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Eric Byrnes’ Comeuppance Equals South Florida’s “Up ‘N Come-ance”

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Batting Around is BC Sports' look back at the week's happenings in the world o' sports, presented in a lineup card format for some undisclosed reason.

The Lineup Card

1. CF Eric Byrnes
2. QB Matt Grothe
3. SG Kobe Bryant
4. LF Manny Ramirez
5. #"60" Carl Edwards
6. DE Paul Spicer
7. RB Adrian Peterson
8. G Niklas Backstrom
9. RP Rafael Betancourt
Manager: Dusty Baker

1. CF Eric Byrnes — I guess this is how karma works. One minute you say the Colorado Rockies weren't outplaying your Arizona Diamondbacks, and then in Game 4 you ground into the final out of the NLCS.

Byrnes' reward? If history is any indication, he must now sit next to Jeanie Zelasko during the World Series as a guest studio analyst. Tough break, bro.

2. QB Matt Grothe — He's the quarterback of the No. 2 BCS-ranked football team in America. And his school's football program didn't even exist until a year before the inception of the BCS.

Grothe threw for 212 yards and ran for exactly 100 yards, totaling four touchdowns in a 64-12 blowout of in-state directional rival Central Florida. The USF Bulls are now 6-0, one of six undefeated teams, but virtually all computer rankings dictate that USF's wins are by far the most impressive, including wins over West Virginia and at Auburn.

In 1996, South Florida didn't have varsity football. But this year, if they win their final six games — at Rutgers, at UConn, at Syracuse, at Pittsburgh, and home against Cincinnati and Louisville — they are going to be in the BCS Championship game.

South Florida. In the BCS Championship. It wouldn't exactly be a Boise State-type Cinderella story, because USF is actually in a BCS conference. But to understand the youth of the program, consider that the rest of the BCS's top ten teams have been on record playing organized football games at least 100 years before USF football ever existed:

• No. 1 Ohio State – football program began in 1890
• No. 3 Boston College – football program began in 1893
• No. 4 LSU – football program began in 1893
• No. 5 Oklahoma – football program began in 1895
• No. 6 South Carolina – football program began in 1892
• No. 7 Kentucky – football program began in 1881

• No. 8 Arizona State – football program began in 1897
• No. 9 West Virginia – football program began in 1891
• No. 10 Oregon – football program began in 1894

3. SG Kobe Bryant — I haven't heard any trade demands out of Los Angeles. I was getting worried there for a while.

Ah, here we are. By the start of the season Bryant could be playing for the Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns, Miami Heat, or about a dozen other teams?

Well, no. Having a trade rumor verified means it no longer ceases to be a rumor. Bryant is building up his legacy in LA as such: every offseason he must endure unfounded reports that he wanted out of LA. True or not to his sentiments, Bryant will never accept a trade to another team, nor will the Lakers have it. With a mediocre team, this certainly is the best way to grab headlines away from LeBron and the Cavaliers, or Kevin Durant and the SuperSonics. Or, ya know, the San Antonio Spurs.

4. LF Manny Ramirez — I've heard some criticism on ManRam for the way he posed after his solo home run Tuesday night, bringing his team within four runs in a postseason game. Yes, it's typically bad to flaunt one's power hitting abilities when the deficit is still too large for a save situation.

But consider that Ramirez's home run was the third of three straight home runs by the Red Sox in that sixth inning, just the second trio ever to accomplish that feat in the postseason. Consider further that the other team who did that — the 1997 Yankees (Scott Brosious, Derek Jeter, Paul O'Neill — lost that series to the Indians in five games.

5. #"60" Carl Edwards — What's not to like about this clean-nosed, polite, many-toothed race car driver? His backflip off his car window after wins is quite entertaining. You could just get lost in this animated GIF.

But here's something not to like — he's a goddamn ringer in NASCAR's "minor league," the Busch Series. Edwards, currently fifth in the points chase, is also first in the Busch series by 638 points over David Reutimann.

There's nothing wrong with racing in Busch series to get a hint for how the track will handle for the next day's race. But to complete in every single race, lead the circuit in winnings, top 10 finishes, top 5 finishes, and be second in wins (to fellow Nextel Cup Chase qualifier Kevin Harvick), something's just not right.

