Thursday, November 11, 2010

Good to be back: Louisville Slugger

"Nowadays, it’s difficult to think of baseball players without talk of steroids, performance enhancers, or at least strength training. More than a century ago, however, raw skill and equipment formed a power-packed duo that dictated a player’s success.

'Sweet Spot: 125 Years of Baseball and the Louisville Slugger' by David Magee and Philip Shirley is as much about the bat and the company as it is about the rise of the National Pastime and our great nation."

Read the rest of Slammin' Sam's return on Seamheads!

Thanks for stopping by Free Keon, and special thanks to Steve for keeping you company while I was away. See you next Thursday.

Sam Miller/Free Keon

Monday, October 11, 2010

World Number One

The World Golf Rankings were a great idea with the game continuing to break international boundaries and players schedules including stops in East Asia, Australia, the Middle East, South Africa, Europe, and the US. However, the extremely complex rankings system can prove to out think itself at times. Experts predict that this Fall will serve as an excellent example of one of those times. With Lee Westwood's announcement yesterday that he plans to not play until late November, experts predict he will overtake Tiger Woods, who is not playing until early next month, as the world number one on October 31. How can Westwood improve in the rankings by not playing? And how can a player with merely one mediocre win worldwide in the past year suddenly be called the best? There is no arguing that Westwood has played magnificent, outstanding golf in the past two years. He has four top three finishes in his last five major championships, and he won the European Tour's Race to Dubai in 2009. However, do these fine accomplishments make him the hottest, most dominating player in the world? I would say if anyone is to push Woods off his perch in the next month it would have to be Martin Kaymer. Now, I believe the current rankings system takes into account players' performances worldwide over the past two years. Germany's Kaymer has six victories since October 2008 including the most recent major and three events (four if you count his solid showing on the winning European Ryder Cup team) in a row since mid-August. Some of those trophies on his mantle are from European Tour events, but most of those tournaments boasted strong fields even with Tiger and Phil. Considering Westwood's strong showing in major championships, Kaymer has not been as consistent on the biggest stages. However, Martin has proven he has what it takes to hoist the Wannamaker Trophy, and he has multiple top five finishes in majors over the past three years as well. Tiger did not win in 2010. Lee Westwood won one time, back in June. Martin Kaymer won the PGA Championship, Ryder Cup, and two other events in the past two months to top off his solid play over the last two years. If I had to pick a winner of a golf tournament right now, I would choose Kaymer over Woods or Westwood.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Ugly Win

I do not understand how the Chicago Bears pulled that win out against the Detroit Lions today, but I guess the most important thing is that they did get the W. The Bears offense certainly did not appear to want this game at all. The way the Lions stripped the ball and the way our boys dropped the ball made this game extremely frustrating to watch. Especially towards the end of the second quarter, I got sick the two times we turned the ball over as we were getting into the red zone with some momentum. I also disagreed with Martz's decision to go for it on 4th and goal in the fourth quarter after Lance Briggs took the ball from Shaun Hill inside the Lions' one yard line. How embarrassing was that series! The Bears could not move the ball two feet in four tries against Detroit's defense. That is pathetic, but I would take the much higher percentage play of a field goal attempt in order to take the lead during the final quarter of the game. Instead we were stuffed again and remained down by one point with six minutes left on the clock. We will get stomped next week in Dallas if we put on that level of poor quality performance again. Lovie's staff have a lot to work on in the next seven days, and I hope they can get it together.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

American Team

Earlier this week American Ryder Cup Captain Corey Pavin selected his four Ryder Cup captain’s picks. The wild cards for this edition’s team from the U.S. are Tiger Woods, Zach Johnson, Stewart Cink, and Rickie Fowler. These men will join the eight who qualified by points following the PGA Championship who are Phil Mickelson, Hunter Mahan, Bubba Watson, Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker, Dustin Johnson, Jeff Overton, and Matt Kuchar.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Golf in Illinois: PrairieView Golf Club

Byron, Illinois will not register in the minds of many golfers. However, once you play PrairieView, Byron becomes a place you want to visit often. Situated about 20 minutes southwest of Rockford, the course meanders through both its namesake as well as a forest preserve on the bluffs overlooking the Rock River. I have wanted to play PrairieView since I first read about them ten years ago. I had yet to meet anyone who had played there, but the website and course reviews attracted me. I finally took the opportunity to play two weeks ago, and I do not regret it. When first arriving, the club seems to be virtually in the middle of nowhere, and I was skeptical as to how a public course in this vicinity could afford to keep their course in as nice of shape as I had seen in the pictures. However, the final comments of the starter in the pro shop rang true throughout my round, “This is the best kept secret in the state.”

Monday, August 9, 2010

This Week in Golf

Front Nine

Hole #1 – Hunter Mahan come roaring to the front of the pack last weekend to take the WGC Bridgestone Invitational by two strokes over Ryan Palmer. He shot 64 on Sunday and 66 on Saturday at Firestone Country Club to shoot twelve under par for the week. Many big names including Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson were near the top of the leaderboard heading into the final round. However, no one could keep pace with Hunter’s outstanding putting.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

This Week in Golf

Front Nine
Hole #1 – Stuart Appleby won the inaugural Greenbrier Classic with a sensational final round score of 59! The golfer from Down Under is only the fifth professional in PGA Tour history to record a sub-60 score in regulation play. The first was shot in 1979, and the most recent was three weeks ago by Paul Goydos in the John Deere Classic. However, the first ever known 59 was also scored at the Greenbrier by Sam Snead in 1959, but it was during an unofficial event. Appleby’s 59 comes on the Great White Course at the Greenbrier, which played as a par 70 last week. His final round 59 is only the second final round 59 in history. The first was recorded in Las Vegas in 1999 by David Duval, who also won.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

This Week in Golf

Front Nine

Hole #1 – Bernhard Langer won the Senior Open Championship at Carnoustie last week by one stroke over Corey Pavin. Those two were the frontrunners most of the tournament. Langer shot a one under par 70 on Sunday finishing with a bogie five. He shot five under par for the week.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thank you

Hello Free Keon and Slammin' Sam on Sports Media Readers,

I have not written in a little while because I have been in transition to a new job. From time to time, I will continue to post on Free Keon. However, at this point, I cannot continue my Tuesday-Thursday blogging. So for now, I just want to say thanks for reading my posts. I am grateful! Until next time, I will officially turn over the Free Keon blogging to Steve and friends. I am eager to continue to follow the posts here, and I encourage you to do the same!

Sam Miller/Free Keon

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

This Week in Golf

Front Nine

Hole #1 – Louis Oosthuizen won the 150th Open Championship at the Old Course on Sunday by a whopping seven shots! The 27-year-old South African held the lead alone from Friday afternoon all the way to Sunday evening. He was a long shot to win from the beginning. Even going into the final round holding a substantial lead, many experts and gamblers alike predicted a colossal collapse. But the wee little golfer stood up under the pressure with a swing that produced impeccable consistency and incessant praise from past major champions (Watson, Weiskopf, Strange, Azinger, Goosen). Oosthuizen played an extremely impressive round with what appeared to be nerves of steel. He finished the 72nd hole at sixteen under par for his first major victory.

