Thursday, September 30, 2010

Alex Rodriguez, Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds


Last night, Alex Rodriguez belted his 30th home run of the season, making 2010 A-Rod's 13th CONSECUTIVE season with 30 home runs and 100 RBIs, a major league record.

A-Rod now has 14 TOTAL seasons of 30 home runs and 100 RBIs, which is also a major league record.

His 14 30-home run seasons ties him with Barry Bonds for second most all-time-- Hank Aaron holds the major league record with 15 TOTAL 30-home run seasons.


As for his 13 CONSECUTIVE 30-100 seasons, the next closest players on the list are Manny Ramirez, Babe Ruth and Jimmie Foxx, who each did it 11 consecutive times.

His 14 TOTAL 100-RBI seasons are also a major league record. Next on the list are Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx, who each did it 13 times.

Also His 13 CONSECUTIVE 100-RBI seasons are the most all-time, tying him with Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx.

Mike Schmidt and Babe Ruth each had 13 30-home run seasons.

A-Rod is also 1 of 5 players in major league history with 5 or more seasons of over 130 RBIs. The list: Babe Ruth (10); Lou Gehrig (9); Jimmie Foxx (6); Hank Greenberg (5); A-Rod (5).

Truly amazing numbers.

I guess the moral of this post is, no matter what kind of cloud hangs over A-Rod's head, the man is a home run and RBI machine. By the time he retires he will hold every single career home run and RBI record, which have taken 125 years to evolve. A truly incredible accomplishment.

But what's even more amazing is that he won't hold them for too long because right on his trail is Mr. Albert Pujols.

Amazing!

A-Rod, Bonds and Ramirez photos courtesy of Getty Images
Ruth, Aaron, Schmidt and Foxx photos courtesy of the Baseball Hall of Fame

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Yankees and Rays Are Both In!

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE TAMPA BAY RAYS


CONGRATULATIONS TO THE NEW YORK YANKEES


The Tampa Bay Rays are 94-63.

The New York Yankees are 94-64.

With only 4 games left we still don't know who's going to win the AL East, but we do know that both teams are going to the playoffs. One will go as the division champion and the other as the Wild-Card.

For the Rays this will be their second-ever trip to the postseason. They were the 2008 AL East champions and the American League champions. So no doubt that simply making the playoffs means a lot more to them than to the Yankees. I guess we can say, they are just starting to build their resume.

As for the Yankees, well, making the postseason is an expected occurrence every year. In the Yankees universe, anything less than a World Series title is unacceptable.

But just in case anyone is counting--

This will be the Yankees 49th trip to the postseason. Their resume looks like this:

  • 27 World Series titles
  • 40 AL Pennants
  • 15 AL East titles
  • 3 Wild-Cards

But who's counting?

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

The Big Red Machine

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE CINCINNATI REDS
2010 NL CENTRAL CHAMPIONS


The Reds are in!

For Cincinnati (88-69) this is their first division title and first playoff appearance since 1995 and based on their victory celebration, it must be a sweet feeling.

And the playoff berth also means the Reds are now officially a 21st century playoff team. They follow in the footsteps of the Texas Rangers who just a few days ago clinched their first playoff berth in the new millennium. The Rangers had been absent from postseason since 1999.

So now the list of teams who are yet to make the playoffs in the 2000s has dwindled down to five. They are:

  1. Washington Nationals: Last playoff appearance was in 1981 (as the Montreal Expos).
  2. Kansas City Royals: Last playoff appearance was in 1985.
  3. Pittsburgh Pirates: Last playoff appearance was in 1992.
  4. Toronto Blue Jays: Last playoff appearance was in 1993.
  5. Baltimore Orioles: Last playoff appearance was in 1997.

As for the future of the above five-- only the Blue Jays (81-76) will end up with a winning record this season and probably have the best chance for next season. The Orioles have gotten a new lease on life under new manager Buck Showalter. They are 30-22 under Showalter and have given their fans some hope for next season also.

The Nationals, Pirates and Royals still have a LONG way to go. But we never know because as the Tampa Bay Rays have shown, it is possible to build a championship-caliber team with the youth movement. So I'm sure these teams are hoping the Rays' magic rubs off on them too.

But we'll have to wait and see.

For now we know it'll be a Red October as the Reds have finally ended their drought and punched their ticket for the postseason.

Is this the birth of a new Big Red Machine?