Michigan doesn't play in the Rose Bowl one year, then try to make the FCS playoffs, do they? Actually, never mind. Maybe they should give that a go.

6. DE Paul Spicer — Now, I could be completely wrong about what Spicer said regarding his football teams' cheerleaders. But after he recorded six tackles, including one sack and a forced fumble in the Jacksonville Jaguars' 37-17 demolishing of the Houston Texans, Spicer talked to ESPN Radio and provided loosely what is this week's Batting Sixth Quote of the Week:

We got some hard lookin' cheerleaders.

Is he sure about that? Let me see here … yep. Total uggos if you ask me. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go find the valet and have him retrieve my Porsche. I have to take Petra Nemcova to her latest fashion show in Milan.

(Tangent on the Jags: Can we begin debate on whether or not Jacksonville can take down the Patriots this year? They wouldn't meet until the playoffs, but this is one hell of an impressive team.)

7. RB Adrian Peterson — They call him Purple Jesus over at Kissing Suzy Kolber. In Chicago, they call him that guy for the Minnesota Vikings who ran though their defense for 224 yards, three touchdowns, and 361 all-purpose yards in a 34-31 win.

Chicago's running back, also named Adrian Peterson, had just 53 all-purpose yards. The one in Minnesota was last seen muttering, "Why should I change my name? He's the one who sucks."

8. G Niklas Backstrom — If I didn't give hockey its due time, I'd be doing a disservice to America Canada and some of the northern states.

The only unbeaten team through six games this year in the NHL is the 5-0-1 Minnesota Wild, and you can thank their goaltender for that. With a 4-0-1 record, the Finn is only allowing 1.38 goals/game, which is exponentially snazzy when you consider that two of his seven goals allowed were even strength. He also has two shutouts.

(Personal note: the only sport my new girlfriend will follow is hockey, and this may dictate how much I learn about the sport. Or am forced to.)

9. RP Rafael Betancourt — Ya know, I might have to go with Tom Verducci on this one. If the Indians win the ALCS, Rafael Betancourt has every reason to be considered as the series MVP (third item). Just don't let him give a speech during the award presentation. Given how long he takes to pitch on the mound, the Fox telecast might give Betancourt the Frank Sinatra treatment.

Manager: Dusty Baker — Well, the Cincinnati Reds have their manager … and Cincinnati Reds fans are not happy about it.

I'm not seeing all the ruckus over the signing. Yes, his managerial record was progressively worse with every passing year as the Cubs manager, but it's not like he took a historically successful franchise and ran it into the ground. So granted, the name Dusty Baker doesn't immediately cast a resonating image of victory in one's mind, but would any manager out there really do that?

Joe Girardi, you say? Yeah, maybe they should've gone with him then.

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  • Clavos

    As a South Florida alumnus from the days of looong before football, I’m delighted to see how well Coach Leavitt (the only coach USF has ever had) has led his young team to a such a prominent place in the collegiate football world in such a short time.

    I write this after the Rutgers game, so the Cinderella element is gone for the time being, but I have no doubt we’ll see more of the Bulls in the years to come.

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    “We got some hard lookin’ cheerleaders.”

    Seriously, I took a look. And while several were clearly out of my league, there were a few who looked like they’d be willing to give a guy like me a chance in exchange for a meal (and maybe desert) at the local Waffle House.

    I’m just sayin’… :-/

  • alessandro

    -Comeuppance? Were you watching the ‘Magnificent Ambersons,’ Georgie?

    -One of those cheerleaders actually looked like a jaguar.

    -The Wild are still undefeated after tonight. Jacques Lemaire is one of the best – if not the best – coach in the NHL; on the planet; in the history of the world. This guy would have found a way to stop Napoleon, Alexander, Caesar AND Zidane.

  • alessandro

    As for your new found love squeeze, I didn’t know Jeanie Zelasko was a lady behind the hair and makeup.

    I’m just saying.

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    Oh, see, now I’m sterile.

  • alessandro

    Sterile: unable to produce fruit or young. Free of micro-organisms.

    The question is: what fruit? And does “free of micro-organisms” mean you’re organic?

    I only think when I’m here on Blogcritics.