"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.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

WIMBLEDON, OLYMPIC TIRALS, EURO FINAL, ERIN ANDREWS BIG SPORTS NEWS: THE DOG DAYS CONTINUE

Four American Men Still Alive at Wimbledon: As I sat watching Breakfast at Wimbledon, there were still four Americans alive in the men's draw.  Andy Roddick was seeded a very low 30th and Mardy fish is seeded 10th, but all of the Americans are in the same half of the draw.  If one could at least get to the semis it would be a big boost the fortunes of American tennis.  With Nadal out and Federer struggling a little bit, perhaps there could be a surprise or two come week two at the All England club. Unfortunately, Roddick couldn't sustain a fast start and Querrey couldn't make it all the way back after dropping the first two sets and extending Cilic to a 32 game fifth set. So now only two American men remain. On the women's side, Serena looked good while surviving a tough three set match.  Venus looked tired just sitting in the stands.  Hopefully she can bounce back and play more competitive tennis in the future.

Phelps, Lochte rivalry: The Olympics are a month away and I'm beginning to look forward to the swimming drama that is sure to unfold in London.  The competitive nature of the American trials should give the Americans some momentum heading into the key races against the Australians.  It would be a great story if Michael Phelps can close out his Olympic career by adding to his record gold medal haul.

Excited About Soccer, Really? I hate to admit that I have been closely following the EURO 2012 soccer tournament. While I'm not pleased with the penalty kicks deciding matches, I have been impressed with the level of play, with the exception of France's performance in the quarterfinals.  I was particularly suprised by Italy's win over Germany and the way they raced off to a 2-0 lead and held on to get to the final.  Since I don't have a dog in this hunt, about all I can hope for is an exciting match that doesn't go down to penalty kicks. I'll feel a little cheated if it does.

I remember Erin when....: The announcement that Erin Andrews is leaving ESPN reminds me that I used to watch both she and Jay Crawford on local television in Tampa early in the new millenium.  To see what both have accomplished is fascinating to me.  As a huge sports enthusiast, I question the value of a reporter like Erin Andrews to ratings.  I can't ever remember deciding to watch an actual sporting event based on the announcer or sideline reporter.  It is rumored that Fox is pursuing Erin, and since they are trying to dent ESPN's hold on college football, it's probably a good move.  But just because Erin Andrews is on the sideline, I doubt I'll tune to a Baylor - Texas Tech game I would not otherwise be interested in wayching.

Weekly Baseball Comment: The Yankees may come back to the pack with the injuries to Sabathia and Pettite, but their hitting will still carry them deep into the season.  The AL East is so deep both Wild Card teams could come out of the division.  I'm impressed with the way the Orioles are hanging in there, but like the Pirates and Indians last year, it's only a matter of time until they drop behind the rest of the power teams in that division.  And speaking of the Indians, it looks like deja vu all over again.  The Kevin Youkalis trade has bolstered the White Sox at third base and the Tigers are poised to play better ball the second half of the season. In the west, the Rangers continue to cruise.  The senior circuit finds the upstart Nationals in first place in the east, showing no signs of letting up. The Giants, finally finding their pitching, have caught and passed the Dodgers on heels of a sweep with shutouts of their rivals to the south.  Meanwhile, the Central is shaping up as another battle, similar to last year.  The Pirates, a sentimental favorite, will hard pressed to keep pace with the Reds and the Cardinals.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


COLLEGE FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP ANNOUNCMENT BRINGS NEWS TO THE DOG DAYS

Bye, Bye BCS: The announcement that college football’s national championship will be decided by a four team tournament will not satisfy everyone, but it is a great improvement over what we have had for the last fifteen years.  The chances of a third undefeated team getting left out of the championship will be greatly diminished, although the criteria for selection have not been determined.  Even though the FCS has a full-blown tournament to decide its champion, I have never been in favor of that method for what has been called the FBS.  The regular season and conference championships need to stay relevant.  This will certainly maintain that. All in all, it may have taken a couple of decades, but they got it mostly right.

