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Photo courtesy of TSN Archives/Icon SMI  

I thought I was done with my Cooperstown Chronicles, but I’ve changed my mind.  I can’t think of any other players I feel should be in, but there are some managers.  One of those manager is Ralph Houk.   It’s not an easy task to replace a legend.  He did that when he took over for Casey Stengel.  He had the “misfortune” of having his success early.  Not many people would complain about winning back-to-back World Series titles, but had they come at the end of his managing career they would likely be the cherry on top of a Hall of Fame career.  As it stands, Ralph is still on the outside looking in.

He currently ranks 14th on the all-time wins list for managers with 1619, ahead of Hall of Famers like Dick Williams, Tommy Lasorda, and others.  He winning percentage was .514, which included twelve seasons over .500.  He had a bad run in the middle of his career with the Detroit Tigers, but he was solid for both the Yankees (.525) and the Red Sox (.539).  Had they awarded Manager of the Year in the 60′s, he would have likely won three straight from 1961-1963.  Just because his success came early, doesn’t diminish what he did.  1600 wins and a pair or World Series titles are enough for me.

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Houk with Yogi, The Mick, and Joltin’ Joe

References
Baseball-reference.com

Past Chronicles
Bert Byleven
Andre Dawson
Dale Murphy
Mark McGwire
Bobby Matthews
Tommy John
Buck O’Neill & Minnie Minoso
Jim Rice
Ted Simmons
Lee Smith
Jack Morris
Al Oliver
Steve Garvey
Jim Kaat
Pete Ro$e
Shoeless Joe Jackson
Dave Concepcion
Lou Whitaker
Alan Trammell
Ron Santo
Ron Guidry
Gil Hodges
Dave Parker
Tony Mullane
Keith Hernandez
Don Mattingly
Dwight Evans

 | Posted by | Categories: Cooperstown Chronicles, MLB |

Let’s be honest.  When was the last time you cared about the Slam Dunk Contest?  Gone are the days when Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins would battle from the honor of being the league’s top dunker.  Or to go further back when Dr. J battled Larry Nance.  Yeah, it was cute that Nate Robinson won a few years ago, but that had been done before.  Spud Webb already played the little guy role, only he was shorter.  360′s, windmills, blindfolds, between-the-leg, free-throw line dunk, and the list goes on.  They’ve been done before.  The big stars don’t even participate anymore.  Where’s LeBron, Kobe, and Vince Carter?  You know the answer.  They’ll be on the sidelines holding up #10′s when Gerald Green throws one down.  That’s some excitement for you.

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There is a big name participating this year though.  No I’m not talking about the defending champion Green, rookie Jamari Moon, or the up-and-coming Rudy Gay.  I’m talking about Dwight Howard.  He’s currently 12th in the league with 21.7 ppg, 2nd with 14.4 rpg, 4th in FG% at 60.1%, 5th in blocks with 2.43 bpg, and leading the league with 45 double-doubles.  Not only is he bucking the trend of being a Superstar to participate in the Dunk Contest, he actually came up with an interesting dunk.  Only the NBA won’t let you see it. 

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For the second straight year Howard has requested to raise the rim to 12 feet for a dunk in the contest.  Both Rudy Gay and Gerald Green say they would also like to attempt dunks at that height (actually Green says he’d raise it to 13 feet).    The NBA’s response.  No.  Are you kidding me?  I would actually be interested in the dunk contest if these guys were throwing down at 12 and 13 feet.  I’m sure I’m not alone.  When did the NBA become the No Fun League?  Seriously.  What possible explanation can Dictator…err David Stern come up with to justify squashing Dwight Howard’s attempt to breath life into this lame contest?  I don’t want to hear that it’s unfair.  Was it unfair that Michael Jordan could dunk seemingly pause in the air with his tongue out as he gracefully dunked it from the free throw line?  If Howard can do it, I want to see it.  I could see an objection if he asked to raise the rim during the actual All-Star game, but not the dunk contest.  It’s an exhibition.  It’s suppose to be a display of talent.  What are you harnessing that talent?  What’s the worse that can happen?  Oh no, Dwight Howard just generated buzz for a contest that is dying for a pulse.  We’ve got to stop that.  Call out the fun police.  You’ve guaranteed one thing with your decision Mr. Stern.  I won’t be watching the Slam Dunk Contest.

 | Posted by | Categories: NBA |

Final Football Results

13 February 2008

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Photo courtesy of Ed Wolfstein/Icon SMI   

NFL Picks
Like the Super Bowl, I picked the AFC team and loss.  This one didn’t sting as bad though.
 
