Let me begin with a Public Service Announcement today. You still have time to get your tickets to Des Moines, IA and hustle on out there for the World Pork Expo. Preliminary events began yesterday but things will be hopping all week long. Tomorrow, you can play a round of golf in the World Pork Open; you can pick up clothing accessories at the World Pork Apparel Shop; you can attend a seminar on Social Media in Pork Production. You can begin Thursday morning with an “Inspirational Service” and then participate in the World Pork Open Clay Target Championship. Friday will feature the judging of the Junior National Swine Show while Saturday is the piece de resistance – the sale of the livestock from the World Pork Open Swine Show. A good time will be had by all …
Back to sports… Albert Pujols joined the rather exclusive club of MLB players who have hit 600 home runs in a career. I have no interest in debating the cheapening of home run records in MLB over the past 25 years; the fact remains that very few players have ever done it and it may be a while until we see the next player join the club. Looking at active players who might get to this level, I see only one player over 30 years old who may have a shot and that is:
- Miguel Cabrera: He is 34 years old and has been in MLB for 15 seasons. He has 451 home runs as of this morning; that is an average of 30 per season. If he can play until he is 40 and can average 25 home runs per season until then, he will join the club. Only twice in his career has he hit fewer than 25 home runs in a season. The first time was his rookie year when he only played in 87 games; the other time was in 2015 when he played in only 119 games. Barring injury, I think he is going to make it.
After Cabrera, I think you have to look all the way down the list of active players to the “young stars” to find someone who might get to the 600 level in home runs.
- Nolan Arenado: He is 25 years old; he has 125 HRs in his first 5.4 seasons.
- Bryce Harper: He is 24 years old; he has 136 HRs in his first 5.4 seasons.
- Manny Machado: He is 24 years old; he has 117 HRs in his first 5.4 seasons.
- Mike Trout: He is 25 years old; he has 184 HRs in his first 6.4 seasons.
June is not a month when one should expect an important news item from the world of college basketball. Nonetheless, just such an item emerged yesterday when Ohio state fired head coach Thad Matta. This parting of the ways was not sugar-coated; Matta is not leaving his job to spend more time with his family nor is he leaving to pursue some lifelong passion of his that had never been expressed to any human before yesterday. Ohio State simply fired him and doing that in early June is strange because the coaching carousel for college basketball coaches had pretty much gone to mothballs about a month ago.
Ohio State has had two consecutive difficult seasons; they have not made the NCAA Tournament – or any of the post-season basketball tournaments – in both of those years. While that may sound like a reason for a big-time athletic program to fire a coach, consider Matta’s coaching career for a moment:
- He has been a head coach for 17 seasons (13 of them at Ohio State). He has missed post-season play only 3 times.
- Overall, he has a winning percentage of .740.
- At Ohio State in 13 seasons, he has a winning percentage of .733.
- He has taken Ohio state to the Final Four twice.
Ohio State is a sufficiently attractive job to get the coaching carousel out of mothballs and fired up once again. It is not likely that Ohio State will hand the job to some high school coach who did a bang-up job somewhere; remember when Notre Dame tried that once in their football program and how swell that worked out. Ohio State is going to get a good coach and if that person is already employed somewhere else, that will start the domino effect.
The Buckeyes could hire Tom Crean for the job. He is capable and he is “unencumbered” at the moment having been let go by Indiana earlier this year. He knows the Big 10 and can likely be successful rather quickly. The problem with hiring Crean is that there will be no domino effect and that is not interesting. So, let me allow my mind to wander and present some other college coaches who might “get a call” from Ohio State so that if they take the job, there will be openings elsewhere.
- Greg Marshall – Wichita State. He has been a constant presence in the NCAA Tournament in recent years and he always brings a competent and competitive team there.
- Chris Mack – Xavier. Like Marshall, his teams are always in the tournament plus he is already a key player in basketball recruiting in the State of Ohio.
- Shaka Smart – Texas. Smart is an excellent coach who made a mistake going to Texas where basketball is the poor relative. If he gets the call, he should take the job in a heartbeat.
Let me throw out one more name here that would probably not start up the college coaching carousel – but might get things moving in the NBA. Billy Donovan was highly successful in college and has had a nice run in Oklahoma City. Looking objectively at the Thunder, it is hard for me to see them doing much more than edging into the playoffs occasionally over the next several years in the NBA West. So … maybe a return to the college game at one of the premier programs would be enticing? Just saying …
Finally, here is a comment from Brad Dickson in the Omaha World-Herald:
“A Boston Marathon competitor reportedly took the train to get a better time. I’m going out on a limb and guessing that the meet director didn’t have to consult the rule book on this one.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………