Saturday, October 1, 2011

Wheel of Fortune

The Calendar has rolled over… Equinox approached and blew through California with the stillness of our last breathtaking heat wave… Crazed football fans have abandoned knee-buckling flag football dates on Sundays for bloody mary’s and multi-flat screen paradises at the local Sports pub. Ahhhhh… Fall! Truly my favorite Season of the year! The men of October reach postseason diamonds. Select and persevering gladiators of baseball we’ve admired through 162 courting games of Spring and Summer, gave us a day of competition unforeseen like none other. A day of baseball like last Wednesday night affirms my point of view that baseball continues to be one of the best games ever created by man. Even sharing the limelight side-by-side with the men of grid-iron in NFL and college stadiums across the land, never have I enjoyed an end of regular season MLB, anticipating magic in the post season as now, Fall 2011.

Major League Baseball had the most climatic 162nd day of games. Nowhere in MLB history were fans privileged to unyielding torture and inexplicable elation when a melt down transpired of two teams in the National and American League Wild Card play off run. Four games took 5 hours to unfold (weather delays experienced, placing drama factor over the top). All Atlanta and Boston had to do to keep their hopes alive was win their last game. One of the greatest attributes about baseball, is a game is not measured in time, but outs. Each team has 27 outs. Atlanta and Boston were 6 outs away from securing a win (and an opportunity to play another day). Tampa Bay and St Louis Cardinals were 6 outs away from losing, extinguishing any hopes to move on in to October. How quickly fate changes hand in between so few outs. An out left on one side can be opportunity for one team, and dismal frustration for the other (unable to reach that last out).

Somewhere in between those 6 outs, bedlam ensued; a 7 run deficit which seemed out of reach was gobbled up in 2 late inning rallies; a stopper, and closer coughed up runs opening the door to a nightmare scene. As Boston walked back with their heads low just beaten by a walk off single in extra innings, they arrived in their visiting locker room in Baltimore only to view Tampa Bay driving the last nail in their coffins- Season over. In one month, Boston managed to implode, killing a 9 game lead over Tampa Bay, and an expectation (by fans and critics) of landing in the Fall Classic. A Walk off home run stole Boston’s place and sealed the other team’s fate in to the playoffs. In the last game, in the last inning, with that last out left, Evan Longoria’s line drive over the fence in Tampa Bay was the second home run in history heard around the World (Bobby Thompson of then New York Giants in 1951 was the first).  Not even Hollywood could come up with a script as dramatic and emotional of what transpired on September 28, 2011 between 4 storied franchises in America’s past time. A natural, a field of dreams, the rookie, and a nightmare on Ostend Street keep me coming back for “The Love of the Game”. 

I cannot WAIT to see who survives 216 outs to make it in to ‘The Fall Classic”.

Of course…. Would I forget to put in a clip?

“Major League” Highlights that will have you in stitches:

“Lolligaggers” from Bulldurham:

Meat Nuke Lalush and Crash Davis in one of many favorite scenes in Bull Durham:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11

The 9/11 Memorial opens today to families and friends of those lost on 9/11, 2001:

Prominent in many pictures in the aftermath and cleanup after World Trade towers fell, was this Globe of the world (pictured above), damaged, yet in tact... It now sits in Battery Park as a memorial of 9/11. The Globe was left, as it survived, a symbol of the will of the American Spirit... I'm watching 9/11 10 year Anniversary and opening of the memorial in NYC... Memories of that somber morning flooding back as I pay tribute to our beloved Americans whose lives were severed with no warning or choice... Your memories continue to burn bright in loved one's hearts.

I personally did not lose a family member or friend. I am, as well as three-hundred-plus million Americans mourn the loss of or fellow brethren. The world as we knew it, changed. The one person I did worry about was my brother. In 2001, he was recently hired by United Airlines. He recently finished his training on the 777.  That was one of my first thoughts that raced through my mind, as I was standing in pajamas in front of the TV at 6:15 am “Oh my gosh… my brother  flies trans-continental… is he flying right now?”.  Irony upon ironies, shortly after 9/11, he was furloughed by United Airlines and now flies for Etihad (meaning, “united” in Arabic), an airline of the United Arab Emirates, and lives in Dhubai.

Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001, my alarm goes off at 6am… The Sacramento sports radio station blares from the minute muffled speakers of my clock radio the news at the top of the morning; I faintly hear as I reach for the snooze bar that there were reports that a plane has hit one of the world trade center towers… I thought some beginner pilot in a Cessna got lost over the Hudson and ran in to the behemoth skyscraper. 10 minutes later, the alarm goes off again, and the next statement that came out of the radio was not muffled and jolted me from the comfy covers of my bed to run to the living room and turn the TV on. The words were, “ I think we need to find a TV, a second plane has hit the second tower in New York… there is no word if this is an attack or tragic accident, but ladies and gentlemen, in the last 15 minutes, two planes have crashed in to the World Trade Center buildings”. As the television picture appeared of the billowing black smoke from two of the most famous buildings in the Word, I was stunned… shocked… I felt so helpless and asked internally, “Oh my God… Oh my God… What is happening? We are being attacked!”. I went over to my roommate’s door and knocked loudly.  She was in school full time as well as working at the same place as I after school. I told her through the door, “Momo… I don’t think you’re going to have school today. I think we are being attacked”… A usual quiet and peaceful person who enjoys her beauty sleep was quickly up standing beside me in our Lodi apartment living room staring as well in disbelief of what she was witnessing.  That was the longest day… quietest day I’d experienced in my life. I was a person 3000 miles away in the Central Valley of California overwhelmed with sadness and grief. Imagine… I was one person, an American, walking around shocked, no way directly linked to any of the victims in NYC, Washington DC, or on Flight 93, I can’t come close to grasping or ever truly relate to the shock and despair being experienced by those living and surviving surrounding the sites of destruction.

Yet… In essence, I too mourn the loss of my fellow Americans. We all carry an unwavering outlook and perseverance.  We became US citizens because our ancestors immigrated to the land of opportunity, a country built upon the principles of building upon a legacy of giving the future a better life.  Even with our flaws, our growing pains (we aren’t even 300 years old, as a country), there is no place on earth like United States of America.  Not to be cliché, it’s just a matter of fact, no act or person will snuff our human spirit, or destroy our democracy.  You can destroy our buidings, you can burn our symbols of freedom, you can try and sabotage us with suicide and cowardly roadside bombs. We will get up; we will dust the debris off, clean up the mess, and go forward.  Although we debate or may have different avenues of reaching the same result, our core remains in tact and we share the same pursuits- protect and provide for our loved ones… help those less fortunate… strive for happiness… live in peace…

As our nation mourned in the days ensuing September 11, there was a question raised amongst the rescue workers, the NYPD and the FDNY among others on what would make them feel better, and the one reply echoed thousands of times over, “I can’t wait for Sunday, so I can just watch a football game”, “I look forward to watching some baseball, to help get my mind off the grief I see everyday”… Sports. Seeing athletes perform feats and play a game we all dreamed about playing ourselves was an escape and visual treat lifting our spirits when needed most.  It was truly fitting that New York Yankees made it to the World Series. I’ve heard my share about the frivolity of sports; with that, like our American spirit, I smile, shrug off the crass comments, and reply, “Well, if you understood what it means to be a professional athlete, you too would marvel”…

With that said, I bring a few of the touching stories of those lost on 9/11… many of them, were athletes or linked to sports in some way (You may want to grab some kleenex):

MLB’s tribute:

Len Berman “Mr. New York” on Sports- His memory:

Rick Reilly and tribute remembering Flight 93:

A young avid cyclist honoring her dad whom died on 9/11:

The man with the Red Bandana:

Finally, a Christina Taylor Green, born on 9/11/2001 who died last year during an attack of her Congresswoman, whom she went to meet and speak with in Arizona:

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Fantasy Dreams

Back in 1984, two men decided to publish rules, scoring, and drafting information regarding an up and coming sports fan hobby.  Tom Kane Jr. and Cliff Charpentier produced “1984 Fantasy Football Digest”.  They may not have been the original creators of fantasy football, yet they capitalized on what is now an annual Fall ritual taking place across millions of pubs, family rooms, and cubicles in the USA.  The average fantasy player spends $150 annually. A whole new journalism category was hatched at the beginning of the millennium to report on an industry literally exploding out of its tights in popularity. Sporting networks now provide code writers, websites, and expert analysts dedicated to assisting fantasy leagues across the nation in drafts, player moves, and statistics. Serious players exchange serious money, bragging rights, as well as trophies displaying supremacy of football knowledge.  

