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?!

Friday, June 22, 2012

NBA Finals: HAIL, HAIL TO THE KING!

NBA Finals: Miami Heat vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
Heat win series, 4-1

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AND IN THE END....

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WAS THERE EVER REALLY....

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....ANY DOUBT?!

"So let it be written, so let it be done!"

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

NBA Finals: The King and His Ring

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Folks, the stars could not align any better for King LeBron James and his neverending quest for the elusive CHAMPIONSHIP RING. His Miami Heat have a commanding 3-1 edge on the Oklahoma City Thunder with a chance to close it out at home. It cannot get any better (or easier) than this. If someway somehow he doesn't get it done and OKC pulls off a miracle, then I don't think he ever will.

Let's be realistic, OKC had a chance to win Games 3 and 4 but they shot themselves in the foot in both games.

Poor free throw shooting and reckless fouling doomed them in Game 3. In the third quarter, not only did they miss 5 free throws, but they TWICE FOULED Miami's three-point shooters, which they nailed for 6 points. Just on the free throw line it was an 11-point swing which washed away OKC's double-digit lead.

In Game 4, inexperience doomed the young Thunder team. James Harden was a no-show. Russell Westbrook's intentional foul on Mario Chalmers with 17.3 seconds left will go down in infamy as one of the biggest mistakes in NBA Finals history. OKC has what it takes to go toe-to-toe with Miami, but it's the little things that have been their demise, thus far. The little things.

But as the old saying goes, it ain't over until the fat lady sings. Let's not forget OKC is still breathing. Barely, but still breathing.

As for The King-- he is within a whisker of winning the championship that millions out there DON'T want to see him win. But....

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....whether his haters like it or not, it looks like even they will all be witnesses.

NBA Finals: King LeBron James: One Win Away!

NBA Finals: Miami Heat vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
Heat lead series, 3-1

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In his first NBA Finals, King LeBron James had 0 wins.  NO TITLE.

In his second NBA Finals, he had 2 wins.  NO TITLE.

In his third NBA Finals, he has a commanding 3-1 lead and is one win away. ONE WIN AWAY!

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On Thursday will we all be witnesses?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Happy Birthday Lou Gehrig!


The Iron Horse (June 19, 1903 - June 2, 1941)

R.A. Dickey Is On Fire!

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Hand him the N.L. Cy Young Award!

That's right! New York Mets knuckleball specialist R.A. Dickey is having one MONSTER of a year, thus far. Last night, Dickey (11-1, 2.00 ERA, 103 K, 0.89 WHIP) entered the record books by accomplishing a feat so rare that he's only the 10th pitcher in the 137-year history of the MLB to do so. He pitched his second consecutive 1-hitter against the Baltimore Orioles in a 5-0 win. The only hit allowed by Dickey was a fifth inning single by Wilson Betemit. In his prior start he 1-hit the Tampa Bay Rays.

Dickey has now pitched 42.2 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run. Is he on fire? You betcha! 

The former journeyman became the first pitcher since the great Dave Stieb of the Toronto Blue Jays, 24 years ago, to throw back-to-back 1-hitters. The last to do it in the National League was Jim Tobin of the Boston Braves in 1944.

Here's a list of the 10 back-to-back 1-hitters in MLB history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau:
  1. 2012 - R.A. Dickey - New York Mets
  2. 1988 - Dave Stieb** - Toronto Blue Jays
  3. 1966 - Sam McDowell - Cleveland Indians
  4. 1944 - Jim Tobin - Boston Braves
  5. 1943 - Mort Cooper - St. Louis Cardinals
  6. 1938 - Johnny Vander Meer* - Cincinnati Reds
  7. 1934 - Lon Warneke - Chicago Cubs
  8. 1925 - Dazzy Vance - Brooklyn Robins
  9. 1923 - Howard Ehmke - Boston Red Sox
  10. 1911 - Rube Marquard - New York Giants
*In 1938, Johnny Vander Meer pitched back-to-back NO-HITTERS. The only time it's been done in major-league history.
**In 1988, Dave Stieb had to settle for back-to-back 1-hitters but in both instances he was one strike away from tossing a no-hitter. I remember when it happened and I still feel Stieb's pain. What are the odds of that? Two no-hitters broken up with two outs and two strikes in the 9th inning in back-to-back starts. What a bummer! Incidentally, in 1989, Stieb had a perfect game broken up with two outs in the ninth inning. On September 2, 1990, lady luck was finally on Stieb's side as he pitched the first (and only) NO-HITTER in Blue Jays history. Stieb was one hell of a pitcher, that's for sure. Why the Toronto Blue Jays haven't retired his number (37) is beyond me?!

