Sunday, June 25, 2006

Draft, Sox and Paris Hilton!

Shaq Rides Wade To Ring Number 4
Sure I picked Dallas to win the NBA Finals in 6 games. And sure I previously wrote how I felt the refs robbed them of a game or two in the series. But you won't hear me saying that the Mavericks should have won the NBA title. Dwayne Wade carried the Heat and their cast of over-the-hill role players to their first championship this week in such impressive fashion that the MJ comparisons have been flying all week. I don't like calling people the "next" anyone, and certainly not after one good postseason. Is he the best player in the league? You certainly can make that argument. I would say he is in the top 5, but there are still plenty of guys out there that have a legit claim as the league's best. On the other end is Shaq, who collected his 4th ring despite handing in by far his worst Finals performance. Shaq feels like he needs more rings to have his legacy compete with the likes of Russell and Kareem as one of the best big men of all time. I'm sure he already realizes he is already considered in high regard, and after he has retired for a few years people will look back and mention Shaq as possibly the most physically dominating player in the history of the game. But if he feels the need to hang around a few more years and try to collect some more hardware, I wish him luck. But the fact is not only are his best years behind him, but its starting to look like even his "good" years have passed him by. As for the chances of a repeat, slim and none. The NBA is top heavy with good teams right now, and you can expect a team like Dallas, San Antonio, Phoenix or Detroit to make it tough for the Heat to pull off the double dip.

Draft Lottery Exactly That
I know I promised a mock draft at some point, but the fact of the matter is, this draft isn't even worth breaking down. This draft has zero intrigue whatsoever. There is no superstar like Yao Ming or LeBron James and nobody even the level below like maybe a Chris Paul or Emeka Okafor. What this draft has is a bunch of role players, none of which are truly worthy of the money in the lottery, but some that will get the undeserved payday anyway. What I will do is tell you right now who the best players from this draft will be next season and in seasons to come.
1)Randy Foye G Villanova - Believe it or not, I would have had Foye here if I did this thing weeks ago, even though now his bandwagon seems to be gaining a lot of momentum. Foye is a prototypical combo-guard with both the size and shooting ability to play 3 spots on the perimeter. He may lack the defensive toughness right now in his career, but you can't question his motivation or his overall talent. He can take guys off the dribble, post up smaller players, stroke the 3 and best of all he has a motor that never quits. Whichever team lands him is getting the best offensive player in the draft, no questions asked.

2)Brandon Roy G Washington - Roy mired in obscurity for a while on the west coast, but after a few good runs in the NCAA tourney many took notice. He has great size for someone that can light it up from the outside. And while he may not be a great rebounder, he probably rates at or near the top for defensive perimeter players in the draft. A lot of teams are trying to get bigger in the backcourt without losing any shooting or ball handling, and Roy is the perfect fit.

3)Marcus Williams G UCONN - In my opinion he is the only true PG ready to run an NBA squad right now. Heck he basically did that at UCONN, seeing as all the guys he played with are in or will be in the association. I know he may have issues with his weight, and some question his motivation and shot making skill, but Williams is the real deal. He is basically a slightly worse shooting version of Deron Williams last year, but with superior court vision and that basketball IQ that NBA general managers salivate over.

4)Shelden Williams F Duke - If this guy doesn't remind you of Elton Brand and Carlos Boozer, then you haven't' been watching close enough. The Landlord is probably the best defensive post player in the draft, and staying the full 4 in Durham helped polish his offensive game to the point of respectability. Sure he may only stand about 6'8" in socks, but that hasn't stopped the aforementioned Dukies from becoming beasts in the post, and I expect the same from WIlliams.

