Friday, July 25, 2008

Assessing the 60's

The end of July is approaching and just five teams in the majors have won sixty games. Surprisingly, the Yankees, Tigers, and Mets, the "Leagues" top three payrolls aren't part of those five. Apparently, $480 million doesn't buy you what it used to.

Obviously, the Tampa Bay Rays ($43 Million) would be the most surprising member of the 60's. The early favorites to win the vaunted American League East, the Rays boast a mind altering 40-16 record back home in St. Petersburg. Unfortunately, the Rays 20-32 record away from "The Trop" leaves some doubt. These Rays don't have an easy road ahead of them playing 33 of their last 54 games on the road, where they struggle most. 24-year old pitcher, Matt Garza, has stumbled as of late. Most recently, Garza has won 1 of his last 4 starts with an ERA inching toward four. Even ace, Scott Kazmir has struggled against good lineups lately. With losses earlier in the month in both Cleveland and New York, Kazmir didn't get out of the sixth inning. The rotation of Tampa and early successes from their young and extremely talented lineup led them to the first place position they currently hold but they'll need to demonstrate success on the road if they plan to complete their surprising season.

The defending champs, the Boston Red Sox ($133 Million), have struggled against tough competition this month and off the field issues are distracting the front office from concentrating on making a move to improve before the trade deadline. Headed into the All-Star Break, the Sox held a one game lead over Tampa Bay and seemed to be pulling away. Opening with the Angels, the Sox failed to avoid a 3-game sweep in Disneyland and luckily were able to avoid the same fate against New York on Sunday night. Fortunately for Boston, they play at Fenway Park, where dominance is an understatement. The Sox are 37-13 at home and finish with seven straight home games at the end of September which will be more than important. The Red Sox have one of the stronger rotations in baseball. The 11-1 record of Daisuke Matsuzaka and recent dominance of Jon Lester is an added bonus to a rotation which also includes the postseasons most impressive pitcher of the past ten seasons, Josh Beckett. Hopefully the injection of David Ortiz back into the Sox lineup will both add power to a struggling offense and calm the emotions of fellow Dominican, Manny Ramirez. If the Sox can keep Manny quiet and find help for the anchor of the bullpen, Jonathan Papelbon, their recent post season success will surely continue.

The L.A. Anaheim Angels ($119 Million), are the only of the "60's" without a glaring deficiency away from their host city. A 33-19 road record and playing in the worst division of the American League has made the Angels one of baseballs most dominant teams. A major league high, 64 wins, the Angels have at times, looked untouchable. 8-2 in their last ten, including a sweep against the Red Sox, the Angels have built enough confidence heading into August to last them throughout the final months of the season. The most glaring reason for the Angels success is the remarkable performance of all-world closer, Francisco Rodriguez. The twenty-six year old Venezuelan has a major league leading, and almost record setting, 43 saves. Rodriguez has allowed just one run in his last nine outings, a streak of seven and a third innings. The Angels top two starters, Joe Saunders and Ervin Santana, have a combined 24-10 record. With 26 games remaining against divisional foes, the Angels will undoubtedly head into the playoffs on a high note. Leave the Rally Monkeys at home folks, the Angels are just that good.

Well believe it, the Milwaukee Brewers ($81 Million) will be in the postseason. Just as hot as the Angels, the Brewers are also 8-2 in their last ten games. With the addition of C.C. Sabathia, 2007 American League Cy Young, we may just see the most important mid-season trade since the Red Sox sent Nomar to the Cubs in 2004. The 4-0 Sabathia has pitched two straight complete games, a span which he allowed just 1 run in 18 innings. Milwaukee traded for a pitcher who seems to have regained some of his 2007 mastery, and will pair with Brewer ace, Ben Sheets, to be the National Leagues second most dominant pitching duo. A team that could face Diamondback two-some, Brandon Webb and Danny Haren, the Brewers bolstered their rotation the best way you could, add an ace. Five-tool talent and reigning rookie of the year, Ryan Braun, is hitting above .300, slugging close to .600, and has already mashed 28 homers. Braun adds to a lineup that includes Prince Fielder (20 dingers), Corey Hart (16), Mike Cameron(15), J.J. Hardy and Bill Hall (14), a definite power offense. Currently the Brewers sit a game back of division leader, Chicago, but will surely provide fans of the National League Central with one of the most exciting division races in years.

Chicago's likable team, the Chicago Cubs ($118 Million) are attempting to destroy demons that have tormented this team longer than anyone alive can remember. Just when things are looking up and the Cubs have a stangle hold on the National League, the Brewers acquire Sabathia, and force the Cubs to add Oakland ace, Rich Harden. Harden has been as advertised, in three starts with the boys from the North Side, Harden hasn't made a dent in the win column but has been lights out otherwise. Three starts, seventeen innings, two runs, and thirty strikeouts is just what the doctor ordered. The Cubbies, like the Red Sox and Rays, enjoy a more than home field advantage (39-14) at the friendly confines. With road struggles (22-30) the Cubs will be forced to overcome, finishing with seven games on the road at the end of September, including a finale in Milwaukee that will ultimately determine the division champion. Between Aramis Ramirez, Derrek Lee, and Puerto Rican slugger, Geovany Soto (17 homers and 58 RBI's ) the Cubs are batting .278, good for the third highest in the majors. While Cubs fans won't believe it till they see it, this Cubs team could be THAT team to bring them the excitement they haven't seen since, ever.

Just in case: Chicago White Sox ($121 Million), while Chicago's "other" team, the one that actually won a championship in the past 100 years (2005) , hasn't won 60 games they do sit on 59 and lead the American League Central. The White Sox play a three-game series with division rival and perennial runner-up, the Minnesota Twins, this week, which will undoubtedly end in at least reaching 60 wins. How have the White Sox gotten to this point? If your answer was smoke and mirrors, Ozzie Guillen might have issue with you. The White Sox don't boast the most powerful rotation, Gavin Floyd, John Danks, and Mark Buehrle (26 wins) they do have an excellent pen. Between closer Bobby Jenks (21 saves), reliever Octavio Dotel (46 innings, 68 K's), and Scott Linebrink (39 innings, 10 earned runs) the White Sox don't need more than 5-6 innings from their starters. If you want offense, you don't have to look further than left fielder and All-Star Carlos Quentin. The second year player out of Stanford, is batting .278 all the while slugging .547 with twenty-seven homers and seventy-eight RBI's. This White Sox team could go as far if not further than their North Side counterparts, Chicago's second-team has something to prove and has the someones to prove it with. The White Sox will race to the finish line with the Twins and Tigers but as of August 1st, I'll guarantee they get there.

If the 2008 Major League Baseball playoffs kick-off with their top-three payrolls, (the Tigers, Mets, and Yanks) golfing back at home, it will be because on July 28th the best records in the majors didn't include them.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Keep It Real Friday: The Tuna Way

Week 2, KEEP IT REAL FRIDAY: and were off . . .

When I'm right, I gloat. When I'm wrong however, I avoid it at all costs. Last week I mentioned, that when Tiger isn't involved in the major championships(The Masters, U.S. Open, Open Championship, and the PGA Championship) you won't see the winner on the cover of SI and you probably won't remember who won. U.S. Olympic swimmer, Michael Phelps, was on the cover of SI, and the 2008 Open Championship will not be remembered for the winner, now 2-time champ Padraig Harrington, but for a runner-up, Greg Norman. Hats off to Norman, but I'm more interested in what WOULD have happened if Tiger was there, come on so are you, KEEP IT REAL!

