Thursdays With Raider: Episode Six, The Man With The Golden Gun

Editors Note: In case you haven’t figured this out.  Each week myself and Mr. Raider Ute pick a topic that we’re going to discuss.  We fire off emails going in whatever direction it does and then every Thursday (at least we try for Thursday), we publish here for your reading pleasure.  Each week you’ll laugh, you’ll cry and Thursday With Raider will become a part of you.

Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

This Week Mac Opens

So I begin things with a question to you sir…

Do you care if Utah wins at sports that are not football and men’s basketball?
I ask this because we did not have a great year in the Pac-12 in minor sports.  And that got me thinking about how we weren’t all that great at minor sports to begin with.  Yes we did well in gymnastics.  But lets take a look around at the rest of the sports.  We finished dead last in baseball and softball.  Utah was ninth place in volleyball. Two of our better performances were tied for seventh in women’s basketball and fifth in women’s soccer.  I did just find out that our women’s tennis team won an NCAA tournament match for the first time.
I could go on but I think it’s bringing me back to the question?  Do you care?  Or does all of that matter to you far less than the abortion that was Utah Men’s Basketball this year?
I start down this rather obscure road because these sports do seem to matter a great deal to the Pac-12.  Just down the road from my house, Arizona is hosting a women’s softball regional.  Several other Pac-12 schools are as well and something similar will happen for baseball.  And on the news here Arizona baseball and softball are kind of a big deal.  Do you guys even report the scores in Salt Lake?
The thing is, I think we’re going to have to start giving a crap about this stuff.  And honestly I think it would be a good thing.  What if Utah could make it to Omaha in baseball or bring a national championship in Volleyball.  Wouldn’t that be a pretty cool thing?  Wouldn’t that be something to help the University build funding for an athletic department that just doesn’t seem to have all that many pony tricks.  Even the SEC guys I knew were kinda proud of their baseball and track programs and you can’t find a bunch of people more wild about football.  Those are schools that could spend everything on football and still don’t.
Did you know Oregon didn’t have baseball until a few years ago and now they’re probably going to win the Pac-12?  On another Oregon note, Wheel of Fortune has been in Portland and they’ve had the Oregon Cheerleaders on.  One of them did the jumping splits and they pixelated her lady parts.  What do you think happened to require that?  Oregon has shockingly hot cheerleaders BTW.  In fact cheerleader hotness is one more thing Utah just isn’t up to par with in the Pac-12.
How nice would it be to be an Oregon fan.  Just to have boosters who ask the question, what do we need and then answer it with buy it?  I wonder what that is like?  It must be glorious.
On another note, do you think they should make a Welcome Back Koetter movie starring John Travolta as Vinnie Barbarino coming back to teach as Mr. Koetter is retiring?  Is Gabe Kaplan still alive?  Would people go see this movie.  Isn’t Horshack dead?
The damn Coyotes are choking hard to the King and thus pushing back my dream of seeing the Stanley Cup.  Although the Super Bowl in Feb. 2015 is in Glendale.  What do you say we make a commitment to save up and go to the game regardless of who is playing in it.  Although I’d give you a pass if it’s Peyton Manning and the Broncos.
I will conclude with saying that I enjoy saying Peyton Manning and the Broncos a great deal.  I pray that he isn’t crippled by the first hit he takes and all of this goes for naught.  I also say that my opinion of Peyton Manning changed after he hosted Saturday Night Live.  Somehow the fact that he was funny made him OK to like.  Has that every happened with you, decided you liked someone famous better because they were funny?
Has any of this made sense?

Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-US PRESSWIRE

Raider Responds

To answer your last question, I wasn’t totally aware that making sense was our primary objective with this, but I will gladly play along.

Here’s my thing with the “non-revenue” sports.  To me, it depends on the sport.  See, I love baseball, and if I didn’t all of the sudden have some semblance of a life, I would go to more Ute baseball games.  In fact, the last time the Utes made the NCAA baseball tournament I followed the games online (as there wasn’t any TV coverage of the first few rounds) and one of the big starts of that team, C.J. Cron, is a prospect in the Angels organization.  So it isn’t a surprise that if the Utes ever found a way to Omaha for the College World Series, I’d seriously consider hopping into an empty Union Pacific boxcar to get there.

