BACK IN THE BOX! Returned last season as the host of "the Penalty Box", the post game call in show for Rochester Americans broadcasts on Sports 1280 WHTK, as well as studio host for game broadcasts and intermission updates. Looking forward to starting a second straight season this upcoming year.
Weekend morning newscaster on WHAM.
Sometime fill in host for Bob Matthews or John DiTullio, as well as hosting call-in shows during Yankees and Red Wings rain delays.
Graduated from West Irondequoit high school (in 1984) where I was the sports director at the student run radio station, WIRQ, as well as the "voice of the Indians" football and basketball radio broadcasts.
Graduated with a B.A. degree from Florida Southern College (in1988). Announced FSC basketball games on local cable TV. Also announced local high school football games on local cable TV.
Have worked for WBBF-AM, WPXY-AM, Sportsradio 990, and then moved on to Clear Channel in 1997, where I have worked for WHAM and WHTK since as a board operator, producer, newscaster, traffic reporter, weatherman and sports host, as well as all-around good guy.
I am also psyched to be back on the air hosting "the Penalty Box", the post game call in show for the Rochester Americans radio broadcasts on 107--3 FM and 1280 AM.
I recently also started reading newscasts on Newsradio 1180, WHAM. It is a good opportunity for me, although I never saw myself as a "news guy". I am still enjoying the opportunity.
My most recent blog was primarily about one of the more reviled NFL quarterbacks, Michael Vick. This blog will be about one of the most beloved, Peyton Manning.
Peyton Manning is one of those rare athletes in sports. Rare in that there is hardly anyone who can't stand him, or doesn't wish him well, or enjoys watching him play. He is one of the most likeable guys to ever play professional sports. Even fans who root agaist Manning's teams, have a respect for him. You may root against him, but after he pulls your teams heart out with completion after completion on 3rd down and long, you just have to shake your head, nod and say to yourself, "man, this guy is good. Wish he was on my team".
Other than my wife, who has an absolutely irrational hatred for Peyton Manning, I have honestly never met one person who feels the same way. She says she thinks he is cocky. Says he thinks he's something special.
She points out when we were watching the Pro Bowl on TV two years ago, and there was a staffer on the sidelines holding up an umbrella of sorts over Peyton's head to shade him from the hot son. My wife says, "Look...see??? That is so Peyton Manning....ohhh, please shade my head boy, it is far too hot out here to be without shade". I laughed because it did seem like that could have been possible, but the thing is, we know Petton Manning, and he is not like that.
There has not been a quieter, more humble, homespun superstar since the days of maybe Joe Montana, who had the same quality of universal likeability. The thing that separates Peyton Manning from the others is what he did over the weekend.
Manning, who of course is now making the Mile High city pf Denver, Colorado home, had to impress his new neighbors by calling all the victims of the Aurora theatre massacre. He called those who could talk, wished them well and gave them positive reinforcement and a pep talk. Again, we know Peyton Manning, us sports fans. We know he didn't need anyone to tell him to do that. I'm sure it was his idea. He is just that kind of guy.
Not that I need to convince any of you, but we know that because of all of his charitable exploits. No one in the NFL gives more back to the community. His "Peyback Foundation" has donated more than $4.3 million to help disadvantaged youth in Indiana, Tennessee and Louisiana since its inception. The foundation began helping Colorado youth this year. And of course, there is the children's hospital in Indianapolis that is named after him. Manning has spent countless hours there helping the kids as well.
President Obama visited Colorado on Sunday to visit with many of the victims of the Colorado shootings as well, but I'm willing to bet a phone call from Peyton Manning might have meant more to many of them. How many times can you say that about a sports figure?
Sure he looks a little bit goofy, and has a melon that's shaped like a lightbulb. Sure he IS a little bit goofy, or at least it seems like it from some of his entertaining commercials. Getting a phone call from Manning is not going to change anything or make it easier to deal with losing family members or loved ones that were lost in the senseless violence, but it's nice to see Manning doing SOMETHING for these people.
Manning didn't need to do anything to win over fans in his new city. From what I hear, Tebow-mania has morphed rather nicely into Peyton-adoration. The thing is, Manning knows this. He did it just because it was the right thing to dp from someone of his stature. The world would be a better place if more star athletes thought and acted more like Peyton Manning.
I'm sure there is no convicing my wife, but it's nice to know that the rest of us are all on the same page about Peyton.
There must be something in the water in Philadelphia. Something that makes you stupid. How else can you explain the moronic comments that quarterback Michael Vick made yesterday.
In case you missed it, Vick said to CSNPhilly.com that "I think we have a chance to develop a dynasty". Vick then went on to say"
"When I look at our football team and what we have on paper, I think about when I was growing up and the great San Francisco 49er teams, the great Green Bay Packer teams, and the great Dallas Cowboy teams, how they just positioned themselves to compete and be one of the best teams out there,” Vick said. “I think we have a chance to be that."