And the Zeke Shall Inherit the Mess
Problem: Your general manager has driven your payroll to more than 50% over the salary cap, frequently been bashed in the press, already driven another entire league out of business, and just fired a head coach that he himself selected fewer than 11 months ago.
Solution: Make him your head coach?
Now there isn't a bigger critic of Larry Brown out there than me, but Isiah Thomas is actually a worse option as the New York Knicks head coach by leaps and bounds. Not because he is a bad coach persay, but because he hasn't done anything to warrant this position. It was the rumor ever since he took over that Zeke was secretly pining to get back to the bench. First he was going to assemble the players he wanted, then he was going to run the current coach out of town and guide his band of misfits to the promised land. So now his master plan has come full circle, and Isiah gets to finally prove he's known what he was doing all along. My prediction is that Zeke and Starbury will be feuding before the All-Star break, the Knicks will be lucky to win 30 games, and Thomas will be lucky to have a job next year. As noted, I've been wrong before, but it's been a while since I was wrong about the Knicks. Good luck Isiah, God knows you're gonna need it.

One Team, One Goal
This headline wrote itself. After hearing for 4 years about how US soccer had finally arrived on the international stage (ranked #5 in the latest FIFA rankings), the US manages only one goal before exiting the 2006 World Cup. And, if the Italians hadn't booted one into their own net, the US wouldn't have even managed a point! In case anyone was still wondering why soccer isn't popular in this country it's because we SUCK at it! And as far as watching soccer goes, I'm sick of hearing how great it is in HD. I watched some of it in high def, and the only real difference I saw was that the damn grass was greener! Also, and I never thought I'd say this, but the sport needs commercials. I miss 50% of the goals because I watch for 30 minutes while a bunch of Eurotrash kicks it back and forth to each other, and the second I get up to get a drink, they decide to score. Maybe that's another reason people in this country will never get accustomed to watching soccer. Sure, you miss action in other sports by changing the channel or getting up for food, but at least you have time slots where action is guaranteed not to occur. As for the rest of the World Cup, I'm sure it will be entertaining for the millions around the world watching it, but as for me, its back to watching sports where I can pronounce the players names and they don't fall down and complain every 5 seconds. Good thing hockey and basketball season are over.

Red Sox Update
Last Week: 5-0
Overall: 44-28
Standings: 1st by 2.5 games

*Thank God for Jon Lester, that's all I have to say. I'm not going to pretend he solves all of the Sox rotation issues, but pretty damn close. Other than that, as long as Big Paprika continues to hit clutch homers, the Yanks and Blue Jays may be in for a long summer.

Diamonds are Forever
*Juan Gonzalez is back in baseball....with the Long Island Ducks! He's looking really smart for turning down that $140 million that the Detroit Tigers offered him. And I know you're probably waiting for me to make some sort of "Juan Gone" joke here, but I'm just not going to bring myself to that level.

*Apparently, despite spending the better part of the last 3 decades in the United States, Ozzie Guillen doesn't know the English meaning of the words "fag" or "sensitivity". And if you believe him, then you must also know where the weapons of mass destruction are in Iraq. I don't care if Ozzie hates Jay Mariotti, in fact I think some sparring like that is entertaining, but for him to claim ignorance after shooting his mouth off is foolish. Ozzie better be careful, or he might just talk himself right out of a job, or even worse, talk himself into the job coaching Juan Gone on the Long Island Ducks.

Random Hockey Stuff
*As if it wasn't bad enough that both Sergei Samsonov and Joe Thornton helped lead their respective teams on nice runs after they were dealt from the Bruins, now this. Joe Thornton was name the NHL MVP this week, winning narrowly over Jaromir Jagr. So why do I bother to mention this? Just to rub it in that the Boston Bruins suck and all the decisions they make are just awful. Speaking of, they just traded goalie Andrew Raycroft. Yeah, that's the guy that was rookie of the year a few years ago. I smell a Stanley Cup in his future!

*And just when you thought Paris Hilton had conquered most of the entertainment world, she's gone even further. The new rumor on the street has the heiress hooking up with Avalanche goaltender Jose Theodore. It's not news that she has broken up another relationship, or even that she has hopped into bed with yet another guy. Rather the news here is, Theodore more than likely became the first person Paris bumped uglies with that had tested positive for Propecia during the NHL drug screening process.

