Takin' it back to 1776!Let’s party like it’s 1776!

In quite possibly the most anticipated opening round game in World Cup history, the US takes on England in a battle that can be traced back almost 250 years.  Just like back then, the US are the underdogs….just the way they like it.

Back in December, FIFA held it’s World Cup draw, live on TV with much pop and circumstance.  Important/famous people like David Beckham and Charlize Theron, selected the ping-pong balls in which would determine what teams would join the 8 groups headed by the top 7 ranked teams in the world (S. Africa was the 8th seed due to being the host nation).  When it was England’s turn to find out who the first team to join them in Group C was, there was one team, and one team only, that they were praying was not going to be called.  “USA” was said.  ESPN cut quickly to a live video feed it had at famous soccer bar, Nevada Smith’s, in Manhattan.  You would have thought that the US had WON the World Cup.  The place went crazy.  David Bechkam almost crapped himself on stage.

Sixty years ago, the United States stunned England in the World Cup in one of the most storied upsets in sports history. A win in South Africa might not prove to be as legendary, but could be more significant.

England has been the Boston Red Sox of international soccer. Think of the post-Babe Ruth untill 2006 era.  In that time, the Red Sox  had so many good teams, but never won a championship.  Same thing with England.  Every 4 years, they get hyped up so much as having a great team, but fall short.  The tabloids and newspapers in Britain are England’s biggest fans and biggest haters.  There is so much pressure on England to beat the US that it’s almost impossible to believe.

Team USA is no slouch.  Let’s be honest.  The Red, White and Blue are ranked 14th by FIFA and England 8th.  Sure, the US doesn’t have the big name players that England has (Wayne Rooney, Joe and Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard to name a few), but the US is a very good defensive team.  Tim Howard is the US goalkeeper who has been playing in the English Premier League for about 7 years who is respected as one of the top goalkeepers in the league.  Clint Dempsy is perhaps the US’s most creative and exciting player.  He’s played for Fulham of the Premier League and is loved in England.  Then there’s Landon Donovon.  Ahhhh Landon.  The best player for the US has been the subject of much ridicule over the past few years for the dud he laid 4 years ago.  He’s the all time leading scorer for the US with 42 international goals.  So he is going to be heavily relied upon to put the ball into the net.

We’re about an hour and a half from kickoff and I can honestly say that I am pumped up for a soccer game.  Many of the analysts today are calling for a 1-1 draw or a USA win. Former USA Defender Alexi Lalas,  just said that he feels as if the England squad is “ripe for the picking”.  Obviously he’s a homer, but he said that England has too many good players and just haven’t shown the chemistry as a group.  I hope he’s right, because if he is, look for Jozy Altidore to put the ball in the net for the US.  He’s the 20-year-old striker that has been hot in qualifying.

Game time is approaching.  I gotta go get my vuvuzela ready….

Robbie Lawler will take on Babalu in Strikeforce Live on June 16th

Robbie Lawler Faces Off Against Babalu Sobral to Headline Strikeforce Live 

By Alexia Krause 

  

With Strikeforce Live only weeks away, the heat is getting turned up for a showdown between two hard-hitting opponents. “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler will take on former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Renato “Babalu” Sobral for a fight that is bound to go beyond the cage and strike at the hearts of the two fighters. In fact, Sobral was quoted as saying that he has “hate in his heart” leading up to the fight and his trainer is making it clear that his hate will be taken out in the ring against Lawler. This type of bad blood will make the upcoming Strikeforce Live a MMA event to remember. The two will face each off in a 195-pound catch-weight bout on June 16 in Los Angeles. 

This is an interesting turn of events, as Sobral wasn’t initially slated to fight against Lawler. The main card had originally been Jason “Mayhem” Miller vs. “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler, but after being rebuked by Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker, Mayhem was later pulled from the card. Miller is under review for a possible suspension due to the brawl that had broken out following a post-fight interview with Jake Shields at Strikeforce Nashville. 

The next Strikeforce event (Wednesday June 16th in Los Angeles) will be the first ever to be scheduled during the middle of the week (in order to correspond with the video game expo, E3, and the subsequent release of EA Sports MMA). Most fans are going to the event to see the main fight between Sobral and Lawler. The main card is bound to set the tone for the evening and possibly the rest of Strikeforce MMA. 

“Ruthless” Robbie Lawler is considered by most to be somewhat of a quiet figure outside of the ring, but once inside the cage he’s as merciless as his nickname. Lawler is known for completely annihilating his opponents by means of his all-or-nothing fighting style. This type of intensity will be a large part of his upcoming fight. This 5-foot-11 middleweight may be a reckless fighter inside the cage, but his fans love him for exactly that reason. 

