It’s Friday! That means 10 big stories in 10 little bites! We hit Dana Altman, John Groce and the Big Ten. We hit Ryan Tannehill, Austin Rivers and Final Four picks. But first …
The curse of the midges.
In 2007, Joba Chamberlain broke onto the MLB scene like few players in recent memory. His fastball was sharp. His slider was untouchable. His control was pinpoint.
And his personal story, which I was the first to detail, was even more impressive.
Chamberlain debuted in August and immediately caught lightning in his glove. He appeared in 19 games, threw 24 innings and allowed a grand total of one run. One. He seized the Yankees’ set-up role. He was the heir apparent to Mariano Rivera.
Then the Yanks went to Cleveland for the ALDS. And Chamberlain’s cape of invincibility was chewed apart in Game 2 by a swarm of midges. Joba could barely see home plate, much less throw over it. He gave up the tying run in the eighth inning and the Yankees eventually lost in extra innings; Cleveland won the series 3-1.
Joba has never been the same.
The Yankees tried to make him a starter, but dramatically limited his innings in an effort to protect his arm. The Joba Rules, the New York media called them.
He lost his confidence, then his control. He was arrested for DUI. He struggled as a starter and moved back to the bullpen. Last summer, after a solid start to the 2011 season, his arm broke down. He had elbow surgery.
And now, this.
Joba is in the hospital with a dislocated ankle after a trampoline accident. He was playing with his son, but that factoid might not matter to the Yankees.
On one hand, it’s incredible — even today — that a kid with Joba’s background wears a World Series ring. On the other hand, he has left so much talent on the table.
I wonder if Joba has pitched his last game in pinstripes. And I wonder if he’ll ever rediscover the magic that made him a phenom.
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>> Apparently Dana Altman needs a sports information director to help him answer Lee Barfknecht’s questions. What a strange phone call. I still think Altman would be Tom Osborne’s No. 1 choice, if he wanted the job. But based on events of the past few weeks, signs point to someone other than Altman.
>> A New York Times profile of Ohio coach John Groce, the best candidate — in my opinion — to replace Doc Sadler. The man lacks nothing in the energy department.
>> The Onion tackles Kentucky’s strategy for winning the NCAA tournament. The last line is hilarious.
>> Saturday in Phoenix, Rick Pitino and Billy Donovan tangle for a spot in the Final Four. Twenty-five years ago, they made magic happen at Providence.
>> Austin Rivers is reportedly leaving Duke for the NBA. Remember the days when Coach K never lost players early?
>> Thad Matta can barely walk. Seriously. Interesting story.
>> I don’t care how good the Big Ten was during the regular season, if the league doesn’t put a team in the Final Four, this season will be a disappointment. No pressure, Ohio State.
>> The story of sexual harassment allegations against a Wisconsin associate athletic director is bizarre and ugly.
>> An excerpt from Josh Luchs’ new book — this passage focuses on Maurice Clarett’s struggles at the NFL combine.
>> As a Redskins fan, I am so, so glad my franchise isn’t the one picking Ryan Tannehill in the top-10; Russ Lande’s latest mock draft has Tannehill going fourth to the Browns. Forgive my scouting deficiencies, but I don’t understand how Tannehill suddenly became a future Pro Bowler. If he was so good, his college production should’ve showed it. Right?
>> Speaking of the Redskins, it sounds like they (and the Cowboys) got screwed out of a bunch of money.
>> A statistical nugget from the Chatelain School of Geeky Statistics:
Historically, national champions win by wide margins the first week of the NCAA tournament. Since 1990, 19 of 22 national champions skated through the first two rounds without a single-digit margin of victory.
That’s a good stat for Kentucky, North Carolina and Florida. That’s a bad stat for everybody else in the field.
>> My picks for the weekend:
Friday winners: North Carolina, Kansas, Baylor, Kentucky
Final Four: Florida, Ohio State, Kentucky, Kansas
That’s right, both teams that went through Omaha will advance to the Final Four.
>> Have a great weekend. And thanks for reading.