Friday, July 31, 2009

Keep It Real: Oh Boy!

One Story, Right Now. Nothing gets better than this.

Let's get after it . . .

Big Papi, we have your back. What?!? You thought I was going to pile on like the rest of you frauds?!? I don't feel let down, no god damn way. I don't feel cheated, nope not a chance. I don't feel robbed, deceived, or however you'd like to put it, not at all. My hat goes off to all 245 regular season homeruns David Ortiz slugged in a Red Sox uniform. While I'm at it, Manny Ramirez deserves to be in The Hall. One step further, Bonds is the greatest hitter of all time and sorry Hank, Barry is the real Homerun King. To each and every last aging, crusty sports reporter (you know who you are) times up. On your newspapers, on your muddled opinions, on your turning a blind eye when things were going well, it's all over. The fans who read your columns and attend baseball games just don't care. We loved the homerun era and for all intents and purposes wished we had it back. No, you aren't going to convince us in 1,500 words that the joy we had during the fall of 2004 is tainted. I'm not going to let that happen. There is a reason why what your reading is changing the landscape. Maybe not my blog, but these type of blogs get one thing straight: What we care about, matters. You can write your columns tearing down our legends and building up your black & white television memories of Hank Aaron & Joe DiMaggio but you and I know it really doesn't matter. At the end of the day it's what the fans care about and we've decided to stand up and cheer our "black eyes" you've given us. To David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Lamar Bonds, take a bow. To you muttering old newspaper reporters, take a seat! KEEP IT REAL!

Episode 16: The DEADline

The 2009 MLB Trade Deadline is leaving us blank. We're back for a kickoff full length skypcast: Episode 16 of The RightNow Podcast The Pirates are in the midst of a firesale. Jays general manager, J.P. Ricciardi has dangeled Roy Halladay in front of every contender and came up no dice. The Phillies have gotten stronger, but how much stronger should they get? Yet of course we're talking David Ortiz and the '03 steroid "list."

Stay tuned for a late edition of Keep It Real Friday on LynchyRightNow

You can check out more from The RightNow Crew on Twitter.

Get after it . . .

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Pittsburgh PIRATED

I'd hate to be a fan of the Tornoto Blue Jays. Having to watch Roy Halladay be dangled in front of the division rival Red Sox like that, it has to hurt a little. I couldn't consciously be a fan of the New York Mets. Second highest payroll in baseball yet sitting ten and a half games back of the division lead? But being a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates, well I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

After losing five straight and seven of their last ten outings, the Pittsburgh Pirates front office gave up. Currently 15 games under .500 and firmly implanted in the cellar of the National League Central, the Pittsburgh Pirates have dismantled any shot at putting a competitive group of players on the field this season and for the coming season(s). The Steelers have captured two NFL Championships over the past four seasons. The Penguins not only played in two Stanley Cup Finals in back-to-back years, they won one this past June. The Pirates however, they've taken it upon themselves to be Pittsburgh's worst and they aren't looking to give that title up any time soon. Bank on it.

Playing pawn. With the Dodgers desperately needing an impact bat and the Red Sox desperately needing to part ways with super-slugger Manny Ramirez, the Pirates step in to get the deal done. Pittsburgh sends their all-star outfielder Jason Bay to the Red Sox and the Red Sox send the Dodgers the slugger they coveted, what did Pittsburgh get in return? A young outfielder the Red Sox didn't have that much faith in, judging by his .250 BA this season they were correct about Brandon Moss. Craig Hansen, the Red Sox first round blunder which had yet to pan out, oh and did I mention he's currently on the 60-day disabled list? Dodgers pitching prospect, Bryan Morris, who'd already been through Tommy John surgery prior to landing in Pittsburgh. If your a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates and you watched the 2008 postseason which featured the Red Sox & Dodgers in their respective League Championship Series you had to get angry, real angry. That deal probably doesn't get done if the Pirates don't step in, those teams may not have had the success which they did, and you still have Jason Bay in a contract year. Playing pawn isn't exactly where you want your team, in any way.

Straw that broke the camel's back. The Pirates send standout outfielder, Nate Mclouth to the Atlanta Braves. For the second straight season the Pirates send an uber talented outfielder to a contending team. Yet this time it's different. Shortstop Jack Wilson publically criticizes the organizations move. Wilson expresses that not only him but other teammates are overly upset at the dealing of Mclouth. Rightfully so, the Pirates are making no effort to improve their day to day roster yet continue to rebuild with young players and then trade them off for more young players without ever opening the checkbook. Only two months into the season and the Pirates move their best all around player. After Wilson's public jabs the Pirates fire back with this "they are professionals, we expect them to come out and play like that." Mclouth wasn't entering a contract year, Mclouth was already signed up at reasonable dollars. As for the Jack Wilson and others (just wait) the writing is on the wall. Your next.

Deadline, Flatline. Middle in-field out. Wednesday the Pittsburgh Pirates trade both middle infield all-stars Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez. First off, after contract negotiations for both middle infielders were stalled a week ago, the only thing we were waiting for is where they'd be headed. After two low-ball offers from the Pirates organization and watching what played out in the Mclouth trade, neither of these infielders were signing on. While the Sanchez deal to San Francisco gives the Pirates some good minor leaguers, isn't this repeating the past? Any time you lose a 3-time All-Star and former batting champion whose only 31 years old, the trade isn't on your side and that is what the Pirates have just done. As for Wilson? The Pirates had no intention on picking up his $8 million dollar option for the following season, as a Pirates fan you have to wonder why hanging on to your veterans who can still produce isn't an option.

