Sunday, August 26, 2007

Yo, Meathead!

There are two things I want to address in this post.

The first is the behavior of New York Mets fans. When I heard that they booed Carlos Delgado the other night, I was aghast. Now, Mets fans in New York have been doing this for years, and I just can’t believe it does any good for the player who is being booed, the rest of the team, or the other fans at Shea Stadium who are actually there to support the club rather than to razz it.

I guess I can understand fans’ frustrations—it does seem that over the years, a lot of good or great players have come to the Mets and then seen their playing abilities desert them. How many times have these same fans heard in the preseason that the team was built to compete before watching it implode in the spring and be out of the running for a playoff spot by midsummer?

Nevertheless, there is no other stadium at which the home team feels like it is on the road as often as at Shea. Some players who have aroused the ire of the boo-birds at Shea have loved playing on the road—the only place where fans might actually cheer them. Since coming to the Mets three years ago, Carlos Beltran has experienced at least one bad batting slump where he yearned to play on the road to escape the boos. Even Mike Piazza, who will most likely go into the Hall of Fame as only the second player wearing a Mets cap (besides the great Tom Seaver) was booed when he first came to the Mets and had a slow start. Those boos were soon silenced as Piazza went on to have a stellar career with New York.

But not everyone has the iron discipline at the plate or the ability to tune out the fans that Piazza has. Several players with the Mets could be said to have been booed out of town—heckled so mercilessly every time they came to bat that even the smallest mistakes were magnified. Some of these guys never had a chance to even begin to feel confident about themselves when they succeeded, so the failures got worse and worse until they could not be overcome anymore. Bobby Bonilla, Roger Cedeño, Kaz Matsui—names that will live in Mets infamy forever.

Okay, I will easily admit that Bonilla was the jerk of jerks, and maybe he deserved to be booed. (I believe he is still collecting paychecks from the Mets, even though he hasn’t worn their uniform since his disastrous attempted comeback to the team in 1999, when he batted .160 in 60 games.) Bonilla’s first two years with the Mets were very subpar, although he batted .290 in 1994 and .325 in 1996. If memory serves me, it wasn’t until 1999 that he was universally reviled at Shea and basically driven away from the team by the fans.

Cedeño had a terrific first season with New York in 1999 when he batted .313 and stole 66 bases. He had decent stats in Houston the following year, though he only played 74 games, and in 2001, he played a full season for Detroit and stole 55 bases, with a .293 average. His next two seasons, he was back with the Mets, but he couldn’t seem to get it going, batting .260 and .267 respectively. The second season was worse—by that time, fans had decided there was no way that Cedeño could ever regain his old form, and he was booed at every turn. Somewhat of a fragile personality, Cedeño took the boos very much to heart, and his career was never the same, even after he left the Mets for St. Louis in 2004, and his last year in the majors, 2005 with the Cardinals, he batted just .158

Kaz Matsui is a great example of what a player might achieve outside of the New York pressure cooker. Matsui came to the Mets from Japan and was touted as the greatest shortstop in the Japanese Leagues. Expectations for him were so high that Jose Reyes, now the Mets shortstop for many years to come, was actually asked to play second base so Matsui could play short. What a laugh. Matsui’s first year was fair—he batted .272—but the next year, he sunk to .255. The fans, restless after four years of bad baseball and empty promises by management, began to take it out on Kaz. The booing took its toll, and Matsui’s stats sunk lower and lower. Battling injuries in 2006, Matsui batted .200 in just 38 games before finally being traded to Colorado. There, in 32 games, he hit .345, and this year, he has a nice .288 average in 81 games.

I mean, don’t Mets fans get it?

Maybe some of the players who get booed would do better if they felt like they had the fans’ support. Guys like Cedeño and Matsui showed that they couldn’t take the New York pressure, but is it possible that each would have done better if they were just given more of a chance? What about the bona fide superstars like Piazza, Beltran, and Delgado? Is it possible that their slumps would be shorter if the fans just cheered for them at home, even when the going was a little rough? When I heard that Delgado was being booed, even after all his years of being a proven hitter and helping the Mets to the NLCS last year, I was appalled. How about showing your team some love, Mets fans? Otherwise, why would anyone want to come play for you?

