Monday, April 30, 2007

Odds and Ends [Chrissy]

Brady Quinn taken 22nd?! What?!

For all of the runners out there, Penn Relays came and went last week and this past weekend, and the Broad Street Run is this upcoming Sunday - watch for me!

Barbaro's birthday just passed and the Kentucky Derby is coming up. Are people making a big deal about Barbaro in other areas of the country? I know that he has local ties, my mom bought some Barbaro wristbands to support the Barbaro Foundation. There was a tv special on NBC and even a birthday party celebration in the Philly area.

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Videos: Baron Davis Working Miracles [J. Mark English]

First, the half court shot at the end of the half:

And then he iced the game...

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Josh Hancock Dies in Car Crash [J. Mark English]

From Matthew Leach of the St. Louis Cardinals website:

A team that still remembers its last loss all too well suffered another one early on Sunday morning. The Cardinals lost a friend and teammate when pitcher Josh Hancock, 29, was killed in a car accident on Interstate 64 in St. Louis.

Hancock's 2007 Ford Explorer hit a tow truck at approximately 12:35 a.m. CT and the pitcher died at the scene, possibly at the moment of impact. It's the second time in a five-year span that the Cardinals have lost an active player. Darryl Kile passed away on June 22, 2002.

The driver of the tow truck was unharmed in the wreck. The truck was parked in the left lane of the interstate, tending to a previous wreck.

According to St. Louis Police Chief Joseph Mokwa, the truck had rotating yellow lights and flashing red lights displayed. It was in an active traffic lane. Mokwa explained that despite the lights, it appears that Hancock simply did not see the tow truck until it was too late for him to avoid a collision.

Formal arrangements have not been announced for a memorial service. However, it is expected to take place on Thursday in Tupelo, Miss., where Hancock's family makes its home. The Cardinals have an off-day on Thursday and the team expects to attend.

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Photos: My Blue Heaven - Rangers Win in Double OT [J. Mark English]

Crazy Whacky NFL Draft Weekend [J. Mark English]

Its been said that aside from the Super Bowl, the most exciting weekend in the NFL is the draft itself. Sure has been shaping out that way this weekend.

Who would have thought that Randy Moss could be heading to the...Patriots? A team not known for going after self serving megalomaniacs. The New England Patriots are full of surprises so far in this off season. The loss to the Colts in last years AFC Championship game seems to have really gotten under their skin, and they are doing everything to make sure that a loss like that doesn't happen again.

Len Pasquarelli from ESPN tells us:

The New England Patriots have reached a trade agreement in principle to acquire wide receiver Randy Moss from the Oakland Raiders for a fourth-round round choice in Sunday's second day of the NFL draft.

There are still details to be completed, including Moss passing a physical examination by the Patriots' medical staff, but league sources said they expect the deal to be competed. As part of a trade, Moss would restructure and perhaps even extend his current contract, which calls for base salaries of $9.75 million in 2007 and $11.25 million in 2008.

Oakland and New England officials conducted on and off negotiations for the last several days. The Raiders, who acquired Moss from Minnesota in 2005, have been shopping the wide receiver much of the offseason.

What is strange about this trade from my perspective is that the Patriots never seem to need a star receiver, so why Moss? Last year they get rid of Deion Branch, and hardly miss a beat. Tom Brady seems to make anyone who can catch the ball a great wide receiver. So why go after Moss? But its hard to question a team that has won three Super Bowls over the past six years.

The New York Jets exhibited creativity, and ingenuity in the draft yesterday. Without losing much in the way of draft picks they moved up the latter and got themselves one heck of a defensive back in Darrelle Revis. Karen Crouse of the New York Times sorts out the confusion:

Looking to improve a defense that ranked 20th last season, the Jets traded up in order to select both players. They orchestrated the first trade of a long day when they swapped first-round picks with the Carolina Panthers, moving up 11 spots and making Revis the first cornerback chosen, at No. 14.

Revis, 21, who bypassed his senior year at Pittsburgh to enter the draft, is expected to compete immediately for a starting spot at the right corner, which was in flux last year. The Jets tried three starters at the position before settling on a fourth, Hank Poteat, whom they had cut earlier in the season.

In addition to giving the Panthers their first-round pick (25th over all), the Jets parted with picks in the second (59th) and fifth round (164th). They received a sixth-round pick (191st), which they later packaged with their second-round pick (63rd) and a third-round pick (89th) to consummate the trade with the Green Bay Packers that enabled them to select (David) Harris.

As for my New York Giants, they had a solid draft day as well under the leadership of rookie General Manager, Jerry Reese. John Branch, of the New York Times delves into the Giants day one of drafting:

The draft needs of the Giants were obvious, but their first choice was not. In recent weeks, they brought in about two dozen players for visits at Giants Stadium, many of them linebackers and cornerbacks. When it came time for their pick at No. 20 on Saturday, they drafted none of them.

While the Giants were making their selection, Texas cornerback Aaron Ross was outside his mother’s home in San Antonio tossing a football with a nephew. He did not know that the Giants had spent the past couple of hours trying, unsuccessfully, to trade up to nab one of two cornerbacks they had ranked higher. Ross did not know that the Giants had him ranked third, worthy of the 20th pick, and were bent on filling a need at the position...

...The Giants addressed another hole in their roster in the second round, drafting Southern California receiver Steve Smith. In the third round, they chose Penn State defensive tackle Jay Alford, who had eight and a half sacks in 2005 and eight in 2006.

Other shockers of the draft were the Cleveland Browns not taking Brady Quinn at the third spot. Instead they went for offensive lineman Joe Thomas. Brady Quinn, had all but openly stated that he wanted to play for Cleveland, since they are close to home for him. But who would have thought after the third pick of the draft he would have survived all the way down to the 22nd pick for the Browns to pluck him? There he was on the board for the Browns, and they scored big. Joe Thomas will not nearly cost as much Quinn would have if they took him with the 3rd pick. Instead they get a highly rated quarterback at a reduced cost, and will have a great lineman to plug in and help protect Quinn, as well help enhance their much maligned ground game.

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America's Cup: Oracle Team Maintains Lead [J. Mark English]

Its been nearly over two decades since an American team has captured the prestigious American Cup. But the sailing world may be in for a jolt, as the Oracle Team seems to be showing some muscles in one of the most famous races to take place on the ocean.

Angus Phillips of the Washington Post has more:

The first round robin of the 32nd America's Cup drew to a close Saturday, six days late but with enough drama to make the wait worthwhile.

In moderate winds and sun-splashed seas, previously undefeated U.S. entry BMW Oracle took an unexpected beating from the much-loved home team, Desaf?o Espa?ol, in the first race but rallied to beat Emirates Team New Zealand in the second. The win gave BMW Oracle the lead in the standings halfway through this elimination round and sent pre-regatta favorite New Zealand plummeting to third.

Is there any reality to America actually winning? Gary Jobson of ESPN gives further thought to the possibility:

Similar to the mission of the yacht America in 1851, one American boat is up against a field of 11 other teams from nine countries in a battle to win the America's Cup. The United States was dominant for 141 years, winning 28 out of 29 matches, but not any more. The U.S. has not reached the Cup final since 1995...

