The Colorado Rockies have no choice but to get out of the box quick as the second half of the season begins on Friday. It's a 10-game home stand with not very good teams. (Cubs, Marlins and Brewers) In that week and a half the Rox also have to nail down the pitching rotation. Or do they? We know one through four. Yes, I'm including Juan Nicasio because he doesn't want to go back to the minors again. It's the 5 guy that could take the Rockies to the playoffs, but it's got to be figured out soon. You can skip the 5th starter on days off but you also have to line up the rotation just right, otherwise your rolling out one of your guys on a day less of rest.
So here goes - when it comes time for the fifth spot, Walt Weiss and staff should pick the hottest starter from the minors. The Rockies have shown they don't mind being different, what with the four man rotation last year and limiting pitch counts to 75, so this idea isn't that far fetched. The frequent flyer miles are going to add up depending on where the big club is and where the Sky Sox and Drillers are playing, but what do you have to lose. Drew Pomeranz isn't ready and I'm not sure he ever will be. But look who's down on the farms now. Jeff Francis, Aaron Cook, Christian Friedrich (remember him) and a guy who almost threw a perfect game for Detroit had it not been for one blown call. The Rockies traded a minor league prospect to the Reds for Armando Galarraga. He couldn't crack Cincinnati's starting rotation out of spring training, so a change of scenery and new pitching thoughts might do the 31-year old some good. If it does, I say put him in the fifth spot for a start. Heck, if Jonathan Gray (the Rockies 3rd pick overall this year from the University of Oklahoma) gets hot, charter a plane to Grand Junction and let him fire some fastballs in the majors. It gets a little far-fetched the deeper we go, but the Rockies don't follow the mold. And maybe the spot starters will get a few more wins than the number 5 guy(s) have in the first half of this season.
No Politics in Sports
Apparently we haven't learned anything from the 1980 Summer Olympics disaster. On Tuesday, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham suggested the U.S. Olympic Team boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia because of a guy who leaked classified information about the government spying on us who wants asylum there. We did that in 1980 because of Russia's invasion of Afghanistan, and it produced shattered dreams for athletes and no results in the political dust-up that prompted the whole thing. Can we please stop using athletes to make a point in politics? The Olympics are about athletes from around the world coming together to compete at the highest level with sportsmanship as the main goal. Yes, gold medals are nice, but only a few win and many more are just happy to compete for their respective countries. The original Olympics were so big that the sporting event would actually interrupt conflicts in the world such as it was at that time, so athletes could compete.
Bold Move ESPN
You boys in Bristol know that a zebra doesn't change his stripes, right? It appears that one time SportsCenter star and Edward R. Murrow wannabe Keith Olbermann is returning to the 4-letter network. The New York Times says he will have a nightly one-hour show on ESPN2 sometime in the near future. The catch is, he can't talk politics. Good luck with that. Look, I'm a fan of the sports guy that Keith Olbermann once was. Olbermann and Dan Patrick teamed up as arguably the best SportsCenter duo for a few years. In the mid 90s, I was a regular reader of Olbermann's witty columns on-line and tried not to miss KO's and DP's nightly jabs and jokes while recapping the day in sports. I even watched Olbermann play a Murrow-like character while talking sports on Fox Sports after leaving ESPN in 1997. I was excited to see Keith and Dan together again on NBC's Sunday Night Football Studio Show. But the fact is that Olbermann does not play well with others. He quit or was asked to leave ESPN in 1997, because he couldn't get along with Fox Sports execs, NBC dumped him from post season baseball and on and on and on. Enjoy Olbermann's run while you can. I know I will. In the meantime I'll put the over/under for KO at 18 months.
You Talkin About Me
By Cory Lopez
Saturday, June 8, 2013
You Talkin About Me
I love the way the 'Todd-Father' stepped it up after the Denver Post's Mark Kiszla called him out last Friday. Kiz didn't say Todd Helton should retire, just ride the pine and let the younger guys who legitimately are playing better get more ABs. I don't know if Helton read the column but that night he hit a two-run home run against the Dodgers that gave the Colorado Rockies a chance to win. Rafael Betancourt blew it in the 10th but that blog is for another day. Since the call to sit down Helton has gone 7 for 20 with 3 home runs and 5 RBIs after Wednesday's win in Cincinnati. That's more in line with his career .319 average. And he has a nice little 7 game hitting streak, too. Helton's a slow starter anyway so blame the early numbers on that and age. But as well respected as the 39-year old is in this market I'm sure we could find enough columnist, bloggers and others to call you out to get you through the season closer to your career number than the Mendoza line.
Local Boy Wins Tickets
I still don't know what's going on in Boulder. Neither does Mike Bohn but he can go to Buffs games for free anytime he'd like. Season tickets were a part of the $900-thousand buyout for the University of Colorado to move on. Mike was always good about coming on the morning show in good times and bad. I respect that. And I like that he got tickets out of the deal because he is from Boulder and I expect to see he and his family at a few CU events in the future. By the way, Coach MacIntyre, welcome to the corporate world. CU's next CEO / AD will be in soon and you'll need to learn the rules quickly while acclimating to your new ball club.