The greatness of fantasy sports is that anyone can play.  From Jennifer Garner edging out other stars etched along Hollywood Boulevard, to that sweet unsuspecting grandmother next door growing the best hot house tomatoes and zucchini that have ever landed at the dinner table, any given Joe Schmoe you see walking down the street may be that unassuming fantasy game whisperer.  No one needs to spend hours on end in the gym or field building the body of Patrick Willis (although I pass a fair warning you might lose countless hours reading reports, and listening to experts assisting in creating the “Trophy” draft list); you’re allowed at least 120 seconds to sprint to the bathroom or run for another Heini Light in between picks; and there are no risks of concussions or dislocated joints scrolling over the “Select Player” key  when that Sleeper RB (that’s for running back) you’ve been pining, is up for grabs.  

Through practically 30 years, fantasy games have evolved to give players choices of scoring opportunities and league match up choices. It’s a game that has tantalized the fairest weather fan in to paying attention to even a 1-15 team. The beauty of performance amongst fantasy athletes is the team doesn’t necessarily have to win for a picked player to create points towards any gamer’s win.  For example, Eli Manning. The NY Giants missed making the playoffs last year. For any NY Giants fan, that sucks. But, Eli passed for over 4000 yards and 31 touchdowns, second only to Tom Brady. When one participates in a league where there are bonus points up for 300+ yd passing games, receptions made, and touchdowns, you are looking at a lot of points produced by just one player.  The advancement of online technology has made player tracking and team building quick and layman friendly.  Of course, there are those insane players that spend as much time on fantasy games as they clock in the office. You can go crazy and become dizzy from all the opinions and views shared on every sport and player. I play for fun and compete against my skill set and opinion. Sometimes (well maybe more than I wish to admit) I get it wrong, or miss that one glory moment by placing a player on the bench that ends up turning in a career day (e.g. I had Dallas Braden as one of my pitchers last year, and..-cough, uh-hum- forgot to take him off the bench on Mother's Day... he pitched a Perfect Game!); and then there are moments where I beat the paid experts and geeks that spent months building their team of choice! (definitely savor those) My advice is to enjoy fantasy! If you do great, awesome! If you end up at the bottom, absorb the experience and go get em’ next Season!   

As I was reviewing players for 2011 drafts, I began humming “Favorite Things”… You know! That cute song Julie Andrews sings in “Sound of Music” during the storm and the kids all come in her bedroom? And I thought like Dr. Gru (Despicable Me… yes I keep the kid inside alive), “Light Bulb!”… Why not create a quaint cover (in the spirit of Weird Al) to the melody of “Favorite Things” related to none other, Fantasy Fall Season!  Thus for fun (that’s what it’s all about, right?)… Enjoy!

Fantasy Dreams

Lock out is  over  and Free Agents Signing
Kolb goes to Cardinals and Chris Johnson Whining
Plaxico Burress signs with the Jets
Hope this don’t bring… fantasy regrets…

Bush in Miami… Hightower to Redskins
Dan Thomas a Dark Horse… Aaron Rodgers a sure thing  
The Panthers are hoping Cam Newton is key…
To bringing them back to a playoff spree            

When you pick 6th… in the snake draft…
Don’t let that keep you frowned…
Just stick to your power ranks, the sleepers, and lists!
And you will find… Fantasy Bliss!  

Sunday, July 10, 2011


2011 Hollywood introduced the world to the god of thunder, Thor.   Blazing the cobblestones and winding roads across the Alps in and out of France this July, is that thunderous hero transformed as the dual weapon phenom from Norway, Thor Hushovd.  Thor Hushovd is the reigning World Champion, and was one of three cyclists vying for Sprint Jersey at the 2010 Tour de France, that was decided on the final day circling the Champs Elysees.  Alessandro Petacchi of Italy just edged out Thor.  Since July 25, 2010, there’s been a few shake downs amongst teams (to say the least), that has the thunderous hammer of Norway dreaming of yellow. During Cycling’s off season, one of USA’s power teams decided to muscle up and not only contend for the team title at 2011 Le Tour de France,  but lay claim a jersey or two come Podium time in Paris on July 25.  Team Garmin, managed by geek sheek cycling genius Jonathan Vaughters gobbled up Switzerland’s Cervelo Test Team.  With that acquisition, Garmin gained the likes of Thor Hushovd and Gabriel Rasch of Norway. Hushovd has joined Tyler Farrar, Daniel Martin, David Millar, David Zabriskie, Christian Vande Velde, and Tom Danielson as well as two others to create a team with the strength to contend in almost all Jersey categories – GC, mountain, and sprint; of course, last but not least, a team title.

The 4th of July brings the 3rd stage of 22, in the most grueling competition known to man, Le Tour de France.  It’s in it’s 101st year of competition and there are fireworks yet to be seen as the race progresses out of the sprinter days ascending in to the Alps.  Crashes, early stage courses, and a blistering team time trial, have brought surprises, and a beaming  thunderous Thor to the forefront as Le Tour’s possible favorite to remain in yellow.  Garmin-Cervelo’s team time trial win secured the yellow jersey to Thor by less than a second over teammate Millar.  In stage 3, on the road to Brittany, it was fitting to see Thor as one of the set up men to carve a sprinter win for American teammate Tyler Farrar.  It seems as if Vaughters has managed to create a golden team, so far appearing untouchable.  Thus, I must remind myself, it’s day 3.  As bright and refreshing Thor, Tyler, and Vaughters has been shifting attention over to an American team contending in the early days of Le Tour, what would cycling’s greatest stage be without drama and controversy?

Cycling fans had a front row seat last year to a break out and heated rivalry between Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck. Forget about Team Ed or Jacob, that’s kids’ stuff compared to the mano e mano stare downs that took place during the grueling climbs on the 2010 Tour.  A pouting Andy Schleck had the misfortune of a derailed chain on a climb where he was in front and Contador was fading. Needless to say, Contador jumped at the opportunity to gain time at an unfortunate equipment malfunction.  Schleck lost the GC by 39 seconds, and sorely looked at his miniscule 2nd place plaque.  Schleck made it clear he was out to get what he felt was rightfully his (the yellow jersey in Paris, the GC) in 2011.  Moves in the offseason have created drama within drama  during the 2011 Le Tour de France. Andy Schleck and brother Frank left Team Saxo Bank to create their own team, Trek Leopard. The Saxo Bank domestiques were faithful and most followed the Schlecks to create a fresh contending team on the cycling tour season. Crazier, was the move of Contador leaving Astana and taking over Team Saxo Bank and taking with him the Spaniards from the dismantled Cervelo Test Team. On top of all the off cycling season team moves, was the revelation that Contador tested positive for a banned substance the day before his attack on Schleck when he lost his chain. He eventually was cleared (for the time being as the IPO files an appeal to ban him… he can ride with the risk of having every title he won  in 2010 and 2011 stripped if they side against the grievance- which would so far  be 3,  the most stripped from one rider) and is  chomping at the bit to prove his muster against Andy Schleck. So much so, Contador has been heard expressing that he has a “personal” mission to defeat  his  nemisis, Schleck. 

