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Morning News, errr, Sports Report; Dec. 3, 2008

PHELPS NAMED SPORTSMAN OF YEAR

Beijing Olympics superstar Michael Phelps was named Sports Illustrated’s 2008 Sportsman of the Year yesterday.

My take: The other finalists were Hussein Bolt and Kevin Garnett, but this was an easy a selection as there’s ever been.

I don’t care for swimming at all, but I was glued to the TV every time Phelps was scheduled to compete. I was in a Garner restaurant for his final race and everyone — black, white, everyone — united to cheer for him. It was awesome and I’m happy SI made the easy and correct decision here.

WEIS TO REMAIN NOTRE DAME COACH

Fox Sports is reporting that Charlie Weis will return as the Notre Dame coach for his fifth season next year. Weis is 28-21 in four years at the Golden Dome, but only 9-15 the past two seasons.

My take: Chalk this up to the bad economy; if Weis wasn’t owed a buyout of approximately $15-18 million, he’d be gone.

And he should be; his record is actually worse than his two predecessors (including Kinston-born Tyrone Willingham) at this point and both were fired.

As a wise man once said: It’s all about the Benjamins, baby.

GIANTS SUSPEND BURRESS FOR REST OF SEASON

The N.Y. Giants suspended Plaxico Burress for the rest of the season after his Harris Smith incident over the weekend. He’s ineligible to return even for the playoffs.

My take: Good for the NYG. At least one league takes care of business when it has to.

WNBA FOLDS HOUSTON COMETS

Tough times continue to dog the Women’s National Basketball Association; the league has announced the folding of the Houston Comets, which won the league’s first four titles from 1997-2000.

My take: It’s about time, isn’t it? I’ve hated the WNBA since its inception, mainly because the NBA and ESPN have shoved the pseudo-league down our throats.

Hopefully, this is the first domino that will begin the end of the league.

Morning News Report; Aug. 25, 2008

OBAMA CHOOSES BIDEN

This isn’t exactly news, since it happened late Friday night, but Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama finally made his decision for his vice president — six-term Delaware Senator Joseph Biden. Also, the Democratic National Convention begins today in Denver.

My take: Instead of going into why I think this was a mistake for Obama here, I’ll send you here or here to read my Sunday column (the first is at Kinston.com, the other is at ENCToday.com). I guess you have to give Obama credit for one thing — he is either going to win or lose doing it his way. He could’ve had the “dream team”, but chose to go his own way. Good (or bad?) for him.

By the way, I love some of the comments in both places my column was placed. Can’t wait to see yours.

USA WINS GOLD IN MEN’S BASKETBALL

The United States “Redeem Team” lived up to its moniker and defeated Spain to win the gold medal in men’s basketball at the Olympics Sunday.

My take: The game started at 2:30 a.m. Sunday, but I stayed up to watch it. I’m not saying I watched every minute, as I dozed off a couple of times, but I saw the final 8 minutes of the game.

It was a very well-played game by both teams. A couple of things stand out to me:

  • It’s amazing how dependent the European teams are on the jump shot, particularly the 3-point shot. I haven’t seen a box score of the game, but it blows my mind how every European player — regardless of height — isn’t afraid to shoot.
  • The American players seemed genuinely excited to win the gold. I hope I’m not being too cynical here, but I wonder if they were as sincere as they were trying to come across. It was refreshing, though, to see Kobe, LeBron and Carmelo acting like kids.
  • My favorite moment? When Kobe scuffed up Krzyzewski’s hair by squirting water on his head; Did you notice how Coach K spent the next 5 minutes trying to fix his hair? Every time a camera panned over to the bench, K was freaking out, trying to get his hair back into its position

IT’S GOING TO BE COLD THIS WINTER

The Farmer’s Almanac has predicted that the winter of 2008-09 is going to be a cold one.

My take: Good. Being a Western North Carolina guy, I wouldn’t mind a little snow this winter; when is the last time we had a legitimate snow storm?

