Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Carolina "Blue" Day...

Everyone knew it was coming. There really was no other choice. But the "what could have been" still looms gigantically large nevertheless. The Tarheels' Ty Lawson and Dwayne Ellington declared for the NBA draft today, thus ending their North Carolina basketball careers as well as any national title talks in Chapel Hill at least for now. Lawson will most certainly be a first round selection, but the jury is still out on Ellington as far as that initial round is concerned. Regardless of when they are selected, they both will have long, lucrative, and successful pro careers. It was indeed time for them to go. But there could have been another banner in the rafters of the Dean Dome next year if they had chosen to finish out their college careers. Ah, the things dreams are made of.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bill Bonds: Courage, Character, and Class

The Central Georgia area suffered big loss on Sunday. We lost a dynamic man by the name of Bill Bonds. Although he was a football coach "by calling", he could have been rightfully addressed as a senator: the Honorable Bill Bonds. For he truly was a man of honor. A man of integrity. A man of decency. A great husband. A tremendous father. A loyal friend. A dynamic Christian witness. All of the "old school" values that seem to be missing a lot these days, Bill Bonds possessed them all and exuded them all every day of his 49 years. He was the kind of person who made you feel good just being around him. He seemed to make everyone around him "better". If you were fortunate enough to call Bill Bonds your friend, you were extremely blessed for having your path cross with his. When we lose a coach, especially one of the really "good guys" like Bill, I always think about the huge number of lives that have been touched in a positive way by such a man. The number in this case is staggering, because he touched everyone he came in contact with in a positive way. He fought cancer so gallantly for ten years. A fight he waged with no complaints and no regrets. Cancer has had many worthy opponents, but perhaps not so many adversaries as one Bill Bonds. I will never give cancer credit for defeating him, because cancer never came close to touching the heart and soul of Bill Bonds. Cancer never would have been able to claim the fiber of the man. The essence of the man. The heart of the man. That will always be Bill Bonds. Godspeed my friend, and thank you.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Georgia Gymnastics: A Dawg Dynasty!

The University of Georgia Gymnastics team won their 5th consecutive National Championship Saturday night, giving them 10 titles overall. Coach Suzanne Yoculan heads off into retirement having captured those 10 champonships, as well as, 16 SEC titles and 21 regional titles. She is a five-time national coach of the year, and has led the Gym Dogs to 20 top four finishes in the last 22 seasons. Yoculan's motto has been for her teams to compete freely without the fear of failure and without any regrets. No regrets for these Dawgs. Not when five for five makes ten!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

This Date in Time: Elston Howard

Elston Howard became the New York Yankees first African American ballplayer on April 14, 1955. He was the American League MVP in 1963, and he won Glove Gloves in 1963 and 1964. He came up behind the great Yogi Berra, and Berra was the league's MVP the year Howard arrived in New York. It would be several years before Yogi retired, so manager Casey Stengel used Howard as his back-up catcher, first baseman, and outfielder, just to get his bat in the lineup. He made his first All-Star team in 1957, without even having a solid starting position. He would go on to appear in nine consecutive All-Star outings. An interesting tidbit with Ellie's career is that he got a hit in his first major league at bat, and he homered in his first World Series at bat. Howard died in 1980 at the age of 51 due to myocarditis, a rare heart disease. In 1984 the Yankees retired Howard's number 32 jersey, and placed a plaque in his memory in Yankee Stadium's Monument Park.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Phil & Tiger: But Do You Love Me, Do You Love Me...

Do Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson even like each other? CBS's David Feherty says Tiger and Phil don't really know each other. He says they are so competitive, that the competition shapes their relationship, if there even is a relationship. They didn't talk during their final round pairing at Augusta yesterday, but Feherty says Palmer and Nicklaus didn't say too much to each other either. They became friends after all the competitiveness. Kinda like Bird and Magic. I think the "mystique" of Tiger and Phil, or Tiger -vs- Phil, adds interest and intrigue to their tremendous talents, abilities, and battles on the course. And that intangible is going to surround them for many years to come. You know, if they put on a duel like they did Sunday afternoon, they might not like one another, but they sure will respect each other. Heck, we can live without the love.

