Saturday, July 14, 2007
Friday, July 13, 2007
Yep - it's that slow a day here at TSE. JTBI is job-hunting and Seaward, well, God alone knows what he's doing. Me? I'm just trying to get to 5pm so I can go home. So in order to kill some time, I present your AFL Conference Championship Preview.
Not surprisingly, since my last post on the AFL, popularity for the league has skyrocketed.* People from all corners of the world are clamoring to see what will happen during this week's conference finals and I am chief among them. The American Conference seems to have the better match up on paper, but as the wise man once said: "games aren't played on paper, they're played inside televisions".
*(probably not, I can't back that up)
The Chicago Rush have been one of the league's best teams throughout this unpredictable AFL season, finishing with three wins to catapult them into 2nd overall in the conference. The quick and able WR Bobby Sippio has been the lynch pin in the Chicago offense and we shouldn't look for that to stop this week. In last week's 52-20 drubbing of the Los Angeles Avengers (how do you score only 20 in an AFL game?) he was all over the offensive side of the field, taking snaps at Quarterback from time-to-time but usually sitting pretty in his role as WR #1 for QB Matt D'Orazio. He's the big play guy for Rush and if he has a strong game, so should Chicago.
Standing in their way, of course, are the San Jose Sabrecats, the conference's #1 seed, who haven't lost a game since the middle of April. The win streak rests firmly on the back of the Sabercat D, which gave up a whopping 400+ yards to the Colorado Crush last week. This wasn't the norm for the 'cats, who gave up 67 points last week, which was the most they've given up at home, where they are undefeated, or on the road all year. If the defense shores up, and and QB Matt Grieb can continue to lead the offense at the 72% season passing clip, then this should be a very close, if not low-scoring game.
San Jose has more weapons, but Defense wins championships. Chicago 51-47.
Coming into this game, the [my] Columbus Destroyers are the talk of the Arena Football world, stunning, in consecutive weeks, the Tampa Bay Storm in Tampa and the #1 seed Dallas Desperado's IN big-D. Pundits are calling Columbus one of the more unexpected, nigh stunning teams in AFL playoff history. They will look to QB Matt Nagy to continue the run to ArenaBowl XXI in New Orleans.
They run, headlong this time, into the Georgia Force, who are easily the National Conference's most talented team. Defensively, no one hits harder, as has been the case all season and if Georgia can plant Nagy into the turf early and often, the budding star might lose enough of his shine to make mistakes. Combine that with Georgia's quick-strike offense and it could be a-lot-to-a-little very early into the game.
How can Columbus hope to stack up to the now 15-2 Georgia Force? They'll need some of the same luck that got them there in the first place: luck. They've had it on their side in the first two games and everyone in Columbus is banking on it again. Nagy has been stellar this year and his 75-15 TD-INt ratio must be on display. If WR Damien Groce can elude the Force secondary and get in a few scores early, Columbus is as good as anyone in the second half, outscoring Dallas 24-0 to open the third quarter last week.
Like I said, I'm riding this Columbus bandwagon all the way to ArenaBowl XXI. They beat the Force once before this year and I don't think lady luck has stopped singing for the Destroyers yet. Columbus will humble Georgia 62-48.
Your thoughts and predictions in the comments. more...
Happy Friday the 13th, yo.
Mark Cuban, Major League Baseball owner?
Well, Cubes is trying; the Dallas Mavericks owner has submitted his application to buy the Chicago Cubs to Bud Selig & Co. It seems like a great idea on paper and I, as a lifelong Indians fan who eons ago adopted the Cubbies as his NL team, am absolutely in favor of one of North American sport's best owners taking over one of my favorite teams. According to legendary baseball writer Peter Gammons, however, it seems a bit out of reach.
Excuse me, but a problem for the league? Really?