Unfortunately, I believe kharma is  biting Contador in the butt  pads.  During the stage 1 race, Contador was caught in a crash in the middle of the Pelaton, which cost him  1:42.  On top of that, the team time trial result of stage 2, cost him another 10 seconds. All together, Contador is down almost 2 minutes  with 20 days to go! 2 minutes is almost an insurmountable amount of time to make up, even being a mountain rider, and Schleck’s questionable durability (with poor showings in Tour of California, and Tour de Suisse), two minutes is huge in a competition where seconds count. 

The bigger story has been the amazing break out performances seen in the early stages. The sprint points for the Green Jersey have been adjusted for the 2011 Tour de France.  Personally, I believe the true Sprinters among spectators feel they are being jipped by the adjustment. The break out riders tend to gain more of these points versus the true sprinters, such as Cavendish, Farrar, and Franchelli.  Currently, Phillipe Gilbert is in Green. Hopefully Jerseys will all work out in the end. It is a 3 week torture-on-two-wheels fest of a competition. As we break out of the first week leading in to the Mountains, stories, leaders, and jerseys will change among riders.  Another angle that has unfortunately found a way in to the spotlight are wincing crashes.  The course, spectators, and obstacles such as cars, motorbikes, and road hazards have affected favorites and breakaway feats all the same.  My dear friend and cycling enthusiast as much or more as I, has suggested Le Tour to contract German Polici, and “Nothing would go wrong, or else!”… Hmmmmm… French talking with Germans… Yeah, Okay! (in what world?)  Regardless, it’s been an exciting and surprising first week of Le Tour.  Quite honestly, for the first time in oh… years… the yellow jersey literally is up for grabs.  I cannot think of a  better year to convert more fair weather sports fans on to the greatest race in the World!  I look forward to amazing revelations as the Tour sets its sights upward to the Mountains. Do not sleep on And Schleck and Team Trek Leopard; they’ve quietly kept out of crashes and in front of peloton.  Vive Le Tour de France!

I urge you to watch highlights! You will get hooked!

This last week USA celebrated it’s independence on 4th of July and it has brought me to share a couple examples of GREAT leaders, as well as what should be prime examples of how Americans should be defined:

ESPNU hosted two of the greatest coaching mentors of my time, Coach Joe Paterno of Penn State, and Coach Mike Krzyzewski of Duke. These two legends give us bits of what it means to mentor and pass on the skills for success as a human and participant in our demanding lives.

United States Women’s Soccer (football to the rest of the world) team pulled off one of the most amazing feats EVER played on a pitch (men or women) versus Brazil, where they were down a player and overcame mind bending referee calls that most Americans (as well as spectators around the globe) are still scratching their heads over! USWNT  equaled in the last seconds of extra time a goal deficit to come back an defeat Brazil in Penalty Kicks! If you missed it, watch the highlights! This team is the heartbeat and physical example of the American spirit….

Dating an Italian, and just being a FAN… This was one of the BEST (if not the best) matches I’ve seen EVER! Not only was the US squad at a deficit with almost a half to play, they outplayed a power house “football” country, Brazil! 

Speaking of Brazil, I along with many others noticed on the Brazilian kit they displayed the stars representing  the World Cup wins from the men’s team (Brazil women, crazy enough, have never won a World Cup title). I thought, “Well, if the women can display the Men’s titles on their jersey, why not the US men displaying two stars for the US women’s titles? You can even make them pink! Needless to say, double standard applies… I gave it a shot!  Women are on the verge  for star number 3! USA!

Friday, June 24, 2011

"Band of Prospects"

Valentine’s Day at Scottsdale Stadium in Arizona was a magical day for returning 2010 World Champion San Francisco Giants. Any given February 14, you will encounter cross-eyed lovers around the world displaying affection in abundance with impulsive and sensational over-the-top purchases of objects that tend to spoil in less than a week. There was no spoiling the joy, love, and happiness being shared and expanding between a core of the San Francisco World Championship starting 25 ( only two players went elsewhere – Juan Uribe, and Edgar Renteiria ), the impeccable front office managing acquisitions and prospects, and most important… The Fans! The love affair was deepening, becoming serious.

As pitchers, catchers, and position players trickled in to Scottsdale Stadium, a lifted and boastful spirit was felt surrounding the beaming sun above Arizona during the approaching days of Spring. There was no reason why San Francisco would not have valid aspirations of repeating their efforts in 2011 towards a World Championship (Yes… I am a biased, just like East Coast Sports analysts). The defending World Series champions knew they were acquiring weapons lacking in 2010. Pablo “Panda” Sandoval arrived in camp in better shape than his whole career.  After giving a warning (primarily an ultimatum) by the franchise of “Shape up or Ship out”, Panda was motivated 210% to display his worth of the Panda power displayed in 2009. Mark DeRosa was healed, and the utility infielder was displaying the form we expected when he injured his wrist in early 2010, placing him on the DL for the season. Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner were two humble Southern boys with more skills acquired at the ripe age of 21 than most players posess twice their age and time spent in the big leagues.  San Francisco acquired All Star and Golden Glove phenom Miguel Tejada in hopes to replace the hole created in the line up at short stop when Juan Uribe decided to sign with that other team in  Los Angeles (that was a tiny ouch) and Renteiria chose Cincinnati. San Francisco was confident Tejada would compensate the loss. Another aspect coming into fruition was the development of the San Francisco farm system displaying performances in Spring camp that coaches, managers, and fans could not ignore. San Francisco prospects scouted and acquired by Sabean were impressing everyone, demonstrating they were ready to produce in ‘The Show’.  

San Francisco was shining in Spring training. Every aspect needed to place a repeat run for October baseball was clicking in to place. Buster was ripping the ball, hitting .700. DeRosa was producing as expected. Pablo was as speedy in the field and around the pads as Darren Ford and Burriss. Pitchers were showing promising form. Yet, just a couple weeks before Opening Day, hopes and confidence began to unravel. A sudden influx of frustrating and unplanned injuries continued to crop up  (it seems) practically on a weekly basis forcing Bochy to pluck out minor league prospects and shove them in to instantly produce now (rather than later) nightly at “The Show”.  The woes of unforeseen plaguing injuries would continue to dampen a promising quest.  Cody Ross, Aaron Rowand, and Brian Wilson were placed on DL, leaving the closing position in the bullpen as a group responsibility, and a slot for a hot kid, Brandon Belt to see if he was ready.  Belt made his debut on 1B, shifting Huff to right field, Andres Torres to Center, and Burrell to left.  Before you can blink, Andres Torres went down with an Achilles strain, and Pablo Sandoval with a hand fracture. Those injuries gave an opening for Darren Ford, Manual Burriss to return to the 25 man roster, as well as added regular time for utility outfielder Nate Shierholtz.  Shierholtz caught fire, Brandon carried a higher OBP and runs scored than any other Giants player (mainly walks). Somehow, with the injuries, San Francisco continued to roll on. Even with a poor statistic of least number of runs scored in MLB, San Francisco Giants found themselves on the top of NL West Division.  Barry Zito went down with a foot injury, which brought up Ryan Vogelsong, who literally was drafted by San Francisco, only to be waived, went around the world to play in Japan, only to return 10 years later as an up-and-coming ‘veteran’ prospect for the club he dreamed of representing in the Major Leagues.  The interim 5th starter has the best record, 5-1, and lowest ERA at 1.86!

The ultimate suffering of injuries was on the horizon appearing the last week of May, and the beginning of June when Buster Posey sustained a fractured left ankle on a controversial collision between him and Scott Cousins of the Florida Marlins; and then Freddy Sanchez sustained a dislocated shoulder diving for a ball acquiring eyes hoping to drop into the outfield.  How would the Giants recover from those losses? If it were up to my buddy, ‘Philly’ ( you all know him from celebrity mentions on previous posts), any Giants fan, or any blood pumping sports (for that matter) fan should not pay any momentary pulse thinking about the San Francisco Giants, or their bleak chances of making it to the post season. According to him (from subjective East Coast reporting and influences) , the Philadelphia Phillies have had worse injuries that have plagued their line-up based on ‘pressure’ and ‘expectation’ for  “Philadelphia” to be the automatic choice in making it to the World Series in 2011. 

