Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Phillies Back in Second

After last night's thrilling win, you'd think the Phillies would be inspired to best the Mets yet again. But no, the game has just ended in a 6-3 defeat of the Phils, to put them back in second place in the NL East by a mere half a game.

Lasts night's 13 inning marathon was a great game to be a Phillie fan. The Mets absolutely pounded Jamie Moyer and jumped out to a seven run lead. But then Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins cracked a pair of homers to chip a way at the lead. The agony on the Mets fans' faces said it all. They had seen this game many times before. They knew that no lead was safe with that train wreck they call a bullpen.

Tonight, it was the Phillies bullpen who coughed up a lead. Mind you, it wasn't a seven run lead, but a one run lead. Who does Uncle Charlie put in to protect that lead? None other than Rudy Seanez. As soon as I saw him warming up in the pen, I yelled at the T.V., "Please, anybody but him!" And that's when the Mets tied the ballgame. Lidge gave up the other three runs in the eighth.

GO HOME METS FANS. That's what most Phillie fans were saying at the end of this game. The T.V. camera kept showing all these Mets fans scattered all over the park, leading cheers and taunting the Phils. We, Phillies fans, don't really care if Mets fans come to our stadium. Hey, it's a free country. But we don't want you cheering (or starting cheers), standing, clapping, or really make any sudden movements. We don't want to know your there.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Major League Baseball Will Use Instant Replay

Major League Baseball will use instant replay starting this Thursday. It will only be used on close home run balls. Bud Selig will officially announce it later today.

This has been a controversial issue in baseball for the better part of the season. I think it is a good idea. At first, I had mixed feelings about it. But since it's only going to be used to determine home runs, I'm O.K. with it.

Only rarely does an umpire misjudge a home run ball. It's probably happened only three or four times this season, and I don't remember any happening in a clutch situation. But Major League Baseball would rather be safe than sorry because it could decide whether a team makes the playoffs as the season winds down.

I don't think instant replay should be used to determine anything besides a home run, however. No, replay should not be used to check whether a player caught the ball or not. No, replay should not be used to judge whether a player is safe or out. And (obviously) replay shouldn't call balls and strikes. I think if replay was implemented to check those things, the human (otherwise known as umpire) element would be taken from the game.

What I don't understand is why this is suddenly happening in the middle of the season. It would be more sensible to start replay in the playoffs or next season. I guess Major League Baseball doesn't want fans (or more importantly owners) blaming them if their team gets eliminated from the playoffs on a controversial home run call. You know, Major League Baseball has been dwindling its thumbs on this issue for years.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

U.S. Basketball Redeems Itself

The U.S. men's basketball team has finally done it. They beat Spain in a surprisingly exciting game. Dwayne Wade was the leading scorer for the Americans, collecting 27 points off the bench. Kobe Byrant also scored 20 points for Team USA.

No, I didn't stay up 'till 2:30am to watch the game. I watched the replay this morning, and I was surprised by how close the game was. The final score was 118-107, but the game was closer than that.

Spain was within two as late as the fourth quarter, but the United States just overpowered them in the end. I bet the whole U.S. men's basketball team is relived that the could capture the gold in Beijing, after getting the bronze in Athens.

This team has really surprised me. No, I wasn't surprised that they won the gold. I was surprised by the amount of teamwork they exhibited. This wasn't the typical U.S. basketball team. Each player had a role and each player focused on fulfilling that role. The typical U.S. basketball is full of star players trying to be the hero.