Bye, Bye Bird: Larry Bird’s departure, at least for now, from the Indiana Pacers doesn’t really surprise me all that much.  He looked tired during the playoffs, despite building a tough and solid team that appeared ready to de-rail the Heat in the second round.  Bird cited health reasons for leaving and I hope it isn’t anything serious that is forcing him out of the game at age 55.  Bird’s Indiana State team beat Virginia Tech, my alma mater, in my senior year on their way to a matchup with Michigan State in the NCAA championship game.  The Sycamores scored 25 consecutive points in that win over my Hokies to put the game away early. Larry Bird’s success at every level, including college player, NBA player, coach and front office executive is incredibly impressive and I certainly hope he can get healthy and come back to contribute to the game again in the future.

Howard’s Hostage: Otherwise known as the Orlando Magic, who hope to get some value for Dwight Howard.  The Houston Rockets are gearing up to make a run at Howard by stockpiling draft picks. Not a bad deal for the Magic if they want to rebuild.  The only problem is Houston may not be an attractive destination for Howard.  And without draft picks, will the Rockets be able to surround Howard with enough talent to compete for a championship?  Lebron was severely criticized for his actions two years ago, but I believe Dwight Howard’s manipulation of the Magic is far worse.  I’m interested to see how this plays out and if fans will be as critical of Howard as they were of James.

Penalty Kicks Again for Spain? Really?:  This just in: the college presidents have decided that any ties in the Football Playoffs will be decided by a field goal kicking contest……from the 10 yard line…..I’m sorry, but I’m going to repeat myself: I have a very difficult time following a sport that uses something as arbitrary as the penalty kick to decide a game as important as a EURO semifinal or a World Cup knockout game, up to and including the final.  So players are tired?  Allow two more substitutes per overtime period. Or do what they do for hockey and have a full intermission between periods.  But what do you expect for an organization that still won’t use replay to verify or nullify a goal.  I mean really, it’s the lowest scoring sport on the planet.  How many times would you have to use it?  Once or twice in an entire tournament? Oh, brother, if I’m spending this much time on a soccer tournament that doesn’t even include the U.S., then I really am ready for football.


Monday, June 25, 2012


OLYMPIC DRAMA ALREADY

Coin Flip? Really?: As if it isn’t bad enough that we choose a team for the Olympics that are held every four years with the results from one race, now we will potentially be using a coin flip to break a tie for third.  It has always seemed a bit absurd to me that we pick an Olympic team based not on an athlete’s body of work over a period of time, but instead on the results from the Olympic trials held over the course of a couple of weeks.  I know it's a tough call and a difficult decision on the part of USOC officials, but it seems to me that there is some kind of middle ground.
Penalty Kicks? Really? If soccer is ever going to take hold as a spectator sport in the United States, whether live or on TV, using penalty kicks to decide a match in the World Cup ad other international tournaments will have to be changed.  Don't get me wrong, I get the beauty of the game and appreciate the movement and strategy. But for most Americans, it's like using a game of HORSE or a free throw shooting contest to decide the NBA championship.  In a country where the game clocks measure tenths of a second, it is hard to accept a sport where the officials seemingly arbitrarily decide the amount of stoppage time, have no obligation to explain controversial calls and limit the game because the players may be getting exhausted.  Try telling that to the NHL players who go 3 or 4 overtimes in the Stanley Cup playoffs.  Isn't conditioning part of the sport? if a team is fatigued, then they will be at a competitive disadvantage.  Let the game be decided by playing until a team scores.  That's right, a team, through utilizing strategy and execution. Not because a goalie guesses the wrong way 4 out of 5 times. Might as well flip a coin..........
Where have all of the Yanks Gone?: Not Wimbledon, that's for sure, at least inthe locker room.  And if there weren't many there to begin the tournament, there are a lot less after the first round.  Whatever the USTA is doing is really not working.  I'm beginning to think I dreamed the whole Courier, Chang, Sampras and Agassi era.  And the Williams sisters may have come to the end of their run.  But there really hasn't been much depth for a long time on either side of the draw. I mean, if the Dallas TV series is back after all these years, maybe those guys didn't really retire or lose steam and they'll show up at the US Open, just as good as they used to be.  That's the deal, it was all just a dream.