**Seeing as I am posting on Sunday this week, I don't have the results for my fantasy update. As of now I am slightly ahead, but who knows what the future holds! As for next week, it is my much anticipated rematch with Frosco. Unfortunately, I will be away from a computer for the next 5 days, so if he wins that's the reason I'm going with.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Wade, Refs Help Heat Grab 3-2 Lead

South Beach Riot
Dwayne Wade has without a doubt taken his game to the next level in this NBA Finals, especially over the last 3 games. With his team facing an 0-2 hole that no team has come back from, all he did was average 40 points and 8 boards on almost 50% shooting. All with Dallas' top player, Dirk Nowitzki, floundering in the Florida heat. The Mavs at the very least should be ahead 3-2 after game 5, seeing as they handed game 3 to the Heat, after being up 13 with 6 minutes to go. And after being outclassed and outplayed in game 4, Dallas had game 5 taken from them by the officials. Not only did they call a phantom foul at the end of regulation to put Wade at the foul line, they mistakenly called a timeout for Dallas when it was clear that Josh Howard was asking his coach if he wanted to call one, not calling one himself. The refs need to stay out of it when it comes down to crunch time in a series like this. It's bad enough that the league suspended Jerry Stackhouse for doing the only thing humanly possible to bring Shaq down. But Dallas can't totally blame the refs. It's still the players that win and lose the games, and Dirk and Co. have done a lot of losing. I don't even see it as a case of Miami's players stepping up. Sure they had the impressive showing in game 4, but other than that, the other two games in Miami were there to be won and Dallas just blew it. While my prediction of a Dallas championship in 6 games is obviously wrong (shocker), the series still hasn't technically started yet with the home team winning all 5 games. It's ironic enough that if it "starts" in Dallas, the Miami Heat will be the NBA champs. But I'm still holding out hope that Dallas can get the last 2 at home, or at least win game 6 and force a showdown for all the marbles in game 7.

Open Wound
After telling everyone within ear shot on Saturday night that there was no doubt in my mind Phil Mickelson would choke away his shot at a US Open title, he made me look even smarter than I claim to be. See, the whole concept of the US Open is to minimize the risks you have to take and make smart, simple shots. Jack Nicklaus always said, there were just some players who were never meant to win an Open and they knew it, simply because of the style of golf they played. The difference between the guys Jack was talking about and Phil Mickelson, is that Phil goes out of his way to lose these things. Before he started winning majors recently, Phil was always labeled as a wild man who never scaled back his game to fit the situation. His philosophy was that why should he change his game simply because he was on the closing holes of a major championship? So when he pulled out the driver on the 18th tee yesterday afternoon, I just sat there and smiled. I already knew what was coming because I'd seen it twice before. Needing only par to win, and a bogey to force a playoff with eventual champ Geoff Ogilvy, Lefty took out the big dog and promptly launched into the trees. Sure a lot of you might say he'd been missing fairways all week, so who's to say he would have hit it with the 3-wood or a long iron? That's impossible to know. But using those clubs would have taken double bogey out of play, and essentially assured him at the very least a spot in the playoff on Monday. But he didn't, and just like at Pinehurst and Bethpage, he choked away the US Open title. Only a classic meltdown like that could make people forget that Tiger Woods missed the cut at a major for the first time in his pro career, along with players like Monty and Furyk choked away chances of their own on the final holes. Leave it to Phil.