It was almost like a home game for the Americans. the Chinese were supporting the U.S. team, mostly because they were amazed by the NBA stars. Another reason might have been the controversial picture that was taken of the Spanish basketball team. All the players posed for a picture, in which they stretched out their eyes, trying to make fun of Asians.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Fantasy Football

     Last night I participated in a fantasy football draft with some of my buddies.  I want you to rate my team on a scale of 1-10.  Alright, here's my team:

Starters (in order of round):
RB  Marshawn Lynch  (1st round pick- 10th overall)

RB  Frank Gore  (2nd round pick- 11th overall)

QB  Tony Romo  (forgive me Eagles) (3rd round pick- 30th overall)

WR  Chad Johnson  (4th round- 31st overall)

RB  Micheal Turner  (5th round pick- 50th overall)

WR  Roy Williams  (6th round pick- 51st overall)

TE  Tony Gonzalez  (7th round pick- 70th overall)

Defense-  Seattle  (12th round pick- 111 overall)

Kicker-  Shaun Suisham  (15th round pick- 150th overall)


WR Calvin Johnson  (8th round- 71st overall)
WR Chris Chambers  (9th round- 90th overall)
RB  Kevin Smith  (10th round- 91st overall)
RB  Felix Jones  (11th round- 11oth overall)
QB  Jake Delhomme  (13th round- 130th overall)
TE  Todd Heap  (14th round- 131st overall)

     I think I have a pretty good team.  My bench is not great, especially not the two rookie running backs (Smith and Jones).  But maybe one of those guys will be this year's Marshawn Lynch.  So, I want to know what YOU think of my team.  Rank it 1-10.

Jackson Delights

     DeSean Jackson is certainly making a good first impression on Andy Reid and the rest of the Eagles' coaches.  The Eagles' beat the Tom Brady-less Patriots 27-17 last night and the star (and surprise) of the game was Jackson.  The Eagles' rookie receiver returned a punt 77 yards for a score.  

     Don't tell DeSean Jackson that he's only going to make a impact on the Eagles as a returner this season.  The man's also a fine receiver.  He caught four passes for 67 yards and he only played half the game.  Jackson was just blowing past the Patriots first team defense with blinding speed.

     I have high expectations for Jackson.  But then again, so do most Eagles fans.  Jackson looks like he can be a great return man.  Critics say Jackson is too small to become a real impact receiver (Jackson's listed at 6-0 but he is about two-to-three inches smaller that that.)  You know what I say to that: Watch the man run.  Jackson won't need to make catches over defensive backs, because he'll be able to get open on his own.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Myers Looking Good

     Yes, Brett Myers was in Triple A not too long ago.  Yes, he was the worst Phillies pitcher in the first half of the season (sorry, Adam Eaton).  But now Myers (right) has the second best ERA since the All-Star break.  The first in ERA since the All-Star break, the one and only C.C. Sabathia.

     I went to the game on Wednesday night and Myers pitched a beauty of a game.  A complete game shutout.  Yeah, it was against the dreadful Nationals, but it's much better than the Myers of April or May.

     "Defense, who needs defense."  That was the motto of Wednesday night's game.  Two of the errors were simply horrible.  Pat Burrell completely misjudged a fly ball to left field and the ball flew over the befuddled outfielder.  The other one was committed the Nationals.  Shortstop Ronnie Belliard went back in shallow left to field a fly ball, only to see the ball bounce right off his glove.  Another horrendous defense play (that wasn't ruled an error) was a botched underhand flip by the defensive challenged Ryan Howard.  Howard was completly off target with a flip to the pitcher Myers (the man couldn't hit the Green Monster with a throw from 20 yards away.)

     Alright let's get back to Brett (second half wonder) Myers.  I think it was Shane Victorino who said that having Myers pitching well was the same as getting a good pitcher at the trade deadline.  I couldn't disagree more.  Myers was expected to be a quality player at the start of the season and only to find out that he was completely ineffective.  So, really, he has been a disappointment and, frankly, the Phillies would be sitting on first place right now had Myers pitched even average at the beginning.

     But Myers should (if he keeps pitching well)  win the Comeback Player of the Year Award.  Myers has a minuscule 1.93 ERA along with three wins and only one loss since the All-Star Game.  Opposing batters are batting .200 against him in the same time period.  Amazing turnaround.   

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Flyers Interested in Sundin?

