Friday, February 27, 2009

Manny Being Manny! Slugger Rejects LA's $45M Offer!

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by Digger

Manny being Manny. Anyone paying attention to Manny Ramirez drama filled career shouldn't be too surprised he's holding out for more money while spring training games are in full swing. Baseball economics must be in tip top shape during these trying times. Star players are still commanding top dollar. Manny wants more. Will LA budge? Mixed emotions.

The Dodgers offense needs this guy. Manny's single handedly carried the Dodgers for 53 games after arriving via trade. He hit .396, slugged .743 while leading LA into the Playoffs. Manny being Manny. Rejecting a whopping offer. Now missing spring training. Holding out for better offers? One would think nearly every MLB would be banging on the door. Not so.
During his Hall of Fame style career, he's been accused of not giving it his all on every play. Sometimes, putting himself over teammates by not wanting to play. He more or less wore out his welcome in Boston. Former Sox teammates even had a few parting shots for their old friend. In LA, things seemed great. Right now it's about money and contract length. No teammates are publicly grumbling.... yet!

Baseball economics. As politicians continue their sky is falling rhetoric, baseball acts as if they're immune. 2009 will be challenging on many fronts. Ad revenues will be slashed. Gate receipts will vary from city to city. Corporate box seats could be on auction blocks.... at least they should be! How many families of four will be able to afford ticket prices? Throw in parking, gas, tolls, $10 hotdogs all while worrying about making ends meet.... Thousands of people losing their jobs world wide so when baseball players sit around holding out for millions more than offered...? Should fans care? Not this one.

Get a grip Manny, greed isn't always good. Shut up. Sign up. Suit up. Batter up.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

USA Getting Ready for World Baseball Classic!

by Digger

World Baseball Classic rosters were finalized and announced this week. Team USA is looking to avenge their poor results from 2006. USA 2009 will be skippered by no nonsense Manager Davey Johnson. DJ is focused on winning it all. It's already been made clear players in the groove will play most often.

Sometimes teams overloaded with super talent coaches/managers tend to try getting everyone into games. The results often weaken clubs. USA's failed Dream Team Olympic Basketball squads are perfect examples of enormous talent failing to win it all. The worlds best players will be representing their countries in WBC play. There will be a wide variety of baseball styles. USA had better be ready to play. Opening games begin March 5th.

Johnson's USA WBC lineup is set for the 16 team double elimation format. USA will carry 14 pitchers (10 relievers). Oswalt & Peavy will pitch the first two games. Lilly & Guthrie will fill in when necessary. 10 relievers is a must as WBC has set pitch count guidelines for starters (1st round 65, 2nd 80, Semi's + Finals 95). A deep pen provides plenty of fresh arms.

Time to fill out my projected lineup card vs Davey's:

SS - Rollins
CF - Granderson
RF - Sizemore
DH - Chipper
1B - Youkilis
3B - Wright
C - McCann
LF - Braun
2B - Pedroia

DJ will be starting team Captain Derek Jeter (batting 2nd) and is currently leaning towards Sizemore in center and Hawpe batting 9th in RF.

USA's first opponent is Canada (March 7). They've got a few big bats too (Jason Bay, Jay Votto, Justin Morneau).

The majors biggest names will represent their homelands. No weak teams in this tourney. Baseball season is back... time flies!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

World's Top 64 Golfers T Up for Match Play

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by Digger

Three time winner Tiger Woods seems to be the featured event at this years Accenture Match Play Championships. Tiger makes his return from surgery joining the world's top 64 players for one of PGA's most entertaining competitions.

Match play is different than most tournaments. This is a bracket format similar to NCAA Basketball & Tennis styles. "The four brackets at the Accenture Match Play Championship are named in honor of Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Sam Snead. Players in each of the four brackets are seeded No. 1 through No. 16, with the top-ranked golfer playing the No. 16 seed, No. 2 pairing off against No. 15, No. 3 vs. No. 14, and so forth in the first round." ( 2/20/09)

So far all the attention has been on Tiger Woods return to action. TV ratings were dramatically down during his absence and will undoubtably skyrocket for this week's event. Online fantasy golf games have woken up too. To no one's surprise, Woods has been the top pick in most drafts.

This is probably my favorite golf format aside from the Masters & US Open. Mano-a-mano. The top 64 hackers all have a shot at winning. There's no recovering from a poor first round creating one of the most pressure packed opening days. Strategies will be fun to watch. Rip it and grip it? Or, slow steady mistake free play?

Friday, February 20, 2009

MLB: All Star 'Roids Team

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by Digger

Players and coaches have been arriving at team training facilities as only a few days remain before the official opening of MLB Spring Training. Steroids chatter has picked up a new tail wind with ARod's admissions and Barry Bonds perjury trial on the way.

I've assembled my All Star 'Roids team based on players under suspicion or implicated in performing enhancing drug usage.

