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Saturday, January 19, 2019

Beach Boys Featured in MLK Tourney at Viking Pavilion

by Harry Cummins

     One of the top rated high school boys basketball teams in the country, Rainier Beach, will headline the 12 team, day- long MLK Jr. Invitational to be held Monday, January 21 at the new Viking Pavilion on the campus of Portland State University.

    Rainier Beach is led by their heralded wing tandem of  Marjon Beauchamp and Jamon Kemp and will face off with Jefferson in the featured 6 pm contest.  A 6'6"junior, Beauchamp is one of the most sought-after prospects in the nation and is currently ranked 28th according to ESPNU 100.  Kemp, the 6'6" senior, is the son of Seattle Sonics legend Shawn Kemp.  Both players transferred to Rainier Beach this year from Garfield, who won last year's Washington Class 3-A championship under the coaching guidance of former Portland Trailblazer Brandon Roy.

     Other local boy's teams participating in the MLK Invitational are Roosevelt, Clackamas, Grant, Barlow, Lake Oswego and West Linn.  Girls teams include Benson, Beaverton, Southridge and Grant.  The first game of the day begins at 11 A.M. in Portland's new palace in the Park Blocks.


New Home For Prefontaine Classic

by Harry Cummins

     The annual Prefontaine Classic, long a favorite destination for a legion of Oregon track and field fans, is on the move.

      Craw's Corner has learned that a formal announcement regarding the shift from legendary Hayward Field in Eugene will not be made for a few more weeks, but sources close to the situation confirm that the 2019 Pre Classic will be held at Stanford University's Cobb Track and Angell Field on June 30th this year.

     The Prefontaine Classic had been held annually at Hayward Field since 1973 and is now part of the IAAF prestigious series of Diamond League meets contested every year around the world. In recent years, the meet has taken place over two days, but this years meet will be condensed into a single day.  It is the greatest assemblage of world class athletes on U.S. soil.

     Construction is already underway for a new $200 million stadium in Eugene at the site of the old Hayward Field.  The project is now expected to be finished by April next year, and if so,will host the 2020 U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials which determines the team that will compete in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. There remains a chance that the 2020 Prefontaine Classic will return to Eugene next year as well.

     Prefontaine meet organizers tried unsuccessfully to find an alternate Oregon site to stage the meet this year, considering Oregon State in Corvallis, Lewis and Clark College in Portland, and Lane Community College in Eugene. Costs to upgrade the tracks for a live TV broadcast and temporary seating proved too costly.

      Capacity at Stanford's home track is listed at just 1,772, but temporary bleachers are expected to expand seating to 5,000.  The Prefontaine Classic remains the only IAAF Diamond League meet held in the United States.

     The official announcement regarding the change in venue is expected to come on Feb 5, at a Track Town Tuesday town hall-style gathering at the Downtown Athletic Club in Eugene.

    By then, many in Oregon's passionate track and field base, will have already booked reservations  600 miles to the South, hoping it is a road trip they will have to make only once.




College Basketball Timeouts: YUCK

By Gregory Crawford @wchoops

I love college basketball. My track record proves it, by my continuous genuine promotion. What I don’t like is timeout structure on the men’s side for NCAA basketball. For the record, JC, Community College, NAIA and all levels of women’s play get the TOS right.

Back to problem area. Too many timeouts ruin the flow of game for players and for sure the fan experience. College basketball attendance is down and equally important, TV ratings are flat.

My drastic solution for timeouts, of which I have no doubt would work.

1st Half— Full time-out under 17:00 and 10:00 minute mark. No 30 second TOs.

2nd Half—- Same as first half, with addition of 2 30 second timeouts for each team, but only can be used in the final 3 minutes.

Overtime—- No timeouts.

Make the full timeouts as long as you wish. For record I have talked to many TV executives who are fine with my plan, actually really happy, cause it would make the game more interesting and bring more interest

Of course perhaps this could all be solved if men’s side sucked in their ego and played quarters like the women.

Comments much appreciated.

Kejecha's Magnificant Mile Pulls UP Runner Into History

by Harry Cummins

     Two-time IAAF World Champion Yomif Kejelcha ran the fastest mile ever run this early in a calendar year when he won the University of Washington Indoor Preview race last Saturday in a   sensational clocking of 3:52.61.

     Kejelcha, an Ethiopian who currently trains as part of the Beaverton-based Nike Oregon project, also won the 1,000 meter race held just 50 minutes earlier, holding off Olympian Clayton Murphy to cap an amazing double. His time in the mile was easily the fastest clocking in the world this year and established a new Dempsey indoor facility record as well.