The iPod shuffle

What Have I Done To Deserve This? — Pet Shop Boys

The Waiting — Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers

What’s Going On — Marvin Gaye

Hey Nineteen — Steely Dan

A Day Without Me — U2

Morning News Report; Aug. 22, 2008

FIRE CAUSED WORLD TRADE CENTER 7 TO COLLAPSE

Conspiracy theorists take note: Investigators have determined that fireballs from the collapse of the World Trade Center North building caused WTC7 to collapse. Theorists had opined that bombs had been set at WTC7.

My take: This won’t shut the conspiracy geeks up, but it sounds like it makes sense to me.

I’ve never understood how someone could think America could/would kill thousands of their own people in an act like this, so that’s my biggest problem with the conspiracy theorists.

CATFIGHT! CATFIGHT!

Oh, to be Tony Romo. You’ve got Jessica Simpson on your arm and now you have Carrie Underwood claiming you’re calling her. What a tough life.

My take: You know, I hate the Cowboys anyway. This just makes the hatred burn a little hotter.

Speaking of a little hotter, how about some Friday eye candy (Jessica vs. Carrie):

082208-simpson.jpg

082208-underwood.jpg 

Doesn’t that make your Friday just a little bit better?

U.S. HUMILIATED BY CUBA, 10-2

The Americans won’t win the gold medal in its national pastime again as they lost 10-2 to the blasted Cubans this morning.

My take: This I don’t understand — we have a nation of 300 million people (maybe more?) and we can’t beat an island nation that has a few million on it — IN OUR SPORT? Come on, baseball people, explain this one to me.

The iPod shuffle

Dancing In The Dark — Bruce Springsteen

She’s Crafty — Beastie Boys

If I Should Die — Jay-Z

Red Rain — Peter Gabriel

Cherish — Madonna

P.S. — Don’t forget to get your football picks in! They’re due by 7:30 p.m. today.

Morning News Report; Aug. 19, 2008

OBAMA RETURNS TO TAR HEEL STATE TODAY

Presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama comes back to North Carolina for the 10th time in his campaign today. He is scheduled to speak in Raleigh at 6:30 p.m. 

Additionally, Obama is said to have already selected his vice-presidential candidate – and could announce the pick as early as tomorrow. The above report states that it will likely be Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana, Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia or Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware. N.Y. Sen. Hillary Clinton appears to be out of the running.

My take: Obama really thinks he can win North Carolina, a state that has gone the way of the Republican presidential candidate every year since 1976. The polls seem to back it up, too; in the Rocky Mount story above, Obama is only 4 percentage points behind McCain in N.C. — a virtual tie.

SHOULD DRINKING AGE BE LOWERED TO 18?

More than 100 college and university presidents think so. They’ve signed a petition asking that the drinking age be dropped from 21 to 18.

My take: And why shouldn’t it be? We send soldiers to fight — and possibly die! — for our country at 18, but they can’t legally drink for three more years? This is long, long overdue and I hope it’s something that happens soon.

BEANBALLS MAR U.S. OLYMPIC BASEBALL VICTORY

Baseball isn’t doing itself any favors in trying to come back as an Olympic sport in 2016 following Monday’s 9-1 USA victory over China. The game featured three ejections, two home-plate collisions and one intentional beaning (including seven hit batsmen).

My take: The game won’t be an Olympic sport in 2012 for reasons beyond my comprehension, but Monday’s game won’t help its’ cause. I didn’t see the game, so I can’t really give good analysis here, but it sounds like it got out of hand. Anyone see it?

The iPod shuffle

Carolina In My Mind — James Taylor

Somewhere In The Night — Barry Manilow

Country Grammar — Nelly

Compton’s In The House — NWA

Yer So Bad — Tom Petty

Morning News Report; Aug. 18, 2008

OBAMA RAISES $7.8 MILLION — IN ONE DAY

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama raised nearly $8 million in three events in San Francisco on Saturday. In July, according to the AP report, Obama raised $51 million to John McCain’s $27 million.