This comes after last years debacle. How quickly we all forget. Last year, the Eagles had traded for cornerback Antonio Rodgers-Cromartie and signed All-pro cornerback Nnamdi Asohmugha as well. They had quarterback Michael Vick coming off a career year, one of the best young running backs in the game with LeSean McCoy and game-breaking wide receiver DeSean Jackson coming off a 1000 yard season.
Everything looked like it all pointed to a Super Bowl berth, and prompted then backup quarterback Vince Young (who was also signed in the offseason) to call his new team a veritable "dream team". That sent tongues wagging all over the league and reporters scurrying to their computers to write about what a cocky bunch this Eagles team was.
Unfortunately for Philly, the Eagles found out that they actually had to PLAY 16 football games in order to get to the Super Bowl. The "dream team" started slowly, lost to the 6-10 Buffalo Bills along the way, and by the time they recovered, it was too late to save. An 8-8 record was the result, and not only did the Eagles not make it to the Super Bowl, they didn't even make it to the playoffs.
You would think that would have been enough of an embarrassment to the Eagles. Surely they would never spout off again with ego-centric rhetoric right? Apparently, Michael Vick didn't get the memo.
When you analyze what Vick said, it really isn't that bad. He said we have a CHANCE to develop a dynasty. It's not like he came out and said "we WILL be a dynasty, starting this year". Heck, the Bills have a chance to develop a dynasty. Pretty much every team in the league has that chance. Any team in the NFL could be the next Packers, Cowboys or 49ers. The thing is, after what happened last year, why would Vick even play with fire by throwing a statement like that out there?
I guess the next thing we could do is to actually analyze Vick's statement. Does it have any serious merit in the first place?
This is an Eagles team that was actually 5-1 in the tough NFC East division. They lost the 3rd game of the year to the Giants to fall to 1-2, but then they swept the division from there on out. The Eagles also won their last four games of the season last year, so they do have momentum heading into this year, if you believe in those type of things.
Philadelphia does of course have Michael Vick, one of the leagues most electrifyling players, at quarterback. Vick made another asinine comment as well by saying how for the first year in his career, he really has taken the off-season seriously. Well, that's a nice thing, and maybe bodes very well for this season, but what does that say about the rest of his career? Shouldn't he have taken off-seasons seriously EVERY year of his career?
Anyways, the thing is, if Vick is on the top of his game, he has shown he has the capacity to lead a team to a lot of victories with his unique blend of talents. The Eagles also have LeSean McCoy, who had a breakout campaign in 2011 with over 1,300 yards rushing, a 4.8 per carry average, 17 touchdowns and an additional 315 yards receiving.
The wideouts are DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, both just shy of 1000 yards last season and both just reaching their primes. Brent Celek had 62 catches for 811 yards and a 13.1 average. They are all young, very solid and all entering their primes. You would have to say the Eagles are definitely pretty well stocked at the offensive skill positions.
The Eagles offensive line is decent, but not spectacular. With former Bill All-pro Jason Peters out for the year most likely with a ruptured achilles, the Eagles will have to rely on another former Bill, Demetrious Bell to fill in at left tackle. He's not horrible, but as any Bills fan who watched the last few years will attest, he's not the most gifted tackle in the league either. Todd Hammermans started all 16 games protecting Vick's blindside and he is not exactly a household name, coming from a football factory like Saginaw Valley state. Philadelphia had a ton of problems giving Vick enough time to throw last year, and I don't think much was addressed in the offseason to help the problem.
Defensively, the Eagles have the potential to be dominant. Things didn't really come together for them last year until the last few weeks of the season, but with Trent Cole rushing the passer along with Cullen Jenkins and Rodgers-Cromartie and Asohmugha at corner and Nate Allen at free safety, the Eagles will stop their fair share of opponents.
Keep in mind this is an Eagles team that held a pretty potent Dallas offense to 14 points in their two games against them last year, as well as holding the eventual Super Bowl champion Giants to only 10 points in their 2nd meeting.
The bottom line is, I actually do think the Eagles will be significantly better this year and should rebound from last season and be one of the teams who will be favored to make it to the Super Bowl. The main key is...will they be able to protect Michael Vick enough to give him time to find his receivers and take pressure off the running game? If the answer to that is yes, I think Philly will go a long way. If Vick is running around in the backfield like a man being chased by a pack of rabid pit bulls, another 8-8 season is a very real possibility.
Either way, everyone in the City of Brotherly Love needs to learn to shut their traps, and just play football. Keep your confidence in the damn locker room. It may be their best chance.
Proving the fairly new adage, "If everyone lives long enough, they might get their own reality show", TLC (The Learning Channel) announced today that they have begun production on a new reality show starring baseball's hit king, Pete Rose.
