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Monday, July 31, 2006

Floyd, Charles Both Big Dopes

WORLD CLASS DOPE
After pulling off one of the most stirring comebacks the sport has ever seen, Floyd Landis failed a drug test putting his Tour de France victory in jeopardy. Earlier in the week it was revealed that right before he cut his 8 minute deficit to less than 10 seconds in stage 17, Landis' blood test revealed he had high levels of testosterone in his blood. Now, Floyd claims this is normal for him, and from what I've read that's certainly possible. That begs the question though, if he tested positive this time, why didn't he do so for the 6 other times he was tested during the Tour? I guess we will have to wait for that answer. The sad thing is, this is one of those stories that can mar a person and a sport, no matter what the real facts are. If and when Landis is cleared, the seeds of doubt will have already been planted in the minds of the fans. So even if the lab comes back and claims they made a mistake, or come to find out it was a normal occurrence, all people will remember is that he failed a drug test. I do hope for his sake (and for the sake of his Amish looking parents) that this was a mistake of some kind, but like I said the damage has already been done. As if cycling needed this after the retirement of it's most popular rider, but in a sport constantly tainted by doping and drug use, it was probably only a matter of time before a scandal like this completely tore it apart.


Hop on the Chuck Wagon
Apparently Charles Barkley doesn't own a TV. Because if he did, he would have seen himself on it, and realized he has no business running for a political office. That's right, Charles Barkley has decided to run for Governor of Alabama. And better yet, only a few weeks ago he changed his political affiliation from Republican to Democrat. So to recap. The "Round Mound of Rebound" went from NBA All-Star, to being misquoted in his own autobiography, to the Governor's mansion? I suppose if Jesse "The Body" Ventura was elected, than Chuck has a decent shot, but come on. I mean the guy repeatedly referred to Darko on draft night in 2003 as Darko Mil-cheech. And that was after Darko had been the topic of draft discussion for at least the previous 6 months. It's also not encouraging that when asked about what he could do to help the state of Alabama as governor, Barkley responded with "it's already so messed up, it couldn't get much worse." That's the spirit Chuck. I guess his theory is, if you have to be dirt poor and live in the dumbest state in the union, you might as well have one of the best rebounders of all time as your leader! If only the rest of the country thought that way, then we could look forward to voting for Dennis Rodman and Moses Malone in 2008!

Not Ready for Prime Time
Another Patriot's training camp begins with another star player holding out. Last year it was DT Richard Seymour, and this year all the attention is on the absence of WR Deion Branch who is refusing to attend camp until his contract is redone. Does Branch deserve more money? Of course he does. Should he be holding out? Of course not. I'm always amazed at these guys that hold out because they think their contract is unfair. Wasn't he the one that signed it in the first place? Granted the NFL's labor policy greatly favors owners, allowing them to cut players essentially whenever they want, but not allowing players to opt out of their contracts with the same freedom. But does that mean Branch can just refuse to show up or show up with an attitude? I think not. In this instance however, I think he's just trying to send the message that he feels disrespected. He's probably thinking not only is he underpaid, but the Pats signed extensions for Brady and Seymour to have their salary more accurately represent their value to the team, so why not him? Well Deion, you may be great, but those two guys I just mentioned are irreplaceable pieces, are you? I'd be inclined to say no. But that doesn't mean I want you out. The fact is, the Pats still have a large chunk of salary cap space, and if they don't use it to resign Branch, it's going to leave a lot of fans wondering why they didn't use that money to upgrade key positions in the offseason. All that being said, I still wouldn't worry. I will all but guarantee that Deion is on the field in Foxboro within the next week with a smile on his face and a dumptruck full of money in his driveway.

Red Sox Update
Last Week: 3-3
Overall: 62-41
Standings: 1st place by 1/2 game

*One major edge the Sox had going into the second half of the season was playing more games at home than anyone in the whole league. Well going 6-5 in our first 11 home games isn't exactly taking advantage of that now is it? But fear not, 14 games against Cleveland, Tampa, KC and Baltimore should get this ship pointed back in the right direction.

Diamonds Are Forever
*The non-waiver trading deadline has come and gone, with only two "major" deals going on. And to use the term major is even misleading, but seeing how Soriano, Tejada and Zito all stayed put, here are my takes on the biggest trades from the last week...

Cubs send Greg Maddux to Dodgers for Caesar Izturis: The Dodgers apparently realized like the rest of us that the NL West is still up for grabs. Sure Maddux may not even be the pitcher he was one or two years ago, but it can't hurt to add his arm to your rotation. My only problem is that Maddux is a "one and done" guy, or a rent-a-player. And seeing as the Dodgers don't realistically have a shot at winning the World Series, it may not have been the best move to trade one of their highest prospects in 6'6" 21 year old 3B Joel Guzman.

Dodgers send minor leaguers to Tampa for Julio Lugo: This deal makes a little more sense to me. Lugo is that type of player that once he hits a big market he could get the national attention to turn him into a star. While his fielding is sometimes questionable (29 errors in the past 2 years), and he's not exactly young at 30, he has the skills to get a team 20 homers, 30 doubles and 30 steals a year while hitting at about .280.

Brewers trade Carlos Lee to the Rangers: A team that needed pitching went out and got another bat? Interesting move I suppose. More likely it's just a move that's going to cost the Rangers more money and not win them anymore games, but hey what do I know.

