Red Sox UpdateOverall: 3-3
Status: In the grand scheme of things, going .500 on a road trip to open the season isn't a bad thing at all. Here, in Red Sox Nation, it's barely enough to keep people from slicing their wrists and sending letter bombs to Theo Epstein's crib. After bouncing back to win the final two games of the KC series, the Sox promptly went out and dropped 2 out of 3 to the Texas Rangers. And, as with any .500 team, there are some good and some bad things that have attributed to their start. First, the good. The starting pitching has been superb. Beckett, Matsuzaka and Papelbon have been outstanding, and even Schill bounced back from a rough opening day to post a quality outing his second time around. Now the bad. Through 6 games, the team has only 3 home runs. Three! Add to that the team is batting .237 and slugging a mere .338. Of course, while I write this, I'm watching the Sox tattoo the Mariners, but the lack of run production to this point still has me worried. With so many question marks offensively including Drew's health and the out put of guys like Pedroia, Crisp, Varitek and Lugo, I'm not going to stop being worried until this team shows some offensive consistency. And middle relief still hasn't gained all my confidence. JC Romero has shown flashes, but Joel Pinata has certainly lived up to his name thus far with a 7.71 ERA. Hopefully the return of Mike Timlin will help that cause, but that's another issue we will only be able to accurately address as we see more of these guys. As for now, I'm lovin' watchin' this massacre on opening day at the Fens, and I can't wait till tomorrow, when Matsuzaka and Ichiro get to face each other. My money there is on the guy that can't speak English, and I really like my chances. Sionara! (or perhaps Adios?)
Diamonds Are Forever
*Don't look now Queer Eye for the Straight Guy fans, but your hero is off to one hell of a start this season. With a two run blast on Monday night against the Minnesota Twins, Alex Rodriguez became the fastest Yankee in history to hit his 5th home run to open a season, doing it in just the team's 6th game. That's right. A-Fraud is off to a torrid start this year, hitting .360 with those 5 dingers, 3 doubles and 13 RBI. Already, the national media is jumping on it, too. Everyone is quick to say that, even though all Yankee fans want to blame A-Rod for their failure to win the big one, he's bouncing back and proving them all wrong. Well, not so fast here. To stick up for Yankee fans a little, they've blamed him for choking in big spots, not for overall crappiness. And no, hitting a game winning grand slam in April is not what they mean by coming up in big spots. Sure, it helps, but until that no polish manicure artist gets a few big knocks in September and beyond, he'll still hear the boo birds now and then. And he's not helping himself with those high socks. Hey, I rocked the high socks in the day, but to suddenly switch halfway through your career just screeeeams TOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLmanski.....that was for you Danho.
*So Hank Aaron is again saying that he wants nothing to do with Barroid Bonds breaking his home run record. He doesn't want to be there when it happens, he doesn't want to talk about Barry in interviews and he doesn't want to talk to Barry about it either. Now that the season has started, media types have again started asking Aaron his intentions when Barry breaks the record, and he just isn't having any of it. And can you blame the guy? What, he should go and support this science lab creation as he hits home run number 756 and then promptly turns green, grows horns and rips his shirt to shreds? I don't blame ya Hank. If you live outside of the San Fran area, and you support this freak, then may God have mercy on your soul. For the rest of us, we're behind ya Hank, just probably a good distance behind ya so we don't get hit with your bodily fluids after the Thing tears you and your record in half with his teeth.
*Didn't the Chicago Cubs learn anything from having Jeff Gordon sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game"? To take a combined cue from Jeopardy and Whitney Houston, "What is, hell to the no?". We all famously remember Gordon's botching of the Wrigley Field classic (and for those who don't I provided the video), and we can now add another performance to that collection. The Cubs went out and got probably, the least literate member of the Chicago Bears, Devin Hester, to sing the 7th inning tune. Obviously, whoever decides that for the Cubs didn't watch any of Super Bowl media day, where it took Hester 9 takes to say "This is Devin Hester of the Chicago Bears. And you're listening to Mike and Bryan on 670 the Score." That's right, 9 takes. Most of which sounded like "This is Devin Hester of Chicago Bear. And this is Mike and Ryan on one thousand and ninety radio sports". Right. That whole episode just screamed, let's get that guy in public to sing a song! I mean God. Watching it on media day was painful enough, let alone watching him forget the words to a song that most 8 year olds know. Good thing the Tribune Company is finally selling the Cubs, because when you can't even get a famous person that can carry a tune and actually read, then you're on field issues might not be the biggest problem you got. Just let my boy Mark Cuban come in and run the show. You know he'll bring the big names back to the booth for the 7th inning stretch, as opposed to making the event look more like an ad for the United Way's reading program. Then again, he may choose to sing it himself, and Lord knows that could get dicey.
