Thursday, August 8, 2013

Pittsburgh Pirates: 70-44

COUNTDOWN TO A WINNING SEASON

AP Photo

Down 4-0, the Pittsburgh Pirates rallied to defeat the Miami Marlins 5-4 in 10 innings today. Russell Martin drove in teammate Josh Harrison with the game-winning run in the bottom of the tenth and received the traditional towel full of shaving cream in the face from teammate A.J. Burnett.

The Pirates are now 70-44, just 12 wins away from their first winning season in two decades. Yes, two decades. Who would've thunk it?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Pittsburgh Pirates: 56-37

AP Photo
We have reached the All-Star break and (so far, so good) for the Pittsburgh Pirates. At 56-37 (.602) they are well on their way to their first winning season in two decades-- OR ARE THEY?

This is the third consecutive season that the Pirates have a winning record at the break, giving their fans hope. In the prior two seasons they have fallen apart in the second half, disappointing their fans dearly.

Will this be the year they FINALLY end their monumental (20 CONSECUTIVE LOSING SEASONS) drought? We shall see....

Sunday, July 7, 2013

2013 Wimbledon: The Final: History For Andy Murray

AP Photo
The WAIT of a nation is over!

After 77 agonizing years Great Britain FINALLY has a Wimbledon champion. World No. 2 and Britain's own Andy Murray disposed of World No. 1 Novak Djokovic 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 to claim the Wimbledon title at the All England Club. The last British player to win the prestigious grass-court tournament was Fred Perry in 1936.

Murray has now won 2 Grand Slam titles. He also won the 2012 U.S. Open. His two major titles are Great Britain's only 2 Grand Slam titles since the days of Fred Perry.

Here's a list of the few British players who have played in Grand Slam finals since 1936--

1. Bunny Austin - Lost 1937 French Open final.
2. Bunny Austin - Lost 1938 Wimbledon final.
3. John Lloyd - Lost 1977 Australian Open final.
4. Greg Rusedski - Lost 1997 U.S. Open final.
5. Andy Murray - Lost 2008 U. S. Open final.
6. Andy Murray - Lost 2010 Australian Open final.
7. Andy Murray - Lost 2011 Australian Open final.
8. Andy Murray - Lost 2012 Wimbledon final.
9. Andy Murray - Won 2012 U.S. Open.
10. Andy Murray - Lost 2013 Australian Open final.
11. Andy Murray - Won 2013 Wimbledon.

It's safe to say that Murray has AT LAST taken the WAIT and the WEIGHT of an entire nation off of his back. The Wimbledon drought is over! The Grand Slam drought is over!

Getty Images

Congrats Andy!

Friday, July 5, 2013

2013 Wimbledon: The Final: No. 1 vs. No. 2

CLASH OF THE TITANS
Getty Images
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic vs. World No. 2 Andy Murray

It's on!

2013 Wimbledon: The Final: Will A New Star Be Born?

AP Photo
It has been some ride for World No. 24 Sabine Lisicki!

The 23-year old German has reached her first-ever Grand Slam final after upsetting 2012 runner-up and World No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska in the semifinals at Wimbledon. Her win against Radwanska comes on the heels of her stunning quarterfinals win against defending champion and World No. 1 Serena Williams. She has now defeated the 2012 champion and the 2012 runner-up en route to the final.

Lisicki will clash with World No. 15 Marion Bartoli in the final where she will undoubtedly be the overwhelming favorite. Bartoli will be making her second appearance in the Wimbledon final. She was the 2007 runner-up.

As for Lisicki, who has performed extremely well at the All England Club in recent years, there's no question the grass-courts at Wimbledon are her cup of tea. She has been tinkering with greatness for roughly 5 years now. In 2009 she was a quarter-finalist, in 2011 she was a semifinalist and in 2012 she was a quarter-finalist. And now she has beaten the best-of-the-best and reached her first final.

Has women's tennis found it's new star? Quite possibly.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

2013 Wimbledon: The Semifinals.... We Think?

AP Photos

After so many upsets and withdrawals the 2013 Wimbledon semifinals are FINALLY set. No doubt it has been a strange and puzzling tournament with so many of the top players being eliminated in the early rounds. Probably of the 8 men and women still standing-- maybe 3 or 4 were expected to still be alive come the semifinals.