..What will set the tone for future America's Cups is how Allinghi will fare practicing on its own as the challengers spend the next two months racing and improving their boat speed and sailing skill. So far, Allinghi has shown she is the favorite by wining a two-year series of pre-Cup regattas called Louis Vuitton Acts.

Of course, no one knows exactly what will happen. And for that reason, the 32nd America's Cup season will be great fun to watch.

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Baseball Drug Bombshell [J. Mark English]

This is from the Smoking Gun website:

In a new steroids bombshell, a former New York Mets clubhouse employee has admitted distributing various performance-enhancing drugs to "dozens of current and former Major League Baseball players." Kirk Radomski, 37, pleaded guilty today to distributing anabolic steroids and laundering the proceeds of the illicit business, which operated from his New York home. According to a plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court in San Jose, California, Radomski sold ballplayers anabolic steroids, Human Growth Hormone, and amphetamines from 1995 to December 2005, when his home was raided by federal agents. In the plea agreement, a copy of which you'll find below, Radomski stated that during his prior clubhouse employment he developed "contacts with Major League Baseball players throughout the country to whom I subsequently distributed anabolic steroids and athletic performance-enhancing drugs." Radomski, who worked for the Mets from 1985-1995, added that he "had personal contact with some of my baseball drug clients, but consulted and conducted drug transactions with others over the telephone and the mail." The court filing does not identify any of Radomski's clients.

Comment -

I guess this explains why Mr. Met has an enormous head...

Seriously though, I'm glad that some of these investigations seem to be working. The sooner we can get to the bottom of all of this, the sooner we can move on... And have a certain amount of knownledge of who is cheating, and who is for real.

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Video: NFL Draft - Raiders Take JaMarcus Russell at No.1 [J. Mark English]

With the top pick in the draft the Silver and Black take quarterback JaMarcus Russell. The Detroit Lions went after another wide receiver, this time Calvin Johnson. The Cleveland Browns went with the safe pick taking offensive tackle Joe Thomas. Tamp Bay drafted defensive end Gaines Adam, and the Arizona Cardinals went with offensive tackle Levi Brown. Brady Quinn remains on the board as of this post. More later on tonight about the rest of the first day of the NFL Draft.

In the meantime follow the rest of the draft with the NFL's Draft Tracker:

Below are some highlights of JaMarcus Russell at LSU:

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NBA Playoff Update 4.27.07 [David Stefanini]

There are only three words to say about last nights action in the NBA Playoffs. Those words are: upset, upset, upset.
The New Jersey Nets beat the Toronto Raptors, 102-89 to take a 2-1 series lead.
The Chicago Bulls beat the Miami Heat 104-96, to take a 3-0 series lead.
The Golden State Warriors, yes the Warriors, beat the Dallas Mavericks 109-91, to take a 2-1 series lead.
I can not begin to write in words what I feel about the Warriors game. They looked like a much better, more talented, and hungrier team. The Dallas Mavericks are going to be in very big trouble if they can not find someone on this planet to guard Baron Davis. This series should be a great one and has all the makings of a seven game series.
One final thought on last nights action. The Nets are showing they are a team to be reckon with. With the Miami Heat falling down 0-3 in their series they Eastern Conference just opened up that much more. The Nets have a good shot at getting out of the East. Hopefully they can and go on to the Finals. However, something tells me the Pistons are going to have a lot to say about that, after they sweep the Magic later today.
After you watch the first 10 picks on the NFL Draft, switch over to TNT and watch the NBA Playoffs. The games today should be worth while to watch. Then again, every time LeBron James steps on the court it is worth while to watch.

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Help Fight Lou Gehrig Disease [J. Mark English]

This Sunday, April 29, 2007 beginning at 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm, the American Legends store will be hosting the Kick-Off Open House in anticipation of the Westchester Walk to D'Feet ALS. If you live in the New York Metro area please find time in your day to stop by. The store is located at 1107 Central Park Avenue in Scarsdale, New York. If you have any questions please call us at (914) 725-2225.

There will be refreshments, 2006 Walk Awards, the chance to pick up Walk promotional materials and you can enter to win a pair of Jersey Boys tickets.

If you would like to RSVP for the event (the Walkathon) you can call 1-800-672-8857 or email

As stated earlier, the event at the store will be in anticipation of the Walk to D'Feet ALS. Here is some more information about this event:
Sunday, June 10, Tibbetts Brook Park, Yonkers.
Check-in time: 10 am
Walk: 11 am
Distance: 3 miles
Goal: $250,000 (last year the walk raised more than $200,000)
Q104.3 will be there and there will be other entertainment and refreshments.
Directions and additional info are on the ALS site @
Anyone can form a walk team -- a team can be as little as 1 person or as many as you'd like.
Facts about ALS:
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is a progressive, fatal neuromuscular disease that slowly robs the body of its ability to walk, speak, swallow and eventually to breath.
Approximately 5,600 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS each year. The incidence of ALS (two per 100,000 people) is five times higher than Huntington's disease and about equal to multiple sclerosis. It is estimated that as many as 30,000 Americans may have the disease at any given time.
Although the life expectancy of an ALS patient averages about two to five years from the time of diagnosis, this disease is variable and many people live with quality for five years and more. More than half of all patients live more than three years after diagnosis.
Every 90 minutes a person is diagnosed with ALS, and every 90 minutes another person will lose his or her life from the disease.
ALS can strike anyone at any age. There is no known cause or cure.

ALS has affected the lives of many in a profound, and many times sad way. In the despair that this disease causes, many try to find a glimmer of hope. Through the ALS Walk to D'Feet ALS, one can walk towards a new hope that a cure may be found.

The great people in history take despair and conquer it with overwhelming hope. Lou Gehrig represents the best hope has to offer, and it is why this disease is named after him. Its poignant that he should be the namesake of this terrible disease. He represented in his time the perfect man. He was the "Iron Horse". Setting the record for most games played in a row for professional baseball. A record that stood for nearly sixty years. A man of such strength surely could not be brought down by anything. But such myth's are easily disproved, and fortune had it out for Mr. Gehrig. He took his "bad break" with a resolve to remain strong in the face of certain death. Here is a brief look of how he exhibited hope in his darkest hours from Ken Burn's Baseball:

Please do what you can to support the efforts of ALS Association to find a cure.

Friday, April 27, 2007

What in the World... [David Stefanini]

What is happening in Golden State right now? The Dallas Mavericks look like a helpless 8 seed against a much more talented Warriors team. Everything is going right for the Golden State Warriors. Watching this game J. Mark English and myself, were saying how the Warriors have no fear of the Mavs, and are controlling the tempo of the game. An 8th seeded team should not dictate the tempo to a 1 seed in a playoff game. But that is exactly what is happening.

Also, Baron Davis his having the game and series of his life. Nobody on the Mavs can stop him. He looks like the best player on the court and to be honest, he very well may be. If he stays healthy the Warriors can be good; very good for a long time.

One final thought on the first half:

Where in the world is Dirk Nowitzki? Every time he gets the ball he looks lost, and his odds of winning the MVP fall lower and lower. I know playoff performance doesn't count for the MVP voting, but we all know the voters are watching these games.

Dirk if you are the MVP, you better start playing like it because this Warriors team is talented enough to send you home packing early.

