Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Back From Vacation

Sorry for the delay in posting since number 101. I have been on vacation for the last few days. Now I am back, refreshed, and ready to kick ass. A lot has happened since my last post. Jacko has died, Billy Mays has died, the NBA Draft occurred, and Yao Ming might possibly be out of basketball for good. I will try to provide a little bit of insight on all of these goings on in the world.

Yao Ming's broken foot has sent shockwaves around the NBA that he might be out for all of next year, or that his career might possibly be over. I for one am not sruprised. Do these really big man (talking over 7 '3") prospects ever really pan out? Yao Ming joins a list of guys like Manute Bol, Gheorghe Muresan, Shawn Bradley, and Ralph Sampson that have been ineffective NBA players. These guys are too big for their own good. They either get injured, or are just not built to play in the NBA. I'd much rather have a guy that is 6'10" and 275 than a 7'4", 245 pound pterodactyl. Tall and awkward is no way to make it in the NBA.

Speaking of the NBA, the draft was held last Thursday. Minnesota looked like pretty big dummies by drafting 3 PG's in the first round. They could have rebuilt their franchise this year, but instead got 3 guys that can't all play at the same time. If I were in Minnesota's war room, my first three picks probably would have been something like Ricky Rubio, Demar Derozan, then maybe a Taj Gibson or BJ Mullens type. Other than that, nothing really surprised me about the draft. I'm pretty happy with the Sixers choice of Jrue Holliday, though I don't like how he spells his name at all. Also, I'd look for either Blake Griffin or Tyreke Evans to be the front runners for Rookie of the Year next year.

Now for the big news, Jacko and Billy Mays. Billy Mays could talk a dog off a meat wagon. He could sell anything to anybody. Look at that crap he peddled on tv. I doubt any of it worked, but didn't you want to buy it? I bet he nailed his wife within the first 10 minutes he met her. A salesman of Brasky like magnitude. As for Michael Jackson, his death really put things in perspective. For the past 15 years, all we remember him for is being a big time creep show. He had turned from a black male into a white female and fitting his new persona was going after little boys. What we forgot about was all the great music he made before that. Even into the early 90s he was putting out great stuff. His music catalogue is unmatched. Truly the King of Pop. Unfortunately I will be selling my ticket to the Neverland Ranch now though.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Back to Work

Now that the mammoth 100th post is over and done with, we can get back to the hot topics in the sports world today. Residents of the Northeast are praying that someday soon the sun will come back from wherever the hell it has been for the entire month of June. The rain of course played a huge part in the U.S. Open at Bethpage last weekend. Some players got to play when the course was nice and soft, and scoring was good. Meanwhile others had to play when the rain was at its worst, and then again when the course was back to being its same old difficult self. In my opinion, this was partly why Lucas Glover came away with the championship. However, guys like Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and David Duval should be kicking themselves for letting this one get away.

We predicted it all weekend long. There was no way that Ricky "Stupid Hat" Barnes and Lucas Glover would stay so far ahead of the field. They were due to come back to earth. Well on Monday they did. Unfortunately no one was able to put a good enough round together to catch them.

I was pulling for David Duval all weekend. It is great to see him back on the PGA Tour and successful once again. Unfortunately, his putting failed him on the 17th and put him back down to -2, essentially securing the U.S. Open for Glover. Dave is back in a big way though, and that in my opinion is the biggest story from Bethpage this weekend.

Fat Phil showed glimpses of his past when he choked it up on the 17th hole after being tied for the lead. I received these text messages from a friend of mine as it unfolded: : "I wanna see Phil miss this short one and double bogey 18" at 12:47pm, followed by "Yessssssss" at 12:47pm. My sentiments exactly. New Yorkers may love Fat Phil, but New York golf courses certainly don't. Glad to see him choke again. All of his "outfits" were god awful too. Who does he think he is, a mobster?

Tiger Woods should really be quite upset with himself after this weekend. Though he probably got the worst of the weather, there is no way he should have been even par at tournament's end. I didn't see him make one putt over about 5 feet all weekend. This tournament should have been his, but now it is just a missed opportunity. Too bad.

Congrats to Lucas Glover on the win. He came down a little on Monday, but managed to keep it together more so than Ricky Barnes, and played smart golf all the way through. He didn't get too emotional out there and just played within himself. Nicely done Lucas, but next time it will definitely not be so easy.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

100th Post!!!!!

It seemed like the day would never come, but finally I have reached that magic number of 100 posts. The century mark is certainly a grand milestone for TPLIYP. But as I lay in my bed last night thinking about how to celebrate such a momentous occasion, my mind wandered. I have done a recap of previous posts before, and with 49 more to recap, it could get ugly. Then I thought, what is 100? It's just a number. A number. Then it hit me. What does every athlete have? A number. Its perfect, for my 100th post I will go through numbers 1-100 and list my favorite athletes at each number. I know it has been done before on SI and ESPN the Mag, but it seems like the only good way to celebrate my blog hitting the triple digits. So here we go, my favorite players by number. This post is going to be very biased, but it should stir up some good chatter at the least.

