I know what you’re thinking. Hitting you this early with a surprise shot of a Donruss Diamond King is probably a little too much to handle and the tears that will surely pour over that baseball card collection that went missing years ago might get you off to a rough start. I apologize. What I won’t apologize for, though, is starting your Wednesday off with a celebration of former Major Leaguer Roberto Martin Antonio Bonilla, who turns 48 Wednesday. The man they call “Bobby” is remembered for forming the last feared Pittsburgh Pirates team, along with names like Barry Bonds, Andy Van Slyke, Doug Drabek, Don Slaught, Jeff King, Jose Lind, Mike LaValliere, Stan Belinda, Bob Walk…you get the point. But, merely being a part of an impressive team isn’t good enough to get you top billing here. Instead, we’ll celebrate the way Bonilla was able to beat the system and turn a disappointing Mets career into a lucrative lifetime of unearned cash. Just over a decade ago, Bonilla’s $5.9 million contract was bought out by the Mets with the agreement that he would receive just under $1.2 million per year between 2011 and 2035. After 10 years of waiting, the pudgy former infielder is now getting set to return to the Mets’ payroll July 1st and cash an annual seven-figure check for the next 25 years. For that, we salute him this morning. Don’t get any ideas, BTI.
Now onto a few UK notes…
– What was once the most daunting road trip in the SEC and guaranteed must-see basketball between two of the nation’s elite programs is now simply another shot for Kentucky to win a road game and break free of the funk that has plagued their conference schedule. After playing an encouragingly complete game against South Carolina Saturday, Kentucky again faces an opponent who offers little in terms of comparable talent, allowing the Cats to challenge themselves again to play a full 40 minutes in a hostile environment. On Tuesday, Coach Cal was asked why his team seemed to play better the last two games. He said it was because they were at home. Considering they haven’t won a road game in over a month, the logic seems to be there. Wednesday’s game seems to be set up nicely for a much needed victory away from Lexington.
– If the Cats are going to leave Fayetteville with a win and cruise comfortably beyond the seven-point spread, they’ll have to do it with an improved perimeter defense against a team that loves to shoot the three. The Hogs have a handful of guys who shoot the ball well from downtown, but Rotnei Clarke is unquestionably the most important piece of their offense. He’s also a player that the Cats can easily shut down. Clarke’s scoring has been up-and-down in conference play, though he’s heated up from downtown in the last two contests and nearly doubled his 13.8 ppg average. The Cats have the luxury of putting throwing a number of defenders at him who can deny him the ball or have the athleticism and length to make it difficult for him to get good looks. It’s the same way that Florida defended him and he went scoreless in 28 minutes. If Kentucky can make it difficult for him, it will be troublesome for the Razorbacks to score enough points to be competitive.
– There is a jinx alert, however. Eddie Sutton will be at the game. Kentucky never beat the Razorbacks while he was coaching the Cats. Of course, they never played. Still, the jinx alert remains high.
– With no game on the schedule for the Cats Tuesday, it brought one of the most ridiculous arguments of recent memory to the forefront as the four 2011 commitments issued a joint statement about their decision to pass over the Derby City Classic after criticism seemed to grow. The fact that they took the time to issue a statement at all speaks volumes about their respect for the program and the fans, but the feeling that they even needed to do so is absurd. Matt talked about this at length already and noted all of the advantages of playing in the more prestigious national games, but it should also be noted that their decisions about which all-star exhibitions to play in is also essentially the last choice they’ll get to make for themselves in the next 1-4 years as a college player. Complaining because a kid’s choice to fulfill a dream and do what they want to do because it adversely impacts your ability to see them in person a few months early is just plain stupid. Don’t be stupid.
– Don’t look now, folks, but the Cats are sitting pretty in their quest for the #2 seed in the SEC Tournament after Tennessee knocked off Vanderbiltat Memorial Gym. The Cats and Commodores are now tied in losses, with Vandy holding a temporary tie-breaker. However, if the Cats can go 2-1 down the stretch with a win against the Commodores on Senior Night, they will possess the bye. Jorts Day just became even bigger.
– I hope they savor the victory through the night because Wednesday is going to be an unpleasant day to be a part of that athletic program. The NCAA’s to Tennessee outlining their infractions will be made public Wednesdayand, according to ESPN, Bruce Pearl is going to be hit the hardest in findings that will include his program, as well as the Vols’ football and baseball team. The ESPN report says that Tennessee will go in front of the infractions committee in June and Pearl’s punishment will not be known until later in the summer. If it’s as bad as expected and results in teh head coach’s firing or a suspension of a year or more, the late decision could become even more costly the closer it gets to the season. Hope it was worth it.
– Tuesday evening, the Courier-Journal’s Rick Bozich wrote that Steve Masiello could be the next coach at Western Kentucky. Hahahaha…..Masiello could potentially….hahahaha…..can you imagine….hahahaha….selling tickets….hahahahaha…..bed head….hahahaha….what a douche….hahahaha
That’s it for now. Stick around throughout the day as we get you all set for the Razorbacks and let the excitement build until a Live Blog at 7:30. As usual, the fun gets going on Kentucky Sports Radio at 10am on Talk Radio 1080. In the meantime, in Fake Gimel’s honor, try to figure out which Star Wars character is living inside Steve Spurrier.
See you in a few…