Monday, July 12, 2010

This Week in Golf

While scoping out other sports and golf blogs online, I discovered a format I would like to steal. It is called Front Nine-Back Nine. I will try it out beginning this week for the Open Championship. So basically, each week I will select eighteen different topics and write a few sentences about each. The Front Nine will only deal with topics from the previous week’s golf happenings. The Back Nine will look ahead to the coming golf events of the current week. Hopefully, readers will enjoy the shake-up of “This Week in Golf.”

Front Nine
Hole #1 – Paula Creamer won the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open at Oakmont shooting three under par for 72 holes. She was the only competitor under par for the week. Creamer is having some major wrist and thumb issues, and I did not expect her to be the American to step up to the plate for our second women’s major victory in a row. Congrats to Paula on her first major!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Hammering Away with Henry

"For much of his life, Henry Aaron has felt marginalized. Hank Aaron arguably sits atop the baseball pyramid as its home run king. But what about Henry? Blessed with baseball talent that landed him among the best all-around players ever, Hank Aaron assumed a public persona. Meanwhile, “The Hammer” effectively subjugated his private side, Henry."

Read the rest of the Slammin' Sam take on "The Last Hero: A Life of Henry Aaron" on Seamheads!

Thanks for stopping by Free Keon.

Sam Miller/Free Keon

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

This Week in Golf

PGA Tour – The Quad Cities is home to this week’s Tour stop at the TPC Deere Run. The John Deere Classic is a fun-filled week for both the players and fans. It is also the pros’ last opportunity to get into the field at St. Andrews.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Slammin' Sam on Sports Media Links

Hello Free Keon and Slammin’ Sam on Sports Media Readers!

Similar to last week, plenty of hoops news to read on day one of free agency.

We start at the current center of the basketball universe in Cleveland where Brian Windhorst writes that the first domino to fall is the Cavs hiring of coach Byron Scott. What bearing will that have on LeBron?

What about the man executing the moves in Chicago?

The New York Times, meanwhile features a piece about interesting efforts to lure King James.

On that note, you have to check out Kenny Mayne’s latest video.

New to the fray is the possibility of the Nuggets trading Carmelo Anthony?? Anything’s possible these days, and it looks like Denver is in disarray.

Rumor has it LeBron is shooting to make a decision as soon as Monday. Now those would be some fireworks! Have a great holiday weekend.

Sam Miller/Free Keon

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

This Week in Golf

PGA Tour – Tiger Woods’ event takes place this week in Philadelphia at Aronimink Golf Club. The AT&T National moves for one year from its traditional site at Congressional, which is under renovations for the 2011 US Open. The tournament that honors military servicemen and veterans fittingly concludes on Independence Day. Tiger is the defending champion following last year’s incredible performance. However, his play has not been as stellar this season. Woods and Furyk are the only players in the field ranking in the top ten in the world, but both of them are favorites to win this week. Woods is my pick to win. Even though he has disappointing results in 2010 by his standards, by most pros’ standards he is playing fairly well. He had a top ten at the US Open two weeks ago, and he is the host of the AT&T National this week. Ricky Barnes is the player to watch that many won’t be talking about. He won Brad Faxon and Billy Andrade’s annual charity event on Tuesday while paired with J.B. Holmes. But Barnes has played exceptionally well the last month turning in three top seven finishes in his last four tournaments including a tie for fifth last week. I look for Barnes hot play to continue in Philadelphia. CBS will be covering the festivities at Aronimink.

PGA of America – The Club Pros Championship is being played early this week in French Lick, Indiana. As I write this article, University of Illinois Mens Golf Coach and the defending champion Mike Small holds a two stroke lead with a little more than one round left to play. Small has a strong history in this event, where a victory earns the winner a pass into the PGA Championship in August. I am pulling for Mike as I am sure his high school golf coach from Danville is and more than likely Larry Bird. Bird is from French Lick, and we know he plays golf from his performance in Space Jam.

It’s All Here in “The Only Game”

You can't beat the ageless sports writing of The New Yorker. Read the Slammin' Sam on Sports Media take courtesy of Thanks for reading, and we'll see you Thursday for Links!

“An afternoon in mid-May, and we are waiting for the game to begin. We are in the shadow, and the sunlit field before us is a thick, springy green—an old diamond, beautifully kept up,” Roger Angell pens in the opening to his essay “The Web of the Game.” (3, Only)

Angell’s piece sets the tone for “The Only Game in Town,” a nostalgic collection of The New Yorker writings, which includes several baseball reflections. But before you settle into your easy chair, be warned that the book is not a pitch out around the game’s improprieties. Oh no, writes Ring Lardner in “Br’er Rabbit Ball.”

Sam Miller/Free Keon

Thursday, June 24, 2010

This Week in Golf

PGA Tour – The Tour travels to Connecticut this week for the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands. Most every PGA Tour event deserves a good spot on the schedule, and the Travelers is one of them. Unfortunately, they have been stuck with the week following a U.S. Open on the other coast. Therefore, the field is not particularly stellar despite a golf course with a fabulous finishing stretch of holes. The Travelers Championship has provided exciting drama on Sunday from Kenny Perry’s final 63 to win last year to Hunter Mahan and Jay Williamson’s dual three years ago. The big names that showed up in Hartford this week include Padraig Harrington, Retief Goosen, Adam Scott, Perry, Hunter Mahan, Rickie Fowler, John Daly, Justin Rose, and Vijay Singh. Stewart Cink is my pick to win this week. As a two-time champion (1997, 2008) in Connecticut, I don’t think I can go wrong with Cink, who also got into a playoff here in ‘98. He obviously likes the course, and he had a recent top ten finish at the Memorial. Hunter Mahan is another horse for this course, and he will serve as my sleeper pick. He has not played extremely well since his victory at the Phoenix Open in February, but he finished in first or second at River Highlands each year from 2006-2008. So watch for him too. The boys at CBS will deliver the coverage from Hartford over the weekend.

Slammin' Sam on Sports Media Links

Hello Free Keon and Slammin’ Sam on Sports Media Readers!

You can tell my leanings when I have today marked with a big red circle on my calendar. OK, not really, but I do love the fact that the NBA Draft has arrived. I’ll try to make sure that does not dominate today’s links.

With disclosure out of the way, I have to start with the point guard at least one expert says could be the best ever, John Wall. Wall is expected to be the No. 1 pick by the Washington Wizards tonight.

Moving on to a story about arguably the best point guard right now, Chris Paul. Is it true he’s headed out of New Orleans?

One last basketball story to get out of the way. If John Wall and Evan Turner are already gone, Derrick Favors might be the next best choice.

For those of you who can’t get enough of the World Cup, don’t miss this story.

Before we reach the end, some baseball fans might say I missed the big story of the day. With a tiff between Hanley Ramirez and manager Fredi Gonzalez still hanging over the Marlins, Gonzalez was fired Wednesday.

As always, thanks for spending part of your day at Free Keon!

Sam Miller/Free Keon

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

All in the Cards

Thanks to Steve for keeping you company while I was gone. Here's my latest post. Thanks for reading!

Ozzie Smith, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson. Three names Cardinals fans and baseball enthusiasts know well. But those are just three of the Redbirds 42 Hall of Famers. What about Rabbit Maranville, Chick Hafey or Pud Galvin? Authors Greg Marecek and Myron Holtzman engage readers with story after story in “The Cardinals of Cooperstown.”