The main problem with college baseball from the U of U’s vantage point is that it’s much more difficult to field a competitive program if you’re in a temperate climate.  It’s a real pain for a program regardless of how much money it brings in to have to spend the first month and a half of the season on the road.  And there have been occasions for the first few homes games in March where it still feels like winter up here.  With that in mind, how do you recruit guys to play for you when they could just as easily do one of two things: 1) sign with a school in a warmer climate or 2) sign with a Major League club out of high school and spend 4 or 5 years in the minors before you get called up.  If we’re this serious about being anywhere near relevant in baseball, it wouldn’t hurt to think a little more creatively about it.

And then we have the Holy Grail of Title IX, women’s basketball.  When the Lady Utes were in the Women’s Elite Eight a few years ago, I sent a text to my brother asking him if I should have my “man card” suspended or revoked if I broke down and bought a Utes Women’s Final Four t-shirt.  His immediate response was simply this: “you should probably have it taken away just for thinking about it”.  But given the choice, which would be better for the athletic department and the university, the women’s hoops team getting to a Final Four or for someone to take the bull by the reproductive organs and properly fix the men’s basketball program?  The latter would certainly make me feel better.

I surmise from the tone of your comment about how nice it would be to be an Oregon fan that you think the U needs a sugar daddy.  And for good reason, as I have gotten another reminder in the form of a letter from the athletic department that the Utes currently have about half the athletic budget of Wazzu, the school with the smallest budget in the PAC before we arrived.  But let us not forget that on-field performances certainly helped the Ducks.  Ask any Duck fan that’s looks like they’re old and grizzled and just mention the name Kenny Wheaton.  Heck, you may even get an ice cold beverage from the Pyramid Brewery out of it:

Oh, Hollywood and its economy of ideas.  Allow me to propose a far more sinister postulate and mention what might happen if Bosom Buddies were to ever make its triumphant return, whether in big screen or small screen form.  If you’re either Tom Hanks or Peter Scolari, this is perfect.  Hanks can fully recuse himself once and for all for being the star of that series (he’s kind of borderline Alan Smithee about it) and we can find out if Scolari is still alive.  Justin Bieber would probably be ideal for the lead role, if for no other reason than it would be the finest inside joke in the history of American pop culture.

Hey, let me ask you this: how much longer before either one of us goes to a baseball game and the scoreboard features a whole laundry list of Sabermetric stats for each player?  In my next excursion to AT&T Park I’m half expecting to check the scoreboard and see Buster Posey’s OPS, UZR, VORP, WAR and God knows what other algorithm Bill James came up with.  It’s practically happened already on nearly every baseball related blog and website I peruse, so it’s bound to happen at the game itself.  Now, this isn’t to say that certain aspects of Sabermetrics aren’t useful.  Barry Bonds is the all-time leader in “runs created”, which really takes away the sting of the four Giants postseason disappointments of the Bonds era.  But it could also be a clear indicator that I’m getting old.  It’s all I can do not to simply say “I get all my baseball stats from Topps and Donruss baseball cards and that’s the way I likes it!”

(And if anyone that’s younger than I am says to me “well, Mel Ott may have hit 511 homers, but his BABIP wasn’t that good”, I’m going to showcase my burgeoning old man strength for the first time.)

As much as I really don’t want to admit this, Brock Osweiler is likely every bit as important for Denver’s next couple of years as Manning will be.  Unless he’s the next Dan McGwire and none of us know it yet, his development is going to be fascinating to watch.  Concerning your proposal for the Super Bowl XLIX, I may take you up on that once the Reggie McKenzie “remodeling” is complete.

I’m of the opinion that Twitter is a great place to find out how if famous people are genuinely funny.  I will end this portion of the pontificating with new Raider acquisition Mike Goodson’s thoughts on women.  Enjoy!

Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

MAC’s Response to the Response

I’ll start by leaving this as a stand alone comment and if you don’t understand it, message me and I’ll explain.

