Okay, so this week’s Free Kicks are a bit late… about 10 hours later than usual.  However, consider them more as an after-dinner snack or a Saturday morning stack of pancakes rather than a way to get your Friday morning started.  Or am I overstating things?  Anyway, stay tuned over the next few days as BSR will be featuring our own post-season slate of O’s awards, comprised of a vote from us at BSR and ballots from across the Orioles blogging community.  Among the categories: Most Valuable Oriole, Orioles’ Cy Young, and the Player Who Gave You The Most Hope for 2011 and Beyond. While postseason baseball continues with the Rangers handling the Rays and lights-out pitching across the board, let’s take our weekly look outside the Mason-Dixon and across the Potomac.  Lining up, kicks and all that…

UConn Basketball Hit at the Buzzer

Okay, so UConn is taking a rather creative stance to their acknowledgement/defense of recruiting violations for former Husky (if you can even call him that since he never suited up) Nate Miles.  They are admitting that a number of violations took place, giving themselves the probation slap-on-the-wrist and docking a scholarship for a couple years.  I get that completely and I admire them for not taking the USC route and try to sweep it all under the rug- I suppose the know as well as anyone that as a public university that would have been a fruitless effort. 

However, they are trying to shield the reputation of their legendary head coach Jim Calhoun by publicly holding that while he had no idea that his team manager was providing improper benefits to one of his players, that he didn’t “fail to monitor” his staff.  Actually, that is the definition of “failure to monitor.”  And if his staff thought it was okay to do this (even a team manager) that is the definition of “failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance.”  I don’t know that the NCAA should go lightly on UConn just because Miles didn’t play- if he hadn’t gotten in other personal trouble, he would have.  But to admit one thing and not go all the way with it just gives the worst of both options- the school takes the hit by confessing but also drags it out.  Either the school tries to hide it or they admit it all and get it over with.  Anything else is just semantics at this point.

Randy Moss Goes Home

After Minnesota got nothing for Randy the first time he was traded (they got Napoleon Harris, who went on to do nothing in Minnesota and a 1st round pick that became noted bust WR Troy Williamson), they have traded a 3rd round pick to get him back.  I love the move from Minnesota’s side.  Randy always plays hard at first, and he will use this as an opportunity to prove his “doubters” in New England wrong.  If it’s a question of effort, it won’t be for long.  As for New England, I think they will finding harder than they anticipate to replicate his ability to stretch the field and get the jump ball in the endzone.  So far they have a number of short-completion receivers in their two rookie tight ends and Wes Welker, but Brandon Tate is no Randy Moss.  I know they like to plug in their own young players whenever possible, but some players aren’t easy to plug and replace.  But they are the Patriots, so they will score points- but don’t expect the big play to come as easily to this offense going forward.

Some Final Bullets

  • When they say pitching wins championships, they aren’t kidding.  When a great lineup meets a great pitcher, the great pitcher almost always wins.  This postseason is young but it is looking like another classic example.
  • The Broncos won’t go down lightly this weekend, expect them to score some points.  This Ravens secondary is still not among the best in the NFL, regardless of what the numbers say so far.  They haven’t faced a passing attack like this- or a quarterback like this- all season.
  • I expected Nebraska as a team to roll Kansas State, but I didn’t expect Martinez to look so incredible doing it.  If he pulls together a couple more games like this it might be time to put him in the Heisman discussion.
  • NHL season started… did you notice?
  • Since when did anyone care about the NBA preseason?  Oh yea, there was that whole South Beach thing.  People should realize that there are a lot of great storylines in the NBA aside from the Miami Heat.  Unfortunately, the music from Miami is drowning everything else out.