Sam Miller/Free Keon

Thursday, June 17, 2010

This Week in Golf

PGA Tour – Pebble Beach Golf Links is hosting the 110th United States Open Championship this week, and the golf world is a buzz with all the possibilities of what may play out with beautiful weather forecast along the Pacific Ocean. All the world’s very best players are in the field even if this major has a shallower overall contingent than others.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Slammin' Sam on Sports Media Links

How Y’all doin’ out there?

I decided to do a links edition on Slammin’ Sam on Sports Media today.

Leading off, the Texas Longhorns, who may have preserved college football close to as we know it.

We won’t know the outcome for a while, but we’ll know something one way or another after tonight’s game six in Los Angeles. Will the Celtics steal a championship on the road or will the Lakers force game seven?

Meanwhile, another championship is under way with its prelimaries – golf’s US Open at Pebble Beach. What better place for Illini amateur and reigning NCAA champion, Scott Langley to tee off?

Finally, we shift from hard news to the more unique.

The Marlins want aquariums to grace their new ballpark, much to PETA’s chagrin.

Because this space is about sports media, I had to throw in this story about beloved Phillies announcer Harry Kalas.

Thanks for spending part of your day at Free Keon!

Sam Miller/Free Keon

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Slammin' Sam on Sports Media Links

Good Morning, Hawks Revelers!
Just a short time ago, the team arrived with the Stanley Cup in Chicago. Let’s not waste any time getting to the top story 49 years in the making!

Whether hockey fans are aware or not, there’s still one more championship series up for grabs. Celtics captain Paul Pierce will play a big role in determining the outcome.

The Michigan State Spartans men’s hoops program possesses its own pedigree. How much of that is because of Tom Izzo? How satisfying is Izzo’s legacy at MSU? Those are a couple questions that loom as he mulls over an offer from the Cavs.

Meanwhile, it appears a move, in this case to the Big Ten, is indeed best in the minds of the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

Finally, a championship program takes a hit.

Thanks for visiting Free Keon!

Sam Miller/Free Keon

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Stan the Man from Donora

Here's my latest post from Seamheads. Slammin' Sam on Sports Media Links comes at you on Thursday!

Some months ago, I examined a pair of Stan Musial biographies at a friend’s request. Not long afterward, “Stan the Man” hit the shelves. What makes Wayne Stewart’s book different?

Thanks for reading!

Sam Miller/Free Keon

This Week in Golf

PGA Tour – This week’s tournament will be shadowed by the following week’s US Open. However, a strong international contingent has entered the field at the St. Jude Classic in Memphis. Three world top ten Europeans will be playing, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, and Rory McIlroy.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Slammin' Sam on Sports Media Links

What a great day it is! Starting tonight, both hockey and basketball feature championship series underway. (Game 1 of the NBA Finals is in LA, and the Stanley Cup resumes with Game 4 on Friday in Philadelphia.) We’ll have reports from both, but first to Detroit where folks’ cups aren’t just half-empty, they are shattered after yesterday. Ken Griffey Jr.’s retirement was another bittersweet baseball headline, and for our fifth topic, who knows what we’ll come up with! Hop on.

Umpire Jim Joyce may or may not be forgiven after last night’s call cost Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game. Joyce certainly will not be forgotten.

Although, in Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s mind, Galarraga’s effort was and will be remembered as perfect.

Blackhawks fans felt a little disillusioned themselves last night after already “committing to the Cup.” The Flyers are still alive.

Conversely, from all appearances, the atmosphere around Boston is one of cautious optimism. Celtics coach Doc Rivers is up to the task and seeks his second ring in three years.

In the other camp, the Lakers look to narrow Boston’s 9-2 all-time advantage over LA in NBA Finals.

Finally, a fond farewell to Junior.

Thanks for reading!

Sam Miller/Free Keon

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

This Week in Golf

PGA Tour – Possibly the best tournament on the PGA Tour schedule that is not considered a major will take place in Ohio this week. The Memorial Tournament, hosted by Jack Nicklaus at his design gem, Muirfield Village, always draws the top names in professional golf, and Jack did it again this year. From a gorgeous, yet challenging course to a stellar field, the Memorial is a fun and exciting event to kick off the summer.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Baseball’s Craftsmen: "Men at Work"

Here's my latest post from Seamheads. Look out for Slammin' Sam on Sports Media Links on Thursday!

George F. Will’s “Men at Work” is a classic. Twenty years after the book stood at No. 1 on the NYT Bestseller list for 19 straight weeks, it’s back as a re-release. This week, for those of us who were too young to appreciate it the first time around, let me shed light on what you will find in this acclaimed book.

Thanks for reading!

Sam Miller/Free Keon

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Slammin' Sam on Sports Media Links

In a nod to Carmen DeFalco, Jurko and Harry on Chicago’s ESPN Radio 1000, we’ll call this edition of Slammin’ Sam on Sports Media Links “The Afternoon Saloon.”

First, the continued fallout commentary from yesterday’s ejections of Mark Buehrle and Ozzie Guillen. Everybody likes to hear from the White Sox skipper, right?

Staying in Chicago, Dwyane Wade isn’t so sure that the Bulls organization is one he wants to be associated with, according to this report.

One thing is certain. Wade, LeBron and Joe Johnson are doing a lot of consorting and consulting this summer.

Finally, the two grandest stories of the weekend have to be the Indy 500 and college football’s hall of fame announcements.

Read about Badgers coach Barry Alvarez' election, as well as that of former Wolverine Desmond Howard.

Here is a different angle on the Indy 500 celeb crowd.

Thanks for stopping by! I’ll see you Tuesday.

Sam Miller/Free Keon

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Dousing the Flames

Here's my latest post from Thanks for reading and watch out for Slammin' Sam on Sports Media Links on Thursday!

My, have the one-time accessories known as pitchers evolved. You see, when baseball began, pitchers served as a launching pad for batters’ rockets. Standing 50 feet from their counterpart, only a few moments snuck by before their rockets went up, up and away on contact.

As recently as 1980, relievers milled around in the shadows. “Relievers were like utility players who weren’t good enough to start,” seven-time All-Star and three-time Rolaids Relief Award winner Lee Smith says of his big-league beginnings in 1980 (vii, Fireman). Try to catch up with a 103 m.p.h. Joel Zumaya pitch in the present. The question is, how did we get here? Fran Zimniuch examines in “Fireman.”

Sam Miller/Free Keon

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Things People Do in the Name of Competition

Slammin' Sam on Sports Media
In “Field of Dreams”, Shoeless Joe Jackson comes out of a cornfield and can’t believe where he ended up. “Hey, is this heaven?” he asks in awe and wonder. If a baseball field in Iowa is as close as it gets to the great beyond, what’s the alternative? Leave it to Rick Reilly to answer that question in his new book, “Sports from Hell: My Search for the World’s Dumbest Competition.”

This Week in Golf

PGA Tour - The best golfers in the world stay in Texas this week for the HP Byron Nelson Championship. The TPC Las Colinas near Dallas traditionally allows any player in the field a sporting chance at victory. Some of the lesser-known recent victors of the championship include Brett Wetterich, Ted Purdy, Robert Damron, and Neal Lancaster. Expect to learn a few more new names this week as the event was not able to draw any players from the top 15 in the world. I predict the top ranked man in the field will win, though. Hunter Mahan won earlier this season in Phoenix, and we all know he is capable of more victories. Also watch out for young bomber Dustin Johnson, who won at Pebble. CBS carries the Nelson.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Slammin' Sam on Sports Media Links

Good day, Free Keon and Slammin’ Sam on Sports Media Readers!

