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I’m Just Albert [Embedded Reporter]
Apr 19th, 2010 by Dan

One of the latest in the long line of pretty funny Sportscenter commercials.

About 40 Left. Hurry Up Fish! [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Aug 12th, 2009 by Dan

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

Baseball, sad as I am to say it, is nearing the end of its season. As pre-season stories begin to flood my RSS reader I can only lament the loss of the pure baseball period. That time of the year where the only professional sport being played in America is my favorite time of year. Turning on Sportscenter will only yield tiny stories and not spend long segments on the state of some team’s offensive line.

I don’t want to keep dwelling on the oncoming football season. Let’s talk some baseball instead.

Billy and Inaugural Marlins

Billy and Inaugural Marlins

Last week I went and attended the first of a three game series in Washington against the Florida Marlins. Josh Johnson was slated to pitch, so I figured I should see their ace rock the Nats. The inexplicable happened and Washington pulled out a win in the 8th inning. It kept getting stranger as the Nats swept the entire three-game series, stealing leads from the Fish rather like they did against the Nats all season long.

Set to roll into Philadelphia after the series, I was hoping for at least a win. You might recall that Florida was swept the last time they played, but, surprisingly, the Marlins pulled three straight wins for the sweep, even defeating Jamie Moyer, who is 13-3 lifetime against the Fish.

Thanks to those games, the Marlins are (as of this writing) sitting 3.5 games behind Philadelphia and 3.0 games back in the wild card behind the Giants, Rockies, and Cubs. The Phils are in Chicago facing those same Cubs, which can only be good for Florida as it will definitely advance in at least one of those races each night those two play.

As the title says, they’ve only got 40 games left. They’d better play some solid baseball if they want to make a playoff run.

Remember, They’ve Only Played Two [WMQ]
Apr 9th, 2009 by Dan

If you hate the Yankees and love baseball, I’m sure you’re running around telling everyone you know about how ridiculous it is that the Yankees have lost two straight to a team that everyone expects to sit right at the bottom of the AL East. You might be mentioning to all their friends that it seems that all the money in the world can’t buy baseball skill or pointing to the Rays or Marlins as teams whose low salaries still yield success. You might wanna slow down a bit there.

Listen, I hate the Yankees as much as the next guy, but probably a bit less than your diehard Sox fan, but it’s really not fair to make definitive judgments on the team after only two days of play. Baseball’s a game where the best hitters fail seven times out of ten, many like to say, so it’s not all that surprising for a team to lose more than a few games and still make it to the playoffs. In fact, in a typical year, the best teams in the league will only win two out of every three and some will barely top a .500 win rate.

Calm down baseball fans, the Yankees aren’t down and out yet. They’re a team that you can never just count out and they’re pissed after last year. Who could have ever expected the AL East to be a three team race?

As an aside, I’m really hoping that the Red Sox and the Rays become the real rivalry in the East. After the brawl last year, the close pennant race, and what’s looking like a good series today, I really want that to be the case. It would be really cool to see Florida teams start having some fire and attention from their fans. The Fish had attendance in the upper 30ks on Opening Day. The MASN guys said that the crowd had dwindled by 32k the next day. It sucks to see so few going to the ballpark down there. At least they’re rocking the Nats…

Upcoming matchups to look out for:

Mets at Marlins starting Friday

The Fish have knocked the Mets out of the postseason for two years running. Surely the Mets are a bit bitter after last year and with their rejuvinated bullpen, will give the Fish a run for their money. It’s one thing to pound the Nats, but another thing entirely to try and take on the Mets.

Rays at Red Sox & Orioles today and for the next three games

It’ll be the rubber game of the series for the Sox and Rays tonight and it could honestly go either way. Garza vs. Dice-K. After that the Rays head down to Baltimore, the first game of which I will be attending and my first for the year.

The Show Returns [Wednesday Morning Quarterback]
Apr 8th, 2009 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.

Baseball season is back and exciting as ever! Talk about first day surprises though. Who would have guessed that C.C. Sabathia would be pounded by the O’s? Who could have expected that Griffey would hit another opening day homer? Or that the Marlins would pound the Nats? Ok…that one was a bit more predictable…

Still though, nothing better than watching my man Hanley Ramirez smash a grand slam or seeing Bonifacio round the bases like a mad man for an inside-the-park home run (or almost repeating it the next night). Tempering my joy is the 5-3 loss of the Rays to the Red Sox. That’s exactly what baseball is, though. Joy and sorrow all mixed together. Getting this pumped over three days of games is a bit premature, I’m sure, we’ve still got 159 games left to go for most teams, but it sure feels good to be back.

