Friday, June 27, 2008

We're getting desperate

Maybe it's the heat of summer, maybe it's the war. Maybe it's because they weren't loved by their mothers as little children.

Whatever it is, something drives some football fans to hate their rivals at all times and in all places.

I admit, I hate the Utah Utes more than... just about anything. But even my hatred wanes a bit in the off-season. In fact, I don't really start hating the Utes in earnest until football season begins. It reaches its apex when BYU and Utah play each other, and then doesn't resurface until basketball season.

That's not the case for everyone, though, and the battle rages year-round in unlikely venues. Facebook groups, online message boards, and especially the comments sections of online newspaper articles. There are soldiers on both sides who valiantly patrol the Web to defend their schools' honor.

Only passionate fans, for instance, can turn an article about migrating honeybees into a classic battle of Utes vs. Cougars.

UteGuy96 wrote:
All the honey bees are leaving the state because they can't stand the self-righteous Cougars led by their king, Donko Mendenhall! Go Utes!!

CougarThunder wrote:
Hey UteGuy- You shouldn't worry about the honeybees. If I were you I would worry about the crickets chirping when the Utes play their home-opener and no one is there to watch it. Go Cougs!

Boylen4Prez wrote:
You kewg fans are so predictably lame. You only have so many fans because all the self-righteous Mormons make going to BYU games part of their enrichment activities.

Collie4:18 wrote:
Don't worry, Yewt fans, I'm sure Kryle Kwittingham will find a way to save the honey bees - that is, unless he's as scared of bees as he is of UNLV running backs.


By the way, the above exchange didn't actually take place, but you can find literally dozens of conversations just like this one taking place every day on myriad online venues.

I'm as big a Cougar fan as anyone, but even I am starting to find the constant bickering a little ridiculous. More and more I'm finding the articles I enjoy reading about BYU are marred by brainless Utah fans who feel it their duty to (anonymously) write stupid smack about BYU. The smack usually falls into these categories, by the way:
  • The BYU basketball players' wives
  • Bronco (Donko) Mendenhall's hypocrisy
  • Self-righteousness
  • Multi-Level Marketing smack 
BYU fans always take the bait, too. For every Utah fan that wears his intelligence on his sleeve, there's a BYU fan right there ready to rebut. And thus, every article--however mundane--becomes a forum for defending your team and cutting down your rival.

If you want my two cents, this is really just another bit of evidence that we're all incredibly bored and we need something other than sports to occupy our minds during the long summer months. 

Monday, June 23, 2008

Write it Out: Dissect Adam's Swing

Okay you golfer experts out there, it's time to put me under the microscope.

Last week I officially let the golf monster overtake and devour me. I hit the driving range at Chelsea Piers in New York City and it felt good to swing a club again. I had been a little hesitant on account of my torn ACL, but it turns out I can still throw a driver around like the spry, sun-kissed golfer I always picture myself to be. Now all I can think about is getting back on the links.

There's just one problem, though: I'm a bit rusty.

It turns out I'm one of those people that has to re-learn how to hit a golf ball at the start of each and every season. I stood over ball after ball last week, like I've done so many times before, and I thought the same motions and feelings would just come back to me. Let's just say it wasn't that easy. I made progress as the session wore on, but overall I just couldn't get in a rhythm.

So now I'm soliciting the help of all you golf gurus out there. Here is one still photo of my backswing, along with a short video of some swings I took at the driving range (special thanks to my lovely assistant Becky for the camera work). I expect some constructive criticism/advice in the comments section.



Back to the Bronx

I had another chance to go to Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, June 17, and it was another day to remember.

There were a few things different about my second trip to the House that Babe Built. First, I sat on the first baseline this time. Second, this game wasn't close like the first one; the Yankees blew the Padres away (A-Rod hit one HR, and Jason Giambi hit two).