The other issue I’d like to address today has to do with a big, brazen, and sometimes bullheaded defensive end that still hasn’t joined the New York Giants, even though training camp is over. Just for the record—I like Michael Strahan…as a football player. He’s done so many good things on the field, sometimes it’s hard to remember that he can be a real jackass off it.

Don’t get me wrong—Strahan’s no T.O. True, his ego sometimes clashes with team objectives, and his messy public divorce made him look like a chump, but overall, the guy has definitely done more good than harm to his team, and he’s exciting to watch, as long as he’s healthy.

So what’s with the holdout? Even though I like Mike, I think what he’s done has been disruptive and distracting. If he were seriously considering retirement, he should have let the team know sooner so he wouldn’t miss all of training camp. But now all signs point to Strahan returning to the team as early as this week, making it all look like just another ploy to get more money by scaring the team into thinking he wasn’t coming back.

If Strahan can come back and be a team leader like we all know he is capable of doing, then good for him for stepping up like he should have all along. But I can see things unfolding another way. Having missed all of camp, and not having had any true “football contact” yet this year (though he is working out with a personal trainer as I write this), I would not be surprised if Strahan dives right in to playing exhibition football and is hurt by Week 7. I’ve seen it happen before. The guys who miss camp get hurt. So Strahan will end his third year out of four on injured reserve, and who will that benefit the most? No one who cares about the Giants, that’s for sure.

SEASONINGS: I want to thank everyone who saw fit to make a comment on my last post. Comments are the only way I know anyone is paying attention! Please feel free to keep them coming!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Mt Fearless NFC Predictions

NFC Predictions

Seattle Seahawks: With Shaun Alexander back and healthy and with the continued improvement of QB Matt Haselback, the rainy city will reign supreme in the NFC West and could roll in the playoffs if the defense steps up. A reconfigured offense line, anchored by Walter Jones, should open holes; a crew of talented receivers, led by Nate Burleson and Ben Obomanu, and a coach who’s been on the font lines for a long time (Mike Holmgren), these gulls will be ball hawks in the clutch.

St. Louis Rams: With the best running back (Stephen Jackson) in the NFC; an all-pro quarterback (Mark Bulger) and a smart, aggressive head coach (Scott Linehan), the Rams will thrive if they can play any defense at all. The run defense was lamb stew last year, but first-round stud DE Adam Carriker and free agent DL James Hall should help enough that opposing teams won’t have the luxury of double-teaming Leonard Little on every play. The addition of free agent receivers Drew Bennett and TE Randy McMichael will give Bulger more weapons than he had last year.

Dallas Cowboys: New head coach Wade Phillips will be a breath of fresh air compared to the uptight, controlling Bill Parcells, who is gone but not missed. If QB Tony Romo can stay healthy and focused and the defense plays consistently, the Cowboys could once again be America’s Team. RB Marion Barber, WR Terrell Owens and OG Leonard Davis are standouts on offense; up-and-coming studs like OLB DeMarcus Ware, CB Ken Hamlin and DE Marcus Spears are the best defensive players you’ve never heard of.

Chicago Bears: Rex Grossman is the anti-QB, but the Bears’ defense is so awesome that they’ll win despite him. If Brian Griese was even halfway decent, he’d be the starter by now. Hopefully, Head Coach Lovie Smith will figure out the situation and dump Grossman before the season is over. He’s the only thing keeping this team from winning a Super Bowl. A stalwart defense led by veteran S Mike Brown, MLB Brian Urlacher and SS Adam Archuleta will keep the Bears in games. If RB Cedric Benson can ramble downhill and keep Grossman’s arm at his side, this team could make a second trip to the Big One.

Philadelphia Eagles: QB Donovan McNabb is healthy again (don’t hold your breath), RB Brian Westbrook is a diminutive game breaker and the defense revamped and one year smarter. Head Coach Andy Reid is a great strategist and motivator, too – even though he can’t control his own bratty kids. Off-season moves like getting free agent WR Kevin Curtis and trading for OLB Takeo Spikes will help Philly, while defensive studs like OLB Chris Gocong, DE Javon Kearse and FS Brian Dawkins will keep the offense off the field long enough for them to gel.

