The mid-term congressional election is less than two months away and some observers wonder whether the event will be all about nothing.
Feb. 27--Ricky Bobby Memorial Challenge (more on that below) and we still have a spot open for Friday's mailbag.
From the "Talk Too Much studios," let's go.
There are two qualities that everyone believes they have. Everyone believes they have a sense of humor and everyone thinks they hate to lose worse than anyone. (Side note: Until you can cite full-blown tantrums or not-speaking to your future-wife for almost an hour after losing a game of darts, don't mention the 'hate to lose' level to the 5-at-10. Hey, we're not proud about it, we're just sharing some background.)
OK, where were we. Ah yes, everyone thinks they're funny and super-competitive. And we're right there with everybody -- we think we're funny and we hate to lose.
Now, after watching million-dollared cars parked on pit row at Daytona for hours on Sunday, we remember a feeling as passionate as the hatred of losing. Think back to your little league days. You're dressed in your 'Chico Bail Bonds' Bears uni. You've been looking forward to Saturday all week. You're ready and get to the ball park at 8:30 a.m. even though your team plays a 2 p.m. It's game day.
And then it starts raining. And there under the cover of the concession stand it starts to become apparent that the day is done. Stupid rain outs. (That's when we started telling jokes, but that's a snother story for another time.)
So NASCAR's Super Bowl was hit with a wave of water that washed away the entire day. Plus, there is a 95-percent chance of rain today for rescheduled start at noon. So it's likely that the first rain-out in Daytona 500 history will be followed with another postponement. And if NASCAR starts the season on Tuesday, with the next race in Phoenix on Sunday, well, there figures to be more than a few blood-shot eyes from the drivers and crew.
If there's a silver lining to these storm clouds, it's that you have until the start of the race to get in the Ricky Bobby (If you ain't first, you're last) Challenge. Send us who you think will finish first and 43rd in the Daytona 500 -- whenever they run they dang thing.
Stupid rain outs.
The 5-at-10 loves the draft. You know this.
So, by association, you should know that the 5-at-10 is overly fond of the NFL combine, too.
And other than the unfortunate news of B.J. Coleman's injured pinky that forced him to skip a majority of the workouts, the first couple of days did not disappoint.
Everyone is talking about the physical merits of RG III, and Robert Griffin III's dazzling 4.41-second time in the 40-yard dash is stunning. That's flat-out moving -- think of it this way, RG III is faster than Florida running back Chris Rainey, who was one of the fastest players in the SEC last year. And RG III is a quarterback. (RG III broke 4.4 in an unofficial timing, and Mike Vick is the only other quarterback to break the 4.4 barrier. Gang, that's world-class fast.)
Griffin's impressive display -- he was also measured at a smidge under 6-foot-3, putting to rest questions about his height -- made the Heisman winner a slam dunk at No. 2, and that greatly pleases the St. Louis Rams, who have the second pick. The Rams have Sam Bradford and a slew of needs, so RGIII showing out means they are going to demand a King's ransom for the second pick and Washington or Cleveland figure to be duking it out to pay it.
But, there's no way RGIII hops Andrew Luck, who ran a somewhat shocking 4.67 in the 40 and had a longer broad jump than Cam Newton.
A few other combine views:
-- Georgia Tech receiver Stephen Hill made himself some serious money with a 4.36 40 on Sunday. Hill is a shade taller than 6-4- and weighs 208 pounds, and this draft is flush with teams looking for wide receivers. There's no way Hill makes it past the second round and he could be a late first-round pick after that eye-popping 40 time.
-- Miami running back Lamar Miller more than likely moved into the back end of the first round with a 4.4 40 time, the fastest among the running backs.
-- Highly regarded receivers Justin Blackmon and Alshon Jeffery did not run the 40, choosing to wait until their pro days at their schools in the coming weeks. Blackmon is recovering from a hamstring injury; Jeffery is recovering from swallowing a lot of aggression, along with a lot of pizzas.
-- Despite being slowed by injuries, former Red Bank High Tim Benford and Coleman appeared to be pleased with their limited showings at the combine. As our UTC football ace John Frierson writes here, (Chattanooga duo upbeat on NFL combine experience).
Before we move on to our weekly view at the eight teams that can win the whole thing, we'd be remiss if we didn't praise TFP ace columnist Mark Wiedmer's take on Pat Summitt here (Wiedmer: If only Pat Summitt could coach forever). Awesome in its awesomeness.
Anyhoo, we have been pleased with this college basketball season in large part because there appeared to be several teams that could make legit runs, and almost all of those teams were the usual suspects from power programs.