Hot at the End is Best
The Colorado High School Baseball Championship Series wrapped up a couple of weekends ago and I must say changing to the double elimination format has certain worked. Not all classifications do it yet but I hope that changes because it makes for a couple of extremely exciting weekends in May. In Class 3A Holy Family beat decades long powerhouse Eaton not once but twice in two days for their title. Class 4A's Mountain View had to beat the class' top seed twice too. And ThunderRidge went 5-0 in the 5A Baseball Championship Series. Including wins over regular season number one Grandview, the defending state champs in Cherry Creek and beat Rocky Mountain who are a year removed from their 4 straight titles. Not bad for two weekends work. I co-hosted along with Brian Roth a spring wrap-up show highlighting all the prep champs that is airing on Comcast Channel 105 and various times this month.
Click in next week for more thoughts from the Preps to the Pros
What'd We Miss
By Corey Lopez
Thursday, May 23, 2013
What'd We Miss
It's as if the world of sports has flown by while I with very little sleep was surprised, disappointed and amused by events with local teams that I don't pretend to understand. Since the birth of my latest child I've had plenty to say to some who would listen but most of the time I was just talking to my kids while trying to stay awake. I've spent my early morning hours reporting on the latest Rockies win, Nuggets loss and who the newest Broncos are and spent countless late nights watching the replays of Rox, Nugs and analysis from writing to talking heads on the winners and losers in the NFL Draft.
So here it goes... Yes I'm surprised by the Rockies start with no legitimate ace on the staff. (See Cory's Blog from February 23rd) I still don't trust Jorge De La Rosa's health. Get me to July without a blister, hangnail or whatever that knocks him out for a handful of starts. The offense is still running too hot and cold but I see things coming together for Walt Weiss's club. We're almost two months in to the season and Rox are in the conversation. Problem is so are the defending World Champs San Francisco and Arizona. There is no time to falter. In this years chase for the NL West you get one bad stretch. Colorado had theirs from May 5-16 where they dropped 8 out of 11. In a three horse race and the Padres just a handful of games back and the Dodgers still scary but disorganized your Colorado Rockies don't have any wiggle room now. Check with me in late June and we'll talk. I'm hosting The Rockies Dugout Show on June 28th.
Nuggets... Did you notice the NBA's Western Conference Finals are going and the Nugs aren't. I was wrong. I called a shot and am willing to admit I missed on the thought they'd find that extra gear when the playoffs hit. George Karl's club also missed Danilo Gallinari a lot. But the sportswriters got it right with coach of the year. I can't believe Coach Karl had never won Coach of the Year before. Shocking!
The Broncos Draft... Okay. That's not a grade I'm just saying o.k. Far be it for me to evaluate this year's class but I liked it. The experts graded between a C+ and a B. Fine, I don't think we picked up any starters this year but we do have a nice rotation for the D line and RBs. I'm actually excited by our 7th rounder Zach Dysert. Can you image two years of competition with Brock Osweiler battling for scout team snaps and watching Peyton Manning handle his business before actually being thrown into the fire. Ahh the best laid plans.
High School World Series
This weekend the Colorado High School Baseball Championship Series' will wrap with 4 news champions. In Class 5A the defending state champs Cherry Creek are still in as are Rocky Mountain who's a year removed from rolling four straight titles and Grandview who was hot early in the series. But all three are down a game and looking up at ThunderRidge. The Grizzlies are the only undefeated team left in the double-elimination tourney at All-City Field. That means a win Friday and another Saturday and T-Ridge will score their first state baseball title. That means beat Creek Friday at 2:30pm and then beat the winner of Rocky and Grandview. (Noon first pitch) I'll be calling the all the 5A games and the 4A title game on CHSAA.TV and expect both classes go to Game 15's in the bracket. That means everybody has a loss before the trophy is handed out.
I've missed putting my thoughts out here to someone other my kids and will have more next week from Pros to Preps.
