Monthly Archives: January 2010


                                                                                        Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas

It was a stunning win for 32-year-old Kelly Kulick at Red Rock Lanes in Las Vegas this past Sunday as she beat two former PBA Players of the Year to win the 2010 Tournament of Champions. As with tennis and golf, bowling has four majors a year with the Tournament of Champions being one of them. Kulick became the first woman in the history of the Professional Bowlers Association to win a PBA tournament (and, of course, the first female to win a PBA major as well).


Things didn’t look great for Kulick in the final eight-game block on Friday as she started it in sixth place (only the top four make the TV final). After poor games of 174 and 172, she seemed out of the running. But in her final six games, she went 223, 279, 277, 222, 236 and 267 to finish second and make the show.


The ESPN televison show (with over 1.7 million viewers) began with Mika Koivuniemi defeating Rhino Page 255-215, with the winner then facing Kelly Kulick for the right to bowl Chris Barnes in the final.

Mika, as he is known, has eight career PBA titles (including two majors) and was the PBA Player of the Year in 2003-04. More importantly for his match against Kulick, Mika had thrown the last seven strikes in match one to shoot 255 and seemed lined up to beat Kelly Kulick. But a funny thing happened on the way to an all-male final.

Koivuniemi went high in the first frame and left a four pin which he made but then went high in the second frame and missed the 3-10 “baby” split. That was really the only opening that Kelly Kulick needed, as she was clean through the first five frames (leading by four pins) and then got locked in and would finish with six strikes in her last seven balls. Mika threw a 4-6 split in the sixth and could never get back as Kulick shut him out with a four bagger in the ninth and tenth to win 237-233. At no point in the match did Kulick surrender the lead.


Kelly Kulick against top seed Chris Barnes figured to be a close match. Arguably the most talented bowler alive, Barnes has had his troubles as the number one seed in “stepladder” (three plays four, the winner plays two, the winner plays one for the title) finals. Despite 12 titles including two majors (he won the Tournament of Champions in 2006), Chris Barnes’ record as the number one seed in stepladder finals was 2-6 (and 1-2 in majors).

Interestingly, Barnes decided to let Kulick bowl first. She threw a solid strike and when Barnes seemed surprised when his first ball went light for only an eight count, Barnes looked amazed and uttered “Wow” because of his poor ball reaction.

Commentator Randy Pedersen thought right away that this was a problem for Barnes. He said, after that first ball, that there was a “lot of indecision going on in the head of Chris Barnes right at this moment.”

Barnes made the spare and then Pedersen said, ‘And there’s been so many times when Chris has struggled on television, he’s struggled in title matches. Who can forget the 2008 Tournament of Champions when he had a 50-pin lead against Michael Haugen, Jr. only to miss a ten pin late and lose by a pin.

Just then, Barnes buried a strike in the second and Pedersen, maybe hedging his bets, said, “But there’s also been times when he’s been very, very good.”


None of this fazed Kelly Kulick in the least. After the match she would tell Pedersen that she “was bowling the pins, not Chris.” It certainly looked like it as she buried strikes in the second and third frames. When Barnes went spare and then through the nose for a 4-6-10, it looked like the route was on.

And it was.

Kulick got a break in the fourth as she came in a little high but tripped the four pin for her fourth consecutive strike. She threw what looked like a pretty good ball in the fifth, only to leave a pocket 7-10 split. Nevertheless, she raised her lead from 10 pins in the first, to 20 in the second to 31 in the third and to 41 after just four frames.

When Chris Barnes threw a strike in the fifth and left a ringing 10-pin in the sixth which he made, he cut the lead to 30.

But that’s the closest he would ever get.


Showing great mental toughness after leaving a pocket 7-10 in the fifth, Kulick stepped up and threw two strikes on her way to six in a row and a 265-195 defeat of the 2007-08 PBA Bowler of the Year, Chris Barnes.

It was both stunning and historic at the same time.

Kulick, an All-American bowler at Morehead State, a three-time Majors winner on the Women’s tour and a four-time Team USA member, had just become the first woman ever to win a PBA title. Barnes was gracious in defeat as he congratulated Kelly Kulick right after the match by telling her, “Great bowling, Kelly. Great job all week. You handled it fantastically.”