A recent rumor has the Flyers interested in veteran center Mats Sundin. Well, GM Paul Holmgren made things clear when he said this on the Flyers' website, "If he decides to play, then we're interested." Holmgren also said that it would be hard to fit Sundin under the salary cap, and that the Flyers wouldn't let a part of their promising future go to aquire Sundin.

Mats Sundin is a great player, and probably a future hall-of-famer. He is getting old however (37), and he has not made a decision on whether he should come back for a fourteenth NHL season. Sundin had 32 goals last season to go along with 46 assists. For his career, Sundin has 555 goals.

A report on a a Toronto radio station said that the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers would be Sundin's first choices on where to play next season.

If Sundin does come to Philly, it would be the first time he played for an NHL team located in the U.S. I hope the Flyers can lock up Sundin to give them another proven player. Most of their players are young and it would be good to have a veteran leader like Sundin in the locker room.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Remembering Why We Love the Olympics

As the Beijing Olympics roll on, I think it would be appropriate to remember why everyone is so interested. It's not about Micheal Phelps (or his gold medals) or the Redeem Team. One of the reasons is because it brings the world together. But that's not the only reason.

Why are people watching the Olympics? Most people think there is a easy answer to this questions. Simply, because it's the Olympics. Well that's not a good enough answer. Nobody watches Micheal Phelps in the World Championships. And even after these Olympics, nobody will watch him in any competition until London. Track and field does get better ratings than swimming outside the Olympics, but the ratings go through the roof for the Olympics.

So why do people watch these events that would mean nothing to them three out of every four years. Not many people care about gymnastics or swimming or track and field or team handball. I think people feel that they can relate to it. Anybody can run. You can live in the farthest reaches of the world and still have the dream of being a sprinter.

I could walk down to the public pool right now and swim. It seems so easy (when in reality, swimming that fast is hard). The rules are so simple. First one to touch the wall wins or first one to cross the line first. It makes baseball seem complicated.

That makes me think of the extreme pressure put on these athletes, especially if they're from the host nation. You have the weight of your country on you. And if you make one error (how many times have you heard on NBC, "that little hop on the landing will bring a three-tenths point deduction") you have failed. You train you whole life for one race or one floor exercise. And if you have one bad showing, you are viewed as a disappointment. Even if you win gold, nobody will care about you until the next Olympiad (if you good enough to qualify.)

So think about that when you watch the Olympics tonight.................

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Greatest?

Micheal Phelps has finally done it. Late last night Micheal Phelps (right, from left to right: Ryan Lochte, Micheal Phelps, Laszlo Cseh) and the rest of the U.S. men's relay team captured the gold medal. Although not the most exciting race, it must have been exciting for Phelps.

That gold medal was Phelps' historic eighth gold in these Olympics. That is now the record for the most gold medals in one Olympiad, passing Mark Spitz, who had seven in 1972.

So much had to go right for Phelps in Beijing this week. But somehow he got it done. In the relays, his teammates did not let him down. He could have gotten off to a bad start. He could have suffered from fatigue (I'm sure he did). One of his relay teammates could have had a bad race. But none of those things happened. The stars aligned for Micheal Phelps inn Beijing.

So is Micheal Phelps the best athlete ever. It is a very hot topic and could be discussed for ever. So let's make it easier. Let's eliminate all athletes involved in team sports. So Micheal Jordan or Wayne Gretsky or Joe Montana can't be compared to Phelps. I do think Micheal Phelps is the greatest Olympian ever. He simply dominated most of his events and even in the close races, he came up big in the clutch. I think people underestimate the ability to be "clutch." Phelps had to race in so many races and the other racers were more rested than him, but he STILL came up big.

Phelps made breaking world records look ad easy as a walk in the park. It was like a daily activity for Phelps. Just in case you picked up this illusion: world records aren't supposed to be broken that easily or that often.

Phelps had to swim the last leg of a race virtually blindfolded. His goggles filled up with water, and he couldn't see. And he STILL broke a world record. Think about that for a minute folks.

