Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Triple Crown: CONGRATULATIONS Miguel Cabrera!

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THE ELITE CLUB:

Year Lg Player Team/(BA, HR, RBI)
2012 AL Miguel Cabrera DET .330, 44 HR, 139 RBI
1967 AL Carl Yastrzemski BOS .326, 44 HR, 121 RBI
1966 AL Frank Robinson BAL .316, 49 HR, 122 RBI
1956 AL Mickey Mantle NYY .353, 52 HR, 130 RBI
1947 AL Ted Williams BOS .343, 32 HR, 114 RBI
1942 AL Ted Williams BOS .356, 36 HR, 137 RBI
1937 NL Joe Medwick STL .374, 31 HR, 154 RBI
1934 AL Lou Gehrig NYY .363, 49 HR, 165 RBI
1933 AL Jimmie Foxx PHA .356, 48 HR, 163 RBI
1933 NL Chuck Klein PHI .368, 28 HR, 120 RBI
1925 NL Rogers Hornsby STL .403, 39 HR, 143 RBI
1922 NL Rogers Hornsby STL .401, 42 HR, 152 RBI
1909 AL Ty Cobb DET .377, 9 HR, 107 RBI
1901 AL Nap Lajoie PHA .426, 14 HR, 125 RBI
1887 AA Tip O'Neill STL .435, 14 HR, 123 RBI
1878 NL Paul Hines PRO .358, 4 HR, 50 RBI

WHAT AN ACCOMPLISHMENT!!!!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Pittsburgh Pirates: 77-82

....AND SO THEY COULD NOT!!!!

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“I completely understand the fans' frustration. We haven't won the games we were supposed to win the last six to eight weeks.” -General manager Neal Huntington, whose team was 16 games over .500 at 63-47 on Aug. 8 yet wound up with a losing season.

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THE STREAK CONTINUES-- 20 CONSECUTIVE LOSING SEASONS AND COUNTING.... I GUESS A WINNING SEASON IN PITTSBURGH IS CONSIDERED BLASPHEMY! WHAT A BUMMER!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pittsburgh Pirates: 74-74

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Is the first winning season in 20 years for the Pittsburgh Pirates slipping away? Well, considering they are 14-29 since August 4, the answer has to be-- YES! On August 3rd the Pirates were a lofty 60-45 and a winning season seemed inevitable. It seemed like their North American sport's record, 19-season losing streak, was coming to an end. BUT STOP THE PRESSES! Let's remember these are the Pittsburgh Pirates and they are doing everything in their power to keep their ineptness alive and well. A winning season is blasphemy in those necks of the woods. How dare we think that they can have a winning season?!

JUST GO 8-6 THE REST OF THE WAY AND END IT ALREADY, PITT!

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

2012 U.S. Open: Andy Murray: FINALLY!!!!

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The Final: No. 3 Andy Murray defeats No. 2 Novak Djokovic (7-6, 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2)

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  • AND WITH THAT-- Murray FINALLY wins his first-ever Grand Slam singles title. He had been 0-4 in major finals prior to this HISTORIC win.
  • AND WITH THAT-- Murray wins Great Britain's first major title in 76 years. England's long and agonizing drought is over!
  • AND WITH THAT-- The Roger Federer-Novak Djokovic-Rafael Nadal brick wall on major titles has been broken. The "Big 3" are now the "Big 4".
  • Since the 2005 French Open-- Murray (2012 U.S. Open) and World No. 8 Juan Martin del Potro (2009 U.S. Open) are the ONLY men NOT named Federer, Djokovic and Nadal to win major titles. Del Potro's career was severely set back by a devastating wrist injury in 2010 but he is back on the prowl and pretty soon we shall have the "Big 5" in tennis.
  • As for Andy Murray-- it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy!

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Monday, September 10, 2012

2012 U.S. Open: The Final: No. 2 vs. No. 3

No. 2 Novak Djokovic vs. No. 3 Andy Murray

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Is it FINALLY Andy's turn?