I mean, I guess Reinsdorf has a point... because who likes hands-on proactive owners who treat their employees and players like gold? That is, invariably, bad for the league. You don't want a guy who spends lavishly to ensure the comfort of his paid staff & talent to rock the boat in a league where Jeffrey Loria spends as little as humanly possible to field a team. You don't want a guy who has proven he can immediately erase a culture of losing on a franchise in a league where David Glass and Ted Lerner let their teams continue to languish in the basements of their respective divisions for decades at a time.
I'm sure defending "the good of the game" is truly the aim of Reinsdorf. Certainly not looking to protect his ass in a city where his team can win the World Series and still play second fiddle to a team that hasn't grabbed a ring in 99 years. Certainly not.
Even if I weren't a fan, you could never convince me that turning one of baseball's most popular franchises into a perennial winner--as Cuban did with the Mavs--could even be remotely considered bad for the league. Stop being such a dick, Jerry, and get on board the Cuban bandwagon. more...
Thursday, July 12, 2007
It's all downhill from here. In a good way. It's July 12th, the MLB All-Star Game is over and we past the slowest day in the sports world. From this day forward, every sport starts to pick up steam. Presented now is a schedule of what to expect in the coming weeks from different sports, different media outlets and the rest of the sports world.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
It is officially one of the two slowest sports days of the summer (and tomorrow will be no picnic), so let's take the time allotted by the sports gods to compare 2007 MLB teams by division to movies released this summer.
1st place -- Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Backed by an owner with infinity billion dollars and carried by an incredibly underrated cast. Their name doesn't make a lot of sense to most Americans, either.
The Angels are...
2nd place -- Seattle Mariners
Everyone has said really good things about this team and they've been able to hang in the standings with the big boys for the past month or so, but this team leaves you with a ton of questions, like... do I really trust the guy steering the ship right now? Just like any Stephen King novel in the past 10 years, the Mariners are a total mixed bag.
The Mariners are...
3rd place -- Oakland Athletics
This team has nearly infinite potential, based on a franchise with decades of high-level success. Unfortunately, noone will know if they're able to fulfill this potential until the end of July.
The A's are...
The Simpsons Movie
4th place -- Texas Rangers
Hey, what's wrong with re-treading players that were relevant 10 years ago and presenting them as fresh and new?
The Rangers are...
(NB: Wild Hogs was on the Top 10 grossers list on Memorial Day weekend, so it counts.)
Carved in stone at 6:01 PM by Jed
We live in a day where nothing is ever good enough anymore. Spurs win four championships since 1999, still many question their viability as a dynasty. A-Rod goes for 30 and 86 in the first half, and the city of New York still doesn't care if he leaves at the end of the month. Kelly Slater wins 8 surfing trophies and is bounced in the first round of Who's Now. As of July 10,2007, you can now add: hitting a game winning home run in the All-Star game no longer means you are the MVP. It happened last night, Victor Martinez came up and knocked a pinch hit homer to left, giving the American League (what turned out to be) the winning run to keep the AL winning streak alive. Then, because Ichiro hit an in the park homer, he won the award, even though without Victor's home run, he isn't the MVP. Ichiro Suzuki is driving Victor Martinez's Chevy Tahoe hybrid, plain and simple. In case you think I'm out of my mind, let's take a look at the last few AS MVP award winners in games decided by two runs or less, and how they won their award.
Update: Aaron Rowand made the last out of the ballgame, and I forgot to analyze that. All told, I still think you give credit to the All-Stars who made the lineup and give them the chance, even if Pujols is available. Rowand is currently hitting at a higher clip than Hudson is and with more HRs, though Pujols could probably play CF more effectively (though there may be some issues covering the real estate at AT&T Park) than 2B.
Another "if and but", however, for if Rowand hits a single then we wouldn't be talking about this at all. But I realize the point and I thank commenter JPatterson89 for pointing this out, though his comment has since been deleted (not by me).
Welcome, friends, to what is widely regarded as the worst day in sports. With no baseball, football (arena or otherwise), basketball (of note) or hockey today, it's bound to be awfully slow around this and every other sports-related sector of the blogospheres. But the morning shouldn't be too bad because there was a pretty good All-Star Game (ASG, because I'm tired of writing out the full phrase) last night and it is worth writing about. So here we go.