We'll soon find out.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Big East Is Weak!


There is no question that of the Power-6 Conferences (SEC, Big 12, Big 10, Pac 10, ACC, Big East) the weakest, by far, is the Big East.

Even as early as the preseason rankings, the pollsters didn't think much of the Big East Conference. In both preseason polls the best showing for the Big East were the Pittsburgh Panthers at No. 15, the West Virginia Mountaineers at No. 25 and the Cincinnati Bearcats just a whisker out of the Top 25.

But five weeks into the season, both Pittsburgh (1-2) and Cincinnati (1-3) have fallen apart and have long ago been ousted from the Top 25's jurisdiction. West Virginia (3-1) got off to a 3-0 start and hung around in the Top 25. But their 20-14 loss, last week, at No. 15 LSU was enough to get them ousted out of the polls also.

So as of this week, no Big East team is in the Top 25, with West Virginia being the only team who has mustered any sort of points in the latest polls. Despite their loss, the Mountaineers did get a few points and are hovering in the high twenties. But having a team in the high twenties as your best showing is inexcusable for a power conference.

As for the rest of the Big East--

The Connecticut Huskies, who got some decent buzz in the preseason, are off to a disappointing 2-2 start.

As for the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and the South Florida Bulls-- yes, they are both a respectable 2-1, but I don't think that wins over Norfolk State, Florida International, Stony Brook and Western Kentucky are going to get the attention of the voters. And when both schools played a top-notch team, they both fell flat on their faces-- Rutgers lost to North Carolina and South Florida got crushed by No. 7 Florida.

And then there are the Syracuse Orange. Yes, Syracuse is 3-1 and on paper it looks great. But their 3 victories have come against Akron, Maine and Colgate. So that should tell us something. But when the Orange played the well-known Washington Huskies, who at 1-2 aren't exactly a powerhouse, the Orange got crushed, 41-20.

And last but not least, there are the Louisville Cardinals. Well, this is football not basketball and the Cardinals aren't usually in the football conversation. So let's just leave it at that.

So the conference as a whole just simply isn't any good. And the sad part about it is, they automatically get a BCS bowl berth.

And what does that mean?

It means a very good team is going to be left out of a major BCS bowl game because the crappy Big East champion gets automatically in.

And that sucks!

Logos courtesy of their respective universities

The Phillies Clinch, Again!

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES
2010 NL EAST CHAMPIONS


The Philadelphia Phillies (94-63) have done it!

They have clinched their 4th consecutive NL East title and are now going into the playoffs looking to defend their back-to-back NL Pennants and reclaim their 2008 World Series title.

Here's a look at the Phillies illustrious playoff history:
  • 2010 - NL East champions, ?, ?, ?
  • 2009 - NL East champions, National League champions, Lost World Series
  • 2008 - NL East champions, National League champions, World Series champions
  • 2007 - NL East champions, Lost NLDS
  • 1993 - NL East champions, National League champions, Lost World Series
  • 1983 - NL East champions, National League champions, Lost World Series
  • 1981 - Lost NLDS (3-2)
  • 1980 - NL East champions, National League champions, World Series champions
  • 1978 - NL East champions, Lost NLCS
  • 1977 - NL East champions, Lost NLCS
  • 1976 - NL East champions, Lost NLCS
  • 1950 - National League champions, Lost World Series
  • 1915 - National League champions, Lost World Series
The 2010 Phillies, with their arsenal of arms, are going to be a force to be reckoned with.

No doubt!

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Monday, September 27, 2010

Top Dog (Again)


Philadelphia Eagles 28 - Jacksonville Jaguars 3

Once again, Michael Vick gets the job done.

In his second start, Vick was 17-31, 291 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 rushing touchdown and 0 interceptions. For the season Vick has a 60.7 completion percentage, 750 yards, 6 touchdowns, no interceptions and a whopping 110.2 passer rating (third best in the NFL) and he has become the talk of the NFL.

It looks like the Eagles (2-1, 1st place in the NFC East) have found their man.

And for Vick it must be a great feeling.

Just a little over a year ago he was "lonesome roads Vick", fresh out of the slammer, unemployed and one of the most hated men in America.

Today he is (again) a starting quarterback, he is (again) lighting it up on the football field, and (again) everyone is talking about the greatness of Michael Vick.

My, oh my! How quickly things change.

