Friday, July 30, 2010

USC Throws Reggie Bush Under the Bus!

Question: What's wrong with this picture?



Answer: The above photo is the new media guide for the USC Trojans and if you notice it lists 6 Heisman Trophy winners. Um, doesn't USC have 7 winners?

Let's see--
  1. Mike Garrett - 1965
  2. O.J. Simpson - 1968
  3. Charles White - 1979
  4. Marcus Allen - 1981
  5. Carson Palmer - 2002
  6. Matt Leinart - 2004
  7. Reggie Bush - 2005

Ok, 7 is correct--

But we know USC has been hit with everything, including the kitchen sink, as far as NCAA sanctions go, for "inappropriate behavior" on the part of Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo and we also know that head basketball coach Tim Floyd resigned and head football coach Pete Carroll jumped ship to the NFL, probably because he knew a bomb was going to explode. So it's safe to say, things have been rather uncomfortable for the Trojans these days-- BUT the Heisman Committee hasn't decided yet if they are going to strip Bush of his Heisman Trophy-- so technically he's still a Heisman Trophy winner.

So why erase Bush off the map?

It's no secret that USC wants no part of Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo, now that they are in hot water, sort of. Hot water as far as their college legacies are concerned, but I think both of them couldn't care less. I also hear that all evidence of their existence at the school is being removed, including USC's copy of Bush's Heisman Trophy.

My questions are: Shouldn't USC and all other universities be monitoring with a microscope what these guys do? Haven't they noticed (whether its Bush or Mayo or Derrick Rose [SAT beef] or Marcus Camby or Chris Webber or Alabama [Antonio Langham beef] or Auburn-- the list goes on and on) that some of these players don't give a damn about NCAA rules. Don't these schools know by now that they are just a springboard for the pros for a lot of these athletes? Can't they tell by the number of players that play for just 1 or 2 years (or forgo their senior years) and leave for the pros? In other words, a lot of these guys need some heavy duty monitoring because, for one, they are not attending these schools to get a degree in quantum physics, that's for sure, so some of them don't give a rat's ass about NCAA rules.



At the end of the day, USC got what it deserved for not keeping a close eye on Bush's every move. I mean, did they actually believe that he was a model student like all the other real students who actually go to school to get a degree? The only reason why he stayed until his junior year was for better positioning in the NFL Draft.

And what was Bush's offense? The NCAA declared Bush ineligible for the 2005 season because he received cash and other benefits from a would-be marketing agent. Gosh, it's not like he killed someone for USC to disown him the way they have. Or maybe getting money on the side is considered a form of PED?

I mean, let me get this straight, USC completely disowns Reggie Bush for breaking NCAA rules (rules that players have been breaking since the Stone Ages), yet they still embrace O.J. Simpson, who um.........

Never mind!

Photo courtesy of usctrojans.com

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Deja Vu All Over Again For The Phillies?

Roy Halladay meet Roy Oswalt



The Philadelphia Phillies have acquired Roy Oswalt from the Houston Astros for J.A. Happ and a couple of prospects. That is correct-- a couple of prospects.

Ok, I know that's what the headlines are saying, but is there something more to it?

I wonder if the acquisition of Oswalt has anything to do with them lamenting the foolish trade of then-ace Cliff Lee to the Seattle Mariners for a bunch of prospects after the acquisition of now-ace Roy Halladay from the Toronto Blue Jays for a bunch of prospects?

I know it sounds confusing, but that's how things roll in Philly. As another Philly great might say, "we talkin' about prospects".

In a nutshell, they traded Lee because they wanted to replenish their depleted farm system, after giving up so many prospects for Halladay. A move that the entire world knew was a bonehead move at the time and now even the Phillies themselves recognized it.

I think, Yahoo Sports writer Jeff Passan put it best when he wrote, "the Philadelphia Phillies are like starlets obsessed with plastic surgery. They tweak here, tinker there and hope to hell they don’t turn out like Heidi Montag."

A funny but true way of putting it by Mr. Passan, but I guess, when you're the two-time defending National League champions and the 2008 world champions and a money-making machine, you can do whatever you want (bonehead or not) and everyone else just has to sit back and take notes.

Until further notice, in the NL-- its still Philly's world.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

The Mets Are On Life Support!


As a "somewhat" loyal Mets fan, I can officially say that I have given up on them for the 2010 season. No, I haven't abandoned them as my quote, unquote favorite team, but I have lost all hope on their playoff chances this year. To put it simply, the numbers just don't add up for them anymore. At 51-50, the Mets would pretty much have to win 40 out of their last 60 and hope that everyone else plays .500 baseball the rest of the way.

First of all, I don't think they have the weapons to go 40-20 and they would need roughly 4 teams (including the Philadelphia Phillies) to tail off-- and the Phillies are surging, currently on a 7 game winning streak. With the Braves holding strong and the Phillies making a run, it is safe to say, three's a crowd in the NL East.

