Saturday, March 04, 2006


This is only a test (psst, click on the videos, but you should know they have sound).

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Angels Trade Alberto Callaspo

In return they get Jason Bulger, a hard throwing relief pitcher a few years removed from Tommy John surgery.

I suppose I ought to write something about this. I've already posted my thoughts on the Rev's site, but my first thoughts on this are that it sounds like a decent deal with good potential, and even if it fails, I don't think it will hurt the Angels too much. Almost no one projects Callaspo as more than a good Major Leaguer at best. We're not talking about a future hall of famer, though I wish him well. On the other hand, the Angels brain trust has a good track record with hard throwers that no one else seems to want too much (see Donnelly and Weber). He gives them some depth in the bullpen.

What's better is what this trade reveals, which is the rising star of Howie Kendrick. This deal was necessitated by Kendrick's terrific play. It looks like he'll be starting the season in AAA. Callaspo, while a good prospect, hadn't shown any power, and he was the fourth best middle infield prospect on a team full of them. He was expendable. And if he pans out, he'll be the double play partner of the second best shortstop prospect in baseball, Stephen Drew. Good luck to him.

Illinois 71; Minnesota 65

The Illini celebrated senior day over the weekend with a win over Iowa and set themselves on the task of ruining senior day for the Gophers and Spartans. One down, one to go.

Vincent Grier got off to a good first half, although he scored half of his points from the foul line. But the Illini came on strong late in the half, got a dunk from James Augustine as the clock wore down, and went into the break with a 3 point lead. The teams came out and exchanged scores, and the lead, for a while, until the Illini went on a 10-0 run beginning at around the 15 minute mark, and they never gave up the lead again. The run consisted of four free throws, and just two points from a guard. Although the backcourt combined for 36 points, it really seemed like the front court that came through when it mattered most for the first 35 minutes. Sean Pruitt dropped in nine points on 4-5 shooting, Marcus Arnold added six, and Augie was terrific with 16 points, 10 boards, and 7 assists.

What seemed to do the Gophers in were two posessions late in the second half where the Illini ran the clock down about as far as they could before making three pointers, one by McBride and one by Jamar Smith. It's kind of like killing a penalty in hockey and giving up a goal with one second left. When you play great defense, force the opponent to throw one up as the buzzer sounds, and watch it go in, that's demoralizing. And that's not even taking into account the fact that the Illini were able to kill 1:10 of game time while still getting six points out of it.

At the under-four timeout, the Gophers were within four points. Dan Monson put the seniors back out on the floor, hoping they could dig something up and finish the game out on a winning note. But seconds later, Jason Stampier was whistled for an offensive foul off the ball, and that was the break the Illini needed to put the game away, as Jamar Smith hit his three pointer on the very next posession.

Now it's on the East Lansing to finish the regular season, maybe move closer to a 2-seed. Meanwhile, everyone in Orange will be pulling hard for Northwestern to upset OSU.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The South

I'm in Atlanta for training this week, so posting will be spotty. As a result, I didn't see the UCLA game today, but apparently for the second straight game, they started actually playing in the second half.

As for the Illini, the played a pretty solid game yesterday. It was weird in that no one performace really stood out as being tremendous. Richard McBride was a good selection for player of the game, but he was fairly spotty for much of the afternoon. He contributed big three pointers at key moments, especially the two at the end of the first half, which changed the complexion of the game.

The defense was excellent for the full forty minutes. Greg Brunner got off, but Jeff Horner and Adam Haluska were completely shut down, and that was truly the difference. The last two games are winnable, but they're also very losable. I'd expect a split, but I wouldn't be shocked if they lost both heading into the conference tournament.