Last Week:  0-1
Overall Season Record: 159-105

Fantasy Football Out on a Limb

Scoring
6 points for rushing or receiving TD
4 points for a passing TD
0.1 points per yard for rushing or receiving
0.05 points per passing yard. 

Pro Bowl
Tony Romo 16.35 (12.35 actual +4 spotted points) beat Peyton Manning 11.35 WHICH I GOT WRONG
Adrian Peterson 25.8 beat Joseph Addai 5.1 (2.1 actual +3 spotted points) as I predicted.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh 16.4 beat Chad Johnson 5.0 (3.0 +2 spotted points) as I predicted.

Last Week’s Picks:  2-1

At least I finished on a high note.
 
Overall Record
Regular Season Regular Picks: 42-43-1
Regular Season Super Stretch Picks: 12-5
Playoff Picks:  3-9
Pro Bowl Picks:  2-1
Overall:  59-58-1
Breakdown:  QB: 9-15, RB: 29-20-1, WR: 20-23

I’ve scoured the fantasy baskeball waiver wires to find gems so you don’t have to.

G
Chris Duhon
- Sure, a 34 point effort against Golden State helped pad his scoring numbers (18.0 ppg), but what’ I’m interested in is the 8.7 assists he’s averaged in his past three games.  Add in 3.0 rebounds, 2.7 steals, and 2.3 three-pointers and you’re in business.  He’s shot well enough (47.4% FG and 91.7% FT) to stay in the rotation even when Hinrich returns.

Fred Jones - Bad teams often produce sleeper fantasy players.  The Knicks are bad, and Fred has quietly been solid of late.  In his past four games, for example, he’s averaged 15.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 2.5 three-pointers per game.  He’s shooting 44.7% from the field and 80% from the charity stripe.  As a bonus, he qualifies at both SG and SF.

F
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Image courtesy of Icon SMI

Dorell Wright - In his past four games, Dorell has averaged 15.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and one steal per game while shooting 61.1% from the floor without missing any free throws.  He also qualifies at both SG & SF. 

Thabo Sefolosha - Here’s another Bull that’s been playing well of late.  In his past three games he’s averaging 17.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 2.0 steals, 1.7 blocks, and 1.3 three-pointers while shooting 44.4% from the floor and 90% from the line.  Talk about stuffing a stat line.  He also qualifies at both SG & SF. 

C
Mark Blount - Blount has stepped up his game.  He still doesn’t hit the boards as hard as he should for a guy his size, but his scoring touch can never be questioned.  In his past nine games, he’s averaged 16.6 points and 4.4 rebounds (see).  He gets you zero assists (three in his last nine games) and blocks (four in his last nine games).  Besides the scoring, he’ll help your shooting percentages (54.6% from the field and 75% from the line) and won’t hurt your turnovers (1.6 per game).  He qualifies at both PF & C.

Well, that’s it from the Waiver Wire Bin.  Free free to leave your comments.

 | Posted by | Categories: NBA | Tagged: Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire Bin |

Yankee Pitching

11 February 2008

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Image courtesy of Icon SMI

I have to say I’m rather impressed with the New York Yankees for not selling the farm to get Johan Santana.  Don’t get me wrong, Melky Cabrera and Phil Hughes was a darn good offer, but they stayed the course of building through young pitching.

It all starts at the top.  Chien-Ming Wang will turn 28 next month.  All he’s done is go 38-13 the past two years.  He has a great sinker that forces a lot of groundouts.  His pitch counts usually stay pretty low, and he averages over six innings per start.