And the much-hyped return of Carlos Beltran has been hogwash, so far. Since Beltran's debut after the All-Star break, the Mets have gone a disastrous, 3-10. Prior to the All-Star break, they were a decent, 48-40, and in the Wild-Card hunt-- so maybe Beltran should have taken the year off. Go figure!

So I guess to paraphrase a famous philosopher from the Windy City, "anyone can have a bad QUARTER-century". Yes Mets fans, that is where we stand-- soon it'll be a full quarter-century since our "impossible dream" 1986 world championship.

And if we don't right this ship soon, we too are going to have our ghosts take on lives of their own. Our grandchildren will be talking about Armando Benitez' blown save in Game 1 of the 2000 World Series and Carlos Beltran's 3-pitch, game-ending strikeout with the bases loaded, in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS, after Yadier Molina's crushing 9th inning home run. Yes folks, those will be our grand children's "what-ifs", just like the now-generation of Cubs fans and Indians fans talk about their closet full of "what-ifs".


But for the record, they are still mathematically alive and they have shown they can go on some hot streaks-- so maybe Jerry Manuel has something up his sleeves. Who knows? But unfortunately, this Mets fan has lost all hope, 'cause I don't see them going on a Chicago White Sox-like run. Nah, I don't think so!

But from a historical perspective, are we still in decent shape? Yeah, I guess. We're still 1 of 16 teams who have won a championship in the last 25 years. Not bad, I guess, since 14 teams have gone title-less in the past quarter century. But as it stands, we are second from the bottom of the totem poll, with only the 1985 world champion Kansas City Royals beneath us and as soon as the 2011 season begins, they too will fall out of the "25-year radius" and we'll be at the bottom.

And if we don't right this ship soon, we will be heading towards the "half-century and more" neighborhood.


I just hope the Cubs and Indians have a bed to spare....

Cartoon photo courtesy of Sean Delonas/NY Post

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Matt Garza Throws a No-Hitter


The Tampa Bay Rays are in the books.

Last night, Matt Garza threw the first no-hitter in Rays history, erasing the Rays from the list of teams who have never pitched a no-hitter. Earlier this year, Ubaldo Jimenez pitched the first no-hitter in Colorado Rockies history, so the list has now dwindled back to the usual two-- the New York Mets and the San Diego Padres.

The Mets (est. 1962) and Padres (est. 1969) have been on the waiting list for a LONG time and I guess we can say, if no-hitters were kidneys, these two franchises would be on life support. But I think we should also throw the Washington Nationals on the list since I've noticed they have distanced themselves from the original franchise, the Montreal Expos. And for the record, the Expos had 4 no-hitters in their history, including a perfect game by "El Presidente" Dennis Martinez.

But like it or not, the Nationals were once the Expos, so as it stands, only the Mets and Padres remain on the clock.

Here's a list of the first-ever no-hitters, for each expansion franchise, since the era of expansion began in 1961:

  • Los Angeles Angels: Bo Belinsky, May 5, 1962 [against the Baltimore Orioles].
  • Houston Colt .45s (now the Astros): Don Nottebart, May 17, 1963 [against the Philadelphia Phillies].
  • Montreal Expos (now the Nationals): Bill Stoneman, April 17, 1969 [against the Philadelphia Phillies].
  • Kansas City Royals: Steve Busby, April 27, 1973 [against the Detroit Tigers].
  • Texas Rangers: Jim Bibby, July 30, 1973 [against the Oakland A's].
  • Milwaukee Brewers: Juan Nieves, April 15, 1987 [against the Baltimore Orioles].
  • Seattle Mariners: Randy Johnson, June 2, 1990 [against the Detroit Tigers].
  • Toronto Blue Jays: Dave Stieb, September 2, 1990 [against the Cleveland Indians].
  • Florida Marlins: Al Leiter, May 11, 1996 [against the Colorado Rockies].
  • Arizona Diamondbacks: Randy Johnson, May 18, 2004 [against the Atlanta Braves].
  • Colorado Rockies: Ubaldo Jimenez, April 17, 2010 [against the Atlanta Braves].
  • Tampa Bay Rays: Matt Garza, July 26, 2010 [against the Detroit Tigers].

So there we have it-- most of the teams have since pitched multiple no-hitters, with the exception of the Brewers (Juan Nieves), the Blue Jays (Dave Stieb) and the two who came off the list this season (the Rockies and Rays). Earlier this season, Edwin Jackson pitched Arizona's second-ever no-hitter, putting them on the multiple list.

But nonetheless, every team now has at least one, EXCEPT--


The New York Mets and the San Diego Padres....

Photos courtesy of SI.com

Sunday, July 25, 2010

HOF-ROY Combo


As we all know, today, Andre Dawson officially becomes a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Most baseball-minded people agree that Dawson's enshrinement was long overdue considering how illustrious a career he had. But nonetheless, the man known as 'The Hawk" is finally in, so a big CONGRATS to him.

