Trashing Up the Weekend

Since I’m a non-travelling Wheel this weekend (and since I’m batshit crazy about college baseball) I get the honor of writing the weekend sports trash talk. Lots of sports are on tap this weekend, as the NBA chooses its Eastern Conference sacrificial team to face the ascendant Oklahoma City Thunder who appear to have a rising dynasty. There’s the Belmont Stakes, now sadly deprived of the chance for a Triple Crown winner. And, the reason I’m not in Providence, there are the NCAA Baseball Super Regionals, which are already underway as I write.

Here’s another local Gainesville musician to kick things off. He’s a bit better known than last week’s group, but he somehow seems to be keeping the zombie theme alive into its second week. Note that from the video, this is clearly not happening in Gainesville, so Petty’s “I’m tired of this town” doesn’t apply to his hometown.


Before the sports trash gets started, I have to engage in a bit of trash on journalism and blogging. I’ve been hammering a lot on the “Daily Drone” issue in Pakistan, making the argument that many US drone strike have been as much about political retaliation as about hitting terrorists, even coming up with the headline “The Beatings Drone Strikes Will Continue Until Morale Improves” Today the Los Angeles Times finally caught up:

Expressing both public and private frustration with Pakistan, the Obama administration has unleashed the CIA to resume an aggressive campaign of drone strikes in Pakistani territory over the last few weeks, approving strikes that might have been vetoed in the past for fear of angering Islamabad.


“They are trying to send a message: ‘If you don’t come around, we will continue with our plan, the way we want to do it,’ ” said Javed Ashraf Qazi, a retired Pakistani intelligence chief and former senator. It’s “superpower arrogance being shown to a smaller state…. But this will only increase the feeling among Pakistanis that the Americans are bent on having their way through force and not negotiation.”

And if that’s not enough, it turns out that yesterday Jonathan Turley even mostly ripped off my headline. He attributed it to Panetta while I put it in Brennan’s mouth and he left out the strike face beatings.

I won’t hold my breath waiting for the Times or Turley to pay me for doing their work for them.

Anyway, on to the sports. As I predicted last week, Alabama came through and gave the SEC their first National Championship in softball. Congratulations to them for a very well-played series and to Oklahoma for battling very hard and keeping the final outcome in doubt well into the night of the third and decisive game in the championship series.

Tomorrow was supposed to be the exciting conclusion to the unlikely Triple Crown run by I’ll Have Another, but he was unexpectedly scratched this afternoon due to a swollen tendon. I’ve seen lots of stuff flying on Twitter and elsewhere on the net about the checkered history of his trainer and the fact that the owner is a payday loan baron, so maybe we dodged a lot of nasty muckraking had the horse won. It does occur to me that by scratching and not running in the Belmont, the owner will likely reap much larger stud fees than if he had run and lost. Of course, the fees would have gone to unprecedented levels with a win, but the scratch does seem to preserve a huge chunk of income.

In the NBA, I warned last week about the geriatric Celtics. When they came up with a win in game 5 in Miami, I was with the rest of the geniuses who said the Heat were done, but last night’s takeover by James was impressive, even if I don’t enjoy watching him do well. I expect a Heat win in game 7 tomorrow. The Thunder looked incredibly impressive with their wins in game 5 in San Antonio and then game 6 at home. I think this team has been built for long term success and we are seeing the rise of a dynasty that will be as good as Miami’s big three thought they were going to be.

Both the SEC and Pac 12 have four teams in baseball’s Sweet 16. Even though the pundits loved the ACC going into the tournament, only two teams advanced, with Miami providing a huge blemish on the conference record by being the first number one seed to go two and out in several years.

