Thursday, October 26, 2006

How low can the ratings go? Fox-TV is finding out

America just doesn't seem to care much about a Cardinals-Tigers World Series.

This year's series is plummeting toward the lowest TV ratings in history. Through three games (and before Thursday's matchup) between the Tigers and Cardinals, the Fox network drew just 9.9 percent of the 111.4 million U.S. households with televisions, according to figures from Nielsen Media Research. That's 7 percent below last year's 10.6 rating through three games, which featured the White Sox and Astros.

Last year's final World Series rating was 11.1, the lowest in history -- although it looks like the Cards and Tigers will lower that number.

If it's any consolation to MLB, they can look at NASCAR, where the ratings for the entire season have been down about 12 percent -- 29 of this year's 32 races so far have drawn worse ratings than the previous year.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Whiteside, Haines await news on their baseball fate

Charleston High grad Matt Whiteside is among a long list of minor league free agents awaiting new deals. His assessment from, a blog site for the Rangers team that drafted him in the 25th round in 1990:

"Matt Whiteside -- 39 years old, and still hanging in there, years after sucking in the Ranger pen. Whiteside was on the Rangers at the same time as Nolan Ryan, John Cangelosi, Dickie Thon, and Monty Farris. And he's still around ... "

Whiteside spent the past season with the Pirates' Triple-A team in Indianapolis. He was 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA.

Also on the free agent list: Tally Haines, a Cape Girardeau Central and Southeast grad who spent the past season with the Reading Phillies. He was 5-2 with a 3.67 ERA.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

District football surprises? Count on 'em

Farmington is still around. So is Crystal City. Same for Dexter and Salem.

Now we find out if those same teams can keep the momentum that's carried them through the season and make it last for three more weeks and vault into the playoffs.

Cape Girardeau Central and Poplar Bluff open the three-week district football schedule Thursday in a Class 4, District 1 race that looks like a toss-up. Central, Poplar Bluff and West Plains all are 2-5, and Sikeston is 1-6. Prediction: Central.

A look at the other Southeast Missouri districts and what to expect:

  • CLASS 1 DISTRICT 1: Valle is 4-3 and easily the team to beat in Class 1 District 1. Brentwood, Louisiana and Van Far are a combined 2-18. Prediction: Valle.

  • CLASS 1 DISTRICT 2: St. Vincent stands the best chance to give Hayti a run for the title, but don't count on it. Hayti has quickness, confidence and a 5-2 record. Prediction: Hayti.

  • CLASS 2 DISTRICT 1: Caruthersville and Charleston were expected to make it a three-way shootout, but both collapsed with a midseason freefall just as East Prairie rallied after a miserable start. Malden has looked strong all season. Prediction: Malden.

  • CLASS 2 DISTRICT 2: Scott City mounted a midseason run to come in at 4-3, but Crystal City is on a roll. The momentum continues. Prediction: Crystal City.

  • CLASS 2 DISTRICT 3: Maplewood-Richmond Heights (4-3) and Cuba (3-3) will decide the title. Herculaneum and Principia will have to hope be be spoilers, but don't count on it. Prediction: Maplewood-Richmond Heights.

  • CLASS 3 DISTRICT 1: Dexter and New Madrid County Central meet in Week 10 to decide who advances. NMCC struggled with Charleston. Dexter didn't. Prediction: Dexter.

  • CLASS 3 DISTRICT 2: Potosi lost for the first time in Week 6, and now the Trojans contend with one of the region's toughest districts. Look for Potosi and Ste. Genevieve to play for the title and hope that Fredericktown and Park Hills Central don't sneak into the mix. Prediction: Potosi.

  • CLASS 3 DISTRICT 9: Salem is 6-1 and Ava 5-2. The conference rivals will play for a league title and district title all at the same time. Prediction: Salem.

  • CLASS 4 DISTRICT 2: Farmington and Festus bring 6-1 records into the district that includes North County (3-3) and DeSoto (0-7). Farmington has been No. 1 in our PowerPoll most of the season, but Festus knocked off unbeaten Potosi a week ago. And North County is notoriously strong at season's end. Prediction: Farmington.

  • CLASS 4 DISTRICT 9: Hillsboro (2-5) enters with momentum from a pair of recent wins, but the Hawks can't counter unbeaten Union. Prediction: Union.

  • CLASS 5 DISTRICT 1: Jackson, Parkway West or Seckman? All three are 5-2, so take your pick. Eureka was 4-0 and fell from the mix after three consecutive losses. Prediction: Seckman.
  • Sunday, October 15, 2006

    Even Arkansas is catching flak over this

    You can't please everybody. Arkansas trumps No. 2 Auburn on the road one week, breaks into the Top 25, then relaxes for a 63-7 breather seven days later against Southeast Missouri State. And already the critics are piling on, claiming the Hogs should be ashamed of themselves for allowing a Division I-AA creampuff onto the schedule halfway through the season.

    For starters, Arkansas athletics director Frank Broyles has steadfastly refused to schedule games against in-state teams Arkansas State and Central Arkansas. It's baffling, because Arkansas vs. Arkansas State is a guaranteed rivalry, and even Central Arkansas -- a Division I-AA school, same as SEMO -- would at least generate a modest bump in local interest and ticket sales.