SP - Roger Clemens: Former AL MVP and 7 time Cy Young winner made a mockery denying his involvement faces perjury charges.
C - Ivan Rodriguez: MLB's greatest defensive catcher ever? Former MVP and 14 time All Star can't find a team for '09.
1B - Rafael Palmeiro: Famous finger waving denial before investigative committee (lied). 589 career HR's.
2B - Chuck Knoblauch: Perhaps beefing up was why this former Twins/Yank 2B couldn't throw to first.
3B - Ken Caminiti: Admitted he used steroids during his 1996 NL MVP season. One of the earliest players to speak publicly. Statements ignored by MLB as steroids era entered full swing.
SS - Alex Rodriguez: ARod, AFraud and now ARoid. Created media circus trying to come clean. Problem, each confession reveals more non-truths.
LF - Barry Bonds: Baseball's single season and career home run king cheated. On trial for perjury. Was center of BALCO investigation.
CF - Lenny Dykstra: Former scrappy Met CF bulked up big time before joining Phillies. Led them to WS, found sudden power stroke with new physique.
RF - Sammy Sosa: Famously battled McGwire in homer race to break Roger Maris single season 61. Was termed the season which saved baseball... only now, we all know the joke was on us.
DH - Mark McGwire: Testified "I'm not here to discuss my past" before committee. Non-denial denials from one of baseball's biggest men. Broke Maris single season record, only to be surpassed by a heavily juiced Bonds.
Manager - Jose Canseco: Openly admitted usage. Named named in his own book from ARod to McGwire. Players all denied... only to prove Jose was right all along. Baseball tried silencing Jose, now they owe him an apology he'll never receive.
Agent - Don Fehr: MLBPA Chief was instrumental in blocking any sort of testing requirements from the players collective bargaining agreements. One of the chief conspirators to keep steroids abuse silent.
Trainer - BALCO: Exposed by book "Game of Shadows" which detailed how BALCO masked human growth hormones and distributed to some of the worlds most famous athletes.
Commissioner - Bud Selig: Publicly denied for years presence of steroids/hgh. Slow to respond and hampered investigations. MLB executive from Commissioners off alleged to have tipped off players before drug testing. Selig is now miraculously states ridding baseball of controlled substances was main objective as commissioner. Amazing how figure heads often attempt to re-write history.

*(not all names listed have been proven guilty... all under suspicion of using various growth hormones or steroids).

PGA: Tiger's Back!

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by Digger

The world's greatest golfer announced he's fit and ready to resume competing on the links. Tiger Woods returns to the PGA Tour for next week's WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona. Tiger had been sidelined since June 2008 recovering from knee surgery. Now, he's ready. He's back. Look out golfers, the games greatest ball striker is ready and hungry for more trophies!

Wood's last competitive stroke won the US Open in sudden death. He later called the victory one of his greatest ever due to playing injured. PGA Tour tv ratings have plummeted since he's been away. PGA is now banking Tiger's return to competitive action propels ratings back to where they were over 250 days ago.

I don't think there has even been a single athlete who has single handily transformed a sport the way Tiger has for golf. Golf's popularity skyrocketed once Woods began his professional career (stats). Sheer talent. The best ever. Tiger's been slapped with many titles, awards, accolades. He's earned them all. Not since Babe Ruth has any player dominated their sport in such a manner.

Woods return to competitive golf couldn't come at a better time for the sport, and possibly to inject some positive emotions into the sporting community... even if it's only temporary. Keep an eye on the reception he receives when introduced... and then again on the 18th. Many question whether or not he's healthy enough to return. With this guy, if he wasn't ready to dominate... he wouldn't be coming back at this juncture. Tiger's ready! And, so are golfing fans around the world.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Old Time Hockey

by Digger

NHL '08-09 has been an action packed season. Three teams have dominated rinks from city to city (Boston, San Jose, Detroit). The Boston Bruins are back. I used to be a big Bruins and Rangers fan growing up (odd combo... rival teams).

The game has changed from generation to generation. Back in the late 60's early 70's pounding physical play dominated games. Boston, Philadelphia, Toronto, Rangers, Chicago, Buffalo, Vancouver, and probably a few others left off, were the rough house teams. After the Bobby Orr/Phil Esposito era in Boston things shifted to the Terry O'Reilly, Peter McNabb, Rick Middleton, Ray Bourque era. Great teams, hard hitting play but slow. Slow skating skills doomed them during playoff finals vs speedskating Montreal and later on in the 90's vs Gretzky's Oilers. Classic Bruins Playoff fights included a Terry O'Reilly triple header vs Islanders. He fought Gillies twice (draw) and then was induced into a 3rd by Garry Howatt (auto game ejection).
Rangers vs Islanders always seem to play classic games. Late 70's, early 80's were tops. Many of hockey's greats skated in these matchups. New York vs Philadelphia left plenty of rinks discolored. Chicago vs Vancouver were known to set a few penalty records.