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Photos: Heat Feel the Heat, Dice-K in the Bronx, Rangers in Danger [J. Mark English]

Lights Go Out on Broadway for a Night [J. Mark English]

I've seen the lights go out on Broadway, I saw the Empire State laid low...I saw the ruins at my feet...I watched the might skyline fall. And life went on beyond the palisades. - Billy Joel

Not exactly a great night for the city of New York. The song that I quoted is from Billy Joel's song "Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)" which he was inspired to write after President Ford told New York City that the federal government would not help pay off New York City's debt in the 1970's. Billy Joel imagined in a song what would it be like to have New York City actually drop dead.

The feelings described in his song could well resemble the results of the City's sports teams tonight.

The New York Mets take it on the chin in Washington, DC, against the Nationals. This is a team that they should never lose too, and yet they were overcome from solid Nats pitching. Chad Cordero, a closer who struggles against any other team, owns the Mets in his career. Paul LoDuca hit a bomb in the bottom of the ninth that got lost in the abyss of the vast outfield of RFK Stadium. Hopefully they can bounce back this weekend and win the next two games.

The sun seems to be setting fast on the New York Yankees empire. They are losers of six straight, and with their weekend battle against the Red Sox, they could be on the precipice of being out of the division race before May even arrives. Dice-K has been able to contain the Yankees lineup, and the Red Sox have a three run cushion in the bottom of the eighth. Andy Petitte could not even make it past five innings, giving up five runs on six hits.

Should the Sox hold on to win this game, they will go up on the Yankees by six and a half games. The Yankees were in desperate need of a solid start from Pettite. His failure to give them innings, in order to save the bullpen arms, put them in a precarious hole. If the Yanks cannot get a solid start in either one of these next two games, they will be eight and a half out by Sunday evening. Something better turn around quickly or this will be a very unfamiliar type season for Yankee fans. In years past the Yanks could always rely on strong starting pitching to carry them through tough times. Not this year though. This is a very different Yankees team, and it may only get worse.

Meanwhile, the New York Rangers played another New York team, way up in Buffalo. The Buffalo Sabres took a commanding 2-0 lead in the series against the Rangers, by winning 3-2. It a was game that the Rangers let slip away. They had leads of 1-0, and then 2-1. After each momentary lead, the Sabres came roaring back to tie, and then finally take the lead.

The Rangers as a franchise are just 1-16 in playoff series after going down 2-0 in a series. I'm sure that a raucous Madison Square Garden will be a welcomed remedy for the Blueshirts when they return home Sunday. However, its an uphill battle that is quickly getting to high, and perhaps out of reach.

Here is a quick recap from the Rangers website:

The Rangers have found themselves in some utter nail-biters throughout the past two months, but the final 1:54 of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals had to take the cake.

When Buffalo Sabres co-captain Daniel Briere was called for cross-checking with his team clinging to a 3-2 lead at 18:06, the Rangers suddenly had an opportunity to get the game to overtime.

Unfortunately, that's when Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller took over. Miller, who finished the night with 31 saves -- so many of them spectacular -- put on a goaltending clinic in the final 1:54, denying Paul Mara's blast from the right circle with a sprawling save on what proved to be the Rangers' final scoring chance.

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NFL Draft Challenge [EdMcGon]

The rules for the NFL Draft Challenge are simple: list the first 10 players taken in the NFL draft tomorrow, in the order they are taken. Just post your picks before the start of the draft tomorrow (Saturday) at noon. You only have to show the draft order, the player's name, and their position (although I am showing a little more information below).

Now for my picks:

1. Oakland (2-14)- JaMarcus Russell, QB, LSU
All the experts and talking heads say the Raiders will take JaMarcus Russell, and I cannot call that a bad pick. However, how many quarterbacks have the Raiders drafted that have gone on to have a great career with the Raiders? Just Kenny Stabler (and he was a 2nd round pick). As a Raider fan, I would rather see them take Calvin Johnson, who is a sure thing.

2. Detroit (3-13)- Calvin Johnson, WR, Georgia Tech
Expect the Lions to trade this pick away, probably to Atlanta. If Matt Millen drafted another wide receiver, the Detroit fans would shoot him (in Detroit, literally).

With all of the issues "dogging" Michael Vick lately, the Falcons drafting the best wide receiver in Atlanta's history (not to mention Johnson has a tremendous work ethic on top of his freakish abilities) would be a major "catch" for them.

3. Cleveland (4-12)- Brady Quinn, QB, Notre Dame
How many quarterbacks state before the draft that they WANT to play in Cleveland? Bernie Kosar is the last one I remember, and he turned out ok. The Brownies desperately need a quarterback (Charlie Frye is NOT the answer), and Quinn could be the guy.

4. Tampa Bay (4-12)- Joe Thomas, OT, Wisconsin
The Bucs need offensive line help, and Thomas is the best in this draft.

5. Arizona (5-11)- Gaines Adams, DE, Clemson
It is safe to say the Cards will pick a defensive player, but which one? Adams is arguably the most highly rated defensive prospect.

6. Washington (5-11)- Laron Landry, DB, LSU
Washington has already said they are taking either Landry or DT Amobi Okoye. Since Landry is probably the better of the two, and since Adam Archuleta has been released by the Skins, expect Landry to be the pick.

7. Minnesota (6-10)- Adrian Peterson, RB, Oklahoma
Expect the Vikings to draft some secondary help later in the draft. For now, this team needs some offense. Chester Taylor was solid last year, but not exceptional. Also, don't be surprised if another team trades up to this spot to get Peterson.

8. Atlanta (7-9)- Jamaal Anderson, DE, Arkansas
With the Lions trading down to this spot, expect to see a defensive player picked here. Anderson could give the Lions a much needed pass rusher.

9. Miami (6-10)- Amobi Okoye, DT, Louisville
The Dolphins could also go with DT Alan Branch, but Okoye has more upside.

10. Houston (6-10)- Levi Brown, OT, Penn State
With Houston's awful pass blocking, and less than stellar run blocking, offensive line help is desperately needed here.


The Lakers Have Arrived [David Stefanini]

With chants of M V P being screamed by everyone in the Staples Center throughout the game, Kobe Bryant carried the Lakers to a huge win over the Suns. The Lakers played the perfect game. After the first quarter the crowd and the body language of the Lakers said this series was over and the Suns are going for the sweep. And then something happened. Whatever it is, the Lakers thought they had a chance. Kobe was hitting shots, and the rest of the Lakers found confidence in their leader. Suddenly it was a game again with the Lakers having all the momentum, heading into the second half.

Phil Jackson showed why he is one of the greatest coaches in NBA history. Jackson put Smush Parker and Shammond Williams in at the same time. This turned the game around. The Lakers were all of a sudden playing amazing defense on Steve Nash and the rest of the Suns. That above all else lead them to this win.

This was a great game to watch. Both teams played good basketball, but the Lakers played desperate basketball. Kobe said, before this game started, "a playoff series can change overnight" maybe this game will be the change they need. They found a way to play with the Suns. They grabbed a lead late in the 3rd, and going into the 4th it was Kobe time. Kobe had 15 points in the final quarter, but more importantly he got his teammates involved. In last years playoff series and this year Kobe got criticized for taking to few shots or to many shots. Today he found a perfect balance. He got his usual 45 points and also grabbed 6 rebounds and 6 assists.
The Lakers need to play 3 more perfect games like this to have a chance, but at least for one night myself and the rest of Laker fans across the country can celebrate a very hard earned victory.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Your Daily Fix 4.26.07 [J. Mark English]

  • More bad news for Michael Vick...this is from ESPN: Police conducting a drug investigation raided a Virginia house owned by Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick and found dozens of dogs, some injured and emaciated, as well as items associated with dog fighting, authorities said.