NFC Champion: Dallas Cowboys

Next week: My fearless AFC predictions.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

More PCL Reunion Photos

Caption #1: Bill Renna now

Caption #2: Renna then

Caption #3: Charlie Silvera now

Caption #4: Silvera then

Pacific Coast League Reunion Report

The Pacific Coast League Reunion XIII was held on Saturday, August 18th at the Oakland Museum in downtown Oakland, and was attended by more than 300 former PCL players and fans. Over 30 former PCL players were on hand. There were displays of memorabilia, a great lunch and a 2-hour discussion and presentation. Bill Salveson, son of former PCL star Jack Salveson came all the way from Florida to honor his father’s induction into the PCL Hall of Fame. Former players who played in the PCL and also in the major leagues in attendance included: Charlie Silvera, Ernie Broglio, Bill Renna, Rugger Ardioza, Dario Lodigiani (all of whom I’ve interviewed), as well as the legendary Billy Raimondi, who played as a catcher in the PCL for 21 years.
Photo #1: Ernie Broglio now
Photo #2: Broglio now
Photo: #3: Billy Raimondi now
Photo #4: Billy Rainmondi then

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Yo, Meathead!

So we are officially in the dog days of August. Things are starting to shake out in baseball, although all of the races are close, including the wild cards. Even though we’re in the heart of the season, I’m a little disenchanted with baseball. It may have something to do with the fact that my two favorite teams aren’t doing so hot—yeah, the Mets are still in first, but they don’t really deserve to be there by my accounting, and the A’s are just playing out the string. It might also be that despite the fact that the sport is celebrating some truly great milestones—Tom Glavine’s 300th win, A-Rod’s 500th homer—the specter of steroids still hangs over Barry “Bighead” Bonds breaking Hank Aaron’s home run record, and it is just flabbergasting that Jason Giambi escaped any punishment at all for his tacit admission of steroid use just because he was forced to cooperate with the congressional investigation of steroids in baseball. Therefore, I’m going to switch to the NFL as my subject for this post.

It’s early in football training camps, and only a few exhibition games have been played. You all know that I don’t make predictions this early in ANY season. However, I thought I’d write about 10 things that I’d like to see happen this NFL season. I don’t really expect any of these to necessarily come true, but a guy can dream….

The San Diego Chargers prove that Norv Turner is a bad coach by failing in the playoffs for a second year in a row. I actually like this San Diego team, and with LaDainian Tomlinson and Philip Rivers leading it (as well as steroid user and all-around jerk Shawn Merriman), these guys have too much talent to not make the playoffs. But Turner has shown that he has passion of a wet noodle in every head coaching job he’s had. I don’t know what possessed this team to make such a poor choice for head coach, but I would not be too surprised if it came back to bite them in the rear this year and the next, and the next…until Turner’s fired.

The Detroit Lions finally finish with a winning record. I have no special love or hate for Detroit, but I sure did like to watch them way back when Barry Sanders was still around. Since he’s left, the Lions have sunk to unfathomable depths—they’re like the old “Ain’ts” Saints teams, or the Tampa Bay teams that used to be lucky to win five games a year. Even though they have the Tigers and Pistons to give them some self-esteem, Detroit fans love football, and I would feel good for them if their Lions gave them something to cheer about for a change.

Randy Moss demonstrates—yet again—why he is such an awful team player and the Patriots flop. Even though I respect Bill Belichick incredibly for everything he has done for his players, his teams, and the league, I am so SICK of the Patriots and their surly, entitled fans. And I’m tired of everyone saying the Pats will win the Big Dance just because they signed Moss in the off-season. I hope New England crashes and burns.

Trent Green has a great season, the Miami Dolphins shake off three years of Nick Saban and bad football, and they make the playoffs for the first time since 2001. The Fish have never been the same since Dan Marino retired, and their quarterback situation has been almost laughable since then. Jay Fiedler, Ray Lucas, Brian Griese, Daunte Culpepper, Joey Harrington—yeesh! It would be great to see Miami come out of the doldrums and fight to make noise in the playoffs before Zach Thomas and Jason Taylor get too old to make much of a difference.

Terrell Owens proves to be too much of a jackass for Wimpy Wade Phillips to handle, and the Cowboys self-destruct midseason after a promising start. T.O. creates such a circus, and a case could be made that his signing led to the departure of Coach Bill Parcells after last season. Owner Jerry Jones could not have picked more of a polar opposite to succeed Parcells than Phillips—about the only thing they have in common is the fact that they are both defensive guys. But Phillips has the personality and ego of a cream puff, and the heat from T.O.’s fiery persona could melt Phillips like a popsicle in the Texas sun at noon.

