Welcome back to Lions Around the Dorm. We’re all rested up from a week off, and hopefully willing to accept the Cardinals as the new World Series champs. I am once again introducing you to the usual suspects: Signal staff writer Ray Lodato, Signal sports editor Lauren Kohout and WTSR sports director Patrick Lavery. I am your referee for this game, Rob “Fire Shannon Sharpe, Hire Tiki Barber” Viviano.
1) In what journalists have horrendously called “dirtgate,” Kenny Rogers’ postseason streak of scoreless innings continued due to a suspicious muck on his hand. The consensus is that MLB let this potential example of cheating slide. Do you feel it is in baseball’s best interest to have a possible example of cheating wiped off “as a favor,” as it was eloquently put by the head umpire?
RL: If almost every pitcher does it, what sort of an advantage does it really offer? Popular consensus has said that it was pine tar on his hand – so what? A large population of major league pitchers use either suntan lotion, pine tar or shaving cream – all three of which help you in different ways, namely in gripping the ball and increasing movement. Pine tar is the best because it doesn’t require moisture, unlike the other two. Why do you think Tony LaRussa didn’t pursue it and let it go as a “favor”? Well, gee, it’s probably because most of his guys use the same methods. Is it an issue? Sure. Is it one that needs to be addressed right now? Nope. Everybody associated with baseball knows this occurs; the only reason it’s in the public eye is because of the World Series.
LK: Did you say muck? It was actually pine tar and yes, it was cheating. I would say confront him and fine him and all that fun stuff, but at this point it doesn’t matter because the Cards took the championship anyway. It’s punishment enough that a man cheats and still loses; it isn’t the only error the Tigers made during the Series (poor Verlander).
PL: As much as I’d like to agree with what you’re saying, Rob (because I hate Kenny Rogers), I have to say that the umpires did the right thing by politely asking him to wash off the mysterious substance. While it would have been very dramatic he’d been thrown out of the game, it would not have been exactly fair. It would have put the Tigers at a huge disadvantage in that game, a larger disadvantage than the Cardinals would have faced were he doctoring the ball. Contrary to popular belief, you can hit a smudged baseball, so stop whining. Turns out this whole episode was of no consequence anyway, as Rogers went on to pitch seven smudge-free innings, and his start was the Tigers’ only win of the series.
RV: Cheating is cheating, period. If everyone does it, it makes it less of an overall impact, but not less wrong. Marking a ball is easy to do, and I am sure it’s common, but you can’t allow it. For taking some action, Lauren gets 3 points. For pointing out this is an unspoken trend by many pitchers, Ray gets the 2 points. Pat, it’s not about being unhittable or even harder to hit, it’s about not cheating, or accepting the consequences of getting caught – 1 point.
2) The Buffalo Sabres won their first 10 games of the season, one short of an NHL record. How far will they go? What will their final record be and will it be enough to get the worst uniform in professional sports into the NHL playoffs?
RL: How far will they take it? The Sabres are absolutely among the NHL’s elite and they’ve reached that plateau with a carefully crafted formula. For starters, the longest tenured coach in the NHL, Lindy Ruff, provides stability. They have one of, if not the fastest team in the league, but speed does nothing for you if you don’t know how to use it. The Sabres do. They move the puck as a complete offensive unit, overwhelming opposing defenses and putting shots on goal at lightning pace. This is a team built with chemistry – a squad without superstars clicking on all cylinders by playing total team hockey. Will they make the playoffs? Let me put it this way: nobody is stopping them but themselves – they have what it takes to win it all.
LK: I didn’t think they were going to take the streak much longer anyway. It is impossible to guess an NHL team’s record because of injuries, length of season and shootout losses. I think they will have 105-ish points at the end of the season. They can play .500 hockey for the rest of the season and still make the playoffs. It might be the worst uniform in the NHL, but it’s the highest grossing uniform in sales. So, either all of America knows how good this team is and that they will make the playoffs, or the country is seriously lacking a sense of style.
