Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Irrational reaction: Aztecs 60, UNLV 58

It's never easy against UNLV. It shouldn't be easy because that's what makes for a tense rivalry and makes victory sweeter. For my anxiety, I wish it was easy against UNLV. This game should have been easy. Heck, UNLV has seven scholarship players, were down to six players after losing the player I think is their best (Patrick McCaw), were in foul trouble in the second half, and seemed to be running out of gas the whole game.

Yet for the 14th time in the last 18 meetings, the Aztecs found a way to beat UNLV.

It's at the point now that with two minutes left in the game, the Aztecs up by two, UNLV the ball, I sent the following text message to a few friends: "keep it close and wait for UNLV to self destruct. Here we go."

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Irrational reaction: Boise State 56, SDSU 46

Most disappointed that I've been after a loss in a long time.

Off the top of my head, the last time I was this disappointed was the second loss against BYU during the 34-win 2010-11 season -- at Viejas Arena, when both teams were ranked in the top-five, on CBS, not CBS Sports Network.

On the Defcon level of panic, it's still only a three. The sky isn't falling. It's not the end of the world. The NCAA Tournament is not in jeopardy.

It's still massively disappointing. These are games San Diego State usually does not lose. At home. Revenge game after losing earlier in the season. At home. A week to prepare. At home. A lead at halftime. At home. A seven-point lead with 11 minutes left. At home.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Better Call Saul review: S1/E4 "Hero"

Warning: spoiler alerts below

If Kim Wexler can't resist Jimmy McGill's charm, how is the audience supposed to dislike him, even if he takes the bride he says he can't take?

Episode 4 of Better Call Saul was Jimmy at his scheming best, flashing back to the early 1990s for a scam to get money for beer and bong hits, trying to steal the Kettleman's back with a "retainer" fee disguised as a bribe, reasoning with Nacho that a "good Samaritan" actually saved him despite the impending consequences promised, treating himself to a makeover, drawing the ire of Howard Hamlin by dressing like his twin and posting a billboard that looks like his rivals, lobbying the local TV stations to broadcast a story about the big bad law firm in town out to get him, and staging the publicity stunt of all publicity stunts to make himself look like a hero and get new clients.

Entertaining as the final 55 minutes of this week's episode was, the initial five-minute "flashback" scene was the highlight for a second consecutive week. We learn that Saul Goodman was the alter-ego of Jimmy McGill at least a decade earlier. The name Saul is short for "it's all good." [Seriously, how long have the writers been waiting to use that line?]

What we don't know, as Vince Gilligan and his writers so deftly maneuver in non-linear storytelling fashion, is whether this week's scam came before or after last week's flashback that landed Jimmy in jail. [The guess here is this week's flashback was around 1991 and last week's was sometime in 1992.]

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Irrational reaction: Aztecs 74, San Jose State 56

Call it the curse of the red uniforms, or the obnoxiously distracting court at San Jose State, or the curse of trying to watch through the buffering of ESPN3, or another home team getting white-hot on 3-pointers early in the game. Or most likely, call it playing down to the opposition.

It all led to San Jose State leading, 36-35, at halftime after Rashad Muhammad swished a half-court heave at the buzzer. Muhammad also made a 3-pointer to open the second half. Even at that point, the panic meter wasn't too strong, and the Aztecs eventually did what they were supposed to do, pulling away and winning by 18 points.
Uncle Ted snapped this photo of Polee
and posted it on Twitter

The real story of this game, however, was the return of Dwayne Polee.

After collapsing in a game on Dec. 22 against UC Riverside, Polee missed the previous 15 games while doctors ran a battery of tests to figure out what happened. Personally, I thought Polee was never playing again. His return was a surprise. The sports information department put something on Twitter about two hours before the game, that he was dressed and cleared to play.

Polee entered with 7:03 remaining before halftime. The Aztecs were trailing 22-17. Leading the full-court press, Polee caused a turnover on the Spartans' first possession. That ignited a 9-0 run. Polee drained his first shot, a 3-pointer, with 3:13 left in the half. In all, the Aztecs outscored San Jose State 14-5 with Polee on the court.