Vince Young does even better than he did his rookie season, and the Tennessee Titans ride his big arm and quick legs to a playoff berth. Jeff Fisher has always been a coach I admired, but he hasn’t been able to get his team’s mojo working since 2003. With a spry new quarterback who can win a game almost all by himself, Fisher’s got a new chance to make some major headway in the playoffs the next few years.

The Washington Redskins are bad again. How many times does Little Danny Snyder have to learn that you can’t just throw money at free agents to make the playoffs? And how humiliating these past few years have been for Joe Gibbs, who forever tarnished his Hall-of-Fame reputation by coming out of retirement to lead this bunch of losers! It will not be until the Skins either have a new owner or make the playoffs two years in a row that they will have any respect from me!

Brett Favre plays his last year as if he’s 25 again, and the Green Bay Packers make a run in the playoffs. Favre has been a classy and personable ambassador for the NFL since he became the Packers’ QB. He’s had a rough couple of years recently, and it would be great to see him go out in a flash of glory at the end of his playing days.

The Baltimore Ravens are forced to eat a large slice of humble pie, finishing under .500 and out of the playoffs. I’m not sure any other NFL coach rubs me the wrong way as much as Brian Billick. The guy has the most arrogant attitude of anyone in the football coaching business, and nobody deserves to fall harder than him and his criminal of a linebacker, Ray Lewis. I hope they both hit their heads on the way down!

Michael Vick is convicted, sent to prison for at least a year, and banned from the NFL for life. I mean, come on. The guy tortured, maimed, and killed dogs for fun and profit, then tried to make like he had no idea what was going on. I happen to be a pet owner, and I think Vick is the scum of the earth. I hope he never plays in the NFL again. (But I also hoped that, in baseball, Bighead Bonds would be stopped and punished for steroid use before he broke Aaron’s record, so I’m not holding my breath for Vick to be banned.)

Michael Strahan retires, but the New York Giants go on to win the Super Bowl anyway. I know this is pretty unrealistic, but I just can’t figure Strahan out. I really liked and respected him, but now he’s being a big baby and putting the team’s chances of competing at risk. It would be divine justice if Strahan did decide to hang up his cleats, and then the Giants went all the way to win that ring that Strahan covets but never has earned—without Tiki Barber, too. Then maybe Strahan will regret the fact that he bailed out on the team at the start of training camp and left them in the lurch. The only problem with this wonderful revenge scenario is this: If the G-Men win the Super Bowl, it means several more years of Terrible Tom Coughlin at the helm, although I guess if he wins, he deserves whatever extension the team wants to give him.

Friday, August 17, 2007

There's No Suing in Baseball!

Bonds is suing fellow players now? This could open up a whole can of worms. Sportswriters and announcers will be getting slapped with suits right and left for criticizing athletes. Bonds is going to ruffle a lot of feathers with this one, because everyone knows that there’s no suing in baseball.

One of the great things about sports is that attorneys aren’t good at them. Sure, they negotiate players’ contracts and are behind the scenes, but that’s their role and it’s very limited. Now, lawyers will be suing other athletes on behalf of their player clients and it is going to get ugly.

This article appeared yesterday in The Boston Globe:

Curt Schilling expressed no emotion yesterday after being informed that attorneys representing slugger Barry Bonds may be targeting the Red Sox pitcher for comments he made about the San Francisco Giants to HBO’s Bob Costas.

In a joint statement, attorneys Todd Schneider and John Burris said they are representing Bonds “in connection with legal issues arising from the myriad of false statements attributed to him by players, the media and others.”

Attorney Michael Rains, who has represented Bonds in the slugger’s ongoing BALCO steroids case, told the San Jose Mercury News, “This is directed at Schilling more than anybody. Schilling said some things that were inappropriate and potentially defamatory. I know it was upsetting to Barry. We talked about the issue and I know he was talking to some civil lawyers to put people on notice that he has someone defending him.”

Schilling, when told of the statement issued by Schneider and Burris, said, “I didn’t read it and I don’t have any comment about it. That’s not something I’m going to talk about.”