My take: Here is what I’ll never understand — we’re in an economic recession and people are harmless and starving IN AMERICA, but $78 million can be raised in a month for a freaking election?

Wow.

I would probably vote for the candidate who raised $8 million in a day, then gave the money to Habitat for Humanity or something like that. It’s shameful the money that is raised and then basically thrown away for an election.

OLYMPICS A HUGE RATINGS SUCCESS FOR NBC

Michael Phelps isn’t the only big winner in the Beijing Olympics; NBC is also doing great, according to the Nielson ratings. It appears the network might even make $100 million off the Olympics this year.

My take: Hey, I was one of those who thought the Olympics ratings would be way, way down. I was wrong. I have watched more of these Games than any of the previous two combined. I watched all but one of Phelps’ races and at least a few minutes of every USA men’s basketball game.

Additionally, it seems everyone else is, too. I was at the Buffalo Wild Wings in Garner Saturday night and witnessed something I haven’t seen in a long time. Every TV in the place was turned to Phelps’ final race (the relay) and the place was electric. There was even a chant of “USA! USA!” going on at the end. Guys and girls alike had tears in their eyes

“TROPIC THUNDER” KNOCKS “THE DARK KNIGHT” OFF THE TOP OF THE BOX OFFICE

Despite calls for boycotts, the Ben Stiller/Jack Black/Robert Downey Jr. comedy “Tropic Thunder” brought in $26 million of tickets to knock “The Dark Knight” out of first place at the movies over the weekend.  TDK finished second with $16.8 million.

My take: I didn’t see “Tropic Thunder” — and I’m not sure I will — but I was more surprised that George Lucas’ “The Clone Wars” didn’t do better ($15.5 million) than either of those two movies. I figured the Star Wars geeks would get out and support the movie.

Still, TDK has already moved into second place ALL-TIME in movies ($471.5 million), passing the original Star Wars ($461 million). It only trails “Titanic”.

The iPod shuffle

Call On Me — Chicago

Don’t Walk Away — Robin Rogers

Candle In The Wind — Elton John

Yer So Bad — Tom Petty

Father Figure — George Michael

P.S. Remember, if you want to see how the Hanks Blog Football League draft is going, click on the link to your upper right.

Morning News Report; August 15, 2008

MCCAIN NO LONGER “RUNNING ON EMPTY”

Singer-songwriter Jackson Browne has sued John McCain’s campaign for using his 1977 hit “Running On Empty” in ads. Evidently the left-leaning Browne doesn’t want to be associated with McCain.

My take: Good for Browne. That music is his property and if he doesn’t want it used, then McCain (and his surrogates) need to stop using it.

By the way — “Running On Empty” is one of my favorite all-time songs, as it is my dad’s, too. Every year Browne mentions in the song lines up with my dad — they were born the same year (1948), only eight days apart.

CUBA TOPS U.S. IN OLYMPICS BASEBALL USING STRANGE RULES

The United States lost to Cuba, 5-4, in 11 innings to drop to 1-2 in the Beijing Olympics — and it didn’t come without controversy. In the Olympics now, if a game goes into the 11th inning, men are placed automatically on first and second base and the coach can decide where in his lineup he wants his batter.

J.J. Cooper of Baseball America does a pretty good job trying to describe what happened here.

My take: Huh? Is this baseball or Little League — and even Little League doesn’t have that kind of rule, does it? Good grief. Maybe it’s a good thing there isn’t going to be baseball in the 2012 Games — since this isn’t real baseball, anyway.

STRANGERS LIFT BUS OFF WOMAN TO SAVE UNBORN BABY

Of course, Lee would say this wasn’t heroic (since the baby wasn’t yet born — sorry, Lee), but 30 strangers in New York City lifted a 5-ton bus off a pregnant meter maid who’d become pinned underneath. The lady died, but the baby was saved in an emergency C-section.

