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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

There's About to be a (WHAT?!?!?)....Dog Fight!!!!

In a week in which negative sports stories have dominated the headlines, I've decided to lead off with a positive story. Maybe it's me being so self righteous it makes you want to vomit all over you're keyboard, but I think it's just my way of not contributing to the promotion of negativism. Sure, I'll get to a all the juicy NBA scandal and Mike Vick dog fighting shit. Hell, that's where I'll prolly have all my best material, but I'm startin' off on the bright side for once. And make sure to check out my new NFL Notes section dubbed "Tackle Box". Yea, I know it's clever, and that's why I did it. Besides, no matter how corny the name, you know you're as geeked as I am for the NFL season to start, so you're gonna read it anyway just to get you're fix. Predictable junkies....enjoy!

Last night was the 2007 Major League Season debut for young Red Sox lefty, and cancer survivor, Jon Lester. A year to the day after the 23 year old was diagnosed with cancer, he returned to the mound and shut down one of the AL's best teams, the Cleveland Indians. And to be honest, for better or worse, he was the exact same Lester that came up late last year and went 7-2 with a 4.76 ERA. Lester was constantly getting himself into jams, only to always get himself out of them on his way to 6 innings, 2 runs, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts, and one very inspiring win. He wasn't dazzling, though at times he did reach 94 mph, but he was solid, and his performance was very encouraging. Sure, it's great to add another young arm to the mix, and better yet that it was one we were counting on about a year ago, but the real story here is the will and determination of this young man (I can say "young", because I'm older than he is....so sad). Cancer kills people. Cancer changes people's lives. Not this guy. He fought through it because he didn't want to give up his life, didn't want to give up his dream. And you gotta salute that. Here's to you Jon, for showing that getting cancer isn't always the end of the world, for bringing some much needed compassion to the game, and for at least temporarily putting a positive story on the front page....for once.

Red Sox Update
Overall: 60-39, 1st place in AL East by 7.5 games
Status: Shame on most of you. Shame! Shame! Shame! All of you pansies that started biting your nails as the Yanks trimmed the lead in the East can all go suck it. Have some faith for crying out loud, and act like you've freaking been there before! Winning is an attitude kids, and it may sound dumb to say the fans have anything to do with the success of the team, but I truly believe that good fans can encourage players and hold them to a higher standard. So hold strong. Papi may be a little dinged up, courtesy of that belly flop into 2nd, but Manny is tearing the cover off the ball (.391, 3HR, 6 RBI in the last week) and so is Lugo (.407, HR, 4 2B, 7 RBI last week). Combine that with Coco's steady rise (he's up to .277 with 7 triples, 17 steals, 5 HR, and 50 runs), and the continued steady production from Mike Lowell, and so what if Papi is hurt and Youk is slumpin', we can survive. And when those guys do get back, look the hell out, right? I mean, as long as Youk and Lowell don't revert back to their second half form fro ma year ago. We forget that they both lit up the world in the first half last year as well, so you gotta be weary of that. But don't count this guy as the least bit concerned about this team. You gotta think Theo is hard at work finding a guy that will allow us to dump Wily Mo, and platoon with JD Drewchbag, who honestly wouldn't be playing at all if he wasn't getting more loot than 3/4 of the Marlin's roster. Yea, that's right. I wasn't gonna go all this time without some Drew bashing. For all of you that were telling me he was turning the corner, you can spare me. I don't care if he was robbed of a dinger by the umps, hell, I actually think it was a good thing. Our team was dead offensively, and Tito Francona getting booted for arguing that call sparked the anemic offense to 29 runs over the next 3 games. Karma, baby! Drew's hitting .253 with 6 homers and 37 RBI, and he's missed 14 games due to injury (on pace for: .253, 9 HR, 60 RBI. Really worth the $14 mil huh?). The latest of which, his "tweaked hammy", left some teammates rolling their eyes according to Providence Journal beat writer Sean McAdam. The dude is just a loser, plain and simple. He's totally in it for himself, he's made no bones about that since he strong armed his way out of Philly to start his career, and if he's not producing, then he's not worth it. If you asked me before the season what my perfect team would be, I would have told you a first place team with JD Drew either sucking it up or on the DL. Maybe that's why I'm not worried about the Yanks, because I'm so content in seeing my hopes realized. Now make the deal Theo. Suck it up, admit you made a mistake with Davey Drew, and bring in a bat (Adam Dunn, Ken Griffey Jr., Mark Texeira?), and you won't find a happier Sox fan than this guy right here.