Hockey has produced many mini-dynasties. Montreal Canadiens have won more Stanley Cups than any other. Their successes began back in 1918. Detroit is another super organization fielding Championship calibur teams and Hall of Famers.

Baseball does a great job replaying old classic games. Not enough old NHL games are rebroadcast. There were some great Finals and even better early round matches. Toronto vs Islanders quarters in '78 was one of my all time favorites. 1979 it was Montreal in game 7 OT vs Boston (Semi's). 1994 Rangers/Devils epic 7 game thriller (3 OT's including 7th). 1979 Challenge Cup Series (NHL All Stars vs USSR). Washington vs Islanders kept many fans awake during wee hours watching double and triple OT thillers. Plenty of others series which would be too cumbersome to list here.

This season, Boston vs Detroit for all the marbles would make a great Finals. Two storied franchises going toe to toe. Bruins have two great goalies in Thomas and Fernandez. Offense and defense have been firing on all cylinders. Detroit keeps cranking out great team after great team. Wings D is a bit shaky this year but they keep winning. San Jose is probably the only NHL team capable of taking Boston in a deep series. Only 8 losses and won't lose many more.

Hockey is one sport which hasn't had too many Hollywood hits. Miracle (USA Olympic story) and Slap Shot (comedy) are the only two coming to mind. Mystery, Alaska was a good movie but far from a box office hit. There's plenty of untold old time hockey stories which could make great sports flicks. Maybe in years to come?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Foul Ball: Rodriguez Press Conference

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by Digger

Baseball's various steroid stories aren't going away time soon. Sports Illustrated reignited this firestorm a couple of weeks ago by naming Alex Rodriguez as a steroid user. ARod then quickly sat down for an interview with ESPN's baseball guru Peter Gammons and admitted previous wrong doing.

Today, Alex was back in front of microphones holding a midday news conference. ARod claimed to be "young and stupid" and not knowing what effect, if any, his wrong doing (steroids) had on his body or performance. ARod is asking to put this all behind him, for a second chance, to be tested at any time etc. Squarely placed blame on himself for past actions. Unfortunately for ARod and baseball, today's latest attempt to right a past wrong was nothing more than a long foul ball opening the door to further questions and disbelief.

Here's my short list of what doesn't fly with ARod's reasoning:

Topping my list... this is not ARod's first interview. A sit down with Katie Couric turned out to be full of non-truths. His sit down with Gammons contained further non-truths. So did today's little circus.

1st, he was clearly implicated in Jose Canseco's book as approaching fellow Texas Rangers players who juiced inquiring of how to's. Today, ARod stated he never saw other players using. This just isn't true. The Rangers were one of baseball's teams where steroid usuage was a common bond. Canseco clearly stated ARod was another teammate using.

2nd, ARod tried to imply when using in years 2001-03 it may or may not have helped performance. He went on record today stating his "best" years were in pre/post using days. Funny how Alex forgot to mention he led baseball in many offensive categories during the years he admits to.

3rd, I just don't buy he quit in 2003. There's no credibility behind many statements being tossed around. He has a history of failing to come clean from his private life to professional life. Since joining the Yankees here's a guy surrounded in steroid controversy, spotted leaving illegal gambling establishments, allegedly caught cheating on his wife with strippers, hookers and Madonna. And now, fresh rounds of coming clean? Cleaner yes, clean no.

4th, if he doesn't think juicing was cheating then why cover it up? Why come clean now? It's part of self denial. I think most players convinced themselves it was ok since no one seemed to care who was or wasn't. Big dollars rewarded the games top slugging juicers. Money money money.
His statements today did contain a bit of denial and plenty of self induced ignorance. I was young and dumb only goes so far. I know he didn't want to rat out former/current teammates he saw or knew of using.. but his flat out denial was lying. This is the problem with throwing yourself a news conference to "come clean" and tell the "truth". In order to tell truth's he injected non-truths. In the process he also admitted to using some sort of over the counter pep pill which was later added to baseball's banned list.

ARod is now the latest poster child for baseball's steroids. I'm in complete disgust with how Commissioner Bud Selig threw Rodriguez under a bus after the ESPN interview. Selig is still in denial and now takes great "offense" to not doing enough to curb performance enhancing drug usage which spread throughout Major League Baseball. Selig has been and remains a central figure covering up this issue. It's been reported an executive officer in MLB has been squarely accused of tipping off players when "random" tests were given. A former NL MVP, the late Ken Caminiti, admitted he used 'roids during his 1996 award winning season. Countless sports reporters wrote articles back in the 1990's suggesing usage was on the rise. Selig and owners turned a blind "public" eye. There's no way they couldn't at least be suspicious of activity. Instead, it's my belief owners and Commissioner's Office all knew and encouraged further usage by doing nothing. Revenues flourished, so there was no reason for any action taken.

