Santoro Column: NBA lottery aboveboard
June 15, 2012
Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . . The NBA’s draft lottery is quickly becoming one of the world’s greatest mysteries along with the great pyramids of Egypt, crop circles, Bigfoot, Stonehenge, the Shroud of Turin and Justin Bieber’s career. I’ll admit, when the New York Knicks got the top pick in order to draft Patrick Ewing, when the Cleveland Cavaliers got the top pick to draft Ohio native LeBron James and when the Chicago Bulls got the top pick to draft Chicago native Derrick Rose, it did indeed look a bit, shall we say, convenient. But that’s not a good reason for every idiot this side of Donald Trump and Fox News to cry fix. Do you really think it is worth it for David Stern to risk the integrity of the league and fix the lottery in order for the New Orleans Hornets to draft Anthony Davis? Anthony Davis? Really? How come nobody was yelling fix when the Sacramento Kings got Pervis Ellison, the Washington Wizards got Kwame Brown, the Golden State Warriors got Joe Smith and the Los Angeles Clippers got Michael Olowokandi?
It took Bryce Harper less than two months but he has already become one of the greatest Nevada-born baseball players (there have been 30) to ever play in the major leagues. The Las Vegas native is just 19 years old and you can argue that he is already the second greatest Nevada-born non-pitcher to make the big leagues. The greatest is Las Vegas native Marty Cordova, who hit 122 homers and drove in 540 runs from 1995-03 for four teams. (Matt Williams, who graduated from Carson High, would have been the best by far but he was born in Bishop, Calif.). Harper, who just three years ago was a sophomore at Las Vegas High, looks like the next Mickey Mantle or at least the next Josh Hamilton. He’ll be the best Nevada-born player by 2015.
It is likely the Miami Dolphins only signed Chad Ochocino this week to merely serve as its lead actor in the HBO series Hard Knocks this summer. Why else would they sign the washed up Terrell Owens wannabe? HBO is probably paying Ochocinco’s salary because, well, would you tune in to watch any other Dolphins’ player? Don’t forget that Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick, Dan Marino, Paul Warfield and Flipper aren’t around anymore. It sure would be a shame if Ochocinco’s presence on the roster hurt former Nevada Wolf Pack wide receiver Richard Matthews’ chances of making the team. Matthews, a seventh-round pick, could turn out to be the best value pick in the entire draft last April.
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What is going on in the major leagues? On Wednesday night Matt Cain pitched the fifth perfect game in the big leagues in the last four years. And it should have been the sixth in the last five years because Armando Galarraga was robbed of a perfecto in 2010 by an umpire. This is after we had just one perfect game from 1999-2009. There have already been five no-hitters this year and we’re still in the middle of June. What’s the deal? Pitching a no-hitter now hardly rates anything more than a line across the bottom of the television screen on ESPN (unless, of course, it is a New York Yankee or Boston Red Sox pitcher). Mediocre-to-bad pitchers (Phil Humber and Dallas Braden) are even doing it. Something’s wrong. Maybe David Stern is fixing baseball games, too.
College presidents are apparently going to vote later this month on a proposal that would establish a four-team playoff for a Division I football national champion. That’s all well and good and it is certainly better than the current system (speaking of fixes). But a four-team playoff is only a band-aid on a big problem. It won’t be long until the No. 5 team in the country is complaining and the nation is crying out for 64-team basketball-like tournament in football. Having college presidents vote on something affecting college sports is sort of like allowing Clay Aiken, Sarah Palin and Jennifer Lopez determine who should play in the Super Bowl. They should simply allow ESPN, which obviously has made all of the important decisions for college sports in the last two decades, to come up with a playoff format. And then all of the idiot ESPN Web site writers and television and radio commentators will back it and support it and the nation will fall in line.
John Savage is simply one of, if not the best, college coach to ever come out of northern Nevada. Savage, who graduated from Reno High and began his college coaching career with the Nevada Wolf Pack, has even surpassed his father-in-law Chris Ault on a national scale. Savage has guided his UCLA Bruins baseball program to the College World Series this year for the second time in three years. As the head coach at UC Irvine and UCLA he has gone to seven NCAA regionals in the last 11 years. Savage, who is married to Ault’s daughter Lisa, was also the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator at USC in the late 1990s and helped mold the careers of Barry Zito and Mark Prior. He was part of Gary Powers’ Wolf Pack staff from 1990-95 when the Pack started its run of NCAA regionals. He is simply one of the greatest college coaches in the nation for any sport right now.