Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ubaldo Jimenez Ties Jack Morris!


Colorado Rockies' ace Ubaldo Jimenez (5-0, 0.79 ERA, 31 K) just completed a month of April for the ages. His consecutive scoreless innings streak is at 22.1 and counting. He has only allowed a grand total of 3 ER in five starts. In the process he accomplished the rarest of baseball feats. He became only the second pitcher in major league history to go 5-0 with a no-hitter in the month of April. Prior to Jimenez, only the great Jack Morris (in 1984 for the Detroit Tigers) had accomplished the feat. Jimenez no-hit the Atlanta Braves earlier this month and Morris no-hit the Chicago White Sox back in Detroit's championship season of 1984.

There is no doubt Ubaldo Jimenez, a kid from the small town of Nagua in the Dominican Republic, is for real.

On the Jack Morris front--

Can someone please tell me why the Detroit Tigers haven't retired Morris' uniform number (No. 47)-- or for that matter, Alan Trammell's (No. 3); Lou Whitaker's (No. 1) and ex-manager Sparky Anderson's (No. 11)? No player since these 4 men have worn their respective numbers. Well, actually, Gary Sheffield, who during his brief stint with the Tigers, got public approval from Trammell to wear #3. But that's it! Other than that these numbers have not been used.

One thing is certain, these 4 men are Tiger legends and were the key components in the Tigers' 1984 World Series championship. So are the Tigers holding off to retire all 4 numbers together in a special ceremony?

If that's the case, they screwed up big time. Last year (the 25th anniversary of the '84 championship) would have been the perfect time.

If that isn't the case, I have no clue what they are waiting for because if these 4 men don't deserve to have their numbers retired by the Tigers, then I don't know who does--

The next Ty Cobb isn't coming any time soon!

Ubaldo Jimenez photo courtesy of Getty Images
Jack Morris photo courtesy of fullcountpitch.com

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Money Man!


The rich get richer! The mighty get mightier!

I guess the Philadelphia Phillies love the habit of winning championships or at least being in a position to win one every year because they are breaking the piggy bank. First Roy Halladay got the big bucks and is signed thru 2014-- and now Ryan Howard gets a five-year $125million contract extension.

Howard's accomplishments:
  • 2005 NL Rookie of the Year.
  • 2006 NL MVP
  • Has finished in the top 5 in the MVP voting for the last 4 consecutive years.
  • 2-time National League home run champion (2006, 2008).
  • 3-time National League RBI champion (2006, 2008, 2009).
  • Holds the National League non-steroid era record for home runs in a season (58 in 2006).
  • 4 straight years with 130+ RBIs (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009)
  • 2008 World Series champion + 2009 NL Pennant

So does the man deserve to get paid? You betcha!

Photo (2010 ALDS) courtesy of Getty Images

The Magic Draw First Blood!

The No. 2 Orlando Magic sweep the No. 7 Charlotte Bobcats, 4-0


In doing so, the Magic became the first team to advance to the second round of the playoffs. They await the winner of the Atlanta Hawks - Milwaukee Bucks series. Dwight Howard and company look like they are on a mission to return to the NBA Finals.


Then there are the Bobcats--

Team owner Michael Jordan is not looking too happy these days. This was the Bobcats' first-ever trip to the NBA Playoffs and things didn't turn out quite well. But if anyone should know about growing pains, it's MJ, himself. He played in an era where his Chicago Bulls had to go thru a few wars to finally overcome Isiah Thomas and the then-mighty Detroit Pistons, who themselves, had to go thru a few wars to overcome Larry Bird and the then-mighty Boston Celtics, who themselves, had to go thru a few wars to overcome Julius Erving and the then-mighty Philadelphia 76ers.

So cheer up, MJ. Take it as a learning experience for your young team and build on it for the future.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Monday, April 26, 2010

So Far So Good For The Rays!


The Tampa Bay Rays (14-5) are smoking out of the box. Their .737 winning percentage is by far the best in baseball. Even the mighty New York Yankees (12-6) have to play top-notch baseball just to keep pace.

Although no one can expect the Rays to keep playing at this pace-- I mean, a .737 winning percentage is equal to 119 wins in a full season, they are expected to do good things this year. In fact, Sports Illustrated, in their Baseball Preview issue, picked them to win the American League Pennant and then go on to lose the World Series to the Philadelphia Phillies. Sort of like a repeat of 2008.

It's a little early, but if the Rays keep playing to their potential, SI's prediction may not be too far from the truth.