Needless to say, Kelly Kulick was overjoyed with her victory. Before her final shot in her winning match, she said, “History has been made in the world of sports.”

And she’s 100% right.

While Kulick was the first woman to win an exemption to bowl on the men’s tour in 2006-07, she never got the acclaim that a Michelle Wie got in golf or that a Danica Patrick got in racing. Non-bowlers might understand what she did if they could envision Wie winning the Masters or Patrick winning the Daytona 500. It’s a staggering accomplishment.


Kelly Kulick, a classy woman, took the beautiful Tournament of Champions trophy and handed it to her mother, telling her that “this is for you” and “I love you.” She then told Randy Pedersen that she thought she had the match won “after the 7-10 split, when I came back and doubled right away. That put me right back in my confident level.” Kulick also said that “this day will never be forgotten. It is by far the greatest accomplishment ever in my career.”

Kulick, who is also a fantastic teacher of the sport as a lead instructor at (and a graduate of) the famous Dick Ritger Bowling Camps, thanked a lot of people right after the match, including Chad Murphy of Columbia, Ed Gallagher of Ebonite, as well as the PBA, the USBC and the wonderful fans.

At the very end, Kulick looked at the camera and said “Ebonite, Mission accomplished,”

apparently a reference to the new Ebonite ball she threw to win the Tournament of Champions, “The Mission.” This ball will be available to the masses on February 4.


Pedersen, the ESPN commentator who has been around for decades and is in the Top 50 Bowlers of All-Time, probably summed it up best by telling Kelly Kulick, in front of a national TV audience, that “that may have been the best performance I’ve ever seen given the circumstances.”

Amen to that.

Kelly Kulick has boldly gone where no woman has gone before. With a two-year PBA exemption and a $40,000 winner’s check (which apparently she’ll use for a down payment on a house), the sky’s the limit. With appearances already on The CBS Early Show and ESPN, she now becomes, more than ever, a spokesperson for her sport and a great role model to all women and girls in all sports.

© Copyright 2009 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved.


                                                                                           Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas

Over the last decade or so, the game of football has drastically changed. Once upon a time, it was establish the run to set up the pass. Over the last five to ten years, however, rule changes helping the offense, changes in offensive philosophy, the emergence of superstar quarterbacks (Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, to name just two), empty backfields, five-wides, etc. have made some offenses pass first, run later scoring machines.


Now here comes Rex Ryan, son of defensive genius Buddy Ryan (creator of the mid-80s Bears stunning 46-defense). Rex was the defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens before he got his head coaching chance with the Jets and the Ravens were an intelligent, maniacal defense for many years.

Rex Ryan brought that intensity to New York and focused on defense and running the football – the way it was done, with rare exception, for pretty much all of the 20th Century. The fact that he had a rookie quarterback, Mark Sanchez, with only one season as a starter in college probably made his decision easier – after a decent start, Sanchez became a turnover machine who had to be scaled way back for the Jets to make their run to the AFC Championship Game.

Suddenly, it’s the run setting up easy and productive passes for Mark Sanchez against the Bengals in the first round of the playoffs. His 12-15 was helped greatly by offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s play calling – there were very few difficult throws for Sanchez to make.


Nobody saw the emergence of a star coming in running back Shone Greene, a rookie from Iowa, in these playoffs. He had a solid rookie year (108 carries for 540 yards and two TDs) as a back-up. While Thomas Jones had a superb year (1402 rushing yards, 14 rushing TDs), he’s been bothered lately by a sore knee.

Greene simply stepped in and starred, rushing for 135 yards and a TD against the Bengals and 128 yards and that game-breaking 53-yard TD in the fourth quarter against the stunned Chargers.

With an excellent offensive line (Future Hall-of Famer Faneca, Mangold and Ferguson are all going to the Pro Bowl), the Jets now see that they can run it with Thomas Jones or Shone Greene (and, don’t forget, they’ve done all of this without Leon Washington).

Yes, they were very lucky to make the playoffs (see Kallas Remarks, 1/9/10). But under the old axiom “anything can happen once you’re in,” the Jets have taken full advantage of their opportunity. It is borderline miraculous what they’ve done. With defensive excellence against both the Bengals and the high-powered Chargers, the Jets are a team to be reckoned with now and in the future.