Diamonds Are Forever
*I heard somewhere that Barry Bonds is close to breaking Hank Aaron's all time home run record. Oh, right. It was every 10 seconds on ESPN, ESPN.com and ESPN2. Give it a rest fellas. He'll break it, then you'll have inter racial panels discussing the significance. Stephen A. will yell, Mike Greenberg will yell, Woody Paige will try to yell and get muted by the "stat boy" and Scot Van Pelt will make some snide remark. Thanks for comin' out, make sure to tip your "escorts". Oh right, while I'm on ESPN, just let me say this. It's segments like their current "Who's Now?", or the over produced "50 states in 50 days" that made me stop watching Sportscenter altogether. I want highlights, I want witty remarks, and I want them in a nice 30 minute package. We don't need an hour simply so Josh Elliot can stand in front of a huge video board with his pink tie on, or so Chris McKendry can mispronounce another 50 names, furthering the mystery as to who the dumb schmuck is in Bristol that must be sleeping with her. Clean it up for God's sake...

*Dick Cheney should go hunting with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, because those mother fuckers need to be shot. Dear God, this team is dreadful. I seriously think, in all honesty, that I played on traveling All Sar teams that could put this team to shame, and that's when I was 12. Sure, we would have had to adjust to the bigger diamond and wooden bats, but I still say we would have spanked 'em. I mean really, how do you give up 49 runs in 3 games over a two day period and not give solid consideration to going Chris Benoit (too soon?) on yourself? I mean I don't wanna waste too much breath on a franchise who's creator should have swallowed, but come on guys. I just I'm just pissed the Sox missed out on these routs, because you know, by the time the Rays and Sox match back up, the Rays will have a fresh crop of pitchers up from (AAA), and will be in nothing but one run nail biters with the BoSox. Happens every year, I'm tellin' ya.

*I feel I owe Marlins whacked out starter, Scott Olsen, an apology. I knew the guy was a little out there, but after his latest stunt, I have no choice but to hold the man in the highest regard with such legends as John Daly, Lawrence Taylor and Daryl Strawberry. You may remember Olsen from such stories as when he fought with manager Joe Girardi in the dugout in '05, or when he and pitcher Sergio Mitre through down in the clubhouse in '07, but neither of those holds a candle to this. Police report that Olsen was pulled over at about 4 am while going 48 in a 35, but refused to pull over. He instead, drove a mile to his crib, while blowing through a stop sign. Upon arriving, he jumps out of the whip, and sits in front of his house in his plastic lawn chair. When the po-nines try to cuff his ass, he starts swinging at 'em, leaving them no choice, but to taser the 6'5" lefty, not before getting a few shots in on his dome. Well done, Scott, well done. I really like the move at the end where you sat in the lawn chair. I can totally seeing some peeps I know, all liquored up and loaded for bare, trying to pull off a stunt like that. So kudos. But, dude. Get your act together. Go have a chat with Josh Hamilton. Hell, that dude fought off the white horse for years before making it back to the majors. And have we already forgotten the tragic drunk driving death of Cardinal reliever Josh Hancock? Get your act together bro. As funny as your antics may be (oh and believe me, they're freaking hilarious, and I think I'm gonna go to hell for secretly hoping they continue), if you keep it up, you're gonna find yourself out of baseball, and probably in prison. De Niro said it best in Bronx Tale, "There's no worse thing, than wasted talent". Rent it Scott, it's a quality film. It's got Joe Pesci in it, so you know it's authentic gangster.

