Posts Tagged ‘ESPN’

It’s League Championship Series time and, boy, did I get it wrong.  Before the divisional series started I thought Minnesota, Tampa, Philadelphia and San Francisco would all go through.  Well, I got half of it right.  I though the Giants had too much pitching for the Braves and the same went for Philadelphia against the Reds.  I was right about that part.  The other two games, not so much.

The Twins finished the season playing .620 baseball over the last two months while the Yankees limped in going 29-30 in August and September.  Maybe the loss of Justin Morneau was too much for 3rd best hitting team in the majors.  Having Joe Mauer bat .250 with no extra-base hits didn’t help either.

 

Joe Mauer will OWN baseball someday, just not this year

 

Cliff Lee and Texas were too much for the Rays.  When you’re 26th in batting during the regular season, like the Rays were, it’s hard to score runs when you fall behind.  A team like the Rangers can get hot in a hurry, Tampa can’t.

ALCS

New York Yankees v Texas Rangers

Pitching Matchups:

Game 1 @ Texas – CC Sabathia v C.J Wilson

Game 2 @ Texas – Phil Hughes v Colby Lewis

Game 3 @ NY – Cliff Lee v Andy Petitte

Game 4 @ NY – Tommy Hunter v A.J. Burnett

The rest of the games are TBD.  Game 5 is also in New York and the final two games are in Texas, if necessary.

Sabathia and Hughes are probably the better pitchers in the first two games.  A win by either or both would be huge for New York.  Game three is where it gets tricky.  Andy Petitte has been money whenever the Yanks have needed him in the postseason but he’s no Cliff Lee.  Lee is 6-0 with a 1.44 ERA lifetime in the postseason.  He went 2-0 with 21 strikeouts in two starts against the Rays.  Texas is paying the price for not closing out Tampa in the ALDS.  I’m sure the Rangers would’ve wanted Lee and/or Tommy Hunter in those first two games in Texas.

 

Can he stay hot?

 

Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz tore it up for Texas against Tampa but they will need Josh Hamilton and Michael Young to find their swings if they want to beat New York.  Kinsler batted .444 (8/18) with 3 homers and 6 RBI.  Cruz went 8/20 (.400) with 3 homers but struck out six times.  That might be a problem against the Yankees.  Hamilton and Young went a combined .132 (5/38) with six strikeouts each.

Curtis Granderson is batted .455 (5/11) against the Twins.  He only batted .247 in the regular season.  Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez have seven hits between them but they’re all singles and that won’t be enough for the Yankees to get by.  As a team Texas is batting .254 while the Yankees come in at .314.  Can the Yankees keep up this pace?

I saw on ESPN where they have the team matchups and they gave the edge to Texas in coaching.  How do you figure?  Am I wrong or did Joe Girardi win the World Series last year?

NLDS

San Francisco Giants v Philadelphia Phillies

Pitching Matchups:

Game 1 @ Philadelphia – Tim Lincecum v Roy Halladay

Game 2 @ Philadelphia – Jonathan Sanchez v Cole Hamels

Game 3 @ San Francisco – Roy Oswalt v Matt Cain

Game 4 @ San Francisco – TBD v TBD

Joe Blanton (Philadelphia) and Madison Bumgarner (SF) are the other starting pitchers but either or both teams might opt for a three-man rotation.  Game 5 is also in San Francisco and the final two games are in Philadelphia, if necessary.

Make sure to watch game one of this series.  Even if your team is not playing right now and you have no interest in this game, this is a must see game.  Lincecum and Halladay are two of the top pitchers in the game over the last three seasons.  If you like baseball, you’ll love this game.  Tim Lincecum threw a complete game one-hit shutout against the Braves in game one of their series.  Roy Halladay did him one better by throwing the second no-hitter in postseason history against the Reds in game one of that series.  I can’t say it enough, watch this game.

 

You usually don't want to bet against this guy

 

Jonathan Sanchez and Cole Hamels are similar in regular season stats.  Hamels threw a complete game shutout with 9 strikeouts to clinch the series against Cincinnati.  Sanchez gave up 1 earned run with 11 strikeouts in a no-decision against Atlanta.

