Monthly Archives: May 2012

The Miami Marlins After 2 Months Of Baseball

It has been an interesting season for the Miami Marlins so far.  This team had a very new feel to it going into the season.  A new name came first, no longer are they the Florida Marlins they are to be know now as the Miami Marlins.  The new retractable roof stadium located in downtown Miami known as Marlins Park.  The new manager Ozzie Guillen, who was acquired from the Chicago White Sox in the off season.  Also new were big time free agents in Short Stop Jose Reyes, Starter Mark Buehrle and Closer Heath Bell.  The team had not acquired free agents of this caliber since the 1997 season.  But the newest thing for the Marlins was hope of contending in the N.L. East and winning their first ever division title.

The Marlins new home, Marlins Park
(Getty Images)

The Marlins finished April with just 8 wins and 14 loses.  Many of those loses were to N.L. East foes the Phillies, Nationals and Mets. The Fish ended April at the bottom of the division.  Not much seemed to go right for the Fish in April.  Manager Ozzie Guillen was suspended by the team for a few games due to some ridiculous comments about Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.  The team also was not preforming well on the field.  Their production on the offensive side of the ball was horrendous.  Stars such as Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez not playing very well consistently.  Their young power hitter Giancarlo Stanton had no power to speak of.  The guy that was supposed to be saving games for the team Heath Bell was blowing leads and games left and right.  The team was in need of a restart when April ended.

They got their fresh start in May and boy did they take advantage of it.  The Marlins went on a road trip where they swept the Giants, Padres and took 2 out of 3 games against the Astros.  The fielding got better, the pitching was awesome and the bats came alive in May.  Giancarlo Stanton had an incredible month of May where he hit 12 home runs and had 30 RBI’s.  Stanton even had a walk off grand slam in a home game against the Mets.  Pitcher Ricky Nolasco got his 5th win of the season. Carlos Zambrano the loose cannon from the Chicago Cubs has pitched well and not lost his mind yet.  The Marlins also played a lot better against division rivals.  They took 2 out of 3 games against the Phillies, split a 2 game series with the Braves.  The Marlins finished the final series of May by sweeping the 1st place Nationals in a 3 game series.  The Fish had a record of 21 wins and just 8 losses for the month of May.

Marlins power hitter Giancarlo Stanton
(photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

The Marlins begin the month of June with a 29-22 record.  It took the Marlins 2 month to make it to first place but they did it.  They hold a tie with the Nationals for 1st place in the N.L. East.  June is not going to be an easy month schedule wise.  They will play 5 games total against the Phillies and 3 games against the Braves.  The biggest challenge could be when they play a total of 6 games against their inter state rival Tampa Bay Rays.  The Rays are also tied for 1st place in their division and have played really well as a team this year.  So that series could be a tough one for the Fish.  The Marlins are hoping to finish June the way they are coming into it, very hot.

The rest of the season is going to be the real test of course.  The Marlins were looking bad in April but impressed in May.  The Fish play in the toughest division in baseball but have held their own so far.  I believe the Fish have a very good chance of taking their first division title.  This is a really good ball club that is finally playing as a team and are clicking on all cylinders.  The prospects look very good for the rest of the summer but we will know for sure what this team is made of by September.

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The Spurs Are Boring, But They Are Good

The San Antonio Spurs are one of the least entertaining teams to watch in all of sports.   The Spurs are in one word “Boring”.  They have been that way for many years.  It is due to a combination of playing a methodical and a very non flashy style of basketball and the lack of charismatic stars.

They have one of the best centers in the NBA Tim Duncan.  Duncan has had a great Career and will be in the Hall Of Fame one day. The unfortunate thing is Duncan has no charisma at all and never says anything that is not obvious when being asked questions in interviews. Their other stars Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili are not much better.

San Antonio Spurs Star Tim Duncan
(Getty Images)

There is one thing you cannot dispute though,  the Spurs are really good.  They have especially excelled this year in the playoffs.  They swept the Utah Jazz in the first round of the post season.  They continued into the second round where they swept the L.A. Clippers and their superstar Chris Paul.

On Tuesday night the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder by a score of 120-111. With that victory the Spurs are up on the Thunder 2-0 in the Western Conference Finals.  The Spurs are undefeated this postseason.  They have won 10 straight games and while they have not been exciting while doing so, it is an impressive feat.

Will we see the Spurs in the NBA Finals?  Probably but the NBA will not be happy about it.  The ratings for the NBA Finals have been declining over the last few years.  The Spurs will likely drive those numbers down.  Even with the Miami Heat or Boston Celtics as their opponents it could be a rather sleepy Championship Series.

For now I suggest you get your pillows ready.  The Spurs are not going anywhere for now, which means the boring brand of Spurs basketball is going to sweep across the nation and put viewers in a NyQuil type sleep state.