I guess winning does heal all wounds.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Sunday, September 26, 2010

College Football: Down Go The Longhorns!


The UCLA Bruins have performed a Texas two-step.

After an 0-2 start, the Bruins, last week, defeated the then-No. 23 Houston Cougars, 31-13, and yesterday they marched into Texas and did the unthinkable-- they crushed the No. 7 Longhorns, 34-12.

After giving up 31 and 35 points in their first 2 games, the Bruins defense has come alive the last two weeks allowing a total of 25 points, which culminated with the huge win over Texas.

This was, without a doubt, a shocker for Texas.

As a result, the Longhorns (3-1) are now out of the Top 10 for the first time in a LONG time and have now fallen to No. 21 in the AP Poll and No. 16 in the USA Today Poll.

Also--

The Arkansas Razorbacks fell out of the Top 10 after their tough loss at home against the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide, 24-20. However, for their valiant effort against mighty Alabama, they only fell 5 spots in both polls to a still-respectable No. 15 ranking.


The Stanford Cardinals (4-0) and the Auburn Tigers (4-0) surged into the Top 10 in the AP Poll to No. 9 and No. 10, respectively. Surprisingly they leapfrogged the Wisconsin Badgers, the Utah Utes and the LSU Tigers, who are also hovering around the Top 10.

The USA Today Poll, on the other hand, has Wisconsin (4-0) and LSU (4-0) at No. 9 and No. 10, respectively, which to me is more understandable. I think the AP gave Stanford too much props for their 37-14 win over Notre Dame, which quite frankly isn't a very good team. Right now coach Brian Kelly and the Fighting Irish (1-3) are pretty much living off of their legendary name. So to me, the AP got it wrong and Wisconsin (after their 70-3 thrashing of Austin Peay) deserves Top 10 status.

And FINALLY--

Both polls have rewarded the Nevada Wolf Pack (4-0) for their great season so far. Nevada sits at No. 25 in both polls, which is a start. The last time Nevada was ranked in the Top 25 was in 1948, 62 long years ago. Looking into the future, Nevada has a huge game on November 26 against the No. 3 Boise State Broncos and by then the Wolfpack could quite conceivably be 11-0.

If they can go unbeaten and play an unbeaten Boise State team, it will no doubt be the biggest game in Nevada's history. A win over Boise State will definitely put them in the BCS conversation come bowl time. Yes Nevada fans, we can dream.

Anyway--

The upcoming poll busting games are:
  1. No. 7 Florida at No. 1 Alabama
  2. No. 9 Stanford at No. 4 Oregon
  3. No. 21 Texas at No. 8 Oklahoma
No doubt things are tightening up.

To be continued....

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Rangers Are In!

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE TEXAS RANGERS
2010 AL WEST CHAMPIONS


Pencil in the Texas Rangers!

The Rangers (86-68) have ended an 11-year playoff drought and have also erased their name from the list of teams who are yet to make the playoffs in the 21st century.

2010 marks the Rangers 4th playoff appearance in team history and their first this century. Their 3 prior playoff appearances were in 1996, 1998 and 1999.

So now the list of teams with no playoff berths since the beginning of the new millennium has dwindled down to six teams. And with the Cincinnati Reds (last playoff appearance in 1995) at the brink of clinching a playoff spot, the list will soon dwindle down to five teams.

But for now, manager Ron Washington, sluggers Josh Hamilton, Vladimir Guerrero, Michael Young and the rest of the Rangers are kings of the AL West.

More on that list after the Reds take care of business.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Friday, September 24, 2010

Jose Bautista, Makoto Kozuru and Babe Ruth


Yesterday, Jose Bautista became the first player in Toronto Blue Jays history to hit 50 home runs in a single season.

A big congrats to Bautista on his huge accomplishment.

Coincidentally, Bautista hit his 50th homer in the same game which saw Japanese icon Ichiro Suzuki get his 200th hit of the season, extending Ichiro's monumental major league record to 10 consecutive 200-hit seasons.

And the game itself was a dandy.

The Blue Jays beat the Seattle Mariners, 1-0, with Bautista's milestone home run accounting for the only run in the game. He homered off of Seattle ace "King" Felix Hernandez, who pitched a complete game gem, only to lose on Bautista's homer.