US Apparently Still in World Cup
According to ESPN and ABC, if the US beats Ghana in their final match in group play, they will have a chance to advance to the knockout stages of the tournament. It's also been explained to me that goal differential is the first tiebreaker if town teams have the same amount of points in the group. So as I see it, the US still has a differential of -3, and they have only the one point from their tie with Italy. IF the US does beat Ghana, then they will still need the Italians to beat the Czechs. That would give Italy 7 points, the US 4, and Ghana and the Czechs would each have 3. Only problem with this scenario? Ghana beat the Czechs, who dismantled the US. And likewise Italy only managed a tie with the US while beating Ghana. Add into that the fact that the US hasn't really even scored a goal yet in their first two games! And while I am wasting my time talking about soccer, I need to say that the play in this World Cup hasn't impressed me at all. I have taken time out to watch these matches, and what do I see? Guys falling down and crying, and a lot of wasted chances by "the world's greatest athletes". I'm sorry, but I'm just not buying it. I don't claim to know which sport has the best all-around athletes, but these guys are not it. Soccer has far too much standing around, and more whiners and complainers than an NBA game. So as usual, the rest of the world is wrong, and the US is right. Soccer sucks, let's leave it at that.

Red Sox Update
Last Week: 3-3
Overall: 39-28
Standings: 1st place by 1 game

*The Sox were able to salvage a week that started with a crushing loss in extra innings and a sweep at the hands of the Minnesota Twins. The question still remains though. How long can they continue to not take advantage of the recent poor play by both the Yankees and the Blue Jays? Hopefully this sweep of Atlanta is a sign of things to come. And if youngsters like David Pauley and Jon Lester can help lend some stability to the starting rotation, the Sox may very well be on top of the East for the rest of the season.

Diamonds Are Forever
*Apparently former major leaguer David Segui had a prescription to be taking HGH. Segui came forward this week and said he was the player mentioned in the IRS affidavit in connection with now black-balled pitcher Jason Grimsley. Grimsley pegged Segui as the guy who gave him the name of a doctor in Florida that had the connections to get him the Joy Juice without raising any red flags. But Segui contends that he was actually prescribed the drug. I said it before and I will say it again. This thing is only going to get worse before it gets better. And don't expect David Segui to be the biggest name to surface from this latest chapter in the MLB steroid scandal.

*Somebody break up the Twins. After sweeping the Red Sox to start the week, they proceeded to go into Pittsburgh and sweep the Pirates too. Now they've won 9 of 10 and pulled to .500 for the first time this season. We shouldn't get too excited, seeing as they are still 11 games out of their own division and 9.5 out of the wild card, but this team is showing that their season shouldn't be written off just yet. Any rotation that has Johan Santana at the front (6-1 with 81 K's since May) will have the chance to compete deep into the season as long as they continue to score some runs.

*Just to continue patting myself on the back. The White Sox and Mets continue to be the two best teams in baseball (I don't count the Tigers because I regard what they are doing as some sort of fluke still). If those two teams actually meet in the World Series, be careful. Because I'm afraid if I actually predict something like this correctly, the apacoplypse can't be far behind.

NFL News and Notes
*I didn't have a chance to touch on Ben Roethlisberger's motorcycle wreck last week, so allow me to say this. What a complete moron! Not only was he not wearing a helmet, he didn't even have a valid license or permit! And then to come out and say that "when" he rides again he will wear a helmet? How about this Big Ben. I WILL NOT RIDE MY MOTORCYCLE AGAIN UNTIL I RETIRE! With the rash of recent motorcycle injuries to promising players like Jay Williams and Kellen Winslow, you'd think Ben had better sense than to be cruising around without a bucket on his dome. But oh well, I'll take anything that makes the Steelers look like fools, and gives them question marks heading into their Super Bowl defense in the upcoming season.

*To all the Patriots fans out there worried about Deion Branch holding out of minicamp this past week, don't. Remember the contract problems with Richard Seymour that had him holding out of camp? This looks like the same deal. I fully expect the Pats to compensate their Super Bowl MVP wideout before it becomes too big of an issue. Stay tuned with this story, but expect the Patriots (as always) to make the right decision and keep Branch in Foxboro.