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As for R.A. Dickey--

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KUDOS TO THE NEW MR. KNUCKLER!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Roger Clemens "Dodges A Bullet"!

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The good news for "The Rocket" Roger Clemens is that he was found not guilty on all 6 counts of perjury by a jury of his peers. After spending somewhere in the neighborhood of $3 million taxpayer dollars, the feds could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Clemens lied to Congress about his use (or alleged use) of performance enhancing drugs. Today, Clemens walked out of the courtroom a free man, escaping a FAT fine and potentially 30 years in the slammer. Again, that's the good news.

The bad news for the Rocket Man is that his name will appear on the Hall of Fame ballot this coming winter for the first time and the "beyond a reasonable doubt" component doesn't mean squat to the BBWAA voters. In the court of public opinion it doesn't mean squat either. No matter what went down today in that Washington D.C. courtroom, Clemens is still looked at (by many) with a suspicious eye.

So my gut feeling is Clemens is in for a rude awakening when the results are announced next January. As the last 6 elections have shown, the BBWAA have adopted a take-no-prisoners stance when it comes to any players who have even a shred of suspicion hanging over their heads when it comes to steroid use. Just ask Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro, two players who "on paper" have Hall of Fame numbers, and are 0-6 and 0-2, respectively, in terms of consecutive years on the ballot and not elected.

Along with Clemens, Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa will also appear on the ballot for the first time in 2013. Like Clemens, they too, are in the "shady characters club" when it comes to steroid use. Heck, I'm willing to bet the family farm that Clemens, Bonds and Sosa don't see the "light of day" when it comes to the Hall of Fame. My belief is that if one suspect gets in then all of them should get in. So based on the McGwire and Palmeiro results, things look mighty bleak for the 2013 trio.

But hey, Hall of Fame induction shouldn't matter to The Rocket anyway because in 2008 he basically said--  to hell with the Hall of Fame!! In his own words: "I got another [expletive] question the other day about the Hall of Fame. You think I played my career because I'm worried about the damn Hall of Fame? I could give a rat's ass about that also. If you have a vote . . . you keep your vote. I don't need the Hall of Fame to justify that I put my butt on the line and I worked my tail off."

Whoa!

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Let's see if he changes his mind when the votes are made public and reality sets in.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

06-13-12: Matt Cain, R.A. Dickey and Lance Lynn

It was a "THREE DOGS NIGHT"!

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Here's a major-league oddity compiled by Matt Cain (8-2, 2.18 ERA); R.A. Dickey (10-1, 2.20 ERA) and Lance Lynn (10-2, 2.42 ERA) who are no doubt the early front-runners for the N.L. Cy Young Award-- 

ON WEDNESDAY NIGHT (6-13-12):
  • MATT CAIN: 9.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 BB, 14 K (Perfect Game)
  • R. A. DICKEY: 9.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 0 BB, 12 K (One-Hitter)
  • LANCE LYNN: 7.1 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 HR, 1 BB, 12 K

According to the Elias Sports Bureau: Matt Cain threw a perfect game with 14 strikeouts; R.A. Dickey struck out 12, allowed no walks and no earned runs; and Lance Lynn struck out 12, walked one, and did not allow an earned run. It's the first time since the major leagues have been tracking earned runs that three pitchers didn't allow an earned run while striking out 12 and walking no more than one batter on the same night.

Incredible!

As the early-70s rock group Three Dog Night might say, "They just wanna be a one man band."