*Apparently, Major League Baseball didn't get the memo that global warming was ruining our atmosphere and jacking up temperatures all around the world. This weekend, in Cleveland no less, the entire series between the Indians and the Seattle Mariners was cancelled due to snow and freezing rain. So, what was Bud Selig's brilliant idea to fix the problem? No, it wasn't deciding that scheduling needed to be tinkered with so cold weather teams that don't play in domes are on the road early in the year (note: Toronto (dome) was playing Tampa (dome) while this was going on). Instead, Selig decided to move the next Indians series to, where else, Milwaukee, Wisconsin! So, just to set things straight, the Los Angeles Angles of Mexico and the greater Pacific coast, will be playing the Cleveland Indians in the stadium of the ball club that Selig himself used to own. Right, I'm sure that was just a coincidence. Leave it to Bud Selig to take one huge step forward in the way he's letting players honor Jackie Robinson, and then fall flat on his old wrinkly ass taking a giant leap back. I see a new hip in his future. It will go well with the metal plate he must have in his head.
*And finally, poor Brad Lidge. After blowing yet another save, Lidge has officially been removed as the closer for the Houston Astros. I wish I could say this isn't the last we've heard from Lidge, but truth be told it probably is. Lidge may have saved 32 games last year, but he just hasn't been the same since Albert Pujols sent a few into orbit off of him in the 2005 NLCS. Before that, Lidge had saved 71 of 79 games and had an ERA around 2.00. Since, yea he may still be 32 for 38 in save chances, but his ERA has jumped to over 6.00, he's doubled the # of homers he gives up, and he's given up more runs the last 80 games than he did his previous 150. Talk about a decline. Too bad too, because Lidge was filthy and seemed like an all around nice guy. I only hope Steve Sax, Chuck Knoblauch, Mackey Sasser, Mitch "Wild Thing" Williams and Mark Wholers don't haze him too much. (if you didn't get that reference then that just sucks for you!)
News and Notes
*I don't listen to Imus in the Morning. That's not to say I've never listened, or that I don't know who Don Imus is, it's just that I'm not a fan of his brand of humor. That being said, I did happen to read the transcripts of what Imus said in regards to the Rutger's women's basketball team. And, in case you've been buried under a rock (or under the influence of one) for the past few days, what Imus did was call the Rutgers gals, "nappy-headed hos". Most offensive statement ever? Nah. But should Imus know better than to blast it over national radio and television? Of course! It's obviously a blatantly racist statement, and to make the crack about college kids makes it even more offensive. Imus has been trying to play the "well we always try to push the envelope and we went too far this time" card, but I'm just not buying it. He said it, because he thought it was more funny that it was offensive, and it just goes to show that his judgement is horribly off. He's been suspended for two weeks, and he's been all over the place trying to apologize, but I don't see how it's gonna be enough to keep from eventually getting him fired. We all know he'll catch on with a satellite radio station, but trust me, his career, or what's left of it, is going nowhere but down from here on. Let's all use this instance as a reminder. There are plenty of offensive things that are funny, you just need to know your audience. I'm not saying talk about people behind their backs and then be nice to their face, but there's a time and a place for any type of off color comment you want to make. This is America after all. We slap people like Imus on the wrist publicly, so we can continue making our own racist and prejudice jokes in our homes and offices. That's why this country rules, and why Communism is for cigar rollers and rice boilers, not meat eaters and beer chuggers. And for those of you that want to say that what Imus said isn't any different than rappers like Ice Cube and Snoop Dogg dejectifying blacks, I got this for ya. If Imus wants to say shit like that, then he needs to go to a medium that will allow him to do so. Snoop and friends are edited when their songs go out over the radio, but you can get their uncensored views if you purchase their CD. Last time I checked, radio was a public forum, and there in lies the difference. But thanks for testin' me, I need all the mental exercise I can get.