Well, of course it does. Sanchez has a way to go and the Jets have done a good job protecting him both with their offensive schemes and their offensive line. But the Jets can win a lot of games and make a lot of noise with this defense and running game. The only reason Darrelle Revis wasn’t the NFL Defensive Player of the Year is probably because hardly anyone knew who he was the first half of the season. If he had a “name” or a “rep,” he would have been the hands-down winner. Over on the other side, Lito Sheppard has shown quiet but important leadership and has had a heckuva year himself.

And with blitz packages galore, the Jets have fooled many a quarterback and had back-to-back picks against Philip Rivers in the biggest (to date) of games.

Don’t forget that, defensively, they’ve done all of this without Kris Jenkins, a monster in the middle.

The Jets hope that Mark Sanchez will mature quickly. But, even if he doesn’t, it says here that the Jets can be a Ravens-like team for years to come. Sanchez will wind up better than Trent Dilfer (and, hopefully, much more) and you Jet (and Giant) fans know that Dilfer is a Super Bowl-winning QB.


While he can act like a buffoon at times, Rex Ryan has changed the culture and the mindset of the Jets after just one season. With additional, intelligent drafting, the Jets can become a force to be reckoned with quicker than most thought. Can they beat the Patriots next year in the AFC East? A fascinating question since nobody knows how badly Tom Brady was hurt this season (or how Wes Welker will come back or what the Pats will do about that defense). While it says here that beating the Pats will still be a tall order, in the NFL they have that thing called a wild card.

But just the fact that it’s at least a discussion as to who’s better, the Jets or the Pats, shows how far Rex Ryan has brought his team in one season.

Rex Ryan isn’t the Coach of the Year, but just the fact that his name has to be mentioned in the conversation shows you how far the Jets have come.

The future is now for the New York Jets. Amazing.

© Copyright 2009 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved.


                                  Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas

It’s hard to believe, but is there anyone in baseball who has more credibility in this whole steroids debacle than Jose Canseco? Mark McGwire, with the help of Ari Fleischer and his publicity group (according to some reports), decided to finally admit what virtually everbody believed: that he used steroids during his major league career. Of course, McGwire HAD to do something before he shows up in a few weeks to be the Cardinals hitting coach. Showing up with Bob Costas of MLB Network for an interview, perhaps McGwire and his group actually believed they could give what amounts to a partial apology (essentially, I used steroids but I don’t think it helped me hit home runs) and end the media fascination with his home run totals.

Of course, they were totally wrong.

After losing his composure and crying with Costas, McGwire appeared the next day with Bob Ley on ESPN and seemed like a different person. He had what looked like a forced smile (bizarre) as he went over much of the same stuff with Ley but, not surprisingly, people are focusing on his belief (and, hey, maybe he really does believe it) that steroids did not help him hit homers.

Nobody except his staunchest supporters gives his statements much believability.

Interestingly, within a day of McGwire talking about his “strong mind” and how that was one of the key components in hitting so many home runs, Tony La Russa went on Baseball Tonight via phone and essentially said the same thing, stating how tough McGwire was mentally, how he worked so hard and how, at both Oakland and St. Louis, La Russa had run a “legitimate” program (he sounded more like an NCAA basketball coach under investigation).


La Russa said that, until McGwire called him this past Monday and told him, he (La Russa) had no idea that Mark McGwire had ever taken steroids.

Is that believable?

But all La Russa was doing was taking a page from the late 20th/early 21st century manager’s book; that is, I didn’t know anything at any time until everybody else did. Joe Torre has already used this in his capacity as both Yankees manager and Dodgers manager.

But what would you expect? Do you expect a Hall of Fame candidate manager to admit anything other than a vague “well, some guys did look bigger?”

That’s not realistic.


