Slant Pattern Odds and Ends

I hate it when sports remind me how old I am. That's probably why I am hoping that Brett Favre returns to the league — not because I am a Favre fan particularly, but because he entered the league when I was 15-years-old. And if he's still playing then hey, I can't be that old!

But I am, in fact, getting old, and the page has been turned on yet another one of the sports figures of my youth as Tom Glavine was released by the Atlanta Braves yesterday.

It seems like just yesterday (again, this was 1991 in particular, when I was 15) the Braves had the unreal starting pitching quartet of Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, Glavine, and Steve Avery. Avery was my favorite, so of course he was the only one to flame-out early in his career. I wasn't really a Braves fan, but I enjoyed rankling my math teacher, Mr. Slusser, a big Pirates fan (and that was the team the Braves invariably expelled from the playoffs in that era), so I would build paper tomahawks and wave them in class.

Now Glavine appears on the way out, the Braves long streak of making the playoffs is over and, wow, when was the last time the Pirates were any good?


Deadspin has a post that I think is a tad unfair, or at least a poor example, of Sports Illustrated overhyping different athletes as "The Chosen One," even if, as the piece admits, it was for pun purposes or within the narrow context of fantasy sports.

It is sort of funny to note that the tag has applied to such mediocrities as Andrew Toney and Vitali Klitschko, but the reason Deadspin brings it up at all is because they have put another Chosen One — "The Most Exciting Prodigy Since LeBron" — on their cover this week. But if a 16-year-old kid (Bryce Harper is his name) hits 570-foot home runs and throws a 96-mile an hour fastball, well, that qualifies, doesn't it? Should SI not acknowledge prodigies because they may or may not have overused the term in the past?


The U.S. Men's Soccer Team has risen to 14th in the FIFA World Rankings, ahead of everyone else in North America, Asia, Africa, and South America except for Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay, whom they are one spot behind.

Enjoy it while it lasts, though, because the U.S. got hammered last night in World Cup qualifying by Costa Rica, 3-1, in a match where the flow wasn't even as close as the unimpressive score-line indicates. While the U.S.'s inability to win in Mexico is fairly well-known, the Americans have been equally inept on Costa Rican soil, winless in seven attempts, only one of which was a draw.

Worse still, this was their "A" team playing, just as they get ready to disembark to South Africa for the Confederations Cup (a pre-World Cup tournament which features the defending champions of each continent, plus the reigning World Cup champs, and the host), where they are in the group of death with Brazil, Italy, and Egypt, whom they play last when both teams may very well be 0-2 and out of contention for the semifinals. (Spain gets a cakewalk in the other group, pitted against Iraq, New Zealand, and South Africa).


Finally, Matt Hinton (who is far and away my favorite college football blogger, compiled some good dish via Athlon Sports of anonymous coaches giving uncensored feedback on their conference rivals. Matt has the best asides on the comments, but I have a few of my own as well.

Clemson: "I'd be scared to death of them if they got it together. They can beat anybody on any Saturday, but they can lose to anybody on any Saturday." — an ACC assistant coach

Didn't he just describe the entire ACC? And, thanks to this era of parity, soon to be the entire world of college football?

Fresno State: "For all the crazy talking (coach Pat) Hill does about playing anyone anywhere and all his cute slogans, he really is a pretty conservative offensive football coach. They've just tried to grind it out, and that's not working anymore." — an opposing WAC assistant coach

I don't know that even Hill would disagree that he runs a conservative offense — Hawaii they are not, and never claimed to be. But Anonymous is still correct, and it has been sad to see Fresno State's descent from the mid-major elite. One has to wonder how safe Hill's job is, which is really something considering what a program-building icon he once was. Nonetheless, if he does get axed, I will be the first to claim anti-Fu Manchu mustache bias.

Kansas State: "I know Bill Snyder worked miracles there the last time, but I don't know if he'll get it done this time. I'm not sure he knows the mess he inherited." — an opposing Big 12 assistant coach

If anything, this comment is a muted understatement. I have the feeling Snyder does indeed understand, in spite of the happy face he and all coaches must put before the press and the boosters, the total disarray the program is in, particularly surrounding the secret sweetheart deal the outgoing coach received.

But "I don't know if he'll get it done this time?" Well ... he won't. I'm not sure Urban Meyer could get KSU back to prominence in less than five years. I'll be pulling for them, sincerely. I hope I'm dead wrong. But hiring Snyder reminds me of when the Minnesota Democrats nominated 145-year-old Walter Mondale to run for Senate in 2002 (as an eleventh hour replacement to incumbent Paul Wellstone, who died in a plane crash).

South Carolina: "They should be in a situation where they have just as good of a chance as anybody to win at a high level. They have great support, and they have had very good players. It's kind of a mystery." — an opposing SEC assistant coach

Just wanted to point out and chuckle that he didn't say "great coaching."

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