00: Robert Parish. The Chief was pretty much the most awkward looking basketball player of all time.

1: Ozzie Smith. The Wizard will always be associated with the number 1. He was a pretty cool dude. His middle name is Earl.

2: Charles Woodson. I was a huge Chucky Woodson fan back when he was at Michigan. Put a ball anywhere near him and he would catch it. He could play offense and defense and was a Heisman winner.

3: Allen Iverson. As if the picture wasn't self explanatory. Iverson was my favorite player in ANY sport for a good 5 year period. His mug shot is also a thing of legend.

4: Lenny Dykstra. The Dude was every kid's hero growing up in Philadelphia. Hard nosed and balls to the wall. Nowadays he provides for entertaining articles about "Getting that cheddar bro".

5: Pat the Bat. Burrell marked the Phillies' turn from being a squad of goons to actually caring about winning. To this day we are still unsure as to whether he is a man or a machine. McNabb is a runner up here because Burrell has a championship.

6: The Doctor. Best dunker of all time. This is one of the sickest plays of all time still. Ryan Howard is a close second.

7: John Elway. The old orange uniforms, and the vortex make Elway the choice here. J.D. Drew is a distant last for this number.

8: Shane Victorino. The Flyin' Hawaiian is the modern day equivalent to Dykstra. Let's hope his post baseball life goes a bit smoother.

9: Von Hayes. Had to go with the namesake on this one. Gordie Howe was a runner up just for inventing the "Gordie Howe Hat Trick".

10: Dutch Daulton. The unquestioned leader of the Phils in 1993. Its too bad he went crazy and thinks the world is going to end in 2012. I remember as a lad crossing my fingers and hoping Daulton would hit a home run. He did. It was awesome.

11: J Roll. Rollins can be annoying sometimes, but his leadership in the past two years has been unquestioned.

12: Matt Stairs. I don't need to explain this one. Tom Brady is an honorable mention here too. He is very fun to watch and has done more with less than anybody in the NFL. He needs to cure himself of Rick Vaughn syndrome though.

13: Dan Marino. That stupid facemask, his great work in Ace Ventura Pet Detective, and gaffes like this make Marino the choice here.

14: Pete Rose. Nobody played harder than Rose. You gotta admire that. He also helped the Phils to their first World Series Championship.

15: Dave Hollins. Manned the hot corner for the Phils in '93. Wouldn't even flinch if a pitch was about to hit him. This is probably why he broke his hand like 5 times. Fun facts: at one point was traded from the Twins to the Mariners for David Ortiz. Retired due to a spider bite. Runner up here is Wesley Mateo, promising 2B for St. Sebastian's until his career was derailed by "the yips".

16: Joe Montana. Great fan of Joe Cool. One of the most prominent athletes with a butt chin.

17: Mark Grace. Gracey was a throwback. He was still drinking beers and smoking cigs at a time when players were all on the health tip. Also, the first time I heard the phrase "slumpbuster" was from Mark Grace. Scott Rolen is in dead last here.

18: Mike Richards. First hockey player to make the list. Mike Richards scores goals and also buries people.

19: Tony Gwynn. An inspiration to fat athletes everywhere.

20: Mike Schmidt. Probably the most beloved athlete in all of Philadelphia. Michael Jack is the best 3rd baseman of all time.

21: Deion Sanders. Neon Deion was pretty sick. Usually burned the Eagles whenever he played them, but had to admire his skills.

22: Emmitt Smith. See #21. Pete Incaviglia is an honorable mention here.

23: Michael Jordan. Sometimes I dream that he is me. The shots I make nobody else can take.

24: Ken Griffey Jr. He will always be #24 in my mind. I don't remember what happened to him between 2000 and 2009.

25: Keith Primeau. Favorite hockey player ever. His 5 OT game winning goal against the Penguins in the playoffs was a thing of legend.

26: Chase Utley. If you boo this selection, Chase might get upset.

27: Carlton Fisk. Great player, great guy, second most famous home run ever to Matt Stairs' legendary jack. True story: Robin Williams had tickets to Game 6 of the 1975 World Series, but instead went to go see about a girl.

28: Marshall Faulk. Loved Faulk when he was on the Colts with Jimmy Harbaugh. Admired him grudgingly when he was on the Rams and pulverized the Eagles.

29: John Kruk. Another beloved character in Philadelphia. Played in the World Series with ripped pants and his boxers hanging out, put his helmet on backwards when facing Randy Johnson in the All Star Game. Now a great commentator. Not as disgusting to his wife as he used to be.