Aaron Murray: Spring Forward...

Aaron Murray completed his first spring as a Georgia Bulldog Saturday in the annual G-Day game. When most other kids his age are getting ready for the prom, Murray is getting ready to digest all that he has taken in throughout spring drills. Although he is an 'early arriving' freshman, it is hard to ignore his spring numbers: 13 for 21 in three scrimmages with three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Georgia coaches have said Murray is intelligent, fundamentally sound, and possesses an accurate arm. His future is bright in Athens. But for now, there has to be a whole lot of digesting going on. That learning curve is steep. Don't forget the name though. You'll hear it a lot over the next four or five years. Stay tuned...

Kenny Perry: You Would Have Looked Good in Green

I'll go ahead and say it. I wanted Kenny Perry to win the Masters. But more than that, I didn't want him to lose it the way he did. If Phil, Tiger, or Chad had just run him down and passed him, that would have been o.k. But I certainly did not want to see him bogey the final two holes to lose it. But such is the final day at Augusta National, and such is the way of sports, and heck, such is the way of life. And I'll go ahead and say this: I wanted an American to win the Masters. Sorry, Angel. I read that you're a good guy, just not red, white, and blue enough for me. And you can't get much Red, White, and Blue'er than Kenny Perry. A Kentucky bluegrass kinda guy, with old school values which he refuses to compromise. He called himself "average" Sunday night, referring to that as opposed to "great". And further referring to the separation between the two as an explanation of why he didn't have what it takes to win the "Big One". He went sixteen consecutive holes on Sunday without making a bogey. But sixteen holes does not make a round of golf. You have to play all eighteen . Kenny Perry did, but just not well enough. But, not to worry, he'll play all eighteen many more times before he is finished with competitive golf. And we should all be glad when he does, because we need more guys like Perry. It is said we are the sum of all of our experiences. I'd say Kenny Perry totals up really well. Even without a green jacket.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Saturday, April 11, 2009

It's "G Day" in the Classic City

Get ready for some football - Georgia Bulldog style! The annual spring game will be played today "Between the Hedges", and live on ESPN. Get out of here! The Dawgs in the national spotlight. Great publicity, and it can't hurt future recruiting either. Joe Cox and Logan Gray will be the starting quarterbacks in this Red-vs-Black showdown. You remember some guy by the name of Stafford departed early to seek fame, and certainly fortune, at the next level. Not to worry, we will just get our first glimpse of the newly reloaded Bulldogs. Just think about it: the Braves are back, the Masters is in progress, and the Dawgs are playing football. It must be springtime in the South! Happy Easter everyone!

Gary Player: A Class Act

The 'Man in Black' has played in his final Masters. No more walks up the eighteenth fairway for the three-time champion. After a record 52 Thursday tee times at Augusta National, the 73 year old South African has chosen not to tee it up again at the hollowed grounds he holds so dear.
Gary Player did not make the cut at this year's Masters Tournament after shooting an 83 on Friday, but I assure you he will not be remembered for that score at Augusta. But he certainly was adulated for it. He received a standing ovation on every hole for both the Thursday and Friday rounds. A former champion held in the highest regard. A worldwide spokesman for not only the game of golf, but for human decency and dignity. Thank you Gary Player, for being a champion in every sense of the word. And more.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Par 3 Day at The Masters

Talk about an expensive caddie! Greg Norman's wife, former tennis great Chris Evert, celebrates after her hubby's hole-in-one on the par 3 course at Augusta National Golf Club. Chris was Greg's caddie for Augusta's fun day on the links. Norman collected his ace on the sixth hole. The real deal begins tomorrow at 8:00 A.M. It's Masters time again down at the National at 'Magnolia Lane'!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

UGA Gymnastics: The Drive For Five

The 2009 University of Georgia gymnastics team will vie for their fifth consecutive national title next week in Lincoln, Nebraska. Yep, that's right: five championships in five years. Sick! The "GymDawgs" will be making their 26th straight appearance in the NCAA tournament. Yep, that's right: twenty six trips in twenty six years. Sick! It's great to be a Georgia Bulldog! Sick and sic 'em!