Having said that--

As an official Hall of Famer, Dawson now joins his fellow 1977 Rookie of the Year partner, Eddie Murray, in Cooperstown. In fact, they now form a rare trio of players who simultaneously won the Rookie of the Year Award and went on to the Hall of Fame.

This elusive feat has now occurred only 3 times--

1977 - Andre Dawson and Eddie Murray
1967 - Tom Seaver and Rod Carew
1956 - Frank Robinson and Luis Aparicio

Aside from the above six, there have also been 8 other Rookies of the Year to make it to the Hall of Fame-- but their co-winners did not go on to have a Hall of Fame career.

A quick note on Tom Seaver: He is the only ROY pitcher in the Hall of Fame. In fact, so rare is this phenomena, that the only other ROY pitcher with HOF potential is the 2006 winner, Justin Verlander, who's career is just getting started. Talk about a "go figure" moment.

And for the record: Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson, the 1947 and first-ever ROY, won the award when it was given to only one player for both leagues. So in his defense, he didn't have a co-winner.

The other HOFers, who won the ROY are: Willie Mays (NL-1951); Orlando Cepeda (NL-1958); Willie McCovey (NL-1959); Billy Williams (NL-1961); Johnny Bench (NL-1968); Carlton Fisk (AL-1972); Cal Ripken (AL-1982).

Now let's throw their dancing partners under the bus-- the above player's ROY co-winners, who DID NOT make the Hall of Fame--

Willie Mays (AL-Gil McDougald); Orlando Cepeda (AL-Albie Pearson); Willie McCovey (AL-Bob Allison); Billy Williams (AL-Don Schwall); Johnny Bench (AL-Stan Bahnsen); Carlton Fisk (NL-Jon Matlack); Cal Ripken (NL-Steve Sax).

Anyway--

What does all this really mean? I guess, nothing, unless you're a stat freak, like me. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if the above six players don't even realize they share this common bond-- but nonetheless, it is one of those baseball oddities.

And for the record, the next PAIR of ROY co-winners destined for the Hall of Fame? The 2001 duo of Albert Pujols and Ichiro Suzuki-- trust me on that one. :-)

P.S. Once again, congratulations to the Hawk. For everything Andre Dawson, checkout the site hawk4thehall.blogspot.com.


Andre Dawson photo courtesy of Getty Images

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Usual Suspects


As we all know, this upcoming weekend is Hall of Fame induction weekend and right of the bat, let me say, congratulations to Andre Dawson, manager Whitey Herzog and umpire Doug Harvey on their inductions into the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

But what about the above characters? Are they ever going to get in? The next 4 years are going to be interesting because the BBWAA voters have a curious dilemma in their hands. By 2013 all five of the above will officially be Hall of Fame eligible and all 5, MOST DEFINITELY, have the numbers to get in.

And of course, all five are synonymous with the steroids scandal, BUT none of them have ever been found guilty of any wrong doing.

Hmmm?

But the shunning has already begun with Suspect #1. No, not Keyser Soze, but--

Mark McGwire


McGwire has been Hall of Fame eligible since 2007 and only a handful of voters have voted for him. As we all know the magic number for enshrinement is 75% of the vote and McGwire has only received the following--

2007 - 23.5%
2008 - 23.6%
2009 - 21.9%
2010 - 23.7%

Obviously the voters are sending a tough message with "Big Mac". McGwire, who ended his career with 583 home runs, should have been a first-ballot HOFer, easily, had the dark cloud of his now-admitted steroid use not hovered over him like a bad hangover. Next up--

Rafael Palmeiro


Palmeiro is officially eligible on the upcoming 2011 ballot. Is he getting in? I don't think so. If Big Mac ain't gettin' in, then neither is Palmeiro.

My prediction for the 2011 Hall of Fame class:
  • Bert Blyleven (74.2% in 2010 makes Blyleven a shoo-in in 2011.)
  • Roberto Alomar (73.75% in 2010 also makes Alomar a shoo-in. )

My 2012 Hall of Fame class:

  • Barry Larkin (This will be Larkin's 3rd year on the ballot, he's a shortstop, 2012 will be an off year-- so why not?)
And then in 2013-- Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa become eligible. Are they getting in? All 3 definitely have first-ballot statistics, BUT--

Barry Bonds
Sorry Barry-- unless there's a culture shift, you ain't gettin' in, especially if McGwire and Palmeiro are still getting shunned.



Did someone say "asterisk"?

And then there's--

Roger Clemens

Clemens was one of the most dominant pitchers of his generation, a sure-fire HOFer, and sadly, he's now remembered as a "liar, liar".




Oh and can someone explain to me why Clemens, VOLUNTARILY, went in front of Congress and pretty much destroyed his legacy? Sorry Roger, no HOF for you, just for that dumb move!