In some of the races, he made the rest of the field look like amateurs. That is a mark of a true champion. If you can perform so well that even the best in the world look boys. And that's what it was in some of these races: man vs. boys.

Although you have to realize that this could only happen in swimming. Only in the pool could a man compete in this many events. In track and field, nobody could ever compete (and be even mildly successful) in eight events. A sprinter couldn't compete in high jump or throw a javelin.

Even saying that I still think Phelps is the greatest. One of the other things you have to remember is that he is not done yet. Phelps is only 23. By the time the London Olympics (in 2012) roll around he'll only be 27. Still in his prime. And this may be a stretch, but by the time the 2016 Summer Olympics enter the picture, he'll only be 31. That's one year younger than Jason Lezak was this year.

Yanks Struggling Despite Win

I was at the Yankee game yesterday afternoon. It was my first time at Yankee Stadium, but more on that later. Let's talk about the game. In the 13th inning, Yankee's outfielder Brett Gardner drove in second basemen Robinson Cano for the winning run. That gave the Yankees a 3-2 win over Kansas City.

It was actually a pretty boring game in the beginning. The Royals led by two until the seventh, when the Yankees tied it up. There was good pitching from both teams. Starters Sidney Ponson (Yankees) and Zach Greinke (Royals) both pitched well.

There seemed to be a double play every inning. The Yankees were getting hits, only to be thwarted by double plays. There were a combined total of seven double plays in the game.

The Yankees were having a extremely tough time driving in runs. And in the end, it wasn't A-Rod (upper right) or Jeter or any of the other stars that drove in the game-winning run. No, it was Brett Gardner. He of the .176 batting average, who usually receives little playing time.

A-Rod actually had two chances to win the game, one with a runner on second, in extras. If the Yankees want to be back in the playoff picture, they need more production with runners in scoring position. That's the same problem the Phillies have.

The Red Sox and Rays lost last night, which is very good for the Yanks. The Yankees are now 9.5 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL East and 6 games behind in the Wild Card.

Hopefully later this week I will post about my actual experience at The Stadium and also show some pictures.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Miracle Man

SIMPLY AMAZING. If you didn't watch Micheal Phelps last race (it was about 10:10pm ET), you missed one for the ages. Phelps out touched Serbian Milorad Cavic for his seventh gold medal of these Olympic Games. Heading into the final 50 meters, Cavic was in front of Phelps, but Phelps caught up. They were right next to each other at the wall and it looked like Cavic won. But then the name "Phelps" showed up across the screen next to the number one.

Cavic went underwater and reached out to touch the wall, while Phelps kept on swimming. Cavic slowed himself down by reaching, and Phelps swam right into the wall without losing speed. Phelps beat Cavic by the slimmest of margins. A minuscule 0.01.

Micheal Phelps has raced in two of the most exciting sporting events I have EVER witnessed. And that's just this week. The relay earlier in the week, where Jason Lezak chased down France, was an instant classic. And this recent race was REMARKABLE. Micheal Phelps now has seven gold medals (with his win in the 100-meter butterfly) and he will race for number eight on Saturday.

Phelps will pass Mark Spitz for the most gold medals in one Olympiad if he wins one final relay tomorrow. If Phelps can win that event, there is no doubt in my mind that he is the greatest Olympian (and maybe athlete?) EVER.

Chinese Gymnasts Questioned?

If you watched the team all-around women's gymnastics competition, you had to notice the Chinese gymnasts. It was not how good they performed that caught you attention, however. It was how young the gymnasts looked. The minimum age to compete in gymnastics in the Olympics is 16.

Clearly those girls are not 16. They look like they couldn't reach the pedal of a car or see above the steering wheel. They couldn't ride most rides in any amusement park. Their is a report that one of the questioned Chinese gymnasts just lost a tooth. 16-year olds don't still lose teeth.

It may seem that younger age may be a disadvantage for the Chinese gymnastics team. But you have to remember that the government takes this children away from their parents at age 3 and trains them like slaves to become an Olympians. So they already are as experienced as the American athletes by 13 or 14. Also, the smaller you are the more flexible you are in most cases. So the small size also give the Chinese an unfair advantage.

