Here’s Motivation

If this doesn’t get our boys’ blood boiling, nothing will. The initial Coaches Poll came out today and our beloved Fighting Irish were ranked tied for #29 with South Carolina. Ahead of ND are such football “powerhouses” as Hawaii, TCU, and Rutgers. Also ahead of ND are six ’07 opponents (from highest): USC, Michigan, UCLA, Penn St, Ga Tech and Boston College.

This is both good and bad. The good news is that the low ranking should serve to motivate the troops to some degree. Nothing like a little disrespect to put some bite back into the dog (see Holtz ’88). On the other hand, if we happen to be pretty good this year, it’s a loooooooong way to climb up to a Top 10 slot and possible BCS bowl scenarios.

Well, like all ND fans, I’m hoping that we surprise everyone and win it all!!! Back to reality though … I’m thinking that the tough early schedule (Ga Tech, at Michigan, at Penn St, at UCLA), combined with breaking in a new QB, will make going 9-3 a monumental achievement this year. 10-2 would be MIRACULOUS. Nope, 2008 will be the year that it all comes together for ND … when all this young talent has some maturity and seasoning and the schedule is more to our favor. 2007 will be fun … with speed bumps … the boys should be playing at a high level by season’s end. And I think the new Defensive Coordinator (Brown) will start making a big difference ON THE FIELD.

Only 4 weeks ’til the opener vs Ga Tech!!! Yikes!!!

Wally

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BASEBALL … IT’s “WHAT’S NOW”

I hate that feature “Who’s Now” that ESPN has been running. Just don’t like the constant focus on individuals and it’s definitely filler material. But I do know that baseball is definitely “what’s now”. It’s been a very exciting and interesting MLB season thus far.

Anyone chuckling at the fact that Bonds cannot seem to get 755? It’d be a huge stretch of the imagination, but wouldn’t it be delicious to see him go homerless for the rest of the season???

More importantly, two great baseball icons … Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken … entered the Hall of Fame last week. Cal was obviously best known for breaking Gehrig’s consecutive game streak, but I think some eyes popped open when Gwynn’s carreer was reviewed. What a fine … no … great hitter he was. Career BA of .338, something like 8 batting titles, 3141 hits, a few Gold Gloves. (For perspective … Wade Boggs & Rod Carew both hit .328; DiMaggio .325, Ted Williams .344, George Brett .305). Not great power for Gwynn, but a very healthy total of runs scored and RBIs. A terribly efficient offensive threat … he was very difficult to strike out and always put the ball in play. Anyway, our caps are off to the new HoFers, who were both really high character guys — among the best “professionals” ever.

Now to the pennant races. If it all ended today, the following clubs would be play-off bound:
AL: Boston, Detroit, Cleveland, LAA — (followed closely by Seattle, NYY, Minn).
NL: NYM, Cubs, Arizona, LAD — (followed very closely by Milwaukee, Atlanta, SanDiego, Philly, Colorado)

Nobody has clinched their division by any stretch of the imagination. Boston has the biggest lead at 7.5 games, but the Yankmees are certainly in the wildcard hunt. It’s not often we get into August with 16-17 teams still having reasonable playoff aspirations. It’s exciting and fan interest is way up. I read in SI the other day that the average overall attendance for all major league games on a weekend date last week was well over 39,500 per game … an all-time record!! Here’s my prediction for the regular season finish:
AL — Boston, Detroit, LAA, NYY (wc).
NL — NYM, Cubs, SanDiego, Atlanta (wc)

Problem is … the Yankmees are coming. Great line-up and the pitching is starting to come around. I don’t think the Brewers or Mariners are quite ready … they’re feeling the heat. Padres pitching depth spells defeat for the Dodgers. Atlanta’s penchant for making a play-off run noses out the AZ Baby-backs for the WC spot. Red Sox & Angels are my picks to play for the AL pennant. I have no gut feeling about the NL — it’s too wide open … nobody is dominant. If Kerry Wood is really back and healthy, this could push the Cubbies at least into the NL finals … maybe even the WS. (Nah … forget that … there’s either a Bartman incident or curse lurking).

Anyway, I’m really enjoying this baseball season … hope you are too. Send your thoughts.

Wally