Black and Gold Divide

Maggie Moss wins again

Great read from Lenny Shulman and BloodHorse.com on Maggie Moss recent first place finish in the recently completed spring/summer meet at Churchill Downs. This is Maggie’s fourth owner title.

“I’ve always been amazed that I’m in this business and am blessed to have done as well as I have,” she said. “I attribute my success to the karma of giving back with passion and heart. That’s why I’ve been so lucky.”

Click to read the full article.

Former Hawkeye Mike Daniels: At Iowa, we work harder than you

Saturday Tradition has a great article on Mike Daniels and the Iowa attitude.

“It’s one thing I tell everybody in the (Packers) locker room is that at Iowa, we don’t look like the prettiest, but we’re tougher than you, we probably work harder — I know we work harder than you and we’re more physical than you,” Daniels said. “So if you’re not ready to go, you’re gonna lose the game and you’re gonna be hurt after the game.”

Read the whole story here ->

Stand Up To Cancer

During Tuesday night’s All Star Game MLB players, fans and umpires showed their support for those fighting cancer. Home plate umpire Joe West listed Des Moines native Tim McCelland, who is currently battling leukemia.

Best Wishes to Tim and his family.

Mickelson’s Money

Golf Digest has an interesting read on Phil Mickelson and his money plays – gambling, stocks, etc.

Mickelson and a group of partners are said to have put $20,000 down on a preseason bet on the 2001 Super Bowl winner and won a reported $560,000. He also supposedly won big by betting on the Arizona Diamondbacks to beat the New York Yankees in the 2001 World Series. But these successes, clearly, were only part of the story. According to people familiar with Walters’ practices, he allowed Mickelson to keep an account for sports bets with him; Walters operated, in effect, as a big-time bookie for Mickelson. For example, according to a sworn statement by Mickelson’s business manager, on Sept. 19, 2012, Mickelson paid Walters $1,950,000 to cover a debt “related to sports gambling.”

Read the whole story here ->

Nucara on Marty and Miller

Iowa Hawkeyes 2017 Spring Football Preview

 Article written by Robert A. Boleyn via athlonsports.com to see other team football previews visit athlonsports.com or visit your favorite newsstand.

The Iowa Hawkeyes entered the 2016 season with sky-high expectations, coming off the historic ‘15 campaign in which they went 12-2, won the Big Ten West Division, and earned a berth in the Rose Bowl. With more returning firepower than any Iowa team in recent memory, and a schedule that included the most difficult games in the friendly confines of Kinnick Stadium, there appeared to be nothing in the way of a return to the national title discussion.

 

But somewhere along I-80 fate intervened and the Hawkeyes’ fortunes were redirected, taking a sharp turn south as the powerful, high-octane, and often fortunate offense of 2015 sputtered to a crawl.  The team eventually finished just 8-5 with a season-ending blowout loss to the Florida Gators in the Outback Bowl.

 

Entering spring practice, much has changed in Iowa City. Gone are the core players from those 2015 and ’16 teams. But with a stable full of stellar incoming recruits, combined with a crop of fresh young faces on the sidelines in new coaching roles, there is some sense among observers that the Hawkeyes’ tumble from grace may have finally found its low point.

 

Without the presence of the newest recruiting class, the spring game may provide a limited glimpse into just what this team can accomplish. But it’s still the best indicator to date for how the Hawkeyes get back on the road to another Big Ten title and when.

 

5 Storylines to Watch During Iowa’s Spring Practice

 

1. Which QB emerges from the field?
Heading into spring drills, it’s technically a two-horse race for the starting QB slot between Nathan Stanley and Tyler Wiegers. But it’s probably Stanley’s job to lose after the sophomore served as a reliable backup to C.J. Beathard, seeing action in seven games. But don’t be surprised to see the coaching staff test Wiegers’ arm strength and agility as well. A junior, Wiegers’ played limited snaps in 2015 but didn’t get in a game last season. With quarterbacks coach Ken O’Keefe back after a five-year run with the Miami Dolphins, a renewed focus will be put on developing future NFL prospects at the position as well.