    State Police Sgt. D.S. Carr said Vick's relative, Davon Boddie, 26, lives in the house. Vick owns the property, but does not live there and was not present when a search warrant was executed in a drug investigation Wednesday night, Carr said.

  • John Czarnecki breaks down the worst and best draft picks in the NFL over the years.
  • The Kansas City Chiefs deny that they are trying to trade Larry Johnson. That could be considered a poor deal for the Chiefs. But remember when the Cowboys traded away Hershel Walker to the Vikings back in 1988? That trade gave the Cowboys a numerous amount of first round pick which they used to draft Michael Irvin, Troy Aikman, and Emmitt Smith. Wouldn't the Vikings have liked to take that trade back...
  • Sammy Sosa belted two more home runs, as he is in sorts in the middle of resurrection of a career this year with the Texas Rangers. He set the record today by hitting a home run in his 44th ball park, the most ever by a batter.
  • John Smoltz will more likely finish his career as an Atlanta Brave. Atlanta offered him a well deserved contract extension that could keep him with the team through at least 2010.
  • In the NHL playoffs, the New York Rangers are dealing with their first "bout" with adversity after losing badly last night against the Buffalo Sabres.
  • Could a knee injury keep Jason Kidd of the New Jersey Nets out of game 3?
  • Could Larry Brown wind up as the next GM/coach of the Grizzlies?
  • What can go to the top of Everest but not Taiwan? Stephen Wade of the Scotsman explains.
  • Mike Penner, a sports columnist for the Los Angeles Times will go on hiatus for a few weeks, and return with a new name, Christine. He will be a she.
  • Finally tonight, a legend in the world of politics, and film passed away. Jack Valenti died at the age of 85. Make sure you take the time to read a little bit about him. He was a lobbyist and trusted presidential adviser. A great man indeed.

Best Dunk Ever [David Stefanini]

With the NBA Playoffs in full swing I figured I would take this time to show the best dunk of all time. Surprisingly this dunk was not performed in an NBA game. It was from the AND1 Mixtape Tour. It happened several months ago, but it's still amazing:

NBA Playoff Update 4.25. 2007 [David Stefanini]

Three games were on the schedule for the 25th of April. The Mavs looked to fend off an 0-2 deficit, to a clearly inferior team. LeBron James and the Cavs looked to take care of their home court advantage; and the Nuggets looked to keep the upsets coming by beating the Spurs.

The Nuggets did not get their wish tonight. Tim Duncan and Manu Ganobli made crucial baskets late in the game and at key moments when Denver was making a run. In the 3rd quarter it looked as if this game was going to get out of hand and the Spurs were going to run away with it. However, the fire power of the two headed monster that is the Denver Nuggets would not let that happen. Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony took the Nuggets on a run to bring them within striking distance late in the 4th quarter. The Spurs then answered by going to their big guy, Tim Duncan, who made a turn around hook with under a minute to go to really put the game out of reach. If you are a Nuggets fan you should still be very happy. The team showed great heart in making this a contest even though they already accomplished their goal of winning a game at San Antonio. The Nuggets have proved they can play with the Spurs.
Even though LeBron James had trouble putting his entire weight on his bad ankle, the Cavs still had enough to beat the lonely Wizards. The Cavs should have no problem closing this series out in the next two games.
Lastly, the immature Golden State cry-babies, I mean Warriors, could not keep their cool and lost the game. Towards the end of the 3rd quarter they had some calls that weren't going in their favor, but instead of playing the game and forgetting about the calls they let the refs, get inside their heads. This would later prove to be their downfall. Baron Davis was mocking a referee for a good 30 seconds before the ref kicked him out of the game. My question is this, why did Don Nelson allow that? If my star player is on the verge of getting ejected in a game where I have a good chance at winning, I run over to him and pull him away. But that didn't happen. Once B-Diddy was kicked out the Warriors had no chance of staying with the Mavs. If the Warriors can keep their cool and show a little more maturity, they can make this a very competitive series. They will not win it, but if they act like adults they have a shot at pulling off another win.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Tony Stewart: Please Shut Up! [A.J. Cordi]

Seriously, this guy just won't shut up until he wins a race. Then, he'll probably find something wrong with the way he won (that is, if he wins.) He's finally gotten over not making the chase, but now has a new complaint for NASCAR. "Bogus" caution flags.

Stewart claims he refused to do any NASCAR interviews after the race to "avoid" insulting NASCAR. He then went on to say that NASCAR is "playing God" and started comparing the great racing sport to professional wrestling.

"I guess NASCAR thinks 'Hey, wrestling worked, and it was for the most part staged, so I guess it's going to work in racing, too,'" Stewart said on his satellite radio program.

But that wasn't the end of it. Before reading on, take note that if this had been in the NBA, he would probably be fined or suspended.

"They can almost dictate the race instead of the drivers doing it. It's happened too many times this year ...I can't understand how long the fans are going to let NASCAR treat them like they're stupid before the fans finally turn on NASCAR ...I don't know that they've run a fair race all year."

If that's not bad enough, Stewart actually had the nerve to say that him racing is not all about the money, but the integrity of the sport.

"When I feel our own sanctioning body isn't taking care of that, it's hard to support them and feel proud about being a driver in the Nextel Cup Series when they're throwing debris cautions," he said.

When is enough actually enough? When will he stop crying like a little girl and start acting like a professional? If he put as much effort into his racing as he does his useless and senseless complaining he might actually win a freakin' race!
By the way, good-job Stewart! That was great how you "avoided" insulting NASCAR!

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The Spirit of "Rip City" Returns to the Northwest [Snave]

NBA Rookie-of-the-Year candidate Brandon Roy of the Portland Trail Blazers

First things first: thanks to J. Mark English for inviting me to contribute to "American Legends"! I'm somewhat new at this, but I will attempt to provide an occasional glimpse into professional and college sports from a Pacific Northwest perspective.

My favorite major college team is the University of Oregon Ducks. I also tend to be an Oregon State Beavers fan unless they are playing U of O. I am a glutton for major-league punishment, as evidenced by my hardcore Seattle Mariner fanaticism. Other MLB teams I enjoy following include the Cubs, Cards, Orioles, Twins and Tigers, but I can find something to like about just about everyone. The only NFL team in the NW is the Seahawks. Re. the NBA, Portland has the Trail Blazers and Seattle has the Supersonics (at least for now). There is no NHL in the NW, but there are always rumors about Portland or Seattle trying to get an NHL franchise, as well as Portland trying to land a major league baseball team. Anyway, thanks again J. Mark! I'll start with some thoughts about the Portland Trail Blazers.