2012 U.S. Open: Serena Williams: Still The Best!

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FINAL: NO. 4 SERENA WILLIAMS DEFEATS NO. 1 VICTORIA AZARENKA (6-2, 2-6, 7-5)
  • Serena is now a 4-time champion (1999, 2002, 2008, 2012).
  • Azarenka will remain World No. 1 and most likely will be the year-end No. 1.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Pittsburgh Pirates: ....And Then There Were Ten

PITTSBURGH PIRATES: 72-64

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The Pirates are officially 10 wins away from ending their agonizing major-league record 19-SEASON LOSING STREAK.

JUST 10 WINS AWAY!

And with 26 games left to play, it sure does look like they're going to do it. So cross your fingers Pirates fans, this excruciating streak looks like it's going to BITE THE DUST!

2012 U.S. Open: The Semifinals: No. 3 vs. No. 6

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THE SEMIFINALS:

NO. 3 ANDY MURRAY VS. NO. 6 TOMAS BERDYCH
  • For Andy Murray, this is his second consecutive (2011, 2012) semifinals appearance at the U.S. Open. He also reached the final in 2008, losing to Roger Federer. Since the 2008 U.S. Open, Murray has been a fixture in Grand Slam semifinals, reaching the semis in 11 of 17 majors. He's reached 4 finals (0-4). Will Murray finally win his first major? Has his time come?
  • For Tomas Berdych, he won the biggest match of his career in the quarterfinals against World No. 1 Roger Federer. A stunner, to say the least. Never before had he advanced past the 4th round at the U.S. Open, until this year. Prior to this the highlight of his career was reaching the Wimbledon final in 2010, where he also upset World No. 1 Roger Federer in the quarterfinals. He wound up losing in the final to then-World No. 2 Rafael Nadal.
The other semifinals match will feature the winners of No. 2 Novak Djokovic vs. No. 7 Juan Martin del Potro and No. 4 David Ferrer vs. No. 8 Janko Tipsarevic other quarterfinals matches.

As for World No. 1 Roger Federer and his shocking defeat--

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He will hold on to the No. 1 ranking regardless of who wins the tournament.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

2012 U.S. Open: The Final Four

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No. 1 Victoria Azarenka vs. No. 3 Maria Sharapova
No. 4 Serena Williams vs. No. 10 Sara Errani
  • No. 3 and No. 4 are former champions.
  • No. 1 and No. 10 are in uncharted waters.
Who will prevail?

Hail, Hail To The Birds!


Since July 18, 2012:

New York Yankees (19-25) - Baltimore Orioles (32-15).

My, oh my-- who would've thunk it?!

CLICK ON IMAGE TO VIEW LARGER

Monday, September 3, 2012

Pittsburgh Pirates: Yes We Might!

Pittsburgh Pirates: 70-64 (.522)
Streak: Lost 4
Last 10 Games: 3-7

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Just when we thought it was a forgone conclusion that the Pittsburgh Pirates would have their first winning season since 1992, they are doing everything in their power to extend their North American professional sports record to 20 CONSECUTIVE LOSING SEASONS. Yes, 20 losing seasons in a row.

Just a month ago today the Pirates were 60-45 (15 games over .500) and cruising to a winning record, a playoff spot and the whole enchiladas. It seemed inevitable that they'll have a winning season. But since then they've gone 10-19 and are now only 6 games over .500 and everything, including the whole enchiladas, is in jeopardy.

But have no fear Pirates fans, if they go 12-16 the rest of the way, they'll finish at 82-80 and FINALLY have that elusive winning season. 12-16? Even they can do that!

2012 U.S. Open: The Elite 8

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THE QUARTERFINALS:
  • No. 1 Victoria Azarenka vs. No. 7 Samantha Stosur
  • No. 3 Maria Sharapova vs. No. 11 Marion Bartoli
  • No. 4 Serena Williams vs. No. 12 Ana Ivanovic
  • No. 10 Sara Errani vs. No. 20 Roberta Vinci
For current World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, former World No. 1 Ana Ivanovic, No. 10 Sara Errani, No. 11 Marion Bartoli and No. 20 Roberta Vinci, this is their first-ever quarterfinals appearances at the U.S. Open.