30. Nolan Ryan. I know he is #34 in this picture, but at one point he was #30. Plus I couldn't pass up posting this picture. Noley is the best pitcher of all time and I'm glad I got to see him play. His Advil commercials were also very good.

31: Jon Lester. Big fan of Jon Lester since he is on my fantasy team and I've gotten to see him twice this year.

32: Steve Carlton. Two lefties in a row!! Never got to see him play obviously, but Carlton is one of the best lefties of all time. His 4 Cy Youngs rank second to only Randy Johnson (see how I didn't count Clemens). Fun fact: In 1972 Lefty won 27 games for the Phillies. The team won a total of 59 that year.

33: Larry Bird. Best basketball player of all time.

34: Charles Barkley. Chuck Rock was not only a favorite of mine when he was on the Sixers, but now he provides great commentary on TNT and high comedy on the Haney Project.

35: Cole Hamels. Man crush in full effect. Hole Camels was crucial in leading the Phils to the World Series last year.

36: Robin Roberts. Was lucky enough to get his autograph 10 years ago. Terribly nice guy. One of the greats also.

37: Chad Durbin. As you can tell, #37 is a tough one. Durbin was crucial to the Phils World Series run last year though. Also when he and J.D. Durbin were both on the team, the Phillies had cornered the Durbin market. Similar to when the Saints cornered the Billy Joe market in the 1990s with both Billy Joe Hobert and Billy Joe Tolliver.

38: Curt Schilling. Hate him as a person, but loved him as a player. One of the best big game pitchers of all time.

39: Brett Myers: He beats 2 things: his wife, the Mets.

40: Bill Laimbeer. A tall awkward white guy, does it get any better? Laimbeer was physical, and did some funny commercials.

41: Glen Rice. There was a point where he was the third best player in the NBA behind Dan Majerle and Michael Jordan in the 90s. One of the greatest 3 point shooters of all time. Almost got traded to the Sixers once but it got nixed at the last minute. So sad.

42: Ronnie Lott. Nobody really wears this number anymore because of Jackie Robinson. Lott was pretty badass though. First New Mexico resident to crack the list as well.

43: Dennis Eckersley. A one of a kind pitcher, and now making waves as an announcer. I also met him at Eastern Mountain Sports in Natick once. Nice dude and supposed Wellesley resident.

44: Derrick Coleman. Don't ask me why, but I loved this guy. A fat power forward that could shoot 3's. He also had a huge reverse layup putback for a win against the Celtics that I have been immitating ever since. And he had fat rolls in his neck. Close second, Danny Ainge - Wellesley resident.

45: Tug McGraw. Got the final out in 1980 to clinch the title for the Phils. Has been an icon ever since. Wanted nothing to do with that son of his.

46: Mad Dog Madson. Madson switched to #46 this year, but was amazing as the setup man last year for the Phils. This year he has proven that he is no closer though.

47: Tommy Glavine. Another great lefty pitcher (I'm sensing a theme here). The kid from Billerica, MA (aka Bricka) was nasty on the Braves, but brought me the most joy when he got lit up by the Marlins on the last game of the year in 2007, clinching the NL East title for the Phils.

48: Danny Briere. This little guy sure can run the center position. Is he worth the $10 million that he's being paid? We'll find out.

49: Shaky Wake. Tim Wakefield has always been one of my favorite Red Sox. The knuckleballer can throw forever. Watching him pitch live is not the exciting though.

50: Jamie Moyer. The ageless one. Led the Phils in wins last year.

51: Ichiro. One of the most fun players to watch. Great speed, great bat, great glove, great arm.

52: Ray Lewis. He killed a man

53: Darryl Dawkins. Chocolate Thunder could break backboards with the best of em.

54: Brad Lidge. Lights Out Lidge's perfect season in 2008 culminated with the Phils winning the World Series in 5 games.

55: Dikembe Mutombo. This dude keyed the Sixers NBA Finals run in 2000, and his voice is hillarious.

56: Joe Blanton. Fat Joe's home run in the World Series last year was awesome. Lawrence Taylor gets an honorable mention here for snapping Joe Theisman's leg like a tostito in thick salsa (thanks to Koey for the simile).

57: Johan Santana. Much bigger fan of him when he was on the Twins, but Santana is probably the most dominant pitcher in the game today.

58: Jonathan Bapbullbon. Papelbon is a pretty big racist and also helped the Red Sox win the World Series in 2007.

59: Seth Joyner. Member of the Gang Green defense in the 80s and 90s, and one of the most exciting linebackers to watch of all time.

60: Chuck Bednarik. The last two way player and author of one of the greatest hits of all time.

61: Nate Newton. An entertaining man to say the least. A great lineman for the Cowboys in the glory days, but he will always be remembered for getting caught with 213 pounds of pot and saying that it was not for distribution purposes. I guess that's what all of those bags of chips are for.

