Minneapolis, MN–Hans Christian Anderson couldn’t have penned a better ending and Hoosiers director David Anspaug surely couldn’t have elicited more drama in a basketball movie.   Never in my sports fandom did I ever expect to witness one of the most dramatic and arguably greatest comebacks in sports history this past Sunday, August 31.

In stunning fashion, the Minnesota Lynx came back from a thirteen point first quarter deficit to the Phoenix Mercury to force a decisive game three in the WNBA western conference finals.    Throughout the first three quarters of play, Phoenix dominated the game.  The 10,513 fans inside the target center kept quiet by the solid play of Diana Taurasi and company (I must note that I did not see the entirety of the first half due to mechanical problems on the train ride over).   By the time the second quarter finished it was Phoenix 44-Minnesota 36 yet a tiny shred of momentum was building for the Lynx.

At the start of the third quarter,  that small bit of momentum steadily gained steam, churning into a Maya Moore shooting clinic, who finished with 32 points in the effort.   But for every shot Moore and the Lynx made, Phoenix was right there with them.

The play of the game came just before one minute was left on the clock with an improbable Moore jumper to give the Lynx a 75-73 advantage.  Phoenix’s Candice Dupree quickly responded to knot it back at 75, but the tide had turned, the Target Center was on its feet, and Seimone Augustus successfully completed the and-1 after a field goal and foul by Phoenix’s DeWanna Bonner.  The Lynx never looked back, putting up a final tally of 82 points to the Mercury’s 77.

What is outstanding about the Lynx’s play is they never looked flustered.  Despite the rough first half, they continued to execute their game plan, exhibiting confidence in their ability.  Many other teams in that situation would have fallen apart.  If my late uncle had seen this game, he very well might have been persuaded to mention the WNBA’s Lynx occasionally in his columns… maybe.

Either way, I am looking forward to following Game 3 of the WNBA Western finals tonight and hope you will too.  I have a feeling you won’t be disappointed.

 

Another football season begins this weekend.   While many games took place on Thursday, it will always start with the first Friday in the UIL season for me.  That day is today.  My San Angelo Central Bobcats will be opening the season against Del Rio as well as many other teams in the West Texas region in their respective openers.  In preparation of this, my hometown paper published an excellent editorial concerning the start of the season:

SAN ANGELO, Texas – A persistent, if somewhat muted, complaint for years has been that there’s too much emphasis on athletics — especially football — in West Texas and throughout the state.

If there’s any truth in that, it’s not evident to the players or the many fans who have been counting the days to Friday night’s season kickoff.

Few events generate the excitement that builds in the days and weeks before the opening games, and stadiums will be abuzz from Tyler to El Paso, from Harlingen to Dalhart.

Everybody’s undefeated, and dreams of glory abound.

Within a few weeks, many of the dreams will be dashed, or at least forced to be modified. OK, no state title, but a win against a longtime rival brings joy that’s hard to match.

But what about scholastics suffering because of all the football hoopla? It’s long been known that students who participate in extracurricular activities generally perform better than those who don’t. …

And trite as it might sound to some, all involved do learn lessons that will serve them throughout life — teamwork, discipline, sacrifice, sportsmanship. How is it possible not to gain from that?

For the title-contending teams, the benefits are greater than what’s evident in the win-loss standings. Administrators say a successful season lifts an entire school. Students are more engaged, the larger educational experience more rewarding. There are distractions, but overall the pluses rout the minuses.

And few longtime fans need to be reminded that community life is enriched by an exciting football season. For nearly half the year, high school football is the talk of the town throughout West Texas — so much that it’s hard to imagine life without it. …

You can read the whole article at gosanangelo.com.  I whole-heartedly agree with this assessment of high school football in Texas.  While I have a serious love-hate relationship with the sport, I wouldn’t trade those experiences on Friday night with the world.

Now in other football news:

Texas A&M  served the Gamecocks of South Carolina bar-b-q’d with a side of slaw in the first major upset of the college football season Thursday night.   Read the Recap here.  Also, Johnny Football’s passing record was shattered by new QB Kenny Hill with a whopping 511 yards.

In more SEC action, Ole Miss routed Boise State in the Chik-Fil-A Kickoff game in Atlanta.  Maybe the Rebels will finally have a season where they sit on top of the SEC…then again, they still have to go through a gauntlet of an SEC schedule consisting of Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, and Auburn.   70 TOTAL yards rushing in a game won’t get the job done.  There will need to be signs of significant improvement if they want a chance at the SEC title and a play-off birth.

Meanwhile in the State of Minnesota, the Golden Gophers won their season opener handily over one of the Top FCS teams in the country.    They’ll need to get into their rhythm a bit quicker though, especially with an exciting game at TCU on September 13 and the start of their Big 10 schedule beginning September 27 at Michigan.