Renato “Babalu” Sobral, on the other hand, is a complete technician within the squared circle. Widely known for his amazing grappling and submission moves, Babalu doesn’t need to be ruthless in order to dominate. This type of process has helped Sobral rack up victories over such fighters as Kiyoshi Tamura, Mauricio Rua, and Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou on his way to becoming the light heavyweight champion. It has also made him one of the hardest fighters to defeat in all of Strikeforce MMA. 

Many fans seem to think that if Lawler can keep the fight on his feet, he will have the advantage. Robbie Lawler has a history of being smart on his feet, throwing calculated punches. However, if the fight shifts towards more grappling, and Babalu is careful, he could use his superior BJJ (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu) skills to his advantage. Over half of Sobral’s wins have stemmed from his masterful use of submission fighting. 

Other matches for the evening feature Marius Zaromskis vs. Evangelista Cyborg and Trevor Prangley vs. Tim Kennedy. Both fights are bound to have their fair share of attention at the event, but nothing will compare to when ruthlessness meets technical dominance via Lawler/Sobral. Then we shall see exactly how much hate is flowing through the veins of these two fighters at Strikeforce Live on the 16th. 

Alexia is a self-described sports-nut. She particularly enjoys martial arts. Recently, she joined up with MMA Industries- retailers of highly popular MMA equipment and shirts. Alexia has been blogging about the latest trends in MMA gear for the past few years, and continues to provide you with the latest news in the MMA universe. 

On the afternoon after another reliever started a game for the Mets, R.A. Dickey took the ball knowing that he needed to go deep into the game to help out a depleted bullpen.  For some unknown reason, Fernando Nieve, who is the most used and abused reliever in all of baseball, started last night’s game for the Mets.  Not surprisingly, he only lasted 2 innings and the bullpen was called in again to throw 7 innings.

The Mets took a 1-0 lead in the first inning and Rickie Weeks immediately erased it with a homer to lead off the bottom half for the Brew Crew.  Angel Pagan looked like he might have a chance bring back the would be homer, but the ball was just out of his reach and bounced off the top of the wall and over the fence.

In the 4th inning, with the Mets down 2-1, Dickey helped himself with an RBI single that tied the game up at 2.  After R.A. laid down a sac-bunt in the 6th, Jose Reyes drew a walk off of Mets nemesis Jeff Suppan to load the bases.  On a 3-2 count with 2 outs, Louie Castillo smashed a grounder up the middle to plate Frenchy and Henry Blanco to give the Mets a 4-2 lead.

Dickey held the Brewers at bay for the next 2 innings and the Mets padded his lead to 6-2 in the top of the 7th, after a David Wright ground-rule double and an Angel Pagan 2-run homer.  Angel Pagan is quietly becoming the Mets best all around outfielder.  This season, Angel is hitting .295 with 4 homers 22 RBI’s and 9 steals.  He projects to drive in 70+ runs and have around 30 steals.  It’s nice to see a player take advantage of the opportunity to play everyday.

In the bottom of the 7th, Weeks struck again with a 2-run homer for his second of the day.  But all in all, R.A. did exactly what the Mets needed.  He gave them 7 quality innings and let the bullpen rest.  Dickey left the game with a 6-4 lead and his third good start in as many tries since being called up from Buffalo.

The Metsies tacked on 4 more runs in the top of the 9th inning off reliever Zach Braddok, and K-Rod pitched a scoreless bottom half for a 10-4 Mets win.  The Mets 5-6-7-8 hitters (Wright/Pagan/Frenchy/Pagan) went 11 for 17 with 6 RBI.  It was great so see the team as a whole, taking pitches from starter Randy Wolf and recognizing that he was not able to get that 65mph curveball over the plate.  In total, the Mets drew 8 walks and saw over 200 pitches from Brewers pitchers.

The Mets head out to San Diego tomorrow night to start a 3 game series versus the NL West leading Padres.  Hisanori Takahashi faces off against Kevin Corriea at 9:30 pm.  It would be nice to see the Mets pitchers pound the strike zone and play to contact.  PETCO park is huge guys…let’s play like we are at home.  Let’s go Mets!

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What a turn of events…

May 28, 2010 by

On this date last year, the Mets were in first place.  That’s right, first place.  It seems like ages ago when we, as Mets fans, knew that we were not only the best team in the NL East, but the whole damn league.

Fast forward 365 days later, 9,539,329 games on the DL, 36 different starting pitchers, 9 different middle infielders and a partridge in a pear tree….you get the picture.  This club has seen its fair share of punishment in every way possible.  But if there is one thing that you can call them, it’s resilient.