The show will reportedly be called "Pete Rose and Kiana Kim Family Project", and will follow Rose and his model wife Kiana on numerous exploits like Rose and Kim attending baseball's hall of fame in Cooperstown, as well as following them through their daily lives as they try to blend their families.
Rose, who of course has been banned for life by baseball for his role in a gambling scandal that he finally admitted to, is 71. Kiana Kim is a 30-something model who has posed for Playboy.
This begs the question: "WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO WATCH THIS???"
I'll admit I am kind of torn. I am a longtime Pete Rose apologist. I feel it is asinine to have a player who was a 17 time all-star and has more base hits than anyone who has ever played the game, not in the hall of fame. What he did between the lines outweighs what he did after his playing days were over, betting on his team to win games. But even I have a hard time with Rose getting a reality show.
What could possibly be exciting about watching this? I can just imagine some of the storylines....
--Pete Rose trying to find more doctors who will write him a prescription for Viagra in order to keep up with his young wife.
--Rose complaining about his daily joint pain, and having to be prescribed special orthropedic shoes.
--Rose moaning about how sore his hand and fingers are from signing hundreds of autographs for $50 a pop after one of his card signings.
--Rose and his wife fighting about who gets to control the TV remote control.
--Rose's insistance that he is able to use his AARP card for discounts on dinners with his wife.
The possibilities are endlessly boring. The other thing is that Pete Rose has never ever even been a remotely likeable character. Maybe that is the producers focus for the show--to prove nearly everyones perceptions about Rose wrong. Maybe he is really a nice, loving, likeable ol' fart who has mellowed with age, thanks to having a nice piece of eye candy on his arm. That would be hard for me to believe, but being a sports fan, I suppose I will have to watch at least one episode just to see.
My personal recollection about Pete Rose is not so sunny. I remember it like it was yesterday. I used to sell coke, popcorn and peanuts at Tigers spring training games in 1987 and 88. After a game between the Reds and Tigers (when Rose was player/manager), I remember standing outside Joker Marchant stadium with literally hundreds of other fans outside the Reds clubhouse.
Rose finally emerged and began walking through this throng of people toward the parking lot. Rose seemed to pretend like there wasn't anyone even there, as he mindlessly walked between bodies, practically pushing people out of his way as he made his way to his car. Standing right at his drivers door was this cute little blond girl. She couldn't have been more than 8 or 9 years old, and looked just like the little girl who was eating a Nestle Crunch bar in that famous commercial with Rose (Nestle's is scrunchious when you crunch-it, thats why I love Nestle's Crunch!).
Rose couldn't even be bothered to sign ONE STINKIN AUTOGRAPH for this adorable little girl, silently pushing her out of the way so he could get in his car and slowly drive away, barely missing people by inches as they got out of his cars path.
I'll never forgot that day, and it sullied my opinion of Rose the man for many years. Now I get a chance to watch him every week on my TV. A bitter 71 year old man, who still harbors a ton of vitriol, hatred and discontent for the leaders of the sport that made him famous.
It doesn't seem right, to give Rose this opportunity at this stage of his life. In a way though, I am hoping it will surprise me, maybe entertain me and somehow make Rose a little more likeable in my and many others eyes.
In America, I guess everyone deserves a second chance. Even Pete Rose.
NFL training camps are set to open up in a little over a week or so and you know what that means? It's "hold-out season"!
It drives me crazy. This has always been one of my biggest pet peeves in sports. Every year, there are star players who have a valid contract, that decide they aren't getting paid enough, so they threaten to hold out from training camp until they get a new contract.
It's a form of blackmail if you ask me. It is also the ultimate in ego-maniacal greed. What the player is really saying is that "I am so valuable to you, that you will not be able to live without my contributions on the field or in the locker room".
In many cases, these players are also trying to get out of putting themselves through the rigors of training camp, and instead sitting around in their air-conditioned multi million dollar homes waiting for a call from their agent to go back to work. It's amazing how many of these hold-outs end just after the rest of the team breaks camp and start getting ready for week one.
It is a tried and true strategy and has a long tradition. Brett Favre seemed to do it every other year. Add in his retirements/unretirements and I don't think ol' Brett went to a training camp in his last ten years in the league. Last year, the big name was Chris Johnson. This year, Ed Reed has made the most noise. Maurice Jones-Drew, Ray Rice and Matt Forte have also threatened long holdouts if their teams don't show them the money.
The thing that bothers me the most about these situations is that these players all have valid contracts with time left on them. They all signed those contracts at one point, and the money on the bottom line must have looked pretty doggone good to them at the time, or they wouldn't have signed them. No one was holding a gun to their head. Now, just because too many other players at their position are making more money than they are, they feel they are entitled to earning their fair share.
