Archives for: 2008, week 38

09/28/08

All World All Sports 2008 Baseball Awards

Permalink 04:22:57 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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by Digger

Baseball had many memorable moments in 2008. From no hitters to pennant races fought to the final day, 2008 will probably be best remembered by Tampa Bay coming from nowhere to win AL East division crown.

All World All Sports names our Players of the Year.

MVP
AL: Dustin Pedroia (Boston). In only his 2nd full season, Pedroia did it all in '08. Boston faced many injuries and traded one of their stars (Ramirez). Pedroia excelled everywhere in the lineup (including cleanup). Timely hits, stellar defense and coming thru with the game on the line. Honorable mention: Carlos Quentin, Jermaine Dye, Kevin Youkilis, Francisco Rodriguez.

NL: Albert Pujols (St Louis). The Cardinals weren't expected to contend this season but Pujols had them in the thick of a pennant race most of the year. Pujols is one of the greatest hitters baseball has seen. He played with a bum elbow requiring off season surgery and put together a monster season nonetheless. NL MVP contenders are plentiful. Honorable mention: Ryan Howard, Carlos Delgado, David Wright, Ryan Ludwick.

Cy Young
AL: Francisco Rodriguez (Los Angeles). FRod (62 saves) shattered Bobby Thigpen's 57 save record. FRod no less than 9 saves each month. Rodriguez simply dominated opponents. Honorable mention, Cliff Lee.

NL: Brandon Webb (Arizona). Webb posted a winning record every month. He kept Arizona in the hunt all season. Only blip was late season losses trying for win #20. Honorable mention, Tim Lincecum, Ryan Dempster, CC Sabathia.

Rookie of the Year
AL: Evan Longoria (Tampa Bay). Longoria was instrumental in leading Tampa Bay to their first ever division title. It didn't take TB long to realize this kid was a keeper (long term multi-million dollar contract in April). Hopefully, Longoria can handle October Playoff pressure. Honorable mention, Jacoby Ellsbury.

NL: Geovany Soto (Chicago). Cubs signal calling backstop delivered in a big way during his rookie campaign. Soto handled his pitching staff like an old pro. At the dish, he helped slug the Cubs to a divsion title. This kid is here to stay. Honorable mention, Joey Votto.

Manager of the Year
AL: Joe Maddon (Tampa Bay). Just about ever crucial move Maddon made paid huge dividends for the Rays. Tampa Bay beat out Boston and New York to win their first ever division title in their first ever winning season. Maddon deserves accolades for keeping his young players focused all season long. Honarable mention, Terry Francona.

NL: Joe Torre (Los Angeles). Torre was virtually cast aside by the Yankees after 12 straight playoff appearances. He was even disrespected when the curtain closed on Yankee Stadium. NL guru's all predicted big seasons from Philadelphia, Chicago, New York, Milwaukee, Arizona and Colorado. The Dodgers, while talented, weren't ranked too high. Torre's Dodgers fought thru key injuries to front line players. Joe kept his cool and managed. Late season acquisitions of Manny Ramirez and Casey Blake woke up an offense struggling to score. Now they're flying high heading into '08 post-season. Torre is enjoying a 13 year streak of consecutive playoff appearances. Guess what? His former Yankees team missed the playoffs. The Steinbrenner's should be regretting letting Torre go without a fight. Honorable mention, Cecil Cooper.

Players of the Year by Position

American League:
C - Joe Mauer (Minnesota)
1B - Kevin Youkilis (Boston)
2B - Dustin Pedroia (Boston)
3B - Evan Longoria (Tampa Bay)
SS - Jhonny Peralta (Cleveland)
LF - Carlos Quentin (Chicago)
CF - Josh Hamilton (Texas)
RF - Jermaine Dye (Chicago)
DH - Aubrey Huff (Baltimore)
SP - Cliff Lee (Cleveland)
RP - Francisco Rodriguez (Los Angeles)

National League
C - Brian McCann (Atlanta)
1B - Albert Pujols (St Louis)
2B - Chase Utley (Philadelphia)
3B - Chipper Jones (Atlanta)
SS - Hanley Ramirez (Florida)
LF - Ryan Ludwick (St Louis)
CF - Carlos Beltran (New York)
RF - Andre Ethier (Los Angeles)
SP - Brandon Webb (Arizona)
RP - Brad Lidge (Philadelphia)

09/27/08

Goodbye Shea Stadium... Thanks for the Memories!

