Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wimbledon: Sharapova In The Final!

Getty Images
Former World No. 1 Maria Sharapova is in the Wimbledon Final!

Today, Sharapova advanced to the final by defeating unseeded Sabine Lisicki of Germany 6-4, 6-3 in the semifinals. Sharapova, the 2004 champion, is in the final for the second time in her career (2004, 2011). In 2004 she shocked the world by winning the title as a 17-year old newcomer.

She will face No. 8 Petra Kvitova who defeated No. 4 Victoria Azarenka 6-1, 3-6, 6-2 in the other semifinal match. For the 21-year old Kvitova, this will be her first-ever appearance at a Grand Slam final.

Getty Images
After match point, Kvitova (above) simply couldn't hold back her emotions. CONGRATS to her.

As for Sharapova--

Getty Images
This is (by far) the best performance by the 24-year old Russian since her comeback from shoulder surgery. Sharapova was diagnosed with a shoulder injury in the summer of 2008 forcing her to end her season. In October '08 she had surgery to repair the shoulder keeping her out of action until mid-2009. Her comeback was slow and frustrating. She went from World No. 1 in May of 2008 to No. 126 by May of 2009.

However, over the last two years she has slowly and patiently regained her touch and has worked her way back into the Top 10. If she wins Wimbledon, she will be World No. 3 when it is all said and done.

Now that she has reached her first Grand Slam final since her comeback, I'm sure she has her sights on regaining the No. 1 ranking in the near future.

GOOD LUCK to both ladies.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wimbledon: The Semis: Nadal, Djokovic, Murray, Tsonga ......Wait!.......Tsonga?

The Final Four

Getty Images
We are down to the men's semifinals at Wimbledon and 75% of the usual suspects are in the big dance. Defending champion and World No. 1 Rafael Nadal is in. World No. 2 Novak Djokovic is in. World No. 4 Andy Murray is in. The only Top 4 player NOT in is World No. 3 Roger Federer.

Yes, Federer was ousted in the quarterfinals for the second year in a row, this time at the hands of No. 12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France. Tsonga came back to beat Federer 3-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in miraculous fashion after losing the first two sets. This was the first time in Federer's career that he lost a match after winning the first two sets. He had been an astonishing 178-0 in matches in which he was up 2 sets to "love".

Getty Images
178-0, until today. Amazing! I guess if we live long enough, we'll see everything happen at least once.

As for Tsonga, he will take on the No. 2 seed Djokovic, who ended 18-year old Bernard Tomic's fairy tale run to the quarterfinals with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory.

For Djokovic, if he beats Tsonga and reaches the Final, he will mathematically take over the No. 1 ranking from Nadal even if he loses in the Final. Although I'm sure, becoming No. 1 is important to Djokovic, it'll be somewhat bittersweet if he doesn't win the whole enchilada. If he only walks away with the No. 1 ranking and not the title, Nadal will be the No. 1 seed at the U.S. Open anyway, so for Djokovic to have a chance to go to Queens, NY as the No. 1 seed in the final Grand Slam of the year, he MUST win Wimbledon.

For the record, Tsonga has a 5-2 head-to-head winning match record against Djokovic in case anyone out there isn't giving him a chance against the heavy-favorite World No. 2.

The other semifinal is one that we are accustomed to seeing-- No. 1 vs. No. 4.

No. 1 Nadal defeated No. 10 Mardy Fish 6-3, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 in the quarterfinals. Fish was the last American still standing but I guess we can now say, he has "gone fishing". Rafa, on the other hand, will be looking to make his 5th Wimbledon Finals and capture his 3rd title overall and second in a row.

For Murray, well, it's the same old story.

Getty Images - click on image to view larger
The weight of the British empire is on his shoulders as he looks to become the first Wimbledon champion from England since 1936. In 1936, Fred Perry won Wimbledon and the U.S. Open and since then no Briton has won a Grand Slam title of any kind and Murray is their only hope.

Hey England, look at it this way, at least you have Murray who's always around on the final weekend of most Grand Slams. You should try it from our (U.S.A.) end.

To be continued....

The MLB on TSC: The Human Torch Lights It Up (Again)

The Human Torch Cliff Lee is still on fire!

Getty Images
Last night, Philadelphia Phillies co-ace Cliff Lee (9-5) pitched his 3rd consecutive shutout and his 4th of the season. His latest gem came against Josh Beckett and the mighty Boston Red Sox who many, including me, see this series as a preview of the 2011 World Series.

In the month of June, Lee has put up some eye-popping numbers that border on RIDICULOUS. He now has a a career-best 32 inning scoreless streak and is 5-0 with a (microscope please) 0.21 ERA in June. Ridiculous? Oh yeah!

Here's what the Elias Sports Bureau says about Lee's storybook month--

Cliff Lee was 5-0 with a 0.21 earned-run average in June. Since earned runs were first recorded on official scores (in 1912 in the NL, 1913 in the AL) only six other starting pitchers went 5-0 or better with an ERA that low in a calendar month: Guy Bush in August 1926 (6-0, 0.19 ERA), Fernando Valenzuela in April 1981 (5-0, 0.20), Nolan Ryan in May 1984 (5-0, 0.20), Mike Witt in August 1986 (5-0, 0.21), Orel Hershiser in September 1988 (5-0, 0.00) and Cory Lidle in August 2002 (5-0, 0.20).

Lee has thrown a complete-game SHUTOUT while allowing six or fewer hits in each of his last three starts. The last pitcher to have a three-start streak like that was Toronto's Roger Clemens in August 1998.

What a pitcher!

FIRST TO 50

With the win the Phillies (50-30) became the first team in the majors to WIN 50 games this season.

JOSE REYES AND TY COBB

Reyes photo courtesy of Getty Images
The New York Mets electrifying shortstop Jose Reyes played his 1000th career game last night in the Mets 14-3 whoopin' of the Detroit Tigers. Reyes went 4 for 4 in that game after going 4 for 5 in the Mets previous game, an 8-5 win against the Texas Rangers. With his 8 for 9 performance in the last two games, Reyes has upped his National League leading batting average to .349.