The Gators had their wonderful no-hitter by Jonathan Crawford against Bethune-Cookman to open their regional and then added two more wins to go unblemished in a home regional  for the fourth straight year. Their Super Regional opponent is North Carolina State, and I’m happy to be facing them instead of Vanderbilt. This series doesn’t start until Saturday afternoon. The series will feature two of the three finalists for the Golden Spikes Award, the college baseball MVP, in Florida’s Mike Zunino (catcher) and NC State’s Carlos Rodon (pitcher). Rodon is a freshman while Zunino was the third overall pick (Seattle) in this week’s MLB draft.

Only one of the top eight national seeds didn’t advance, as North Carolina added another blemish for the ACC by failing in their home regional as a national seed. The Florida State – Stanford Super Regional should be very entertaining. This year’s Cinderella team, Stony Brook (by advancing as a number 4 seed, they were the equivalent of a 13 or lower seed making the basketball Sweet 16), is off to a great start in the first Super Regional game at LSU. Stony Brook took an early 2-0 lead. LSU picked up an unearned run in the 7th and then hit a solo home run in the ninth to tie it. Both teams then scored solo runs in the tenth and eleventh, with LSU’s tying home run in the tenth coming with two outs and two strikes. As of this writing, the game is in a rain delay tied 4-4 getting ready for the top of the twelfth inning.

Perhaps because I’m a big SEC home-boy, I expect all four SEC teams to advance to Omaha and to be joined by Oregon and UCLA from the Pac 12. Arizona may have a bit of an advantage in their Super Regional as they now host since St. John’s was a number 3 seed and advanced out of North Carolina’s regional. I really can’t call the Florida State – Stanford series but expect to enjoy watching it.

Game on, and throw it down in comments.

27 replies
  1. Teddy Partridge says:

    Swollen tendon, my ass. The breathe-right strips are outlawed in NY state, so no run for I’ll Have Another at the Belmont.

  2. MadDog says:

    “… I’ve been hammering a lot on the “Daily Drone” issue in Pakistan, making the argument that many US drone strike have been as much about political retaliation as about hitting terrorists…”

    I’ve had a thought bouncing around in my head today about the recent escalation of US animus towards Pakistan.

    Remember Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani and his Memogate imbroglio? The one where he purported to enlist the US in some sort of “slow-motion coup” to change Pakistan’s leadership to be much more to the US’s liking?

    Yeah, that one. It didn’t happen of course, and even Pakistan’s own investigation into Haqqani’s purported “treason” finished not with a bang, but a whimper.

    Now scroll forward 6 months or so.

    Is the US’s latest escalation against Pakistan part of a US effort to unseat the current civilian governing institutions like that ineffectual Zardari presidency, that pesky Parliament, and that always interfering Supreme Court, and instead bring back a more US-friendly Musharraf-like military dictatorship?

    Is the US government’s bellicosity towards Pakistan’s dithering now a form of a “wink and a nod” to encourage the parts of the Pakistani military that are considered US-friendly to make their move?

    Is Haqqani’s Memogate “slow-motion coup” now coming to fruition with US connivance, but with a different cast of characters than Haqqani was hoping for?

    We shall see, shan’t we?

  3. MadDog says:

    And more OT (but this is Trash Talk where anything goes) – Via Josh Gerstein over at Politico:

    Holder names leak probe prosecutors

    “Attorney General Eric Holder on Friday named two federal prosecutors to oversee investigations into leaks of classified information that have roiled Congress and led to calls for a special prosecutor.

    His decision came hours after President Barack Obama denounced the notion that the White House was engaging in politically motivated leaks and declared that he had “zero tolerance” for such national security breaches…”

    As I commented earlier today, there was an ulterior motive for Obama’s non-news news conference today, and that was specifically to get out ahead of the bi-partisan Congressional brushfire leak investigation before it went critical mass.

    As a tactic, Holder’s appointment of these leak probe prosecutors allows all of the government institutions to stonewall any Congressional or MSM demand for information on the basis that the matter is the subject of an “ongoing investigation”.

    Who didn’t see this coming? Obama sure did.

