Friday, July 20, 2007

The Morning After Redux - NL MVP Race

And now, GoCM's NL MVP favorites.

These picks are going to be a bit, what are the words, out there. At least two of them will be. We'll start in the NL East

Jose Reyes

The numbers really aren't there for Reyes at first glance. But this award isn't all about the numbers. Reyes is the best player on the Metropolitans and has been all year. He was an All-Star at short for the NL and so far this year, he's been the most valuable player on the Mets, if not in the league. Batting .304 and and drawing over 50 walks so far makes Reyes an on-base machine. That's even better when you're stealing bases at a 79% clip, which Reyes is. More impressive are his 7 errors in all but two of the Mets' games this year. If that's not value, I don't know what is.

Ken Griffey, Jr.

Let's face it: The Reds are terrible. They suck out loud. Aaron Harang is currently on bereavement leave because of his Grandpa, but it wouldn't surprise me if by "Grandpa" he meant "my current MLB team". But Junior has had a resurgence of late, despite his club's best efforts. The biggest stat for him: 89 games played, which is more than he played in 2002-2004. He's on pace to hit over 40 home runs and knock in more runs than he has in Cincinnati Red since his first season in the Queen City. It's a resurgence, all right, and he's a player that is in desperate need of one if he wants to retire as a Mariner in a few years. An MVP would make that all the more possible.

Barry Bonds

Why not Barry? He's batting just under .300, which isn't too good but Barry makes up for it where he always does: OPS, walks and home runs. His OPS will never be touched while he's still the HR threat that he has been for the last ten seasons. Currently, it's 1.089. He's walked 95 times to only 38 Ks, a more than decent ratio. As for home runs, the 19 he's hit aren't that big of a deal, but when he gets to 22 for the year then he will have broken Hank Aaron's immortal career mark. In what is a down year for the usual suspects in the NL (read: Pujols) this could be Barry's final swansong in the NL.


The Morning After on TSE - 7.20.2007

We are just over halfway through baseball season and already, several candidates have emerged as MVP favorites and contenders. But for the first time in recent memory, some of the team's these players play for are anything but that. At the season's half-way point (a little belated, albeit) my MVP candidates are either in difficult playoff races or so far out that they might as well be booking vacations for October. For today, here are three candidates from each league who currently find themselves in this situation. We'll start in the AL this morning and the NL this afternoon.

Magglio Ordonez

Slowly but surely, Mags has emerged as the best player on the Detroit Tigers (aside: remember about 5 years ago when the best player on the Tigers was pretty much any other player in the league? My, how things have changed). After several decent years with the White Sox, Detroit scooped up Ordonez and he was almost immediately bitten by the injury bug - he didn't even get half a season of games in in 2005. Now? He's batting .360 for the Tigers and has come up big in almost every situation where they've needed him. The Tigers will probably find themselves in many more of those situations as they fight off the Cleveland Indians in what should be the best playoff race of the year.

Victor Martinez

Last year, the Indian's backstop finally had his breakout year that Tribe fans (ahem, JTBI and Seaward) had been craving. This time around? He's playing playing even better. Martinez is on pace to shatter his personal best in each important statistic (runs, RBIs, doubles, HRs and OPS) and is among the league leaders in most of those statistics. Oh yeah, and he also has only two errors in his 92 appearances at catcher and first base all year. The Tribe will need him to go the distance if they want to claim an MVP award and a division title.

Alex Rodriguez

A-Rod is loudly having the best year in pinstripes he's had yet. He leads the AL in HRs and RBIs, on a pace that will have him demolishing his numbers from last year. Not only is he having a productive year, but he's finally being productive when the disappointing Yanks need it. Unlike last year when he was famous for hitting big HRs when the game mattered little, A-Rod is now winning games with Big Papi-like mojo. Currently 7-games out of first in the AL East and more out of the Wild Card, New York desperately needs this pace to continue for A-Rod and more than that, they need it to rub-off on the rest of the club. Otherwiswe this AL MVP may find himself in new digs next season.