Here’s a quote from Jose Canseco’s book, Juiced, talking about Mark McGwire and his Oakland A’s teammate, Jason Giambi:

As soon as I rejoined the team for the 1997 season, I was amazed to see how open and casual these two [Giambi and McGwire] were about steroids. Sometimes, the three of us would go into the bathrooms stalls together to shoot up steroids or growth hormone. I would inject myself, and Giambi and McGwire would be one stall over, injecting each other. Other times, I preferred to inject myself at home, but those two always did it at the ballpark, because it was easier that way and they knew they had nothing to worry about. Plus, they were having all kinds of fun injecting.

The three of us talked about steroids all the time that year, right in front of everybody.

By 1997, in front of everyone but the media, it was completely accepted that we would talk openly about steroids.

Juiced, pp. 169-70 (2005), copyrighted by Jose Canseco.

Here’s another quote from the book about what steroids do for your confidence;

The psychological effect of steroids is very dramatic. Using steroids properly can do wonders for your confidence. You look good. You’re big and strong. McGwire was a twitching mass of muscle, and he had great technique. If that combination doesn’t make you feel confident, I don’t know what will.

The mind is a very powerful thing; if you convince yourself that you’re a great player, and you have the basic ability, you’re going to be a great player. You can have the perfect body for baseball and perfect ability, but if your brain is telling you “You have no chance!” you’re not going to be successful. For Mark, steroids help send his confidence level sky-high.

Juiced, pp. 75-6 (2005), copyrighted by Jose Canseco.

When asked by Bob Ley earlier this week about Jose Canseco’s accusations that they had injected each other at Oakland, etc., McGwire said that “he won’t stoop” to Canseco’s level. What does that mean? Canseco had a good response, essentially saying that McGwire can’t stoop to his level because he [Canseco] is where McGwire can’t go – the truth.


It was also bizarre that McGwire told Bob Costas that he didn’t want to be “Lou Ferrigno or Arnold Schwarzenegger.” But that’s exactly who he looked like.

Just take a look at the before and after pictures. It’s scary.


Bud Selig took this opportunity to, essentially, welcome McGwire back into the fold and also to state that the steroids era is over.

Who believes that?

The reality is there is still no test for human growth hormone and, for all we know, there are other things that players can use that can’t be detected by the present testing. We’ve seen this in cycling, in the Olympics, in track and field, etc. – the bad guys are usually ahead of the good guys.


Well, Mark McGwire had to do something after, essentially, disappearing for five years (and while this writer is one lawyer who agrees that, while he shouldn’t have incriminated himself before Congress during that debacle of an appearance, he should have spoken up after the statute of limitations had run, about four years ago), he simply wasn’t prepared to say what most want to hear: I did it, I’m sorry and yes, it helped me hit homers.

By denying the last thing mentioned above (essentially, my strong mind helped me, not the steroids), McGwire made himself fodder for jokes. He could have done a much better job but, at least, he finally admitted the truth: that he did steroids. This won’t end the story: he will probably be the butt of a lot of jokes at a lot of ball parks this season.

Another great stain on baseball.

© Copyright 2009 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved.


                                                                                   Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas

Maybe you’ve heard about the big fuss in New York about how the Jets made the playoffs. You can’t say the proverbial “they backed into it” cause they actually won their last two games. But the Colts pulled their regulars for most of the second half (giving up a 15-10 lead) to lose to the Jets. And the Bengals, based on reports this week, did literally little or nothing to game plan for the Jets before their 37-0 loss since they will play the rematch (now it counts) this weekend.

While this has been going on forever (some teams try and some don’t, depending on their situation or their “team philosophy”), this year was particularly bad because the Jets were the beneficiaries of two, essentially, lay downs by two playoff teams.


Absolutely not! They got in and that’s all that matters. Some people say the Jets were 7-7. But whatever happened to that famous Bill Parcells quote: “You are what your record says you are.” Is that true in games where stars on the other team sit? Is that true when the superstar QB doesn’t play half the game? Well, if you try and interpret (the Eagles definitely tried against the Cowboys, right? And got killed) what teams do, you’ll travel down a slippery slope. The Bengals didn’t try against the Jets, the Cardinals didn’t try against the Packers, the Eagles didn’t try against the Cowboys (I thought they did with a bye on the line – they just got smoked). What if you played the 0-16 Lions last year? Well, they tried, presumably, every game. Should that count as an NFL win?

Hopefully, you get the point.