Having your team gutted year after and year and watching your stars play for contenders has really got to be the form of fan hell that exists in fandom. At least Cleveland goes deep once every five or six seasons. In Pittsburgh, its a rebuilding project that has never been, rebuilt.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tip O' The Cap

More often than not the sports universe is filled to the brim with news that raises tempers. Should Pete Rose ever get a shot at The Hall? Does Mike Vick deserve redemption? Will the world move on without Brett Favre? Draw your lines in the sand and pick a side. That is exactly what we we are presented with all the time.

I'm not innocent, believe you me. I do the same thing as every other sports medium. Part of me holds something against Roger Clemens. Terrell Owens name gets me fired up, and I should have known better upon his arrival in Big D. However, from time to time we all need to be reigned in and read or view something positive. This is my attempt to pay tribute or bring to light some stories we've neglected recently in our ever yearning for controversy.

Tip O' The Cap to Jim Johnson Rest in peace Jim. The longtime Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator passed away today at the age of 68. When we think of the recent success of the Eagles many other names come to mind, Reid, McNabb, Dawkins, and or Westbrook. That is our mistake. Let us no longer make that mistake, the five appearances the Eagles made in the NFC Championship game from 2001-2009 are just as much Jim Johnson as anyone in that organization, if not more. Twenty-six (26) players on Jim Johnson's defense were sent to the Pro Bowl under his watch. The Eagles won five division titles in the NFL's toughest division, year in and year out. We really should be asking the Giants, 'Skins, and Cowboys about looking a Jim Johnson defense in the mouth. Brian Dawkins roaming the secondary. Hugh Douglas finding your blindside. Jeremiah Trotter staring over the middle. Sheldon Brown & Lito Shepperd putting fear in the the eyes of receivers and quarterbacks. Folks, that was a Jim Johnson defense. They are smarter and more dangerous than defenses we've seen in while. Under the radar was Jim Johnson, but today we give a Tip 'O The Cap to the legendary Eagles coordinator.

Tip O' The Cap to Mark Buehrle No one ever mentions the White Sox left hander alongside the likes of Halladay, Beckett, Lee and the rest of the American Leagues finest arms. How soon we forget. Mark Buehrle is a World Series Champion. Mark Buehrle has pitched a no-hitter. Mark Buehrle is amongst the elite pitchers which now boast a perfect game on their resume. Oh, and Tuesday night Buehrle set a major league record by continuing his perfect night and retiring the first 17 Minnesota Twins, giving him 45 straight batters shut down. No, we never mention Mark Buehrle come Cy Young season but if your a White Sox fan then you mention Mark Buehrle quite often. 8 of his 10 major league seasons, he's gone out and started 30+ games for the South Siders. During at least five seasons of his career Buehrle has gone out and won 16+ games including 19 in 2002, and he's well on his way to duplicating that. This 3x All-Star deserves to get some due and not just from our President (an avid Sox fan)Tip O' The Cap to the "quiet man" Mark Buehrle.


Tip O' The Cap to Kevin Durant Praised by Coach Krzyzewski for his play during a recent Team USA mini-camp, Kevin Durant seems determined to not let another Olympics go by without him wearing the Red, White, & Blue. Would anyone blame Durant for being upset with the direction of the team which drafted him #2 overall just two years ago? He goes from becoming the poster boy of Seattle to abruptly being relocated in the middle of nowhere in Oklahoma City. Durant doesn't complain. In his second season he averaged more points and rebounds than he had in his rookie of the year campaign the previous year. Kevin Durant is proving to have staying power. Durant isn't the #1 pick and uses that as fire to launch him to ROY. Durant wears a jersey that reads Thunder, and subsequently bursts onto the NBA scene in his second year. Durant doesn't make the Redeem Team last summer only to return a year later and do everything but pen his name into the newest Olympic Team. Coach K is sending a message to the world: If Kevin Durant is making this his NBA Championship, the world better come hard or don't come at all. Tip O' The Cap to you Mr. Durant, you earn it.

Now wasn't that more satisfying than 1,500 words on David Beckham being a massive tool? Good day.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Good Morning Folks,

Fans of LynchyRightNow & The RightNow Podcast, along with our newest episode (15) discussing everything from Erin Andrews and the trails and tribulations of Michael Vick, we've got some breaking news:

Starting in two weeks The RightNow Podcast will be able to field live calls from the listeners via Skype. As always you can catch us on Twitter and download our podcasts for your iPod on iTunes, search The RightNow Podcast.

One more house cleaning item. Co-Host of the RightNow Podcast, Joe Roche, who also writes for 411Mania as their boxing columnist recently sat down with 2x Heavyweight Champion of the World & Massachusetts native son, John Ruiz. You can catch the complete interview @ John Ruiz Interview.

As Always, Thank You.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Vick Watch Begins

Yes, I'm clamoring for the comeback. Happy now?!? December 31st, 2006 was the last time we saw embattled star, Michael Vick, play quarterback in the NFL. On Monday, the former top pick in the NFL draft was released from prison after a 23-month sentence on federal dog fighting charges. Before NFL teams begin to have internal discussions, (if they haven't already), regarding the future of Michael Vick in the National Football League, the decision looms over the head of it's most notorious no-nonsense commissioner, Roger Goodell. Whether Goodell decides to grant Vick a second chance or not, I've decided to throw my three cents into the ring. Hell, If the NFL won't take him maybe even I'll start up a future defunct football league in the coming years.