Baseball keeps getting self inflicted black eyes. This list is long and dates back over 100 years. Problem is always in how officials attempt to coverup many wrong doings. No exception here. I'm curious as to when there will be perjury investigations of Bud Selig's sworn testimony. Roger Clemens has taken plenty of heat. Why not dig into baseball's $17M front man Bud Selig? It'll never happen since baseball owners are heavy political contributors.

As for ARod, the 2009 baseball season can't come quick enough. He desperately wants everything his past put to rest while focusing on future events. I can't help thinking he's in a lose lose situation for quite some time. Every attempt to come clean invites further scrutiny. He'll be jeered in every city outside of NY. When he slumps, New Yorker's will howl. If he hits 60 homers, reporters will tear him apart and then questions of validity for records broken by juicers comes back into play. This event will haunt ARod for the rest of his playing days.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Co-MVP's Cap Off All Star Weekend!

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By Digger

Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant put on quite a show Sunday night. Shaq was the last team West All Star player introduced. He came out wearing a Jabbawockeez mask and then did a "freelance" routine while boogying side by side with his kids favorite group. Then Shaq made his former coach look good. Phil Jackson's West team was trailing by 10 before deciding to send in Shaq off the bench. The West scored 11 in a row with Shaq & Kobe on the floor as part of a 19-0 run and never looked back. O'Neal needed only 11 minutes to slam down 17 points. He had played in 14 straight All Star Games before missing out last year. He was voted in by NBA Coaches and didn't disappoint his home crowd.

Kobe had a great game too. It seemed obvious Shaq was going to be named game MVP. In the 2nd half, Kobe went to work. His 27 points & 23 shots led were game highs.

It was fun watching these two playing on the same team together. Their in game chemistry came back to life as an electified crowd went nuts. Who knows how many more Championships they would have won? LA's star was on the rise as these two delivered 3 consecutive NBA Titles from 1999-2002. Lakers have not won a Championship after the well publicised Kobe/Shaq fued fueled the big mans departure out of LA.

O'Neal and Bryant were voted All Star Game Co-MVP's. Both men have won this award 3 times each (tied for 3rd most). It was a fitting ending seeing these two share this award.

Both said they've made up after years of media driven ill will. Their fallout had become quick Hollywood fodder. Could it be possible there's more too this quick little friendly get together? I wouldn't be overly surprised if these two are reunited in LA before next weekend. Shaq's current team, Phoenix, is about to make some serious changes. News of coach Terry Porter's firing will have been made official by the time most of you have read this. It's rumored the Suns will dismantle their current roster.

Shaq back to LA with Jackson & Kobe? We'll soon find out if LA can push the right buttons in search of another Championship. This move, while unlikely, would do it. Shaq's having a solid season and the Lakers lost starting center Andrew Bynum for the year. Rent-a-Shaq makes perfect sense. Not the best move for Phoenix to trade their biggest gate attraction to a division rival. However, these aren't normal times. Owners/teams cash strapped, etc. A few Suns players names have already been floated between GM's. If LA wants a title now, this makes would really turn up the volume on other NBA teams. LA would then be ready to take down anyone in their path.

NBA trade deadline is right around the corner. I suspect most teams not living up to expectations or in dire straights financially are about to start swapping out players.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

News Makers, Rumors, Champs & More Chumps

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by Digger

It's been a wild week in sports news with much to discuss. It's been a week of good, bad and ugly. Let's begin with good stuff today before taking aim at the rest.

Good:College Basketball season is winding down... and what a season! Current #1 is University of Connecticut. Are they here to stay? Apparently so. After taking over as our nations top ranked team UConn is streaking... 12 wins in a row! It's been a team effort (stats) top to bottom spreading the ball around.

NBA All Star Weekend will entertain basketball fans around the world. In my eyes, it's the pre-game festivities which rule the day. Highlighted events include: All Star Celebrity Game, Rookie Challenge and Youth Jam, Playstation Competition, 3 Point Shootout, H-O-R-S-E competition, Rookies game and Slam Dunk Contest. Most will be televised by TNT. Then, on Sunday, it's the NBA All Star Game. The skills competitions have been great over the years. Days of old featured tremendous Slam Dunk contests starring the likes of Dr. J, George Gervin & Michael Jordan highlight reel dunks. One of my favorite contests used to be the 3 point shootout. It's a relatively new cast of characters entering this years events ushering in a changing generation of players. It will be fun to watch when I finally get to see it (my viewing time will come via tape delay... it's Valentine's Day Saturday... so NBA will have to take a back seat to my sharing a wonderful night with my special girl).

Celtics vs Lakers rivalry shows no signs of slowing down after a very physical 1 point LA win in Boston. These two teams are my odds on favorites to meet up again in the Finals. Madison Square Garden is still buzzing after back to back stellar performances by LA's Kobe (set MSG scoring record) and Cleveland LeBron James who delighted fans anxiously awaiting is arrival as a NY Knick. NY fans can finally hold their heads high after turbulent years under Isiah. NY is now playing inspired basketball for the first time in years. Amazing how quickly things come around when someone who knows what they are doing is placed in charge of day to day operations.