If a guy who runs a sports message board asks you for $100,000 and you give it to him, you are not smart.
As for baseball, while I enjoyed the Moneyball movie a great deal, I have developed a growing hatred for the Bill Jamesians to the point where I’d like to give Joe Morgan a big ol’ sloppy kiss.  This is what the game I loved as a kid is now all about?  Baseball is nerds making up acronyms and numbers to yell at each other about.  These are the type of people who argue that Reggie Jackson might not be a Hall Of Fame caliber player.
It’s all this stuff that baseball really seems to be losing me.  I rarely watch a game in the regular season.  I’ll go once in a blue moon for something to do but I am just losing interesting.  And I feel bad about it.  It’s one more thing about soccer that I like.  The game lasts two hours and I can move on with my life.  Baseball needs fewer games and to find a way to speed the game up.  I’m finding more interest in college baseball, but the metal bats have to go.
As for the minor sports, I think what surprises me is that outside of our freak gymnastics program, we’re not really competitive in much.  I think it’s the Pac-12 snob rising up in me but I’d like to see us become a more complete athletic program and maybe it could be a rising tide lifts all boats kinds of thing.  But at the end of the day maybe you’re right, I’d give a testicle to get a winning basketball program again and no amount of softball national championships will make me feel better.
While I would sell my son for a Utah version of Phil Knight, I think what I’d really like is an athletic department who  wasn’t doing everything on a budget.  I wish it didn’t take Urban Meyer lying to Spence Eccles to get us an indoor practice facility.  I mean how did we not have one already.  It’s like the basketball practice facility promised to Rick Majerus in 1992.  Utah St. is building one.  UTAH FRIGGIN STATE.  And I think they raise money though bake sales.
Where is our T-Boone Pickens?
And I have to say, Twitter has become one of my great joys in life.  If you’re sitting around bored, twitter is like being able to go to a bar and hang out with some cool guys at any one moment.  And it’s why facebook sucks.  Facebook is like being stuck in a never ending family reunion.  If I have to watch the kid when a game is on, all I need is twitter and its like I have people over.  If I want to ask Greg Wrubell what its like to look like a penis I can.  The glory of twitter is endless.
So what do you make of this Notre Dame parking all their sports in the Big 12 idea?  Is there going to be a Big East by the time Boise gets there?  I have an odd fantasy that Boise and BYU both have to go crawling back to the Mountain West and then I can laugh and laugh and laugh.

Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-US PRESSWIRE

Raider’s Response to (well you get it)

You mentioned something (and I assume you did so inadvertently) that has always gotten under my skin a little.  The number of times I’ve heard from multitudes of sports fans that mention [insert non-football sport here] needs fewer games so that all of them will matter has been mind blowing.  I am guessing this is predicated on the large numbers of people who enjoy the NFL and think that everything that works well for that league should be universally applied to every other professional league.  Here’s the problem with that.  What works in the NFL doesn’t necessarily work in other sports and vice versa.  For example, every regular season NFL game is, in theory anyway, televised on a major network to a portion of the country (NFL Sunday Ticket notwithstanding).  Try doing that with every single NBA regular season game.

(I’m counterarguing against myself with this, but I don’t necessarily believe that my last sentence bolsters the argument for fewer games.  If a league like the NBA still insists on marketing individual stars, it would be an issue if Jazz fans out here didn’t get a chance to see, say, Kevin Durant or Lebron James at least once a season.  Same thing with the NHL, where I think a lot of fans in this part of the continent wouldn’t mind seeing Sidney Crosby or Alexander Ovechkin at least once a year.)

Anyway, I do think that baseball for a lot of people has devolved into basically a Yankees/Red Sox sport.  It’s a terrible way to market the game, and I think ESPN is to blame in part for it, but it goes well beyond that.  About a month ago was when White Sox pitcher Phillip Humber was in the midst of pitching a perfect game.  But, since it was on a Saturday during FOX’s Saturday Baseball, Yankees v. Red Sox is the order of the day whether we like it or not.  So what ended up happening was in the upper corner of your screen, FOX had coverage of Humber’s attempt at perfection while the Yanks and Sox play on in the rest of the frame.  Think about it this way: there’s a potential perfect game–a perfect frickin game!!!!–yet FOX & MLB think that one game out of the other 18 games those two teams will play is more important.  It’s a case of whacked out priorities and it annoys people like me who really do love the game of baseball.  There haven’t even been two dozen perfect games in the entire history of Major League Baseball.  The Yanks and Sox will play each other 19 times this year.