Cent 1: The Falcons are just fine. Of course you've heard us wax poetic about the Matt Ryan era in the A-T-L. But if you haven't . . . the former Boston College quarterback made Falcons fans forget Mike Vick faster than we ever thought. Hey, I felt bad for Arthur Blank as well. However, Mr. Blank delivered a game plan to bring the Falcons back and implemented it to perfection. Bring in a Patriot, former New England Director of College Scouting Thomas Dimitroff to run your franchise. Hire all-business Jaguar defensive coordinator, Mike Smith. Follow it up with Charger 2-back turned Falcon All-Pro Michael Turner. FRANCHISE MOVE: Following those moves with drafting the most pro-ready quarterback since Carson Palmer, the one they refer to as ICE, Matt Ryan. A near instant hit in the NFL, Ryan earned offensive ROY honors in 2009, oh and the Falcons reached the first round of the playoffs on a wild card bid. Ryan isn't a flash in the pan quarterback, nope. Matt Ryan is just what the doctor ordered in Atlanta. A pro-bowl style quarterback who knows one thing, football. At the end of all this, name a team who came out looking better than Atlanta? Exton, PA in the house. No matter what Michael Vick put them through, this team actually came out better. Maybe it isn't no harm no foul, but it's close enough.

Cent 2: He's got a thrill or two left in him. What? Your going to disagree? Has anyone been watching the offseason? The Vikings are planning on a Tavaris Jackson/Brett Favre mixture. David Garrard and Jason Campbell? Please. Possible Super Bowl contenders are looking toward QB's like this? Kill some dogs and your anthrax? Goodell isn't putting this guy in play yet, give him three months of top training and you don't think he'll remember what it's like on Sunday afternoons? The guy won at Lambeau for Christ sake, did you forget that? Recall how the Dolphins beat New England in 2008? Recall Pat White getting drafted? Michael Vick is those things 5x over. Four of Vick's six professional seasons he rushed for well over 500 yards. One doesn't do that with luck, they do that with talent. You tell me the '09 story that'd be bigger than Mike Vick sprinting down the sideline with time remaining in the NFL? As the teams faithful rally around him, Michael Vick would be up to some of his old tricks. Hey, start clamoring for it and we'll get to see it.

Cent 3: 5-10, That's all the quarterbacks we've got.Tom Brady. Eli & Peyton. Big Ben & Joe Flacco. Phil Rivers & what is left of Carson Palmer. Drew Brees, McNabb, Romo, & Matt Ryan. That's it. You can run off some names of guys who've stayed relevant, but I'm not buying it. Not one of these quarterbacks is injury free, see 2008 Tom Brady. Mike Vick can play backup, Eagles fans, Patriot fans, Cowboy fans, and Steeler fans would all embrace this guy, just ask 'em. There isn't enough quality talents in the NFL for all of them to be overlooked, but as the play of quarterbacks decline we've got to ask who is in the waiting. The rookies like Mark Sanchez and Matthew Stafford, ask yourself whose more ready? The more days that go by the more dangerous potential Vick suitors get. He'll be able to play, just like Lenon when he left the Bettles, he'll always want in and he can show it.

As Mike Vick returns from prison I've got just two messages I'd like to relay to the former NFL Stars fans. This was for me, anyone who misinteprets that, find a new job. Michael Vick did something terrible, but he's allowed to walk among us, believe that.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Keep It Real Friday Is Back!

After a several week layoff, Keep It Real Friday is back. Like Tom Watson ripping up Turnberry or Lance back in Le' Tour, we're exploding on all things which need to be kept in check. (If your more the visual type, check out this week's installment of The RightNow Podcast also available on iTunes.)

First Up.

How'd this get buried? Former Connecticut basketball star and current WNBA star Diana Taurasi suspended two games for a DUI charge earlier this month. Taurasi is the WNBA's leading scorer and somehow this story gets buried under the following; David Beckham back in the MLS, Bartolo Colon's rehab start, and Ryan Howard fastest to 200 career homeruns. Let me be the first to remind everyone that former Cleveland Browns receiver Donte' Stallworth killed somebody just months ago while driving under the influence. Allow me to remind you that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has suspended Stallworth indefinitely and was quoted as saying "Stallworth's actions have caused irreparable harm." Now I'm a Diana Taurasi fan, she's fantastic and by her play on the court proves that isn't an opinion it's fact. However, why is it that this story is for all intents and purposes buried under meaningless others? Taurasi is pretty much the Chris Paul of the WNBA and can you imagine the backlash that CP3 would suffer if in similar circumstances? You know the outcome when anyone drinks and drives but for Diana Taurasi it should be a more than two games and should be running on The Bottom Line as we speak. As I've said before, why is it that professional athletes with money for a driver choose to get behind the wheel? One would think after Stallworth, they'd take a break. Let's lambaste Taurasi with the same venom we had for Stallworth, only difference is, Diana didn't kill anyone, thank god! KEEP IT REAL!

The Philadelphia Phillies add 37-year old pitcher Pedro Martinez. In other news, I got a full seven hours of sleep last night. It amazes me how The World Wide Leader covers the Pedro signing as if it were Jesus himself signing with the Phillies. In Citizens Bank Park, (where the Phils play) Martinez has an earned run average north of six while opponents are hitting .286 against him in two starts. Less these next two months are being played in the Dominican Republic against minor league hitters, be nervous Philadelphia. With a combined 4.61 earned run average the Phillies staff sits just above the Padres & Nationals, and that's it. I understand your still in the Roy Halladay sweepstakes but where are your priorities? We don't need Petey to tell us that he isn't 26 and he doesn't pitch like he is 26, we know that. Did he forget? We watched the 17-15 record over the last three seasons in New York. We know that your last season in Boston and first in The Big Apple were the end of it. 434 innings and 64 starts in 2004 & 2005 combined? Yes that was totally going to work out for a guy who weighs under 200 lbs. and is built like a lamp. Congrats Phillies fans, you have a bottom of the rotation guy who is undoubtedly going to be injured by October 1st. Keep It Real!