Two rather large trades went down this week in the NFL. The Giants traded 4-time Pro Bowl tight end, Jeremy Shockey, to the New Orleans Saints. The Miami Dolphins traded former defensive MVP and Pro Bowl defensive end, Jason Taylor, to the Washington Redskins. Two fantastic players, and you don't know one player they were traded for. That's because both the Giants and the Dolphins received a total of two DRAFT PICKS each, in other words they got players who are still in college and haven't been a proven NFL player for one day. The easiest way to keep this one real is to look at that the trades individually:

The first one to get dealt was Jason Taylor from the Dolphins. Taylor was dealt not because he asked to be traded to a contender or because he had begun to decline in skill level, oh no. Taylor was dealt because the boss of the Dolphins, Bill Parcells, didn't appreciate a star player not spending 365 days thinking about football. Hell, as far as we know Parcells never even showed Taylor the respect of sitting down and talking about it. Taylor, whose 11-year tour of duty with the Fish, didn't even get the respect of a conversation? The same guy who most recently left Falcons owner, Arthur Blank in the lurch, along with the many other owners of the Pats, Cowboys, and Jets, wants someone to be entirely dedicated to football? Forgive me for putting it out there but isn't Bill Parcells the guy who always had the NEXT opportunity in mind? Unfortunately for Dolphins fans, Jason Taylor is no longer a Dolphin because like the Tuna, his next job, whether it be more dancing, acting, or even a modeling career, was on his mind. KEEP IT REAL BILL!

As for Jeremy Shockey, he'll be a welcomed addition to a athletic Saints offense. Most teams would think that the loss of a pro-bowl caliber TE would be huge, but to the defending champs, they think otherwise. Tell me all day long that because the emergence of Kevin Boss and the fact that Shockey spent the playoffs injured, he became expendable, but I have other thoughts. Sorry Eli, it's time for YOU to keep it real. Surrounded by personalities such as Michael Strahan, Tiki Barber, and of course Shockey, you had a hard time getting your two cents in huh? You know who never had a hard time getting his word in, Peyton. You may have as many rings as ole' Peyton, you may even have quarterbacked the team that knocked off your brothers nemesis on the games biggest stage, but to me your still the guy who thought he was too good to play in San Diego. Kudos to Eli for the ring, and congrats of finally being able to say a word in the locker room, I'm sure it'll be refreshing. Shockey is out for a couple draft picks, and the Giants just lost a good weapon because we didn't want Eli to have any locker room loudmouths. Troy played with Michael and the Boys' never had to give him a hand to speak up. KEEP IT REAL!

The sports fan in me has been pining for a team, any team, to take a flyer on Barry Bonds. The truth is, were already 120 days or so into the baseball season and Barry's phone probably hasn't rung that much. The Red Sox, Yankees, and Diamondbacks have had very little conversation about the non-retired slugger and still nothing has gone more than little over conversation as far as we know. I want to slap the Yanks for thinking Richie Sexson, yes hitting .218 Richie Sexon was a better for them, but I have to KEEP IT REAL, he probably was. Barry would probably turn into a very quiet and agreeable character if he did show up on a contending teams roster and there are very few fans bases out there that would tell you once he hit a majestic shot over their fence they wouldn't cheer. Unfortunately, the Red Sox determined Ortiz will be O.K. enough to move forward, the Yanks decided Richie Sexson and Jason Giambi are reliable enough, and the Diamondbacks grabbed the ageless Tony Clark. It's more likely the next uniform we'll see Bonds in will be a government issued jumpsuit rather than a short sleeved baseball jersey with the teams stitching across the front.

Did you think they were dead and buried? KEEP IT REAL, the New England Patriots will be 4-0 as they roll into San Diego on October 12Th and the Chargers better be ready. This isn't the Philadelphia Eagles, the Chicago Bears, the Carolina Panthers, or any other team that got smacked around the year after they lost the big dance. This is the Patriots, the team that is still led by the best quarterback in the NFL, most likely the most dynamic receiver in the NFL, and even I won't bring up Coach Belichick and his Spielburgesque qualities. Sh*t, not even Nick Kaczur and his 200 pills of Oxycontin could stop this show, well maybe 200 pills of Oxycontin could, but you get my point, there good. Parcells takes an offensive lineman #1 overall and then trades the Dolphins best defensive player, so whose going to beat them in their own division? I'll call it now, the Pats go 6-0 in their division, if I'm wrong, I won't admit it. You've got to remember I'm a Cowboys fan here but I can call a spade when I see one, and this is a goddamn spade! LaDainian is a year older, Peyton has knee issues, AND THE PATRIOTS WENT 18-1 in 2007! If not for a miracle play from Eli and David Tyree were talking about the greatest season in professional sports history. Remember when I told you I don't buy the Yanks being buried until the playoffs are here and they aren't in them? Well the same goes for the Patriots, so KEEP IT REAL!

It's a little crazy, and I hadn't thought about it before, but Josh Childress, you weren't at Stanford for nothing. The fourth year Atlanta Hawk decided that his destination as a restricted free agent wouldn't be another NBA city, nope it would be Greece, yep that Greece. International team, Olympiakos agreed to terms with the former Hawk swing man to a $20 million deal over three years, way more more than he would have got with the Hawks. If you don't mind where your playing basketball and want to get paid than heck, go wherever the money is, even it if is half way across the world. In fact Josh Childress' decision has got me thinking of some other players that might want to look to play in Serbia, Russia, or Spain:

Joakim Noah
Brian Scalabrine
Rasheed Wallace
Shaquille O'Neal
and of course, Keith Van Horn

When Childress said he had talked to other players about doing this and it could become the wave of the future, I hope those "other players" included at least someone on my list (preferably Joakim Noah) KEEP IT REAL, are we still wondering if most athletes make decisions based on money?

Who cares about the Olympics, really? I can't stand when I have to stay up till 1:00 AM on a work night to catch the Red Sox on a West Coast road trip, let alone catch Olympic action that is going on in Beijing. I will never play water polo over Marco Polo, I'll never do more than lay out on a raft in the ocean, and I'll never see if I can beat someone in a foot race. I don't care if someone can do the pole vault, high hurdles, or throw a discus. I can see Kobe v. Lebron during the NBA regular season, I don't need to see Kobe v. the best the Netherlands has to offer this summer. I like my boxing at the MGM Grand getting fixed by Don King, not in the Olympics getting fixed by the Chinese judge. Michael Phelps could win 50 gold medals and Dara Torres could win a medal at age 40 and it wouldn't top watching the Tiger win the U.S. Open on one leg or Mario Chalmers drilling a three pointer to push the college finals into overtime. The most interesting thing about the Olympics isn't the actual games its the outside factors, the polution in China, what foreign leaders will be present, and whether or not Tibet will be freed. The games just aren't that important anymore, KEEP IT REAL!

Tonight marked the beginning of the end for the Tampa Bay Rays. I haven't bought into this all season long and I'm not going to start now, KEEP IT REAL. Baseball's darlings have dropped their last seven road games and head into the weekend tied for first place with the Boston Red Sox. The Rays road problems will continue throughout the second half and for a team who finishes with 17 out of their last 27 on the road, including nine road games in a row against division rivals Toronto, Boston, and New York, there in trouble. The Rays road record is only better than last place teams Seattle & Cleveland. With the Red Sox set to add David Ortiz to their lineup on Friday and the Yanks surging since the all-star break winning the last six, the Rays are struggling. These are the Rays, getting better but still a little further off than we thought. COME ON! KEEP IT REAL!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

To Manny or not to Manny?

After the Red Sox make their run at a third World Series Trophy in just five years, a task no one could have foreseen a decade ago, they will be presented with one of the toughest management decisions this franchise has ever seen. Live with, or without Manny Ramirez, one of the greatest hitters this town has ever seen.

Since the start of the 2001 baseball season, when he became a member of the Boston Red Sox, Manny Ramirez has smashed over 273 home runs (as of July 19, 2008), that's more than half of his career total of 509. While never having a season in which he hit lower than .292 and played in no less than 120 games, he has become a staple of all things Red Sox. From the protection he provides to hitters like David Ortiz and current outfielder, J.D. Drew, to the way he has learned to play Fenway's dynamic wall as if he'd been doing it since birth, Manny Ramirez skill is unparalleled. Yet after eight seasons, a World Series MVP, and the groundbreaking $160 million dollars paid out to him, Manny Ramirez might just be, out.