*And speaking of gangsters, there's still the matter of what is going to happen when Barry Bonds actually hits record breaking home run #756. Well, Giants reliever Steve Kline has a theory as to what might go down, and it ain't pretty. Kline is hoping and praying that Barry ties and breaks the record before, or after, the team's road trip to LA (7/31-8/2), basically out of fear for his own life. Kline's theory, is that if the record tying, or breaking, ball should make it into the Giants bullpen at Dodger Stadium in Chavez Ravine, then he, or any of the Giant relievers, might be "stabbed" by someone trying to retrieve the ball. I can't say his claim is totally out there. After all it is LA, and he will be seated right next to the "All You Can Eat Pavillion", creating for some seedy characters. But to say he's afraid to get stabbed? That's racial profiling isn't it? You know, in the back of his mind (creeping towards the front), he's picturing come crazed out Esse, all tatted up, leaping from the stands with a bandanna over his mouth and quoting Che Guevara as he stabs Kline and snipes the million dollar ball. I think the more politically correct way to express his fear, would have just been to say he was afraid of being "attacked". Who's to say he couldn't be punched by a white man, or even shot by a black man? Come on Steve-O, think big picture here. Just consider yourself lucky you don't have to share a bullpen with Kyle Farnsworth or Scott Olsen.

News and Notes
*Looks like the FEDs got their hooks in now former NBA official, Tim Donaghy. Bad news for him, bad news for the mob, and really bad news for the NBA. This league needed a betting scandal about as much as Rachael Ray needs another carton of Marb reds to suck down with all that Dunkin Donuts coffee. If you were seriously shocked when you heard about this supposed betting scandal, then you've been blind for most of your adult life when it comes to betting on sports in this country. It's simple, hockey and baseball aren't fun to bet on and there are only about 20 weeks of pro and college football on a yearly basis. That leaves 32 weeks, or more realistically, 300+ days that are free of action for the average gambling degenerate. Logically, the NBA fits into that niche beautifully. So, where there's heavy gambling action, there's bound to be at least a little impropriety here or there, as we've witnessed with numerous college point shaving scandals, the latest and most prolific being in the early 90's at Arizona St. The trick, as is supposedly the case with Donaghy, is to trim points in favor of the gamblers, not to totally alter the outcome of the game. Example: Donaghy would make a few extra calls late in a game to make sure the team that was supposed to win by 6, actually won by 6. It's not like he took teams that were 8 point underdogs and made it so they won. Don't get me wrong, he was altering the outcomes of games, but not nearly as much as you would be led to believe. As for what this scandal could do to the NBA, I really haven't decided. I know in the open I said the NBA really doesn't need this, but it also really hasn't needed any of the other off and on the court distractions it's been handed the last decade or so. Players fight, do drugs, get arrested, curse on rap albums, cover themselves in tats, even run in the stands and clock people, and the fans still keep filling the seats. You can argue that higher income fans have stayed away, but the numbers aren't really baring that out (highest # of ticket sales in league's history in '06-'07). This league has faced every scandal it's ever had in stride, and something tells me this one won't be any different. The NBA turned the corner about 15 years ago with the rise of the Showtime Lakers, from sport, to entertainment and I think most of the fans treat it as such. While baseball fans are in constant uproar over steroids, it's because they claim their sport is full of integrity, and there's no such integrity in the NBA. Most of basketball's fans are probably more upset that they missed out on the fixed games than the fact that Donaghy was cheating for his own financial benefit. So does the NBA need this? Of course not. But will it deter fans and change the way we view the games? Not by a long shot.

*I never really had an opinion on Spanish golfer Sergio Garcia before this year's British Open. I've followed the guys career to be sure, and I've watched him play many times on TV, but I really never had any strong like or dislike for the guy. That is until now. And now, I think he's a whiny bitch, and I wouldn't mind at all if he never won another tournament, or contended in another major. Wait, I take that back. I hope he's constantly contending, and constantly choking like he this weekend. After losing in a 4 hole playoff to Irishman Padraig Harrington (I'll get to him in a second), all Sergio had to say was how he "never got any breaks", that he was miffed about having to wait 15 minutes on one of his final holes, and how his ball hit the flag stick on the 3rd playoff hole. Gimmie a break you whiny primadonna. For starters, the only reason you were even near the lead was because of your new "belly" putter, which in my eyes is basically cheating. For those that don't know, this putter literally anchors to your belly, steadying the putter and taking those "shaky" hands out of play. If you can't handle the pressure, then find another job, don't cop out by using a putter originally intended for old men that had arthritis. And to say you never get any breaks? Were you even watching the freaking tournament? I mean I know you didn't actually see hat happened, but I know you saw the results on the scoreboard. Paddy Harrington had you dead to rights, only moments after Andres Romero also had you dead to rights, because you were slowly but surely choking away what was originally a 3 shot lead. Then, Romero hoods a 3 iron on 18, double bogeys, and is out of the picture. Moments later, Harrington almost hits it across a small bridge (almost the shot of the century by the way), but it goes in the Byrn, the same river that cost Jean Van de Velde the title in '99. He gets a double bogey 6, meaning all Sergio had to do was par to 18 to win. How is that not getting any breaks?! Two guys had the Claret Jug virtually in their hands, and they gave it right back to you. All you had to do was make an 8 footer (that I thought was going in mind you) and the trophy was yours! Breaks? Are you kidding? The real issue is you can't get over yourself, La Nina. Look in the mirror, it's nobodies fault but your own. Give credit where credit is due, to the great play of Paddy Harrington, and just go out and work harder. Don't give me this bull on how you never get the breaks, you're just embarrassing yourself, and making people like me, who could have easily become fans, totally turned off.

