No cracking the code

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No cracking the code

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

When BYU dropped the hammer on Brandon Davies season, and spoiled sweet Jimmers Final Four dreams, the consensus outside of Provo hovered somewhere between "Oh my God!" and "What the hell?!?"

The Cougars were shocked, too. Their team was third in the polls, with the best player in the nation, and a supporting cast that was just good enough to make you wonder: "Hmm, with a little luck, these guys might actually have a chance . . . "

And then, just like that, thanks to one extraordinarily good swimmer, those championship aspirations were gone.

But while the BYU community was more troubled by the sudden collapse of their basketball team, the rest of the country was merely trying to comprehend the events that triggered it.

Essentially: Did they really just kill their season because a kid accidentally impregnated his girlfriend?

In a world where you pretty much just assume every player on every Division 1 team is somehow sexually involved, that was a question that initially made no sense.

Come on . . . youre suspending him for that? In 2011?! What about the season?

And what about JIMMER?!?!!!

It was tough, because on one side, you couldnt deny that the school had every right to suspend him. The code of conduct is real, and not something they mess around with.

Google "BYU suspends football" (the basketball version is all Davies results) and youll see pages of players who were penalized over the years due to violating the honor code. Its not like this is some rule that they dusted off special for Davies. This has been happening for a while, and athletes know the deal. They know the risk.

Something tells me the players probably get away with a little more than the honor code allows. If I had to bet, Im guessing Davies isnt the only one in that locker room whos hopped off the abstinence train. I wouldnt even be shocked if some of them have had a beer or two since coming to college. But they do it with the knowledge that theres a chance things could go real bad.

On a completely random note: Its like double parking. Everyone double parks. Its out of control. At this point were about six months away from triple parkers. Anyway, we all know double parking is illegal but it doesnt matter, because most of the time you can get away with it. If youre careful, its a pretty low-risk strategy.

But you know theres still that small risk. The meter maid could be having a bad day. Or the person youre blocking could return right away and call the cops. Whatever it is, theres the chance you could come back to a 40 ticket, or to find your car on a flat bed headed for East Boston. And at that point you can go nuts, and everyone will be like, Wow! I cant believe theyd tow you just for double parking!, but at the end of the day theres nothing you can say. The punishment might feel excessive but you took a chance and it backfired.

And it seems like thats what happened with Davies. I dont think hes the rogue fornicater. He just got caught. He was careless. And once that happened, the school had to react. They have a pretty consistent track record of doing so. So with all that, you can understand why BYU ruled the way they did.

But at the same time, three days later, it still doesnt feel right.

Im still left with a sort-of-uncomfortable, messed-about feeling about the fact that this 19-year-old kid is now missing out on an opportunity of a lifetime and might be costing his teammates the same because he accidentally slipped one passed the goalie. With a girlfriend. Even more, with a girlfriend who doesnt even go to that school. Can you imagine how crazy life becomes when youre 19 and realize your girlfriends pregnant? Now, on top of that, imagine this pregnancy is a nationwide story and destroys something youve been waiting your whole life to accomplish. Who knows when BYU will have another player like Jimmer, or another legitimate chance to make a significant postseason run? Who knows how long everyone around there will remember what happened with Davies and wonder what could have been?

Like I said, I know the rules. I know what he signed up for. Hes also a Mormon; its not like these rules were a complete lifestyle shock. I also dont know a thing about Davies outside of this story. I dont know if hes a great kid or if hes maybe not. But I do know that if theres anything negative about him, its not that he impregnated his girlfriend. That happens all the time. To every day, non-evil people. And the punishment just feels harsh.

Obviously, this couldnt be any less of my business, and for the people living in that world, my opinion means less than zero. Its not like Im the first person whos ever failed to relate to the Mormon way. Its not like a Mormon would read this and think, Hmm, now that you mention it, I guess we do do things a little differently around here . . .

This has all been said before. And it will be said forever. When youre talking religion, nothing makes complete sense to anyone else. There are some things you just cant understand. And thats fine.

Were just not used it having that kind of effect sports.

And while we all like to talk about sports as religion, I guess this is just a reminder that sometimes theres still nothing more powerful than the real thing.

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Quotes, notes and stars: Ramirez knows error 'can't happen'

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Quotes, notes and stars: Ramirez knows error 'can't happen'

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels ofAnaheim

Quotes:

"I tried to get two (outs) before I got one. That can't happen." - Hanley Ramirez on his throwing error which cost the Red Sox the game.

"Executing pitches - that's the name of the game." - David Price on improvement he showed from his last start.

"Fourth time through the order, middle of the lineup. . . Price had done his job. In a one-run game, we felt it was best to start a clean inning with a reliever." - John Farrell after lifting David Price after eight innings and 108 pitches.

Notes:

* Reliever Brad Ziegler was charged with the loss for the second straight game.

* Each of the last seven Red Sox losses has been by one or two runs.

* Dustin Pedroia has reached base in 31 consecutive games.

* The Red Sox four-game losing streak is their longest of the season.

* The Sox are now 9-23 in their last 32 meetings with the Angels.

* David Price did not allow a run for the second time this season.

Stars:

1) David Price

After a stretch of shaky outings, Price did his job with eight scoreless innings, getting 14 outs on groundouts while walking just one.

2) Jered Weaver

At times, the radar gun made Weaver's pitches look like softball offerings. But mixing junk, he held the Sox to a single run over 5 1/3 innings

3) Mookie Betts

He had just one hit - single in the eighth - but his sacrifice fly in the third produced the only run of the night.

First impressions: Ziegler can't finish Price's strong start

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First impressions: Ziegler can't finish Price's strong start

First impressions from the Red Sox' 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

1) David Price pitched in the truest sense

Price wasn't necessarily overpowering with only six strikeouts in eight innings, but he succeeded in keeping the ball down in the zone, resulting in a ton of groundouts.

In eight innings, the Angels produced just two flouts to the outfield, both of them routine.

Otherwise, Price deftly mixed his changeup, slider and two-seamer to produce ground balls. His location was more precise and he induced weak contact in at-bat after at-bat.

 

2) The danger of a closer like Brad Ziegler was on display

The throwing error by Hanley Ramirez resulted in two runs scoring but Ziegler allowed three base hits to set the stage.

Ziegler doesn't get a lot of swing-and-miss with his sinker; what he gets is a lot of balls put in play. When things are going well, that results in groundouts; when they're not, it means baserunners and strange things happening.

As inconsistent as Craig Kimbrel has been in some non-save situations, he at least has the ability to record strikeouts and keep balls out of play.  That's not the case with Zieger, as the Red Sox learned the hard way in Anaheim Thursday night.

3) The Red Sox wisely took advantage of Jered Weaver on the bases

Weaver's high leg kick and reliance on off-speed pitches make for a slow delivery time to the plate. Dustin Pedroia would have easily stole second in the first but made the mistake of going into his slide too far ahead of the bag, and though initially ruled safe, was deemed out after a replay challenge.

In the sixth, Xander Bogaerts, was more successful in his stolen base. Neither steal led to a run, but the Sox did put some additional pressure on Weaver