The Portland Trail Blazers are gradually worming their way out of the "Jail Blazer" mode and getting back into the realm of respectability. For some years now, the ballclub has been dogged by a "bad boy" image. During the GM tenure of Bob Whitsitt, the franchise acquired players such as Bonzi Wells, Isaiah Rider, Qyntel Woods, Ruben Patterson, Rasheed Wallace, Zach Randolph... definitely not what one would think of as "character guys". I am not sure just when the team acquired Sebastian Telfair and Darius Miles, but the latter has been a royal pain. The Blazers' off-court incidents are too many to mention, and seemed to have poisoned the Trail Blazers in the minds of Portland fans.

Thankfully, when John Nash and Steve Patterson took the reins (with a lot of behind-the-scenes assistance from now-GM Kevin Pritchard), some positive changes were made. For starters, good-guy and "players coach" Maurice Cheeks was replaced by hard-nosed Sonics coach Nate McMillan. This prompted some rebellion from lazier Blazers such as Randolph and Miles during the 05-06 season, but the team worked hard for McMillan. Despite their worst-NBA-record finish, the Blazers ended up with only the fourth pick in the draft; but thanks to some deft draft-day trading and maneuvering (which included dumping problem point guard Sebastian Telfair on the Celtics), Portland ended up with power forward/center LaMarcus Aldridge of the University of Texas, the University of Washington's talented guard Brandon Roy, and Spain's point guard Sergio Rodriguez. In the previous year's draft, they managed to pick up hard-working and still-developing guard Jarrett Jack. The young Travis Outlaw continues to mature as a player, and in Portland's last two games this year, he scored 26 and 36 points. I think Darius Miles' season-ending knee injury turned out to be a blessing for the team, as he wasn't around at all. I think that was a big part of keeping a good work ethic going on the ballclub.

Brandon Roy fought off early-season injury problems to average 16.8 poings per game as a rookie. Roy tends to make good decisions, and when it comes to his talent as a shooting guard, the sky's the limit. Will Roy be the ROY? Don't be surprised if he does win the NBA Rookie of the Year award... he's the real deal!

Kevin Pritchard is now the General Manager, and there is already talk of acquiring an impact free agent or two for next year. Coach McMillan and Pritchard are hot on the idea of picking up Seattle's Rashard Lewis, who has played for McMillan and whose addition alone might put the Blazers over the hump and into the playoffs. Lewis put together a great season this year, averaging 22.3 points and 6.6 boards per game, while shooting 39% from three-point range.

Another need is somebody who can be a consistent force under the basket. In the minds of many, the Blazers overpaid for C Joel Przybilla, who didn't perform well and who then wound up injured for most of the season. By the end of the season, Jamaal Magloire was averaging over 10 points and 10 rebounds, but he may not represent a long-term answer at center.

Portland will probably get the 8th pick in this year's NBA draft. They are in the lottery, but with only 53 out of 1000 ping-pong balls. Whatever they do on draft day, I have a feeling it will be interesting. While Zach Randolph improved his attitude and his game this season, it seems like the Blazers might be willing to use him as trade bait. Whoever they get on draft day, I'm sure they will be looking for hard-working, positive "character guys". That has been the Portland tradition, and we Blazer fans have come to expect nothing less.

Larry Bird once said something like "I just HATE watching a guy watch the ball go out of bounds..." Nate McMillan has brought that attitude to Portland. Kevin Pritchard has a great basketball mind. Character does matter, and Pritchard knows this. And unlike Bob Whitsitt, he also knows that character and talent are not mutually exclusive. Things are finally looking up again in Rip City!

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NBA Playoff Update: 4.24.2007 [David Stefanini]

Last night three games were played. The defending champions tried to fight off the possibility of an 0-2 deficit, as Kobe and the Lakers did the same. The New Jersey Nets, who were playing with the 'houses money', tried to go up 2-0. After all the games, only one series was tied at 1 game a piece.

The Toronto Raptors evened up their series with a win last night over the Nets. The Raptors showed poise and control down the stretch, a complete turn around from Game 1. This loss should not bother the Nets at all. They went on the road and took 1 out of 2 games, that is all you can ask for when you are the underdog.

The Phoenix Suns proved to be to much for the Lakers to handle. Kobe wasn't looking to dominate the game and the Lakers could not slow down the un-ending attack of the Suns. The Lakers need to win the next two games to have any shot at a series win. To get those two victories; Kobe has to turn into the old Kobe. He must take 30-40 shots and look to score 60+ points. If that doesn't happen the Lakers will get blown out again.

Finally, the Miami Heat become the third team in history to fall down 0-2 in the first round after winning the title the previous year. Dwyane Wade does not look like himself, and the Bulls are running. Ben Gordon and Luol Deng are playing like super-stars who have been in this league a very long time. Look for a Heat bounce back performance in Game 3, but the Bulls to still win this series in 6 games.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Fessing up about the Devils [Chrissy]

Looks like Mark's posting about the Devils winning their series sparked some comments on a topic a lot of people aren't in agreement about.

When Mark and our mutual friend Chris (I mentioned him in a previous posting) were in Philly for the Eagles/Giants game, the three of us met up at a bar prior to the game. Mark goes to me, "I just don't know how anyone could ever date a Devils fan." I smiled because Mark didn't know. It reminded me of the time that my boyfriend and I, hand in hand, walked toward the Wachovia Center, him in his Devils jersey, me in my Flyers jersey. A scalper saw us, stopped asking people if they wanted tickets, and said to us, "How do y'all get it on?"


In high school I absolutely despised the Devils with a passion. Back during my senior year of high school Scott Stevens almost ended Eric Lindros' career and definitely ended the Stanley Cup hopes for the Flyers as they came back from a 3-1 deficit to win the series. I hated them before this, but this supported my feelings even more.

Going off to college exposed me to a lot of New York and New Jersey fans which didn't help. People tell me now how there aren't that many Devils fans out there (and judging by the games I've been to at the Meadowlands, I agree) but there sure seemed to be a lot of them at my campus.

After college, I continued my hatred just as any other Philly fan would. But, I started hanging out with a college friend who also lived in Philly. We didn't know each other too well back then, but since we were both in the city together, we started to hang out which eventually led to dating. We knew we had our differences (meaning we liked rival hockey teams) but we had one important thing in common, we both hated the Rangers.

When we started dating, I continued my hatred...which escalated whenever the Devils would beat the Flyers. Whenever I started to tolerate them, they would beat us and would make me hate them even more. I started to know more about the Devils, though, since I was stuck watching them on nights when the Flyers weren't playing.

*End Flashback*

So I guess it isn't quite Romeo and Juliet or anything like that. But yes, Flyers and Devils fans can get along. Just as long as the Rangers are still the Rangers. And with the Flyers not doing so well this year, I get some sympathy.

And a few comments on the hockey fan base to stir up the debate:
  • NHL attendance has been increasing since the late 90's
  • Even though teams don't sell out does not mean that they aren't making money
  • After the lockout fan attendance was the highest ever
  • Even though national tv ratings are bad due to a lack of casual fan interest, local tv ratings are excellent and surpass the NBA showing that local die hard fans watch their teams, they just don't care about all of the other NHL teams

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Pistons, Rockets go up 2-0 [David Stefanini]

As expected the Detroit Pistons are up 2-0 in their best of seven series against the Orlando Magic. The Magic are over matched and are playing like a young team that don't know how to win. The Pistons are taking full advantage of this and are dominating the series. From the tip of each of the first two games, it has been clear who the superior team was. Like true champions, the Pistons are crushing the Magic's spirit before the game reaches the end of the first period.