The closeness of this team was evident in their reaction when Polee entered the court. The energy increased. It was almost like Polee was a walk-on, the way that Aqeel Quinn and others were trying to get him the ball and get him back in the scoring column. Quinn launched a 45-foot alley-oop pass to Polee that was far too high, yet brought needed smiles on the court at a time when the Aztecs still weren't playing that well.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Previewing the 2015 Isotopes: Relief pitchers

This is the final installment in our previews of the 2015 Isotopes. Previously, we examined the catchers, first baseman, middle infielders, third baseman, outfielders and starting pitchers.

The sheer quantity of possible relief pitchers makes compiling this list a bit daunting. We always start by trying to predict the major-league roster and then examine the remaining players for the triple-A roster. This is harder than any position because so few of the bullpen spots for the Rockies are locks as they begin spring training.

Utilizing the recent piece by the Denver Post's Nick Grote and the depth chart on, let's throw these seven names against the wall: LaTroy Hawkins as closer, Boone Logan, Tommy Kahnle, Adam Ottavino, Rex Brothers, Brooks Brown and Christian Friedrich (who is out of minor league options).

Next comes the usual qualifier about injuries, disaster performances in Arizona, and overwhelming performances that will surely change things.

Now comes the list of those fighting for a job with the Rockies and could be with the Isotopes. Let's break them into categories, shall we?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Irrational reaction: Aztecs 63, New Mexico 46

Other than a naked Victoria Secret model waiting for me when I got home, I'm not sure how this night could have gone any better.

Let's see, a co-worker gave me free tickets this afternoon. Another co-worker drove us to Buffalo Wild Wings for pregame vodka-redbull, beers and wings. We didn't have to pay for parking when we returned to the Isotopes parking lot. Wore my new Tony Gwynn t-shirt that Darin Wong from the SDSU sports information department gave me the night before. We sat in the fifth row, directly across from the Aztecs bench. The Aztecs never trailed in the game. The offense executed, while not flawlessly, pretty damn efficiently. Got to say hello to Foothill High basketball coaching legend Tom Hansen at halftime.

Other than an oh-so-brief moment early in the second half, the lead was never under 10 and the game was never in doubt. Aqeel Quinn and Malik Pope kept draining daggers. Pope posterized two guys on a ridiculous alley-oop dunk. Skylar Spencer dominated the paint.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Better Call Saul review: S1/E3 "Nacho"

Warning: spoiler alerts below

'Better Call Saul' is already one giant flashback, an explanation of how Jimmy McGill became Saul Goodman, so why not have a flashback within a flashback?

That's how Episode 3 begins. It's no longer 2003. It's now 1992. Jimmy has more hair and he's handcuffed. His older brother Charles McGill is not only able to leave the house, but he's badass lawyer able to help out a brother he hasn't seen in five years. Jimmy is facing property damage and assault charges, plus he's at risk for being a sex offender. Charles reluctantly agrees to help, but only after telling Jimmy, "everything that you're involve with, it's over."

That's the backdrop that helps us understand Jimmy's dilemma in 2003. He knows that Nacho Varga wants to steal the money from the Kettleman's that the Kettleman's stole from Bernalillo County taxpayers. He knows that Nacho isn't averse to using violence to make it happen. Jimmy is no hero, as he told his once-upon-a-time or still-upon-a-time phone sex buddy Kim Wexler. Jimmy still has a conscious though. We're led to believe it all dates back to what he promised his big bro 11 years earlier.

Added bonus: this scene was shot down the
street from where I live
It's a fascinating opening 10 minutes and sets the stage for another enjoyable episode. Fifty minutes later, Jimmy discovers the Kettleman's are missing, Nacho was arrested as the lead suspect, Nacho maintains his innocent, Nacho thinks Jimmy set him up, Nacho is going to kill Jimmy if he doesn't get him out of jail, Jimmy thinks the Kettleman's staged their own appearance, Jimmy's crazy theory is shared by parking lot attendant Mike Ehrmantraut because it's more logical than the detectives, Mike's sage advice leads Jimmy in the right direction, and Jimmy finds the Kettleman's "hiding" in a tent not too far from their own backyard.

"Nobody wants to leave home," Mike tells Jimmy.

Yet it was Mike who was once on the force in Philadelphia, and left for reasons unknown to come out to Albuquerque. Why? We'll known when creator Vince Gilligan decides it's best for us to know.