I decided to do a switcharoo and give you the links today and Slammin’ Sam’s take on a recent read on Thursday. I hope you won’t mind.

As I mentioned this past Thursday, a whole lot loomed for the Cavs and LeBron. Turns out the Summer of LBJ got started a little bit earlier than most expected. At this point, let’s you and I get something straight. I’ll do my best not to make the links all about LeBron between now and July 8 when the King can make his ruling. But, when most of the news is about LeBron, then we may have a little extra about the Chosen One here. We’ll see how it all unfolds, but enough disclaimers. On with the show!

There’s more to basketball than LeBron, and that’s where we’ll start with the Lakers push for another title.

Tonight is a big night for those teams on the other end of the spectrum as well. It’s the NBA Lottery, aka Who Gets John Wall Night.

Up next, a piece about LeBron and current Kentucky coach John Calipari featured in the Lexington Herald-Leader. Should he stay or should he go now?

For a local twist to the story, let’s bring in a favorite Bull, drum roll please … current New York Knick Eddy Curry. Is this another sabotage attempt by Curry? Working out with none other than LeBron? The plot thickens.

Staying in New York, the Mets are always full of their own drama.

I hope you have a drama-free Tuesday. Check back here Thursday for more of Slammin’ Sam. Thanks for reading!

Sam Miller/Free Keon

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Slammin' Sam on Sports Media Links

Hello, and welcome to the Thursday Links Edition of Slammin’ Sam on Sports Media!

With game six hours away in Boston, a whole lot is on the line. No wonder LeBron is at the center of the sports universe today.

If that’s not enough, has a report about a possible successor to Cavs Coach Mike Brown.

Fans forget that Michael Jordan had an occasional poor game himself, writes Dan Le Batard. None, however, had the effect that James’ game five did.

At least the Cavs are still alive. The defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins are out.

So much drama, let’s end with a light update. Pardon the pun.

As always, thanks for spending part of your Thursday with Free Keon!

Sam Miller/Free Keon

This Week in Golf

PGA Tour - The Valero Texas Open tries out a new course this year at the TPC San Antonio. The track is a collaborative effort between Pete Dye and Greg Norman. Players and fans alike are excited to see what they have come up with. The course just opened in February of this year. The field following THE PLAYERS and preceding three more prestigious events is not stellar. Ernie Els was a late entry, but he is the only top ten player competing here. Justin Leonard, who always plays well in his home state, is my pick to win. The two-time Texas Open champion has not had a spectacular season in 2010, but he did make last year's President's Cup team and fought his way into a playoff in November at the Las Vegas tournament. He had a string of top 20 finishes leading up to the Masters, but since then, he has only one round in the sixties. He tied for 5th the last time the Tour visited San Antonio, and I foresee another strong showing from Leonard this week. Another fellow to keep an eye on is big bomber J.B. Holmes. J.B. has played solid golf this season. He is 17th in the FedEx Cup standings, and his opening round of 66 at Sawgrass last Thursday vaulted him to a T13 at THE PLAYERS. CBS will televise the Valero Texas Open.

Illinois Interest Item - Olympia High School graduate Randy Kindred writes about a debate that is brewing over an attempt at sportsmanship on the golf course near Chicago that involved a Bloomington native who attends Olivet Nazarene University. I say good sportsmanship. As a coach, I would be proud if one of my athletes made a similar decision. As a player, I probably would have ended up birdieing the hole if I was intentionally trying to play poorly. What is your take?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Once Considered Jewels, Baseball Cards Have Lost Luster

Hey Free Keon and Slammin' Sam on Sports Media Readers!
Allow me to preview my latest post. This book made me put off Rick Reilly's sure-fire hit, "Sports from Hell" off till next week if that tells you anything. Enjoy!

Remember the days when “gem” referred to the rock on a lady’s finger or to a pitcher’s performance? Remember the days when you’d scrounge up three or four dollars for a pack of cards, hoping that you’d find that 1:150 insert? Today we journey back to yesteryear with Dave Jamieson’s “Mint Condition: How Baseball Cards Became an American Obsession.”

Slammin' Sam on Sports Media Links returns on Thursday.

Sam Miller/Free Keon

Thursday, May 6, 2010

This Week in Golf

PGA Tour - THE PLAYERS Championship will be contested at the challenging TPC Sawgrass this week. The annual favorite of many fans moved from March to May a few years ago to give the Tour a big-time event in each month from April to August. The TPC Sawgrass is more than likely the most recognizable golf course because of the immense amount of TV coverage the famous 17th hole island green receives. The last stretch of 16-18 at Sawgrass is my personal favorite of any finish on Tour. It always provides drama. This week, the field has lost some lovable characters due to injury. Anthony Kim, Fred Couples, and Steve Stricker all had to withdraw from THE PLAYERS with nagging injuries. However, the top two names in golf will be teeing it up in Florida. Tiger and Phil will have to share the spotlight, though, with the Wachoiva Championship winner, Rory McIlroy. The now 21-year-old Northern Irishman won in dramatic fashion with a course record 62 at Quail Hollow last week to defeat Mickelson and Angel Cabrera for his first PGA Tour victory. My pick to win this week is Ernie Els. I just have a feeling. But watch out for another young European in Alvaro Quiros. The Spanish bomber won his national open last week, and he has been knocking on the door of victory more often than not. Johnny Miller and his crew over at NBC always take on THE PLAYERS and do a very nice job.

Slammin' Sam on Sports Media Links

Hello Free Keon and Slammin’ Sam Readers,

Looks to be a great sports day from all the stories that are circulating fairly early in the day. Let’s get started right away.

First, a story that made me go “Oh, my.” Butler guard Gordon Hayward is staying in the draft. I almost feel apologetic, but I guess I still thought of Butler and Hayward were a Cinderella story and not much more. Now reality sets in. I hope he has a solid NBA career. Bob Kravitz of the Indy Star has the details.

On to somebody I wish I could be surprised about, Milton Bradley. Jerry Brewer shares his opinions in Seattle.

Another guy I am rooting for to overcome his struggles is David Ortiz. Big Papi took another step last night.

Giants hurler Barry Zito is in the midst of his own comeback, Gwen Knapp writes.

Last, in case you didn’t get a chance to read it in your paper this morning, here’s a story on Wednesday night’s Blackhawks hero.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sam Miller/Free Keon

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Out of left field

I don't go to many Cubs games, basically one a year, but I did go last Sunday. And I witnessed the greatest individual hitting performance I've seen since Michael Brenly lit up the Quad City River Bandits last July in Peoria. Really, it was an electrifying afternoon at Wrigley Field.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Shocking Return ….. (Sorry)

Let me first start by thanking Sam and Steve for holding down the fort for the last month while all the other bloggers took some time off to concentrate on work and spend some quality time with friends, family, and pets. Their consistent posting kept the site alive for many weeks and is much appreciated.