Another day at the ballpark, and another awesome experience. Enjoy some pictures, and one video I took of Derek Jeter. With the bases loaded, Jeter hit a routine grounder to the Padres' short stop. The second baseman bobbled the catch, though, and it turned into an RBI. That's why everyone goes so crazy in the video.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

2009 BYU recruiting guide

Recruiting is an interesting thing. At every other school in the universe, there are fans just like me who get really excited about recruits. They know, like I know, that incoming freshmen are the future of their program. Some even make an impact right away, so following the recruits can be an interesting pastime.

At BYU, though, it's a bit different.

On the one hand, BYU has an interesting advantage with a certain group of athletes, namely the LDS athletes. The top LDS athletes around the country have an instant affinity, in most cases, to BYU since it's the premier LDS-owned private school and it has a pretty darn good football history.

BYU also encourages these players to serve missions, while other schools may not like it so much.

On the other hand, that same advantage turns into a liability when a top LDS prospect leaves the game of football behind for two years to serve a mission right out of high school. So a talented, highly sought-after recruit who makes fans like me pump fists of joy in the air when they commit to BYU may not see the actual field for two, three sometimes four years after they commit.

Case in point, I remember in 2007 following a kid named Devin Mahina. He was a tight end prospect out of California, and a BYU commit. I was way pumped when he decided to come to BYU, but then quickly demoralized when I found out he wouldn't even enroll until 2010. He graduated HS in 2007, left for his mission in the fall, and he won't be back until mid-season 2009. So he'll be officially on the team in 2010, and that may even turn into his redshirt season.

Needless to say, it can be frustrating.

I continue to get excited every year, though, and 2009 is no exception. Mostly I guess it gives me something football-related to focus on during the summer.

(Wow- This is becoming less a recruiting guide and more a personal rant)

Here is a list of BYU's prospects and commits for the 2009 recruiting class, and also a little bit of commentary from yours truly.

1. LB Manti Te'o: 5-star, Punahou HI. This is our highest-rated prospect, and arguably the most sought-after recruit on BYU's radar. He has offers from USC, Notre Dame, Cal, UCLA, Colorado and others. This would be a huge commit from a great LDS athlete. He has his choice of schools it seems, but our ace in the hole may be that two of his cousins, Shiloah and Malosi, have both committed to BYU. Chance of committing to BYU: 70%

2. OG John Martinez: 4-star, Cottonwood UT. This is another big-name recruit, and BYU was the first school to offer him a scholarship. The Cougs were followed by Utah, LSU, Ohio State, USC, etc. He isn't LDS, to my knowledge, and I don't think he wants to stay around Utah either. So... he'll probably be going somewhere else. He did say recently, though, that if he were to stay in state he'd probably go to the Y. Chance of committing to BYU: 20%

3. S Craig Bills: 4-star, Timpview UT. Bills committed to BYU as a sophomore, and we should all be very greatful. He's a solid safety, recently winning the defensive back MVP in his position at the Nike Football Camp. Chance of committing to BYU: 100%

4. OT Xavier Su'a-Filo: 4-star, Timpview UT. "X," as he is known, would be another great get from Timpview for the Cougars. Timpview is looking more and more like a farm team for BYU, and if they keep pumping out athletes like Su'a-Filo, I say keep up the good work. He may be attracted to some of the big schools that are knocking on his door, but I think BYU has a good chance of landing this big offensive lineman. Chance of committing to BYU: 75%

5. LB Kyle Van Noy: 4-star, McQueen TX. I don't know much about this guy, other than he's LDS and he likes BYU. Chances of committing to BYU: 50%

6. LB Steven Fanua: 4-star, Milpitas CA. Honestly, I haven't heard anything about this kid. It appears from what I've seen, though, that he has BYU on top of his list. Considering he's a 4-star linebacker, I'd say that's pretty good news. Chance of committing to BYU: 80%

7. QB Josh Nunes: 4-star, Upland CA. Nunes is a pretty hot QB right now getting a lot of attention from Pac-10 schools. I used to think we had a shot at him, but I think this talented player may opt to play somewhere else. Chance of committing to BYU: 15%

