Tuesday, May 31, 2011

NBA & NHL Championship Predictions

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2010-11 basketball and hockey displayed jaw dropping highlights all year long. From pre-season NBA signing antics of LeBron James to Dirk's unbelievable Western Conference Championship performance leading the Mavs into the Finals. Miami's big 3 vs Dallas balanced attack promises to thrill viewers from minute to minute.

NHL ice action kept fans on the edge of their seats throughout playoff action. The Stanley Cup Finals displays two of the games gutsiest teams. Vancouver vs Boston will showcase hockey at its' very best.
So who will be crowned 2010-11 Champs?

Miami Heat vs Dallas Mavericks. Fans from both cities firmly believe their team is best. Miami has James, Wade and Bosh. Dallas has the deepest squad in the game led by Nowitzki and veteran PG Jason Kidd.
Miami's defense must be Johnny on the spot if the Heat expect to win it all. Dallas brings an excellent ball movement offense and aren't too shabby in the fast break category either.
For Dallas, eliminating unnecessary turnovers is a must or Miami will turn them all into fast break opportunities.
Defensive match-ups for both teams are challenging.
Dallas in 6!

Vancouver Canucks vs Boston Bruins
This will either be a very close series minute by minute or a Vancouver route. Boston defense and goal tending is tops. Vancouver's high flying offense will put them to the test. Bruins power play has been non-existent but they've overcome offensive deficiencies by playing stellar defense.
Two teams couldn't be more opposites than Boston and Vancouver. Here they are, going for it all.
I've been a big Bruins fan since the days of Esposito, Orr, Cheevers. Followed them intensely during the brutal 70's with O'Reilly, Milbury & Co. Then came the Ray Bourque era. Those days are long gone. Now's the time for the new look Bruins to plant a flag on their place in NHL history.
Bruins get it done in 7!

Monday, May 30, 2011

MLB: Memorial Day Power Rankings

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2011 has been a strange season. Baseball injury bugs are swarming. Players beware. Injuries are contagious. Multiple players have made visits to disabled lists around the league for oblique strains. Next up catchers. Buster Posey was lost for the year in a jarring home plate collision. Guess what happened next? Another trend. Catchers being lost by ankle and knee injuries due to collisions. Fantasy managers have their work cut out for themselves like never before. Injuries creating roster emergencies. It's been reported more than a few skippers absorbing up to 12 injuries at once decimating rosters leaving them to scramble for replacements.

Cleveland continues to dazzle. Phillies almost back at full strength. Mets announce a new minority owner. Yankees sliding. Red Sox surging. Time for power rankings (through games of 8/30/11):

1 - Philadelphia (34-20)
2 - Cleveland (31-19)
3 - St, Louis (32-22)
4 - Florida (30-21)
5 - Boston (30-23)
6 - Yankees (28-23)
7 - Arizona (29-24)
8 - Atlanta (30-25)
9 - Milwaukee (29-34)
10- Tampa Bay (28-24)

Happy Memorial Day Americans!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Wilpon Rips Mets Stars!

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Popular consensus amongst prognosticators all agreed 2011 spelled doom and gloom for New York Mets chances of winning the NL East. A franchise in turmoil from team owners being sued for $1 billion to star players injured to begin the year (Santana, Beltran, Bay). As predicted, the Mets struggled to a 5-13 record through their first 18 games. Injuries keep popping up (Wright, Davis) but replacements have played very well. Bay and Beltran are back and contributing. New York's won 17 of 28 behind re-energized play and solid pitching performances.

Feeling good was not meant to least. Mets owner Fred Wilpon ripped New York's big three. Wilpon unleashed on Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran and David Wright. New York talk radio lines were buzzing all morning tearing into the Mets new public enemy number one. Wilpon lashed out at the Mets calling his team "sh*tty" and much more in a New Yorker article.