The case FOR: When former Red Sox GM, Dan Duquette, signed Ramirez in the winter of 2000, he knew what the city and ball club were getting. Manny was a statistical GOD in Cleveland for 7+ seasons. In his contract year of 2000, Ramirez missed 40 games and still hit a mind numbing .351, 38 home runs, and knocked in 122 runs. Had Manny played in 20 of those games your looking at a guy who could have hit between 40 and 45 home runs heading into free agency, not even divorced cougars look that good on the open market. Teams like Seattle, who had just lost Alex Rodriguez to free agency, Cleveland, who was hoping not to part ways with their slugger, and of course Boston, who was hoping to place Ramirez in between crowd favorite Nomar Garciaparra and Carl Everett, were all in the hunt for Ramirez. Boston's $160 million dollar check over eight years won out. But ask yourself, after all that has happened since that winter, could you see Manny drinking Starbucks and throwing fish in the market while living in Seattle?

So where are we now after eight years? An All-Star every year in Boston, a two time World Series winner, a World Series MVP, member of the 500 Homer Cub, 5-time American League Siver Slugger, good enough? Hardly, you know the accolades and you know the home runs, but how about the emergence of the biggest star this town has ever seen, David Ortiz a.k.a. Big Papi. After six years on the scrap heap in the Twinville, Ortiz came to Boston and has hit over .300 three times, something he never did in Minnesota, has clubbed over 30 homers a season, something he never did before, and hit behind the games most premier hitter of the last twenty seasons, something he never did before. Still not enough? After 83 games in 2008, Red Sox outfielder J.D. Drew, is hitting .298 and on pace for a career high in both RBI's and home runs. Drew was elected to his first All-Star game in his 9th season, and took home the All-Star game MVP, did I forget to mention he's been hitting in front of Ramirez since the end of May, the following month he hit .337, impressive. No man is worth $20 million a year, but if your going to give it to someone, why not Ramirez. At the end of the day you have to answer one question, if Drew and Ortiz's success as hitters can be accredited, even a little to Manny, do you eat the next season at $20 Mil for the services? Dan Duquette gave you the option, and the ball is in your court.

The case AGAINST: You want personality issues? Manny's got plenty. The once "quiet" star has for some reason become determined to rid himself of that title. Just recently Ramirez had this to say about his pending free agency:

"I want to know what's my situation. I want no more [expletive] where they tell you one thing and behind your back they do another thing. I think I've earned that respect, for a team to sit down with me and tell me this is what we want, this is what we want to do."

Nice, Ramirez has obviously been frustrated with his potential pending free agency looming, and he should be. If the Red Sox opt not to pick up the 2009 club option at a cost of $20 Million, Manny will earn considerably less in free agency. Not many teams can afford that price tag and even if they could, they probably shouldn't.

Since 2005 Ramirez' power numbers have dropped from 45 homers to 35 homers, to 20 homers last season. His RBI totals have gone from 144, 102, to 88 in 2007. Still the .300 average hitter, Ramirez' BA dropped .024 points over the last several seasons, he's a far cry from the .321 he hit in 2006. In order to pay big dollars to Ramirez you need to have hitters in front and behind him to experience his full value, especially based on what the numbers have proved, not many teams can put J.D. Drew and David Ortiz type sluggers around Manny.

You know about Manny's exploit and assault on club house attendant Jack McCormick earlier this season. You know about Manny's sudden shove of Kevin Youkilis after growing tired of Youkilis post strikeout reaction. You also know that you've never seen this in eight seasons of Manny world, and picking up Manny's 09' option would mean a bit of the same thing considering the Sox also have an option year for '10. Could Red Sox players, management, traveling secretaries, and fans put up with another year of this?


To me, the direction of the Boston Red Sox since John Henry's arrival can only mean one thing. Manny OUT. From the Red Sox attempt to rid themselves of Manny's contract in 2003 by placing him on waivers to the departures of aging superstars and Boston legends Pedro Martinez and Nomar Garciaparra, the Red Sox do business one way, efficiently.

While the Red Sox don't belt tighten they do transfer money and with the Ramirez money off the books, the Red Sox have plans. Replacing Ramirez with a 5-tool player the caliber of a Colorado's Matt Holliday and using leftover Manny money to bring in another quality starter like free agent to be Ben Sheets, the Red Sox have the ability to transition quickly.

I loved 8 years of Manny, from the home run trots to the ipod in the outfield, but one thing I love more is quality pitching and with the prospect of a Beckett, Dice-K, Jon Lester, and Ben Sheets staff, I can move on quickly. All you Ramirez lovers keep in mind the Sox didn't win a ring till Schill paired with Pedro and Beckett paired with Schill. Chicks dig the long ball, I dig the rings.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Keep It Real Friday: The Inaugural

LynchyRightNow.Com is proud to present to you, Keep It Real Fridays. This week's edition will be the inaugural edition and released every Friday, barring tornadoes, hurricanes, incarceration, or anything else that might prevent me from doing so.

First off I would like to tell you where I got the idea from, it's actually a good story. Last week, while listening to Patrick Crayton, wide receiver of the Dallas Cowboys, on an ESPN radio show, he revealed that each THURSDAY (we changed the day due to complications) the Cowboys lock themselves away and give all the players, coaches, and ex-wives (just kidding) time to KEEP IT REAL. Basically, they just sit in a room and let out all their frustrations with the team or anything else that is bothering them. I would like to mention that I'D LOVE TO BE IN THIS ROOM ANYDAY, ANYTIME. Romo talking about Jessica Simpson, T.O. (nuff said) and the rest of America's team airing it out for the whole team to KEEP IT REAL, that's priceless. Anyway, it got me to thinking, my life might be a whole lot calmer if I let everyone know, how to KEEP IT REAL!

Introducing: Keep it Real Friday

Josh Hamilton's story of non-performance enhancing drugs, alcoholism, and baseball isn't nearly the story of one Jon Lester. I don't want to beat a dead horse but come on, ask yourself who you'd want your kids to look up to?

Example A: Hamilton, used every drug known to mankind, ran himself out of pro baseball, hurt his fans, teammates, family, and more importantly, himself. He found Jesus, began to play baseball again and play well, elected to the all-star team, and let the world know that recovery is always a possibility.

Example B: Bright-eyed kid makes it to the majors, pitches in front of the greatest fan base in the world, watches his boyhood dreams come true. Shortly after that, he discovers discomfort in his back which turns out to be cancer. His dreams are ripped away from him and he is now just a kid looking at an unpreventable disease. Lester defeats cancer, pitches in the World Series, and then follows that up with his first career no-hitter, something some Hall of Famers never do.

Time to KEEP IT REAL folks, Hamilton has defeated personal demons that he chose and my hat goes off to that, some people never can. He's an inspiration to addicts and families of addicts everywhere; But Jon Lester defeated a disease in which 1 out of every 2 males can develop throughout their lives, yet he didn't choose that life, it chose him.

In Danny I trust, the 2008 NBA Champs lost out on the Corey Maggette sweepstakes, someone I would have loved to see in a C's jersey. Followed up by that was the prompt signing of James Posey by the Nawlins' Hornets. I'm upset that Posey didn't get a deal done with the Celtics, but coming off of a championship I've decided to KEEP IT REAL, and give Ainge a pass.

I liked Posey, but I didn't LOVE Posey. He has two championship rings and is slowly becoming the next John Salley or Robert Horry, guys who have more luck than skill. Posey is a good defensive player and can shoot from behind the arc, but how many guys who score seven points a game get monster respect financially? He's more talented than both Salley and Horry but let's look at who he played alongside:

Shaquille O'Neal - Future Hall of Famer
Dwayne Wade - Top 5 player in the league
Kevin Garnett - Future Hall of Famer
Paul Pierce - #34 Will be retired next to #33 and #6
Ray Allen - Top 10 shooter in NBA history

I wish him all the luck in Hornetville, it's a great fit for him. Playing with Chris Paul, Tyson Chandler, and David West easily gives the Hornets a chance to at least duplicate their 2007-2008 success. Like with Theo Epstein and Jerry Jones, until their wrong and banners aren't being raised, Danny gets a pass, I KEEP IT REAL.