Fantasy Update
Week 11 Final Score: 16-4-2
Record: 119-91-32 (9.5 games back)

Week 11 vs KY Jackin' Juicers (108-96-38)

*Poor Hanley Ramirez is making it really tough for me to keep him on my team, let alone be the name of my team. After such a promising start, Hanley is just 14 for his last 88 at the plate, and has seen his average drop from the mid .300's. all the way down to .269. But I don't even need him at this point, with my team clicking on all cylinders. My pitching continues to dominate and I picked up my second smack down in as many weeks. I still say this is my league to lose, and if these fools don't take notice, I may be in the driver's seat by the All-Star break.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Dirk Strikes First, As US Soccer Fizzles

Texas Two-Step
I'm all too familiar with the saying that no series begins until the road team wins a game, but that may not apply in the 2006 NBA Finals. Not only did the Dallas Mavericks hold homecourt advantage this weekend, they sent the message that this is their series. Whenever you can hold Shaq to 5 points (yea that wasn't a typo) you have to feel good about your chances of winning 2 of the next 5 games, no matter where they are being played. I said before the series started that Miami's elderly role players would be no match for guys like Jason Terry and Josh Howard, and that seems to be what's hurting them most. After Terry dropped 32 in game 1, both he and Howard became the first players in Finals history to make 4-point plays in game 2. Meanwhile, White Chocolate, Employee #8 and The Glove aren't finding it that easy. All we heard after game 1 was how great Miami was going to play in game 2, and how they were going to keep feeding the ball to the Diesel inside. Well if by "great" they meant awful, and if by "feeding it to Shaq" they meant he was going to post career playoff lows in FG, FGA and points, then mission accomplished. Granted the Heat should play better at home, but the damage may have already been done. Of the 9 previous teams that have fallen behind 2-0 on the road in the Finals, exactly none of them have gone on to win it. All that being said, I predicted Dallas in 6, and as of right now I'm sticking with that prediction. Hey you never know, I may just get one right one of these days.

Red Sox Update
Last Week: 3-4
Overall: 36-25
Standings: 1st by 1 game

*Yes, not only did I see Big Papi's walf-off 3 run blast to beat the Rangers yesterday, I was about 10 rows away from Upper Deck Shrek when he let it fly. Standing there, watching Manny take his cuts in the on-deck circle, I knew there was no way he was getting to the plate. Either Papi would strike out or fly out, or end the game with yet another clutch blast. And I think we were all pretty pumped when the latter happened. But while the win was nice, the Sox need to be worried about the fact they haven't been able to pull away in the East with both the Yanks and Jays recent struggles.

Diamonds Are Forever
*Jason Grimsley has become that latest player to get tangled up in MLB's steroid scandal. As the story goes, Grimsley was originally implicated with the likes of Jason Giambi and Barry Bonds, but he agreed to help the Feds in their investigation. AKA be a rat. But when Grimsley renegged on his promise to help, the Feds turned on him and nailed him for his own involvement. Fair? Probably not by my or your standards, but when you get mixed up in illegal drugs, I don't think you can expect to be treated fairly. But at least he removed himself from the team because he "didn't want to become a distraction" right? Yea sure. If by not being a distraction you mean filing suit against the Diamondbacks when they refuse to pay the rest of your salary for the year. This thing has the chance to get real ugly real quick, and I for one can't wait to see who J-Grim decides to throw under the BALCO bus on his way out the door.

*The Yankees were swept at home by the Oakland A's this weekend, which means the Big Apple media has begun jumping all over A-Fraud yet again. So what if he's hitting .323 with runners in scoring position. Any fan will tell you all of those hits come with the Yanks up by a bunch or down by a bunch late in games. With the Yanks still trailing the Sox, and facing a myriad of injuries to key players like Matsui and Sheffield, Gay-Rod needs to step it up or he will truly start to feel the wrath of the Yankee faithful.