Yankees send 4 minor leaguers to Phillies for Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle: I think I'm the only one who thinks that Lidle is the key to this deal. Abreu makes $17 million, and plays like he should be earning about $3 million, so the only team that was going to trade for him was going to be the Yanks. Just like the Rangers, the Yankees acquired another bat they didn't need. Yeah even with Matsui, Cano, and Sheff hurt I don't think they were going to struggle scoring runs. So to me Lidle was the steal of this trade. Make no mistake about it, he's no ace, but he is a reliable #4 starter and a perfect compliment to Wang, Unit and Moose. His 4.74 ERA leaves a little to be desired, but when your team is scoring 6-8 runs a game it won't seem to matter.

Mets send Xavier Nady to Pirates for Oliver Perez and Roberto Hernandez: I like this deal for the Mets because it's very low risk and high reward. Hernandez is about 200 years old, but with Duaner Sanchez just hitting the DL, Roberto should be able to help bridge the gap and get the game to Wagner in the 9th. As for Perez, he's got about as much upside as any lefty in the majors. He's only 24, and while he's never had more than 12 wins in 4 full seasons, he's shown the raw talent to blossom into an All-Star and front end of the rotation type of pitcher. Nady was valuable to the Mets, but these two additions are necessary both for the present playoff push and the future of their aging pitching staff.

*It's every fans dream to get as close to their favorite players as they possibly can, but this is a little too much. Leland's auction house has decided to start the bidding on the urinal that used to be in the hallway separating the Red Sox dugout and their clubhouse. The auction description claims that the item has been "up close and personal" with such Sox greats as Roger Clemens, Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz and Jim Rice. The porcelain collectible was installed right before the cursed 1986 season, and removed right after the World Series title in 2004. The bidding starts at $300, but Leland's say they expect to fetch more than $2,500 for it. Only in America (and possibly England) would someone pay that much for a urinal. What I wanna know is, does it come with a Grady Little autographed urinal cake?

*I'm not much for the buzz word "revolutionize", but when it comes to Bruce Sutter it's appropriate. With his induction on Sunday, Sutter became the first pitcher to enter the Hall without ever starting a game. He may not have invented the splitter, but he perfected it. Think of great pitchers like Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling who use a splitter as their go-to pitch. Where would their careers be without Sutter's influence? And another argument that's sure to come up with Sutter's induction is, why now? Sutter had been on the ballot for 18 years before finally being elected in. What kind of retarded, backwards, George Bush type process is this? You trying to tell me that for the past 2 decades he wasn't good enough, but now all of a sudden he is? It's a terribly flawed process. Granted we are only seeing now how valuable a closer is. While in Sutter's day he was a rarity as a save specialist, these days closers are just as important as clean up guys or staff aces. Either way, the system should work so you only get one shot to be voted in. You're worthy or you're not, plain and simple.

Fantasy Update
Last Week: 10-9-3
Overall: 173-152-49 (27.5 games back)

Week 18 vs Suck It France! (167-147-60)

*It's always good when you can beat the first place team, but I was in position for a larger margin of victory. My pitching continued to struggle this week, which is why I added Yankee starter Chien Ming Wang to the mix. Needless to say I needed to change my team name. So allow me to introduce my new team.....Hanley's Wang. Enjoy.


*I'm going to keep reminding you people until you all sign up. So far the football league is scheduled to have 12 teams, but I've already heard from 14-16 people that say they want in. If you want to secure a spot I recommend contacting me ASAP for the info. Otherwise you could be left out, and we wouldn't want that now would we?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Belichick Lookin' For Another Ring....Sort Of

Tiger Roars, Captures 11th Major Title
The rest of the field should have brought their health care cards to the British Open this week, because my main man Tiger Woods was putting on a clinic. After opening with a solid round, it was his eagle from the fairway at #14 on Friday that sent the message to the field that this was his tournament to win or lose. Tiger just went out and did what he does best. He led the field in fairways hit, was a total of -14 on the par 5s for the week and he attacked only those pins that were accessible instead of forcing in tough shots. That's how Tiger typically wins a major championship, and he's gotten quite good at perfecting his formula. The win at Royal Liverpool marked Woods' 3rd British Open title and his 11th major, placing him in a tie for second all-time behind Nicklaus' 18. I have always said it was only a matter of time before Tiger passed Jack for the record, and I still believe it. My only worry early on in his career was that he might get so much better than the competition that he could lose interest and retire. But now that there seem to be many staunch competitors every week, whether it's Phil, Goosen, Ernie, Sergio or Furyk, I don't see Mr. Woods hanging it up anytime soon. Plus, he has always said that the goal that drove him the most was capturing 19 or more majors. So while he may have missed the cut a few weeks back at the US Open, Tiger Woods put all of his critics to rest and did what he always does, win the Big One. As for my man Phil this week? I told you it would be unfair to expect a lot from him in a tournament he always does poorly in, and it looks like I was right. Despite having played more holes than any other pro on Royal Liverpool, Phatty finished more than 10 shots back and was never seriously in contention. He may not have missed the cut, but having Tiger blow him out of the water is good enough for me.

