So I've been sick for pretty much the last week or so, possibly strep throat picked up at a wedding a couple of weeks ago. I've been more or less out of it at work, and I spent the entire weekend sleeping on the couch in front of the TV, not really wanting to move. So that's probably as good an excuse as anything for not posting for a while.
Anyway, here's a quick "around the teams" dealie:
On the football side, apparently Pat Cowan is suffering from the effects of a concussion, most likely suffered on the hit by Ray Malacriminal in the fourth quarter of the U$C game, a hit that apparently wasn't helmet to helmet if you're a Pac 10 official. Should be interesting to see what Dorrell does for the Emerald Bowl. I've gotta think that both Cowan and Olson will be getting playing time, and that the job will be open for competition next spring. I still feel that in the long term, Ben Olson will be the quarterback who can take the Bruins further, but Cowan has his strengths (most notably his ability to scramble), and he'll either be a capable back-up, or he'll be a starter for someone else. Though I believe he's taken a red-shirt year, so he would only have one year of eligibility left if he were to transfer. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Next season is a long way away.
The basketball team starts a third consecutive week at #1 after taking down their third ranked opponent of the season. Saturday's game against Texas A&M was physical affair, and neither team looked like they were at the top of their ability, but the Bruins played with more poise down the stretch, made the big shots when they needed to make them, and took care of the basketball. They continue to be awful from the free throw line, and eventually that's going to haunt them if they can't turn it around. Lorenzo Mata's fifth foul with a few minutes remaining was probably a blessing in disguise, as he will probably be a liability on the offensive end late in games. That will be amplified by UCLA's inability to call timeouts after made baskets to switch offense for defense, a result of Ben Howland's philosophy of calling timeouts after made baskets starting about the nine minute mark. I'm not sure why he does that, and I'm not sure I've ever seen anyone ask him about it. But hey, it works, so I'm not going to question it.
Of course, certain anonymous Arizona fans would point out that Arizona is ranked first in Ken Pomeroy's RPI ratings. That's the same Arizona team that has played all of one team who's even receiving votes in either the AP or ESPN polls, and needed some help to beat an Illinois team missing its two best players. Note to Cat fan, there is a reason why they don't set the field for the NCAA tournament in December. The committee might want to see more than wins over New Mexico State, Samford, and Northern Arizona. Props on beating a bad Louisville team well on its way to missing its second straight NCAA tournament.
A lackluster second half against UIC led to a victory that was a little too close for comfort. On the plus side, Brian Randle and Jamar Smith were back in the lineup. They still aren't shooting the three very well, and they're turning the ball over too much. They showed that they may have trouble scoring when Warren Carter is doing everything, but as mentioned above, it was Randle's first game back, and his nine points and nine rebounds were a nice spark. As he continues to heal and gets some athleticism back, it should improve the team on both ends. For Jamar Smith, it was nice to see eight free throw attempts, but 1-6 from the field isn't going to cut it. For the first time this season, I was underwhelmed with the play of Calvin Brock. He was due for a bad one. Belmont lies in wait as a tune up for the bragging rights game against Missouri, which looks like one the Illini might drop for the first time this decade. That's definitely a statement game.
The Angels signed Darren Oliver today, who will replace the last worthless lefthander who held the LOOGY role. Oliver was generally considered to have a fair amount of potential, and was never really any good. He's spent most of his career as a starter, bouncing around Texas, St. Louis, Colorado and a few more stops before landing with the Mets last year in a relief role, during which he had his first above average season since 1999. It's not a long deal, and its not for a ton of money, so I don't really care if it goes bad. What bothers me a bit is that this is the second guy Stoneman has signed coming off a good year preceded by a bunch of awful ones. Anyway, it probably strengthens what on paper should be just about the best bullpen in the AL.
On the offensive front, no real news, which is probably good news at this point. Quite frankly, I don't see the fascination with getting someone like Manny Ramirez. He's a terrific hitter, no doubt about it. In a perfect world, they would acquire Manny and dump GA, opening the DH slot for Manny with the ability to play him in left to rest Vlad and/or Rivera. But that's not going to happen. GA isn't going anywhere, and he's going to be in the lineup, and there's nothing any of us can do about it except hope he finds the fountain of youth that takes him back to 2003. The only real upgrades in this lineup are going to come at first and third base, and those would be expensive, controversial, and possibly unnecessary, depending on how long we wait for Kotchman/McPherson/Morales. Personally, I think the pitching is excellent, and there's enough offense that they can afford to take a wait and see approach at those positions. On top of that, the real options out there on the market have their own question marks, except for maybe A-Rod, who no one expects to leave New York.
Anyway, I'll continue to try to mend, and keep this updated as health/work/time permits.