And speaking of Congress, there's--

Sammy Sosa
Sammy has become the butt of jokes even back home in the Dominican Republic where he bleached his skin, ala Michael Jackson. Say it isn't so, Sammy?



Sorry Sammy, you ain't gettin' in either.

My prediction for the Class of 2013:

  • Craig Biggio (first ballot)
  • Mike Piazza (first ballot)

I might as well keep it going--

Class of 2014:
  • Greg Maddux (first ballot)
  • Jeff Kent (first ballot)
  • Jack Morris (2014 will be Morris' last year of eligibility and the voters will vote him in by a whisker.)

Class of 2015:

  • Randy Johnson (first ballot)

Class of 2016:
  • Ken Griffey Jr (first ballot)
  • Chipper Jones (first ballot - if he decides to retire after this season)
  • Lee Smith (his final year of eligibility, a once-all time saves leader, Smith gets in)
  • Edgar Martinez (in his 7th try-- the first pure DH gets in)

And that leaves us with Charlie Brown--

When is Charlie going to finally get an honorary membership?

Oh no! Say it ain't so, Charlie?! Don't ruin your chances by jumping the bandwagon.

Anyway--

In the next coming years it'll be interesting to see what the voters do with the above players-- except, of course, Charlie Brown. I guess we can say, all five of them have first-ballot numbers and no-ballot reputations.

And one thing is certain-- if one of them does get in-- then they all should get in.

To be continued....

Cartoon images courtesy of Cagle.com

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

598 and Counting For A-Rod


As of today, Alex "A-Rod" Rodriguez is 2 home runs short of the "super-magical" 600-HR mark. And yes, I know that ever since the steroids invasion, all of these home run milestones have lost some of their once-iconic luster, but nonetheless, they are still milestones and A-Rod will soon hit No. 600 and then some.

But I still remember "dem dayz" when 600 home runs meant something-- the days when The Babe, Hammerin' Hank and The Say Hey Kid were the only members of this rarest of clubs. Nowadays those who enter the 600-club could quite possibly become a "person of interest" in a doping investigation.

But anyway--

A-Rod is going to become a member soon, joining, Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr. and Sammy Sosa in this once-sacred club.

Then after that, A-Rod will join, Bonds, Aaron and Ruth in the super-exclusive 700-HR club-- which was once sacred also.

And then after that-- Whoa!

Now we're talking about Sadaharu Oh territory. Sadaharu Oh?

Yes, Sadaharu Oh. Oh is the Japanese baseball legend who holds the professional baseball record for home runs. From 1959 to 1980, Oh hit an astounding 868 home runs for the Yomiuri Giants of the Japanese Central League. And yes, Oh too, is within A-Rod's reach.

And quite frankly, I think A-Rod can do it. This is how A-Rod (who is signed thru 2017) would, more or less, have to hit home runs, in the coming years, in order to break Oh's record:

He has 598 HRs as of 7-20-10
  • +18 (for the remainder of 2010) would give him 616
  • +40 in 2011 would give him 656
  • +38 in 2012 would give him 694
  • +35 in 2013 would give him 729
  • +36 in 2014 would give him 765 [breaking Bonds' MLB record]
  • +38 in 2015 would give him 803 [becoming the first player in MLB history to surpass the 800 HR mark]
  • +37 in 2016 would give him 840
  • +29 in 2017 would give him 869 [breaking Oh's professional record]

So there we have it-- A-Rod would need to average around 36 home runs a season for the remainder of his career to become the world's home run king.

And that my friends-- is pretty impressive-- no matter what!

A-Rod photo courtesy of Getty Images

The Dodgers Need To Get It Going


The Los Angeles Dodgers may be in trouble in the crowded NL West. If the Dodgers are to return to the NLCS for a third year in a row they will need to make a good run in the second half.

And it all starts with pitching. The Dodgers were simply out-pitched by their division rivals in the first half of the season.

Here's where the Dodgers pitching stacks up against all the NL clubs in the first half-- I base it on a simple formula I came up with where I awarded points for positive stats and subtracted points for negative stats. And yes, I did come up with it, and quite frankly, it works. I call it, Total Pitching-- like in the NFL [Total Defense and Total Offense].

National League:

  1. San Diego Padres - 70.73
  2. Colorado Rockies - 68.18
  3. Atlanta Braves - 67.97
  4. St. Louis Cardinals - 65.63
  5. Chicago Cubs - 60.90
  6. Florida Marlins - 59.26
  7. San Francisco Giants - 58.95
  8. Los Angeles Dodgers - 56.39
  9. Houston Astros - 55.17
  10. Cincinnati Reds - 52.52
  11. New York Mets - 50.00
  12. Washington Nationals - 50.00
  13. Philadelphia Phillies - 49.22
  14. Milwaukee Brewers - 46.71
  15. Pittsburgh Pirates - 40.79
  16. Arizona Diamondbacks - 35.10

And yes folks, there is a method to my madness. According to my "awards points", the Dodgers ended the first half, 4th (in their division) in Total Pitching. But LA isn't the only team that needs to pitch better--

Other teams in trouble are the Phillies, Mets and Reds. The Reds don't seem to have the pitching to out-duel the Cardinals in the NL Central. The Phillies and Mets are way behind the division-leading Braves and are even behind the Marlins. But no matter what, I'll always remain a "somewhat" loyal Mets fan. Anyway--

The Cubs, to my surprise, pitched very well in the first half-- much better than their record indicates. So it wouldn't surprise me if the Cubs (and the Marlins) make a run at a winning record and salvage their seasons. They certainly have the pitching to do so.