Friday, June 15, 2012

NBA Finals: The King, K.D. and the Quest for the Elusive Ring

NBA Finals: Miami Heat vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
Series tied, 1-1

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The 2012 NBA Finals has dwindled from a best of 7 series to a best of 5 with the Miami Heat having home-court advantage. The Heat stripped the Oklahoma City Thunder of home-court advantage by going on the road, stealing a game and returning home with a split. In other words, they did what they had to do.

In Game 1, OKC saw themselves trailing by 7 at halftime and at one point trailed by as many as 13 in the first half. But with a strong second half, where they outscored Miami by 18, the Thunder were able to prevail 105-94 and take a 1-0 lead in the series. It took a monster second half for OKC to win their first-ever finals' game under their new identity. As the Seattle SuperSonics they won a total of 9 finals' games in 3 trips, which included the 1978-79 NBA championship.

In Game 2, it was "deja vu all over again" for OKC.  Again they got off to a sluggish start but this time around it came back to haunt them. Miami lead wire-to-wire as they jumped to an early 18-2 lead, which OKC would never recover from. Miami led by as many as 17, putting OKC in catch-up mode all game long. The relentless OKC bunch were able to cut it to 2 late in the fourth quarter but Miami held their ground and escaped with a 100-96 win.

The eye-catching stat of Games 1 and 2 is the first quarter scoring. The combined score: Miami 56, OKC 37.

Today everyone is talking about a controversial NON-CALL late in the fourth quarter of Game 2 where it was clear that LeBron James fouled Kevin Durant  with Miami up by only 2 points. Durant missed the shot but clearly should have gone to the foul line for 2 free throws. But let's be real, that wasn't where OKC lost the game. First of all, there was no guarantee Durant would have made the free throws and tied the game. OKC was uncharacteristically missing crucial free throws late in the game, so it's impossible to say whether or not Durant would have made both free throws. This is just another attempt to put an asterisk on anything the Miami Heat do. What doomed OKC was their sluggish start. They got away with it in Game 1 but they should have known Miami was going to make the necessary adjustments for Game 2 if they saw themselves in a similar situation. In the NBA Finals you have to play hard for 48 minutes. Not take a vacation in the first half and expect to play like Superman in the second half. Sooner or later it'll come back to bite you.

If the Thunder think that they can go to South Beach and play 2 quarters of basketball, they'll be in for a rude awakening. If they don't play strong from start to finish this series is over in 5 games. And yes, the King will finally get his elusive ring.

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OKC will need monster performances from both Durant and Russell Westbrook down in the Valley of the Kings, from START TO FINISH-- or else!


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Perfect Citizen Cain!

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Once upon a time, a PERFECT GAME was one of the rarest of baseball feats. It used to be something that defied logic because, as we all know, perfection is (almost) mathematically impossible. But them days are over!

Congrats to San Francisco Giants starter Matt Cain, who pitched the 22nd perfect game in major-league history. Cain's "27 up, 27 down" came last night in a 10-0 win over the Houston Astros. What's mind-boggling about Cain's perfecto is that it's already the 2nd one this year and 5th in the past 4 seasons. And as we now infamously know, it should have been the 6th in the past four seasons. Mark Buehrle pitched one in 2009, Roy Halladay and Dallas Braden each pitched one in 2010 and earlier this year Philip Humber pitched the 21st-ever perfecto.

On June 2, 2010, Detroit Tigers' starter Armando Galarraga was ONE OUT AWAY from a perfect game when umpire Jim Joyce made perhaps what is the most moronic BLOWN CALL in major-league history, denying Galarraga of a perfect game. Joyce incorrectly called Indians hitter Jason Donald safe at first, giving him an infield hit and ruining Galarraga's chance at history.  It was a call that even the three blind mice would have made correctly and after the game Joyce knew it. But nonetheless, it is what it is, and as of late, we've had 5 perfectos.

Cain's perfect game is the first in Giants franchise history, which dates all the way back to 1883. Amazingly, it's already the 5th NO-HITTER this year. On June 1st, Johan Santana threw the Mets first-ever no-hitter. The Seattle Mariners threw the weirdest of no-hitters, on June 8, a 6-pitchers combination. Jered Weaver tossed one on May 2nd and Humber tossed the other 2012 perfect game on April 21st. There have been 18 no-hitters tossed since 2008. Yes, 18!