Bill Belichick Stole My Wife!
Apparently the saying is true. You should always be weary of the quiet ones. At least that's what Vincent Shenocca is saying. Shenocca, a local Jersey man, claims that recently divorced New England Patriot head coach Bill Belichick is trying to steal his wife. Apparently, Bill sent a limousine to pick up Shenocca's wife and bring her to a Bon Jovi concert (Bill and Jon Bon Jovi have been good friends for years) where it's assumed she was accompanied by the head coach himself. Nobody really knows for sure what happened, and you know we aren't going to get any information from Belichick himself, so this one may remain a guessing game for a while. My opinion? Hey if it takes an elicit affair to keep this guy happy, that's fine by me. I'll start caring about what he does in his personal life when one of two things happen. The Pats start to lose, or the Feds find 20 or so bodies chopped up and neatly piled in his freezer.
Tour de Force?
Much like the Stanley Cup, nobody watched, but somebody won. I suppose I will offer some congratulations to American Floyd Landis, who made it 8 straight Tour de France wins for the US. The one thing that bothers me (other than the fact that I am again writing about a sport that doesn't deserve my valuable web space) is the talk after the race about how Landis did it all with a degenerative bone condition. Now I'm not trying to deny the validity of the report, or even hint that Landis doesn't have injuries, but doesn't this sound like they are trying to make him into some sort of pseudo Lance? Can't we have a cyclist that won because he was the best, instead of one that overcame ridiculous odds to "not only beat his competitors, but beat death as well". Sure that's not a direct quote, but I think it gets my point across pretty well. Just like I said before the tour started, it would take another racer narrowly escaping death and coming back to win to capture our attention again. So that's where all this crap is coming from. Degenerative bone condition? Something tells me that's not going to spawn a million dollar yellow bracelet business. Although I wouldn't be surprised if it lands him a Milk ad campaign. "Hi, I'm Floyd Landis. Right after I dusted a bunch of blood doping Eurotrash at the 2006 Tour de Crap, I pounded down a huge glass of milk. Sure it was over 100 degrees out, but that cow juice went down so smooth, it made me forget that I was in France doing a sport that nobody cares about!"

All-Out?
The latest buzz about online gambling has not been encouraging to say the least. With a few states already passing laws to make online poker, blackjack and sports betting illegal, now it's getting national attention. And with a slew of elections coming up this November, it's sure to get even more attention. The problem is, the US government doesn't get a piece of this more than $2 billion a year pie. I really don't play online poker as much as I used to, but I don't see why it should ever be illegal. Having gambling be illegal makes about as much sense to me as prohibition. Take casinos for example. They bring in tons of state and city revenue, create hundreds if not thousands of jobs and create a tourist destination. Sure some of you might say that some casinos create a seedy and unsavory atmosphere, but you all know you're referring to Atlantic City. And we know that has nothing to do with the casinos, and more to do with the fact that they lie on the sewage farm that is the Jersey shore. So don't do away with gambling on the internet, just regulate it. If it can be regulated, the government can take their little cut of the pie, and the rest of us can keep on blowing our paychecks on 12 team teasers and 2000 people poker tournaments.

Red Sox Update

Last Week: 5-2
Overall: 59-38
Standings: 1st by 2.5 games

*Talk about having ups and downs. After limping out of the gate last week, the Sox got the antidote for the post All-Star blues in the form of a home sweep of the Kansas City Royals. That's the good news. The bad news is the latest trade rumors surrounding 3B Mike Lowell and the fact that Timmy Wakes is on the DL for the first time since 1997. Also not encouraging is the fact we still have Kyle Snyder in out rotation, but as long as we keep winning, I'll let that slide for a few more weeks. And what the hell happened with Coco on that inside the park home run? I better not see that again anytime soon or he may end up in my doghouse next to Willie Harris and Julian Tavares.

Diamonds Are Forever
*So apparently Shea Hillenbrand was challenged to a fight by his former manager John Gibbons after Shea wrote "this is a sinking ship" on the blackboard in the Blue Jays locker room. So faster than John Daly running after a Jack Daniels truck, Shea was shipped out to San Francisco. I remember when Shea left Boston and he was bitter towards the Red Sox front office. He claimed he was slighted and treated with disrespect, despite the fact that GM Theo Epstein flew from Boston to Toronto to tell Shea the news personally, rather than calling him or having a lower level exec give him the news. So after this latest blow up in Toronto, where Shea says Blue Jay officials disrespected him by not congratulating him on adopting a baby, I've come to the conclusion that Shea is a cry baby. When he doesn't play every day, he cries. When he gets traded, he cries. Give it up Shea. We're all sick of your act, and if you pull another stunt on your way out from your next team, you may be saying goodbye to baseball for good.

*Alex Rodriguez is going through some tough times these days, and it takes a lot for me to say that about a guy that makes more than $17,000 an inning. But lately, A-Rod has not only continued to struggle in clutch hitting situations, but now his fielding is suffering as well. In his first two full seasons as a 3rd baseman, he made a combined 25 errors, yet this year he already has 18! It's gotten to the point where Joe Torre even had to bench him in the last inning of a close game. Sure they all came out and said it was a foot injury that's throwing him off, but even if that's true nobody is going to believe it or even accept it as an excuse. The fact is, the pressure of NY is getting to A-Rod. AKA He's pulling a Chuck Knoblauch or to a lesser extent a Steve Sax or a Mackey Sasser. Sure Alex had been booed by the Bronx faithful before, but now it's becoming an every day thing and that can't help but make him feel awful. But like i said, I don't feel bad for him and you shouldn't either. He's paid to perform like an All-Star under immense pressure, and if he doesn't start doing that, he and his .277 average are going to get booed right out of the Big Apple and right into the history books as a player who always choked in the clutch.

