October Has Flown By

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With Halloween tomorrow, I just needed to stop and wonder what happened to October? My last post I was vacationing in Sacramento. Since then there have been a few fill ins on ESPN Radio Honolulu, and my show “This Week” had been on hiatus on ESPN 1500 AM all month as the station carried the MLB playoffs and World Series. “How about that Game 6!!”

When Bobby Curran is on the road with the Hawaii football or men’s basketball teams, I have the honor of filling in for his morning show. Saturday was the first broadcast of the Rainbow Wahine basketball season. Hawaii blew out HPU in their first of two exhibitions. Next game is on Friday Nov. 4 against BYUH, also an exhibition. Come on down or tune in on ESPN 1420 AM.

I’m Back…and in Sacramento

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No not permanently. But taking some leave in the capitol of California. Went to the Capitol Building the other day, a very impressive building with 19th century architecture including the dome-like top similar to the nation’s Capitol Building. Inside it was part Iolani Palace and White House. Or at least what I think the White looks like on the inside. Well, the California Capitol does have a West Wing, although their historic wing is on the South side.
Going to visit Sacramento State tomorrow as my hotel is walking distance to the campus. Went by the other day, good athletic facilities. In fact I am quite impressed with their facilities considering that they area FCS, or Division I-AA school. I still refer to the old categories, call me old school.

Need to buy a Hornet’s shirt for my kids.

I will be back on the radio next week…with possibly some news for you.

My Sympathy to the Family of Shannon Stone

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Anyone passing away too soon is tragic. Anyone passing away too young is tragic. The son of 39 year old Shannon Stone will have a difficult climb ahead of him as he matures, all the while dealing with the memory of witnessing his father’s passing.

There is not one of us who doesn’t go to a baseball game, especially if you are a kid, hoping to catch a baseball in the stands. And if you are a parent bringing your son or daughter, you want to catch one for your child.

Shannon Stone reached for a ball tossed to him by Texas Ranger Josh Hamilton. He fell over the railing falling 20 feet to the concrete below and eventually passed away.

Passing away too soon and too young is tragic. My sympathy to his family, and particularly his son.

Another Risky #1 Pick

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NBA #1 Pick Kyrie Irving

We all know that the draft, in all sports, is a gamble. The NBA Draft on Thursday was being hailed as a “weak draft” but somehow Kyrie Irving of Duke was being touted as the #1 pick to Cleveland. It proved true as the Cavaliers begin to rebuild.
More and more, it seems that the draft is based purely on potential. In many ways it always is because you never really know how a player will adapt to the next level. Even in the real world, the workforce hires a kid fresh out of college based on potential. My concern or question is where is potential based on.
Back in the good ol days when basketball players played in college and we got to know them, fans could relate the college careers toward potential in the NBA. Now the draft is made up of unknown international players or high school talents that nobody has seen play.
Then there is Irving. He only played one year of college, and only 11 games this past season. Why? He had a toe injury which adds another layer on the gambling table – is he and will he be fully recovered. Just based on that, is he worthy of the #1 pick? What he has on his resume that is a plus is his talent and the fact he was recruited and signed at Duke. If there is any college coach I respect in regards to judging talent and recruiting the right way (I am confident that Irving was qualified to be a student at Duke), it is Coach K. So that fact alone tells me he is bright, mature, and skilled enough for the demanding Mike Krzyzewski to give him the reigns as the freshman point guard.

Maybe that is all that is needed.

To Pro Bowl, or not to Pro Bowl……

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Now that Governor Abercrombie openly questions the $4 million the state pays to host the game, what do the majority of tax paying residents really think about this? Is it a need? Or is it a want?

Do we need the Pro Bowl? The tourism folks say yes. But is it their way of justifying the expense? I tend to look at another sporting event with a long history that provides measurable data in regards to the benefit to our local economy. The Honolulu Marathon has over 20,000 participants of which a significant number are from out of state, mainly Japan. Yes, that will take a hit for this year’s Marathon due to their own national crisis. But there are hard numbers to gauge the tourism benefit when it relates to numbers of people, hotel nights, and per day expenditures.