 

2. Where’s the beef?
The O-line is the Hawkeyes’ bread and butter year in and year out. With four starters returning from a unit which won the prestigious Joe Moore Award for best offensive line in college football in 2016, that won’t be changing this year either. With an average weight of 303.4 pounds, Iowa’s front will be just as big and physical as ever. The biggest question in this unit is depth and how the five or six other candidates for backup roles distinguish themselves in the weight room between now and August.

 

3. Who emerges as the No. 2 running back?
Akrum Wadley, who finished seventh in the Big Ten in rushing with 1,081 yards last season is back, but someone will need to fill LeShun Daniels Jr.’s shoes behind him. Daniels ended the season just behind Wadley in yards (1,058) and tied him for the team lead with 10 touchdowns. With Iowa relying so heavily on the run, there will be plenty of carries for whoever gets the backup role. The most likely candidate for that job appears to be true freshman Kyshaun Bryan, but he hasn’t arrived on campus yet. That leaves an opportunity for sophomore Tokis Akinribade to make a strong impression during the spring as the staff limits the direct hits on Wadley while he works on bulking up for the regular season.

 

4. What does this offensive overhaul mean for the TE position?
With the Hawkeyes looking at developing this team for the long haul, look for Noah Fant to get the bulk of the reps at tight end this spring. The sophomore will be joined by senior Peter Pekar on the depth chart at the position. But the Hawkeyes also may be ready to return to the Hayden Fry-era philosophy once also espoused by head coach Kirk Ferentz that favors a more robust usage of the tight end. This may mean more multiple-tight end sets. If that happens, look for redshirt freshman Shaun Beyer to become a factor too.

 

5. Who are all those dudes in the white shirts along the Hawkeye sideline?
Tim Polasek will take up where Brian Ferentz left off on the O-line before his promotion to offensive coordinator. Kelton Copeland will assume the coaching of the wide receivers. And most shockingly, O’Keefe has returned to Iowa City as quarterbacks coach. This mix of old and new faces has one thing in common – they all have first-hand knowledge of how the Hawkeyes play, and win, football games. But head coach Kirk Ferentz didn’t make these changes to maintain the status quo.  He’s looking to shake up the offense. So expect the unexpected this spring, including a renewed emphasis on the passing game to return to a balance that eluded the Hawkeyes in 2016. Which is why the newfound depth at wide receiver and tight end, and the progress these position groups make this spring, is critical in translating recruiting success to success on the field this fall.

 

Pre-Spring Outlook for Iowa in the Big Ten

If it’s true that what you don’t know can’t hurt you, then Iowa fans ought to feel pretty good right about now. Because the only thing anyone really knows about this team at this point, is what they don’t know. Head coach Kirk Ferentz has been very open about the likelihood that the offense will include an army of fresh young recruits. The good news for fans is that this particular recruiting class appears on paper to be far better than their average ranking of 38th. But anyone who expects that to translate to immediate success may be disappointed yet again. It’s highly likely that this edition of the Hawkeyes will win early and often, but once again sputter down the stretch with some difficult games on the road in which their youth and inexperience are tested under the brightest of lights.

 

With the wholesale changes to the offensive coaching staff, and the renewal of confidence that comes with them, there’s no reason to believe that the Hawkeyes will not at least match last season’s 8-5 record and go to another bowl game. But if the team or coaching chemistry doesn’t gel quickly, it could be another frustrating year of “what if” for the Hawkeye faithful.

 

— Written by Robert A. Boleyn, an independent writer and member of the Athlon Contributor Network since July 2015. Currently based in Southern California, Boleyn attended both the University of Iowa and UCLA. Follow him on Twitter @BoleynRobert.

The Twins Are the Surprise of Baseball – How?