I'll admit that I long for the days when Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi used to battle it out for Grand Slam titles. So forgive me if I get too excited when I see the latest tennis rivalry gaining momentum. With his 4 set win in the French Open final this weekend, Rafael Nadal did 3 things. 1) He became the first player to defeat Roger Federer in a Grand Slam final. 2) He became the youngest at 20 years old to win back to back French Open titles. And 3) He extended his record streak of consecutive matches won on clay to 60. Nadal also managed to improve his career record against Roger to 6-1, the only man on tour these days to even sniff a .500 mark against the Swiss machine. Sure Raffy will have to show he can compete on other surfaces in order to make any argument that he is better than Federer, but he is only 20 years old. After all the let-down in the past with players that were supposed to add excitement to the sport like Kafelnikov, Chang, Muster, Phillippousis, Henman and Krajicek (yes I realize I may be the only person reading this who knows who half those guys are), tennis may finally have another rivalry worth watching. And don't kid yourself. I'll admit nobody likes to watch two weeks worth of tennis that a Grand Slam has, but if these two keep meeting in finals it will make even staunch tennis haters stand up and take notice.

US Still Winless in World Cup in Europe
There are two things I know about soccer. Nil means zero, and it's the most popular sport in the world outside of the US. That being said, I will go out on a limb and say the chance the US has to win a World Cup in my lifetime is...well...nil. Despite being in Germany for the better part of the last 6 months, the US came out flat against the #2 ranked Czech Republic and promptly got their Yankee Doodle Domes handed to them to the tune of 3-0. That now gives the US of A an all-time record of 0-8-0 in World Cup games played in Europe. Sure a lot of people have been saying that this year's team can ride the momentum of their quarterfinal appearance 4 years ago, but I'm not so sure. And I don't think it has anything to do with the fact they are in perhaps the toughest group (group E) that some are calling the "Group of Death". Soccer just isn't our sport boys and girls, and the sooner we learn that, the sooner we can send all our minivans to the junkyard and move onto the next fad sport for youths in this country.....Lacrosse. Sure I'll have another World Cup update next week, but don't expect the US to be movin' on.

Fantasy Update
Week 10 Final Score: 16-2-4
Record: 103-87-30 (16.5 games back)

Week 11 vs Brazil Nuts (79-114-27)

*One good spanking deserves another. After a terrible week 9, team Hanley bounced back with a good ole fashioned ass kicking in week 10. My pitching returned to prominence, thanks in no small part to my newest acquisition, Brad Lidge. For the 2nd time in 2 weeks, Lidge was placed on the waiver wire, but this time I snatched him up. And the result? He only collected 3 saves, adding to what is now a truly dominant bullpen with Bobby Jenks and Derrick Turnbow. On a sad note, Hanley himself may be on the DL for a bit after hurting himself taking a dive into the stands on Sunday. Do me a favor and pray for him, because I don't want to have to rename my team....yet again.

Monday, June 05, 2006


Dirk Vs The Diesel
My preseason prediction: Spurs over the Pistons in 6 games. Ok so I was dead wrong yet again. That's why I play poker and blackjack, instead of driving myself crazy betting on sports. But this Dallas/Miami matchup should be rather entertaining nonetheless. Pat Riley is being called a genius for adding veteran role players like Antoine Walker, Jason "I'm not the one who shot my chauffeur" Williams, James Posey and Gary Payton to compliment Wade and Shaq. While those may have been good pick ups, my belief is that last years team would have beaten this years Pistons anyway. Detroit looked flat through the entire playoffs, and should have probably been bounced by the Cavs a round earlier. But I will give credit where credit is due. Miami was still able to beat the defending Conference champs on their own home floor, and even gave themselves time to rest before the Finals. Despite that, I give the edge in this series to the Mavericks. Dallas proved against the Spurs that they can win a series in a halfcourt style, and they beat the Suns in a run and gun type of series. I expect this series to look more like Mavs/Spurs, with the Heat trying to feed Shaq as much as possible while taking advantage of what opportunities they can to run up and down. Dallas has post players like Eric Dampier and DsSagana Diop to contend with the Diesel, to go along with plenty of backcourt defenders like Daniels, Terry, Harris and Howard to try and slow Dwayne Wade. Miami doesn't want to get into a track meet with Dallas, because they aren't used to that style, and probably don't have the horses to run up and down for a lengthy series. Also, Miami has proven that they are suspect defensively, and while the Mavs may not be a force on D either, they have more weapons on offense than the Heat can possibly handle. So while I think Dallas will Git R Done, don't expect the Heat to go quietly. Prediction: Dallas in 6 games

