Tuesday, May 22, 2012

2012 NBA Western Finals - Spurs vs Thunder

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-Digger's Daily-

The 2012 NBA Western Conference Finals is a battle between the conference old guard San Antonio Spurs vs up and coming Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Spurs complete team game has been nothing short of total domination during sweeps over the Clippers and Utah. San Antonio's style of play represents exactly how team basketball is to be played. All players are involved. All know their roles. On defense, team quickness, rebounding skills and man to man abilities stifle opposing shooters. The Spurs held LA and Utah to a 90/ppg average. On offense, it's all about ball control setting up shooters with high percentage shots. 102.5/ppg in 8 playoff games nets 12.5 +/- per game advantage. Sinking 49.1% from the floor and 42.3% beyond the arc. Tough to beat - especially during transition play.

Oklahoma City Thunder aren't slouches either. Their popularity is growing. I barely hear the name Oklahoma City as most identify this squad as OKC. Their style is completely different. Speed and jump shots dominate offensive plays. OKC is not the dominant inside team pounding the boards. They rely on quick action and long range shots. Playoff leading shooters/scorers are outsiders - SF Durant (26.7) plus both Guards Westbrook (24.1) and Harden (17.0).

Prediction: San Antonio is better balanced in all areas. Their swarming defense will not give OKC open looks for long range jumpers. Every shot will be contested favoring big differential in transition baskets. Spurs experience and precise game play provides a huge advantage. They haven't lost a game yet. And might not the rest of the way.
San Antonio sweeps 4 very close games.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Baseball Power Rankings - May 17, 2012

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-Digger's Daily-

Time flies! The 2012 baseball season is nearly 25% complete. Plenty of surprises (Baltimore, Washington, Cleveland). A few disappointments (Minnesota, Arizona, Milwaukee). Sensational hitters (Josh Hamilton, David Wright, Rafael Furcal, Bryan LaHair). Slumping sluggers (Albert Pujols, Eric Hosmer). Injury bug stinging in full force derailing the likes of Mariano Rivera, Jacoby Ellsbury and a handful of other contributors.

How does it all shake out? Time for another edition of All World All Sports Baseball Power Rankings (thru day games of 5/17/12).

MLB Top 10
1 - Texas Rangers
2 - St. Louis Cardinals
3 - Los Angeles Dodgers
4 - Tampa Bay Rays
5 - Washington Nationals
6 - Baltimore Orioles
7 - Atlanta Braves
8 - Cleveland Indians
9 - New York Yankees
10- New York Mets

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Talkin' Baseball (MLB)

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-Digger's Daily-

Another tremendous baseball season is well underway. Texas Rangers Josh Hamilton's chasing baseball's coveted triple crown (leader in home runs, runs batted in and batting average). Baseball's are jumping off his bat.

Speaking of baseball's jumping off bats - Hamilton's Texas Rangers teammates compose the game's most feared lineup. They lead all of baseball with a .292 team average, 212 runs, 386 hits, 634 total bases, .480 slugging%, .828 OPS, and +75 run differential. Rangers are hungry for their first World Series title after back to back close calls. Texas is a much stronger team than the one which came within a strike of winning it all in 2011. Their loss to St. Louis made this squad more determined than ever to fulfill childhood dreams of glory.

Speaking of St. Louis - the defending Albert Pujol-less champions haven't missed a beat this season leading the NL Central with a 21-15 record. They've over come early season injuries to key players (Wainwright, Carpenter, Beltran, Berkman, Craig, Jay & Schumacker). Replacement players have excelled. Cardinals remain a very determined team. All players are chipping in admirably.

Time to pay tribute to a few successful clubs considered longshots before this season began. Washington Nationals 1/2 game off NL East lead (24-12). Another injury riddled club playing good baseball. Manager Davey Johnson has these guys ready to go every night....

New York Mets (20-16) showing the baseball world they're not dead yet despite plenty of spring training epitaph's. It's been a mixture of young and old getting it done through injuries, slumps and lack of over all team power....

Al East leading Baltimore Orioles (23-14) players and fans finally holding their heads high for the first time in ages. Adam Jones and Matt Wieters are real deal Baltimore fixtures for years to come. It'll be a long haul and big challenge for Oriole hurlers to keep down tough AL lineups. So far so good...

Los Angeles Dodgers (24-12) own baseball's best record. Don Mattingly has won over the trust and respect of Dodger players. LA is a talented team from top to bottom. Time is ripe for them to make a run for the NL crown.

MLB just named the New York Mets (CitiField) as hosts for the 2013 All Star Game. Mets haven't hosted an All Star Game since 1964 (a travesty). It's about time baseball recognized New York's other team. It's been a long time coming for the Mets to host another ASG. I was terribly disappointed only one ASG was played in Shea Stadium.