Giancarlo Stanton Has Come Alive In May

Miami Marlins Right Fielder Giancarlo Stanton
(Getty Images)

The Miami Marlins are having a really good month of May.  Their record for this month so far is 18 wins and 8 loses.  The Marlins have shown themselves to be the contenders in the N.L. East many have thought they could be.  The Marlins have to give a lot of credit to Right Fielder Giancarlo Stanton (formerly known as Mike Stanton) for their success.

May has been a month where Texas Rangers star Josh Hamilton solidified his place as a superstar after two incredible months of play.  Hamilton has soaked up most of the mainstream sports media’s attention.  Now their is another star to pay close attention to.

The Marlins and Stanton had a rough opening month of April.  The power  hitter had only one home run in April and it was at the end of the month.  Stanton was also having a hard time getting on base at times.  He has had 2 previous complete seasons in the bigs.  He increased almost all of his stats from his first season in his second season last year.  I have a feeling he can go even further this year.

Stanton celebrates his walk off grand slam on May 13th, 2012.
(Photo by Sarah Glenn/Getty Images)

The most exciting event for the Marlins this month came just a week ago at their home stadium known as Marlins Park.  On Sunday, May 13th in the bottom of the 9th inning the Marlins were tied 4-4 with the New York Mets, Stanton came to the plate with the bases loaded.  Stanton did not disappoint,  he blasted a walk off grand slam to give the Fish a 8-4 victory.  In the very short history of Marlin Park this moment is the biggest ending to a game the team has seen.  The grand slam not only made Stanton look good, it showed that the Marlins are ready to battle it out with the teams in the really tough N.L. East.

Stanton was drafted by the Marlins in the second round of the 2007 June Draft.  He was one of their top prospects until he made his Major league debut in 2010.

Stanton has been awesome in May.  He hit 11 home runs and has hit 21 RBI’s this month alone.  He has a season batting average of .291 and hit a total of 12 dingers and totaled 36 RBI’s so far.  He is on pace to have one of his best seasons.

Giancarlo Stanton is a well rounded player with the potential to be a superstar the likes of Albert Pujols.  The question is not if he will reach his full potential but when.  Even the player he has been right now has been a huge benefit to the club.   Stanton is the future of the Marlins franchise and their future is really bright.

Thanks To All Of Those Who Have Served

I want to take the time on this special day to stop the sports talk and say Thank You.  Thank you to all of the men and women who have served our country.  As a service member myself I have realized over the last 11 years what exactly it means to serve in the service for this great country of ours.  I am incredibly proud to serve with our county’s best citizens and to represent those who have served in the past.  I have so much respect for my brothers and sisters in the military and all of our vets from previous generations.  I want to especially thank those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our great country.  Your service and all of the incredible things you have done will never be forgotten.  So remember on this Memorial Day all of the people who have given their all to protect the rights that we were founded on and get to appreciate everyday.  Happy Memorial Day!

 

Los Angeles King Advance to The Stanley Cup Finals

The L.A. Kings are on their way to the Stanley Cup Finals.  Its their first time since 1993 when NHL Legend Wayne Gretzky played for the Kings.  The Kings have never won the Stanley Cup and are more than ready to capture it this year.

The Kings had an average regular season finishing with a record of 40 wins, 27 loses and 15overtime loses.  When April started and the final games before the post season were about to be played many thought the Kings would not even qualify for the playoffs.  Well they did but barely and got the placed in the playoffs as the 8th seed.  The Kings faced off against the 1st seeded Vancouver Canucks and shocked the hockey world by taking the series in 5 games.  It was their first time making it out of the first round since 2001.  The Kings then swept the 2nd seeded St. Louis Blues and the hockey world started to think, maybe these guys are for real.  Last night it was confirmed when the Kings took game 5 against the Phoenix Coyotes by a score of 4-3 in overtime to advance into the Finals.  The Kings made history during this incredible playoff run by being the first 8th seeded team to beat both the 1st and 2nd seeded teams in the playoffs.

The Kings star through this playoff season has been their American born Right Wing Dustin Brown.  Brown scored 7 goal, 9 assists and had 3 game winning goals in the playoffs.  He has been their leader and the rest of the team has followed with incredible play.  If he keeps it up he will definitely take the MVP trophy in the Stanley Cup.

The Kings must wait now to find out their opponent.  The New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils are still battling it out in the Eastern Conference Finals.  The Ranger and the Devils are set to play Game 7 tonight in New York.  I have a feeling that the Rangers will take the game and advance to their first Finals since 1994.  We will find out really soon.

L.A. Kings fan holding a sign that says it all.
(Getty Images)

The Kings have really sparked interest in Los Angeles for Hockey.  The city has had their loyal fans but the casual fans left when Gretzky went to play for the Rangers in the late 1990s.  The L.A. Sports Scene is really different this summer with the Lakers and the Clippers already out of the NBA Playoffs.  The city of Los Angeles needs the Kings right now.  This is the perfect opportunity for the Kings to brighten up the city with Hockey excitement.

I feel this is a Kings team that is destined to win the Cup this year.  I did not think so going into the playoffs but I have seen the playoff greatness.  This would be one of the most surprising NHL Playoff runs we have ever seen if they can capture the cup.  We could be calling it the “King’s Cup”  in just a matter of a couple of weeks.