Roy Oswalt and Matt Cain are also similar in stats but Oswalt has a lower ERA.  Cain went 6.2 innings with 0 earned runs in a no-decision against the Braves.  Oswalt only lasted 5 innings in his only outing, giving up 3 earned runs and 2 home runs.  This matchup could determine who wins this series.

Neither team is hitting particularly well.  Both teams hit .212 in their divisional series.  Don’t expect that number to get any higher in the first game.

Who Wins:

Philadelphia has too much pitching not to win this series.  Roy Oswalt only needs an above average game to beat the Giants.

Same goes for New York, too much pitching.  Sabathia and Hughes are better than Wilson and Lewis.  Lee should be able to handle Petitte.  It’s game four that will be huge.  A.J. Burnett was terrible in the regular season.  He went 10-15 with a 5.26 ERA.  Tommy Hunter went 13-4 with a 3.73 ERA in the regular season but lasted only 4 innings against the Rays.  Is A.J. Burnett better than a 10-15 pitcher?  Yes.  Can he show it against the Rangers?  That remains to be seen.

 

Which A.J. Burnett will show up?

 

Get ready for a Philly – New York World Series.  I’m sure the rest of the country can’t wait for that.

 

I'd watch this, again.

 

Joba Walks

Posted: August 27, 2010 by The Bearded Guy in Baseball
Tags: , , , , ,

Recently ESPN’s Rick Reilly did a story about a blind Yankees’ a fan named Jane who walks to approximately 30 games a year on a trip that takes her 2 and half hours.  The story reminds me of some of real good stuff when he was on the back page of SI, a moving piece about life and sports. It was also a great public relations move  (They surely wouldn’t have done it without all the press knowing about it).  My interest is why aren’t we talking more about Nebraska native and current Yankee pitcher Joba Chamberlain’s walking abilities or why didn’t Reilly include the second part of the Joba quote:

“Hey! Slow down!”….”I haven’t made this walk since last Spring!”

I mean, wasn’t it rather recently (late 2008) that he was arrested for a DUI?  If this is the case, maybe he and Jane could walk together more often, but alas the state laws only suspended his license for 60 days for a first time  offense.

But consider if Joba took this stance, ‘I am going to walk every day to Yankee home games.  I know I am going to go out and have some drinks after the game with either my teammates, or some good-looking fan and I want to make the responsible decision, and not repeat a past mistake. I want to show people I have really learned.’

It would be a revolutionary move in Public Relations, and plenty of reporters would come out with the Yankee pitcher and paint him as a face of responsibility. Imagine that someone going out partying as a young professional athlete while also being the spokesperson for responsibility.

Salute

The Bearded Guy

LeBron James’ ill conceived “The Decison”  happened  on July 8th but the bad taste it left in everyone’s mouth is still here.  To be honest, I am not an LBJ fan and couldn’t care less where he decided to go unless it was to my beloved Clippers.  If that had happened, he would have automatically been my favorite player.  That didn’t happen but what did happen left most sports fans disillusioned with LeBron, ESPN and the state of sports in general.

The people of Cleveland beg to differ

I will tell you what I think about “The Decision” in a minute but if you want to get it from a pro please go to ESPN’s Ombudsman, Don Ohlmeyer, and read his magnificent piece on “The Decision”.  Ohlmeyer’s article is probably one of my favorite pieces of sports writing in a long, long time.  The only thing I would’ve added is that this wasn’t the first time ESPN blurred the line between being a news organization and self promotion.  The Adam James/Mike Leach saga last December showed that ESPN had trouble being truthful and objective when the story concerned one of their own.  Here’s Ohlmeyer’s take on that too.  Another good read.

