Archives for: 2009, week 31

08/07/09

Pennant Fever - AL East

Permalink 06:55:41 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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-Digger's Daily-

The dog days of summer baseball has arrived meaning it's time to get set for pennant fever. Four of baseball's six divisions have been engaged in serious battles since opening day. Only NL East Philadelphia and NL West Dodgers are leading their divisions by more than six games over closest competitors. No MLB lead is safe with 50+ games still remaining to be decided. I'll be summing up each divisional race over the next six days. Today's blog focuses on AL East race to the finish.

New York owns an AL best 66-42 record residing atop of AL East by 3.5 games over Boston and by 6 over last years' division winner Tampa Bay. Boston is in NY getting ready to play the 2nd of four games tonight at Yankee Stadium. Yankees have been on a 12-5 roll and finally beat Boston last night for the first time all season. Consistent pitching remains Yanks top concern but, their bats have been coming thru in the clutch recently. Yanks front 4 starters (Sabathia, Burnett, Pettitte, Joba) are a combined 38-20 after a very rocky start to their season. The 5th slot has been very erratic and is now being handled by committee. After much concern back in April/May, I suddenly find myself believing the only way New York will lose their grip on division honors is if they beat themselves or fall prey to multiple injuries. Yanks lineup has no weaknesses. They all hit with authority and know how to work counts.

Boston has been struggling since leading the East by 5 games back on June 21 with a 44-27 record. BoSox starting rotation is hurting real bad 3 thru 5 with Wakefield and Dice K (60 day DL) out. Today, John Smoltz was designated for assignment after taking a beating from Yanks last night. Surprisingly, they failed to successfully trade for any top notch pitching help before the deadline. This could spell trouble from here on out. Their lineup is very good in clutch situations but their pitchers are giving up way too many runs lately. If ever there was a team in dire need of a waiver wire trade or rookie phenom to step up and deliver, this is it. Sox must take at least 2 of remaining 3 games from Yanks this weekend to stay close. Otherwise, look out... Tampa Bay is right on their heels. It's funny how quickly things can change in baseball. Only a short time ago, I thought Boston was soon to run away with the East.

Tampa Bay had a rough April (9-14) in defense of their '08 AL Championship. Times have changed for them too... for the better. Their 60-48 record has them gaining quickly on 2nd place Boston. In head to head play, Tampa has won 8 of 12. Hitters are finally coming up big affording pitchers the chance to pitch with leads. Young, energetic and poised to make a run for the top again or perhaps enter the playoffs as a wild card winner. Suddenly, Tampa is beginning to believe and the AL has taken notice. I really like watching this team play. It's hard not to. They hit, run extremely well, play good defense and pitchers are getting better game by game. Personally, I think they were too conservative in not picking up a big name starting pitcher before the trading deadline (Lee or Washburn). Tampa's farm system coupled with a relatively young starting lineup will keep the Rays in the playoff hunt for years to come.

Predicted order of finish: Yankees, Rays (Wild Card), Red Sox.

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08/05/09

Tough Times for Mets And Their Fans

Permalink 06:55:03 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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-Digger's Daily-

To put it mildly, 2009 has been a trying season for New York Mets players and fans. Even when Mets win games they manage another loss. Take today's 9-0 beating they put on the Cardinals. Starting pitcher Jonathan Niese was injured in the 2nd inning. Niese, is a replacement starter for an already injury depleted staff. Then, Gary Sheffield (who just returned from a stint on the 15 day DL), was removed from the game after his fragile hamstring acted up.

Baseball injuries happen all the time. I just can't remember the last time so many players have been injured at once on any one team. It has become comical sometimes. No, I don't laugh at injured players. It's the circumstances of how which churns out a few chuckles, even from team broadcasters. I'll use Monday's game as an example. After 2B Luis Castillo grounded out he stumbled down the dugout steps on his way back to the team bench and injured his ankle. In the booth, commentators sat in a somewhat stunned silence showing replay after replay while apologetic laughter could be heard.

Here's a list of injured players this season. Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, Gary Sheffield, Brian Schneider, John Maine, Oliver Perez, Angel Pagan, Billy Wagner, Ryan Church, Fernando Martinez, Ramon Martinez, Tim Redding, JJ Putz. Did I forget someone here?

This year has been a comedy of errors. Fans voiced great dissatisfaction with managements failure to represent Mets championship teams and former stars in new CitiField. Exec Tony Bernazard was fired after challenging NY's minor league team to a fist fight. Fielding woes at times make the Mets look more like the Bad News Bears. New CitiField hasn't been overly friendly to New York's lineup either. To be fair, it's currently a make shift lineup lacking their stars or players suitable for starting on most Major League clubs.

Here's the good news. After all of Mets mis-steps, highlight reel blunders, self imploding front office, injuries and criticisms... guess what? As of this moment, the Mets are only 8.5 games behind in the Wild Card race. To most fans it probably feels as though NY is trailing by 15. Carlos Beltran could return to action in 2 weeks. Delgado might return by the end of this month. I don't think it's a stretch to suggest if the Mets can remain where they are now without falling farther behind ... and... if no more key players are lost to injury... ???

