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Archive for September, 2011

Mariano Rivera Notches Save No. 602

September 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Along with the saves record, Mariano Rivera also has the prettiest signature in the sport. These sigs have faded some, but I got this ball at a Yankees-Angels game in Anaheim, circa 1996. I was sitting by the Yankees' bullpen, in the right-field pavilion. My mother had been yelling at Paul O'Neill all night to turn around so that she could take his picture. Someone down in the Yankees bullpen must have heard this shouting and notified an usher or somebody that they'll sign a ball for that young fan -- maybe just to quiet his mother. Sure enough, the entire '96 Yankees bullpen signed that ball. Upon its return to me, I looked down into the bullpen and Jim Leyritz gave me a thumbs-up. Whoever said he wasn't a nice guy??

Remember how Trevor Hoffman got to 601 saves? Like a tortoise working with a couple of sprained ankles during the final 50 feet of a marathon. (Why is a turtle in a marathon? Just go with the analogy)

Hoffman had 591 saves coming into the 2010 season. He blew four of his first seven opportunities, lost his job to John Axford and had an ERA of more than 13.00 in May. No. 600 came on Sept. 7. No. 601 came on Sept. 29 with a few days left in the season. It’s too bad that’s how Hoffman ended his career. Yes, he reached a milestone but he did it in agonizing fashion.

Everything today was standard Mariano Rivera. Efficient. Dominant. Bat-breaking. Simple. Rivera threw 13 pitches, nine strikes in his one perfect inning. The last at-bat had three pitches, all strikes, including a backdoor cutter that had Chris Parmelee frozen. He didn’t even get to use the new lumber he had to retrieve after fracturing his bat on the previous pitch. Parmelee was playing in just his 11th career game. Who knows where it’ll go from here, but Parmelee can always say that he’s the guy whom Mariano Rivera dominated to break the all-time saves record.

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Missouri Ices Its Own Kicker. Twice.

September 10, 2011 Leave a comment

The effectiveness of icing a kicker before a last-second field goal is debatable. Some say it actually makes a difference. Some say it’s insignificant. Everyone does it these days. I side with the “it’s not worth it” crowd. It mostly seems to me to be a tedious tactic.

Regardless, have you ever seen a coach ice his own kicker before a game-winning field goal attempt? If you watched Friday’s Missouri-Arizona State game, you did. In fact, you saw it more than once.

First of all, after a pretty entertaining first quarter, this thing became a huge pain to view. Both teams negated so many positives with so many penalties. There were 23 in all, and that counts only the ones that were accepted. Each team cost itself more than 100 yards. Missouri quarterback James Franklin throws a football like it’s three sizes too big for his hands. Mizzou’s playcalling was uncreative — it was pretty much either an out pass toward the sidelines or Franklin running after faking a draw. It didn’t take long for the Sun Devils to stop biting on the fake.

And the Tigers’ offensive line, missing two starters, must have decided before the game that it wasn’t much interested in doing some certain things, you know, pass blocking. At all. I understand Missouri likes to get Franklin out in space, but he was running for his life about seven-tenths of a second after every snap.

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2011 NFL Predictions!! What Could Go Wrong?

September 7, 2011 2 comments

A lot, I’m sure. But as always, I’m willing to give it a shot.

But even more importantly, we are just 27 hours away from the first NFL game this season that actually counts. That means there’s still time for me to make educated guesses that will look awful in just a few weeks. I should have just hired an octopus to do this.

Each team will be ranked in its division by order of predicted finish, and because I want to make this look pretty, wild cards will be in red. Why red? I have no idea and you don’t care, so let’s begin.

AFC EAST

1. New England Patriots, 13-3: The defense is a bit of a question mark for me, but when you consider at the cheap additions of Ochocinco and Haynesworth, and the lingering anger that I suspect still exists after last season’s playoff disappointment, I think this team is on a mission.

2. New York Jets, 10-6: This is still a solid group that can make a run, but I think the window has pretty much closed for a Super Bowl. Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason won’t improve New York’s offense much.

3. Miami Dolphins, 5-11: Here a team actually depending upon Reggie Bush to carry the ball 17-20 times per week. Yeah, good luck with that. I see no dramatic uptick in production coming for Chad Henne.

4. Buffalo Bills, 4-12: Besides playing the Patriots and the Jets twice, they play the NFC East and the Chargers. That’s eight losses right there.

AFC NORTH

1. Pittsburgh Steelers, 12-4: The schedule looks great, and with young wide receivers such as Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders, this offense is going to be plenty good enough in case that “old” defense starts to crack.

2. Baltimore Ravens, 9-7: Outside of Ray Rice, I think this offense is going to take a major step back.

3. Cleveland Browns, 7-9: They are making strides, I will give them that. But no matter what Colt McCoy showed during the preseason, this team doesn’t have enough yet on either side of the ball to seriously compete.

4. Cincinnati Bengals, 3-13: Three wins is generous. Fact.

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Even With No Perfect Game, White Sox Pitcher Zach Stewart Was Quite Historic Monday

September 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Awwwwwwww.

So Chicago White Sox pitcher Zach Stewart couldn’t get his perfect game tonight against the Minnesota Twins. I am sure Hawk Harrelson let out a loud “Dag gummit!” when Danny Valencia’s double fell in.