As for the 1000 games played--

Reyes has 98 triples and 360 stolen bases in his 1000 career games. The only other player in major league history to have that many triples and that many stolen bases in his first 1000 career games is the immortal Ty Cobb who had 106 triples and 291 stolen bases when he played his 1000th game in 1912. Pretty good company for Reyes, I must say.

Reyes now leads the NL in BA (.349), runs scored (64), hits (117), and triples (15). Did someone say MONSTER free agent contract?

Getty Images
With Reyes leading the way the Mets are now a decent 40-39 on the year which is more than most of us expected.

BUT!!!!

If the Phillies and Atlanta Braves weren't in the same division, this disgruntled Mets fans might (just might) have started hoping and believing. Unfortunately, that's not the case. Let's see how things look in August.

JAKE PEAVY AND CC SABATHIA

Getty Images
Last Saturday, Chicago White Sox starter Jake Peavy did something he had never done in his major league career. He made his first-ever relief appearance after 238 consecutive starts. Peavy and New York Yankees ace CC Sabathia were the only two active major league pitchers who have played in 200 or more games, all as starters. So now Sabathia is the only 200+ games pitcher left who has never made a relief appearance. CC has made 339 consecutive starts in the major leagues with a 167-92 career record and 50-19 as a Yankee.

Finally--

BACK TO "FIRST TO 50"

On the flip side of the Phillies-- the Houston Astros (28-52) became the first team in the majors to LOSE 50 games. This was the 6th time in their history (since 1962) that the Astros were the first team in the majors to lose 50. That's the most of any team during their existence.

C'MON 'STROS!

Stats courtesy of the Elias Sports Bureau and ESPN

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Wimbledon: Sharapova In The Final Four

Getty Images
The Final Four (on the women's side) is all set at Wimbledon. The only veteran and former champion still alive is the surging Maria Sharapova.

For Sharapova, the 2004 champion, this will be her 4th semifinals appearance (2004, 2005, 2006, 2011) at Wimbledon and her second consecutive Grand Slam semifinals appearance. She also reached the semifinals at the French Open last month.

So it'll be--

No. 4 Victoria Azarenka vs. No. 8 Petra Kvitova
No. 5 Maria Sharapova vs. unseeded Sabine Lisicki

As I said, Sharapova, at 24, is the "veteran" of the group. The other 3 ladies are all 21 years old. Call it, a new era in women's tennis.

Getty Images
Kvitova is making her second consecutive semifinals appearance. Last year she lost to the eventual champion Serena Williams in the semis.

Azarenka, who ended Tsvetana Pironkova's magical run with a 6-3, 6-7, 6-2 win in the quarterfinals, is making her first-ever appearance at a Grand Slam semifinals.

Lisicki, who as an unseeded wild-card entry, ousted French Open champion Na Li in the second round and ended No. 9 Marion Bartoli's dream of winning a Grand Slam in the quarterfinals with a 6-4, 6-7, 6-1 victory. This will be Lisicki's first-ever Grand slam semifinals. She is the first German woman to reach a Grand Slam semis since the great Steffi Graf did so in 1999.

GOOD LUCK to all 4 ladies....

Monday, June 27, 2011

Wimbledon: Fish Not Dead Yet!

Getty Images
American Mardy Fish has made it to the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. The 10th seeded Fish is the only American still left standing, male or female. He reached the quarters by ousting last year's runner-up and 6th ranked Tomas Berdych in straight sets 7-6, 6-4, 6-4. This will be Fish's first-ever quarterfinals at Wimbledon as he now carries the weight of the entire U.S.A. on his shoulders. The rejuvenated 29-year old is playing the best tennis of his career as of late and currently is the highest ranked American on either side. When told he's America's last hope, Fish said, "I'm not used to being in this position."

Well Mardy, get used to it, you're all we've got right now and for the near future.

As for Berdych--

Getty Images
His ranking points will take a beating after the tournament as he was not able to defend the 1200 points that go with being the returning runner-up. His new total after the tournament will be-- 3490-1200+180=2470. His new total of 2470 will push him back to either No. 9 or No. 10 when the new rankings come out after the tournament.

Fish, for reaching the quarters, will have the unenviable task of facing the defending champion and World No. 1 Rafael Nadal next. Is Fish the guy to stop the unstoppable Rafa?

Getty Images
Nadal reached the quarterfinals by winning a hard-fought and excruciating match against the Pride of Argentina, the comeback kid, No. 24 Juan Martin del Potro (7-6, 3-6, 7-6, 6-4). Make no mistake about it, this match could have gone either way and Rafa was fortunate to escape alive. After the match, both Rafa and del Potro got a standing ovation from the appreciative crowd for their efforts.

Rafa hasn't lost a match at Wimbledon since losing the 2007 Final to Roger Federer. He won the title in 2008 and 2010 and was absent from the tournament in 2009 due to injuries.

For del Potro, he is making progress with every Grand Slam he plays in his comeback from right wrist surgery. He made it to the second round at the Australian Open, then followed it up with a third round appearance at the French Open and now a fourth round appearance at Wimbledon.

AP Photo
With his fourth round appearance, del Potro will reenter the Top 20 just 5 months after being ranked as high as No. 485 due to his absence. No doubt the 2009 U.S. Open champion is well-positioned to "defend" his title at the U.S. Open, which he technically hasn't lost due to his injury-absence in 2010. I guess we can say that in the upcoming U.S. Open, del Potro (2009 champion) and Nadal (2010 champion) will be co-defending champions.

As for the rest--

The usual suspects are still alive. World No. 2 Novak Djokovic is in the quarters, World No. 3 Roger Federer is in the quarters and World No. 4 Andy Murray is also in the quarters.

