Monthly Archives: July 2012

Team USA Wins Their Opener Against Team France

The basketball competition at the 2012 London Olympics began today.  The US team came into this Olympics with high expectations.  This years Team USA has been compared to the great 1992 “Dream Team”.   Team USA took to the court against Tony Parker and the French team.   The game tipped off at 2:30pm local time in London, England.

Team USA
(David Becker/Getty Images)

1st Quarter

The 1st quarter began with the US getting the first points on the board.  Both teams were missing nearly all of their 3 point attempts.  There were reports that the Olympic basketballs were sometimes slick and even over inflated, it would make sense given all of the missed 3 pointers.  Neither team had very flashy play other than when Lebron James threw a long pass to Kevin Durant for a dunk on the French side of the court.  The 1st quarter came to an end with France’s Yannick Bokolo hitting the games first 3 point shot.  The score when the quarter ended was 22-21 in favor of team USA.  Tony Parker led the French team in the 1st quarter with 6 points, while the USA’s leading scorer was Kevin Durant with 7 points.

2nd Quarter

Lebron James started off the 2nd quarter with a 3 pointer.  The US team played the French team well on defense in the early part of the quarter.  Kevin Durant had an inedible blocked shot on a Nicolas Batum shot in the paint.  The US team committed a lot of fouls in the 1st half of the game, the french team did well at the free throw line when the fouls were made.  Durant continued his excellent play in the 2nd quarter with a beautiful 3 point shot with a little more than 4 minutes remaining in the half.  Team USA moved the ball around very well and started racking up points.  The half ended with the Team USA leading the French team by a score of 52-36.  The leading scorer for the US in the 1st half was Kevin Durant with 14 points. The leading scorer for the French was Florent Pietrus with 8 points, he also was 4 for 4 at the free throw line.

3rd Quarter

The US continued the excellent defending against the French in the 3rd quarter.  Lebron received a great pass from Deron Williams for the layup at the rim with 5 minutes left to go in the quarter.  The passing of the US team was perfect and counted for a lot of the scoring by the team.  Kevin Love played really well in the game with his signature shooting and aggressiveness.  The US ended the quarter leading 78-51.  The US really played more fluid and started clicking better in this quarter.

4th Quarter

Tony Parker began the final quarter on the bench.  Parker had been out of playing shape heading into the Olympics due to the eye injury he sustained a couple of months ago.  The game was all but over, all that was left to do for Team USA was pull away even more in the score.  The NBA’s #1 draft pick Anthony Davis got into the game in the final quarter and put his 1st ever Olympic points on the board.  James Hardin made a nice break away dunk with 4 minutes left to go in the game.  The bench was on the court for Team USA most of the 4th quarter,  they are all top level players and showed it by holding the lead.   The game ended like most thought it would with Team USA taking the game by a score of 98-71.  Kevin Durant was the lead scorer in the game with 22 points, Ali Traore was France’s leading scorer with 12 points.

Team USA looked really good today.  They proved that they can play well together as a team and are likely to win the gold medals this year.  Kevin Durant came out of this game as the teams best player and lead the team very well today.  Many will say it’s Lebron’s team but after today I would say it’s Durant’s.  Tunisia will be their next opponent on Tuesday night.  That game like this one should not be a difficult one for a squad with this many great players.

The Dwight Howard Headache Continues For Orlando

Dwight Howard is not playing nice with the Magic.
(Jonathan Daniel/Getty images)

A few weeks ago it looked like the drama that is Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic was coming to an end, but here we are with Howard still on a team  he no longer wants to be on.  The Magic want Howard to give the new management a chance but he wants a trade and wants one now.  There is one problem though,  there are no teams that for one want to have Howard for one season only to see him leave or a team with assets worthy of him.

The Houston Rockets were pushing hard for Howard going into the draft.  Howard’s management even warned the team that if he were traded to Houston he would leave as a free agent next summer.  Still the Rockets pursued Howard feeling that their legacy and how they would perform as a team with him would sway his decision to leave in 2013.  The Magic were not offered a package of players that fit what they wanted.

Then came along the Brooklyn Nets, the team which Howard wants to ultimately end up with.  The Magic were offered a deal that would involve the Nets and 2 other teams that would send the Magic Center Brook Lopez and a handful of other players.  That deal was never accepted by the Magic and the Nets spent big money on Daron Williams and Lopez signed a contract extension with the team.  The extension makes Lopez untradable until January.  So the Magic will have to wait if they do in fact want Lopez.  Lopez would be the only star player the Nets could include in a trade that would be a good deal for the Magic.
The Lakers are the latest team to be in talks with the Magic for Howard.  The Lakers already traded away 2 future 1st round draft picks so that is off the table in a possible deal.  The star player that could be involved in a deal between the Magic and Lakers would be Andrew Bynum.  The problem with that scenario is two fold.  The first problem is that Bynum is a free agent in 2013 and would have to sign if the Magic would acquire him and he has shown strong interest in being a free agent next year.  The second issue is the Magic also want to unload a lot of their team and clean out some cap space.  The Lakers cannot help them there.  So the Magic stand with a player that is not looking to be going anywhere soon.

The Magic have been getting the rough end of this Howard situation.  They are not finding any great deals but at the same time can’t afford for him to leave as a free agent and get nothing for him.  Howard is really being tough with the team.  The team has new management and is wanting to work something out with Howard.  Howard does need to go but for the right price.  The Magic should wait this out a little longer until they get a deal they can live with.  The team will be set back many years if they don’t get players of value for Howard.  This is a bad situation and a bad summer for the team and things don’t look to be getting better anytime soon.

The Marlins Part Ways With Hanley Ramirez

This season has been very disappointing for the Miami Marlins.  They showed that they are essentially giving up on hopes for the playoffs this season by trading some of their top stars.  Rebuilding mode has already started when this team was supposed to be ready to contend this year.  They have a strong focus on pitching in their trades this week, that is a spot they definitely need help in.

The first trade came on Tuesday when the Marlins sent Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez to the Detroit Tigers.  Infante has had a decent season thus far and had led the team to numerous victories.  Sanchez has been with the club for a few years and been a reliable starter at times. Sanchez had a rough start to the season but leveled out towards the summer.  The Marlins received top-rated pitching prospect Jacob Turner from the Tigers in the deal.

Hanley Ramirez
(Getty Images)

On Wednesday the Marlins traded away a star they coveted very heavily just a couple of years ago.  Going into this season no one suspected that the Marlins would not finish the season with Hanley Ramirez.  The rumors started floating around last week that the team was looking at offers for the former N.L. batting champion and multiple time All Star.  The Marlins made a deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers to send Ramirez and pitcher Randy Choate to California.  The Marlins received pitcher Nathan Eovaldi and a minor leaguer in the deal.

Hanley Ramirez will never be forgotten by the franchise.  He was acquired from the Boston Redsox in the 2005 trade that sent Josh Beckett to Boston.  The Marlins had coveted and groomed Ramirez as their big star of the future.  He had a few season where he played really well and even one a batting title.  But the last couple of years has seen Ramirez numbers drop significantly.  The Marlins owe a lot of credit to Ramirez for helping them get a new stadium built in Miami for the club.  The team signed Ramirez to a 6 year deal a few years ago to show the city of Miami tax payers that they were committed to building a contender.  A lot has changed in the last few years and Ramirez is no longer a Miami Marlin.

The Marlins have got to start building a team built for the future.  The team has been out of contention for too long.  A lot of the blame falls on pitching but really its everything.  The Marlins franchise should have been contenders this year but have shown themselves not to be a team that can contend.  The decision to trade some of their top talent is questionable
but at least they are receiving top young pitching talent for the future.  The city of Miami will lose their patience with the team really quickly if they don’t get a team on the field that not only looks like contenders but play like contenders.

NCAA Lays The Smackdown On Penn State Football Program

On Sunday morning the statue of Penn State football coach Joe Paterno was taken down and put into storage.  The new school administration figured it was in the best interest in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky trail and Freeh Report to put the  statue away for now.  That did not save the football program from the NCAA’s president Mark Emmert and his wrath.  On Monday morning Emmert announced the punishment that the school would receive for the previous administration knowing and not reporting Sandusky’s criminal acts on minors.

The president of the NCAA, Mark Emmert.
(photo by: Nick Laham/Getty Images)

The punishment levied on the school was announced as being unprecedented and it was exactly that.  The school will be fined $60 million, which is about what the football program generates in revenue during a single season.  The football team cannot participate in any conference championships or bowl games for the next 4 years.  The football program will be reduced in the amount of scholarships it can give out in the next 4 years.  Instead of the usual 25 scholarship the number will be reduced to 15.  The players on the football team will be allowed to transfer to other schools without having to sit out a year before being aloud to play again.

The most shocking punishment came down not on the school but their legendary former head coach Joe Paterno.  All of his victories that he received while coaching between the years of 1998-2008 were vacated.  The interesting twist to the punishment is that coach Paterno reached the record and broke the record for most wins by a college coach in 2001.  Paterno will no longer be considered the winningest coach in college football ever again.

Joe Paterno along with the former administration of Penn State led the football program down into the depths.
(photo by: Ned Dishman/Getty Images)

The NCAA really pulled no punches in this announcement.  It was the right decision.  The schools administration and Joe Paterno sat back after they knew what Jerry Sandusky was doing and did nothing about it.  Paterno instead of reporting the allegations he received about Sandusky went to the administrators of the school.  Paterno should have gone to the police, there is no chain of command when criminal acts of this sort are taking place.  The punishment on Paterno is correct and is going to leave the black mark on his legacy that he should have.

As far as the school goes their punishment is deserving as well.  Penn State should consider themselves lucky that they did not receive the “Death Penalty”, like the once great SMU received in the 1980s.  This way the school will at least have the chance to rebuild their legacy.  I think it will be very hard for them to do so.  The football program will  be tarnished forever.  What happened behind the scenes of that school’s football program over the last couple of decades is disgusting.

Sandusky is about to spend life in jail after being found guilty on over 40 charges of child molestation.  Joe Paterno is no longer considered the great man and coach he once was.  The school will have to deal with the results of bad decisions by many people.  This is the new legacy of Penn State football, let it sink in.

Andrew McCutchen, Best Bet For N.L. MVP

The Pirates have been changing the perception of their team this year.  After years of dwelling in the cellar of the National Leagues Central Division they seem to have turned things around.  The team currently holds a record of 51 wins and 40 loses and are tied for first in the division with the Cincinnati Reds.  Both teams hold a 5 game advantage over the defending World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals.  Superb pitching has a lot to do with their success but beyond the pitching is the incredible play of Andrew McCutchen.

The Pirates Andrew McCutchen is having an MVP caliber season heading into August.
(Getty Images)

McCutchen is having a great year and has shown himself to be the team leader.  He has the best batting average in both leagues batting .369 after 87 games played.  He also has 22 home runs, 65 RBI’s, 65 runs and 14 stolen bases.  Producing many walk off game winners and with the lowly Pirates not looking so low combined with his stats shows that he is in the running and possibly the lead to win the National League MVP trophy this year.

McCutchen was drafted by the Pirate in the 1st round of the 2005 draft with the 11th overall pick.  He is in prime position to turn this franchise around for good and be recognized as one of the best baseball players around.  He has added excitement to a team that had nothing to get excited about since Barry Bonds left after the 1992 season.  He has had a few good seasons already but none as dominant as he has been this season.  The fact that the Pirates are in 1st place in late July is amazing in its own right.  The city of Pittsburgh could be transferred from a football city into to a baseball city in just a matter of a couple more years.

The Pirates have a lot to prove still.  Can they make the playoffs for the first time since the early 90’s?  Can they advance in the playoffs?  Can they continue to be a good team year in and year out?  All of those questions ride on the play of McCutchen.  If McCutchen continues this run he will be the N.L. batting champion and should be the N.L. MVP.  Recognition of that level would be incredible for the Pirates franchise.   So if you have not been following this player or this team its time to open your eyes and believe what you are seeing,  its true the Pirates are for real and they have one of baseballs best rising stars.

Will the Knicks Regret Letting “LINSANITY” Go?

Jeremy Lin with the Houston Rockets.
(Getty Images)

Last year’s breakout star Jeremy Lin was signed by the Houston Rockets earlier this week.  Lin signed a 3 year, $25 Million deal.  The Rockets had Lin in their training camp at the beginning of last season but let him go.  The New York Knicks had a chance to match the offer given to Lin but declined.  Houston took what many consider a gutsy move for the 23 year-old Point Guard.