On Jose Reyes, Wilpon chirped:
"He thinks he's going to get Carl Crawford money," Wilpon says, referring to Crawford's seven-year, $142 million contract with the Boston Red Sox. "He's had everything wrong with him. He won't get it."
Regarding signing Carlos Beltran:
"We had some schmuck in New York who paid him based on that one series. He's 65 to 70 percent of what he was." A second shot at Beltran (which many fans may agree with was) referenced a bases loaded called third strike to end the 2006 NLCS.
All Star 3B David Wright:
"Really good kid. A very good player. Not a superstar."
Timing couldn't be worse for Mets players when things seemed to finally be getting better. How should players react to this outburst? You can bet they're pretty ticked off at the moment. A media circus will soon take off looking for comments from singled out stars. Don't be surprised if Reyes is the first demanding a trade. Jose's in a contract year (free agent in waiting after this season ends). Reyes is enjoying an All Star caliber season and many major league clubs are rumored to be in hot pursuit via trade. I'm hoping Reyes stays in the National League. He'll be another in a long history of former players exiting to greener pastures and stardom.

Wilpon's tenure has been nothing short of one disastrous move after another. True die-hard fans remain disgusted with CitiField. Here's a billion dollar tax payer funded park which disrespected the franchise it was intended. CitiField is nothing short of a homage to Jackie Robinson and the Brooklyn Dodgers. Wilpon is a frustrated Brooklyn fan. He wanted a replica Ebbett's Field built. So he built it. Problem is, the New York Mets play in Citi. The main entrance is a shrine to Jackie Robinson's Dodgers. In Citi's inaugural season, there was very little mention of anything Mets beyond souvenir shops. No recognition of 1969 & 1986 World Series Championships. No mention of pennant winning teams. Even outfield wall colors, and theme colors within the ballpark do not reflect Mets orange and blue. Visitors love the park. Mets fans remain disgusted and deeply disrespected.

Wilpon's latest published comments earned scorn from New Yorkers. It's time the Wilpon's and Katz' sell the Mets. This is the team they built. Can't point fingers at GM's, managers, players, etc. The buck stops with the boss. Wilpon's have destroyed a great franchise. Very poor decision making led to trades/signings of busts such as Roberto Alomar, Pedro Martinez, Carlos Beltran, JJ Putz, Luis Catillo, Oliver Perez and a host of others.

Wilpon's are Dodgers fans first, Mets second. Mets players and fans deserve better. Mets are in financial troubles and are looking for minority buyers. The best gift a Mets player and fan can receive would be for current ownership selling out completely, 100%. The current mess is too deep for Wilpon & Co. to rectify. Tough days ahead. Time to turn over the reigns and put the Wilpon years to rest.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bronx Tales: Fans Stand with Jorge!

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Jorge Posada's days as a New York Yankee may be concluding sooner than most expected. Jorge, always a fan favorite, will either be traded/released or given the ultimate insult by watching the Yanks acquire a new everyday pinch hitter.

In case your eyes were closed... Manager Girardi demoted Posada to 9th in the batter order a few days ago. An insulted Posada then begged out of the lineup which triggered a media flurry after a mid-game interview with GM Cashman suggested Jorge's pouting. The frenzy continued for a few days. Jorge apologized. Girardi was somewhat non-controversial during interviews. Captain Derek Jeter stood up for his teammate attempting to snuff out negativity before it took hold. (Let us not forget the very public negotiating sessions between Yanks brass and their Captain which left everyone scratching their heads. Jeter too began the year with a dreadful slump.) He did what every good team Captain should do.. stick up for his longtime teammate.

Posada is a Yankees legend. His resume is quite impressive: 17 seasons, 1748 games played, 4 World Series titles, 6 AL Pennants, 5 time All Star, 5 Silver Sluggers, 120 Playoff appearances, 267 HR's, .274 career BA, career .852 OPS.

NY Daily News reported there's been a rift between Girardi and Posada for years especially when it comes to calling games behind the plate. No wonder why Jorge's been relegated to full time DH. This was a slap in the face. A 16 year vet told he can no longer catch, ever. Not a single game. DH only. Like it or leave it. Posada should have been told maybe 2 or 3 games a week behind the plate and DH the rest. His 17th, and potentially final MLB season, has not been good. Posada ranks dead last in batting average. He'll no longer start games vs left handers (0-24). Slowly but surely Girardi is fading out Jorge.