  4. Starbuck says:

    It will take another super power to wrest control away from Washington politicos. And they have arrived. They are known collectively as the 1%ers, with the CinC shared by the Koch brothers.

  5. MadDog says:

    @Jim White: As you’ve seen, I’m more in the “dissing the civilian government” camp.

    A couple of reasons why:

    1) The most recent US drone strikes in Pakistan seem to have depended on having “eyes on the ground” to tag the exact whereabouts of al Qaeda’s No. 2 Abu Yahya al-Libi. While that could be as a result of Pakistanis who are only CIA informants, it may instead be as a result of joint Pakistani ISI/CIA informants.

    2) The earliest news reports on the US drone strike against al-Libi had a spate of confirmations from Pakistani intelligence sources leaving one to conclude that they were in the targeting operation loop.

    Just my guesses here, so caveat emptor! *g*

  6. MadDog says:

    @MadDog: I may be wrong on this, but the official Holder press release from the DOJ leads me to believe that only 2 leak investigations are going to be undertaken:

    “These two highly-respected and experienced prosecutors will be directing separate investigations currently being conducted by the FBI…”

    Just my guess here, but I think the investigations would be the following:

    1) The Stuxnet leak by David Sanger of the NYT.
    2) The UndieBomb 2.0 leak by the AP.

    Missing would be the Kill List leak by both the NYT and Newsweek’s Daniel Klaidman.

    Again, just my guess, but the Kill List leak is thought to be politically beneficial to the Team Obama 2012 campaign, and furthermore, in their minds, it doesn’t really reveal classified national security “sources and methods”.

  7. MadDog says:

    @MadDog: Oh, and in the WaPo’s coverage of this leak investigation news, they get it wrong:

    “…Holder said the investigations will be conducted separately from the probes launched in recent days by the FBI into the possible disclosure of classified information to reporters…”

    Nope, Holder’s press release did not say that:

    “These two highly-respected and experienced prosecutors will be directing separate investigations currently being conducted by the FBI…

    (My Bold)

    Note to WaPo: Directing means supervising, managing, leading. Capisce?

  8. P J Evans says:

    And the chances of anything happening to the actual leakers (*cough* Brennan *cough*) are approximately the same as those of a snowball in Death Valley on the 4th of July.

  9. joanneleon says:

    OMG, I must have missed this before. I think I am going to have to read this book. From the daily round up over at dday’s:

    ❖In an anecdote related by Gary Sanger in his book about Obama’s secret wars, John Brennan’s colorful account of the Bin Laden raid stunned top brass in the Pentagon. So much so that then Secretary of Defense Gates told Tom Donilon of a “new strategic communications approach” he’d recommend. And what was that? Replied Gates: “Shut the fuck up!”

    Is Eric Holder’s special prosecutor going to snag John Brennan?

    This whole thing with the special prosecutor investigating the “leaks” from the White House for the propaganda pieces and campaign enhancements is hilarious.

    Well I guess they can just drag it out until after the election and then quietly decide not to press any charges. Until then any questions about the whole deal can be answered with “I can’t speak about that because of an ongoing investigation”. If you don’t want to talk about something and you can’t seal it or classify it, investigate it! We need a very catchy meme for that “ongoing investigation” technique.

  10. scribe says:

    On the day the Patsies released Chad Ochostinko because they couldn’t find anyone dumb enough to trade for him, we hear of their AFC East rivals, the J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS winding up with their own clubhouse cancer, Santonio Holmes, knocking off early from OTAs because, well, he spent too much time in Germany with the troops (and probably drinking good German beer) and they were giving him too many reps in OTAs.

    That’s right. He wussed out of practice b/c he was out of shape.

    After the J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS and Fat Rex got rid of Schottenheimer (not necessarily a bad move) because he and Santonio didn’t get along (made the move for the wrong reason – typical JETS), now, this.

    I have to wonder what that two-headed Sanchez/Tebow pullmepushyou is going to think and say about this. Say what you like about Sanchez being meh as a QB, he does show up first and leave last (when he’s not out modeling, clubbing or eating sushi), or at least he started off that way.

