Each week I'll talk about the world of sports…
• Interleague baseball is great for fans. It creates so much interest for the sport. Look at what happened in New York City on Friday with the day-night doubleheader between the Mets and Yankees! Over 100,000 fans were in attendance between Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium. There was a buzz in the Big Apple, baby! Then you think about match-ups
between the White Sox and Cubs in the Windy City! Out West, the Dodgers and Angels squared off, as did the Giants and Athletics. As a purist, I was not necessarily a fan of interleague play when it was first proposed. This season, it gave fans in Tampa a chance to see the Cubs in town and there was excitement. I say stock up for interleague play.
• This is a very big week for the Tampa Bay Rays. The Boston Red Sox are coming to town and it is hard to believe this statement: first place is on the line in the AL East. Wow, there should be excitement galore at Tropicana Field. The Rays have never posted a winning record, yet this team is a legitimate contender to make the playoffs. One key has been the left side of the infield with Jason Bartlett and Evan Longoria shoring up the defense. Longoria is a lot more than just a solid hitter. There have been great strides in the bullpen and improvement in that area has been a major factor. The starting pitching has been solid too; just look at Matt Garza throwing a one-hitter against Florida last week. I would not trade Scott Kazmir for any other pitcher in the majors today. Can you tell that I am excited about this week!
• Some more thoughts from the NBA draft … I really liked what Rod Thorn and Kiki Vandeweghe did with the Nets. Getting Brook Lopez, Ryan Anderson and Chris Douglas-Roberts, along with Yi Jianlian in the Richard Jefferson deal, gives the Nets some new blood. I didn't think Russell Westbrook was the right pick at No. 4. He is all about potential, potential, potential and I would have gone for Kevin Love in that slot. Imagine Love with Kevin Durant and Jeff Green, plus the Sonics probably could have gotten guard help later in the draft. I also felt Memphis gave up too much by including Mike Miller in the O.J. Mayo deal. Derrick Rose was a no-brainer who will be a leader of the Bulls for many years to come.
• Some kids simply get questionable advice when they give up their eligibility and enter the NBA draft early. Jamont Gordon was an All-SEC player at Mississippi State last season. Davon Jefferson was on the rise at USC. Both guys relinquished their eligibility for a shot at the pot of gold. My friends, they have delusions of grandeur planted in their head, told by someone that they would go in the first round and get that guaranteed contract. Instead they went through 60 picks without hearing their names called. So now they are basketball vagabonds, trying to land on a roster. You can't tell me they wouldn't have been better off going back to school, working on their game and improving their stock for the future. It is sad but every year we hear about a couple of players making the mistake of going early and going through the process undrafted. It is all about decision-making and listening to the right people.
• I was not shocked with the news out of Bloomington, Ind. last week. Athletic Director Rick Greenspan announced he was leaving his role with the Hoosiers by the end of the year. The latest situation, where the NCAA announced another potential violation for failing to monitor the phone call scandal turned out to be the last straw. Greenspan was a good administrator coming into Indiana, but he had to be held accountable for this proud program and the issues that came up.
• It was a wild and wacky first week at Wimbledon. On the men's side, big names like Andy Roddick, James Blake and Novak Djokovic were among the high seeds ousted early. In all, six of the top nine men did not make it to week two. On the women's side, top seed Ana Ivanovic and Maria Sharapova were among the early upset victims. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and the Williams sisters moved on and they are favored to make the finals. I like Serena to edge Venus for the women's championship.
• A lot of people may not know who Manny Pacquaio is. I can tell you that he is one of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world, an exciting fighter who added to his title belt collection with a win over David Diaz over the weekend. Pacquaio has been in several wars in the ring, and like the Energizer Bunny, he keeps going and going.
• I am proud to be the recipient of the Keith Jackson Spirit Award, presented by the Sports Information Directors (COSIDA). Let me tell you, it is an honor to be mentioned with the legendary Keith Jackson. I also am grateful because I have so much respect for the work done by Sports Information people all across America. They bust their gut and help make every announcer that much better with their information and insight.