Jeremy Lin busted onto the Sports Scene last February when he stepped into the starting PG spot previously held by the then injured Carmelo Anthony.  Lin made the most of his opportunity by becoming one of the teams leaders.  He dominated games and flat out won many for them during his strong 3 week stretch.  Lin was silenced quit a bit when the team started facing off against teams like the Miami Heat.  Lin suffered a season ending injury in March and the “Linsanity” in New York was put on hold.

The craze that Jeremy Lin ignited in New York was incredible.  Over night the city became crazy over this young and recently unknown star.  “Linsanity” was the name and it was popping up on signs and merchandise all over Madison Square Garden and New York.  The possibilities for marketing this type of a player were endless.

“Linsanity” has moved to the great state of Texas.  Will he continue to flourish into the superstar many feel he will be.  That is hard to say but if he does the Knicks made a bad decision.  At this point the Knicks need a star with the charisma and appeal that Lin has.  He has been replaced by a few players nearing the end of their career while he is just beginning his.

If Jeremy Lin’s star continues to rise the Knicks will never forget letting him go.  The New York fans will not let them forget what a grave mistake they made.  The Knicks have been toiling in obscurity for far to long and Lin had shown during the month where he dominated the sports media that he could be the spark the team needed.  The city of New York needed a star like Lin.  The level of regret rides on how well Lin develops and evolves his game.  As of this moment it looks like a bad decision for Knicks to let this player go.  Only time will tell and we should know a lot in just 5 months.

Dream Match Up: 1997 Marlins VS 2003 Marlins

The Florida Marlins have been one of the most unusual franchises in the history of baseball.  They have only been in existence for 19 years and have had really highs and dramatic lows.  They have captured 2 World Series Championships, the first in 1997 and 2003.  They have also had some of the worst teams in recent memory.  Their 1998 squad was the first team to lose over 100 games after winning the World Series.  The Marlins have been up and down since their last title.  I have decided to use the technology available today with sports simulators like Whatifsports.com to find out what Marlins team was the greatest.  Before that I will give you an idea what we have here in each team, so let’s take a look.

The 1997 Florida Marlins (92-70 record, entered the N.L. Playoffs by way of the Wild Card)

The 1997 Florida Marlins
(Getty Images)

The Marlins entered their 5th season with high hopes.  The field was full of great players of that time.  Bobby Bonilla came in as the big free agent acquisition from the previous off season.  The squad also had the hard hitting Gary Sheffield, “Mr. Marlin” Jeff Conine and the best fielding catchers of that season in Charles Johnson to name a few.  This Marlins team was assembled by then owner Wayne Huizenga to turn the tax payers of Miami onto the idea of funding a baseball only stadium.  That did not happen but the team did accomplish the unbelievable.  The Marlins swept the San Fansisco Giants in the N.L. Divisional round and headed into the N.L.C.S. versus a very dominant Atlanta Braves team.  The Marlins won that series in 6 games.  The most memorable game of that series was when the rookie Cuban defector Livan Hernandez throw for 15 strike outs in game 5 and defeated one of the best pitchers of the day in Greg Maddux with a 2-1 victory.  The Marlins charged into the World Series against the Cleveland Indians.  The Marlins won the first game which was played in Miami in the state of Florida’s 1st World Series Game.  The teams kept switching off wins the entire  World Series.  In game 7 of the 1997 World Series the Marlins came out on top when Edgar Renteria batted in the winning run in the bottom of the 11th, which was the mid season acquisition of Craig Counsell.  This team was a great on e and will go down as the state of Florida’s 1st World Series Champions.