FAVREgate has become an ESPN daily topic, it's the middle of the summer and too early to start talking Fall Classic. Forget about all the Ted Thompson v. Brett Favre talk, I'm taking this in a different direction, right toward the comments of Arizona Cardinals quarterback, Matt Leinart.

Leinart on FAVREgate: I'm paraphrasing " . . Just let Brett play somewhere, he is a legend, maybe the best (what?!?!?!) and if it's in Green Bay, Aaron's just got to know that and Brett should play"

Matt, stick to hanging out in the Hills with Nick Lachey. Several things piss me off about these remarks. For starters, I'm sure Matt Leinart is the guy to go to with this, because he's always had to sit behind a declining legend for three seasons and when he finally got his shot, it was again rumored he lose it, right? WRONG! Leinart who has underachieved and or been injured since being in the NFL never had to fight for his first start. What does Matt Leinart know about warming up benches for three years in frigid cold Green Bay, Wisconsin? He's played in sunny, hot, and dry Arizona and in Southern California at USC. I've decided to help out our friend Matt Leinart, this is what he should have said:

"I'm going to KEEP IT REAL, NO COMMENT!"

I'm not sure why Matt Leinart, who is completely removed from the situation, couldn't have responded like Aaron Rodgers, whose livelihood depends on the outcome. Rodgers respectfully gave props to Favre and then said, what happens next doesn't concern me entirely. Leinart, you have your own worries in AZ.

If a "Major" golf tournament happens and Tiger isn't playing, did it really happen? Sure, I guess. I know what your going to say "It's the British Open, it was around way before Tiger and it'll be around way after Tiger" ehhhhhhhh really? Even Sergio Garcia, the seventh ranked player in the world, had this to say after Tiger's non-participation in the 2008 Players Championship:

"I want to thank Tiger, for not being here . . "

Hey, at least the guy is honest. The winner of the 2008 British Open will be able to slide a feather in his cap for winning a major, but will he be happier about his play or happy that he didn't have to take on the greatest golfer of all time? When Tiger Woods isn't involved on Sundays the television ratings are down, the Sports Illustrated cover will go to a non-golfer, and you won't remember who won. That's the reality of the "Tiger Years" in professional golf. Maybe not an asterisk, but maybe a special Sergio-like shout out at the end is appropriate. Keep it REAL!

I wanted to rip Alex Rodriguez this week, I really did, but it feels like were piling on. After the controversial superstar exited Tuesday nights marathon Mid-Summer classic a few innings early, the A-Rod hawks were out in full force.

I've got to tell you the truth, I'm not surprised. New York Yankee Alex isn't the same Alex that moved to 3rd base and let Cal play short in his very last All-Star game in 2001. He just isn't the same guy, but do we really know what being Alex Rodriguez is like? None of us will make the type of income that Alex Rodriguez makes, we won't even sniff that kind of green. The loads of pressure it takes to play in New York City alone could crush a man. Listen, Alex didn't have the benefit of playing alongside Yankees like Paul O'Neil and Scott Brosius, he didn't have the benefit of capturing titles in his fist few major league seasons like Jeter did, he's a hired gun and he'll never be that true Yankee that people expect him to be.

You know what's real? Alex Rodriguez not standing on the dug out steps at 1:40 AM waiting to see who wins the All-Star game he participated in hours earlier. Kevin Youkilis and Derek Jeter are players who do that, that just isn't Alex. He's become something none of us will ever be able to, or maybe even want to.

Sure I'll eat my words at some point, but for right now, I'm KEEPING IT REAL!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

10 Homers of the All-Star Break

Major League Baseball may not be the most exciting of professional sports, but it celebrates better than any other. No lame dunk contests, no potential career threatening scrimmages (ask former Patriot RB, Robert Edwards, how he feels about beach football) and no skills competitions consisting of three Russians, whose names you can't pronounce. Just long balls, Hall of Famers, and home field advantage in the World Series. Welcome friends, to the homers of the 2008 MLB All-Star break:

10. The usual suspects, are at home. Sure Manny (12), Jeter (9), and A-Rod (12) have all been to quite a few, but active All-Stars, Griffey Jr. (13), Pudge Rodriguez (14), and of course Barry Lamar Bonds (14) are conspicuous by their absence. I'm not sure which commentator brought it to our attention but during the home run derby it was most noticeable. No past winners of the derby or 500 homer guys participated, and in doing so the passing of baseball's proverbial torch is occurring. Our sweet swinging, muscle bound, wall bangers are making their way out of the game and stepping into their shoes are the five-tool players with more versatility. Say hello to playes like Brewers OF, Ryan Braun and Indians OF, Grady Sizemore.

9. Before the booing, the Yanks fans were actually pretty solid. I'm not going to tell you I wouldn't be booing A-Rod if this game was at the Fens. I will tell you that booing every Sox All-Star (SEVEN OF THEM) including manager Terry Francona, was a bit much. From the rousing ovations for Yankee great, Yogi Berra, to Yankee architect, George Steinbrenner, the Bronx faithful knew who to pay respect to. What I was most impressed by was the chorus of cheers that rang through the ballpark as the embattled, Josh Hamilton, began his assault on the walls of what Yankee fans consider, THE ALTAR. As Hamilton approached every derby record the fans roared for him to continue, and when asked if he was disappointed he didn't win, Hamilton paid that respect back to the fans.

8. Could the MVP go to a losing player? I wouldn't have minded to see Astros SS, Miguel Tejada, get awarded the MVP. No disrespect to J.D. Drew, but it was Tejada's steal of second and subsequent run scored that put the N.L. ahead in the seventh inning. Not only was Tejada good at the plate, it was Tejada's defense that kept the N.L. alive when Aaron Cook loaded the bases and got out of the inning unscathed. We may not know how old he is, but he's still a pretty good player.

7. What a break for Justin Morneau - To everyones dismay, Justin Morneau went home with the silver bats after the home run derby. During the actual game it was Justin Morneau's slide into home plate in the bottom of the 15th that sent everyone home for the night. While Morneau wasn't the MVP of the ASG, he had an all-star break better than many do . .cough cough, Dan Uggla. The Twins slugger is a former American League MVP and I'd go so far as to say that 80% of people don't even remember that. Morneau is on pace for almost 30 homers and 136 RBI's, all the while hitting .330. If the Twinkies can survive the loss of Johan and make the playoffs, it'll be Morneau who is leading them.

6. Sorry Jon, the people want Mariano - Red Sox stopper, Jonathan Papelbon, may be second in the AL in saves but Mariano is the King of New York. After Papelbon commented that he and not the Yankees closer should recieve the ball from All-Star manager and Red Sox skipper, Terry Francona, if the game is in a save situation, Papelbon quickly backed off those statements. The New York papers and fans didn't forget Pap's earlier comments and made sure the boo birds came out. Yes it would have been nice for Mariano to get a win and or a save in Yankee Stadium, but the real robbery was that not Pap or Mariano should have recieved the ball. Angels closer and American League leader in saves, Francisco Rodriguez (38), is having a season to remember. Not only is Rodriguez dominating American League batters but he has allowed just 27 hits in over 42 innings pitched. Exit tradition and feel good stories, enter K-Rod. (and keep Madonna away from him)

5. 1:40 in the A.M.? Say what you will about the All-Star game winner being awarded home field in the World Series, but they wouldn't have been playing till 1:40 in the morning if it hadn't. After the Mid-Summer classic ended in a tie in 2002, the MLB instituted a reward for winning the game, a justification for continuing into the wee hours and saving people for close games. After A.L. skipper, Terry Francona, emptied the bullpen in the top half of the 15th, it was up to Rays pitcher, Scott Kazmir, to finish off the National League. Using every player during the game and ending in classic Yankee Stadium fashion, with a Michael Young sac fly and a scored run from Justin Morneau, not even the players still hanging around in the dug out could contest. You still say you don't want a reward for the winner?