No doubt it was a memorable game with a truly international flavor to it. I guess we could summarize it like this--

A Dominican ball player (Bautista) became the first player ever to hit 50 home runs for a Canadian team (the Blue Jays) which play in an American baseball league. He hit the home run off of a Venezuelan pitcher (King Felix), who is a perennial Cy Young Award candidate and teammate of an All-Star Japanese player (Ichiro), who in the same game hit his milestone 200th hit of the season off of a Canadian pitcher (Shawn Hill).

Interesting.

And staying international--

Bautista can now rub elbows with Babe Ruth, who in 1920 became the first player to hit 50 home runs for an American team (54 for the New York Yankees) and Makoto Kozuru, who in 1950 became the first player ever to hit 50 home runs for a Japanese team.

And now a Canadian team has a 50-home run hitter.

Cool!

Photos courtesy of the AP

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ichiro Suzuki, Ty Cobb and Pete Rose


Congrats to Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki on getting his patented 200th hit of the season.

2010 marks the 10th consecutive season that Ichiro surpasses the 200-hit mark, a feat that only he has ever accomplished.

Last year Ichiro became the first player to ever record 9 straight 200-hit seasons, breaking a tie with the immortal "Wee" Willie Keeler (r.) of 8 consecutive seasons. To put Ichiro's accomplishment in perspective, Keeler had his 8 straight 200-hit seasons, 109 years ago, from 1894-1901, so Ichiro, no doubt, is in a class by himself.

Ichiro also became the first player in American League history to total 10 200-hit seasons, breaking a tie of nine straight he shared with the immortal Ty Cobb. Ichiro has now tied the great Pete Rose as the only 2 players ever with 10 200-hit seasons.

Here's a list of the players with 7 or more 200-hit seasons:
  1. Ichiro Suzuki - 10 (active)
  2. Pete Rose - 10
  3. Ty Cobb - 9
  4. Willie Keeler - 8
  5. Lou Gehrig - 8
  6. Paul Waner - 8
  7. Wade Boggs - 7
  8. Charlie Gehringer - 7
  9. Rogers Hornsby - 7
  10. Derek Jeter - 7 (active)

But what separates Ichiro from all the rest is that he has been in the league for only 10 seasons. Every other player on the list has played at least 16 seasons, ranging from Jeter (16 seasons) to Rose and Cobb (24 seasons). In other words, Ichiro is 10 for 10.

A truly remarkable achievement.

Ichiro and Rose photos courtesy of Getty Images
Cobb and Keeler photos courtesy of The Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
Stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Roy Halladay, Steve Carlton and Robin Roberts


Last night, Philadelphia Phillies ace Roy Halladay (20-10) became the first pitcher in the National League to win 20 games this season.

Halladay, the odds-on-favorite to win the Cy Young Award, became the first Phillies pitcher to accomplish the feat in 28 years. The last Phillies starter to win 20 games was the great Hall of Famer Steve "Lefty" Carlton in 1982. That year Lefty went, 23-11, and won his then-record 4th Cy Young Award.

Halladay also became the first Phillies right-hander to win 20 games since Hall of Famer Robin Roberts did it in 1955. That year Roberts went 23-14.

Here's a look at the Phillies 20-game winners since 1950:

  1. Robin Roberts - 28 - 1952
  2. Steve Carlton - 27 - 1972
  3. Steve Carlton - 24 - 1980
  4. Steve Carlton - 23 - 1977
  5. Steve Carlton - 23 - 1982
  6. Robin Roberts - 23 - 1953
  7. Robin Roberts - 23 - 1954
  8. Robin Roberts - 23 - 1955
  9. Robin Roberts - 21 - 1951
  10. Steve Carlton - 20 - 1976
  11. Chris Short - 20 - 1966
  12. Robin Roberts - 20 - 1950
  13. Roy Halladay - 20 - 2010

As we can see, with the exception of Chris Short in 1966, Carlton and Roberts have owned the Phillies 20-win list in the last 60 years.

And now we can add Halladay to the list.

With the Phillies (91-61) pile driving their way into first place and at the brink of a 4th consecutive NL East title-- I'm sure there are bigger things up ahead for Halladay and the Phils.

No doubt!

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

The Twins Draw First Blood!

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE MINNESOTA TWINS
2010 AL CENTRAL DIVISION CHAMPIONS


The Twins are in!

For Minnesota this is their 6th division title in the last nine years (2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2009, 2010) under manager Ron Gardenhire. The clinching win was also the 800th of Gardenhire's illustrious career.