Many times their teams will reluctantly agree and out of a sense of fairness, will back down and agree to renegotiate their deals. I don't have a problem with teams doing this if they chose to, but by no means do I feel they need to. These players signed deals. If they wanted more money then, they should have negotiated it. If they felt that renegotiating a contract was going to be needed in the future, then goshdarnit, they should have asked for a shorter term in the contract!
The funny thing about these hold-outs is that the players who are holding out often get their comeuppance. Chris Johnson held out until the first week last season, came to camp late, and never really got caught up. He paid for it severely with an awful 2011 season.
How many careers have been ruined by a rookie draft pick holding out before their first camp? I am convinced that Aaron Maybin's holdout that got him into camp very late in his rookie year cost him his career with Buffalo. He was NEVER able to catch up. It's happened countless times with other rookies.
I have no problem whatsoever with my favorite team playing hardball with these greedy S.O.B's. As far as I am concerned, they can wave their contract in the players' and their agents faces and say, "See this? Is that your handwriting? Did someone forge this? No? Well, if it was you who signed this, then suit up, get your ass to training camp and play football. If you continue to play well for us, we will pay you all that you ask for when the contract is up. If you don't like that, stay home and pound sand, while we save on payroll and stop cutting you checks!"
Another thing is, whenever teams give in and renegotiate a deal, then that player is happy for about two years, until four or five other players at that position sign new contracts again, and then the player feels unappreciated and holds out again. The cycle repeats itself.
The bottom line that these players (and fans to some extent) have to realize is that no one is irreplaceable. The football world will go on, with or without you.
Shut up, leave "show me the money" to Jerry Maguire, and get your asses to camp and play! Or else stay home and get a real job selling cars or delivering mail or something. Then maybe you will have an appreciation for playing a stinking game for a living.
To donate to clinical trials and research to cure my blinding eye disease, please go to www.curechm.org
There has been a lot of talk about the Penn State handling of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case lately. Specifically, what should be done to punish or penalize Penn St.
The basic knee jerk reaction it seems from most people is, "Fry 'em! They deserve to be roasted over the coals. Penn State should get the death penalty for football for ten years, maybe for all sports".
That is an understandable reaction. What Jerry Sandusky did was despicable. The fact that apparently, more than a couple of other people knew what was going on, and did nothing about it but sweep it under the proverbial rug, is despicable as well. I am not disputing anything about what happened being an atrocity. It was. However, I think the death penalty for the football program or any other sport, is too harsh FOR THIS EVENT.
The "death penalty" as it's called, is labeled that because it is really the death of that sport at that particular university. There is no team. There is no recruiting. There are no coaches, players, trainers, or most importantly....MONEY....coming into that university for years. That, in my opinion, is too harsh of a penalty, especially for a university that is known more for its football program than even for its academics.
We have evidence of what the death penalty can do to a program. SMU was a juggernaut of a program in the SWAC in the early to mid 80's. That is, until they were caught with numerous recruiting violations including a slush fund to pay players for coming there.
That program was handed the death penalty in 1986, cancelling all their games for the next two seasons and allowing them to return in 1988 on a limited basis. Two years, and it DESTROYED that program. SMU didn't go to a bowl game until 2009, a full 23 years after the penalty was levied. Imagine what a ten year ban would do.
The other problem I have, is that the Sandusky case is really not even a football matter. It is a criminal matter. Sandusky will be spending the rest of his life in a prison cell most likely, and deserves that punishment. Joe Paterno is dead, possibly in large part, because of his involvement in this scandal. The other leaders at the university should and probably will receive some kind of criminal punishment for their role as basically "enablers" for Sandusky.
That is where this case should stay. In the criminal courts. People should be punished for crimes in the cover-up, for perjury, and for their inaction in not reporting the incidents because they didn't want any bad press.
Putting Penn State on a death penalty for this would not be consistent. I feel it is one way or another. You can't have both. Either it's a criminal matter, handled by the authorities and the courts, or it's a football matter handled by the NCAA.
Penn State university is going to have a hard enough time overcoming this whole scandal without any further football punishments. I can't imagine that recruiting top notch high school talent will exactly be a walk in the park for the next decade or so. I can't imagine many Penn State graduates wanting to donate much of their hard eearned money to the school for any reason for the next decade or so either.
If the NCAA levies a death penalty punishment to the university on top of all this, it would cost irrevocable damage that Penn State may NEVER be able to overcome. I don't think that is fair to the university. Punish the people involved and do so harshly, but don't besmirch the university as a whole any more than they have already done to themselves.
Jerry Sandusky is a sick sick man. He is a monster. He took away the innocence of dozens of young boys lives, and he has been dealt with by the courts and will be locked away for the rest of his life. He wielded a lot of power that scared a lot of people from janitors to intern coaches to school presidents, from doing the right thing. As said, they were basically enablers. Much like family members who buy bottles of whiskey for their known alcoholic sibling, many at Penn State knew what was going on, and chose not to do anything about it. They should be punished harshly as well for that poor choice. But the NCAA should stay out of it when it comes to even thinking about further punishment for the university like a death penalty.