Check back for the NL later this afternoon. more...

Thursday, July 19, 2007

TSE Week in Golf - The [British] Open Championship

The British Open Championship is well on its way as I type this, a fact that I only recently figured out, what with Carnoustie being five hours ahead of us here in the States. That said, I probably should have written this yesterday. But I was too lazy to do work, both here and at work so here we are.

Awfully boring tangents aside, The British Open is the year's third Major championship and we're coming off of two majors that have left a lot of people, myself included, wanting. First it was Zach "Jesus Jesus Jesus" Johnson winning at Augusta. Then it was the collapse of the field and the lone, chain-smoking Argentine on tour besting The US Open. So here we are, at Carnoustie for the first time since 1999's debacle (more on that later). Needless to say, things have changed a little bit in the last 8 years.

The fairways that seemed about as wide as my arm in 1999 have been widened. The rough that was about as high as the television tower has been cut. The wee burn that gave way to the greatest collapse in golf history is still there but after 1999, I doubt we'll ever see the kind of cringing delight that was Jean Van de Velde's demise 8 years ago. Simply put, it looks like the biggest factor, as is the case with most British Opens, will be the weather.

On Wednesday, it was sunny, calm and perfect golf weather, especially for the links-style of course that lay ahead of this year's participants. For round one, however, the classic weather of the British Isles, of which all golf fans are aware exists during late July, has returned. Cold and rainy was day one at Carnoustie, requiring the golfers to layer their clothing and even forcing Tiger into a pair of mittens between shots. This weather is supposed to continue into the weekend: welcome to Scotland in July.

Van de Velde's collapse on the 72nd hole in 1999 is still one of my favorite moments in golf history and provided some of the more lasting images from the tournament. Imagine, needing a double to win the Open and you card a +3. I still get a kick out of Rick Reilly's take on the end of the 1999 Open today, which is why the Open is such an important tournament. 8 years later we're still talking about Van de Velde. We still remember Daly's win at St. Andrews in 1995. Duval getting his major before his career went to hell in 2001. And Ostrander, Ohio native Ben Curtis in 2003. Tom Watson's utter domination of the Open in the 1970s and 1980s. Jack at St. Andrews...golfers and golf fans alike remember all of these things from this tournament.

So who's your winner this weekend? The obvious choice (go ahead and read any preview that's been published recently) is Tiger Woods, in search of his third consecutive Claret Jug. He has consecutive runners-up this year so a win certainly seems like it's due. So save for Tiger, who else can win this thing? To the leaderboard we go.

As of 1:00pm EST, your leaders are Paul McGinley (in the clubhouse with a 67) and Sergio Garcia who's matched McGinley's -4 through 12 holes. Both of these players are capable, but let's face it: you always see a name like McGinley's or Marcus Brier's (-3, 68) on the top page this early. Of those three, I'd stick with Sergio, unless he starts trolling for gallery ass again.

As for El Tigre? He's sitting pretty with a 2-under 69 (giggity), right where he wants to be. Though he's gotten some help in the form of a free drop early in the round and a 90-foot (!!) birdie toward the end of the round. Lephty is also under par on his round, at -1 so far.

My pick for the week is K.J. Choi. So far this year, he's won tournaments hosted by the likes of Jack Nicklaus (The Memorial) and Tiger Woods (The National), so it makes sense that his next win may be hosted by the Royal and Ancient. In round 1, Choi matched Tiger at -2.

The weekend at Carnoustie awaits...

Great Moments in TV Edit History

In all seriousness, one of my favorite things of all time is R-rated movies being edited for TV. It's always been my opinion that it takes a special kind of genius to turn a scene about farts in Mallrats into a scene about throwing up (seriously, ABC, is puking less offensive than farting?). Over the course of the last 25+ years, there have been some insanely amusing TV edits of R-rated films such as The Big Lebowski, Bad Santa and Animal House, but for this sports fan's money it just doesn't get any better than the climactic inning of Major League.