With that being said, this is a call out to all other writers and fans affiliated with this site who have been slacking of late. It’s time to get off your bean bags and add some unresearched, illogical, and misguided opinions to the web. Baseball season has started, the NBA playoffs are afoot, and the World Cup is just over a month away, so come on and let out some hot air.

For my first contribution since the April sabbatical I would quickly like to discuss the young boy who got tased last night at a Philadelphia Phillies game for running onto the field before the eighth inning. There has been quite a bit of critical discussion concerning the severity of the security guard’s response and use of a taser on a 17 year old kid who, by all accounts, probably meant no harm.

Sounding Off on Mike and Mike

Slammin' Sam on Sports Media
Ahh… Nothing like a cup of coffee, the newspaper, and perhaps a morning show to start the day. In college, I used Mike and Mike in the Morning to jumpstart my day. I love the fact that the two of them come off average enough to be your buddy down the street.

At the same time, you know the two everymen have a firm grasp on what they’re talking about. The question is, does what you hear on the radio/TV carry over into print form? Today, we’re talking about Mike and Mike’s Rules for Sports and Life.

Here’s what you should know about the book:
1. True or false: One reason we enjoy broadcasts is that they are a break from reading.

I vote true. I’m not suggesting that we should be lazy and not read. After all, that’s one of the foundations of this blog. What I am saying is a good broadcast should put you in the middle of the action. When I watch Mike and Mike, it’s as if I were nodding or arguing with them. That’s not how I felt when I read the book. It was a lifeless script with no one to give it breath. The book is divided into four “hours” plus overtime, but it could take days to plow through.

2. Greeny and Golic do offer some interesting perspectives, as always.
For instance: Rule 1.26 states “Get rid of the Fourth of July.” Golic wastes no time stating, “I can tell you already that I’m going to veto this one.” Greeny’s defense – “I’ve looked into this, and in 1776, the Fourth of July – the actual date – fell on a Thursday.” Celebrating Independence Day, as opposed to July 4 would simplify the calendar and the holiday work week, the hosts decide (Mike, 26).

How about Rule 3.49? “Fans are crazy because people are crazy.”
Golic introduces this one with a story about attending a Holy War football game. Recall, Golic played eight years in the NFL. Clearly, he earned the right to cheer however he wanted to cheer. Or maybe not. “I was sitting on the very end of a row, and the disruptions were constant,” Golic says. “With the BC quarterback calling the signals on a key third-and-short play, I heard, Dude, get up. You’ve got to be kidding me. At one point, I looked around, stunned by what was going on. Everybody just glared back at me like I was the problem. Then a guy who had gotten up at least eight times already starts walking down the row again. I don’t say a word to him. I just give him the death stare.” (98-101)

Check out Rule 4.71 – Elect current players into the Hall.
Greeny starts, “Each sport’s Hall of Fame is nothing more than a museum. Do you think the Louvre and the Met had to wait five years after Picasso died before they could hang his stuff? Was Joe Montana a tough call in 1989? Or Magic Johnson? Why the holdup, exactly?” (171)

3. Getting back to those guys that I previously mentioned, Rule 3.50 reads, “Never forget where you came from.”

Greeny and Golic project themselves to be the same guys they were when they started the show 10 years ago: The “On Air” light flashed, and I just felt like making fun of this [Golic.] I’m thinking that if I do it, one of two things will happen. Either he’ll laugh and the next two days will be fun, or he’ll rear back and punch me in the face, Greeny shares. (150) Maintaining long-term relationships is something we should all strive for, even as we reach for success.

Before you go thinking these guys are all laughs and giggles, realize in 2002, Major League Baseball took Greeny seriously. Despite Golic’s overwhelming doubts, the powers that be took Greeny’s suggestion and made the All-Star Game determine home-field advantage in the World Series (7). Who’s laughing now?

In closing, Mike and Mike have their moments in this brand new book. But if you want to see a better example of a media crossover, check out Bill Simmons’ Book of Basketball instead. Leave Mike and Mike to the airwaves.

Sam Miller/Free Keon

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

This Week in Golf

PGA Tour - With the strongest field this season outside of the Masters, the Wachovia Championship at Quail Hollow promises to be an exciting one. Both Tiger and Phil will be teeing it up in Charlotte along with three others inside the top ten in the world rankings. Fred Couples, Lee Westwood, Jim Furyk, Anthony Kim, Rory McIlroy, Angela Cabrera, Camilo Villegas, Padraig Harrington, Rickie Fowler, Stewart Cink, Geoff Ogilvy, and Hunter Mahan are just a few of the fan favorites playing. Woods is always the hungriest competitor in any field he enters, but I suspect he is even more so this week after his long hiatus prior to a top five at Augusta. Woods is my obvious pick to win this week at an excellent venue where he has hoisted a trophy before. My sleeper pick will be awarded to Sean O'Hair. The young American is not afraid to go head-to-head against Tiger or anybody. He has not had a stellar year thus far, but I predict he will have a breakout tournament at Quail Hollow. CBS covers the Wachovia all weekend.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Slammin' Sam on Sports Media Links

Howdy there, Free Keon and Slammin’ Sam on Sports Media Readers,

I may be wrong, but I have a feeling that you are one side or the other as far as the NFL Draft bonanza. For those who can’t get enough and love the extra day, let’s get right to that portion of links. For those who are asking themselves if the spectacle will ever end, let’s get that out of the way. Whatever your thoughts, here we go.

Naturally, we start with reports from St. Louis and Detroit.

Another football story that has dominated the headlines for weeks is, of course, Big Ben. Here’s the latest from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Shifting to baseball, the hometown pundits are clearly against Carlos Zambrano’s move to the bullpen, but there he sits.

While one hurler has fallen upon hard times, Ubaldo Jiminez’s life could not be much better after twirling a no-hitter. Read Jim Armstrong’s interesting story from The Denver Post.

Finally, back to football for a look at Illini draft prospect Jon Asamoah.

Thanks for reading. Please note that I will be away next week. Slammin’ Sam will return Tue., May 4.

Sam Miller/Free Keon

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

This Week in Golf

PGA Tour - This week's edition of the best golf in the world takes place in the Big Easy. New Orleans, Louisiana attracts players with their unique bayou hospitality. Jerry Kelly is the defending champion, but I expect David Toms to take the trophy in his home state.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Psst – Wanna know a secret?

Hello Free Keon and Slammin' Sam on Sports Media Readers!
I have an exciting announcement. Thanks to Mike Lynch at, I've joined forces with the baseball enthusiasts there, starting today. In addition to Seamheads blogging, I will continue my contributions to Free Keon. Keep clicking here for Slammin' Sam's Links and non-baseball coverage. Thanks for your support!

Here's a preview of my Seamheads debut:

Psst – Wanna know a secret? A lot of your heroes weren’t the men you thought they were. The reality of the game they played differs from your ideal picture too. OK, I guess that’s not really a surprise. But more often than not, histories paint romantic pictures of yesterday’s stars. Perhaps some childhood mischief or an 0-4 day snuck into the story. Rarely is there reason to worry about anything that would besmirch your favorite hitter or pitcher in most retrospectives. Zev Chafets’ “Cooperstown Confidential” is a delightful dastardly exception.

Sam Miller/Free Keon

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Slammin' Sam on Sports Media Links

Good day, Free Keon and Slammin’ Sam readers!