Happy Valley has been decidedly unhappy enough, and will be for quite some time. The university is down on their knees, reeling from repeated blows. The NCAA should at least give them the chance to rise to their feet again.
The US Mens basketball team finalized its roster over the weekend. It is a decent bunch of choices. Anytime you have Lebron James and Kevin Durant, the top two players in the world, it's hard to say it is a bad team, but I don't think the US has put the best players the NBA has to offer on the floor for these Olympic games coming up within the month.
I don't know if it's just paranoia, but as a fan of the NBA and a decided nationalist who loves rooting for the good ol' USA, I gotta admit that I am worried.
There are things about this US team that I just don't like. Here is a brief list:
A. Too many players who want the ball in their hands, like to shoot it, and often take too many ill-advised shots.
B. Not enough interior size. Tyson Chandler is a 7 footer, but has limited offensive game. Kevin Love is 6'10" and Blake Griffin is 6'9".
C. Those interior players are NOT great defenders. Well, Chandler is an excellent post defender, but Griffin and Love are not exactly defensive fortresses.
D. Not enough pure point guards. Chris Paul can be an effective facilitator, but other than him, all the other guards are too often "shoot first, pass second" type guys.
As I said, there is one thing to really like about this team, and that is Lebron James, fresh off a dominating post season in which he won his first title, and Kevin Durant, who was equally as dominant, playing together. I am just afraid that the above weaknesses might take away from the dynamic duo's greatness.
Team USA has a 33 year old Kobe Bryant, who never met a shot he didn't like. Bryant shot only 43% from the field last year, including 30% from three point range.
They also have Russell Westbrook, whose shot selection was heavily criticized in the post season. Westbrook shot 45% on the year, but only 31% from downtown. Both numbers went down in the playoffs, and he takes way too many questionable shots, and often plays out of control.
They have Carmelo Anthony, who was a member of the disappointing 2004 bronze medal team. 'Melo shot only 43% from the field last year, 33% from the arc. Anthony too often settles for jump shots and plays smaller than his 6'9" frame.
They have Deron Williams, who shot a woeful 40% from the field, including only 33% from 3. Williams averaged 8.2 assists per game but also 4.1 turnovers per game, a 2-1 ration that is not acceptable for a top notch point guard.
Those four players all have the capability to shoot Team USA out of any game if a couple of them are off.
If the US is able to play run-and-gun, up tempo style much of the time, they should be ok. They have the best athletes collectively in the world. Hoever, if a team can slow them down, and force a half court game, I'm afraid all of these players who are used to isolation offenses built around them, could bog down Team USA.
I often look at the past failures of US teams. Why did they not win gold? Usually, the reasons have been because those teams had too many players with poor shooting percentages that took ill-advised shots, and the athleticism of the team could not make up for poor shooting.
The international game is a totally different animal. There is more teamwork. Less isolation, more passing and team defense. Look at what started it all--1988.
That 1988 US team had streak shooting guards like Mitch Richmond, Jeff Grayer, Dan Majerle, Vernell Coles, Willie Anderson and Hersey Hawkins. They also didn't have the height to make up for it. Danny Manning was more of a small forward. JR Reid and Charles Smith were weak power forwards. Only David Robinson was a true force down low, both offensively and defensively. That team lost to the Russians in the semi-final game, and left with only the bronze, which led to the first "Dream team" in 1992.
In 2004, the US again stumbled in the Olympics in Athens, Greece. Why? Well, same issues that I am talking about. Allen Iverson and Stephon Marbury were leaders of that team. Both were high volume, shoot first, pass second players, who shoot a low percentage, especially from the international arc, and took too many bad shots. A younger Carmelo Anthony was also on that team and even then, was in that catagory.
The interior presence on that team of Carlos Boozer, Amare Stoudamire, Emeka Okefor and Lamar Odom were all more power forwards than centers, and many of them were suspect defensively.
For those of you who say, "Pshaw...so what, we have Lebron!", well, that team had an albeit much younger Lebron James on it as well, and still lost to Puerto Rico, Lithuania and then Argentina in the semi-finals. That team avenged their loss to Lithuania to avoid the embarrassment of not medaling, taking home the bronze.
I hate to say it, but I see a LOT of similarities between those teams and this years group. You can draw a direct parallel between Westbrook and Iverson, between Deron Williams and Marbury, between Anthony and, well, Anthony. You can also draw a parallel between Chandler and Okefor, between Love and Boozer, between Stoudamire and Griffin and even between Iguodala and Richard Jefferson.
The one thing that I keep coming back to is that this 2012 team has Lebron and Durant in their primes. The top two players in the world. The US is going to need them both to be at their best, because I think there are weak spots and deficiencies.