4. Terry said he wouldn't sit in Girardi's desk, but the way he managed the All-Stars, I'm sure the Yanks were happy if he wanted to use the desk. From the moment Terry showed up in New York he pulled all the right moves. Respecting the game being bigger than him in a place way bigger than him. Terry Francona inserted Yankee captain, Derek Jeter, into his normal "2" slot, over Terry's favorite number two, Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Replaced both Jeter & A-Rod in the middle of innings allowing their fans to show them love in an appropriate fashion. Francona made sure to insert Mariano in the spot where he'd be able to win the game and finish it in front of those same fans that booed Francona upon announcement. Terry may just be the most important manager in the Majors, he's got more rings than any other Manager over the past eight seasons.

3. Who is this J.D. character, and what happened to the one we called Nancy Drew? J.D. didn't have the best 2007 regular season, but since the game 6 ALCS grand slam, J.D. Drew has been better than anticipated. After lifting the ball over the short porch at Yankee Stadium, amidst the boos of Yankee fans, J.D. Drew was the favorite for the All-Star game MVP. While that 2-run shot only tied the game, it was just another notch on the 2008 season. A season in which Drew is batting .302, has hit 17 home runs, and drove in 55 RBI'S. More importantly, carried the Sox lineup in the absence of slugger David Ortiz and the absent mindedness of Manny Ramirez.

2. Was that Yankee skipper, Joe Girardi, in the bullpen? YOU BET YOUR A** it was! While Yankee fans would have liked to see Girardi as the American League's manager, they'll have to wait till he reaches the World Series for that. Girardi was doing everything he could to help out his league, shown around the seventh inning, in the bullpen, with a mask on, warming up Mariano Rivera. The former Yankee catcher turned Joe Torrie replacement, put on his old catcher's mask grabbed his mitt and let the future Hall of Famer Rivera warm-up on him. One of the more remarkable things I've ever seen in an All-Star game, or any game for that matter. Hats off to Joe for doing anything he could.

1. J-O-S-H H-A-M-I-L-T-O-N - Kids, it's wrong to do drugs. I won't get into my beliefs on God or Josh's beliefs in God, but what he did on Monday night in the home run derby, was flat out amazing. In Hamilton's first full season with the Rangers he was elected as a starter for the American League all-star game. What a season this guy has had and were only half way through. Hamilton's 21 homers and 95 RBI's at the all-star break is a mere afterthought after watching his 28 home run performance in the first round of the Home Run Derby. He smashed long home runs, the crowd roared, and his teammates jumped around like little league kids. From Josh using his 71 year old legion ball coach as his BP pitcher to the 500 foot home runs, how could anyone watch that and not be impressed. No matter what happens in Josh Hamilton's life, he'll always remember that moment, the moment the entire nation watched him tear the cover off the ball.

Some people aren't baseball guys, some people don't care about the home run derby, but watching baseball celebrate hall of famers, play 15 innings for home field advantage, and conquer personal demons, well I'll watch that any day.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Maybe I'm Wrong, But . .

Brett Favre should stay retired. Between the Cowboys, Giants, Chargers, Patriots, Colts, and Jaguars, can Brett actually carry the Packers to a Super Bowl championship in 2009? I doubt it. I'll take this to the next step, I think Aaron Rodgers gives the Pack just as good of a chance to win. (If he goes 14-2, I'm going to look like a genius)

I'm a fan of Brett, I admire how he played the game and how long he played the game. Along with being a closer in baseball and point guard in basketball, quarterback is one of the most pressure packed positions in professional sports, if not THE most pressure packed position. With that being said, Brett did it just as good as anyone else and I've done more than tip my cap for that. Sadly, it ends at that. This "will I, won't I" game that Brett has played for the last several seasons is just getting obnoxious.

If you haven't guessed, I'm on Team Rodgers, if not for anything than to just give the guy a shot. Throw on your Wrangler jeans Brett, and hang up the spikes. For those who don't agree with me, (that means YOU, cheeseheads) I have some questions.

Do you know he's only won one ring? My cohorts who root for the Pats would also make the case that if not for Bill Parcells completely derailing his franchise during the week leading up to the Super Bowl, they would've beaten the Pack. Twelve years later the residents of Green Bay, Wisconsin don't clamor for another Super Bowl, all they want is to see #4 throwing timely interceptions. John Elway (2), Troy Aikman (3), and Joe Montana (4). It's hard for me to believe that all the Packer faithful ever wanted was one Super Bowl ring out of their legendary Brett Favre. I don't know about you but after twelve years of let downs, I'd want more.

Why would 25 to 50 year-old men get dressed up in their Packer gear, on a Sunday afternoon in July, to go "rally" outside the stadium in an attempt to sway the Packer management to what? Bring Favre back? We'll leave alone the absurdity it takes to believe that what your doing has influence and focus mainly on the absurdity of what your doing. I'll give you the benefit in saying their isn't much to do in Green Bay, but I won't give you this was the best option. Sleeping, having a Sunday dinner with your family, watching grass grow, watching paint dry, working, and cheering on the Brewers WOULD ALL BE INFINITELY BETTER IDEAS THAN STANDING OUTSIDE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SUMMER WEARING YOUR FAVRE JERSEYS AND WAVING FLAGS. I like a good tailgate party, I even like wearing jerseys no matter how old you are, but let's keep it to actual SPORTING EVENTS! Go home, cut your grass, have dinner with your family, and for crying out loud, take off the damn face paint.

What did you think would happen when Ted Thompson drafted Brian Brohm? This is the problem with Packer fans, you never thought Favre would go back down south, where he lives, and enjoy his retirement. The Packers drafted Brian Brohm as an insurance policy on Aaron Rodgers in the first round of the 2008 draft. Aaron Rodgers was THE GUY that Thompson first drafted as an insurance policy on an already aging Brett Favre in 2005. You think Thompson would have drafted a second insurance policy if Favre hadn't cried his eyes out about retiring? Let alone the fact that Thompson is committing major dollars as a GM to Brian Brohm and Aaron Rodgers as current and former first round draft picks. Don't blame Ted for not latching his wagon onto Brett Favre, here's a guy who was on his way to Brett's home to bring Brett out of retirement before Favre looked him in the eye and said, I can't. Were you the one who was going to get blamed if Favre was in retirement and Rodgers failed? No, you weren't. Ted went out and got the best available quarterback in the draft class, and if you know a thing or two about Brohm, he isn't the type to be unsuccessful.

Ryan Grant, remember him? Yea, Yea, don't tell me that ole' Favre was the only reason this Packer team went to the Conference Championship. If not for the monster second half of Ryan Grant, the Packers would have been at home alot sooner than they were. Almost 1,000 (956) yards rushing in just seven starts in the backfield, 8 rushing TD's, and 5.1 yards per carry. Short memory? Grant rushed for 201 yards on 27 attempts and scored 3 TD's in Green Bay's playoff victory over Seattle.

What ever happened to cheering for the jersey, not the name on the back of the jersey? When Jerry Jones refused to pay for the services of Emmitt Smith, the all-time leading rusher, and he became an Arizona Cardinal, Cowboys fans everywhere didn't become Cardinal fans. When Montana wore a Chiefs jersey did 49er fans gather up their merchandise and head to Kansas City? I'll keep going because it seems necessary, Jerry Rice on the Raiders, Namath on the Rams, or the shell of Nomar on the Dodgers (it's personal) I truly worry about Packer fans when Favre is wearing a another jersey come September.