Permalink 01:52:59 am, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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by Digger

Shea Stadium will host its' last regular season baseball game on Sunday. Cross town rival New York Yankees closed out their historic Yankee Stadium earlier this week. New York says goodbye to two historied parks. Both will move into new state of the art baseball facilities next season.

For Yankees' fans, the Stadium represented baseball history. Greatness. Superiority. Legends. The House that Ruth Built.

For Mets fans, William Shea brought NL baseball back to the city after Dodgers and Giants bailed for California. 1969 was the Miracle Mets. 1973 You Gotta Believe. 1986 The Magic is Back.

As a kid growing up on Long Island, Shea was fairly close to home (20-25 minutes by car or train). Shea was the first stadium my dad took me to watch a game in 1968 (don't ask if I remember at 3). Soon enough, we were attending many games and I was fortunate enough to meet my childhood stars in person.

Yankee fans always thought they ruled the day over Mets fans. 20 something yada yada Championships. Some guys named Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, Dimaggio, Goose, Guidry, Jackson, Pettitte, Jeter. The Hall of Fame is filled with Yanks.

Mets players were a bit more colorful, couldn't hit very well until the 80's ... but we did have some star pitchers. Seaver, Koosman & Matlack were a great 1-2-3 in the 70's for weak hitting teams. They all could have won 20 in same years with run support. Doc Gooden took the city by storm. Tug, Franco, Myers were a few closers. Darling, El Sid, Ojeda. Hitters... early stars were Cleon Jones, Ed Kranepook, Don Clendenon, Dave Kingman, John Milner. Fan favorites Rusty Staub and Lee Mazzilli starred in the 70's/80's. Then came Carter, Keith, Darryl.. and now it's Reyes, Beltran & Wright.

Until recently, Mets had a magical mystique. No pivitol game ever seemed out of reach. More times than not, Mets teams managed to win the big one. Just like any other clubs there were some hard defeats (73 Game 7 Series vs Oakland, '88 NLCS vs LA, '06 NLCS vs STL). Best of all was 1969, 1986 miracle runs. Worst of all was '07 collapse .. '08 is a repeat with less drama.

Shea was much more than a baseball stadium. Broadway Joe Namath was star of the town when his New York Jets played home games in Shea. 1969 Super Bowl Jets overcame tremendous odds to beat NFL best Baltimore Colts for the crown. Many famous performances from the Beatles to Billy Graham to Billy Joel playing the final show in Shea.

Weird how both stadiums close down in the same year. Years of memories experienced with friends and family members in these venues. Stadiums being torn down represents some sort of baseball evolution. Another reminder of how quickly time passes. Mets were in need of a new stadium. Yanks surprised me by following thru on destroying the most famous sports stadium. From a dollars and cents perspective, it's easy to see why Boss George was itching to move. Yanks owners will make out like bandits. New Yankee Stadium will blow minds while generating tremendous revenues. Mets new park hopes to do the same. With an economic downturn in progress, we'll soon find out if expensive baseball tickets still fit within corporate and personal budgets.

My most memorable games attended at Shea....
1973 NLCS Staub batting hero, Rose pummels Harrelson.
1973 September visiting in Mets clubhouse before game vs Cubs (won).
1986 NLCS Dykstra 10th inning HR wins it.
1975 Lee Lacy give me his bat
1976 meeting the Big Red Machine
and every game I ever went to with my dad.