Moratorium on asking Florida Gators coach Urban Meyer if he'd like to coach the Fighting Irish someday. Meyer has been in The Sunshine State significantly fewer years than Bobby Bowden, and they have the same number of National Championships. That laid back coach in Southern California? Yep, Meyer has just as many trophies on his wall as Pete Carroll. Hahahahaha, and you think he's headed to South Bend? Crazy Irish fan, you have a better shot at Knute Rockne coming back to life and coaching the golden domers. Why would he leave a program which can recruit from every state in the country and get top athletes while playing in footballs best conference? Why would Urban Meyer give up the SEC to play the likes of Army & Navy? Sure Notre Dame has some bells & whistles but what coach watches what Charlie Weis puts up with and says "sign me up." I'll tell you which coach, none. The only guys Notre Dame will bring in are guys who haven't experienced a National Title at the their current school and guys who have thick skin. Urban Meyer is better off in Florida. What was the over under on Irish Fans who actually thought they'd be able to lure Urban, please. I'm going to go with all of them, is all of them an answer? They're delusional.KEEP IT REAL!


Of course they'd cheer for Manny. Why would Dodger fans boo Manny Ramirez? When Ramirez began his steroid suspension they boasted the best record in baseball. When Manny came back, they still had the best record in baseball. No harm, no foul right? There isn't a city in baseball that would have boo'ed their steroid using cleanup hitter coming off a suspension. Chicago, New York, St. Louis, and Boston, all their fans would have done the same thing and it's the truth. Two years ago the Dodgers were just an average team with Joe Torre in the dugout, now? Now the Dodgers put one of the greatest hitters of the past twenty years in their lineup and he tears it up, and you thought they'd boo for that? Steroids are a non-issue to fans at this point. When he gets boo'ed in other cities that's because they just want to boo the other team, if he had their jersey on the reaction would be the same as in L.A. bank on it. Ramirez is never going to acknowledge what he's done, he'll never come out and say the words Performance Enhancing Drugs so in his case, this is over. As his paychecks resume and he continues to mash in Chavez Ravine, they'll be on his side. The Juan Pierre era in Mannywood is over and the Dodgers can get back to being explosive. You really thought they weren't going to give Ramirez an overwhelming comeback? Only 40-70 year old sports writers care about steroids at this point, KEEP IT REAL!

Another edition of Keep It Real Friday in the books . . . . ah, now I can get off my soapbox!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

3 Up, 3 Down

This isn't your normal All-Star recap. This time it counts. We're breaking it down in "3 Up & 3 Down" fashion. What (3) things about the '09 ASG left us wanting more and which (3) things could be changed.

Let's get after it . . .

1. President Obama wearing a White Sox jacket, priceless. The commander & chief didn't throw on a Pujols jersey, he didn't dig deep for the throwback Gibson, nope. This President from the Chicago's south side showed up in St. Louis wearing his very own Chicago White Sox jacket. I loved it. He could have worn a sport coat and pants, he could have worn a jacket with a big MLB logo on the front, and he could have turned around and high tailed it out of St. Louis right after the pitch hit Albert's glove. However, this president doesn't do that. This President lets everyone know who his favorite team is. This President knew about Prince Fielder doing work the night before. This President knew that Derek Jeter was the one of the longest tenured All-Stars in the clubhouse. This President stuck around and yucked it up with Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. So yes, I couldn't be more excited about President Obama wearing his team colors and throwing out the first pitch in the 2009 MLB All-Star game. Now all he's got to do is fix this economy.

2. Crawford's snag, wow! You have to love that a Tampa Bay Ray was bailing out Red Sox closer, Jonathan Papelbon. Not only did Rays outfielder Carl Crawford make one of the most amazing catches I've ever seen, he made a game-saving/game winning catch. After Jonathan Papelbon left one hanging and Carl Crawford tracked down and leaped the wall to steal a home run we're left thinking one thing. M-V-P. Don't think I'll leave it alone. This may be the page turner on the steroid era, this may actually be the final sign that it's close to over. Carl Crawford stealing a homerun away in a 4-3 American League v. National League pitchers duel. No homers hit, runs scored based on quality baserunning by Derek Jeter & Curtis Granderson, a sacrifice fly and a great catch give us home field advantage in the Fall Classic? Carl Crawford wins the MVP for a defensive play and we can turn the page on All-Star Weekends that include 8 homerun hitters who look like the incredible hulk and hit like a Ted Williams/Babe Ruth clone.

3. St. Louis was perfect. Why not St. Louis every five seasons? It amazed me that last night was the 1st time since 1966 that the Mid-Summers Classic took place in the heartland. The fans should get a collective pat on the back, aside from that Ted Lilly taunt they were outstanding and obviously can't get enough of Albert Pujols. Bringing out the likes of Bob Gibson, Ozzie Smith, and Stan Musial among others, gave you the same feeling as Teddy Ballgame at Fenway in 1999. St. Louis is a baseball town, just like Boston, Chicago, and New York, they've proved it. The St. Louis Arch in the backdrop of the stadium, good. A cast of diehard Cardinal waving fans all draped in red, better. Country star Sara Evans bringing in the seventh inning with God Bless America, great! Before we go around to every brand new ballpark and give cities like Toronto, San Diego, and Arlington an All-Star event, let's head back to Missouri and give St. Louis another turn, trust me they earned it.

