a second consecutive season, few that follow the NHL expect the Caps to even get to the Eastern Conference finals. Last year, the Pittsburgh Penguins knocked them out of the playoffs on their way to the Stanley Cup title, something Washington is still seeking after more than forty years in the league. This year, if the Caps get by the Toronto Maple Leafs, they'll probably need to get past the Pens again to advance, historically a difficult match-up for them. It almost defies the odds that Washington has only been to a single Stanley Cup final in a league that has what is clearly the most unpredictable playoffs year in and year out. I've heard all of the analysis, from the position that the Caps don't play the right style of hockey to win in playoffs to one that their regular season wins don't really matter that much. The analyst in me wants to agree, but the fan side of me just wants to say "Puck You" and chalk it up to bad luck. Heck, the Cubs broke through last year, maybe it's the Caps' turn in 2017. Why not? Oh yeah, they're not built for playoff hockey.

Razorbacks' Baseball Bounces Back: Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn suffered through his worst season as a college baseball coach as the Hogs finished at 26 - 29, with a monumental meltdown in the second half of the schedule. Injuries and youth played a big part in that, and as of this writing they stand and at 26 - 8 overall, 8 - 4 in the SEC and ranked 15th nationally with an RPI of 22nd. With Georgia, not one of this year's SEC powers rolling into Baum Stadium for an Easter weekend series, the Hogs stand a decent chance of bettering those numbers. After an impressive Friday night win last week over LSU, Arkansas blew an 8 - 1 lead on Saturday, then suffered a hangover 2 - 0 loss on Sunday to spoil what could have been a breakout series. With series opening pitcher Blaine Knight virtually unhittable, the Hogs are certain to be in position to win every series the rest of the way. If they can avoid a bullpen meltdown like last Saturday's, it's possible for them to make a run at hosting a regional in Fayetteville and challenging for another berth in the College World Series in Omaha.

Hear my recent interview with legendary sports agent Leigh Steinberg, where we discussed his agency, concussions, franchise relocation and philanthropy at http://thechtonsports.com/cold-hard-truth-sports-radio-show-1242017/

Also listen to our conversation with author and sports journalist Mike Carey, as we discussed his latest book "Bad News" about Marvin Barnes and reminisced about Mike's coverage of the Boston Celtics during their glory years with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Danny Ainge and Robert Parish. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/golongmedia/2017/02/08/the-cold-hard-truth-on-sports-radio-show

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at  Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. Also check out www.thechtonsports.com for our podcasts and live broadcast on Tuesday's at 8:30 pm EST. I can also be reached via email at kevin@pkfrazier.com.





Monday, March 27, 2017

MONDAY MUSINGS: MARCH MADNESS REVIEW, DUSTIN JOHNSON BETTERS TIGER, US MENS SOCCER ROUT

South Carolina Surprise: The program had never advanced beyond the second round of the NCAA Tournament, but that didn't stop Frank Martin and his Gamecock team from believing they could get to the Sweet Sixteen and beyond. They're now headed to Phoenix with a lot of confidence and a defense that can pretty much stop anyone, including a pretty complete Gonzaga team. In defeating seeds two, three and four, South Carolina gave up an average of 67 points a game to teams familiar with scoring a lot more than that. At the end of the season, the 'Cocks limped into the SEC tournament and lost their first game in ugly fashion to Alabama. Many believed their seven seed was somewhat of a gift, but they proceeded to prove their naysayers wrong with a convincing twenty point win over Marquette in the first round. Although they were 19 - 4 at one point in the season, they only won three of their last nine and I doubt anyone but the staunchest Gamecock supporters believed they could make the kind of run they did, especially in a region with Villanova and Duke. Can they go all the way? Absolutely, especially if you believe that Duke is at least as good as anyone left in the field, and they blasted the Blue Devils back to Durham with a scorching second half after trailing  by five at the break.