Oh and just so the Stanley Cup Finals don't get left out. I have a prediction for that as well. Nobody will watch, and somebody will win. There it is.

Red Sox Update
Last Week:
Overall: 33-21
Standings: 1st place by 1/2 game

*Paper Tigers? Detroit sure played like it this week, going a combined 2-5 against the Yanks and Sox. The Sox started the week by getting pounded by the Jays, but were able to rebound by taking a road series against the Tigers, who continue their fall after racing out to the leagues best record. The Sox have been getting by without Mike Timlin with pretty decent performances from Rudy Seanez and Jermaine Van Buren to help bridge the gap to Papelbon. If they can hold the bullpen together, there's no reason to think they won't be able to keep it steady until they can get some key players back on the field. Next up this week is another key series with the Yanks, where heavily anticipating the David Pauley/Chien-Ming Wang matchup in game 2. Aren't they?

Diamonds Are Forever
*Now I know we don't care about west coast baseball, but when Brandon Webb starts for the D-backs, it's worth staying up to watch. Webb is 8-0 this year with a 2.01 ERA, 2 complete games and an almost 6 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio. Webb entered the season with a career 31-37 record over his first 3 seasons in Arizona, but now is the runaway favorite to start the All-Star game for the NL. Lucky for me he is on the team I am facing this week in fantasy. Oh Joy! But seriously, take a look at this kid if you can, he throws hard, works fast and isn't intimidated by anyone.

*Big surprise, Clemens went back to Houston. Sure I would have loved for Roger to come back to Boston, but he would rather stay close to home on a mediocre team than throw himself into a serious pennant race in either New York or Boston. Whatever. Let him make a million dollars each start or whatever the figure is. And watch the Astros never be a serious contender for the World Series title. I know they made it last year even though they were 15 games under .500 at one point, but it's not happening this year. Their bullpen is shaky, and players like Willie Taveras, Preston Wilson, Adam Everett and Morgan Ensberg have been underachieving to put it kindly. And this year there are much better Wild Card candidates than last, with the Phillies and Mets pushing hard in the East, and the entire NL West still at or over .500. Roger will make his money (more money than he needs), but I hope he doesn't expect to be playing any real meaningful games in his "last" season.

*After an outstanding start, Bronson Arroyo looked like he was going back to his inconsistency he displayed for so many years in Boston. In the words of Lee Corso, Not so fast my friend! After racing out to a 5-0 record, Bronson had dropped 2 of his last 3 starts before tossing 6 strong innings against Houston on Thursday, striking out 6 while giving up just 2 runs. He also continued his solid slugging, going 3 for 3 and driving in 4 runs. With Wily Mo Pena on the DL with a wrist injury, and the Sox having issues at the back end of their rotation....Well let's just say the deal isn't looking great right now. Don't count out Theo trying to swing a trade that brings Bronson back to Bean Town.

*From the "I guess anything is possible" files, Bob Uecker has filed a restraining order against a woman he claims is stalking him. Bob has been the voice of the Brewers for over 25 years, and played one of the best roles ever in a sport's movie as the voice of the Cleveland Indians in Major League. I like the movie too, but come on lady, find someone normal to stalk. In her defense, he did have some of the most classic lines in movie history. For example...

"Hollywood leads the league in most offensive categories, including nose hair. When this guy sneezes he looks like a party favor."

"Remember fans, Tuesday is Die Hard Night. Free admission to anyone that was alive the last time the Indians won the pennant."