Phil Hughes was one of the Yankees most coveted prospect last year.  Like Wang, Hughes had a hamstring injury that cost him some time last year.  However, he was still decent going 5-3 with a 4.46 ERA.  He finished strong going seven innings, allowing four hits and one run while striking out five in a win over Tampa Bay on September 27th last year.  Hughes will turn 22 in June.

While Hughes was the guy people talked about at the beginning of the year, it was Joba Chamberlain that stole the show by the end it.  He turned 22 in September and was fabulous last year going 2-0 with a 0.38 ERA striking out 34 while walking only six batters.  He didn’t allow an earned run until his 13th appearance.  He wasn’t as successful in the playoffs, but as long as he’s not swarmed with bugs every game, he should many outstanding years to come.

Ian Kennedy just turned 23 and is also full of potential.  He started three games last year going 1-0 with a 1.89 ERA.  He went seven inninns in both of his odd starts allowing just one run.  He needs to work on his control some after allowing nine walks in his three starts, but that could have just been him adjusting to the big leagues.   

I’m not sure how many teams can boast of a quartet of young pitchers like the Yankees can.  Even if someone else can, nobody can claim the same ability to keep those pitchers should they choose to. 

I’m not saying the Yankees are perfect.  Their lineup is starting to age.  Roger Clemens was a complete waste of money.  Kei Igawa was a swing and a miss.  I’m not saying he was a Pavano miss just yet, but he needs to show a lot of improvement.  I fully expect the Yankees to return to the playoffs.  Why wouldn’t you?  They will battle the Red Sox for AL East supremacy.  Oh, and A-Rod will hit a ton of home runs.  Say what you want about the Yankees bloated payroll, these four young pitchers show they are at least trying to develop some talent rather than (over)pay for it.

 | Posted by | Categories: MLB |

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Photo courtesy of Shelly Castellano ICON SMI
(Photoshop work by Yours Truly – hence the amateur look)

If you’ve been following basketball closely, you’ll know the following players have been playing out of their minds.  If not, it’s time to play catch up.  Here are some of the hottest players in the league.

Guards

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Allen Iverson
-  Of course A.I. can score, which is evident by the 26.3 points per game he’s averaging over his past six games.  What makes him En Fuego is the 11.2 assists per game he’s averaging over that stretch.  Throw in 2.8 steals and 1.7 three-pointers per game for good measure. 

Corey Maggette - Corey has been a beast over his past three games averaging 31.3 points, 6.3  rebounds, 1.7 assists, 2.3 steals, and 2.7 three-pointers per game while shooting 58% from the floor and 93.3% from the line.

Forwards

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Carmelo Anthony
- In his five game absence (ankle) ‘Melo must have went to a rebounding clinic because he’s averaged 9.0 boards in the five games since his return, including 15 vs. Portland.  Oh yeah, he hasn’t forgotten about his scoring touch either (31.6 ppg), going for a career high 49 vs. the Wizards.  He can share too (3.2 assists per game).  He’s also shooting 55.7% from the field and 94.3% from the line.  Yeah, I’d say he’s on fire.

Josh Smith - Josh has been really stuffing the stat line over his past six games.  He’s averaged 17 points, 7.7 rebounds, 6.5 assists, 2.3 steals, and 3.5 blocks per game.  He’s shot 50.6% from the floor during that stretch.

Centers

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Amare Stoudemire
- Until Shaq is ready to go, Amare will likely put up huge numbers.  That’s what Amare has done over his past four games.  He’s averaging 28.5 points, 13.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 3.3 blocks per game while shooting 52.9% from the floor and 93.2% from the charity stripe. 

Images courtesy of Icon SMI

 | Posted by | Categories: NBA |

Malkin in the Middle

10 February 2008

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Photo courtesy of Icon SMI 

With Sidney Crosby sidelined with an ankle injury on January 18th, many expected the Penguins would go into a major tailspin.  Nothing could be further from the truth. They haven’t just stayed afloat in his abscence, they’ve thrived.  Their record since the injury is 5-2-2 as they sit on top of the Atlantic Division with 67 points.  In fact, they are tied with Montreal for the second most points in the Eastern Conference behind Ottawa’s 72.