Some credible online documents listed three Chinese gymnasts between the ages of thirteen to fifteen. Too young to compete in the Beijing Olympics. In fact, a May 23 piece in the Chinese Daily newspaper listed one of the gymnasts (He Kexin) as 14-years old.

If the Olympians are found to be under aged, a big shadow would be cast upon these Olympic games. The host country didn't even have enough decency to follow the rules in doing something so simple. But it's all about winning and apparently respectability doesn't matter anymore, at least in China. Cheating to win is the same as winning in China.

This isn't the only controversy in these Beijing games, but it is definitely the most serious.

Note: Micheal Phelps swims for GOLD tonight at 10:10 pm ET

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Igoudala Locked Up

Sources have just told ESPN that the 76ers and Andre Iguodala have agreed to a huge multi year deal. The deal would keep the forward/guard in a Sixer uniform until 2014 and pay him 80 million. He averaged close to 20 points per game last season along with 5.4 rebounds and 4.8 assists. Iguodala is also a very good defender. Don't expect Iguodala to average as many points because now the Sixers have a proven scorer in Elton Brand. Iguodala was a restricted free agent.

This will set up two good players in their prime for a long while, which the Sixers were unable to do with Allen Iverson. Elton Brand (the other player) is also locked in a deal with the Sixers. The 1-2 tandem of Brand-Iguodala (and possibly Thaddeus Young) will put the Sixers on the map in the East.

Iguodala is especially lethal in fast break situations, and he can also drive to the hoop. One of the most breath-taking players in the game, Iguodala can dunk on big men in the lane. Although Iguodala is not the greatest shooter, he can still knock down some long distance shots. Very streaky as a shooter.

So now with Iguodala signed, general manager Ed Stefanski can sit back and watch the Sixers shoot to the top of the East. Knock on wood (or Elton Brand's Achilles tendon). Anything can happen in basketball, just look at the Sixers surprise season last year.

I am actually excited for Sixer basketball for the first time in several years. I remember what the papers were saying about the Sixers last around this time. The Sixers will finish in the lower part of the standings and will wait a few as young players mature and money for free agents pile up. And you saw what happened.

Two Former Phillies' Pitchers Moved

Yesterday's Adam Dunn trade really surprised me, but today's moves were a bit more predictable. Paul Byrd was acquired by the Boston Red Sox and Freddy Garcia was picked up by the Detroit Tigers.

Let's start off with the Byrd move. The Red Sox traded for Byrd because they are down a starter now that Tim Wakefield is on the DL. Byrd is 7-10 with a 4.53 earned run average. Not bad numbers for the 37-year old former Phillie. Byrd had some good years for the bad Phillies' teams.

Freddy "nightmare" Garcia will be pitching for the pitching-starved Tigers. Garcia was a bigger waste of money than an "official" Major League Baseball (c'mon, 15 bucks for a baseball) for the Phillies last season. Anyone who's a Phillies' fan knows how the worst 1-2 combo in the National League (Garcia-Adam Eaton) tried to derail the Phillies last season. Garcia, hailed as the biggest offseason signing for the Phillies last season, went 1-5 with a 5+ ERA, before promptly going on the disabled list for the rest of the year (too bad Eation couldn't follow him.)

Gary Sheffield is reportedly on the market. The Tigers' outfielder/DH has complained about playing time in recent days. Does he really deserve more playing time? He's batting .219 with ten four-baggers, not nearly as good as the Sheff of old. He'll probably be moved very shortly, though.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Dunn Done in Cincinnati

Earlier this afternoon, the Arizona Diamondbacks acquired left fielder Adam Dunn from the Cincinnati Reds. Dunn has 32 homers, which is tied with Ryan Howard for the most in the league. Dunn is batting .233 with 74 RBIs.