On the men's side--
  • World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and World No. 2 Andy Murray are no-brainers.  Everyone expected these two men to reach the semifinals.
  • World No. 8 Juan Martin del Potro is somewhat of a surprise but not exactly a shocker. Del Potro is having a great year thus far and he's still the only player (other than the Big 4) in the Top 10 with a Grand Slam title under his belt. The 2009 U.S. Open champion is no stranger to Grand Slam semifinals tennis.
  • World No. 22 Jerzy Janowicz of Poland is a huge surprise. Chances are not too many people in tennis circles expected this 22-year old kid to be in the semifinals. But nonetheless, with the help of earlier upsets, he fought his way through and became the first Polish player ever to reach a Grand Slam semifinals.   
On the women's side--
  • World No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska is the only non-surprise. The 2012 runner-up held serve and won her end of the bracket for the second year in a row.
  • World No. 24 Sabine Lisicki is somewhat of a surprise after she stunned World No. 1 Serena Williams in the quarterfinals. Surprising, yes. Shocking, no. Let's not forget the 23-year old German is a very good grass-court player and has performed extremely well at Wimbledon in recent years.
  • World No. 15 Marion Bartoli is no stranger to the Wimbledon semifinals. The 2007 runner-up benefited from all the earlier upsets and is in great position to return to the Wimbledon final.
  • World No. 20 Kirsten Flipkens is making her first-ever semifinals appearance at a Grand Slam event. She too benefited from all the earlier upsets in this strangest of Wimbledon. 
Strange, yes, but nonetheless, the semifinals are set!  

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Juan Marichal and Warren Spahn


It's been 50 years since Hall of Famers Juan Marichal and Warren Spahn went toe-to-toe in what is perhaps the greatest pitching duel in major-league history.  

July 2, 1963

Giants 1 - Braves 0, 16 innings

Milwaukee Braves IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA






Warren Spahn, L (11-4) 15.19111212.84









San Francisco Giants IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA






Juan Marichal, W (13-3)16 80041002.14








For the record, the Giants won the game on a Willie Mays solo-home run off of Spahn in the bottom of the 16th inning. It still mind-boggles me every time I read up on this game.

What a duel! I highly doubt we will ever again see two starters go toe-to-toe for 16 scoreless innings. Not in this lifetime.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Pittsburgh Pirates: 51-30

AP Photo
Here we go again, folks! For the third consecutive year the Pittsburgh Pirates are off to a fantastic start, giving baseball fans everywhere the hope that they will finally end their DREADED consecutive-seasons losing streak. The Pirates are currently on a 20-season losing streak, which is (by far) a major-league record. Their last winning season was in 1992 during the Barry Bonds-era.

In 2011, the Pirates were 41-39 on June 30 and everyone wondered if they would finally end their then-18 season losing streak. But I guess someone reminded them that they were the Pirates and-- of course-- fell apart in the second half and wound up 72-90 on the year. Consecutive losing season #19.

In 2012, they were 42-35 on June 30 and (again) fell apart in the second half and wound up with a 79-83 record. Consecutive losing season #20.

Will 2013 be any different?

At 51-30, the Pirates are sporting the best record in the major leagues and currently have a 2-game lead on the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central. They are on a 9-game winning streak and looking mighty good. Their biggest weapon thus far has been masterful pitching. But again, we've seen this before. Who's to say they won't (again) fall apart in the second half? Let's hope not!

AP Photo

Go Pittsburgh! Do it for an entire generation of Pirates fans that have no clue what a winning season is. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

2013 Wimbledon: The Unthinkable!

WIMBLE-DONE! 

AP Photos

Is this for real?

2-time champion Rafael Nadal and 7-time champion Roger Federer OUSTED in the first and second round, respectively? 

WHAT IN THE WORLD IS GOING ON? 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

CONGRATS to the Chicago Blackhawks

Stanley Cup Final: Chicago Blackhawks vs. Boston Bruins
Blackhawks win series, 4-2

AP Photo
Forward Patrick Kane hoists the Stanley Cup for the second time in four years.