DJ With a WGC Slam: Okay, it's not exactly the Tiger Slam or even a career Grand Slam, but when Dustin Johnson parred the eighteenth hole on Sunday to win the WGC Match Play, he accomplished something Tiger Woods never did. Even though Woods was dominant in World Golf Championship events, winning a total of 18, he has thus far failed to win the WGC - HSBC championship. After all of the talk of Tiger's crown being taken by Jordan Speith, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, and more recently Justin Thomas and Hidecki Matsuyama, DJ appears to be in the process of making a case as the heir to the former number one player in the world. Since his U.S. Open win at Oakmont, Johnson has won five times, including his last three tournaments. He's on quite a roll, not unlike a basketball team from his native state of South Carolina. In the past, DJ was generally regarded as a long hitter that lacked the short game to consistently win on tour. But in the past couple of seasons, his play around the greens and his putting have dramatically improved. Add some increased confidence, and it creates a pretty tough guy to beat heading to Augusta National and the Masters in two weeks. Something that isn't widely discussed, but is a notable accomplishment, is that he has won at least tournament every season he's been on tour, now his tenth year. His fifteen total wins is also significant and if he starts to add some majors, there's a chance he'll make a case for being the best player of his generation, even if he is getting a bit of late start at age 32.

Bruce Arena Finds Magic: The U.S. Men's National Soccer Team entered Friday night's match with Honduras in San Jose on a very hot seat. After an embarrassing 4 - 0 loss to Costa Rica in November that resulted in the firing of coach Jurgen Klinsmann, the U.S. found themselves at the bottom of the standings in the last stage of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup. What made matters worse was the five goal differential they had accumulated, making a win Friday night almost mandatory if they were to climb back into qualifying contention. New coach Bruce Arenas made some lineup changes, including the addition of midfielder Sebastian Lletget of the LA Galaxy, with whom Arenas is particularly familiar with as the Galaxy coach. The move immediately paid dividends as Lletget scored on a rebound of a Christian Pulisic shot in the fourth minute to give the Americans a much needed lead. Forward Clint Dempsey, back on the field after a heart condition kept him sidelined, added a hat trick as the Hondurans got run over by a U.S. freight train. Stalwart captain Michael Bradley and eighteen year-old phenom Pulisic also scored in the 6 - 0 win that not only gave the U.S. some momentum headed to Panama for Tuesday night's matchup, but it also erased their entire goal differential, an important tie breaker. I'm a little of a late comer to soccer, but the team I saw on the field in San Jose looked remarkably different than the one that virtually gave up against Costa Rica. They were aggressive, sharp and appeared to be playing very well together. Pulisic is an absolute superstar in the making. His assist on Clint Dempsey's first goal was a thing of beauty, flicking the ball over a Honduras defender and onto the shoulder of Dempsey, who then buried the shot past the goalkeeper and into the back of the net. The Americans, not content to sit on a 3 - 0 halftime lead, scored on a Pulisic run and shot just 15 seconds into the second stanza. At that point, it was pretty much game over and the only drama would be how much they would win by and whether the shutout could be preserved. Can the momentum be sustained in Panama? We'll see Tuesday night, but my guess is they won't be giving up, even if they can't pull out a victory.

Hear my recent interview with legendary sports agent Leigh Steinberg, where we discussed his agency, concussions, franchise relocation and philanthropy at http://thechtonsports.com/cold-hard-truth-sports-radio-show-1242017/

Also listen to our conversation with author and sports journalist Mike Carey, as we discussed his latest book "Bad News" about Marvin Barnes and reminisced about Mike's coverage of the Boston Celtics during their glory years with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Danny Ainge and Robert Parish. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/golongmedia/2017/02/08/the-cold-hard-truth-on-sports-radio-show

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at  Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. Also check out www.thechtonsports.com for our podcasts and live broadcast on Tuesday's at 8:30 pm EST. I can also be reached via email at kevin@pkfrazier.com.