They came into the season picked by some baseball “experts” to possibly finish behind the Nationals in the NL East.  Granted, most baseball writers like to kick a team when they are down, but no one thought that the Mets would play the type of ball that they have played over the last 6 games.

This resurgence started Friday night against the “Evil Empire”.  The Amazin’s were trailing 2-0 going into the 9th inning of the opening game of the Subway Series.  After only mustering a measly 2 hits off of Javy Vazquez and Joba the Hut, Mo came in to slam the door shut on the Mets.  Two quick outs later, Jason bay and Ike Davis smoked back to back doubles off the untouchable Rivera and all of a sudden, Citi Field had a charge go though it.  It was like everyone was waiting for Matt Franco to happen all over again.  Although David Wright (first pitch swinging of course.  Do you guys ever notice that EVERY SINGLE TIME the Mets either start a big comeback or are in the middle of a rally, David needs to flail at the first pitch?  It drives me nuts!) smoked a one hopper to Cano and the game was over,  it almost seems like they fed off that energy of getting to Mo.

With Mike Pelfrey’s corpse rising out of its 2009 casket, we can now say that we have found our #2 starter.  But he’s not our #2.  He’s really our #1a.  He started this 5 game winning streak with another great 6 innings for the win and had his double play ball working last night to extend it to 5.  No one in their right mind would have though that with all the licking and brow wiping from last year, that Mike would have any skin left on his right hand and forehead, let alone a 7-1 record and a 2.54 ERA.

But for alllllll the criticism Omar and his staff got for not getting any starting pitching help (because we all knew that Ollie would either be on the DL or designated for assignment), we’ve called upon a Japanese reliever who was really a starter, but we made him a reliever because we don’t really have a plan in place, and now he’s a starter again.  Plus…now this gets good, we didn’t call up Dillon Gee or Pat Misch, but knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.  Sure, everyone was calling up WFAN going crazy about these guys starting.  But WOW!  Takahashi and Dickey have come out and just dominated in each of their two starts.  (Side note: Did anyone else giggle a little bit when Dickey was pitching to Rod the other night?  I know I did.)

This run that the Mets have put together, including the incredible 3 game sweep that the Mets pitchers didn’t allow a single Philly cross home plate, has been simply amazing.  Fundamentally sound baseball at it’s finest.  Early runs, hitting with RISP, crisp defense.  We didn’t see any of this in the previous 359 days prior to this one.

The Metsies travel to Milwaukee tonight to start a 3 game series.  The Brewers will run out their only good pitcher tonight in Yovani Gallardo, who will oppose Johan Santana.    How about some more solid pitching and crisp defense this weekend?  Now we’re only 2 games out of first place. So how about we come home next week in 1st?  The swagger seems to be coming back.  We’re playing like the best team in the league.  Now they just have to believe it.   LET’S GO METS!

NY Mets owner Fred Wilpon has had discussions about buying the NY Islanders

So much for that rumor of not having any money.  There have been stories about how the Wilpons had hundreds of millions of dollars pulled out from underneath them by wall street scumbag Bernie Madoff.  During the offseason all you read about in the papers and on the net was that the Mets didn’t go out and get John Lackey or Joel Pinero or whoever because they took such a big hit with the Ponzi scheme.  Well, I think this latest development has put that story on “ice”

Ever since 1986 (when I was 6 years old) I have bled the orange and blue, and somewhere in the late 90’s the black of the New York Mets.  As I became a little older, I realized that on Sports Channel (one of the two regional sports networks in the NY/NJ area in the  80’s and 90’s), there was another team that I could bleed blue and orange for as well…the New York Islanders.  Both franchises have the most die-hard of die-hard fans.  I was immediately hooked.  I have lived and died with every win and loss of both franchises for essentially the last quarter century.  Since I have become fans of these teams, I have experienced some of the most incredible moments in sports history, but I have also seen some of the absolute worst.