Remember, every four years, the rest of the world gets closer and closer. Many of these international players play together more often that the US all-stars, and have more of a built-in camaraderie. They are also MUCH more familiar with the international game, which focuses much more on outside shooting. Many of these teams have numerous three point specialists, who, if they get hot, are capable of outshooting the US if we are putting up bricks.
Should the US be favored? Yes. Yes they should, but with reservations. No longer will this team be able to just lace up their Air Jordans and cruise to 40 point victories. Especially for the inevitable meeting with team Spain, who can compate with the likes of the Gasol brothers, Serge Ibake and Rudy Fernandez.
Argentina could be tough with the likes of Andres Nocioni, Juan Pedro Gutierrez, Luis Scola and Manu Ginobili.
Brazil won't be a pushover with Leandro Barbosa, Anderson Varejao, Nene, Marcus Vinicius and Tiago Splitter.
France could give the US fits with Tony Parker, Nicolas Batum, Mickale Gelabale, and Boris Diaw, Joaquim Noah and Kevin Serephim down low.
Lithuania is always tough in international play, as are the Russians, the Aussies and even China could surprise people with Yi Jianlang and three 7 footers including Wang Zhizhi.
My point is, the US could win...maybe even SHOULD win gold in London, but I wouldn't be totally shocked if there is another embarrassing disapointment either. We shall see, but it oughta be entertaining.
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We have reached the smack dab exact half way point in major league baseball. Most teams have played 81 games on their way to a full 162 game schedule, and the major league baseball All-star game is coming up next Tuesday. Therefore, I thought it was the perfect time for my first half awards. I will give them out by league and not all of baseball for two reasons. A, because it makes for MUCH tougher choices and two, because this blog would be far too short. So lets begin with the American League....
BEST TEAM: Texas Rangers. Not just because they have won the most games in the AL, by one over the Yankees, but because the Rangers are once again LOADED. They may not even win the division as the Angels are only 4 1/2 games back and are underperforming, but for now, the Rangers have it all. Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus, Ian Kinsler and on and on. There is not a weak spot in the lineup. Add in Yu Darvish, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and now Roy Oswalt along with closer Joe Nathan, and the pitching can compete with anyone as well. The Angels can win this division, but it certainly won't be easy with this bunch.
MVP: Josh Hamilton. Shocking, a Ranger. Yeah, Hamilton is playing like a man possessed and has a shot at the triple crown. .318 average, 26 bombs, 74 RBI and slugging .650. Those numbers are Ruthian, especially in this post steroids era.
Biggest surprise team: Baltimore Orioles. Most experts picked the O's to finish last (again) in the AL east, but they are 44-37 and in second place behind the Yankees. Chris Davis and Adam Jones are really the only offensive players having great years. The Orioles are doing it with pitching! That was supposed to be the weak spot on this team. Japanese import Wei Yin Chen has been a wonderful surprise and Jason Hammel has been better than that coming over from the Rockies with an 8-4 record. Jim Johnson has been practically unhittable as their closer. Can they keep it up though? I highly doubt it.
Most surprising player: Edwin Encarnacion. The Blue Jay has always had a high upside, but had never realized it...until this year. .298 avg, 22 HR, 56 RBI, slugging at .569 and a .950 OPS. All this from a guy who had a .260 career average with a career high of 26 HR and 73 RBI.
Most disappointing team: Detroit Tigers. Many experts thought they would have the most wins in baseball after adding Prince Fielder to pair with Miggy Cabrera and Justin Verlander. Prince has been great, as has Cabrera and Austin Jackson is having a breakout year, but the Tigers have gotten NO pitching from guys they expected to be good. Everyone on their staff has been below career averages, and unless they turn it around, this team may flirt with .500 all year.
Most disappointing player: Eric Hosmer. So much was expected of the Kansas City first baseman. Many thought he was ready to have a breakout year. Instead, he has suffered from the sophomore slump hitting only .230 with 9 HR and 36 RBI. His slugging percentage is under .400. I would have said Albert Pujols if this were a month ago, but he has gotten hot. Jamile Weeks has been awful but not many fans even know who he is, and Carlos Pena is flirting with the Mendoza line, but he does that nearly every year. So I went with Hosmer.
Best Rookie: Mike Trout. He is playing so well, he might be considered for both Rookie of the year AND MVP if he keeps this up. Leading the league in hitting at .343 and very good power numbers. Trout is also one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball. The kid can do it all.
BEST TEAM: Wahsington Nationals. Sure seems a long ways from "first in war, first in peace, and last in the league". That famous saying applied to Washington baseball teams for many many years. Not any more. The Nats have a great combination of hitting (Ryan Zimmerman, Bryce Harper, Mike Morse, Ian Desmond) and pitching (Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Edwin Jackson, Jordan Zimmerman). They are NOT a fluke and I look for them to continue to be the best in the NL all year.
