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

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.