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Wimbledon and All-Star Starting Rosters [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Jul 8th, 2009 by Dan

It’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.

I don’t tend to report on tennis news, but I happened to watch various parts of the Federer/Roddick match on Sunday, so I thought I’d say a few words on it.

It’s worth nothing that this is probably one of the most lopsided rivalries in tennis. In fact, the 2 wins by Roddick (of 21 matches) is so embarrassing I’m sure that he wishes people would stop calling it a rivalry so he wouldn’t have to hear that stat.

Federer was chasing a tennis record hoping to win his 15th Grand Slam title, which would put him just ahead of Pete Sampras’ 14.

Their match was the longest in Wimbledon history with 30 total games played in the fifth set (a record) and 77 sets played total. The match itself lasted a grueling four hours and sixteen minutes, with the final set lasting 95 minutes on its own.

Some are saying it’s the best Wimbledon performance in the history of the sport. I don’t watch enough tennis to have an opinion, but I will admit it was epic.

All-Star Starting Rosters

For the American League we have:

C Joe Mauer (Twins)
1B Mark Teixeira (Yankees)
2B Dustin Pedroia (Red Sox)
3B Evan Longoria (Rays)
SS Derek Jeter (Yankees)
OF Jason Bay (Red Sox)
OF Ichiro Suzuki (Mariners)
OF Josh Hamilton (Rangers)

A strong lineup which leaves almost nothing to complain about. Since coming back from the DL in May, Joe Mauer has been a hitting machine, Teixeira is playing well in NYC and Youkilis would have fit just as well into that spot. Pedroia is always a good choice for 2B and Bay/Suzuki are fantastic outfielders.

Despite the fact that I love this outcome, it’s definitely shocking to see Longoria at third in lieu of Alex Rodriguez. His long injury combined with the steroid allegations seem to have forced him out, which is just fine by me. Jeter is the most popular player in the game, but I don’t think that he’s the best shortstop in the game by any means. He should still hit well, regardless, and I can’t really argue that the younger Hanley Ramirez on the NL squad is that much better defensively. Finally, Josh Hamilton has played only a few games this year thanks to injuries and not all that well. If people would choose based on performance this year instead of last year’s Home Run Derby, we wouldn’t see him on this roster.

and the National League voted in

C Yadier Molina (Cardinals)
1B Albert Pujols (Cardinals)
2B Chase Utley (Phillies)
3B David Wright (Mets)
SS Hanley Ramírez (Marlins)
OF Carlos Beltrán (Mets)
OF Ryan Braun (Brewers)
OF Raúl Ibáñez (Phillies)

The NL manages to make better choices all-around, with the only bad choice being Beltrán and then only because he’s currently injured. Despite the mishaps in the AL lineup, they might actually have a slightly stronger one, considering that David Wright hasn’t been hitting all that well and who Charlie Manuel replaces Beltrán with.

Let’s hope they get it together, because the NL hasn’t won an all-star game outright since 1996. It’s kind of embarrassing.

As I’ve stated a few times already, I’ll be doing a much more live blog than usual, so be prepared for that. The game will be next Tuesday, 14 July, weather permitting, probably around 2000, but the pre-game and broadcast itself is scheduled for 1900. I can’t wait!

June Results [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Jun 3rd, 2009 by Dan

It’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.

Another month of baseball has passed and it’s a testament to the sport that things have gotten a bit crazy. As I write this on Tuesday, the standings look a little something like this:

AL East

Yankees
Red Sox
Blue Jays
Rays
Orioles

AL Central

Tigers
White Sox
Twins
Royals
Indians

AL West

Rangers
Mariners
Angels
Athletics

NL East

Phillies
Mets
Braves
Marlins
Nationals

NL Central

Brewers
Cardinals
Reds
Cubs
Pirates
Astros

NL West

Dodgers
Giants
Padres
Diamondbacks
Rockies

The biggest surprise would have to be the collapse of the Blue Jays in the face of stiff competition. They are a meager 6-9 in the East and have dropped from their pedestal of 3.5 games ahead at their best to 1.5 games back, amassing a nine-game losing streak to get them to where they are today.

As mentioned by Rob Neyer, the Rays are somehow leading the league in batting average, doubles, homers, RBIs, walks, stolen bases, extra base hits, and they lead the league in runs scored, among other feats. Despite all of this, the Rays happen to lie six(!) games back in the East. Hopefully things start breaking their way soon, they deserve it.