*Apparently Ozzie Guillen is now mad at Jon Garland for not retaliating when a White Sox hitter was beaned this weekend. Ozzie needs to understand that maybe not everyone in his clubhouse has his mentality when it comes to things like this. My take is this. There are three types of players when it comes to situations like this. 1) This player will take it upon his own to make sure justice is done 2) This player may not want to do it, but if asked will more than likely oblige, and 3) This player doesn't give a rat's ass what Ozzie Guillen says and he won't intentionally hit anyone, end of story. Guess which one I think Jon Garland is?

Fantasy Update
Last Week: 11-8-3
Overall: 163-143-46 (28.5 games back)
Week 17 vs KlasicKountryKaterin

*Last week I played against the cellar dweller, and this week I get the occupant of the penthouse. But you know what they say, to be the best you have to beat the best. And a big win this week would hopefully give my team a good jolt in the right direction.

*And just another reminder. If you're interested in fantasy football drop me a line...

Monday, July 17, 2006

TO Being TO, Sox Being Bad


T O the Hero?
In a shocking surprise to us all, TO is claiming that he was misquoted in his own autobiography. Owens starts the book by saying that all the words in the book are coming directly from his mouth to us, the reader. He then goes on to say that coming back from his leg injury to play in the Super Bowl was "heroic". That's where Owens claims he's been wronged. TO claims that the co-author, and brother of his agent Drew Rosen-bag, changed the wording of that section for effect. Wait, I'm sorry, you're telling me he altered a quote? Let's try this theory instead. TO didn't read the book before it was published, and actually did think that his actions were heroic. That sounds more like it to me. Matter of fact, I think Owens may have pulled a page from the J. Peterman catalogue and paid a bunch of weirdos to put their own stories in there. This man is a fool. And if you want to believe he got misquoted, then keep on living in your dream world. Not only do I think he said I, I know he said it. This is all from the man who famously barbed "I love me some me" and took shots at teammates and coaches on a regular basis. He thinks the world revolves around him, and as long as he can keep making plays in the league, he will have enough people to keep telling him that our green and blue sphere actually does make a trip around him every 365 days a year. Come on now. Misquoted in your own autobiography? Even Charles Barkley thinks that's dumb.

Bail Bonds
Barroid's lawyers say they don't expect an indictment on their client anytime soon for lying under oath to the grand jury. And why should they? Last time I checked, everyone and their brother knew that Bonds was using roids, and still nothing has happened to him, so why would this be any different? He's just going to keep on busting homers and hats until his dome explodes all over the left field bleachers in a glorious mix of brain and acne puss. I've said it before and I will say it again, as long as MLB isn't testing for HGH, Bonds and all these other cheaters will go unpunished. The drugs they finally are testing for are so outdated that the only people getting caught probably did use them by accident, or are so far down the ladder that nobody likes to tell them where to get the "good stuff". It's like the kid in high school that gets caught with oregano. His intentions were just as bad as the kids smoking weed and not getting caught, he just wasn't cool enough to get the good shit. Bonds has been smoking that good shit for years, and unless they can somehow get in a time machine and test him a few years ago, this will always be a war of words and nothing more. Worst case scenario is he gets indicted for lying to the grand jury. But you know he can beat the case when the witnesses against him were also his co-conspirators. Again, our only hope is he chooses to retire before he breaks the most recognizable record in all of sports. And I hope and pray every day that he does just that.

Keith Davis Shot....Again
If you're at all like me the first thing you probably say when reading this headline is "Who the hell is Keith Davis". Well my friends he's a defensive back for the Dallas Cowboys (yea that's him on the right), so on with the story. I can't say it's ever a persons fault for getting shot, unless they themselves have a weapon on them at the time. I mean who is to say you can't be the victim of a random act of violence, or even just be in the wrong place at the wrong time. But when you're a pro athlete, and you're shot twice in 3 years, once at 3 am, and once in the parking lot of a strip club, questions tend to arise about your character. Parcells cut Davis after he was shot the first time, telling you that the Tuna himself probably figured something was up after the initial shooting. So why do guys like this keep getting a free pass from the press? One simple reason. He's not very good. Imagine if Keyshawn Johnson was shot twice in one year in two questionable sets of circumstances? The rumors would be flying about how he lives such a wild life and his partying is out of control. But Davis gets by with nothing. Everyone just wants to know what it was like being shot and how he's feeling. Hell I guess nobody would know better than Davis what it feels like to be shot. I heard 50 Cent himself called him up and said "Again? Are you kidding me?" I've always maintained that one of the best jobs in the world is to be a pro athlete that's decent, not great. You get paid millions of dollars, and get many of the perks of being a huge celebrity, but when it comes to your private life you have so much more wiggle room.