Plenty of news to keep us chatting today. Let’s start with arguably the No. 1 story in sports right now. The Bulls are once again near the forefront of the sports nation’s consciousness. While the team sewed up the eighth seed last night in Charlotte, the down-to-the-wired drama is only one part of an equation that has Bulls fans seeing red.

Brandon Marshall expressed his irritation about the situation in Denver. Now (finally) he moves on to Miami.

Who knows what got Cowboys owner Jerry Jones stirred up. Maybe that’s his business, not ours.

Tim Tebow’s draft stock may be in question. But for another pro prospect, Butler basketball’s Gordon Hayward, his stock appears to be rising after the Bulldogs star introduced himself in grand fashion.

Finally, we come full circle. Jordan’s Bobcats may have lost last night, but the owner and the city of Charlotte have plenty of reasons to keep an eye on the promising squad.

Thanks for reading today's links!

Sam Miller/Free Keon

This Week in Golf

PGA Tour - The Verizon Heritage Classic is being held this week at beautiful Harbour Town Golf Links on Hilton Head Island. Harbour Town's relaxing atmosphere and convenient proximity to Augusta make it the perfect location for the week following the Masters. Many of the pros who struggled their way around the rolling hills of Augusta unwind here with some refreshing rounds by the sea. Luke Donald is my pick to win. This Big Ten alum is a steady bloke who has been having a solid season. My sleeper, Davis Love III, has an unprecedented five victories at the Heritage Classic. After a great event at Bay Hill and missing the Masters, I see Love making his comeback in Hilton Head. CBS covers this event.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Check It "Outta Here"

Slammin’ Sam on Sports Media
Exactly one year ago today, Philadelphia Phillies Hall of Fame broadcaster and the voice of NFL Films Harry Kalas died of heart disease. Here’s why you should read “Harry the K” by Randy Miller.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Slammin' Sam on Sports Media Links

Hello Free Keon Fans,

As I write this, play is already underway at The Masters, and Tiger’s tee time is not far off. But in the meantime, check out Slammin’ Sam’s Links.

Speaking of the world’s most famous golfer, you knew Nike would unveil a Tiger ad sometime soon. The question was when. Here’s the answer that debuted last night. After you watch the ad, read Richard Sandomir’s column.

While the world calls on Tiger for accountability, Stephen A. Smith (as only he can) charges the Eagles brass with responsibility. No longer can fans point the finger at Donovan McNabb.

Nor can blame be leveled Evan Turner for his actions.

Last, a week remains in the NBA regular season. The Mavs are jockeying for playoff position, and Tyreke Evans eyes the Rookie of the Year award.

As always, thanks for spending part of your day at Free Keon!

Sam Miller/Free Keon

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

This Week in Golf

PGA Tour – The azaleas will be in full bloom as always on Amen Corner as Masters Tournament is beheld at Augusta National Golf Club this week. Dozens of headlines are coming out of Augusta early on this week. Not the least of which is the long-awaited return of the world’s number one golfer, Tiger Woods.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Back in Radbourn's Day, Backing Down was Out of the Question

Slammin' Sam on Sports Media
Now batting for Slammin’ Sam on Sports Media, “Fifty-Nine in ’84.”

Here’s why you should read Edward Achorn’s book at the dawn of the baseball season:

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Final Slammin' Sam Final Four Post

Judging by America’s sports sections, fans aren’t quite ready to switch from college hoops to baseball. We understand. Only three college basketball games remain. Beginning Sunday, there will be beaucoup baseball. Our advice at Slammin’ Sam on Sports Media and Free Keon is to enjoy the Final Four while it lasts. With that in mind, here we go!

First, Indy Star writer Matthew Tully gives readers perspective about Butler’s drive to the Final Four.

Butler’s opponent, Michigan State, features a coach who somehow gets it done again and again, writes Drew Sharp.

While Butler plays for its city, and Izzo represents his home state of Michigan, Duke is in it for each other.

Bob Huggins and West Virginia? They can’t stop thinking about the great party they are going to have after work.

How can you think about March Madness without thinking about Billy Packer? Whether you like him or not, he’s still got plenty to say off the main stage.

Thanks for visiting Slammin' Sam on Sports Media Links and Free Keon today!

Sam Miller/Free Keon

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

This Week in Golf

PGA Tour – The best golfers in the world visit Texas for the Shell Houston Open this week at Rees Jones’s Redstone Golf Club. Many top international players are in the field as a final tune up for the following week’s Masters Tournament.

Do You Know the Code?

Slammin' Sam on Sports Media
Calling all Baseball Fans, calling all Baseball Fans,

With the MLB season less than a week away, it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty at Slammin’ Sam on Sports Media.

Have you ever found yourself watching a baseball game and wondering why a player stole a base during a blowout? Or maybe you watched your favorite hitter at the plate and salivated at his 3-0 count? Those are the kind of questions we ponder this week while reading Jason Turbow and Michael Duca’s new book, “The Baseball Codes.”

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Slammin Sam's Sweet 16 Links

It’s Thursday, and of course we’re talking Tourney here at Slammin’ Sam on Sports Media and Free Keon. Let’s get right into it with reports from each of the four regions.

Bernie Miklasz extends his best hospitality and good luck to Midwest Regional teams. They’re going to need it.

Gotta plug my friend Kurt Kragthorpe’s story about the Xavier-K-State rematch in Salt Lake City. This game figures to be a gritty battle just like Jazz coach Jerry Sloan appreciates.

In Syracuse we have what is setting up to be a battle of foils – good vs. evil, smart vs. dumb, David vs. Goliath – at least that’s what the hype is about. Dan Shaughnessy represents Cornell and is already caught in crossfire. John Clay speaks for Kentucky.

Baylor needs no welcome in Houston. These Bears are the first Baylor team to score a tournament victory in almost 60 years.

Thanks for reading, and remember, don’t let your bracket get in the way of good basketball.

Sam Miller/Free Keon

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

This Week in Golf

PGA Tour – One of my favorite events of each Tour season is the Bay Hill Invitational. The King, Arnold Palmer, annually hosts a strong field playing a fabulous course with an exciting finish.

Make a (Baseball) List and Check it Twice

Slammin' Sam on Sports Media
Isn’t it a great time of year when exhilaration for two sports nears its simultaneous zenith? Yep, here we are again. The NCAA tourney extended an invitation to several Cinderellas for the Sweet 16, while baseball fans are welcome to delude themselves with fairytale endings for 30 darlings.

Today, Slammin’ Sam on Sports Media stops (or at least puts a pause on) the Madness and shifts to baseball.

In 2008, Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman developed an unlikely friendship in “The Bucket List.” As two men stared the end of their lives in the face, they arrived at the same realization. All of us want to look back on our lives with no regrets. Knowing you enjoyed some adventure is important as well.

If you enjoyed the movie, or if those ideas resonate with you, now’s the time to start planning your list. Fortunately “The Baseball Fan’s Bucket List” contains a full season’s worth of suggestions.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Favorite Moments in NCAA

What was your favorite moment(s) during the first week of action in the NCAA tournament? Biggest upset? Biggest surprise? Biggest disappointment? Feel free to discuss.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Slammin' Sam's Links Tourney Style

The time’s finally arrived, and it’s as if everything else slows to pay homage. Yes, the tourney tips off today, and Slammin’ Sam on Sports Media Links has a report from each regional site. The good news is that the links are sound free. No need to listen to commentators jabber 24-7, right?