My beloved Marlins sit 6.5 back in the NL East and all the injuries the team is suffering from seem to predict that this won’t change all that much.

Zack Greinke is still murdering batters at a ridiculous pace. His ERA sits at 1.10 after 11 starts and he shows no sign of slowing down. Keep an eye out for him.

Matt Wieters made his debut for Baltimore and he’s doing alright. Expectations are high for the catcher to help turn the team’s fate around.

Evan Longoria is leading the All-Star ballot and I encourage each and every one of you to keep him on top.

Manny Ramirez just might get selected on the ballot, despite being suspended for fifty games following a drug test failure.

The Yankees set an MLB record by allowing no errors in 18 straight games.

Quick me plug: I got my e-mail read on Monday’s ESPN Baseball Today podcast. It was pretty awesome.

And for our last bit of news, good luck on win number 300 Randy Johnson. The Big Unit will go for win number 300 tonight against the Washington Nationals. There’s also a delightful bit of symmetry in the fact that Randy Johnson was first drafted by the Montreal Expos, the team now known as the Nationals, and will be facing them in this historic game.

Standings and Predictions + Pics from Os vs. Rays on 10 April [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Apr 15th, 2009 by Dan

It’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.

15 April may mean the tax man is coming around, but I like to think of it from a better perspective: Jackie Robinson Day. That’s right, on 15 April 1947 Jackie Robinson debuted for the Branch Rickey’s Brooklyn Dodgers, finally breaking the color barrier in baseball and paving the way for civil rights in America. Jackie Robinson was a hero and I’m glad that baseball honors him each year on this day by allowing players to wear Robinson’s league-wide retired #42.

“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”
-Jackie Robinson

Now for the standings and predictions:

AL East

Baltimore Orioles
Toronto Blue Jays 0.5 Games Back (GB)
New York Yankees 2.0 GB
Tampa Bay Rays 2.0 GB
Boston Red Sox 4.0 GB

Surprising as the standings are today, I don’t think this can realistically continue throughout the year. The current bottom three are just too good for this to stay like this all year. A more realistic October looks like:

Rays
Red Sox
Yankees
Orioles
Blue Jays

Most of sports news America has the Jays above the Os and the Rays anywhere between first and third. I think the Rays outplay both the Yanks and the Sox and I’ve seen the Orioles do some major slugging. Even with the rotation difficulties they’re projected to have, I think their offense might be able to make up for it, but not enough to beat the Yankees. If the Yankees can’t get their act together with their bullpen and starting pitching (CC is looking better, but Wang is awful), things could be further shaken up.

NL East

Florida Marlins
Atlanta Braves 1.0 GB
Philadelphia Phillies 2.0 GB
New York Mets 3.0 GB
Washington Nationals 6.0 GB

The Nats are off to an awful start, mostly thanks to the incredible Florida Marlins who are a MLB-best 6-1 right now. They’re riding high off of good hitting and pitching, but I don’t think they have the depth to stay that high. Their hitting is a little too inconsistent and the rest of the division is just so darn good. That being said, I don’t think that the Phils can win the East again, mostly thanks to an ailing Cole Hamels, so I see them coming in definitely behind the Mets who have a rebuilt bullpen. Nats will continue to suck. The Braves are good, but I don’t know if they’re contenders yet. We’ll have to see as the season progresses.

Mets
Marlins
Phillies
Braves
Nationals

AL Central

Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox 0.5 GB
Detroit Tigers 1.0 GB
Minnesota Twins 1.5 GB
Cleveland Indians 4.0 GB

Trey Hillman is doing a heck of a job with his Royals so far this year, but I don’t think they can stay atop the Central all year long. I predict that the newly rebuilt and re-motivated Tigers will do much better, Cleveland will continue to suffer from whatever losing disease they have (no starting pitching), and the Twins will suffer some major losses thanks to Mauer’s injury. Here’s how I see it ending up:

Tigers
White Sox
Royals
Twins
Indians

I think I might be wrong with the Twins and Royals, but we’ll see when I reevaluate at the All-Star break.