The Mets and the Islanders have essentially played second fiddle to the Yankees and Rangers for most of my life.  There’s always an inferiority complex that both franchises and fan bases have to deal with.  This has come about even though the 1986 Mets may be one of the greatest baseball teams of all time and the Islanders are the last true dynasty (4 straight Stanley Cup wins 1980-81 to 1983-84 and an NHL record 19 straight playoff series wins) in professional sports.  Of course in a city where the Yankees have a great team every year and have won 27 World Series, the Mets are going to be the red-headed step child.  Then there are the Rangers who attempt to sign the big name to skate down broadway but always seem to come up short.  Meanwhile the Islanders are Long Island’s only professional sports team, and during the glory years, there was no louder place to see a game than at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Well, the time has come and gone for the Coliseum to be torn down and dynamited.  It is the oldest building in the NHL and is falling apart at the seams.  Have no fear Islander fans, because if the town of Hempstead won’t approve a new stadium for your team, Mayor Bloomberg will.  In an interview yesterday, Mets owner Fred Wilpon said that he has spoken to Islanders owner Charles Wang about building a hockey arena as part of a sports complex at Citi Field.  What may be even better news is that Wilpon also expressed interest in possibly buying the Islanders from Wang.  Now as an Isles fan, that might have been the best news I have heard other than “With the first pick in the 2009 NHL entry draft, the New York Islanders select Jonathan Tavares” .  If Fred Wilpon was to buy the Isles (for what I would imagine would be a real good price since Wang wants to get rid of the team like a bad cold sore), this franchise would be reborn.  The Wilpons (Son Jeff is the Mets president) have never been cheap, and are always looking for a good investment.  They would probably get the team for around $125-$150 million.  The Isles currently have the lowest payroll in the league and are the youngest team.  The minor league system has been replenished and is full of talent.  If there was ever a time for this deal to get done, it’s now.

For someone who is just like the other hundreds of thousands of  Long Island natives who bleed orange and blue, this is a match made in heaven.  So what if the new arena would be in Queens?  Mass transit would be extremely simple. One proposed area for the arena would be the Willets Point site.  This site already has subway tack access and could easily have LIRR rails attached as well.  Gary Bettman, the commissioner of the NHL, would be ecstatic to have such a powerful ownership group in place for the biggest market in professional sports.  If the Wilpons have ever done anything right, it was buying the low on the Mets.  Here is that golden opportunity with the Islanders.  As a fan of both teams, please make this happen.

Today marks the end of the 1st month of the baseball season, and it’s about that time to start panicking about my fantasy baseball team.  I Like Ike has some serious starting pitching problems.

Right after my draft, I was worried about not having enough power in my outfield.  I drafted Carl Crawford in the 2nd round, but then didn’t pick another OF till round 9 with Hunter Pence.  After the draft, I was left with Crawford, Pence, Juan Pierre, Jason Kubel, Franklin Gutierrez, Chris Young and Josh Willingham.  So I traded John Lester for Jason Werth to add some power to that OF.  And now I’m in a panic.  My starting pitching has a total of 7 wins.  Ugh.  I’m going to need Justin Verlander’s corpse to get its act together and pitch better than 1-2 5.33 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP.  How are the Giants 12-9 and Matt Cain is 0-1 with a 3.80 ERA?  C’MON ON MAN!

Only time will tell if my SP wakes up.  I’ll probably have to move one of my 4 closers and an OF to get a stud starter.  But for now, I LOVE Ike Davis and have a small man-crush on him.  Kevin Gregg…I’ll take your saves and your goggles till you blow 4 saves in a row and get thrown on waivers…

April Studs n’ Duds

Every April there are early round picks that are off to a slower start than Charles Barkley running 100ft.  It feels like you have to trade them at 50 cents on the dollar just to rid your team of the possibility of getting genital warts or some other god awful disease from their mere presence.

Studs (based on where they were drafted in my league, expectations and any other things you’d like to consider)

Paul Konerko, 1b Chicago White Sox – 18th round

Leads the majors with 10 HR and is hitting .292.  Every year this guys scares you to death about his health and he is starting getting old.  It just alway seems like he’s playing with a nagging injury.  The Cell is a homer friendly park though.  I don’t expect him to keep that .290 avg, but 30 HR is almost a lock if he doesn’t get hurt.  And that ‘s a BIG if.

Robinson Cano, 2b Evil Empire – 5th round

I was dying to take him in the 5th round since he was still rotting there.  But he got snatched up a few pick before me.  Low and behold, he’s basically been the opening month MVP while hitting .408 8 HR 17 RBI’s with 21 runs scored.  Everything this guy has hit has been a laser beam.  If Teixeira and Aid-Roid could ever get on base, Cano would probably have around 30 RBI’s right now.  This guy can flat-out rake, and it wouldn’t shock me if he contends for the batting title this year.

Alex Gonzalez, ss Toronto Blue Jays – Undrafted

There’s no way in hell you drafted this guy.  But if you picked him up after the 1st couple of days into the season, he’s been great.  He has shown the ability to pop a few over the fence in a few seasons, but his real hot start (4  homers in the first 6 games) had owners grabbing him up off the wire quickly.  He hasn’t hit for much power since then, but is still at a respectable .275 5 HR 15 RBI’s for the opening month.  No one expected this.

Jorge Cantu, 1b/3b Florida Marlins – 13th round

Coming off two highly productive seasons as the Marlins 1b/3b, Cantu fell all the way down to me in the 13th rd.  I absolutely loved this pick and it has immediately paid off.  Cantu is 2nd in the league with 22 RBI’s and has 5 homers and a .290 batting average to sweeten it.  With he likes of David Wright, Pablo Sandoval and Kevin Youkilis going many rounds before him, he is the definition of a value pick.

