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

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

AP Photo
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

AP Photos
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

AP Photo
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.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Can Anyone Beat The Heat?

Getty Images
The 2013 NBA Playoffs officially kick off this weekend, but most expect the favorites to cruise to early round victories. The top seeds, Oklahoma City and Miami, are favored to once again meet in the finals. The question is, can the Thunder, or anyone else for that matter, beat the Heat in a best of seven series?

Miami has been mostly in cruise control ever since the Chicago Bulls snapped their 27-game winning streak during the regular season. The defending champions finished with 66 wins this year, and many feel they could have finished with 70 or more if they cared about regular season records.

After winning the title last year, Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the rest of the team realized that winning the title is all that really matters. As fans and fantasy basketball owners alike will be glad to know they are rested, healthy and ready to go with home court advantage throughout the playoffs.

There are teams who could be a threat to them though. The New York Knicks went 3-1 against the Heat this season, winning each game by double-digits. While some of those games did not feature the Heat at full strength, just knowing that they can win is half the battle. Of course, the Knicks are more concerned about getting to the Eastern Conference Finals to have a shot at Miami.

Out West, the biggest issue for any of those teams will be surviving a number of tough series. Even as the top seed, the Thunder could potentially face the Rockets, Clippers and Spurs before getting to the NBA Finals. All three of those teams are capable of extending the series to six or more games.

Miami at times can appear to be unbeatable, and there is a reason why they are the clear cut favorites in Vegas. However, repeating in any professional sport is difficult. They will certainly get some challenges, but Miami just seems too talented (and rested) to not end their season in celebration.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Kudos to Matt Harvey!

AP Photo
As a New York Mets fan, I must say,  I'm not too disappointed with the team's mediocre 7-7 start thus far. With all the injuries and internal problems surrounding this team-- a .500 season would actually be a (somewhat) success. But even with all their problems the Mets do have some weapons. Daniel Murphy, David Wright and John Buck are off to solid starts. Veteran journeyman Scott Atchison is pitching well out of the bullpen and Lucas Duda seems to be finding his groove.

But their biggest weapon and perhaps the National League's biggest weapon is starting pitcher Matt Harvey who seems to be getting better with each start he makes. Harvey is off to a torrid start (3-0 W/L, 0.82 ERA, 25 K, 6 W, 0.55 WHIP) thus far in this young season. He's pitching like a seasoned superstar rather than a young 24-year old playing in his first full season.

In fact, Harvey has been so good that his first 3 starts have been of historical proportions. According to the Elias Sports Bureau:  Harvey is the first pitcher in modern major-league history (since 1900) to win each of his first three starts of a season, with at least 25 strikeouts and six or fewer hits allowed over those three games.

Take that to the bank! That's pretty amazing considering we are talking about 113 years of baseball. In other words, the likes of Walter Johnson, Cy Young, Christy Mathewson, Carl Hubbell, Lefty Grove, Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Warren Spahn, Steve Carlton, Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson and on and on and on.... never accomplished this feat.

That, my friends, is pretty impressive!

Here are Harvey's mammoth (first) 3 starts:

1. Apr 3 vs. SDG - 7.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 2 BB, 10 K

2. Apr 8 vs. PHI - 7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 HR, 2 BB, 9 K

3. Apr 13 vs. MIN - 8.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 HR, 2 BB, 6 K

There may not be a whole lot to cheer about with these 2013 Mets-- but one thing is certain-- their young ace looks like he's on his way to being something special. Keep an eye on this kid.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Adam Scott: The Man From Down Under

CONGRATULATIONS to Adam Scott on winning The Masters thus becoming the first Australian ever to do so.

AP Photo

Prior to Scott's historic win Australian players had finished runner-up 8 times, three of them achieved by Greg Norman. They are runners-up no more.

As last year's champion, Bubba Watson, slipped the Green Jacket on Scott, the Aussie replied in native fashion.

"Thanks, mate," he said.

The Masters (Apr 11 - 14)

Pos Name Thru Total Purse
1 x-Adam Scott F -9 $1,440,000
2 Angel Cabrera F -9 $864,000
3 Jason Day F -7 $544,000
T4 Marc Leishman F -5 $352,000
T4 Tiger Woods F -5 $352,000
T6 Thorbjorn Olesen F -4 $278,000
T6 Brandt Snedeker F -4 $278,000
T8 Sergio Garcia F -3 $232,000
T8 Matt Kuchar F -3 $232,000
T8 Lee Westwood F -3 $232,000

As for World No. 1 Tiger Woods....

AP Photo
His now-infamous unlucky bounce at the 15th hole during Round 2 will be the talk of the 2013 Masters for a long time.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

March Madness: The Final Two: No. 1 Awaits No. 4

FINAL FOUR: No. 1 Louisville Cardinals 72 - No. 9 Wichita State Shockers 68

CONGRATS to the Louisville Cardinals on reaching the 2013 NCAA Tourney Final! The Cardinals now await the winner of the other Final Four game between No. 4 Michigan and No. 4 Syracuse.

Regardless of who wins, it'll be No. 1 vs. No. 4 for all the marbles!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Tiger Woods: No. 1!

''It's a byproduct of hard work, patience and getting back to winning golf tournaments'' -Tiger Woods 

Getty Images
For Tiger Woods the following is the calm after the storm: