Monthly Archives: April 2012

Bryce Harper Is Ready For The Big Leagues

Getty Images

The Washington Nationals have been playing great this year.  Surprising many, but the excitement has just begun.  On Friday the Nationals called up their 19 year old phenom Bryce Harper from Triple A Syracuse.  He was called up when Ryan Zimmerman was placed on the DL this week.  Harper is set to make his MLB debut on Saturday when he will be placed in the line up for in a game against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.  Harper’s debut on Saturday is the most anticipated debut of any player since Ken Griffey Jr. in 1989.

Harper was thrust into the national spotlight in May of 2009 when he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine.  He was touted as being the next big thing in baseball, and possibly one of the best baseball players ever.  Later the year he left high school at 16 years old to obtain his GED in time for the 2010 June Draft. He had a short stint at a junior college before the Nationals selected him 1st overall in the June Draft.

Harper has everything one needs to be a great player.  He also has all of the hype as well.  Although some have questioned his maturity during his time in the minors.  He has been called “spoiled”, and been said to have acted arrogant on a number of occasions.  This is nothing new for the sports world.  There have been many sports stars with bad reputations that have flourished to become hall of fame players.  I feel he will grow up a lot in the big leagues and will mature very quickly.  While he has played well in the minors he has usually needed time to get settled in at each level.  This may be no different as the jump from Triple A to the majors is a big one.  I think even if he does struggle in the beginning he will ultimately turn out to be an incredible player at the big league level.

The Nationals want to win and they want to do it now.  That is why they feel this call up is the right decision.  I totally agree with them bringing him up and putting him in the line up.  Saturday is going to be a big night for Harper and the Nationals, who finally get to reap the benefits of this highly touted and paid phenom.

Bring Back The Smart Puck!

RIP "Smart Puck" 1996-1999

The NHL playoffs have been heating up and the first round has almost come to a close.  I have been able to watch some of the action in the last couple of weeks, and I have really enjoyed the coverage.  But there is something missing from the television coverage, the “Smart Puck”.

It was a brilliant creation of The Fox Network.  It was debuted on FOX during their coverage of the 1996 NHL All Star game.  It was used by FOX until 1999 when their  contract with the league expired.  It allowed the fan to keep better track of the hockey puck.  The puck had integrated electronics to track its position on screen.  During normal play the puck would glow blue, when hit hard the puck would turn red and streak across the screen.

The Smart Puck received mixed reactions.  The hard core fans did not like the concept, many believed it took away from the game and hurt its tradition.  Almost all of the casual fans loved it.  For many of the casual fans up to that point they could not track the puck well and became disinterested.  It brought a lot of attention to the FOX broadcasts and made fans feel more involved.  It probably even boosted ratings for a while.

Oh how I miss the glowing puck.  I say bring the Smart Puck back!  I understand that it was a concept developed and owned by FOX, but it should be used still today at whatever the cost to the current broadcasting companies all over the world. Don’t get me wrong I still really like watching hockey, especially the playoffs.  The Smart Puck helped me keep better track of what was going on during the game.  It is hard at times to track the puck when you are watching on television.  You usually have to just watch were the players are looking or where the groups of players go.  Not as fun as watching with technology on the ice.

Football still has the digital first down marker after over a decade.  No complaints from fans there.  There should have been none by this development either.  For now and probably forever we will be watching hockey without this awesome glowing object flying around the screen.  Rest in peace FOX’s Smart Puck.

More Allegations Against the Saints

More bad news about the Saints came out on Monday during ESPN’s “Outside The Lines”. The show reported that the Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis had his booth in the Super Dome wired. It was reported that during the years of 2002-2004 Loomis was able to hear the opposing teams transmissions. Supposedly the system was rendered inop in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina.

The Saints have claimed the allegations are false. It will be up to them to prove the media wrong.

This latest scandal involving the Saints is the worst thing that could happen to them right now. Even if these allegations are not true this is still a blow to the organization for the time being. Just a couple of months ago they were dealing with the “Bounty Gate” scandal.  The Saints are still dealing with the fallout from that scandal.  The Saints have

As you might remember the Patriots were involved in a scandal similar to this in 2008. It was reported the team had taping their opponents practicing for preparations against those teams. It was proven and was later forgotten. Now in 2012, many remember but no one really cares what the Patriots did back then.

I think this could blow over for the Saints. The question is, how will this story be followed up. depending on the coverage it gets and whether the allegations are true will determine how well this is remembered. I think when all is said and done we will look back and remember the “Bounty Gate” scandal and the fallout from it more than this situation.

Perfect Phil

The White Sox Phillip Humber throws MLB's 21 prefect game.
(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Chicago White Sox pitcher Phil Humber pitched his way into the history books on Saturday.  Humber pitched the White Sox to a perfect game win over the Seattle Mariners with a score of 4-0.  Humber amazed the baseball world with incredible pitching against a decent Mariners ball club.  He performed this incredible feat in just 96 pitches and had 9K’s.  This was his first win of the season, and what a great way to way to do it.

Humber is probably the last guy anyone would have expected to throw a perfect game.  He went 9-9 last year with a 3.75 ERA in his first full year in the show.  He was drafted 3rd overall by the Mets in 2004 and had elbow issues by 2006.  He was bounced around the league for a few years and ended up in Chicago off of waivers in 2011.  Humber’s performance is inspiring due to the fact he underwent Tommy John surgery 7 years ago.  Many pitchers never return to for or develop into a player that can perform such a feat after major surgery on their arm.

Here are some facts of where this perfect game sits in the history books.  This was just the 21st perfect game in MLB history.  The first one since the Phillies Roy Halloday did it in 2010 against the Florida Marlins.  It just the 7th perfect game ever pitched on the Road. The most impressive stat of them all is he did it the earliest in a season ever.  Beating the previous record of April 30th by Charles Robertson in 1922.

This season has been very entertaining already, and it isn’t even May yet.  I am sure we will see more history going forward.  As far as Humber goes, he is in for a wild ride.  He will be followed very closely the rest of the year to see how he fares during the grueling season.  Can he do it again? That is going to be the fun question that we will be waiting to find the answer to.  All eyes will be on him during his next start against a Boston Red Sox club that has been struggling this year.  No matter what he does for the rest of the season he has made his mark, and his outing on Saturday will never be forgotten.

UFC Needs To Get Rid Of Overeem

Alistair Overeem
(Getty Images)

The UFC’s now former Heavyweight Title Contender has been nothing but a headache for them and now its time for him to go!  UFC President Dana White tweeted on Friday that he is out of his main event title shot against the champion Junior Dos Santos at next months UFC 146.  Overeem was to be suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission following a failed surprise drug test last month.  The test came back with high levels of testosterone.  Overeem was appealing the suspension and is set to have a hearing for that appeal on Tuesday.  In the short term,  it does not matter anymore now that he has been removed from the fight regardless of the results on Tuesday.

Overeem was a fighter that was successful in Japan during the Pride era.  As we have come to find out in the years since the company folded, many of the fights were fixed and there was a very laughable drug testing program if it even existed at all.  So his fight record is shady to say the least.  Overeem had a deal with the Strikeforce promotion when the UFC acquired it last year.

He has been a decent fighter in recent years, but the drug testing problems and the stalling he has done to keep from taking them have been major issues.  He clearly used steroids earlier in his career.  Like most fighters who have done so, he needs testosterone to bring his levels back up to the regular levels.  As a result he is testing for high levels of testosterone.  His argument for Tuesdays hearing is that he needs to boost his testosterone levels to compete because his levels are low.

The testosterone issue is becoming greater and the UFC needs to police itself better when it comes to drug testing.  If this keeps coming up it could destroy the UFC pretty fast.  As of right now they rely on the state athletic commission to test their fighters.  The testing the commission does is very predictable and not efficient enough.  The UFC has lost too many fights over problems like this.

I think its great Dana White has done something about this problem and Overeem on his own.  I totally understand that they do not want him as champion. He is not reliable and there are way too many problems they would be letting into the organization.  I think the UFC must do more, putting in people’s contracts that if they fail a certain number of tests would be a great start. I am tired of hearing the excuse of testosterone levels being too low and needing to take testosterone boosters to bring them up.  The bottom line is if you have used steroids and messed up you body you should not be allowed to fix it to fight and if you were born with low levels than you should fight clean or don’t fight at all.

The example needs to be set now with Overeem.  I am over his bullshit and don’t want to see him fight anymore.  He is a guy that clearly needs an advantage to fight at the UFC level.  He does not belong there and this incident is the latest that proves it.

The Celtics Are Playing Hot, But don’t Get Too Excited

The Boston Celtics are making a strong push towards the playoffs.  It was made really clear on Tuesday that they are really hot.  The Celtics defeated the Miami Heat on Tuesday night by a score of 115-107 in Miami.  This victory marks the second time the Celtics have beaten the Heat in the last 10 games they have played this season. The first victory of the two came on the 1st of April when the Celtics beat the Heat 91-72. On Tuesday Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were the stars of the game scoring 27 and 24 points respectively.  It was a huge win for an aging Celtics team, and should motivate them heading into the playoffs in a couple of weeks from now.

The Celtics’ Kevin Garnett drives to the hoop through the Heat’s Chris Bosh on Tuesdays game versus Miami.
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

The Celtics are currently holding a season record of 33-24.  They are on a three game winning streak having beaten the Pacers, 76ers and the Heat in those three games.  The Celtics are currently slated to be placed in the 4th spot in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.  Many of the Celtics fans are getting excited and ready for the playoffs.  To that I say settle down!