Getty Images
Djokovic has the most interesting match of the Top 4 as he plays the unseeded 18-year old from Australia Bernard Tomic. Many people would say that this should be a breeze for Djokovic but Tomic is raising a lot of eyebrows with his run to the quarterfinals. He first got everyone's attention by defeating former World No. 3 and 29th seeded Nikolay Davydenko in straight sets in the first round. He then stunned World No. 5 Robin Soderling in straight sets in the third round, so the kid definitely came prepared to play, no doubt about it.

Boris Becker and Bernard Tomic-Getty Images
Tomic is the youngest player to reach the quarterfinals at Wimbledon since a guy named Boris Becker (remember him?) did so as an 18-year old back in 1986. Many people are comparing Tomic's run to that of Becker's as Becker shocked the world by winning the championship as an unknown teenager. Can Tomic do the same?

So the quarterfinals look like this--

No. 1 Rafael Nadal vs. No. 10 Mardy Fish (only American left)
No. 2 Novak Djokovic vs. Bernard Tomic (18-year old qualifier)
No. 3 Roger Federer vs. No. 12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (No. 7 David Ferrer destroyer)
No. 4 Andy Murray vs. Feliciano Lopez (No. 8 Andy Roddick destroyer)

To be continued....

Wimbledon: Pironkova Moves Ahead!

Getty Images
No. 32 Tsvetana Pironkova has reach the quarterfinals at Wimbledon.

For the second year in a row Pironkova has easily ousted 5-time champion Venus Williams by a 6-2, 6-3 score. Last year it was a shocker when Pironkova beat Venus to reach the semifinals but this year, however, she has opened up a lot of eyes with her second straight spectacular run, making believers of many. Last year she lost her semifinals match to World No. 3 Vera Zvonareva.

This year, however, she avenged last year's loss to Zvonareva in the third round and now has (again) ousted Venus to reach the quarterfinals. There is no doubt the 23-year old Bulgarian has proven she is a grass-court specialist who will be around for years to come. Something tells me that, come Wimbledon, we're going to have to get used to pronouncing her name.

For Venus, this is the first time since 2006 she doesn't reach (at least) the quarterfinals.

As for Serena--

Getty Images
Her rust from her year-long absence finally caught up to her. Serena also lost her fourth round match (6-3, 7-6) to French Open semifinalist and World No. 9 Marion Bartoli of France. All I can say is-- Critiques can say what they want but I think Serena did pretty well by reaching the fourth round after a long tough year of devastating injuries and illnesses that rocked her world.

This was the first time ever that both Venus and Serena lost on the same day at the All England Club. For Serena, the loss was brutal on her ranking points because as the defending champion she had to defend the maximum number of points. With the fourth round loss, she will, no doubt, fall out of the Top 100 as her ranking points have all but evaporated. Her tally will look like this after the tournament-- 2060-2000+280=340. To put it in perspective, the 100th ranked player Anastasiya Yakimova has 709 points, so her new total of 340 will land her somewhere at No. 200 most likely. Venus, on the other hand, had much less points to defend, so her new total looks like this-- 1680-500+280=1460. Her 1460 points will drop her, somewhere around No. 35, which isn't so bad.

And then there's World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki--

Getty Images
Poor Caroline. Her demons of never winning a Grand Slam title and holding the No. 1 ranking will continue to haunt her as she lost her fourth round match 6-1, 6-7, 5-7 to No. 24 Dominika Cibulkova. What can I say? Wozniacki will have to continue answering the nagging question, "Are you worthy of the No. 1 ranking with no Grand Slam titles under your belt?" at least until the start of the U.S. Open. The good news for Wozniacki is she will hold on to the No. 1 ranking for the foreseeable future regardless of who wins the event.

So now the highest seeds still alive are No. 4 Victoria Azarenka and No. 5 Maria Sharapova who have both easily advanced to the quarterfinals.

Getty Images
Why do I have the feeling ALL EYES will be on Sharapova moving forward. Well, that's usually how it works. Who says looks don't matter?

BUT!!

Getty Images
Watch out Maria! Pironkova is a cutie also and if she wins the tournament, she may just steal some of your mega-endorsement deals. No doubt about it.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ian Kennedy Should Make the NL All-Star Team!

Getty Images
Arizona Diamondbacks starter Ian Kennedy is having the best year of his career (by far) in 2011. Kennedy (8-2, 89 K, 2.90 ERA, 1.09 WHIP) is a major reason why the Diamondbacks (43-34) are tied for first-place in the NL West.

Kennedy's journey to stardom was a long one and it came via the take-no-prisoners New York Yankees.

Once upon a time, Kennedy was part of a trio of young and talented pitchers who were supposed to blossom and lead the Yankees pitching staff for the next decade. The trio were: Kennedy, Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes. These three youngsters were once considered, quote, UNTRADEABLE. But as is usually the case with the win-now Yankees, an enormous amount of pressure was put on the young trio. Of the three only Hughes was able to develop into a good starter.

Getty Images
Chamberlain was BABIED with the so-called Joba Rules for the better part of three seasons and was never given a chance to develop as a starter or a reliever because of the obsession with the so-called pitch-limit. How in the world can anyone pitch with ease if they know that they have to have a strong performance with a limited number of pitches? To make matters worse, every time he had a bad outing it was front page news and poor Joba was thrown under the bus. He went from the bullpen to the starting rotation then was sent back to the bullpen to be the 6th inning setup man, then the 7th inning setup man, then the 8th inning setup man, then back to being a 6th inning setup man and so forth. The poor guy never had an identity on the pitching staff and at times seemed lost. There were times, I'm sure, he felt like he was under a microscope because one mistake by Joba was equivalent to 10 mistakes by any other pitcher and it got to the point that the kid just couldn't handle the pressure and was overthrowing.