8. QB Taysom Hill: 4-star, Highland ID. To take away a bit of the sting of losing Nunes, Cougar fans should be happy to hear we'll probably get Hill, a very good QB in the 2009 class. There was some talk, even, that the BYU coaches would get him to commit after Junior Day this last Friday. Probably with guilt trips and spiritual manipulation (kidding). Chances of committing to BYU 85%

9. RB Adam Timo: 4-star, Snow Canyon UT. This guy is legit. He's breaking records, he's turning heads, he's running over defenses, his name is Adam, and he's already committed to BYU. Chances of committing to BYU: 100%

10. WR Brett Thompson: 4-star, Oak Ridge CA. Thompson comes from the same HS as Austin Collie. In fact, I read somewhere he's dating Collie's sister. Translation: He's as good as Cougar. He's also the first of a crop of tall, speedy receivers in the 2009 class. Chances of committing to BYU: 90%

11. TE Richard Wilson: 3-star, Spanish Fork UT. Wilson exploded onto the recruiting scene. BYU offered him, and then one after another the big boys came calling. He now has offers from the likes of LSU, Tennessee and Miami. He could be the next in a long line of great BYU tight ends, but I think he may look for greener pastures. Chance of committing to BYU: 55%

12. LB L.T. Filiaga: 3-star, Bingham UT. I get mixed reports from this kid. Some say he wants to be a Cougar, some say he wants to play somewhere else. He has family ties to both BYU and Utah, but I think there's a good chance he'll be wearing Cougar Blue when the dust settles. Chances of committing to BYU: 65%

13. OG Tui Crichton: 3-star, Timpview UT. This big boy is committed to BYU. Hopefully he can convince his pal Xavier Su'a-Filo to join him. Chances of committing to BYU: 100%

14. DT Latu Heimuli: 3-star, Highland UT. Related to BYU coach Steve Kaufusi and former BYU great Vai Sikahema. Another good in-state LDS recruit for the D-line. Hopefully he ends up at BYU. Chance of committing to BYU: 77%

15. S Jray Galea'i: 3-star, Kahuku HI. Hard-hitting safety from Hawai'i football powerhouse. Committed to BYU. Chance of committing to BYU: 100%

16. WR Mitch Mathews: 1-star, Southridge OR. Was just offered a scholarship after BYU's Junior Day on Friday, June 13. Older brother Marcus a BYU commit. Another tall, athletic WR. Chances of committing to BYU: 90%

17. OT Brad Wilcox: 1-star, North OK. One star? Not too sure why this kid got a scholarship offer in a class so full of talented recruits. The coaches definitely must see something in him. The fact that he's from Oklahoma and he's 6'7" probably has something to do with it. Chances of committing to BYU: 65%

18. C Terry Alleto: 1-star, Ponderosa CO. Committed to BYU. I wonder if the coaches are regretting the scholarship offer. I'm sure he's a great athlete, I'm just saying... Chances of committing to BYU: 100%

For an official list of BYU's commits, prospects and recruits, visit http://www.totalbluesports.com/

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Write it out: The NBA Finals

For your consideration, I'd like to present the next subject for Write it Out to be debated in my comment section: The NBA Finals.

Specifically, who are you going for? The Celtics are nursing a 2-1 series lead, but the momentum (and venue) has shifted back to LA. Kobe Bryant dominated game three, but game two was controlled by Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. 

Before you decide consider the following: 
  • For BYU fans: Cheering for the Celtics means cheering for Danny Ainge, BYU Hall-of-Famer and architect of the 2008 Celtics team. 
  • For Jazz fans: Cheering for the Lakers means cheering for Western Conference basketball. This is kind of like BYU fans cheering for Utah during bowl season because it's good for the conference. Not everyone's cup of tea, but it works for some people. 
  • For Jazz fans: Cheering for the Celtics because you hate the Lakers. This, of course, is the opposite route than the one above. If you're hatred for the gold and purple runs deep, maybe this is the best choice for you. 
  • For basketball fans: Cheering for the Celtics because they're just plain good. Who cares if you're on the bandwagon?
So if you're a Lakers fan, if you're a Celtics fan, if you're a basketball fan who normally doesn't care about either, or if you hate basketball period, let your voice be heard. Leave your comment, and don't be afraid to step on some toes. 

