Just wanted to thank all of the new subscribers to the website. I was thrilled that so many of you hopped aboard after I did an e-mail blast yesterday. Hope you keep coming back and bring others with you. And please feel free to post your comments about my opinions and suggest future column ideas. I'm always receptive to feedback. Just click on that blue "comment'' at the bottom of each entry.
So JoePa would like to see either Syracuse or Rutgers join the Big 10 so the league would have a stronger presence in the metropolitan New York area.
I have a better suggestion.
Get Penn State, Syracuse, Rutgers, Connecticut, Boston College, Pitt, West Virginia, Villanova, Louisville, Maryland and Notre Dame to reprise the old East Indies. (Yes, I realize ND is in the Midwest, but since when have sports conferences or divisions ever worried about geographic or mathematical distinctions for that matter. After all, doesn't the Big 10 have 11 schools? And aren't the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East?)
The Big East is a great basketball conference, but it's become way too big with 16 teams. And it's football conference is up-and-down. Mostly down last season.
Interestingly, Penn State originally was going to be a part of the Big East, but that idea fell apart, in part, because of the stubbornness of Joe Paterno and SU athletic director Jake Crouthamel.
JoePa wanted SU and Pitt to play two football games at Happy Valley for every one the Nittany Lions played in the Carrier Dome and the Iron City. SU repsonded by demanding a similar arrangement in basketball, with Penn State coming to those places twice for every one visit to Central Pa. The talks broke off, and the schools went their separate ways.
I think that new Big East - with the addition of Notre Dame - would be a powerhouse in both football and basketball, and a much stronger overall conference than the current Way-Too-Big-East.
My longtime friend and newspaper colleague, Bob Matthews, and I have long disagreed about the dimensions at Frontier Field. He loves home runs and wants to see the Rochester Red Wings move in the fences. I love home runs, too, but baseball has made too many parks into phone booths, hence cheapening the value of the homer. So, I've resisted shortening Frontier.
But, in the spirit of compromise, I'm willing to meet Bob halfway. Why not experiment with some stands in the Bermuda Triangle area near the leftfield bullpen? Put some special, premium seats out there for a season, and see if the number of dingers to left-center increases. I just don't want to see Frontier turn into Coors Field or the new Yankee Stadium, where banjo-hitters can check their swings and still wind up putting the ball into the right-field seats.
I'm rooting for Stan Van Gundy, the rotund, every-guy coach, to beat the slick, Armani-suited Phil Jackson in the NBA finals. Yes, I'm being provincial, because I got to know the Van Gundy family during their Brockport days.
But I also believe Stan is a basketball-lifer who deserves this, especially after Pat Riley jettisoned him when he realized Van Gundy had the Miami Heat situated to win the NBA championship a few years ago. Riley took over and got another ring - a ring that Van Gundy deserved to win.
I'm sure, somewhere up above, the great Red Auerbach also is pulling for Stan because four Los Angeles Lakers' victories in these finals against the Orlando Magic would give Jackson a record 10th NBA title, breaking Red's record.
IndyCar racer Danica Patrick is the latest athlete to stick her foot in her mouth. She insisted she was joking when she told Sports Illustrated's Dan Patrick (no relation) that using performance-enhancing drugs would only be cheating if she got caught.
Travis Tygart of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency didn't find her comments funny, and neither did I.
"In one interview, she undercut what millions of parents try their best to teach their kids everyday in this country, that winners never cheat and cheaters never win,'' Tygart told The Associated Press.
In an interview published last week, Danica Patrick was asked, if she could take a performance-enhancing drug and not get caught, would she do it if it allowed her to win the Indianapolis 500.
"Well, then it's not cheating, is it? If nobody finds out?'' she said.
Dan Patrick responded: "So you would do it?''
Danica's answer: "Yeah, it would be like finding a gray area. In motorsports, we work in the gray areas a lot. You're trying to find where the holes are in the rule book.''
Danica later said her answers were a joke and she apologized if they came across differently.
"It was a bad joke,'' she said in an interview published on the USA Today Web site.
There's speculation that Danica will make the conversion to NASCAR next year. Interestingly, that racing organization is taking a much more active approach against drugs in the garage. Six crew members and driver Jeremy Mayfield have been suspended since NASCAR began random testing this year.
Tygart said he was glad Patrick apologized for her comments.
"Although joking about the use of dangerous and unhealthy drugs that cheaters use to rob clean athletes of their dreams is no laughing matter,'' he said.
I totally agree.