Arizona is 29th in Major League Baseball in batting. Dunn will not bring a good batting average (.247 for career), but he will definitely bring home runs. Dunn does strike out quite a bit. He is fifth in the National League in strikeouts.

This is the D-backs answer to Manny Ramirez and the Dodgers. Though Dunn is not as good as Ramirez, he will improve the D-backs. The D-backs have good starters in Brandon Webb and Dan Haren. This NL West Race will be very close.

Phelps Captures Second Gold Medal in Stunners

Micheal Phelps increased his gold medal count to two late last night, but only by the slimmest of margins. Phelps is now two for two in medal races. Those two races were considered the toughest and Phelps is in good shape now that he won the 400-meter freestyle relay 400-meter individual medley.

Last night's race was completely stunning. Phelps raced first and put the U.S. in good position. Coming down the stretch, Jason Lezak (the anchor for the U.S. team) caught France's Alain Bernard, who was ahead by a body length. Lezak touched the wall just before Bernard.

Bernard said that the French team (who were the favorites) would "smash" the Americans. It turns out the jokes on him.

Let's get back to the race. It was the most exciting swimming race that I have ever seen. In horse racing you win by a nose; in swimming, you win by a touch, and that's exactly what Jason Lezak did. It was easily the most exciting event in the Olympics so far.

Micheal Phelps will try for his third gold medal tonight at 10:15 pm Eastern Time. I think he will win all eight events. He has already won the toughest events for him. You should have seen him cheering on Lezak.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

U.S. Basketball Team Beats China

The U.S. men's basketball team beat China today in their first game. The host country stayed in the game until halftime, but the Americans pulled away in the third quarter. The final score was 101-70. Yao Ming (left) played well for China (even though he wasn't 100%), scoring 13 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. He looked better than most people thought in his first game back from a foot injury. The top scorer for the United States was Dwayne Wade, who came off the bench. LeBron James also contributed 18 points.

The U.S. team showed it was ready to win in these games. While China is not one of the best teams, they are no pushovers. This was one of the first times I have seen real teamwork from the U.S. in the Olympics. Four players (Wade, James, Dwight Howard, and Kobe Bryant) scored in double-digits, but none more than twenty.

The defense really stepped up in this game. It seemed like every other possession resulted in a turnover for the Chinese. The U.S. team recorded 14 steals. Like I said before, the U.S. men's basketball team will win gold.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Jets a Contender?

Sorry for not writing about this sooner (I was away): Brett Favre was traded to the Jets late Wednesday night for an conditional draft pick(s). Here's the deal: The Jets get Favre. If Favre plays less than 50% of the Jets' total snaps, the Packers get a fourth rounder. If he plays 50% of the snaps, the Packers get a third rounder. If he plays 70% and the Jets make the playoffs, a second round pick is going to Green Bay. If he plays 80% or more and the Jets make the Super Bowl, it's a first round pick. And finally, if the Jets trade him to the Vikings, it's three first rounders.

This was a good move for the Jets. Their quarterbacks were Chad Pennington and Kellen Clemens, both not good quarterbacking options. Chad Pennington was dropped shortly after the Favre trade. I think this makes the Jets a real contender. I know Favre is well past his prime, but he showed last year that he can still be a premium quarterback.

What does this mean for Green Bay? Well, it means that Aaron Rodgers will be the starting quarterback and G.M. Ted Thompson doesn't have to worry about Brett Favre showing up at camp. The Packers' management is relived that they worked a deal to send Favre far, far away.

So, are the Jets a contender. Will the Jets finally fight their way out of the cellar now that Favre is in command. They will be. They have pretty good wide receivers in Laveraneus Coles and Jerricho Cotchery. The defense should be very good also. The Jets will be a borderline playoff team this season.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Olympic Preview

The 2008 Olympic games are set to start in Beijing this Friday with the opening ceremonies. Here are some of the major stories surrounding the games:

Micheal Phelps Chasing History: Swimmer Micheal Phelps has a chance to win eight gold medals. If he does, he will break Mark Spitz (another great swimmer) record for most gold medals in one Olympics (7).