By Cory Lopez
Saturday, April 6, 2013
The events this week couldn't be farther apart on the coaching spectrum. One man is well respected, vested in the community and well liked by his players and even his opponents. (see Facebook and Twitter for comments from loyal CC Tiger fans) The other is still liked by some of his players even though he felt compelled to fire a basketball at them from time to time in practices over his three year tenure at Rutgers. I'll address the latter, first. In my life I have never felt the need to fire a projectile at someone to make a point. As a player I'd be thinking more about why the hell the coach hit me as opposed to what he or she was trying to teach me. As a coach I'm pretty sure the message would be lost by the dramatic gesture, too. I don't know if the former Rutgers Head Coach Mike Rice is truly sorry for his actions on display for the whole world on YouTube but I can tell you this. There is one dramatic coaching lesson that still lingers in my mind from nearly 20 years ago. I still question the way I handled the situation. I was a volunteer assistant at Lamar Community College. The school had just added volleyball back into the athletic program after a couple years on hiatus. The brand new head coach and a sophomore student, who would become the team captain literally went knocking on dorm room doors to find volleyball players for the new team. Needless to say we got shelled in the first year of LCC's return to Junior College Volleyball. Maybe the frustration of losing a lot played a role but we all wanted to compete and by time my opportunity to pass along this certain nugget of wisdom arrived I was probably at my wits end. In practice we were in a game situation drill focusing on defending against the upcoming opponent's taller middle-hitter. The starters were on one side of the net and my bench players were on the other side playing as the 'scout team.' We didn't have a backup tall middle-hitter who could be on the scout team so I was the middle hitter. I played against my starters in practice all the time. The drill was to get one blocker, preferably two on the middle-hitter every time she attacked. To make a long story short, basically my starters were not doing it. The opportunity to highlight why we were focusing on this particular skill presented itself just a few minutes into the drill. My backup setter put the ball in a perfect attack position. None of my front row starters jumped to block my shot. None! I was stunned and proceeded to spike the ball as hard as I could so that it whizzed between two of the back row players. As the ball ricocheted of the ground between them I yelled, "You guys are going to get your back-row killed if you don't (bleeping) block this girl!" You could have heard a pin drop after that. The starters focus narrowed to the task at hand after that but even to this day I think that might have been a little too much. In the grand scheme of things I don't remember if we won the next match or defended the other teams middle-hitter well but the point was protect your teammates. By the end of each season there wasn't anything that one of my players wouldn't do for another teammate. Many are still friends with each other to this day and I'm proud to have been a part of each person's growth in life. That's what a coach is. A teacher, a friend and hopefully a role model. My former players can judge where I fall on the coaching spectrum. So to complete the arc here I'm curious as to what is going on at DU. Outside of a statement of thanks and a backhanded complement the University of Denver is mum on firing their hockey Head Coach George Gwozdeckey. 19 years, a couple of National Championships and this is how it ends. Coach Gwozdeckey has been a teacher and role model for so many I think he deserved better. Good luck to the guy who get the job next. I wouldn't wish that position on anyone.
Opening Day Positivity
I'm trying to stay realistic about the Colorado Rockies possibilities this season. After Friday's home opener the Rox look like a team that has everything going for them. I've told myself a handful of times already there are 158 games to go and it's a marathon not a sprint but the first hundred yards look pretty good. I'm excited to see what kind of team Manager Walt Weiss has in mind and how it actually unfolds. I'm not shooting the moon and saying the Rockies are playoff bound but they should be fun to watch into August. When I was a kid I used to rank the Major League Baseball Teams in a 'Top 25' style. Yes I'm a stats geek from way back. Considering only 10 teams make the playoffs I'll just give my picks for the division winners and four wildcard teams:
AL East - Baltimore, Central - Detroit and West - Oakland (I read and saw "Moneyball" so the A's are due for a division title soon) AL Wildcards - Texas and New York (There's no way the Yankees don't get Mariano Rivara to the postseason one more time)
NL East - Washington, Central - St. Louis and West - Los Angeles (This is "Moneyball in a New York Yankees kind of way) NL Wildcards - San Francisco and Milwaukee
2013 World Series Texas Rangers vs LA Dodgers Dodgers take the series in 6. (Yes money really can buy championships)
On the preps side of things I saw a really nice complete game 3-hitter thrown by Doherty High School's Will Reynolds. And Dusty Kachel went 4 for 4 with 2 runs and 3 RBIs as the Spartans beat Highlands Ranch. Broadcast premier is Monday night at 8.p.m. on Comcast. Click here next week for more on everything from the pros to the preps.
It's all just Fantasy
By Cory Lopez
Friday, March 22, 2013
It's all just Fantasy
My bracket isn't so broke that it can't be fixed but my 'Elite 8' did get busted right in the chops with another one of those #12 beats #5 seed upsets. Thanks Ole Miss. I was really banking on a tougher Big 10 this year so half of my 8 are Big 10 teams. And what do you know half of my Final Four are Big 10 teams, too. The only think that keeps me in this thing is that no one saw the upsets. Before Friday was over two #12's, a #13, a #14 and a #15 all won. We'll I must admit I did pick one of the #12's in Oregon. Best PAC-12 team and the committee puts them at a #12, really? Every year I say I'm probably not going to get in because I really don't watch a lot of college hoops outside of the regional schools. Not because I don't like college basketball but because I'm watching a few prep games a week. And it's difficult to keep up with the top teams without a scorecard. Most of the freshman and sophomore leave for the money so it's a bit of a turnstile. But I have to admit I've checked my bracket at least a dozen times already.