62: Ian Beckles. I vaguely remember this guy playing on the Eagles. Congratulations, that is good enough to take #62

63: Dermontti Dawson. Kind of screwed myself by using Madson at 46. I always used to pick Dawson in Madden 97 for my center.

64: Randall McDaniel. Playing in the same era as Randall Cunningham, I think Eagles fans always liked Randall McDaniel.

65: Jamaal Green. Played backup D End for the Eagles in their Super Bowl year. Now I think he is in the Army.

66: Bill Bergey. Bergey!!!! Don't know much about him, but he was a fan favorite back in the day. Also a great golfer.

67: Jamaal Jackson. Could be the starting center for the Eagles next year, but only the second Jamaal on this list. We're really in the dregs here.

68: Jaromir Jagr. Jagr wins here strictly for the mullet.

69: John Runyan. One of my favorite lineman ever. Played until 5 seconds after the whistle, often cheap shotting someone. Also rumored to have finished 2 racks of ribs and 12 Coronas in an hour at Starter's.

70: Art Donovan. Such a funny looking man.

71: Evgeni Malkin. Led my fantasy hockey team to the title in 08-09.

72: Ron Hextall. Kind of a reach as he was #27 during his heyday with the Flyers, but wore #72 briefly with the Islanders. Scored a goal in the playoffs, also gave up many.

73: Shawn Andrews. Gained my respect after I saw him singing and dancing to "Hollaback Girl" in Sayre Park in the summer of 2005.

74: Merlin Olsen. He knows Ron Burgundy. Paul Coffey on the Bruins gets honorable mention here.

75: Howie Long. Vilanova grad, did a great job in Broken Arrow.

76: Shawn Bradley. Probably the greatest NBA player of all time.

77: Gheorghe Muresan. His performances in ESPN commercials and the movie My Giant push him over Red Grange and Ray Bourque.

78: Bruce Smith. Great defensive end that taught me the meaning of intimidation.

79: Andrei Markov. Stalwart defenseman on my fantasy hockey team.

80: Kevin Curtis. Defying stereotypes one day at a time.

81: Tim Brown. Looked so good in the silver and black.

82: Dante Hall. The Human Joystick, a great thrill to watch return kicks.

83: Wes Welker. Defying stereotypes one day at a time.

84: Randy Moss. When you go to Rand University and you are rich, you don't write checks. Straight cash homie.

85: Mark Duper. Great name

86: Fred Barnett. Pretty good Eagle. He and Randall Cunningham combined for a 95 yard td pass once.

87: Donald Brashear. One of my favorite tough guys of all time.

88: Dale Jarrett. Living Legend. I used to have a Dale Jarrett hat until it accidentally (on purpose) caught on fire during greek week while I was wearing it.

89: Calvin Williams. Barnett's partner in crime.

90: Jevon Kearse. Kearse was a freak on the Titans, then he came to the Eagles and things didn't go so well.

91: Dennis Rodman. Could have gone with him at 10 or 73 but waited until now.

92: Rick Tocchet. One of the Flyers all time greats, he will be most fondly remember for beating the shit out of Lindros in practice one day. Reggie White would have taken this spot had he not betrayed the Eagles.

93: John Randle. Nightmare to guard in the 90s, originator of the scary eye black.

94: Brendan Shanahan. The Whale.

95: Richard Dent. Long time Bear had a brief tenure on the Eagles. The sack man's comin', I'm your man Dent, if a quarterbacks slow, he's gonna get bent.

96: Clyde Simmons. Another Gang Green member. I had his starting lineup, I think I ate the helmet though.

97: Jeremy Roenick. Another great Flyer, loses a few points for going to Thayer Academy though.

98: Tony Siragusa. The self proclaimed "best looking guy in football".

99: Mitch Williams. Screw Gretzky, the Wild Thing is the true #99. Jerome Brown gets honorable mention here.

100: This blog. Thanks to all the fans for keeping me going through 100 posts. Enjoy the list and let's hear your thoughts.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

U.S. Open Preview

The day of reckoning is upon us. The U.S. Open at Bethpage State Park begins today. Now, I'm sure that we have all dominated this course in Tiger Woods Golf before, but using Tiger Vision and giving the ball copious amounts of spin are not an option in reality. This course is TOUGH. The USGA has been dumping money into this course to make it tougher than it was last time, and to preserve its championship status. In my opinion, this course is going to reward those players who are able to scramble. Guys who are able to save par when it looks like a bogey is imminent. Guys who can do a great job of damage control out there will be at the top of the leaderboard come Sunday.

In the late 80s and early 90s the Philadelphia Eagles were lead by a quarterback with a legendary ability to scramble. He even had a candy bar with his likeness on it called "The Scrambler" bar. Needless to say it did not do well. If Randall Cunningham were playing at Bethpage this weekend though, he would dominate. I really foresee those who can scramble doing well at the U.S. Open this week.