NHL: NBC will televise NY Rangers vs Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday. This is one of the NHL's classic rivalries which is always a heavy hitting game. I used to love going to MSG to see them bloody the ice back in the 70's. Back in the day, the best games in MSG used to be Rangers vs Philly and Rangers vs Boston. Once the Islanders started playing good hockey, NY vs NY was 2nd to none for many years. Heck, in MSG the "Potvin Sucks" chant still echoes from the rafters!

NFL: Retired again... Brett Favre! Is it for real this time? I'm guessing if new Jets coach Ryan wanted Favre, he'd still be a Jet. Favre took most of the heat for NY failing to make the playoffs. While he had ups and downs, Favre was not the problem. Poor coaching and play calling doomed this team. 2009 will have many new faces, perhaps even NFL future HOF LB Ray Lewis?
Rumors: Manny Ramirez is still unsigned! Many of baseball's stars remain unsigned free agents with only 12 days before Spring Training officially begins. Interestingly enough.. not many rumors surrounding who might be pursuing the games greats. The biggest baseball rumor surfaced today. Bud Selig may suspend Alex Rodriguez, might re-crown Hank Aaron as baseball's home run king in the wake of steroids. Steroids issue will not go away. Funny, now Selig says ridding the game of substances has been a top priorty for 10 years. Really? Bull____!

Champs; Sadly, none to report this week.

Chumps: Plenty. Where to begin? Former MLB and famous spitter Roberto Alomar is being sued by his former girlfriend who claims Alomar knowingly had AIDS while they had unprotected sex in spite of his denials. No one said Alomar was a good guy. If these charges hold true, hopefully he'll be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Another week filled with negative Alex Rodriguez news. Now he's fessing up to having used steroids. Give him slight credit for owning up (even after years of denials). However, Selig will hang him out to dry... and has all but stated he's about to.

Selig... MLB's most incompetent Commissioner in the history of baseball. Now? he wants to take action against players the league encouraged to continue juicing so he and his boys club of owners could make hundreds of millions of dollars. Selig acts as if widespread usage is new news. I'll be hitting this topic hard again very soon in days leading up to Spring Training.

Olympic swimmer Phelps. Why in the world are local SC authorities wasting so much time investigating whether or not Phelps took a bong hit? He was photographed taking a hit of an illegal substance. While I do not condone his actions one bit the question begs to be asked... who cares? Why waste taxpayers dollars with a full blown investigation? Funny how things work. It's ok not to investigate admitted pot and cocaine users who run for public office but lets attack a 23 year old Olympic hero. Little to no investigation has taken place by public authorities into the validity of our current President being a U.S. citizen... an unvetted leader of the free world... but, hey... lets make life hell for Phelps. Arrests have already been made in this case (not Phelps) as a desperate prosecutor tries making a name for himself.

Stay tuned for next weeks edition of News, Rumors, Champs & Chumps.... plus much more from the world of sports.

Monday, February 9, 2009

ARod, AFraud, ARoid Speaks Up!

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by Digger

Loads of random thoughts surround today's surprise announcement by Alex Rodriguez. ARod sat down for a one on one interview with ESPN's Peter Gammons fessing up to using PED's between 2001-03 before it was a banned substance by MLB. I've written numerous blogs about steroids in baseball and how poorly every aspect has been handled (or not).

Well, today I'll give ARod slight kudos for speaking up. It took a lot of guts for him to step up and tell everyone what we already knew. There was no Rafael Palmeiro type finger waving denials. No McGwire "I'm not here to talk about my past" bs. No Barry Bonds style non-denials. No, no, Canseco chest bashing bragging either. Just a not so simple moment of an icon admitting wrong doing based on Sports Illustrated article stating ARod tested PED positive in 2003.

ARod explained what led him down this path. However, the skeptical side of me will question when he actually stopped. 2003 is hard to believe. One more question is ARod sorry for what he did? Or, for getting caught??