I'm not trying to be cynical but the '09 ASG wasn't all aces. Lincecum & Halladay didn't exactly tear it up. The Canadian national anthem got dogged and that isn't the worst of it.

3. Introductions, applause, anthem, play ball. Get to it already. The All-Star game isn't the Olympics, let's stop treating it like it is. A near hour long pre-game ceremony is entirely unnecessary. I like baseballs efforts to include "heroes among us" but shouldn't we be dedicating a whole special to them rather than rushing it together for a game opener? Recognize every All-Star on the national stage for their first half performance. Veterans who are in their first all-star game, the home town players, as well as future hall of fame coaches and players. Let the crowd applaud for both the players they voted in and recognize some greats who played for their franchise in the past I.E. Stan "The Man" & Ted Williams. Pick a good looking grammy award winning female artist (spade a spade, guys are watching this) have her belt out the song we all have grown accustomed to listening to before sporting events. Bring out the president or someone famous to the city to throw out the first pitch. Let a make-a-wish kid yell "Play Ball" and get the game going. Hats off to the heroes among us, but we can find a bigger and better stage.

2. No love for the knuckler. Look, I know one could call me a bit of a homer, and I know I've been all over TIM WAKEFIELD and his career before. But I wanted to see the guy pitch. This isn't all Joe Maddon's fault. Imagine if Wake comes in and gives up 3-runs, the Rays make the World Series and don't get home field, would Maddon be okay with his decision then? I hope there is some backlash though, the Red Sox lighting up Tampa, Wakefield shutting them down once or twice, this isn't an issue for the media or baseball fans, this is a job for the Sox. How hardcore is Joe Maddon about winning this game though? Terry Francona managed this game twice, both times he attempted to get everyone on the field, and the A.L. won both times. Maddon? Well he let Wakefield know that he wouldn't be in the game unless it went extras. I'm not saying the Sox are so good they'll dominate the league come postseason and October but if Francona can get Wake a start in the postseason, I'm sure he'd have no problem with not playing in the All-Star game. Still, I would have liked to see the 17-year veteran get some PT.

1. Justin Upton & Heath Bell determine home field, in a series they won't sniff. Curtis Granderson is very good, he's fast and extremely talented but could Diamondbacks outfielder, Justin Upton, have played that 8th inning triple any worse? Here's a player who is having a pretty good season (.301 BA, 16 HR, and 51 RBI) but he's on a team which is eighteen and half games out of first place. How are the Dodgers going to feel when they are the ones playing at Fenway Park in October because the team who finished 30 games out of first place had players who couldn't get it done? Want more? Heath Bell is on this All-Star squad strictly because we require a player from every team in this game. I'm sorry for Padre fans that your team is already 20 games out and you've got three months left to watch but give me a break. If this game is going to matter for something that will only benefit 8 or 9 teams at the most, then their players should be the ones on the big stage. I don't care that Heath Bell is great to fantasy geeks, to the Cardinals, Phillies, and Dodgers, he's just the guy who gave up the run that cost them a shot at home field advantage.

Play Ball . . .

Monday, July 13, 2009

Halfway There

We're at the halfway point of the 2009 major league baseball season and what has this season told us thus far? Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield is an All-Star after a 17-year major league career. The Kansas City Royals showcase the American League's top starter of the first half. Oh, and Albert Pujols has been, well he's been Albert Pujols (32 HR, .337 BA, & 87 RBI). As much as things surprise us, some things stay the same.

Josh Beckett will win the American League Cy Young. I agree it may have only been the Kansas City Royals, but Sunday afternoon Josh Beckett attacked the Royals lineup to the tune of a 94-pitch shutout. For the second time in 23 days Beckett has kept his pitch count under 100 and shut down opposing hitters allowing no more than five hits and zero runs allowed. A night after the Red Sox used 5 of their bullpen horses to dispatch the Royals, Beckett gives everyone a day off. The Red Sox ace is 6-0 this season when pitching the night after a loss. On the eve which Beckett records his 100th career win one thing has become increasingly clear; Josh Beckett is having a season, and it's a great one. The American Leagues leader in wins has really turned it on as of late. Since June 3rd, Beckett has a 1.65 earned run average over eight starts. Five of those eight starts Beckett has managed to not allow even 1 earned run. The quiet leader of the Boston Red Sox pitching staff will more than likely lead his team to a playoff birth and what should result in his winning a Cy Young award as he records 20+ wins. (For you Roy Halladay fans, he'll be playing in Philadelphia and for you Zack Greinke, everyone comes down to earth at some point.)