MVP: R.A. Dickey. I hate to give a pitcher the MVP, even in just a half season, but the knuckleballer has been absolutely phenomenal. Dickey leads the league with 12 wins, is on pace for 24 and has won nearly a third of his teams total wins. His 2.40 ERA ranks third in the league, but he is easily first over the last two months. He has also struck out 116 batters in 113 innings.
Biggest surprise team: New York Mets. When the season started, I honestly thought the Mets had a good chance of being the worst team in baseball. They lost Jose Reyes, and had question marks at almost every position and a shaky pitching staff. Somehow, the Mets are 45-38 and only 4 and a half games behind the best team in the NL, the Nationals. Lucas Duda has been outstanding, Ike Davis is starting to hit and the pitching staff, led by Johan Santana (who pitched the first no-hitter in Mets history) and R.A. Dickey has been exceptional. Will they keep it up? Probably not but they have a better chance than the Orioles.
Most surprising player: Carlos Ruiz. This jouneyman catcher for the Phillies is among the league leaders with a .355 average, has hit 13 home runs and driven in 46. He has a .598 slugging percentage. This from a guy who had never hit double digit home runs and his career high in RBI is 54.
Most disappointing team: Philadelphia Phillies. Cliff Lee just got his first win. Roy Halladay has been hurt for a long stretch. Chase Utley is just getting back. Ryan Howard has been out for the year. Maybe it's not that disappointing. Still, this is the team that has been baseball's best for the past 4 or 5 seasons. Colorado is also surprisingly bad at 31-51. I thought they would compete for the NL west title. Not exactly.
Most disappointing player: Tim Lincicum. This guy seems to have lost it. 3-9 record, an over 6.00 ERA. More hits than innings. 49 walks in 93 innings. Truly surprising numbers for a perennial Cy Young award candidate.
Best rookie: Bryce Harper. I would actually like to say Lance Lynn, but I am not sure if he qualifies as a rookie, due to his 18 appearances and 34 innings last year. But Harper is obviously going to have the better career and now that he is up, he should make up for lost time over the first month and a half of the season and put up very good numbers to be the eventual ROY.
Well thats how I see it. I'd love to hear if you disagree. Feel free to comment and let me know what you think.
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There was another one of those fringe sports things that happened over the weekend. You may not have even heard about it. a British born Australian named Penny Palfrey tried to swim unassisted from Cuba to the Florida Keys.
She failed of course. She said she was frustrated by the strong ocean currents and got out of the water about 26 miles from Key West.
I take issue with this story. Mainly because it is just plain stupid. I have never been able to comprehend why people attempt these pointless sports endurance records. Strong currents? Gee, thats a shock! Who would've ever guessed theree would be strong currents in an ocean? You'd think she might have planned for that wouldn't you?
Remember a couple years ago when that kid tried to be the youngest person to sail around the world solo? She went missing for days. No one knew where she was. I don't even remember if they ever found her, but the point is, why would you put yourself in such possible peril for some stupid record?
Is becoming the first woman to swim from Cuba to the US something you would brag about? Is that something you want to tell people you are just meeting in a bar or something? If I was making small talk with some chick I just met, and she told me that, I gotta admit, my first thought would be "WHY??? Did you miss your boat or something? Did you get pushed overboard? Were you trying to retrieve a rubber ducky and get swept out to sea? Were you a Cuban national trying to escape Communist oppression in Cuba to the socialist oppression of the US?"
It just seems utterly pointless to try to swim from Cuba to the US. I mean, maybe thousands of years ago, I could see it, but ever since God created boats, there is just no reason for this.
If you are going to attempt something this stupid, and you are three quarters of the way there, why stop when you are 26 miles from your goal? Suck it up buttercup! 26 miles? That's nothing! Thats like swimming Seneca lake in the finger lakes. You've already made an ass of yourself, so why not make a bigger ass of yourself and at least complete the feat?
I am all about practicality. People should be practical in their lives. Why do something if there is no point to it? I used to jog. I was jogging one day, when it occured to me that I could save so much time if I took the car. That was an epiphany for me. This is kind of the same thing. If you are going to swim from Cuba to the US, it better be because you don't have a boat and there is a big hippo or a croc chasing you.
If you are the first woman to win a tournament on the PGA golf tour, then you got something! If you are the first woman to hit a homerun in a major league baseball game, now I'm impressed. Becoming the first woman to swim unassisted from Cuba to the US doesn't impress me. Quite the contrary. It makes me think you are a nutty nut.
If you are a dolphin or a whale, it makes sense. If you are a human, it makes no sense whatsoever. Maybe if there was something waiting for you on the other side, like a new car, or a million dollars or a naked supermodel who has promised you the night of your life I could see it. Maybe even to win a bet with an annoying friend, or if you had way too much to drink would even make more sense. Palfrey seems to have no reason other than self-satisfaction and owning a pointless record.