No. 7 Samantha Stosur is the defending champion. No. 3 Maria Sharapova is the 2006 champion and No. 4 Serena Williams is the 1999, 2002 and 2008 champion.

For Errani and Vinci, it will be an all-Italian quarterfinals between the second-seeded doubles partners from Italy.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

2012 U.S. Open: Farewell Kim! What's Wrong Caroline?!

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The career of 3-time U.S. Open champion (2005, 2009, 2010) and 4-time Grand Slam champion Kim Clijsters is over. The 23rd-seeded Clijsters lost her second round match to unseeded Laura Robson of Great Britain and with it came to an end her illustrious career. Prior to the event, Clijsters had announced that the U.S. Open would be her last singles competition. I'm pretty sure it didn't end quite how she would have liked it to.

Next up for Clijsters-- the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Another notable who lost in the early rounds is former World No. 1 and 8th-seeded Caroline Wozniacki, who lost in the first round to unseeded Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania. Wozniacki, who had reached (at least) the semifinals in each of the past 3 years, is in the slump of her life, largely due to injuries. The loss will more than likely drop her out of the Top 10 after spending 67 weeks (between Oct. 11, 2010 - Jan. 29, 2012) ranked No. 1 in the world. And although she has been criticized for never winning a major, Wozniacki however, has never been this bad. After losing the No. 1 ranking (after the Australian Open) she has lost in the 3rd round at the French Open, the 1st round at Wimbledon and now the 1st round at the U.S. Open.

There's no question the young 22-year old Dane needs some R&R and some serious retooling.

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But the games must go on. So far every other notable has moved forward.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The New York Football Giants-Jets

NFL Preseason: Giants 26 - Jets 3

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The defending Super Bowl champion Giants are in heaven, the Jets are in disarray! Is the above photo a sign of things to come for the 2 New York football teams?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The MLB on TSC: Countdown to a Winning Season....

.... and a possible playoff spot.


Are our eyes deceiving us? It's August 19 and look who hasn't fallen apart thus far....

Pittsburgh Pirates (67-54)
  • Currently on a 19-season losing streak and HAVE NOT made the playoffs since 1992. If the 2012 season ended today, they'll earn a wild-card playoff berth.

Baltimore Orioles (66-55)
  • Currently on a 14-season losing streak and HAVE NOT made the playoffs since 1997. If the 2012 season ended today, they'll earn a wild-card playoff berth.
Washington Nationals (75-46)
  • Currently on an 8-season non-winning streak (only 2 winning seasons {2002, 2003} in the past 15 years) and HAVE NOT made the playoffs since 1981 (as the Montreal Expos). If the 2012 season ended today, they'll make the playoffs as the NL East champions.
Well, as the great Bob Dylan once said, "The Times They Are a-Changin'". They sure are!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Team USA!

GOLD MEDAL - MEN'S BASKETBALL

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LEBRON TO KOBE: SEE YOU IN THE 2013 NBA FINALS! 

I'll bet the family farm on it!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The MLB on TSC: The Rich Get Ichiro

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As we all know there's an old adage that says, THE RICH GET RICHER-- and in the case of the New York Yankees, they are no strangers to this adage. They've been getting richer for almost a century now with no end in sight. And now the franchise known as "The Evil Empire" can add a new adage to their illustrious resume. Let's call it, THE RICH GET ICHIRO.

Yes, the Yankees have acquired future Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki from the Seattle Mariners for two minor league pitchers. At 38, Ichiro may not be the hitting machine he once was but with the potent Yankee lineup, if they can get half of what Ichiro used to do, it can be deadly. Ichiro is the perfect man to fill the void left by the injured-speedster Brett Gardner-- a singles hitter with speed is the perfect compliment to the homer-happy Yankee lineup.