NBA Draft: Otherwise known as the University of Kentucky freshman graduation ceremony.  Why don't we just give the Bobcats the UK championship team and see how quickly Michael Jordan can screw it up?  Can there ever have been a better player and a worse front office exec?  He'd be better off putting the faces of players on a Roulette wheel and taking the first five that hit.  The NBA can stop a legitimate trade that would have made the Lakers a true championship competitor, but it can't run a guy out of the game whose incompetency is ruining a franchise.  If this was a major market team, the story may be a lot different.





Sunday, June 24, 2012

AND THE DOG DAYS GO ON

Gamecocks Again? South Carolina, after beating Arkansas in consecutive one-run games, is back in the College World Series championship for the third straight year.  That is quite a feat. The format is grueling and even though their record of 22 consecutive tournament and 12 consecutive College World Seres wins was snapped earlier in the week, they regrouped, pitched amazingly and had just enough timely hitting to advance. However, they've played four games in the time that Arizona has played one, so they face a big challenge the next two or three days. Am I betting against them? No chance.

Pedophilia in Pennsylvania: Jerry Sandusky's attorneys are preparing for an appeal on the grounds that they didn't have enough time to prepare a proper defense. The attorneys are just doing their jobs in providing Sandusky responsible legal representation. While that may be legally sound and justified, it still doesn't change the horrific nature of this case. The most distressing aspects of this are the breadth of the alleged activities and the arrogance displayed by Sandusky to use university facilities to perpetrate the acts.  The university is trying to avoid further embarrassment, but I certainly hope they are also initiating policies and procedures that will save future young men from the same fate.

How do I make a right turn?: Twice a year NASCAR takes its show to road courses.  First this week in Sonoma and then in Watkins Glen on August 12.  I'm not a big fan of the road courses and as a NASCAR Fantasy owner, it poses a challenge to me. But just think of making nothing but left turns for 34 weeks and then having to turn a 4000 pound sports car in the opposite direction. Just think if your wife or husband all of a sudden decided they were going to switch sides of the bed. OMGSH! Not only that, all of the shifting and braking they have to do that isn't necessarily required on what is increasingly a 1.5 mile tri-oval track sport poses problems.  I may watch, I may not, but if I do it will be because it can be fun to watch the drivers try to adapt to a very different style of track and driving.

Junior finally wins, but....: We know it's a slow sports weekend when I have consecutive NASCAR topics. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. finally won last week at Michigan, but will have to wait until next week to build on his momentum at an oval. Although Junior had not won in a almost four years, he has driven with great consistency over the last two.  The points system, although revamped a bit, still rewards
consitency over the occasional win.  And when you enjoy the off-track income that Junior has, his only goal is to win a first Sprint Cup championship.

The French on Holiday?: It looked yesterday as if the French soccer team missed the memo and thought the EURO quarterfinal match against Spain was a friendly.  Or maybe they were just warming up and thought the game was today.  I'm certainly not an expert of soccer, but I can tell when a team doesn't even get off the bus.  Down by only a goal with less than ten minutes left, the French side appeared to have no sense of urgency.  Maybe they had reservations on the French Riviera that couldn't be moved a week. I hope they're enjoying themselves, becasue we sure didn't while watching their performance yesterday.

Okay, how about some baseball?: After roughly 44% of the season, we have following teams in first place: the Yankees, a bit surprising, but they've actually been able to get some solid pitching; the Indians, here we go again to see if they can keep it going; the Rangers, on a roll and outscoring their opponents by more than 90 runs; the Nationals, pretty impressive by an organization that has bult this team the right way, but they play in a tough division where the Phillies haven't woken up yet; the Reds, really, the Reds?; and the Dodgers, who somehow have been able to use Magic Johnson as a utility infielder...........

Unil tomorrow..........

Saturday, June 23, 2012

HERE COME THE DOG DAYS

For sports fans, this begins the dry season.  The NBA playoffs are over, football is still two months away and once the College World Series ends on Tuesday we're left with nothing but the Euro soccer championships, a couple of major golf tournaments, a cycling race no one cares about anymore, Wimbledon and more baseball and NASCAR than most people can bear.....and of course the London Olympics beginning on July 27!  That should give us some excitement to get us closer to football season!