Finally, I ask you, What about Aaron Rodgers are you so afraid of? Change is good. Good Luck Aaron, even if you don't win a ring in 2009, you'll do exactly what Favre has done each of the last 12 seasons, go home empty handed.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Live & Die in L.A.

After former Warrior, Baron Davis decided to come play in the Staples Center (with the red floor), it seemed that the Clippers were an Elton Brand re-up away from contending for a playoff spot. Even with the probable loss of free agent to-be Corey Maggette, the Clippers had drafted Indiana stud guard, Eric Gordon and were looking good. Unfortunately for the Clipper faithful, Elton decided Philly gave him a better chance to win and they opened up the check book to the tune of $82 million over five years.

So now what? Your an L.A. Clipper fan huh? You don't need me to tell you how this story ends. With Elton Brand jumping ship faster than Nike did when Michael Vick got caught with a pitbull's head in a vice, L.A.'s other team is back where they started, THE BOTTOM.

Don't fret however, I'm here to help you. As a diehard fan of a team that just had the greatest turn around in NBA history (never get sick of the Celtics references, never) I'm here to say the Clippers aren't those Celtics and holding on for hope that isn't there won't do you any good. Instead you've got to do what is best for you, jump ship and never look back.

There are 29 other NBA teams. Excluding the Hornets, (because you'll be looking like a bandwagon hopper) the Celtics (to many pirates on this ship), and the Milwaukee Bucks (an equally great lost cause) where should you Clip fans take your basketball fandom?

Group C: Future looks bright

Windy City and the Chicago Bulls. If you know anything about me, or what I've been writing, you know I love Derrick Rose. This number one pick overall could be running the city of Chicago in three years time. After doing some small adjustments the Bulls will be among the Eastern Conference elite and in the words of experts, they have huge upside. Despite questionable ownership, the Bulls remain hungry and haven't strayed far from that. Keep in mind your a current Clippers fan, that means Donald Sterling & Elgin Baylor, aside from Bush and Cheney, not many people can f*ck things up that bad. With the exception of Joakim Noah, I like the Bulls youth, Tyrus Thomas (22); Luol Deng(23) & Ben Gordon (25)who must have shown someone something because the Bulls opted not to dangle them for Kobe in the summer of 2007.

The first team to beat the Celtics in 2007, the Orlando Magic. I'm not sure if head coach, Stan Van Gundy, has received his championship ring from Pat Riley yet, but if he hasn't he should. The Magic have a championship coach and are being led by all-world center Dwight Howard. The 6-11 reigning dunk champion is the top center in the Eastern Conference and coached by Magic assistant and former Knick, Patrick Ewing. Since the days of Penny & Shaq the Magic have been consistently trying to get better. From putting big money into Grant Hill (before he broke down), and more recently Rashard Lewis to trading for Tracy McGrady, the Magic aim big. This current Magic team will be in the playoffs every year for the next ten years as long as Howard is playing center and stays healthy. As much as people fall in love with the pride of St. Joe's, Jameer Nelson, the Magic are a stud point guard away from the Eastern Conference finals.

As much as it pains me to see this franchise on the rise, the Philadelphia 76ers. Your not actually upset with Elton for jumping all the way to Philly right? Admit it, your upset you didn't get paid $82 Million to take your pom poms to the city of brotherly love. If you choose to ride with the Sixers, you got some faith. Philadelphia has replaced Boston as the city with the worst attitude and even worse luck. The Sixers, Flyers, Phillies, and Eagles have all failed in bringing a championship to this portion of PA over the past 25 years and they've all had their shot. These Sixers may not be the Philly franchise that has the ticker tape through their streets but they are looking better everyday. With veteran guard Andre Miller and swingman Andre Iguodala the Sixers were already able to take Detroit in the playoff opener. With the addition of 20-10 guy, Elton Brand, the Sixers may have the front court to beat some playoff teams in the East.

Group B: (Won't miss the playoffs, always contend)

The San Antonio Spurs, while I don't think they have another championship left in them, some would disagree. The Western Conference runners-up coughed up a few games in the Conference finals and just proved to be to old, to banged up, and to slow. The truth of the matter is, San Antonio is Tim Duncan. San Antonio has won four titles since the "Big Fundamental" has been a Spur and until he is retired, they'll be a contender. As a fan, it is never good to bank all of your cheering into one player, when he's gone your left with Toni Kukoc, just ask Bulls fans what happened after Jordan won his sixth.

One of the best teams in the NBA, in their building, the Utah Jazz. For a team that will forever be the SECOND most important franchise in their own home, the Clips haven't exactly had major home court advantage. However, the Utah Jazz epitomize the words home court advantage. It's UTAH for Christ sake, besides a visit from the Olympics every 100 years, what do these fans have to go nuts about? Aside from their 4 wives, Jazz fans love them some basketball. A great coach in Jerry Sloan AND a great young point guard in Deron Williams. From Malone & Stockton to Boozer & Williams, the Jazz have been in it for a while. With the exception of having to wear purple in your wardrobe, cheering for the Jazz doesn't have much downside.

The Purple & Gold, Los Angeles Lakers. Now before you ride me for thinking you would trade in your red seats for purple seats, just think about it logically. Your familiar with the building, both the Clips and Lakers play in the same Staples Center. No one would question your switch, Laker fans no what it's like to have a winner and they would hate to be in your shoes. More famous celebrities than the kid from 'Malcom in the Middle,' more banners to look at, and you can finally say you remember the days of Magic's no look passes. The Lake Show are always going to be a quality team, Kobe is a Laker for life and has about a 2-3 year window of still being the best player in the world. They have more money, they want to win more, and they are by far the smarter franchise in the Staples Center. All you have to do is be a rawkus no-it-all and you'll be a Laker fan. Come on, you mean tell me you've never thought about switching to the dark side?

Group A: (If I were leaving the Celts, I'd be on these yachts)

These teams aren't teams that I currently root for or currently even give a sh*t about, but as a fan I respect what they are trying to do and have done.

The Detroit Pistons, love em' or hate em', you've gotta respect em'. The Pistons have become an Eastern Conference Finals staple, reaching the destination each of the last six years. Despite the egg they laid in the 08' conference finals, several good things came out of it. With the emergence of Jason Maxiell & guard Rodney Stuckey the Pistons made several malcontents (cough, cough, that means you Rasheed) expendable. The promise from GM Joe Dumars that changes WILL BE MADE gives Pistons fans that four letter word that starts with H and ends with OPE. Joe D hasn't made many errors in the front office, except passing on Carmelo, which wouldn't even be tops on Clippers board of mistakes.

The Oklahoma City errrr JUST KIDDING, the Brooklyn Nets. The phrase, ALL EGGS IN ONE BASKET, comes to mind here. Cheering for the Nets has nothing to do with history, their coach, Jay-Z, Brook Lopez, or the amazing (insert sarcastic undertones) Yi Jianlian. It begins and ends with one word, two syllables; LEBRON. When the make room for Lebron project is complete the Nets will be littered with helpers that don't make more than your average pizza guy (if he were a second year NBA player). The Nets will be moving to Brooklyn, new building, new jerseys (lame pun) , and of course one GIANT GLOBAL ICON, Lebron James. Not bad team to cheer for and if you get your Nets season tickets now you can avoid paying out the nose for them come 2011.

Yes, I saved them for last for a reason. The Portland Trailblazers. Now hear me out, I know they haven't won anything in a LONG TIME, but like I said countless times before, your a current Clipper fan. The Trailblazers won't make you look like a bandwagon fan, that's for sure. They have a great young nucleus of LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy, Greg Oden, and rookie guard Jerryd Bayless. Roy came onto the scene fresh out of Washington throwing in 19 a night and 6 assists. This team is young, they draft well, and they have pieces to trade to bring in veteran players to help them out. I love the Trailblazers over the next few years, the oldest guy on their team is Joel Przybilla and he's not even 30 (excluding Raef Lafrentz because I try not to utter his name in fear he'll get dealt back to the Celts somehow.) Your a Clipper fan, you can still cheer for a Western Conference team, on your coast. Trade in your Clipper red for some Portland Trailblazer BLACK.