Getty Images
As for Kennedy, the Yankees eventually gave up on him and traded him to the Diamondbacks, which is the best thing that could've happened to the kid. In Arizona, Kennedy was able to develop at his own pace without the win-now pressure that goes with being a Yankee and after a so-so 2010 (9-10, 3.80 ERA in 32 starts) he is now thriving in 2011. I highly doubt with the Yankees he would have had the opportunity to pitch 32 starts if he wasn't winning right away.

As for Hughes and Chamberlain, well, both are on the disabled list. Hughes went on the 15-day DL on April 15 and was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 25 with arm fatigue. Coincidence? I think not. The Yankees are hoping that Hughes can return to the rotation in late-July. Chamberlain's case is much worse. He had season-ending Tommy John surgery on June 16 and is done for 2011. And quite possibly done for all or most of 2012 also.

Personally, I always believed that of the three, Chamberlain had the best stuff and the most potential. But now the dreadful Tommy John surgery has put his future in jeopardy and no one knows what kind of stuff he'll have when he returns. All I know is-- if the kid's career has been ruined, the New York Yankees should get 100% of the blame for it.

No doubt about it!

This notion that "anything less than a World Series title is a disappointment" is HOGWASH when you're trying to develop a young pitching staff from within. And as we can see, it has blown up in the Yankees faces-- BIG TIME! Yes, they'll win but with experienced veterans and free agents NOT youngsters.

See you in the All-Star Game, Ian!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Wimbledon: Andy Rocked!

Getty Images
3-time Wimbledon finalist and No. 8 seed Andy Roddick has bit the dust!

America's best hope lost his third round match in straight sets (7-6, 7-6, 6-4) against unseeded Feliciano Lopez of Spain. So now the only American male still alive is No. 10 Mardy Fish, who faces 2010 runner-up and 6th seeded Tomas Berdych in the fourth round.

Here's the "American (bad) Experience" thus far in the early rounds:

1. No. 10 Mardy Fish - advances to the 4th round.
2. No. 8 Andy Roddick - lost in the third round to Feliciano Lopez.
3. Alex Bogomolov Jr. - lost in the third round to No. 6 Tomas Berdych.
4. Ryan Sweeting - lost in the second round to No. 1 Rafael Nadal.
5. John Isner - lost in the second round to No. 16 Nicolas Almagro.
6. Ryan Harrison - lost in the second round to No. 7 David Ferrer.
7. James Blake - lost in the first round to No. 32 Marcos Baghdatis.
8. Michael Russell - lost in the first round to No. 1 Rafael Nadal.
9. Donald Young - lost in the first round to Alex Bogomolov Jr.

*Sam Querrey withdrew from the tournament due to an elbow injury.

NOT GOOD!

On the women's side--

Both Venus and Serena Williams have advanced to the fourth round. Both easily won their third round matches, which means that they are warming up and becoming less rusty with every match they play. Defending-champion Serena easily defeated No. 26 Maria Kirilenko (6-3, 6-2) and Venus easily defeated unseeded Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez (6-0, 6-2) in the third round.

Getty Images
Up next for Serena is a tough 4th round match against No. 9 Marion Bartoli.

Venus, on the other hand, will play what is perhaps the most interesting match to this point in the tournament. She has a date with No. 32 Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria, who stunned last year's runner-up and World No. 2 Vera Zvonareva 6-2, 6-3 in the 3rd round. Last year, Pironkova reached the semi-finals by shocking Venus in the quarter-finals. She went on to lose that semi-final match to Zvonareva. So she has avenged her loss to Zvonareva and now has a rematch with Venus, who she ousted rather easily (6-2, 6-3) last year, much to the shocking-surprise of the entire tennis world.

There is no question that the 23-year old Pironkova has caught a lot of people's attention with her back-to-back great performances at Wimbledon. She has never advanced passed the second round in any of the other Grand Slam events but based on the past two years, it seems the grass-courts at Wimbledon are her cup of tea.

Getty Images
No doubt, all eyes will be on Pironkova!

Friday, June 24, 2011

More Bad Karma For The Nationals!

Getty Images
The word in D.C. is that the Washington Nationals have named bench coach John McLaren interim-manager to fill the void left after manager Jim Riggleman abruptly resigned yesterday.

Here's the Riggleman saga in a nutshell:

Riggleman, who is working on a one-year contract, informed the Nationals that he wants the club to pick up his option for next year because he wants more job security. General manager Mike Rizzo told him no because this wasn't the right time to make such a big decision. So a disgruntled Riggleman told Rizzo and the Nationals something to the effect, "If you are not going to give me a commitment then take this job and shove it!"

Said Riggleman, "I just felt if there’s not going to be some type of commitment, then there obviously never will be. I’m just not the guy that they thought they could move forward with."

He went on to say, "I tell ya, I’ve been in this 10 years. Maybe I’ll never get another opportunity, but I promise you I’ll never do it on a one-year deal again. You don’t bring people in on a one-year deal. I’m sure they will never do it here. When they get the guy they want, it won’t be on a one-year deal.”

Said Rizzo, “Jim told me pregame today that if we wouldn’t pick up his option, then he wouldn’t get on the team bus today. I felt that the time wasn’t right for me to pick up the option, and certainly today’s conversation put to me in the way it was put to me, you certainly can’t make that decision in a knee-jerk reaction. It’s too big of a decision.”

Riggleman continued, “It’s about me! It’s about looking in the mirror and feeling like I’ve got to answer to myself. In today’s world in major sports, it’s not a good environment to work when the manager or head coach in football or whatever is on a short leash. Too many negatives can come out of it. You’re walking on egg shells too often. You can’t think out of the box as much. I thought after 10 years I’d earned the right to have a little bit longer leash.”

So as you can see it's a "he said, he said" type of beef.

Personally, I think Riggleman took advantage of the Nationals' hot streak to make his demands. The Nationals have won 9 of their last 10 games and are 38-37 this late in the season, which for them is a huge accomplishment. I guess Riggleman felt that, for having the team playing decent baseball, he should get what he deserves. But apparently the Nationals had other ideas. In any case, I'm sure the distraction is not a good thing.