Hmmm, I wonder why hitters have been so vulnerable as of late?

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YES WE CAIN!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The MLB on TSC: The Pirates, Orioles and Nationals

It's time now for a quick edition of the MLB on TSC, where no rocks are left unturned and where everything-- good, bad or ugly-- has the potential to get exposed. Here goes--

THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY

At the start of the 2012 MLB season there were 4 teams that have been in the gutter for a LONG time. So much so that it's impressive they still have fans after all these dreadful years.

The kingpins of this dreaded club are no doubt the Pittsburgh Pirates. This once-proud franchise is currently on a North-American-sports-record 19-season losing streak. That, my friends, is no walk in the park. Their last winning season (96-66) was way back in 1992. Last season the Pirates had a very solid first half, entering the All-Star break with a winning record-- fooling many-- including me, into thinking they were going to have a winning season. But unfortunately in the second half they realized who they were and completely fell apart en route to their record 19th consecutive losing season.

Then there are the Baltimore Orioles. This (also) once-proud franchise is doing everything it can to give the Pirates a run for their money. The O's, themselves, have a-- hide the kids-- 14-season losing streak. Their last winning season (98-64) was in 1997. Now how in the world does this happen to a former juggernaut?

Then we have the Washington Nationals (aka Montreal Expos). They are on a 6-season losing streak, which is preceded by an 81-81 (.500) season, which is preceded by another losing season. In other words, they are on an 8-season non-winning streak. Their last winning season (83-79) was in 2003 as the Expos.


But surprise, surprise-- the Pirates (32-28); Orioles (35-26) and Nationals (37-23) are actually having great years so far. They have either been or are in first place in their respective divisions and it looks like 2012 may be the year that-- at least 1, 2 or all 3-- get out of their funk. As a baseball fan, I'm not holding my breathe, especially after the stunt the Pirates pulled off last year, but it'll be great to see these three franchises have successful seasons and hopefully get a taste of the playoffs.

For the record: The last time the Pirates made the playoffs was in 1992. For the Orioles, their last taste of the playoffs was in 1997 and for the Nationals, well, try 1981 on for size.

Oh and I'm not even going to mention the 4th team-- the Kansas City Royals and their ineptness. But since I brought them up-- they are on an 8-season losing streak and have had a losing record in 16 of the last 17 seasons. Their only winning season (83-79) in the last 17 years was in 2003. The last time they made the playoffs was way back in 1985 when a guy named George Brett was the best in the business. But since KC is having-- yet another-- awful year, they are not relevant to this post. Or any post, for that matter.


Hey Billy, quit dissing the A's. They had a decent playoff run for most of the 2000s and besides-- you and the Cubs are the last people who should be throwing anyone under the bus!

Alex Rodriguez and Lou Gehrig II

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With an eighth inning GRAND SLAM home run against the Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez has officially tied the record held by the immortal Lou Gehrig with 23 career grand slams.

The list now looks like this--
  1. Lou Gehrig - 23
  2. Alex Rodriguez - 23
  3. Manny Ramirez - 21
  4. Eddie Murray - 19
  5. Willie McCovey - 18
  6. Robin Ventura - 18
As TSC stated in April 2011 when A-Rod hit No. 22-- it was just a matter of time for A-Rod and his assault on the record books. Read "Alex Rodriguez and Lou Gehrig" here.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Kings Of L.A.!

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Well folks, we can scratch off the Los Angeles Kings from the list of sports franchises that have NEVER won a championship. The Kings beat the New Jersey Devils 4-2 in the Stanley Cup Finals and claimed their first-ever Stanley Cup title. Another long and agonizing drought (44 seasons) has ended.

The Kings (est. 1967) are the 4th NHL team to win their first-ever Stanley Cup, so far, in the 21st century. Along with the Kings, the Anaheim Ducks (2007), Carolina Hurricanes (2006) and the Tampa Bay Lighting (2004) also won their first Cup since 2000.