It’s been too long since I have been actively writing on here.   About a month ago, my uncle, Randy Skinner passed away.   For the last few years he was with us,  he would send out a column entitled “This Monday”.   It summarized the current sporting  landscape and connected what current athletes today were doing with what others had done in the past.  Sometimes he would focus on current events only, and he had a wonderful, unique style.   From a correspondence between my brother and uncle 2009:

WRITTEN DURING THE U.S. OPEN :

TOO BAD, TY COBB. NO ONE REALLY LIKED YOU ANYWAY. NOW A COMELY LASS FROM MARIETTA, GEORGIA, HAS TAKEN SOLE POSSESSION OF YOUR NICKMANE AND STOLEN THE HEARTS AND MINDS OF TENNIS FANS AND NON-TENNIS FANS ALIKE. 17 YEAR OLD MELANIE OUDIN (OOH-DAN) HAS STORMED THROUGH THE WOMEN’S SIDE OF THE U. S. TENNIS OPEN IN A FASHION NOT SEEN SINCE WILLIAM TECUMSEH SHERMAN MARCHED THOUGH GEORGIA. SHE’S GETTING EVEN FOR THAT DASTARDLY YANKEE ACT WITH FOUR STRAIGHT WINS AGAINST HIGHER SEEDS IN THE BIG APPLE AT ASHE STADIUM. THE REAL GEORGIA PEACH.

AS SHE AWAITS TOMORROW NIGHT’S QUARTERFINAL MATCH, SHE HAS JOINED THE LIKES OF SERENA WILLIAMS, LINDSEY DAVENPORT, TRACY AUSTIN, AND CHRIS EVERT AS U.S. FEMALE 17 YEAR OLDS WHO HAVE HAVE ACCOMPLISED THIS FEAT. RANKED AS THE 225 TH  FEMALE PLAYER IN THE WORLD RANKINGS  LAST YEAR, SHE WAS # 75 GOING INTO THIS FORTNIGHT FREE-FOR-ALL. 8 WOMENS’ TOP SEEDS HAVE ALREADY BEEN PLANTED AT THIS EVENT, INCLUDING #1 DINARA SAFINA AND #3 VENUS WILLIAMS, AND ON LABOR DAY OUDIN, THE PINK AND YELLOW SHOD WITH THE WORD BELIEVE ETCHED IN HER SOLES, OUTED 13 TH SEED NADIA PETROVA. PRIOR TO THAT, # 26 MARIA SHARAPOVA, #4 ELENA DEMENTIEVA AND A 1ST ROUNDER,  ANASTASIA PAVLYUCHENKOVA, ALL RUSSKIES, FELL PREY TO THE FEMALE WUNDERKIND. IF YOU SAY SHE IS PARTIAL TO RUSSIANS, YOU’RE RIGHT. NOT SINCE JAMES BOND HAS THERE BEEN  A CONQUEST OF RED LADIES IN SUCH CONSECUTIVE AND CONVINCING FASHION.

If you’re curious about the all caps, it was easier for my uncle to read what he wrote.  Never once did he shout in this column (unless it was to call curses on the Evil Empire in New York, Derek Jeter excepted).

Anyway, my goal is to put one This Tuesday column out weekly,  in honor of my uncle.  While it won’t cover all sports per se,  it will focus on Big XII and Big Ten football, some devotions and inspirational pieces and any other events on my mind.   There will probably be a few Texas Ranger updates as well.   The column will appear on Tuesdays only because for me, Mondays  belonged to Uncle Ranny.  I always looked forward to getting his email column.   And that’s how it will stay.   So may he rest in peace and I hope I can capture just a tiny bit of what made my Uncle’s column magical.  God bless and happy reading!

 

A TCU friend of mine posted this to his Facebook page recently. I think this is something my late Uncle Ranny Skinner would have appreciated. Without further adieu, here is what I call The Matt Skains Guide for Football Fans:

Things to get straight before football season:
– If you do the wave, you are terrible.
– If your college team loses 4 games, they suck. No exceptions.
– Running up the score – particularly in college – is part of the game.
– Don’t root for your division or conference. It’s sad. Unless you are directly benefiting from it being terrible, then tongue in cheek is acceptable.
- It’s perfectly ok to complain about a player/coaching messing up your fantasy team/bet but you have a 1 week time limit on it. Exception for egregious fantasy championship game situations.
- If you correctly predict an outcome, it’s worth bragging about, but you must submit to ridicule w/o rebuttal when you are wrong.
- The refs always go undefeated. Deal with it. Also, 99.9% of the time they are not out to get your team – your team just played poorly.

Upon finishing this part Matt poses this statement and question, “I think that’s it for now. I miss anything?”

So did he miss anything?  All points are up for debate.  Have a good weekend and happy football season!