Stew On This
I'm not one to talk about NASCAR, seeing as I know less about cars than probably anything else, but Tony Stewart just fascinates me. Week after week Stewart offends someone, whether its after he wins, crashes, or gets put into the wall by one of his fellow drivers. And this week was no different. After being bumped by Ryan Newman, essentially ending his day at the Lenox Industrial Tool 300 (yea catchy name isn't it?), Stewart had this to say to his fellow driver. "It's amazing how he expects you to let him by, but he don't give anybody the same courtesy". Classic. This from a guy who is constantly trading paint with the opposition, cursing at other drivers after races, and cutting people off in the pits. Newman charged back by saying that Stewart didn't "live up to what he preaches and that's move over and let the faster car go". You really gotta love these guys. Only a bunch of hicks sitting on a couple hundred pounds of gasoline would think it's a good idea to try and hit someone as they try to pass you. But no matter how brash Stewart and his tactics are, he's great for the sport. Every sport needs a villain. Baseball has the Yankees, football has the Cowboys, and now NASCAR has Stewart. He's good, he's dangerous, and he's a great sound byte every time you put a mic up in his grill. So while I won't be watching a race anytime soon, I look forward to seeing the clips on Sportscenter the next time Tony lashes out about how someone tried to do the unthinkable and pass his race car.

Red Sox Update
Last Week: 1-3
Overall: 54-36
Standings: 1st place by 1/2 game

*Not exactly an inspiring start to the 2nd half, and the reasons why are just as startling. Losing is one thing, but the fact that Josh Beckett is about as dependable as North Korea's nuclear missile program is frightening. Without Schill, Beckett and Wake eating innings 3 nights a week, the bullpen should be worn down in no time. The Yankees are the least of our worries right now, we need starting pitching and fast. And something is telling me that Kyle Snyder may not be the answer. Maybe it's his 10.03 ERA. There may have been a reason the Royals cut him after all.

*Some actual good news for Sox fans. After suffering a brain aneurysm a few weeks ago, Peter Gammons has been moved to a rehab center and is said to be vastly improving. The sooner we can get him back on ESPN to give his great insight into the game the better. Not to mention balance out the racist and intolerable comments of my main man Joe "Did you know I played for the Big Red Machine?" Morgan. Here's to hopin'' the "Commish" makes a speedy recovery and gets back to his old self before the playoff push begins.

Diamonds Are Forever
*I've heard of some bad ideas in my day, but this one comes close to taking the cake. After being pulled over a few months ago, reliever Scott Sauerbeck (or Sauersuck to us Boston fans) bolted from police and hid in the bushes. When the cops found him, he was all liquored up and hiding in the bushes with a hooker. Needless to say his wife wasn't too pumped. So what's a good punishment for that you ask? Well apparently the court saw it fit to assign Sauersuck to community service. No he won't be picking trash up on the highway or reading to senior citizens, he will be talking to high school students about the dangers of alcohol! "Don't drink kids, because you don't want to be caught by the police naked in the bushes with a man jockey?" Riiiight. Or better yet. "Here's a good way to avoid capture by the police..." I don't know who dropped the ball more in this instance, Scott or our justice system. I guess that's what you get when you let men in robes not named Hugh Heffner call the shots.

*Yet another classy move from Cub fans. After the Mets dropped two grand slams on them in the 6th inning to take the lead Sunday, Cub fans began throwing trash onto storied Wrigley Field. Or as Jeff Gordon would say "Wrigley Stadium". I know it's gotta suck having to endure year after year of losing, incompetent management, Wood and Prior constantly flashing greatness only to land on the DL and of course Steve Bartman, but show some freaking respect. Your park is supposed to be hallowed ground, but instead you treat it just like the losers that you are. Look out Philly fan, because the trash hurlers in the Windy city are giving you a run for your money as the worst fans in all of sports. Maybe it's not a curse after all, maybe the sports gods just know undeserving losers when they see one.

*Talk about a one sided trade. When the Reds dealt Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez to the Nationals this week for two bullpen bums it had most educated people scratching their heads. Just to recap, the Reds gave up two starting players to the Nationals and didn't get Alfonso Soriano, but instead Bill Bray and Gary Majewski. What was GM Wayne Krivsky thinking? Sure the Reds sit atop the Wild Card right now and they need bullpen help, but I'm pretty sure giving away two young promising starting fielders wasn't the way to go about solving the problem. Like any deal only time will tell if this one works out, but if the Reds miss the playoffs, no matter how well these bums pitch, consider it a bust. Good pitching may beat out good hitting, but two setup guys do not beat out two 26 year old guys that have combined this season for 35 doubles, 23 homers and 80 RBI while hitting at about .270.

*Let's finally put this to rest. Manny was no more injured than any other player on any given day in the majors. He simply would rather rest than play in the All-Star game. End of story.

Fantasy Update
Last Week: 11-9-2
Overall: 152-135-43 (25 games back)

Week 16 vs Bubba's Bitches (111-176-43)

*Didn't exactly burst out of the gate after the All-Star break, but I'll take it. Now it's time to dismantle the team in the basement and get the 2nd half train rolling. I'm 41 games ahead of this fool in the standings, so if I can't blast him even further into oblivion, then maybe I don't deserve to be league champ. But we all know not only do I deserve it, but it will be mine. This week call me Bubba...