Outside Northern California, and a trickle of faithful Giants fans transplanted among the masses, the likelihood and chances of San Francisco repeating is pretty much viewed as a joke. Regardless of skeptics and statistics that never truly add up to a stereotypical caliber championship contender, somewhere between a Rally Monkey mishap in 2002 and Brian Sabean side show circus magic, the front office has amassed a Millennium contending team that doesn’t know the concept of defeat. If you want to look anywhere for the root of Giants continued perseverance and astonishing success (don’t look at stats, it will only cause a brain freeze) look no further than the South Bay, San Jose Giants.  San Francisco’s Single A ball club has just clinched their 7th Northern California League title.  The club produced 8 players to the All-Star game in 2011, including the MVP of that game for the second year in a row. Past prospects such as Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Sergio Romo, and Pablo Sandoval all came up through San Jose.  Coincidently, in those years they played, were years the club won titles.  Another eye-popping fact that has come to light is San Francisco’s pieced together bull pen.  Since 2005, Brian Sabean has been quietly assembling what now appears to be the best shut down relievers in MLB, acquiring closer Brian Wilson, and relievers Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Casilla, Ramon Ramirez, Guillermo Mota, and Javier Lopez. The Philadelphia Phillies may have the starting “Murderer’s Row”, San Francisco has the relieving Dominican Republic “Murderer’s Shut You Down Row”.

San Francisco has the 3rd best record (5th overall in MLB) in National League, and contending for the NL West. Considering they have produced the lowest number of runs in MLB, combined with their unusual amount of injuries, I believe the inexplicable “Magic” and “Torture” has served our San Francisco Giants well. There is an unexplained desire and competitive edge San Francisco players have acquired that make this team, a “Band of Prospects”, that will not back down or go away. San Francisco IS for real, and everyone who thinks Bochy and his Boys were “Lightning in a Bottle”, better run for cover… Lightning can’t be captured or tamed- it strikes where you least expect it… they are coming after you!

I usually have a humorous anecdote to add to the end of all my blogs… This one comes thanks to Len Berman and his Spanning the World Clip! Enjoy!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Disappearing Act

The NBA Finals kicked off on May 31, and the Miami Heat catapulted out of the gate with a 94-86 win, where Dallas literally ran out time attempting to compensate a significant double-digit deficit through out the majority of the game.  LeBron James contributed 24 points, and almost made a double-double with 9 rebounds.  Dirk Nowitzki had 27 points in a losing effort.  Dallas was in the midst of a fourth quarter comeback and the clock was not on their side.  Twelve minutes can either save you or squash opportunity.

Funny thing happened soon after the clock clicked over to zeros with many sports analysts and fans alike from coast to coast… A plethora of bloggers, tweepers, and broadcasters were handing the shiny big ball trophy over to LeBron and the Miami Heat.  There I was rolling my eyes in disbelief with such phrases as, “ What??? Really? You have got to be kidding me… Do sports analysts and fans alike truly have that short of memory and recall? It’s the first game! Isn’t this best of 7 or did I miss a memo somewhere?” To say the least, I was a bit thrown due to the fact in the Eastern Conference Final game 1, Chicago Bulls slapped an “L” on Miami Heat winning 103-82.  I recall an “Ohhhhh” (enter any Soprano soundbyte here!) reaction after that game too.  Mystery hovered on the horizon. Would Miami be able to recover from the brutal loss handed to them from Derrick Rose and Chicago to reach a destiny King James discussed at a Boys and Girls club almost a year earlier at  “The Decision”?  So I professionally ask my fellow bloggers, fans, and sports analysts alike-  Are  we putting the cart in front of the horse here? Maybe.  For the sake of sensational argument and maybe those whom like the role of Devil’s advocate, I may consider and possibly  comprehend the amnesia and frank replies for the sake of spurring discussion (and/or reaction).

We have now come full circle and Dallas has come along to put their two cents in the bubbling pot of banter.  Game 6 will take place tomorrow, June 12, in Miami with Dallas Mavericks pulling away in the last 12 minutes to secure pivotal game 5 taking the series lead, 3-2 back to South Beach.  Dirk Nowitzki has risen to the occasion of doing everything he can think of possible to contribute and lift the Mavericks 48 minutes closer to what he came so close to acquiring in 2006 against the same team (and Dwyane Wade), an NBA title.  LeBron is not the only GREAT player blessing the hardwood floors of this championship. Dirk’s talents and moves remind me of Larry Bird (with the exception, I think Dirk is a bit more humble); He has the outside fade away at 15’, 20’, and behind the 3 point arc; he can post up and uses the board to his advantage of guaranteed shots; he thrives on pressure looking for the ball during the stretch to catapult his team towards winning; he is confident in his ability and skills, and if he has an angle shut down , he works every moment to persevere and overcome lapses.

On the other side of the court, there appears to be a slight problem with Scottie Pippen’s pick for GOAT (greatest of all time), or as he corrected himself later, greatest scorer of all time (I will address that current fallacy  remark in a momentito). There seems to be a disappearing act happening with King GOAT in the Heat uniform during the most crucial 12 minutes of any NBA game, the 4th quarter.  In game 4, LeBron had 8 total points. In game 5, he had 17 points, and a triple double, yet only 2 points made in the 4th.  On the other side,  Nowitzky had two double-double games with 21 points and 11 rebounds in game 4, and 29 points and 11 rebounds in game 5, and scoring more than 2 points, and I think in one of these last two games, I am fairly secure he’s scored 8 points (at least) in the 4th quarter.  So, everyone is pointing out how LeBron’s disappearing act may be contributed to a lack of confidence and exposing a couple weaknesses he may have in his game. Hmmm… Let me think about this, when the going gets tough, I think King James may be displaying a pattern of going M.I.A. (wow, what a coincidence… did not plan that pun but like it).  One of the first moments I recall Lebron James walking off the court after a loss to Orlando Magic in 2009 in the Eastern Conference Finals.

LeBron chose to walk away from Cleveland, unwilling to work on possibly becoming a franchise player working with the front office to take steps in bringing an NBA Championship to faithful Cavalier fans.  Do you think Boston, or Detroit were going to hand their viability over to Michael Jordan when he entered the league?  How about Dirk? And Cuban? How about their viability and body of work towards seeking a championship? After seeing Dallas pounce on Miami with an opening given to them with minutes left in game 5, it spurned me to share my two cents with Philly and Len Berman:

I initially wrote:

Quite honestly, analysts and sports fans alike are having a case of amnesia... Wasn't he the poor sport who walked off the court and pretty much QUIT playing when Magic slammed them 2 years ago??? Isn’t this the same LeBron we are seeing hints of now? The same LeBron that instead of lifting his teammates above their skills, pretty much QUIT on them and moved his "Talent" to Miami, instead of busting out and WILLING (or CHALLENGING) his team to win like oh, say Nowitzki’s displaying?

At this point, I’m seeing an immature pro player that has this incredible talent and moves on the court. He has the skills, he has the support, and components to attain a championship. King James does not have yet the full mature mental capacity, hunger, or desire that I've personally witnessed courtside watching GOATs such as Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Tim Duncan. There may come a day sooner than later where he becomes that whole package; for now, I am seeing an immature frustrated whiner... I don't see how (other than Heat fans and his teammates) anyone could be empathetic. 
Dirk and Dallas are hungry and possess an intangible unity, and cumulative drive to make their goal a reality. I want to see the German persevere!  He and Dallas truly deserve it! 
Philly replied:

I would have to respectfully disagree.  Dude had a triple double last night.  Yeah, Lebron was absent in the 4th quarter and that is something he needs to get better with, but IMHO (in my humble opinion), in the three previous quarters, he totally addressed the things his critics had brought up.  1) He has no post game.  Lebron was posting up like crazy earlier and had quite a few buckets that way.  2) He's too passive and looks disinterested.  Lebron ran the court, got his offensive rebounds and was a factor.  3) He's not shooting from the outside.  This one is still unanswered.  He looks as though he has no confidence in his shot but I also think because he's lacking the confidence, he doesn't want to shoot himself out of his slump and put himself in front of the team.  I kinda respect him for that.  Instead, he's getting the rest of the squad involved.  And if you remember from last night, ABC flashed a stat on the screen which showed the team played better with D-Wade off the court than with him on.  You can't fault Lebron for that.