Yes, the PGA does keep stats on scrambling. The formula is # of greens missed divided by the number of those holes where the player still managed to score par or better. This year Steve Stricker is leading with a scramble percentage of 70%. Ian Poulter is in 2nd, Tiger Woods in 5th and Jim Furyk tied for 6th. Needless to say, these are some of the guys that I like to contend this weekend. The ability to save par, and maybe steal a few birdies on this long and difficult course will be crucial. Even though he is not first in scrambling, Tiger Woods is still the obvious favorite to win.

Tiger has been playing very well lately, winning his last tournament, and of course won the US Open at Bethpage in 2002. With his power and his ability to control the course, I do not see anyone beating him. As far as a few other guys go, here is who I like:

Ian Poulter- Naturally. He is second in scrambling so I gotta like his chances here. I also hear he is playing with fellow limeys Luke Donald and Paul Casey in the first round. This should help him, as James St. John Smith aka James Bond in "A View to A Kill" would say, "immensely, immensely". That reference might have been too confusing for most. I like Poulter is all. Don't sleep on Luke Donald either.

Steve Stricker- King of the scramblers. Stricker has played well in the U.S. Open in the past and has a win this year at the Colonial in Texas.

Jim Furyk- The most boring golfer in the world should be a contender this weekend. He hits it straight with his stupid hitch, and is a pretty good putter. Those two things bode well for this horse's ass.

Paddy Harrington- Harrington played well (relatively speaking, he finished +6) at Bethpage in 2002, and is still looking to prove that his major wins were no fluke while Tiger was injured. There always seem to be some cagey Europeans at the top of the leaderboard every time too.

Fat Phil- I hate to bash on Phil because his wife has breast cancer, but I still have to. He still wears those too tight t's even though he is not buff. I will not be rooting for him this weekend, even though his wife's condition has made him a fan favorite. Phil is just not committed enough to golf to be a great. At a time like this for him and his family though, that is more than ok.

Sleepers: J.B Holmes, Boo Weekley, Shingo Katayama, Ben Roethlisberger

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Say It Is Sosa

News of Sammy Sosa's positive drug test in 2003 has sent shock waves throughout the baseball community and the world. Just kidding. Did anyone think that this guy was not on steroids? Honestly. It is pretty funny to think that this dude had a corked bat and was on steroids at the same time and still only hit 40 home runs. Sosa's actions have pretty much made us numb to steroid use in baseball. This needs to change.

Nothing surprises us any more. By the time Sosa came back with the Rangers in 2006, my friend Tommy and I were actually sarcastically rooting for him as he approached 600 homers because it was so obvious that he had been using steroids. How can we fix this problem in baseball? I have proposed that those players guilty of steroid use be completely ignored for eternity, but perhaps more needs to be done. We need to create a culture where good is rewarded along with bad being punished.

How often do we hear about players failing steroid tests? Quite a bit right? But how often do you hear about players that have been randomly drug screened, and pass? Never. We only hear about when the bad guys get caught, but we never reward the good guys. For instance, I have always wondered about Ryan Howard and PED's. I have always assumed that he doesn't use, but I have no proof. I would love to see "Ryan Howard passes random drug screening" on the ESPN bottom line. This way we would know for sure who we can put our faith in.

Moreover, we need to release the list of everyone who has ever failed a drug test. No more of this releasing one or two big names, that is not fair to the guilty players or the fans. We need to know who has used and who hasn't. It is a matter of credibility.

We need to clear the air in baseball. We need to know who is innocent and who is guilty. If we have a guy like A-Rod who has been guilty in the past, we need to make sure he is clean now. If we have guys like Raul Ibanez or Albert Pujols who are catching heat from bloggers for being on the juice, release their positive tests to prove the doubters wrong. We need to bring honesty and integirty back into the game. Otherwise, we will never really know what to think, and continue to remain numb to all the steroid allegations.

Monday, June 15, 2009

No Love for Kobe in La La Land

Life may seem pretty good for Kobe Bryant, but in fact his life actually sucks. He is despised in his home town of Philadelphia, despised just about everywhere else, and for the most part it seems that nobody wants him to succeed. The only reason people might like Kobe is due to the scenes in the Chappelle Show where Dave would say "KOBE!". The fact that the city of Los Angeles won't even fork over the money for the Lakers to have a victory parade is just another kick in the balls for the man that Magic Johnson calls "the best basketball player of all time". It just goes to show how little the successes of this man actually mean even though he makes them seem so important.

Kobe has always been in the shadow of Shaquille O'Neal. Until this year, the knock against him was that he couldn't win a championship without Shaq. Moreover, the fact that the east coast kid abandoned his roots and became Mr. Hollywood drew the ire of a lot of people. Throw Eagle County on top of that and you've got a pretty big scumbag on your hands. Also, what the hell is with him licking his lips all the time? You look like a fucking idiot Kobe. Needless to say, watching Kobe lose has always been something that gives me great joy. Watching him succeed I couldn't care less for.