*Just another fantasy note. I've begun preparations for a fantasy football league, so if you're interested just let me know and I'll give you more details.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Italy 1 World Cup 0

France Gets the Boot

I'm sure if you told French star Zinedine Zidane that he was going to be playing his last game in the World Cup final, he wouldn't even mind the outcome. But after he disgraced himself yesterday while being ejected in the 2nd OT, that may not be the case. After knocking a penalty kick in off the crossbar to give the French the lead (on a penalty that was one of the worst calls I've seen in any championship game in any sport), Zidane had a severe lapse in judgment. His intentional headbutt to the chest of Marco Materazzi earned the French legend a red card, and more importantly, marred what should have been one of his finest moments. It also detracted from Italy, you know, the team that actually won the World Cup. Sure the Italians probably weren't the best team in the tournament (Brazil), the most entertaining (Portugal), or even the best story (Ghana/Australia), but they are the ones walking away with that tiny little trophy. So congrats to the Italians, and goodbye to the World Cup. I still don't care for soccer, and I'm glad I won't have to write about it for another 4 years. And who knows, maybe by then I will have a larger audience, and a few more people will be able to hear my views on how this sport is garbage, it's players are overpaid wimps and it will never catch on in this country.



Red Sox Update
Last Week: 3-4
Overall: 53-33
Standings: 1st place by 3 games

*Solid first half of the season for the Sox, despite the heartbreak of a 19 inning loss yesterday to the White Sox. We learned a lot about our young pitching, and hopefully those guys will continue to develop the rest of the summer. But which Red Sox team is going to show up after the All-Star break? The team that lost 3 of 4 to Tampa? Or the team that won 13 straight and took 2 of 3 from the defending champs on the road?

Diamonds Are Forever
*This streak that Jose Contreras has going of consecutive starts without a loss is really the dumbest thing I've seen in quite some time. Yesterday, yet again, Contreras left the game on the hook as the losing pitcher, only the have Jermaine Dye smack a homerun with 2 outs in the 9th to preserve his no-decision. That dinger stretched his streak to 17 straight regular season games without a loss, despite the fact that he's had an ERA of 5.20 since the start of June, and only has 4 wins in his last 8 starts. Yea, really impressive.

*How smart do the Twins look now for drafting Joe Mauer #1 overall instead of taking the consensus #1 player at the time, Mark Prior. While Prior has spent more time on the DL than in games for the Chicago Cubs (and has just landed there again with an injury sustained in batting practice), Mauer has turned into arguably the best catcher in the American League. Sure there was the risk that Mauer would burn the Twins and go play football at Florida St. (he was the #1 QB prospect that year), but Minnesota decided to take the risk. And I'd say it's paying off. Pitching may be what wins in this league, but to this day, I still say it's better off drafting position players, and waiting for the pitchers to distinguish themselves in college or the minors before commiting to them. I'd say that's working out for the Red Sox, who drafted college pitchers Craig Hansen, Jon Lester and Jonathan Papelbon in recent drafts.

*Wait. Pedro Martinez is hurt and unable to pitch in the All-Star game? Instead of pulling this shirade every year so he can grab a few extra days rest, why doesn't he just tell us he doesn't want to play and he'd rather go home for a week? Buster Olney wrote last week in his blog (yea I couldn't believe someone else had the nerve to write a blog competing with mine), that players should let the league know in Spring training if they do not want to be included on the All-Star ballot, therefore eliminating cases like Pedro. Too bad Buster is living in some sort of Utopia. Imagine if a player came out in the Spring and said that? I'd imagine the responses would be like "that guy has the nerve to think he's going to even make it" or "so he's too good for the All-Star game?". Buster's right, but the only real solution is to have the fans stop voting, because then the managers would pick the players or the players would vote, and if a player didn't want to be on the team he could easily get the word out there not to vote for him. But that's not going to happen either, so we will just have to keep on putting up with Pedro, and players like him, for better or for worse.
Roger That
I told you this rivalry was going to be something special, and while Roger Federer disposed of Rafael Nadal rather easily on Sunday, they still put on a great show. Federer extended his record grass court winning streak to 48 matches, and captured his 4th straight title at the All-England Club. He also beat Nadal for the first time in quite a while, having lost to him the previous 5 matches, including 4 finals, the latest of which was the French Open. And the best part is , is that these guys are both young enough to keep this thing going for years to come. However, it won't reach it's true pinnacle until Roger beats Raffy on clay, or Raffy does the same on grass. But one of those can't be too far off. Personally, though I am a bigger fan of Federer, I think it's Nadal who will be the first to pull that off, and eventually take his place as the best player in the world. I sure hope I'm wrong, but that's just the way I see things playing out. Many argue even now that Roger may be the best (or most talented) player that ever lived, but Nadal may be right there with him. It's rare, if not unprecedented, that two of any sports "greatest of all time" get to play in the same era, and at similar points in their careers. We always wonder what would happen if Jordan and Wilt were contemporaries, or even Mays and Griffey Jr., but right now in tennis it's reality. So again I know you guys aren't watching, but give it a look, because you don't want to miss something that's right in front of your face.

Phatty Falters as Tiger Roars Back
After Phil's collapse and Tiger's missed cut at the Open, every golf fan was curious to see how each would bounce back this week at the Western Open. Well my main man Elderick Woods finished at -11, only two shots back of the winner, Trevor Immelman. And the fat guy? Well he was 16 strokes back at +3. Now, obviously this doesn't mean much. Just because Tiger did well in this tournament and Phil played like a donkey doesn't mean that Phil is done and Tiger is back on top. But what it does mean, is that Tiger is at least playing well enough to win the British Open, which is where Phil will truly be tested. It's bad enough for Phil that he has never really done well across the pond, but now he will have to. If he struggles there like he did this week, the talk will start that his collapse at the Open may have been the beginning of the end of his career (also known as pulling a Greg Norman). So all eyes now turn to England. Can Tiger reclaim his stranglehold as the greatest player in the world, or will the lovable Phat man bounce back to challenge him for the throne. Personally, I hope neither happens. Well I would like to see Phil fall flat on his face again, and I always love watching Tiger win, but there is an even better storyline. How cool would it be to see Colin Montgomerie finally get a major, and on his own turf at that. That's what I'll be rooting for when I'm watching the British, well that and Phil missing the cut. Sorry I couldn't help myself.