NL Central

Chicago Cubs
St. Louis Cardinals 0.0 GB
Cincinnati Reds 1.0 GB
Pittsburgh Pirates 1.0 GB
Milwaukee Brewers 3.5 GB
Houston Astros 4.0 GB

This one is harder for me to predict cause it’s the division I know the least about. The Cubs are on top, as most would predict, partially thanks to my boy Fukudome doing his part again. I really hope he stays strong all year this time. The Cards are tearing it up with Pujols and I think they’re a lock for second in this division. Despite being everyone’s dark horse for the NL Central, I don’t think the Reds can outplay the Cubs or the Cards. Pirates are doing well out of the gate, but for how long? The Astros just stink and the Brewers can’t compete without the pitching they had last year.

Cubs
Cardinals
Reds
Brewers
Pirates
Astros

AL West

Seattle Mariners
Oakland Athletics 2.0 GB
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 2.5 GB
Texas Rangers 3.0 GB

If you would have told me at the end of last year that the Mariners would be atop the AL West at any point I would have called you crazy. Some key things have changed out west, making it an open division. Injuries plague the Angels bullpen, the Athletics are just mediocre, and the Rangers stink, but somehow Wakamatsu, the new Mariners skipper, has pulled his team together to make them compete. Maybe it’s the return of Griffey, Jr. or something Wakamatsu’s putting in the water, but the team is jiving together much better and it shows.

Mariners
Angels
Athletics
Rangers

IFF the Angels starting pitching is out for an extended period of time.

NL West

San Diego Padres
Los Angeles Dodgers 1.0 GB
Colorado Rockies 2.5 GB
Arizona Diamondbacks 3.0 GB
San Francisco Giants 3.5 GB

The Padres are off to a great, but unmaintainable start. No offense and no pitching means no winning. They’ll fall back in place. The rest of the West is pretty ugly too. San Francisco has great pitching, when Lincecum isn’t sucking, but no offense. The Rockies lost Matt Holliday, and the D-Backs have Webb on the DL. LA is easily the best in the division.

Dodgers
Diamondbacks
Rockies
Giants
Padres

Arizona is only high if Webb comes back soon. Otherwise they can’t hold on.

Those are my early season predictions, but we’ll see how well I’m doing come mid-season and adjust from there.

Pictures from the 10 April game:

Longoria at 3B

Longoria at 3B

View of Camden from our sweet seats

View of Camden from our sweet seats

I like this shot of Aki, even though hes in the background

I like this shot of Aki, even though he's in the background

Preparing for the next pitch.

Preparing for the next pitch.

Sonnanstine getting ready to throw

Sonnanstine getting ready to throw

Rounding the bases

Rounding the bases

Adam Jones hit well that night.

Adam Jones hit well that night.

Looks like a diving miss

Looks like a diving miss

Good swing

Good swing

Scoreboard in the 2nd. Zobrist up to bat

Scoreboard in the 2nd. Zobrist up to bat

Good hit and baserunning

Good hit and baserunning

Domo-kun was at the game too

Domo-kun was at the game too

A vital part of the game experience: park vendors

A vital part of the game experience: park vendors

The end of Hendricksons windup

The end of Hendrickson's windup

Kapler coming in Pete Rose style

Gross coming in Pete Rose style

Im convinced this mental misstep cost us the game. Way to go Kapler...pay attention to the game!

I'm convinced this mental misstep cost us the game. Way to go Kapler...pay attention to the game!

Loosening up to make the calls

Loosening up to make the calls

Nice, Japanese-style swing. Good work Aki

Nice, Japanese-style swing. Good work Aki

AKINORI IWAMURA! Seriously, try cheering that three times fast.

AKINORI IWAMURA! Seriously, try cheering that three times fast.

Infield meeting to slow down the Os. Longoria doesnt pay much attention, but Aki, Bartlett, Navarro, and Peña do.

Infield meeting to slow down the O's. Longoria doesn't pay much attention, but Aki, Bartlett, Navarro, and Peña do.

One of Longorias two homers for the night.

One of Longoria's two homers for the night.

A disappointing loss, but a great time had by me and my friends.

Wednesday Morning Quarterback: End of the MLB Regular Season
Oct 1st, 2008 by Dan

You’ve probably heard the saying that hindsight is 20/20 on Monday morning, so just imagine how well I can call ’em two days later on Wednesday. That’s right, it’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.