"In case you haven't noticed, and judging by the attendance you haven't, the Indians have managed to win a few ballgames and are threatening to climb out of the cellar."

Pujols Watch
Looks like the first week of the "Pujols Watch" was also the last. Soon after Albert became the quickest to 25 HR (needing only 51 team games), Prince Albert strained his oblique landing him on the 15 day DL. So through 52 team games now, Albert has 25 dingers, putting him on pace for 78. Factor in the 15 games he will miss, and his pace gets knocked down to 70-71 for the season. So this should end his chances at catching Bonds single season mark, but I will revisit the "Pujols Watch" if by chance he comes back and starts crankin' them out at an even faster rate.

It's tough to tell whether all this continued steroid talk about Lance Armstrong is just people trying to dig up dirt that isn't there, or an actual scandal. I've always had a sneaking suspicion that Lance may have been dipping in the illegal joy juice, but there has never been any proof. It's not that I think his comeback from cancer would have been impossible without illegal drugs, but there is a lot of smoke around this issue. Sure the rest of cycling is probably jealous of him, but is that reason enough to try to mar his career with these rumors? Earlier this week a report came out clearing Lance of any wrongdoing after samples from his 1999 Tour de France win showed that he was doping (using drugs to allow his blood to hold more oxygen). Soon after the World Anti Doping Agency came out with a statement saying the investigation did nothing in their eyes to clear Armstrong of doping during the 1999 Tour. I'm sure this is only the beginning, so stay tuned. We could be watching another American sports hero being torn down by a steroid scandal.

Revenge of the Nerds
I'm surprised a girl won. I'm surprised she wasn't wearing glasses. I'm surprised she was Caucasian. And I'm surprised it was broadcast during prime time in High Definition. I don't get why it was in prime time, or in high def, and it really boggles my mind as to why ESPN would have Chris McKendry cover it, The same woman who can't make it through a normal Sportscenter without mispronouncing 1 million words, stumbling through her pre-written material, or telling one story while a totally different set of graphics are on the screen. Maybe someone in Bristol had her do it as some sort of practical joke. They would have been better off tossing Tom Jackson, Michael Irvin or Joe Morgan out there. Now that would have been funny.

*Just a side note about the Spelling Bee. I had the discussion with several people about how the first prize, college scholarship money, is the dumbest thing ever. They showed a statistic at one point about how tons of the kids that win go on to Ivy League schools. Not to mention, every time they showed the parents they were always doctors or scholars themselves. Giving those kids scholarship money is like giving the team that wins the World Series some batting cage tokens. I say give them a trip somewhere. Get these kids out of the house for once instead of having them memorize the dictionary while their skin turns a nice pasty white.

Au Revoir
I told you last week to be on the look out for Gale Monfils (Mon-Fees), the French tennis star that looks like Dwayne Wade. Well the 19-year old is making waves with his play now. Monfils clawed his way into the 4th round with an upset of 8th seeded American James Blake in 5 sets. Needless to say we hate the French, and they hate us, so the atmosphere was a little hostile for Blake. Monfils ran into a wall early Monday though. After 3 straight matches that went 5 sets, he looked a little out of gas falling in 3 sets to fellow 19-year old Serbian Novak Djocovik. And just a little something for anyone that actually cares about tennis. Rafael Nadal has now won 57 straight matches on clay, which happens to be the longest streak ever. And who said tennis wasn't exciting?

Fantasy Update
Week 9 Final Score: 4-16-2
Record: 87-85-26 (15.5 games back)

Week 10 vs Borat (75-89-34)

*My giant leap forward last week, followed by yet another thumping. But this one doesn't really bother me nearly as much as the ones before. My team played well, they just ran into a better squad this week. But now I find myself in 7th place. I need to take advantage of the next 2 weeks, against teams in 7th and 11th before I take on the first place team and have my second showdown of the season with Frosco.