Absolutely! They would have made the playoffs if the Colts had beaten the Jets by playing to win for 60 minutes (very likely) or if the Bengals had beaten the Jets by playing to win for 60 minutes (unlikely). The Texans got the short end of this ethical stick.


Absolutely! This was a bad year for the NFL come the end of the season. With fear of injuries (it says here the Colts will once again rest their regulars, lose at the end of the season, get a bye and not win the Super Bowl), lots of teams took a week off (or two, in the case of the Colts – although they managed to let Reggie Wayne play in a snowstorm in Buffalo to get his 100th catch. Interesting, no?). This makes the NFL look bad and should make them think long and hard before they change to an 18-game schedule (what a disaster that will be from both a trying perspective AND an additional injury perspective – teams can’t stay healthy in a 16-game season).

But, hey, maybe those teams that took games off were right. Look what happened to Wes Welker, lost for the playoffs and maybe (who knows) part of next season as well as the Patriots played to win.


OF COURSE IT DOES!!! Do you think it’s a conversation? The NFL, a couple of years ago, concluded that teams have the right to do this because they’ve earned it by winning so much. But have they? They’ve earned the right to lay down? To play like it’s the fourth exhibition game? When other teams have their own playoff hopes on the line?

That sounds ridiculous.


Now, that’s the REALLY hard question. The NFL will look at this (again) in the off-season. One suggestion is to give those teams that try (if you can imagine) an extra draft pick – Chris Mortensen said maybe at the end of the first round.

Yikes! You go 14-0 (so, presumably, you’re the best or one of the best teams in football), don’t dump and get an extra first-round pick. Talk about the rich getting richer. Would the Colts have gotten two extra first-round pocks this year if they had tried their last two games? If it’s an 18-game season, can a team get four extra picks? You get the point.

And that’s the real problem. You can’t rely on the out-dated notion of trying your best, of giving effort every week, of being proud of what you do (certainly the Colt players wanted to play but were pulled by a management decision).

As long as the fear of injury outweighs the notion of staying at the top of your game (and obviously it does for teams like the Colts and the Bengals and the Cardinals), there’s very little the league can do about it.


Well, somewhere deep down, the NFL understands that its sport has increased in popularity more than any other sport due to gambling (see, for example, injury reports). What would the NFL be today without gambling? Not nearly the behemoth it is now.

But no real intelligent bettor could seriously bet one of these games (or, maybe, you would always bet against the team that’s not going to try it’s hardest).

Does the NFL care about the gamblers? Well, contrary to what they publicly say, you have to think that they do (see again, injury reports).


It says here that there is very little the NFL can do to MAKE an NFL team play to win. Even if they forced teams to do it, you can’t make a pro player try his best. If they were all prideful players with a healthy respect for sport, there might be a chance.

But that ship sailed many years ago.

© Copyright 2009 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved.


                                                                                          Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas

In a game where Cornell could have pulled off one of the all-time great upsets, it just didn’t happen down the stretch for them. Playing Kansas in Kansas is like an American boxing a North Korean in North Korea. Aided by some mystery foul calls in the second half, Kansas was able to come back and beat Cornell (Cornell’s Ryan Wittman missed a three to tie in the final seconds). Cornell’s big man, Jeff Foote, couldn’t quite do it the last few minutes and Cornell got out of their rhythm and their game. But know this, as previously written here, Cornell basketball deserves your respect (see Kallas Remarks, 12/23/09). Do you think these “intelligent” poll voters (including the esteemed coaches) know this is a top 25 (even top 20) team now? Hopefully, they do (better late than never).

© Copyright 2009 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved.


                                  Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas

So, what happened to the 2009 New York Giants? Off to a 5-0 start (although they beat nobody (really) but the up-and-down Cowboys in that fast start), the Giants, especially their vaunted defense, collapsed, going 3-7 in their next ten games before their final (meaningless) game against the Vikings this Sunday. Two seasons removed from a miracle Super Bowl win, and one season removed from the Plaxico Burress debacle, the Giants appeared, with their fast start, to have righted the ship, complete with good receivers, an upgraded Eli Manning and that very good to excellent defense and running game.