Here are some FUN FACTS about Ichiro the Yankee, according to the Elias Sports Bureau:

From Elias: Ichiro Suzuki made his Yankees debut last night against the Mariners after being acquired from Seattle earlier in the day. Ichiro, Derek Jeter, and Alex Rodriguez became the first set of three teammates with at least 2500 career hits to start a game together in over 85 years-since July 13, 1927, to be exact, when Ty Cobb, Eddie Collins, and Zack Wheat started for the Philadelphia Athletics. (Cobb, Eddie Collins, and Tris Speaker were teammates on the 1928 Athletics, but they never started in the same game.)

Ichiro batted eighth for the Yankees on Monday night. He was the leadoff hitter in 1751 of his 1828 starts for the Mariners, and he batted either second or third in his other 77 starts for Seattle.

Ichiro had 2533 hits in 12 seasons with Seattle. That's the third-highest total by any player at the time of his debut for the Yankees, behind only Paul Waner (3151 in 1944) and Ivan Rodriguez (2584 in 2008).

Ichiro recorded 2060 singles for the Mariners. Only one player reached the 2000-single mark for the Yankees: Derek Jeter (2388). The second-highest singles total in team history was 1545 by Bernie Williams.

At the other end of the hit continuum, Ichiro hit 99 home runs for the Mariners. As such, he failed on Monday night to become just the second player in major-league history to hit his 100th career home run in a team debut. Richie Zisk hit career homer number 100 in his first game for the Rangers in their opening game of the 1978 season (against the Yankees).

GREAT STUFF!

Friday, July 20, 2012

On The Prowl!

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With 3 PGA Tour wins (Arnold Palmer Invitational, The Memorial Tournament, AT&T National) under his belt in 2012, it's safe to say Tiger Woods is back! And now he's making a run at his 15th major with a 6-under, third-place performance after 2 rounds at the 2012 British Open.

The 2012 Open Championship (British Open) after 2 rounds:
  1. Brandt Snedeker (66, 64) -10
  2. Adam Scott (64, 67) -9
  3. Tiger Woods (67, 67) -6
  4. Thorbjorn Oleson (69, 66) -5
  5. 5 players tied at -4
He is also closing in on regaining the World No. 1 ranking (currently No. 4) which he's held for most of his career until his now-infamous 2-year collapse. But forget his past troubles because-- he's baaaack!

UPDATE (7-23-12): Ernie Els (-7) wins the Open Championship. Adam Scott (-6) finishes second. Tiger Woods (-3) finishes tied for third with Brandt Snedeker (-3). With his third place finish, Tiger moves up to No. 2 in the world behind Luke Donald. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Roger Federer: 287

IT'S OFFICIAL!

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MOST WEEKS AT NO. 1:
  1. Roger Federer - 287 (active streak)
  2. Pete Sampras - 286
  3. Ivan Lendl - 270
  4. Jimmy Connors - 268
  5. John McEnroe - 170
  6. Bjorn Borg - 109
  7. Rafael Nadal - 102
  8. Andre Agassi - 101
  9. Lleyton Hewitt - 80
  10. Stefan Edberg - 72
MOST CONSECUTIVE WEEKS AT NO. 1:
  1. Roger Federer - 237 (Feb. 2, 2004 - Aug. 17, 2008)
  2. Jimmy Connors - 160
  3. Ivan Lendl - 157
  4. Pete Sampras - 102
  5. Jimmy Connors - 84
  6. Pete Sampras - 82
  7. Ivan Lendl - 80
  8. Lleyton Hewitt - 75
  9. John McEnroe - 58
  10. Rafael Nadal - 56
Oh and not to mention, a record 17 Grand Slam singles titles and 75 overall career titles (4th most in the Open Era).

MOST GRAND SLAM SINGLES TITLES (ALL TIME):
  1. Roger Federer - 17
  2. Pete Sampras - 14
  3. Roy Emerson - 12
  4. Bjorn Borg - 11
  5. Rafael Nadal - 11
  6. Rod Laver - 11
  7. Bill Tilden - 10
MOST CAREER OVERALL TITLES (OPEN ERA):
  1. Jimmy Connors - 109
  2. Ivan Lendl - 94
  3. John McEnroe - 77
  4. Roger Federer - 75
  5. Bjorn Borg - 64
  6. Pete Sampras - 64
  7. Guillermo Vilas - 62
  8. Andre Agassi - 60
  9. Ilie Nastase - 57
  10. Rafael Nadal - 50

The records just go on and on and on for new World No. 1 Roger Federer, a.k.a. The Greatest.