We start in New Orleans where Notre Dame and senior Luke Harangody picked the right time to pick up steam.

From a traditional power to an upstart in St. Mary’s, we head to Providence.

As far as I can tell, fans are firmly against tourney expansion. Some would argue March Madness is the best thing in sports. Why change it, writes the Mercury News.

Despite back-to-back NCAA titles, consecutive NIT appearances left Billy Donovan and Florida forgotten.

Eric Maynor’s shot to slay Duke, Nelson and West leading St. Joe’s, and Bob Knight’s final game as a Hoosier all took place in Buffalo.

Are you surprised that Jacksonville is still stuck on Tim Tebow? You might not realize the city has NCAA Tournament action this weekend by reading its paper.

Closer to home, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel features an article on the plethora of options to pursue between games at the Bradley Center.

And finally, Tom Izzo’s Spartans begin the 2010 run in Spokane.

Thanks for reading, and good luck with your bracket!

Sam Miller/Free Keon

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

This Week in Golf

PGA Tour – The Florida Swing switches coasts to the Transitions Championship near Tampa this week. The Transitions is played at the beautifully wooded Innisbrook Copperhead course.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Dan Jenkins on The Masters, Tiger and More

Slammin' Sam on Sports Media
We’ve been hearing escalating rumors for the past couple weeks. Now we know the truth. Tiger will be in the hunt for The Masters. What better day to review a golf book? “Jenkins at the Majors” is a collection of stories by one of the sport’s great chroniclers, Dan Jenkins.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Join Our Bracket!!

Bryce Drew wants you to join the official Free Keon March Madness Bracket Challenge.  The winner will receive a free one week personal instructional camp at the Bryce Drew Center for Shooting Excellence*.

So if you are a free keon fan or writer or someone who hates free keon but really wants to be in our bracket challenge, go to the yahoo march madness page, and go to group name: Free Keon and password: keonclark , and group ID #125898

It should be a good time.

* not a real thing

And another thing...

So far I've been able to rationalize most of the bubble teams that made it into the NCAA tournament ahead of Illinois, even the ones Josh pointed out. Still, there's at least one team whose presence I just can't come to terms with.

It Just Doesn’t Add Up

I’m not shocked that Illinois was left out of the NCAA tournament; I’m simply very frustrated and a bit befuddled about how they were left out, and how other teams were chosen over them. All I ask for is consistency, logic, and honesty. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, however, as these three things are obviously lacking in every other facet of the NCAA (officiating, investigations, etc.) So in order to let off a little steam and see who beat us out and why, the following is a listing of the 5 teams that most likely stole our spot in the field of 65:

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Illini Player Rating: Vs. Wisconsin BTT

Mike Davis: 6
He didn't piss me off as much as he normally does.  He grabbed 10 solid boards and would have had at least 13 or so if he could bring the ball into his chest without someone knocking it out of his weak little arms.

His fast break lay-up was a great moment in the game.  I think it took 3 years off of Bruce's life expectancy. 
The truth is that it was not the right decision by D-mac.  We were up by 6 with the ball and roughly 1:15 on the clock. 
He should definitely have taken the ball up top and set up the offense.
Given the number of horrendous block/charge calls that have gone against the Illini this season, it was a huge relief to have a correct call in a crucial situation. 

Demetri McCamey: 7
Even though he didn't shoot the ball well (6-15), I thought that he played a great game.  D-Mac made shots when he needed too, especially with the shot clock winding down, and just made great decisions all game long. 
The thing that stuck out about McCamey's game on Friday was his defense.  He really got after it and shut down Jordan Taylor.  It's frusterating because obviously he can D' it up, but he just doesn't.
For now it seems like the fallout from he and Bruce's dust-up on Sunday is nothing but good.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Nick Schuyler: Not Without Hope

Slammin Sam on Sports Media
“We almost sold out of that yesterday,” said one Barnes and Noble employee. That sure caught my attention. Let me tell you why “Not Without Hope” is flying off the shelves and sits No. 1 in its category.

Mike Miller Hair update

I wrote back in October about my concerns with Mike Miller and the direction his career has taken in terms of his haircut decisions.
The good news is that Mike took my advice (I'm gonna assume that he is a free keon fan) and has gone with the old school clean cut look.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

This Week in Golf

PGA Tour – The CA Championship at Doral is being played this weekend near Miami with the strongest field we have seen this young season. All nine of the top ten active players in the world rankings are in the field to play the challenge that is known as the Blue Monster at Doral.

Slammin' Sam on Sports Media Links

Why, hello Everyone!

I flipped a coin today, and it turns out I’m going with links in this Tuesday Edition of Slammin’ Sam on Sports Media. Get ready, cause here comes a blitz of mostly football stories.

First, an update on Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. File this under the “not again” file. Take note, Big Ben hired the same legal council Ray Lewis used for his murder trial.

Talk about an impact! Let’s turn from a half-empty glass to an overflowing one. Read this interesting story about an altruistic young man picked to detonate the old home of the Dallas Cowboys.

While a new stadium excited Dallas fans, new digs have Anquan Boldin happy.

We’ve covered the rising stories for today. Unfortunately that leaves the falling column.

Nowadays, Manny Ramirez might not want to be Manny, T.J. Simers writes in the LA Times.

Like Manny feels about himself, Illini fans do not like where the basketball team’s sitting right now. Instead of finding itself among select company, Bruce Weber’s bunch lies with plenty of not-so hopeful college basketball programs, Loren Tate writes.

As always, thanks for spending part of your day with Slammin' Sam and Free Keon!

Sam Miller/Free Keon

Illini Player Ratings: Vs. Wisconsin

Mike Davis:  3
Now can we all agree that the "real" Mike Davis is just bad.  He has officially regressed from last season.

Davis shot 53% from the field and 68% from the line and 11.3 pts last season.  This year he is shooting 46% from the field, 6% in important clutch situations (I made that up but it's how I feel) and 60% from the line, along with 10.3 pts.
As Stacie King would say, 'Get in the weight room!'
Jon Leuer made him look like a fool.

Demitri McCamey: 2
Loren Tate wrote that D-mac is reminiscent of Frank Williams.  He is right in the sense that there are peaks and valleys with both players.
 It is difficult to define McCamey's season right now, (maybe I'll right about it once the season is over) but one
thing is clear; he has been the Illini's best player this season, and that has not always been a good thing.

D-mac had a pretty standard game on Sunday, with 11 pts and 4 dimes, but his meltdown with the intentional foul and blow-up with Bruce is obviously unacceptable.
Maybe what separates McCamey from being a great player is his mental make-up.  There have been times where he has killed the team with his decision making.
His intentional foul was just one of those 'what in the name of perfect hell were you thinking?!?' moments.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Illinois' daddy issues

Somewhere between making off-the-wall analogies and praising Evan Turner, Steve Lavin commended his broadcast partner, Dave O'Brien, on the way he and his wife raised their kids.

Through the exchange he evoked the name of John Wooden (not the first time) and extolled the virtues of presenting an example of leadership as coach. The point, if I remember correctly, was that if you want to stymie your players' youthful immaturity, you must not be given to such fits yourself. Did the official send the other team to the line for the 24th time? Whining about it isn't going to help. Hustle back on defense. If your the coach, keep a cool head.