Who do you like in the NBA Finals?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tiger: Time to shine

Before I begin I should say I'm not a big Tiger Woods fan. For the same reason I hate the Yankees, Kobe Bryant and the Patriots, Tiger Woods just rubs me the wrong way. I guess I just can't stand people/teams who are at the top of their game.

To say nothing of all the bandwagon fans. 

But I am interested to see how Tiger does this week at the US Open.

Earlier this year the hype around Tiger Woods reached astronomical levels. The popular buzz word back then was "Grand Slam," meaning Tiger Woods had a strong chance to win each of golf's four major tournaments in one year: The Masters, US Open, British Open and PGA Championship. This feat has never been accomplished. Tiger has won every major, and even all four majors in a row, but never in one calendar year.

Everyone seemed to think 2008 would be the year to do it, though.

Woods himself said it was "within reason."

However, golf is a funny game. A golfer's talent is only a part of winning a tournament. To win a tournament one needs to overcome all the obstacles: the weather, course conditions, competition, health, the time of day, equipment - all these and many more can influence a tournament.

For that reason, Tiger did not win The Masters, the first major of the season. He finished second to Trevor Immelman.

Immediately after the tournament, Tiger had surgery to repair a nagging knee injury. He hasn't walked a full round of golf since, but he is scheduled to take part in the US Open this weekend.

My gut tells me there's no way he'll be able to pull out a win. Walking 18 holes can bring some strapping, healthy young boys to their knees (Cade Taylor, for one). What will it do to someone with a sore knee? Also, how will his knee affect his swing? How will not playing in a tournament since The Masters affect Woods? These questions are swirling through my head right now, and I just can't seem to give them satisfying answers.

I just don't think Tiger can pull it off.

But then again, I've been wrong before. For instance, I thought the Jazz were a lock when Michael Jordan had the flu during Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals. Instead he came out and torched the Jazz for 38 points and led the Bulls to the win.

Ugh. I still remember seeing Jordan on the bench after the game. He looked like complete death.

So maybe, just maybe, the US Open will be Tiger Woods' "Flu Game." He may come out and destroy the competition, like he has done so many times before, limping the whole time. As a dramatic climax he will sink a 20 foot putt for the win, hobble off the 18th green on Sunday and fall right into an ambulance.

He may find a way to win. The great ones always do, and if Woods can make it happen he will have won my respect.

Monday, June 09, 2008

38 Pitches


In an attempt to appeal to Boston-area sports fans, allow me to present to you my latest site recommendation:


38 Pitches is Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling's personal blog. He updates it weekly, at least that's what it looks like on his front page, and he covers everything from inside the Red Sox dugout to the NBA to his personal life. It's pretty entertaining, I must say, and a good read for Red Sox fans, and baseball fans in general.

Curt Schilling is a sure-fire HOF ballplayer, and he is probably best known recently for his performance in the 2004 World Series against the Cardinals. (Think: Bloody sock).

Give it a look-see, and if you like it go ahead and throw it in your RSS Feeder. (I'm a Google Reader fan myself.)

Sunday, June 08, 2008

There can only be one

Here's a little something to get you excited for the rest of the NBA Finals:

Friday, June 06, 2008

Reminder: We were pretty dang good last year

It’s been well chronicled that BYU has been receiving its fair share of national hype as we prepare to get ready to almost start thinking about getting excited for the 2008 football season.

Most recently, Rivals.com has featured BYU as part of a story entitled “Can a non-BCS conference team win it all?”

This national hype can cause a few different reactions among us BYU fans. The way I see it, we can either respond to this attention with an “Oh baby, this is our year and everyone knows it” kind of attitude, usually accompanied by a strut of some sort.

Or we can go the other route and ring our hands while saying something like “Oh geez- this is too much. We can’t handle the pressure!”

Well this post is dedicated to those of you who find yourself in the second group. It is meant to remind you that yes, BYU was freaking good last year. And yes, all our guys are coming back.