Nothing Could Be Finer...

...than to be in Carolina! Tyler Hansbrough came back for his senior year to get a ring. He now has that championship ring to validate a sensational college career. The college basketball world expected North Carolina to win the National Championship. Expect no more, just acknowledge. Creme de la creme, the best of the best and forget the rest. It's your time, so shine on 'Carolina! No one could overlook Ty Lawson, the finest point guard in all the land. He too had the option of the NBA last year. The same goes for the 'Player of the Tournament', Wayne Ellington. Is there a smoother, sweeter jump shot in the country? He has to be the epitome of a "pure shooter". And then there is senior forward Danny Green, opting for one more year in Chapel Hill in order to experience the exhilaration of a national title. What a compliment he is to Ellington's jumper; when those too are cooking, they will eat your lunch at the 3-point line. Now Junior Deon Thompson, who has improved and matured before our eyes this season, will be tempted to make an early exit to the next level. He is one who's game would be better served with another year of tough ACC conpetition. And just how good can freshman Ed Davis be? The sky is the limit, as they say. Don't forget Tyler Zeller, because he will be a force soon. Not to worry, the Tarheels will not be completely rebuilding, just partially reloading. They have a top ranked class coming in. However, I would not expect them back in the championship game this time next year. But that's O.K. for now. Roy has his second title, so number three can wait. After all, it's celebration time on Franklin Street. Savor the moment, and live out the dream. Party on 'Heels!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Jeff Gordon: Bang, Bang, Shoot 'Em Up

The wait is over. The drought is done. A new streak has begun. After 47 races without even a glimpse of Victory Lane, Jeff Gordan captured one of the biggest victories of his sensational career by winning the 500 miler at Texas Speedway. And he finished first on the same track that he finished dead last on last spring. Quite some turn-around I would venture to say. It was the first time Gordon had won at Texas, one of only two venues he had failed to conquer, the other being Homestead. It was Gordon's 82nd career win, only one behind the great Cale Yarborough for 5th place on the all-time list. He's leaves Texas remaining the Sprint Cup points leader, and by the way, he had no trouble at all locating Victory Lane. Look for him there again this year.

Braves Blast Phils

Newcomer Derek Lowe pitched eight scoreless innings as the 2009 version of the Atlanta Braves dismantled the reigning World Series Champion Philadelphia Phillies 4-1 Sunday night. The Braves and Phillies kicked off the 2009 campaign for major league baseball, with veteran Chipper Jones collecting the first hit of the major league season, and Brian McCann crushing the first home run into the second deck at Citizens Bank Park. Jeff Francoeur, with his newly tweaked swing, hit a line drive homer in his first at bat, and rookie center fielder Jordan Schafer became the 99th major leaguer to belt a home run in his first professional at bat. The only highlight for the usually rowdy 44,532 Phillies fanatics was the raising of the championship banner in ceremonies prior to their thrashing at the hands of the Braves. One game does not a season make, but what a way to get the season underway for the Braves.

"31 and Done" in Atlanta!