But even before that there was ESPN’s promotion of baseball’s Home Run Derby between 1995 and 2006 and the Sosa-McGwire saga of 1998.  I have no problem with the Derby but I did have a problem with ESPN being outraged to learn that baseball players were on the juice.  I wrote a little about it here.  ESPN had specials on the Sosa-McGuire home run battle and they would even cut in on all Sosa and McGwire at bats late in the season but no one ever thought to question if these guys were clean.  Later, they felt betrayed by both Sosa and McGwire after the whole congressional hearings thing played out.  That’s an insult to all sports fans because we all had an idea it was happening but wondered why it wasn’t investigated more.  When Selig made his big announcement that MLB would be cleaning up the game of PED’s, the only people surprised to hear that players were on the juice were ESPN and MLB.  I could write a World Cup length piece on it but I’m on vacation and can’t be bothered right now.  I’ll wait until some big name star gets outed for using to write that.

Note to ESPN: A lot of people feel this way

Back to “The Decision”.  ESPN had to know that having an hour-long, prime-time show was overkill and wouldn’t go over well with anyone not living in South Beach.  If they didn’t, then they don’t know their audience and are out of touch with todays ever cynical sports fans.  Truthfully, I didn’t watch it but already hated the idea when I heard it.  I didn’t know all the details until I read the Ombudsman’s piece on it.  How did ESPN allow itself to be taken over by LeBron and his posse for one night?  What was the reward?  Sure they did mad numbers but at what cost?  They didn’t make any money because LeBron pretty much made them pay for the privilege of allowing him to be on their airwaves that night.  Plus, ESPN should’ve known that something was up when LeBron decided that he wanted the loathsome Jim Gray to conduct the interview of him on a show LeBron and Co. conceived.  My favorite quote from the Ohlmeyer piece has to do with Gray’s involvement.  Ohlmeyer writes, “if the interviewee also brings along his own interviewer, you cannot protect the integrity of the broadcast”.  Word!!!

Jim Gray? What, wasn't Stephen A. Smith available?

Not only was ESPN at fault but how did LeBron not realize what the backlash was going to be?  He went from a loveable man-child to probably one the most hated guys in the NBA.  He’s right up there with Kobe now.  I hate Kobe Bryant and now LeBron but I can’t deny these guys are talented as hell.  Oddly, I think Kobe benefits from this short-sightedness by LeBron.  I immediately wished Kobe was in the gym at the time of the broadcast and thinking to himself, “I’m gonna turn it up this year and there ain’t nothing 6-3-1 can do about it.”  Kobe somehow was more tolerable to me and another Lakers championship wouldn’t be as hard to swallow as a Miami Heat triumph.

Go ahead and win another title. As long as 6-3-1 doesn't I'm cool with it

LeBron James, for all his business acumen, seems like an insecure child sometimes.  He’s already defined his career and legacy as a failure is he doesn’t win a ring.  He needs that ring to be Michael Jordan or better.  The only thing is that Michael would never have gone to another team to get what he wanted.  Michael was going to make things happen on his terms.  People would have to join him and not the other way around.  Kobe is the same.  Magic and Larry Bird were also the same.  LeBron just wants to be part of something and if that gets him the ring, nothing else matters.  That’s why he’ll never be like Mike.

Jordan would've never joined The Bad Boys. It was his way or no way

Was it worth it LeBron?

Does Dwyane Wade realize that he’s gonna be LBJ’s lackey in Miami and not the other way around?

Be careful what you wish for Dwyane

Yes, Armando Galarraga got jobbed out of a perfect game.  No, that doesn’t mean baseball needs to start thinking about installing instant replay for every single play.  The worst thing MLB could do is have instant replay.  It would be a knee-jerk reaction that would damage the game that hasn’t quite recovered from labor strife in the mid-90’s.

Perfect games aren't that special anymore anyway. There's already been two this year.

Baseball is no longer America’s favorite pastime.  The NFL is king and baseball will never be able to touch football when it comes to fan interest and the amount of money it generates.  The 1994 strike damaged the game and you could say it never really came all the way back.  Sure, the long ball brought fans back but not everyone.  Baseball and baseball writers looked the other way when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were launching cartoonish bombs out of every stadium they went to in 1998.  Remember the jacks Sosa and Jason Giambi were hitting at Miller Park during the All Star game in 2002?  MLB and ESPN were eating it up and now they’re both disgusted with the players of that time and all the reports of PEDs.  Sometimes how we remember things and how they actually happened aren’t the same.