Luck is believing
Call it karma or having a team that is too young to know any better but don't call the Nuggets franchise run of 14 straight wins (16 straight at home) a fluke. George Karl said Friday morning on Colorado's Morning News, "Sometime these things happen." He was talking about the win over Philadelphia the night before. But it really seems to be Coach Karl's attitude about the Nugget's run of 14. He's been around this game for too long to embrace a winning streak as a sign that this is a championship caliber team and as a veteran coach he doesn't get too low to declare a season over before the finish line. So, coach I'll make the proclamation: The Denver Nuggets will be in the Western Conference Championship. I'm just taking what I see with my own eyes and reading between the pauses in Karl's voice. He says the Nugs are a confident team. I'll buy that and if you get on a streak like they have and nobody really pays attention to you like national sports networks or blogs then you get a bit of a chip on your shoulder. That's a good thing boys. Go ahead and play like that while locking down defensively. This young team feeds off the home crowd. Coach says it takes 2 to 3 years before players settle in at any venue. Karl thinks Pepsi Center is one of the top 5 buildings for home court advantage in the NBA. And let's not forget the front office said your not going to compete this year. (See March 16th Blog) It's hard to believe this team three weeks ago was looking up at the NBA playoffs and hoping for a 5 seed but really needing a 4 seed so they get to play in the home gym one extra time against a team they struggle against in the Memphis Grizzlies. Fast forward to 14 straight wins and Denver is only looking up at Oklahoma City and San Antonio. I believe!
Click back next week and I'll answers some of your questions and I return to call some games for CET Sports and get to see some of the top baseball players in Colorado with the spring seasons underway.
Throwing Smart-Money at the Problem
Saturday, March 16, 2013
Throwing Smart-Money at the Problem
It's a good problem to have. Your team hasn't won a world championship in a while. We are accustomed to a certain standard here in the Rocky Mountain Region. It's not exactly 'go big or go home', but it is compete for a title in professional sports or fall off the radar, unless you're the Broncos. The collective big four pro teams in Denver are not that far removed from title games. The Rockies made it to the World Series in 2007, the Avalanche won the Stanley Cup in 2001 and the Broncos last took home the Lombardi Trophy in 1999. Even the Nuggets had a shot at a world championship making it to the Western Conference Finals in 2009. The Broncos appear to be on the cusp of a run with the latest signings through free agency. Broncos VP of Football Operations John Elway has surgically improved Denver on both sides of the ball without breaking the bank. Take note Monforts and Kroenkes, it can be done. I know, I know Dick and Charlie Monfort got burned with the big splash/little results signing of Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle, but sirs, you have to jump back into the pool.
Sometimes Not Speaking Is Best
The Rockies have a case of foot in mouth disease when it comes to the altitude. Changing the rotation, limiting pitchers to 75 pitches and talking at length about how hard it is for hitters to adjust to the big curve ball when the Rox hit the road is not good. It just shows potential big names that you don't think you can really win it all in Denver. The Rockies aren't the only club infected here. The Denver Nuggets GM Masai Ujir said last month at the NBA trade deadline that the Nugs are standing pat. No need to bring in a veteran player that could mess with the 3rd youngest team in the league's growth. Understandable. That stings a little bit, but then he went on to say your Denver Nuggets, "Are not a contending team." Maybe the players don't listen to the radio or read anything on the internet, but is it possible they didn't get that quote blasted out on Twitter? No, I didn't think so. I didn't hear an end-date for this young team's growth either. DON'T TELL A TEAM YOU CAN'T COMPETE! As I write this, the Nugs are in the midst of a 10 game winning streak and host the Memphis Grizzlies Friday night. This is the team they are battling for a potential 4th seed in the Western Conference Playoffs and home-court advantage.
10 State Champions in Colorado will be crowned on Saturday at locals up and down the front range. I still think Denver East with Senior Tyree Robinson and Juniors Dominique Collier and Ronnie Harrell are going to run the table and stay undefeated against in-state teams this season in Class 5A. And as I suspected, despite the great runs by Grandview and Arapahoe from the Centenial Conference the Continental League is still best in girls 5A. With Regis and Highlands Ranch set to face off in the 5A title game at the CU Events Center Saturday afternoon, it's a guarantee that a Continental Conference school will win the big girls' championship for the 14th time in 16 years.
Again this weekend, I'm calling the 4A and 5A Final Four basketball games from Boulder for CHSAA.TV. It's worth the visit the CU Campus to see some of the top basketball players in the state before they head off to their respective colleges and university teams. Click back next week for more thoughts on all things sports, from the Pros to Preps.