A 9 game losing streak to start the season. 103 losses overall, the most losses in team history. 2016 was as ugly as Twins fans have ever seen. It cost general manager Terry Ryan his job. With a win yesterday in Baltimore, the Twins moved to 25-18 on the year and remained at the top of the American League Central. A season ago, the Twins didn’t win their 25th game until June 28th to move to 25-51. Without making wholesale changes, this has the look of a real Major League Baseball team. How have they got here? 2 big reasons:

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Improved Defense

Last year the Twins made the disastrous decision to try and play Miguel Sano, their promising young third basemen, in right field. Sano was a disaster out there. No surprise. Robbie Grossman was brought in after being waived from Cleveland and proved to not measure up as a fielder as he does as a batsman. Trevor Plouffe and Danny Santana added to the defensive issues. Many questions remained coming into the year on the defense for the Twins, especially on the left side of the infield with Sano at 3rd and Jorge Polanco at shortstop. Polanco has been much better than expected and Sano hasn’t been quite as bad as many thought. But the biggest step forward for been in the outfield. With uber-prospect Byron Buxton patrolling center field and plus defenders Max Kepler and Eddie Rosario in Right and Left field respectively, this defense has been able to track down balls that were doubles a season ago.

Pitch Framing

Jason Castro was targeted early in free agency from the new front office of the Twins with Derek Falvey and Tadd Levine. They signed him to a 3 year deal for $24.5 million. Many scratched their head about  the signing of a guy that looked like he would hit .220 with 10-12 home runs. Castro’s real impact comes in his handling of the pitching staff and most importantly, pitch framing. Castro has excelled for years at “stealing” strikes. Why does that matter? Let’s look at the difference between a hitter in a 1-2 count as opposed to a 2-1 count. Batters hit .167 in a 1-2 count, .327 in a 2-1 count according to a 2014 Grantland article from Joe Lemire.

So the question now becomes, can the Twins keep up at this pace and be a contender come September? The young players still have room for growth, Jose Berrios is showing immense promise, Byron Buxton is starting to come around with the bat to go along with his outstanding defense and the bullpen has been incredibly solid on the back end. The good news is this isn’t just a team where everybody is hot over a certain stretch. It has been a team effort. We’ve seen plenty of hot starts fade out in baseball. Many believe that this team will be similar. Something tells me they’ll be hanging around longer than many in baseball think.

 

Trent Condon provides updates and commentary for the Marty and Miller TV program. You can watch “Marty & Miller” Weekdays from 3:00-6:00 on Mediacom 22 and stream at martyandmiller.com or by downloading the “Marty & Miller” app. Trent also hosts “Jimmy B & TC” weekdays from 12:00-3:00 on 1700 KBGG.

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Iowa State Basketball – Updated Roster Check

With 4 open scholarships coming into the spring signing period, it was expected to be a wild ride to see what the roster would look like for Iowa State basketball. Some crazy twists and turns have left the Iowa State with more open scholarships still to give and many people scratching their heads.

Michael Jacobson, formerly of Nebraska, is the latest to make his commitment to Iowa State. He joins Marial Shayok from Virginia as sit out transfers for next year. 5th year grad transfers Jeff Beverly from Texas San Antonio and Hans Brase of Princeton will be eligible to play right away next season.

Image result for michael jacobson nebraska

All told, pretty standard. But during this time ISU has lost out on 2 scholarship players that will look for new opportunities. That’s where some of the craziness comes in. First, Ray Kosongo asked for his release after sitting out last season as a transfer from Tennessee. Then, news Friday came out that one of 3 incoming freshmen, Darius McNeill has asked out of his letter of intent, just weeks before he was set to arrive on campus. With the news and with Iowa State expected to let McNeill out of his letter of intent, Iowa State still has 2 scholarships available to give for next year. The prevailing notion is that they are looking to add another guard, preferably a scoring guard. Perhaps they will find a 5th year grad transfer or a JUCO player to fit that bill.

Here is the roster as it looks today without McNeill:

Seniors: Donovan Jackson (G), Hans Brase (F), Jeff Beverly (F)

Juniors: Nick Weiler-Babb (G/F)

Sophomores: Soloman Young (C), Jakolby Long (G)

Freshmen: Cameron Lard (F), Lindell Wigginton (G), Terrance Lewis (F),

Sit out transfer: Marial Shayok (Senior in 2018-19), Michael Jacobson (Junior in 2018-19)

Open Scholarships: (2)

 

Trent Condon provides updates and commentary for the Marty and Miller TV program. You can watch “Marty & Miller” Weekdays from 3:00-6:00 on Mediacom 22 and stream at martyandmiller.com or by downloading the “Marty & Miller” app. Trent also hosts “Jimmy B & TC” weekdays from 12:00-3:00 on 1700 KBGG.

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