A look:

  • The Rays can hit: They lead all of MLB in RBIs (112) and runs (113).
  • Carlos Pena is second in the AL with 18 RBIs so far. B.J. Upton and Evan Longoria are not to far behind with 15 and 14, respectively. All three are in the AL top 10.
  • The Rays can pitch: Their 3.21 team ERA is tops in the AL.
  • David Price and Matt Garza are both 3-1. No other team in the AL has two pitchers with 3 wins so far.

I'm not counting my chickens before they hatch just yet, but if the Rays can avoid major injuries and prolonged slumps, they should be the most exciting team in the American League this year. A repeat of '08 is quite possible, except this time, the Rays may just be the ones hoisting the World Series trophy.

So much for the quote, unquote, small market teams.

To be continued....

Photos courtesy of the AP

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Not So Fast, Roy!


I may have spoken too soon, when I handed Roy Halladay (4-0, 0.82 ERA, 28 K) the Cy Young Award in an earlier post. Although he's still my odds-on favorite, he has company.

Tim Lincecum (4-0) 1.00 ERA, 32 K
  • The San Francisco Giants rock star is the reigning two-time Cy Young Award winner and it looks like he's not about to go away. This eccentric kid is looking to become the third pitcher ever to win 3 consecutive Cy Young Awards. Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson each won 4 in a row.

Ubaldo Jimenez (4-0) 0.95 ERA, 25 K

  • Jimenez already has a no-hitter under his belt this year and like Lincecum is breathing down Halladay's neck. He may just become the first-ever Cy Young Award winner in Colorado Rockies history. This kid looks for real!

The race is tight in the early goings and there's lots more baseball to be played.

To be continued....

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Fish Pond


The future looks bright for the Florida Marlins. According to MLB.com, their new state of the art stadium is about 30% complete, on schedule, on budget and should be ready by opening day 2012.

Said Marlins president, David Samson, "Now, we feel like, we're next. We're no longer on deck. We're at the plate right now."

And forward they go. The Marlins will take their bright future, their superstar Hanley Ramirez and their 2 World Series championships (1997, 2003) into a new era.

Good luck!

Photo courtesy of mlb.com

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Greatest Show on Turf!

CONGRATULATIONS TO SAM BRADFORD!
2010 NO. 1 OVERALL PICK - ST. LOUIS RAMS



GOOD LUCK in the NFL!

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Hand Him The Cy Young Award!



ROY HALLADAY (4-0) 0.82 ERA, 28 K, 3 BB, 33 IP, 2 CG, 1 SHO

I know its early and anything can happen.

But if Halladay (only 4 earned runs so far) and the rest of the Philadelphia Phillies can avoid injuries, this may be a no-brainer.

Two reasons:
  • The Phillies can score runs.
  • And Roy Halladay on a team that can score is dangerous business.

Watch out, National League!

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What In The World Is Going On In Baltimore?


The Baltimore Orioles are 2-13!

2-13!

They entered the season with an unpleasant streak of 12 consecutive losing seasons and from the looks of it, things ain't getting any better.

So what in the world has happened to this once proud franchise? We ain't talking about a slouch here. The O's are proud owners of 3 World Series championships (1966, 1970, 1983); 6 Pennants (1966, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1979, 1983); and 10 overall playoff appearances (1966, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1979, 1983, 1996, 1997).

But that was back in the days!

My! Oh my! Where have you gone Earl Weaver, Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Cal Ripken, Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer, Mike Flanagan, Scott McGregor, Mark Belanger, Ken Singleton, Boog Powell, Al Bumbry, Dave McNally......

Ok, I think ya'll get the point.

So can someone please tell me what the heck happened in 1998? How did this franchise go from being a force for the most part of it's illustrious history, between 1954-1997, to a team that can't even put together a winning season (1998-present)?

It can't be Oriole Park at Camden Yards? Or is it? Do they miss playing in the old Memorial Stadium? But it can't be. When they began play in Oriole Park, they strung together winning seasons in 5 of their first 6 seasons in the new ballpark. Only in 1995 (71-73) were they a tad under .500.

So it is safe to say, it is not Camden Yards.

Let's see--

The only other common denominator during this funk of 12+ years-- is owner Peter Angelos. Is it him? I mean, from what I read, the guy is not exactly one of the most respected of baseball owners. The culture he has established for the organization is (pardon the pun) for the birds. Something is definitely not fluid with this man's leadership. So demand action Baltimore fans. Tell Angelos to shape up or ship out!

Anyway, I hope things turn around down there because I miss those days when the Orioles were a force to be reckoned with. And if Angelos is the problem, well then-- he gotta go!

Photos courtesy of Getty Images
Stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Baseball Time!