Fantasy Update
Last Week: 7-12-3
Overall: 141-126-41 (21 games back)

Week 15 vs Mikey's Studs (140-124-44)

*Talk about a bizarre week. My team trailed by double digit points all the way up until Friday when my team started to hit and CC Sabathia tossed a nice 3-hitter, to actually give my team the lead. It appeared I had a win sewn up, seeing as my opponent would need tons of extremely great pitching to even have a shot. Well how does 23.1 innings 1.54 ERA and 26 K's sound? And yeah that was all in one day! So needless to say it was a little shocking to see that I had fallen behind yet again, but if you told me at any point before Saturday that this would be my final score, I would have gladly taken it.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Isiah Thomas for President

Oops...He Did It Again
Just when you thought Isiah Thomas had done all he could to to bury one of the NBA's most storied franchises, he goes and drafts Renaldo Balkman! Nobody is saying that Balkman is a bad player, but if the Knicks really wanted him they could have probably got him in the 2nd round, or at the very least with their second 1st round pick. But according to Isiah, the Phoenix Suns were ready to pounce on Balkman with their next pick, so if New York wanted him they would have to act fast. Not so if you listen to Mike D'Antoni, who says Balkman wasn't even on the Suns radar screen. To make things even stranger, the second point Isiah made when defending this pick was "go ask Billy Donovan how good this guy is", referring to the fact that Balkman and South Carolina beat National Champion Florida twice last year. Since when was that a freakin criteria for picking players in the draft?! So maybe he provided a matchup problem for one team that happened to be really good, does that alone make you look over the fact that at best he had a mediocre career and didn't wow anyone in workouts? I guess if you see the guy as a cross between Ron Artest and Dennis Rodman, which is the description some say the Knicks had of him. That's just the player I'm looking for with my first round pick. A loose cannon that spends more time promoting himself than working on his game, and spends possibly even more time suspended. Maybe Isiah secretly always hated the Knicks when he was a kid, and he is now exacting ultimate revenge. Anything short of that just makes him not only an idiot, but possibly the worst GM in all of sports.

Just a few more notes on the NBA Draft...
*The Boston Celtics had the #1 shooting guard and the #1 point guard in the draft in their reach and what did they do? They traded Randy Foye and passed on Marcus Williams. Nowe I've been told that a lot of the moves the C's made on draft night were to position themselves to make a run at Allen Iverson in a trade. Personally I think that's an awful idea. The last thing the Celt's need is another guy who needs to ball in his hands on every possession. AI is a great player, but wouldn't you rather have added Foye and Williams to a backcourt with Delonte West? Is this a young team rebuilding or what? I think Danny Ainge might be feeling the heat, knowing that anything short of a playoff birth and he loses his job. But Celtic's fans have waited for this group of young guns to turn the corner, and just as they are finally showing sings of improvement, and have a chance to add arguably the two best players in the draft, Ainge makes moves like this. One thing is certain, if they don't make some sort of trade for a superstar this offseason, you can officially label this draft as a bust.

*I'm still not sure why Portland passed on LeMarcus Aldridge only to trade for him a few hours later, but then again I didn't understand why they made so many trades period. Either way, they helped make the draft entertaining to watch, and probably made themselves better in the process. By acquiring Brandon Roy they enable themselves to part ways with the volatile Darius Miles, and with Aldridge they finally have a legit center to compliment Zach Randolph down low.

*I will be the first to remind you that I ripped the Raptors last year for their pick of Charlie Villanueva, and he turned out to have a great rookie season. But you are going to have a much tougher time telling me it was smart for Seattle to select Mahmoud Saer Sene with the 10th overall pick. After selecting Johan Petro and Robert Swift the past two seasons (both raw centers), why would they get yet another guy who is at least 2 years away from contributing? I just don't get it, and something tells me the fans in the Pacific northwest feel the same way. On the bright side, if all three of these guys pan out, Seattle will be able to trade them for pretty much whoever they want. But history tells us they will be lucky if one of them becomes a stud, meaning they just wasted 2 first round picks.