And then I gave my rebuttal:

He needs to SHOW UP for ALL 4 quarters... the game is 4 quarters NOT 3... Jordan... KobeDuncan... even in shooting slumps NEVER gave up on their security or talent... If he in fact is having confidence issues, that is a sign pointing to lack of maturity and mental strength... 

Of Course, Philly couldn’t resist replying:

I still disagree.  I mean, I agree he needs to show up for all four quarters but I disagree about the lack of maturity issues and mental strength.  Miami wouldn't have made it past Boston or Chicago without him.

Of course, to that line all I have to say is… D Wade did it without him in 2006…

I finally heard back from Len:

Let's see how it plays out Suzanne, it ain't over til it's over :)

Indeed Len… It isn’t over. Between Thursday and Sunday, there are so many factors and external input to both sides of the argument. Ultimately, the scales of opinion will tip heavily towards one of the arguments displayed vastly across all social sports  mediums.  I’ve placed my two cents on one of those sides (actually it may add up now to possibly a half dollar). I am looking forward to Sunday and game 6.  Oh! I mentioned I would quickly address Scottie Pippen’s correction that LeBron is the greatest scorer of all time.  Well, he is not there yet. Wilt Chamberlain career points average is 30.1 for his whole career; if you take out his last three years, it would be quite a bit higher. Michael Jordan’s career average is at 31.5. LeBron currently sits at an average of 27.7. Considering he is not finished with his NBA aspirations, the jury remains out on the GOAT and greatest scorer opinion.  You can go back to my previous post, “Oh Snap” and review Kareem Abdul Jabaar’s open letter upon the subject.

Finally, I would like to share a link of what may be an ingredient fueling the flame in the Dallas Mavericks locker room… Again, I point back to my argument of mental maturity:


I leave it in your hands mighty sports fans… Put in your two cents! 

Thursday, June 9, 2011


Over Memorial Day and the beginning of June, it appeared the Sports World conversation would return to the usual lull and cliché’ debates regarding upcoming  NBA and NHL Finals, and maybe some baseball play highlights sprinkled in as  they appeared day in and day out.  Little was I aware, as Memorial Day rolled in that three national stories would burst in to heated arguments coast to coast in the sports world. Like the sports arena needs another amateur analyst opinion (like a hole in your head), I couldn’t resist putting in my sassy two cents in the mix!

Let's begin our whirlwind week on the last day of  May, when George
Dohrmann’s article graced the cover of Sports Illustrated disclosing hidden flaws regarding Jim Tressel's character and decision-making ability as head coach of “The” Ohio State football program, as well as considered a pillar citizen mentoring athletes in the surrounding community-

How could a Head Coach and Top Division I football program all be "ignorant" of gross NCAA violations that have been going on amongst 40 players since 2002?  You would think  even Joe the Plumber would find it difficult to accept Tressel and “The” Ohio State  program could site no knowledge of misconduct of their players over 9 years? George Dohrmann and David Epstein (feature story and video link above) did a mastermind in journalism and investigating digging out the truth; so much so that Tressel finally admitted knowing more than he ever led on to, including a confession of purposely withholding information from the University, ultimately leading to a shameful resignation.  Not only has Tressel placed Ohio State players in a volatile position, he has left the door wide open for a full-on NCAA investigation regarding violations that will penalize (and hurting) the program. Jim Tressel displayed selfish and greedy choices to benefit an opportunity of attaining a NCAA Championship sooner than later.When a person lies, or covers up truths, it will never come out well.Time and time again, through various examples of attempts to sweep wrongdoings under a rug (Bernie Madoff, Reggie Bush and USC, Kentucky and Baylor, oh and don’t forget Enron, to name a few), someone eventually comes along picking up that rug exposing all the hidden dirt.

The article was just the tip of the explosive coverage reaching airwaves from Youngstown to San Francisco.  What flabbergasted not only me was the senseless irrational support and arguments protecting and defending Jim Tressel’s actions! It astonished me, and thankfully others in the sports community how a multitude of Ohio State faithful and fans of Tressel  could  make excuses for his actions and turn a blind eye to the unethical, and quite honestly, immoral decisions (or choices- take your pick on the verbiage) he made regarding known wrong-doings by several of his players.  As a matter of fact, it sounds like he may even been the middle-man setting up such transactions in a couple of cases, and then knowingly turned a blind eye.  Thankfully, we have conscious rational sports analysts, such as John Kincade who is NOT afraid to set the record straight.  Kincade expressed on his June 5th Sunday morning program ( what I am sure many people are frustrated about (at least I was, hearing some of the unreal reaction) the lack of rationale or comprehension that Coach Jim Tressel knowingly did wrong. Kincade pointed out on his weekly radio program the word that should be stricken from the conversation. That word is ‘mistake’… Persons surrounding Tressel’s investigation continue to harbor and create one excuse after another of  the coach’s head-scratching choices after multiple revelations of players receiving ‘favors’ and kick-backs from various sources surrounding the Ohio State community.  I support Kincade’s definition of what actions qualify as mistakes: you fill out a form for the government in red ink and it gets denied (they specify using blue or black on their forms); you show up for a doctor’s appointment on the 6th, and it was actually on the 5th, you ‘mistakenly’ thought you heard 6th not 5th; Those would be prime examples of what would qualify as a ‘mistake’. Intentionally hiding violations and keeping the athletic program in the dark regarding those gross shortcomings, in my book, quite honestly I would categorize as ethical corruption without thinking twice about it.  Would you want your sons and daughters mentored in a manner where they ‘cheat’ the system and have a coach that allows such behavior?  Sportsmanship and honor are two athletic values I would never use to describe Jim Tressel.  I hope many of the ignorant Tressel supporters buy a clue, wish him a better future (and choices), and move on.

There was little time wasted after the other shoe dropped at Ohio State, before we were blessed with another athlete ‘attempting’ to  give intelligent input about his sport,  basketball, and the upcoming  NBA Finals about to tip off.  Scotty Pippen blessed LeBron James with the premier crown of being the best NBA player of all time…

I’m sorry...(as  I choke on my Americano and  spew a portion of  it threw my nose, and spray drips on my just cleaned white hoodie! I know… not that pretty of a picture) are you talking a bout the SAME Scottie Pippen that played side by side with Michael Jordan??? The SAME Scottie Pippen that if it weren’t for Jordan would have ZERO rings versus 6? THAT Scotty Pippen? Oh no he didn’t! That is like a slap in the face to the greatest NBA player I’ve ever watched play!  As a matter of fact, let’s analyze this. What makes a professional athlete great? Or, the greatest?  Is it the best stats? Is it the number of rings? Is it All-Star appearances and MVPs? What separates great from GREATEST is the recipe of leadership, skill, and motivating a team to reach the highest pinnacle, a championship. 