And if pitching wins pennants, then things are looking mighty good for the San Diego Padres. And I hope things workout for them out there-- I mean, as a life long National League fan, I'm still upset that they lost the '84 World Series to the Tigers after winning the pennant from the Cubs in such dramatic fashion. But I guess that's a story for another day--

Anyway, here's how the American League stacked up in the first half.

American League:

  1. Tampa Bay Rays - 67.48
  2. Oakland A's - 63.85
  3. New York Yankess - 63.20
  4. Chicago White Sox - 61.07
  5. Texas Rangers - 60.90
  6. Minnesota Twins - 58.59
  7. Boston Red Sox - 56.20
  8. Los Angeles Angels - 55.63
  9. Toronto Blue Jays - 53.73
  10. Detroit Tigers - 52.52
  11. Cleveland Indians - 45.70
  12. Baltimore Orioles - 44.37
  13. Seattle Mariners - 43.51
  14. Kansas City Royals - 42.66

So what does it tell me?

  • The Oakland A's are good. It wouldn't surprise me if they make a decent run.
  • The Red Sox are in trouble in the East.
  • The Detroit Tigers may just fade into oblivion.
  • The White Sox and Twins are the elites of the AL Central.
  • The Texas Rangers have enough weapons to duke it out.

Anyway, all of the above is based on the first half. As we know anything is possible the rest of the way (injuries, trades, etc.). And at the end of the day it wasn't too difficult to do-- all I did was add the positives and subtract the negatives-- simple elementary mathematics.

I guess it was something fun to do on a boring Sunday morning....LOL.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

NL, A-Rod Win!

2010 All-Star Game
National League 3 - American League 1


Dear Joe Girardi,

As a National League fan, I want to thank you for not using the man, who is one of the biggest bottom of the ninth threats in major league history.

When David Ortiz hit a clutch single, bringing the tying run to the plate, I was almost certain that you were going to pinch-hit for Boston Red Sox THIRD BASEMAN, Adrian Beltre. You had New York Yankees THIRD BASEMAN, Alex "Lethal Weapon" Rodriguez, still on the bench, and yet, you chose not to use him. Thank you.

After the game, you said, "I wanted to give Beltre his at-bat." Now why would you do that? Doesn't the All-Star game have significance now? I'm sure Beltre is a big boy and would've understood the situation.

And I'm sure if you took a poll and asked, who would be best in that situation, A-Rod or Beltre, everyone, outside the state of Massachusetts, would say A-Rod.

And to add insult to injury, the slow-running Ortiz got thrown out at second on a bloop hit by John Buck, after Beltre struck out. Many are criticizing you for not pinch-running for Ortiz, but I'm more puzzled as to why A-Rod was not given a chance to pop one out of the ball park.

When asked if A-Rod was healthy, you said, "Oh yeah, he's fine."

Even NL manager Charlie Manuel was asked about it-- "I definitely was looking for him. He's one of the better hitters in the game, if not the best. That was going through my mind", Manuel said.

And what was your lame excuse, ”If the situation arose, you get extra innings, he would probably be my DH."

Hey Joe, you need to tie the game first before you think about extra innings. With Ortiz on first and the AL trailing 3-1, bottom of the ninth, you held back a man who has 597 career home runs and counting-- a man who during last year's ALCS hit a clutch home run in the BOTTOM OF THE NINTH off of the Angels Brian Fuentes to tie Game 2, which the Yankees would then go on to win in storybook fashion.

Oh, I forgot, you were there-- so you know what I'm talking about.

Everyone watching the game was wondering when was A-Rod going to enter. Even announcer Joe Buck said,"he's saving him for a clutch moment." When Ortiz got the base hit the stage was perfectly set for A-Rod's entrance. That was the clutch moment.

So what in the world were you thinking, Joe? For the sake of curiosity, please let us know.

Yours truly,
National League fan

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Monday, July 12, 2010

At The Half....


Ok, so what if the 2010 season had just ended rather than being at the midway point?

