Tag Archives: baseball

Not a Soccer Blog…Top Eight From The News

Thanks to the absence of the venerable Nick and Austin, I have heard rumors of this blog turning into a “soccer blog.” While I have no problem with that, I thought I would appease all my eager fans with a mixed bag of non-soccer news.

Here are the top eight stories today and my not-so-humble opinion on them.

1. Brett Favre and the J-E-T-S? Who saw this one coming? I don’t think Favre will pull a Namath and win a Super Bowl, but I do think he takes a team that won just four games last season to the playoffs.

I also would like to see the Jets release Chad Pennington already so that the Bears can add him to their stable of unreliable, mediocre quarterbacks. One positive about Pennington: he is much better than Grossman and Orton.

The Patriots are safe on the top of this division for at least another year.

2. In honor of Landy I will delve into the Packers. This was a huge mistake. Plain and simple. ESPN’s Rachel Nicols asked the question that I would like to see answered: “Are the Packers better off with Aaron Rodgers than Brett Favre?”

How can they answer that with a yes? They have never seen Rodger play for a whole season, and while I am sure he will be decent, Favre is a Hall of Famer. There is no comparison. This is a win now league and the Packers just shot themselves in the foot.

3. Because we are The Looper I have to mention something having to do with golf don’t I? How ironic would it be if Sergio Garcia won the PGA Championship this weekend? The man that was expected to challenge Tiger Woods wins his first major with Tiger sidelined with an injury.

But, to tell you the truth, I hope he wins it. I think without the pressure of having to beat Tiger, Garcia will be loose and this could mark a significant turning point in his career if he is able to pull it out. He is just one shot off the lead after most of the field finished the first day and he is one of the top five most talented golfers there so why not?

4. Have you lost count of how many players Georgia has suspended this season already, because I have. They are named the preseason number 1 and immediately their players begin to act like they just won the National Championship.

Let me be the first to say that I don’t think Georgia will finish in the top 20. They obviously don’t have the maturity or leadership, their coach, Mark Richt, doesn’t have the experience to withstand the pressure and while their star running back, Knowshon Moreno, will be a front runner for the Heisman, he is not prepared to lead this team through the heart of an impossible SEC.

5. Can’t you see it now. Kids all over L.A. with dreadlock wigs and wearing number 99 Dodgers jerseys on Halloween as the Dodgers battle deep into the playoffs behind midseason acquisition, Manny Ramirez. So far Manny has hit four home runs in just six games and has energized this team that was struggling mightily to score runs.

I still can’t believe the Red Sox made the trade. I know Jason Bay is good—I have seen him 16 times a year when the Cubs play the Bucs—but he is not Manny. This is a team that is fighting for their playoff life and they traded away their best bat.

If they are able to overcome the Rays and withstand a run from the Yankees and make the playoffs it won’t matter but I don’t know if they will be able to without Manny in their lineup.

6. Sticking with baseball, how can I not mention the Cubs. Just a week and half ago people said they were going to fail as they fell into a tie with Milwaukee. But just five days later the Cubs were the proud owners of a four game sweep of the Brewers and a five game lead in the division.

Since that series the Cubs have continued to roll winning nine of their last 11 games. Meanwhile the Brewers have been winning but have also been fighting—Parra and Fielder’s little shoving match in the dugout the other night—and seem frustrated after not taking advantage of a great opportunity with Chicago in town for four games.

In no way am I writing off the Brewers but I do think they need to pull themselves together the rest of August in order to avoid a catastrophic collapse like we witnessed last season.

7. Why is there football on tonight? It is not that I am not ready for football—it reminds me that fall is coming and that is always a good thing—but it seems so early for people to be hitting each other.

Am I going to watch any of the games tonight? No. Maybe I will turn on the Bears game for five minutes to see Orton beat up by the Chief’s fourth string defense, but otherwise these games are absurd.

These EXHIBITION games are more for the coaches than anyone else and all the hoopla that comes from these games is completely ridiculous. The football writers need to wait until at least Labor Day, please.

8. I guess I will finish up with the Olympics, which begin tomorrow. I am excited to see the summer games. Great athletes competing in the largest competition in the world is always good time.

Highlights for me have to be whether the USA basketball team can actually win gold, Michael Phelps (why did he grow that disgusting ‘stache, by the way?) run for eight golds and how many people asphyxiate do to the poor air quality.

Should be a good time had by all.

So there you have it. Hope you enjoyed and hope that it inspired Nicks and Austins everywhere to come out and write once in a while.