Have Jorge's skills diminished to the point of deserving being forced out of the game? Absolutely not! Every player experiences a dry spell. Fine tuning his batting stance and attitude will go a long way. Perhaps, after the brouhaha, intense focus was found? Time will tell.

Yankees are no strangers to forcing out players. Bernie Williams lack of a contract offer woth plenty of swing left was tragic. Barely a farewell and thank you for being a top clutch performer throughout an illustrious career. Same was done to one of the "most feared hitters" of his generation, Jim Rice. Tom Seaver was left off the 1986 Red Sox post-season roster altogether. LaRussa vs Ozzie Smith was well publicized too.

Jorge has one option. Hit. Posada must get his head (and bat) 100% focused on baseball. If his average doesn't significantly improve before the All Star break then New York will make a move. For now, he's a left handed DH and occasional pinch hitter until things improve. Just in case the love of playing baseball is gone, then hang up your spikes with dignity and grace.

Yankees fans quickly forgave Posada. Number 20 is certain to receive a standing ovation when he steps to the plate at Yankee Stadium. New York fans love heroes. Jorge, now's your chance to go out in a blaze of glory. We'd all love to see your snap out of it and put up big numbers, win games and contribute towards another World Series Championship.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

MLB Power Rankings, May 16

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Baseball 2011 has featured drama on every front. Cold starts, hot streaks, franchise takeovers, 3 homer games, no hitters, suspensions, sudden retirements, fan beatings, injuries, team infighting and we're only in mid-May.
Philadelphia remains top dog in NL action. Cleveland owns top honors in AL play and owns the overall top record (25-13). Here's All World All Sports current Top 10:

1 - Philadelphia (25-15) Rotation leading the way. Team winning through injuries as champions often do.
2 - Cleveland (25-13) All pieces falling into place. How long will it last?
3 - Tampa Bay (24-17) Baseball's top team after beginning 0-6/1-8.
4 - Florida (23-16) It's been a team effort in baseball's toughest division.
5 - Cincinnati (24-17) Imagine if they had a true ace?
6 - Atlanta (24-19) Beachy on DL might cost a few wins.
7 - San Francisco (22-18) Giants need slugger.
8 - Colorado (21-18) All they need is a 3B able to hit above .240! Or, is it?
9 - St. Louis (23-19) Plenty of issues need addressing. Is shifting Pujols to 3B an answer?
10- Detroit (22-19) When will this team live up to potential?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

In Case You Missed It...

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NBA Playoffs
Dallas Mavericks regular season play qualifies as one of the NBA's best this century. Playoff basketball has been another story. Early round upsets haunted this franchise in recent years. They're flying high now resting up for the Conference Finals after domination reigning back to back champion Los Angeles Lakers. Mavs players are back in Dallas attempting to remain focused awaiting their next opponent. Will it be vs cinderella Memphis or tough Oklahoma City? Dallas is firing on all cylindars. 2010-11 Mavs squad could possibly represent their deepest in team history. Is this their year? YES!

NHL Playoffs
Boston avenged their playoff disaster from one year ago by sweeping Philadelphia. Next up, Tampa Bay and I'd be very surprised if B's get bounced. They're ready for another Stanley Cup Finals appearance.
A great series is happening in the West. Detroit has rallied from 0-3 down to tie their series vs San Jose. Every game has been sensational. All hotly contested games including rebounding from a one goal deficit in Game 6. They're on a roll and will take the deciding game. However, Red Wings players might be physically and emotionally spent for the Conference Finals against a well rested Vancouver Canucks squad.

No Hitters - Minnesota's Francisco Liriano (May 3 vs Chicago) and Detroit's Justin Verlander (May 7 vs Toronto) added their names to the no-hitter record books. Verlander dominated Blue Jays hitters allowing only one walk while handcuffing one of baseball's most powerful lineups. Liriano's no-no was the result of effective wildness (6 walks).