Did I think about buying this? Yes I did.
With Wild Thing Vaughn getting ready to pitch to AL Triple Crown winner Clue Haywood with the bases loaded and 2 out in the top of the 9th, "the out [he's] been waiting [his] whole life for," Roger Dorn approaches the mound. The previous night Vaughn had unknowingly slept with Dorn's wife, only to find out later who she was, and Dorn is not happy. Now anyone who saw the movie in theaters or owns the DVD or VHS (I believe it's required of all Indians fans like JTBI and myself) knows what happens next... unless you're watching on United States television, in which case you hear this:
"Let's cut through the crap, Vaughn. I only got one thing to say to you: strike this GUY out."
On TV "GUY," of course, replaces the most notorious of 12-letter words. I wish there were legal versions of this on YouTube somewhere because it's so insane. You replace a four-syllable word with a three-letter word and don't adjust the volume or Dorn's lip movements or anything. It's just so great. I want all of you to find the next showing of Major League on TBS or where ever just so you can see this scene. The rest of the TV edit is hilarious ("I say: forget you, Jobu!"), but pales in comparison to Dorn's pep talk. more...

The Morning After on TSE - 7.19.2007

Live from New York, it's LeBron James.

That's what they should probably say to kick off the season premier of NBC's once brilliant, now aging sketch comedy show, Saturday Night Live. LeBron James will host the premier later in the year. I've been a fan of SNL since I can remember but it has certainly become a shell of it's former self in the last five or six years, bringing in awful stage acts (cough, Ashlee Simpson, cough) and mediocre hosts (COUGH Dane Cook COUGH).

The funniest episode of last season, however, was hosted by the loveable Peyton Manning's The slack-jawed goody-two-shoes Superbowl champion Manning made fun of everything from the NFL (the United Way sketch is easily the funniest thing from SNL in the last two years) to himself (the Tom Brady joke during the monologue). The bar, while not terribly high (Tom Brady's performance a few years ago and the Jordan SNL in 1991 weren't too great, if memory serves) was raised by Manning and the question is: can LeBron clear it?

Of course he can.

There are two sides to LeBron and both are undeniably good. We've all seen what he can do on the hardwood; his season opener two years ago when he drained 4-4 threes to open his year was pretty impressive and who can forget game five of the Eastern Conference Finals? But LeBron has all that talent on the other side of the spectrum as well.

One of the funniest series of commercials I've seen in a long time were the Nike ads for "The LeBrons", hawking the Cleveland superstar's new kicks. There's LeBron playing basketball against a mini-him, a cool-him and an old-him, each with different personalities, voices and everything. Creative, funny and interesting - three things SNL has lacked for the last few years.

We also know that LeBron can be quick on his feet, and not just on the court. While I didn't exactly watch the ESPYs this year, most viewers gave James winning reviews for his performance. He can dance, sing and perform before a live studio audience and outshine Jimmy Kimmel (is that a complement?). And anyone who can break-dance in Hammer pants in a sketch called "My LeBrongative" a la Bobby Brown should be able to handle the SNL stage with ease.

So which sports figure will end up having the best SNL Appearance? Like I said, I wasn't too big on Brady's or Jordan's (hell, The Rock's was better by comparison) and Manning's was pretty good. But I think LeBron's will be the ruler to which all other sports people are measured. He's proven he's just too good, on the court and off, not to have a good show.

So I applaud NBC's decision to go after a talent like LeBron James to host the flagship show of the current 4th place network - the odds say it'll probably be better than Bionic Woman. more...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Dear. God. I. Want. This. Room.

I constantly hear about how a team's fan base is more aggressive or rampant about their team, or at least more so than Ohio State's. Submitted above is evidence to the contrary. Go ahead and put your Bear Bryant replica hats on the mantle and hang your "Play Like a Champion Today" posters above your door. I'll take the Horseshoe room any day of the week, twice on Saturday.