Vernon Wells, OF Toronto Blue Jays – 16th round

A few years back, the Jays signed Wells to an NBA type, salary cap killing contract that was for 7 years and $126 million.   Needless to say he’s earned about $57 of that contract so far.  I don’t know if it was nagging injuries or what, but this year he looks healthy and back to the pre-contract form he had.  He ranks first in the AL in runs scored with 18, first in total bases with 58, first in extra-base hits with 17, is tied for first in doubles with nine, is tied for second in home runs with seven and is third in slugging with a .714 average.

Mike Pelfrey, SP New York Metropolitans – Undrafted

Lick.  Wipe.  Adjust hat.  Lick.  Lick some more. Step on rubber.  This was Pelfrey last year.  A complete headcase and his stock was stock falling faster than a sub-prime mortgage lender.  He was awful in spring training as well.  So there was no indication that he would be tied for the major league lead for wins (4),  leading in ERA (0.69) and have a save to his credit.  He is on pace for 100 walks at this rate, so it’s safe to say that his ERA will be on the rise.  Armed with his new splitter, you can still expect him to be in the 13-15 win range at this pace and a mid 3 ERA.

Francisco Liriano, SP Twinkies – 20th round

Coming off Tommy John surgery last year, Liriano looked terrible.  He was walking the park and couldn’t locate any of his pitches.  After a 5-13 campaign last year, he looks healthy and determined to make a statement that this is his pitching staff.  He’s started off 3-0 with a 0.93 ERA and a 0.966 WHIP.  His stuff has been flat-out electric.  My only concern is that he might tire out in the 2nd half.

Matt Capps, RP Nats – 16th round

Capps was the closer in Pittsburgh the past few years, collecting 66 saves.  He signed on with the Nats and along with last year’s mid 5 ERA, his stock plummeted.  Well all he’s done so far is save a MLB high 10 games and has allowed only 1 run so far this season.  The Nats are more competitive this year, but don’t expect 40 saves out of this guy.

*No catchers have really done anything great (Mauer is just being Mauer)

Duds (High draft picks that are just killing your team)

Victor Martinez, C Red Sawx – 3rd round

Having C and 1b eligibility make V-Mart even more valuable.  But being picked in the 3rd round means you are a cornerstone for a fantasy team.  The Sawx offense is flat-out miserable right now and V-Mart is a big part of it.  .237 1 HR and 5 RBI’s is just gross.  Calista Flockhart has meatier stats than those.  Being flanked by Pedroia and Yoooook makes this even more absurd.  He can’t throw anyone out so a move permanently to 1b is in order.  Lifetime, he hits about 50 points higher at first base.  You can’t give up on him yet, but till he gets out of this funk, scour the waiver wire for a Pudge Rodriguez or Rod Barajas to pass the time.

Mark Teixeria, 1b Evil Empire – 1st round

So far, he’s my LVP (Least Valuable Player) for April.  A notorious slow starter, Tex has been quite possibly the worst every day player in the majors.  Keep in mind, you can probably pencil him in for .300 35 HR 115 RBI’s right now, but I am getting a little worried.  With an April stat-line of .135 2 HR 9 RBI’s, it’s time to start getting worried.  Those are putrid numbers.  His on-base percentage is a paltry .300.  So let’s see…he’s not walking and he’s not making good contact.  Please excuse me while I vomit.  He’s gonna turn it around, but it better be sooner than later.

Ben Zobrist, 2b Tampa Bay Rays – 6th round

Last year, Zobrist might have been the guy who won you your fantasy league.  He had eligibility at like a gazillion positions and hit .297 27 HR 91 RBI’s with 90 runs and 17 steals.  So he signs a big contract extension coming off his 1st full year in the majors, and what does he do?  Lays a gigantic duce comin’ out of the blocks to the tune of .240 0 HR 10 RBI’s.  I really don’t know what to make of this guy.  He’s still young and is hitting in one of the best lineups in the game.  I guess wait it out and hope he starts producing.

Jose Reyes, ss New York Metropolitans – 3rd round

OK, Reyes missed all of spring training and the first week of the season due to a thyroid condition.  But 40 or so at bats into the season, Reyes has been moved into the 3rd slot in the lineup, breaking his streak of 591 straight games that he batted in the leadoff position.  Carlos Beltran’s slow heeling knee has made manager Jerry Manuel make this bizarre move.  Jose hasn’t gotten off to a good start.  Even though the Mets had won 7 straight games with Jose in the 3rd spot, his stats aren’t indicating that he’s has much to do with it.  He’s hitting .237 with zero homers and only 6 RBI’s.  Jose isn’t running either.  With only 4 steals in the first month, he’s only on pace for about 30 steals or so.  Please don’t give up on Jose yet.  By the time the All-Star break rolls around, I bet he has 30 steals and a ton of runs.