Now that Kobe has finally gotten the monkey off his back, a la Steve Young, it doesn't seem like anyone cares. The City of LA won't even fork over the money for a parade without the Lakers putting up half of it. I love it. What is supposed to be a great triumph for Kobe is being viewed as nothing special. Its great.

Kobe Bryant has got to be one of the least popular "stars" of all time in the NBA. I never used to root against Michael Jordan or Karl Malone or anyone like the way I root against Kobe. I root against Kobe in basketball and in life. He is selfish, annoying, and fake. The City of LA's refusal to foot the bill for the parade is just a microcosm of how people have grown tired of his antics and do not care at all about his successes. KOBE!!!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Loose Leaf

The saga continues for Ryan Leaf. After being drafted 2nd overall in 1998, and being touted as "Our guy for the next 10 to 15 years" by a Chargers front office guy whom I hope was fired, Leaf's career and life have come crashing down. After numerous on and off the field incidents, Leaf was cut loose in San Diego and spent short stints with several other teams before retiring in 2002. Leaf then went on to coach football and golf at West Texas A&M before being asked to resign amidst a scandal that he was buying drugs from players. Now he is apparently on the run from the law after breaking into someone's home to steal hydrocodone. Besides being the worst person ever, Ryan Leaf is also the reason why players like Percy Harvin slip so far in the draft.

There should be a poster of Ryan Leaf tacked to the wall in every NFL war room that every GM must look at when they are struggling to decide whether or not to draft a guy with "character issues". If there is any doubt as to whether a guy's attitude could be detrimental to the team, they just point to the Leaf poster and decide to go elsewhere with the pick. During this year's draft, Percy Harvin was said to be one of these guys. He had the talent to be a top 10 pick possibly, but he ended up falling to the Vikings at #22 (called it). GMs and coaches were worried that he lived in "Percyworld" and did not have strong enough character for a pro team. Even if Harvin tears up the NFL next year like Randy Moss did 10 years prior after falling to pick #21 in the draft (same draft that Leaf was picked in, funny), I don't think that any teams will be upset that they did not pick him. They will just be happy that they don't have to deal with him.

We have seen so many times how one player can absolutely destroy a team. T.O. in San Francisco, Philadelphia, Dallas and Buffalo. Oh, whoops. Cross Buffalo out. For now. Randy Moss in Minnesota. Plaxico in New York. Mike Vick in Atlanta, and Ryan Leaf with antics like this in San Diego. So the next time your team passes over a guy with character issues in the draft, give them a round of applause for making the right move. Sooner or later, problems will surface with those guys. Teams are better off just Leaf-ing them be. Swish.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

MLB Draft Draws Mixed Reviews

For what I assume was the first time ever last night, the first round of this year's Major League Baseball draft was televised on the MLB Network. As you know, I am a great fan of this station, so I decided to tune in for a little while. I was not that impressed with what I saw. For the most part, I took away from the whole thing that Major League Baseball talent evaluation is very hit or miss. I also have a few names to tuck under my cap until they re-surface in the majors in a few years. The MLB is going to have to really spice up the draft if they expect people to watch it in the future.

The first thing that struck me about the MLB Draft was the location. It was held in Studio 42 of the MLB Network office. Not quite Radio City Music Hall or Madison Square Garden. Moreover, there was nobody there except for the representatives from each team who awkwardly clapped after each selection. It sounded like a book club meeting or something. Also, the representatives from each team didn't look like they were actually doing anything. They were just sitting there. Before commercials, the cameras would pan over to them and the reps would be reading the paper or something. I have no idea why they were there.

Bud Selig was another problem for the MLB Draft (and baseball in general for that matter). He was mispronouncing names, cities and was very emotionless in general. He is a terrible commissioner. No surprise that he sucked in running the draft last night.

Finally, the draft was difficult to watch because I have no idea who most of these guys being drafted are. Naturally, Steven Strasburg being picked was what piqued my interest initially. But I didn't know who most, if any of the other guys were.

While it was interesting to hear about certain players' potential, and how teams go about drafting guys (the ability to sign them without overpaying being a HUGE factor), the televising of the MLB Draft might not be very popular. Nobody knows who the players are, there is no guaranteeing that they will be on the pro club any time soon, and there is not much of a fan demand for it. MLB Network might be well advised to skip this event next year and just show more classic games. Those are awesome.

Monday, June 8, 2009

This Guy's Gotta Go

We have all put up with him for way too long. Joe Morgan has simply become unbearable to listen to on ESPN baseball games. I think we all need to sign a petition asking for Joe Morgan's resignation and send it to ESPN. Who's with me?