Scratch below the surface of this latest outing of a baseball PED user. So much more to go with many obstacles, disinformation and political style slick deflection of attention still looming. First of all, regardless of anyone's opinion of who did what... (random thoughts)
- this drug test was to be strictly confidential under the safeguards provided by MLB and the Players Association. Why release this news now "6" years later? These documents should have been destroyed. MLBPA fumbled this badly. No, not for failing to cover up... but, for failing to protect the right of privacy. MLBPA is one of our country's strongest and most well disciplined unions.
- 104 players tested positive, why only release ARod's name? What about the other 103? A hole in the dam was just made by releasing ARod's name. Now, it's time to name them all.
- Anyone who thinks only 104 were guilty should remember players were notified testing was to be done. Some quit. Users were tipped off by team officials when they would be tested. Users also tainted results with masking agents. So, 104 will not be an accurate reflection of depths to which this scandals reaches.
- Owners still getting a free pass. Players in the know getting a free pass. Team doctors in the know... General Managers ... it's a pathetic mess.
- Union denies MLBPA Officials tipped off players, namely ARod, on eve of testing.
- The Mitchell Reports was highly biased. Mitchell is part of the Red Sox organization. Most of the players under suspicion in his analysis played in New York. He failed to detail what was happening in every other major league city. Failed to address core of problem = EVERYONE KNEW!
- EVERYONE from Commissioner to Owners to Players knew how widespread this epidemic had become and most are still in denial. Epidemic is incorrect. This was a conspiracy. Conspiracy evolved to protecting players "CONTINUED USAGE". Now, game conspires to deny any knowledge despite repeated articles written dating over 20 years. Denials after former player admissions (NL MVP Ken Caminiti).
- No one really wanted this to stop. Baseball revenues were growing at astronomical rates as players started hitting homers at alarming rates. Gate receipts, marketing revs, tv revs and players contracts all took off.
- MLBPA Executive allegedly kept 2003 records to prove/hope for enough false positive tests so testing would be permanently banned! Included was tipping off players to testing. A charge being denied.

All of this stuff is irritating since I hate cheaters. People will argue until they are blue faced stating it wasn't against the rules since baseball didn't drug test or not part of any league/union agreements. Garbage. Players weren't taking these substances to better their health. Each one shot up, rubbed cream, popped pills for one unified purpose.... to become a better baseball player. Most denied suspicions to hide their actions. Covered their tracks by obtaining steroids from other countries, using designer drugs, BALCO etc. Guilty... PERIOD.

Hank Aaron & Roger Maris endured tremendous hardships when chasing Babe Ruth's home run record. Aaron the subject of racial indecencies and death threats. Maris faced relentless criticism and negative New York press. His record stood at *61 in record books until the asterik was finally removed. Reflecting back a few years to 1998 baseball season now sickens me. Mark McGwire vs Sammy Sosa phony homer show produced by MLB....

1998: McGwire (70) and Sosa (66) went toe to toe most of the year chasing Maris' record. The stomach turning part is how McGwire went out of his way to phony up to the Maris family. I'm sure Mac's emotions were very genuine and heartfelt to a point. He had spent much time with them as Mrs. Maris and kids traveled the country as Mac neared 61. Fans packed stadiums as baseball promoted this event to the hilt. At the time, baseball was recovering from a different black eye... one of the MANY under Bud Selig. Well, guess what? It was all phony. Time and time again McGwire sat a post-game news conferences stating how wonderful it was to be mentioned in the same sentence as Roger Maris. How difficult it was for Maris' family to watch their father's record about to be broken. And, all the while Mac was juicing with a previously unbanned substance. What a ____! Sosa, while never formally proven, was juicing too. Baseball encouraged one of the games greatest records to be shattered by a dirty player. WOW! A couple of years later, Bonds broke McGwire's record. A few years later, Bonds becomes the All Time Home Run King. 1998 was the year covering up steroids in baseball became a conspiracy!

I hope Hall of Fame voters remember these times when casting ballots!

Guess what else baseball? Outing the names of 103 is important if only to reinforce innocense for those suspected who have not ventured into substances. Once this happens ... stop pointing fingers at players! Own up and admit how deep this conspiracy scandal reached. Stop using players names as a distraction away from what was really happening behind the scenes. I mean come on, it's already been proven General Managers discussed juiced players while negotiating trades and contracts.

Funny thing about baseball's image. Over time it's taken hits. Some heavier than others. Yet, time after time baseball bounces back. So, would baseball end if its' Commissioner or owners stepped to the microphone and told the world they had full knowledge steroids became a major problem? Or, that MLB profited from looking the other way?

People forgive mistakes.

We just hate liars and cheats!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

"A-Fraud" Tested Positive for 'Roids in '03!

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by Digger

Here we go again. Another big name baseball player who tested positive for either steroids or PED as far back as 2003 has been outed. Alex Rodriguez!

Gee, what a surprise. Another of baseball's biggest names, approaching lengendary status, is implicated for juicing up. ARod was already set up for jeers from thousands of fans thanks to Torre's book referencing "A-Fraud". Well, the stockpile of ammo just doubled with this latest blurb of steroids usage. Deservedly so!

Rodriguez was able to stay out of 'roid talk with most attention focused on Bonds, McGwire and the Mitchell Report. Does anyone remember a scrawny base-stealing Seattle Mariners short stop from not too long ago? After a quick body transformation one off season, ARod returned a power hitter. Right out of the Bonds mold. Too bad 'roids never taught either player to perform well under playoff pressure (choke artists!).

Players have taken some heat for their alleged steroids/PED use. Why have owners, team doctors/trainers, general managers AND MLB Commissioner been given a free pass? This is where I go nuts. Of course owners knew, and I'm certain "encouraged", players to bulk up. Power hitting high scoring games helped to jam stadiums. Sosa vs McGwire reignited a sport reeling from strikes and collusion.