Read more, here.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Strong Debut For Puig

AP Photo
There's no question that Los Angeles Dodgers rookie sensation Yasiel Puig is off to a blazing-hot start. How hot? In his first 17 games, Puig is batting .455 with 6 homers and 12 RBIs. He has at least one hit in 15 of the 17 games and has had 11 multi-hit games.

Amazingly, in his first 15 major-league games Puig had 27 hits and 5 home runs. Why is this amazing? Well, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, Puig is the first player in the Modern Era (since 1900) to have that many hits and home runs in his first 15 games. In 113 years of baseball, Puig is the only man to do it. Now that's amazing.

So yes, the Cuban sensation is off to a blazing-hot start. The only downside to his phenomenal start is, well, the Dodgers are 7-10 in his 17 games. They are 30-42 overall which is a major disappointment for a team that was expected to do so much this season. Sure there's plenty of baseball left to be played but from the looks of it-- the 2013 Dodgers-- are looking more and more like a bust.

Friday, June 21, 2013

2013 NBA Finals: CONGRATS to the Miami Heat!

Miami Heat vs. San Antonio Spurs
Heat win series, 4-3

AP Photo

Back-to-Back and counting for the King!

AP Photo
Was there ever any doubt?!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

2013 NBA Finals: Ray Allen: Mr. Clutch

Miami Heat vs. San Antonio Spurs
Series tied, 3-3

"Ray can be 0-for-99 in a game, and if he gets an open look late, it's going down.” - LeBron James

ESPN

If the Miami Heat go on to win the 2013 NBA Finals, Ray Allen will forever be remembered for the clutch 3-pointer he buried (late in the 4th quarter) of Game 6 to tie the score 95-95 and force overtime. Not only did the best 3-point shooter in NBA history save the game for the Heat, he saved the series and the season.

It's safe to say-- Miami dodged a major bullet in Game 6 but they managed to steal (103-100) what seemed like a sure victory for the Spurs and force a Game 7. As LeBron James put it, "we live to fight another day." 

It's also safe to say-- this is not good news for the Spurs. Their Game 6 collapse will go down as one of the biggest "choke jobs" in NBA Finals history. Can they mentally recuperate from this heartbreaking loss?

As for the Heat, they are known for their Big 3 (LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh) but Allen (a former member of Boston's Big 3) is perhaps Miami's most lethal weapon in this series.  Again, not good news for the Spurs who (literally) gave Miami another day to fight. Not good.

On to Game 7!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Lou Gehrig

LouGehrig.com
The Iron Horse

June 19, 1903 - June 2, 1941

Played for the New York Yankees (1923-1939)

Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939

Friday, June 14, 2013

2013 NBA Finals: The Big 3 Live!

NBA Finals, Game 4: Miami Heat 109 - San Antonio Spurs 93 
Series tied, 2-2 

AP Photos
Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James: 85 points, 30 rebounds, 10 steals. 

"When those guys are playing like that, you better be playing a perfect game." -Spurs coach Gregg Popovich

Miami Heat fans finally got what they were promised out of the Big 3 as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh performed magic in Game 4 of the NBA Finals to even the series against the San Antonio Spurs and regain home court advantage. This was a do-or-die game for Miami and the Big 3 stepped up to the challenge. They combined for 85 points which was more points than what the entire team scored in the embarrassing Game 3 loss.

With the win Miami avoided falling to 1-3 in the series with one more game in San Antonio. Instead the series is even and the pressure is now on the Spurs.

The Heat also played masterful defense throughout the entire game, especially in the second half. They held point guard Tony Parker to 0 points in the second half which (pretty much) nailed San Antonio's coffin. One thing is certain about these Spurs-- where Tony Parker goes, they go. Stop Parker and the Spurs have no chance. Miami did just that.

Kudos to the LeBron-Wade-Bosh regime!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

How Good Is Matt Harvey and How Bad Are The Mets (Part 3)?