Still … a complete-game, one-hit shutout with zero walks and nine Ks. That ain’t too shabby. And the kicker? Tonight’s start was only Stewart’s 10th appearance in the major leagues.

According to baseball-reference.com, Stewart became just the second pitcher since 1919 to throw seven perfect innings in a start with 10 or fewer MLB appearances to his credit. The only other pitcher to fit that criteria was on the White Sox as well. Charlie Robertson actually threw a perfect game against the Indians in just his fifth ML appearance. It happened on April 26, 1922.

Hell, Stewart and Robertson are the only pitchers since 1919 to throw at least three perfect innings in a start with 10 or fewer career appearances. A bunch of relievers have qualified in recent years, but young starters don’t fare anything close to as well as Stewart tonight.

And who cares if he had that one blemish? Only two pitchers that green in the past 20 years have recorded a one-hit shutout. One was Dontrelle Willis, who started for the Reds today. Dontrelle threw the one-hitter in his eighth appearance, all starts. The other pitcher was Kerry Wood in his fifth start. If you at least 20 years old, you likely remember it.

And another tidbit: The Padres’ Jimmy Jones was the most recent pitcher to allow just one baserunner in a shutout with 10 of fewer appearances.

The case of Clay Buchholz (second career start) is extremely impressive. But if you are searching for perfection, you have to go back to the birth year of Charles Schulz to find anything that can match what Zach Stewart did on Labor Day 2011. Again, not too shabby for someone who is playing for his second team this seaosn, had an ERA entering tonight of 5.48 and threw one complete game in 57 starts in the minors.

No Worries, Dodgers Fans. Your Team Will Not Be Moved To China

September 4, 2011 1 comment

The Los Angeles Dodgers: Reform and open up. And hit with runners in scoring position

So Frank McCourt has an offer to sell the Dodgers for $1.2 billion — with a “B” — from the creator of the L.A. Marathon and some institutions of the Chinese government.

It may not actually happen, although $1.2 billion in straight cash, homie, sounds like Frank would be interested in considering, you know, his wife needed six-figure spousal support.

Regardless, I heard some pretty interesting reactions from Dodgers fans on talk radio out here Thursday. It seems like they don’t quite understand what this would mean for the Dodgers; all they hear are the words “ownership” and “China” and launch into freak-out mode.

I don’t have a link and I don’t remember the comments verbatim, but one couple expressed desire that the Dodgers must be owned by Americans. I guess I get that, although I don’t think it makes a difference.

But then another couple, an older one, basically told KNX 1070 AM that it would be a bad move for the Dodgers because “we want them here.” The couple already lives in Echo Park, a Los Angeles community very close to Dodger Stadium, so they said they want to “see them stay.”

Who said they are going anywhere? Dodger fans, even if this deal doesn’t go through, understand that just because China might own your ballclub, it doesn’t mean that China is going to export it to the homeland. I would figure this doesn’t have to be explained.

“Think Blue” isn’t going to be changed to “Think Red.”

The new owners won’t demand that each player create no more than one child.

“Los Doyers” shirts won’t be replaced by copies of Mao’s biography.

In the end, no matter who become(s) the new owner(s) of the team, it will remain a MLB franchise. Yes, in Los Angeles, California, United States of America. Better yet, it will exist and remain without Frank McCourt. Dodger fans should fully support anything that brings that day one step closer to reality. Even if it means adopting communism.

Straight Reppin’ Lithuania

September 4, 2011 Leave a comment

If I was going to post every sports-related thing that I found humorous on this blog, I and you would grow tired of this thing in short order.

However, one thing caught my eye over this weekend, and I couldn’t resist putting it on here.

It’s a rap video. So what?

It’s a rap video about an NBA player. Oooooh, big freakin’ deal.

It’s a rap video about an NBA rookie. A little strange, but Kyrie Irving is pretty good.

It’s a rap video about an NBA rookie from Lithuania. OK, now that’s interesting.

It’s also hilarious. See for yourself:

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Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Fantasy Football Questions

September 4, 2011 5 comments

A couple of weeks ago, I started a post, writing a couple of sentences about each of the top 180 or 200 players in a fantasy football draft.

But I couldn’t finish that in time to make it meaningful to anyone. I know most of you have already finished your drafts by now.

Then, a couple of a days ago, I decided I was going to write about nothing but sleeper picks. Until I realized that my sleepers were already so popular, they weren’t really sleepers any longer. So I didn’t finish that.

Anyway, while I am disappointed I couldn’t really publish either, both posts led to one point: I like fantasy football. A lot. A healthy number of my 350+ posts here at least mention fantasy football. During the season, I hope grad school gives me enough time to write a recap of each weekend’s action with a fantasy spin, which is something I did a lot of in 2009. I plan to write a live blog here Wednesday night during my 12-team auction draft. I am currently getting paid to write news updates for a fantasy football website.

Fantasy football advice is about as solid as quicksand, but I think I know as much as anyone. And I’m not afraid to give out opinions, so please e-mail me with your fantasy football questions. You can reach me at gmenn41@aol.com. I guarantee that my advice will be just as educated as anyone else’s. And that’s a vague, blanket statement you can take to the bank!

And I’ll end this post with a couple of fantasy tidbits as we are now just four days away from the first game of the season.

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