Now, after 25-plus games, some of the power programs are showing flaws, and heading into the final week of the regular season for most teams and the conference tournament for others, there seems to be fewer favorites and more questions.
1) Kentucky -- We'll have them here until their season is over -- and we'll either be right or be shocked. Sweet buckets of NBA potential, Anthony Davis went for 28 points in Saturday's win over Vandy, and is the front-runner for player of the year honors. (Side note: A-Davis leads the country in blocks with 4.8 per game, and he has impressively kept more than 100 of those blocked shots in bounds. Dude is awesome -- and he's a freshman.)
2) Syracuse -- The Orange's record is impressive, but here's where the cracks start. Syracuse is being our-rebounded by more than four boards per game. Read that again.
3) Michigan State -- Draymond Green has had a great season and personifies a "point forward." Is there a more underrated coach than Tom Izzo, who may be the best in the country but seems to get overlooked every year.
4) Kansas -- We've been high on them all year -- maybe too high -- but coming back from 19 down to beat Missouri on Saturday was awesome in its awesomeness. If A-Davis is not the player of the year, KU hoss Thomas Robinson is.
5) UNC -- Dynamite in the post and on the break, the Heels can score. Can they defend well enough to win it all? We'll learn a lot about UNC and its mettle this week when they go to Duke.
6) Duke -- We have been down on the Devils, saying that they did not have enough athletes to win tight games and were too reliant on 3-point shooting. Well, freshman point guard Austin Rivers has really developed into a playmaker and is creating shots for himself and his teammates. As he continues to get better, the Devils will get more dangerous.
7) Missouri -- Marcus Denmon is the best player you don't know, and if the 5-at-10 has another "Kemba Walker Memorial -- who scores the most points in the tournament challenge," remember Denmon's name. Please.
8) Ohio State -- The Buckeyes are tough as nails defensively, but multiple close losses at home has to be cause for concern for what likely will be the nastiest No. 2 seed in the draw.
This and that
-- Lofty level of all-star game defense, there was a flagrant-looking foul that resulted in Kobe Bryant's broken nose in Sunday's NBA All-Star game. That left two thoughts: 1) There was more physical contact in the NBA all-star affair than the NFL all-star game; 2) We are about to embark on a glorious stretch of NBA basketball because there is a heightened level of competitiveness. Sure the AAU-nature of players moving and positioning themselves to have the best chance to win will leave only eight-to-10 teams with a legit chance to win the whole thing, but that inner circle of title-worthy teams is going to flat-out fight for it.
-- On the All-Star game: The dunk contest is broken. We had a great question in Friday's mailbag about it, and we we can fondly remember looking forward to the dunk contest. This morning, we're not even sure who won the thing. And we're absolutely sure that there were more impressive dunks in the actual All-Star game than the dunk contest. Until the big names get in the dunk contest again -- hey, MJ was a regular contestant, and no one is bigger than MJ -- the dunk contest will be a waste of time.
-- In fact, if Charles Barkley had not been involved, the majority of the NBA All-Star weekend would have had the excitement of an insurance seminar.
-- One of the ESPN baseball gurus tweeted over the weekend that this past Saturday was the last baseball-free Saturday until November. Wow.
-- New Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine banned beer from the clubhouse after last year's debacle in which pitchers were sneaking into clubhouse and kicking back a couple of cold ones. (There were even claims that the players -- starting pitchers that were not playing those days -- were bringing it in the dugout.) Our first thought was "Hey, have you been to a ball game lately? Those things move pretty slow, and a cold Bud Light can make any event seem a little smoother." We're kidding of course. The beer ban may seem a little harsh, but in truth it was the only move for the new regime in Boston. It may be a little extreme, but those players abused the privileges and their teammates didn't stop it.
-- Hey, hey, hey... spring football is starting. UTC gets going today, and our Mocs football ace John Frierson lays down the five pressing issues for Russ Huesman and Co. here (UTC Mocs facing change in spring practice).
We've spent a little time making fun of announcers. And in truth, in most cases they deserve it.
Either they are pandering or pompous, simple or silly, basically bad or badly basic. So it goes, and in truth we have more sympathy for them than most, since sports announcing is one of those jobs that when it's done right, everyone thinks they can do it and it does not appear like more than "watching games and talking about it." We can empathize with that notion.
So let's look for the positive.
Who's your favorite sports announcer/analyst/play-by-play guy working today?
Here's our Rushmore of sports announcers out there: Charles Barkley, Al Michaels, Vin Scully and Bill Raferty.
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