CARDINALS 2 - METS 1

Facebook.com/Mets

Just when you thought things couldn't get worse for Matt Harvey-- who is (perhaps) the best pitcher in the major leagues and is playing for (perhaps) the worst team in the major leagues-- here's the pitching line from today's game against the St. Louis Cardinals:

St. Louis
IP H R ER BB K HR WHIP Season ERA 
A. Wainwright (W, 10-3) 7.0 4 0 0 2 6 0 1.01 2.18
T. Rosenthal 1.0 1 0 0 0 1 0 1.00 1.64
E. Mujica (S, 19) 1.0 2 1 1 0 1 1 0.64 1.82

 NY Mets
IP H R ER BB K HR WHIP Season ERA 
M. Harvey (L, 5-1) 7.0 5 1 1 1 7 0 0.91 2.04
S. Rice 0.2 2 1 1 0 0 0 1.40 4.40
L. Hawkins 0.1 2 0 0 0 0 0 1.56 4.21
J. Edgin 1.0 1 0 0 0 1 0 1.76 7.94

The way this kid has pitched he should be (something like) 11-0 on the year but the anemic Mets have LAID AN EGG in almost every one of his starts so far this season. Run support is almost nonexistent for the hard-luck Harvey. A total disgrace to say the least!

Read "How Good Is Matt Harvey and How Bad Are The Mets (Part 1)" HERE.
Read "How Good Is Matt Harvey and How Bad Are The Mets (Part 2)" HERE.

How Good Is Matt Harvey and How Bad Are The Mets (Part 1)?

Facebook.com/Mets
There's no question that New York Mets ace Matt Harvey is one of the best young arms to come along in a long time. The 24-year old right-hander has a spotless 5-0 record with a 2.10 ERA in 13 starts thus far this year. But his record is not indicative of how good he really is because, well, his team just can't muster more wins for him. Harvey leads the team with 10 Quality Starts but has posted 8 no-decisions in his last nine starts. In other words, he has pitched well enough to win but his run support is atrocious.

During his 8 no-decisions in 9-starts span, Harvey has posted a 2.66 ERA which is historical. Here's how ESPN via the Elias Sports Bureau summarized it:

Matt Harvey started Saturday's game, and allowed one run over seven innings before leaving with an injury. While Harvey kept his record intact - he has not been the losing pitcher in any of his 13 starts this season - Saturday's game marked the eighth time in his last nine starts that he had no decision. Harvey's sequence marks the 29th time in major-league history that a starting pitcher has reached no decision eight times within a span of nine straight starts within one season (with no relief appearances during that streak); that was most recently done by Roy Oswalt four years ago. But Harvey's 2.66 ERA over those nine starts is by far the lowest in any of those 29 sequences; the previous low was a 3.07 ERA by Cincinnati's Erik Hanson from June 12 to July 28 in 1994. (Like Harvey, Hanson was 1-0 with eight no-decisions over that span.)

The fact that the Mets rank 25th in the major leagues in runs scored is (most definitely) a detriment as to how good Harvey really is. What a shame!

Sports Illustrated
Read "How Good Is Matt Harvey and How Bad Are The New York Mets (Part 2) HERE.

How Good Is Matt Harvey and How Bad Are The Mets (Part 2)?

Facebook.com/Mets
Here's another interesting (New York Mets) stat, according to ESPN via the Elias Sports Bureau:

The Marlins nipped the Mets, 2-1, in 20 innings on Saturday, in what was just the 47th of the more than 200,000 games in the history of Major League Baseball to reach the 20-inning mark. The Mets had played the last such game, a 2-1 victory over the Cardinals, in 20 innings, also on a Saturday afternoon, a bit over three years ago. But that's the Mets' only win in the five games of 20-plus innings that they have played; in fact, Saturday's loss left the Mets with a share of the major-league record for losses in games of 20-or-more innings; the Braves and the Red Sox have also dropped four games of that length.

Strangely, home teams have lost two-thirds of the games of 20-plus innings that were played to a decision: teams playing at home are 14-28 in those games, with five ties.
AP Photo

Matt Harvey and Jose Fernandez, the starting pitchers in the Citi Field marathon, have matched up twice this season: the Marlins won in 15 innings on April 29 and in 20 innings on Saturday. Only two other pairs of starting pitchers have matched up in a pair of games lasting 15-or-more innings in the same season - and the most recent of these cases came 129 years ago! In June of 1884, Charles (Old Hoss) Radbourn of Providence and Boston's Jim Whitney each went the distance in games of 16 and 15 innings played just eight days apart; and in 1876, the first year of the National League, Bobby Mathews of the New York Mutuals and Louisville's Jim Devlin went them one better, going the route in games of 15 and 16 innings played just two days apart, on July 8 and July 10, some two weeks after the Battle of Little Big Horn (also known as Custer's Last Stand).