In a recent appearance on the HBO program “Costas Now,” Schilling brought up Kimberly Bell, a former mistress of Bonds who in 2000 testified before a grand jury about the slugger’s steroid use. She also testified that Bonds gave her money to buy a new home - money, she said, that came from baseball card shows that was not reported to the IRS

“If I wrote a book about Bob Costas and in that book I wrote about Bob Costas’ girlfriend being on the road, and Bob Costas giving that girlfriend card show money and I outlined your daily steroid regimen, I’ve got to believe your first line of defense is to sue my (butt) off,” Schilling told Costas.

In their joint statement, Schneider and Burris said they “want the public to know that Barry’s silence in the face of the accusations should not be construed as an admission of any kind. In fact, Mr. Bonds retained Schneider and Burris because of the false nature of these statements. While pursuing Hank Aaron’s home run record, Barry felt that it was more prudent to remain silent. Now that the record has been broken, Burris and Schneider will evaluate any and all statements attributed to him that are false. His attorneys are particularly concerned about individuals profiting from his accomplishments by attributing statements and/or conversations to him that never occurred.”

In the aftermath of the Schilling interview on HBO, Bonds referred to Costas as “a midget who knows (nothing) about baseball,” and said, “Don’t worry, my day will come.”

If Schneider and Burris are to be believed, that day may have arrived.

In their statement, Schneider and Burris said, “Certain members of the public and of the media are attempting to personally profit by making false and misleading comments about Mr. Bonds. This conduct has to stop and should not be tolerated by a society which prides itself on free, open and fair public dialogue.”

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Now Vick's Getting Sued

One day after Michael Vick was offered a plea agreement that would send him to jail for approximately one year, now he has a civil suit on his hands. This sounds ridiculous and probably doesn’t have any merit. When I first read it, I thought it might be a prank.
Vick has been accused of a lot of different things, but up until now, no one has questioned his allegiance to the United States. This suit appears to be a case of someone piling on. I’d like to get a little more background on this inmate to determine if this suit has any validity at all. I doubt it does.
Here is the story as it appeared on
Embattled NFL quarterback Michael Vick, facing federal charges related to his alleged participation in dog fighting, has been hit with a "$63,000,000,000 billion dollar" lawsuit filed by a South Carolina inmate who alleges the Atlanta Falcons star stole his pit bulls and sold them on eBay to buy "missiles from Iran," FOX News has learned.
Jonathan Lee Riches filed the handwritten complaint over "theft and abuse of my animals" on July 23.
Riches alleges that Vick stole two white mixed pit bull dogs from his home in Holiday, Fla., and used them for dog fighting operations in Richmond, Va. The complaint goes on to allege that Vick sold the dogs on eBay and “used the proceeds to purchase missiles from the Iran government.”
The complaint also alleges that Vick would need those missiles because he pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda in February of this year.
“Michael Vick has to stop physically hurting my feelings and dashing my hopes,” Riches writes in the complaint.
Riches wants $63 billion dollars “backed by gold and silver “delivered to the front gates to the Williamsburg Federal Correctional facility in South Carolina. Riches is an inmate at the facility serving out a wire fraud conviction.
Vick's attorneys, meanwhile, are negotiating a plea deal with federal prosecutors before new dog fighting charges are filed next week, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
No plea agreement involving Atlanta Falcons quarterback Vick has been filed, according to the court clerk, FOX News has learned.
Vick was accused of being involved in a dog fighting ring called "Bad Newz Kennels" run on property he owned in Surry County, Va. In late July, Vick pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities, and conspiring to sponsor a dog in an animal fighting venture in a Richmond, Va., court.
Vick could reach an agreement ahead of new charges expected to come down next week after two more of Vick's three co-defendants prepare to enter guilty pleas later this week. By reaching a plea agreement, Vick could avoid any additional charges.

Monday, August 13, 2007

"Viva El Tigre!"