The reason for the hot streak?  Obviously the whole team stepped up, but none more than Evgeni Malkin.  Malkin has been on fire netting seven goals while handing out ten assists.  That’s an average of 1.89 points per game.  In his first 46 games he was averaging 1.13 points.  This spurt has helped Malkin climb the NHL scoring ranks to a tie for fifth place with 69 points, which puts him four behind Alexander Ovechkin and Daniel Alfredsson’s league-best 73 points.  He’s equally as good at setting up teammates as finishing.  In fact, he’s one of five players in the league with 30+ points and 30+ assists. 

This isn’t to suggest that Pittsburgh does miss Crosby.  Nor does it suggest that they can continue to excel without him.  Sid the Kid is a remarkable player.  So is Malkin.  NHL fans already knew that.  The rest of the world is catching on.

 | Posted by | Categories: Uncategorized | Tagged: NHL, Pittsburgh Penguins, Sid Crosby, Sidney Crosby |

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Was this the end of the road for Schilling and the Red Sox?
Photo courtesy of Icon SMI 

Curt Schilling wants to have surgery on his injured right shoulder.  Boston believes that his shoulder doesn’t need surgery, and that rehabilitation is the best option for Schilling to pitch for the Red Sox this year.  What weighs in the balance?  Besides his availability for the Red Sox this year is the $8 million contract he signed.  Basically, if Schilling opted for surgery the Red Sox could void his contract because of the collective bargaining agreement.  However, I don’t understand how either the Red Sox or Curt Schilling wouldn’t have an insurance policy in case of injury.  In the NBA, for example, if a guy doesn’t play the insurance company foots 80% of the guys salary.  I can’t imagine there isn’t something similar in baseball.  I know there is.  I remember the flap over Jeff Bagwell in Houston.  If Boston expected Schilling to pitch with the club beyond this year, I would guess they’d have him go under the knife.  Schilling’s camp knows that the easiest and most reliable road to recovery is probably having the surgery.  Once he heals they can decide on his future.  They just don’t want to pass on the payday.  He had a physical before he signed the contract, so I’m kind of with Schilling on this.  Have the surgery and hope to get back in time to put on the postseason roster.

So what does this mean to fantasy owners?  It means you can move Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz up in your rankings.  With Schilling out of the rotation, Tim Wakefield will likely man the 3rd spot in the rotation with Lester and Buchholz battling for the 4th and 5th spots.  The timing could have been better for Twins fans.  Had they known about this injury sooner, perhaps they would have been more willing to get the two-time Cy Young winner on board.  I’m sure this will continue to be an issue as Spring Training approaches.  My guess is that he’ll try the rehabilitate it and eventually get the surgery he needed anyway.  That’s why I think the Red Sox should just bite the bullet and let him get his shoulder fixed.  This isn’t the way I’d like to see the Red Sox title defense kick off, but you know when the re-signed Schilling that drama would follow.  At least he’s not in Congress trying to clear his name.  Whatever they decide, I’m am thankful of the contributions he made to Reverse the Curse.

 | Posted by | Categories: MLB |

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Photo Courtesy of Shelly Castellano ICON SMI 

Need some help with your fantasy hockey team?  You’ve come to the right place.  Try these hot players on for size. 

Center
Patrik Elias
- Patrik has been hot for about a month now, scoring 11 points in his last twelve games (0.92 points per game), 7 in his past six (1.17) and 4 in his past four.  In his first thirty-eight games he had only 24 points (0.63).  He’s had a point or more in five of his past seven games.

Winger
Milan Lucic 
 - Lucic has as many points (8) in his past eleven games (0.73) as he did in his first thirty-seven (0.22).  Talk about a bargain.  He’s scored in four of his past five games

Defenseman

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Image courtesy of Icon SMI
Dan Boyle - After missing 36 games because of a wrist injury, Boyle has come back with a flurry.  He’s scored in five of his six games, tallying 7 points (1.17) showing again why he’s one of the games best scoring defenseman.  He’s averaged 52 points per season the past four years, and he’s primed for a strong finish.