*I told you last week about the trouble in Asante Samuel land, and it doesn't seem to be getting any better this week. At least publicly, Samuel is sticking to his guns. He wants his money, or he wants out, it's as simple as that. Also, as I said before, there don't appear to be any real suitors for him either. Everyone wants to point to the Washington Redskins for a deal, and with good reason, but it just doesn't look likely. Would the Pats be willing to part with a first round pick and Samuel for the Skins #6 pick? Maybe, but why would the Skins want to add another corner when they already have 3 pretty big contracts and players at the position (Carlos Rogers, Shawn Springs, Fred Smoot). I know that Washington owner Daniel Snyder loves to be creative and make big splashes in Free Agency, but unless he can spin it somehow so they can end up with Asante and a linebacker (whether from the Pats or another team), then this would be a tough sell to both the Redskin players and fans alike. But even if the Skins don't make it happen, Asante has made it clear that he is going down the same road as Deion Branch did last year. And much on that same line, while the Pats have said they won't budge on their demand for two first rounds picks for Samuel, that's pretty much what they said last year about Branch. I'm still holding out hope the two sides can get a deal done, but the more I hear about how far the two sides are in negotiations, I can't help but fear that he's out the door.
*There are many reasons that I rip on American Idol and those who watch it. They range from the whack pop songs they sing, to the 3 judges I can't stand (how Al Roker is qualified to judge a music contest is still beyond me) to that metrosexual clump of hair gel, highlights and trimmed pubes, Ryan Seacrest. However, the one thing I can no longer hate on is the fact that most of the "finalists" are going top spend the rest of their lives singing for free pitchers of Pabst at the local drinkin' hole. Oh, it's still true, but it seems I too have fallen victim to a similar hoax. It's name, is The Contender. I'm the first to tell you that I love the show. I don't care that that they import sound for punches, or that they edit the thing to make every fight look like Rocky II, I just really like the show. However, the problem is, that in the back of my mind, I always figured that if you could compete on the Contender, then you could compete in the real world of boxing. Well, as if this will come as a shock to anyone, I was wrong...that's right....again. I'm not calling all the Contender fighters chumps, but when first season finalist, Peter "the Pride of Providence" Manfredo Jr., got dismantled in the 2nd round of his fight this weekend, I started to have my doubts about how good the fighters on that show actually are. Manfredo (25-3, 11 KO) was absolutely bitch slapped by IBF & WBO Super Middleweight champion, Englishmen Joe Calzaghe. Calzaghe came out and played with Manfredo a little in the first round, before ending the fight with repeat shots to both the body and head of the self proclaimed Rhode Island local legend half way through round 3, which is when the referee stopped the fight. To make matters worse, after the fight Manfredo had this to say about the guy that just beat his ass. "Why hasn't he fought in America yet? You've got to fight other places and go to other people's home towns, take the crowd and win there. That's how you become great. You can't fight in your backyard every fight and expect to be great". Dude, the guy just broke his hand because he hit you in the face too many times, and you're calling him out? Please. And this is from the guy that nearly won the Contender! How bad does this make the rest of those fools look? I mean, not like I'm gonna stop watching or anything like that, but I must admit it's pretty pathetic that this is how those guys act when they are actually put to the test against seasoned professionals. That's probably why they only seem to fight other Contender fighters or straight up bums after the show, because they themselves are barely better than the average fighter. Oh well, maybe a Contender is never going to be champ, and maybe the show has lost a little luster for me, but I still can't wait for season 3! What can I say, I'm just a sucker like the rest of you, and we all have our own American Idol weakness somewhere inside.