Unless he experiences a complete and total meltdown, Tiger Woods is on course to become the greatest golfer in the history of the sport within the next five years. After that, it’s likely he will set a record for winning major tournaments that will put him in the stratosphere of PGA history.
One of the great things about Tiger is that he’s a great role model, a solid citizen and a family man. People have searched long and hard to find chinks in the man’s armor, but they don’t exist. He lives to play golf and has dominated the sport since the day he turned pro.
Some fellow pro golfers and sportswriters occasionally whine and openly admit that they’d like to see someone come along and knock Tiger off his pedestal. They’re tired of seeing Tiger sin, they say. He’s taken a very difficult and trying sport – one most human beings can’t play well – and made it look easy. This frustrates people and they lash out sometimes.
I say “Viva El Tigre!” I hope he wins until he’s 100 years old if he wants to play that long. I can’t wait to see him cleaning house on the Senior Tour. I will never tire of his excellence. Every time he turns the rest of the field into pretenders, I smile from ear-to-ear.
Tiger’s fourth PGA Championship victory moved him one closer to the all-time record for winning majors, a chase that should dominate the sport's attention over the next two, three, maybe four years, at most.
He has won 13 times in 44 majors as a professional (Nicklaus won 11 in his first 44). If Woods maintains that pace, you had better get your tickets right now to the 2012 U.S. Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco – just up the road from Stanford, where Woods went to school – because that's when he's going to tie it.
Except it won't take that long. Like his first name might imply, Woods is at his best when he's about to pounce, about to go for the kill. He tends to refocus, redouble his efforts and leave the rest of the field realizing they never stood a chance.
And there isn't going to be anything Tiger Woods wants more than his 18th major. Except, of course, his 19th.
"Well, when you first start your career, 18 is just a long way away," he said. "And even though I'm at 13, it's still a long way away. You can't get it done in one year.
"It's one of those things where it's going to take some time. And hopefully health permitting and everything goes right and I keep improving, that I'll one day surpass that."
That's a nice, humble sentiment, but the way Woods is playing now, "one day" is going to come one day soon.
If anything, his recent 5-for-22 stretch in majors (starting after his 2002 U.S. Open win at Bethpage Black) may prove to be a slow period in his career. It included dealing with a swing change, some possibly inferior Nike equipment (at least according to Phil Mickelson) and the illness and death of his father.
That's all behind him now. Maybe it's no surprise that in his last six majors he won three times and finished second twice.
Tiger is at the absolute top of his game right now, both physically and mentally. He actually claims he is (gasp) "improving." Asked if he was better than in 2000, he didn't hesitate.
"By far," he said. "Just experience. Understanding how to handle it and how to manage my game around the golf course. I have more shots than I did then just because (he has had) that many more years to learn them. And how to make adjustments on the fly just comes with experience.
"And I'll say the same thing seven years from now – more experienced then than I am now. It makes things a little bit (easier) coming down the stretch.
"You look back then; I hit the ball long, I hit it high (but) didn't really do a lot with the golf ball. I tried to, but I didn't really have an understanding how to just do it."
As he showed this week, there doesn't seem to be a shot he doesn't possess, a challenge he hasn't already faced or an external circumstance he can't overcome.
There are essentially no questions left. People tried to make a big deal that Southern Hills, with its crooked fairways, was Tiger-proof. "I don't understand why people kept saying that," Woods said. They won't again after he shot a major record-tying 63 on Friday and virtually coasted to the title the rest of the way.
And any thought that diaper duty as a new father might rattle him was finished here. He called meeting his wife and baby daughter after the round "more special" than any other celebration, which means, if anything, he now might be more motivated.
The only question is whether he can hit the accelerator and make quick work of this run toward the record and then work on putting it into the stratosphere.
He has plenty of time. Nicklaus won his last major at 46, a thrilling victory at the 1986 Masters. Woods is in far superior physical condition than Nicklaus ever was, and it is nothing to think he can remain an elite competitor until he is, say, 45. Vijay Singh is 44, and he has won twice on the tour this year and is the seventh-ranked golfer in the world. The runner-up here, Woody Austin, is 43.
If he is an elite player until only his 45th birthday, he'll have 52 more chances to win just the five majors needed to tie and six to break Nicklaus' record. Think he can win one out of every 10? Please.
If he were to maintain just his recent pace – five wins in his last 22 majors – he'll wind up with a breathtaking 24 or 25 majors before he turns 46. If he gets better, he may soar past 30.
"I certainly believe there is an art to winning," he said. "I've been in so many different circumstances to try and win championships, to win tournaments that you start getting a feel how to do it."
About the only thing that could derail him is boredom or, say, pursuit of becoming president of the United States. He may, indeed, one day become president. But this guy never is going to get bored of winning.
Perhaps this is when the charge to the record becomes official. Tiger is close now, a big year from pulling this into his sights. Next year starts beautifully for him, at Augusta, where he seemingly always is in contention, and the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, where he has won five times in the last nine years.
History is coming now. Sooner, perhaps, than even Tiger Woods realizes.
(Portions of this article came from cbssportsline.)