Aramis Ramirez, 3b Chicago Cubs – 7th round

Many people in my league thought this was a great pick.  You’d expect about .290 27-33 homers and 100+ RBI’s from this guy every year.  But this year he’s off to an extraordinarily slow start.  For a guy who’s a lifetime .283 hitter, a .150 average through the first month is a bit alarming.  He does have 3 homers and 13 RBI’s.  So you might be able to get by as he tries to regain his form.  The south side in the summer usually is a haven for power hitters, so I’d stick with him.

Grady Sizemore, OF Sons of Geronimo – 2nd round

To me, this guy is one of the most overrated players in baseball.  I don’t understand why people continue to overvalue him.  Over the past 4 years, he hasn’t been healthy and his batting average has gone down from .290 to .247.  He’s off to another very slow start.  He’s hitting .205 with no homers and only 9 RBI’s.  Another factor against him is that the Indians lineup is pathetic.  The only player in that lineup worthy of a fantasy roster spot is Shin-Soo Choo.  I’d think about trading Sizemore for just about anything at this point. 

Carlos Lee, OF Houston Astros –  7th round

One of the most consistent producers in baseball, Carlos Lee is off to one of the worst starts imaginable.  He plays in a park that has a left field wall that you can essentially piss over. It’s only about 315 ft to the 18 ft high wall.   It’s a complete joke of a ballpark and yet, he still hasn’t hit a single home run all month.  With a career OPS of .840, Lee is a prototypical power hitting corner outfielder.  His OPS this year resembles Cliff Lee’s rather than his own.  Carlos has no homers this season with only 5 RBI’s and is hitting .182.  I’m thinking that either he’s hurt and not saying anything, or he’s just getting real old…real fast.  I hope he’s hurt and comes back strong, because if he’s not, owners will have blown a #1 or #2 OF spot on him. 

Justin Verlander, SP Detroit Tigers – 3rd round

Verlander is a bona-fide fantasy ace.  But just like last year, he’s off to a painfully slow start.  He’s getting hit around and getting no run support either.  He isn’t going deep into games due to his high K and BB totals.  Last year through his first 4 starts, he had a 9.00 ERA and was 0-2.  Thankfully that turned around in his 5th start and he was well on his way to a 17-9 record with a mid 3 ERA and 269 punch-outs.  So far this year, it’s more like last season’s early struggles with only 1 win and a miserable 5.53 ERA.  I expect much of the same as last year from Verlander, so sit tight with him and take the early lumps. 

Trevor Hoffman, RP Brew Crew – 12th round 

The all time saves leader had a fantastic season for the Brew Crew last year with 37 saves and a 1.83 ERA.  This year?  3 saves and a 13.00 ERA.  He’s been a complete disaster with 4 blown saves already.  During the draft, I just kept thinking that he’s a ticking time bomb.  I am so glad I followed my rankings and passed up on him.  I would normally say to gobble up set-up man LaTroy Hawkins, but he’s been equally as awful.  I’m just crossing my fingers that you didn’t draft Hoffman, because at this point, he’s not even startable. 

If anyone has any other nominees for Studs n’ Duds, state your case to totalsportsblog@yahoo.com and their case will be made.

Is the NBA even relevant anymore?  Does anyone even care?   Apparently not.   ESPN didn’t even care.  With what seemed like 74 playoff games being played last Thursday night, the NBA lost the ratings battle with the 1st round of the NFL Draft.  Yes that’s correct, there wasn’t even a game played in the NFL.  It was the Draft.  If that doesn’t wake up the corpse known as David Stern, I don’t know what will.  Hello Mr. Stern!  ESPN, who you have a gazillion dollar TV deal with, iced you on 2 games that night and showed the NFL Draft instead.

The NBA is easily the worst product out there right now of the 4 major sports.  As a whole, the NBA is clearly is the biggest trouble.  There is literally no reason to turn a game on untill the last 2 minutes.  But even if you choose to, do so at your own risk.  There’s nothing better than watching anywhere between 7.5 to 9.5 mindless idiots out there, having zero clue what’s going on. There’s just too much “Hey! Pass it to me!! Clear out fools, I’m takin’ this to the tin!!!!”   I can maybe think of 5 teams right now (Cleveland, Orlando, Dallas, Oklahoma City and Phoenix.  The Lakers are just brutal to watch) that I would even care to see.  It’s just terrible.  Sure I’ll keep LeBron on for a few minutes if I happen to see the Cavs on TV, or maybe even Orlando to see Dwight Howard just serve pathetic drive attempts into the 15th row. 