    Maybe the JETS can give 85 a home.

    And, I think we have the first contest of the No Fun League season – name the Sanchez/Tebow thing. And, no, that movie with the racist white guy’s head surgically attached to Rosey Grier doesn’t count.

  11. JohnT says:

    Since I’m a non-travelling Wheel this weekend

    That brings up a question – what do you call a commenter? A wheelie? lol

    Cause I’m in Reno via Montana (fresh snow in Butte Montana yesterday), Idaho, Utah and along I80 in Northern Nevada. I’m a traveling wheelie, I think

    PS any movie producers out there? Because outside of Dillon Montana is a pretty stunning area called Lima Peaks. I can’t find a picture to do it justice. I took one but don’t have an account at a photo sharing website. It looks like there are at least 5 or 6 lava domes sticking up out of one mountain base. Covered in snow and surrounded by a cloud. Perfect locale for a remake of Witch Mountain, or Close Encounters

  12. nomolos says:

    Hamilton fastest in practice, no doubt going to do well in qualifying but then he has to negotiate piss poor pit work during the race. Poor bugger, no wonder he is contemplating leaving McLaren after this season.

    I know that the race is being fucked up by faux but I long ago gave up watching F1 on American TV and enjoy watching race and practices on line with capable, knowledgeable, commentators from England.

    Today on line one can see NZ vs Ireland rugby (saw that already) later England So. Africa and right now Australia Wales also right now Test Cricket, England vs West Indies.

    As for the Belmont, if the powers that be do not get their act together by weeding out the blatant doping the sport will go the way of boxing and ice hockey, relegated to some obscure cable channel.

  13. Jim White says:

    @Jim White: LSU gambled, starting Kevin Gausman (drafted #4 overall, just behind Mike Zunino) who will also start game 2 in a few minutes. Gausman got Stony Brook to go 1-2-3 (on only 12 pitches) in top of 12th and then LSU pushed a run across with only one out to win it.

    So now Gausman is in line to potentially win both Super Regional games on the same day. Congrats to Paul Maineiri on a gutsy move that paid off big.

  14. Petrocelli says:

    F1 fans are seeing quite a fight at the Canadian Grand Prix … and one on the track as well !

  15. Bay State Librul says:

    Lance Mannion on the Celtics loss,

    “It must be a trick of memory or an illusion brought on by an onrush of sentimentality. Deep down in my heart, the Celtics of the 1980s—Bird, Johnson, Parrish, McHale, Ainge, plus Cedric Maxwell, Tiny Archibald, M.L. Carr, and Quinn Buckner—must be my Celtics, the way the 1986 Mets are my Mets. But I feel like I love these Celtics, the team that, tired out and worn down and overmatched and outplayed, sadly, finally sputtered and failed last night against the Heat, more than I ever loved another team, and I’m not just talking about Celtics teams or basketball teams.”

  16. Jim White says:

    What a weekend! The Gators advanced to Omaha, but both Saturday and Sunday were marathons. I was at the ballpark over six hours each day, as the games were long and there were multiple rain delays. Sunday’s game was epic, with the lead going back and forth many times. Unfortunately, the home plate umpire was very bad and affected both teams in bad ways. He took away a run for the Gators on a phantom tag at home and his call on strike three to end the game left the North Carolina State batter so incensed he had to be held back by his coach:

    Five of the eight slots in Omaha are now filled. In addition to Florida, we have Arizona, UCLA, Florida State and the Cinderella Stony Brook Sea Wolves who took down LSU in Baton Rouge. Still to be decided today are games three between Baylor and Arkansas and between Oregon and Kent State. Oklahoma and South Carolina still have to finish game two this afternoon. South Carolina won game 1, so Oklahoma has to win the suspended game (scoreless in the bottom of the 6th) if they are going to force a game 3.

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