So now the unwanted honor of being the oldest franchise WITHOUT a Stanley Cup title belongs to the St. Louis Blues (est. 1967) who came into the league the same year as the Kings and are yet to win a Stanley Cup. It'll be 45 seasons and counting for the Blues at the start of next season. The Buffalo Sabres (est. 1970) and the Vancouver Canucks (1970 NHL expansion team) are next with 42 seasons and counting.

For the record, the Toronto Maple Leafs, themselves, haven't won a Stanley Cup in 44 years. Their last Stanley Cup came in 1967-68, the year the Kings and Blues came into the league. But nonetheless, they do have a few Cups under their belt, so that leaves the Blues as the oldest Cup-less team.

As for other sports-- 

In the NBA, the Dallas Mavericks (2011) and the Miami Heat (2006) are the only teams to win their first-ever championship since 2000. Coincidentally, they did it against each other. If you're thinking Oklahoma City Thunder, no, the Thunder franchise actually won a championship in 1979 as the Seattle Super Sonics, so there won't be a first-time champion in the upcoming NBA Finals.

In MLB baseball, only the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (2002) and the Arizona Diamondbacks (2001) won their first World Series titles so far this century.

In the NFL, the New Orleans Saints (2010), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2003), New England Patriots (2002), Baltimore Ravens (2001) and the St. Louis Rams (2000) were first time Super Bowl champions this century.

I guess the moral of this post is-- have patience sports fans, if your favorite team has NEVER won a championship, sooner or later, it'll happen. Well, if you live long enough.

CONGRATS L.A.!!!!!!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Roland Garros: TSC Salutes The King and Queen!

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World No. 2 Rafael Nadal and World No. 1 Maria Sharapova
2012 FRENCH OPEN CHAMPIONS!

Roland Garros: Rafael Nadal: The King Lives On!

World No. 2 Rafael Nadal defeats World No. 1 Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5

CONGRATS TO THE KING OF CLAY!
2012 FRENCH OPEN CHAMPION

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7 FRENCH OPEN TITLES (A NEW RECORD)

52-1 CAREER MATCH RECORD

2005... 2006... 2007... 2008... 2010... 2011... 2012... CHAMPION!

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'NUFF SAID!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Miami Heat: One Mo' Round!

KUDOS TO THE MIAMI HEAT
2012 NBA EASTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS

NBA Finals: Miami Heat vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

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THE VALLEY OF THE KINGS!

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.....FOR THE KING..... IT'S TIME!

....HEAT IN 6.....

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Friday, June 8, 2012

Roland Garros: The Final: No. 1 vs. No. 2

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The men's final at the 2012 French Open is all set. It'll be, surprise, surprise--

World No. 1 and 5-time Grand Slam Champion Novak Djokovic VS. World No. 2 and 10-time Grand Slam Champion Rafael Nadal. This will be the 4th consecutive Grand Slam final's clash for Djokovic and Nadal, which is a first in tennis history. Never before had the same two men met in 4 consecutive major finals. Djokovic has won the first three but now they meet in Nadal's kingdom.

For Djokovic, this is his first-ever appearance in the French Open final.

For Nadal, well, his story at Roland Garros is legendary--
  • He has a 51-1 match record.
  • He is a 6-time champion (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011).
  • The only year he didn't win the title was in 2009 and that was because of injuries. With injuries and all he still managed to make the 4th round, losing to eventual runner-up Robin Soderling. Then-World No. 2 Roger Federer captured the 2009 title in Rafa's absence.
  • If he wins the 2012 title it will be his record 7th French Open title. He's currently tied with the legendary Bjorn Borg with 6 titles.
But this 2012 final will be the test of all tests for Nadal. In Djokovic, he is playing against a man who has been on an astronomical level the past two seasons, winning 4 of the last 5 Grand Slam titles. He is looking to complete the "Novak Slam" (holding all 4 major titles simultaneously) which is a monumental accomplishment that hasn't been done in 43 years.