You let it happen Bud because baseball needed them

Now, Armando Galarraga is about to throw the 21st perfect game in baseball history, the 19th of the modern era, but a horrible call by first base umpire Jim Joyce spoiled the party.  Immediately the guys at the Worldwide Leader jumped on it and instant replay was all the rage with the talking heads.  Bud Selig, who seldom gets things right said it best when he said, “the human element has always been an integral part of baseball.”  The thing that makes baseball great, in my opinion, is that humans are in charge.  And, as we all know, humans make mistakes.  Sometimes the ball that outfielder dove for was a trap, sometimes that called third strike was a bit low and sometimes the runner is out when the umpire calls him safe.

I F'd up, it happens

As much as Selig has always opposed instant replay, he may have no choice but to give in on this one because you know the owners will be breathing down his neck.  The owners would be making a big mistake getting replay involved in every game.  The games are already long enough and kids aren’t flocking to the game like they used to.  Do you think more stoppages and longer games will help?  World Series games already end at close to 12 a.m. on the east coast.  I can envision games lasting until 1 a.m if replay is involved.

I was talking to a guy, let’s call him Tom, and he liked the idea of instant replay.  On a side note, this conversation really happened.  It wasn’t someone else’s conversation that I heard or read and made my own.  You’d be surprised how often this happens, even in Korea. Back to replay.  Tom thinks that because someone is already at the stadium watching the replays then why not have him do it officially.  The replay guy could butt in between pitches if he thinks a play should go the other way.  No challenges or anything.  He can just call down whenever he feels like it to change the game.  Sounds easy but what about the managers getting pissed and coming out to argue the overturned call?  That won’t make the game any faster.  Calls on the bases, catches, stolen bases, etc….  When does it stop?  Soon people will be clamoring for pitches to be reviewed and that will add to the nightmare.

I hope we don't see this in Major League Baseball

Don’t fix baseball ’cause it’s not really broken.  The players might be bigger, faster, stronger but the game is still the same as it’s always been.  Sometimes the guys in blue get it wrong but hey, it happens.  Don’t give in Bud, you’ve hurt the game enough.

It's the same game Stan "The Man" played

“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again. Oh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come. ”  -James Earl Jones, Field of Dreams”

I just caught up with the first two episodes of WWE NXT and I am really impressed with this show.  Don’t get me wrong, I liked what the new ECW was but it had run its course.  Guys like Christian, Zack Ryder, and Shelton Benjamin should be in the big time.  ECW gave us new stars and reinvented some veterans but WWE needed to make the change and try something different.  Now we have NXT and, if you’re a wrestling fan, you should be watching it.

TNA is garbage.  It’s always been garbage and now, with Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff, it’s even bigger garbage that probably won’t live to see 2011.  The NXT rookies are more compelling and have more swagger and charisma than TNA World Champion AJ Styles and he’s been in TNA for eight years.  Maybe that’s why NXT is doing better ratings in the last two weeks than TNA.  It took TNA seven years to make it to at least a 1.4 rating and NXT did it in its first week.  If you’re not watching TNA, don’t bother.  If you are watching it, why?

TNA wishes it was this good

The premise of NXT is simple.  Eight “rookies” are each paired with a WWE “pro”  There are some good pairings and some pairings are train wrecks.  I’m sure the relationships between the individual rookies and pro’s will develop and, in some cases, deteriorate over the course of the show.  The pro’s will vote for and against a rookie but they can’t vote for their own rookie either way.  This means that the rookies have to learn from their pro’s but they have to impress everyone.  The winner will become a WWE Superstar.

Matt Striker is the host of the show which airs on Syfy on Tuesday nights at 10pm EST.  Josh Matthews and, a heelish, Michael Cole are the announcers.  Matthews jocks all the rookies and Cole reminds him that they’ve never done anything in WWE.  Striker sides with Cole when it comes to how to treat the rookies, and we already know he’s a heel announcer on SmackDown.  Striker, with the absence of Jim Ross, is the best announcer in WWE right now.  What the hell, throw TNA in there too.