The Celtics will be going into the playoff facing some tough competition.  If the playoffs started today the Celtics would be squaring off against the Atlanta Hawks.  A series I totally believe they could win in probably 5 or 6 games.  But when you look beyond the first round thats when it becomes doubtful.  Yes, they have beaten the powerful and likely NBA Finals Contenders the Miami Heat twice in the last 10 games, but could they outlast them in a best of seven series.  I think they would not be so successful.  If not the Heat they could play the Magic or Chicago, two more teams they would have a really hard time against.  The playoff picture the the Celtics looks bleak.

This is a team that was built to be contenders about 5 years ago.  As we all know that plan worked and brought a NBA title back to Boston in 2008.  Their frist NBA title since Larry Bird led the team in 1986.  The team was built for the late 2000’s but not the 2010’s.  The Celtics have Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, three incredible stars.  Those stars have gotten older though and as a unit don’t have what it takes anymore to make it through a grueling NBA Playoffs all the way to an NBA Title anymore.  They are just too old, and the competition is too tough.  The bright spot the team has is Rajon Rondo, who is super talented and young but he can’t do it without reliable support.

The team needs to look next season to rebuild for the future before they are left with nothing.  I will be watching the playoff intently to see what they can do, but I think I already know.  They are talented and have done well during the season.  I just don’t feel they will hold up during the tough competition this year in the Playoffs.  We will no longer have to wait because the playoff will be here really soon and all of the questions will be answered once and for all.

Marlins Give Guillen 5 Game Suspension

The Miami Marlins handed Ozzie Guillen a 5 game suspension on Tuesday. The punishment is for comments the manager made in a recent Time magazine interview. Guillen was quoted as saying “he loves and Respects Fidel Castro”.

Ozzie Guillen held a press conference today in Miami to apologize to the Cuban community in Miami for his comments. There were many Cubans outside of the press conference protesting. Many of those protesting want Guillen to loose his managerial job for his comments.

The Marlins hope that this punishment will be enough for the protesters and the Cuban community in Miami. The Marlins have worked very hard to appeal to the very community that dominates the Miami area. We will have to wait and see what long term affects Guillen’s comments will have on the team.

Sean Payton’s Appeal Denied

On Monday NFL commissioner Roger Goodell denied New Orleans coach Sean Payton’s appeal to his suspension for one year. The suspension is coming from an investigation that found the some New Orleans Saints coach staff were paying money to their players for injuring the opposition. The suspension starts on 16 April and goes until after the Super Bowl. At that point Payton will be in consideration for reinstatement.

This suspension is totally justified by Goodell. I give him credit for setting the precedence for punishing such offenses. He needs to do things like this to keep the integrity of the game.

Some think the punishment is too harsh since he wasn’t found directly responsible. I think that is a bunch of crap. As a head coach he should be held accountable for the actions if those under his charge. This will definitely effect the Saints this year. I think they still have a strong chance of competing this year even without Payton at the helm.

The Saints are trying to secure Bill Parcells as their head coach in the mean time. I am not sure that will happen though. I think it could cause too much conflict, if Parcells does well and does not want to leave. Or even worse for Payton, they don’t want him back.

We will have to wait a few months to see how this season will be without Payton and even longer to see how the Saints deal with Payton. Well whatever happens to him I have no sympathy no matter what happens to his career. He should be held responsible.

Leave Ozzie Guillen Alone!

Ozzie Guillen did it again and I am not surprised. He stuck his foot in his mouth again. It came out on Saturday night that the Marlins manager said in a recent magazine interview that he loves and respects the Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. The Marlins tried to kill it dead and separate them selves from his comments to no avail.

The Cuban community in Miami, who are the very fans the club wants to bring to the new ballpark in huge numbers, feel alienated. Many are calling for his resignation as the teams manager. Some baseball analysts are calling for a suspension of at least 30 days. I think it is all too much.

Ozzie tried apologizing during the weekend but it did not go over well. So on Tuesday he will use the teams off day to make a trip back to Miami to address the media about his comment. I am not sure what he can say to make this better or what the club will do to make this situation better if anything.

I think he should be left alone after he apologizes. He has a track record of putting his foot in his mouth. The team knew that when they signed him. He did not say he condoned his actions in Cuba over the years. He just made a stupid statement about the dictator. We all know Ozzie is a great manager but he is also an idiot. I think everyone should take it easy and not make this bigger than it should be.

The Highs And Lows From The First Weekend of Baseball

Johan Santana throws out the first pitch on Opening day for the Mets in New York.
(Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Baseball is back and the first weekend is complete.  It was an exciting and surprising weekend for many teams.  If you missed any of the action here are some of the highlights and low lights.