In the Western Conference, the Houston Rockets beat the Utah Jazz 98-90 to take a 2-0 lead in their series. The Rockets star power is just to much for the Jazz to compete with. Carlos Boozer is played amazing last night scoring 41 points, but Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady would not let the Jazz take the lead.

The Rockets are very deep with great role players. There strategy last night was flawless. If T-Mac was missing, throw it into Yao and let him dominate. If that didn't work, drop the ball to Yao, let him kick it out for a wide-open three. Let Shane Battier play stifling defense and let Boozer try to beat us himself.

This strategy has worked so far, and the strategy should keep up throughout the rest of this series. The Rockets are going to be a very tough out; expect to see them playing late into this month.

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Something To Think About... [A.J. Cordi]

Remember in 2006 when almost all of New York was booing Alex Rodriguez? Remember how he made error after error and only seemed to hit the ball when the Yankees were winning? Look at how things have changed for 2007...

A-Rod Monday night hit home runs number 13 and 14, tying the major league record for homers in April. A-Rod, the present MLB Hitting Triple Crown Leader, is also on pace to break both the home run and RBI record.

Wouldn't ya know it... everything's backwards now! A-Rod is doing good and the Yankees are doing bad. Well, it's not fair to single out the entire team. The main reason they are losing is because the injury bug contaminated their starting pitchers. But thinking overall, look at how things have changed.

The real question now is whether or not A-Rod will accept the role as a Yankee, or turn on the team. There's no telling if he will opt out of his contract and sign with the Cubs. There's also no telling whether he will opt out and demand more money to re-sign.

However, I think it's safe to say that A-Rod will remain a Yankee for now. After all, he's finally beginning to smile.

For the article on the Yankees loss Monday night, click here.

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Author David Halberstam Dies at 73 [J. Mark English]

When I started this sports blog a year ago I knew that its strength would not be built upon my own writing skills. I never went to a journalist school, or even excelled in my English classes in college. Despite my last name, English is not my area of expertise. Reading the sports sections of great papers such as the New York Times and the Washington Post has given me a much fonder appreciation of the writings these papers produce. The way they can take a moment in sports, and put it into a context that can soften the blow of a loss, and raise the thrill of victory. They allow reflection, and deeper meaning to the sports we follow fanatically. The great writers such as Murray Chase, or Thomas Boswell, allow us to take a step back and look at sports with a deeper awareness.

David Halberstam was such a writer. Some of his better known books that he wrote were The Breaks of the Game, Summer of '49, Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World he Made, Bill Bellichick: The Education of a Coach.

Sadly, yesterday the life of David Halberstam came to an end in a car accident. Below is his obituary from the New York Times:

David Halberstam, a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer who chronicled the Vietnam War generation, civil rights and the world of sports, was killed in a car crash Monday, his wife and local authorities said. He was 73.

Halberstam, of New York, was a passenger in a car that was broadsided by another vehicle in Menlo Park, south of San Francisco, San Mateo County Coroner Robert Foucrault said. The cause of death appeared to be internal injuries, he said.

The accident occurred around 10:30 a.m., and Halberstam was declared dead at the scene, Menlo Park Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman said.

The driver of the car carrying Halberstam and the person driving the car that crashed into his were injured, but not seriously.

Halberstam was being driven by a graduate journalism student from the University of California, Berkeley, which had hosted a speech by the author Saturday night about journalism and what it means to turn reporting into a work of history. They were headed to an interview he had scheduled with Hall of Fame quarterback Y.A. Tittle.

Halberstam was working on a book, ''The Game,'' about the 1958 NFL championship between the Baltimore Colts and the New York Giants, often called the greatest game ever played, said his wife, Jean Halberstam.

She said she would remember him most for his ''unending, bottomless generosity to young journalists.''

''For someone who obviously was so competitive with himself, the generosity with other writers was incredible,'' she said.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Photos: Dungy and the Colts Visit the White House [J. Mark English]

A-Rod Hits 2 More: When is Enough, Enough? [David Stefanini]

Is Alex Rodriguez serious? I am watching the Yankee game right now and in the 9th inning, with a runner on first A-Rod comes up and with one swing of the bat cuts a 4 run lead down to 2. This wasn't even his first homer of the night, it was his second. With his second home run of the night he pushes his total to #14, that is more than eight TEAMS.

I am sort of tired about writing about this. Similarly the analysts on Baseball Tonight are also, they are just laughing at the numbers A-Rod is putting up. They are sitting, looking at each other with dumb-founded looks on their faces. I also, am at a lost for words right now, the scariest part about this is what if he doesn't slow down? As one analyst has pointed out, what if he stays on this pace and gets up near an 80, 90 home run count? Sure we are getting ahead of ourselves, but right now he is hitting anything thrown at any part of the plate. What are we going to do if he gets close to 80, is that even imaginable?

When I saw him hit his first of the night I told myself I was not going to write about it, because this site has written plenty about A-Rod this season and has been a big supporter of him. However he went 4-5 with 2 HR, 3 RBI, and 4 RUNS. Those numbers and his performance made me right about him. But I had an idea while I was writing this, why not let him try to pitch? The Yanks can not pitch for their lives right now, why not use A-Rod? He is doing everything else right and can he really do worse than any other pitcher on the staff right now? He can't do anything wrong and is on a world of his own, why not let the man try to record a few outs for the team?

My final point of the night is this: is A-Rod worth the money? He is getting around 25 million a year. Now that is a lot of money for anybody but consider this, entering tonight the Angels had 12 home runs as a team. Their payroll is over $109 million and A-Rod is out producing the entire team. So is A-Rod worth the money, yes.

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Yankees Pitching Staff is in Deep Trouble [David Stefanini]

The Boston Red Sox beat the New York Yankees on the strength of 4 consecutive home runs in the 3rd inning. The final score was 7-6.
This game said a lot more about the Yanks than it did for the Red Sox. If the Yankees do not get some help in their pitching staff they are going to have many problems this season. Last night they had to bring in Andy Pettitte to pitch in relief for the second time this season.
Their pitchers look exhausted when they are out there. They have pitched way to many inning so far this season. If this pace keeps up the pitcher's arms are going to fall off. Scott Proctor, for example, is a middle relief pitcher on the team. He has made appearances in 12 of the 17 games they have played. Last year he lead the A.L in appearance with 83, but he is on pace for 114 this season.
They are going to have to call up a Triple-A pitcher to simply fill in and eat up innings. If the pitchers are already tired and fatigued, what are they going to be like after the All-Star break? Torre needs to find a way to eat up some innings and give his bullpen a well deserved rest. Luckily for the Yanks however, A-Rod is playing like he is on another planet, so giving up a lot of runs doesn't translate to that many losses. If this keeps up, it will translate to a lot of losses.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Anthony, Iverson to Much for Spurs [David Stefanini]

The Denver Nuggets are in the playoffs to make some major noise.

This is a team with two of the best players in the league who were simply to much for the Spurs to contend with tonight. Throughout the game Iverson or 'Melo would hit a big shot to keep the Nuggets in the lead. Iverson and 'Melo were working well together and that is a scary thing for the rest of the NBA. Neither of these two superstars were being selfish and both were looking to help each other out.