What in the name of God was Tony La Russa thinking?
Here he is, manager of the National League All-Stars, there because his Cardinals won the previous year's World Series, with Albert Pujols, the guy who got him there, ready to bat with two gone and the bases juiced in the bottom of the ninth inning, down by a run. So what does La Russa do? In many estimations, he must have done what he did in spring training again, as Albert sat and Orlando Hudson popped to Alex Rios to end the game. Because of that, Albert isn't talking to Tony and Tony will be inundated with "why not" questions from here until the season's conclusion.
But I am willing to stand up in defense of the Cardinal skipper. Here are (with no apologies to ESPN Classic) the top 4 reasons you can't blame Tony La Russa for not bringing in Albert Pujols.
1. J.J was a Putz and K-Rod was more like BB-Rod.
The AL's choice for closers weren't exactly skilled marksmen in that final half-inning. Putz gave up the HR to Soriano on a badly hanging breaking ball and Rodriguez was doing triple salchows after each pitch. Anything hit in the immediate direction of the pitcher's mound would have either knocked off a turned-around K-Rod or simply zipped through the infield. But that would, of course, mean that K-Rod would have had to throw a hittable pitch, which was done very rarely.
2. Pujols was too valuable to use (almost).
Albert Pujols is a very powerful card to have in one's hand. He's like the left Bauer in a game of Euchre: if he's not played right, it can cost you the hand and maybe the game. Sure, Pujols could have come in and walked or hit a single to tie the game, which may have happened, but in such a case, that would mean Albert Pujols would have to come in on defense, as La Russa was out of reserves. And he probably would have had to play second base for Orlando Hudson. Unless Pujols were to win it with one swing, then putting him in might have been too costly in the next half-inning. And why should Tony La Russa care about the ASG? The Cards probably won't be taking advantage of that home field advantage that was up for grabs last night. In La Russa's mind, it was probably better to keep his star rested for the benefit of his team.
3. Give Orlando Hudson some love, folks (Aaron Rowand, too).
It's not like Orlando Hudson had to beg to make this squad or was given a spot based on ballot-stuffing fans (cough, Ivan Rodriguez, cough). He's batting a shade under .300 for his season and 20 of his 96 hits (21%) are doubles. He's knocked in 47 RBIs and has walked 47 times. In the field, he has 9 boots, but that's probably better on the average than Pujols at the same position. Bottom line: he's having a very good year for a good D'Backs team and saying that Pujols should have almost automatically been substituted for him doesn't give Hudson anywhere near the credit he deserves. If the substitution had to be made, Aaron Rowand is the more logical substitute.
4. Finally, Dad is (almost) always right.
The Old Man used to tell me, "if 'ifs' and 'buts' were candy and nuts, everyday would be Christmas". We'll never know what would have happened if La Russa had put in his star in the bottom of the ninth. He may have gone yard or he may have flied out to right. Fact of the matter is, La Russa did what he thought was right at the time. Whether or not the two will ever speak to one another again, that remains to be seen. more...
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
The game is on Fox, and will be called by Joe Buck and Tim McCarver (oh joy).
Bottom of the Ninth
J.J. Putz is in, actually, I'm guessing until a run scores when Leyland will have K-Rod and Fukijama at the ready. That's some good managing by Leyland. Putz begins his night by striking out Matt Holiday, who has been kicking ass in the big leagues as of late. Not so much tonight; he's 0-2. Bryan McCann, the Braves catcher who didn't think she should even be there stands in. McCarver has told us that the Braves are in second place in the NL East about 12 times tonight, informing us that they are "in second place", "2 games back of the first place Mets" and "2 games ahead of the third place Phillies". That guy's never met a point he didn't hammer into the ground with a shovel for 9 innings. Anyway, McCann pops out bringing up the last hope for the NL in the person of SteakGrowsOnDimitri Young. Putz is throwing hard to Young and Young is looking stupider than normal, but he legs out a deep infield single to second so the NL has a glimmer of hope left. Play is ruled a hit and I'll agree with that. Alfonso Soriano is up, still against Putz who should have been out of here by now but Brian Roberts couldn't handle what Dimitri Young threw at him.