It took 163 games, but as of today we officially have our eight teams set for the 2008 postseason. How did I do in predicting the outcome of the 2008 MLB season? Well let’s take a look, division by division, at my guesses and predictions and see:

AL East

It finally happened: the Tampa Bay Rays came and took a division win for the first time ever in the organization’s ten-year existence. They’re not the first to go from last to first in one season, but it’s still a good story to see them come so far in their brief history. It’s also great to see Florida teams do so well in the season and hopefully we’ll see more attendance in Tampa (technically St. Petersburg). It was always a bit of a pipe dream on my part, despite my knowledge that this team was the real deal, mainly because their youth would have been their greatest enemy. You can’t claim that a team inexperienced with the playoff push in one of the harder divisions in baseball can confidently take first place. Good for me that they did, though, makes me look nice and smart.

Boston performed as I predicted it would too, winning the AL wild card and taking second place in the AL East. It’s a bit of a tough break for them to not win the AL East, since now they have to play the Los Angeles Angels in the first round of the playoffs. I’ll get more into this when I make my postseason predictions, but this can be either a blessing or a curse for my favorite team in the postseason.

The Yankees did about as well as I thought they would, but how strange that they did not have their typical second half push. Instead they actually fell below the Blue Jays for a few days of the season.

Only thing I got wrong about this division, the standings of the Orioles and Blue Jays being WAY off. The O’s managed to fall 18 games behind the Jays at the end of the season. I should have been able to see that the solid pitching on the Blue Jays squad would carry them further than the Orioles mediocre lineup.

Final standings (bad predictions in bold):

Rays
Red Sox
Yankees
Blue Jays
Orioles

Postseason Guess Record: 2-0 (I’m going to count the Red Sox guess in 2nd as a correct one for me for the wild card)
Regular Season Guess Record: 3-2

AL Central

Hoo boy, here’s one that I totally mixed up, even though I got the postseason right. Why in the world did I think that the Tigers would have a chance at second place in AL Central? They were absolutely the worst disappointment in baseball this year, which is a real shame for me to say, since they’re so chock full of former Marlins. Sheffield and Willis were major disappointments for the team and the huge contracts in place may still prevent major shakeups in the off-season. Let’s hope that this doesn’t stay such a pathetic team in the foreseeable future.

The actual winners, the White Sox, managed to stay alive in the 163rd game tie-breaker against the Twins this year to clinch first place in the AL Central and a playoff spot. We’ll see what happens in the postseason, but I should have seen that these two teams were the actual best ones in the central and not clung to a pipe dream that the Tigers would put together a decent showing in the second half.

The rest of the division, the Indians and Royals, managed to put together solid seasons with the Indians keeping closer than the Yankees and the Royals actually managing to place higher than the Tigers. How pathetic for Detroit…

Final Standings:

White Sox
Twins
Indians
Royals
Tigers

Postseason Guess Record: 3-0
Regular Season Guess Record: 5-5

AL West

I’ll say it again: pathetic. The first place team, the Angels, clinched this division like a month ago. At the end of the season, we see them a ridiculous 21 games ahead of their nearest competitors, the Texas Rangers.

Texas managed to play better than I suspected, getting ahead of the Athletics (which I predicted as possible), but not anywhere near the wild card (16 games back).

Seattle finished an abysmal 39 games back. That’s beyond ridiculous. Like I predicted, they didn’t even break a .400 win percentage. They’re gonna have to mix some stuff up next year or more heads will fly. We’ll see if Ichiro will get dealt away during the off-season.

Final Standings:

Angels
Rangers
Athletics
Mariners

Postseason Guess Record: 4-0
Regular Season Guess Record: 7-7

NL East

Another really wrong division, but basically because I love the Marlins and wanted them to win. I’m going to be fair with my prediction standings and not try and make myself look better.

The Phillies won the division, despite strong competition from the Mets, who lost it near the end and lost the wild card in the 162nd (read: last!) game of the season against the Marlins.

As I predicted, the Marlins pitching really helped them out, but I also predicted that a failing of the bats would mess them up. Guess what? The bats stopped working, so they fell behind, but not without setting franchise records for home runs and MLB records for having an entire infield (1B, 2B, SS, and 3B) with over 25 home runs. Nice work Fish, maybe next year.

Final Standings:

Phillies
Mets
Marlins
Braves
Nationals

Postseason Guess Record: 4-1
Regular Season Guess Record: 9-10

NL Central

Another division gone wrong. I got the first two right with the spectacular Cubs and Brewers standing atop the division, but the rest being totally mixed up.