Well, it certainly wasn’t the defense of the prior two seasons. Supposedly overloaded with pass rushers and with guys like Rocky Bernard and Chris Canty coming in to make an excellent defense even better, it just didn’t work out. Was young star-in-the-making Kenny Phillips that good of a safety that, when he was lost for the season early on, the Giants secondary collapsed? Or was the lack of that vaunted pass rush the culprit – the Giants rarely got pressure on a consistent basis – that caused the secondary to look feeble in many a game? Was star-already-made Osi Umenyiora, from walking out in training camp over a disagreement with first-year defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan to his demotion in the all-important Carolina game, a negative factor on this team? Was Bill Sheridan that bad and/or was the now-departed Steve Spagnuolo (now a head coach with one win for the Rams) that good? Could guys like Bernard and Canty and the criticized- to-the-hilt C.C. Brown have done less for this team?

It’s hard to fathom they could be this bad (you know, New Orleans 48, Giants 27; Philadelphia 40, Giants 17; Philadelphia 45, Giants 38 (at home); Carolina 41, Giants 9 (also at home).

But they were. And, now, the Giants will have to pick up the pieces for next season.


Well, what about the offense? Eli Manning, off to a great start, looked like he was about to enter that top echelon of quarterbacks. But whether it was the foot he hurt or the better defenses he played against, Manning never quite entered the “great” quarterback stage. He was inconsistent and up-and-down after the 5-0 start. While nobody expects him to be his brother or even a great vocal leader, the Giants can certainly win with Eli. But he doesn’t strike fear into the hearts of the opponents the way the great QBs do in today’s NFL.

And, frankly, that’s not going to change.


After steamrolling guys in the two seasons prior to this one, Jacobs seemed to have left the building this year. Maybe you know the stats: 224 rushes for only 835 yards, a low 3.7 yards per carry. No 100-yard rushing games. Only five touchdowns (compared to 15 last season).

Arguably as important, you just didn’t see as many bone-jarring hits. Jacobs, for whatever reason, just didn’t steamroll guys or crumble defensive backs. It just didn’t happen. Maybe it was his lingering knee injury that will now be scoped? Who knows?

But Brandon Jacobs did make an appearance this week. Did you hear about it? Yes, Brandon Jacobs was a “guest ringmaster” at the Big Apple Circus this week. No, seriously, he really was. You have to wonder who his public relations guy is cause you could hear the snickering from even die-hard Giants fans – what is this guy thinking going in as a ringmaster when he just walked out of a ten-game circus with the Giants?


Some experts are saying that the offensive line is getting old. They might have a point. While the starters average just under 30, which you wouldn’t think is “too old,” there’s a lot of wear and tear on this group. Shaun O’Hara, 32, is finishing his tenth season in the NFL. Rich Seubert and Kareem McKenzie, both 30, are finishing their ninth seasons. With David Diehl, who will be 30 next season (which will be his eighth NFL campaign) and Chris Snee, at 27 the baby in the group (finishing his sixth year), this line, which has been together as a starting unit for a long time, seems to be on the down side.

Maybe that’s what happened to the running game.

And the kicking game has seen better years. Is it the end for the great Jeff Feagles, who, at 43, while still a great directional kicker, seems to have lost leg strength when he’s not trying to kick it inside the 20? And while Lawrence Tynes had a good statistical year (27-32), he missed some big kicks and four under forty yards (with two of those under 30). It seemed like Tom Coughlin would have replaced him after he missed a field goal in three consecutive early-season wins if he could have found a good replacement. It never happened and Tynes kicked much better the last three-quarters of the season, but you never were quite confident that he would make the big kick.


Well, the coach isn’t going anywhere. Maybe the defensive coordinator, but not the head coach. Tom Coughlin has his Super Bowl ring and a contract. But the disaster that was Carolina 41, Giants 9, with the season on the line (and many Giants greats in attendance for the last home game at Giants Stadium) falls squarely on the head coach’s shoulders.


This season was beyond disappointing if you are a Giants fan. The real question is, have we seen the best of this Super Bowl-winning group? As previously discussed, without major changes, I think we have (see Kallas Remarks, 11/27/09).

We’ll see what happens.

© Copyright 2009 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved.