Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Empire Strikes Out:Stanks Eliminated by Tigers

Leyland and his squad are on top of the world right now

All that money. All those All-Stars. All that talent. And a team that lost 119 games just 3 years ago and chock full of pitchers young enough to still get carded for cigarettes knocked off the mighty Evil Empire, the New York Stankees, defeating them 8-3 tonight to take the best-of-5 ALDS 3 games to 1.
How did this happen? That is the question that will be asked repeatedly this winter in the Big Apple for a team that caught up to and then bludgeoned into submission the AL East leading BoSox in August then coasted to the best record in baseball (tied with the crosstown Mets.) But they succumbed to a team that had been going in the opposite direction the last month of the season and had been swept by the Royals on the final weekend to lose the division title to Minnesota.
By all rights the mega-millionaire Stanks should have done away with the mid-market Tigers in 3 or 4 games; after all, on paper the Stanks have the much better team.
But as the infamous saying goes,and Captain Jetes reiterated in his postgame comments, you don't play the games on paper, you play them on the field, and the Tigers proved that when you are between the white lines paychecks, All Star selections and posse members don't mean a thing. All you need is a talent, a lot of heart, and the belief in each other that you can go out and knock off a team like the Empire. Thanks to manager Smokey Jim Leyland the Tigers have plenty of that moxie to go around.

Leyland, the probable Manager of the Year winner, has infused this raw, young, talented bunch with confidence, culpability and character. The team is most definitely a reflection of their manager, and nobody embodied that better tonight than young Tiger hurler Jeremy Bonderman. The sometimes shaky 23-year-old righty baffled the Millionaire's Row Stankee lineup, no-hitting them through 5 and ending up with this dazzling linescore: 8.1IP, 5H, 2R, 1BB, 4Ks, 99 pitches (70 strikes). This kid was totally unflappable, and when he walked off the mound after getting out of a tiny jam in the 8th to the roar of the crowd, he didn't so much as pump a fist, bat an eyelash, or high-five a teammate- it was all business, all intensity, and all composure. Pretty impressive from a young pitcher who was ridiculed when he lost 19 games 3 years ago for that horrid 119- loss team.

Bonderman would get all the support he needed when the Tigers got to Stankee starter Jaret Wright (yup, they had to rely on HIM to start their elimination game- nice) for 3 runs in the 3rd on homers by Mags Ordonez & Craig Monroe. Then they kept tacking on runs- an RBI single & sac fly from Pudge-less, a double by Mayor Sean Casey, a Carlos Guillen double- while Bonderman kept putting up zeros. By the time you knew what happened it was 8-0 after 6 and the Stanks looked like they knew it was over; they didn't know HOW, but they knew. New York broke the shutout in the 7th on a fielders choice grounder after Jeter & Abreu singled, then made the score less severe with a 2-run HR by Georgie in the 9th. But that was way too little too late for a team that struggled mightily to put up runs despite the depth and quality of the lineup. Their inability to score will have experts scratching their heads for months: this is a team that led the majors in runs scored by 60 (930) and was 2nd in MLB in avg (by .002 pts) at .285. The same team, with all of its offensive weapons in place mind you, hit .246 in the 4 games and scored 14 runs, but 8 of those came in their sole victory in Game 1; since that win they scored 6 runs in 3 games, a paltry 2 RPG compared to their 5.7 regular season average and batted .095 with runners in scoring position- holy Devil Rays, Batman! The usual suspect, ERod (who did make another error) is an easy taget after his putrid 1-14 showing and he was embarrassingly dropped to 8th today, but almost everyone in the lineup contributed to this loss.

So the Tigers will celebrate for a couple of days before they take on the A's in the ALCS starting Tuesday in Oakland. And party they will. One of the better celebration scenes in recent memory occurred after the Tigers had retreated to the clubhouse to spray each other with champagne and jump around like little kids.The raucous and still-remaining crowd went wild as the players returned to the field, magnums in hand, and took a victory lap around Comerica, high fiving fans along the way. Well it didn't take long for that high-fiving to turn into high spraying as the players soaked the fans with the bubbly as if to welcome them into their celebration as a way of saying thanks for being with them all year. It got so festive that Kenny the Cameraman Crusher climbed atop the dugout, sprayed two bottles and dumped part of one over the head of one of Detroit's finest. Quite a scene and quite a night in Motown, where the hits keep on coming, but not for the team expected to come out of this series a winner.

Why say it when you can spray it, right Pudge?


College Football Week 6 Preview

After a dull slate of games last week (hey, every week can't be my 'Kick Ass Weekend of College Football') the schedule picks right back up this week with a number of games, including the Red River Rivalry, sure to affect the Top 25 and the BCS standings.

Here's a look at My 5 Games to Watch:
11 Oregon @ 16 Cal 8PM, ABC
The Bears are finally living up to their preseason hype, rebounding from their opening week loss to the Vols to post 4 straight 40+ point games, all wins. Soph QB Nathan Longshore, who has already piled up 1221 yards and 14 TDs, leads the potent offensive attack, and he normally looks for soph receiver DeSean Jackson, who has 27 catches for 447 yarts & 7 TDs. The rest of the heavy lifting falls on the able shoulders of junior RB Marshawn Lynch, who isn't having a spectacular year (79 atts, 555 yds, 4 tds rushing, 123 yds & 3 TDS on 11 receptions) but is a threat to break the game open at any time. The Bears will face another potent offense in the Ducks, the team that won the game against Oklahoma, 34-33, a couple of weeks ago on 2 controversial calls. They are averaging 40 PPG and are led by junior QB Dennis Dixon (1032 yds, 6TDs) and soph RB Johnathan Stewart (58 atts, 457 yds, 4TDs). Basically this should be a run-n-fun shootout in the Wild West, with the winner in the driver's seat atop the crowded Pac-10 standings.
MY PICK: Cal 45, Oregon 37

Michigan St. @ 6 Michigan, 4:30 PM, ESPN
On paper this one looks like a mammoth mis-match: the 5-0 Wolverines are at home, where they have not lost to the Spartans since 1990; they haven't lost to them at all since 2001, a 24-21 MSU victory in East Lansing. Plus State is coming off 2 consecutive brutal home losses, the 40-37 choke job vs. the Irish and a humiliating 23-20 homecoming loss to a horrible Illinois team. So all odds would appear to be stacked against the Spartans pulling one out in this situation. But aren't animals moist dangerous when backed into a corner? If so, watch out because not only is MSU's pride hurt from the 2 losses, but their character and the abilities of their beloved coach, John L. Smith are both in question. And you throw in the fact that this is an intra-state mega-rivalry, and well anything can happen.
Like another Spartan beating.
MY PICK: Wolverines 35-13.

13 Tennessee @ 11 Georgia 7:45, ESPN
The Dawgs are getting their starting QB, Joe Tereshinski III, back in the lineup just in time; without him the past 3 games the Bulldog offense has been about as dangerous as a chihuahua, struggling to defeat Colorado and Ole Miss, teams that are a combined 1-9. But an injury to All-SEC kicker Brandon Coutu will place the ball on the foot of Tennessee native Andy Bailey, whose 29-yd missed FG cost the Dawgs a close one vs. the Vols in 2004. On the other side Tennessee QB Eric nephew of Danny Ainge has led the way with a solid season (1389 yds, 12TDs, 5INTs)and the Vols have averaged 300+ yds in the air and 31 PPG. It all adds up to a tough hedge to climb for UGA, but they don't lose very often between the infamous hedges of Sanford Stadium. Look for the return of Tereshinski plus the stingy Dawg defense (34 pts allowed in 5 games) to win out over Ainge and the orange-clad army.
MY PICK: Dawgs 24-21

9 LSU @ 5 Florida
Finally a tough test for the Urban Renewal Project, which has the Gators highly ranked but highly untested as well; their 21-20 squeaker at Tennessee is their only win vs. a ranked team.
Other than that they've beat on the likes of So. Miss, UCF, Kentucky and Alabama, who are a combined 11-9. Now comes the real stuff as the rugged and speedy Tigers come to the Swamp in a possible SEC Championship game preview (although Auburn & Georgia will have a lot to say about that.) LSU is the last team to win at the Swamp, 24-21 in 2004, and they have won 2 in a row & 3 of 4 vs, UF. Led by exciting junior QB JaMarcus Russell (1246 yds, 19 TDs) the Tigers actually average more points per game than the high-flying Gators (38-29), but it is the sturdy LSU defense (37 pts allowed in 5 games, including only 7 in a 7-3 loss at Auburn 3 weeks ago)that gives opposing coordinators nightmares. This one should be a classic SEC slugfest, with both teams contributing big plays on both sides of the ball. When the dust clears I think the Gators will be undefeated no more, and with games against Auburn & Georgia up next, they could be out of the title hunt in a hurry.
MY PICK: Tigers 17- 14.

7 Texas @ 14 Oklahoma
The Red River Shootout is one of the oldest (101 years), most coveted and hard fought rivalries in all of college football. You got 2 powerhouse schools from the Nation's heartland, both from areas where college football rules the universe, and you plop them down down in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, right in the midst of the Texas State Fair, and just let them go at each other.
This year is a bit different, as neither school is undefeated for the first time since 1999 and the first time since 2000 that neither is ranked in the top 5. Doesn't matter. This rivalry exceeds all rankings and records, much like the Ohio State/Michigan or Florida State/Florida hate-fests. Plus this version should be plenty interesting, with Texas and freshman QB Colt 45 McCoy taking his 1-loss Longhorn squad up against a still-seething Sooner squad which was denied a victory at Oregon due to 2 horrendous calls that cost them the game, admitted by the now disbanded & disgraced officiating crew. Heisman hopeful Adrian Peterson (643 yds, 7 TDs) will be looking to ride the Sooner Schooner roughshod over the Texas defense, but Texas has some runners, too(Jamal Charles & Selvin Young) plus a great receiver as well (Limas Sweed.)
It has all the makings of a great installment of the Rivalry, but I give the edge to the more experienced, hungrier, angrier Sooners.
MY PICK: Oklahoma 28- 24


Friday, October 06, 2006

A's sweep Twins out; Tigers take 2-1 lead

Oakland finally got that playoff monkey off their backs

Boy I can really call em', huh? Let's see I had Twins taking the A's in a thrilling 5-game series, the Tigers being swept, the Padres beating the Cards in 4, and the Mets losing to the Dodgers in 5 games.
Can you say "oh-for-four?"
The Twins got swept today, the Tigers took a 2-1 series lead over the Empire, and the Pads & Dodgers are 1 day away from being swept. Can you see why I don't gamble? I might as well throw my money directly in the trash.

But I enjoy the action more because I have nothing riding on it, either monetarily or emotionally. Unfortunately for fans of the Twins, Padres, Dodgers & Stanks their teams are playing as if they feel that way as well.

Twins Swept Away by the Bay
The Oakland A's finally closed out a playoff series after being 0-9 in the past 6 seasons when trying to do so by defeating the stunned Twins, 8-3 to advance to the ALCS; it's the 1st time they've won a playoff series since 1990, and it will be their first ALCS since 1992.
That wasn't a monkey on their backs, it was freakin' King Kong.
It must have felt so good for players like 3B Eric Chavez and lefty Barry Zito, who both have been there for all the collapses, like 2000 & 2001 vs NY and 2003 vs. Boston, the series where D-Lowe gave the infamous "ride this" crotch move in the clinching game as the Sox came back from an 0-2 deficit.
What monkey, I don't see no stinkin' monkey in here!
Maybe that's because your eyes are coated in Korbel, Chavvy.

Minny was supposed to be the hotter team coming in after chasing down & passing the Tigers for the Central crown on the last day of the season and boasting the possible Cy Young winner (Johan Cy-Tana), MVP (Justin Morneau) and the AL batting champ, C Joe Mauer. But the Twins never recovered from Santana's loss in game one; with rookie phenom Francisco Liriano shelved due to arm troubles, Cy-Tana was really being counted on to win that game and probably one more if the Twins were going to advance. The penultimate knockout blow was the Torii Hunter blunder that turned into Mark Kotsay's excellent inside the park home run adventure, which changed the whole tone of the series (as plays like that will do in the short, intense 1st round.)
The knockout punch came today as the A's took it to retiring righty Brad Radke, whose shoulder is barely attached to its socket yet still went out there and gave his team a fighting chance to win. Trouble is the Twins were down 4-0 in the blink of an eye, thanks to homers by Chavez & Milton Bradley and another clutch RBI double by Marco Polo! Scutaro. By the time Hunter put the Twins on the board with a solo shot in the 4th, the game already had an air of "it's over" about it. And it turns out it was.
Think Torii will lose a little sleep this winter over his Game 2 gaffe?

So the A's will wait for the winner of the Detroit/New York series which has also taken a surprising turn in this postseason named "Jeff can't call anything right."

Tigers stun Stanks behind Rogers' gem, 6-0
Wow. That's all people around the country have to be saying right now as the Tigers just finished beating the Evil Empire, 6-0, behind Kenny The Cameraman Clubber Rogers to take a surprising 2-1 series lead. Detroit can close out the Stanks tomorrow at 4PM EST on FOX.

But it's not just the fact that the sputtering newbie Tigers are sticking it to the Multi-All Star Travelling Freak Show that is the ridiculous Stankee lineup, it's how they are doing it. Like having a 42-year-old bitter photog batterer and former Stankee, who has a horrendous track record against his former team and everyone on it, pitch 7 2/3 innings of 5 hit ball; he also struck out the dumbfounded Stankee hitters 8 times, and they had a look of "how the f*** is this guy doing this to us?!" on their normally smug mugs.

The pathetic numbers this powerhouse NY lineup is putting up are staggering in their scope: in the last 2 games they are 1-16 with runners in scoring position, have left 26 men on base, failed to move a runner over until the 7th inning tonight, and haven't scored in 14 innings, since Judas' 3-run blast in the 4th inning of Game 2. And wouldn't you know it, RSN, our boy ERod has been the epitome of all this futility: his 0-3 today left him 1-11 in the series and he hasn't driven in a run in his last 11 postseason games.

Guys, what is this thing in my glove?

The Tigers got on the board in the 2nd off of the Feeble Unit with 4 singles, 3 consecutive, mixed in with a Curtis Granderson stolen base (the more I see of this kid, the more I like him- he's now 5-11 with a 3B, 2HR, 3 R, 2 HRs & 5 RBI in these 3 games) and a fielder's choice to take a 3-0 lead. Turned out that was all The Gambler would need, as he continued to mow down the Stankee hitters like they were, well, the D-Rays.

So now New York faces a must-win situation in Game 4 tomorrow. Who would've believed that? One week ago the Tigers were sputtering to losing their Division crown to the Twins, and here they are on the verge of eliminating the team that resembles the famed Murderer's Row NY team of 1927. Smokey Jim Leyland said after the first win that maybe now people will take them seriously and view them as a real playoff team. After this performance tonight, I don't think there's a person in America who will argue with him.

This kid Granderson is the real deal- watch him play


MLB: Day 3 Review/Day 4 Preview

Quite a day in the MLB playoffs as one team stayed alive with a huge win (Detroit) and 2 teams from Cali are now gasping for air after going down 2-0 in their series (Padres & Dodgers.)

Let's review:

Verlander, Tigers get even with Stankees
They tried to out-psyche the young Tiger hurler. The previous night, when the game Game 2 was postponed due to rain, starter Justin Verlander and the Tigers still took the field for the alleged 10 PM start time. Not a Yankee in sight. Minutes later the game was officially postponed, leaving Verlander, Smokey Jim Leyland and the rest of the Tigers squad a bit miffed & perplexed.
Well in the bright sunshine of an early October afternoon in the Bronx, Verlander & Leyland exacted their revenge as Detroit earned a hard-fought 4-3 victory to even the best of five series at 1 game apiece
The rookie righty dazzled the Bronx Bombers for 5 1/3 innings, his only mistake a hanger to Judas Demon in the 5th that he belted into the 3rd deck in right, a shot eerily similar to his Game 7 GS in the '04 ALCS. But the pesky Tigers clawed back, as emerging stud Curtis Granderson tripled of Mousse-ina in the 7th to score Most Improved Marcus Thames and then the Detroit pen took care of the rest. Jimmie Walker came in to relieve Verlander in mid-count on another hunch move by Leyland, this time one that paid off in a double play. In the 8th the Tigers unleashed their ultimate bullpen weapon- rookie righty blowtorch Joel Zumaya, whose heater registered 103 on the gun as he blew away Giambi & KRod (3 K's, 3 LOB) in an awesome display of pitching prowess. Todd Jones hung on for the save, and the series heads to Motown for Game 3 tonight (no travel day due to the rain out.)
Tonight's pivotal Game 3 (8 PM, ESPN) will see two old vets battling it out for AARP supremacy: Detroit will send Kenny The Cameraman Rogers (17-8, 3,84, 42 yrs old) against the Feeble Unit (17-11, 5.00, 43 yrs old), who has not pitched since Sept 23rd and has been diagnosed with a herniated disc in his back. The two ornery old coots will go toe to toe to see who can take the momentum and seize control of this series; should be interesting.
MY PICK: Although I picked the Stanks to sweep, "Uncle MO" now resides in Mo-town; I like Detriot tonight, 6-5. Hopefully Zumaya will pitch again- that kid is ELECTRIC.

Padres cannot buy a run vs. Cards, lose 2-0 & down 2-0
Has anyone seen the Padres offense? No that's right- no one has seen it for the past 2 games against St. Louis, where they have managed only 1 run in two losses and now find themselves in a monumental hole, down 2 games to none heading back to St. Louis.
Boomer Wells gave the Pads a quality start (5 IP, 7H, 2ER), but it was Phat Albert who did them in again (I told him to pitch around him!) Pujols knocked in the first run in the on a single in the 4th, Edmonds followed with another RBI and that was all reclamation project Jeff Weaver needed. The ragged righty exiled (for his little brother Jered) from Anaheim came up big in a big game, throwing 5 scoreless innings of 2-hit ball in the biggest game of his struggling career;he got out of a huge jam in the 6th when he K'd Dave Roberts on 3 nasty breakers with runners on 1st & 2nd.
So now the series heads to St. Louie with the Redbirds poised to go for the kill. But the Padres are a resilient bunch who won the division on the last day of the season and actually had a better record on the road (45-36) than at home (43-38.) Chris Young will face Jeff Suppan tomorrow at 1:00 P- do or die time for San Diego.

Mets go up 2-0 as Dodger look dazed & confused
What happened to all the talk that the Mets were on the ropes after not playing a meanigful game since June and the Dodger have been in playoff mode for a month?
The wheels have fallen off the Dodger bandwagon, that's what, as the obviously superior Mets spanked Sling Blade Little's boys again, 4-1 to take a 2-0 lead in their best-of-5 NLDS. Playoff vet Tommy Glavine gave the Mets all they could ask for with 6 innings of shutout ball, and the Mets scored on an assortment of cheesy plays (ground out, fielder's choice, sac fly, single) and only allowed a moon shot HR by Wilson Betamit that prevented the shutout. To make matters worse for LA, they apparently lost Nomah again when he had to be removed from the game after legging out a single in the 6th; he is day-to-day with that quad problem that has hampered him for weeks.

So the teams head to LA for tomorrow's Game 3 with the Dodgers needing to win or they go home. Well they'll be at home, but I mean home for the winter...oh fortget it, they better win.

Twins @ Oakland (2-0) Game 3, Today 4PM, ESPN
Tampa's Brad Radke makes what could be the final start of his career when the Twins try to get a game as this ALDS moves to Oak-town. Radke has had shoulder trouble all year and can barely raise his arm above his head, but the crafty vet will try to give his team a boost by taking the mound and fighting till the end so his team can have some hope. The feel-good kids of the second half of the season are struggling mightily, ever since ace Johan Cy-tana could not come up with the win they so desperately needed in game 1.
Radke will be opposed by phenom Danny Haren who had an off year (14-13) but still has terrific stuff. We'll see if the gritty vet can gut out a must-need win over a young kid. Oakland got word that starting 2b Mark Ellis is lost for the series after breaking a finger in his final AB in Game 2; that could prove to be a big loss, as Ellis is a spark plug on offense and a solid defender.
As long as Torii Hunter doesn't dive for any more balls, the Twins have a chance.
MY PICK: Twins 4-2.


Thursday, October 05, 2006

Noles embarrassed again, 24-20 @ NC ST

Well I had the score right but the teams wrong.

FSU's 24-20 loss to unranked NC St. marked the official end of the era of domination the Seminole football program had enjoyed for the entire 90's and most of this millennium.

It ended last night at approximately 11PM when the Noles walked off the field in Raleigh as losers to a team that had lost on that very field a mere 3 weeks ago to Akron. A Wolfpack team, led by embattled former Bowden assistant Chuck Amato, that had been battered & bludgeoned at Southern Miss, 37-17, 2 weeks ago. The once mighty Florida State offense scored a whopping 20 points against this offensive jugger-not, and Jeff Nepotism Bowden has rendered the offense not even a shell of its former self but a carcass of that shell.

The Noles appeared to be in control of this one, leading 20-10 late in the 3rd quarter after an 99-yard drive culminating in a TD from Drew Weatherford (16-29, 249, 2TDs, 1INT) to Brandon Warren. But then all hell broke loose and the Noles were left scratching their heads and wondering what happened-again.
Redshirt Sophomore QB Daniel Evans (13-22, 190, 3TDs) played like a senior in guiding his team on two drives that won the game. Evans either handed off to 1 of 2 capable backs, Andre Brown (18 carries, 114 yds) or Toney Baker (12 for 44, all late) or threw it up to his superior freshman receiver, 6'4" Geron James, who went up and caught balls numerous times, Randy Moss-like, including the score that made it a 3pt game to end the 3rd. A sweet 12-yd TD to from Evans to John Dunlap with 10:36 to go put the Pack ahead for good, and the pitiful Nole offense couldn't muster another point in going down for the 4th time in 7 games against their former coach.

Other horrible notes from this game include the re-disappearance (not a word) of the running game; after ripping off 287 yards on the ground vs. Rice, FSU only mustered 96 against the Pack, who themselves racked up 190 against the porous Nole D. Lo Where are you? Booker managed 58 yards, and the talented senior has only 233 yards & 1 TD in 5 games. Yikes.
And the passing game isn't faring any better: Gregg Who? Carr has only 12 catches for 168 yds, and St Pete bust Chris Invisible Man Davis has 11 for 175 & 2 TDs. Wow. Not exactly Peter Warrick and Javon Walker, now are they? Hell they're not even Kez MCCorvey & Tamarick Vanover. QB Drew Weatherford, of whom great things were expected this season, has been mediocre-to awful, amassing these less-than-stellar numbers: 81-135, 964 yds, 5TDs, 3INTs- not exactly reminiscent of Chris Weinke. Or Charlie Ward. Or even Thad Busby.
The D was also further decimated by an injury, this time to soph MLB Derek (brother of AJ) Nicholson, who appeared to suffer a season-ending tear in his knee on a play in the 1st quarter. He joins the growing walking wounded list, which this week included spectacular DB Tony Blocked Kick Carter- boy they could have used him on those jump balls against James.

They say all good things must come to an end. First it was the Noles unprecedented string of 14 consecutive seasons ranked in the top 5. Then came the graduation and/or early exits of a number of top-flight NFL-caliber (Warrick, Weinke, Walker) players year after year- tough for any team to keep reloading and recovering from that, just ask Miami; then came the 3-loss season (2004), the 5-loss season of last year, and now they've got 2 losses in 5 games with plenty of tough tests ahead. The way these guys are playing they are all tough, even against Troy and Nc. State.

Bobby has now lost to his son ands mentor in the same season-again. When will this madness end? Most likely when Jeff removes himself from duty. Or it might come to Papa Bear himself having to step away from the embarrassment this program has become.

We'll get em next time, boys


TV Preview

Set the DVRs for hyper-record, Mr. Sulu! This is one of those nights where the wonders of modern technology, TiVO/DVR & P-I-P appear to be heaven sent.

We've got a scheduling collision of epic proportions about to take place, starting at 7:45 tonight.
Here's a rundown.

7:45, ESPN College Football
Florida State @ No. Carolina St.
The mentor meets the student (again) as Bobby Bowden and the Noles travel to Raleigh to take on a Wolfpack squad led by Bowden's former longtime assistant Chuck Amato. Unfortunately for Chuck, or maybe for Bobby depending on how things turn out, he is feeling the heat of a string of disappointing seasons. A home loss to Akron this year did nothing to squelch the flames singeing Amato's derrier.
The Noles are actually favored by 10 1/2 points in this game, despite their anemic offense (55 pts vs. Rice doesn't count) and despite the fact that Amato has a 3-3 record against his old team.
I don't know if FSU can beat any major D-1 school by more than 10 points, and I would not be surprised if the student gets one against the mentor again.
MY PICK: Noles 24, Pack 20

8:00 NBC: My Name Is Earl
This is where my DVR #1 kicks in- the 8 o'clock comedy Power Hour of Earl & The Office. The first 2 eps of Earl were not the greatest, a 2-parter about Joy being sent to prison. Although I must add that the second ep, with Joy and Catalina both taking turns as strippers and Burt Reynolds as a slimy strip club owner was pretty darn good. This week promises to hold interest again with another Catalina plot line- hmmm, wonder why they're working her in so much... oh yeah:

8:00, FOX Dodgers/Mets NLDS Game 2
The first game featured one of the wildest plays in postseason history, when the Dodgers had 2 men tagged out a home plate on one play. Tonight they send an unproven rookie, Hong Chih- Kuo, into the cauldron that is playoff baseball in New York; to make matters worse for the kid, he's going up against playoff veteran Tom Glavine. Definite advantage Mets. And with Nomah hurting, Jeff Kent a baserunning bonehead, and a kid on the hill, I look for the Mets to win handily and take a 2-0 advantage back to LA. But I'm still going to watch just to see what kind of crazy play might take place tonight.
MY PICK: Mets 7, Dodgers 4

8:30, NBC: The Office
This show continues to amaze: instead of resting on its Emmy-winning laurels it continues to raise the bar for comedy every week. The first week dealt with Michael's homophobia in a hilarious and poignant (somehow) way; last week we saw the re-introduction of Jim, who transferred to the Stamford branch of Dunder-Mifflin to escape the feelings he has for Pam. But now that Jim knows that Pam and Meathead have broken up, you know it's just a matter of time before the gravitational pull those two have on each other will kick in. Reunited, and it feels
so good. Plus then Jim will terrorize Dwight mercilessly.
Can't get enough of this show- DO NOT MISS IT.

Okay, time to stop typing and fire up the thrusters.
See you in a couple of (exhausting) hours.




Wouldn't you know it, that seemingly harmless little rain delay/postponement last night of Game 2 at Stankee Stadium has a little controversy brewing behind it. Smokey Jim Leyland and Tiger starter Justin Verlander were none too happy about the way MLB, and/or the Stanks, treated the rain out situation; after a near 2 hour delay the Tigers were told that they would get the game underway at 10:00. Verlander went out to the outfield to warm up, and other Tigers took the field as the tarp was removed. But a funny thing happened on the way to "play ball"- the league decided to call the game due to the fact that heavy rains were expected later, although it wasn't even raining at the time. The entire night it hardly rained at all.
So why was Verlander warming up when Stankee starter Mike Mousse-ina was probably in the clubhouse ripping into an attendant for not having his shoes polished right? Nobody knows. Just one of those 'quirky' things that happen to opposing clubs when they visit that quaint staduim in the heart of the Bronx. It's called TEAMS GET SCREWED.

GAME 2 Prediction: a pissed-off Verlander (17-9) comes out guns blazin' and strikes out every member of the Murder's Row '06 lineup through 3 innings. Unfortunately his already tired arm falls off on the mound, Smokey is forced to go to his pen, and the Empire smacks 14 consecutive hits, including back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back homers by Abreu, Giambi, Sheff, ERod and Matsui and win the game 17-4.

The Padres need this one badly, because they MOST DEFINITELY do not want to go back to rabid St. Louie down 2-0. So it's a good thing they have Mr. Playoffs, Boomer Wells, pitching for them (Padre fans send your thank you cards to Mr. Epstein, Theo.) The only thing Boomer does better than eat is...well drink. But the thing he does almost as good as those two things is pitch well in the playoffs: Wells is 10-4 with a 3.15 ERA in 120 playoff innings, including his memorable '98 postseason with the Stanks, when he went 4-0. In other words, on a staff filled with green youngsters and washed-up veterans, Boomer gives the Pads their best shot at heading to St.L tied up at one. Plus the Cards have Jeff Weaver (8-14, 5.76) going for them.
Remember, Boomer- pitch around Albert. All the time.
"Dude, you're totally wasting that!"

Game 2 Prediction: Boomer goes out and gives another herculean effort, pitching 7 scoreless innings and leaving with the lead, 2-0 because he walked Pujols 3 times. But the bully breaks down again, as both Cla Meredith and Trevor Hoffman, who have both been victimized by Phat Albert in the recently, give up jacks to him in the 8th and 9th and the Cards win 6-2. If only Boomer was still pitching drunk!
Kidding. Pads win, 3-2 and even it up.


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

MLB Playoff Wrap: Day 2

There were only 2 games today because the Stankees destruction of the Tigers was postponed by rain for a day; they'll make it up tomorrow at 1P on ESPN.
But in each of the 2 games that did take place, OAK v. MIN, LAD v. NYM, a rare & spectacular play occurred that makes baseball the greatest sport there is- nothing matches the drama, excitement and heartache of big plays, both good & bad, in a postseason game.

A's take commanding 2-0 lead on Twins
He thought he had it. And if Torii Hunter thinks he's got a ball, then Torii Hunter is going to go after that ball. And 99.9% of the time Torii Hunter is going to run down the ball, usually resulting in an incredible, gravity-defying catch. Unfortunately the 6th inning of the Twins playoff game vs. Oakland was one of those times the odds caught up with Torii.

After the Twins had fought to tie the game at 2 in the 6th on back-to-back-jacks by Cuddyer & Morneau, the A's had a man on 1st and 2 outs when Mark Kotsay stepped to the plate. Kotsay, a superior defensive outfielder not known for his speed, sliced a liner to right center that tailed away from Hunter. In a split second, Torii made the decision to lay out for the ball and attempt a difficult diving catch; for what reason no one is quite sure. There were already 2 outs, and the man at 1st, catcher Jason Kendall, was only going to advance as far as 2nd if the ball dropped in front of Hunter. But Torii is just what his name indicates- a hunter. He hunts balls down and plucks them out of midair like catching butterflies in a net. He has delivered so many highlight reel catches in his career a loop of them would be longer than Pearl Harbor. If he thought he could get to that ball he was going to try to get it. Not take the safe play and pull up, letting the ball drop for a harmless single, but make a Torii Hunter-like play, which would have been spectacular, but not affected the game as much as him missing it did.
Because the result of his miscue, as the ball dipped under his glove and proceeded to roll all the way to the outfield wall, was Kendall & Kotsay circling the bases like mice on a treadmill, and when the smoke cleared Kotsay had an inside-the-park homer, the A's led the game 4-2, and for all intents and purposes the series was over. Well, not over, but definitely on life support. To his credit, Hunter took all the blame and said he felt like less than a man because of his gaffe. But also to his credit, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire stated that he would never question Torii's decision to go after a ball: "When he goes after a ball, I don't second-guess him. Ever."

You live by the sword, you die by the sword. Unfortunately for Torii & the Twins, they may have fallen on theirs today.

Dodgers doubled-up and knocked out, 6-5
What, so you think a little 'missed diving catch resulting in a 2-run inside-the-park home run' makes for exciting playoff action? Well so did I, but that was before the Dodgers and Mets contributed a wild play that will go down in postseason history.
With no score and runners on 1st & 2nd in the top of the second, Dodger catcher Russell Martin hit a liner to the right field wall that Shawn Green could not catch up to. But for some reason Jeff the jerk Kent hesitated at second base, thinking the ball might be caught (it was a good 10 feet away from Green.) Kent paused and then took off, running like a wild man through the third base bag and hell-bent for home plate, but his stubby legs could barely get out of their own way-Dodger RF JD Drew was coming right up his back at full bore as well. Green relayed to Jose Valentin who relayed to C Paul LoDuca, who grabbed the ball and applied the tag on a diving Kent. As Paulie got up to survey the field, he turned and saw Drew trying to sneak in at the plate and applied the tag to him as well. Two outs at home plate on one play- never been done before in the history of playoff baseball. Needless to say the Dodgers were a little shell shocked after making that kind of history.
Although they still put up a fight after that. Martin scored in the inning to put LA up 1-0 (could have been 2 or 3 though), but the Mets, behind rookie pitcher John Maine, came right back to score 2 in the 4th on homers by Carlos Delagdo & Cliff Floyd off of D-Lowe. When they tacked on 2 more in the 6th on a 2-run single by David Wright, playing in his 1st postseason game, it looked like that was all she wrote. But the never-say-die Dodgers clawed right back and tied it on a 2-run double by my boy Nomah in the 7th. Kent then struck out swinging.
But the Mets were not to be denied today, especially with Sling Blade Little calling the shots regarding the bullpen. For some reason he chose to bring in probable Game 2 starter Brad Penney in the bottom of the 7th of a tie game. Brilliant move, Chicken Little; Penny floundered in the unexpected role. Phenom Jose Reyes led off with a walk, stole 2nd, and scored on a Delgado (4-5 in his first playoff game after 14 years and 1711 games) single, Wright followed with another ribbie, the game was technically over and the Mets 'stole one' at home.
Well, actually, they stole stole 2.
There's a corny cliche that's very true at this time of year: big players make big plays in big games. I have a variation on that theme that's a tad less cheesy: Great players & big plays make for memorable games. So far this postseason we've seen some great players (Jeter, Big Hurt, Phat Albert, Zito, Cy-Tana, Delgado) and some great plays (both of the above mentioned playoff classics), and it sure has made for some great games.

And it's only Day 2.

I Live For This.

(Even if the Sox aren't in it)


MLB WRAP:Playoff Day 1

A lot of familiar things happened on Day 1 of the playoff, and those things helped the A's, Cardinals ans Stankees take 1-game leads in their best-of-5 Division Series.

A's put Big Hurt on Twins, Santana
The reports of Frank Thomas' demise have been greatly exaggerated. The artist formerly known as The Big Hurt lived up to that moniker in a big way yesterday asd he smashed 2 (and nearly 3) home runs in the A's 3-2 victory over Minnesota. Santana, the likely Cy Young winner, lost his 1st game at the Metrodome all season, and Big Hurt was the big reason. Thomas smacked a solo shot in the second, quieting the raucous crowd, and the A's scored another on a 2-out double by Marco (Polo) Scutaro; Thomas nearly curled another almost identical shot around the rightfield fair pole in the 4th. After Minny's Rondell Ageless Wonder White launched a solo shot to cut it to 2-1, for some reason Gardenhire took Santana out after 8. That's when reliever Jessee Crain blew the game, allowing another solo shot to Thomas, and when Minny scratched a run in the 9th, that last bomb proved to be the game winner.
Zito took the win with a terrific performance, and now that Cy-tana has lost, the Twins will have to rely on Tampa's own Boof Bonser to draw them even today. Good luck, Boof, and just one thing- don't get Hurt.

Padres: Anybody but Albert
As I said in my playoff preview, the only way St. Louis wins this series is to wait for Alber Pujols to win each game for them. Well Phat Albert did not waste any time, as his 2-run bomb off Padre ace Jake Peavey in the 4th turned out to be all Cardinal ace Chris Carpenter would need to take Game 1 in San Diego. Pujols nearly fouled out in the lengthy at bat, but Piazza couldn't snag his popper that nicked the screen behind the plate. That second life was all Albert needed as he then took a Peavey fastball right over the plate and deposited it in the rightfield bleachers for another momentous postseason HR (he now has 11 in his brief career.) The Pads tried to claw back, but when St. Louis tacked on a couple more to go up 5-0 after 5 1/2, it was over. The Pads will now turn to Boomer Wells to even it up. Hint, Boomer: Pitch around Albert.

Jeter (5-5) shows why he's the best
See ERod, all you have to do is go 5-5, put your team on your back, and single-handedly lead the Stanks to some playoff success and you'll be a hero on the Big Apple. Jeter does it every season, and that's why he is the king and ERod is still a peasant in New York. The new Murder's Row battered Detroit starter Nate Robertson for 12 hits & 7 runs in 5 2/3, and Jeter was the main catalyst. He had 2 doubles, 2 singles & 1 HR as the Stanks unleashed an awesome lineup that saw former MVP Rodriguez batting 6th- jeez.
Judas Demon went 2-5 with 2 runs scored, mid-season acquisition Bobby Abreu went 2-5 with 4 RBI and the Stanks hit machine cranked out 14 hits in their 8-4 victory over the out-classed Tigers. Get those ciggy ready, Leyland, cause there is plenty more where that came from.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Ogling the Scantily Clad Celebrities

I watched 1 awesome playoff game today (A's/Twins), one decent contest (Cards/Padres) and started watching another that I had no interest in whatsoever (Tigers/Stanks.)
So with the Tigers looking more like Tabby's in the Bronx, losing 5-0 in the 3rd, I wandered from the Sports Den to the living room, where my wife and son were watching that American TV phenomenon known as Dancing with the Stars.
Now I'll admit to watching parts of last season- the parts that included ultra-hottie Stacy She's got legs & she knows how to use them Kiebler. Which brings me to the title of my post, my name for this show. Because let's be real, does anyone really watch this crap for the dancing? Hells no! Let's be truthful here- the men watch it to ogle the scantily-clad beauties, both the 'professionals' and the amateurs, compete for the title of "Hottest Woman Wearing the Smallest Outfit & Sporting the Best Tan", while the gals watch it to ogle the buns & packages of tiny-but-buff studs like Drew Lachey, Joe Don't call me Joey Lawrence, and Mario Stole a Desperate Housewife away from Tony Parker Lopez. Am I off base here? I though not. No one gives a rat's ass if these leggy bimbos & sexy smurfs can perform the Waltz or Foxtrot or Paso Doble- we just want to see them shake their stuff and look as if they want to rip each other's clothes off right there in front of Tom Bergeron. Wouldn't that make for a great episode of Tom's America's Funniest Home Videos?
So I decided to do some research, comb through ABC's website for the show, and pick out some of my favorite moments. Then I captioned them to reflect what I, or everyone in America, was thinking at the time of the shot. Enjoy.

This actress stars
in my
9-year old's
television show,
making me feel
somewhat guilty for
ogling her.
But I looked it up-
she's actually 26 (whew!)

One-hit Wonder
Willa Ford
kickstarts her
new career

"You know

I could


have had


equipment manager

pack you away

for road trips"

"My husband is right over there,

so watch where you put

those hands, Dr. Dorkenstein.

Okay, right there's fine"

"Save a horse,

ride a cowboy,

break up

a marriage..."

Is it just me
or does
look like
he's at a
strip club?

Could you

please wear

a little less
clothing next time?

Thank you.


I still

travel a lot

on NFL business,

I'm sure Smitty

wouldn't mind

helpin' a brother

out, ya know?


NFL Week 4 Review

We've reached the 1/4 mark of the 2006 season, so now we should have a really good idea of what teams have a good shot at the playoffs (Bears, Colts, Ravens, Pats), and which ones are so bad that they can already start making vacation plans for January (Raiders, Dolphins, Lions, Bucs.)
What else is happening around the League? Let's use the old Clint Eastwood theorem:


The Patriots are back on top of the world
The Pats are back on the list of Super Bowl contenders after their 38-13 pasting of the over-confident Bengals. How is this good? Well all of Patriot Nation can go back to gloating about how we have the best team, and the rest of you can go back to hating Patriot Fan and wishing that Tommmy Boy snaps an appendage, crushing our hopes; you know, reminiscent of that magical era, 2001-2004. Now I'm not meaning to slam the Bengals and their great fans; after all, my wife is from Cincy and her entire family are Bengal fans, and I certainly would not want to root against the family. But John, Betsy, Mom, Dad & everyone: Na na na na na! Ha ha, you guys lost. Your team stinks, my team beat yours. We're number 1. How'd that loss taste? Like Montgomery Inn barbeque I hope! Maybe next time, suckers!

See, I handled that maturely.

Washington beats Jax'ville 36-30 in OT
Probably the game of the day, excitement wise (at least because it was on my TV.) The Redskins proved that their win over lowly Houston last week, in which QB Mark Brunnel set an NFL record for consecutive completions, was no fluke. This time Brunnel was going up against his former team for the first time, the Jags, who have one of the nastiest defenses in the league. So what happened? Shaking off a badly cut elbow, Brunnel lit up his old mates to the tune of 18-30, 329 yds & 3 TDs. All 3 touchdowns were to scintillating Santana Moss, who is beginning to resemble the electric playmaker from 'Da U' that The Skins were hoping he would be when they acquired him from the Jets before last season. Moss made 3 spectacular plays on the TDs: in the 1st quarter(55 yd-er), opening the 4th (8 yd-er) and the game winner in OT (a 68-yd work of art.) Fellow Miami alum Clinton Portis ran for 112 yards and 1 score, and the Skins proved they are an offensive force against a stingy defense. The rest of the NFC East-beware.


Bad Albert suspended 5 games
Titans Defensive End Albert Haynesworth was suspended for 5 games after stomping on the un-helmeted cranium of Cowboys center Andre Gurode. Although Bad Albert did express remorse and apologized afterwards, it was a gutless, classless, borderline criminal act that was deserved of the longest suspension in NFL history. Gurode received 30 stitches, is consulting with a plastic surgeon, and has not ruled out criminal or civil cases being sought. He also says he should be able to play next week against the Eagles. But the damage to Haynesworth's career may be irreparable.

Bengal S Kevin Kaesviharn should be suspended, too
In that Patriot/Bengal beatdown there was another classless act that hopefully will not go unnoticed by the NFL's justice department. Cincy safety Kevin Kaesviharn laid out Patriot wide receiver Reche Caldwell with a helmet-to-helmet strike in the 3rd quarter that left Caldwell sprwaled on the turf and, after the 15 yards were marched off, set up Lawrence Maroney's 25- yd TD. Many experts, including ESPN's Tom Jackson and even Tedy Bruschi have stated that they don't believe the hit was dirty or illeagal. I got 3 words for you guys: watch the tape. Kaesviharn led with his helmet and propelled himself, missile-like, into Caldwell's helmet at full speed. If that had been a QB he hit, he would be staring at a lengthy suspension no doubt about it; so why is it okay to hit a receiver like that? Watch your back, Kevin. Payback's a bitch.


Dolphins disgust fans with terrible loss to Texans
Does it get any worse than this for Dolphins fans? Losing to a Texan team that has one of the worst records in the NFL over the past 4 years (18-46) and that was win less this season under first year head coach Gary Kubiak. So what happened? The Fins played mind-numbingly awful football against a mind-numbingly awful Texan team, and the result was a 17-15 loss that basically ended all hopes of a Championship coming back to South Beach. Free agent signee QB Daunte Culpepper was terrible again (23-39, 245, 1 TD) as the immobile object was sacked 5 times (21 on the year) by a team that had only recorded 3 sacks all season. Even disappointing rookie, No. 1 overall pick Mario Williams had has first career sack against Frankenpepper. How's the hot seat, Colonel Saban? Maybe you can jump back to college and move across town and coach the 'Canes.

Just Hide, Baby: Raiders lose at home to Browns
In the words of Scooter Rizzuto & Harry Carry "Holy cow!" Can it be this bad out there by the Bay? How on earth can a team that has so much talent (Moss, Porter, Jordan, Gallery, Janikowski, Sapp-uh, never mind that last one) lose to a team quarterbacked by Charlie Freakin' Frey? I guess because the Silver & Black have had to resort to using Andrew Walter as their QB after free agent bust Aaron Brooks got hurt. Throw in the fact that WR Jerry Porter has been disgruntled and attempting to submarine the team and new/old Coach Art Shell all year, Randy Moss has claimed the place is crazy, and guys like Sapp and Gallery have not played up to their potential, and you have the makings of an awful football team. Trouble is, it's going to get even worse before it gets better. Good luck, Art- you wanted back to the Black Hole, you got it. But congrats to Cleveland coach Romeo Crennel, the former Pats coordinator who has the Browns headed in the right direction. He could be next years' Lovie Smith.


Pats win 53rd straight after a loss
One of the most impressive streaks in the game is this stunner: the Patriots have not lost back-to-back games since 2002, second longest streak in league history. So all those fools who went against them (ah, including yours truly) should have kept that stat in mind and realized that there was now way that New England was going to lose to Cincy. It just wasn't meant to be.

Mushin Muhammad coverts 54th straight 3rd down
The only stat that comes close to the one above is this one: Bears WR Mushin Moose Muhammad converted his 54th consecutive 3rd down reception for a 1st down. My question is, why do the Bears look to anyone else for the conversion? In their 37-6 drubbing of NFC Champion Seattle, Bears QB Rex Grossman failed to convert 3rd down passes to Bernard Berrian, Thomas Jones, and Mark Bradley. Why? Why look for anyone else when you've got a possession receiver who, in the words of Double Down Trent, is so damn money?!



New England (3-1)
With 3 winnable games (MIA, @BUF,@MIN) before facing Indy on Sunday Night Football Nov. 9th the Pats are back in the driver's seat for the East title.

Indianapolis (4-0)
The Colts won a squeaker, 31-28, in the Meadowlands, but they still seem off-kilter from the loss of Edge James, although they did gain 160 on the ground. Pats/Colts, Nov 9th, NBC SNF. Be there, aloha.

Ravens (4-0)
They won't make any NFL highlight films, but their punishing defense, led by Ray Lew & Ed Reed, and opportunistic offense, under the rejuvenated Air McNair do just enough to win; perfect formula for a Super Bowl run.

Bengals (3-1)
Despite the complete & total ass-kicking they suffered at the hands of the Pats, this squad is still one of the best in the AFC. With a bye next week, then another one after that (@ the Bucs), they should rebound real quick.

Jaguars (2-2)
Disappointing that they allowed 36 pts to the Skins, almost as many as they had allowed in their 3 previous games combined, but that D is good and Leftwich is becoming a very clutch QB. They'll be there in the end when the dust settles in the AFC.


Da Bears (4-0)
After dismantling the Seahawks 37-6 Sunday night in front of a national audience no one can deny that Lovie Smith's boys are currently the cream of the conference. We knew they had the defense, but 37 points on offense? Rex the WonderGator strikes again.

Saints (3-1)
I'm not going against America's team as long as they keep playing hard, like they did in Sunday's close loss to Carolina, and as long as they have the Bucs at home this week. Look for Reggie Bush to have his breakout game in that one. Can you say 4-1?

Falcons (3-1)
I can't put them ahead of the Saints, who crushed them in their homecoming game, but this Falcon offense is SCARY. They are running all over everyone, and on top of that CB Deion-Angelo Hall (3rd pick in win ov. St.L) is emerging as the top DB in the league.

Eagles (3-1)
Now that Donovan McNabb has rid himself of that 225-lb. migraine he looks like the Don of old-last night he ran for 2 scores as well as tossed a pair in Philly's burial of Green Bay, 31-9. But with the perennially injured RB Brian Westbrook hurt again, Philly may suffer.

Seahawks (3-1)
Sure they looked rancid in their loss to the Bears. But as I said earlier Sunday, that was not the team to get healthy against. As long as Deion Branch works his way into the offense and Shaun Alexander comes back in a few weeks, the Hawks will be okay.