Dare I say players returning from DL stints might ignite a spark. Instead of recent September failures could 2009 become a September surprise? Stanger things have happened. Baseball truly is a funny game. Nothing should be taken for granted. Will the Magic come back? Everything can change in a New York minute.

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08/04/09

Tigers Woods Sniff Test - Who Cut the Cheese?

Permalink 04:30:06 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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-Digger's Daily-

It's time to talk about the lighter side of sports. Tensions are rising all across the nation as economic woes, political discourse, wars, tragedy and unsportmanlike conduct make headlines every day. "Let it rip" now applies to more than just Tiger Woods ferocious golf ball striking ability.

Tuesday's print edition of the New York Post page 7 headline reads "PGA lights a match on Tiger's 'fart'" (08/04/2009, by Andy Geller). It proves Tiger is human afterall. Who can blame him for letting off a little, ahem, steam after 72 grueling holes of championship golf? Apparently, the PGA Tour can after Tiger's gassy moment on the 18th hole during this past weekends Buick Open was rebroadcast on YouTube. The PGA Tour took exception and ordered websites to remove clips for copyright reasons. I guess the PGA has no sense of humor.

We've all heard the saying "farts are funny". They can make even the most sophisticated individual crack up. Thousands of jokes, rhymes, riddles and odd ball sayings have been created poking fun at a sound emanating from the human body. Here was a moment when Tiger showed there's still plenty of kid left in one of sports greatest stars.

Geller's NY Post article describes the scene: "The video shows Woods standing beside caddie Steve Williams, preparing for a shot on the 18th hole of the Buick Open in Grand Blanc, Mich, on Sunday. Both men have their backs to the camera. Woods is seen lifting his right leg up and down. He stops, lifts his right leg a little and then there is an unmistakable "brrrrp" sound. Woods and Williams then giggle like kids."

Guess what? YouTube yanked the clip after PGA Tour applied a little pressure. Well, I found it on TMZ.com (video clip). To those questioning this sound bite keep in mind super sensitive microphones are placed in strategic areas throughout golf courses during tournament play. Judging by Woods and Williams giddy reactions this clip isn't a fake.

Geller's article concludes: "This apparently isn't the first time Tiger has used wind power on his way to winning a tournament. He reportedly let one rip when he won the Arnold Palmer Classic in Orlando in March."

Grip it and rip it takes on a whole new perspective now for golfers world wide.

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Gridiron Greats Known By Another Name

Permalink 05:00:00 am, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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-Digger's Daily-

Yesterday, the focus was on nicknames for teams of the gridiron. Today, I'm focusing on some of the most well known players past and present who were given names which stuck in fans memory banks. Some stars were better known by their nicknames instead of birth names ("Too Tall" Jones, "Mean Joe" Greene and "The Bus").

The Nigerian Nightmare - KC Chiefs bruising RB Christian Okoye fierce head first pounding style quickly became a fan favorite. Led NFL in rushing attempts (370) and yards (1480) in 1989.

Joe Cool - Perhaps the best pressure QB of all time, Joe Montana guided San Francisco to 4 Super Bowl Championships and was named Super Bowl MVP 3 times. 117-47 career record as starting QB. Field general of West Coast Offense which has been emulated by many teams after 49ers successes.

Mean Joe - Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Fame DT. Little known fact, Joe Greene's birth name is Charles Edward Greene. One of most feared NFL defenders of his generation while playing for Pittsburgh's Steel Curtain defense.

The Frige (Refrigerator) - Nickname given to large Chicago Bears defensive lineman William Perry. He was somewhat of a celebrity due to his size. Often lined up as a blocking fullback in goal line situations leading the way for Hall of Fame RB Walter Payton during Bears 1985 Super Bowl season.

Sweetness - Legendary Bears RB Walter Payton. His evasive style was second to none. Retired as NFL's All Time leader in rushing yards (16,726).

Too Tall Jones - Dallas Cowboys 6'9" DE Ed Jones helped anchor one of NFC's toughest defense of the 70's & 80's. Took up a short lived boxing career after NFL.

Three Amigos - Denver Broncos WR's of 80's/90's. Mark Jackson, Vance Johnson & Ricky Nattiel.

Triplets - Dallas Cowboys 3 time Super Bowl winning trio featuring Hall of Famers QB Troy Aikman & WR Michael Irvin & soon to be HOFer RB Emmitt Smith.

The Playmaker - Name earned by Cowboys WR Michael Irvin for his game changing plays against defenses keying on him.

Flash 80 - Jerry Rice. NFL's All Time greatest WR. Holds many NFL receiving records set while playing most of his games for the San Francisco 49ers dynasty. Finished career with 22,895 receiving yards and 208 total td's (197 receiving, 10 running, 1 passing). Perhaps the greatest athlete ever to play professional football.