Well, I better get back to training. I'm trying to become the first person to eat 500 Twinkies without stopping. Wish me luck!
Today is the final day for you to fill out your ballot for this years major league baseball all-star game. I didn't want to get left out, so I thought I would do my ballot while I was writing my blog, pass on my choices and explain why.
So, lets begin with the American league, since Rochester is basically an American league city thanks to the Yankees, the Red Wings affiliation with the Twins and former association with the Orioles.
1b. Prince Fielder. Paul Konerko has had a very good year and was the leader here until a few weeks ago, but Prince has been coming on. I like his .301 avg, 40 runs, 12 home runs and 50 RBI over Konerko's .333 avg, 13 home runs and 37 RBI. Your mileage may vary, but it's got to be either of those two.
2b. Robinson Cano. Probably the biggest no brainer of any position. .308 avg, 53 runs, 18 home runs and 41 RBI. No one else is even close.
SS. Elvis Andrus. Derek Jeter would have gotten the vote if I did this a month ago, but Andrus is now having the best year with his .303 avg, 47 runs, 30 RBI and 14 steals. Asdrubal Cabrera would be a decent backup selection as well as Jeter.
3b. Mark Trumbo. Tough tough choice here. I'll take Trumbo with his .312 avg, 18 HR, 50 RBI and 4 steals over Miguel Cabrera and his .304 avg, 15 HR and 60 RBI. Adrian Beltre should also be selected as a reserve with his .333 avg and good power numbers (13 and 49)
C. AJ Pierzynski. AJ is having a career year so far with a .283 avg, 12 HR, 34 runs, 42 RBI. I'll take him by a hair over Jarrod Saltalamacchia and his 14 HR, 30 runs and 35 RBI. Mike Napoli, Matt Wieters and Joe Mauer could also receive consideration.
DH. David Ortiz. I'll take big Papi by a hair over Edwin Encarnacion. Papi is hitting .309 with 21 HR, 56 runs, and 53 RBI. Encarnacion is hitting .286 with 22 HR, 45 runs, 54 RBI and 6 steals. Could go either way, but I think Ortiz is more dangerous and a big game hitter.
OF. Josh Hamilton, Adam Jones and Jose Bautista. Bautista is only hitting .237, but has 25 home runs, 53 runs, 58 RBI and 4 steals. Hamilton is again having a monster year with a .312 avg, 24 home runs, 48 runs, 67 RBI and 6 steals. He is the first half MVP in my book. Adam Jones is hitting .299 with 19 HR, 41 runs and 49 RBI along with 10 steals.
On to the National League now.....
1b. Joey Votto. After a slow start, Votto is raking lately. He is hitting .353 with 14 HR, 49 runs, 47 RBI and 4 steals. Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt is quietly having a great year with a .285 avg, 10 HR and 32 RBI and should be considered as a reserve.
2b. Brandon Phillips. Phillips isn't blowing people away, but is probably the best choice at second. He is hitting a solid .289 with 10 home runs, 40 runs and 46 RBI, although his steals are down with only 3. The Astros Jose Altuve should be considered as a reserve.
SS/ Starlin Castro. Troy Tulowitzky would be the logical selection if he had not been injured for a good stretch of the year, but with his injuries, I have to go with the Cubs Castro, who is hitting .301 with 6 HR, 35 runs, 39 RBI and 16 steals. Ian Desmond should be considered as a reserve.
3b. David Wright. Really tough choice here. Do you like Wright's .357 avg and 47 RBI but only 6 HR, or do you like David Freese and his .285 avg and 47 RBI but with 13 HR instead? I guess I will take the batting average.
C. Carlos Ruiz. Buster Posey and Yadier Molina are having great years with double digit home runs and 40 plus RBI, but how can you argue against Ruiz and his NL leading .362 average, 11 HR and 43 RBI?
OF. Carlos Beltran, Ryan Braun and Carlos Gonzalez. Matt Kemp would be a shoo-in if he didn't get hurt and miss more than a month. Because of that, I have to go with Beltran (.312 avg, 20 HR, 59 RBI and 7 steals), Braun (.311 avg, 20 HR, 52 RBI and 13 steals) and CarGo who is quietly putting up an awesome season in the Rockies (.333 avg, 17 HR, 54 runs, 54 RBI and 10 steals). Kemp, Melky Cabrera and Andrew McCutcheon should be added as reserves.
Overall, it looks like the American League should be favored. At least when it comes to hitting, I think the AL has more power, but the NL has more speed. The hitting is of course all we are allowed to vote for. We will know more once the pitchers are selected.
Generally, the NL has more flame throwers, while the AL usually has more sinker/slider types. It always is an interesting matchup, and this year looks to be once again. As always, if you disagree with any of my selections, I'd love to hear which ones and why.
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