Chaulk another stupid (pronounced stuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuupid) award. Minor leaguer Kevin Frandsen tested positive for performance enhansing drugs. Frandsen was playing for Phillies AAA affiliate hoping for a return to major league action. Forget it. How about a 50 game suspension instead? Anyone caught nowadays should be banned for no less than one full season.

Here's a story which I'm having trouble descerning truths from lies and distortions. One time beloved Mets clubhouse manager Charlie Samuels was indicted in Queens Supreme Court on charges that he criminally possessed nearly $2.3 million worth of game-used memorabilia, embezzled $24,955 from the Mets by submitting inflated expense claims and failing to report or pay taxes on $203,789 in tips and dues that he received from Mets players and others in 2008 and 2009. Found in Samuel's possession are various baseball artifacts from signed jerseys, bats, balls, autographs etc. Precisely what nearly every clubhouse attendant in MLB is sure to own or possess. It will be interesting to see how this all unfolds. How does one determine theft in a case such as this one? Also, there seems to be some sort of backstory involving a fued between embattled Mets owners and Samuels dating back years. Plenty of New York media attention sure to follow. Stay tuned for updates.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mavs Sweep Classless, Goonish Lakers

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Dallas Mavericks completely embarrassed, humiliated, out-played and out classed the Los Angeles Lakers. The wheels really fell off during Dallas' clinching 122-86 romp. Lakers players started taking cheap shots (hard fouls) against Mavs players. Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom lost their cool, if they ever had any, due to goon-like street basketball actions.

Odom's hard body slam blind-sided Dirk Nowitzki with just over 9 minutes remaining earning Lamar an ejection. Bynum soon followed after he lunged elbow first into the ribs of an airborne J.J Barea 40 seconds later. Bynum was quickly tossed. Hard to believe two players on a Phil Jackson coached team lost their cool in the same game, right? True until this series.

Dallas kept the Lakers off balance nearly the entire series. LA's defense was slow & looking a bit punch drunk. Slow off the dribble. Not hustling for rebounds. Not shutting down driving lanes. Very uncharacteristic to say the least. Gasol was reprimanded by Jackson so many times that I thought Phil was about to make him take a lap before play resumed.

Dallas drew first blood and went for the kill in Game 4. Mavs blew LA out in the 2nd quarter before things started turning ugly. Hats off to Dallas players for maintaining composure. LA provided Dallas every opportunity for retaliation. Smart Mavs players took the high road, kept their eyes on the bigger picture... winning an NBA Championship.

Stupidity reigns? Check out this ridiculous Bynum quote:
"We were getting embarrassed, they were breaking us down. So I just fouled somebody," Bynum said after the game. "I was just kind of salty about being embarrassed ... For me, it was embarrassing to have the smallest guy on the court keep running down the lane and making shots."
Simple question for the frustrated Laker. Why didn't anyone play defense against the "...smallest guy on the court running down the lane and making shots?" Perhaps, if Bynum stepped into the lane then running layups would be nullified? NBA Commissioner Stern should be handing out fines, suspensions soon. Not soon enough.

Dallas still has a long way to go. Their dismantling of LA in Phil Jackson's final series is no way for a legendary coach to end a fabulous career. Don't blame Phil. He's every bit as good as advertised. Dallas is simply a much better team.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

MLB: All Injured Team

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Baseball's injury bug is feasting on players once again in 2011 and showing no signs of slowing down. Managers are faced with plugging gaps trying to weather the storm. Fantasy managers are going nuts attempting to re-shape rosters built around sluggers spending more time on the bench than in line-ups.

How will significant injuries impact teams? Will GN's start trading to fill gaps? They will, and already have, in fantasy land.

Here's my "All Injured Team" of 2011.

1B - Kendry Morales (LAA)
2B - Chase Utley (PHI)
3B - Ryan Zimmerman (WAS)
SS - JJ Hardy (BAL)
LF - Josh Hamilton (TEX)
CF - Angel Pagan (NYM)
RF - Franklin Gutierrez (SEA)
C - Joe Mauer (MIN)
DH - Jim Thome (MIN)
SP - Adam Wainwright (STL)
CL - Brad Lidge (PHI)