Now the Twins (91-60) look to advance deep in the playoffs, which is the one goal that has eluded them during this impressive playoff run. They reached the ALCS in 2002, but have lost in the first round in every playoff appearance since then.

But the one thing that has always held true in baseball is that if you keep winning games and you constantly make the playoffs, sooner or later, good things are going to happen.

So is this the Twins year?

Maybe.

But one thing is certain-- they'll be one of the eight teams that will have a shot at it.

And you have to be in it to win it!

As for the Chicago White Sox--


Ozzie's team gave it a good run, but a bad 6 week-run did them in. On August 1, the White Sox were 59-45 and in first place, but since then have gone a disappointing, 20-27. The Twins were 59-46 on August 1 and have since gone on a 32-14 run.

In the end, the one area which kept the White Sox in the race for most of the season was a major contributor to their demise-- THE BULLPEN. In today's baseball, the bullpen is probably a team's most important component.

On August 1, the Twins bullpen had a total of 47 HOLDS and the White Sox were right on their tail with 40 HOLDS. Today the Twins have 74 HOLDS, while the White Sox are lagging behind with 54 HOLDS. In other words, the Twins bullpen have "out held" the White Sox bullpen 27-14 since August 1.

That's a 13 HOLD advantage for the Twins, which resulted in a 12 game lead in the division and the division title.

Coincidence?

I don't think so.

Photos courtesy of the AP

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mike Vick Gets the Starting Gig!


It didn't take Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid long to come to his senses.

After announcing that Kevin Kolb would be the Eagles starter, regardless of how well Michael Vick has played, Reid has changed his mind.

I think everyone on the planet, including Reid, noticed how well Vick played in the six quarters after Kolb's concussion.

And now Reid has announced that Vick will be the starting QB on Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

And this was not an injury decision, it was a football decision.

Said Reid, “When someone is playing at the level Michael Vick is playing, you have to give him an opportunity. This isn’t about Kevin Kolb’s play. You’re talking about Michael Vick as one the best quarterbacks in the NFL right now.”

He continued, “Michael did an exceptional job and my job is to evaluate the players. It’s my obligation to make the proper decision."

"His accelerated play was brilliant. This is what I think is right. He’s back and maybe even a little better.”

Good move, Andy!

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

College Football Time: Iowa Falls, No Love For Nevada


The Iowa Hawkeyes became the second preseason Top 10 team to stumble.

Following in the footsteps of the Virginia Tech Hokies, Iowa lost a tough game on the road against the Arizona Wildcats, 34-27. With the loss, the Hawkeyes fell from No. 9 to No. 18 in both major polls.

Meanwhile, Arizona surged in the polls moving all the way down to No. 14 in the AP Poll and No. 16 in the USA Today Poll.

New in the Top 10 are the Arkansas Razorbacks or the Wisconsin Badgers, depending on which poll you follow. Arkansas is No. 10 in the AP Poll while Wisconsin is No. 11. In the USA Today Poll, the rankings are flipped, Wisconsin at No. 10 and Arkansas at No. 11.

Personally, I think the AP got it right because Arkansas won a tough game on the road at the Georgia Bulldogs, 31-24, while Wisconsin barely escaped with a home win, 20-19, against the Arizona State Sun Devils. And as we know, in college football, scores matter!


Meanwhile, the team that has gotten absolutely no love whatsoever are the Nevada Wolf Pack. Yes, I know they play in the second-tier WAC Conference, but so do the No. 3 Boise State Broncos.

Nevada (3-0) had a huge win against the California Golden Bears, 52-31. Prior to this game California (2-1) had the No. 1 defense in the nation, allowing a total of 10 points in their first two games. The Nevada offense is averaging an incredible 50.67 points per game in their first three games (49, 51, 52) and not even California's stingy defense was able to stop them.


Why Nevada isn't in the Top 25 is beyond me?

As for the rest of the big boys (i.e. No. 1 Alabama), everyone else pretty much held serve.

And on the coach Brian Kelly front, both the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1-2) and the Cincinnati Bearcats (1-2) are in trouble. Looks like the Brian Kelly switch isn't working for either team so far.

