Monday, July 15, 2013

Pittsburgh Pirates: 56-37

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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

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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!

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Congrats Andy!

Friday, July 5, 2013

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

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World No. 1 Novak Djokovic vs. World No. 2 Andy Murray

It's on!

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

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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?

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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

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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!

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