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"Lou is not talking about mechanics when he goes out to the mound,"
~Chicago Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Friday Late Night Sports Fix

It's technically Saturday, but it's Friday Night to me. So deal with it. Having a good Friday? Cool. Not a bad day in sports. Let's check it out.

Tiger missed a putt. Seriously. I'm not making this up. It was a big putt. One he needed to extend the Accenture Match Play's 18th hole between Woods and Chad Campbell to extras. A seven-footer. All Square on the Hole 18 to extend the match for Tiger, and he misses. On a par 5. Sorry to dwell, I just hadn't seen that before.

Barry Bonds is at it again. He won't talk to reporters unless they sign a waiver to allow him to use the footage in his upcoming TV-whatever with ESPN. What? Well, it's even more interesting that ESPN has put out a statement that they don't support the request and that it didn't come from them and that their reporters won't be signing the waiver. Meaning, they won't be interviewing Barry Bonds. Nice Job, Barry. Personally, I'm not going to miss him, and I wish he'd just take his cream and clear and go away. But that's just me.

And now, from Turin(o)... yeah, who cares.

Lebron gets booed in Cleveland.
Hey, I know he went 0-8 from the field in the second half and the Cavs then lost to the Wizards 102-94. Yes, you pay for your seats and you have the right to boo or cheer as you please. But get a clue. Without King James, where would you be? Not on TV, that's for sure. And not in the playoff picture either.

The Bears are after Antwaan Randle El.
He'd look awfully nice out there with Muhammed. The Bears aren't known for their ability to land the big ones, so I'm definitely not holding my breath, but it's nice to pencil ARE in there and fantasize a bit... Ahh...

Back to reality. Alright, that's about it for tonight. Unless you care about the Bassmasters. Go Fish.


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Monday, February 20, 2006

Ricky Violates Drug Policy...Again

Yes, even Ricky Williams can surprise me. I had to read the headline twice to make sure it was real. I'm not naive enough to think he had stopped smoking or that he wouldn't eventually get caught, but I never would've imagined it would happen this soon. His season just ended 6 weeks ago.

This guy is turning out to be one of the biggest losers in professional sports history - even bigger than Maurice Clarett. OK, I won't go that far. Atleast Ricky has put together some great NFL seasons.

Thus far the league has yet to comment on the reports that the Denver Post released today. But if they are true, and I assume they are, he faces a year suspension for his 4th drug violation. I don't see him ever coming back into the league. A year from now he'll be 30 years old, the downside of a running back's career. He will also have played in a total of 12 games over the previous 3 years. I don't see anyone taking a chance on a guy with those credentials. That's even if he wants to play.

I'm begginning to wonder why I even care about this bufoon anyways. You know what? I don't. Not anymore. So long, Ricky! Have a great life! I will have forgotten about you shortly. Peace!

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Nothing's Ever Good Enough

Did you know that there is already a site called "Fire Grady Little"? Just to remind you, as Al has pointed out, he hasn't even managed a Spring Training game yet! Those Dodger fans are getting a bit testy. Especially for a group that doesn't show up until the third inning.

Hey, it could be worse. They could have Dusty Baker at the helm.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

My Thoughts on Wayne Gretzky

Leave the man alone.

He didn't do anything. Sure, maybe it's bad that he didn't know (or turned a blind eye) about his wife's obvious gambling problem and his buddy's extra-curricular activities. But, that does not define the man. Because he was caught amidst some people of poor charachter doesn't mean he is lacking in decency as well.

He tried to make a call and protect his wife. Wouldn't you? Also, it's been revealed that the call came immediately after Gretzy found out about it. And that was once it was released through the media. So the phone call doesn't lead to any witholding of information whatsoever. Funny how that little tidbit of information slipped through the first wave of reporting unnoticed. Man, do folks just love to tear a man down. Especially an icon. Sort of like watching a suicide jumper. The higher the building, the more exciting the prospective fall. "See Honey, I'm better than that guy. (kiss, kiss)."