This was also around the same time players (especially pitchers) complained openly about juiced baseballs... charge both league officials and manufacturers vehemently denied. Funny, nowadays bats are creating a stir.

I feel like a broken record repeating how baseball will not be on the level until a true commissioner is put into place. Selig is the former Milwaukee Brewers owner and cannot be relied upon lead impartially. Every action, or lack thereof, have proven this statement true. He's just part of the inner circle boys club owners who sidestep every last ounce of responsibility.
As for AFraud....... have a fun year. You'll be well deserving of tens of thousands of jeers echoing from stadiums nationwide!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Lakers Snuff Out Celtics in OT, 110-109

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by Digger

Los Angeles Lakers @ Boston Celtics. Championship basketball on full display in Boston as the Lakers and Celtics slugged it out. Game dominated by physical play ending on an overtime blocked shot preserving LA's one point thriller.

Was this a preview of what could be the NBA finalists playing for it all? A few teams will have something to say about it first. A growing number seem to favor these two tipping off for all the marbles.

LA is missing a big cog. Center Andrew Bynum is out for at least 2 months after tearing up his right knee. He was largely responsible for Lakers success. On fire leading up to his injury averaging over 26 ppg (5 games). He's a monster in the middle.

Heavy fouls and key blocked shots will be featured on highlight clips after this one. Kobe and Ray Allen were team leading scorers and both were erratic late in the game.

LA vs Boston have played some of the NBA's most memorable games. Chamberlain vs Russell, Magic vs Larry, Kareem vs Parrish, McHale vs Wothy, West vs Cousy.. now Kobe vs KG. Most of us expect to watch incredible games every time these two square off. Usually, each one is just another chapter to their storied histories.

It's going to be a great NBA Playoff season!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Resurrecting the Knickerbockers

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by Digger

2000-01 was the last winning basketball season in New York (team history). Six Head Coaches endured losing seasons as Knicks teams disgraced one of the leagues most famous franchises. GM/Coach Isiah Thomas was finally driven out amid swirling controversies on and off the court.

New York's resurrection began with the firing of Thomas and hiring of two key cogs for years to come. New President of Basketball Operations Donnie Walsh (former Indiana Pacers Prez) impact has already been felt. He's slashed payroll and improved team cohesiveness. After a couple of key early season trades NY finds itself sitting pretty well below the salary cap. NY papers and Garden faithful quickly started cheering for LeBron James. Speculation ran amuck suggesting Walsh's deals were aimed at better positioning NY to sign James when he becomes a free agent. Garden fans will be howling for him tonight when Cleveland squares off vs NY.

New Coach Mike D'Antoni has reshaped how the Knicks play ball. Early results are already paying huge dividends with his team challenging for post-season play. NY closed out January 9-7, their first winning month in a long time. Even with Kobe setting a new MSG scoring record (61 points)... the Knicks are playing tough hoops. Big challenge #2 is Cleveland. James is probably dreaming of winning over New Yorkers by smashing Bryant's 61.

My guess is it'll be a different superstar, not LeBron, wearing Knicks colors after this year. Cavs would be absolutely insane not to keep the leagues best player. Anything short of pulling off a Hershal Walker type trade would doom them for years to come.

D'Antoni's Knick resurrection is a work in progress. It's amazing how quickly two people who actually know something about the game can turn around a struggling organization. The past seven years were wasted on overpriced underachieving brick tossers making headlines for misconduct more often than wins. This is a young team with a bright future playing inspired basketball game in and game out.

Go Knicks!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

News, Rumors,Champs & Chumps

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by Digger

It's been a wild few days in the world of sports. Most of the news surrounded the dramatic ending of Super Bowl XLIII. Plenty of items to talk about today.....

Super Bowl: Great ending to a somewhat undisciplined game. Personal foul penalties were plentiful and almost turned one of the games hero's into a goat. AP Defensive Player of the Year was hit for a 15 yard penalty late in the 4th quarter setting up Arizona's go ahead touchdown.
Game MVP Santonio Holmes seemed like a knee-jerk selection. Holmes was amazing on Pittsburgh's title winning drive. His game winning, toe-tipped catch between three Cardinal defenders will be celebrated on highlight reels for years to come. But, the hands down player of the game wasn't Holmes. Game MVP was clearly Ben Roethlisberger who side-stepped Cards pass rushers all game long making one tremendous play after another.

Pittsburgh vs Arizona has been billed as the greatest ever. Not in my book although it was one of the greatest 4th quarters in Super Bowl history.

BUST! Super Bowl Commercials: Advertisers can't blame an anemic economy for bad commercials... not at up to $3M per 30 second spot. Boring was the word. Especially when millions of viewers were waiting for their next "Whatzzzzuuuuup" slogan to irritate their friends, co-workers and family members for days to come. Perhaps, this is a good thing!