Atlanta Hawks: 2008 Eastern Conference first round action; I hate them
Charlotte Bobcats: Adam Morrison smokes cigarettes
Cleveland Cavaliers: Lebron to Brooklyn, Cavs to NBA purgatory
Dallas Mavericks: Cuban will be owning the Cubbies in a year or two
Denver Nuggets: They entertained trading Carmelo
Golden State Warriors: Good bye Baron, Hello ummmmmm, exactly.
Houston Rockets: Win Streak in the REGULAR SEASON, emphasis on regular.
Indiana Pacers: Even though he's retired, Can't stand Reggie
Memphis Grizzlies: Really? You need something extra for this one?
Minnesota Timberwolves: Kevin McHale meet Kevin Love, riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight
Miami Heat: Lose Riley, and I'm on board
New York Knicks: Spike Lee, Danilo, Starbury, want more?
Oklahoma City: Sorry Kevin Durant, really it's sad.
Phoenix Suns: Steve Kerr is on borrowed time already
Sacramento Kings: I thought the Maloofs moved them to Vegas?
Toronto Raptors: Canadian
Washington Wizards: Agent Zero, will get ZERO rings.

(I still haven't left the NBA, sorry.)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Wake Me When It Matters!

The Red Sox and Yanks just split a 4-game, Fourth of July, battle in the Bronx. A Saturday afternoon FOX broadcast, a Sunday night ESPN Game of the Week, and blah, blah, blah, blah, we've been there done that. If it sounds like I'm becoming disinterested, it's because I am.

The Red Sox are currently sitting 4 games back of the first place Tampa Bay Rays. David Ortiz is on the DL with an injured wrist, Manny Ramirez is beating up club house attendants, and Jason Varitek has been hitting .133 since the end of May (should I remind you he was just voted an All-Star?)

With the All-Star break approaching, the Yanks are 9 games out of first place. Johnny Damon just landed his turncoat a** on the DL, Wilson Betemit is pinch hitting in the clutch (career BA of .259), and former All-Star pitcher Chien-Ming Wang won't come back from injury till at least September.

This was supposed to be the weekend I wrapped my arms around Major League baseball and prayed for a great fall classic. Instead I just watched the Red Sox finish a 10-game road trip which they ended 3-7 (including a sweep by the Rays), and a Yankees team that has way to many flaws to be make a run at a 27th championship. Even an extra-inning dose of Yankees/Sox at the Stadium didn't get my blood going.

So how have I gotten to this point?

18, that is how many times the BoSox and Yanks play between the white lines. Major League baseball say hello to market saturation. Like Beanie Babies, Tickle Me Elmo, and Dane Cook , the Red Sox v. Yanks drama has become exhausting. When everyone watches something, listens to something, and talks about something, it dies quick. We've been subjected to the Red Sox v. Yankees nearly twenty times a season, every season, for years. If I miss a 4-game series because I'm watching Wimbledon (which was drastically more exciting) I can always catch another one in a month. If the regular season wasn't enough, I can usually bet on Yanks v. Sox postseason action, which is hyped up more than the Superbowl. 20 to 25 epic showdowns between baseballs two biggest and baddest fan bases are way to much, and like high school girlfriends, it doesn't keep your attention long.

The phoenix like rise of the Boston Celtics and the NBA. Like most Celtics fans, I'm finding it harder and harder to swing toward baseball. (lame pun, totally intended) The NBA just delivered a great regular season, even better playoffs, and an amazing finals, led by New England's own Boston Celtics. Hoops puts on a great show, from the tip-off to the final buzzer the game never stops, no walks, no stops to tighten gloves, and no pitch outs. After watching the likes of Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, and Kevin Garnett sprint down the court and throw down a thunderous athletic dunk, it becomes quite hard to watch 250-lb. Sidney Ponson warm up in the Yanks bullpen. Baseball, especially Sox v. Yanks, makes very little attempt to speed the game up. Dustin Pedroia is allowed to tighten his gloves, adjust his helmet, and scratch his a**, BETWEEN EVERY PITCH! When an NBA player rolls a ball to a ref, hangs on the rim to long, or spikes the ball in the air it results in a technical foul. MOVE THE GAME ALONG!

I can't say it enough, THE 55-13 TAMPA BAY RAYS. They've already attacked the Red Sox, literally, a bench clearing brawl in which the Rays threw sensibility and Coco Crisp out the window. They jawed and threw at the New York Yankees from jump street, starting in SPRING TRAINING! The traditional door mat of the American League East has finally decided to go out and win some games. They won't have as many All-Stars as the Sox and Yanks, but they flat out dominate at the home (33-10). The most shocking thing of this miracle Tampa Bay Rays story, it's July 8th, and the Rays have played 89 games and aren't looking to trade their young talent. When watching this past weekends Sox V. Yanks series, could we really be watching the battle of second place?

What goes on off the field, is more exciting than ON the field. A-Rod is getting a divorce, and from what we hear, it's because of Madonna. Madonna whose had more work done on her than the statue of David, is fooling around with every ones favorite whipping boy Alex Rodriguez. Manny Ramirez has decided that slapping around 60-year old club house attendants is a great thing to do in your contract year. Joe Girardi is holding private locker room meetings that will be forgotten quicker than that crazy girl on the first Apprentice (Omarosa). Are we really interested in what J.D. Drew's OBP has been since David Ortiz hit the DL? As hardcore of a baseball fan that I am, even I can't help but be seduced by the thought of Alex Rodriguez becoming a full fledged Kabalah member.

Gone are the days of the "no easy out" in Yankee pinstripes(insert joke about the skeleton of Jason Giambi), gone are the days of a pitchers duel for the ages (i.e. Clemens v. Pedro), and gone are chants of "Yankees Suck", which so thoughtfully rang through the grounds of Fenway Park just a short while back. The Brewers just traded for the reigning Cy Young, C.C. Sabathia. The lovable loser Cubs just completed a blockbuster to bring Danny Haren to the National League, so I ask again, please can you remind me when Sox v. Yanks matters?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Middle Child: MLB

The readers of LynchyRightNow.Com are calling me out: I've shown middle child-like neglect toward Major League Baseball. Yes, it's true, I'm a middle child and I should show better judgment than the rest of the sports world. Yet I ask you to cut me some slack. The Celtics just won the championship, Tiger won the U.S. Open on one leg, and a British tennis player actually flexed for the crowds of people eating strawberries and cream at Wimbledon (and then was promptly dismissed by the number two player in the world).

Sorry if the first place Rays take a back seat. Okay, I'll make it up to you, and like your parents after a divorce, I'll try and buy you with this article.

The ball clubs we give a crap about:

The Red Sox are putting along, currently sitting in the drivers seat for the Wild Card. Wait, what?!?!?! Yes, it's true. The World Champs have remained one of the top teams in baseball despite injuries to Beckett, Lowell, Ortiz, Dice-K, and a career ender from Schill. However, don't worry, they'll be there in October. I know it's a jinx, but I live in New England, and after three Super Bowls, two World Series, and a golden basketball (all since 2001) I'm that confident. Even after the sweep by the D-Rays in Tampa.

As for our pals in the Bronx, like I said back in April, until they are sitting home in September, I don't count them out. Sure they have a pitching staff as reliable as a ripped condom but they're still the New York Yankees. They still have two future Hall of Famers in the field, Jeter and A-Fraud; a future Hall of Famer in the bullpen, Mariano Rivera; a veteran team leader behind the dish, Jorge Posada; and a very young, exciting starter in Joba Chamberlain. Currently they sit 7 1/2 games back of the first place Rays with a 4-game set against the Red Sox this weekend in the Bronx. The Yanks would be a good bet to trade for a C.C. Sabathia-type starter and above all, were only half way through the season.