The division champs would be--

American League:
  1. New York Yankees (56-32) [East champs]
  2. Chicago White Sox (49-38) [Central champs]
  3. Texas Rangers (50-38) [West champs]
  4. Tampa Bay Rays (54-34) [Wild-Card champs]

National League:

  1. Atlanta Braves (52-36) [East champs]
  2. Cincinnati Reds (49-41) [Central champs]
  3. San Diego Padres (51-37) [West champs]
  4. Los Angeles Dodgers (49-39) & Colorado Rockies (49-39) [tied for Wild-Card]

The way I envision this scenario playing out would be as follows:

  • Rockies over Dodgers in the Wild-Card tie-breaker. To put it plain and simple-- too much Ubaldo Jimenez.

ALDS:

  • White Sox over Yankees: Ozzie's team continue their unprecedented surge and stun the defending world champions.
  • Rays over Rangers: Too much great starting pitching + too much great bullpen = Rangers get swept.

NLDS:

  • Rockies over Braves: Bobby Cox last game will be a devastating 1-0 loss in Game 5 to Jimenez and the Rockies at Turner Field. Afterwards Chipper Jones hints he too may not be coming back.
  • Padres over Reds: The Padres just simply out-pitch the Reds. Cincinnati's first post-season since 1995 is a quick one.

ALCS:

  • Rays over White Sox: The White Sox great run comes to an end at the hands of a better pitching staff. David Price is named series MVP. After the loss, Ozzie Guillen says that winning the BP Crosstown Cup brought his team bad karma against a team from Florida. Only Ozzie!

NLCS:

  • Padres over Rockies: The Padres bullpen is just too much for the Rockies. Luke Gregerson and Mike Adams are the series co-MVPs. The setup men finally get their overdue recognition.

World Series:

  • Rays over Padres: The Rays win a thriller in 7 games. Rafael Soriano saves all 4 of the Rays' wins and is named series MVP. In the end, the Padres bullpen was great, but unfortunately for them, the Rays' pen was perfect. Tampa Bay becomes the first city to have 3 expansion teams from 3 different sports win a championship. Good for them!

Anyway-- just a thought.

Photo courtesy of the AP

Sunday, July 11, 2010

La Furia Roja!!!!

CONGRATULATIONS TO SPAIN!
FELICIDADES A ESPAÑA!
2010 FIFA WORLD CUP CHAMPIONS


Viva España!!!!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Valley of the Kings

"So Let It Be Written...So Let It Be Done"

The new "Three Kings" are born. Will they lead the Miami Heat to the promised land?


....and so begins the dawn of a new era in the NBA. No doubt, and I mean, NO DOUBT, the newly crowned "Three Kings" are going to monopolize the headlines this coming season and with it the enormous pressure of delivering a championship. Anything less will be unacceptable.

I guess only time will tell....


And then there's the city of Cleveland--

It didn't really hit me until last night what "The Decision" truly meant to the city. It wasn't just LeBron's exodus-- it was the culmination of bad breaks after bad breaks that have plagued the city's sports teams for decades. In fact, not since the Browns won the 1964 NFL Championship has the city celebrated a championship. That's a pretty long time ago and LeBron and the Cavaliers were their best hope.

So I understand the city's frustration. I understand Cavs owner Dan Gilbert's frustration. Lebron (fairly or unfairly) has become the poster child of 4+ decades of bad luck. I guess we can say he is the "ghost of frustrations past".

In a way, "The Decision" is a reminder of "The Drive" in the 1987 AFC Championship Game, and a reminder of "The Fumble" in the 1988 AFC Championship Game, and a reminder of Jose Mesa's blown save in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series. So I get where Cleveland fans are coming from. Its safe to say, its been rough out there over the decades.

But at the end of the day, its not all LeBron's fault. I mean, its not like the Cavs built a powerhouse around him. Its not like they followed the Lakers lead and got the players to compliment their superstar. The Lebron-led Cavs were a great regular season team but not a great playoff team. Even I saw that and I'm not an expert.

One thing I learned about LeBron from his prime time extravaganza-- the man is aching, with a capital A, for a title. So much so that he didn't care about his own legacy and he certainly didn't care about playing in his hometown. He wants a ring, period! And he doesn't care if he isn't "the man" on the team. He just wants to wear the gold, no matter how he gets it.

And that's the irony of this whole drama-- for the same reason the city of Cleveland so desperately wanted him to stay is the very reason why he left-- an UNBEARABLE thirst for a championship.
So let it be written....So let it be done!

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Friday, July 9, 2010

Gun For Hire!



Kudos to the Texas Rangers--

They are the official winners of the Cliff Lee sweepstakes. What it shows is that the Rangers, who are facing bankruptcy, are serious about winning. I think they know this is their best chance in a long time and they are going for it. I mean there's no denying the Rangers have a squad and adding Lee just made them the team to beat.

And I'm sure Rangers honcho Nolan Ryan covets Lee. Lee, who leads the American League in complete games with 5, is an innings eater and Ryan loves that old-school style of pitching. Ryan (5,386.0 innings for his career, 5th all-time) was an innings machine himself back in his days and has publicly said that there is no reason why pitchers today can't do the same thing. So there is no question Lee and Ryan make a good couple.