The Atlanta Braves will induct Greg Maddux into the Braves Hall of Fame and retire his number 31 jersey on July 17th. He will become the sixth Brave to have his number retired, along with the number 44 of Hank Aaron, Eddie Matthew's 41, the number 3 worn by Dale Murphy, Phil Niekro's 35, and the 21 cloak of Warren Spahn. His illustrious career includes 355 career wins, 18 Gold Gloves, 4 Cy Young's, and a World Series ring. Maddux, who is 42 years old, was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 1984, and came to Atlanta as a free agent in 1993. That signing would have to rate in the top 5 of all free agent moves in the history of sports. Let the "Mad Dog" eat! He became one-third of the "Big Three", along with Tom Glavine and John Smoltz. He also became an integral part of Atlanta's record 14 consecutive division titles.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Logan Gray: Focused to Move Forward...

There will be no more special teams for Logan Gray. Oh, he still wants to play and contribute as badly as he always has, but this time just at quarterback. His punt return career is over. He's finished as a kick returner and punt team gunner. All of his athleticism will be henceforth utilized in his diligent work to solidify himself as Georgia's back-up quarterback. Lest we forget, Logan Gray was an 'Elite 11' quarterback out of his Missouri high school. He's just yet to make that huge transition from prep QB to college signal caller. Now is the time to make that move, and this spring he is full steam ahead in staking his claim. If he can progress in the finer points of being a college quarterback, then offensive coordinator Mike Bobo can tweak the Bulldog offense to capitalize on Gray's speed, quickness, and running ability. He is very capable of adding another dimension to Georgia's offensive attack. His abilities to both run and throw well once he escapes the pocket can add strain and additional pressure on a defense. That is the opportunity Logan Gray is looking for. That is the opportunity he is focused in on and working hard for.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Mark Fox: The New Dawg in Town

Today, athletic director Damon Evans introduced Mark Fox as the new men's basketball coach at the University of Georgia. The Bulldogs inked Fox to a six year deal at $1.3 million per year. He comes to Athens from Nevada, where he spent the last five seasons, compiling a 123-43 record over that span.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

John Calipari: A Coach Loaded With Incentives

John Calipari is now the highest paid college coach in the country. His just completed deal with the University of Kentucky is an eight year $31.65 million record breaker. His guaranteed take for year number one is $3.7 million. To put this in its proper, or improper, perspective, Nick Saban's contract at Alabama is an eight year $31 million extravaganza. And he's a football coach in the South where football is king. But not at Kentucky. Calipari's deal almost triples the salary of head football coach, Rich Brooks (but in all fairness, Calipari can coach 'em up, whereas Brooks can't coach a lick!). But wait, there's more. Much, much more. The deal is laced with so many incentives it would make an auto executive envious (well, that might be overstating it a bit). Nevertheless, Mr. Calipari will receive two "late model" cars, plus mileage. His membership, fees, and dues at the country club of his choice will be paid by UK. He will have twenty prime season tickets to Wildcat home games in Rupp Arena, plus eight tickets for 'Cat football at Commonwealth Stadium (the incentive there is to for Calipari to see what his program can never be like). He will be paid bonuses for accomplishments such as winning the SEC and SEC Tournament (Wow!), reaching the NCAA "Sweet Sixteen", "Final Four", and for winning the National Championship. He will also be eligible for another bonus if his program achieves a 75% graduation rate among its players. Sweet, huh? I suppose I can understand the extra bucks for team achievements. However, isn't that why Kentucky is paying the gigantic salary for in the first place? And why the cars and country club sweeteners? With $3.7 mil rolling in his bank account, you'd think those incentives would be "chump change". But I guess if you're the one paying out the $3.7 , what's does a few more thousand matter. It's only the aforementioned "chump change". It's sick. The climate that surrounds the hiring of college coaches is sick; it's out of control. It 's great for the coach, of course. It is even justified by the university if the coach succeeds. If he wins. Because winning brings in the alumni dollars. That means a lot of dollars at a place like Kentucky (just basketball, Rich, just basketball). And when the winning comes, the contract is secondary at that point. What do you mean excessive, give him a raise by damn! Winning will be wonderful, basketball will be back, cash will still be king, and Kentucky will be cocky. The Wildcats will roar again. You go "Big Blue". But we're just talking about basketball , Rich.