Stay tuned... more to follow.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Random Rumblings Strike Again

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-Digger's Daily-

Where to begin when there's so much to discuss?

NBA Playoffs
2011-12 NBA season will crown a new champion after Oklahoma City destroyed an over matched Dallas Mavericks. Mark Cuban's expression towards the end of Game 4 showed signs of knowing his Mavs roster needs attention. Dallas collapsed in 4th quarter during 3 of 4 losses. OKC has the talent and mindset to go all the way.

San Antonio Spurs made a statement in their demolition sweep against Utah. Spurs barely broke a sweat in the first 3 games decided by double digits. Great basketball awaits in the conference finals if SA squares up vs OKC.

NHL Playoffs
The New Jersey Devils are alive and well. 2012 Devils playoff hockey features something past championships lacked - a high powered scoring attack. New Jersey stunned Philadelphia in 5. If the Rangers (leading 3-2) can finish off Washington then don't miss a single second of action in the Conference Finals. New York vs New Jersey will feature some of the best hockey of this season. I'll be rooting for the Devils every step of the way. These two represent the best of the Eastern Conference.

Western Conference Finals feature two teams barely challenged in opening rounds. Los Angeles vs Phoenix will showcase transition hockey. Neither team light up red lights too often during the regular season but they've suddenly awaken. LA Kings playing their best hockey in years. It's all coming together at just the right moment. Phoenix won the Pacific. LA finished only 2 points behind. These teams split their head to head season series with most games decided in final seconds.

How dumb can a baseball player be? Suspended: Guillermo Mota with a 100-game ban Monday after the San Francisco Giants player tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs - failed test for a second time!!! Obviously Mota didn't learn his lesson after a 50 game suspension.

Speaking of suspensions... Manny Ramirez is due to return to Major League Baseball soon after his latest suspension. Oakland A's will take their chances on Mannyball. Should be interesting. Wondering if he can still hit major league pitching after barely playing live ball in 95 games since 2010.

Way to go Josh Hamilton. By now everyone should have heard Josh slammed 4 home runs and a doubled in one game vs Baltimore. That's right, FOUR home runs... all crushed. Texas slugger is the American League's first true Triple Crown threat in years. Entering Wednesday's games he leads all major leaguers with a .406 batting average, 15 home runs & 36 RBI. Glad he's on my fantasy team! Here's a guy everyone can rally around. His past drug problems have been well documented. He's in full recovery and ressurrected his career and personal life. He's was part of a horrific tragedy attempting to throw a ball to a fan who ended up dying after falling trying to catch Hamilton's soft toss. This is a man who easily could have crumbled from tough breaks. Yet, he's fought through severe emotions and tough life challenges. Let's go Josh Hamilton!!!

Poor Ryan Dempster. The Cubs starting pitcher hasn't received any run support. Dempster leads the majors with a 1.02 ERA. His record? 0-1. How can a pitcher with a 1.02 ERA not have a victory? Simply put... he plays for the Chicago Cubs!

Heeeeeeeeere's Andy. And just in time for the Yankees struggling starting rotation. Andy Pettitte returns Sunday. One of the most loved by Yankees fans in team history... Pettitte makes his comeback attempt official when he takes on the Seattle Mariners in the friendly surroundings of a sold out Yankee Stadium. Welcome back Andy. The Yankees need you.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Oh Moooooo! Rivera Hurt, Season Over!

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-Digger's Daily-

Say it ain't so Mo! New York Yankees living legend Mariano Rivera slipped during Thurday's pre-game warmups and is done for the season. 2012 was hinted to be Rivera's final season. The greatest closer in the history of Major League Baseball may not return, ever!

Baseball's all time saves leader may have made his last pitch. A torn ACL shelves Rivera. Players, coaches and fans are stunned at the sudden news.
“That’s about as bad as it gets,” Girardi said. “You lose a Hall of Famer it changes [the bullpen] a lot. We like the depth of our bullpen and it just got a little bit shorter. We’ll have to find a way to get through it.”
Rivera was shagging fly balls in the outfield before Thursday's game. It's something he's done for years as a pre-game ritual. Mo's knee gave out tracking down a fly off recent call-up Jason Nix. Mo went down hard and crashed into the outfield wall. I've read reports of Alex Rodriguez and other Yankees teammates completely in a state of shock watching their fallen friend.

What a shame if this is how Rivera's career ends. It's been 9 seasons since Rivera needed a disabled list stint. Let's all hope Mariano Rivera is able to return to active duty. Depending upon how serious of a tear... he may never pitch again. Don't forget this was rumored to be his unofficial farewell season.

A word to the wise. Enjoy every moment to the fullest extent possible. Life changes on a dime without warning.