Cokin’s Corner, Tuesday 3/20/18

Not that I'm even remotely qualified, but even if I happened to be, there's no way I could ever coach college basketball. I'd end up getting an ulcer at the very least, or arrested for homicide in the worst case scenario. I'll give you an example of why, using last night's Stanford-Oklahoma State game as Exhibit A. 15 seconds remaining in the game, Oklahoma State up nine. The game is over. Yet, some nitwit on the Cowboys decides to contest a three-point Stanford shot and commits a foul in process. I cannot find any words to describe the level of utter stupidity in play here. There's 15 seconds left and you're up by nine. Just get out of the bleeping way. It's literally that simple. Just get out of the bleeping way. If the guy hits the three, so what? It's less than 50/50 that the guy will make the shot, so just let him shoot the damn ball. If this was just a one-time instance where some player had a brain fart, okay, no big deal. But what's astonishing to me is how frequently ... More

Cokin’s Corner, Monday 3/19/17

So I guess everyone's brackets are busted except mine. Of course, that's only because I don't have any brackets to bust. For me, it's all about examining each game individually and hoping to find an edge. So far, so good on that count. I've had a good NCAA Tournament thus far with several really easy wins. Good would be great if not for having to settle for a push with Xavier on Friday and a hook loser on Purdue on Sunday. Not much but tough luck on the Boilermakers spread miss. The other team got a put back deuce to cut it to three with a couple ticks remaining. The subsequent foul put an 86% free throw shooter on the line for a one plus one and he missed the front end. Ballgame. As for Xavier on Friday, turns out my bitching on Twitter about the team's inability to stay focused bit them on the rump on Sunday. The Musketeers mental sloppiness has them heading back home as a top seed that didn't even make the Sweet 16. We've got a wide open event resuming on Thursday and ... More

Cokin’s Corner, Sunday 3/18/18

Saturday started off slowly as far as the decibel level on the excitement meter goes. Villanova and Duke were both cakewalk winners. But things really heated up after that on the Day Three at the Dance card. This is an absolutely amazing tournament, year after year. It never fails to deliver. But there is one big, ugly and intrusive fly in the ointment. The NCAA seriously needs to address the replay review issue. It stinks. There are just way too many stoppages. Solution? Go to a coach's challenge system. I don't care if they go a little high with the quantity of challenges allowed. I can live with three per game per coach. The coaches can use them to check the clock if they want. No penalty if the timekeeper has it right. On possessions, coaching challenge that fails results in a one-shot technical foul. That adds strategy to the mix and that creates more excitement for the live audience and those watching on whatever device. That's my two cents. Maybe it's a dumb idea, ... More

Cokin’s Corner, Saturday 3/17/18

Make that 1-135. The Virginia Cavaliers now own the dubious distinction of being the first #1 seed to lose a game to a #16 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The outright shocker by UMBC is amazing. What is close to unbelievable is the ease with which the Retrievers accomplished this feat. This was a blowout. The deal was pretty much sealed after a big UMBC run out of the break. There are frequently games where the big chalk struggles and falls behind. But there's usually that feeling the big comeback will get mounted, the unknown underdog will get deer in the headlights syndrome and the clock will eventually strike midnight for the Cinderella. I can't speak for anyone else, but I was convince this game was over with maybe 15 minutes still to play. UMBC's waterbug point guard, K.J. Maura, reduced the famed Virginia defense to rubble with his game. I don;t know what the Retrievers will have left in their tank for Sunday's game against Kansas State. One thing certain is that the ... More

Cokin’s Corner, Friday 3/16/18

The two questions I get asked more often than any others are about who I have to win the Super Bowl and which schools I have in my Final Four. The answers are the same. I don't know and I don't care. I get interested in the Super Bowl once I know who's playing. I get excited about the Final Four once the Elite Eight is completed. My sole interest, other than a casual rooting interest in teams from Rhode Island, Boston or Las Vegas is on individual games. I will admit that on occasion I have a tendency to get snippy when asked these questions, and I wish I wouldn't do that. But the answer is still always going to be the same. I honestly don't give a rat's behind, and I probably never will. The reason I mention this is that I got asked for my Final Four and national champ for a couple of publications at different websites. I sincerely hope NO ONE puts any weight on my choices, as I put no thought whatsoever into them. Ask me about a specific game and I'm all-in with what I ... More

Cokin’s Corner, Thursday 3/15/18

I commented yesterday on the experimental rules being utilized in this year's NIT. From a fan standpoint, I liked the changes quite a bit and sincerely hope we get to see them adapted in time for next season in college basketball. The analyst part of me is far more interested in delving into results of what took place and assessing the impact in terms of what took place. Bear in mind this is a very small sample, consisting of only 16 games. But there was a very clear pattern on display as far as three point accuracy was concerned. Of the 32 teams participating in the NIT, 24 shot worse on their threes than they did in the regular season. That's 75%, which is obviously substantial. But more notably, 15 of the 16 road teams had a lower success rate from beyond the arc. The only road team that exceeded its regular season percentage was UNC-Asheville, and that was in a very wide open game at USC. Food for thought as we move to the second round of this year's Little Dance. ... More