Wednesday, March 22, 2017

MARCH MADNESS: A CLOSER LOOK AT THE SWEET SIXTEEN SINCE 2010

When top seeded Villanova was stunned by Wisconsin and second seeded Duke was surprised by South Carolina in the east region of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, one may have been led to believe that Bracket Armageddon had occurred. However, I looked back, starting in 2010, at the composition of the Sweet Sixteen and found some surprising and revealing facts.

Top Four Seeds: This year, twelve of the top sixteen teams made it to the Sweet Sixteen. That's the most of any year in my sample. The year with the least of the top seeds advancing was 2010, when only half of them advanced to the second week. But what is really interesting, in terms of consistency, is that when the fifth seeds are included, the numbers are very similar from season to season. The most of the top five seeds to get to the Sweet Sixteen is still twelve, but at least ten have advance every year since 2010.

Eleventh Seeds: Teams seeded in this spot have advanced to the Sweet Sixteen an astounding nine times in the past eight seasons. That's more than any other spot outside the top four seeds. This leaves me wondering if for some reason, the committee is missing the boat on this particular seed line. But what it really tells me is that despite us feeling like there are more upsets in any particular year, it's actually pretty constant from season to season.

The Bottom of the Field: I commented during my last couple of appearances on the "Lou in the Morning" program that I generally spend a lot more time analyzing the top seeds than I do looking at who might squeak into the field. To my point, no seed lower than an eleven has advanced to the Sweet Sixteen since 2013, when a twelve, thirteen and fifteen all made it. That's half of the total from that group to advance that far in the last eight years. So while an improbable run by a Florida Gulf Coast stays in our memory, it's primarily because of its rarity.

Number One Seeds: Only twice in the last eight years has every top seed made it through the first two rounds, and not once has more than one fallen in the same season. Again, that's an extremely consistent and interesting statistic. Therefore, Villanova's loss to Wisconsin was more the norm than the exception, with the Wildcats joining five others since 2010 to watch the second weekend from home.

 Number Two and Three Seeds: All of the two seeds have never advanced to the Sweet Sixteen, likewise with the number three's. In fact, those two seeds are more vulnerable, albeit barely, than the fours since 2010. No more than two seconds seeds have advanced since 2013 and in the last eight years, an average of just two third seeds have gotten past the second round. Whether this demonstrates parity, or a flaw in the seeding, I suspect a case could be made either way.

Number Four Seeds: Despite having to play, at least theoretically, tougher teams, the fours have more success in getting to the Sweet Sixteen than the seeds above them. All of the number fours have advance twice, the same number as the top seeds, both instances occurring in the last four years. Over that time, only one less four has advanced than the top seeds. My point is that even though a lot is made about being a top seed, it hasn't been that big an advantage in the most recent tournaments.

The challenge going forward of course is to determine that single number one that's going to get knocked out by an eight or nine, and trying to predict the couple of twos or threes that will advance. As you can see from these numbers, Warren Buffett is no fool when it comes to offering a hefty bounty for anyone that can successfully predict the first 48 games. It's no easy task, and virtually impossible from a statistical perspective.

Hear my recent interview with legendary sports agent Leigh Steinberg, where we discussed his agency, concussions, franchise relocation and philanthropy at http://thechtonsports.com/cold-hard-truth-sports-radio-show-1242017/

Also listen to our conversation with author and sports journalist Mike Carey, as we discussed his latest book "Bad News" about Marvin Barnes and reminisced about Mike's coverage of the Boston Celtics during their glory years with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Danny Ainge and Robert Parish. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/golongmedia/2017/02/08/the-cold-hard-truth-on-sports-radio-show

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at  Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. Also check out www.thechtonsports.com for our podcasts and live broadcast on Tuesday's at 8:30 pm EST. I can also be reached via email at kevin@pkfrazier.com.




