Welcome to the Wonderlic edition of The Strike Zone, where we won’t ask tough questions – we just expect you to read and comprehend the entire column in less than 5 minutes and 30 seconds.
In case you were wondering, they’re still planning on building that badly needed new, on-campus football stadium at Colorado State. They’re in what’s called the “quiet phase” of fund raising right now. If you’re uncomfortable with the sound of that, you’re not alone.
If they don’t end up raising the needed funding, then expect football coach Jim McElwain to resign, along with Athletic Director Jack Graham and maybe even CSU President Tony Frank. Translation: There is a lot is riding on this.
Sometimes I feel like the lone ranger when I go off about “oversigning” in college football. No one seems as outraged by it as I am. That’s why I love it when someone far more influential than me writes a scathing commentary about it. Alabama can’t seem to get out of the bad news lately.
Tim Miles did a helluva lot for Colorado State basketball during his tenure in Fort Collins. Ironically, he’s still helping out his old conference while coaching in the Big Ten. Miles Nebraska team – having the expected difficult season in his first year – up and knocked off NCAA tournament bubble team Iowa on Saturday. That could possibly end up helping a MW bubble team like Boise State sneak into the big dance. Maybe.
Strike One: I had a chance to spend about 20 minutes chatting with former NBA coach turned TV color man Stan Van Gundy after New Mexico halted CSU’s 27-game home win streak on Saturday night. I’ve only heard him call one game on the tube, but I was impressed. Some ex-coaches just drone on or fill the air with coachspeak. I think Stan is already much better than that and has a bright future in TV should he choose to stay in broadcasting. I told him as much (although I definitely got the impression he’d go back to coaching if the right opportunity came along) after the game.
“Well, after a game like today, if I were coaching and on the losing end, I wouldn’t sleep much,” Van Gundy chuckled. “Now, doing this, I just say, ‘let’s go have dinner.’”
While saying he still prefers the NBA game to college ball, Van Gundy added, “Today was fantastic. You don’t get an atmosphere like this in February in the NBA. Not even close. This is a really good league.”
Van Gundy was full of praise for the Rams 6’ 10” senior center Colton Iverson, who had 26 points and 15 rebounds against the Lobos. “He’ll definitely be in someone’s (NBA) camp this summer and probably get a roster spot,” Van Gundy said. “He plays so hard! He gives you great effort, and has that great size. He doesn’t jump that well, but he knows how to play on the block. He’s battling for position even before the ball is coming his way. He has good moves around the basket, but needs to improve his touch. He’s missing a lot of easy ones right now…and his free throw shooting needs to get a lot better. But I like the way he plays.”
The more Van Gundy talked about Iverson (and mentioned the poor free throw shooting), the more I could see the big man being a Denver Nugget next season. Denver’s seldom used third center, Timofey Mosgov, is going to leave as a free agent after the season, taking his 3.1 mil salary cap number with him. Plug Iverson into that spot at the NBA minimum and Denver gets a big man with a skill set comparable to Mosgov (albeit with a lot of work to do) while saving about 2½ mil under the cap.
Strike Two: Numerous Major League Baseball players, including the Rockies Michael Cuddyer, have spoken out recently about the idea of increasing penalties on players caught using performance enhancing drugs. Few would argue that baseball (all sports, actually) needs to continue to put an even tighter squeeze on cheaters.
My concern is what we are now considering “cheating” in terms of what substances are being used by players. Some are very clear: Steroids, Human Growth Hormone, and others are clearly illegal substances, and their unauthorized use needs to be punished (and not just in baseball and cycling.) But what really caught my attention and left me scratching my head was a recent “news” report on the Phillies Jonathon Papelbon and his – and many other players – use of the anti-inflammatory drug Toradol.
Papelbon actually had to defend his use of anti-inflammatory medication. That’s amazing and scary at the same time. Have we now reached the point where the morality police in baseball are going to start examining perfectly legal and legitimate things like anti-inflammatories? Really? What, are we going to start demanding that players be tested for excessive amounts of aspirin in their systems?
Now, there is publicity surrounding some NHL player’s use of sleeping pills. This is a news/sports story? Why?
Somewhere, a line needs to be drawn that clearly defines what is permissible and what’s not. Taking anti-inflammatories, which we ALL did as players – is nowhere near “cheating” and writing a story about it that draws any sort of parallel to illegal substances is irresponsible “journalism.”
How about this: Let’s make life simpler for ALL the testing bodies, including the World Anti-Doping Agency and its brethren (including MLB.) What if the line were drawn at ILLEGAL substances? What if the rules were written to say that any substance that is against the law and cannot be obtained legally without a legitimate prescription is banned, while anything that can be purchased at your local nutritional supplement store is okay.
I got a mass text message from a local merchant the day after the “deer antler spray” controversy erupted in early January. It was touting the fact that they had deer antler spray for sale all along, and you could get it “right here right now!” In other words, you didn’t need a prescription to buy the stuff.
Which begs the question: If I can buy it legally, why is it illegal in sports?
Drug testing could be done the same way blood alcohol testing is done. Alcohol is not an illegal substance. You can buy it at thousands of places. But having too much in your system IS against the law. Make it the same with things like deer antler spray and other things on the self at the nutrition stores. Normal usage is okay, excessive usage is not and can be penalized. Meanwhile, Hgh and other things that you need a legitimate prescription to obtain remain banned.
Is this too simple? Too easy to exploit? Maybe. But the way things are trending, pretty soon Aleve will be on the banned substance list.
Strike Three: More kudos to the baseball players who are going to play in the World Baseball Classic – and that includes the Rockies Troy Tulowitzki, who won’t but would be on Team USA if the insurance company would allow it.
A tip of the cap to the Rockies Jhoulys Chacin, Carlos Gonzalez, Ramon Hernandez, and minor-leaguer David Kandilas (who will play for Australia) for their willingness to represent their countries. A thumbs down to Jeff Francis, Adam Ottavino and others who turned down the invite.
As I’ve stated before, I would have given my left arm for a chance to pitch with “USA” across my chest. What an amazing honor that would have been. The WBC and Olympic baseball, etc, didn’t exist back when I would have been eligible. Honestly, even at my best, I would never have been on USA Baseball’s initial list of candidates for Team USA even if it had existed. However this season, with the growing number of players – mostly pitchers – who bail out and/or turn down the invite, the selection committee may have eventually gotten all the way down to me…and I would have jumped at the chance.
Why don’t more guys feel like I do? All I see is that current players are paranoid. “I need to stay here to make the club” say a lot of them, like Rockies prospect Nolan Arenado. But is that the case? Are baseball team execs so short sighted now that if a player is not in camp for a three weeks while he plays for his country in an event that is televised around the globe, that they can’t monitor his progress and make sure he’s getting his work in and getting ready for the start of the season? Really? If there is that much of a gap between USA Baseball and the big league teams, and if they aren’t in this together, then the event really needs to be overhauled in order to survive. (Meanwhile, teams sure don’t mind taking in the revenue from the games played at their stadiums…)
A random thought: Maybe the WBC should be played October, not March. Maybe you exclude the players who are in MLB’s post season, and encourage everyone else who is chosen to play. Maybe start the WBC tournament right after the first “Divisional” round of the play-offs, and have the WBC games played during the day, while the MLB League Championship Series and then World Series games are played at night.
Too radical? Too much baseball? Maybe. But if baseball wants to rule the month of October, then what better way than to have more high quality games available to watch around the globe? The on-field product will be better in October than it is in March, especially if more than half the guys that get invited in the spring keep turning it down.