Sabathia totally helped the Cubs out and may find himself with an NL Cy Young as a reward for his stellar pitching. I’m also gonna take credit for being right about the Brewers in the postseason since I have them in the second place spot in this division.

I really thought Pujols would keep the Cardinals above the Astros, but they had a ridiculous wild card attempt that propelled them ahead. The Pirates also hurt a lot more than I thought they would have after losing key players to the trade deadline.

Final Standings

Cubs
Brewers
Astros
Cardinals
Reds
Pirates

Postseason Guess Record: 6-1
Regular Season Guess Record: 11-14

NL West

So I was wrong about the NL West, but I will claim it’s because Manny Ramirez had yet to be traded at that point. No one in their right mind could have predicted that he would get dealt away mid-season, but he went out to L.A. and brought them a division win.

Final Standings:

Dodgers
Diamondbacks
Rockies
Giants
Padres

Postseason Guess Record: 6-2
Regular Season Guess Record: 14-16

So how did I do?

I was 75% accurate in my postseasons predictions if you count my correct “wild card” predictions
I was 66% accurate when you look only at the division champs and neglect the wild card. Still respectable.

I was 46% accurate on my mid-season regular season projections (just one short of 50%)

Postseason

Eight teams. Two league winners. One champion.

AL Matchups:

Red Sox vs. Angels

White Sox vs. Rays

The Red Sox/Angels series is actually the crux of the AL playoff. Personally, I think of the Angels as an overrated team that looks great against the weak AL West. The records look a little different though, with the Angels at 8-1 against Boston, 5-5 against the White Sox, and 3-6 against the Rays. Boston will have a tough series against a team that seems to have their number, but a win will really affect the Rays, putting them up against a pumped up squad that just beat a team most consider to be the best in baseball. With Beckett not pitching until Game 3, the series could take a quick turn for the worse, but I still predict a Red Sox win, as much as it freaks me out. I want the Angels to win so they can lose to the Rays.

After barely squeaking by the Twins to make the playoffs, the White Sox are now coming up against the wall known as the Tampa Bay Rays. I fully expect (and hope) for them to lose, because the Rays are great and another all Chicago World Series (or a Chicago World Series in general) would suck.

Red Sox – Angels
Red Sox – Rays
White Sox – Rays

I predict the ALCS to be the Rays and the Red Sox and an absolute doozy at that. The Rays get home field advantage against a team well-versed in postseason appearances, so that will help them out. Lose one in the Trop and they’re in serious trouble as they could potentially lose it all in Fenway; a park the Rays barely have a winning record in. I’m going to let my emotions continue to cloud my judgment and predict that the Rays go to the World Series.

NL Matchups:

Brewers vs. Phillies

Dodgers vs. Cubs

The Phillies might have had some issues peppered throughout the second half, but I’m pretty confident that they can stand pretty strongly against a weak Brewers squad. The Brew Crew haven’t hit a postseason in so long they can’t be relied upon to perform any better than the Rays might. They’re also 1-5 against the Phillies. Sorry Wisconsin folk, but the Phillies win this one.

This here is an interesting playoff series. The Dodgers have been hotter than hot ever since they acquired Manny. The Cubs have been solid and consistent all season long. Chicago is looking to end a hundred-year-long curse. Los Angeles has a coach in Joe Torre and a player in Manny Ramirez who are both accustomed to winning World Series games by now. It will be close, but I think I’m going to give the Cubs the edge, even though I want the curse to continue to see the Cubs stay out of the World Series since 1945 (and no wins since 1908).

Dodgers – Cubs
Phillies – Cubs
Brewers – Phillies

Again, even though I want the Cubs to keep losing, I predict they will still beat the Phillies. The desire to end the curse at this point will trump the worries that they might botch the series.

World Series:

Cubs vs. Rays

The Rays will win to make me twice as happy for continuing the World Series losing streak for the Cubs and for winning their first World Series (and third for a Florida team). It will be a six game series with the Rays (obviously) winning at the 4-2 mark.

Let’s see how it goes, I’ll be sure to simulate this postseason in MLB PP (with rosters as updated as I can) and keep the blog posted. This will be a baseball-themed blog for a few weeks as a result, but who can complain about that?

Grand Slam: Season Still Not Over?
Sep 30th, 2008 by Dan

With 162 games in a season, does anyone ever really expect it all to come down to the wire? Could anyone have guessed that not one playoff race, but two of the eight playoff spots would have been decided in the last game of the season? Did you guess that of those two, one would still not be decided until tonight?