Monday, July 9, 2012

2012 Wimbledon: The Final: Roger Federer, Still The Greatest!

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The Final: New World No. 1 Roger Federer defeats World No. 4 Andy Murray (4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4).

ATP World Tour/Facebook

For the great Federer, what more can be said? His ownership of the record books goes on and on and on and on....

For Andy Murray (now 0-4 in Grand Slam finals) and Great Britain, well, the wait continues....

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Still 76 years and counting....

Saturday, July 7, 2012

2012 Wimbledon: The Final: Simply Serena!

CONGRATS TO SERENA WILLIAMS
2012 WIMBLEDON CHAMPION

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The Final: No. 6 Serena Williams defeats No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska (6-1, 5-7, 6-2)

For the legendary Serena, this is her 5th Wimbledon title and her 14th overall Grand Slam title. Amazing!

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Simply LEGENDARY! What else is there to say?

2012 Wimbledon: The Final: No. 3 vs. No. 4

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The Semifinals:
  • No. 3 Roger Federer defeats No. 1 Novak Djokovic (6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3)
  • No. 4 Andy Murray defeats No. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5)

The Final: World No. 3 Roger Federer vs. World No. 4 Andy Murray
  • For Roger Federer, this is his 8th Wimbledon final, an Open Era record. He is looking to tie Pete Sampras' record of 7 Wimbledon titles. If he wins, this will also be his 17th Grand Slam title in 24 career Grand Slam finals, both Open Era records. He will also take over the World No. 1 ranking from current No. 1 Novak Djokovic. It will be Federer's 286th overall week at No. 1 tying Pete Sampras' all-time record. For the great Federer, the list of mind-boggling accomplishments goes on and on.
  • For Andy Murray, this is his first-ever Wimbledon final. It's also his 4th overall Grand Slam final, currently he is 0-3. But perhaps most importantly, he is the first host-countryman to play in the Wimbledon final in 74 years. Yes, 74 years. He is looking for Great Britain's first Grand Slam title (of any kind) since 1936. There's no doubt the 25-year old Briton has the weight of an entire nation on his shoulders. 
But regardless of who wins, lots of history will be made.

As for current World No. 1 Novak Djokovic--

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You may ask, how can anyone who's won 4 of the last 7 majors be at risk of losing their No. 1 ranking? Well, the way the system works, Djokovic has to defend all the ranking points he accumulated in his out-of-this-world 2011 season. He was so dominant last year that no mere mortal can keep up with that pace, not even him. As a result, he's losing ranking points rather than gaining. Federer (if he wins Wimbledon) would catch up to him and pass him by 75 points (11,075 to 11,000). Fair? Maybe not, but that's the nature of the business.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

2012 Wimbledon: The Final Two

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  • World No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska vs. World No. 6 Serena Williams
For the 23-year old Radwanska, this is her first-ever Grand Slam final. If she wins the title, she will be the new World No. 1. If she loses, she will be No. 2 and Victoria Azarenka will be No. 1 (again).

For the legendary Serena Williams, this is her 7th trip to the Wimbledon final. She is looking for title # 5. Regardless of the outcome, she will be World No. 4 when it is all said and done. Current World No. 1 Maria Sharapova will drop to No. 3.

It's on!

2012 Wimbledon: The Final Four

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  • World No. 1 Novak Djokovic vs. World No. 3 Roger Federer
  • World No. 4 Andy Murray vs. World No. 6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

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  • World No. 2 Victoria Azarenka vs. World No. 6 Serena Williams
  • World No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska vs. World No. 8 Angelique Kerber

Monday, July 2, 2012

2012 Wimbledon: The Ladies' Quarterfinals

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We are down to the "Elite 8" on the women's side at the 2012 Championships at Wimbledon.