So far my favorite aspect of the show is that CM Punk, who is paired with Darren Young, doesn’t want to be on the show and doesn’t want anything to do with his rookie.  On the first episode Punk is interviewed and openly says, “I don’t understand why I’m here.  I have no idea why I’m on this show.  I don’t know who Darren Young is or who he thinks he is but I mentor Luke Gallows and Sarina so if Darren Young wishes to be mentored by the Straight Edge Savior, CM Punk, I suggest he thinks about accepting straight edge into his life.”

The Pairings:


The Miz and Daniel Brian – This is by far the most intriguing pairing on the show.  For those of you who don’t know, Daniel Bryan is Bryan Danielson.  Danielson has been a star overseas and on the independents for ten years.  He has a loyal following.  The Miz (Mike Mizanin) is a former reality star who’s resume includes The Real World 10, Real World/Road Rules Challenge, The Gauntlet and many others.  ESPN’s Bill Simmons and writer Chuck Klosterman regard The Miz to be one of the best, if not the best, pure athletes in all the MTV challenge shows.  The Miz has been in WWE since 2006 and he’s the current United States Champion and Unified Tag Team Champion with The Big Show (Show Mizzness).

ROH marks went crazy on the internet when they heard this pairing.  How could The Miz be mentoring someone who is better and way more experienced than him?  That’s why WWE is king.  They know people won’t like it but will watch.  This storyline is what makes the show good.  It seems everyone, except Matthews, hates Daniel Bryan because he thinks he’s too good to be on the show ( but he will work hard to prove himself) and they want him to respect the business.  He’s already lost twice in the first two weeks but look for him to shine very soon.  He took a nasty bump when he flew out of the ring at Chris Jericho.  Jericho reversed it and sent him flying into the announcer’s table.  You could just see the pain on Bryan’s face but he went on.  On last week’s episode he had a big welt on his ribs.

King of The Gauntlet and mentor to Daniel Bryan

Chris Jericho and Wade Barrett – These two were made for each other.  Both Jericho and Barrett think they’re better than everyone.  The tall Barrett is from Manchester England and I think he regards himself as someone superior to the commoners.  Jericho, the current World Heavyweight Champion, talks a good game and so does Barrett.

R-Truth and Davis Otunga – If you don’t know, David Otunga is the fiance of Jennifer Hudson.  He has been on the red carpet and met the President (twice).  Otunga thinks his star power is enough for him to win this competition.  He tangled with Darren Young on the first two episodes.  After his loss to Young in episode two, Otunga pushed Truth away after the match.  The intense R-Truth found him backstage and the two started to brawl.  We’ll see where this goes.

CM Punk  and Darren Young – As I said earlier, this is my favorite part of the show.  CM Punk doesn’t look like a mentor in this relationship.  When Young makes his ring entrance, Punk and The Straight Edge Society (Luke Gallows and Sarina) don’t even walk with him.  It’s like someone is forcing them to be with Darren Young.  During Young’s second match with Davis Otunga, Punk looks at Gallows and says, “Why am I here?”.  He looks disinterested, bored and like he’s being punished.

Darren Young is the South Beach playboy and he likes to party.  That doesn’t sit well with The Straight Edge Society.  In episode two, Young says he’s interested in Punk’s straight edge lifestyle.  I see a different/changing Darren Young in the weeks ahead and Punk will warm up to his protégé.  A haircut could very well be in Darren Young’s future.

Why are we on this show?

Matt Hardy and Justin Gabriel – Gabriel has Hardy Boyz moves and works well with Hardy.  The only problem so far with Gabriel is his look.  He looks gay and his wardrobe doesn’t help.  I think the announcers made an Adam Lambert reference in the second episode.  Justin Gabriel is from South Africa and wrestled under the name, Justin Angel.  His 540 splash against William Regal and Skip Sheffield was awesome.  Man up your look a little bit Justin.  A gay character doesn’t play well in WWE, as Orlando Jordan.