I have to admit, it usually takes me about two weeks to get into the baseball season. The NCAA tournament, the Masters, the NBA Playoffs usually keep me away for the first two weeks. I guess when you're an all-purpose sports fan stuff like that happens.

Anyway, it's time to brush up.

The 7 things that caught my eye so far:
  • The 3-0 crew. Because in this business, it starts with great pitching and ends with great pitching.

Matt Garza (3-0, 0.75 ERA, 19 K); Roy Halladay (3-0, 1.13 ERA, 21 K); Tim Lincecum (3-0, 0.90 ERA, 24 K); Ubaldo Jimenez (3-0, 1.29 ERA, 20 K, no-hitter); Adam Wainwright (3-0, 1.50 ERA, 22 K).

  • Nelson Cruz - Texas Rangers (7 HR, 15 RBI, .317 AVG): Beware of this man!
  • Miguel Cabrera - Detroit Tigers (3 HR, 14 RBI, .360 AVG): Cabrera was having a Hall of Fame career on booze, imagine what he's capable of doing now that he's off the bottle.
  • Vernon Wells (6 HR, 11 RBI, .333 AVG): Hope Wells continues this torrid pace and has a monster year.
  • Chase Utley (6 HR, 12 RBI, .341 AVG): I don't think even Utley knows how great he can be.
  • The Philadelphia Phillies (78 Runs, 75 RBI): Is it too early to send the rest of the National League on vacation?
  • The Tampa Bay Rays (first team to 10 wins): Small market, low payroll and can do DAMAGE. Gotta love the little guys!

But anyway, the season is still young and there's a lot of baseball to be played. The usual suspects (i.e. the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers) will have a say in this before it's all said and done.

Those guys always figure out a way to be in the conversation.

To be continued....

Photos courtesy of Getty Images<>

Monday, April 19, 2010

April 19, 2010: Oklahoma City

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
Round 1: Lakers lead series, 1-0


Game 1: Lakers 87 - Thunder 79

This is the first ever trip to the NBA Playoffs for the Oklahoma City Thunder and although they are heavy underdogs against Kobe Bryant and the No. 1 LA Lakers, the future looks bright for the Thunder and their franchise player, Kevin Durant (NBA best 30.2 PPG).


Today is a very somber day in Oklahoma City as it marks the 15th anniversary of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building where 168 innocent lives were lost. My condolences to all those who lost loved ones on that tragic day. I still remember exactly what I was doing and the bitter feelings that engulfed me the moment I heard the tragic news.

I'm just glad that today I'm viewing the above photos and NOT the one's I remember seeing 15 years ago today. The images of firemen holding dead babies just made me sick to my stomach. It showed me just how far the tentacles of evil can stretch. Sad to say.

Good luck the rest of the way, Oklahoma City....

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Duke Gets It Done!

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE DUKE BLUE DEVILS
2010 NCAA MEN'S BASKETBALL CHAMPIONS


Duke Blue Devils 61 - Butler Bulldogs 59

And in the end there can only be one.

4th National Championship in school history - 1991, 1992, 2001, 2010

CONGRATULATIONS also to coach Brad Stevens and the Butler Bulldogs! In a game dubbed David vs. Goliath, David has nothing to be ashamed of. The Bulldogs battled the Blue Devils to the very last second, falling two points short in the end. These young men left it all on the court last night and they should be holding their heads up high today. They earned the admiration of an entire nation last night.

Not taking anything away from Duke's well-deserved victory, but I think everyone is a Butler fan today.

If anything, the term "mid-major" was put to rest last night.


Photos courtesy of Getty Images
Logos courtesy of Duke and Butler

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Final Two!

David vs. Goliath!




The moment has arrived! The Final Four has become the Final Two.

It's the No. 1 Duke Blue Devils vs. the No. 5 Butler Bulldogs for all the marbles. I wonder how many people had this matchup in their brackets? My guess is, not too many.

As for Duke, they are no strangers to this world. This will be the Blue Devil's 10th finals appearance with 3 national championships (1991, 1992, 2001) under their belt. For Butler, it's been all surreal since making their first ever Elite 8 earlier in the tournament. Since then every step forward has been uncharted waters for them.

So who am I rooting for?

I'm going to have to say Butler-- simply because of my love for first-time champions. Duke has been there, done that. In other words, Butler could be the next New Orleans Saints. In sports, winning championships is a tough deal, so it's great when a team wins that elusive first championship.

But if Duke wins, more power to them. They earned it just as much. But after the Saints dramatic Super Bowl win, it would be great to see the trend of spreading the wealth continue in all sports.

And only Butler can make that happen. So, GO BUTLER!

The above logos are courtesy of Duke and Butler and are being used for entertainment purposes only.