The point is that right now as I’m writing this column, I have the Red Wings/Coyotes game 7 on, instead of Kobe and the “Fakers” vs The “Durant’s”.  The Durant’s are easily the most entertaining team in the league to root for.  But yet, I can’t even turn it on.  You know why?  Because If I do, I’ll see Kobe hoisting up ill-advised turnaround jumpers, Ron Artest doing something REAL dumb, Pau Gasol’s god awful beard and Phil Jackson bitching and moaning about every call.  Sure, I’d love to see the up and coming Thunder take out the punks from LA, but I just can’t even muster up the strength to turn that vomit fest on.  And by the way, the NBA would NEVER allow the Thunder to win this series.  They NEED Kobe in the finals vs LeBron.  Yes, that ring tone you are hearing is Tim Donaghy’s cell phone going off (This of course would have happened if he hadn’t been caught rigging games and betting on the ones he was refereeing in)  “Oh no problem Mr. Stern, I know.  Kobe will get to the line at least 18 times tonight.  Yeah, yeah, we’ll keep it close in the 4th, don’t you worry.  Oh no, sorry…..I wasn’t scheduled to work the Orlando/Charlotte series…..yeah they tried, but even giving Dwight Howard 22 fouls in 4 games couldn’t help Coach Brown.  Sorry.  Take care.”

I would love to go back to the mid 80’s to see real basketball being played.  None of this watered down, guaranteed contract, if you leave the bench during an altercation you get suspended a gazillion games, sissy fest.  I recently listened to Kevin McHale on a Bill Simmons Podcast describing how in the mid 80’s when he was on the Celts, that him and Bird were in games where street brawls literally broke out on the court because teams genuinely hated each other.  And not once did I hear anything about suspensions.  These were star players getting involved and policing themselves.  These days, there are no true rivalries.  Who are the Lakers rival right now?  Who are the Celtics rivals?  Do the Cavs even have a rival?  The answer is a flat-out no. 

If the NBA wants to save itself from bankruptcy and going completely on the back burner, they need to take a long look in the mirror and make some drastic changes.  #1 Mandatory 3-years in college.  This will hone the skills of these kids and make them better in the long run.  #2  Contraction.  Way to many bums getting paid $25 million over the next however many years to sit on the end of the bench.  Either limit the number of  players from 12 to 10 or get rid of a few teams.  #3 Four year max contract length.  This will hopefully eliminate teams from deciding to give absolutely retarded contracts to real bad players.  Sure, you can add-on a 5th year team option to these contracts.  This way, a bad contract won’t cripple a team for 5 or 6 years.  #4 Hard Cap.  None of these salary cap “exceptions”.  No “injury exception” or “Mid-level” exception.   You have a 12 man roster and say 3 “practice squad” type players under contract.  $65 million cap. Figure out the math.   If you go $1 over, you forfeit every game that you are over the cap by $1.  There’s how you fix the NBA.  My way. 

Ahhh, nice to see the Thunder are down 20 at the half to the Lakers in LA.  Wow, I’m totally shocked and off to bed.  See you for game 7 in LA sometime next month.

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The Mendoza Line

April 19, 2010 by

When you are a baseball player, you never want your batting average to be around the “Mendoza Line”.   Coined after Mario Mendoza, a batting average of .200 is said to be the cutoff point for futility by a regular position player.  Mendoza was a highly skilled defensive shortstop with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers back in the late 1970’s.   Although Mendoza’s batting average was .215 lifetime, he was known as a sub-.200 hitter whose average frequently fell into the .170 to .180 range during any particular year.

Fast forward to mid-April, 2010… Players are bigger, faster, stronger and MUCH richer.  Every move is under the microscope.  Nowdays it doesn’t matter if you are the 5th starter for the Pittsburgh Pirates, or the center fielder for the New York Yankees.  Everyone is watching.

So here I am, flipping thru the MLB Package and I come across the Yankee game.  Mark Teixeria is up, so I figure I’ll catch a glimpse of the Gold Glove Winning, home run mashing, $180 million man.  The guy is everything you want in a 1B.  He’s got reflexes at first base that make his glove almost seem like he’s got a hockey goalie’s catching glove on.  The raw power that he has is incredible.  When he’s in the batter’s box, he’s huge.  Batting left-handed or right-handed, he strikes fear pitchers.  But something just isn’t right.  His batting average says .083.  WOW.  .083 is a pitchers batting average.  So I keep the game on and watch him when he’s at the plate.  Nothing looks right.  I can’t believe what I’m watching.   Lindsay Lohan coming out of the Roxy at 4am has better balance right now than “Big Tex” has at the plate.  It’s almost as if he’s guessing at what pitch is coming instead of recognizing what pitch is coming his way.