We all know they have no problem putting the ball in the hoop, but they proved tonight they are working as one on the defensive end as well.

I picked the Nuggets to win this series, and they are looking like a good pick. It is only one game, but this is the playoffs and every game matters.

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Dice-K and the Gyro [J. Mark English]

I'm watching the Yankees / Red Sox game right now. Maybe its just me, and keep in mind I am biased, but I don't buy into all of the hype about how great this rivalry is, especially when its this early in the season. I feel like since the early 2000's I've overdosed on this match-up. Its a bit mind numbing to have to hear just how great it is that these two teams meet up. Yes, I am a bitter, disgruntled, Mets fan, but still this is my subject opinion.

Seriously though, watching this match-up in April and getting really psyched up for it is like getting pumped up for the presidential primaries a full year before one can actually vote. Its a bit overrated to the person who does not have a vested interest in the match-up. I'll take my Mets / Braves rivalry any day over the Yanks / Red Sox.

I'm just full of "what grinds my gears" comments tonight aren't I?

Anyway, the reason why I am even watching this game is to see Dice-K and his Gyro pitch. Here is a great clip from ESPN about what exactly the Gyro does:

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New Jersey Devils Advance (argh) [J. Mark English]

Chrissy, Philadelphia, New York, and me (and A.J.?)...we can all agree. We despise the New Jersey Devils. With the exception perhaps of David. By the way, how many Devil fans actually exist? I mean where do they live? Do they live with the keebler elves? Is that why they are so hard to find because they hide in tress?

I mean seriously, this is a team that struggles to sell out a PLAYOFF game. In game one against Tampa Bay their attendance was 14,495. Are you kidding me? Is that the best they can do. And they are going to be the first team in the tri-state area to get a new stadium. Do they really deserve one?

The last few times they have won the Cup they could only get a handful of fans to fill the parking lot the Meadowlands to celebrate their victory. Imagine the eruption that would occur in Philadelphia if that city won oh say a lacrosse championship. It would make New Jersey look pretty damn said compared to a sports loving town like Philadelphia, and even New York.

Grrrrr. To borrow a phrase from Peter Griffin, it just really grinds my gears that the franchise exists. They have three Stanley Cups, which is perfect since that is one championship for every fan they have.

Be that as it may, the Devils advanced today by defeating the Tampa Bay Lightening four games to two. If somehow the New York Rangers can get past the Buffalo Sabres, and the Devils past the Ottawa Senators, then it would not only be a rematch of last years first round match up but a rematch of the famed 1994 Eastern Conference Finals which was one of the best playoff series of all time.

Here is a recap of todays game from the New Jersey Devils website:

The script for game six could have fit on a cocktail napkin.

First, score the first goal. Second, get outstanding goaltending from Martin Brodeur.

The Devils executed step one on a first-period tally from Brian Gionta, and Brodeur held up his end of the bargain with 32 saves, as New Jersey eliminated the Tampa Bay Lightning from the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 3-2 victory at the St. Pete Times Forum on Sunday.

The Devils wrapped up their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal four games to two, and advance to play the Ottawa Senators in the second round.

In each of the previous five games, the team to score first was able to secure a win. It was surely a good sign, then, when Patrik Elias fed a short pass from the middle of the ice to a breaking Gionta, and the Devils’ right winger beat Lightning netminder Johan Holmqvist high to his short side for a power play marker at 15:29 of the opening period.

It was the first of three assists in the game for Elias, who has surpassed the 100-point plateau for his playoff career, and now has 101 points (35g-66a) in the postseason.

With the first lead of the game claimed by New Jersey, Brian Rafalski then made it 2-0 at 1:21 of the second period, as the Devils scored their first two goals with the man advantage.

Later in the period, with Scott Gomez serving a New Jersey penalty for too many men, Tampa closed to within one of the Devils when Brad Richardsone-timer from the right circle beat Brodeur at 5:10.

But the Devils needed just 39 seconds to respond, as a Lightning defensive zone turnover resulted in Gionta’s second of the game at 5:49. He now has five goals this postseason, one behind Zach Parise for the league lead.

Neither team scored in the third period, though the Lightning created a handful of excellent opportunities against Brodeur. Most noteworthy was a stop that Brodeur made against Lightning defenseman Filip Kuba with just under seven minutes remaining in regulation.

A game after the Devils had blocked 20 Lightning shots, Brodeur received the same support once more, as this time the Devils got in the way of 13 Tampa attempts, including six by Richard Matvichuk.

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Baseball Round Up [J. Mark English]

  • He's getting closer. Barry Bonds hits homer number 740. He is now within of 15 of Hank Aaron's record.
  • This is just a bizarre story from the Mets game the other day against the Braves: A New York Mets fan pleaded not guilty Sunday to shining a high-powered flashlight at an Atlanta Braves pitcher and shortstop during a game at Shea Stadium.

    Frank Martinez was arraigned in Queens criminal court on charges of interfering with a professional sporting event and second-degree reckless endangerment. He was held on $1,000 bail and is due back in court May 1.

  • Wow the Philadelphia Phillies actually did something right yesterday. Cole Hamels showed that they can win if you just leave the starting pitcher in for the whole game. He struck out 15, and pitched all nine innings. On top of that the Phillies pulled a triple play.
  • Dan Rosenheck of the New York Times: Who hit better last year, Alex Rodriguez or David Wright? Carlos Beltrán or Jason Giambi? For that matter, which was a better team on the whole, the Yankees or the Mets?

    Fans acquainted with modern statistical evaluation may eschew traditional metrics in such debates, and compare the players’ on-base and slugging percentages with the league average to make their case. But though both pairs of sluggers hit the same relative to their leagues last year, there’s no doubting that the Yankees’ players were more valuable. And although the teams had the same 2006 won-lost record and split their interleague games, last year’s Yankees probably would have beaten the Mets comfortably had they played more games against each other.

    The Yankees were superior because they faced a subtle but significant disadvantage: their league. The gap between the American League and the National League has grown larger in the past two years than at any point since the 1950s, when the N.L. integrated black players much faster than the A.L. did. According to Nate Silver of Baseball Prospectus, a typical A.L. hitter moving to the N.L. can expect to gain about 10 points of batting average and on-base percentage and 20 points of slugging percentage. A.L. pitchers switching leagues will usually have their earned run averages decrease because of the absence of the designated hitter in the N.L., but Silver calculates that the E.R.A. of an A.L. pitcher switching leagues is likely to drop by 0.25 runs more than can be accounted for by the D.H.

    At a team level, an average A.L. squad would probably improve its record by about 10 games if it could face N.L. competition, meaning that last year’s Yankees probably would have been a 107-win juggernaut if they had played the Mets’ schedule. The same is true in reverse: if the 2006 Mets had played in the A.L., they would have won only 87 games and missed the playoffs. This is about the same difference in league strength as the gap between today’s N.L. and Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball.

    Some variation in league strength is not uncommon in baseball history, but the magnitude of today’s imbalance is remarkable. The cause is straightforward: A.L. teams have spent more money on players than their N.L. counterparts. In 2005, the average N.L. team had a $71 million payroll, while the average A.L. team’s was $75 million. Since then, N.L. spending has increased only slightly, to $74 million a team, while salaries in the A.L. have soared to $93 million a team.