Growing up in Texas, most of the time on major highways speed limits average around 65 miles per hour.  Most people go way over that, but it decreases travel time and helps clear congestion on the free way.   In the Midwest, particularly in Minnesota, the speed limits on the highways are 55.   With the way people drive around here, everybody seems to go at least ten miles an hour below the speed limit.   One can imagine how elated I was to read this in the Saint Paul Pioneer Press this morning:

On more of Minnesota’s two-lane state highways, motorists could soon be free to drive above 55 — legally.

As part of an expansive budget bill signed into law last week, state lawmakers nudged transportation officials to boost the speed limit to 60 miles per hour on lane miles where it can “reasonably and safely” be done. By 2019, traffic engineers must examine every mile of road with a 55 mph limit and determine if it is prudent to go higher. …

“The fact we’re studying the roads does not mean you can jump to the conclusion that all roads will be raised to 60 miles per hour,” said Peter Buchen, assistant state traffic engineer at the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

But the agency has been moving in that direction. In 2005, the department bumped the limit to 60 mph on 791 miles of two-lane highways and added another 750 miles last year. Buchen said those were prime candidates — straight, wide-open stretches with clear sight lines and low incidence of crashes. He said limits on hillier, curvier highways probably won’t budge.

Well, at least all the roads that run in a straight line will increase.    The project is going to extend into 2019 according to the article, but driving will become much less stressful for me each subsequent year.

Source: Bakst, B. (2014, May 25). Minnesota lawmakers demand higher speed limits on more miles. . Retrieved May 27, 2014, from http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_25834474/minnesota-lawmakers-demand-higher-speed-limits-more-miles

From the official TCU Athletics site:

OKLAHOMA CITY - Freshman Tyler Alexander pitched his first career complete game to help lead No. 12 TCU to its first-ever Big 12 title with a 7-1 victory over No. 7 Oklahoma State Sunday afternoon.

For TCU, it claims its seventh tournament crown under the guidance of head coach Jim Schlossnagle. The Horned Frogs won the title outright as members of Conference USA in 2004 and shared the title with Tulane in 2005. As members of the Mountain West, TCU won the title in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2010. …

 TCU will return to Fort Worth and host the NCAA Fort Worth Regional beginning Friday. The team will learn who will be coming to TCU Monday morning when the field of 64 is released on ESPNU at 11 a.m. 

Very proud of the Horned Frogs and can’t wait to see how they do Friday!

Source: Champions! TCU Claims Big 12 Title Sunday – TCU Horned Frogs Official Athletic Site. (2014, May 25). Champions! TCU Claims Big 12 Title Sunday – TCU Horned Frogs Official Athletic Site. Retrieved May 25, 2014, from http://www.gofrogs.com/sports/m-basebl/recaps/052514aad.html

Sportswriter and Robertson Family co-author Mark Schlabach believes the college football play-off will expand in the future.   Here’s what he has to say:

As college football embarks on its first season with a four-team playoff — a seismic change I never thought I’d see in my lifetime — fans from coast to coast are already wondering when it will expand. If college football is to follow the example set by other sports, it seems only a matter of time before the four-team playoff grows to eight or 12 or 16.

“It’s never going to stay at four,” said one FBS head coach. “It’s going to expand because they’ll never keep everybody happy.”

How soon can we expect such growth to occur?  … When coaches, players and fans get a taste of the excitement and drama of a four-team playoff, they’ll want more (Schlabach, 2014).

Schlabach also points out in the article that while the BCS had its flaws he believes it got it right most of the time and that the  increased revenue from ticket sales and TV contracts might speed up expanding the play-off from four teams to eight.  He writes:

The four-team playoff is expected to generate $290 million more in revenue than the BCS did. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that seven playoff games in an eight-team field would generate more TV revenue than three playoff games in a four-team field. (Schlabach, 2014)

I don’t know if the play-offs will expand anytime soon and money probably was the decisive issue for creating a play-off in college football (much to my chagrin), but I will say I agree one hundred percent with this statement by Schlabach(italics mine), “…[W]ith 76 teams playing in 39 bowl games this coming season, the ‘bowl experience’ isn’t what it used to be. It’s like beating Tennessee or Texas — everybody’s doing it (Schlabach, 2014).”

Source:
Schlabach, M. (2014, May 23). Playoff expansion is inevitable. ESPN. Retrieved May 25, 2014, from http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/10969476/not-matter-when-college-football-playoff-expand

 

For about a week, I was forced off-line by a simple mistake: I received a new debit card in the mail failing to update the card for my domain host. Needless to say, they took down my site for what looks to be a week before I figured out I was off-line.

What’s the moral of the story? Ensure you always double check and triple check with a company who has your account to ensure your information is accurate. Otherwise, you might be placed off-line in many things you wish to do and instead now don’t get to.

Have a great Sunday!