(h/t: With Leather and EDSBS)

[Redacted], News and Views No. 2

Here is yet another edition of your total ripoff of homage to Larry King with [Redacted], News and Views (it's been awhile since my last TNV so there will be some older material in here as well)...

  • Did you hear that David Beckham is coming to the LA Galaxy? News to me.
  • The NY Rangers loading themselves for bear could be the best thing to happen to the NHL this offseason.
  • Has any North American pro sports team ever turned over their entire roster between seasons? The Portland Trailblazers are basically Brandon Roy away from doing just that.
  • Re: The new Gillette commercials. Roger Federer, Tiger Woods, Thierry Henry; one of these things is not like the others.
  • I've decided that I don't really want an iPhone. Yet.
  • NBC's Wimbledon coverage this year, like CBS' Final Four coverage, was exemplary. Everything you hope for when it comes to live sports broadcasts. Top marks to Dick Ebersol's people.
  • Who's Now? is genuinely getting worse every time I see it. Sooner or later it's just going to cause my TV to burst into flames and burn this whole place down.
  • Since Stephen A. Smith appeared on the first week of First Take and successfully outfoxed Skip Bayless, he's gone from being infuriating to becoming downright watchable on the air. I should go shower; I feel dirty just writing that.
  • Transformers was flippin' awesome.
  • Rashard Lewis is good; he is not $126m good.
  • The Singing Bee and Don't Forget the Lyrics... hmm.
  • Sidney Crosby signs for nearly $2m less yearly than he could have in order to keep the talented nucleus of the Penguins intact. Actions like that from the league's top star make me think there is hope for the NHL yet.
  • The WWE would like to once again remind you that they don't think steroids played a part in the Chris Benoit tragedy.
  • Kelly Naqi: since you are officially now the Michael Vick beat reporter for ESPN, please gather notes from Pedro Gomez (Barry Bonds), Shelley Smith (Kobe Bryant), Sal Palantonio (Terrell Owens, PHI) and Ed Werder (Terrell Owens, DAL) on how to be the best personal attache you can be.
  • ESPN responds to internal criticism of corporate whoring and advertising steering editorial decisions by saying that SportsCenter has one of the smallest averages of ad block time on cable; an easy claim to make when EVERY GODDAMN IN-SHOW SEGMENT HAS A FREAKING CORPORATE SPONSOR!
  • Lloyd is taking a leave of absence from Entourage? This had better not mean more Vince to fill time.
  • Speaking of Entourage, I would totally go watch Medellin.
  • Gary Sheffield says Joe Torre plays favorites based on race but he isn't racist. Which is it? Then Sheffield proves his own stupidity by saying that Derek Jeter "isn't all the way black." Riiiiight.
  • Please do not be fooled by the Yankees' hot start after the All-Star break. Their first 28 games after the mid-summer classic are all against sub-.500 teams before they hit a brutal August/September stretch featuring Cleveland, Detroit, Boston, Seattle and Anaheim. Let's gauge the Yankees' playoff chances after THOSE games, and not after they play Tampa and Toronto, shall we?
  • JTBI points out: there may not be a more dangerous playoff team in the bigs right now than the San Diego Padres.

The Morning After on TSE - 7.18.2007

Ah computers. We often times forget how meaningful they are until the evil overlords at work kick me off of them to do manual labor. Tragic. But now for something special, nigh unheard of around these parts: I'm going to flip-flop on something. It doesn't happen much so savor the flavor.

Awhile back, I posted about the beginning of this whole Michael Vick Dogfighting saga. The goal of this post was to bring to light all of the worse things going on in the NFL and the world, and how Colin Cowherd was spending 25 minutes calling people idiots and saying that Michael Vick was the anti-Christ. I thought the whole thing was stupid and I ignored it, for the most part. Man, was I wrong.