It'll be:
  • No. 2 Victoria Azarenka vs. unseeded Tamira Paszek
  • No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska vs. No. 17 Maria Kirilenko
  • No. 4 Petra Kvitova vs. No. 6 Serena Williams
  • No. 8 Angelique Kerber vs. No. 15 Sabine Lisicki
Absent from the party is World No. 1 Maria Sharapova who lost in the 4th round to the up-and-coming Sabine Lisicki of Germany. The loss was a dagger for Sharapova as she had to defend 1400 points for being a finalist last year. She only managed 280 (fourth round points) which means she will lose a staggering 1120 points from her overall total. She now has 8370 points. In short, she has already mathematically lost the No. 1 ranking to former World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, who by reaching the quarterfinals, has assured her total to be (at least) 8400 points. If Azarenka falters in the quarterfinals or semifinals, World No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska would take over the No. 1 ranking if she wins the tournament. Azarenka is assured the top spot is she's a finalist. Yes I know, it's a complicated system, but in the end it works. It took me a couple of years to understand it.

No. 2 Victoria Azarenka, the 2012 Australian Open champion, is looking to make the semifinals for the second year in a row. She has never reached the Wimbledon final and the 2012 Aussie is her only Grand Slam title to date. The key words there is-- to date.

No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska is looking to make her first semifinals appearance of any of the 4 majors, let alone Wimbledon.

No. 4 Petra Kvitova (the defending champion) is looking for her second consecutive Wimbledon title, which would put her with some very elite company. Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova, just to name a few, have won two or more consecutive Wimbledon titles.

No. 6 Serena Williams, well, her story is legendary. Serena is looking to win her 5th Wimbledon title and her 14th Grand Slam title overall. Legendary? You betcha.

No. 8 Angelique Kerber has been impressive in 3 of the 4 Grand Slams in recent times. She was a semifinalist at the 2011 U.S. Open, a quarterfinalist at the 2012 French Open and now a quarterfinalist at the 2012 Wimbledon. Only the Australian Open has been her Achilles heal where she has never made it past the third round. But who knows, maybe the 24-year old German is due for a breakout tournament? She certainly has been positioning herself to do so.

No. 15 Sabine Lisicki is proving that grass-courts are her cup of tea. Not only did she oust the World No. 1 but she is looking to make her second consecutive Wimbledon semifinals. Last year she made it all the way to the semifinals as a wild-card entry and, unless Kerber plays the match of her life, it looks like she's going to make it back-to-back semifinals appearances. At only 22, it looks like Lisicki is going to be a force at Wimbledon for years to come.

No. 17 Maria Kirilenko and the unseeded Tamira Paszek are both looking to be the next Cinderella story. For Kirilenko this will be her second-ever Grand Slam quarterfinals. She was also a quarterfinalist at the 2010 Australian Open. Paszek, like Lisicki, is proving that she is dangerous on grass. This is quietly her second consecutive appearance in the Wimbledon quarterfinals and at only 21, she may have a bright Wimbledon future. She may not play a lick on any other surface but on grass this young lady from Austria is pretty impressive.

And finally--

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As for Sharapova, like Rafael Nadal on the men's side, something tells me they'll both be two very angry and driven players at the upcoming U.S. Open. I wouldn't want to be in their bracket. Gosh, even when she's angry she looks like a queen, doesn't she?

Friday, June 29, 2012

2012 Wimbledon: The Nadal-less Factor

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Is there life after Rafa?

Now that we've had time to digest and come to terms with the STUNNING turn of events at the 2012 Championships at Wimbledon, let's look ahead to see what doors were opened by the SHOCKING second round loss of World No. 2, 2-time champion and 5-time finalist Rafael Nadal. His second-round defeat has already been labeled as perhaps the biggest upset in tennis history.