I watched Phelps in Athens and I think he is the greatest swimmer ever. I think he will win the eight events. It seems like he breaks a world record every time he swims (and it's usually his record he breaks) It's not going to be easy, but he is definitely capable of doing it.

U.S. Men's Basketball Team Determined to Win: Our men's basketball team will be on the spot in these games. This team was dubbed the Redeem Team, and for good reason. The U.S. didn't win the gold in Athens and has struggled in international competition.

This team, stacked with NBA Stars like LeBron James (right), Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade, Chris Paul, and Dwight Howard, is clearly the most talented. But they're always the most talented, so let's see if they can translate that into wins.

The problem with the U.S. basketball team in the past has been lack of teamwork. The U.S. basketball program thinks it can just put together the best players and start playing in the competition. Too bad basketball is a team sport, and the players have to work together. Whoa! That's a surprise.

Coach K is urging the media that his team is ready to win gold in Beijing. I think they'll win too.

Air Quality: Everybody is talking about how badly polluted the air is in Beijing. This is a major concern among the athletes. Chinese officials are trying (but not succeeding) to reduce the pollution.

41-Year Old Dara Torres: U.S. swimmer Dara Torres says she feels better than ever at age 41. That's seems tremendously unlikely, because swimmers usually reach their peak in the early-to-mid twenties. The same question enters everybody's head: Is she doping? I remember another athlete who "peaked" when he was older (Barry Bonds, otherwise known as the King of Steroids)

Steroids Cast Shadow Over Games: Steroids are threatening to ruin track and field. Track and field used to be the top dog in the Olympics. But now many of its premier athletes have been uncovered to doping. This issue is driving fans away from the sport (including me). But let's not talk about the bad things until after the gold medals are awarded and the syringes thrown away.

Some Odd Olympic Events: Table tennis and badminton seem odd here, but they are very big events in China. Handball. When I saw handball on the list of Olympic events, I had to laugh. Something you and I played as a kid is now a profession. Imagine a guy applying for a job and for past professions, he writes pro handballer.

Note: I will not be able to post this weekend because I'll be away.

Phillies Report

I went to the Phillies game last night. Old man Moyer was going 11th straight wins against the Florida Marlins. It was ladies night at the ballpark last night and the Phillies celebrated by hittimg like old ladies. The Marlins cruised, beating the Phils 8-2.

One of the main problems for the Phillies last night was the bottom of the order. They really struggled with runners in scoring position. Geoff Jenkins (later replaced by Jayson Werth), Eric Bruntlett (later replaced by Greg Dobbs), and Carlos Ruiz combined for one hit. Five guys combine for one hit, the Phillies need another bat in the bottom of the lineup. Ruiz collected the only hit of those five, but it was a single with no runners on.

Moyer (right) pitched alright. He did load the bases in what seemed like every inning, but he did well to allow only two runs to the powerful Marlins offense.

Ryan Howard needs to improve his defense. On one play, he froze on a ball hit to the Moyer. He seemingly forgot to cover the bag. On another play, a sharp ground ball went right through his legs. Maybe Howard should spend less time golfing and more time practicing his fielding.

The only bright spot of the night was Victorino (who's been red hot) homer. After looking at the instant replay, though, it looks like it should have been a foul ball. The Phillies bullpen didn't do a good job either. Two pitchers, fresh from Triple A, gave up five runs. J.A. Happ, who one of those pitchers, gave up four runs in just two innings. Happ did do well in the rotation, but clearly he is not a relief pitcher.

The Marlins are just 1 1/2 games behind the Phillies and could inch closer if they win today. The Mets won last, and are now only two games back.

Monday, August 4, 2008

10 Questions with Tim Dierkes

This is an interview with Tim Dierkes, from MLB Trade I would like to thank Tim for doing this interview with me via email. Here are the ten questions I asked him:

Q: 1. How do you find out the rumors you put on your site?