The 2003 Florida Marlins (91-71 record, entered the N.L. Playoffs by way of the Wild Card)

The 2003 Florida Marlins
(Getty Images)

This Marlins squad was built a lot in part to the 1998 fire sale.  One of the players received during the sale would end up being the 1st baseman from the 2003 championship team Derek Lee.  Many of the draft picks acquired during that time drafted many of the players on this championship team.  When the season started the team did not have very high expectations but was expected to fair better than they did in the first two months of the season.  The Marlins had a record of 16-22 when manager Jeff Torborg was fired and replaced by 72 year old Jack McKeon in May.  The season was about to turn around in large part to mid season call ups Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera.  The team which also acquired veteran Jeff Conine back during the middle of the season made it into the playoffs through a wild card bid.  Like the team did in 1997 this team beat the Giants in the Divisional Playoff Series to advance to the N.L.C.S. to face the Chicago Cubs.  The Marlins won the N.L.C.S. against the Cubs in 7 games.  The team was almost eliminated in game 6 but had a miracle in the late innings of the game and were able to stay alive until game 7.  The World Series had the Marlins in the usual spot as the underdog against the New York Yankees. The Marlins rode the incredible pitching of Josh Beckett to beat the Yanks in 6 games.  This team shocked the world more than the 1997 team.  This squad was also younger and more inexperienced than the 1997 squad but proved themselves to be just a great.

The Simulation via Whatifsports.com – 1997 Marlins VS 2003 Marlins

I decided to go with a one game championship to determine which World Series team was the best.  The 2003 squad got the 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning.  The 1997 team came up with 1 run in the bottom of the first to trail by only 1 run.  The next and only additional runs of the game came in the 5th inning when the 1997 team put 2 runs on the board which would seal the victory. The 1997 team had 10 hits while the 2003 team had just 7 hits total.  Kevin Brown won the game with 8 innings pitched and Rob Nen got the save.  Gary Sheffield had a home run and 2 RBI’s in the winning effort.  The losing pitcher was Carl Pavano and the 2003 team had runs scored by Juan Pierre and Luis Castillo the only RBI came from Derek Lee.  This was a very tight game and had some good pitching from both teams.  The offense of both teams was toned down a bit by both Kevin Brown and Carl Pavano.

Champions: 1997 Florida Marlins

The Ultimate Marlins team the 1997 Florida Marlins
(Getty Images)

My thoughts

This was a dream match up that all Marlins fans would love to see but unfortunately we have only simulation.  I feel that if we could see these two great teams face off this is the likely outcome.  The 1997 team was more experienced and would have handled the game much better than the 2003 team.  The offensive power was greater and the bats were better on the 1997 team.  Both teams were great but on this night the 1997 Florida Marlins proved themselves to be the ultimate champions.

Bryce Harper Headed to The All Star Game

The rookie phenom that is 19 year old Bryce Harper will continue his whirl wind season by going to the All Star Game.  Harper was not originally slated to attend the game which takes place this week in Kansas City.  Harper will be taking the spot of injured Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton.  Harper will be the 3rd youngest player to play in the MLB All Star Game.  While Harper will be playing off of the bench the eyes of all of the fans will be on him for sure.

Harper has had a solid start to his MLB career since his debut in April.  He is an excellent outfielder fielder with a rocket arm.  His offensive play has been very good for his experience level.  Harper has a batting average of .283, hit 8 home runs and had 25 RBI’s and scored 43 runs in just 62 games for the 1st place Washington Nationals.

Harper going deep at Fenway Park earlier this season.
(Getty Images)

Harper came in with a lot of hype and has been living up to it.  He has displayed a maturity on and off the field, the later many thought he would be able to do.  He has shown a lot of personality and has a charisma that a lot of players don’t have.  He has created great moments already in his young career, like when he hit a home run in the historic Fenway Park during his first game on that field.  He is in the right spot now to really display his skills in front of a national audience.  Harper is a strong contender for Rookie of the Year in the National League.

Harper will probably get at least 1 at bat and play 2 innings or so.  Many players have created unforgettable moments in All Star Games.  I have a feeling Bryce Harper will have a chance to make one of those moments.  When he gets he will more than likely take advantage of it.  If Harper continues to play the way he has been and develop into the player that he has been billed to be than this is just the beginning.

 

Silva’s Reign Continues With Win Over Sonnen

UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva.
(Getty Images)

On Saturday night Las Vegas was home to what will probably be the biggest fight of the year for the UFC.  The defending UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva took on his strongest challenger Chael Sonnen in their second fight.  Silva was dominated for the majority of their first fight but pulled out a victory in the final minutes of the fight with a submission victory.  That was 23 months ago, an immediate rematch was demanded by the fans.  Due to several circumstances mostly involving Chael Sonnen that fight was delayed. The MMA World was able to witness one of the most anticipated rematches in the history of the sport on Saturday.