Kareem Abdul Jabaar was quick to call out Scottie on his opinion of greatness with an open letter to Mr. Pippen-

Wilt Chamberlain definitely can hold his own as one of the greatest, by all means.  I forward the newsworthy piece to  a  friend in  Philadelphia , and he spurred me on actually to add a few GREAT players into the discussion, that he, I, and most  likely Kareem would place ahead of ‘King’ James in reference to ‘greatest of all time’…  Of course, we discussed the most obvious pick that Pippen could have referenced with no argument ( he did play side by side with him for, oh at least a dozen years… or close!), Michael Jordan who has 6 rings, seven scoring titles, and a pocket full of MVP and All-Star rewards.  After reading Kareem’s incredibly crafty prose boasting Wilt Chamberlain to the top of the list, I quickly internally inquired, “What about Bill Russell?” Yeah! What about Russell? He has almost double the number of rings, with 11, as well as 5 NBA Finals MVPs. Philly pointed out the following, “We talk about Jordan being the best ever (I would tend to almost agree) but we forget about Bird and Magic, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Bob Cousy, George Mikan, etc., etc.  I think overall it's just tough putting a G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All Time) on anyone.  I probably would look more at number of rings and how much a player helped his team to get those rings.  Robert Horry has more rings than almost anyone but he was a bench player on good teams for a few of them”. Let’s thank my friend Philly for great contribution! With that said, as Philly pointed out, Horry has quite the collection of rings, yet would he place him even in consideration as a GOAT? Lebron James has ‘sick’ talent and just amazes us with his amazing moves on the parquet floors; yet, he has NO rings, and was the incredibly invisible player showing up with 8 points in the Miami Heat loss to Dallas, while Nowitszky again showed up (with a fever and chills, and looking a bit more pasty than usual) and was a closer! Scottie was premature, if anything, to hand over GOAT honors to Lebron James before we’ve seen a bit more of his body of work.

And when you feel an explosive story has been laid to rest… A GM goes on the homer sports radio station to share opinions without filter, and a honest disclosure of personal emotion of protecting one of his kids (Brian Sabean personally drafted Buster Posey in 2008)…the debate not only is resuscitated,  it took on a whole new life! If you’re any type of baseball fan, or have read a sports page, or visited ESPN on any medium, you should be familiar of a home plate collision that was rewinded, replayed, slow-motion frame-by-frame displayed, as well as still shots shared all over baseball nation amongst bloggers, beat writers, newsletters, sportscasters, twitter feeds, and facebook posts from here to the moon! It all began on a ho-hum Wednesday evening, May 25, towards the end of an offensive frustrating game between San Francisco Giants (like we haven’t seen that scenario a few dozen times) and a surprisingly competitive Florida Marlins club. An up coming major leaguer, Scott Cousins, out of University of San Francisco, was clinging on to hopes of staying up in the show for Florida.  A sacrifice fly was hit to shallow right field, Cousins tagged at 3rd base chugging his way to home plate to beat out Shierholtz throw… There it transpired within seconds… Buster Posey’s split decisions of how to position himself to receive a throw catapulted directly to him from the Giants’ strongest arm in the outfield, and defend home plate.  90 feet away was a young, strong, and fairly speedy base runner on a mission to score the go-ahead run and secure more time for him as one of the 25 on the Marlins roster. It was literal split decision-maker on both parties. As Cousins came barreling in, Posey was attempting to catch a ball; unfortunately, the collision ended in Posey sustaining a season ending lower leg fracture and ligament damage attached to his left ankle. The devastating loss sparked discussions regarding a potential rule change to protect a catcher in future encounters of base runners headed to home plate.

I urge each and every one of you to visit the links I posted. It’s a tour through various opinions and perspectives upon an incredibly heated debate regarding the need of a rule change to protect catchers, as well as valued premier players from unnecessary injuries as suffered by Buster Posey.  There are two prime points I extracted from the plethora of opinions being thrown around as loose as the names that were jotted in Wilt Chamberlains little black book. The first point was collisions that happen at the plate. There are experts whom state the obscure instance of a base runner plowing over a catcher is part of the game. The counter of that statement is, if it’s a rare occasion, how could it be assumed a normal act of baseball? The second observation is evolution of the game. There are altruists whom state baseball has been around for over a century and the rules have remained the same… I think the altruists may be at the latter range of the baby boomers and possibly entering early stages of dementia. All sports evolve. Rules change and the sport adapts based on trends, and protecting the sanctity of the game. MLB has changed the rules of sliding in to 2nd base to protect that infield player, why not evaluate and consider amending current base running in to home plate? Bruce Bochy made a valid point in an interview regarding the collision where he expressed the value lost for both the franchise investing in a stellar player, as well as the loss of fans across the nation who purposely go to games to see specific players participate. Thus, ultimately there is possibly a vested investment and interest for MLB to consider a change, an evolution of the current  rules that don’t particularly protect a catcher from being blasted.  On the other side of the fence, are the critics  whom  state the  unfortunate injury that transpired in San Francisco is so rare, it should not warrant a change.  Again, I particularly would reiterate at this moment, it should only take one drastic act to possibly draw attention to a fly in the ointment.   Every sport that transpires on the face of this earth has evolved.  We all were there and watched that snowy blizzard game between New England and Oakland Raiders where the ‘tuck’ rule came in  to place, right?  Anyways…

Okay! Now that we have reviewed the stellar ‘Oh Snap’ moments of the last week, lets have a few laughs!

Batting stance guy comes through AGAIN! FACCCCT!

Usually sports and politics don’t mix, but this is just hilarious! Especially when Boston is in the Stanley Cup Finals…  God forbid we give Palin a Citizen exam, or ask her about our Stars Spangled Banner and it’s origin!

AND finally, the ‘Kinetic King’ that has perfected chain reactions in the 17 known Universes! Better than that, his reply to what he would do with the million dollars, if he wins… Charlie Sheen would be proud!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Oh Canada!

I had a friend forward me a few fun facts about our dear boys in the North:

Don’t feel bad fellow Sharks Fans… It was Destiny for Vancouver to advance to Stanley Cup Final-

In 1976, Montreal hosted Winter Olympics and the following year the Canadians go on to win the Cup. In 1988, Calgary hosted Winter Olympics, and the following year, the Flames go on to win Stanley Cup…

Last year, Vancouver hosted 2010 Winter Olympics….

Sharks fans, although frustrated about their results versus expectations did well, considering it appeared they may not even make the playoffs in the middle of the Season. If anything, San Jose could learn from the success of Vancouver, and how they approached their opponents, fulfilling expectations of their number one seeding and recipient of the President’s Cup.  Personally, what burned deeper in  my gut than not advancing this year was being a first-hand witness of a crushing and vibrant example what we (as fans) anticipated  the Sharks would do two  years ago (when they were the recipient of the President’s Cup and top seed). 

I’m impressed and wish the best for Vancouver.  I lived a significant chunk of my life up in Seattle. Before the San Jose Sharks were added to NHL, I’ve enjoyed and root for The Canucks.  I had the pleasure of  venturing up to BC witnessing numerous games at the Pacific Coliseum. I look forward to checking a game out at their new house in Rogers Arena.  I was elated when San Jose was awarded a NHL team in 1991. Living up in Seattle, I went out and bought my Sharks hat at the local GI Joe’s sporting goods store. It’s my favorite hat. When I go to hockey games, I bring an extra hat so I don’t have to throw that on the ice in a hat trick  moment(for those illiterate in hockey jargon, that  is when  one player scores 3 goals in the same game).

It wasn’t long  before San Jose themselves tasted success the last time Vancouver made it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1993-94 Season.  San Jose Sharks were the bottom seed, and went on to shock Detroit Red Wings in the first round, being the favorite that year to make it to Stanly Cup finals.  How our memory fades between being spoiler and dreams of lifting the Stanley Cup glory getting spoiled.  Vancouver Canucks strived mightily for their second opportunity in their 40th  year to hoist above  their heads the most valued trophy on North American soil.  Vancouver fans can relate to the gut wrenching pain  they bestowed upon Sharks fans last week.  When Vancouver scored that fluke of a goal in 2nd overtime, the scar that was just beginning to heal from two years ago, got ripped wide open.  Vancouver felt that same pain when Mark Messier and the New York Rangers handed them a loss in game 7 in Madison Square Garden. A riot... (yes, an actual RIOT in Canada) broke out in the streets of Vancouver following the loss. Although Vancouver appeared poised to make another run with the young guns of Trevor Linden, Pavel Bure’, and goalie McLean… they never recovered. Beloved coach Pat Quinn left, and although acquiring supposed phenoms such as Mogilny and supposed coach guru, Mike Keenan, Vancouver had sub par records, and usually exited the playoffs in the first or second rounds, or not making playoffs at all.  With GM changes, and a flurry of coaching changes, Vancouver  began turning their club around in the Millennium.  Finally, 17 years later, with the Sadin brothers and Luongo, they’ve returned to the Finals. 