Guarantee Spurs New Role
By Cory Lopez
Friday, March 8, 2013
Guarantee Spurs New Role
At first glance it may appear that Broncos LB Vonn Miller stepped in 'it' by guaranteeing a Super Bowl win this upcoming season, but take a closer look. The Broncos number one draft pick two years ago isn't some rookie with big bravado and no actions to back it up. Vonn was so confident in his abilities that he was putting together new dances for each time he dropped an opposing quarterback last season - a total of 18 1/2 times in case you've forgotten. That's so many dance steps and different gyrations that maybe we should work on getting Vonn on the next season of "Dancing with the Stars." Or instead watch the soon to be 3rd year pro take the reins of the defense. Miller made the guarantee to his two cousins who were in a car accident in Texas recently. He stands behind what he said. The difference between Vonn's guarantee and other famous (or infamous) guarantees is that it wasn't an adrenaline soaked pre-game rant. No #58 made his promise over 330 days away from the next Super Bowl. We are watching this young talented pass rusher turn into the Broncos defensive leader. After all, Champ Bailey won't be around forever and according to many sports writers and broadcasters, the club asked Elvis Dumervil to take a pay cut. Vonn Miller is the guy! Keep in mind that a guarantee to sick or injured kids is not something to mess with. So from the first organized team activity through February of 2014, you can bet that Vonn will demand nothing but hard work from himself to fulfill his promise. He will demand that of his teammates, too. I think he could take a page out of the offensive team leader's book, speak up and together write a story with a very happy ending. Check back with me 340 days from now to see if I'm right.
Prep Playoffs down to the 4's and 8's
As I write this blog, the 5A Boys State Basketball Tournament is working on whittling down the 'Great 8' teams to the Final Four who will compete in Boulder next Friday, completely unlike the 5A Girls bracket that went basically true to form. The 5A boys could have one party crasher in Legend. Coach Kevin Boley's boys upset the top seed Chatfield in their bracket on Wednesday. The Titans are a #5 seed. The lowest remaining seed is Arapahoe at #6. The Warriors were beaten in the finals last year by Chaparral. The remaining top seeds, Regis, Mountain Vista and Denver East also made it to the Denver Coliseum for the 'Great 8.' The number one seeds from the 5A Girls bracket, Regis, Grandview, Highlands Ranch and Arapahoe all advanced to their Final Four on Thursday at the CU Events Center. Saturday is the 4A's turn to play in the historic Coliseum. Three schools, Broomfield, D'Evelyn and Sand Creek have both boys and girls playing in their respective quarter-finals. Check it out if you have some time this weekend or you can watch and listen on CHSAA.TV. I'll have the call through Saturday night.
Click back next week for my thoughts and answers to some of your comments and questions on everything from the pros to the preps.
Is it worth the Scoop
Monday, March 4, 2013
Is it worth the Scoop
There have been a couple of recent dust-ups involving who knew what and when. You won't hear about these squabbles on Entertainment Tonight or Inside Edition, but they involve famous people who have legitimate beefs. They are sportswriters whose job depends on getting the story first for their respective sports or news outlets. Be the guy who consistently breaks the story and you are set. It means you are always on call and you usually have two or more smart phones to work from. Thanks to the explosion of social media, sometimes it's tough to tell you got the story first if you come to the game late. What I mean is, by the time the latest big story hits and it's time to write or broadcast the story and I'm doing my fact checking through Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. The water is pretty muddy because several other websites and may have stepped in it by writing a quick story of its own that can be linked from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ (I know I'm leaving some out but social media is expanding as you read this). The bottom line is that as the story has essentially traveled through the grapevine it hard to tell who broke it. The basic facts are there, but at the end of the line no one cares who broke it. This came to my attention after watching a recent edition of the 'Dan Patrick Show' on ROOT Sports. I know it's on NBC Sports Channel too, but I try to watch the local stations. Anyway, Dan had Peter King from Sports Illustrated on the show, and he complained that he had broken the story about Tom Brady's contract extension signed with the Patriots. This came on the heels of a recent podcast I listened to (Adam Carolla) where the ACE man had Fox Sports Jay Glazer on. He also said that this kind of thing happens all the time. Glazer is never one without words and blamed a certain four-letter network for going with the info but crediting ''sources close to the organization'' or varying degrees of knowledge associated with the player or club but always those ''sources.'' I remember on more than one occasions talking with our former Broncos Insider Adam Schefter about how he was the first to know, but at the end of the day everyone knew and who broke the story was lost. I suggest we take the time to find out who broke the big story and give 'em a little credit. After all the next big story for Denver sports can't be too far off. It's been far too quiet these last few weeks, don't you think.
Preps reporting isn't all that
This week nearly a dozen prep writers and broadcasters got together to pick a boys and a girls all-star basketball team. It's called The Show and it's put on by the Denver Nuggets and The Gold Crown Foundation. Being in the room I can tell you there was healthy discussion about who should be on the teams with a very high regard for each person's opinion. I hope the respect continues as more people get involved in covering high school sports we don't get so big that we have problems in the media with jealousy and a get the story at all costs mentality. If that means 'the big time,' then I'd rather stay in the the room with those guys picking this years players. The big announcement for who made the rosters for ''The Show'' will be on Monday, March 11th at The Pepsi Center.
Click in next week and see how I did, and send me your thoughts. I promise to answer them quickly. Next week it's 'Great 8' time for me on CHSAA.TV for the 4A and 5A tourney.