The crowd was really hot before and during the fight.  Sonnen as he said he would refused to shake hands with Silva.  The 1st round was all Sonnen.  He took down Silva in the first minute of the fight and had him on the ground for most of the 1st round.  Sonnen worked well on top delivering ear shots and from time to time was able to raise his body up and bring punches down on Silva’s head.  I scored the 1st round 10-9 Sonnen,  it was as close to a 10-8 round you can get.

The 2nd round started with the crowd chanting USA.  Sonnen tried to take Silva down early but was unsuccessful.  Sonnen went for a judo take down and lost his balance.  Silva took advantage of the misstep and pounded Sonnen while he was up against the cage.  Sonnen was rocked and could not defend himself anymore and the fight was called at almost 2 minutes into the 2nd round.

After the fight Silva said the the emotions were running high prior to the fight but its MMA and he respects Sonnen.  Sonnen had no choice but to accept the show of respect and shake hands with Silva.  Sonnen later said that he had his opportunity and that was all he could ask for, he also said that Silva was a deserving Champion.

Despite the loss this fight was beneficial for Sonnen.  He was exposed to a greater audience with all of the hype surrounding the fight.  He displayed his excellent promo skills and showed he is a really good fighter to many who may have never seen him before.  He could be a big draw for the UFC in the future.

Silva will be a UFC Champion for 6 years in October.  He has showed himself to be a true champion.  Silva will undoubtedly go down in the history of MMA as one of the best champions not only in his weight division but pound for pound.

It is unknown what will be next for Silva however.  He will probably not fight again until the end of the year or early next year.  It has been rumored that he was considering retirement last year.  While he is approaching the age and career length where fighters usually fall back I don’t see him retiring as champion.  I believe Silva will continue to fight until he loses the belt.  Silva cemented his legacy as a great champion even further on Saturday night and the MMA World will wait to see how long he can continue on as champion.

Should The Fans Vote For MLB All Star Game Starters?

The 2012 All Star Game will be held in Kansas City at Kaufman Stadium on July 10th.  The votes are in and we now know who will make up the MLB All Star Game starting line ups.  Many fans and media disagree with some of the results.

As usual there were some that got snubbed.  Players like the New York Mets David Wright for example will not be starting at Third Base for the National League team.  Wright has a batting average of .354 with 9 Home Runs and 50 RBI’s.  Wright lost the chance to be a starter in the fan voting to the San Fransisco Giants Pablo Sandoval.  Sandoval is batting .300 with 6 Home Runs and 25 RBI’s.  Wright not only has better numbers but is better a fielder.  This is not the first year there has been controversy over starters.

This years All Star Game will have many of baseballs best players starting the game from the bench, all because of fan voting.
(Getty Images)

The debate has rage on for many years whether the fans should be allowed to dictate the starters.  The All Star Game is really just a popularity contest.  Many of the teams in bigger markets get more players voted in.  More importantly many of the teams get their players named as starters.

The All Star Game was created as an exhibition of the best players from the first half of the season.  The one problem is that it is no longer just exhibition game now.  The winning team whether it be the National League or the American League gets home field advantage in the World Series.  Who knows how many World Series Champions were crowned based on their league winning the game played in all the way back in July.  All Star teams that were not comprised of the best in each league.

Something needs to change and boy does baseball commissioner Bud Selig have a lot of things on his list to fix.  When it comes to the All Star Game the fan voting needs to be taken away if baseball wants the winner to have such an advantage in the World Series.  The All Star squads should be picked by the players and managers only.  There is way too much riding on the game for it to be up to fans that only vote for their favorites rather than the players who really have dominated the first half of the season.

Let’s think about the example of David Wright that I brought up previously.  David Wright has put up incredible season numbers and will most likely win the MVP trophy at the end of the year.  It is not right that a player that has been playing the way Wright has would not start the All Star Game.

If the All Star Game is going to be considered an exhibition it should not have important ramifications like it has now.  I am all for making it fun but if its going to be it needs to be just a game in July with baseballs best player and only that.  So Bud Selig a decision should be made.  Either you have a fan vote or a game that could dictate the next World Series Champion not both.