Something inside of me blew a major gasket when I read your reply that USU is building a basketball practice facility.  Something along the lines of  “don’t make us come and get you”.  Would it be a fair thing to say that I’m somewhat jealous of USU in that sense?  Yes, but almost entirely in the sense that they are doing facility wise something that we should have done when Keith Van Horn was still a student at the U.  As an aside, do you think that if and when a new basketball arena is built (because its going to have to happen eventually) that a capacity of 10,000 would still be too big of a facility?

Going further off to the side, a horrible thought popped into my head that in order to keep things “under budget” we started playing basketball games at ESA instead of the Huntsman Center.  That’s when I know that life as we know it is finished and it would facilitate my move to Sublette County where I would live off the land and hope that the Yellowstone Caldera doesn’t blow.  Actually, if that’s going to happen, being blown directly into space along with a huge cloud of volcanic ash is the way to go out.  I don’t think I want to be a part of that post-apocalyptic hot mess.

I heard via second hand source (which, for those of you who wonder where I got it, my brother down in Houston) that UT’s athletic director Deloss Dodds–the Boss Hog of college athletics–isn’t too keen on bringing the Irish on board for the non-football version of the Big XII.  Which makes sense if you’re Texas, because why would you want another diva in your own conference when the Horns are likely enough diva for ten people?  Further, if you’re the MWC, why would they bring either school back at this point, especially BYU that may bring up a whole bunch of bad blood among the remaining schools?

I do agree with you that Twitter is a fantastic medium and my only problem with it is that I get into some gimmicky sorts of tricks to get people to read my tweets–my late night tweeting is probably among them, and when I had a topic I wanted to discuss, I used to attempt a #7tweetsorless trick to make what I want to say as concise as I can.  But I will also perform some shameless self promotion and mention to your readers to follow me @RaiderUte.

High time I end this by asking you if you were still single and had the opportunity to do so if you would date Adele.  Very talented, not a woman I would dismiss immediately, but would you give in because she may write a song in the future that may humiliate you?  That just seems like relationship blackmail to me.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE

And Back to MAC

My thinking on game reduction in baseball goes like this.  We don’t need the season starting in March and ending in November.  What if we trimmed 20 games but added extra playoff games so we simply get more good baseball.  I think we’re getting a little too much Triple A baseball being passed of as major league baseball.  But then again I’m for retraction as well.  The people of Miami clearly don’t want a team, why do we keep forcing them to have one.  Quite frankly its how I feel about football in L.A.  Everyone seems to be happy without a team in L.A. lets just leave well enough alone.
But again I think you’re onto something that all of baseball is Yankees-Red Sox now.  Honestly I think my interest in the game began to wain right about the time the Red Sox won.  Somehow every casual douchebag decided he was a long suffering Red Sox fan.  These folks also don’t know Roger Clemens pitched for the Red Sox and think the Buckner game decided that World Series.  No one will admit the obvious truth, the Red Sox are just as evil if not more so than the Yankees now, a pox on all their houses.  And like you I’m tired of being help prisoner by them and ESPN’s decision that they are the only teams.
You sir have also hit on one of my true passions and that is a new basketball arena for Utah.  The JMHC is a dinosaur in nearly every way.  The Hoyo’s Revenge Fieldhouse would be a glorious place.  It would seat 10,000 or maybe 8,000.  The place would be nearly full even in the worst of times and in the best of times it would be the hottest ticket in town.  Fans would be on top of the court and you could see the court from the very open concourse.  In the interest of full disclosure this is essentially the design of the Kennel in Spokane (built by the family who originally owned the Salt Lake Tribune).
But that is not all, on one side I’d create the old people section calling it the Honored Ute section or some such thing.  We’d put them all at tables, give them free food and soda.  The area would be soundproofed from the rest of the arena. They could all sit there watch the game in silence and bitch to each other.  Then we could build an actual home crowd in the rest of the arena.  Second I’d hire someone in the athletic department whose damn job it was to make it cool for students to come to the games and cheer.  I would pay that person a great deal of money so I could get some talent.  And you know I’d hire a basketball coach that people had heard of who could get people to Utah on his reputation and I’d pay whatever it took to get him.  But that’s me I’m a wild man.
To get back to sort of what the original topic of this week was, too many people at Utah act like we didn’t have an option, that we had to let all other sports go to hell to be good at football.  And frankly I just don’t buy it.  Wouldn’t our boosters have delivered a basketball practice facility right when we were an Elite Eight/Final Four team.  Did we really have to wait until now to have a track or build a decent women’s softball complex.  I know this is all hindsight is 20/20 type stuff but there should have been more leadership in all this.  What the hell was Dr. Hill doing?  And why don’t our booster care about being great?
I got a funny story about Big XII folks myself.  I have a buddy, a K-State buddy.  Now if Sir Larry had pulled of his Texas to the Pac plan, while we may have been screwed, K-State would have been screwed harder probably joining the MWC or CUSA.  But now that the Big XII is alive he feels free in running all kinds of Big XII glory smack.  I’m not sure how being Texas’ prison wife makes you feel so entitled.  Maybe it’s like how someone who is the relative of a doctor acts like they are some kind of doctor.  Being the prison wife of the toughest guy in prison makes you feel pretty.
As for Notre Dame and Texas in the same conference, with Oklahoma having an ego of its own, well that is just going to be good times.  HAHAHAHA
On the Adele question, this goes to the Barney Stinson Crazy/Hot Scale

