"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.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

THURSDAY MUSINGS: MARCH MADNESS, KIDS IN LOCKER ROOMS AND SO LONG, JOE

Sweet Sixteen: Well, so much for the Cinderellas. The limos to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament turned into pumpkins for the likes of Little Rock, Northern Iowa, Yale and Middle Tennessee State. Sure, we have a couple of double-digit seeds remaining, but they're Syracuse and Gonzaga, hardly Hawaii or Stephen F. Austin. For all of the talk of parity and the strength of the mid-majors, we have 15 of the teams left from the Power 5 conferences, six of the them from the ACC. And that league was without what many people believe to have been the team with the best chance to win it all, Louisville. In the case of the ACC, I guess one could argue that the seeding was advantageous, but outside of UNC grabbing the top of the bracket in the East and Virginia getting a gift at number 1, the rest of the teams were probably fairly seeded, with a three, a four, a six, and two tens. Will they be able to continue their dominance? With Gonzaga advancing, Syracuse ended up with a very winnable game. Virginia faces a beatable Iowa St. squad, Notre Dame dodged West Virginia and Xavier to face Wisconsin, not quite the team that almost won it all last year. Miami and North Carolina have their hands full with Villanova and Indiana, but Duke can probably give top-seeded Oregon a run for their money. So I guess the answer is yes, they can. An intriguing game to me is Texas A&M - Oklahoma, with the Aggies surviving by virtue of an almost impossible comeback against Northern Iowa. With all four top seeds remaining, it's getting more difficult to envision a huge surprise, let alone a glass slipper.

Adam LaRoche Retires: There has been a lot of conversation among sports journalists about Chicago White Sox player Adam LaRoche's decision to retire after his son's access to the team's facilities was limited by his team's management. The fact that the issue advanced to where it did, with LaRoche's son apparently in the locker room and in the dugout on an almost daily basis, probably a mistake by the White Sox. No reasonable person would think that having a thirteen year-old in an adult environment on a regular basis is ideal. I can see an occasional visit, but there are places for adults and there are places for children. What if every player with a kid brought them to the locker room every day? It would be a very difficult situation at best, especially since these guys are professional athletes who have virtually grown up in very masculine and very non-child friendly environments. I can understand that LaRoche feels like he might have had an agreement with the team, but to be fair to the White Sox, they probably did the right thing. Of course, it didn't help his cause that he's a career .260 hitter coming off a season where he batted only .207, with 12 homers and 44 RBI. It won't be too difficult for Chicago to replace that production, especially at what they were paying LaRoche. If he was a .300 hitter coming off 30 homers and 100 RBI, I'm guessing the White Sox would have had a little more difficult decision to make.

Rest in Peace, Joe Garagiola: I grew up in an era when there was only one, or maybe two, baseball broadcasts every week. For a number of those years, former player Joe Garagiola, who passed away yesterday at the age of 90, was behind one of the microphones. His smooth voice and positive demeanor were refreshing, especially for a game that at its best can be poetry in motion. Along with Tony Kubek and the legendary Curt Gowdy, Garagiola brought the national pastime from places like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, St. Louis and Chicago to my living room in Virginia. When I heard of his passing, it felt like a part of my sports past had gone with him. As I'm writing this, there is a small tear in my eye, thinking back to a day when we weren't inundated with games and announcers who have never heard of the saying "less is more". I know Joe Garagiola was also known for his time on "The Today Show", but for me his memory will always take me back to the days, yes day games, featuring Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Lou Brock, Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Reggie Jackson, Juan Marichal and the long list of great players from the sixties and seventies. All I can say is to Joe is "Thanks for making baseball enjoyable to watch."

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first two, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel" and "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and SmashwordsTune into www.WPFLRADIO.com at 8:40 am EST every Friday for my Beyond the Commentary segment on "Lou in the Morning" with Lou Vickery and Jonathan McMath.




Friday, March 11, 2016

MARCH MADNESS: WHEN DOES IT REALLY BEGIN?

It's March and there is tournament basketball being played. The question is are we yet at madness or is it all just maddening? In an era when teams play sixteen to eighteen conference games, do we really need them to add another two or three on top of that? Does it make sense to do away with the conference tournaments, seed all 351 teams and just add a week to the NCAA tournament? Okay, let's take these questions in order.

Are we at madness or is it all just maddening? Yes. What I mean is it's a little of both. If we're talking about the Colonial Athletic Association or the American East, then March Madness begins with the conference tournament because only one school gets to the dance and that is the tournament champ. So in essence, the NCAA tournament begins with the tipoff of the conference tourney. If it's the Big Twelve or Pac-12 or any other power conference, it's just plain maddening. So a .500 conference record turns a little better and an Alabama ends up beating out a Minnesota for an NCAA tournament berth. Big deal.It's a zero sum game with very little overall benefit for the basketball fan. None of them really have a prayer of winning the national championship, just a shifting of number eight and nine seeds from one power conference also-ran to another.

In an era when teams play sixteen to eighteen conference games, do we really need them to add another two or three on top of that? Probably not. I would rather see more games between top non-conference opponents than another round of games involving opponents that are familiar with each other. In the era of eight team conferences, maybe the tournaments were a welcome addition to the regular season. But the glut of conference games and the myriad of tournament formats has added confusion and frankly, an overload of meaningless contests.

Does it make sense to do away with the conference tournaments, seed all 351 teams and just add a week to the NCAA tournament? Okay, maybe it's far-fetched, but think about it. Most conference tournaments require teams to win at least three games to capture a conference crown and the ticket to the dance. So why not just eliminate the conference tournaments and use those sites as NCAA tournament locations and include every team? I know this isn't an original idea, but it's one that I think merits genuine consideration. No one watches the Western Athletic Conference tournament from start to finish. But if the last place team in that league is playing Duke in a first round game, it'll definitely generate interest. Just think about this. We could actually expand the NCAA tournament to 256 teams and only add one more round, if you count the play-in games to get from 68 to 64 teams as a full round. So even though it sounds a bit extreme, it really wouldn't take all that much to pull it off. In fact, you'd end up with the top 160 teams or so getting a first round bye. Now talk about your March Madness!


Don't forget to check out my new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first two, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel" and "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and SmashwordsTune into www.WPFLRADIO.com at 8:40 am EST every Friday for my Beyond the Commentary segment on "Lou in the Morning" with Lou Vickery and Jonathan McMath.