The upcoming poll busting games on tap are:
  1. No. 1 Alabama at No. 10 Arkansas
  2. No. 12 South Carolina at No. 17 Auburn
  3. No. 22 West Virginia at No. 15 LSU

There will also be two huge Pac-10 games:

  1. California (2-1) at No. 14 Arizona (3-0)
  2. No. 5 Oregon (3-0) at Arizona State (2-1)

And of course, Nevada at BYU, is huge for the Wolf Pack. If they win this one, I can't see how the pollsters can keep them out of the Top 25.

We'll see....

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Monday, September 20, 2010

Joe Torre's New York Comeback?


Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre officially announced that he's "retiring" at the end of the season.

Torre held a long overdue press conference alongside his longtime apprentice Don Mattingly, who will become the Dodgers new manager upon Torre's retirement.

Ok, those are the facts. Now--

For those unfamiliar with the drama, what I meant by "long overdue press conference" is that Torre and Mattingly were "suppose" to have that press conference here in New York, quite possibly around this time.

A quick bio: Torre, after managing the New York Yankees for 12 very successful seasons, was pretty much run out of town in 2007. When his contract expired after the '07 season, the Yankees offered Torre a measly "take it or leave it" one-year deal for half his salary. A proud Torre turned it down and left town. Mattingly, who for years was led to believe that he was Torre's successor, interviewed for the then-open managerial position confident he was going to get it. However, the Yankees went on to hire Joe Girardi, who was highly regarded after his successful, one-year, manager of the year, stint with the Florida Marlins. A disgruntled Mattingly also left town and followed Torre to LA, where Torre had accepted the Dodgers managerial gig.

So now Torre and Mattingly have finally held the "passing the baton" press conference, which they both thought was going to happen in New York. But the Yankees, being the Yankees, had other ideas.

Anyway--

Today, Torre and Mattingly are back in New York to participate in a ceremony unveiling a statue to the late-Yankee owner George Steinbrenner. That's a good thing. All drama should be put aside for those kinds of events.

BUT--

Torre's New York comeback shouldn't end there. Once the season is over and Torre hands Mattingly the LA helm, he is officially a free man.

And guess which managerial position will be open at season's end?

The New York Mets.


Yes, the Mets (Torre's original stomping grounds) should be looking for a new manager because current manager Jerry Manuel is done. The chances of Manuel returning are slim to none.

And the Mets gig sounds plausible for Torre on 3 fronts:

  1. In his press conference Torre didn't rule out managing another team. He simply said he's done with the Dodgers.
  2. Torre is a proud man and I know he is still stung by the treatment he received from the Yankees, after so much success together. If he manages the Mets, he will definitely take all the back-page headlines away from the Yankees and he'll be the main baseball-headliner in town.
  3. And the idea of winning a championship with the crosstown rivals and sticking it to the Yankees, may be an offer Torre can't refuse.

So it wouldn't surprise me if the local papers begin a "Torre to the Mets" campaign soon.

And if it happens, it'll definitely be cool!

Photo courtesy of Getty Images
Torre baseball card photo courtesy of Topps.com

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Top Dog


Michael Vick gets the job done!

Vick, in his first start since 2006, played a terrific game in the Philadelphia Eagles (1-1), 35-32, win over the Detroit Lions (0-2).

Vick was 21-34 for 284 yards, 2 touchdowns, no interceptions and a 108 QB passer rating. Vick also ran for 37 yards and was his old electrifying self with his slick footwork.


But according to head coach Andy Reid, Kevin Kolb will resume his starting duties as soon as he's cleared to play and Vick will return to his backup role.

But Vick made the most of his opportunity, saying, “It’s been a long road for me. It’s been tough. Throughout it all, I had to be resilient and overcome a lot of adversity and self-inflicted wounds.”

And no doubt Vick, with his superb performance today, made the Eagles quarterback decisions a lot harder.

In his 6 full quarters of work, so far, Vick has thrown for 459 yards, 3 touchdowns, no interceptions and has run 18 times for 140 yards.

I have nothing against Kolb, but with those spectacular numbers, I say, start Mike Vick!

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Saturday, September 18, 2010

All Eyes On Vick!


Tomorrow, Michael Vick will be the STARTING quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles in their game against the Detroit Lions.

This will be Vick's first starting gig since the final game of the 2006 season when he was with the Atlanta Falcons.

Oh, and his first since coming out of the slammer a little over a year ago.

No doubt it's been a long journey for Vick, who got the start because regular starter Kevin Kolb has not recovered from a concussion he suffered in the second quarter last week against the Green Bay Packers.