Here is the thing.  Performer chicks are crazy, which means great sex but boiling pets.  At some point you’ll want off the crazy train.  And then they’ll write a song about you.  Alaniss Morrisette and Dave Coulier, Taylor Swift and John Mayer, Katy Perry and Russell Brand.  So would you ask yourself, is the ride going to be worth the song.  I’m thinking no on Adele, but yes on Alaniss, no on Swift and and BIG BIG YES for MISS KATY PERRY.
Finally I’m tinkering with a piece with Pac-12 coaches and professional wrestlers.  I have Ric Flair as Lane Kiffin, Bobby Heenan as Todd Graham,  Mankind Mick Foley as Mike Leach, Chip Kelly as some little toadie accomanied Phil Knight as Andre the Giant to do all his fighting and Kyle as a Mormon Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Any other suggestions.  I’m also thinking of Steve Sark as Randy Savage or maybe he also just walks around claiming he’s Ric Flair.
Raider’s Conclusion to This Weeks Exciting Episode
Any “comparison” piece is sort of up my alley, as many years ago, I wrote a similar one comparing the schools of the MWC at the time to the main characters on Seinfeld.  But why stop at the wrestlers themselves?  Do you think a Larry Scott as Vince McMahon tale of the tape is a valid one?  And just for me anyway, I will request a reasonable comparison of both Rowdy Roddy Piper and Mene Gene Okerlund.

A mutual acquaintance of ours mentioned to a whole group of us a while back that the trend for facilities (at least in football) is for smaller venues instead of larger ones.  I know Pauley Pavilion is being renovated, but I dont think that place seats more than 12 or 13K.  Even Oregon and USC’s new basketball arena seats only about 12K and 10K, respectively.

So one or both of us can table this topic for further offseason discussion, but I would be perfectly fine with making the new arena hold about 10,000 people.  If enough students would quit skiing on the weekends and go to a few hoops games, this might work out.

On a personal note, my first house may be in West Valley.  For all the fun I make of that part of the Wasatch Front, it would somehow be a weird form of poetic justice if I moved there.  That’s what I get for trying to be funny I guess.

The scowl you see on my face is the fact that the Kings are going to the Stanley Cup Final.  This lingering angst from the most recent Sharks playoff disappointment shall pass, as I’m sure there’s plenty more on the horizon.

I will now wrap this up by asking you if people in your town stay inside during the summer so as not to cook on the sidewalk similar to the winter months here.  Hope it was as good for you as it was for me.


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Tags: Buster Posey Joe Morgan Kenny Wheaton Kevin Durrant Oregon Ducks Pac 12 T. Boone Pickens Utah Utes

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