Thursday, March 17, 2011

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-Digger's Daily-

March Madness has arrived. Time for the best of the best in college basketball to rise to the top. Ohio State, Kansas, Pittsburgh & Duke represent this year's tourney number one seeds. Will one of the favorites win it all or will a long shot peel off upset after upset? Thousands of fans entered their predictions in office pools and online forums hoping to walk away with a few extra bucks. Even President Obama, with the world on fire from wars to earthquakes to nuclear meltdowns, found time from his busy vacation schedule to create a self fulfilling bracket selection video. Too bad he's not as energetic when it comes to restoring fiscal stability to the United States!

Phillies players, coaches and fans have good reason to be concerned about Chase Utley's injury. There's a good chance he'll begin 2011 on the disabled list. His achy knee will probably be a chronic problem throughout the year. The Phils are cash strapped and publicly state they're not interested in any trades at this point to fill voids created by injury. 3B Polanco gave everyone a scare when coming up lame (elbow). He'll be ready to go after a few days rest. Utley is the main concern. His injury creates lineup and defensive problems while creating an excellent opportunity for NL East opponents to challenge for division title honors.
One of baseball's all time greatest players retired without much fanfare last year. Just the way he wanted. Ken Griffey, Jr. remained silent on his retirement until today. "I just felt that it was more important for me to retire and instead of being a distraction, it no longer became the Seattle Mariners, it became, 'When is Ken doing this? When is Ken doing that?' and that's something I didn't want to have my teammates, who I truly cared about, having to answer these types of questions day in and day out," Griffey said in Peoria, Ariz. "Second, I gave myself a little bit of a head start. There are a lot of people that are friends of mine that would have tried to talk me out of it. And I just felt that it was best for me and the organization to retire. Through no fault of its own. Things happen. I'm not upset," he told reporters. "I think people thought I was upset about certain things, but that's not the case."

Griffey was one of baseball's good guys on and off the field. His skills were second to none until injury problems started popping up. He always gave 110% every night leading to full speed crashes into outfield walls and torn hamstrings. I think almost all of his fans hoped for one last season of respectability before Griff hung up his spikes. It wasn't to be but shouldn't diminish anything "Junior" accomplished. A certain soon to be first time Hall of Famer.

New York Mets troubles never end. Management is being sued for $1billion, team up for sale, players hurting and ticket sales guaranteed to be way down in 2011. Oft injured Carlos Beltran's knees continue to flare up. He lost starting CF duties (now plays RF). It's now all but official Beltran will begin 2011 disabled. His career will never be the same. Add his name to the growing list of Mets free agent busts. Beltran's been a complete waste of money. Johann Santana and Mets officials continue to deny injury rehab rumors. It's been suggested, and strongly denied, Santana will not pitch this season. He was one of the games most dominant pitchers when healthy. Unfortunately, it appears he's done from live action for a very long time.

It really stings me when professional sports unions and owners do battle. It's absolutely disgusting hearing grown up athletes complaining they aren't getting paid enough? Does anyone know what the minimum salaries are in pro sports? High enough to place them in the upper 1% of world earners. To watch them moan and grown is pathetic. Are the players being treated unfairly by owners? No. Are they compensated at the highest rates in the world? Yes. What more do they want? When is enough enough? They don't deserve their current salaries yet it's not enough. Owners must cringe every time a player gets arrested for beating his wife, rape, drugs, DWI or murder. Coaches cringe when overpaid narcissists don't hustle or give up at key moments. And these guys want more? What is the average price of tickets to any major sporting event? Throw in transportation, food etc and tell me how a middle class family of four can afford a trip to the ballpark? Why are ticket prices to high? So owners can afford over priced players. Do the players care fans have to shell out big bucks? Not a chance. Time for the millionaire cry babies to take stock of how good they have it when the rest of the world struggles to put food on their tables and gas in their cars. Grow up!

NBA push for the playoffs is on. Would anyone have believed me if I told you months ago that the Chicago Bulls would own best record in the Eastern Conference? One really has to feel for Cleveland fans. Cavs basketball was strong. One of the leagues best. Advanced to conference semi-finals in 3 of last 5 years (lost), conference finals (lost) and NBA finals (lost). Star LeBron James toyed with them for much of the off season before deciding for big Miami Heat money. Now Cleveland is in shambles. 13-53 represents the NBA's worst record. Quite a turnaround. Cleveland owner's felt duped. Fans outraged. It will be a long time before Cleveland turns around this train wreck.

Can the Devils do it? New Jersey was left for dead during one of their worst starts in team history (5-13-2 & 10-29-2). Players were puzzled and disgruntled. Superstar net-minder Brodeur was playing terribly. After a 23-4-2 run the Devils find themselves within reach of the playoffs. Coach Jacques Lemaire to the rescue. They've won 24 since he took over a team in disarray. Brodeur's been stellar of late winning 15 of 18 after dropping 8 contests in a row during late December, early January. Devils still have work to do currently 6 points off the playoff pace. However, they're the leagues hottest team and playing exceptional hockey. Go Devils!


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