Soriano has just made it interesting hitting the piss out of a 2-2 fastball and putting it in the right field seats. 5-4 AL and Leyland looks like he could use a Marlboro or six. J.J. Hardy comes up now, in his first All Star Game with a big chance to be a star. Putz looks unaffected and is continuing to sling fireballs to Posada, topping out at 96 mph. K-rod is getting ready, the crowd is excited and Putz walks the tying run. Finally some intrigue. Imagine, had Roberts snagged that grounder. Here comes K-Rod with the tying run on and the winning run at the plate in the person of Derek Lee. I love K-Rod, this guy just throws and doesn't give a shit. Lee looks stupid after a 2-1 curve ball but works the count full. The runners are going. Here comes the pitch...Lee fouls it off his calf. We'll reset, then. full count, two outs, tying run going on the pitch, winning run at the plate...and Lee walks on a checked swing. This is getting very exciting now.
Interesting, with Albert Pujols available, LaRussa opts to use Orlando Hudson from the D'Backs. K-Rod is throwing bullets, but they're missing as he falls behind 2-0. Now 3-0. Now bases loaded on three consecutive AL pitching walks. Aaron Rowand comes up (no Albert?????) to face the jilted K-Rod with two down in the ninth. Finally K-Rod throws an early-count strike. And Rowand pops to right and that will do it. Great drama at the end but not enough. Why Pujols didn't get in is beyond me but the reactions will have to wait for tomorrow's TMA. I hope you enjoyed the live-blog and we'll see you tomorrow.
So the Home Run Derby was last night in San Francisco, which means two things: first, the 2-hour time slot was, at best, wishful thinking (three freaking hours long!!!). And second, that Chris Berman, the smartest person in sports, gets to take center stage with his cliches, knowledge of local geography, nicknames and, of course, his now patented "BACK BACK BACK..." call for each and every home run. This annoys the shit out of me and the rest of the world, I'm sure, but it is comforting in a way that words can't describe. So, like everyone else I watched the derby last night and expected, considering the lineup, to hear the word "back" upwards of 250 times (literally). And, just like Seaward's last two girlfriends, I went to bed unfulfilled. My list of concerns with last night's event are as follows:
Monday, July 09, 2007
1st place -- Detroit Tigers
Started way ahead of the curve thanks to their recent success and have built on it so far this year. Lots of big names in the lineup.
The Tigers are...
Shrek the Third
2nd place -- Cleveland Indians
You didn't hear much about this team before the season started but they have asserted themselves as a dark horse for the division since they hit the field. A solid cast of players even though you've only heard of a handful.
The Indians are...
(this movie was freaking impossible to find a properly sized poster of)
3rd place -- Minnesota Twins
A franchise that has seen success through the better part of this entire decade. Sure they had a hiccup a couple years ago but they're back in their old form now. Unfortunately for them, there are just too many other teams that are much better than they are this year.
The Twins are...
4th place -- Chicago White Sox
A franchise with a ton of squandered potential. You really hoped that they'd be able to build on the lessons they learned in their previous installment but instead this ship is taking on more water than ever. What good are all the big names when the end product is so mediocre?
The White Sox are...
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
5th place -- Kansas City Royals
A young cast, a shaky premise, a bad team.
The Royals are...
Seaward is right: this is an unbearable week for sports. No real baseball (even though the All Star Game "counts" now) until Thursday and no football for another 6 or 7 weeks. Yes, there is the WNBA but I'll cut off my balls with a rusty spoon before watching that. Yet in the midst of all of this boredom comes the lone beacon of home to get us to real football season.
The AFL, of course.
- The playoffs are arranged in similar fashion: wild card round, divisional round, conference championships, league championships. There's even that incredibly annoying 2-week wait between games!