Nadal, however, has beaten Djokovic twice this year on clay, both in Final's matches-- at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters and at the Italian Open-- so the momentum is definitely on Nadal's side.

But momentum or no momentum, make no mistake about it, Djokovic is no slouch. This should be a final's match for the ages.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Roland Garros: The Return Of The Queen!

HAIL! HAIL! TO THE QUEEN!

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World No. 2 Maria Sharapova has reached the French Open final.... and in doing so, she becomes the new WORLD NO. 1.

Sharapova ousted World No. 4 Petra Kvitova 6-3, 6-3 in the semifinals and will now face No. 21 Sara Errani for the title. Errani shocked World No. 6 Samantha Stosur 7-5, 1-6, 6-3 in the other semifinals match to reach her first-ever Grand Slam final. The 25-year old Italian, ranked 24th in the world, has literally come out of nowhere and shocked the world. She will, for the first time, be right in the center of one of tennis' biggest stages at Roland Garros. Good for her!

As for Sharapova, by reaching the final, she has officially taken over the World No. 1 ranking from Victoria Azarenka. Sharapova currently has 8,890 ranking points to Azarenka's 8,800 points. If she beats Errani in the final she will add on another 600 points for a total of 9,490. She will also become the 10th woman in history to complete the Career Grand Slam.

Only one win and Errani stand in her way.

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OKC Is OK!

KUDOS TO THE OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
2012 NBA WESTERN CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS

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BRING ON THE BIG 3!!!! WHICHEVER ONES!!!!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Roland Garros: The Semifinals: No. 2 vs. No. 6

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The other men's semifinal at the 2012 French Open is packaged and ready to be delivered.

It'll be: Former World No. 1 and current World No. 2, two-time defending champion and 6-time overall champion Rafael Nadal VS. World No. 6 and fellow countryman David Ferrer.

Nadal, who is now an eye-popping and mind-boggling 50-1 at Roland Garros, is exactly where everyone on this planet and probably on some other planets as well, expected him to be.

Ferrer, on the other hand, is a bit of a surprise. He ousted World No. 4 Andy Murray in 4 sets, denying Murray his second consecutive appearance in the French semifinals and his never-ending quest for a first Grand Slam title. For Ferrer, this is his first-ever semifinals appearance at Roland Garros.

The winner of this match will face the winner of the other semifinals match between World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and World No. 3 Roger Federer. Djokovic and Federer are exactly where every mere mortal expected them to be. The only question is, which one will prevail? Last year Federer beat Djokovic (in the semifinals) to advance to his 5th final, where he (again) lost to Nadal. Federer is 0-4 in the final against Nadal, who is without a doubt, the King of Clay.

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Nadal (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011) and Federer (2009) have won the last 7 consecutive French Open titles. Dominance? And then some!

Roland Garros: The Semifinals: #2, #4, #6, #21

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The women's semifinals at the 2012 French Open are all set. It'll be--
  • No. 2 Maria Sharapova vs. No. 4 Petra Kvitova
  • No. 6 Samantha Stosur vs. No. 21 Sara Errani
For Sharapova this is her third appearance at the French Open semifinals (2007, 2011, 2012). For Stosur this is also her third appearance (2009, 2010, 2012) in the French semis. For Kvitova and Errani this is their first ever semifinals appearance at Roland Garros. In fact, for Errani, this is her first ever appearance in a semifinals of any Grand Slam event. Prior to this, her best showing had been at this year's Australian Open where she made the quarterfinals.

Of the 4, only Stosur has ever reached the final, doing so in 2010 where she lost the title match to Francesca Schiavone.

If Sharapova reaches her first French final she will mathematically take over the World No. 1 ranking, win or lose. If she wins the title she will complete the career Grand Slam, having won all 4 majors at least once. She won Wimbledon in 2004, the U.S. Open in 2006 and the Australian Open in 2008. Only the French title has eluded her and she is now just two match wins away from history.

Kvitova (2011 Wimbledon) and Stosur (2011 U.S. Open) each have a Grand Slam title under their belt.

In the end, regardless of which one wins the title, there will be a first time champion at Roland Garros.