*On Friday, my story about the Kentucky basketball head coaching job was interrupted when the news broke that the Cats had snagged Billy Gillespie away from Texas A&M. Gillispie is a fine choice, and while I said previously that I didn't think he would leave (I have to stop believing these guys when they agree to "verbal contracts"), but I can't say I'm shocked he made the move either. Whatever, guys make moves to further their careers, that's the name of the game, and that's what goes down. I get it. But how come the kids Gillispie recruited at A&M can't come with him to Kentucky? You're telling me they would have to sit out a year if they wanted to follow him, even before playing a single game in college? What the hell is that? In today's era of college hoops, more than ever, high schoolers committ to a school based on who the coach is rather than the name of the school. Sure plenty of schools get kids on past success, but those places usually also have incredible coaches. So why do these kids get punished because their coach changes jobs? It's really just an archaic rule. Sure, maybe back in the day when coaches were around for decades at a time this made sense, but in today's game it's just dumb. How about this. If you have committed to a school, and the coach leaves, you should have the option of immediately being released from your committment without any penalty. Hardly sounds revolutionary or unreasonable to me. Chosing a college is one of the most important steps in anyone's life, and your first year at college is probably the most influential in your life. But the NCAA doesn't seem to think it matters that they are forcing kids to stay at places where they aren't happy, just because of an out of date and pointless rule. When a coach leaves, give the kids the option to leave, it's really that simple. I'd say that again, but I'm pretty sure I've already said it 4 times, so I think you got it.
*Keep in mind that what you hear next is from the very same person who was checking the odds on who was to become the new Pope (and I sooooo wanted to bet on that African guy at like 18 to 1). The sports betting site, BoDog (which I would never use strictly out of my hatred for all things Jamie Gold), is now offering odds on how long Pacman Jones will be suspended by the NFL. Word on the street is that you can get 3 to 2 that he gets 4-6 games. That's all well and good, but what I really want is the odds that he "makes it rain"at least 3 times during that suspension, and an over/under on how many dudes he bites or cranks in the head with a champagne bottle. Now that tickles my betting bone. Wait. Did someone say betting?....
Note: after writing this it was announced that Pacman Jones was suspended by the league with no pay for the entire 2007 season. Bengals wideout Chris Henry was suspended for half the season. Good work NFL. Bad work by the odds makers at BoDog. Leave it to Vegas boys.
*Remember when I told you about making free picks with a chance to win real money on Wagerline.com? Yea, I didn't think so. Well, I've been making picks pretty regularly over the past 2 months, and the results have been puzzling at best. It doesn't surprise me that I'm 19-15 making my picks (56%, about how I do with my NFL picks), but I have been surprised by which sports I am doing well at picking. Here's a breakdown of my picks by sport...
NBA: 11-4 (.733)
NCAA: 6-10 (.375)
MLB: 2-1 (.667)
Even I have to admit, I'm surprised at how well I've been picking NBA games. But what has surprised me even more is how poorly I've done at picking NCAA games. Granted, all those games were post-season contests, and a few of them I picked strictly for fun, but all that doesn't compensate for a 6-10 record. I think it's more just a reflection of what I always say. "The more you know about a sport, the less successful you usually are at betting on that sport". That's right, I just quoted myself in my own blog. And to make matters worse, you know I'm right. Who knows, maybe these trends will work themselves out, and it will turn out I am better at picking NCAA games, but for now it's just another reminder that the more involved you are in a sport, the better off you are buying tickets for it than betting on it. ALL OF YOU OUT THERE WITH GAMBLING ISSUES SHOULD TAKE WHAT I SAY SERIOUSLY. I KNOW MORE ABOUT SPORTS THAN YOU DO, AND EVEN I CAN'T WIN! SO GET A JOB ALREADY AND STOP WASTING YOUR LOOTS!
Last Week: WIN, 13-8-3 over Dice-K For Cy Young #1
Overall: 4th place, 2 games back
*That's right kids. It's that time of year again. The time of year where I throw all my common sense aside and join the ass backwards fantasy baseball league run by Frosco's friends in Tallahassee. Last season I chronicled how dumb the scoring system was and how pointless a free fantasy baseball league was, and while I will continue to do that this season, I'm not going to do it now. Maybe it's because I won in my first week, or maybe it's because I've become a more mature person over the past year. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I'm sure you all think it's the former. Stay tuned for a fantasy update in this spot every Tuesday, and try not to kill yourself with the anticipation. Oh, and seeing as I've yet to tell all of you, my team name this year (at least for now), is JD Drewchbag. I don't like the guy, I don't like him on my team, and I hope he can fall flat on his face while the team still succeeds. And hey, if the guy can turn my opinion of him around, then maybe I'll be signing a different tune. But after holding out after being drafted, always being hurt and forcing his way out of LA, he's got a lot of work to do in order to get me on board. No wonder the fans in Philly threw batteries at him.