As for the Mariners, they looked good on paper before the season but things didn't quite turn out like they expected. And actually, they are a pretty good team but they suffer from what I like to call Milwaukee Brewers-itis. In other words, there bullpen STINKS. If the Mariners had a bullpen like, let's say, the Chicago White Sox, they would be about 4 to 6 games over .500 right now and still be in the race. But unfortunately in this business, no pen means no pennant.

And it's a shame because the Mariners' starting pitching is actually one of the best in the American League. They have 4 starters in the top 10 in ERA, but once they get to the late innings-- it all falls apart.

But anyway, the spotlight is officially on the Rangers. This Cliff Lee move was brilliant, regardless of their money issues. I'm sure winning the pennant will alleviate some of those problems-- and it would at last take the Rangers off of that dreaded list.

And what list is that?

I'm sure Rangers fans know what list I'm talking about.

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Bring' Em On!


It will forever be known as The Decision.

LeBron James is joining forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, forming a new Big 3 or as I like to call it-- the Bosh-D' Wade-LeBron Axis.

No doubt the Heat will be a force to be reckoned with, BUT the old Big 3 is still lurking in the bushes-- and they ain't happy! I mean, they just finished losing an excruciating seven-game final to their arch nemesis, the Los Angeles Lakers, by 4 measly points. Those wounds alone will make them unstoppable next season. So I wouldn't hand the Eastern Conference to Miami just yet.

Anyway, as we can imagine the Cleveland Cavaliers and their fans are furious about "the decision". Fans in Cleveland are already burning their LeBron jerseys and Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert did not hold back his rage either.

Said Gilbert: "You simply don't deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal." Ouch!

And he went on to say, "I personally guarantee that the Cleveland Cavaliers will win an NBA championship before the self-titled former 'king' wins one." Double Ouch!!

I definitely understand Gilbert's frustration. I mean, the net worth of his franchise just went down about $100 million-- easy.

But anyway, while all this drama was unfolding, the Boston Celtics announced that Ray Allen had agreed to a two-year $20 million contract. In other words, keeping the original Big 3 together for another two seasons. Paul Pierce also agreed to an extension and Kevin Garnett is under contract for two more years. So lookout new Big 3-- the old Big 3 is still in this party.

And personally, I like the old Big 3 better--

My 2011 Eastern Conference final prediction: Boston Celtics 4 - Miami Heat 3

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Ozzie's Team Is Back!


A month ago today, the Chicago White Sox were 24-33, 9.5 games out of first-place and heading nowhere fast. Since then, they've won 22 of 27 and are at the brink of taking over first place in the AL Central. A truly amazing turnaround.

So what is going on in ChiSox Nation?

The White Sox have been able to maintain their surge because of great starting pitching and a super dominant bullpen. To put it simply-- THEY DON'T BLOW SAVES. The Sox pen has only six (blown saves) all year for an outstanding 82% save percentage. That is second best in the major leagues behind the Tampa Bay Rays (87%, only 4 blown saves). The Detroit Tigers are third best (81%, only 5 blown saves).

The ChiSox however suffered a major setback when ace Jake Peavy tore a muscle and may be out for the rest of the season.

And what does manager Ozzie Guillen say about Peavy's injury--

“We are not going to make any excuse regardless of what happens from now to the end. If we finish last, it’s not because of Peavy. If we finish first, it’s not because of Peavy. I think we still have a good ball club.”

Hey Ozzie! I hear that Cliff "Gun For Hire" Lee is on the trading block. He may fit in nicely as Peavy's replacement. You guys are in this race-- so GO FOR IT!

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

No-Ring Circus


Yesterday, when I read the above headline in Yahoo! Sports, I simply cracked up, because it is so true. So I guess tonight on ESPN we are all going to have the "privilege" of knowing with whom LeBron James is going to play next season. Yes, LeBron "No-Ring" James is turning his free agent signing into an event. So get the popcorn and drinks ready for tonight!

The rumor is, LeBron, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade are all going to sign with the Miami Heat and form a quote, unquote unbeatable coalition.

Hmmmm?

Wade has a ring so I guess he has bragging rights-- but can someone tell LeBron and Bosh that the road to an NBA championship still goes thru Boston and LA.

Personally, I'm more interested in what the Celtics do with Ray Allen. Paul Pierce already signed so now all Boston needs is Allen and the Big 3 will still reside in Boston-- no matter what happens in Miami.

Period!

Oh and by the way, if the Wade-Bosh-LeBron axis does happen, they should bring along Shaquille "The King Needs A Ring" O'Neal, just for added flavor.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

2,500 For Johnny Damon and Counting....


Congrats to Johnny Damon, who last night got his 2,500th career hit and then followed his milestone hit with a memorable walk-off home run, which sealed a 7-5 victory for the Detroit Tigers over the Baltimore Orioles.