Goalie
Jason Labarbera - Jason has had a lot more success between the pipes recently.  He’s 4-1 in his past six games and 8-3 in his twelve, after going 8-16 in his first twenty-eight.  His GAA in his past six games is 2.62 with a 92.3% save percentage.  In his first thirty-four games he stopped 90.9% of his shots.

Friday Tidbits 2/8/08

8 February 2008

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The New York Giants won the Super Bowl.  The defense put a ton of pressure on Brady.  Eli looked calm under pressure.  Plaxico came through in the clutch.  Over 97 million people watched it, whic is second to M*A*S*H’s series finale.  Buffalo got the OK to play a home game in Toronto each year.  Darrell Green, Art Monk, Andre Tippett, Fred Dean, Gary Zimmerman, and Emmitt Thomas were elected to the NFL Hall of Fame.  Cris Carter got screwed.  New Orleans DE Charles Grant was stabbed in the neck.  Michael Vick gets to keep $16 million of his signing bonus.  Tom Brady, Randy Moss, and Antonio Gates will be replaced in the Pro Bowl by the Ohio Trio of Derek Anderson, Chad Johnson, and Kellen Winslow.  Jamal Williams will be replaced by Pittsburgh’s Casey Hampton.  Mike McCarthy signed a five-year extension with Green Bay.  Jim Mora will take over for Mike Holmgren in 2009.  Gregg Williams will be the new defensive coordinator in Jacksonville.  Steve Spagnuolo became the league’s highest paid defensive coordinator.  If you can shut down New England on the biggest stage, I’d say you’re worth it.  Washington is still looking for a coach.  I’m about ready to throw my hat into the ring.  Philly slapped the franchise tag on L.J. Smith.  I hope they didn’t do it too hard though, because I wouldn’t want him getting hurt.

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The Lakers just got tougher by adding Pau Gasol.  He scored 24 in his Laker debut.  What a deal for them.  Kwame Brown, Javaris Critterdon, and two first rounders (likely late picks) for a great player like Gasol.  Once Bynum comes back, L.A. is going to be tough.  Kobe celebrated with 46 points in a win over Toronto.  Bigger news though, is Phoenix’s acquistion of Shaq for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks.  Brandon Roy, who I feel shouldn’t have made the All-Star game over Baron Davis, messed around and got a triple-double. So did Hedo Turkoglu vs. Dallas.  Heck, even Dirk Nowitzki recorded his first career triple-double.  Brad Miller had a 22 point, 20 rebound game against the Bulls.  T.J. Ford made yet another triumphant return.  New Jersey sent Jason Collins to Memphis for Stromile Swift.  Al Horford had 15 points and 20 rebounds in a win over LA.    Chris Paul had 42 points, 5 boards, 9 assists, and 8 steals in a win over Phoenix.  That’s Amare had 26 points and 20 boards.  Utah has won ten straight.

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Edmonton lost C Shawn Horcoff for the season with a shoulder injury.  Toronto’s Nik Antropov got three games in the Sin Bin for throwing a stick at referees.  Nashville signed F J.P. Dumont to a four-year, $16 million deal.  This week’s shutouts:  Detroit’s Dominik Hasek vs. Colorado, St. Louis’ Manny Legace vs. Anaheim.  Philly’s Martin Biron vs. Anaheim.  Atlanta’s Kari Lehtonen vs. Washington.   Edmonton’s Mathieu Garon vs. Calgary.  Anaheim’s Jean-Sebastien Giguere vs. the Islanders.  Florida’s Tomas Vokoun vs. Toronto.  Nashville’s Chris Mason vs. Carolina.  Dallas’ Mike Smith vs. Minnesota.  Philly’s Mike Knuble netted a hat trick against Anaheim.  Florida’s Richard Zednik had on against Toronto. New Jersey got a boost from the return of F Jay Pandolfo.  Calgary signed D Dion Phaneuf to a six-year deal.  Dallas D Sergei Zubov landed on the IR with a bad groin.  Minnesota honored Mike Modano before his game against the Wild.  Rick Tocchet returned to Phoenix’s bench.  Hope he didn’t make any wagers.
 