Well, as the known facts currently stand, he's innocent, folks. Nieve? Definitely. But does that make him criminal? No, but I hope he has someone a little wiser watching his finances. And his wallet. And car keys. He certainly needs some work in the picking out friends department.

Knowing what I do about the Great One (which is very little), I think that he'll stand by his wife through this. She'll just have to do some "Don't Gamble", "Don't Be Bad (like me)" PSA's most likely. But, unlike most of the "media", I admit I have no idea. Maybe she's deep in it. Maybe this will work out to be quite the soap opera. However, my point being, let's not drag Number 99 through the mud just yet. As Dan Patrick would say, let's not throw Gretzky under the bus unless you know all the facts and are in the position to pass judgement.

Also, going back to last week on Dan's ESPN Radio show, why not make sports betting legal nationwide (not just in Vegas)? I mean, I've placed a legal bet or two in my lifetime and I don't feel all dirty inside for it. Is it really that bad? I mean, as long as one keeps it recreational, does it really harm anyone? I mean I wouldn't bet over $50 on anything, but that's my choice, and if some fool wants to do lay down thousands on a ballgame (or a coin-toss), and if there's a taker out there, who am I to stop it? Why is it only "OK" in Vegas?

In my book, Wayne is still Great. He's done nothing to show me any guilt. He's only tried to protect his wife and family, as any of us would do in his place. I wish him the best of luck and am proud of his strength through this ordeal and the passing of two close family members in the last few weeks. He's stronger than most.

Like you didn't know that already.

And reporters in Turin(o), if you're capable of decency, please focus on the Canadian athletes who've trained their lives for Olympic Dreams and not on what may or may not be going on with Gretzky's wife and friend back in Phoenix. You've had your day of fun, now get back to reporting on, you know, The Olympics.


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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Twins Projected Lineup

Barring any Spring Training acquisitions or injuries, here's how I expect the Twins lineuo to look come April.


We'll start off with a no-brainer. Joe Mauer has been the catcher of the future since he was drafted ahead of Mark Prior. After playing a full season last year with no major knee troubles, Twins fans hope that concern can be put to rest. Joe is hands down the top young catcher in the game, if not a top 5 catcher already. He lead all major leaguers at his position in OBP last year and I expect him to do the same in 2006. I'm guessing we will see a slight improvement in power, probably somewhere around 15 homeruns and 30 doubles. If Joe can match those numbers while playing in 130 games, Twins fans will be very happy.

First Base

Morneau was promoted to the show after the All-Star break in 2004. For 76 games he made himself appear to be one of the up and coming power hitters in the league. He smashed 19 homers on his way to a .271/.340/.538 line. Much was expected of him coming into the '05 season. Instead, his numbers dropped in every significant category. He finished the year hitting only .239/.304/.437. It's tough to tell whether his '04 season was a fluke or whether his '05 season was a slump. The best guess is that it's somewhere in between. If Morneau can finish along the lines of .265/.335/.480 the Twins offense will be much improved.

Second Base

In another of Terry Ryan's shrewd trades, Luis Castillo came over from the Marlins in exchange for two minor league pitching prospects. Castillo's speed and defense may have declined over the past few years, but it is still above average to good depending on who you ask. What hasn't declined is his plate discipline, something the Twins are in desperate need of. His .391 OBP last year was his highest since '00 and 2nd highest of his career, so expecting him to repeat that performance might be too optimistic. However, it isn't unreasonable to assume he will finish somewhere near that mark. He'll likely hit #2, as not to offend Shannon Stewart, so him being on base as much as possible will be vital towards the success of the offense.

Third Base

Oh dear God! If Castillo was the gift, than Tony Batista was the curse. If Castillo will be the best of times, than Batista will be the worst. Every now and then, even a GM as qualified as Terry Ryan makes a blunder. Batista counts a two. Going into the offseason it was no secret that the Twins weren't real happy with Cuddyer at the hot corner. Rumors swirled about the possibility of acquiring Hank Blalock from the Rangers. As soon as that deal died, Ryan went to Japan to sign Batista. It's almost as if the Japanese are getting us back for dropping a atomic bomb on them 60 years ago. Batista has shown good power over his career. He even hit 41 dingers back in 2006. Unfortunatly, that's the only good I can say of this man. He will suck away innings with his free-swinging ways all en route to a below .300 on-base percentage. I don't see how he is an upgrade form Cuddyer, much less an improvement.