No predictions this week, I’d like to let them stew a bit more. I’ll put in some highlights later on today that will inevitably be gone within the week.

Until next time sports fans.

6 April Web Gems and SportsCenter! [WMQ]
Apr 7th, 2009 by Dan

Sadly no mention of the Marlins’ amazing inside the park homer nor the grand slam. On the other hand, who doesn’t love great defensive plays instead of homers?

SportsCenter got it a little better with not one, but two Marlins plays in there, both by Bonifacio. Good stuff all around though.

SC Top 10 [WMQ]
Apr 4th, 2009 by Dan

I’ve discovered that these top plays seem to only stay active for a few days, at the most. I guess I don’t blame ESPN, their bandwidth requirements would be ridiculous. I’m gonna have to think about whether or not I continue this based on the fact that before the week is up I’ve already got posts with dead videos.

Only one baseball highlight in here, despite the fact that there were tons more (and better) highlights from these pre-season games. It’s cool, starting Sunday and Monday, we’ll see a lot more of baseball highlights.

Not Much [WMQ]
Apr 2nd, 2009 by Dan

Not much interesting to say about today. We’ve got a few things and we’ll combine in some highlights.

Gary Sheffield was released from the Tigers. Not altogether a bizarre move, but definitely unexpected. Unimpressive hitting last season and this spring combined to motivate the Tigers to instead field more defensively able players on their field. He’ll probably be picked up on the cheap somewhere, so no worries there.

Not quite sports, but only the heartless can’t appreciate adorable hadokens into babies.

And finally, SportsCenter top plays. My favorite: obviously the Marlins one!

UPDATE: The video continues to be “inaccessible,” even though I copied the embed code right from the page. Just click next and select SportsCenter top plays.

UPDATE 2: Working for now.

SC Top Plays 31 March 2009 [WMQ]
Apr 1st, 2009 by Dan

No Web Gems today, so we’ll just do the SportsCenter Top 10

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.

Wednesday Morning Quarterback: Go Rays!, All-Star Break
Jul 9th, 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.

I’m finally in a place where I can get regularly watch SportsCenter and I’m loving it. Along with being able to watch baseball games about three times a week on ESPN and more on other networks like MASN, I also get a chance to watch a lot more sports commentary (read: infinitely more, I saw none before) and learn that the real story of this month appears to be the longevity of the Tampa Bay Rays.

A long-time last place team, the Rays happen to be sitting, miraculously, on the best record in all of baseball so far this season. Because of their players are so young and also due to the team’s lack of playoff experience, there is talk that first place is a fluke for the Rays. I think that’s totally wrong and, thankfully so do the Rays and many other sportscasters and writers. I attribute Tampa’s amazing season to a few things:

1. Change in organization philosophy.

The Rays entered this season knowing they had a great team set up and mentally prepared themselves to do great things this season. It’s no surprise this has yielded results. As I have heard some say, the clubhouse is no longer satisfied with losing one or two if they’ve won one or two, they value every game and are mentally in the right place to make it to the post season in October. Youth may be a big factor in this team coupled with inexperience, but I think they can manage…

2. Youth

Speaking of the youth movement, many of Tampa’s star players, like Kazmir and Longoria, are very young players. This is a team that isn’t about to go down due to injury nor is it one that will be satisfied with anything less than big wins. The players on this team aren’t jaded, know they are winners, and, because they are young, are hungry to go far. Don’t let anyone tell you that a young team can’t win in the post-season. Look at the 2003 Marlins, a young team that beat a strong, experienced, and well-established Yankees squad.

3. Talent

This one really speaks for itself. None of the players on this team are really having career years, yet the team is doing quite well playing what’s essentially National League baseball in the American League. Funny thing is the Florida Marlins are playing AL baseball in the NL…I love small ball and I’m glad to see these guys consistently show the AL that their scrappy young team is on par with their mega-superstars.

That being said, the Rays have still got a tough, long ways to go. They are in one of the, if not the, hardest division in baseball, regularly facing off against the Yankees and Red Sox, and it doesn’t get any easier in the second half. Both the Red Sox and Yankees play considerably better in the second half (historically especially the Yankees), so the Rays had better keep a look out if they want to stay on top.

Quick update: Marlins are still a game back from first as I write this. Come on Fish, you can do it!

The All-Star break is upon us. All-Star week officially begins this Friday with the actual All-Star game taking place next Tuesday. Tune back in next week for a game recap and to see just how many of my early season predictions have come true and which ones need a little adjusting.

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