Lavin was speaking in general, but it didn't take much to connect his comment with his old colleague's behavior. Inadvertent or not, it may have been the best point Lavin made all night. Does Bruce Weber's courtside manner rub off on his players? Does it kill their desire to play for him?

Slammin' Sam on Sports Media Links

Happy Thursday, Free Keon and Slammin' Sam Readers!

You would think with football fervor in full swing, according to the media, that is, that the NFL Draft is next weekend or something. Actually, it's April 22, but what's the difference? Plenty of football stories - We'll focus on Da' (Dud) Bears with these two local reports.

While Bears fans hope for their team's resurgence, Cubs fans are eager for Alfonso Soriano to come around.

Sticking with baseball, no need to wait for the Yankees to return to form. The Bombers won their first Spring Training contest yesterday. Here's an inpiring story about the man who connected on the walk-off winner vs. the Pirates. This story transcends baseball, whether or not you are a Yankees fan.

Next up, everybody seems to be talking about Manny Pacquiao, so here's a story about his upcoming fight that may be his last.

Finally, Hank Gathers' legacy continues to live on 20 years after his life was cut short.

Thanks for taking time out to visit Slammin' Sam's links today!

Sam Miller/Free Keon

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Illini Player Ratings: @ Ohio State

Mike Davis: 3
Mike spent most of the game watching David Lighty drive right past him.  The Illini's lack of depth (we have one bench player) really hurt them in this game.  They were not able to go to the bench to match up with the smaller Buckeyes.
And Davis not being able to post-up a 6-5 player (because he is weak) and take advantage on the other end compounded things.

Demitri McCamey: 7
D-mac came back after the Minnesota debacle and shot the ball well.  Just in case you are wondering if he is important to his team, when he came out for 3 minutes after picking up his 2nd foul OSU went on a 10-0 run.

Had 7 assists and 0 turns, and did a pretty good job of running the team and getting people involved for the first 2/3 of the game.
D-mac did play worse defense than Soriano (it's almost that time of year) and was a main culprit in allowing Jon Diebler to go nutso.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

This Week in Golf

PGA Tour – The Florida Swing kicks off with the Honda Classic this week at Jack Nicklaus’s PGA National Champion Course in Palm Beach. The field is packed with elite international players including defending champion Y.E. Yang.

Lazenby Comes up Clutch with Jerry West

Slammin' Sam on Sports Media
Jerry West is the epitome of the NBA. (You can change the tense of that statement if deemed necessary.) His silhouette remains the NBA logo – sewn, printed and emblazoned on every piece of official merchandise – but why West?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Maurice and Freddy: A Tale of Two du

For the past two years I have patiently dreamed for a World Cup U.S. lineup that would include a diamond midfield formation with Maurice Edu as a defensive mid and Freddy Adu as an attacking mid. Aside from the marvelous surname aesthetics, I believe both players bring a youthful spark and imagination that the U.S. squad has been lacking of late (aside from the three confederations cup games where a temporary bliss was achieved and Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, and Charlie Davies all played to their potential).

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Illini Player Ratings: Vs. Minnesota

Eff this game.  That was not okay, you can't score 14 points in a half.  Maybe this post will be a part of the healing process for me.  Or maybe it will just remind me how pissed off I am. 

Mike Davis: 5
Davis had a pretty standard game with 10 points and 12 boards.  Did not shoot the ball well, but no one did.  He also picked up an unexplained double technical with Minnesota's Joseph.  You know it is a soft T if Davis is involved.
He left his man and allowed a free dunk with 30 seconds to play.  Of course expecting Davis to not have defensive mental breakdowns is like expecting Sean Harrington to come to the game with ruffled hair. 

Demitri McCamey: 3
The Illini just cannot win with McCamey going 4-18 from the field.  It is not going to happen.  McCamey did do some good things in the game, including his 10 assists and a clutch 3-pointer.  

The downfall of the Illini was his decision making down the stretch.  He almost turned the ball over on a pass to Davis that eventually was swung to DJ for the shot that cut the lead to 59-58.  Then on the very next possession he makes the exact same drive to the other side of the lane and had his pass to Davis intercepted. Everyone on Minnesota was playing the pass and he needed to shoot it.

He missed a 3 with the Illini down 61-58 and 30 seconds to play.  I can't begrudge him the shot because he got a good look, even though it was a quick shot, he just needed to hit it.

The decision that I found completely unacceptable was D-Mac fouling Ralph Sampson with 10 seconds left after Tisdale's lay-up cut the lead to 62-60.  It was his 5th foul and he needed to let someone else make that foul.  It forced Jeff Jordan to bring the ball up in the final possession for the Illini, not having Demetri on the floor killed any chance the Illini had.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Slammin' Sam on Sports Media Links

It’s Thursday, and of course that means Slammin’ Sam’s Links.

We start with a goodbye, followed by a hello.

Goodbye LT. LaDainian Tomlinson ranks eighth all-time in rushing yards and second in career rushing touchdowns. Not to mention he’s one of my favorites. Here’s hoping for a rebirth for No. 21.

Hello to Marlon Byrd. Most view him as Milton Bradley’s replacement with the Cubs, but don’t let Byrd hear disparaging words about his former Rangers teammate.

Staying in the Windy City, at least one Blackhawks player appears bound to receive a hero’s welcome after the Olympics.

As for the man who shot the Hawks’ Patrick Kane and his teammates past Switzerland on Wednesday, props to Zach Parise.

Last, boos for Jay McGwire. Predictably, he wants to capitalize on his brother’s re-entry into the spotlight.

Thanks for spending part of your Thursday here at Free Keon.

Sam Miller/Free Keon

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Illini Player Ratings: @ Michigan

Let's start this thing.

Mike Davis: 6
Grabbed 12 boards in a game where if you stood around the basket for two minutes 7 rebounds would hit you in the face.  Both teams will be writing ESPN an apology letter today.

Davis took advantage of Michigan's lack of offensive rebounding and cherry-picked himself a couple dunks.  I hope he realizes that he can't do that against teams with actual post players.

Demetri McCamey: 7
One of the only players in the game that actually shot the ball well.    Might have had more than 4 assists if his teammates were hitting their shots.
As much of a downer as the game was, his alley-oop to Davis that clinched the game was pretty sweet.

Even with that play, the highlight of the night for D-Mac was being named to Steve Lavin's All-Big Ten team alongside Chris Kramer, Chris Kramer, Chris Kramer, and Chris Kramer's punchable face.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Say Hey to Willie Mays

Slammin’ Sam on Sports Media

Pound for pound James S. Hirsch’s “Willie Mays: The Life, The Legend” rivals Bill Simmons' The Book of Basketball, and boy, does the baseball book pack a punch.

The brand new 628-page offering (a mere 566 pgs. if you exclude the bibliography and index) maintains for the most part the mystique surrounding the greatest living ballplayer. That’s some of what allows Mays to endure in the sports fan’s consciousness. But finally, with Mays’ support, Hirsch permits some light to shine through a window.

This Week in Golf

PGA Tour – The Waste Management Phoenix Open will be held this week at the TPC of Scottsdale. The loudest hole in golf is Scottdale’s famed par-3 16th where some very raucous crowds will be cheering on a very competitive field.
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