The aforementioned Albert Pujols should contend for the Triple Crown. Look, no one has captured the elusive Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. In everyones defense, leading your league in runs batted in, homers, and batting average for an entire season isn't exactly easy. However, after watching Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols tear up the first half of this season, it's possible "this is the year." For a few years now we've known that Albert is the slugger among sluggers, he's the games most dominant and feared hitter, and if he was playing on either coast he would be bigger than Tom Brady. Well this season with 32 homers (8 more than everyone), 87 RBI (9 more than everyone), and hitting .332 (only .017 behind the leader), Albert Pujols is on the cusp and getting closer. For Pujols his biggest obstacle will that batting title. On one side you have him competing against essentially the National Leagues best young hitter in Florida's Hanley Ramirez. On the other the majority of his remaining games will be against fellow National League Central teams, none of which possess the likes of Dan Haren, Tim Lincecum, Johan Santana, or Chad Billingsley. If Albert is looking to continue his onslaught it won't be against the best the N.L. has to offer. Call his homerun total and runs driven in Kentucky and Pimlico, the real test comes at Belmont or in Albert's case, batting average. No question Albert Pujols should contend for a Triple Crown, the first in nearly 42 seasons.

Giants starter & '08 N.L. Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum is that good. He's only twenty-five, isn't over six feet tall, and weighs just under 180 pounds but Tim Lincecum is possibly the best pitcher in major league baseball that you haven't heard about. Okay, so fantasy geeks and baseball "guys" know of Lincecum but to the masses Tim Lincecum is just a long-haired kid playing ball for the San Francisco Giants. The Giants righty and his awkward delivery have stiffled National League hitters all season long. At 10-2 with an earned run average south of 2.40 is on a tear in 2009. With 149 K's, Tim Lincecum has recorded 13 more strikeouts than any other pitcher in the National League. In the top three in strikeouts, wins, and lowest earned run average it's hard to avoid discussing the name Tim Lincecum when we talk about best pitcher in the majors right now. While Diamondbacks starter Dan Haren has an earned run average better than Lincecum's, Lincecum has 20 more strikeouts than Haren. For every starter, Santana, Billingsley, or Josh Johnson, Tim Lincecum beats them and his 10 wins would be even more if not starting for the Giants and their anemic offense (just 62 homers, 14th in the N.L.). The pitcher who is averaging 10 k's per nine innings pitched is the N.L.'s best, when Lincecum gets the ball for Tuesday's All-Star game start, take a look at the games best pitcher and watch as he slices through the American League lineup.

Here come the Los Angeles Angels. As much as I want to discredit Mike Scioscia and the Angels, it's nearly impossible. The tragedy surrounding Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart, the surprise play of the division rival Rangers, the endless list of injuries this ballclub has suffered, and what do you know, the Angels are sitting atop the American League West like nothing ever happened. Sweeping the Yanks as they head into the break the L.A. Angels are showing the entire American League that they can't be counted out, no matter who is on the mend. Three things that stay the same with the Angels every season: (1) That whole manufacturing runs things, seems to work out. Excluding American League East powers, in runs scored the L.A. Angels are second to none. (2) They do more than just slug, they hit for average. The Angels hit a collective .284, which is better than anyone in baseball. (3) They don't shoot themselves in the foot, top five team in fewest errors committed. Now just imagine what would happen if they could just stay healthy? The Rangers are "cute" but the Angels are good.

The New York Mets are baseball's biggest disappointment: Fact. Nearly $136,000,000 in payroll, arguably the most talented collection of players, and somehow the Mets can't get out of their own way. Sitting 6.5 games back of first place in the National League East and 3 games under .500, you've got to be asking yourself one question; What the h@#*?!?!?! For starters, a -33 run differential doesn't help your case. A collective earned run average that places you 18th in all of baseball won't get you far. Finally, going 5-11 from June 26th till yesterday isn't exactly improving your situation. The Mets are a mess plain and simple. General Manager Omar Minaya has been a disaster and deserves to suffer the same fat has his team, o-u-t. After two of the worst September disasters in baseball history each of the last two seasons some people are willing to say they are due; cough, cough, Sports Illustrated. I wasn't that nice, the Phillies, Marlins, and Braves all are better constructed. The Mets are about as dissappointing as it gets and I dare you to tell me different. In a sentence: When 40-year old Gary Sheffield is leading your team in long balls (10), something has to change.

Sidenote: Is the Home Run Derby like the NHL, it's probably better in person and doesn't translate to television. However, not even HD is getting me excited about this thing. (Watching Brandon Inge throw up a donut doesn't help.)

So that's what you can expect from the second half, if the Yanks & Sox heat this thing up we could throw in the defending American League champion Rays and make this real interesting. Until Friday, don't PLAY BALL!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

On The Market

Stunner. Of course the '09 Blue Jays who jumped out with an early lead in the American League East weren't for real. When Toronto dropped 9-straight in late May including being swept by division rivals Baltimore and Boston, the writing was on the wall. It took a month and a half for general manager J.P. Ricciardi to come out and say it: UNNNNCCCCLLLLEE.

For Blue Jays fans, all seventeen of you, what's it like to have 70+ plus games remaining in the regular season and have your upper management announce their folding this one in? For Vernon Wells, Alex Rios, and Aaron Hill, your in this one for a while, watching the best pitcher in baseball head to the U.S. isn't exactly encouraging. However, for the rest of major league baseball get out your prospects and package 'em up because a pitcher like Doc Halladay only comes around once in a Blue Jay moon. The rumours are running wild and I've decided to give J.P. some amateur advice.

Let's get after it . . .