Shea will be missed. Life is moving full steam ahead. Life changes all the time. People come and go. Time marches on. (are violins playing?)

New York will have a new generation of "first times" in '08 when both franchises launch another chapter in their storied histories.

09/25/08

NFL Week 4 Game by Game Predictions

Permalink 08:08:47 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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by Digger

Week 3 had a few big surprises. Miami's KO of New England ranks as the weeks shocker. Overall, I picked 10 winners correctly (hardly bragging rights material). Time to give week 4 a shot.

San Francisco (2-1) @ New Orleans (1-2): SF is playing inspired football after back to back wins over Seattle and Detroit. NO has lost back to back thrillers. This game could be a slugfest. SF escapes with the win, 33-31.

Atlanta (2-1) @ Carolina (2-1): So far so good for the Birds. One man wrecking crew Michael Turner flies around opposing defenders (59 rushes, 366 yds, 5 td). Carolina provides a true test after beating up powderpuff winless teams (Detroit, KC). Panthers spread the wealth on offense. A two headed rushing attack of Stewart & Williams. Delhomme making sound reads but only 1 td. We'll go with an upset here. Falcons fly, 26-20.

Cleveland (0-3) @ Cincinnati (0-3): It's a battle of winless Ohio teams. Cleveland's offense has been tragically bad. Cincinnati played the Super Bowl Champs well last weekend before losing in overtime. Cincy finally gets a win vs a weak Browns team, 36-9.

Houston (0-2) @ Jacksonville (1-2): Houston's franchise struggles continue. Jags stunned the Colts in Indy for their first win. Here comes another. Jags romp, 26-10.

Denver (3-0) @ Kansas City (0-3): Denver is NFL's #1 scoring team. KC's rushing D allows an average of 204 yds/game. Not a good combination. Denver will pile it on. KC needs a new coach and might get one after this shellacking. Denver 55-0.

Arizona (2-1) @ New York Jets (1-2): It's been the Kurt Warner show in Arizona so far. The Jets secondary crashed vs SD. They won't be able to cover Fitzgerald (16 catches) or Boldin (17 catches). Favre is still getting used to offensive schemes. Offensive coordinator needs to simplify things. Jets not ready for prime time yet. They will pour it on after a week 5 bye. Arizona wins, 31-23.

Green Bay (2-1) @ Tampa Bay (2-1): Green Bay opened the season on fire until Dallas rode to town last week. Tampa's Brian Griese threw 67 passes vs Chicago including the game tying td with 00:07 left in regulation before winning in overtime. Overall team stats are nearly identical. This has the makings of an anything can happen game. Turnovers and Special Teams will make the difference. Tampa wins 34-31.

Minnesota (1-2) @ Tennessee (3-0): Both enter week 4 with opening day QB's riding pine. Vet Gus Frerotte was steady at the helm last week after being named starting QB (won). Not many remember Titans QB Collins once led the Giants to the Super Bowl (lost). He's been playing relatively mistake free football for undefeated Tennessee. NFL's #3 defense has played a huge roll too. Titans keep rolling, 20-16.

San Diego (1-2) @ Oakland (2-1): Tale of two teams in opposite directions. SD dropped two heartbreakers before grounding the Jets 48-29. Oakland was beginning to believe after a week 2 victory and leading Buffalo most of last week before crumbling. San Diego remains focused at winning their first Super Bowl. Oakland may lose their coach after this weekend. Things are very rocky in the Raiders camp with coach and owner trading headlines. San Diego clobbers Oakland, 38-17.

Buffalo (3-0) @ St. Louis (0-3): Buffalo believes! They beat Seattle and Jacksonville before showing their character coming from behind with 17 fourth quarter points vs Oakland. These guys play solid fundamental football. St. Louis has benched Bulger for Trent Green. Green is one hit to the head away from the end of his career. Rams problems go well beyond a change of signal callers. Buffalo bangs Rams horns, 27-10.