Now to my beef--

Over the years, my biggest problem with the Washington Nationals was their TASTELESS decision to un-retire the numbers retired by their ancestor, the Montreal Expos. As we all know, the Expos abandoned the city of Montreal in 2004, entered the witness protection program to change their name, and reemerged as the Washington Nationals in 2005. The new ownership in Washington, for some STRANGE reason, made the moronic decision that all numbers retired by the Expos can be put back into circulation. In other words, they were distancing themselves from their past in every which way, shape or form.

Personally, I have no problems with teams moving and changing their names BUT completely forgetting who you once were is UNACCEPTABLE. One of the great beauties of the game of baseball is the connection it has with it's past and those morons in Washington had no right to do what they did.
AP Photo

The Montreal Expos retired the following numbers: No. 8 (Gary Carter), No. 10 (Andre Dawson and Rusty Staub); No. 30 (Tim Raines).

My understanding is that, as of 2011, the Nationals have begun to honor the Expos retired numbers once again. I'm sure the public backlash had something to do with their change of mind. I've check the current roster and no player is wearing No. 10 or No. 30 but new manager McLaren has worn No. 8 since joining the Nationals in 2009.

So my question is: WHY IS McLAREN STILL WEARING NO. 8?

Someone should tell McLaren the following:

1. The Nationals were once the Montreal Expos.
2. A Hall of Fame player named Gary Carter played for the Expos from 1974-1984.
3. The Expos retired Carter's No. 8 in 2003.
4. And just because his moronic bosses in Washington made the absurd decision to put those numbers back in circulation doesn't mean that he has to wear one.

Sometimes in life, just because we can do something, doesn't necessarily mean we should, Mr. McLaren.

Until McLaren doesn't take off the No. 8, "The Curse of the Retired, Un-Retired Numbers" lives on and BAD KARMA will continue to plague the Nationals! Word up!

Numbers retired by the Montreal Expos
To read prior postings on my displeasure with the Nationals decision, click here and click here.


Click on images to view larger

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Wimbledon: Bad Day For Li

Getty Images
For the most part the 2011 Championships at Wimbledon have gone as expected into the third round.

The only major upset thus far was the shocking loss of French Open champion and No. 3 seed Na Li in the second round. Li's storybook run ended with a 3-6, 6-4, 8-6 loss to unseeded Sabine Lisicki of Germany. It was a tough disappointment for Li who was having a great run in Grand Slam events thus far in 2011, winning the French Open and being the runner-up at the Australian Open. A BUMMER, indeed.

Another semi-major upset on the women's side was No. 10 Samantha Stosur losing in the first round. I say semi because, even though Stosur is ranked No. 10, she has never done well in Wimbledon anyway. Her best showing so far was a third round appearance in 2009. In fact, in the 9 Wimbledons she has played, she has been ousted in the first round 5 times, 3 times in the second round and once in the third round. So when she lost to World No. 262 Melinda Czink, it wasn't a huge surprise to me. It's safe to say the grass-courts at Wimbledon are not Stosur's cup of tea.

The comeback girls, Venus and Serena Williams, have both advanced to the third round but not without some bumps on the road. Serena has dropped a set in both her first round and second round matches against two virtual unknowns (No. 61 Aravana Rezai and No. 58 Simona Halep), which is NOT good. Venus, on the other hand, won her first round match rather easily BUT barely escaped with a win in her second round match. In the end she persevered to win the match 6-7 (6-8), 6-3, 8-6 against the 57th ranked Kimiko Date Krumm. It'll be interesting to see how the sisters adjust as the competition gets tougher moving forward.

As for the men--

All the power-players have advanced to the third round so far. Well, unless you're a fan of No. 13 Viktor Troicki and No. 14 Stanislas Wawrinka and consider them power-players. Both were upset in the second round by much lesser opponents. But in their defense, Troicki is still the second best player from Serbia and Wawrinka is still the second best player from Switzerland. I'm sure they're both proud of the fact that the only countryman better than them are Mr. Djokovic and Mr. Federer, respectively.

I know I would be.

The Human Torch Does It Again!

Getty Images & Marvel Comics
The Human Torch Cliff Lee is on fire!

Last night, Lee (8-5, 2.87 ERA) continued his dominance by pitching his second consecutive shutout in a 4-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. In his last start Lee pitched a shutout in a 3-0 win over the Florida Marlins.

Here are his stats from both games--

1. vs. St. Louis: 9.0 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 0 HR, 1.12 WHIP
2. vs. Florida: 9.0 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 0 HR, 1.14 WHIP

Lee is now 4-0 in the month of June and has a 23-inning consecutive scoreless streak. He has allowed a total of 1 run in 33 innings in his four June wins.

Dominant? You betcha!

And what's even more amazing-- as of today he is probably the 3rd best starter on the Phillies staff behind Mr. Fantastic Roy Halladay and Invisible Dude Cole Hamels. Whoa!

Finally, a WORD to Mr. Met--


Yes Mr. Met, I'm a disgruntled Mets fan also and I know that, as a Mets fan, it is blasphemy to write so much good stuff about the Phillies.

BUT!!!!

If you throw in the towel and become an OBJECTIVE baseball fan like I did, life would become much more easier for you. Like them or not, they are a lethal machine that isn't going away any time soon. So if you can't beat them, join them.

Cheer up, Mr. Met!

That's all!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The MLB on TSC: Jack McKeon, Connie Mack, Jose Reyes and the Mets

Getty Images
After a three week hiatus the MLB on TSC is back. Time to report some odd (ities) and ends from around major league baseball, where facts are always stranger than fiction.