That’s how crazy this season has been. Only the AL West’s Angels managed to secure a playoff berth earlier than the last two weeks of play. The Mets were knocked out in their last game of the season (by our favorite Florida Marlins) and the White Sox and Twins have a one-game playoff to play tonight to decide which one of them will go on to play the Tampa Bay Rays for the ALDS thanks to a grand slam by their rookie phenom Alexei Ramirez.

Be sure to tune in tomorrow when the regular season is finally over for a last look at my Wednesday Morning Quarterback predictions to see just how well I did this season. I’ll also be making predictions for the post season, which should be interesting. It’s so tough to predict for the time of year where most every player steps it up to an unprecedented degree.

Wednesday Morning Quarterback: Amazing Rays!, Streaking Marlins!, and OSUcks!
Sep 17th, 2008 by Dan

You’ve probably heard the saying that hindsight is 20/20 on Monday morning, so just imagine how well I can call ’em two days later on Wednesday. That’s right, it’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.

It’s a real mystery. How can the Rays keep almost losing their lead only to come back in seriously clutch games. Last night the Rays left the Trop with a walk-off single by Dioner Navarro in the bottom of the ninth. Are they in the clear yet? No. They’re only one game up on the Sox with one game left tonight and a series against the Twins following. After that, it’s less pressure with games against the Orioles and Tigers, non-playoff contenders.

In other baseball news that thrills me, the Florida Marlins have been doing pretty well erasing some of their game deficit and building against the Mets and Phillies. Unfortunately, at 5.5 games back it’s gonna be a tough climb that requires cooperation from the strong Phillies and collapsing Mets.

In one of my favorite games of the week, USC blew out OSU 35-3. The Buckeyes will finally be properly ranked (13) before the end of the season. The past two years saw them dominate Big-10 teams and get a high ranking only to drastically lose in out of conference play against the other team. The Buckeye era is over, making me very happy.

Wednesday Morning Quarterback: Impending Heart Attack and College Football!
Sep 10th, 2008 by Dan

You’ve probably heard the saying that hindsight is 20/20 on Monday morning, so just imagine how well I can call ’em two days later on Wednesday. That’s right, it’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.

MLB Baseball

The Tampa Bay Rays are determined to send me to an early grave. A five game lead, almost evaporated, sitting now at 1.5 up on the Boston Red Sox. After dropping six (SIX!) of eight to start off the month, they finally decided to win when it counts, in the second game of three against the Bo Sox. There’s no way they can hold on to this pennant and world series push if they don’t keep beating the Red Sox. The almost have to take the game tonight and the next series against the Yankees if they’re gonna have any ability to stand up against the Sox next series and hold on for the rest of the season. There’s only one easy series for the Rays for the rest of the season, and that’s against the Orioles. They’ve still got series against the Yankees, Red Sox, Twins, and Tigers. It’s gonna be a rough stretch.

In sadder news, it’s looking increasingly less likely that the Marlins will be able to put together a playoff run. At 8.5 games back their ONLY chance is to not drop any more games against the Phillies (four left, counting tonight) or Mets (three games left, the last series of the year). Regardless, you can’t say that there’s a non-contending team with any more relevance to a playoff race than the Marlins. Philly is 2.5 games back on NY, but with games against both teams, just a few mistakes can drastically change the top of the NL East.

College Football

College Football, oh how I’ve missed you! Welcome back. I know you’re in the second week, but I was too busy to catch the games that week. Besides, the Gators played Hawaii. Who cares? This week I saw a few very interesting games that can have a lasting effect on the season:

Ohio State

When, oh when are we going to stop overrating the Buckeyes? OSU has been a consistently high rated football team for at least three years now (I’ve only been really paying attention to college football for that long), but for what reason? They play in the criminally weak Big Ten where they, of course, dominate and end up rated nice and high. Then they go to the big games out of conference, like against the Gators or Tigers (GO SEC!) and get trounced. At least this year the BCS poll seems less fooled, with the Buckeyes rated at No. 5, especially after their disappointingly poorly played win against the Ohio Bobcats.

Do the Buckeyes have a chance against the Trojans? No. Pac-10 may also be weak, but the Trojans have always been a damn good football team. They will destroy the Buckeyes. I can tell you for sure that I’ll be tuned in this Saturday on ESPN to watch them lose. I love it when the Buckeyes lose.