To the Sox, and not those white ones. The Red Sox are known for having one of the best minor league machines in all of baseball. A minor-league system that has produced such talents as Jon Lester, Jonathan Papelbon, and the reigning A.L. MVP Dustin Pedroia. It's no secret that Boston could offer Ricciardi & Co. the top package for Doc's services. G.M. Theo Epstein could float prospects like Clay Buchholz, whose already thrown a major league no-hitter, and closer of the future Daniel Bard whose 100 mph heat entices everyone. Halladay would join a staff that is already loaded with talent from ace Josh Beckett to fellow All-Star Tim Wakefield in the midst of one of his best seasons. Lefty Jon Lester and any combination John Smoltz, Brad Penny, and Daisuke Matsuzaka would round out the toughest staff the postseason has seen in twenty years. The Red Sox could afford to extend Halladay after his 2010 season which would be the final on his current contract. With that said, does Toronto really want to see Halladay multiple times a season? Do their fans want to see Halladay celebrate multiple postseason wins? Bottom Line: The Red Sox would be willing to talk but they've got to feel they have bigger needs and holding onto their prospects has seemed to work out for them in the past. The Jays & Sox flirt, but won't go to bed together.

To the Mets. Yes, paired with Johan Santana and pitching in the National League East, Roy Halladay would storm the Big Apple with force. Yes, the Blue Jays wouldn't lose Halladay in free agency without getting something for him in the process and they wouldn't have to be reminded of what they couldn't afford every season. Finally, the Mets would underpay for an ace for the second straight time. But no, none of that will happen. The New York Mets are a mess on the field and their minor league system doesn't seem to produce much more. When other division rivals who will not be named get into the picture, the Mets are sure to be blown out of the sweepstakes. If Toronto is looking to deal Halladay soon, they've got multiple opportunities and multiple teams that would love his services. Bottom Line: So for Mets fans, sorry but a second place finish in the National League East is about all your good for. Oh, and killing the prime of Johan's career. Good Day.

Fine, To the Yanks. Funny thing happens in New York. You don't pull the trigger when you should have (Kennedy & Hughes for Santana) and when your ready to pull it, Joba and Phil Hughes aren't enough. As in the Red Sox case, a combination of Roy Halladay and C.C. Sabathia would be something to watch. Sabathia could slide into a #2 role, get out of the spotlight and back to pitching great and Roy Halladay could be the ace he's always been. A pitcher who seems to be able to handle everything and handle it with ease. The Jays would have the same problems they'd have sending him to Boston, watching him pitch in pinstripes wouldn't be get any easier. Joba Chamberlain could slide into a closer role in Toronto and they could put him back in the rotation, Phil Hughes would probably become a better pitcher with less on him in Canada but is that all you can get for Roy Halladay, a lock for 15-20 wins a season on a bad club as well. Bottom Line:If the Sox can offer up guys like Buchholz and Bard, as they say in New York, forgettaboutit.

To the Dodgers Do they really need him? You could see the Dodgers giving a call to Toronto, why wouldn't they? With Halladay the Dodgers would be as much of a lock for making the World Series as anyone. Bringing Halladay to Hollywood and paring him with Billingsley would put the Dodgers in the mix with almost every American League team as well. However, the Dodgers are going to coast to the National League West championship and they've seemed to be able to handle teams like New York and Philadelphia, both teams they may see in the postseason. It'd cost the Dodgers most likely a major league talent like 21-year old lefty, Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw makes just $400,000 this season and has shown flashes of brilliance in his young career. The Jays acquiring a talent ready to pitch in the majors today would go a long way in easing their fans who would be forced to watch Roy Halladay on another team. Bottom Line: As I said in the beginning, do they really need him? The Dodgers are winning the West and once Manny turns it on, I find it hard to believe any team in the N.L. is playing as well as L.A.

The defending champs, to the Phils. The Phillies would no doubt be giving the Blue Jays top infield prospect Jason Donald and if in a pinch as the Red Sox drive up the price on Halladay, possibly even top pitching prospect Kyle Drabek. Compaired to the likes of Tom Seaver and Bartolo Colon, Kyle Drabek would be enough to make J.P. Ricciardi look like a genious at the end of the day and also save face with the fans. If the Toronto Blue Jays could make the Phillies feel like they have Halladay for an unproven prospect if they want it, then the Phillies may be forced to move their hand. Roy Halladay puts the Phillies above any National League opponent. Halladay strikes out guys and gets them to ground out, two musts in Citizens Bank Ballpark. Halladay is a better pitcher than C.C. Sabathia and we saw what C.C. did in half a season in the N.L. last year. Roy Halladay would give the Phillies the best chance at a repeat and the ultimate pitcher to pitch against possibly the Yanks or Sox, teams they could meet in October. Bottom Line: The Phillies should go get this done, sign him to an extension and keep the Mets and Dodgers at bay. Halladay is a front runner, and so are the Phils.

As a Red Sox fan seeing a pitcher like Roy Halladay pitch in our uniform would be unreal, but even more unreal is that the Blue Jays are willing to part ways because they can't afford him when he becomes a free agent. For all of those fans of teams like Minnesota, Toronto, Colorado, and Cleveland, this is what is wrong in baseball. Roy Halladay keeps the Sox and Yanks on their toes when he's facing them, send him to one of these wealthy franchises and he just adds to story. Bud Selig needs to get off his a** and find a way to allow teams like this to keep their stars. Johan should be a Twin and Roy should be a Blue Jay. Nuff Said. (go get him Boston!)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Chasing It!

The regular season hasn't even been over for a month. We haven't even buried Michael Jackson, and somehow the NBA continues to dominate the headlines. Big names have been on the move but more importantly, the big teams have made splashes. Where the rich have gotten richer and the 2010 season is shaping up before it starts.

Out in front . .

