November 24, Week in Sports
:: OKLAHOMA KNOCKS OFF TEXAS TECH (College Football)
:: PUJOLS, PEDROIA WIN MVP AWARDS (Pro. Baseball)
:: MARK CUBAN CHARGED WITH INSIDER TRADING (Pro. Basketball)
BIG 12 BEATDOWN
On Saturday night, No. 5 ranked Oklahoma beat No. 2 ranked Texas Tech by a score of 65-21. This game had major ramifications for the national standings in college football, and for the Big 12 Conference.
Three of the best teams in the country this year are in the Big 12 South–Texas, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma. Each of these three teams now has a 10-1 record on the year, and in each case, the one loss came from one of the other two teams: Texas Tech beat Texas, Texas beat Oklahoma, and Oklahoma beat Texas Tech. A reasonable person might look at that fact and say that these teams are more or less equal to each other. However, there is a ranking system in college football that sometimes ranks teams in a way that seems unfair. The way that the college football season is set up, rankings are determined by a combination of human polls and a computer-based scoring system. Every year, a controversy like this seems to pop up, which is why college football has some of the greatest fan frustration out of any sport in the country.
After Texas Tech’s loss, they plummeted to No. 7 in the A.P. poll. Oklahoma narrowly rose above Texas, to the No. 3 spot. The top two teams at the end of the year get to play in the national championship game.
Quote of the Week: “Order was simultaneously restored and destroyed here Saturday night.” — Pat Forde, ESPN
Further Reading: ”Pointing Fingers” — Pat Forde, ESPN
A.P./D.P. WIN MVP
Last week, Major League Baseball announced the final major player awards for the 2008 season. Albert Pujols and Dustin Pedroia were named the MVPs of the National League and American League, respectively. The Most Valuable Player awards are among the most coveted player awards in baseball.
Albert Pujols, the first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals, won the award after receiving 18 out of 32 first place votes. Ryan Howard of the Phillies came in second place, with 12 first place votes. Pujols had a tremendous year, batting .357 and swatting 37 home runs, all while playing injured on a bad team that missed the playoffs. This is the second time that Pujols has received the MVP award.
Dustin Pedroia, the second baseman for the Boston Red Sox, won the award by a slightly bigger margin–he received 16 first place votes, while Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins brought in 7 first place votes. Pedroia, a famously undersized ballplayer, was last year’s Rookie of the Year in the American League. It is rare to see a second baseman win the MVP award–the last time it happened was in 1959–so it took a truly exceptional season from Pedroia to capture the award.
Quote of the Week: “For most of his baseball life, Dustin Pedroia has heard the doubts. He’s heard he’s too small, too slow or that his swing is too long, and that, one way or another, he just doesn’t measure up. But now, he might be too good for his own good.” — Sean McAdam, Boston Herald
Further Reading: “Pedroia beats out Morneau to win AL MVP” — Associated Press, via ESPN
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was charged with insider trading by the SEC last Monday. Cuban is one of the most well-known owners in professional sports, and these allegations are sure to follow him around for quite some time if he is found guilty.
The SEC filed a civil lawsuit against Cuban, which means that if he is found guilty, he would only have to cut the SEC a check of approximately one million dollars–reportedly, no criminal lawsuit will be filed against Cuban, so jail time seems very unlikely. The SEC has alleged that Mark Cuban sold all his shares in a company called Mamma.com after hearing that shares in the company’s stock would be sold to the public below market price. Knowing that this would certainly devalue his stock, Cuban reportedly dumped all of his shares in the company. While Cuban can surely handle a million dollar fine, the damage to his reputation might be harder to deal with. For example, the Chicago Cubs are currently for sale, and Mark Cuban was one of the interested bidders. A couple of weeks ago, it was reported that Cuban was no longer being considered as a potential owner, and some have speculated that this was because the Cubs organization got word that Cuban was about to be charged with insider trading.
Cuban is a very hands-on owner, who is famous for yelling at referees during Dallas Mavericks games. In recent years, he has cooled down significantly, and he gained an even greater level of prominence when he appeared as a contestant on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars.
Quote of the Week: “However this plays out, it’s a hit on Cuban’s reputation as the Everyman fan who hit the Internet lottery, became a billionaire and bought his favorite team.” — Associated Press
Further Reading: “SEC’s Mark Cuban Insider Trading Allegations” — Henry Blodget, Silicon Alley Insider
WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEK
:: COLLEGE FOOTBALL: As the season winds down, the games become increasingly important. On Saturday, No. 1 Alabama plays Auburn and No. 2 Florida plays Florida State. If both teams win, then Alabama and Florida will play each other the following week in the most crucial matchup of the year.
NBA (Pro. Basketball): The 2008-09 season is currently underway. It runs from late October to April of 2009, when the playoffs commence. [Official NBA Website]
NCAA MEN’S BASKETBALL (College): The college basketball season started last week and runs through “the Tournament,” which takes place in March. [CBS Sports]
NFL (Pro. Football): The regular season is now underway. The Tennessee Titans and the New York Giants are currently the best teams in the league. [Official NFL Website]
NCAA FOOTBALL (College): The college football season is now in full swing. The BCS Standings currently place Alabama as the best team in the country. [NCAA Football, ESPN]
MEN’S GOLF: While there are professional tournaments throughout the year, the most important tournaments are the four Major Championships: The Masters, U.S. Open, The Open (The British Open), and the PGA Championship. Now that the PGA Championship is over, mainstream golf news will most likely revolve around Tiger Woods’ return from injury and preparation for next year’s Majors. [Official PGA Website]
NOTABLE PLAYERS: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson
NHL (Pro. Hockey): The hockey season runs through April of 2009. By the new year, the league power rankings should be pretty well set. [Official NHL Website]
MEN’S AND WOMEN’S TENNIS: While there are professional tournaments throughout the year, the most important tournaments are the four Grand Slam tournaments: the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open. [USTA Website]
NOTABLE PLAYERS: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic
MLB (Pro. Baseball): The Philadelphia Phillies defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in this year’s World Series. During the off-season, baseball news will focus on major trades and player signings. [Official MLB Website]
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