Tackle Box
*Since Mike Vick plays football, I guess this is a football story / I really just needed something to put here so I could write "Tackle Box". Seriously though, it seems like this story has been going on for years now, but the truth is it actually broke last Wednesday when Vick was indicted. That's what I get for posting on Tuesdays I guess, because it seems like it's already been tossed around 6 ways from Sunday in the last 5 days, but you know I still got to jaw about it. Besides, this story ain't goin' away any time soon. Matter of fact, while I'm writing this, word is coming down from Commissioner Roger Goodell that Mike Vick should stay away from Falcons camp, and not report until he has resolved his legal issues. It's the right move if you ask me. Sure, Goodell may have been quicker and sterner with guys like Chris Henry, P-Money Jones and Tank Johnson, but those guys had history. I understand that Vick was caught with that "water bottle" at the airport, may have given a chick herps as Ron Mexico, and flipped the Falcon fans the dirty bird, but he doesn't have nearly the legal track record as the others. Still, the charges against him are grave enough, and the evidence compelling enough that Vick should have to stay away. The most compelling factor in all of this, is that the department in the Federal DA's office that's prosecuting Vick and his co-defendants is undefeated when it comes to their indictments receiving convictions. Not good news for Vick. It's only a matter of time now before these fools start ratting each other out faster than Henry Hill and Sammy the Bull, and then things shoul really get interesting. That's when we'll find out if Vick really is the man behind this operation, or if he's just the figure head the FED's need to give the vicious world of dog fighting a face. One thing's for sure, and that's that this story isn't going away, and isn't going to get any prettier. No matter what his involvement, people are already disgusted at the charges against Vick, and even should he be acquitted, the way he's viewed by the public has been permenantly changed. This isn't Kobe Bryant or the Duke lacrosse kids who were up against one plantiff with questionable character, this is a bunch of thugs drowing, burying and electrocuting dogs. Big difference. Now I just want to know how long it takes the University of South Carolina to cave, and change their long time nickname, the "Gamecocks". Littttttllllle Jerrrrrryyyyyyyy!

*What's that I smell? Why, it's credibility sneaking into the picture, boys and girls. Your man has officially been assigned to work several days at Patriot's training camp in Foxboro, MA by my employer, 99.7 and 790 The Score (http://scoreamfm.com/). We're rapidly approaching a time where nobody will be able to tell me I'm wrong again in the realm of sports. I bet you're wetting yourselves with anticipation of that day. Muuuuuaaahahahahahaa.

Fantasy Update
Last Week: WIN, 15-8-1 vs BottomFeeders Yum!
Overall: 187-164-33 (.530), 4th place 35 games back

*I was in a bad way against a bad team for most of the week, but thanks to a CG shutout by Doc Halladay on Sunday, I was able to turn it around and keep pace in the race for the tiny trophy. This week just went to prove my point when it comes to my team. When my starters can put together a solid week, I run teams over. When they blow goats, I have to fight just to hang around .500 in any given week. So here's to good pitching....yea, I'll drink to that. Hell, I figure I'm drinking anyway right?

Oh and yes, in case you noticed I changed my Yahoo! avatar / my personal logo again. I think it's just because I'm so pumped for fantasy football and I felt I needed a little change. Don't worry, he's still pimpin', he just has short hair and some new high end duds (which you can't see in this shot). Give him time, he'll grow on ya...peace in the middle

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