Williams, Nadal Win Australian Open Singles: Serena was in top form blowing away her rivals. One of the most powerful women ball strikers in history. She's fun to watch. Did anyone catch a teary eyed Federer after he lost to Nadal? Federer was trying to match Pete Sampras' record 14 major singles titles. For those of you who haven't been paying attention, Nadal is quickly carving his way into tennis history. 6 Grand Slam titles and he's only 22. It'll be a great year in tennis... we're only in February.

Countdown to Baseball Spring Training: Baseball will quickly become a hot topic for the next few weeks as teams get ready to open training facilities. Big name free agents remain unsigned. Manny Ramirez just rejected a 1 year $25M contract from LA. Ryan Howard will set an arbitration record unless the Phils sign their slugging star soon. Mets/Yankees circus is only beginning.

Joe Torre went on a book promo slash defense last week with appearances on Larry King and various sports outlets. Torre created a stir when his book was referenced to contain derogatory statements about Yankees star players and management. Just enough hoopla to get New York newspapers buzzing. ARod's going to have a long road season listening to "A-Fraud" geers in '09.

Evidence Presented vs Bonds & Clemens: Boo-hoo. Big bad cheater, perhaps the biggest cheater of all time, Barry Bonds is in deep. A 2003 urine sample tested by Major League Baseball came back positive for performance enhancing drugs. Perjury trial stemming from Bonds prior testimony begins March 2nd. It's a crime baseball allowed this cheating fool to shatter some of the games most sacred records. The sad part is Bonds was already one of the greatest players before juicing up. Now... he's just a disgrace to the game and should be banned from Hall of Fame eligibility.

Roger Clemens had evidence of PED use submitted by his former personal trainer. Brian McNamee testified he had injected Clemens more than a dozen times... a claim Roger has publicly denied. McNamee's evidence... used syringes with Rocket's DNA. Clemens will be proven a liar. Perjury charges will soon be filed. One of the games greatest pitchers was cheating too.

Funny how MLB Players Association and even commissioner often state how steroid or PED's weren't written into any agreements between players and owners. Guess what fellas? These substances are illegal by law, period! Get caught cheating... pay the price. Maybe they should all hang with Pete Rose.

College Basketball: What a great season! Top 20 teams playing extremely tough. UConn is the latest university to take over #1. But, for how long? #1 teams haven't been able to take a firm grip. North Carolina was pre-season unanimous #1 and remained on top until week 9 rankings. Pittsburgh took over (week 9). Wake Forrest moved up (week 10). Then it was Duke's turn for what seemed like minutes. Now it's UConn. Guess what? North Carolina has climbed back into the picture at #3. It's going to be a great run-up to the Tournament.

NBA: Kobe dazzled New Yorkers in Madison Square Garden with a record setting 61 point game. The Knicks have been somewhat respectable after becoming the NBA's laughingstock under Isiah Thomas. After an early season trade to clear up salary cap room... rumors of LeBron James keep circulating. Better days are ahead for the new look Knicks. Defending Champ Boston only gets better. Playoff competition will be fierce this season. Many clubs have made great strides in 2008-09. Cleveland, Orlando & Denver have all turned heads with their inspired play.

NHL Ice Time: I'll be devoting more time to NHL rants. There are only 3 great teams... the rest are far behind. Boston, San Jose and Detroit represent the best in hockey. They skate circles around all others. It's getting close to crunch time. For most of the year Florida and Dallas were afterthoughts. Now they're surging up the standings ladder. In Playoff hockey, sometimes it's hotter teams stunning better teams. Long way to go before playoff talk but these two teams are playing great.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

And Now a Word From Our Sponsors... Super Bowl Sunday

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by Digger

Whatzzuuuuuuuup? It's Super Bowl Sunday. Time to get ready for the most celebrated game on our planet.

All the hoopla surrounding the big game has been splashed on airwaves from internet to tv to blogosphere's around the world. Aside from the games, one of my favorite moments of past Super Bowls has been off the field... commercials!

For those of you who run from the tv at commercials breaks... stay seated.

Ad agencies go all out in anticipation of the largest tv audience of the year. Super Bowl XLIII has garnered a record $206M in ad revenues. Ad rates sold out between $2.4M - $3M per 30 second slot. Some become instant sensations. Some hilarious. And, yes, the few busts which leave many of us wondering why bother? Only the memorable survive... and survive they do... like old relics. How many old schoolers remember Coke's Mean Joe Greene spot from 1979?

My all time favorites have been produced by Coca-Cola and Budweiser. Bud has had all sorts from talking Chimpanzee's and frogs to flatulating Clydesdales. has been trying to get in on the action recently too.

So what's it going to be today? Big bang for the buck? Or, complete waste of dough? I'm guessing they'll be plenty of commercial chatter around water coolers nationwide beginning tomorrow morning. YouTube will be on fire with downloads.