I was all set to watch the Phillies/Dodgers series finale last night when I noticed that the lineup of announcers was Joe Morgan, Steve Phillips and Dave O'Brien. Immediately, I knew this was a bad thing. Without Jon Miller, I knew I was in for it. Usually Joe Morgan will blabber on about himself, telling stories about how he hit the home run in Yankees Stadium in the All-Star Game, until Miller wisely cuts him off with a joke, a good fact, or a "Bel-TRAN!!!" if the Mets are playing. No one cut him off last night.

Last night Joe Morgan must have bragged about his accomplishments at least 5 times each inning. The straw that broke the camel's back for me was when he started listing off all of the sporting events that he has been too in his life, then made Steve Phillips and Dave O'Brien list theirs to show how paltry they were in comparison. Joe Morgan simply does not care about the game that is being played. All he wants to do is talk about himself for 3 to 4 hours. Last night he mentioned a 16 inning game he called one time. I can't imagine sitting through that one. I probably would have gotten a nose bleed and then passed out.

ESPN has got to do us all a favor and get rid of Joe Morgan. I guarantee that they are losing viewers because of him. If you don't believe me, watch a game on ESPN and try to count how many times Morgan says "I think", "In my opinion", "When I was playing" etc. The number will be astronomical. Better yet, turn it into a drinking game. You will be wasted by about the top of the 3rd inning.

Friday, June 5, 2009

That's What I'm Talking About!!!!

In case any of you East coasters were busy sleeping, or leaving messages on friend's voicemails, Cole Hamels showed why he is one of the best pitchers in the game last night. Moreover, the Phillies are beginning to make a charge in the NL East and proving that they are still the team to beat.

Going into last night's game, the Dodgers were considered to be the best team in the National League and had an MLB best 37-18 record. Meanwhile, the Phils had quietly been on a 6 game win streak and Ryan Howard was beginning to mash the ball. Something had to give last night, but the experts seemed to think that it would be the Phillies. That all changed when Cole Hamels took the mound.

Just like he did in the NLCS last year Hamels shut down the Dodgers, holding them to five hits the whole game. Thanks to some timely hitting by the offense, Hamels was able to cruise to a 3-0 complete game victory in under 100 pitches. This indeed was a statement game.

The Phillies are now 4 games up in the NL East when not too long ago they had slipped into second. Moreover, Cole Hamels is starting to look like the stud I expected him to be this season. It is my hope that he will be able to ride this wave of momentum for the rest of the season. Finally, the hitting is starting to come around. Howard is raking, Ibanez broke out of his mini slump, Werth is starting to hit again and Utley is as solid as ever. If Jimmy Rollins starts to pick it up, watch out National League. The Phils are starting to look pretty dangerous and it looks like the road to the World Series will definitely have to go through Philadelphia.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Is This Kid Serious?

On the cover of the most recent Sports Illustrated you will find a young man from Las Vegas, NV named Bryce Harper. At age 16 he is already 6'3" and over 200 pounds. He also hits mammoth home run shots, steals bases, throws over 90mph and guns would be base stealers down from behind the plate. Scouts have already ranked him as more promising than A-Rod, Ken Griffey Jr. or Justin Upton. Before this whole thing gets out of hand (as if it hasn't already) I would like to be the first to tell everybody to stop worshipping this kid already. Moreover, Harper needs to pull his head out of his ass before this whole thing blows up in his face.

Sports fans love a good story, and that is exactly what this kid is. At age 16, Harper shouldn't be able to do what he is doing. He is like Roy Hobbs, Henry Rowengartner, Nuke LaLoosh and Benny the Jet Rodriguez all rolled into one. However, we have seen many players like this before. Not too long ago I was reading a story about a similar player from California named Matt Harrington. He was supposed to be the next great pitching prospect, but unfortunately he refused to sign his contract with the Rockies after being drafted 7th overall, and then got injured several times. He never made it to the majors and is now working at Costco. We also recently heard about the young pitcher Patrick Schuster in Florida who had 4 straight no-hitters. He was very close to tying the record of 6 in a row by Chris Taranto and Tom Engle. Who are they you might ask? Exactly.

I don't wish any harm on this kid by any means, but when he is only 16 it is way too early to start rarefying him like this. After all, he has never pitched against good hitting, faced great pitching or hit a tall jack with a wooden bat. Meanwhile he is saying things like:

"Be in the Hall of Fame, definitely," says Harper when asked by Verducci about his goals. "Play in Yankee Stadium. Play in the pinstripes. Be considered the greatest baseball player who ever lived. I can't wait."