Here goes:

1. The word on the street is that 80-year old Jack McKeon is back managing the Florida Marlins after former manager Edwin Rodriguez put himself out of his own misery by jumping ship and resigning. McKeon, as we all know, led the Marlins to the 2003 World Series championship and managed them until 2005 when he retired at the young age of 74. So is McKeon to old to manage? Probably. But I'm sure another octogenarian (84-year old Joe Paterno) up in Happy Valley, PA would beg to differ. For Joe Pa and J-Mac, 80 is the new 60.

With his return gig to the Marlins, at 80, McKeon became the second oldest manager in major league history, behind Connie Mack, who was 87 in 1950 in his final season managing the Philadelphia Athletics.

In his first game as manager, McKeon's Marlins lost 2-1 to the Los Angeles Angels.

The Marlins have now lost 19 out of their last 20 games, losing 10 of those games by 1 run thus becoming only the second team in major-league history to go 1-19 over 20 games with 10 one-run losses. The only other team to do it was the 1943 Philadelphia Athletics, whose manager was...... 80-year old Connie Mack. Go figure!

2. Shortstop-extraordinaire Jose Reyes has informed the New York Mets that he will not negotiate a new contract during the season thus opening the door for the cash-strapped Mets to trade the superstar by the trade deadline. Reyes is having a monster year and as a disgruntled Mets fan, I have my doubts that the Mets are going to be able to afford him once he becomes a free agent after the season. Reyes is currently leading the National League in BA (.341), runs scored (54), hits (103) and triples (12). He is second in stolen bases (26), 9th in SLG (.517) and 7th in OPS (.902).

At last check, Reyes also had a major league-leading 35 multi-hit games thus far.

Getty Images
The irony of the Reyes saga is that if he continues to have a monster year and the Mets don't trade him before the season ends, he could conceivably become the first Mets player ever to win the NL MVP award. Mets fans have waited 49 years for an MVP award winner and in the blink of an eye he could be gone. SMH!

Getty Images
Sucks, doesn't it?

Finally--

ON THE BOSTON BASHERS FRONT--

The mighty Red Sox have scored 14 or more runs in 6 of their last 29 games. They are only the second team in the Modern Era (since 1900) to score 14 or more runs at least 6 times in a span of 30 games (1 month equivalent) or less. Only the 1930 New York Yankees, led by the immortals Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, had put that kind of hurtin' on their opponents before. They did it 7 times in a 20-game span.

Getty Images
It's safe to say, "Dem boyz from Beantown are NO JOKE!"

AND DOUBLE FINALLY--

Can't end this post without mentioning the "Bummer for Bumgarner.

What a difference a year makes for San Francisco Giants starter Madison Bumgarner. Bumgarner has gone from World Series heroics to "lonesome roads" status in 2011. He is a disappointing 3-9 with a 4.06 ERA so far this season. Some say Bumgarner is getting a bum rap (pardon the pun) because he gets very little run support. That may be true for the most part BUT in his last outing, Bumgarner allowed eight runs while recording only one out as the Giants dropped a 9-2 decision to the Minnesota Twins. Bumgarner became the first Giants starting pitcher in the Modern Era (since 1900) to allow eight-or-more runs without getting out of the first inning. Now that's what I call a BUMMER!

Stats courtesy of the Elias Sports Bureau

Steve Nash Foundation: Showdown in Chinatown is Today!!!!!

Today is the BIG day!!!!


The Steve Nash Foundation's Showdown in Chinatown presented by Ortsbo.com charity soccer game is at 6:00 pm in NYC.

Register at: www.Showdownliveandglobal.com.

The Showdown begins at 6 p.m. at Sara D. Roosevelt Park, Chrystie and Stanton streets in New York City, and features NBA and international soccer stars. Participants scheduled to participate in the match include Demba Ba (Newcastle United), Leandro Barbosa (Phoenix Suns), Jared Dudley (Phoenix Suns), Marcin Gortat (Phoenix Suns), Grant Hill (Phoenix Suns), Brandon Jennings (Milwaukee Bucks), Tony Parker (San Antonio Spurs), Claudio Reyna (Retired-US Soccer), and Simone Sandri (NBA TV Analyst).

Tickets and VIP packages for the Showdown, and a Showdown After Hours evening and auction event, are available at stevenash.org/showdown. General admission to the Showdown is free and open to the public.


About Ortsbo

Ortsbo (www.ortsbo.com) enables real-time conversational translation in over 50 languages and seamlessly integrates with today's most popular social media platforms. Ortsbo Inc. is a division of Intertainment Media Inc., a Rich Media Applications leader, focused on delivering leading edge technology and marketing solutions enabling clients to power enhanced branding, loyalty initiatives and consumer engagement. Selected as a Microsoft Global Agency Initiative partner, Intertainment has joined an elite group of interactive agencies worldwide that Microsoft recommends to its Partners and Customers.

Ortsbo's flagship product for social media (www.ortsbo.com) supports global communications with instant translation capability, real time multi-lingual social media chat connects to PC and Mac computers, mobile browsers as well as all major search engine chat platforms including Microsoft, Google and Yahoo! along with Facebook, iChat, AIM, ICQ, Gadu-Gadu, Ovi, Lotus Sametime, LiveJournal and Tencent QQ and QQ International, China's largest chat platforms and Twitter.

Intertainment Media owns and operates a number of key properties including Ad Taffy, itiBiti, Ortsbo and Magnum. For more information on the Company and its properties, please visit www.intertainmentmedia.com.

Headquartered in the Toronto, Canada region, with offices in New York, Los Angeles and San Mateo, CA, Intertainment Media Inc. is listed on the Toronto Venture Exchange under the symbol "INT" (TSX VENTURE:INT) and on the OTCQX under the symbol "ITMTF". Intertainment is also traded in Europe, on the XETRA Exchange in Frankfurt, Germany under the symbol "I4T".