129 years?! My goodness! How much BAD LUCK can this kid Harvey possibly have?

Is his team the "Amazin' Mess"?

You Betcha!

Read "How Good is Matt Harvey and How Bad Are the New York Mets (Part 1) HERE.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

TSC Salutes Rafael Nadal


Rafael Nadal is the first man in tennis history to win 8 titles at the same Grand Slam event.

2013 Roland Garros: The Final: Title No. 8 For The King of Clay

AP Photo

AP Photo
2013 FRENCH OPEN CHAMPION: RAFAEL NADAL
2012 FRENCH OPEN CHAMPION: RAFAEL NADAL
2011 FRENCH OPEN CHAMPION: RAFAEL NADAL
2010 FRENCH OPEN CHAMPION: RAFAEL NADAL
2008 FRENCH OPEN CHAMPION: RAFAEL NADAL
2007 FRENCH OPEN CHAMPION: RAFAEL NADAL
2006 FRENCH OPEN CHAMPION: RAFAEL NADAL 
2005 FRENCH OPEN CHAMPION: RAFAEL NADAL 

AP Photos/Getty Images

 NUFF' SAID!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

2013 Roland Garros: Serena Williams: French Open Title #2, Grand Slam Title #16

SERENA WILLIAMS: 2013 FRENCH OPEN CHAMPION

AP Photo

Once again World No. 1 Serena Williams proved to be too much for World No. 2 Maria Sharapova as she dethroned the defending French Open champion 6-4, 6-4 to capture her second title at Roland Garros (2002, 2013). Sharapova is now 0-4 on the year against Serena.

The French Open title was also Serena's 5th overall title in 2013. 

For her career she has now won 16 major titles, putting her in exclusive company with the greatest of the game-- only Steffi Graf (22), Chris Evert (18) and Martina Navratilova (18) have won more major championships. But considering her current dominance there's no question she will be climbing up the ladder and quite possibly break Graf's record. It's not out of the realm of possibility.

Click HERE for more on Serena's conquest.

Friday, June 7, 2013

2013 Roland Garros: The Semifinals: The King of Clay Lives On!

6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7, 9-7

Getty Images
The highly anticipated semifinals match between World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and 7-time champion Rafael Nadal was exactly as advertised-- an epic battle between two juggernauts. It was a gut-wrenching, four and a half hour battle that saw the 7-time champion barely defeat the world number one player in 5 hard fought sets. Both men played pristine tennis and in the end Nadal was (maybe) an inch better than Djokovic.  

This was a true clash of the titans to say the least.

For Nadal, he now moves on to his 8th French Open final where he'll await the winner of the other semifinals match between No. 4 David Ferrer and No. 6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. With no disrespect to Ferrer or Tsonga, the Nadal-Djokovic clash was without a doubt the biggest match of the tournament. In the eyes of many it was the French Open final.

Nadal is now an eye-popping 58-1 in his French Open career and will seek his 8th title at Roland Garros which will make tennis history.

As for Djokovic, he will have to wait another year to seek the only Grand Slam title that has eluded him. There is no doubt he will be back!

AP Photo
But for now the stage (still) belongs to the King of Clay....

For more details about the match, read here.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

2013 Roland Garros: The Final: No. 1 vs. No. 2

Getty Images
Defending champion Maria Sharapova is returning to the French Open final. Sharapova outlasted World No. 3 Victoria Azarenka 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 in the semifinals and will now clash with World No. 1 Serena Williams in the final.

Getty Images

The red-hot Serena crushed 2012 runner-up Sara Errani 6-0, 6-1 in the other semifinals match, setting up a No. 1 vs. No. 2 final's match-up. For the year Serena has an overall 36-3 match record thus far, 22-0 on clay and has won 5 tournaments in a row. She is 3-0 against Sharapova, which includes victories in the finals in Miami and Madrid.