My take: I hate that the woman died, but we should all throw up some prayers for the baby to make it. What a heroic thing for those people to come together to try to save that lady’s life — would you do the same if presented with the situation?

The iPod shuffle

White Room — Cream

Miami — Will Smith

Gimme All Your Lovin’ — ZZ Top

America The Beautiful — Frank Sinatra

Turn The Beat Around — Vickie Sue Robinson

P.S. — A reminder: If you’re in the HBFL, please go activate your team or e-mail me at bhanks@freedomenc.com. Thanks!

U.S. Men’s Olympic team roster announced

Your 2008 United States Olympic men’s basketball roster, in alphabetical order, with current NBA team, college (if applicable) and 2007-08 averages:

Carmelo Anthony, forward, 6-8, 230, Denver Nuggets (Syracuse), 25.7 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 3.4 apg in 77 games

Carlos Boozer, forward, 6-9, 258, Utah Jazz (Duke), 21.1 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 2.9 apg in 81 games

Chris Bosh, forward, 6-10, 230, Toronto Raptors (Georgia Tech), 22.3 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 2.6 rpg in 67 games

Kobe Bryant, guard, 6-6, 220, L.A. Lakers (HS), 28.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 5.3 apg in 82 games

Dwight Howard, forward/center, 6-11, 265, Orlando Magic (HS), 20.7 ppg, 14.2 rpg, 1.3 apg in 82 games

LeBron James, forward, 6-8, 240, Cleveland Cavaliers (HS), 30.0 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 7.2 apg in 75 games

Jason Kidd, guard, 6-4, 212, Dallas Mavericks (California), 10.8 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 10.1 apg in 80 games

Chris Paul, guard, 6-0, 170, New Orleans Hornets (Wake Forest), 21.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 11.6 apg in 80 games

Tayshaun Prince, forward, 6-9, 205, Detroit Pistons (Kentucky), 13.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.3 apg in 82 games

Michael Redd, guard, 6-6, 215, Milwaukee Bucks (Ohio State), 22.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.4 apg in 72 games

Dwyane Wade, guard, 6-4, 212, Miami Heat (Marquette), 24.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 6.9 apg in 51 games

Deron Williams, guard, 6-3, 205, Utah Jazz (Illinois), 18.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 10.6 apg in 82 games

My takes: The top two or three players (Kobe, LeBron and/or Howard) are certainly impressive, but I think there is a serious talent differential after them. If those guys come out of the game, who are their primary backups?

Did you notice how small this team is? There is not a legitimate center on the team, because I wouldn’t consider Dwight Howard a center.

There are several question marks on this team. Why is Jason Kidd on the roster? He’s a little too old, although I guess he brings experience, which can never be discounted. Why are Tayshaun Prince and Michael Redd on the team? I can name at least a half-dozen players (Elton Brand, Paul Pierce, Gilbert Arenas, Lamar Odom, Shawn Marion and Shane Battier; see, I did it!) who would be better fits on this team than Prince and Redd. And that’s not even counting Chauncey Billups and Amare Stoudemire, who withdrew their names from consideration for the team.

I’d rather have Pierce than Prince and Brand than Redd, because they’d add more offense (Pierce) and defense (Brand) than Prince and Redd.

I haven’t seen Kevin Garnett’s name mentioned anywhere; he must’ve withdrawn his name, I guess?

My starting lineup — and it is a small one with three guards — would be Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade at guards, with LeBron James at forward and Dwight Howard in the post. My first three off the bench would be Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Deron Williams. Kidd is the third PG on the team and probably won’t get much PT. Redd and Prince won’t play much and Boozer will get few minutes, too.

The ACC is well-represented with Boozer, Bosh and Paul. Kobe would’ve been an ACCer too (Duke), if he’d not skipped HS. The Big 10 was the only other league with more than one player on the roster with Redd and Williams.

The Utah Jazz are the only team with two Olympians with Boozer and Williams. The NBA champion Boston Celtics didn’t have a single player?