Just when it seemed as though a black cloud was forming over LSU’s season, rains came in Omaha and postponed LSU’s date with North Carolina until tomorrow evening with the Heels leading 2-0 in the top of the first inning with the bases full of Tar Heels.

Play will resume between the two teams tonight at 6:00 with the winner having to take on Fresno State Saturday.

The Tigers could not have had a more disastrous start to Thursday’s game and it will be interesting to see how long, if at all, LSU coach Paul Mainieri allows left-hander Blake Martin to stick around in the game.

While LSU is most definitely in a bad spot, the rain delay no-doubt benefits the Tigers more than the Heels, because:

1. The delay cuts off North Carolina’s forward momentum – UNC was on the verge of making it a 4-0 or 5-0 game at the very least. The delay chops up that momentum and forces them to start over tomorrow.

2. Rest to pitching staff- Sure, both teams get equal rest, but the rest means more to LSU, who is not nearly as deep as the Heels are on the mound.

All-in-all, the first few batters of today’s game will go a long way in determining the outcome of this game. If LSU can force the Heels to ground into a double play or allow just a couple more runners to score, LSU will have a good opportunity to claw back into the game. But if the deficit scratches to six or seven runs, it could be close to lights out before the game even begins.

Much more on this contest Saturday (weather permitting, of course).

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The NBA Draft is less than a week away. In the coming days, I will be breaking down five teams a day by division and will give you the inside scoop on what each team should be looking to improve on in next week’s draft.

Atlantic Division:

Boston Celtics

Picks: 30 and 60

Needs: The Celtics are set in the superstar department for the next 4-5 years with their big three and are set at PG and C for the next 7-10 years with youngsters Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins. What the Celitcs have to do now is focus on their greatly aging bench. With PJ Brown, Sam Cassell and Co. close to collecting Social Security, the Celtics should look to try to find a proven, four-year college player who can contribute when called upon next season.

Toronto Raptors

Picks: 17

The Raptors are 99.995% likely to move either TJ Ford or Jose Calderon, leaving a void in the backup point guard position for Toronto. But the Raptors also love versatile foreign players and its possible they could beef their SG/SF position with a sharp shooter that fits their GM’s vision.

Philadelphia 76ers

Picks: 16

The 76ers are fairly set in the starting lineup and will be mainly drafting for depth with their biggest need being the PF position where starter Reggie Evans and undersized Thaddeus Young currently play. It is by no means a lock, but I see Kansas standout Darrell Arthur as this pick.

New Jersey Nets

Picks: 10, 21 and 40

The Nets are rebuilding and have a great chance to do so with three picks in the Top 40 of the draft. I suspect the Nets to look to build big-man depth around a core of Devin Harris, Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson at the 1-3 positions.

New York Knicks

Picks: 6

Ah, the Knicks. The biggest mess in the NBA. But for as bad as the Knicks have been, they have actually drafted fairly well recently and have a chance to get a pretty good player in the six slot. With a roster that has virtually no “guaranteed starters”, do the Knicks go with a more “sure-thing” player like Joe Alexander or Brook Lopez, or do they gamble on a project like Anthony Randolph?

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We’ve been giving my Top 10 list of athletes in the past few days. So far, we’ve had Barry Sanders and Lance Armstrong.

No. 8 Athlete: Pete Rose:

The No. 8 spot in my list dips into the realm of controversy with Rose. But despite the gambling allegations and the lies and the deception, as a pure athlete, Rose was amazing, recording a .303 career average with an amazing 4,256 career hits. The former Cincinnati Red contact hitter owns 17 Major League records including 10 or more seasons with 200 or more hits and the most career games played with 3,562.

Why he could be higher?

1. Rose is arguably the best baseball player of all-time and is definitely the best non-slugging hitter of all-time and the best switch-hitter of all-time.

2. Longevity. Rose played at an elite level longer than near anyone else to ever play the game.

Why he could be lower?

1. Gambling- Rose is not in the Hall of Fame because of the gambling allegations and later confession. Gambling is the ultimate no-no in professional sports and many people ban Rose’s career from memory because of his eye-sored resume.

But regardless of his blisters off the field, Rose was one of the best ever on it, and he made his way onto my list. We’ll have No. 7 for you all tomorrow.

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Headlines:

Mariners fire manager McLaren– Looks like this is going to be a major fire-sale. Will Ichiro become available at the deadline? He is approaching his mid 30s and no doubt the Mariners could wipe someone’s farm system clean.

Doctors say Woods will come back 100% – The golf world breathes a sigh of relief. If Tiger doesn’t break Jack’s record, but is 100%, then hell, more power to Jack, but I want to at least see himself have a chance. Get well soon, Tiger!

Big Brown to race again at Haskell –
Good to see Big Brown again. It’s pretty clear the horse wasn’t 100% in the final leg of the Triple Crown. I’d like to see him go out a winner, so his legacy won’t be as the horse who finished last place with the Crown on the line, even though, that will probably be his image anyway.

That’s all for me, people. Have a blessed weekend.
-Casey

P.S. Today is my 21st birthday. Finally legal. 🙂

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