The San Antonio Spurs I've said it before, I'll say it again: The Spurs aren't done yet. After coming up short each of the last two years due mainly to injuries and a lack of youth, the Spurs were staring the end of a dynasty right in the eyes. Choosing to reload as oppose to blowing things up, enter Richard Jefferson. The Spurs find a way to dump the corpse of Bruce Bowen, washed up Kurt Thomas, and a 34-year old Francisco Oberto for Jefferson who hasn't missed a game in two years and gives the Spurs a solid wing player who can score, something they've seriously lacked. Richard Jefferson knows what its like to play with quality point guards (see Jason Kidd) and now playing with a younger more athletic version in Tony Parker, expect his opportunities to greatly increase. San Antonio is prepared to make another run at their 5th ring since 1999. Impressed yet? A healthy Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, of course Tim Duncan and now Richard Jefferson, be ready the Spurs are making their move.

The Orlando Magic They may be the only ones who think they're good enough to make it back, but at least they're doing everything they can. After being dispatched by the Lakers in The Finals, the Magic promptly struck a deal with New Jersey to send stand out rookie Courtney Lee to the Nets in exchange for 11-year veteran two guard, Vince Carter. Carter may be past his prime but he can still score with the best of them. With Carter arriving in Orlando in what seems to be a homecoming for the newly acquired Magic star who makes his home in Florida, Carter is sure to turn it on to make a run at the NBA Title. Over his career Vince has averaged 23 ppg. and is sure to give the Magic that scoring threat which they lost with the departure of free agent Hedo Turkoglu. As All-Star guard Jameer Nelson makes his comeback in the 2009-2010 season and paired with the most talented big man in basketball, Dwight Howard, the Orlando Magic should be able to give the Celtics and Cavaliers a run for their money in the east. Don't be shocked if the Magic get off to a great start.

The Cleveland Cavaliers Doesn't matter who they gave up. Doesn't matter that they choked away what seemed like their best shot at an NBA Title. The only thing that matters now is getting it done. Adding still the largest man in the game, 37-year old Shaquille O'Neal, the Cavs are drawing their mark in the sand. The Cavaliers watched their seven footer shoot one too many three-pointers before realizing, you don't beat Dwight Howard inside by shooting from the arc. Well shooting isn't something Shaq does, infact we're not really sure what it is Shaq still does. However, if your goal is to wear out Dwight like a rented mule, then The Diesel is the guy to do it. Shaq finished last season playing in 75 games scoring nearly 18 points a night and pulling down nearly 9 rebounds a night. If there is anything left in his 330 lb. frame, watching Stan Van Gundy and Kobe Bryant play for a title might just get it out of him. Shaq doesn't get traded to teams unless their in line to make a run at a trophy. The Cavaliers are making it known that they plan to do everything they can to keep LeBron in Cleveland, the final question has to be: Is this enough?

The Champs:

The Los Angeles Lakers We wanted them to be tough. We wanted them to shake that soft exterior. We wanted the Lakers to play with a championship swagger. Ron Artest hard enough for us? Not since the Chicago Bulls added Dennis Rodman for their second set of championships has a more odd couple been formed. Yes, Ron Artest and Kobe Bryant is just as crazy as Dennis Rodman and Michael Jordan, if not crazier. Artest is a defense playing, fan fighting, technical foul getting, certifiable whack job. Kobe Bryant is a champion, a four time champion who is the games most dominant closer. I don't think people are realizing that the only player who can slow him down is now on his own bench. Trevor Ariza who? The Los Angeles Lakers are taking their shot back at San Antonio, what better way to neutralize Richard Jefferson than with Ron Artest, the man who knows no boundaries. Are we ready for the Lakers and Ron Artest, Phil has handled The Worm, and you think Ron has no boundaries? Pau, Kobe, Ron, and Lamar? The Lakers may be an odd mix but they've already won one, now they just got that much better.

The Boston Celtics Yes. They are included in The Champs. For all accounts the Celtics were a busted Kevin Garnett knee away from repeating, truly believe that. Furthermore this postseason taught Celtics GM, Danny Ainge, two simple things: (1) You got lucky with P.J. Brown, see Mikki Moore circa 2009. (2) Insurance premium on Kevin Garnett must be addressed. That's why the entire contingent, Danny, Wyc, Kevin, Paul, and Ray were visiting one Rasheed Wallace in Detroit in the middle of the summer. Believe me, there is no other reason to be in Detroit, Michigan, ever. Wallace agrees to come to Boston and that's the move. That is the move that shows the Celtics aren't about to blow things up, they are once again going for broke. Wallace is disrupting, Wallace is obnoxious, and Rasheed Wallace is the toughest guy to guard in the entire league. A near seven-footer who knocks down three-pointers and can play center, power forward, and small forward. The Celtics are putting this guy next to Kevin Garnett. You scared? Better be. Garnett and Wallace would produce one of the most dangerous and championship hungry duos ever created. Two guys near 6-11 ripping down boards and yelling obscenities, eeeek. Whatever Rasheed has left in him is going to come out this season, you don't come to Boston for the weather, you don't come to Boston for the mid-level exception, you come to Boston to win a championship, that's the only reason you do. The man who wore a championship belt rather than a championship ring has landed in The Bean.

My guess is that more than one of these moves have influenced another. More than one of these moves have been done to combat another. Richard Jefferson added to the Spurs, Ron Artest to cover him. The Magic get more athletic adding Vince Carter, the Cavs find someone to bang with Dwight. The Cavs add Shaq, the Celtics add Rasheed to give him fits. The NBA's elite are going for a ring in what promises to be the greatest NBA hot stove in years. If the regular season and 2010 postseason is this exciting, we're in for it. Where Amazing Happens!