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Paper Tigers

On paper, the Detroit Tigers are the best team in all of baseball.

Six games into the 2008 season, though, the Tigers carry a Scarlet Letter-like record of 0-6, and are the only team without a win.

Prior to the season, many chose Detroit to win the World Series, thanks in large to their offseason acquisitions of Miguel Cabrera, Jacque Jones, and Edgar Renteria.

Although it’s too early to say exactly what this team will end up looking like, there’s no doubt that Jim Leyland’s club has some work to do.

In six losses — three to the Royals and three to the White Sox — the Tigers have been outscored by a total of 38-15. Even with the most potent lineup in baseball, it couldn’t be more obvious that Detroit is mired in a run-scoring slump.

If the Tigers wish to get on track, they’ll need the following:

Avoid going 0-10 or 1-9

Since the expansion in 1995, no team in baseball has made the playoffs after starting the season off with either record.

Curtis Granderson back in the lineup

As the Tigers’ natural leadoff hitter and an established 20-20-20-20 threat, Granderson is a foundation for scoring runs, and lead the team in 2007 with 122. According to GM Dave Dambrowski, Granderson’s broken hand has healed enough to allow him to resume baseball activities, and is expected to rejoin the lineup in the next 10-14 days.

Edgar Renteria hitting down in the order

With Renteria down, the rest of the team benefits from his ability to drive in clutch RBI’s. For now, though, he’s the logical choice as the team’s leadoff hitter, due to Granderson’s injury. After that, we should see him slide to the 7 spot.

Placido Polanco regaining his confidence

In 2007, the second baseman had 200 hits and hit at the .342 clip, the highest average on the team. In 23 at bats this year, Polanco has 2 hits and a .087 batting average, a number that looks better as an ERA rather than a batting average. For the final game against the White Sox, manager Jim Leyland sent a message to Polanco by starting Ramon Santiago in his place.

Miguel Cabrera adjusting to American League Pitching

In six games, the offseason’s biggest acquisition has only 2 hits in 18 at bats. He did have a home run in his first game, but it’s been all downhill from there. Most likely, this is just an adjustment period for the young stud, and sooner than later, he’ll feel comfortable hitting against pitchers in a new league. And when he does, there’s really no telling what the limit is for him in terms of production.

A bullpen

With flame-thrower Joel Zumaya hurt once again — no, not another Guitar Hero injury — and out until midseason, the Tigers have little to rely on. It was thought that their hopes for getting to closer Todd Jones in the 9th inning would rest on the shoulders of Fernando Rodney, but that’s not really an option given the fact that he, too, is out with a shoulder problem.

The offensive shortcomings, coupled with unreliable pitching is devastating to say the least. Before the season began, it looked as if the above-average lineup and the decent pitching staff were a match destined for instant stardom.

Six losses in as many games, and the signs seem to be pointing elsewhere.

Some Juicy Stuff From the Clemens Hearing

Here are some snippets (with Looper commentary, from History class, no less) from the ongoing congressional hearing with New York Yankees pitcher, Roger Clemens, and his former trainer, Brian McNamee. This isn’t because I actually really care about Roger Clemens as much as it’s just funny.

[From NYTimes.com (Alan Schwarz); 11:15 a.m.]

Later, Cummings asked, “Do you think Mr. Pettitte was lying?” Mr. Clemens responded: “Andy Petttite is my friend. He was my friend before this. He will be my friend after this. Again, I think Andy has misheard. I believe Andy has misheard.”

“If he knew that I had tried H.G.H., which I did not, he would have come to me and asked those questions,” Mr. Clemens said.

Mr. Cummings plowed ahead. “Would he tell the Congress that one of his closest friends was using
an illegal performance-enhancing drug if there was any doubt in his mind about the truth of what he was saying?” Mr. Cummings said.

“I think he misremembers about our conversation,” Mr. Clemens said.

This right here is fantastic. I wonder if they’re still friends, if they still talk, joke, drink beer, or do HGH together any more. I hope they’re still friends. But “misremembers?” Come on Rocket. He’s calling his friend a liar in front of Congress –– or, at the least, someone with a faulty memory –– and then saying in the same breath, basically, that they’ll remain friends. Really Rocket? Misremembers? You think he doesn’t remember as you think he should remember.

That’s a demanding friendship.

*****

[ESPN.com (Jason Stark), 11:41 a.m.]