So… My dear Sharks fans, chin up!  Enjoy the Stanley Cup Finals as best possible, and pray the San Jose Sharks front office doesn’t take 17 years to turn an incredible club  around in the right direction!

Finally, some words and opinions to ponder in baseball, and a FUN video!

Buster Posey broke one of his lower leg bones above his left ankle as well as tore ligaments, when it unfortunately was caught under an incoming player to the plate.  The injury was a significant blow to the San Francisco Giants, being Buster Posey was NL Rookie of the Year, and budding Major League star.  There are arguments on both ends occurring regarding encounters that happen at home plate between a catcher positioning himself to catch an incoming thrown ball and guarding the plate against an incoming charging ball player who can reach a speed upwards of 18 mph. Should there be rule changes to protect players from injuries when sliding, or running home? Both players, coaches, and analysts have voiced their opinions for each side…  Coach Bruce Bochy, and Giants broadcasters John Miller, Dwayne Kuiper, and Mike Krukow make valid points for a rule change. 

Here are some stories to review regarding the subject –

Now on the lighter side…

Batting Stance guy has one of my favorite Giants as a special guest in this MLB week in review: 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sleepers in Our Midst...

I’ve spent the last month mulling over an overload of stats of an inundated number of players that may or may not have an integral part towards their team’s success.  If you think about it, the  teams in Major League Baseball that have spent the most on ‘premiere’ players, have not received their money’s worth for their  investment.  Out of the 10 teams who’ve competed in the World Series in the last 5 years, only 3 of those teams were in the top 5 of most money spent on player payroll. 70% of teams who’ve appeared in our celebrated Fall Classic had spent less on payroll than teams expected to execute champagne showers and hoisting a pretty piece of hardware.  Standouts who have played above and beyond salary they were paid, above any written  stat, or pessimistic analysts, were St Louis Cardinals who won in 2006 (13th),  San Francisco Giants who won last year (10th), the Colorado Rockies who lost to Red Sox (2nd) with 16th highest salary, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays who lost to the numero uno in salaries, Yankees, ranks 21st  in salary, and the  Texas Rangers who made it to play San Francisco last year has  one of the lowest salaries at 27th! On the flip side, there are those teams spending oodles on salary only to disappoint their fans (and themselves) perennially. The Chicago Cubs have the 3rd highest Salary. The last time the Cubbies appeared in a World Series was 1945, and the last time they won? 102 years ago in 1908! The New York Mets have the 5th highest Salary and have chocked their way out of postseason appearances in 3 of the last 5 years; the other two years, they weren’t even close! Adding insult to injury, the owners are mixed in  with the Bernie Madoff Ponzie mess, and now prosecutors want their profit!
Unsuspected teams, such as Tampa Bay, Colorado, and San Francisco made it to the postseason playing with heart and understood supporting one another towards their common goal and desire of winning a ring! Somewhere between mad skills, instincts, clubhouse chemistry, and magical managing maneuvers, a ‘good’ team can combine their talents to become ‘great’. A team with a manager who knows his players, knows their strengths, knows their weaknesses, knows their opponents, can skillfully hide flaws and expose the opposition’s weakness. Mastering the perfect blend between production, management, and execution creates a championship recipe. No one general manager  knows the ‘winning’  mixture  better than Billy Bean.  Billy Bean’s formula for success, written in Michael Lewis’ book Moneyball (,  revolutionized scouting and player evaluation based on OBP,OPS, and Slugging as better predicting VORP than traditional stats of BA, SB, and RBIs.  Billy Bean has done for baseball what Bill Walsh brought to West Coast Offense in NFL.  In the last 10  years, the Oakland Athletics have made the playoffs 5 times,  with their best showing in 2006 where they lost to  Detroit Tigers who eventually went on to lose themselves in the World Series to St. Louis Cardinals (whose player salary payroll was 13th highest versus Tigers being 6th highest). After sitting on the sidelines and watching the team across the Bay win their first World Series Championship as San Francisco Giants, may have lit a fire under Billy Bean.  The Oakland Athletics had one of the most active off season acquisitions and signings, in hopes of filling holes for a 2011 postseason run. The Athletics ran out of gas at then end of 2010 Season. At one point with a little over 2 weeks to play, Oakland climbed within a few games behind Texas Rangers, before fading in to the background.  Although Texas Rangers have come out of the shoots rearing to the front of the AL West, Oakland has shown up with a great Starting pitching rotation, improved bull pen and improvement in their offensive lineup. Don’t be surprised if you see Billy’s boys back in the postseason with the 28th highest payroll (I would say a good investment!).

If you move up the MLB Salary list, you quickly run into the team in 17th that has been in the cellar for almost 15 years. The Baltimore Orioles hired Buck Showalter for an ‘O’ clubhouse culture overhaul. Orioles ended up with best closing win-loss record in September last year, and has picked up where they left off over opening weekend.  Oriole’s main off season acquisition was Vladimir Guerrero. With a rejuvenated Buck Showalter and decent VORP potential of the Orioles 2011 Roster, don’t be surprised if you see birds chirping into October. 

Finally, I find myself actually miffed that I am placing the 2010 World Series Champions on this list. With the exception of a week of coverage  following their spectacular bid for an elusive World Series title, many media re-devoted their love  affair  with Philadelphia and Boston during Winter meetings.  Despite retaining our starting pitching (who beat Halladay, Lee, and Oswalt in the postseason), and improving our offense with players returning from injury, the San Francisco Giants were considered a ‘phenomenon’… ‘Lightning in a bottle’ as explanation of their success. No  mention of  clubhouse chemistry… Nothing about effective pitching… Nothing about a shutdown bullpen… and absolutely nothing about the managerial mastery of Bruce Bochy who knew the opponent so well, he knew what matchups to play! The Dodgers owner are going through a humiliating and public divorce, as well as a top player expressed dissatisfaction the day before the season began (,  making it uneasy in the long term for those in Dodger blue. Colorado Rockies compete well every year, and will be the toughest competition for San Francisco. They have one of the greatest pitchers in baseball, Ubaldo Jimenez, as well as a front runner for NL MLB, in Carlos Gonzales. Speaking of NL MVP frontrunner, Buster Posey has officially started a full season with the Giants, and I see this kid getting stronger. When Willie Mays admires your ‘baseball smarts’, everyone should pay attention.  I don’t see how baseball legends Hank Aaron and Pete Rose can be that far off from their Hall of Fame observations.  The combination of San Francisco’s starting pitching, solid bullpen, and improved lineup should be key in their quest to repeat in 2011! Don’t count out the Black and Orange to take the NL West!

And now… for a little  laughter-  SF Giants fans were  witness to seeing our beloved Aubrey Huff get a bit roughed up playing   in  right field while Cody Ross is out on DL15. Well, Len Berman shared a ‘Spanning the World’ clip last Friday of  a cheese rolling race down a crazy muddied mogul hill somewhere in UK that will make Aubrey feel a bit better, and maybe making him wince at the same time!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Guesses... Gaffes.... and Glory

The Sun sparkles across Arizona and Florida as 2011 Spring training Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues heat up. We have made it out of the deepest month of Winter and enter in to March Madness!