Vick was indicted by a federal grand jury yesterday and the writing on the wall isn't too pretty. The 18-page indictment is filled with alleged crimes and infractions but it gets really bad when the indictment reveals some, well, details:

"...not a single line in the 18-page indictment will generate more rage toward
Vick and the others charged -- Purnell A. Peace, Quanis L. Phillips and Tony
Taylor -- than a sentence near the end. It reads: 'In or about April of 2007,
Peace, Phillips and Vick executed approximately eight dogs that did not perform
well in 'testing' sessions at 1915 Moonlight Road by various methods, including
hanging, drowning and slamming at least one dog's body to the ground.'"
I've also heard that one dog had the unfortunate fate of being covered in water and electrocuted. I have an iron stomach and I thought "The Hills Have Eyes" wasn't gory enough, but this whole situation sickens me.

Roger Cossack on SportsCenter today mentioned that for this thing to go through, it's going to take upwards of a year before guilt or innocence is pronounced on the Falcons QB but even so, we are forced to guess as to what Der Kommissar Roger Goodell is going to do to Vick under the new disciplinary policies he's enacted on the league. Normally, the stiffest penalties in Goodell's system go to repeat offenders, of which Vick is not a part, so he could actually walk away from this with little or no penalty from the league. But considering Goodell's track record I wouldn't bet the farm on that.

Vick is going to go down hard, both by the NFL's hand and by the US Government's. Everyone he did business with in 2001-2002, the majority of dates indicated in the indictment, has turned state's evidence against Vick, probably in exchange for immunity. My guess is one of Vick's "associates" will do the same, unless Vick beats him to the punch. All told, this thing is going to get a lot uglier before we know if Michael Vick will ever suit up in the NFL again.

Although, in a strange coincidence that may prove beneficial to Atlanta, Daunte Culpepper just became available...

And I'm not above joking around about this. KSK has a very funny take on this situation. more...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Something After on TSE - 7.17.2007

I am not against scratching my own back or the back of another when the situation merits. And here at TSE, all of us are at our best when we're complementing ourselves. Which is why I am going to take this post to congratulate (or h/t, to use the parlance of the blogosphere) JTBI, wait, scratch that, Jed DeMuesy (the strapping young gent pictured above, in the center) who last night became the newest member of the world of sports media. That's right, friends, only two months out of college and he's the Sports Director up in Marquette, Michigan. Whether or not he'll have time to be a Sports Elitist is still in the air, so enjoy him here while you can. Lord knows Seaward and I will.

Anyway, for the readers and for JTBI, I think we would all do well to learn about the wondrous city of Marquette, Michigan. Some fun facts:

- Marquette was founded originally by Amos Harlow, who originally named the city Worchester, after the city of the same name in Massachusetts. COOL!!

- The Marquette General Hospital serves most of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. NEAT!
(GoCM: wait, this is in the fucking Upper Peninsula?)

- On the sports side of things, Marquette is the site of the world's second largest man-made dome, the Superior Dome, named both for the lake and it's vast size*. SPIFFY!!!

- Marquette is home to the GLIAC (Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) powerhouse Northern Michigan University. WILDCAT-TASTIC**!

- Robert Tarver's immortal 1958 classic*, "Anatomy of a Murder" is set in Marquette, Michigan. AWESOME!!

- Marquette is also 308 miles away from all the JTBI-haters in Madison, Wisconsin. FUN!!!

As you can see, JTBI will be bringing the noise to a place in desperate need of it.* Congratulations to the man, the myth and the legend from the rest of us at TSE.

**I am heretofore trademarking this phrase. JTBI - you may use this during newscasts for a nominal (read: large) royalty fee. You're welcome. more...

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Something After on TSE - 7.16.2007

So the evil overlords at...wherever it is I work...have decided to have me box (giggity) up files and take the boxes (giggity) up to another room and then stack and store the boxes (giggity). And every now and then I run by a file with a "6" and a "9" in consecutive order and then put it in a box. That, friends, is the Alpha and the Omega of what gets me through my work day. Hence, I was unable to bring the noise with a TMA for the morning. My apologies. And seeing as my lunch break is almost over, this post probably won't go the distance, either. Hopefully JTBI or Seaward can do something for the rest of the day. Though I doubt it. more...