About the Steve Nash Foundation

The Steve Nash Foundation is a 501(c)(3) and registered Canadian charity dedicated to assisting underserved children in their health, personal development, education and enjoyment of life. The Foundation works to increase access to critical needs resources at home and abroad to ensure that every child has a chance to grow. The Showdown benefits Educare Arizona, the Steve Nash Foundation’s platform to provide highest-quality early learning opportunities to low-income children and families. Learn more at www.stevenash.org

PRESS CONTACT:
Mary Campe
SS|PR
(847) 415-9325
mcampe@sspr.com

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Steve Nash: Showdown in Chinatown Update

The Steve Nash charity soccer game is a day away. Here is the latest information regarding the event--

THE ONLINE GLOBAL CHAT ALLOWS FANS WORLDWIDE TO TALK WITH BASKETBALL GREAT STEVE NASH IN MORE THAN 50 LANGUAGES. THE EVENT IS PART OF THE SUPERSTAR’S “SHOWDOWN IN CHINATOWN PRESENTED BY ORTSBO.COM” SOCCER MATCH IN NEW YORK CITY.

Register at: www.Showdownliveandglobal.com

New York, NY (June 22, 2011): Ortsbo.com, a subsidiary of Intertainment Media Inc, will host NBA star and two-time MVP Steve Nash and fellow NBA and International Soccer athletes today for a live, online global chat event in the Hudson Room at Trump Soho Hotel in New York, N.Y.

For the first time in history, fans from all over the world who pre-registered at Ortsbo.com will have the opportunity to interact with Steve Nash and other professional athletes scheduled to participate, including Guiseppe Rossi, Marcin Gortat, Brandon Jennings and Claudio Reyna.

Ortsbo, the presenting sponsor for the day’s events, will enable Nash and other Showdown athletes to interact seamlessly with fans in more than 50 languages through their social media platforms. Four time Emmy winner and legendary NBC sports anchor Len Berman will serve as host and moderate the worldwide chat.

The chat precedes the “Showdown in Chinatown Presented by Ortsbo.com” charity soccer match, which features an all-star roster, and raises funds for The Steve Nash Foundation and its work with underserved children. This year’s Showdown – the fourth – will benefit early education work with Educare.

“Fans all over the world who have followed the NBA and Steve Nash’s amazing career will be able to talk to him in a way that few can,” says David Lucatch, president of Ortsbo. “Ortsbo not only breaks down barriers, but translates text automatically, eliminating the typically tedious and inefficient translation process of other services.”

The free, real-time experiential translation platform integrates with 13 of the most popular social media platforms, including Windows Live Messenger, Facebook, Google Talk, Yahoo! Messenger, iChat and AIM to allow users to instantly send and receive messages in their native language.

The Showdown and surrounding events “mesh three of my big passions – basketball, soccer and kids – and a presenting sponsor with an incredible, global play,” said Nash. “Through my Foundation, we’re able to assist children internationally; so having these players come in from all around the world to assist our efforts feels very synergistic.”

The Showdown begins at 6 p.m. at Sara D. Roosevelt Park, Chrystie and Stanton streets in New York City, and features NBA and international soccer stars. Participants scheduled to participate in the match include Demba Ba (Newcastle United), Leandro Barbosa (Phoenix Suns), Jared Dudley (Phoenix Suns), Marcin Gortat (Phoenix Suns), Grant Hill (Phoenix Suns), Brandon Jennings (Milwaukee Bucks), Tony Parker (San Antonio Spurs), Claudio Reyna (Retired-US Soccer), and Simone Sandri (NBA TV Analyst).

Tickets and VIP packages for the Showdown, and a Showdown After Hours evening and auction event, are available at stevenash.org/showdown. General admission to the Showdown is free and open to the public.

About Ortsbo

Ortsbo (www.ortsbo.com) enables real-time conversational translation in over 50 languages and seamlessly integrates with today's most popular social media platforms. Ortsbo Inc. is a division of Intertainment Media Inc., a Rich Media Applications leader, focused on delivering leading edge technology and marketing solutions enabling clients to power enhanced branding, loyalty initiatives and consumer engagement. Selected as a Microsoft Global Agency Initiative partner, Intertainment has joined an elite group of interactive agencies worldwide that Microsoft recommends to its Partners and Customers.

Ortsbo's flagship product for social media (www.ortsbo.com) supports global communications with instant translation capability, real time multi-lingual social media chat connects to PC and Mac computers, mobile browsers as well as all major search engine chat platforms including Microsoft, Google and Yahoo! along with Facebook, iChat, AIM, ICQ, Gadu-Gadu, Ovi, Lotus Sametime, LiveJournal and Tencent QQ and QQ International, China's largest chat platforms and Twitter.

Intertainment Media owns and operates a number of key properties including Ad Taffy, itiBiti, Ortsbo and Magnum. For more information on the Company and its properties, please visit www.intertainmentmedia.com.

Headquartered in the Toronto, Canada region, with offices in New York, Los Angeles and San Mateo, CA, Intertainment Media Inc. is listed on the Toronto Venture Exchange under the symbol "INT" (TSX VENTURE:INT) and on the OTCQX under the symbol "ITMTF". Intertainment is also traded in Europe, on the XETRA Exchange in Frankfurt, Germany under the symbol "I4T".

About the Steve Nash Foundation

The Steve Nash Foundation is a 501(c)(3) and registered Canadian charity dedicated to assisting underserved children in their health, personal development, education and enjoyment of life. The Foundation works to increase access to critical needs resources at home and abroad to ensure that every child has a chance to grow. The Showdown benefits Educare Arizona, the Steve Nash Foundation’s platform to provide highest-quality early learning opportunities to low-income children and families. Learn more at www.stevenash.org

About Len Berman

Len Berman is an Emmy-Award winning sportscaster and New York Times Best Selling Author who has covered just about every major sports event including multiple Super Bowls, World Series, and Olympics during his 40-year career in broadcasting.

He is the recipient of eight Emmy Awards and 6-time winner of New York Sportscaster of the Year. He has published four books. His kid’s book, The Greatest Moments in Sports (Sourcebooks), is his first entry onto the New York Times Best Seller List. His other books: Spanning The World (HarperCollins), And Nobody Got Hurt! (Little, Brown), And Nobody Got Hurt 2! (Little, Brown).

