Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I have a great idea for speeding baseball games up

Tampa Bay - Bottom of 5th SCORE
S Riggans singled to left. 2 1
B Zobrist WALKED, S Riggans to second. 2 1
A Iwamura singled to right, S Riggans scored, B Zobrist to third, A Iwamura to second advancing on throw. 2 1
C Crawford grounded out to first. 2 2
B Upton intentionally WALKED. 2 2
C Pena WALKED, B Zobrist scored, A Iwamura to third, B Upton to second. 2 2
E Longoria hit sacrifice fly to right, A Iwamura scored, B Upton to third. 2 3
J Bartlett WALKED, C Pena to second. 2 4
C Floyd WALKED, B Upton scored, C Pena to third, J Bartlett to second. 2 4
S Riggans struck out looking. 2 5
4 Runs, 2 Hits, 0 Errors


Saturday, May 24, 2008

NHL Stanley Cup Finals 2008

So, I don't have much time to write, but I wanted to be on record before the first game is played. I'm picking Pittsburgh to win. This goes beyond my hatred for the Red Wings. I simply believe that the Penguins are on an incredible roll and I don't see that stopping soon. I really wish that the finals would have started a day or two ago, but since it's now, that's what we have.

Breaking it down:
Forwards: I give the edge to Pittsburgh. I just think that Crosby, Malkin, Hossa, and Staal are a better group than what Detroit can roll out. Even if the edge is ever so slight.

Defense: Lidstrom is the man, Stuart and Rafalski are excellent, and I didn't see anything against the Stars that would keep me from thinking they wouldn't continue to be great. For Pittsburgh, they have regularly sat Darryl Sydor as a healthy scratch and he has won 2 Stanley Cups. Still, the edge goes to Detroit.

Goaltending: I can't help but think that Osgood is playing with the dealer's money as it were. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop and so far it hasn't. Fleury has played remarkably and I just feel more comfortable with him. So I say this goes to Pittsburgh.

That's what leads me to pick Pittsburgh in hopefully a long, exciting series (Pens in 7)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Seriously, how much longer can this go on?

On April 10, the Rangers swept a double header from the Baltimore Orioles to go to 5-4 and put them over .500 for the very first time in Ron Washington's tenure as manager. Over the next 18 games, they lost 14 in absolutely awful ways: blown saves, blowouts, errors, and a lack of clutch hitting. Their record went as far down as 9-18 and it looked like another editions of the sorry, last place Texas Rangers. More of the same.

Then something happened. I'm not sure what. I'm reading all the blogs I usually read and no one seems to know what happened, but it's like a light has gone on. They've won 9 of 11 and are two games from .500 and only 4 games out of first place.

If you had said that early in May your rotation would be Millwood, Padilla, Sidney Ponson, Scott Feldman, and AJ Murray, you would have been very worried about your chances. They are basically working with their 7th, 8th, and 9th starters and each one of them have thrown at least one quality start in this little streak. The offense has been good, but not great. This streak is a product of excellent pitching. And like I said, I have no idea why. I also have no idea how long it can keep going.

It looks like smoke and mirrors to me. You can't really count on Ponson pitching like he did in 2003, the last time his ERA was below 5. Feldman is a converted sidearm throwing bullpen guy, and Murray's topside is #5 or a long man out of the bullpen. They can just as easily go on a streak of losing 8 of 10, and will Millwood going out of tonight's game with a sore hamstring, who know who will actually pitch this week.

So, enjoy it while you can, Ranger's fans. We have an interesting little team here.

Friday, May 9, 2008

What has gotten into the Rangers?

31 consecutive shutout innings??? They've won 10 of 14 and 4 in a row. Talk about smoke and mirrors.

I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. Maybe.... 3 games giving up 10+ runs or 3 games in which the starter doesn't get out of the 3rd or 3 games with blown saves in the 9th. Actually probably a combination of all three.

About Richie Sexson, I heard someone say, "I guess he threw the helmet because he didn't have his purse."

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Every few months or so Sports Illustrated or ESPN or FOX Sports or some other national sports network comes out with bogus lists that are designed to do nothing more than fill space. Things like the best ballparks in baseball, the best sports towns in America, the greatest living left handed pinch hitters, greatest rivalry between directional schools in college football 1-AA, and so on and so forth. I usually don't get bogged down in those things because they are usually worth little more than the time it takes to read them. They put them out there so idiots like me will gripe and complain that their pet team, player, era, sport, city, or whatever isn't number 1. Of course there's bias, of course current and recent players often win out over older players, of course the east coast always wins out over the rest of the nation. And of course they throw garbage out there to get people all up in arms.

Case in point, Sports Illustrated has come out with their Best Baseball Players by Number. A great big time waste until you get to #42. Who is considered the greatest #42 by this group of drooling morons? Oh, Jackie Robinson, right? The man for whom the number was retired by all baseball. Who broke the color barrier. Who played two years of negro league ball before even an opportunity to play minor league baseball. Of course not! It's Mariano freakin' Rivera! A closer! A man who usually plays in about a third of the games his team plays. And of those games he plays 1/9 of the innings actually played. He can throw everything he has for 1 inning and goes out there usually with a lead. There's no doubt that Rivera is a great pitcher (although I'd like to see what he can do two times through a lineup) and he has a great postseason track record. But I'm naturally skeptical of closers. I agree that the 27th out is the hardest to get, but most closers these days throw as hard as they can for 4-5 batters, usually with a lead. They have to have strong personality no doubt, but you only need one out pitch, and for Rivera, it's a cut fastball that rides in on players, resulting in a lot of broken bats. It's a great pitch that has lasted him for almost 15 years.