But the show must go on--

There's no doubt Nadal's bracket is now wide open and there's a better than likely possibility that whomever comes out of it will play in their first-ever Wimbledon final. The only player remaining (on that side of the bracket) who has ever played in a Wimbledon final is No. 30 Andy Roddick but it's highly unlikely that the aging Roddick has the goods to prevail. It's just too bad that World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and World No. 3 Roger Federer are in the same bracket because (at best) we can only get a semifinals match from them. It would've been great to see these two great champions clash in the final but it can't happen. If they both hold serve, their semifinals match should be a bigger event than the eventual final itself.

So that leaves an excellent opportunity for World No. 4 Andy Murray to reach his first-ever Wimbledon final if he holds serve based on his seeding. Murray has reached the semifinals three consecutive years (2009, 2010, 2011) but has been stopped short by Roddick in '09 and the last two years by Nadal. He is no doubt the fourth best player in the world and had it not been for the Big 3 (Djokovic, Nadal and Federer) he probably would have had a few Grand Slam titles up to this point. But the pressure on the Scotsman is unlike any other player on the tour. He isn't only trying to win a major for himself but for the entire British empire. Great Britain hasn't had a Grand Slam champion since 1936 and Murray is there best and only hope. I'm sure the young man feels the intense pressure.

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Three other players to keep an eye on are No. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, No. 7 David Ferrer and No. 9 Juan Martin del Potro. No. 5 Tsonga stunned Federer last year to reach the semifinals, so he's no stranger to the big stage at Wimbledon. No. 7 Ferrer is one of these players that on any given day has the ability to beat just about anybody. He beat Murray in the quarterfinals of the French Open last month to reach his 3rd career Grand Slam semifinals, so he too has tasted big stages before. Ferrer is on a collision course to clash with the dangerous No. 9 del Potro in the 4th round. Del Potro, himself, is no stranger to pressure and big stages. Let's not forget when he shocked then-World No. 1 Roger Federer in the 2009 U.S. Open final. Aside from Djokovic, Nadal and Federer, he is the only man in the current Top 25 with a Grand Slam title under his belt. But between del Potro and Ferrer, neither man has ever made it past the 4th round at Wimbledon but I think this is the year that one of them will break through and reach their first-ever Wimbledon quarterfinals and perhaps their first-ever semifinals.

With the absence of Nadal, this is how I see the semifinals shaping up--
  • No. 1 Novak Djokovic vs. No. 3 Roger Federer
  • No. 4 Andy Murray vs. No. 9 Juan Martin del Potro
Unless, of course, there's another SHOCKER waiting in the wings.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

2012 Wimbledon: Rafael Nadal: Shock and Awe!!!!

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The third major of the year has zoomed it's way into the third round in the blink of an eye. The 2012 Championships at Wimbledon snuck up on us before we could finish digesting the history-making French Open of a month ago.

However--

The one player who WON'T be in the third round is World No. 2 Rafael Nadal. Nadal was SHOCKED, Nadal was STUNNED, Nadal was somehow defeated in the second round by the never-heard-of-before Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic. Rosol is currently ranked 100th in the world and had never qualified to play one round at Wimbledon until this year. This is totally UNBELIEVABLE. SPEECHLESS may be a better word.

But anyway, the show must go on.


As for the rest of the Top 4 on the men's side-- World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, World No. 3 Roger Federer and World No. 4 Andy Murray have all cruised into the third round. Along with Nadal, these three men were heavy favorites going into the tournament and chances are 1 of the 3 will be left standing when it is all said and done.

As for the rest of the Top 10--

The only other "big news" thus far was the ousting of 2010 runner-up and sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych in the first round by unranked Ernests Gulbis of Latvia. And the only reason why it's considered "news" is because Berdych is a recent runner-up. Since his great run in 2010, he has done absolutely nothing in 3 of the 4 majors. Only back-to-back quarterfinal appearances at the Australian Open have kept his name in the Top 10.

World No. 10 and 11th seeded John Isner was also ousted in the first round. I guess we can consider this little-big news since he is in the Top 10. But I threw in the towel on American men's tennis two years ago, so I'm not surprised at all that they are being sent home one by one.