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Jenks is White Sox Hot!

Bobby Jenks exited the White Sox clubhouse almost as fast as he's been setting down batters over the last few weeks. The Chicago closer retired the side in the ninth last night in the White Sox 5-3 victory over the Seattle Mariners, his 33rd save in 38 chances. He's set down 38 straight batters, tying David Wells' American League record set in 1998 with the New York Yankees.
It's the fourth-longest streak in major league history.
"That's unbelievable," said White Sox starter Javier Vazquez. "That's tough to do, especially in (that) situation."
Jenks has been providing game-ending shutdowns on a consistent basis all season, but his latest run is definitely impressive. Jenks doesn’t get a ton of press – he just goes about his business in a calm, methodical manner. He’s not out late at night partying or chasing groupies and is a man of few words. Jenks is beloved by his teammates and respected throughout the league as a solid individual and a team player, something that’s more and more of a rarity in today’s sports world.
Jenks did not make himself available to the media afterward because he did not want to discuss the streak, a team spokesman said. He's three batters away from tying the record Jim Barr set for San Francisco in 1972.
Josh Fields hit two homers, Jermaine Dye went deep and Juan Uribe doubled in the go-ahead run in the seventh for the White Sox, who have won seven of nine against four teams in playoff contention: the New York Yankees, the Detroit Tigers, the Cleveland Indians and the Mariners.
Vazquez (10-6) allowed three runs and nine hits in seven innings, struck out three and allowed one intentional walk. He improved to 7-1 in his last 10 starts and has won at least 10 games in eight straight seasons.
Kenji Johjima and Raul Ibanez hit solo shots for the Mariners, who trail the Los Angeles Angels by 3 1/2 games in the AL West and are tied with the Yankees atop the wild-card standings.
The Mariners had won nine of 12 and pounded out 49 hits while outscoring Baltimore 31-15 in a three-game sweep, but didn't give much run support to Jarrod Washburn (8-9) in Chicago.
The left-hander allowed seven hits and five runs in 6 2-3 innings to lose his second straight and third in six starts. He struck out six, walked two and has not won since pitching eight shutout innings at Kansas City on July 4.
"The whole game I felt like I threw better than I have in quite a while," Washburn said. "I've been struggling a little bit, not throwing the ball that great. For the most part, I thought I threw the ball real well today."
Manager John McLaren said, "He had some crisp pitches, and he pitched well enough to win. He deserved a better fate than that."
Tied at 3, the Mariners failed to capitalize after loading the bases with one out in the seventh and paid for it in the bottom half.
Dye led off with a single and came around on Uribe's double off the wall in left, making it 4-3. Uribe advanced to third on the throw home and scored with two out on Darin Erstad's triple to shallow center, the ball rolling by a diving Ichiro Suzuki.
Dye homered in the second, and Fields went deep in the third and sixth — his first multi-homer game.
(Portions of this article were taken from, and

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Yo, Meathead!

Here we are in the first week of August. Less than two months before the baseball playoffs begin! But of course, football training camps have begun, the true indication that summer is rounding the bend toward fall.

So—let’s see where we stand at this juncture. The Red Sox are still 7 games ahead of the Yankees, and the rest of the division is 11 or more games out of first. The Yanks are only 2.5 games behind the wild card leader, however. The difference between these teams really seems to be their records on the road. While the Sox have only won one game more than the Yankees at home, on the road, Boston is 7 games over .500, while New York is 5 games under .500. And here I thought early on that the Blue Jays might be able to challenge for the AL East! How naïve of me! Instead, the Jays are 7 games out of the wild card, their best hope for making the postseason. I’d bet that Toronto and Baltimore fans are pretty tired of watching their teams fall behind the two money-spending juggernauts who duke it out every year. As for Tampa Bay fans, they probably just hope the team will reach .500 one year (not this year!), and many of them probably go to the park to see Boston and New York when they come to play.