Mean it when you say it
By Cory Lopez
Saturday, February 23, 2013
Mean it when you say it
It wasn't eloquent, but the 17-year veteran of the Colorado Rockies really isn't much for public speaking. He has let his bat and first baseman's glove do the talking and that was good enough. What Todd Helton did on the first weekend the Colorado Rockies Baseball Club assembled was nothing short of inspiring. It stems from admittedly a big mistake. Helton was arrested for driving under the influence and will be charged accordingly through the legal system. But Helton's honest and I must add unscripted apology is everything we should expect from someone who screws up. Unfortunately in this day and age of agents, PR people and lawyers an honest 'I'm sorry,' sounds more like a speech meant for corporate sponsors talking over the fans. See Tiger Woods heartfelt whatever it was after the blowup with his former wife on Thanksgiving 2009. Or Lance Armstrong's emotional made for Oprah event this year.
I want to get excited
Each spring over the last 20 years I would get excited. Hope springs eternal and spring means baseball and if we can just find a few more wins from the 3rd and 4th guys in the rotation the Rockies could be right there. I'm not excited this year. Face it the Rockies lost almost 100 games last year and I stopped watching and listening. I'll always believe that Jim Tracy did the honorable thing. He fell on the sword and left $1.4 Million on the table. The problem going into this season is I don't know what the club is doing. The Rockies are the only major league club that has a member of the front office, Bill Geivett in the clubhouse. The only thing I have to relate to that would be like my high school assistant-principal hanging out in the locker room before and after basketball practice. It's just weird. Now I think Walt Weiss is going to be a good manager but it's his first major league job. It will take some time. So I've reevaluated my wishes going into Springs Training with the hope that the 1st and 2nd guys in the Rockies rotation (Jorge De La Rosa and Jhoulys Chacin) can get a few more wins so we don't set a record like we did last year.
The Colorado High School Activities Association playoff committees will meet this weekend to finalize the post season brackets for 5 classes in high school basketball. There isn't enough time for me to see all the classes but I'll give you heads up on who the top seeds will be in 4A and 5A when the brackets are released on Sunday afternoon. Remember in prep sports travel and expenses play as big a roll in seeding as a teams record. In Class 4A Girls there is a nice spread of teams from the front range. Top 4 seeds: Broomfield, Pueblo South, Mesa Ridge (Colo Springs) and D'Evelyn. Mike Croel's Broomfield Eagles are from the Northern Conference so everybody's happy. In 4A Boys the top 4 seeds: D'Evelyn, Sand Creek (Colo Springs), Wasson (Colo Springs) and Pueblo East. The sentimental favorite has to be Wasson because the school will be shuttered at the end of the school year. 5A Girls top 4 seeds: Highlands Ranch, Regis, ThunderRidge and Chaparral. No offense to Grandview, Arapahoe, Palmer and Denver East but seriously, the Continental League has won 13 of the last 15 state championships. And finally the 5A Boys with the Denver East Angels still sitting atop the perch, as they have all season long. Here's the other 3 seeds: Mountain Vista, Chatfield and Fairview. Postseason play begins at home sites on Tuesday, February 26th in each 48 team bracket.
Click here next week and I'll have my picks for who makes it to the round of 16 and everything else from Pros to Preps.
By Cory Lopez
Friday, January 18, 2013
Elvis or the Beatles
With MJ's 50th Birthday on Sunday. Wait, sorry about that. In radio we say take two. NBA Hall-of-Fame guard Michael Jordan celebrates his 50th birthday this weekend. I feel like I know him. We all know ''His Airness." Arguably the greatest player in NBA history. Since his first retirement (1998) everyone has been trying to find the next Jordan. There isn't one. Just like there isn't another Big O, Bird or Magic. There is a Kobe, LeBron and Durant. Enjoy that now, 20-somethings, and then you can talk about the good ol' days and argue who was best like my friends and I did over Bird and Magic.
Idol Worship 2.0
Growing up, I wanted to be like many different players. Actually I wanted to wear their numbers thinking that by having their number I could channel them. I don't know if it worked but when I wore #12, I was Roger Staubach, #32 Magic Johnson and #23 Michael Jordan. I didn't know about the indiscretions of the great players. Mainly because there were only three TV networks and no internet. Now there are at least three 24-hour a day sports networks, Twitter and just about anybody can publish a blog these days. The "media" must have something to write about, something to break and the next big story that intrudes on a sports stars private human mistake could make a career. I've worked with the ''media'' types that chased it. Never mind that the reporter wasn't perfect, but they really didn't seem to care if it hurt the person they were tearing down. It was about the story. I could go on and on about the ethics of some sports reporting, and I will in the coming weeks here. But let's focus on today's athlete. The guy who grew up in the age of O.J., and I don't mean the great running back for the Bills. The young talented kid who watched steroid-charged sluggers electrify the MLB in 1998. Later learning they cheated. It appears a few haven't learned their lesson or have found new ways for the "media" to get them. The best new way is Twitter. It's amazing how much trouble 140 characters can get you in.