To Tex’s credit, he’s not taking his at-bats out to the field with him.  Every night he makes difficult plays at first base look routine.  Year after year, he gets off to a slow start at the plate.  But before you know it, he’s been on a fire for 3 months and is manning 1st base for the All-Star team.  With the lineup that the Yanks put out every night, he’s sure to get his share of fastballs to deposit in the seats.  I’m not saying that it’s time to panic, but the Mendoza Line might actually be a good thing in this case.

…do it Jerry.  Please.  Just pull the damn trigger.  No one is looking at this 2-6 start as “only 8 games”.  It’s more like the last 250 games.  As Mets fans call up local radio stations and write on their blogs, Jerry keeps finding ways to justify every loss. Take this gem from Jerry after last night’s loss…

“I think if we keep ourselves in games, we have a shot, because of the fight that’s in the club”

What fight Jerry?  There is no fight.  When your team is hitting something close to .100 so far this season with runners in scoring position, you don’t have fight.

Jerry not only is hallucinating, he might just be taking drugs.  This guy is so aloof to what’s going on, that he decides that in the 10th inning, with a 2 and 2 count, that he’ll send in a pinch runner for Mike Jacobs.  That’s right.  Jacobs in on 2nd base, and the count is  2 and 2.  HELLO JERRY!  What the hell were you thinking about?  Did it just dawn on you that Jacobs might get on base?  (I know, I was just waiting for a patented pop-up to the infield or a strikeout)

I’ve wanted to give Jerry some slack.  I really haven’t been thinking he should be let go.  But this season so far is just a conformation that he has zero control over this team.  I really don’t think he has a clue or a plan.  He wants Reyes batting 3rd. Why? He wants Mejia in the bullpen.  Why? He wants Ike Davis in the minors.  Why?  He plays Garry Matthews Jr in CF instead of Angel Pagan.  Why? He’s a total disaster.  When Carlos Beltran went down last year, Pagan hit .300 and batted leadoff for a little over 2 months.  The guy was a catalyst.  Now…lets bat him 8th IF he plays.  C’MON MAN.

Omar Minaya hasn’t given Jerry any help this off-season other than Jason Bay, but Bay was only one of 10 holes the Mets had to fill.  Everyone in baseball knew that the Mets season and Jerry’s job was riding on the trio of Mike Pelfrey, John Maine and Ollie Perez.  Well Jerry, it was nice knowing ya.  Make sure to thank your 3 headcase pitchers and Omar on your way out.

Keep it “Gangsta” Jerry.

Sorry it’s a day late…..

# 1 San Jose versus  #8 Colorado

Once again San Jose has a #1 seed, and once again, they’ll be feeling the pressure to finally get the job done.  Year after year they become their own worst enemy.  The Sharks are red hot coming into the playoffs and face an Avalanche team that is very young.  Avs goalie Craig Anderson got some rest in the last few games, and he’ll need it.  The Sharks are a potent offensive team.  I like the Sharks to move on to the 2nd round.  Sharks in 6

#2 Chicago versus #7 Nashville

The Chicago Blackhawks may be the best team in the West, but injuries have really taken its toll on them.  They’re #1 D-Man Brian Campbell, has been out for over a month after a bone crushing hit by Alexander Ovechkin.  He may play in this series and would be a HUGE addition.  The Preds are a scrappy team that doesn’t do anything special, but they do grind out wins.  Especially at home.  Based on nothing at all, I’ll take a flier on the Preds in 7

#3 Vancouver versus #6 Los Angeles

The LA Kings are my sleeper team to make serious noise in these playoffs.  They are a real young, loose group of guys who can put the puck in the net.  I know they are facing a very good defensive team in the Canucks, but I am not sold on goalie Roberto Luongo.  He’s never really shown up in the playoffs and I don’t see how it will change this year.  Statistically speaking, this has been his worst season since coming to Vancouver.  I expect these to be tight games, and I just love this Kings team.  Kings in 7

#4 Phoenix versus #5 Detroit

The Detroit Red Wings come into the playoffs like a steam roller.  Since the Olympic break, they have a 16-3-2 record.  This year marks their incredible 19th season in a row of making the playoffs.  That’s the longest postseason streak in the four major sports.  The Coyotes have been no slouch since the break either.  They posted a 13-4-2 record.  The ‘Yotes were not expected to turn it around this early in their rebuilding project, but the acquisition of goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov 2 seasons ago, has really transformed this team into a stellar defensive team.  I think the experience of the Wings will win over youth of the “Yotes in this series.  Red Wings in 6