Gators

Hope you watched the UF vs UM game this weekend, it was a blast. It’s always a good game when you have those rivalry games played, no matter what the ranks are. Only thing that concerns me about the Gators is that Tebow doesn’t seem to be as dominant. Not such a big issue, but I kind of wanted him to take two Heismans. There’s still plenty of time in the season…

Man do I love college football. Can’t wait for Saturday!

Wednesday Morning Quarterback: The Final Countdown
Sep 3rd, 2008 by Dan

You’ve probably heard the saying that hindsight is 20/20 on Monday morning, so just imagine how well I can call ’em two days later on Wednesday. That’s right, it’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.

All Arrested Development jokes aside, we are actually at the final countdown of the baseball season and a few teams have got very little time left to make it to October. Foremost amongst those teams, at least in my mind, are my Florida Marlins. At a huge 10.5 games back from the NL wild card, their only chance at this point is to catch up in the NL East where they are eight(!) games back. As great as a Marlins/Rays world series sounded back in May, it’s unfortunately looking like it’s not going to happen.

The Phillies need to play well to make up their two game deficit, the Brewers need to hold on to their wild card, and the Diamondbacks need to worry about the Dodgers catching up. The only other close crazy race comes from the White Sox and Twins, tied for first in the AL Central. Let’s see what happens there, I hope it’s the Twins.

Quick little aside: college football season has appeared! Gators won over Hawaii and I hope that we see them go all the way this year.

Wednesday Morning Quarterback: Men’s Basketball, Hustling Woes, Pennant Race
Aug 20th, 2008 by Dan

You’ve probably heard the saying that hindsight is 20/20 on Monday morning, so just imagine how well I can call ’em two days later on Wednesday. That’s right, it’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.

Basketball

Delaying my post for the day has given me the opportunity to comment on the American victory over Australia in Olympic Men’s Basketball. Many speculated that this would be the game that gave Team USA some trouble, and they were right in that respect. Team USA struggled in the first half, but a clutch three-pointer in the last few seconds of that same half put the US in a winning state of mind. Kobe and Team USA burst out with 14 straight points (nine coming from Bryant) and the rest of the game was in America’s hands.

Argentina (gold medalists from the 2004 games) and either Lithuania or Spain will be the next challenges for the Men’s team on Friday and Sunday, respectively. Let’s hope that the Redeemed Team (as the media is calling them) is able to keep the momentum going. There’s no space for error in these final matches.

B.J. Upton

The Rays have been having some problems with their star players recently, but this time it doesn’t come from injuries. There have been at least two benchings on recent memory of center fielder B.J. Upton for lack of hustle and he continues to make some very lazy and stupid mistakes. I applaud Joe Maddon, the Rays GM, for benching Upton as punishment for his indolence, but I’m not so sure that it’s having any effect. More similar incidences (although not as blatant, hence, not as punishable) have been taking place that show that Upton might just be getting petulant and not quite caring that his team’s 4.5 game lead is plenty tenuous, especially against the Red Sox. Which brings us to…

Pennant Races

AL East remains firmly, but not definitely in the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays. Strong performances against the always tough Angels in two games already have kept the Rays exactly where they want to be. They’re not quite in the clear yet, with series against the White Sox, Red Sox, and Twins remaining this season, but I can’t help but think that they could clinch the AL East for the pennant. We probably won’t be seeing a magic number for the Rays until they hit late September, but I’m excited, especially since the Crawford and Longoria injuries haven’t slowed them down.

Meanwhile, my precious Marlins sit four games back from the first place NY Mets, having dropped close games against the Cardinals and Cubs to put them so far back. The Phils sit only one game back, waiting for the inevitable meltdown of the Mets due to their piss-poor bullpen, especially with Billy Wagner’s potentially season-ending injury. All the Fish have to do to get themselves back up to speed is play well in non-league play in their series against the Giants, Cardinals, Astros, and Diamondbacks. The Giants and Astros should be easy play, but the rest should be much tougher, even though the Marlins traditionally play well against the Diamondbacks, mainly because the Diamondbacks are actually in the pennant race against the Dodgers. The rest of the series are against the Phillies, Mets, and Nationals, which make for some key, very important series over these last 5.5 weeks. If they perform well, I just might get my dream of seeing an all-Florida World Series.