Jason Bartlett should get the majority of the at bats form this position with several games going to Punto or some other defensive guy. I'm not convinced that Bartlett is the future for the organization at that position, but he should improve upon last year's numbers. A .270/.330/.355 line looks about right to me.

Left Field

Until '05 Stewart ahd been pretty consistant with his production. I'd like to think he will revert to his old ways, but something makes me think he's one of those guys that trails off right after 30. He should raise his OBP form a measly .323, but I don't see him having the same power he has displayed over the past 5 years.

Center Field

Assuming Torii is fully recovered from his ankle injury, I expect more gold glove defense, above average power, and a lack of plate discipline. His career numbers .267/.321/.458 won't be much different from his '06 numbers. Although one could hope for a Andruw Jones-like breakout year. Let me dream.

Right Field

Newly acquired Rondell White should be the opening day starter until his inevitable injury-at which point Lew Ford will see increased time. White will bring another power bat to the lineup that the team desperatly needs.

With the additions of Castillo, White, and the likely improvement of Morneau and some of the other returnees, the offense should be improved. Although that's not saying much based on their production last year. Throw in the superb pitching staff-which will battle Oakland for best in the AL-and I think the Twins will be right in the thick of things going inot September. The AL Central is much improved from the last few years. It might end up being the most interseting race of all the divisions. As a baseball fan, I'd say Cleveland is the favorite, but I still wouldn't count out the Twins.

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Monday, February 06, 2006

Winter Has Arrived

Technically, winter is actually almost over. But I live in Texas, so we don't really have a winter anyways. We go from summer to fall and back to summer again in a matter of 3 months. So I define these next 2 months as a "Sports Winter". I'm speaking of the 2 months of the year without either baseball or football. This is a dark, cold time in my life when every things seems dead. Hence, the term, "Sports Winter".

So what do I do during these next 2 months? Hibernate until April? Pretend to be huge NBA fans? Get real hyped for the NCAA tournament and claim to have watched most of the regular season? I guess I could be that annoying person that won't shut up about the NFL draft even though it's nearly 3 months away. You know that guy. He's the one who has a mock draft that goes through all 7 rounds. He switches it up every day upon learning that player X is actually half an inch shorter than originally thought or that player Y can hurl a football 30 yards from the fetal position. No, I can't be that guy.

I could be that guy that speculates on the insignificant baseball trades right before Spring Training. I could do analysis on how the Dodgers may have sealed the NL West by trading PTBNL to the Padres for some left-handed pinch hitter to come off the bench. How his 60 at bats will surely be the difference between 87 and 89 wins. No, I better leave that for the guys at BPro.

I do live in Texas, so maybe I could get into Nascar. Well, they may not even be in season either. I really don't know. Besides, I avoid Nascar not because I don't think I'll like it, but because I think that I will. Everyone I've talked to says that if you just watch a few races, you'll get hooked. That's precisely what I don't want to happen. I'd rather be known as the guy who eats his toenails than as the guy who watches Nascar. Who wants to be the guy who hushes his roomates when Tim Cowlishaw get his 30 seconds of facetime?

Maybe I'll go on a sports vacation and just concentrate on my school work. After all my grades are slowly dropping with each word I type on this computer. Or every time I look up PECOTA projections to get ready for the MLB fantasy draft. And each time I put my finance book down to go play homerun derby in the cul-de-sac with a tennis ball and a bat made out of the wooden rod in my closet that is supposed to be used for hanging clothes on. My mother says I need to grow up - that I need to concentrate on my studies first and games later. I see no merit in that suggestion. But she's probably right. So maybe I'll take her advice. Maybe I'll end this article and start reading my management book to get ready for the test tomorrow. And then I'll say hello again come April, when life is back to how it's supposed to be.

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