Maybe Next Generation
The really cool thing is I think this latest generation in high school gets it. Smart and talented players who seem much more grown up than the kids I played with in the 80's, and covered in the early 90's. I see it at every prep game I call, and most are very savvy when it comes to the media. High school sports is starting to get covered like college and pro sports, as evidenced by ESPN U's 11 1/2 of coverage for National Letter of Intent Day. Some of our top high school athletes held press conferences to announce their decisions. Not everyone likes the signing day hoopla with live coverage of a talented high school athlete making his decision by announcing his college choice by picking one of the hats in front of him. University of Colorado Head Football Coach Mike MacIntyre says he's not a big fan of all the coverage. He thinks it basically makes the athlete feel entitled, and that same athlete gets a rude awakening when he walks into spring practice as a lowly freshman. I'm betting this generation is ready for the ''media'' coverage. The best example I have is Regis Jesuit High School Senior Missy Franklin. The darling of the London Olympics, 4-time Gold Medalist and 8-time Colorado High School State Swimming medalist. She's grounded thanks to her mom and dad and her deep faith. Sounds simple, but Missy was ready for the attention. Always humble, the girl who was just 17-years old at the time of the Olympics, didn't act overwhelmed. In fact she took to Twitter like a fish in water and has handled each media appearance nearly flawlessly, and I think its because this age of saturation with 24/7 news and sports is all she knows. It's all every 15 to 18-year old high school athlete has ever known.
Check in next week for more thoughts from Pros to Preps. And I'll answer your comments soon.
January 29, 2013/Photo: Getty Images
It was pointed out recently that Joe Flacco hasn't thrown an interception since he was in Denver on December 16. Flacco, says he's an elite QB has been on top his game since throwing the ball to Broncos cornerback Chris Harris just before the half in Baltimore. Since then he has thrown 12 Touchdowns (8 TD's in the playoffs) and has 4 wins out of 5 to get to Super Bowl 47. The hottest team going into the big game is usually the one that wins. I know Colin Kaepernick is pretty hot as well. But throw an interception off the bat like he did against Green Bay in the Divisional round and this game is over. Superbowl XLVII - make mine Baltimore over San Francisco 24-21.
A Mystical Finish
I believe Ray Lewis is finding out that Karma does indeed come around and get you. The 17 year veteran has had to field questions about a murder he was allegedly involved with in Atlanta in his first Super Bowl in 2000. He's also had to answer questions about Deer Antler Spray. There's only a handful of guys I can remember retiring on top with a Super Bowl ring. John Elway, Pittsburgh's Jerome Bettis and Jay Novacek of the Cowboys. I throw Novacek in just because he's a former Wyoming Cowboy and he played his high school ball in Nebraska. Plus I got to know his brother, 'Bump,' his real name is Jason when he coached at Class 1A Wiley in the late 90's. Nice family and it's nice when a good guy goes out on top. Ray Lewis is not one of those guys. Win or lose I think #52 ends up a loser. The NFL doesn't test for performance-enhancing drugs, yet. The NFL Players Association and the league haven't been able to dot the i's and cross the t's in two years since a deal for blood testing was verbally agreed to. Either way Ray Lewis is in the clear because he's retiring after the big game. In the end I think Ray Ray just fades away.
On the Dotted Line
With all the football talk let's preview National Letter-of-Intent day for CU and CSU. Recruits can officially sign on the dotted line for their college commitments February 6th. The Buffs only have two commitments right now from in state players. (Denver South RB Phillip Lindsay coming of a knee injury and Columbine OL John Lisella) No four or five star guys. Get ready for another tough season at CU. It's not for lack of effort but Mike MacIntyre just got his staff together in December. In this day and age high school athletes, particularly the really good one's already have their recruiting visits and choices narrowed down by the time they head into their junior seasons. See Valor Christian junior Christian McCaffrey. The Eagle running back has helped lead Valor to three consecutive state championships. McCaffrey took a visit to Tuscaloosa, Alabama last weekend. Same place his former QB Luke Del Rio is going. No word on whether he talked to Crimson Tide Head Coach Nick Saban but it was an official recruiting visit. Colorado's Gatorade Player-of-the-Year is mulling through at least a dozen offers according to Rivals.com. Both CU and CSU have offered, too. The Rams' Jim McElwine has 6 state commits. Mostly trench guys. (Bear Creek OL Jake bennett, Gateway OL Zack Golditch, Douglas County OL Blake Nowland, Grand Junction DE Austin Berk, Mullen DE Tim Coleman and Roaring Fork TE Trae Moxley)
Click in next week more my thoughts on everything from Pros to Preps. You can follow me too on twitter. I have a busy week and get to see some great preps action. Tuesday night I get the pleasure of call a match-up of two legendary high school basketball coaches and their teams. Ken Shaw's 5) Regis Raiders travel to Bob Caton's Highlands Ranch Falcons. Wednesday night I get to see the fabulous freshman and sophomores from Overland as they host Cherokee Trail.