Washington (2-1) @ Dallas (3-0): Game of the week! Redskins/Cowboys is one of NFL's greatest ever rivalries, second to none. This is the biggest early season game of the year. NFL's NFC East is far and away the best. Composite records are 10-2. Washington can't afford to lose this one. How will they slow down the Cowboys attack? They can't. Dallas is firing on all cylinders. Cowboys dominate, 44-27.

Philadelphia (2-1) @ Chicago (1-2): Defensive matchup of the week. Eagles are banged up on offense which isn't a good recipe vs a pounding Bears D. Chicago lost two back to back nailbiters by 3 points each. Bears can be instant contenders if they start making big plays down field. Tough game. Team with less turnovers prevail. Bears finally on the right side of a tight one, 17-15.

Baltimore (2-0) @ Pittsburgh (2-1): Ravens QB Flacco faces his first monster defense this week. Baltimore has looked good in their two wins. Defense is stiffling once again. Pittsburgh's offense has struggled to score while defense keeps games close. RB Parker is out. Heavy hitting battle will won on the line of scrimmage. Ravens win, 24-13.

Permalink 12:33:52 am, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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by Digger

It happens every season. The list is long. Star players exhibiting selfish attitudes, arguing with fellow players or coaches, becoming locker room distractions, drugs/alcohol etc. High profile players are often tumultuous. Terrell Owens, Chad Johnson, Randy Moss, Ricky Williams, Chris Carter are a few big names from recent years.

Super Bowl Champion New York Giants (3-0) aren't immune. Star wideout and team reception leader Plaxico Burress has been suspended by Coach Coughlin for missing team meetings earlier this week. Evidently he didn't return Coughlin's calls seeking an explanation. Burress is an idiot. His team is undefeated. There's no good reason to become a distraction when most things seem to be going right for New York.

Sometimes timing is everything. This is not the right time for a starting wr to be missing more practices. Burress didn't partake in many spring activities since he was nursing an injury. He's been hobbled recently too but has performed well in games so far. Giants have a bye this week meaning they don't return to the gridiron until October 5. Burress isn't eligible to return until the 6th.

It's sad how certain players continuously do stupid things. Usually deriving from putting themselves above others. Some recover (Moss, Carter, Ownes). Some don't (Quincy Carter, Ryan Leaf). The verdict is still out on others, including Burress. At least with Burress, he comes to play on game day. I'll give him credit for giving it all when on the field. Coughlin has laid down the law. It's up to Plax to do the right thing from here on in off of the field. He's an integral part of the Giants attack so for his teams' sake, wake up!

When do these guys ever learn? Chad Johnson should have paid better attention to Owens when he and McNabb were fueding. He came across as a babbling selfish fool. Chad Johnson continues agitating tactics against Cincy's entire organization. His latest antic was legally changing his name to Chad Ocho Cinco.

Most of these guys should just shut up and play. Nobody likes drama queens so leave it in the parking lot fellas. Not many fans will sympathize with multi-million dollar game players who whine or disrupt team chemistry. Burress can either take this suspension like a man. Stay in game shape on his own (not allowed to work out with team). And, when the dust settles... come back playing inspired football. Or, he can continue his little drama and face further ramifications. The choice sounds easy for level headed folks. But, this is the NFL where anything can and usually does happen. New York has deep depth at WR. They're all talented and eager to play.

Not participating in practice has become the norm for this guy. After signing a lucrative deal back in '05 he wanted to be traded only a few months later. Last year, he rarely practiced at all due to a bum ankle. Not sure why any level headed player would skip out on film sessions unless there's a point to be made. Hopefully, not a drug related incident. We'll soon see how this plays out. The worst thing for him to do is open his mouth spouting off at the team.