Vive La France
France pulled off the biggest upset of the World Cup on Saturday, knocking off favorite Brazil 1-0. That leaves us this week with the semifinals, which feature host Germany vs Italy and France vs Portugal. I've posted before how big a let down this World Cup has been in general, and I stick by that now especially that the most entertaining team is out. Of the few players most American's could name, most of them played for either England or Brazil, and now both those teams have been sent packing. So while all those soccer nuts out there will tell you that this has been a great World Cup, I have this to offer. No it hasn't. Just like every other cup, the host team made a run deeper into the tourney than expected (See Japan/S. Korea in 2002 and France in 1998), and the Americans sucked. But if I had to make a prediction for the remainder of this thing, I would go out on a limb and pick Portugal. They actually do have a player I find exciting to watch in Cristiano Ronaldo, who has the speed to outrun anyone and the creativity to score from anywhere 20 yards and in. Of course France and Germany have to be the favorites to advance because of who they just beat and where they are playing, so expect to see that matchup in the final. No matter who comes out on top, I think we all know who the real winner has been at the 2006 World Cup, and that's whoever manufactures those stretchers they use to drag those whiny punks off the "pitch" every minute or so.
World's Biggest Dopes
Still think Lance Armstrong didn't use drugs? I'm not saying that the suspensions of several favorites in the Tour de France because of blood doping indicates Lance at all, but it shows us all how tainted the sport is. And it makes me wonder, if these guys were using illegal drugs, and Lance was still beating their ass, you need to draw one of two conclusions. 1)Lance Armstrong is a superhero or 2)Lance himself was using performance enhancers. Now of course I personally don't have any proof, but I think it's naive for Americans to think that the international cycling community is simply out to get Lance, when it's obvious the entire sport has issues with doping. On the plus side for the US, with favorites Ivan Basso and Jan Ulrich being kicked out, it paves the way for perhaps another American to carry the torch for Lance. But just a guess here, if it took a guy surviving cancer and winning the thing 7 times in a row to capture the interest of our country, it may drop off our sports radar sooner rather than later no matter who wins. Which I personally think is good news. Now I won't have to pass 40 year olds in unitards on the street anymore with their US Postal logos and their 15 Livestrong wristbands. Take up a real hobby people, like bowling or poker. Those are man's games.

Red Sox Update
Last Week: 6-1
Overall: 50-29
Standings: 1st by 4 games

*It's always fun rooting for the hottest team in baseball. So I'm just going to keep on doing it.

Diamonds Are Forever - Midseason Awards
AL
MVP
Manny Ramirez: .309 22 HR 60 RBI .618 SLG
*In my eyes it's a toss up right now between Thome, Ramirez and Ortiz, and I'm going with Manny. It may be true that Manny is doing what he always does, but the fact is that should be good enough for an MVP every 3 years, so I say he's due.

Cy Young
Francisco Liriano: 9-1 1.99 ERA 94 K 81.1 IP
*I know he has barely started 10 games this year, but if you win every time out in dominating fashion it makes up for it. It's arguable that he's already passed Johan Santana as the ace of the Twins staff, and if he can avoid a second half slide, it may be tough not giving him both the Cy and the ROY awards.

Rookie of the Year
Jonathan Papelbon: 2-1 0.43 ERA 25 saves 42 K 41.2 IP
*Apparently Bobby Jenks is also still considered a rookie, which means Liriano, Jenks and Papelbon may be duking it out for the rest of the summer. Papelbon gets my vote though and not only because I'm a Sox fan. He's done everything asked of him and then some, causing some to question not only if he's the best rookie, but a possible Cy Young and MVP candidate.

Most Surprising Team
Detroit Tigers: Everyone picked them to be in the AL Central basement, but instead they have the best record in the MLB. Enough said.

Most Disappointing Team
Cleveland Indians: After their impressive run last year came up just short, everyone was expecting the Indians to make a serious charge at the White Sox this season. Being 6 games under .500 and 18 games out of the division by the All-Star break can not be what they had in mind. At least Travis Hafner is still rolling along.

NL
MVP
Carlos Beltran: .293 24 HR 64 RBI 12 SB .639 SLG
*Some people will tell you he's not even the MVP of his team, but Beltran gets my vote over Pujols simply because he is finally living up to the hype he had when he arrived in the Big Apple. And oh yea, he's on my fantasy team.

Cy Young
Brandon Webb: 9-3 2.72 ERA 97 K 132.1 IP
*A few weeks ago I told you about Webb, and since he's cooled off a little. But he still anchors the staff of a contending team, and although Glavine has more wins, Webb just has better pure stuff, giving him the nod.

Rookie of the Year
Dan Uggla: .307 13 HR 44 RBI .516 SLG
*On a team full of young studs, Uggla is the only Marlin rookie who has yet to hit the wall so far this season. His consistency, combined with the rather weak class of NL rookies, is what gives him this award in a landslide.

Most Surprising Team
Cincinnati Reds: Sure they have cooled off of late, but the fact that the Reds continue to lead the NL Wild Card and only sit one game behind the Cardinals makes them the biggest surprise on the senior circuit. Boston may not be missing Bronson Arroyo, but his 9 wins and 2.58 ERA have Cincy fans glad they traded him for Wily Mo.

Most Disappointing Team
Philadelphia Phillies: Ok so maybe they weren't even the favorites in the NL East, but they aren't supposed to be 11 games out already. They have enough hitting, and possibly the most talented young infield in the bigs, but with the 6th worst ERA (4.89) they can't get anyone out.

Fantasy Update
Last Week: 5-13-4
Overall: 134-114-38 (3rd place - 16.5 games back)

Week 14 vs The Ooo Ooo's (148-102-36)

*So Frosco took me behind the woodshed this week. He led for the whole week in a fairly close battle, until my trusty bullpen blew most of the pitching stats I had won on Saturday night, forcing me to try and grab some points with C.C. Sabathia and Kevin Millwood on Sunday. Needless to say Millwood got hammered (which seems to happen only when I start him), and my team was left for dead. But no worries, just a small bump in the road that leads to me winning this damn thing.