- Shitty teams can back into the playoffs and make a splash. The Chicago Rush limped in at 7-9 and won four straight road games last year to win the ArenaBowl title. The Steelers of the NFL did the same thing just weeks earlier in Super Bowl XL.
- Defense? The AFL don't need no stinkin' defense. Last year's ArenaBowl had a final score of 69 (giggity) to 61. So defense doesn't necessarily win championships, but then again neither do the San Francisco 49ers of this decade. Or whatever.
Seek out your AFL playoffs - you won't regret it. And with nothing else on, it's either that or episodes of "John from Cincinnati" on HBO On Demand. And alien football is better than surfing aliens any day of the week.
Note: the tags are all in caps, thus negating the "excessive use of WordCombinationUsingCapitalLetters" tag I so awesomely came up with. Just so you know. more...
It is officially one of the two slowest sports days of the summer (Wednesday will be worse, promise), so let's take the time allotted by the sports gods to compare 2007 MLB teams by division to movies released this summer.
1st place -- Boston Red Sox
I haven't seen a better team so far this summer; they're solid top to bottom. They have a strong Japanese influence and sit atop the standings on July 9th.
The Red Sox are...
2nd place -- Toronto Blue Jays
You probably haven't seen them, but they speak well of Canada.
The Blue Jays are...
3rd place -- New York Yankees
Sure, they have an All-Star lineup, but this act is starting to get a bit tired. Thanks to past success they still make tons of money, but so far they have been a massive disappointment on the field.
The Yankees are...
4th place -- Baltimore Orioles
One big name and some up and coming talent... but in the end this team is still pretty bad. I don't really have any interest in ever watching them play.
The Orioles are...
5th place -- Tampa Bay Devil Rays
This team flat-out sucks. Noone goes to see them and not without good reason. Their biggest star has had numerous legal run-ins and the rest of the cast is not much to look at.
The Devil Rays are...
Georgia Rule more...
We're almost two weeks clear of the 2007 NBA Draft and the NBA's summer league has begun with some interesting results. Well, interesting is probably too strong of a word. The NBA is boring enough (just ask any Nielsen family about the 2007 Finals) but now we're talking about exhibition basketball with minor league rosters and it's getting covered like the Superbowl. And I get this: the draft was big business for television's sake and the players in the draft currently are very newsworthy (though ESPN doesn't think any of them are Now) and so it makes sense that the coverage has been pretty in depth so far. It just bores me to tears, is all.
Apropos of nothing else, let's look in at some of the feature players from the 2007 draft class and see how these younglings are adjusting to life in the NBA (summer league).
Former Ohio State center and would be season POY, NCAA tournament MOP and still the #1 pick had he stayed for another year (though I'm not bitter...and I love that picture) had an auspicious start to his NBA (summer league) career. In his first 20 minutes wearing that Trail Blazers jersey, Oden managed to score six points and two boards, eventually taking a seat with foul trouble. And by foul trouble, I mean he fouled out, something that is rather tough to do in the NBA (summer league) where 10 fouls get you a front row seat on the bench. This is not characteristic of Oden, who played very intelligently in high school and college when fouls became an issue but that, I guess Oden left that sense in the same place he left all the checks from OSU boosters: back in Columbus (see? I can make Ohio State jokes, too.)
Kevin Durant (#2)
18 points is not bad. 5-17 shooting, 1 board and no assists is bad. The former Texas standout was praised during the season and throughout the draft for his ability not only to elevate his game above the field, but also to get others involved in the action. The single rebound and poor shooting barely elevate squat. And the fact that I have more dimes in my pocket than he had in the game (ZING!) means he that he wasn't helping out too much, either.
Now you're saying that this space should be saved for a higher pick or at least a name that people outside of the NBA might know, but young Marco turned in the performance of the summer so far. The Warriors 1st rounder had 37 points on 14-20 shooting, 5-7 from the arch. Belinelli's night was the second best turned in in NBA (summer league) history behind Keith Bogans's 38 point night in 2004. Oh yeah: unlike the first two picks in the draft, #18's team actually came away with the "W". So he's got that going for him...which is nice. more...