Can David Wright Finish Above .400?

The baseball season is about to complete its second month.  There is a potential story brewing that could dominate the sports media this summer.  David Wright and the possibility that he could end the season with an above .400 batting average.  While the New York Mets have been average this season and have not had a great season in a couple of years,  David Wright could vault the team into the sports media mainstream for the next few months.

New York Mets Third Baseman David Wright
(Marc Serota/Getty Images North America)

Wright has played in 38 games as the Third Baseman for the Mets this year, and  as of May 22nd is batting .415.  Wright has been incredibly hot and extremely valuable for a Mets team that has fallen down a bit over the last couple of years.

The Mets are currently 22-20 and are 3.5 games back in the very tough N.L. East.  Whether the Mets will contend this year is hard to say but based on the recent past looks unlikely.  The Mets caught a lot of flack last season after it was found out the their new stadium might have been paid for by many people who’s live were ruined by the fraudulent financial scams of Bernie Madoff.  Wright could help the team move on and put that in their past this season.  The New York Mets need a player like David Wright at this point and need him to do well and that is exactly what he is doing.

The .400 single season batting average is one of the most elusive marks in all of sports.  The last man to hit above .400 in one season was Boston Red Sox legend and Hall of Famer Ted Williams.  Williams hit .406 in 1941.  Since then no one else has done it,  Tony Gwynn did come close in 1994 when he finish with .394 in 1994 but that is a mute point given the fact it was a strike shortened season.  Royal’s Hall of Famer George Brett finished with a .390 batting average in 1980.

Wright will have to continue to be hot through what is  a very long and grueling baseball season.  As Wright continues toward the .400 mark and the season gets further along the media pressure will heat up.  That could be and has been something that has affected many players going towards not only this mark but all records in baseball.  The Mets are positioned in one of the biggest sports markets in the country and you have to know it will be like a zoo towards August if Wright can still be close to the mark by then

Not very many players have had a batting average this high at this point in the season.  So it is definitely time to start watching the Mets and David Wright to see how this progresses.  David Wright is an amazing player and really deserves to reach such a mark.  His stock has already risen and we are not even half way through this season.  So as the season moves along into the summer keep an eye out for David Wright he might just shock the sports world.

Magic Out Stan Van Gundy

Ex Orland Magic Head Coach Stan Van Gundy
Photo credit:
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Stan Van Gundy era came to an end in Orlando on Monday when the Orlando Magic fired their coach.  The firing has to be both a blessing and a curse for Van Gundy.    He doesn’t have a job but at the same time he no longer has to deal with Dwight Howard drama.  Van Gundy and the Magic’s star center Dwight Howard have been feuding all year both behind the scenes and in front of the media.  Their were rumors that Howard was calling for Van Gundy’s firing by the middle of this past season.  Even though Magic front office staff had confirmed those rumors, Howard has repeatedly denied such allegations.  Well Monday it came to pass and Van Gundy was gone, whether it was due to the pressure Howard put on the Magic is hard to say.

Stan Van Gundy came to the Magic in 2007.  He was essentially a back up plan when the Florida Gators head coach signed with the Orlando Magic and then 5 days later quit and went back to the Gators.  There have been a lot of ups and downs for the team during Van Gundy’s tenure.  Van Gundy leaves the Magic with a 259-135 record and a 31-28 record in the playoffs.  He was with the team for a total of 5 seasons.  The Magic made it all the way to the NBA Finals in 2009, only to fall victim quickly to the Los Angeles Lakers.  The Magic also made an Eastern Conference Finals appearance in 2010 losing the series 4-2 to the Boston Celtics.

The timing is very strange to me though, with the NBA Draft is coming up next month.  The Magic need to find their new head coach and they need to find him soon.  It is imperative to have a new coach in time to have him on board for the draft and helping the team set for in a new and hopefully successful direction.

This next season will be a very interesting and probably very stressful on for the Orland Magic.  Dwight Howard’s contract is up at the end of the season.  The Magic will definitely want to either sign Howard or trade him away.  The Magic almost traded Howard this past season when it was unclear whether he would accept his team option for another season to close out his contract.  The Magic have never forgotten the situation Shaq put them in after the 1996 season.  Shaq left the team for The Lakers and the Magic got nothing in return due to the fact Shaq was a free agent.

Howard is a fantastic player and has potential to be an NBA Finals MVP.  Howard will however need to tone down the drama that plagued last season in order for that to be possible.  He would need to make a decision and resign or have the team deal him away way before the trade deadline if he wants to contend for the NBA Championship this season.  One has to hope that with Van Gundy gone Howard can focus more on the court and lead the Magic the way he has shown himself capable of doing.

So will we see Dwight Howards final game with the Magic this year or the continuation of the good career he has had with the Magic.  Is a championship in the Magic’s future?  I think Dwight Howard’s season and decision has a lot to do with the answer to that question.