Curt Schilling had the bloody sock. Roger now has the bloody pants.

Rep. Davis reported that McNamee had testified that Mike Stanton once noticed that Clemens was bleeding through his dress pants — which caused him to start carrying band aids around, presumably for his bleeding butt. Yikes.

Prompting the following surreal exchange:

Davis: “Mr. Clemens, do you recall bleeding through your pants in 2001?”

Clemens: “I do not.”

If the Boston area had a real equivalent in crassness to the New York Post, you could imagine the back page headline: ROCKET’S FUEL LEAKS FROM BUTT.

To Clemens’ credit, if I had bled through my pants at any point since age 4, I would have remembered it. Who knows? Maybe it was some sort of ricochet scenario.

*****

[ESPN.com (Stark), 12:06 a.m.]

Rep. John Tierney noted three specific times Clemens told investigators he’d never talked to McNamee about HGH — but then cited two occasions when he confronted McNamee about his injection of his wife with HGH.

Repeatedly, Tierney asked Clemens how he “reconciled” that inconsistency. Repeatedly, Clemens gave answers that indicated that “prior” to those conversations, he’d never had a “specific” discussion with McNamee about HGH.

I think someone should write a book about how when the MLB suits up for a series in the halls of Congress, it’s not so much about the baseball, or about the truth as it is about finding new ways to lie, talk in circles, and look like a jackass.

Example: Clemens is recorded as remembering never talking to McNamee about HGH … but … remembers talking to McNamee about HGH for his wife –– who must be trying to up her performance somewhere, maybe she’s trying to break into the big leagues too?

It’s almost mind-numbing.

*****

[ESPN.com (Stark), 12:35 p.m.]

I’d like to thank Rep. Paul Kanjorski for allowing George Mitchell’s aide, Charles Scheeler, to actually utter a few sentences. Somebody had to do it.

For the record, Scheeler said he “can’t think of a single fact [in the Mitchell report] we’d recant.”

[NYTimes.com (Schwarz), 12;19 p.m.]

Representative Paul E. Kanjorski, Democrat of Pennsylvania, said that he didn’t want Charles P. Scheeler, who helped produce the Mitchell report on performance-enhancing drugs in baseball and is quite literally separating Brian McNamee and Roger Clemens at the witness table, to feel like “a potted plant,” a reference to a famous line uttered during the Iran Contra hearings.

Boy, I’d hope the Mitchell report got their facts straight. What a huge waste of time that would be (a debatable question even now … does any of this really matter?). I gotta give it up to Kanjorski –– is he related to Ron Jaworski? –– the “potted plant” line was pretty good.

*****

[NYTimes.com (Schwarz), 12:33 p.m.]

In clearly the most befuddling question of the morning so far, Representative William Macy Clay, Democrat of Missouri, asked Mr. Clemens “what uniform you will wear into the Hall of Fame.”

Clemens hesitated and said with the merest of smiles he could muster. He said, “Can I state that I didn’t hear that question?”

“That is fine,” Clay said.

WOW.

*****

[ESPN.com (Stark), 2:09 p.m.]

Could the Rocket be investigated for illegal B-12 use, too?

Sounds like it isn’t out of the question, after Rep. Bruce Braley asked him whether he had been diagnosed with anemia, senile dementia or Alzheimer’s. Or whether he was a vegetarian or a vegan. They were moving along nicely till the vegan stuff came up.

“I don’t know what that is,” Clemens replied. “I’m sorry.”

Sheez, and we had him pegged as a closet vegan, too. Turns out, Braley informed him, those are the only approved medical reasons for anyone to get a B-12 injection.

Really? Then blame Roger’s mother.

“My mother in 1988 suggested I take B-12,” Clemens said. “I always assumed it was a good thing, not a bad thing.”

Ohhhh boy. It keeps getting more and more ridiculous. Roger as an alleged vegan? Roger blaming his mother? Roger is apparently not wrong about anything.
*****

[NYTimes.com (Schwarz), 2:52 p.m.]

“This is what I’ve learned,” Waxman said. “Chuck Knoblauch and Andy Pettitte confirmed what Brian McNamee told Senator Mitchell. We learned of conversations that Andy Pettitte believed he had with Roger Clemens about H.G.H.­ even though Clemens says his relationship with Mr. Pettitte was so close that they would know and share information with each other. Evidently Mr. Pettitte didn’t believe what Mr. Clemens said in that 2005 conversation” –­ before Clemens spoke loudly into his microphone.