Oh! As a great ‘mood’ lifter while reading, please go to the link below:

‘Glory Days’ The Boss!

The storylines… The action… The Charlie Sheen sound bites! March has shot out of the gates faster than a bulls stampede in Pamplona! I can’t recall if Phil saw his shadow; regardless, guesses, gaffes, and a story of lost glory heat up media sites spanning around the globe!


Cardinals Ace Adam Wainwright appears to be out for the year leaving St. Louis hanging adrift beginning the 2011 Season. Although Manager LaRussa has disclosed a spot ‘open’ for an upcoming pitcher in their farm system, I cannot stop contemplating the thought of Cardinals front office dispatching Scouts over to Arizona to sniff out a trade. San Francisco comes into Spring Training top heavy with pitching talent. No! I am not suggesting any of the pitching gods that assaulted the Phillies and Rangers in last year’s post season… But there is a heavily paid leftie desperately wanting to prove his worth (his name might start with a Z, and SF wouldn’t mind having some financial breathing room to acquire offensive depth threat), a veteran hoping to crack in to the starting line up (Bochy calls him Soup), and a handful of  lively arms itching to come up to the ‘Show’ (Vogelsong and Verdugo look promising). Needless to say, It wouldn’t surprise me to see a trade comment appear in a later post.

Read more about Wainwright’s possible fate, as well as breaking news out of Giants camp that both Zito and Bochy have poo-pooed as hearsay-

Hank Aaron and Pete Rose were not shy in disclosing their hopefuls for the 2011 Fall Classic…  With that in mind, I want to extend my appreciation and gratitude towards hammerin’ Hank and Pete for not allowing the hype currently being shoved down our throats from everywhere on the ‘ordained’ line ups of Philadelphia and New York … San Francisco pads their line up with a slimmer Panda (Pablo Sandoval), an upcoming first baseman, Brandon Belt, and returning from injury Mark Darosa eager to prove his worth.  Boston improves their 2011 bid with adding Adrien Gonzalez, and everyone coming into camp (for the most part) healthy (injuries plagued Red Sox all Season long in 2010 with Youklis going down, Lester out, and Dave Ortiz not so Big Papi). It’s been 99 years since these teams saw one another post Pennant. How about THAT Hype?!  

Finally, I am attempting my wits at the ‘guessing’ game! I took a risky plunge today (not really holding a job in the industry, but definitely have the drive and desire) and submitted an application for an promotion ‘Dream Job’ to follow baseball for the 2011 Season! I like to insert a quote I heard recently that Sir Charles Barkley uttered, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”… I’m taking a ‘shot’ (it may be in the dark, but everyone that has made it has started in the same place, the obscure). Enjoy part 2 of my essay question reply –

2011 MLB MVP Predictions

If you asked 500 MLB enthusiasts about guestimating 2011 MVP, you will receive 500 varied answers backed by a spackle of reasons…

Needless to say, I did have some frontrunners I was eying… And then I viewed stats. I know, I know, one must NOT measure a player on paper…. Or should you? I do believe it’s a mixture of paper, potential, and placement. Two names keep popping up in my gut and (gasp)…. I will ride them through the 2011 Season…

Face it, we all have biased tendencies; with that in mind, I turn my attention following echoes of a couple baseball heroes  placing their  2011 Fall Classic predictions in print-  Hank Aaron and Pete Rose are pretty secure with their anticipation in seeing Boston Red Sox and San Francisco Giants in 2011 World Series… If so, my picks for NL and AL MVP will be contending too.

Adrien Gonzalez was a monster signing for Boston, and possibly the missing ingredient leading them back to the playoffs. Adrien's stats have been on the rise and I anticipate his BA bumping above 300, now that he will be hitting in the middle of an explosive Boston lineup. What is that stat that Billy Bean points out? Vorp is it? Adrien has been consistently progressing annually playing for mediocre clubs with a batting average of .284, a slugging percentage slowly moving in right direction in low 500s, and OBP approaching 400. He has made the All-Star team 3 times, 2 golden gloves, and NL Player standout 4 times already. If all plays out as expected, Adrien and Boston will be smiling in October.

Now, everyone adjust their Google Maps coordinates to San Francisco. Coming off monster rookie numbers, the fresh-faced ‘nothing phases me’ kid, Buster Posey, keeps getting better! In a spring training game this week, he blasted a ball out of Scottsdale Stadium where if it weren’t for the grassy knoll in dead center, it would’ve reached San Francisco Bay!  The ‘joy’ of Georgia has NO drawbacks, giving us more than any hype. Posey was called up in May 2010 to replace an aging Benjie Molina (traded to Texas). There was concern if a 21 year-old ‘wet behind the ears’ kid would be able to command one of the best starting rotations in baseball. He guided Lincecum, Cain, and Bumgarner past expected winners of Halladay, Oswalt, Cliff Lee, and Leiter. Opposing managers think twice about stealing. 

Posey put up .297 in his first post season appearance; his OBP approaching 400, Slugging in 500 range, and for our Sexy stat, OPS is over 800! Buster began with .315  BA in 2010 Spring training, and ended the with .305 in 108 games. Folks, Buster is currently batting .667 at Spring warm ups… Need I say more? #28 should be the poster boy wonder of MLB! He was star struck and honored to co-host the World Series trophy trip back home to the Polo Grounds in New York with Willies Mays, where PS  46   now stands.  Buster and San Francisco know a target is on their backs defending the World Series championship, and have their game faces on. The 2010 NL Rookie may not realize he’s an MVP… Everyone else knows it!


As BYU dismisses their Star Center for obstructing the school’s ‘Honor’ Code (consensual sex with his girlfriend), Sports Illustrated publishes a disturbing trend of crime among college athletes.  I love what Len Berman pointed out in his top 5 ( earlier this week when he commented if more college teams implemented BYU’s Honor Code, there might not be any athletes left to play!

I am saddened that I will have to wait another week to wake up at God knows what hour to watch my Formula1! The Season was to commence March 13, only to be deferred due to a little Social Unrest in Bahrain… Fernando Alonso was rearing to get his 10th Formula1 season started too! It has been rescheduled to the end of the year Calendar… Well, pending protest outcome… Keep your fingers crossed for Formula1, Fernando, and people of Bahrain!

Follow the story, one of my favorite sports, and websites!

It would not surprise me if the Colombian soccer player who kicked the opposing team’s Lucky Charm Owl ends up a bit roughed up himself. It truly sickens me to share (the owl did not survive its injuries, going into shock after surgery), but it’s outrageous picking on innocent creatures!!! He was only fined $560 and suspended for two games… Needless to say, ‘Hooters’ won’t be sponsoring the team any time soon… No respect for an elegant feathered creature!

Finally, this is just INSANE… Wait, it’s Alabama… Some sick ‘Roll Tide’ crazy fan thought he would get the sweetest revenge in poisoning a famous legendary grove of trees near Auburn’s Campus (and mentions it with his real name on Radio! You can’t make this S up!). Really??? Now we are so sick we are going after the very plants that assist in providing us oxygen? Damn… we NEED to turn our education system around and FAST!


I thought long and hard about this next story… and quite honestly, I have to place this next controversial piece in ‘Glory’. Although moral values are going down the drain, I have to give respect and props to BYU. The University and team could’ve easily looked the other way regarding their Star Center. BYU Men’s Basketball team was poised to be one of the #1 seeds in upcoming NCAA Tournament of 64. Each person attending BYU  signs a binding agreement to abide by the rules every Latter Day Saint is required to follow.  It’s a frustrating pill for many to swallow around the nation, but I think many secretly wish other colleges had similar ‘Honor’ Codes… (Uh-hum scroll back up to the gaffe mention on college athletes and crime)

Kareem Abdul Jabaar is making headlines in a wonderful documentary, “On the Shoulders of Giants” about the African American players who paved and shaped what we recognize today as the NBA and an opportunity for an amazing game to change lives. Don’t miss great history!