There is no doubt Sharapova will have her hands full against the dominant Serena. Will the final at Roland Garros be the place where she breaks her losing streak against the almost-unbeatable American? We shall see....

2013 Roland Garros: The Semifinals: Clash of the Titans

2013 FRENCH OPEN SEMIFINALS

Getty Images

WORLD NO. 1 NOVAK DJOKOVIC VS. 7-TIME CHAMPION RAFAEL NADAL

TO BE THE BEST, YOU HAVE TO BEAT THE BEST!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Monday, May 27, 2013

2013 Roland Garros: The King of Clay: Will The Legend Continue?

Getty Images/AP Photos
The King of Clay Rafael Nadal successfully began his quest for an unprecedented 8th French Open title with a victory in the first round. Will he become the first man to ever win 8 championships in one Grand Slam event?

Or will this man ------------------------------------------------------> spoil the party and capture his first French Open title? 

The only Grand Slam that has eluded him.

We shall see....

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Beware of the Grizzlies

AP Photo
With their 4-1 crushing of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference semifinals, the Memphis Grizzlies have cemented themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the 2013 NBA Playoffs. The relentless Grizzlies stormed past the defending Western Conference champions with a large dosage of hard work and tenacity, led by center Marc Gasol, power forward Zach Randolph and point guard Mike Conley. In the end, their grinding style of play proved to be too much for the Thunder who were without All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook.

Memphis will now play in the Western Conference Finals for the first time in team history.

The Grizzlies (who were once considered the laughing stock of the NBA) have made tremendous progress over the last 4+ seasons under head coach Lionel Hollins. This is their third consecutive season in the playoffs and each time have had a strong performance.  Prior to Hollins' tenure the Grizzlies were 0-12 in their only other playoff appearances.

Under Hollins, in the 2010-11 playoffs (as the 8th seed) they upset the No. 1 seeded San Antonio Spurs (4-2 in the 1st round) in dominating fashion. They continued their strong performance in the second round against the No. 4 seed OKC Thunder, eventually losing 4-3. Yes, OKC won the series but they had to leave it all on the court against the pesky Grizzlies.

In the 2011-12 playoffs the Grizzlies (as the 4th seed) lost in the first round to the Los Angeles Clippers (the 5th seed) 4-3. But this too was a gut-wrenching series that went the full 7 games and could have gone either way.

And now during these playoffs the Grizzlies have cranked it up a notch and have bulldozed their way into the Western Conference Finals. They have done so by defeating the Clippers (in the first round) and the Thunder (in the second round) with hard play and tough defense. By defeating the Clippers and Thunder respectively, they have now avenged their last two playoff loses. Now they await the winner of the Spurs/Golden State Warriors series and are one step away from reaching their first-ever NBA Finals.

Regardless of who they'll face in the conference finals there's no doubt they will present some frustrating match-up problems for either team. So beware Spurs or Warriors, there just may be a new sheriff in the Western Conference town. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Evil Umpires

AP Photo
It's been a rough week for MLB umpires to say the least. Today MLB baseball suspended and fined the umpiring crew who improperly allowed Houston Astros manager Bo Porter to make a pitching change (during the middle of an inning) in a game against the Los Angeles Angels. Angels manager Mike Scioscia (noticing it was an illegal pitching change) pleaded his case but the umps didn't wanna hear it. They allowed Porter to change pitchers with no regards to the rules. And today they paid a heavy price for it.

This screw-up came just one day after the umpires botched a home run call in Cleveland which would have tied the game for the A's in the ninth inning against the Indians. Adam Rosales hit a clear-cut home run which the umps ruled a double. A's manager Bob Melvin pleaded his case and was eventually tossed from the game. Not only did the umps botch the call with the naked eye but they botched it even after seeing the replay. So much for instant replay solving the problem of umpire ineptness. I think baseball needs instant-instant replay.

Umpire screw-ups are nothing new in major-league baseball. They have been going on for decades but over the last few years there have been some really bad ones. And I mean-- REALLY BAD ONES! So bad that they have compromised the integrity of the game, in my opinion.