For the first time since 1966 both the Yankees and Red Sox started off the season 0-3.  The Yankees were swept by the Rays in Tampa, beating them 3-0 on Sunday.  No need to fear Yankees fans.  The last time the Yankees started 0-3 was 1998, and they ended up winning 114 games and the World Series title.  The Red Sox lost an extra inning game on Sunday 13-12 to complete the sweep by the Detroit Tigers.  The Tigers proved to be as powerful as everyone thought going into the season.  Point proven when Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera both homered in the 10-0 during Saturday’s gave versus the Red Sox.  The Tigers scored a combined 26 runs during their first three games.   I expect both teams to bounce back from their sweeps this week.

The Pirates Andrew McCutchen celebrating on Sunday after a walk off RBI single against the Phillies.
(Getty Images)

Another shocking thing came from this first weekend,  The Pirates took two out of three from the Phillies.  Both of the victories were of the walk-off type.  The first happened on Saturday in extra innings when Rod Barajas drove in Alex Presley for the 2-1 victory.  The second came on Sunday after the Pirates tied the score at 4-4.  Andrew McCutchen drove in the winning run lifting the Pirates over the Phillies by a score of 5-4.  The Pirates could be interesting to watch if you base any value on this first weekend.

The “new” every thing Marlins began the season with a surprising 1-3 start.  They started their first two games with no offense and loses to the Cardinals and the Reds.  The first lose was to the Cardinals in their brand new ballpark in a 4-1 effort.  On Saturday in their third game the offensive power showed up in a 8-3 victory over the Reds, the fish had three home runs in that game.  Sunday brought their third lose of the season when the Reds rallied in the bottom of the ninth.  Scott Rolen came in as the pinch hitter and drove home the winning run to give the Reds the 6-5 victory over the Marlins.  It will be interesting to see how the Marlins play in Philadelphia this week against what many consider to be the best rotation in the league.

Opening Day history was made on Thursday when the Blue Jays went to the 16th inning with the Indians.  J.P. Arencibia hit the game winning three run homer to put the Blue Jays on top of the Indians 7-4 in that game.  The game broke the previous opening day record of 15 innings held by the Tigers and Indians from 1960 and another 15th inning game between Philadelphia and Washington in 1926.  There is something really special about seeing records broken that have stood for so long.

Albert Pujols went 0-3 in his debut for the Angels in their 5-0 victory over the Royals on opening day.   The Royals ended up taking 2 out 3 games from the Angels this weekend.  Pujols has a .143 batting average to show for his first weekend with his new team.  The Angels have to be surprised how this first series ended with Pujols slumping.  I have no doubt he will continue to be the most feared slugger in the game though.

The A's Yoenis Cespedes going long.
(Getty Images)

There is an emerging star in Oakland.  The high paid Cuban Yoenis Cespedes, has played incredibly during his first series in the Major Leagues.  He is batting .308 with 3 home runs, 7 RBI’s and 3 runs.  He goes against everything “Moneyball” GM Billy Beane has been able to do in the past with little money allowed to him for the A’s.  This year he was able to get big money for this highly touted free agent.  It appears that Cespedes will be worth the money spent if he keeps producing like he the past four games.

The Mets played better than expected by sweeping the Braves in three games.  Its is the first time the braves have started the season 0-3 since 2003.  The Mets were expected to occupy the cellar in the N.L. East and still very well could, but they are looking pretty good coming out of the first weekend.

The Mariners Brandon League celebrates after getting the save against the A's on Saturday.
(Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)

Oh yeah, there was good pitching also.  Kyle Lohse had a solid 7.1 inning game against the Marlins on Wednesday and picked up the win.  The Nationals Stephen Strasburg had a great 7 inning game with 5 k’s in Thursdays victory over the Cubs, although he did not get the win.  The Mets Jonathon Niese had a no hitter going into the 7th inning against the Braves on Sunday.  The no-no was ended though, it would have been the first no hitter in the Mets 51 season history.  The Mariners Brandon League picked up 2 saves this weekend.  League could end up being one of the best closers in the A.L. if the M’s can continue to produced solid games for him to finish.  Other than Niese’s possible no hitter there were no amazing moments by any pitcher,  just a lot of solid pitching throughout both of the leagues.  Some experts are calling this season “The Year Of The Pitcher III”, but I think we will have to wait and see about that.

If you take a look at the standings right now there are 5 teams that started the season 3-0.  Those teams are Orioles, Rays, Tigers, Mets and D Backs.  The season is very long though and as we all know a lot of teams fall off by July.  So no one should get too excited or upset at this point.  This first weekend has been very exciting and if its any indication of what is to come I think it will be a great year for the fans.