Tour de Bacle
Before Lance Armstrong's cold, calculated and really brutally honest answers were given I had already made up my mind. The responses to Oprah Winfrey were about what I expected from a vicious competitor. He won at all costs. It's the ''everybody else is doing it'' excuse and I was okay with that. After all I watched a few Tour de France races just to see if he could do it. Just like I watched the bashing and chest thumping of the 1998 Major League Baseball season when Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa chased an old seemingly unreachable record. Turns out we needed to put asterisks next to the numbers that replaced 61*. But then one night recently I heard a simple statement that made me really look at my own values. The unnamed host, because I really can't remember his name, said, ''He (Armstrong) knew it was cheating and he did it anyway.'' I'm a dad now. I wasn't when all the winning was going on. What do I tell my kids about the best I ever saw, but... What really hit me was what do I want my kids to do if presented with the cheating can get you ahead right now decision. DON'T! Not because eventually you get caught. That's a cop-out. Don't because you respect yourself and you respect the game.
Jaguars... oh sorry Ravens
The kneel down, deeper than the deepest and 3rd & 7.. There are many points that turned momentum during the game that I can focus on. Baltimore Is a very good team. Maybe the magic I wrote of last time is on the Raven's side. Ray Lewis is retiring and haven't we seen this before. The bus, Jerome Bettis with a hometown Super Bowl win. "This one's for John." And maybe A Raven's last flight. Unfortunately this is the last time we will see this Broncos team together. Change is inevitable but my what a good team John Elway and John Fox put together. The early low expectations turned to sky-high dreams thanks to an 11-game win streak. Thanks to the early exit we now get to see Mike McCoy twice a year with a pretty good quarterback he can mold another innovative offense for. Yikes!
Don't bet against the Continental Girls
I thought it was so wide open this year in 5A Girls hoops. Look I'm just crunching the numbers and it's not the wins and losses this year it's the wins over the last 15 years in the final game. 16 Continental teams have made the finals in a decade and a half. 13 of those teams have won it all. (Highlands Ranch 7, ThunderRidge 3, Chatfield 2 and Regis 1) What I'm saying is 1) Regis who beat 4) Grandview 59-53 last week and 3) Highlands Ranch who lost way back in December to 7) Palmer should end up in the finals. 6) Chaparral will host Ranch Friday night and a win puts the Wolverines in the conversation. 5) Rock Canyon must play Ranch and Regis so I'll hold judgement til then.
Too Early to Tell
There are two teams in the Centennial that could be the X factors in the whole thing. 2) Arapahoe is good and Grandview is right there. The Warriors and 'Wolves don't have history on their sides. A Centennial League team hasn't brought home a girls basketball title since 1994. (Boulder) In fact Cherry Creek is the only team from the Centennial to make the finals in 15 years. But recent history has been very good for Jerry Knafelc's balanced Arapahoe club. They already beat Cherry Creek once. Arapahoe has also beat the 4A's best in Broomfield. Grandview and Arapahoe play the first of two league games next Friday.
When Stars Line Up
It's that special feeling. The things that we think are important enough to pay attention to start to fall into place. It's not superstition. It's the 'it' factor, mojo, fate or just good timing. Saturday marks the 26th anniversary of 'The Drive.' A cold, dank and miserable day in Cleveland where a ray of sunlight (or daylight) shown for John Elway, Mark Jackson and the Broncos. So United in Orange, teeth chattering and spirits high a region has again gotten behind the Denver Broncos. Judging by the confidence of the media covering the Broncos it's a lock to go to the big easy. Yes we are scouting hotel rooms in New Orleans. Expect a retirement party to start about 6:00pm Saturday night and Peyton Manning to start looking at game tape of the Patriots. Make mine 27-19 Broncos.
Field of Dreams When the Broncos and Ravens meet on Saturday their footing will be assured. No RG3 incidents. How can a professional football club allow something like that to happen? Big props to Turf Manager Troy Smith and the his staff. I remember three games in two days at Sports Authority Field at Mile High December 1st and 2nd. Two of the top four teams in the state played for state championships and then the Broncos hosted the Tampa bay Buccaneers. Not one word was said on radio or national TV that Sunday. Maybe it's the 300 days of sunshine that helped but I think it's the crew at the stadium.
I'm getting that V feeling With so much talk over the last two years about the Valor Christian Football team the boys basketball program had gone nearly unnoticed. When March rolls around we won't be able to help but pay attention to the Eagles. First year coach Ronnie DeGaey has a killer schedule. Valor plays 15 of their 22 regular-season games against 5A opponents. To open the second half of the season the Eagles (11-2) easily handled D'Evelyn without Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey should be back next week so let the run begin.
Angels will stay above I've said it many times the season and I'm writing it now, Denver East is the team to beat in 5A basketball. Their two losses in 13 are to out-of-state clubs. And it's not just about Dominique Collier. He has lots and lots of help this year.
Cory Lopez Newsradio 850 KOA, ISPN and Comcast Entertainment Television, and Altitude Sports & Entertainment.