Allow me to remind you in whom our confidence is placed for the upcoming season:

Max Hall: QB
In 2007: Hall passed for 3,848 yards and 26 TDs with 137.71 efficiency rating.
Also: He did what he did after not playing in a competitive game since High School
Defining moment of 2007: I picked two: The season-opener against Arizona, where his efficient performance silenced his critics and set the tone for the 2007 season, and 4th and 18 against the Utes, when he scrambled, waited, and chucked a bomb (with a separated shoulder, by the way) to an open Austin Collie.

Austin Collie: WR
In 2007: AC, aka “The Unit,” led the Cougars with 946 receiving yards, 7 TDs and an average of 72.8 yards a game.
Also: Collie returned to his Freshman All-American form after serving a 2-year mission in Argentina.
Defining moment of 2007: Collie is a playmaker, so it was hard for me to think of one moment. However I think his performance against New Mexico, particularly his 59-yard TD reception in the third quarter, showed exactly what kind of player Collie is: He played that game with a broken rib and two bum ankles.

Harvey Unga: RB
In 2007: Unga, the Freshman All-American, led the Cougars and the MWC with 1,227 rushing yards and 13 TDs. He also added 655 receiving yards and another 4 teeders.
Also: He did this as a redshirt freshman.
Defining moment of 2007: After flubbing two wide-open would-be touchdown passes against rival Utah, Unga put the exclamation point on the miraculous Cougar victory by storming through the Utah defense and over Steve “The Tool” Tate for the winning touchdown.

Hopefully this little reminder will give you, as a fan, strength to endure the hype for this upcoming season. When all else fails, just remember this: We were awesome last year, and everyone’s back. 2008 is going to be one freaking sweet ride.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Write it out: Trent Plaisted

I've been thinking a bit about Trent Plaisted's decision to enter the NBA draft later this month, and I wanted to put this topic out on the discussion floor.

I want to know what you readers think. It seems like a simple issue, but consider the following: 
The reports out of the combine pretty much say the same thing we've known for years: Trent Plaisted is an athletic big man who runs the floor well, but lacks aggressiveness around the rim and a tough inside presence. He's also a horrible FT shooter. 

So my question to you guys, then, is this: 

Why did Trent Plaisted enter the NBA draft, especially since he has no guarantee of getting picked in the first round? 

Is he just sick of BYU? Does he truly feel like he'll break into the first round and the guaranteed money that brings? Is it purely ego?

This is your turn now, and I want thoughtful answers people! And you people who have been reading and not commenting? It's time to step up to the plate and say something. Write it out. 

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The LES of the future

This picture almost brought a tear to my eye, and I had to share it. How I long for LaVell Edwards Stadium to one day look like this! 


This image has been taken from This Post on Cougarboard.com. Used with permission.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Surprise!


Everyone raise your hand if you're at all surprised that it's the LA Lakers and the Boston Celtics in the NBA finals.

Really? No one? Not even a little bit?

Me neither. I'm convinced these two teams were foreordained before the foundation of the world to be in the finals this year. In a pre-2008 season council, Larry Bird, Cotton Fitzimmons, Wilt Chamberlain and David Stern (aka: The Quartet) decided Boston and LA would return to the finals in an epic battle. It was determined that the NBA, along with its players, coaches and owners, would do whatever they could to ensure this end.

Thus the Lakers and Celtics, with a little help from the referees and, yeah, a little nudge from the league, ensured this match made in the heavens would indeed take place on earth.

Kobe vs. KG. Bean town vs. La-la land. Lakers vs. Celtics.

Seriously, though, I just have one question: How did this happen so perfectly? How did Kevin Garnett end up in Boston, and on that note how in the heck did Pau Gasol end up in LA? How were there absolutely no surprises in the playoffs? How did this happen?

(I guess that's more than one question, but you see what I'm saying? You picking up what I'm putting down?)

Anyway, enjoy this match up, America. I know the boys at ESPN sure will. I just hope we get back to true, honest basketball next season.