His daily Top 5 email is featured on The Huffington Post and is received by thousands around the country. www.ThatsSports.com.

He is a regular contributor to the John Gambling show on WOR radio.

A native New Yorker, he graduated from Syracuse University. He resides on Long Island with his wife Jill. They have three children.


PRESS CONTACT:
Mary Campe
SS|PR
(847) 415-9325
mcampe@sspr.com

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Steve Nash Foundation

For many years Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash has been one of the best players in the NBA. He is a two-time MVP (2005, 2006), a 7-time All-Star and a 3-time All-NBA First Team. His accomplishments on the basketball court have been well documented and by now we all know the kind of effort he gives night in and night out as the leader of his team.

Off the basketball court Nash is just as dedicated to the causes he believes in. Through the Steve Nash Foundation, Nash has helped millions of underprivileged kids live a better life.

On Wednesday June 22, 2011, Nash will be hosting a charity soccer game in New York City (called the Showdown in Chinatown) with the proceeds going to underprivileged children. To take part in this event and help Nash raise money for this noble cause please register at Showdownliveandglobal.com.

Here are the complete details about the event presented by Ortsbo:

THE ONLINE GLOBAL CHAT ALLOWS FANS WORLDWIDE TO TALK WITH BASKETBALL GREAT STEVE NASH. THE EVENT IS PART OF THE SUPERSTAR’S “SHOWDOWN IN CHINATOWN PRESENTED BY ORTSBO.COM” SOCCER MATCH IN NEW YORK CITY.

New York, NY (June 22, 2011): Ortsbo.com, a subsidiary of Intertainment Media Inc, will host NBA star and two-time MVP Steve Nash and fellow NBA and International Soccer athletes today for a live, online global chat event in the Hudson Room at Trump Soho Hotel in New York, N.Y.

For the first time in history, fans from all over the world who pre-registered at Ortsbo.com will have the opportunity to interact with Steve Nash and other professional athletes scheduled to participate, including Marcin Gortat, Brandon Jennings and Claudio Reyna.

The chat precedes the “Showdown in Chinatown Presented by Ortsbo.com” charity soccer match, which features an all-star roster, and raises funds for The Steve Nash Foundation and its work with underserved children. This year’s Showdown – the fourth – will benefit early education work with Educare.

Ortsbo, the presenting sponsor for the day’s events, will enable Nash and other Showdown athletes to interact seamlessly with fans in more than 50 languages through their social media platforms. Len Berman, sports anchor and former host of The NFL on NBC Pregame Show, will moderate the worldwide chat.

“Fans all over the world who have followed the NBA and Steve Nash’s amazing career will be able to talk to him in a way that few can,” says David Lucatch, president of Ortsbo. “Ortsbo not only breaks down barriers, but translates text automatically, eliminating the typically tedious and inefficient translation process of other services.”

The Showdown begins at 6 p.m. at Sara D. Roosevelt Park, Chrystie and Stanton streets in New York City, and features NBA and international soccer stars. Participants scheduled to participate in the match include Demba Ba (Newcastle United), Leandro Barbosa (Phoenix Suns), Jared Dudley (Phoenix Suns), Marcin Gortat (Phoenix Suns), Grant Hill (Phoenix Suns), Brandon Jennings (Milwaukee Bucks), Tony Parker (San Antonio Spurs), Claudio Reyna (Retired-US Soccer), Guiseppe Rossi (Italian National Soccer Team), and Simone Sandri (NBA TV Analyst).

Tickets and VIP packages for the Showdown, and a Showdown After Hours evening and auction event, are available at stevenash.org/showdown. General admission to the Showdown is free and open to the public.

About Ortsbo

Ortsbo (www.ortsbo.com) enables real-time conversational translation in over 50 languages and seamlessly integrates with today's most popular social media platforms. Ortsbo Inc. is a division of Intertainment Media Inc., a Rich Media Applications leader, focused on delivering leading edge technology and marketing solutions enabling clients to power enhanced branding, loyalty initiatives and consumer engagement. Selected as a Microsoft Global Agency Initiative partner, Intertainment has joined an elite group of interactive agencies worldwide that Microsoft recommends to its Partners and Customers.

Ortsbo's flagship product for social media (www.ortsbo.com) supports global communications with instant translation capability, real time multi-lingual social media chat connects to PC and Mac computers, mobile browsers as well as all major search engine chat platforms including Microsoft, Google and Yahoo! along with Facebook, iChat, AIM, ICQ, Gadu-Gadu, Ovi, Lotus Sametime, LiveJournal and Tencent QQ and QQ International, China's largest chat platforms and Twitter.

Intertainment Media owns and operates a number of key properties including Ad Taffy, itiBiti, Ortsbo and Magnum. For more information on the Company and its properties, please visit www.intertainmentmedia.com.

Headquartered in the Toronto, Canada region, with offices in New York, Los Angeles and San Mateo, CA, Intertainment Media Inc. is listed on the Toronto Venture Exchange under the symbol "INT" (TSX VENTURE:INT) and on the OTCQX under the symbol "ITMTF". Intertainment is also traded in Europe, on the XETRA Exchange in Frankfurt, Germany under the symbol "I4T".

About the Steve Nash Foundation

The Steve Nash Foundation is a 501(c)(3) and registered Canadian charity dedicated to assisting underserved children in their health, personal development, education and enjoyment of life. The Foundation works to increase access to critical needs resources at home and abroad to ensure that every child has a chance to grow. The Showdown benefits Educare Arizona, the Steve Nash Foundation’s platform to provide highest-quality early learning opportunities to low-income children and families. Learn more at www.stevenash.org

PRESS CONTACT:
Mary Campe
SS|PR
(847) 415-9325
mcampe@sspr.com