     The University of Portland redshirt senior Logan Orndorf finished 5th behind Kejelcha, stopping the watch at 3:59.94 to become the first Pilot in UP history to run a sub-four minute mile. He surpasses the 2014 indoor mile mark set in 2014 of 4:01.28 by Ryan Poland.

NBA: Could These Ideas Work

By Gregory Crawford @wchoops

Your thoughts as great readers always welcome.

The NBA always prides itself for thinking outside the box, as in most cases they should, so how about this NBA?

1. At present with 30 teams in league, how about a drawing to determine order and starting in 2020 each team gets the 1st overall pick for next 30 years per the draw. That would be exciting and each team would have plenty of notice when they are up at #1. The rest of Draft would be the way it is at present. One more way of continued fan engagement. Your thoughts?

2. Split seasons have been highly successful in minor league baseball. How about split seasons in NBA, with heavy bonuses and home court advantage to teams that win both halves . Playoffs would be more exciting and at least until late March most teams would be in playoff contention, which is what it is all about. Your thoughts?

Friday, January 18, 2019

For Better Or Worse? -- Baseball's All-Purpose Relief Pitchers

by Harry Cummins

     The Yankees signing this week of free-agent Adam Ottavino to a 3-year, $27 million deal was the latest manifest in the dramatic shift to lucrative, long term contracts doled out to dominate mid-to-late inning relief pitchers who can be employed anywhere from the first to final inning of a baseball game.

     Ottavino, 33, now joins Chad Green, Zack Britton and Dellin Betances as an imposing expansion bridge to lights-out closer Aroldis Chapman. Among MLB pitchers with at least 50 innings last season, Chapman paced the pack in most strikeouts per nine innings at 16.3.  Betances  ranked third with 15.53, and Ottavino was 12th at nearly 13, followed closely by Green.

     Expect more and more small market teams to mimic Tampa Bay's success last season in implementing an 'opener' pitcher who will throw the first few innings, followed by a conga-line of lock-down flame-throwers.  Does this trend signal the end of the route-going pitching performances of the past that were so memorable to the stat-based baseball fan?  Will this render as obsolete, the cherished Game Score metrics invented by Bill James and Tom Tango to rate and rank individual pitching performances?

     On a personal note, the most enduring moments I've experienced as a baseball fan have come from witnessing in person a dominant pitching performance by a starting pitcher. In 2000, I sat in Safeco Field and watched Roger Clemens craft the greatest post-season performance in history in shutting down the Seattle Mariners in Game 4 the AL Championship Series.

     The 38 year old Yankee ace surrendered just one hit that night, a 7th inning double by Al Martin that eluded the reach of Yankee first baseman Tino Martinez by mere inches.  He faced just 30 batters in a 5-0 shutout of a Mariner team that hit nearly 200 home runs in the regular season and featured hitters like Edgar Martinez and Alex Rodriquez.  Clemens struck out 15 batters in his masterpiece, coming on one of the biggest stages in the sport. He threw 138 pitches.  His fastball was clocked at 99 mph in the final inning.

     With the emerging trend of multi-task pitchers seemingly here to stay, I fear that the next time I will ever witness a game like the one the Rocket threw in 2000, it will be from inside a firmly encased time capsule.

     Such is the consequence of the new American pastime!


Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Tiger Woods Commits To Play Torrey Pines

by Harry Cummins

    The Legend is returning to the site where he launched his 2018 fairy tale golfing comeback last January after being sidelined by four back surgeries.

     Tiger Woods, a 7-time winner of the Farmers Insurance Open, will play again this year in the annual PGA tournament beginning next week at Torrey Pines Golf Course in picturesque La Jolla, California.  Woods first win at the Farmers came 20 years ago.

     Woods last PGA tour appearance came at the Tour Championship in September, where he captured his 80th career tour win and first in 5 years, putting him just two shy of Sam Snead's all-time record. Woods comeback year included seven top ten finishes and more than 5 million in prize money. He is currently ranked number 12 in the world.

    Want a winter break?  General Admission Adult Grounds tickets start at $60 and include one of the best cliff-top ocean views in the world and an opportunity to take a stroll along side a golfing legend.

     Securing lodging, however, in the charming seaside village of La Jolla may be akin to an unplayable lie. If you do get lucky, book a few nights at the historic La Valencia Hotel and thank me later.