In the AL Central, the Tigers have fallen a half-game behind the Indians for first. Third-place Minnesota is 6.5 games out of first and 6 games out of the wild card—I believe this is the Twins’ poorest campaign in a little while. Meanwhile, the White Sox are little better than the Royals, and next year probably can’t come soon enough for Chicago’s AL fans.

In the AL West, Anaheim is still dominant—I saw the Angels beat the A’s live on Tuesday, and Vlad Guerrero had two homers. Man, can he hit! The Mariners are only 2.5 games off the pace and only a half-game out of the wild card. Like the Twins in the Central, the lousy A’s—12 games behind the Angels and 10 games out of the wild card—are having their poorest showing in a few years. The bright side is that there are a lot of new faces who have a chance to show what they can do before next year. The dark side? No playoffs this year!

Over in the NL East, the Mets have been playing better ball and have managed to recover from a few injuries, leading the Phillies by 5 and the Braves by 5.5 for first place. Rumors are swirling in New York over the return of Pedro Martinez, which doesn’t seem as inevitable as it once did. On the other hand, the wild-card chase in the NL has five teams that are within 2 games of San Diego for the lead, and Philadelphia and Atlanta are right in that mix. Florida and Washington have each fallen at least 9 games out and don’t seem to have a chance before 2008.

In the NL Central, the once-hot Brewers have steadily declined, and a once-certain first-place finish is threatened by the red-hot Cubs, who are only a game behind. The Cubs are also included in the muddle at the top of the wild-card standings and have a good chance of making it to October. St Louis is both 7 games out of first and 7 games behind in the wild card, but I suppose they could improve their chances with a stellar run—does anyone see that happening? The Astros, Reds, and Pirates all looked hopeful at the beginning of the season, but they have all fallen by the wayside.

Lastly, in the NL West, the surprising Diamondbacks have taken over the lead, while San Diego, who leads the wild-card chase, has fallen back 1.5 games, and Los Angeles is 2 back. The Rockies are hanging in there, 3.5 games behind Arizona, but also one of the teams within 2 games of the wild card. And anyone who is even watching Barry “Bighead” Bonds chase the home-run record knows that the Giants are in last place and the third-worst team in the Senior Circuit. Rumor has it that teammates of Bighead are beginning to get disgruntled with the attention that the home-run record is garnering and wish that the focus would be more on winning and less on stroking Bighead’s ego. I loved this quote from the New York Times describing a fan heckling Bonds during batting practice in L.A. this past week: “We don’t hate you because you cheated!” the fan shouted. “We hate you because you’re a jerk!”

SEASONINGS: Kevin Garnett to Boston, eh? Now of course, any team should be glad to have Garnett, who could be a Hall of Famer despite his playoff resume. But still, was Executive Director of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge thinking clearly when he gave up five players and two future first-round picks for Garnett? Maybe he was—the Celtics now have three All-Star players in their starting lineup, counting Paul Pierce and the newly acquired Ray Allen, and they should be instant contenders in the weak East and the really weak Atlantic Division. I sure wish Isiah Thomas had the guts and acumen to make a move like Ainge’s. I guess New York Knicks fans are due for another horrible season while the rival Celtics compete for the main prize.

Moving on to the NFL, Michael Strahan must be the most immature 35-year-old ever! When will the New York Giants defensive end either come to camp or retire already? Strahan’s contract, which was seen as incredibly lucrative when he signed, has him due to make $4 million this year. While I’m sure Strahan’s ego demands that his salary be commensurate with those of the other elite defensive linemen in the league, I wonder if his messy divorce settlement last year has anything to do with his desire to make more money. Strahan has been ordered to give his ex $15 million (That’s almost 4 years’ salary!), but the settlement is being reviewed, so it may not end up being that much. Those payments of $18,000 every month for child support must hurt, but Strahan shouldn’t let the mishaps in his personal life affect his Hall-of-Fame football career. Money notwithstanding, in support of Strahan, I can see why his heart might not be in the game this year. New general manager Jerry Reese has done little to prop up the sagging parts of the Giants defense, and why would Strahan want to play on a bad team with Coach Tom Coughlin carping at him all the time?