Wednesday Morning Quarterback: Olympics, Favre, Injuries!, and Shea Review, Oh My!
Aug 13th, 2008 by Dan

You’ve probably heard the saying that hindsight is 20/20 on Monday morning, so just imagine how well I can call ’em two days later on Wednesday. That’s right, it’s time for Wednesday Morning Quarterback, your weekly sports round-up.

Hey sports fans, it’s been a while for the blog, but we’re officially back in business! The sports world has had quite a few great and exciting stories since then between the Olympics, Favre, injuries on the Rays, and surprising stability in the standings on the AL and NL East.

Olympic Fever

I love the Olympics. As I often tell people, I feel like it’s the last real way for modern, civilized countries to wage war against each other in the modern world. Thanks to economics, you’d never see China and the US fighting each other in the foreseeable future (God I hope so!), but the Olympics allow the full competitive expression of Team USA and Team China without involving the seven million strong People’s Liberation Army.

Anyway, the overall main competition between the US and China involves medal count, which I can happily say the USA is currently winning with 29 medals to China’s 27, but China is also gunning for most golds, which is is leading with 17 golds to the ten that Team USA hold.

Team USA has been doing pretty well overall, but I’d say my favorite moment is that Men’s 4×100 (which I cannot find a good Youtube video for) was that monstrous win over the braggadocios French (.08 seconds!). Other than that, the Micheal Phelps gold medal count is the next biggest story as he becomes the greatest Olympian in history. The one problem I have with him winning is that I know some of his times are suit-dependent, but sports technology is so ubiquitous that you can’t really discount athleticism because of it.

Brett Favre

Brett Favre has FINALLY found himself a home: the New York Jets. Man am I glad that at least some of this nonsense has been resolved so I don’t have to watch him all over SportsCenter, although now I’m stuck hearing about Aaron Rodgers all day.

What does this mean for Green Bay now? Well, aside from Rodgers’ decent performance in that pre-season game, they can’t possibly have as good of a starting quarterback with Aaron at the helm, but their season still needs to be pretty solid. If they don’t make the playoffs, you can bet there will be hell to pay in Green Bay.

Brett Favre and the Jets have it slightly easier. Favre still has to do well, but I think there’s a lot less pressure on a man whose career has already been proven. All he’s really gotta do is not get hurt and keep the Jets competitive and he’ll be fine. If he outperforms Rodgers (this will be endlessly compared), then he’ll be a super success out in NY.

MLB Baseball

As the post season approaches, the MLB standing races continue to really heat up, particularly in the AL Central and NL West as the Twins/White Sox and Dodgers/Diamondbacks, but you all know that I’m a junkie for the Eastern divisions and none of them disappoint with their respective drama.

The Tampa Bay Rays still sit in first place in the AL East three games up on the Red Sox and eight up on the Yankees. The Yankees, in particular, are in a stunningly low position for a traditionally powerful second half team, but that’s the way the new East has been going. Tampa’s mind blowing arrival as a competitive team has baffled everyone and changed the nature of the East. What’s keeping the East dramatic is how Boston won’t fall back from three games back and the recent injuries of Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria on the Rays. Both are clutch players, but the long loss of Evan Longoria (speculated to be until 1 Sept) can only hurt the team since he is their prime offensive performance. Hopefully the Rays can hold on to their first place spot until then.

NL East continues to be as close as ever with the Phillies still leading, the Mets one game back, and the Marlins 1.5 games back. The Phillies have a tough series they’re in the middle of against the Dodgers, the Mets are coasting against the Nats, and the Marlins are playing a tough one against the Cards.

Shea Stadium Review

Got to see a game at Shea on Sunday and I’ll have to say I really enjoyed it. Even though the stadium is about to be torn down, it’s still got a heck of a lot more of a baseball feel than Dolphin Stadium. The concourses have an open feel, but very narrow. In fact, the park itself just feels very cramped, but this may be because of its location (NYC) forcing the stadium to take up a limited amount of space and also because the new Shea is being constructed literally right next to the old stadium.

Fans are pretty into the game and they show it with loud cheering. The park is huge, but not so big that it looks empty like Dolphin Stadium. Also cool is the big apple that comes up after a home team home run. I didn’t get a chance to see it, but it was pretty cool.

Shea is a decent ballpark, but I would say it’s a great thing that they are making a new stadium. There’s a bit of that old school design to it with spartan corridors and bland aesthetics, but it’s still a solid place for baseball with great fans.

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