And if Vick performs the way he did in the second half (after taking over for Kolb) then the game should be fun to watch.

Vick played like the old Mike Vick in that game, throwing for 175 yards and rushing for 103 more. Like his old self, he was almost untouchable when forced out of the pocket. In fact, Philly was down 20-3 when Vick came in the game and on the strength of his throwing and running, made a nice come back and pulled to within 27-20. But the Packers would hold off their surge and win by that score.

After the game all the buzz was about Vick's performance.


But a grateful Vick is not taking anything for granted--

“It would be gratifying” Vick said of leading the Eagles to a win. “This team took a chance on me when not many others would.”

He continued, "This is a big game. It’s not about me making my first start or none of that. I’ve put all of that aside. It’s about us going on the road and trying to get a win. We need to go out there and get a win, that’s what matters. Nobody wants to be 0-2.”

Personally, I hope Vick rocks it tomorrow with a superb effort. The man has paid his debt to society and deserves a shot at redemption.

End of story!

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Friday, September 17, 2010

College Football Time: No Love For The Hokies


There is no doubt the biggest story of the young college football season has been the demise of the Virginia Tech Hokies (0-2).

The Hokies began the season ranked No. 10 in the AP Poll and No. 6 in the USA Today Poll. After their tough 33-30 loss to the Boise State Broncos, the Hokies fell to a respectable No. 13 in both polls. In other words, both polls still thought they were a legit squad because, after all, the game was at hostile Boise State.

But after last week's shocking 21-16 home loss to second-tier James Madison, the Hokies were ousted out of both polls. The loss also hurt No. 3 Boise State because they actually lost some ranking points as a result of Virginia Tech's ineptness. All of a sudden the Broncos' dramatic win over a then-powerhouse Hokie team lost all of it's luster.

So are the Hokies done for the year? Not necessarily.

As far as getting to the BCS title game, they can forget about it. But if they run the table and win the ACC title game, and go on and win the Orange Bowl, they'll definitely finish in the Top 10 and salvage their season.

But no doubt the Hokies have dug a huge hole for themselves.


On other fronts--

The polls showed a lot of love for the Miami Hurricanes and the Penn State Nittany Lions. Penn State got hammered, 24-3, by the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide and Miami lost a tough game, 36-24, to the No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes. But both teams only lost a few ranking spots-- Miami fell to No. 17 and Penn State fell to No. 22.

I'm sure they both got the Virginia Tech treatment after tough road losses but that won't last very long if they pull off a Virginia Tech and lose again the following week.

Anyway--

As for tomorrow, the games with poll busting implications are:

  1. No. 12 Arkansas at Georgia
  2. Clemson at No. 16 Auburn
  3. No. 9 Iowa at No. 24 Arizona

And Virginia Tech's road to redemption starts with a home game against East Carolina. If they lose this one they can kiss their season good-bye.

No doubt!

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Un-Jeterian


Derek Jeter was the 2009 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year.

It looks like he'll be the 2010 Salesman of the Year and the Academy Award winner for Best Actor.

Jeter, unconventionally, has opened up a can of worms with his phantom "hit-by-pitch" act last night. And what has everyone scratching their heads is not the actual stunt itself, but that it came from him.

When asked about it, Jeter bluntly said, "it hit the bat" with a "I don't want to talk about it" look on his face.

Clearly, Jeter did what he had to do to get on base.

BUT--

I think, what has surprised a lot of people is that we're not used to seeing Jeter in the center of a controversy. Jeter has been a master at maintaining a "saint-like" status throughout his entire career and shenanigans like this are not part of his culture. That's A-Rod's territory.

I mean, can we imagine what the outcry would've been if A-Rod had pulled this stunt?

But I guess when you're desperately trying to shake off the Tampa Bay Rays and you're having a hard time doing so, you'll do just about anything to gain an edge.

Rays manager Joe Maddon, who got tossed out of the game for arguing the call, actually praised Jeter after the game for his devious acting job. But Maddon knew the ball hit the bat and he let the umpires know it.

In the end, Jeter may have lost some points on the "good guy" front, but at the time, it was a good move on his part because Curtis Granderson followed his "hit-by-pitch" with a home run giving the Yankees a 3-2 lead.

But in the end, there was poetic justice for the Rays as Dan Johnson hit a two-run home run of off Phil Hughes to give the Rays a 4-3 lead.