    Surprisingly, the Yankees cannot be directly blamed for this trend. They are one of only two A.L. teams that have reduced their payroll since 2005. The Red Sox, often accused of imitating the Evil Empire, are not the primary culprits, either — their $20 million increase in spending over the past two years is right around the A.L. average.

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Lakers Lose Game 1 [David Stefanini]

Despite 39 points from Kobe Bryant the Lakers drop game 1 to the Phoenix Suns 95-87. It was a great game, which was closely contested throughout. The Lakers had an 9 point lead going into the 3rd quarter and a 3 point lead going into the 4th.

This series is not going to be an easy series win for the Suns as everyone has predicted. The Lakers match up well with the Suns, as they did last season when they had a commanding 3 games to 1 lead in the first round.

I said the Lakers would beat the Suns in seven games because the Suns do not play defense. The Lakers are banged up and are going to need a lot from Lamar Odom to have a real shot at beating the Suns. We all know we can expect Kobe to get between 30-40 every game, and probably one game of 50, but Odom is the real key.

He had a great game today getting 17 points and 16 rebounds. However those numbers were countered with 16 and 16 from Shaun Marion. Just like last years first round match-up, this series is going to be determined between the play of those two individuals. If Lamar Odom can shut down 'The Matrix', the Lakers are going to be in every game and have a very good chance at winning.

It is going to be fun to watch this series play out. Hopefully, the Lakers can come back and steal a win in game 2, to claim home court advantage.

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Patriotism Through Baseball [J. Mark English]

Chrissy mentioned under my post about Virginia Tech and Normalcy that she had remembered a similar thing that happened after September 11, 2001. HBO a few years ago came out with a special called "Nine Innings" about how baseball helped restore hope in the hearts of minds of New Yorks following the attacks. Here is a small clip:

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Wait no More! [Chrissy]

Sorry for the long break in between posts. I guess with the only things going on in Philly being Phillies season and the end of a semester, I don't have too much to comment on.

The first round of NHL playoffs are starting to end...and the Islanders are out. Rangers sailed by (argh!) and the Devils might win or go to a Game 7. And did you hear about Sidney Crosby playing on a broken foot? I remember a certain Flyer who sued under the same circumstances...

Anyway, my thoughts on the Phillies. That website that Mark mentioned is basically how I see the Phillies. I don't expect much from them, so let's celebrate something if we aren't winning! I am not a huge baseball fan. I do go to several games during the Spring and Summer and it is a really great way to spend a relaxing afternoon in the sun. But yeah, I don't expect much so when they lose it isn't really a big deal. The Phillies losing has been going on for quite a while now so it pretty much is second nature.

If this were the Eagles then it would be another story.

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Through Baseball, Virgina Tech Feels Normalcy [J. Mark English]

Years ago, I lost someone very close to me through suicide. The biggest challenge of recovering from a loss like that is getting back into normal routines. That spring I tried out for my school's baseball team. The process of playing baseball and attending practice every day had a cathartic feel. It helped bring a sense of normalcy that I desperately needed.

Last night Virginia Tech took its first step towards that path. Its baseball team played its first game since the terrible tragedy on Monday. Here with the recap is Hokie Sports:

An English Field record 3,132 fans turned out on Friday night to witness the first Virginia Tech athletic event in Blacksburg since Monday's tragic events, and they nearly saw the Hokies pull off the improbable before falling 11-9 to the Miami Hurricanes in Atlantic Coast Conference baseball action.

Down 10-5 in the eighth inning, Tech mounted a furious comeback that was cut just short by an incredible catch at the wall that robbed Tech shortstop Warren Schaeffer of a game-tying home run.

The Hokies (17-21, 4-15 ACC) came to the plate in the bottom of the ninth down 11-8, and came within inches of tying it up. Centerfielder Nate Parks (Roanoke, Va.) hit a one-out single before stealing second, and moved to third on first baseman Sean O'Brien's ground out. Third baseman Bryan Thomas (Wilmington, N.C.) stroked a single to left to plate Parks, bringing shortstop Warren Schaeffer (Vandergrift, Pa.) to the plate. The senior launched what looked to be a sure home run to deep left field, but Miami left fielder Nick Freitas leapt at the wall to pull the ball back into the park and end the game.

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Say it Ain't 'Mo [David Stefanini]

The Yankees were playing the Boston Red Soxs. They needed a few things to come out with a win, Andy Pettitte to pitch well and Alex Rodriguez to stay unconscious while swinging the bat. Both of those things happened.

Pettitte pitched a beautiful game, giving up only 2 ER in 6.1 IP. He had control of his pitches and got out of a few tough jams that were brought upon him.

A-Rod played out of this world again. He went 3-5 with a double, two home-runs and 4 RBI's. He now has 12 home runs and 30 RBI's.

The one thing the Yankees figured they had in the bank was at the end of the game, if they had a lead. they could give the ball to Mariano Rivera, the best closer in MLB history. So that's exactly what Joe Torre did. Unfortunately for the Yanks they did not want to bring 'Mo in, in the 8th inning with runners on first and third with only 1 out. However it was still a save opportunity and Mariano got the ball.

Mariano could not hold the lead and the Red Sox capped off one of the best come from behind victories in this early season.

Rivera does not have his control yet. He was missing his spots and let a few pitches get away from him. Luckily for the Yanks it's very early in the season and he has plenty of time to get out of this slump. Rivera has gone through this sort of thing before, it takes him a few appearances before he gets his control down, and the it is a matter of time before he gets everything working and it is impossible to get any runs off of him.

I am more concerned about the Yankees in the future. It is amazing what A-Rod is accomplishing but this run is not going to last throughout the season. Once he settles back down to Earth they are going to need other people to start hitting and scoring runs without the help of A-Rod.

This was the one game in the series that the Yankees had a good chance of winning. They have two pitchers that they don't know what to expect and the Red Sox are putting out two pitchers who they have high hopes for this season. Torre managed this game as if this is the one he needed to win; now he has to try to find a way to get one out of the next two games in this series.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Party's Over: Islanders Season Comes to a Close [J. Mark English]

You can't say they put up quite a fight against the Buffalo Sabres, but the Islanders were just too over matched to keep up with the best seeded team in the conference. Coach Ted Nolan should have a lot to fodder about during the off season given all the calls that went against his team.

Jason Lockhart puts a wrap on the Islanders season:

Down 3-0 to the Buffalo Sabres heading into the third period, the Islanders put up a heroic fight in the final 20 minutes, only to fall 4-3 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. The Sabres move onto the Eastern Conference Semifinals with a 4-1 series win.

Goals by Drew Stafford, Jason Pominville and Derek Roy put the Sabres in complete control through two periods and well on their way to an easy win, but the Islanders played their most inspired period of hockey all season to get within one.

Miroslav Satan, Trent Hunter and Chris Campoli scored for the Islanders in the third period, while Maxim Afinogenov countered for the Sabres.

Campoli cut the lead to 4-3 with 6:53 remaining in the third period to give the Islanders that much time to send it into overtime.

It was on their final rush when looked as if they might just do it. Satan took the puck along the right-wing side and made a strong cut to the front of the net. He busted around one defender and then goaltender Ryan Miller. Satan swept the puck towards the open net, but Miller spun around and blocked the puck with the back of his glove saving a goal and ending the Islanders' season.

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