My advice to you Mr. Harper is to shut your mouth for about 5 or 6 years and to keep working hard. There are a lot of things that can happen along the way, and if people are expecting this much from you already there is nowhere to go but down. The SI Cover jinx probably isn't gonna help either.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

We Need More Tough Guys

If you look at this awesome picture to the left you will see the man that is most commonly referred to as Tim Wakefield. Now, you might think that Wakefield relates to the title of this post because he is decked out in camo and carrying a cross bow. That is only partially true. The reason I chose Tim Wakefield for this post's picture is because in 1993 he threw 177 pitches in a game. This may seem crazy even for a knuckleballer, but it used to be very common for any pitcher. I wish there was some way that pitchers could return to this kind of conditioning. Nowadays, pitch counts, injury concerns, and front office orders have ruined the stamina of starting pitchers. We need to bring back some of the tough guys in Major League Baseball.

A few weeks ago I was watching the 1983 ALCS on the MLB Network. Several things struck me about this series; the White Sox uniforms, the fact that the game was at Old Comiskey Park and how young Cal Ripken and Pudge Fisk both looked. Perhaps the most striking thing that I saw though was the stat line for the White Sox pitcher in the game. The game was going into the 10th inning, and he had already thrown 143 pitches! I couldn't believe it. I can't remember ever seeing a pitcher throw that many pitches. It was unbelievable. I did a little research and found out that the record for pitches in a game is 228 by Tom Cheney of the Washington Senators. He pitched 16 innings against the Orioles in 1962, struck out 21 guys and picked up the complete game win. I can't even fathom this. Why can't we do this any more?

One reason why this probably doesn't occur anymore is that we have better medical care these days. Tom Cheney only pitched in 115 games in his career, probably because his arm was destroyed from throwing so many pitches without resting. Moreover, owners and managers have so much invested in these pitchers that they have to be very careful with them. I bet someone like Roy Halladay or Jon Lester could throw 130 or 140 pitches if they wanted to, but they are not allowed to. Because they are not allowed to/never have to throw that many pitches, they definitely lose some endurance in their arms. Moreover, the emergence of the closer at the end of games has eliminated the need for pitchers to go the full 9 innings, even if they are under 100 pitches. It's too bad. It would be cool to see the complete game come back to prominence in baseball.

There's something to be said for finishing what you've started. Unfortunately, this is not seen very often anymore in baseball. For a number of reasons, starting pitchers have become for the most part 6 inning at a time hurlers. It is really something to see the old videos of guys battling it out for the whole game. Even if they have given up 5 or 6 runs, they are in there for the long haul. I wish we could get back to that somehow in baseball.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Two Fer Tuesday

I just plain forgot to post an entry yesterday, so to make up for it I will address to two topics in today's entry. The first topic I will discuss is the dismissal of King James from the NBA Playoffs. A lot of people are giving him grief for walking off the court before shaking hands with the Orlando Magic and most notably Dwight Howard. Honestly, who cares? Does anyone really care about this? Dwight Howard said he was hurt, but I doubt that he even cares. He is just saying that because it is what the NBA wants him to say. I have no problem with Lebron walking off the court without shaking hands and hugging the Magic players for a job well done.

If there is one thing that pisses me off more than anything, it is seeing baseball players talk to the guys on the other team while they are on base. Granted, players don't play their whole career on one team anymore because of free agency and the like, but if I were a first baseman I wouldn't talk to anybody. You are getting paid to beat the opposing team, not make friends with them. Pete Rose had the right idea when he decked that catcher in the All-Star Game; no mercy.

The same can be said for this Lebron situation. His team just got shown the door by the Magic, so why go over and be friendly with them? He was probably pissed off for getting embarrassed in the playoffs after making a mockery of the regular season schedule. Who cares if he is the "face of the league"? He didn't act like a tool and went to the locker room to deal with his emotions. Maybe this will be a good thing for sports. Too much chummy-ness going on. We need to get back to the days when teams actually were rivals and didn't like each other.

Now for part 2: a mail bag (which has been fairly full lately, lets keep it going) from the Donk. He writes:

"I know it will be probably painful for you to say anything positive about the New York Yankees but I feel there 18 game error less streak is a pretty big deal. I haven't seen a post in a few days so maybe this could be some new material before the NBA finals."

Well it will be tough, but I will try. This streak is not a big deal in my mind because of its length. I'm sure there have been many many teams that have had errorless streaks in the teens before. To me it is so impressive because it has really launched the Yankees in the right direction. In those 18 games, the Yanks are 14-4 and defense has been the cornerstone of the turnaround.

Being a Phillies fan, each year I am forced to watch the Phils play the Nationals about 15 times. These games are painful to endure. The Nationals have a decent lineup and even though their pitching is bad, it is their defense that kills them. It seems like each time they take a lead, their defense makes some boneheaded play to give the lead back to the other team. In a game against the Phillies recently, I think the Nats made two or three errors in the same inning putting the game away for good. Errors can really spell doom for a team, so it is refreshing to see a defense that does not waste outs.

If any team, and I mean any team, went on an 18 game errorless streak like the Yankees did I guarantee that their record during that span would be over .500. With the Yankees bats and pitching though, they have been able to make this streak really count and take over first place in the AL East. I tip my cap to them.