Marks Brothers - Miami Dolphins speedy WR's Mark Clayton & Mark Duper. They paved the way for many of QB Dan Marino's NFL records and lone Super Bowl appearance.

The Diesel - Former Jets and Redskins FB/RB John Riggins. Set NFL single season rushing TD record of 24 in 1983 (since broken).

Ageless Wonder - Washington Redskins CB Darrell Green who played hard on every down during 20 NFL seasons.

Roger the Dodger & Comeback Kid - Navy and Dallas Cowboys star QB Roger Staubach had 2 nicknames. Known as Roger the Dodger for elusive scrambling away from defenders. Comeback Kid for miraculous 4th quarter comebacks in big games.

Matty Ice - Current Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan earned his stripes as a rookie last season leading Atlanta to Wild Card appearance.

The Juice - OJ Simpson. Record setting Hall of Fame RB, actor and convict.

The Posse - Washington Redskins late 80's/early 90's steady WR trio of Art Monk, Gary Clark, and Ricky Sanders.

Scramblin' Fran - NY Giants/Minnesota Vikings Hall of Fame QB Fran Tarkington for his ability to scramble away from defenders. Sometimes for big gains, sometimes big losses.

The Snake - Southpaw Ken Stabler received this name while playing QB for Oakland Raiders bruising teams of 70's for his twisting & turning avoidance of defenders to get off big passes.

Smurfs - Redskins small speedy WR trio (all under 6') Gary Clark, Alvin Garrett, and Charlie Brown who played large making big catch after big catch against defenders often taller and while double teamed.

Prime Time - Multi-team, multi-position Deion Sanders was one of NFL's fastest men and was capable of scoring every time he touched the football. CB was primary position, also returned kicks and lined up as WR. Dual sport star also played Major League Baseball. Neon Deion was another nickname given to this flashy player who loved showing off his skills.

Player nicknames stretch far and wide. I'm sure to have left quite a few off of this abbreviated list. If you don't see your favorites, feel free to chime in on our comments section. Next installment will feature nicknames of NFL places (stadiums) and fan clubs.

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08/03/09

Gridiron Greatness - NFL's Nicknames to Remember

Permalink 02:01:07 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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-Digger's Daily-

Dallas Cowboys "Doomsday Defense" ... Pittsburgh Steelers "Steel Curtain"... Miami Dolphins "No Name Defense"... Remember some of football's greatest nicknames describing the games most dominant teams? Football teams and fans are readying for the 2009 regular season. How about taking a stroll down memory name highlighting the gridirons greatest nicknames of yesteryear? Here are some of my personal favorite team nicknames ....

Doomsday Defense - 1970's Dallas Cowboys championship defenses featuring well known defenders who created havoc for opposing offenses. Led by Bob Lilly, Herb Adderly, Mel Renfro, Randy White, Harvey Martin and Ed "Too Tall" Jones.

No Name Defense - Miami Dolphins dominating defenders of the 70's who were seldom known by individual names. They led Miami to NFL's only perfect season (14-0 & Super Bowl Championship). Don Shula's better known no-namers: Nick Buoniconti, Manny Fernandez, Bill Stanfill, Dick Anderson and Reed Kearby.

Purple People Eaters - Another ferocious 70's defense. Minnesota Vikings squad helped lead them to four Super Bowls. Purple People Eaters were defensive linemen Alan Page, Carl Eller, Jim Marshall and Gary Larsen.

Steel Curtain - Pittsburgh Steelers defense was so dominating it led to NFL changing rules pertaining to how offensive lineman were allowed to block and the 5 yard rule for cornerbacks bumping wide receivers. Four Hall of Fame defenders played in this group - "Mean Joe" Greene, Jack Lambert, Jack Ham, Mel Blount. Unit had a stretch of 5 shoutouts in 9 games (1976).

Killer Bees - Another Don Shula Miami Dolphins defensive unit. 80's squad got their name by having 6 of 11 starters last names beginning with the letter B.

Hogs - Washington Redskins pounding offensive line consisting of Joe Jacoby, Russ Grimm, Mark May, George Starke and Jeff Bostic. Held defenses at bay creating gaping running lanes for featured running backs.

Air Coryell - San Diego Chargers talented passing attack names after Head Coach Don Coryell. Hall of Fame QB Dan Fouts had three straight 4,000 yard passing seasons including a then NFL single season record 4,802 in 1981. Primary targets were TE Kellen Winslow and WR's Charlie Joiner, John Jefferson & Wes Chandler. Chandler's 129 yards per game average in 1982 is still a league record.

Kardiac Kids - Cleveland Browns teams of the 80's known for their last minute wins and losses always had fans on edge of their seats.

Orange Crush - Denver Broncos defensive units of 70's led by Randy Gradishar and Lyle Alzado.

Stay tuned for gridiron nicknames dedicated to players, stadiums and fans.

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