After the game, Damon said, "The ball from my 2,500th hit is going in the trophy case, but No. 2,501 is the one I'm going to remember for a long time. Hitting a homer in a situation like that never gets old."

And its also no secret that Damon is eyeing the coveted 3,000 hit mark, which would no doubt be his one-way ticket to the Hall of Fame. Personally, I've always believed Damon is a 3000-hit man and my "guesstimation" (assuming he stays healthy) is that he should get it by August 2013 at age 39. And Damon is not alone--

Others who are knocking on the 3,000-hits door are:
  • Derek Jeter (2,843): Jeter is a no-brainer and should have it by no later than June 2011. If he hangs around and plays until he's 42, he should have his 4,000th hit in 2016.
  • Ivan Rodriguez (2,771): At 38, Pudge is cutting it close, but I think he'll stick around for it. He could conceivably do it by late September 2011 or early during the 2012 season, which would probably be his last season.
  • Alex Rodriguez (2,610): Another no-brainer. A-Rod is 34 and most likely will reach 3,000 during the 2012 season.

On the bubble:

  • Manny Ramirez (2,553): Ramirez is 38 and would need at least 3 seasons after this year to get it done. If he can muster 3 more seasons, he may be able to do it in 2013 along with Damon. But right now it seems like a long shot.
  • Vladimir Guerrero (2,348): Vlad is another long shot at 35, but if he can DH for another 4 seasons, he'll come within reach and maybe hang around until he gets it.
  • Edgar Renteria (2,224): YES, Edgar Renteria. I actually like Renteria's chances because he's only 33. Renteria is not regarded as a hitting machine, but remember, he's been playing full-time since he was 19 and he's usually good for 150-160 hits. So if he can continue having a full-time gig for another 5 seasons or so, he should be able to get it done.
  • Miguel Tejada (2,204): Tejada is another long shot at 36. But he's still playing full-time and is still capable of getting 170-180 hits. So I'm not going to fall asleep on Tejada just yet.

But right now, Derek Jeter is on the clock.

To be continued....

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Sunday, July 4, 2010

No Doubt!

CONGRATULATIONS TO RAFAEL NADAL
2010 WIMBLEDON CHAMPION


SIMPLY THE BEST!

No. 2 Rafael Nadal defeats No. 12 Tomas Berdych (6-3, 7-5, 6-4) to capture his second Wimbledon championship (2008, 2010). Berdych was looking to become the first player ever to defeat the No. 1 seed, the No. 2 seed and the No. 3 seed in one Grand Slam tournament. He beat No. 1 Roger Federer in the quarterfinals and No. 3 Novak Djokovic in the semifinals BUT he ran into a machine in the final (a healthy Nadal) who was just too much for the young man from the Czech Republic, who's loss puts the Czech nation at 0-3 [Ivan Lendl, 0-2, 1986, 1987] at Wimbledon in the last 40 years.

As for Rafa-- he has now won 5 tournaments, including 2 Grand Slams, in 2010. And with it, the undisputed world No. 1 ranking.


But what about Roger Federer?

Since his quarterfinal loss, he has been hammered for what many critics call "being a sore loser". In his press conference after the loss he gave no credit to Berdych, simply blaming his health for the loss. Since then, many are saying that his reign of dominance is over and that he's gone from being a "great player" to simply being a "good player".

Is Federer done?

I don't think so.... but for now the stage belongs to Rafa. No doubt!

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Friday, July 2, 2010

One More!

Rafael Nadal reaches the Wimbledon final....

Nadal defeats No. 4 Andy Murray (6-4, 7-6, 6-4) in the semifinals and will face No. 12 Tomas Berdych in the finals. Berdych is on a fairy tale run. He disposed of No. 1 Roger Federer in the quarterfinals and took care of No. 3 Novak Djokovic in the semifinals. Now he looks to pull the hat trick and take care of No. 2 Nadal in the finals. It would be a monumental accomplishment for the young man from the Czech Republic.

But like in the French Open, it looks like Rafa is on a mission....


And something tells me, there is no stopping the Spaniard.


And then there's Andy Murray....

For the second straight year he loses in the semifinals. And poor Andy has the weight of an entire nation on his shoulders. And not just any nation-- the home nation, who hasn't had a Wimbledon champion in 74 years. The last Briton to win the home tournament was Fred Perry way back in 1936. In fact, no Briton has even made the finals since Henry "Bunny" Austin in 1938.

If I'm not mistaken, since 1938, British players are now 0-10 in Wimbledon semifinals, including Murray (0-2). So Andy Murray must have been under enormous pressure.

But nonetheless, Murray is only 23, he's ranked 4th in the world and still is England's best hope. Good luck next year.

But this year the stage belongs to Rafa Nadal-- and I'm sure he's loving it!

Photos courtesy of Getty Images