I monitor about 200 sites and read all the latest newspaper and web articles, scanning for rumors.

Q: 2. What trade were you most surprised about?

Ken Griffey Jr. to the White Sox was one I never saw coming.

Q: 3. Which guys didn't move that you thought you go to a different team?

Raul Ibanez, Paul Byrd, David Weathers.

Q: 4. Why didn't the Marlins get Manny Ramirez?

They asked for too much - $7MM to cover his salary plus another $2MM to cover the draft picks they'd get. And they also wouldn't give up the prospects the Pirates wanted for Jason Bay.

Q: 5. Which team improved the most with their deadline deal?

Looking strictly at deadline day, the Dodgers. Looking at the entire month, the Brewers.

Q: 6. Who are your World Series picks and why?

Heading into the season I picked the D'Backs and Red Sox. The D'Backs because I love the 1-2 punch of Webb/Haren, and the Red Sox because they have a stacked high OBP offense and Josh Beckett.

Q: 7. Who is the biggest loser at this year's deadline?

The Reds. They had multiple veterans with trade value but weren't able to move Adam Dunn, Weathers, or Jeremy Affeldt.

Q: 8. Why do you think the Phillies didn't make any deals?

They probably didn't want to give up their top prospects for lefty relievers.

Q: 9. Who will win the tight races in the NL East, NL Central and the AL East?

I'll take the Phillies, Cubs, and Red Sox.

Q: 10. What do you spend the most time writing about now that the deadline has passed,

Possible waiver deals and free agents for the upcoming season.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Favre Fighting for Job?

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has officially reinstated Brett Favre (right).  He will be in camp on Tuesday.  There is an interesting story developing out of this.  It is rumored that Packers' head coach Mike McCarthy will let Favre and Aaron Rodgers battle it out for the starting quarterback job.  I know what your thinking: Packers' camp will be a three ring circus.

Earlier this weak, we learned of a deal that would pay Brett 25 million dollars to stay home.  The Packers were actually going to pay this.  Favre said he was even considering taking the money and spending the rest of his days sitting on a lawn chair.  Did he realize that would make him look like a total sellout.  He keeps saying how he yearns for the chance to play, and then he takes the money.  But maybe that was his plan all along.  Hey, I'll retire for 25 million bucks any day.

This makes me think: How does Aaron feel about this.  I wish I could interview him now.  First, the organization (and that includes the coach) says they would rather have Rodgers than Favre.  That's a real self-esteem builder; the Packers pick you instead of a future-hall of famer.  But now, you might have to fight it out with Favre to even start.

Is this what the Packers are really going to do?  I don't think they should.  They are putting Aaron Rodgers in a tight spot and (like I've said before) making their camp look like a three ring circus looking for its ring master.  Think how that must anger Rodgers, but he'll never say it.  I think they'll wind up trading him right before the first preseason game.

What if Rodgers wins the job?  That would be something, Mike McCarthy telling Brett Favre that he will be riding the bench this season.  But Favre wouldn't settle for that, he would definitely demand a trade.  And then the soap opera would continue.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Shutdown Closer

Shutdown closer, that's been the words to describe Brad Lidge this season.  The Phillies closer has been nothing short of dominant this season.  He ranks fourth in saves in the National League (26).  But the more important stat is that the he has not blown a save chance for the Phillies.  He is a perfect 26 for 26.

How has he regained his old form this year?  Beside the fact that he's been healthy this season, he also has improved his already nasty slider.  Lidge's top pitches are a high 90s fastball and a mid-to-low 90s slider.  That slider has been really striking out hitters.

His road ERA, an impeccable O.82.  Lidge has really been a key to the Phillies' success this season.  It's important to have that shutdown closer in the bullpen.  Righties are batting a horrid .088.  That's a remarkable number.

Lidge has 59 strikeouts in 46 innings.  But what's more than the stats is that when he comes in the game, players and fans know he will shut the other team down.  He gives the feeling that the game is saved as soon as he enters the game.  That's certainly what he's done this year.