Carlito and Michael Tarver – Tarver is a muscular, fast wrestler but being paired with Carlito doesn’t do him any favors.  Carlito is known to be one of the lazier wrestlers in the business and somehow manages to not get fired whenever the roster cuts happen.  I wonder if Tarver will be jobbing on NXT like Carlito does on RAW?

William Regal and Skip Sheffield – Regal is not a big fan of Sheffield and feels negative comments are the best way to teach your rookie.  Sheffield is muscular and has some moves.  He’s not the smartest person, he said it, but this odd couple pairing should be entertaining.  Regal could definitely show this guy how to be physical in the ring and not just use his power.  During their tag team match with Hardy and Gabriel, Regal spent most of the time yelling at Sheffield.  At least he was teaching him something (see Punk-Young).

If you want to learn how to fight (dirty), this is your man

Christian and Heath Slater – My first problem with Heath Slater is that he looks like Jessie/Slam Master J.  Secondly, he looks like an idiot jumping around and celebrating.  I see Christian having a problem with that too.  Christian looks like he genuinely wants to help Slater and I’m sure we’ll see the One Man Rock Band (Slater) mature over the course of this show.

I can’t wait to see the next episode.  I just wonder what will happen to the wrestlers who don’t win?  I can’t see WWE just giving up on any of these guys.  So far it’s been The Daniel Bryan Show but I’m sure the tone of the show will change.  It’s still too early to separate these guys but I’m sure, with more exposure, someone will rise and fall.  The rookies all seem to like each other but that can’t last.  There’s gonna have to be some conflict introduced and backstabbing.

At any rate, these guys are all interesting.  Check them out on twitter.  WWE is using twitter to market this show and it’s working.  Don’t forget, TNA sucks!

I know, I’ve been a terrible prognosticator but I’m not giving up.  I’ve gambled for far too long to step away just because I’ve been a Mush for a few weeks.  Things will turn around.  If not, who cares, I’ll be in Hong Kong for a week so I could give a shit. 

Before I get to my picks I have to talk about the coverage of these games.  I won’t see any of these games and I don’t get ESPN of the NFL Network but I can just imagine what the talking heads are….well….talking about.  I’m pretty sure the coverage has revolved and will revolve around Brett Favre and Mark Sanchez.  Don’t let The Blasian fool you, he definitely has much man-love for the guy.  As Shakespeare once wrote, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”  Replace, “The lady” with, “The Blasian”. 

The Bard knew how The Blasian felt for The Sanchise

Back to the coverage.  Most people probably don’t know that Drew Brees and Peyton Manning are playing in these games because Brett Favre and Mark Sanchez are hogging all the coverage.  Has John Madden come out of retirement yet?  How is he not doing the Vikings – Saints game?  If you think it’s bad this week, imagine if the Jets and Vikings both win on Sunday.  Then we will have two weeks of non-stop Favre, Sanchez talk.  If the Vikings win, they might as well change the name from Super Bowl XLIV to Super Bowl Favre.  I can’t see any of the coverage and I’m already annoyed.

On to the games:

NY Jets @ Indianapolis (-7)

Pick:  Colts     

Blah blah blah….the Colts offense is awesome.  Blah blah blah……The Sanchise is a rookie.  Blah blah blah….Rex Ryan is fat.  Blah blah blah….there’s no way the Jets win this one.

Indianapolis 23-10

Minnesota @ New Orleans (-3.5)

Pick:  Vikings

Blah blah blah…both teams play in a dome.  Blah blah blah….Sean Payton forgot how to coach the last time he was in the Championship game.  Blah blah blah…….Adrian Peterson.  Blah blah blah……Sidney Rice.  Blah blah blah….BRETT FUCKING  FAVRE.

Minnesota 31-27

Sound the horn Vikings fans.  That sound you hear is Packer fan killing himself.  Enjoy Super Bowl Favre.

The Blasian likey?

Thanks Arizona, for saving us from what would eventually have been an insufferable Green Bay – Minnesota matchup.  You just know the worldwide leader would’ve covered this game like it was the Super Bowl and as if no other games were being played.  Now if Dallas can do it’s part and knock out the Vikings, I will be a happy man.