Giants QB Eli Manning has plenty of weapons on offense. Burress will be missed but this is a resilient cast of characters. Plax would be wise to take notice former loudmouth TE Jeremy Shockey was kept away from players during their Super Playoff season (traded in off-season). Top management will have no problem suspending Burress for the remainder if he keeps up his non practice participation ways. Snap out of it. Suck it up and be a team player.

Coughlin should be admired for reminding players exactly who runs the team. He's the man in New York, take it or leave it. He's also very well focused on the Giants task at hand. He's the Mission Master. NFC East is NFL's toughest. Giants (3-0), Cowboys (3-0), Redskins (2-1), Eagles (2-1). There's no room for error. TC's a perfectionist.

The younger receivers normally watching from the sidelines will get a shot when Seattle comes to town October 5th. Manning has been so precise it won't matter who's on the receiving end. They're all gamers.

Plaxico, get with the program or begone!

09/23/08

Favre Proves Legends are Human

Permalink 01:02:14 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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by Digger

Future Hall of Famer and first year New York Jets starting Quarterback Brett Favre is proving even legends are human. His career in Green Bay was stellar. 62,301 yards passing, 448 touchdown passes and a slew of other NFL records belonging the man in green wearing #4.

New Yorkers mistakenly believed Favre's sudden arrival, coupled with New England losing superstar QB Brady to injury, would instantly label the J-E-T-S as Super Bowl contenders. Favre became Green Bay's full time starting QB back in 1992 and hasn't missed a game since. His cannon arm remains strong. His field presense still strikes fear in opposing defenses. His leadership skills represent something missing from New York for years. The Jets have weapons on both sides of the scrimmage line. Only one factor many people outside of New York's coaching staff haven't considered until last night's subpar performance vs San Diego......

After years of running and improvising Green Bay's playbook... Favre now finds himself transformed back to rookie status. He's struggling to quickly learn New York's plays. Trying to form common ground with new players and their tendencies. Adjusting to just about everything which is now new. This is not an easy task for an old pro. He'll get it done over time. Fans and fellow players need to be patient. It's still very early which affords players and coaches time to adjust game plans.

Game planning is something which Jets coaches don't seem to have a cohesive handle on just yet. While they rush to teach Favre their system... something is missing. Simplicity.

Break down the playbook from game to game much in the same way San Francisco's Hall of Fame Coach Walsh used to do. Script 20 plays. Work on them all week until Favre can do it in his sleep. Then execute on game day.

All too often during Monday night's telecast, Favre was shown huddling with coaches on the sidelines looking over plays and defensive photo's. At this early stage of the game (and season), playcallers should stick to calling Favre's most confortable plays... right out of coaching 101. Don't complicate an already complicated situation by trying new plays or plays seldom run in practice. There's no point.

Favre will be fine once the Jets map out plans from game to game. New York is not grooming a quarterback of the future. Far from it. Favre's arrival was for one purpose. To win now. One thing is certain. Favre's proven he's only human... for now... until the Jets start reeling off consecutive victories.

09/22/08

Playing in Milwaukee Still Bothering Astros Players

Permalink 07:13:11 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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by Digger

The Houston Astros were on a roll. Winners in 14 of 15 contests, including 9 of 10 to begin September. Suddenly, Hurricane Ike took aim at Texas. Houston was to host a two game series vs division leading Chicago Cubs. Due to catastrophic conditions, Major League Baseball thought it was best to change venues and Astros players are still miffed.

At the center of this new storm is Commissioner Bud Selig's decision to send Houston to play in Milwaukee. Another in a series of never ending gaffe's by the former Milwaukee Brewers owner. It was understandable Houston needed to play in another city not to disrupt MLB's schedule. However, selecting Milwaukee to host a game featuring a Chicago team was pathetically unwise. Here's why.........