Cokin’s Corner, Wednesday 3/14/18

A one-day deviation from the baseball previews as I want to weigh on on a few of the experimental rules being utilized in the NIT. The teams can still sink three pointers, but now they're actually at a distance where getting that extra point is a bit more of a challenge. Of the 18 teams in action on Tuesday night, 12 shot worse from beyond the arc than they did in the regular season. Good. The college three that's currently in place is too easy and I think it results in less good offense being run. This is better. Four quarters as opposed to two halves improves the flow. I like it. And I absolutely love the free throw rules. The fifth team foul in each quarter, and each subsequent foul, results in two free throws. No more one plus one, which honestly has never made sense to me. Long story short, I really like these rule changes and sincerely hope they're implemented throughout men's college basketball prior to next season. Tuesday was good. 3-1 on the tournament plays, ... More

Cokin’s Corner, Tuesday 3/13/18

Today's MLB preview is on the Houston Astros. The long wait finally ended last autumn and the Astros head into a new season as reigning champions for the first time ever. The 'Stros are going to be tough to unseat. There's always the possibility of a World Series hangover following a busy winter of celebrating at functions throughout the country. But there's also no mistaking the air of confidence that's prevalent throughout this roster. On paper, this team is stronger than they were in 2018. That's bad news for everyone else. I don't see a good bet on the O/U wins prop. There's a major premium to be paid for anyone who wants to play the Over, but I'd sure be reluctant to go the other way. From a fantasy/auction standpoint, the main interest for me is to see what happens as far as the prices on the Houston bullpen denizens. Manager AJ Hinch has already made it clear he's going the mix and match route with the pen. If he stays with that game plan, Ken Giles will see the ... More

Cokin’s Corner, Monday 3/12/18

Today's MLB preview is on the Detroit Tigers. Long story extremely short, this is a terrible baseball team. Former GM Dave Dombrowski was a win now and forget about later guy with the Tigers (and he's much the same with the Red Sox). DD used the farm system to deal for players who could help the Tigers contend, which they did for several years. The Tigers are now paying the price as the big league roster is not good and the farm system is in a rebuilding process. That aspect is going pretty well as far as future pitching is concerned, not so much on the position player front. I've been focusing on choosing one or two of the current players on each team to assess, mostly for fantasy or auction purposes. I'll go a different route here, and will zero in on the dugout. On paper, it's easy to see why lots of bettors are eager to play the Under 67.5 wins on a team that really does look like it could lose 100 games. Here's why I won't be doing so. I can't play the Over as the ... More

Cokin’s Corner, Sunday 3/11/18

Today's MLB preview is on the Cleveland Indians. The AL Central is not a particularly imposing division, to put it mildly. I don't see how the Tribe can fail to win this division, barring some spectacular regression by some key players or injury issues. It's not that they're a great team, but the Indians appear clearly superior to the rest of the Central, and they're rightfully very heavy chalk to come out on top. I'll take a look at a couple of Cleveland players who will draw varying interest in auction leagues this season. Edwin Encarnacion is still a productive player, but the decline signs are now showing for the veteran slugger. EE will still display ample sock. That likely makes him worth about $20, as Encarnacion still has 1B/CI eligibility. But with power available in ample amounts across the board, he's not a guy I'd be targeting. Then there's Bradley Zimmer, who made quite a splash upon his arrival last May. Zimmer has pop and speed to burn. But as enticing as that ... More

Cokin’s Corner, Saturday 3/10/18

Baseball previews resume today with a look at a team with a bleak present, but an intensely bright future. The Chicago White Sox knew they didn't have the horses to contend and management aggressively went for the complete rebuild. In what amounts to a blink, the once barren White Sox farm system is now replete with high level prospects, and this looks like a team that's going to start making noise, perhaps as soon as 2019. As for 2018, the pitching looms as mediocre and that should strike down any consideration that the Pale Hose can upset the AL Central applecart and make a stunning run. But that's no reason for depression among White Sox fans. The best is yet to come. I'll be interested to see the progress of this team's keystone combination of Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson. Moncada has the tools to become a superstar. I really think it's just a matter of time for the key component acquired in the Chris Sale deal with the Red Sox. Moncada struggled some after getting called ... More

Cokin’s Corner, Friday 3/9/18

The baseball previews will finally return in tomorrow's blog and will be done on an everyday basis till they're completed. This is my final "all-nighter" or close to it for the current college basketball season. As a fan, I love the conference tournaments. But as far as workload under time constraints, they're a complete pain in the butt. My Thursday was an exercise in aggravation. 4-4 altogether, but a couple of the go with plays were bad decisions and I talked myself out of backing SMU, which needless to say, won wire to wire. The Friday card consists of just one play as of now, but I would imagine there will be some adds as I get the matchups charted. Let's get right to the free play, and I'm keeping it brief. LAKERS at NUGGETS Take: LAKERS +6.5 The Lakers are 5.5 games out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. But they're playing with tremendous energy and confidence, and probabilities be damned, they still think they can qualify. I don't, but what I ... More