Here are a few recent BLOWN CALLS that have really done some damage to the game--

AP Photo

Who can forget umpire Jim Joyce's BLOWN CALL when Armando Galarraga was one out away from a perfect game on June 2, 2010. This was-- without a doubt-- a screw-up for the ages. I still cringe when I read about this one.


And who can forget umpire Jerry Meals' BLOWN CALL in the 19th inning of a long and exhausting game between the Atlanta Braves and the Pittsburgh Pirates in July 2011. The Braves runner was out by a mile and Meals (someway, somehow) figured out a way to call him safe. His moronic call gave the Braves a cheap victory and left every baseball fan with a sour taste in their mouth. As is the protocol, MLB acknowledged the mistake.


And who can forget umpire Phil Cuzzi's BLOWN CALL robbing Joe Mauer of an extra base-hit in a crucial playoff game in 2010 against the New York Yankees. The Twins lost the game and eventually the series to the Yankees. For more details about this moronic call, read HERE

I could have mentioned a few more. The list goes on and on. Umpires have become a nightmare in recent times, just ask manager Joe Maddon. His Tampa Bay Rays have had some pretty bad calls made against them in recent times, not to mention in crucial playoff games in the past. For Maddon's nightmares with umpires read HERE and HERE.

The question is-- when is MLB going to take a stand and hold the umps accountable?        

Sunday, May 5, 2013

A Rosy Day For Orb and Joel Rosario

USA TODAY Sports
What a breathtaking Run for the Roses! Yes, it was a wet and muddy afternoon at Churchill Downs but that didn't stop jockey Joel Rosario from riding co-favorite Orb to victory in the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby in spectacular fashion.

Halfway through the race Orb was running 17th in the 19-horse race and it seemed like disappointment was looming for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey, who was seeking his first-ever Kentucky Derby victory. But a patient Rosario, who had Orb on the outside, saw an opening and made his move. He cranked it up a notch and Orb steamrolled from 17th to 1st in the last 3/4 mile. The rest was history.

After the race a relieved McGaughey said, "Rosario might have been a little more patient than I wanted him to be, but he judged it right." Indeed he did. This was a come-from-behind victory for the ages.

The colt is now the overwhelming favorite to win the Preakness Stakes and talks of a Triple Crown winner have already begun in the horse racing world.

AP Photo

Will Orb be the first Triple Crown winner since 1978? We shall see.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Tim Hudson and Bob Lemon

AP Photos
CONGRATS to Atlanta Braves pitcher Tim Hudson who notched his 200th career victory with an 8-1 win over the Washington Nationals on April 30. Not only was Hudson's 200th win a strong pitching performance (7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER) but he also helped himself with the bat, going 2 for 3 with a home run and an RBI.

As for the milestone, Hudson became the 113th pitcher in major-league history to win 200 games. But, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, he became only the second in that group to also hit a home run in the game where he notched his 200th win. Prior to Hudson, only Cleveland Indians hall-of-famer Bob Lemon had homered in his 200th-win game. Lemon's milestone came on September 11, 1956.

Lemon would finish his career with a 207-128 record and a 3.23 career ERA and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1976. No doubt that by joining the 200-win club puts Hudson one step closer to joining Lemon in Cooperstown.

Earlier this season, the Philadelphia Phillies' ace Roy Halladay (201 wins) entered the 200-win club and sometime later this season the New York Yankees' ace CC Sabathia (195 wins) will no doubt enter the club also. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Hail to the Chief

"With the first pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs select Eric Fisher, tackle, Central Michigan." - Commissioner Roger Goodell

NFL.com

Read all about Eric Fisher's rise to the top, HERE.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Justin Upton, B.J. Upton, Lloyd Waner and Paul Waner

AP Photos
The red-hot Atlanta Braves (15-5) are sitting atop of the NL East with the best record in the major leagues and the best run differential (+41) in the majors. This, of course, is due (in large part) to their propensity to hit the long ball. The Braves currently lead the major leagues with 35 home runs, 11 of which have come from slugger Justin Upton. Upton is on a torrid home run pace, recently becoming the 18th player in major-league history to reach 10 home runs before his team had played in 20 games. He also became the first Braves player ever to accomplish this feat.