The Rays would go on to win by that score, take two out of three games, and sole possession of first place.

And all Jeter did was create a firestorm of chatter that will stick around for a while.

Photos courtesy of the AP

The Hurt Locker!


Danger lurks ahead in the National League.

The Philadelphia Phillies (86-61) are a one-team wrecking crew. They have completed their hostile take over of the NL East and are not looking back. If the Atlanta Braves want to see some action in the playoffs, they're going to have to settle for a Wild Card spot. That's just the way it is.

As for the Philly machine--

Roy Halladay won his NL-leading and major league-tying 19th game last night. He leads the NL with 210 strike outs and is third with a 2.49 ERA. Will he win the Cy Young Award? You betcha!

Roy Oswalt is UNBEATABLE. Since joining the Phillies, he is 6-1 with a 1.98 ERA in 9 starts. The Phillies are 8-1 in those 9 games.

Cole Hamels is 4-0 in his last 4 starts, pitching 25.3 consecutive scoreless innings and in his last start had a season-high of 13 strike outs in 6 and two-thirds innings against the Florida Marlins.

These are the Phillies 3 starters come the playoffs.

And then there's Brad Lidge--

Since August 1st, Lidge has converted 12 of 13 save opportunities, allowing a grand total of two earned runs in 19 appearances. The Phillies are 17-2 in those games.

The old adage is still true-- where Lidge goes, the Phillies go.

Oh and by the way, the Phillies can hit.

Uh, oh!

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bautista Ties Bell


Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista has hit his major league-leading 47th home run which ties the club record held by old-school slugger George Bell.

With 16 games remaining I'm sure Bautista will surpass Bell and may become the first Blue Jays player to hit 50 home runs. Not bad for a guy who entered the season with, get this, 59 career home runs.

And no I'm not suggesting anything.

But I guess, it's kind of hard not to be a little suspect nowadays.

Anyway--

Here' a look at the 40-home run club in Blue Jays history:


Jose Bautista - 47 and counting (2010)
George Bell - 47 (1987)
Jose Canseco - 46 (1998)
Carlos Delgado - 44 (1999)
Carlos Delgado - 42 (2003)
Shawn Green - 42 (1999)
Tony Batista - 41 (2000)
Carlos Delgado - 41 (2000)
Jesse Barfield - 40 (1986)
Carlos Delgado - 39 (2001)

For the record: The Blue Jays are yet to retire any players' number with the exception of No. 42, which is retired throughout Major League Baseball.

Looking at the above list, Carlos Delgado had some impressive years up there. Will his be the first? Maybe.

But right now, Bautista has center stage and No. 50 may be on the way soon.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Elite Seven



With his U.S. Open title, World No. 1 Rafael Nadal has now joined the elite group of men's players who have won all 4 Grand Slam titles in their careers.

They are:



1. Rafael Nadal (9 titles)
Australian Open: 2009
French Open: 2005, 2006, 2007 , 2008, 2010
Wimbledon: 2008, 2010
U.S. Open: 2010


2. Roger Federer (16 titles)
Australian Open: 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010
French Open: 2009
Wimbledon: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
U.S. Open: 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008



3. Andre Agassi (8 titles)
Australian Open: 1995, 2000, 2001, 2003
French Open: 1999
Wimbledon: 1992
U.S. Open: 1994, 1999



4. Roy Emerson (12 titles)
Australian Open: 1961, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967
French Open: 1963, 1967
Wimbledon: 1964, 1965
U.S. Open: 1961, 1964


5. Rod Laver (11 titles)
Australian Open: 1960, 1962, 1969
French Open: 1962, 1969
Wimbledon: 1961, 1962, 1968, 1969
U.S. Open: 1962, 1969



6. Don Budge (6 titles)
Australian Open: 1938
French Open: 1938
Wimbledon: 1937, 1938
U.S. Open: 1937, 1938



7. Fred Perry (8 titles)
Australian Open: 1934
French Open: 1935
Wimbledon: 1934, 1935, 1936
U.S. Open: 1933, 1934, 1936

Nadal also became the first player since Rod Laver, in 1969, to win 3 consecutive Grand Slams.

Next up, the 2011 Australian Open where Nadal will go for 4 in a row and is already being dubbed, "The Rafa Slam".

Photos courtesy of Getty Images