The Pro Bowl offers best estimates. The event offers good business for local vendors in the food and hospitality area and there is always the fact of a sold out Aloha Stadium to point at. But how many people from Delaware, or Illinois, or even California, are coming to Honolulu for this event, who are not affiliated with the event either as a family member of a player, coach, or NFL official? How much does the NFL put back into the State? Keep in mind that profits from ticket sales are not all going back to Aloha Stadium. A good majority of tickets are comped anyway.

But there is the television coverage which is the big gorilla in this, something the Marathon does not offer. The marketing value of the television exposure is considered invaluable to the State. But who is the audience of an exhibition game shown on ESPN? Is this the audience that will eventually travel to or invest in Hawaii?

Do we want the Pro Bowl? The fans say yes because it is the NFL, the most popular sports entity in the country. It is the only opportunity to see our football stars since we do not have our own team. Yes because Hawaii becomes relevant on the national sports scene. Yes because we can see the NFL cheerleaders. Yes because there is all the events that week. Yes because it is the NFL, it is televised on ESPN, and it brings tourist to our shores.

It is not worth $4 million. At least not every year. Not now. We do not need it, we just want it. The players and families like coming to Hawaii so let them be the leverage and lobbyists for future games. Let the NFL play the game in Orlando or Los Angeles because eventually they will run out of good weather locations in February on the continent. By the way, it is cold in LA in February.

Nowitzki is the MVP, but Kidd was the key

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Jason Kidd

If you read a previous post I stated that if the Mavericks were going to be successful, the key was how Jason Kidd would react and his leadership ability to have his teammates jump aboard his train. The results of the NBA Finals justifies my theory.

Keep in mind that I am totally behind the fact that Dirk Nowitzki is the best player on that team and deserved the Finals MVP. But when he was 1 for 12 shooting in the first half, who do you think was right there with him in support to keep shooting and feeding him the ball? Kidd. Great players like Nowitzki can get themselves out of a slump on their own. But it is when you are in the Finals, not just a regular season game, and not just any game, but a game clinching Game 6b on the road. Jason Kidd was in his ear and by his side, and pumping Dirk up during timeouts, halftime, and warmups. Remember, to the all-star player, not any teammate can really keep you motivated. Do you think if Tyson Chandler was telling Dirk to “keep shooting, you are alright,” that it would have the same impact versus coming from a 17 year veteran all star and co-captain?

Congratulations to the Mavericks, the better team with a good leader.

Can Wong Make It To the BIg Leagues?

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One thing about baseball is for sure, the amount of time it will take to actually work your way up through the minor leagues will make it close to impossible to really get a handle on any possibilities about making the big leagues. If he makes it through the Rookie classification and get to A ball, could he get into slump and lose all confidence? Can he consistently hit with wood over an entire season? Will he be able to adjust to better pitching. Could he be on a team that may teach him a different swing that could screw everything up? That would be my biggest worry.
On the flip side, Wong may ascend the minor leagues with rocket speed. I feel he can be a consistent hitter and that skill will be what moves him up. His work ethic will turn him into a good infielder but I feel that his career in the Major Leagues could potentially be as a utility player. This kid can play all positions as he was an outfielder his freshman year, then a second baseman his last 2 years at UH. Keep in mind he was a catcher in high school. His small stature may actually benefit him at the plate with the smaller strike zone.
I think of former local major leaguer Lenn Sakata who was able to play several years in the “Show” as a utility player. Managers want players that can fill in and not let the talent level drop. Don’t you think Wong would also do well as a pinch hitter? Kolten is definately a better athlete than Sakata was.
This guy can hit and he can hit with power. He would make a great leadoff batter with power, ala Tim Raines. He has a keen eye and can get on base and be a threat to steal.
Face it, if he was 6′ 0′ or taller, everyone would be saying that he is a “sure bet” to make it. So why can’t we say that for a player who is shorter than that. I never understood how height can reduce a player’s skill in the eyes of scouts.
Wong will make it to the big leagues with time to spare. I’m sure there will be a place for him.