First off, Selig once owned the Brewers. Second, Milwaukee is a stone throw from Chicago. Most of the 23,441 who came to the game were Chicago fans rooting for their Cubs or Milwaukee fans rooting against Houston... hardly a home crowd environment for the host and displaced Astros. Third, making Houston travel so far north on short rest, if any, was not prudent when many other stadiums from college to pro were within striking distance of Houston. Fourth, by selecting Milwaukee baseball once again has put money & greed ahead of competitive fairness. Fifth, the Milwaukee Brewers and Houston Astros are two of three teams fighting for a Wild Card birth. Of course most nothern Milwaukee fans would be rooting against a southern team from Texas. Sixth, a major conflict of interest was put on display due to Selig's former Milwaukee connections. Seventh, baseball is screaming for a new impartial Commissioner... of course, everyone except the current owners.

Quotes reported by Sunday's Houston Chronicle (9/21/08), Astros players sounded off:

(Lance Berkman) "Major League Baseball has always valued the dollar more than they do the individual, the players and their families," Lance Berkman said, according to the Houston Chronicle on Sunday. "That's illustrated in things like playing through a lightning storm in Chicago [on Aug. 4].

"The most important thing is getting the game in so you don't lose the gate and you don't lose the revenue. That's A-No. 1. And then if in the course of that you can work it around where players aren't affected, that's a distant second. That's one reason why players try to exploit the system to the max because they know they're being treated the same way. That's a sad part of the game."

(Doug Brocail) "The thing is we had days at the end of the season that we could have played a single game plus a doubleheader if need be," Brocail said, according to the Chronicle. "And to make us go up and play at North Wrigley like we had to on no sleep, it was absolutely ridiculous. If it was New York or Boston, it would have been played at the end of the season.

"I truly believe that, and I think 99.9 percent of our teammates believe that. But no, we're the Houston Astros."

Players have every right to be upset. In responce to flack created by baseball's newest controversy, Selig released a full page ad for distribution in Sunday's Houston Chronicle. It reads:

(Selig) "In making the decision to play there, I recognized the advantage the Cubs would have in playing in such close proximity to Chicago and had there been a better option, I would have taken it," the ad read. "All of us involved in the decision regret the frustration the Astros and their fans felt about playing two games in Milwaukee.

"As Commissioner, my job is to balance many competing needs, while also finishing the season on time so the Postseason can begin as scheduled. Hurricane Ike disrupted many things, including the baseball schedule and I regret its impact on Astros fans. I have heard your complaints and I understand the impact this storm has had on the lives of Texans and Houston-area residents in particular.

"Sincerely,

"Allan H. (Bud) Selig

"Commissioner of Baseball"

Well, this is more hogwash coming out of the commissioners office. Selig readily admits the Cubs had a distinct advantage playing so close to their home city of Chicago. What he failed to admit, was his hometown Milwaukee team is also competing against Houston for advancement into this years National League Playoffs.

Hurricane Ike's tailwinds are still being felt. Houston no only lost to Chicago in Milwaukee... they were no hit by Carlos Zambrano. In the second game, Chicago starter Ted Lilly carried a no hitter into the 7th inning. Houston got smoked in both games. Their woes continued having lost 6 of 8 since being displaced by Ike. Astros players and fans have every right to be upset.

As a baseball fan, it's disturbing how MLB under Selig's leadership has been able to sidestep yearly scandals. Drugs, collusion, steroids, tainted records, gambling, questionable ownership transfers... Fortunately or unfortunately, this one has flown completely under the radar. Ike's impact took headlines front and center. Political climates have also peaked attracting much attraction. Sports reporters seem content focusing on the Mets & Brewers flounders, Yankee Stadium closing, Tampa Bay, football season etc... to paint any pictures.

Astros players shouldn't try to blame their season on this mini-drama. Games lost in April are just as important, if not more, than games lost in September. Heading into tonight's action, the 'Stros sit on the outside looking in... 4 games out with 7 to play. Odds are their end of season surge was too late as there's not enough time left hurdle two teams. One factor is in their favor. Both the Mets and Milwaukee are slumping. There's no room for error in Houston's season. Let go of Hurricane Ike distractions... play ball and let it go!

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