His teammate and older brother B.J. Upton is off to a slower start with only 3 home runs and a .160 batting average but (I'm sure) it's just a matter of time before the talented and older Upton starts to swing a hot bat.

Having two brothers on the same team is not a phenomena you see everyday in major-league baseball, so the Uptons are part of what could be considered a historical exclusive club. In fact, last night they both homered in a 10-2 win over the Colorado Rockies, marking only the 27th time in major-league history that two brothers homered in the same game. 

For the Uptons, however, it was an even more rare feat because they actually hit back-to-back home runs. According to ESPN (via the Elias Sports Bureau) this was only the second time in major-league history that two brothers hit back-to-back home runs. The only other occurrence was on September 15, 1938 when hall-of-famers Lloyd and Paul Waner homered in consecutive at-bats for the Pittsburgh Pirates. To date, Lloyd and Paul are the only brothers enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Now that's what you call-- Brothers in Arms!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The New King of Monaco

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The "Roman Empire" of tennis has fallen as 8-time defending champion Rafael Nadal falls to World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters in Monaco. Djokovic won a hard-fought 6-2, 7-6 match in the prestigious clay-court event which Nadal has owned since 2005. Nadal's eight consecutive titles at Monte-Carlo are the most ever in the Open Era for a player in a single event.

For Djokovic, he becomes the first man to ever beat Nadal in 3 different clay-court events. He also defeated the clay-court specialist in Rome and Madrid in 2011.

Overall this was the 16th time these two titans have met in a tournament final and their head-to-head record now stands at 8-8. Talk about a rivalry!

Read two 2011 posts I wrote about this rivalry HERE and HERE.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Rumble in Monte-Carlo

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The highly anticipated match at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters is all set. Eight-time defending champion Rafael Nadal will clash with World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the final for the second consecutive year. This will be their third overall final's match at the prestigious clay-court event in Monaco.

For Nadal, this is an event he has ruled with an iron fist since 2005. He has won 8 straight titles, the most in the Open Era by a player at a single event. He's on a 46-match winning streak and hasn't lost at this event since 2003, his debut year. He missed the 2004 tournament due to injuries and has won it every year since 2005. His overall match record is a mind-boggling 48-1.

Djokovic, who lost to Nadal in the 2009 and 2012 finals, confidently said, "I'm going out there to win."

Defeating Nadal on clay is no picnic-- but I guess if anyone can make the above comment-- it's the world no. 1 player. Not to mention, Djokovic is the only man who has ever beaten Nadal in back-to-back clay court events in the past. He did so in Rome and Madrid in 2011.

The Monte-Carlo final will also mark the 11th consecutive meeting in a tournament final between these two juggernauts. Overall this will be the 16th time they face each other in a tournament final with Nadal holding a slim 8-7 lead. Their last meeting was at the 2012 French Open final, which Nadal won. Nadal has won their last 3 meetings after Djokovic had won the previous seven. All 10 matches were in tournament finals which clearly states one thing-- when these two titans play each other, more often than not, they are the only two players remaining in the tournament.

This match should be a dandy.

Adam Wainwright Is No "Walks" In The Park

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There's no question St. Louis Cardinal's starter Adam Wainwright is no stranger to success. Wainwright is off to an impressive 3-1 start for the NL Central-leading Cardinals and is once-again proving he's a reliable workhorse with 29.0 innings pitched, best in the National League. After a sub-par 2012 season (14-13, 3.94 ERA) and after missing the entire 2011 season due to injuries, Wainwright is looking like the 19-game winner and 20-game winner of 2009 and 2010, respectively.

Not only has Wainwright chewed up a lot of innings in his first 4 starts but he also has pitched with impeccable command. Perfect command to be exact. So perfect that he has a spotless 28-0 strikeouts to walks ratio. And this stat is monumental. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, no other major-league pitcher in the modern era (since 1900) has struck out 25 or more batters without issuing a walk in his first four starts of a season. To any stats freak (like me) that is mind-blowing because it has actually never been done before in 113 years of modern baseball.

On the year Wainwright is 3-1 W/L, 29 IP, 2.48 ERA, 28 K, O BB, 1.07 WHIP.

I must say that that's a pretty neat accomplishment by Mr. Wainwright.