Meteor strikes Wrigley and the Cubs are forced to play all of their games on the road. That is the type of thing that happens to the Chicago Cubs and their legions of fans. While they are sitting atop the National League Central and widely considered as the National League's best, they are the lovable losers. The Cubs' 19-24 record while away from the friendly confines of Wrigley Field is anything but impressive. However, the Cubs don't lose at home (33-10... okay so they lost ten times) and like the Red Sox, D-Rays, and White Sox, which are all teams that spent significant time in first place. They dominate at home and shoot for .500 on the road. I like the Cubs to win the Central and then do what they normally do: disappoint. A wise man once said, "You are what you are. Lovable losers."

Fire your manager, go 7-8 since, and remain under .500 as one of the most underachieving group of players in the league. You got it, we're talking about the 41-43 New York Mets. How many teams could add one of the premier pitchers in the world and still remain in the basement? ONE! The Mets. I could continue to tell you how not even Johan Santana and a new skipper could right this ship, but when the Marlins and their $28, yes, $28 dollar payroll are 4 games ahead of you in the loss column. I'm not wasting any more time.

OPENLY OMITTING THE PHILLIES & ANGELS Any time I can take a dump on the Philadelphia faithful and the inventor of said Rally Monkey, I must. It's the 11Th commandment.

The sarcastic "good call" picks:

I'll give you the good before the bad. The Arizona Diamondbacks, my pre-season pick to win the World Series, are 85 games into the season and boast a 42-43 record as of July 3rd. Normally I'd be ashamed to tell you I picked them to win the Fall Classic, but if the playoffs started today this sub .500 ball club would be in. If you're scratching your head or your a**, chew on this one. First of all, while the Diamondbacks are playing a game below .500, the Dodgers are four games under par and only a game and a half out of first place in the awful National League West. The Diamondbacks' two aces, Haren and Webb, are a combined 20-8, which is why they will be in this thing all year long. When the playoffs come, you're marching out two of the National Leagues top 10 pitchers.

I should have known better than to fall for the Seattle Mariners. Everything from Seattle isn't flying so high these days. Starbucks is set to close 600 U.S. based stores, and the Sonics figured a move to Oklahoma was better for them. News to citizens of Seattle. Any time Oklahoma seems better and we're not talking about Big 12 football, is a bad sign. I couldn't (and should) have seen the Mariners and their worst record in the majors -- 33-51 -- coming right at me. But nope, I couldn't resist, and look what it got me. The doormat of the American League West, an embarrassment to all things Mariner, and constant ridicule from my readers. Great. King Felix has turned out 6-5, and former Oriole Erik Bedard is 5-4 with a 3.79 ERA. Not exactly what I was looking for from a potential playoff team. My bad.

The 2009 ESPY Winner; BEST TEAM

WELCOME TO THE TROP a.k.a. Tropicana Field. Normally this article would have included destroying the Tampa Bay Rays, however I think they are three weeks away from being ten games back. Troy Percival's injury will derail the season, and Carl Crawford will hopefully end up in prison. But they just swept the defending World Champs and are playing with more confidence than any ball club that has never had a winning season.

Scott Kazmir, the one guy from the team you know, is 7-3. Matt Garza is 7-4, and Andy Sonnanstine is 9-3. Something missing? Oh yea, James Shields is 6-5 with a team-leading 88 strikeouts. That kind of production from your top starters is nothing to sneeze at. With the Rays it isn't just the starters. Back end of the bullpen guys, like Troy Percival and J.P. Howell, have struck out a combined 77 batters in just 79 innings. Eight-year veteran and Astro castoff, Dan Wheeler, has an era of 1.82 after forty innings pitched.

Back to "The Trop," where the Rays are 33-13. The home of the Rays used to be the place where Sox fans went to relax and get away from the seats built for men the size of horse jockeys. Now it's a place of bandwagon baseball fans, the retired, people who missed the early bird special, and the home of rookie sensation, Evan Longoria. The Rays' third basemen, Longoria, has slammed 15 homers and knocked in 50 RBI's in just 80 games, on pace for a monster rookie year. Carl Crawford, Eric Hinske, and B.J. Upton all have more than 40 RBI's and are hitting better than .250.

I can't tell you that all the numbers in the world and six wins at home against the Red Sox convince me that the Rays have made up for years of horrible play. What I can tell you is that I'm on board with the Rays as a serious contender.

If the middle child in you baseball fans isn't satisfied, I'll be at the Wareham Gatemen Cape Cod League baseball game on Saturday night, and we've got a 4-game rivalry series with the Bombers in the Bronx this weekend. I'm getting there. Trust me.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Lebron to Brooklyn; No Sh*t

Monday afternoon while in New York City's Rockefeller Center doing publicity for the United States men's Olympic basketball team, Lebron James had this to say about the city that never sleeps:

"My favorite borough? Brooklyn. Brooklyn is definitely a great place here in New York City, and some of my best friends are from Brooklyn, so I stick up for them."

This is news? The basketball phenom is from Akron, Ohio and no disrespect to Akron but New York City boasts a population of over 8 million people. That is 8 million people to buy your jersey, tickets, and sneakers. About 7,500,000 more opportunities for King James in NYC than in Cleveland.

It isn't just New York City that is luring Lebron, specifically it's the soon to be Nets of Brooklyn. Spike Lee and the Knicks fans who are living in denial let me break it down for you. NO WAY WILL LEBRON BE WEARING ORANGE & BLUE, NOT IN 2010, NOT EVER and here's why:

1. Danilo Gallinari Sure the Italian rookie looks good in those you tube clips of him, but hasn't Lebron been there before? Anderson Varejao, Aleksander Pavlovic, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, the list goes on and on. I get it, these teams are looking for the next Dirk, the next league MVP, and more importantly, the next RUNNER-UP in the NBA Finals. Lebron has been that runner-up and has proven that he could take a team on his own, what he doesn't need is another stereotypical European big-man with "tons of upside." The Knicks own GM Donnie Walsh even states that he has never seen the Italian born star in person, yet he has worked him out. Cone dribbling, suicides, and one-on-one vs. air, that's worth a lottery pick, right? Before Lebron becomes the next Kevin Garnett (12 years in the can before a title) you've gotta get him someone whose A. not a European stereotype B. a legit scorer and C. not Delonte West.

2. While the Nets are dumping contracts (J.Kidd at $19 Mil and Richard Jefferson at $12 Mil) the Knickerbockers are on the hook for Zach Randolph's $13 million and Stephon Marbury's $19 million. Aside from major dollars dedicated to Vince Carter, the Nets are aligning themselves perfectly with the summer of 2010 (when Lebron becomes available to the highest bidding borough). With Carter and 28-year old small forward, Bobby Simmons, being the only two on the roster to make more than six million a year the Nets will have plenty of room to take on Lebron's ego oops I mean salary (slip of the tongue). As for the current residents of MSG, Quentin Richardson, Malik Rose, Randolph & Marbury, Jamal Crawford, Eddie Curry, and at least two former harassed employees are making over that six million a year mark. A business model the fellas at Enron would be proud of.

3. What Mr. Stern wants, Mr. Stern gets. Gone are the days where David wanted New York Knicks to be relevant, see Patrick Ewing draft. Last summer when the NBA wanted nothing more than to be OUT OF THE HEADLINES, following the Tim Donaghy scandal (if you were asleep, he was fixing games as a ref) there was one team who couldn't get away from bad press, the New York Knicks. Former Madison Square Garden employees were filing suit with the Knicks and accusing them of sexual harassment, that's what Stern was looking for. The Vito Corleone of the NBA doesn't exactly let things go, and what better way than to take a shot at the Knicks but to secure Lebron to the cross borough rival. Stern wanted a Lakers v. Celtics Finals, CHECK.

I'm all for Lebron to the Nets or Knicks, what better way to root against Lebron than while he's playing for a New York franchise. I only have one piece of advice for the all-world baller; stay off the microphone, I can't handle another rap performance like Shaq's.