Lebron, Lebron, Lebron: There has been so much said and written about Lebron James, the way he left the Cavaliers and the so-called arrogance of the Big Three in Miami.  I guess I have a somewhat different opinion. Dan Gilbert, the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, had seven years to surround Lebron James with another quality player or two.  He did nothing. He was naive or arrogant enough to think that a world class athlete, arguably the best in his sport, would stay with his organization out of some kind of team or civic loyalty.  Really? In 2010?  After seven years in the league with time running out? Sure, Lebron made a spectacle out of the exercise of leaving for South Florida.  But how many 25 year olds do you know that do everything absolutely right? He fulfilled his contract, he told the Cavaliers what it would take to keep him and when they didn't come through, he left to fulfill the dream every team sport athlete has from the time they step onto the field, court or ice: Win a championship. So good for Lebron, good for DWade, good for Bosh. They won when almost every  expert and commentator was calling the Oklahoma City Thunder the second coming of the 1990's Chicago Bulls.  They won despite the criticism of fans.  They won despite Bosh missing 10 games due to injury in the playoffs.  They won despite falling behind to Indiana, Boston and OKC. They won despite the incredible self imposed pressure to win. And they won because it is a team game, and the Miami Heat played as a team to win their second NBA Championship.

Who cares?:  There was a time not too long ago when the Tour de France was front page sports news.  Lance Armstrong was winning 7 consecutive races.  The Europeans were furious that the Americans had become dominant in a sport they considered their own.  Sure, Greg Lemonde won couple of times two decades ago.  But the Europeans countered that with a scandalous display of PED's and blood doping that turned the tide back in their favor for a while.  Whether Armstrong participated in those activities or not, I find it preposterous and somewhat hypocritical that after so many years of no evidence against Lance, the battle continues to be waged against the 7-time champion.   We all know it was a mess and I doubt many serious sports fans, despite Armstrong's repeated pleas of ignorance, would be shocked if he was found to have been involved in some way. My advice to the cycling community is to shut up and clean up the sport now, not worry about the past.

Wimbledon: What ever happened to tennis?  Do Americans even play professional tennis? If so, I can't seem to find them anywhere.  Oh sure, the Williams sisters are still around, designing clothes between sets. And Roddick is still around, getting to the quarters and then getting pummeled by the Nadal's, the Federer's, the Murray's and the Djokovic's.  Oh, and there's this big guy Isner who seems destined to play in matches that last longer than it takes Kevin Na to hit a golf shot. I think I'm going to hire Roger Goodell to launch and investigation.  At least that way it won't take very long and we'll have a decision based on a bunch of evidence we'll never see but will be told to take his word on it. At least that way we'll have someone to blame and punish.

College Football Playoff: It doesn't happen very often, but it appears someone may have been listening to me.  For quite some time I've been advocating a four-team college playoff that incorporates the current bowl structure and produces a champion from a matchup that essentially replaces the BCS championship game.  The advantages are that at least every other year it makes two of the four former BCS bowl games relevant, it doesn't require any additional time out of the classroom (like this matters but for some reason the university presidents have convinced themselves, and only themselves, that it does) and it will allow the regular season games to stay relevant. My only complaint is that we'll have to wait to two more years to see it.


Tiger Tease: Tiger Woods teased us again last week at the 112th US Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.  Is he back?  Not quite. Is there improvement? Absolutely.  Will he win another major or two? Probably. Can he win five more to pass Jack? Doubtful.  I think the most surprising thing about last week was not his collapse on the weekend, but that he was even on top after two rounds at a golf course that demands such accuracy off the tee.  I really didn't think Tiger would be a factor last week.  Not because he isn't back, but because the golf course doesn't suit his game, even when he was on top.  I'm not sure if he would have completed the The Tiger Slam in 2000 -2001 if the 200 US Open had been at Olympic instead of Pebble Beach, although his 15 shot victory there was perhaps the highlight of his career.