    Instead, Arkansas looked seven hours north and picked out (or picked on) SEMO to the tune of $300,000 -- quite a bargain, it turns out, since Arkansas State will pocket roughly $700,000 when it goes to Auburn on Saturday.

    But the Arkansas faithful and in-state media are piling on the Hogs after Saturday's flop. SEMO didn’t put up as much fight as the Razorbacks' second team would have, one columnist wrote Sunday.

    Interesting that the last time Arkansas scored 63 points was in a 63-14 win over New Mexico State in 2004. The Aggies' coach at the time: current SEMO coach Tony Samuel, who was fired at the end of that season.

  • Also on the local front, a stat from the SEMO-Arkansas game: New Madrid County Central's Desmond Sims was credited with four tackles for Arkansas. He's the only Missouri player on the Hogs' roster.

  • From Jackson grad and Kansas senior guard Travis Dambach on Friday: "There's not one key point that's caused those losses," he said, referring to three losses determined by a touchdown or less in the previous four weeks. "That's what makes it so frustrating. It's not like you can just go out and fix one or two things." The Jayhawks' response Saturday: a 42-32 loss to Oklahoma State.

  • Kansas receiver Brian Murph (NMCC) continued playing after injuring his hand in Saturday's loss. No word on the extent of the injury.
  • Wednesday, October 11, 2006

    A big weekend for a local talent

    Daron Clayton of Sikeston cut his teeth on dirt-track racing at local tracks in Benton and Farmington, and now he's making a lot of noise on a national level -- especially after the weekend.

    Clayton dominated one of sprint-car racing's most recognized events, the 36th annual Tony Hulman Classic in Terre Haute, Ind., over the weekend. About 24 hours earlier, he won the opening-night events, too, although by a closer margin.

    A Terre Haute Tribune-Star reporter wrote this week that Clayton's effort Saturday was "flawless" and heaped praise on the 22-year-old as one of sprint racing's fast-rising stars.

    From the Tribune Star story:

    A virtual unknown to casual USAC followers, the 22-year-old Clayton is just one of a select group of talented newcomers to the open-wheel scene, leaving their mark in the sprinters.

    It was his Saturday night win that placed him in the record books as a prestigous Hulman Classic victor but it was his drive 24 hours earlier that had the sizable and apreciative fan turnout buzzing.

    His battle with sprint car racing’s hottest driver —- Jon Stanbrough -— during Friday's 20-lap feature generated some the finest if not best racing of the season on the half-mile dirt oval.

    Another Sikeston racer, Hunter Scheurenberg, had a strong weekend in the works after winning his heat race for the event. He finished 13th in the Hulman Classic behind Clayton.

    Would you take him on in a pick-up game?

    A Charlotte Observer reporter sat down with the Charlotte Bobcats' Sean May, a former UNC Tar Heel and No. 13 pick in the 2005 draft. The topic, among others: pick-up games around Chapel Hill and taking on Poplar Bluff grad Tyler Hansbrough:

    How hard do you think it is to get up a pick-up game in Chapel Hill? May and Williams played with former Tar Heels Jerry Stackhouse of the Dallas Mavericks, Brendan Haywood of the Washington Wizards, David Noel from the 2005 team and current Tar Heels Reyshawn Terry and Tyler Hansbrough.

    Who was tougher to go against, Stackhouse or Hansbrough?

    "Um," says May.

    Come on.

    "Hansbrough," says May. "Stackhouse is old and he's just trying to run up and down and stay in shape. But Tyler always makes it personal. He loves playing against (the pros), and that's what you love about him. He's intense even when we're having a shooting drill. That's why he's going to be a special talent."

    Sunday, October 01, 2006

    A former NMCC star scores big for Kansas

    Kansas senior Brian Murph of New Madrid County Central ran in a game-tying touchdown that helped Kansas send No. 21 Nebraska into overtime Saturday in a Big 12 showdown.

    The Jayhawks tied the game with 46 seconds left in regulation when Adam Barmann found Murph for a TD from the Nebraska 26. Murph finished with a team-high 129 yards on eight catches, both season-highs. His TD reception was the fourth of his career, and his 129 yards receiving was the most by any Kansas player since Mark Simmons had 135 receiving yards against Texas in 2004.

    Kansas lost 39-32 in OT.

  • Tennessee-Martin's rodeo team opened its season Saturday with Southeast Missouri names leading the list.

    Ty Atchison (Jackson High School) won in saddle bronc and was fourth in steer wrestling as part of UTM's winning total at the Missouri Valley College event in Marshall. Troy was second and MVC third overall; UTM also won the women's event, where Kasey Burchett (Zalma) was fifth in barrel racing. Brent Menz (Delta) added points on the UTM men's side.

  • Murray State sophomore Joe Shane (Poplar Bluff) fired a 547 in smallbore and a 520 in air rifle for an aggregate of 1067 to help the Racers win the season-opening rifle competition at Tennessee-Martin.

  • Mitch Craft (Cape Girardeau Central) saw limited action of the season in Southern Mississippi's win Tuesday at Central Florida. It was his first time on the field this season after an early two-game suspension.