Monday, March 13, 2017

MARCH MADNESS IN FULL SWING: SOME INTERESTING TAKES ON THE BRACKET

Sunday night saw the unveiling of yet another March Madness bracket, otherwise known as the  schedule for the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship. As I reviewed the match-ups, some interesting, and occasionally strange thoughts entered my mind.

Tulsa: A Presbyterian school is hosting the regional where the Methodists, Baptists and very possibly the Catholics will have teams in attendance. That's right, all eight teams are the guests of Tulsa, and among them are SMU and Baylor, with a chance for Providence if they get by USC in Dayton. I'll be at this regional and fully expect a multi-denominational church service to break out between games. Let's not forget that Oral Roberts University is also in the city, so even though they have no official role on the tournament, I'm sure they'll be there in spirit.

Orlando: The NCAA selection committee is either really lucky, or they're just looking for sold out venues. Florida, Florida State and Florida Gulf Coast will play at the home town of Disney World, Universal Studios and Sea World. For residents of the state that have tired of trips to Orlando, the presence of three of the five Florida teams in the tournament at a single venue should get them to make the drive up or down I-4. Compare that with Virginia Tech, Wisconsin and Notre Dame having to shuffle off to Buffalo for their first round games.

Salt Lake City: In the SAT/ACT bracket, Northwestern makes its first NCAA tournament appearance against Vanderbilt. With the number of sports media members that are graduates of the Evanston, IL school, I'd expect there to be a large contingent of them in attendance. They'll either be there to cheer on their Wildcats, or if we can believe the reports of impending layoffs at ESPN, to hand out resumes.

Buffalo: Notre Dame and Villanova could be joined by a third Catholic school, Mount St. Mary's to make it an unfair fight against Princeton, founded by Presbyterians a few years before Dick Vitale began annoying college basketball fans. I'm surprised they didn't move this regional after Syracuse was shocked to be left out of the field with a stellar mark of 18 - 15, with only two of those wins coming away from their beloved Carrier Dome.

Greenville: When the NCAA decided to punish the State of North Carolina for their controversial LGBT law, they must have been left with a difficult task of finding another city that started with Green and an arena that could host basketball games. The State of Arkansas sent in a couple of candidates: Greenland and Green Forest. With a combined population of a little over 4,000, the reasoning was that there would plenty of room for the fans. But ultimately, in what I understand was a tight vote, the committee decided on the South Carolina town a couple hours from Greensboro. Unfortunately, North Carolinians attempting to make the trip will be stopped at the border and sent north. Hey, I don't make the rules. I'm just the messenger.

Indianapolis: In a rare move, all residents of the city will exchange places with those living in Lexington and Louisville for the weekend. That way all of those University of Kentucky and University of Louisville fans will have a place to stay, and the Indiana fans won't have to drive around trying to figure out where the Hoosiers aren't playing. In an unprecedented show of flexibility, the NCAA has also included Cincinnati as an alternative destination, as there will probably be some Northern Kentucky University fans making the trip, as long as they can edge their gold and black vehicles into the long line of blue and red heading to Indiana.


Hear my recent interview with legendary sports agent Leigh Steinberg, where we discussed his agency, concussions, franchise relocation and philanthropy at http://thechtonsports.com/cold-hard-truth-sports-radio-show-1242017/

Also listen to our conversation with author and sports journalist Mike Carey, as we discussed his latest book "Bad News" about Marvin Barnes and reminisced about Mike's coverage of the Boston Celtics during their glory years with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Danny Ainge and Robert Parish. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/golongmedia/2017/02/08/the-cold-hard-truth-on-sports-radio-show

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" at  Amazon.com and listen to me Friday's at 8:40 am EDT/ 7:40 am CDT on Lou in the Morning, streaming live on www.WPFLradio.com, 105.1 FM. Also check out www.thechtonsports.com for our podcasts and live broadcast on Tuesday's at 8:30 pm EST. I can also be reached via email at kevin@pkfrazier.com.