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Johan Santana and the Mets agreed to a seven-year $150 deal.  Wow.  The Dodgers signed Joe Beimel to a one-year deal.  Sean Casey signed on with Boston for one year.  Washington signed Jon Rauch to a two-year deal.  Not only was Jim Leyritz drunk he he killed Ann Veitch in a car crash, Veitch was drunk too.  Recipe for disaster.  San Diego signed Khalil Greene to a two-year deal worth $11 million.  Tony LaRussa isn’t bothered by steroid users so he’s willing to give Juan Gonzalez a try.  Detroit signed Curtis Granderson to a five year, $30 million deal.  Roger Clemens got his day with Congress.  Brian McNamee followed.  Scott Podsednik signed a minor-leauge deal with Colorado.  Milwaukee signed Dave Bush to a one-year deal.  Toronto signed Alex Rios to a one-year deal.  Pittsburgh signed Freddy Sanchez to a three-year, $19 million deal.  Cleveland signed Brendan Donnell to a minor-leauge deal.  Arizona said Brandon Lyon will be their closer.  Jot that down fantasy baseball players.  Nolan Ryan is the new President of the Texas Rangers.  Curt Schilling has a bad shoulder.  His future is in question.  The Yankees finalize a four-year deal with Robinson Cano for $30 million.  Daniel Cabrera signed on for one year with Baltimore.  The Mets inked Ryan Church to a one-year deal.  Luis Gonzalez signed a one-year deal with Florida.  Pedro Martinez and Juan Marichal were “honorary” soltadores for a cockfight in the Dominican Republic.  I say “honorary” because there is no honor in taking part in this type of activity.  PETAs probably going to call for their heads, but in their defense, it is legal in their country.
 

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Bobby Knight stepped down at Texas Tech.  Pat Knight took over and lost his first game to Baylor.  Eddie Sutton finally got his 800th win vs. Pepperdine.  Missouri G Jason Horton is facing assault charges in the fight that ended with teammate Stefhon Hannah with a broken jaw.  UConn reinstated Doug Wiggins.  Penn State beat #7 Michigan State 85-76  #8 Tennessee beat #25 Mississippi State 76-71.  #14 Stanford beat #9 Washington State 67-65.  Arkansas beat #19 Florida 80-61.  UConn beat #21 Pitt 60-53.  South Carolina upset #22 Ole Miss 80-77.  Missouri beat #24 Kansas State 77-74.  UCLA will be without Luc Richard Mbah a Moute for a week with a sprained ankle.  Louisville spanked #16 Marquette 71-57.  Some sad news to report…Ohio University-Chillicothe’s Jonathan Davis died after collapsing during practice.  He was 20.  #7 Tennessee pounded #22 Florida 104-82.  Arizona’s Nic Wise will miss the season following knee surgery.  Oklahoma will be without Longar Longar because of a broken leg.  Duke Vitale made his return.  Naturally he started with Duke-UNC.  He’s probably still giddy over Duke’s 89-78 win.  Kansas State won as Michael Beasley scored 35.  Georgia G Billy Humphrey got arrested for underage drinking.  I find it hard to believe that a college kid would drink.  When I dug a little deeper I noticed he was old enough to vote and to go to war for his country.  Interesting.  He got a three game suspension for his actions.  Florida State lost G Isaiah Swann to a knee injury.  #4 UCLA beat #17 Washington State 67-59.
  

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Alabama, Notre Dame, Florida, Miami,Oklahoma, Georgia, USC, Florida State, Ohio State, and Michigan had the top ten recruiting classes according to Rivals.com.  Minnesota cracked the top 20 despite one win last year.  Notre Dame suspended Will Yeatman for violating team rules.
 
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Tiger Woods won the Dubai Desert Classic.

That concludes the Tidbits. As always, feel free to add any stories you liked this week in sports or discuss any of the stories I mentioned.Photos courtesy of Icon SMI


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