“It doesn’t mean he was not mistaken,­ sir,” Clemens said, violating House rules by speaking after witness questioning had completed.

“Doesn’t mean that,” Waxman said. Clemens replied: “That does not mean that he was not mistaken,­ sir.”

Waxman pounded his gavel and said: “Excuse me, but this is not your time to argue with me.”

Not only did Clemens continue his ridiculous contradicting, back-and-forth, idiotic defense, he interrupted a congressman. Isn’t there some form of punishment for that?

After that outburst, the proceedings drew to a close. Quite a day.

Things I’m taking away from this –– and things that I already knew before, really:

  1. Everyone implicated in the Mitchell Report, past, present and future steroid users, and the targets of the day,  McNamee and Clemens, are basically shameful scum. No one looks good right now. Baseball looks bad, and yet, no one cares. It’s befuddling.
  2. Congress should be ashamed. They’re spending all of this time, money and energy worrying about the interworkings of a game. A GAME. It’s baseball, people. I would really appreciate it if our congressional representatives would focus on things that make a real difference in our country.

Both of those points, I’m sure, are confusing and disjointed. But what this comes down to is that Congress should not be meddling in Major League Baseball and Major League Baseball is so rife with performance enhancing stuff (as are most high-profile sports) that it’s without hope.

America’s Pastime Nears Closer

 

With the Super Bowl coming up in just over a week, the NHL All-Star Game in a few days, and the NBA season reaching its halfway point, it’s hard to find time to fit the word ‘baseball’ into any sentence relative to national sports.

But when pitchers and catchers report to spring training on February 14, that will all change.

After all, it seemed like only a short time ago that the postseason matchups were becoming finalized and nearly everyone in America asked of their team, “Is this our year?”

And maybe it was your year.

Then again, maybe it wasn’t.

Either way, last season is in the past, and that means fans across the country are crossing the days off their calendar.

Whether it’s how many days until spring training or how many days until opening day, one thing is for certain: baseball will be here before we know it.

And that’s a beautiful thing.

a short on the report

Like a kid awaiting the glory of Christmas morning, I anxiously awaited the release of the Mitchell Report.

Upon the report’s release, though, I soon realized that I would be let down — like that same kid when he discovered that Santa Claus didn’t exist.

As I frantically searched the entirety of the 409 page document that would unveil around 80 past and present baseball players linked to steroids, nothing really caught me by surprise.

Of course there were the big names like Bonds, Clemens, Pettite, and Tejada; names which have been previously mentioned or speculated about, but there was nothing that made me jump out of my seat gasping for air. There wasn’t one name that made me think, “Wow, even this guy did it?”, confused by the words I had just read.

Instead, the Mitchell Report just confirmed the names that had already been brought into question, as well as some names that I had never even heard of — minor leaguers/ small guys — or cared to hear of for that matter.

To some extent, though, the fact that the report failed to list a majority of big, never-before-mentioned names was somewhat unfortunate for me, but ultimately good for the game of baseball and the little bit of integrity that remains.

If there was anything surprising about the release of Thursday’s report, it would have to be the fact that Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Jason Grimsley used flowered checks to buy his steroids.

There’s just something about the tandem of flowered checks and steroids that fails to scream “manly”.

Don’t believe me?

Check pages 383-385 of the report.

Stand up to Boras

He is the ultimate uber agent.

Some say he has more control over the league than commissioner Bud Selig.

Superagent Scott Boras, whose clients include A-Rod, Dice-K, Barry Zito and Carlos Beltran, is known for getting his high profile clients incredibly lucrative deals for way too many years.

Last night, when the free agent market opened at midnight, Boras and his dogs were released on the baseball world in search of a $300+ million contract for A-Rod.

Major League Baseball needs to stand up to this man!

I know A-Rod is a great player. But has he ever won a World Series? Has he every even played well in the playoffs?

Even while playing with the New York Yankees, the team that makes a living winning the World Series every few years, he could not win.

So why are teams willing to jeopardize their organizations for the next 30 years for one player in a sport where it is all about the team.

Just look at the Red Sox. From pitching to defense to hitters up and down the lineup, the Sox were a complete team. And they were rewarded with the title.

But A-Rod is not going to bring in a championship all by himself. He is an MVP caliber player but no one deserves $300 million.

So I ask the owners of MLB clubs to stand up to Boras. Leave A-Rod out in the cold until Boras brings his demands down.

The league cannot afford to have players demanding ludicrous sums of money like this.