PL: The hockey season is 82 games long, and the best record ever achieved in a season that long was the 72-10 mark posted by the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, who, if you’ll remember, had some guy named Jordan on their team? I don’t see Gretzky and Messier circa 1982 on this team, so I don’t see the Sabres posting this great record everyone says they will. They’ll make the playoffs, sure; will they win the championship? That’s where those uniforms come in. Teams with poor uniform designs never seem to go the whole way. The 1984 San Diego Padres? Lost in the World Series. ’86 Astros? Lost in an epic NLCS to the Mets. Last year’s Seahawks? The 1997-98 Utah Jazz? See where I’m going with this?
RV: Amazing analysis from Ray, though I don’t have complete faith in Ruff’s ability to make critical line changes at the right moment. However, Buffalo is a true team showing its dominance over competitors – 3 points. For somehow making me believe that such a hot team will lose in the end because of bad uniforms, and because he related basketball and hockey, Pat gets 2 points. Lauren, I know that you are right about not being able to guess because of all the variables, but your answer just lacked the piquancy and analysis of the others and someone has to earn the last point- 1.
3) The women’s soccer team recently beat New Jersey City University 13-0. The game was actually 20 minutes shorter than a normal game due to the mercy rule. This is the kind of win that only happens in video games set on their easiest difficulty. Is this the most impressive single feat by a college athletic team this year, or is there something else worthy of that merit?
RL: Nope. Not even close. Amazingly, Temple University somehow managed to pull out a win against Bowling Green. I’ll repeat that – Temple won. Temple, a program so pathetic they were booted out of the dreadful Big East, ended a 20-game losing streak with this victory. Events like this are usually associated with things such as Halley’s comet passing and NBA players acting civilized. Blowout wins happen all the time – yes, even things such as a 13-0 tally in soccer – but Temple winning happens a few times a decade. It made headlines. Hell, Temple was on SportsCenter. Call me up next time the media doesn’t kiss Notre Dame’s ass or a Duke player unpops his collar, because those will be the only things in collegiate sports more rare than Temple nailing down a victory.
LK: This semester? No way. This past year? Hell yeah. Didn’t you know that sports at the College kick ass all the time, Rob? My thoughts immediately jump to lacrosse with this question since they had regular season wins with scores like 13-3, 15-1 and 17-3. Then, I remembered baseball’s scores from last season: 15-2, 15-1, 22-2, 23-4 and 26-1 to name a few. And no, these are not typos. Sure, they weren’t playing the best teams in the world, but baseball still kicked the crap out of them, as did lacrosse. Since they did this consistently, unlike women’s soccer, I would say that it is pretty gosh darn awesome.
PL: The most incredible collegiate athletic feat of the year occurred on the gridiron in Oregon, as the Oregon State Beavers snapped USC’s 38-game regular season winning streak. Because of all the hype about this game, you could almost see it coming, but the 33-31 win was still a stunning development. USC had not lost a regular-season game in three years, and what’s worse for the Trojans, they’ve dropped a game within their own conference and fell in the rankings as well, maybe losing a legitimate chance at the BCS championship game.
RV: The Trojans are kicking themselves after dropping that one. Anyone who beats USC is deserving of praise and when it’s Oregon State, which has two PAC-10 wins in its whole history, it’s miraculous – 3 points for Pat. Those wins in lacrosse and baseball are impressive, and perhaps it can dethrone the soccer team’s accomplishment. However, the highest recorded FIFA win in a non-exhibition game was 17-0 by Australia against Cooke Islands, which went 20 minutes longer. We could have equaled a world record in soccer – 2 points. Ray, you know I love Bill Cosby’s favorite team as much as anyone else, but 13-0 soccer games don’t happen, and winning a single game against Bowling Green, regardless of the team, does. Bowling Green is not exactly the unbeatable giant of sports either – 1 point. Faced with a three way tie, 6-6-6, I am forced to pick a completely arbitrary fact to decide the winner. For most points earned per word used, I award Lauren Kohout the win for excellence and conciseness.