But any discussion about the who is #42 in baseball history begins and ends with Jackie Robinson, perhaps the most important player in baseball history. The only one that might have something to say about that is Babe Ruth who almost single handedly rescued baseball after the Black Sox scandal.

So I've fallen into SI's trap. I talked about their stupid list. Idiots.

Update: I'm an idiot. It turns out only one moron at SI thought Mariano Rivera was a better representative for #42. Bryan Graham who I've never heard of but needs to just stop writing right away. His argument is that because Robinson's stats aren't as great as other players of the era, but did any other player of the era have to put up with the stress of what he had to deal with as the first African-American major league baseball player? Because of society's ignorance and baseball unwritten rules, Robinson didn't get to his start in MLB when he was 28! Those were leading into his prime years.

The bigger question I have is this: are closers in the era overrated? As I said earlier, they pitch in about 1/3 of the teams games, of those games they usually pitch only one inning, and they usually have the lead when they come in. In the 1998 season, the Yankees best team record wise with 114-48 and a World Series win, his numbers were 3-0 and 36 saves in 54 appearances. He had a direct hand is 34% of the teams wins and APPEARED in exactly 1/3 of the teams games anyway!

So what do you think? Closers overrated?

NHL Conference Finals

So, I was 3 for 4 last round, but I was way off in the games it would take for Detroit to eliminate Colorado. Can't believe they swept them.

Eastern Conference:
Pittsburgh (2) vs Philadelphia (6) - A nice intra-state rivalry that means very little travel and a lot of bad blood (apparently - I keep reading about this, but I've never seen these two teams really get into it). I just don't see how Pittsburgh loses this series. They are just too talented and are clicking really well right now. Pens in 6

Western Conference:
Detroit (1) vs Dallas (5) - I won't lie. I really wanted Colorado to beat Detroit or at least take them to seven and maybe beat up on them a little. A sweep was pretty much the antithesis of that so we move forward. Detroit is very talented and Osgood has been playing very well. But, Dallas has Marty Turco and even though he has had difficulty against Detroit in the past, before last year, he had trouble with the playoffs, so I think it's time for him to escape that problem also. I know I'm a homer and I know I'm a little crazy, but this just feels like a team of destiny (that can change really quick). Stars in 7 (I really am a homer)

Monday, May 5, 2008

I'm... So... Tired...

There is nothing like playoff hockey. Nothing that is.. except a 4 OT game that ends with your team knocking home the winning goal. The only bad thing about it is... I'm pretty sure my work is going to suffer today. And I really wish I didn't have two meeting back to back after lunch. There's a pretty good chance I need to load up on sugar and caffeine before then...

I'll put up my next round predictions after my head clears (ie.. not today..)

Go Stars!!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The future of the Mavericks

Well, that's that.

And that's OK. Avery is a good coach who will no doubt quickly be hired by another team. But his demanding style had run its course in Dallas. He got more out of this team than Nellie ever did, but it took only three and a half years for burnout to set in. A change in scenery will benefit him more than Dallas.

It is interesting seeing all the talk in the media about the Mavericks, though. Lots of revisionist history going on. A lot of people were all for the Kidd trade back in February--now they are saying that it didn't work, but the Mavericks had to do the deal because they weren't going to win as is. They are only partially right.

Avery certainly has his faults, but he is not responsible for the Mavericks current situation. This team's problems are a result of poor trades and out of control spending, and that falls at the feet of Mark Cuban. After Don Carter and Ross Perot Jr, it's been nice having an owner who will spend money to improve the team. But the Mavs and their fans are about to learn a painful lesson: it's not enough to spend money. You have to spend it wisely.

How do you rebuild a team? Free agency? The Mavericks have the league's highest payroll this year and are millions over the cap. How about a trade? There are no significant tradeable parts. How about the old-fashioned way--the draft? The Mavericks traded their first round pick this year and in 2010 in the Kidd deal. And that 2010 pick is going to be a good one because this team is going on a long playoff drought starting next season--you're welcome, New Jersey. Remember how bad the Mavs were back in the 90s? Those days have now returned, and with no quick way to fix this mess, they will be here for a while.

So all those trade revisionists were right about this season--the Mavericks were not going to win this season with or without Kidd. But before the trade they had flexibility and the potential for improvement, most of which was traded away for Kidd (while the rest was lost when Josh Howard opened his mouth). In a Western Conference full of young, quick point guards, the Mavs traded one of their own away for an aging has-been. Kidd has been one of the most dominant point guards of his era, but those days are long gone.

All right, so the Mavs are going to stink. But they still need someone to lead them through this playoff drought. Who's it going to be? Cuban has never actually hired his own coach so no one is really sure which direction he will go. Usually it is a safe bet that a team will go with a coach who is the polar opposite of the former coach, particularly when they are replacing someone like Avery. But I don't think that necessarily applies in this case. Cuban doesn't care if the next Mavs coach is a high-octane offensive mind or a hard-nosed defensive specialist. He's going to be looking for someone who won't rock the boat.

Maybe Wade Phillips is looking for something to do in the Cowboys offseason.

Cuban can beat his head against the wall, hire a marshmallow of a coach and keep trying to spend and trade the Mavericks out of this hole. Or he can take a step back, make a smart basketball hire and be patient.

This isn't going to be easy.

Picture from