On the women's side--

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So far so good for World No. 1 Maria Sharapova as she has advanced to the third round. She played a tough 3-setter against unseeded Tsvetana Pironkova in the second round, escaping with a 7-6, 6-7, 6-0 victory. But let's remember, Pironkova is no slouch when it comes to the grass courts of Wimbledon. She was a semi-finalist in 2010 and a quarterfinalist in 2011. She may not play well anywhere else but at the All-England Club she has proven to be dangerous, so I'm not surprised at all that Sharapova had to sweat this one out. After the match she said of Pironkova, ''If she played on grass 365 days a year, she'd be top five probably. She has the perfect game for it.''

No. 2 Victoria Azarenka, No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska and No. 4 and defending champion Petra Kvitova are all in the third round.

As for the rest of the Top 10--

No. 5 Samantha Stosur has proven once again that the grass courts of Wimbledon are her worst nightmare. The 2011 U.S. Open champion has had a disastrous career at Wimbledon. This time around she was ousted in the second round after being ousted in the first round in 2010 and 2011. Her best-ever showing was a third round appearance in 2009, which is nothing to brag about.

The woes continue for former World No. 1 and seventh-seeded Caroline Wozniacki. Like Stosur, her Wimbledon career has been a nightmare. This time around she was ousted in the first round and has never advanced past the fourth round. Wozniacki holds (what's probably) an unbreakable record of 67 weeks at No. 1 without ever winning a major title.

No. 9 Marion Bartoli was ousted in the second round. She was a runner-up in 2007.

Also still alive and dangerously marching on are a pair of former-World No. 1s-- No. 6 Serena Williams and unseeded Kim Clijsters. If I'm Sharapova these are the two ladies I'd be nervous about.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The MLB on TSC: The Dog Days Of June

It's time now for another edition of the MLB on TSC where baseball's present always meets baseball's past and where the good, the bad and the ugly always have the potential to get exposed. Here goes--

R.A. DICKEY AND OREL HERSHISER

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It had to happen sooner or later. New York Mets knuckle-ball specialist R.A. Dickey finally had his consecutive innings streak without allowing an earned run stopped. Dickey allowed a sacrifice fly to Yankees slugger Mark Teixeira which ended his streak at 44.2 innings. That is the longest streak in the majors since the great Orel Hershiser tossed his monumental major-league record of 59 consecutive innings without allowing a run, earned or unearned. I guess we can compare Dickey's streak to Pete Rose's 44-game hitting streak and Hershiser's streak to Joe DiMaggio's monumental 56-game hitting streak.

"MR. WALK-OFF" JIM THOME

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Kudos to the ageless Jim Thome who set a major-league record with the 13th walk-off home run of his career. Thome had been tied (with 12 walk-offs) with perhaps 5 of the 10 best players in major-league history. Get this-- Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Stan Musial, Mickey Mantle and Frank Robinson. Now that's some company!

GO A.J.! GO A.J.!

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Yankee fans' public enemy #1 A.J. Burnett (8-2, 3.24 ERA) is having one hell of an All-Star year for the Pittsburgh Pirates. As of late, A.J. has won his last seven consecutive starts. According to the Elias Sports Bureau: Since divisional play began in 1969, only one other Pirates pitcher has registered a win in seven consecutive starts in a single season. Dock Ellis had two such streaks for Pittsburgh: eight straight in 1974 and 10 straight in 1971.

Not a bad deal for the Pirates considering the Yankees are paying the bulk of his salary.

....AND THEN THERE ARE THE CUBS


Is it 103 years and counting? To be honest I've lost track. But don't count on year 104 to be the year THE DROUGHT FINALLY ENDS. At 24-46, the 2012 Cubs are having perhaps the worst year in franchise history. And remember, this is the franchise of all franchises. They are one of the "Original Two" who date back to 1876, the year major league baseball was born. Only the 1901 team (24-48), 1966 team (24-48) and 1981 team (24-46) were just as anemic. And hey Cubs fans-- don't blame the billy goat for this one!


Go easy on Billy, will ya?!